Friday, April 27, 2012

World Rocker


Today, my girl turns five.  This kid has rocked my world in the best possible way.  She has an amazing spirit that makes grown women want to be her friend.  She is incredibly generous, way beyond her years. If you came to our house she would make you take something home.  At Halloween time this past year, I swear, anyone that stopped by our house left with a pumpkin.

She's concerned about other people's feelings and holds back when they hurt hers because she doesn't want to hurt their feelings... most of the time.  She is such a lover and unlike other kids, she would rather stay little so she can be my baby (insert tears).  Don't get me wrong she's happy to be having a birthday, but when I asked her if she was happy to be growing up she was not.  When she was born I needed her as much as she needed me.  That first year was tough, but not because of her, she was an incredible baby and I never had any moments of "what was I thinking?", but because our family had some pretty tragic stuff to go through.  If I did not have her to focus on during that time, my life could be dramatically different right now.  

I never knew it was possible to worry about someone or something so much, until I had her.  I would not leave her with a babysitter until she was old enough to speak and even then, I was a nervous wreck just going out to dinner.  I could not leave my most precious gift with anyone.

Before I had her, I was always searching for something.  No jobs or careers where very fulfilling and then I had her.  She doesn't define me,  I mean I'm still me, but being her mom has definitely allowed me to focus on things that really bring me joy.  She grounds me.  She puts things in perspective for me in a way that nothing else can.  She was made for me.

My Girl at 5:

Definitely on the introverted side, although has many extroverted moments with the right people
Loves to stay up late and sleep in
Loves to mix insane patterns with her outfits, and almost always prefers to wear dresses
Still calls me mama, mommy, mom and is out of the phase of calling me Amber
On the verge of reading
Asks me at least 5,000 questions a day
Favorite things to play with are her babies and barbies
Doesn't like to eat breakfast right when she gets up
Incredibly uncoordinated and can laugh at herself when she trips over her own feet
Says "member" instead of "remember"
Favorite shoes are red cowgirl boots or ballet flats
Enjoys helping me with whatever I'm doing
Not overly independent
Would really love it if I had a "no roof car"
Likes copying words from books and magazines to practice her writing
Favorite foods are macaroni and cheese and pizza

The best thing she said to me in the past year, while I was helping her pick out an outfit:

"I'm not the same person as you, mama."

Those words floored me coming from a four year old.  I was happy because she was thinking for herself.  I was sad because she was thinking for herself.

Happy birthday, sweet girl!

Happy, happy Friday, everyone!


Monday, April 23, 2012

We Jammed


And then we made homemade english muffins.  I'm a huge english muffin fan.  A couple years ago on a trip to Kennebunkport we had the most amazing breakfast sandwiches at a little cafe, made with giant homemade english muffins.  I've wanted to make them ever since.  After we made jam I had to attempt to make english muffins.  I used this recipe.  They were delicious,  and the jam, OMG, so good.  My daughter and I tried two different jam recipes, one with pectin (helps the fruit gel) and one without pectin.  The one pictured here is without pectin and is by far my favorite.  It's almost like a strawberry reduction sauce.  The canning process itself was a little stressful and I could not have Little Miss S help with that part.  She actually got in trouble a couple times and had to go to her room during the canning process.  I had every burner on my stove going at one point and pots boiling over.  She did enjoy mashing up the strawberries though, and adding the sugar (a ton of it).  That's the beauty of homemade, you control all the ingredients and that is all that was in the jam, strawberries and sugar.  Next I'd like to try raspberry.

I hope you all had a nice weekend.  This is the big week, the birthday party week.  I'm going to try not to stress out, but the weekend weather forecast has me a bit on edge and I have a ton of prepping to do!  It's also been a while since I've hosted a group. I'm going to make lists, something I never do, and take deep breaths.  

Hope you have a great week!

Smiles,
Amber


Friday, April 20, 2012

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

U-Pick


My sweet girl's birthday is fast approaching.  She's about to be 5!  How'd that happen?!  We are having a small family party with a few close family friends and that's it.  I can't do super-size parties, not my style,  and the thought of inviting my daughter's entire class gives me insane anxiety.  Twenty four kids plus the potential for their siblings!  No thanks!  I can barely handle attending those parties, let alone host one in my house!  Small and intimate please.


I told myself I would not go nuts with this party or have a theme, but one thing has led to another and all it took was some super cheap gingham fabric and my collection of vintage picnic baskets to change my mind.  We are having a picnic party!!!  Fun right?!  I already have tons of picnic baskets and vintage quilts and picnic food is easy food, most of which can be made the day before.  The menu will include homemade chicken salad sandwiches, coleslaw, chips, chili dogs, etc., all served in takeout containers lined with gingham wax paper.  Can you see it now?  I can!


For the favors I decided to do something I've been wanting to do for a long time, homemade jam that hopefully I can make with my girl today.


To include her in the process we picked strawberries from the U-Pick strawberry fields in Carlsbad.  Ideally I would have my grown my own strawberries on my farm and we'd prepare jam inside our house that looks like a barn, which was situated on 5 acres of land, but I live in suburban North County San Diego.  This strawberry field is the next best thing!  Ha!


There are rows and rows of strawberries right off I-5  that have a lovely view of the Pacific Ocean.


