Merry & Bright

by Andrea on December 24, 2012

It’s Christmas Eve!

Mo has been soooooooooooooo excited about the holidays this year.  At 2 and a half (almost), he really gets it this year.  He loves the tree, Rudolph, singing Jingle Bells, eating pretend candy canes, and reading Christmas stories.  We’ve had a great month trying to make this time of year a little extra special.

Speaking of extra special, did you hear the This American Life story (Christmas in 3D, Act One starting at 6:15) about the parents that took the story of Santa a bit too far?  Talk about dedication!  And the best part is that it has been this way in that family for three generations.

Mo Christmas

We wish you a very Merry & Bright Christmas!  Load up on extra treats and enjoy it all!

PS – I designed our Christmas cards this year and love the result.  I had a vision of gold lettering and remembered seeing this post by Pugly Pixel.  The instructions worked for this Photoshop beginner, and I even figured out how to do the lettering!

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Teddy Bears for Sandy Hook Elementary

by Andrea on December 17, 2012

Heartbreaking.

The news last Friday coming out of Newtown, Connecticut was absolutely heartbreaking.  I, as I am sure many others did, found myself crying through news report after news report as more and more details came to light.  How can you not think of the little people in your life and try to imagine yourself in the shoes of the family members of Sandy Hook Elementary? I’d think of Mo and then what happened at Sandy Hook and would just burst into tears all over again.

I recently learned about Hollie Butler, a mother from my neighborhood, who is raising money to send one of these little guys to every child at Sandy Hook Elementary and to every family that lost a child on Friday.

teddy

In her own words:

Teddy bears are a familiar and much beloved symbol of comfort in childhood. This fundraiser seeks to raise enough money to buy a brown stuffed bear for every child at the school, as a gesture of collective support. 

The children who have survived this experience are going to live with the memory for the rest of their lives. They will have to find a way to trust the world again, to be a kid again. Let’s give them something to carry with them. 

One small gesture of support can’t take away what has happened, but one small bear can be a meaningful symbol of the love and good wishes of people around the country who have watched the news of their lost teachers, administrators, and schoolmates with broken hearts, and who are rooting for these kids as they struggle to make it through the grief and confusion.

I invite you to check out Hollie’s online fundraising campaign.  Each teddy bear costs $16, and she’s looking to raise $10,800 for 630 teddy bears.

And to all of the families in Newtown, you’re in my thoughts and heart.

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Transitions

by Andrea on December 17, 2012

It’s been a little quiet around Our Little Gems land.

Emily and I are still here.  (yay!)  We’ve just been undergoing some transitions in our lives and are adjusting to our new schedules.

Without further ado, Emily had her baby! Baby Boo is happy, healthy, and making his sister Pip quite proud.  We’ve all been enjoying snuggling with the little man, and even Mo has helped out with a diaper change already.

In our neck of the woods, I made the exciting decision to leave my job after seven years and join Brian full-time at Fleet Feet Sports Seattle.  I’ve been there full-time for over a month now and am enjoying getting to learn my new job and getting out in the community to talk about our work.

With any transition, you’re never 100% sure how things will go. When I left my first job out of college, my dear friend Dana’s mom shared The Flying Trapeze with me.  I’ve referred to it over the last decade every time I make a major change and have shared it with others.  I find it comforting to be reminded that it’s okay to be a little scared even when you’re mostly excited AND are supposed to be excited.

The Flying Trapeze, by Joshua Rosenthal

Sometimes, I feel that my life is a series of trapeze swings. I’m either hanging on to a trapeze bar swinging along or, for a few moments, I’m hurdling across space between the trapeze bars.

Mostly, I spend my time hanging on for dear life to the trapeze bar of the moment. It carries me along a certain steady rate of swing and I have the feeling that I’m in control. I know most of the right questions, and even some of the right answers. But once in a while, as I’m merrily, or not so merrily, swinging along, I look ahead of me into the distance, and what do I see?

I see another trapeze bar looking at me. It’s empty. And I know, in that place in me that knows, that this new bar has my name on it. It is my next step, my growth, my aliveness coming to get me. In my heart of hearts I know that for me to grow, I must release my grip on the present well-known bar to move to the new one.

Each time it happens, I hope—no, I pray—that I won’t have to grab the new one. But in my knowing place, I know that I must totally release my grasp on my old bar, and for some moments in time I must hurtle across space before I can grab the new bar. Each time I do this I am filled with terror. It doesn’t matter that in all my previous hurdles I have always made it.

Each time I am afraid I will miss, that I will be crushed on unseen rocks in the bottomless basin between the bars.

But I do it anyway. I must.

Perhaps this is the essence of what the mystics call faith. No guarantees, no net, no insurance, but we do it anyway because hanging on to that old bar is no longer an option. And so, for what seems to be an eternity but actually lasts a microsecond. I soar across the dark void called “the past is over, the future is not yet here.” It’s called a transition. I have come to believe that it is the only place that real change occurs.

