Tag Archives: Life List

Life List Update 2012

2 Feb

– Try not to get killed in any sort of Apocalypse — Mayan or otherwise.

– Drink more tea. Try new varieties of tea.

– Scratch that old menu planning idea. Instead, intend to make meal plans for each season based on recipes my family loves, affordability, ease of preparation, and general healthfulness.

– See Rifftrax Live.

– Visit all the thrift stores in my area at least once.

– Try 50 new foods.

– Send 100 photo post cards to internet friends.

– Read all the books in my library.

– Win an award.

– Sing a song with Stefalynda.

– Try 10 new restaurants.

– Pimp my binder.

– Pimp my fridge.

– Tour the town my mother grew up in.

– Host a fondue night.

– Sell 100 items on Etsy.

– Record my family’s story.

– Have a Miracle fruit taste test.

– Host 5 themed dinner parties.

– Eat baguettes in France.

– Try more varieties of cheese.

– Grill something.

– Make pasta.

– Eat a whole plate of sashimi.

– Try 50 kinds of cheese.

I update my life list each year in January. Do you have one? I’d love to steal items off it, I mean, read it.


4 Jan

Here’s what I’ve been up to:

– I have so much to share, I don’t know where to begin.

– Christmas was great despite the head colds Isobel, Anthony and I succumbed to on Christmas Eve. As I mentioned in my scrapbook post, we ended up cancelling on three of our holiday activities and spent the day playing hours and hours of Mass Effect. Quality family bonding, obviously.

– I hope everyone saw this year’s Christmas card(s). It was difficult, but I think I managed to top last year’s.

– Isobel got a ton of new toys, which I have mixed feelings about. On the one hand, Yay, presents! on the other hand I now have a crap load of stuff to organize and fit in to our already toy-filled abode. She received lots of fancy, expensive toys, but the gift she liked the best (after the vintage 1983 Care-a-lot plus bears, obviously) were the inexpensive set of blocks from her grandparents. We enjoyed them, too. Perhaps being sick had something to do with it, but she spent Christmas day in a new-toy stupor.

– New Years’ was even better. As a family we had all recovered from our malaise and we spent two whole days eating, hanging out with friends who drove in from all over, and playing Scribblish, with hilarious results. We now have a new saying: “I’m trippin’ balls off that Care Bear stare!”

– I’m having a lot of fun thinking up new goals and items for my life list. I’ll share the revised version later this month.

– Remember when I set up a twitter account for Isobel so I could record her milestones, but instead it became yet another outlet for my ridiculousness? Me, neither. But the other day the idea suddenly popped into my head that I could use that account to tweet actual things she says to me, rather than things I made up based on my best assumptions and my faultless mother’s intuition. If you want to encourage me in my delusions or hear about how much she loves the Care Bears constantly, you can follow her on twitter here.

– Everyone deserves a little something pretty to start the new year off right, so don’t forget to enter my giveaway for a chance to win a free Vegan-approved handmade bow from Inez Gill! These little babies are adorable and the contest is open until Friday. Don’t forget to follow Inez Gill on twitter. Not only will it give you an extra entry in the contest, but she tweets as a real person, not as a business, so she’s great to talk to as well.

– My friend Camilla sent me a whole box of cookbooks and they arrived just in time for Christmas. My favorites so far are the ones that involve cooking with kids, which she sent my way especially for Isobel. Right now our favorite is the Peter Rabbit and Friends Cook Book, which strangely had no recipes for hasenpfeffer.

Packing up Christmas is kind of a pain in the ass.

– I’m working on a special project for next week: the Best of Follow Friday 2011. I’m using my favorite 100 photos from last year and choosing the best of the best tweets from 2011 to create seven days of Follow Friday posts. The posts will not only highlight the funniest moments but it will also serve as a scrapbook of the year’s best photos and memories from 2011. I hope you all enjoy it.

– Really and truly, this was one of my favorite New Years of all time.

– I owe everybody (especially @turtleparade) a fabulous recipe for Roast Chickpeas. I haven’t forgotten. It’s coming and it will be worth the wait.

– My friend Korinne and I came up with the latest fad to lose your shit over: Mustache Bird. It’s going to be huge on Etsy.