She picked them all.  I did not help.  On a totally random side note, after I took this picture I noticed the registered trademark on the container of strawberries, which kind of bummed me out.  I don't know why, but I'm trying to do something wholesome with my girl and still can't escape commercialization.  We still had fun and she doesn't care about that stuff, but it tainted my experience a tiny, tiny, bit.





She was so excited to eat them.  They had a big jug of water so you can wash and eat your strawberries on the spot.


And for the peeps who don't like to get dirty, you buy your strawberries pre-picked, fresh that day.

Wish me luck in my jam session!

Smiles,

Amber




Friday, April 13, 2012

a peek at palm springs


Over the past few months I've been working on my photography skills.  The only problem is I have a tendency to learn the hard way.


 I don't want/like to read technical manuals, so I've been reading bits and pieces, here and there on the internet, but the real way I've been learning and the only way it sticks in my brain, is to read a little and then go out and expirement and compare different shots.


This has been fairly easy in my own home where I can control the setting, but it is much harder when I go out in public.


 I recently took a mini trip to Palm Springs, and played around a bit.


These are some of my favorite shots.


I'm starting to have to take fewer shots to get what I want and I rarely edit my photos at all. 


         When I went to Alt, one of the biggest things I learned was to get your pictures right on the front end, when you take them, and spend less/no time editing.



I'm such a visual person and I think many of us bloggers are.  I've gotten to the point if my pictures aren't good (I mean if my eyes don't like the pictures),  I won't post.


I'm even considering posting only pictures.  Let's face it,  I'm a much better picture taker, than a writer.  I wish I was good at both, but writing has NEVER been easy for me.  I'm not the type of person who sits here, jots a few thoughts down and hits publish.  Anyhow, just something I'm thinking about, focusing more on what I'm good at.

Hope you all have a fab weekend!

XO,
Amber


Friday, April 6, 2012

happy and hopeful


i'm happy my weeping tree i planted last year is blooming.


i'm happy my hydrangeas are coming back too, and a little curious.  i've heard that a rusty nail in the soil can change the color of hydrangeas.  the color depends on the acidity of the soil.  when i planted these they were pink, but i'm curious if the container i planted them in will affect their color this year.


i'm happy my david austins are happy!  these are my first rose bushes ever!  i had major anxiety about them, you can read about that here.  i feel like i should get a medal or something.  i'm not sure why i put these on such a pedestal.  i feel like i've graduated to the next level of gardening because i kept these lovelies alive and they appear to be thriving, no flowers yet, but hopefully.  shoot, i hope they re-flower!  cross your fingers we have a long, flowery, life ahead of us!


i'm very hopeful that this tree fully blooms this year.  this little stinker has proved to be much more of a challenge than the roses.  who woulda thunk?


the flowers on it right now are really beautiful, but i hope once the flower phase is over that it actually becomes full of leaves.


this is what it looked like when i planted it and it never really did more than this.  maybe it needed a full season in my garden?


i'm happy when new growth is this visible.  it makes me hopeful.  new life, new growth, it's good.


bright green leaves = new growth


i'm happy and quite shocked that plants that i planted in containers last year are back.  normally i have to replace my container plants, with the exception of geraniums.  those suckers take a beating.  i once had a geranium that i didn't water for a year, one day i watered it again and it came back to life!  no joke.


i'm hopeful that these guys don't suck the life out of any living thing in my garden.


i'm happy i chose this tough little ground cover.  it doesn't look like much, compared to some of the other pictures here,  but this is a humble, hardworking ground cover.  it seems to thrive everywhere, in all conditions once established.  i like how it grows over the concrete making it difficult to define where the hard surface begins and stops.

i hope you have a happy weekend, friends!

smiles,
amber










Tuesday, April 3, 2012

tartan table and a delicious meal


did you know it's national tartan week?  random right?  seems like more of a fall/winter thing to me, but i'm a fan of tartan anytime.  delores at vignette design is hosting a tartan parade and i thought i'd join her with a tartan tablescape.  i conveniently bought this beautiful tartan blanket at the TS the same day i bought the tablecloth mentioned in this post, must have been fate.


to lighten the mood and bring some springtime elements to the table, i used bamboo chargers purchased at pottery barn a few years ago, white dinnerware, gingham napkins,and blue and white bread plates, also a TS find.  and did you notice my silver flatware?  still haven't stamped it yet.


arugula.  yum.  love the pepperiness.


i also used mason jars as water glasses, which is pretty much the norm around here and a bright white, bouquet of ranunculus added a light and airy springtime touch.  another thing i love is steel cut oatmeal  (just a random fact about me).


initially i was just going to do a tablescape, but my table was begging for a good meal.  it looked so lonely without food and the white plate pictured here was all wrong too.  you can find the recipe i used, chicken milanese, here and my friend raluca will also be sharing a different variation of the same dish here.


see, everything is better with food and santa margherita pinot grigio helps too :)  and yes, i'm a dork and set the table for four even though only three people live here.  it felt out of balance with only three.

recreate a similar table:
white dinnerware- sur la table
blue and white bread plates- thrift store or ebay
bamboo chargers- williams sonoma 
mismatched silver flatware- thrift store or napa style
mason jars- lowes
basic wine goblet- pottery barn
tartan blanket/tablecloth- thrift store or ebay
gingham napkins- sur la table
turned wood serving spoons- williams sonoma
 ranunculus- franco's flowers


happy tartan week!