I have a sneaking suspicion that the transition zone is the only real thing, and the bars are the illusions we dream up to not notice the void. Yes, with all the fear that can accompany transitions, they are still the most vibrant, growth-filled, passionate moments in our lives.

And so transformation of fear may have nothing to do with making fear go away, but rather with giving ourselves permission to “hang out” in the transition zone — between the trapeze bars — allowing ourselves to dwell in the only place where change really happens.

It can be terrifying. It can also be enlightening.

Hurdling through the void, we just may learn to fly.

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Bits & Bobs We ♥: The Skinny Mirror

by Andrea on October 9, 2012

I’ve spent a chunk of my life on the UW campus.  Once you add up the time I’ve spent there for school and work, it has been over 11 years.  (ai ai ai)  The University of Washington has many awesome features like a breathtaking view of Mt. Rainier, a Hogwarts-esque Reading Room, and a lovely cherry tree lined quad.

BUT in terms of making me happy and putting a big smile on my face, nothing tops the Skinny Mirror.  It’s located in a nondescript women’s bathroom in a not so special building.  I’ve been checking out this skinny mirror for 10 of the those 11 years.  You stand in front of what looks like a normal oval mirror, and BAM, you are 10 pounds lighter and three inches taller.  SERIOUSLY!

I’ve inspected it. It’s not warped.  The wall it’s attached to isn’t warped.  I don’t even think the old bathroom floor is warped.  Therefore, I have no other choice than to accept that it is magical.  It’s a gift to any woman on the UW campus that needs a pick-me up, shot of self confidence, or a big old smile plastered on her face.

So why am I just talking about this now? I went in there the other day and saw this newly added sign.  It made me smile even more.  For the record, I am not that tall nor am I that skinny.

So, if you are in and around Seattle, came see me and I’ll take you to this mystical mirror!

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This might not be new news to you but I just discovered this little gems at Trader Joe’s this weekend and immediately jumped for joy!  How many times are you in the middle of a cooking project that calls for just 1 tablespoon of tomato paste?  And you either have a small can full or nothing at all.

Frustrating…because then you’re left with a nearly full can of paste left in your refrigerator and try to use it all before it’s gone bad or you toss the remainder down the compost with a really bad feeling that you’ve just wasted such good product.  Enter TJ’s Tomato Paste in a tube!

While I’m in the store and thinking the above comments, I flip over the box and it’s like it’s talking to me!  Exactly my sentiments!  Pop this guy in the fridge after you’ve used your measly tablespoon and voila it’s waiting patiently next time you need it.

In case you’re wondering, this tube is good until March 30, 2015.    As a marketing teacher who loves to talk about branding, packaging and labeling, this made my heart flutter!  I bet my class with think I’ve totally lost it!  Love these little bits & bobs!

 

 

 

 

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Blog Fav: Hiding Any Children’s Books?

by Emily on September 23, 2012

If I didn’t crack up hard enough at the now oh-so-famous inappropriate elf on the shelf, Baby Rabies has done it again.  This time it’s children’s books, you know the ones that you can’t stand to read again so you’re hiding them?  You can check out her full list here but I did have to agree on a couple books that we too have on the shelf.  I think that I’ll take a look at our book collection a little more closely after this idea has popped into my head.  The bedtime routine is usually a killer for us.  We’re tired, worn out and lacking all narration excitement.  The endless questions from a toddler are much more welcomed during the day instead of the stalling technique right before bed.  Maybe that makes me sound like a bad mom but hey, sometimes you’re just tired and this blog post hit my funny bone!

The comments about the Runaway Bunny really made me laugh!  I have wondered about how it might look to a young mind to think about her mother/father morphing and following as she explores.  I also hate the idea that it seems okay to run away as a small bunny!  Don’t get me wrong, fly sweet little bird as you gain your independence in high school, college and beyond but the idea that this young bunny can run makes me nervous.  Especially now that she can unlock all the doors in our house.  I don’t want Pip to get any funny ideas!

Thank you Baby Rabies for another great laugh!

Hope you’re having a great weekend!

 

 

 

 

 

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Heavenly Fig Salad

by Andrea on September 19, 2012

Over the past month, I’m pretty sure I’ve eaten at least my weight in fresh figs.  Have you?  This time of year might have to be my favorite for this one reason, fresh figs in season. They make me so happy.

So for the last two nights, we’ve had the same dinner.  If you knew Brian, you would know this is a huge deal.  The guy does not like to repeat meals, and salads for dinner are never an option.  That is… until you meet this little beauty.

Feast your eyes on what I call Heavenly Fig Salad. (I just came up with the name yesterday.) In case you can’t tell, you are looking at fresh sliced black figs, creamy goat cheese, smoked prosciutto, arugula, all combined together with a simple dressing of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper.  Brace yourself – this little salad may change your life.

So run, don’t walk, and get yourself some fresh rich luscious figs.  Whether you eat the straight from the container or make the salad above, you’ll thank me for it!