Photos from the week:

Favorite Links:

– Vintage Alice in Wonderland invitations. I feel a themed party coming on. Via The Red Star Designs.

– My twitter wife shared this video with me: All the Single Ensigns.

– Dave Polak’s adorable kittens have started a Tumblr. As the Jennui once said, “The Internet is made of cats.

– Are you a new parent? Perhaps you’d enjoy the book Give Baldy Your Tit. Via Stray.

– The Dr and Mrs The Doctor Monarch sing Baby, It’s Cold Outside.

A New Year

31 Dec

Instead of making New Year’s resolutions, I’m staring a new tradition: each January I’m going to update my life list to make sure it truly reflects my current goals. I’ve noticed as time goes by the things I really want on my life list can change and my list has been due for an update for quite awhile. January is a perfect time to revise and revisit this process. I’ve never been able to keep resolutions, anyway.

I’ll post an update later on in the month. I hope everyone has a happy and safe night and a wonderful new year. Here’s to 2012.

Thrifty Living: The Dress Up Chest

21 Nov

I am so excited to finally share this post with you. Building this dress up chest from thrifted and secondhand items has been so much fun, and once I tell you how cheap and easy it is to make, you are going to want to make one, too.

You don’t have to build a secondhand dress up chest, but I find that the best stuff, the cheapest stuff, and sometimes, the most realistic stuff, is found second hand. Additionally, the dress up chest helped me think of ways to repurpose items that I otherwise would donate or send to a landfill. And once my friends and family members heard about this dress up chest I was putting together they came forward with things from their closets to add to the bounty.

The best places to shop for dress up items that are new would be craft stores like Michael’s (they have hats, boas, and headbands), the dollar store (sometimes home to some pretty great finds) and the party supply store. Hear me out on that one! The party supply store has lies, hats, necklaces, sunglasses, and scarves,usually for really cheap. Pop-up Halloween costume stores are great, too–but skip the prepackaged costumes and go straight to the accessories. Wigs, hats, and gloves are a better investment than the costumes themselves, which won’t hold up to constant kid abuse.

Creating a kickass dress up chest is part of my life list, so I can consider this item mission accomplished.

(Poppy isn’t part of the dress up chest. She’s just acting as the showroom model. Thanks, Pops.)

By far, though, your best bet is to troll thrift stores and yard sales. Here are some of my favorite items from the chest:

This is something we call “the minky” because it just looks like a weird pile of brown fur if you can’t see how it’s used. It’s actually a large, wide scarf and it functions as a stole or a shawl. It looks and even feels like luxurious fur, but worry not, animal lovers: it’s actually a strange woven mohair-type yard that was knitted into shape. Strange. My Mom found it while thrifting and picked it up because she knew I was putting a dress up chest together.

My mom also found that black beaded purse and the white kitty hat secondhand and contributed the blue Heidi dress from her childhood as well. My Aunt Debbie added the pink-lined white stole plus these glasses.

The black ninja mask is actually a headsock that I saved from my one and only racing experience, and the gloves and mask were leftover from my Rogue costume and Anthony’s Nightwing costume. You might remember the witch hat from Target’s dollar bin, and the make up brushes we bought after having fun with our cousins. The necklaces were contributed by my mother-in-law, much to Zorro’s chagrin. You might remember the bunny ears? Coworkers gave us those. The wings were found while thrifting.

I saved the glasses from Yo Gabba Gabba Live and laminated them at work. They are still kicking! (Though admittedly a bit worse for wear.) We bought the giant magnifying glass when we visited the Children’s Museum and all the kids that come over just love it. What a great $3 purchase!  Isobel calls it her “Lookie Lookie”, but it usually comes out “Wookie Wookie!” Too cute.

That lanyard came from Anthony’s time at Borders. The cat key came from our very interesting time with the White Car. Long ago, before Isobel was even thought of, Anthony and I went on a date to an arcade where we won these Special Police badges and I kept them all this time.

This compass is one of my favorite finds. It’s real and it works and it’s satisfyingly larger than the palm of my hand, making the adventures we have with it extra-epic. It’s a thrift store find.

I bought this sparkle ball at Borders and later I found this stand while thrifting. I don’t know for sure that it’s for a crystal ball, but that was all I could think of when I looked at it.