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Bits & Bobs We ♥: Dahlia’s in September

by Emily on September 17, 2012

Maybe it’s the first week of school now past us, but the tomatoes were picked and composted, the cosmos were cut back and the sunflowers are just aching for a nice warm week to wrap up a season well done.  Summer in Seattle was pretty kind to us.  We had a couple of “hot” days (for us) in the 90′s and then a rain-free streak that nearly toppled the Seattle record of 51 days with no rain.  So I was happy with the performance of my garden.  Sadly, the weeding got a little ahead of me but that’s okay.  If only I could train little Pip to weed a little more selectively!

The bits & bobs that I have loved over the last couple of weeks are the endless blooming dahlia’s around my yard.  I got them in the ground a little on the late side but that hasn’t stopped them from a beautiful performance into September.

I have quite fond memories of buying dahlia’s from a local garden in NW Montana where I spent my summers working and remember the rows upon rows of magnificent dinner-plate style blooms that we used as decor around the B&B.  I have always wanted some of these beauties of my own and not had as good of luck as this year.  I’m so happy with the bulbs that I found at Costco that I’ll probably add more next spring when they come out on shelves.

The package that I bought have two colors, this intense deep purple with a hint of white tips called the Vancouver Dahlia and then the most beautiful yellow called Bilboa Dahlia that is just now starting to bloom.  I  haven’t been able to photograph those yet because the blooms are still tight but I’ll try to add to a post soon.

And while the Bilboa is just coming out, the Vancouver is still producing some great new blooms.  This is one flower that I really, really don’t mind snipping to put in a vase to enjoy inside!

You can see I just can’t stop looking at these!  So, when Costco has those bulbs next spring, don’t hesitate!  If they turn out anything like these late-planted and at times neglected, it’s worth your money!  I might have to load up on the tulips that I just saw last week on the shelf!

Now the only dahlia that I’m desperate to get my hands on, and with little luck in the NW region where both my Mom & I have looked in nurseries and garden centers, is the Seattle dahlia!  I had this one in our little garden when we lived in London and would love to plant these cheery blooms around my yard here in Seattle!

I hope you’ve got some lovely flowers around your neighborhood to enjoy into the early Fall days!

Have a great week!

 

 

 

 

 

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Summer in the City with Blue Lily Photography

by Emily on September 12, 2012

You may remember that we were beyond excitement to get to meet the lovely Wendy from Blue Lily Photography last summer (see post here)! When the dates for the World Tour 2012 were announced, we didn’t take long too jump on the appointment list to update our family photos.

When I was pregnant with Pip, I clearly remember the emails from Andrea that linked directly to the Blue Lily blog requesting that Sid learn/take note/look over her photography style so that we could have our very own photographer in the friend group.  And while I truly think Sid takes a-mazing photos, there is something so special and nice that he doesn’t have to work a bit and gets in the moment to be on the other side of the lens.

We love so many of the shots but we both chose 1 favorite family, 1 favorite individual child & then of course we got one of us girls together (see updates soon)!  Wendy was kind enough to accommodate meeting us in a new location for her, Gasworks Park.  We thought Gasworks would capture the beauty of a grassy park with the background scene that can melt hearts on a summer evening, Seattle skyline complete with seaplanes, paddlers, sailboats and of course the ducks.

So, enough you say already…get to the photos!

 

And the darling kiddos…

We’ll be updating some of our blog photos to include not only a Paris background but also the beauty of our wonderful city, Seattle.

I had to include this one of our little cuties enjoying each other’s company!  We’re so lucky that they get along so well together.

I highly encourage you to take a look over the World Tour schedule of the wonderful Wendy & Tyler.  They make magic with their photographs, and we are so very happy that we were able to squeeze in another visit with Wendy.  Mo & Pip were great troopers and I’m hoping that little baby Boo will be as accommodating when Blue Lily visits Seattle next.

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Bits & Bobs We ♥: Gangnam Style

by Andrea on September 10, 2012

I probably shouldn’t be writing this post for many reasons. I don’t speak Korean and have zero clue as to what this gentlemen is saying.  I am probably a terrible mom for letting my two year old watch this video (repeatedly). The only English phrase is ‘Heeeeeeeeey, sexy lady’ with the camera zooming in on a toned rump.  I should probably be offended by that (but I’m not). I should probably be watching documentaries or reading the New York Times instead of hitting replay (over and over).

But I am writing this post, because this video makes me genuinely happy.  It’s neon bubblegum color scheme is a ray of light. There are not one but two horsey dances in it.  My two year old (see above) squeals ‘horsey horsey’ and does his own happy horsey dance.  It makes me wish that I was 22 again when I spent every weekend clubbing and dancing into the wee hours of the night, instead of being 32 when I don’t know the name of a single club in Seattle. This song has got to be hot right now at the clubs. This video has a toilet shot, and well, who does that?  I also love that he seems to be taking this video so seriously. And the bottom line is that it makes me want to dance with a big goofy grin on my face.

So there you have it, I ♥ Gangnam Style!

*I’m sure I could find the translation online, but that would take away some of the mystique*

Happy horsey dancing,

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