Anthony found the bag with a moon on it while thrifting and thought it would make a great ‘magic pouch.’ This beaded clutch is one of Isobel’s favorite things, and also a thrift store score.

We also have a fantastic collection of thrifted dress up hats, which I’ll show you later, and besides that we’re adding to our collection all the time.  Whenever we have kids over to play they make a beeline for the dress up chest. It’s one of Kingston’s favorite things to do, and there’s nothing cuter than seeing the kids all dressed up. If you are thinking about giving this a go, I’d like to hearitly recommend it and would love to see pictures of what you find! Link back here in the comments so we can all see. Happy hunting!

Life List: Whale Watching

17 Oct

To celebrate my birthday I wanted to cross something off my Life List. This year: whale watching.

I am experiencing something of a health crisis so I’m short on words but I wanted to share the photos. I’ll write about my trip another time. I promise. Despite my current issues, it was awesome.

A sweet couple celebrating their 40th anniversary brought enough champagne for everyone on the ship.

Dramamine made us sleepy.

Life List: Fill a Garden with Gnomes

8 Mar

How very fortuitous that in my last post about our cozy backyard Death Trap, Sara mentioned using the waterfall as a gnome stand. I already have a garden full of Buddhas, and just recently I started fulfilling Life List item #107: Populate the garden with a village of gnomes.

A couple weeks ago we were roaming the aisles of Costco, looking for firewood because the heater was out again, and I believe I threatened Anthony by saying that I was going to spend the weekend in the shower unless we got a fire going. Costco was totally out of firewood, but I did find gnomes. I was ecstatic and naturally told Anthony I was going to spend the weekend in the shower unless he bought me garden gnomes, but he didn’t even hear me—by that point he was already loading the gnomes into the cart.

We put one by the front door because he looked so welcoming, holding his little lantern as if to say, ‘Come on in, friends!’ Although I’m going to have to teach him to bite the shins and headbutt the groins of solicitors. Isobel likes to greet him and pat him on the head when we come home. I like to think of him as our woodland bouncer.

I told Anthony that they needed names, but since Isobel already refers to them as “Santas,” it’s kind of a lost cause. And oh, look! They came with care instructions!

I found a gnome last year while thrifting, but he’s vintage and delicate and we keep him inside. I’m really not even sure I can defend his gnomehood, because an equally valid argument could be made for him being a dockworker or a fisherman. He’s playing the concertina, so the argument could be made either way. Isobel is obsessed with him and calls him “baby.”

 Costco only had two models of gnomes. I’m going to have to go out searching for more, because two gnomes isn’t so much a village as it is a domestic partnership. If anyone has seen some cute gnomes for sale, let me know.

Life List: Meet Anthony Bourdain

22 Feb

Before I tell you about my experience meeting Anthony Bourdain, I have to back up a bit.

It’s been quite the weekend. On Saturday we went to the city with some friends and stayed out way too late eating and drinking and getting soaked in the rain. The next day we awoke to a call from the Grandparents, alerting us that Isobel was ready to go home, so we literally rolled out of bed and into some clothes and hit the road. That’s what the above photo is about. We had woken up maybe five minutes prior and were on our way to get our baby, miraculously un-hungover.

I feel it’s necessary to explain because normally we’d spend a day like this in our pajama bottoms, holed up in our house playing video games, only going out to bring back some taco truck. But this was no ordinary Sunday. It was the day we were going to see Anthony Bourdain. For him alone was I willing to wear pants.

Anthony Bourdain speaking in my quaint, agrarian town was Big News. We have a fancy new arts center and this was the first show to sell out almost immediately. It was so popular that they decided to simulcast the presentation to the theater next store and sold tickets to that show for fifteen bucks a pop. It filled up. We bought our tickets almost immediately, and even then I couldn’t get two seats right next to each other. We were close enough to each other and the stage for me to be happy, though.

Anthony sat behind me and a few seats over.

Normally, even when a show sells out you can always spot a few empty seats in the audience. A few here or there, at least. Not in this case. It was packed with people as far as the eye could see. I also noticed that the vast majority of the audience was at least twice my age. This fact becomes important as the night goes on.

According to the rules of the house, we were strictly forbidden from taking photos during the performance. It’s in Anthony’s contract, so it was like he was personally asking us not to take pictures. It totally broke my balls to sit there and hear the one or two camera clicks go off during the show, because I was sitting next to a group of ushers and I didn’t want to pull out the giant camera in front of them. It’s weird, I have no problem flaunting authority if I believe that what they are saying is wrong. But make it an issue of manners, like saying it’s rude to take pictures, and I flounder. My personality strains under the weight of politeness. Commands suggested in the name of etiquette demand obedience, while commands given as actual commands beg to be flaunted. I was raised to value manners even as my natural impulses chafe beneath them.

I did sneak this one cell phone photo, however. Good breeding aside, I guess I am, at heart, kind of a jerk.


Anthony told some of the funniest stories from Medium Raw, including the time he was molested by Sandra Lee. The price of admission was worth it for that alone. The best part for me was when he talked about his likes and dislikes. His opinions resonated so deeply with conversations that (husband) Anthony and I had had before that I kept turning my head to look back whenever he agreed with us on something. But it wasn’t just that his opinions agreed with our own, it was that he agreed with why we felt that way that was amazing. If Anthony Bourdain was a preacher, then my husband and I were sitting in the choir.

He also talked a bit about Top Chef, and I could have listened to him speak about that all night. He says everything on that show is above the board, no matter how the producers want the drama to play out. He talked about travelling, Alice Waters (so funny), and about the important a role food plays in life in describing who we are and how we live, as people and as a society. This point is especially dear to me, because it is the common thread that draws me to reading not just Tony, but also Nigella Lawson and Laurie Colwin as well.

At the end of the speech he opened up the floor to some questions. The first question was hilarious: a no doubt important Local Matron of the Community, sitting front and center stands up and says, “You’re in Almond Country, Mr Bourdain! Tell us about your experiences with almonds!” to which Anthony replies, “Almonds? Um, I like them? Next question.”

Oh, Central Valley. You do not ever let me down.

Almost immediately someone asks about the issue of immigrants in kitchens. Husband Anthony and I, sitting seats apart from each other, cringe in unison. Let’s take these facts into consideration: the audience is, by far, older, wealthier, and whiter than the average citizen. Politically, my area ranges from socially and fiscally Conservative to Batshit Crazy Xenophobic Motherfuckers. And Anthony Bourdain is talking about the Tea Party. This could be bad. This could be very, very bad.

I don’t know if he was prepped about my area beforehand, or if he’s just used to disarming mobs of people with talk of barbecue and beer, but he did it. He said that people may disagree about the big issues, but we can come together over food. And he left it at that.

A few more questions pass when Husband suggests we get in line for the book signing. There are hundreds of people in our theater alone, and there’s another whole theater of people who will also want their books signed. We felt the need to get back to our baby, who was being graciously watched by our friends Angela and Justin. They didn’t have the next day off and of course we worried she was giving them a hard time. At the risk of missing more thrilling questions about almonds, we snuck out of the theater and took our place as eighth in line for the book signing.

This is almost the end of the line, right in front of us.

As the theaters emptied the line became ridiculous. I tried to get pictures of how it wrapped around the entire building and nearly ended at the signing table, but from where I stood I couldn’t really capture the scope of it. People mobbed the signing area in anticipation. Gallo did not really do the best job in planning or setting up for this part because I don’t think they anticipated the sheer number (or enthusiasm) of people waiting for him. In the future, when you sell out a show for a major celebrity, perhaps you might want to think these things through. They somehow managed to cobble together a last-minute fix.

I really wanted to take a picture of Anthony myself, but I was too short to get anything but shots of the people ahead of us. When we reached the front of the line, a lady whisked the camera out of my hands and said that she had to take the picture of us together. She had no idea how to work my camera, of course, but rules are rules. I adjusted the settings on my camera for the widest margin of error and prayed like hell.

And then it was my turn. We were there. Face to face. Meeting Anthony Bourdain. We told him that we loved the presentation. He signed my book. I had a million questions and things I could say, but when I was right there, all I really wanted to do was say thank you. He looked at me. I said thank you. He smiled.

It was awesome.

The lady took the picture, and it’s the least flattering picture I could have possibly asked for. I had just spent the weekend indulging in fancy, fattening food in San Francisco, and the last time I looked so round and happy I was pregnant. Yikes. Whatever, though, this photo is amazing and I’m thinking about using it for our Christmas card. The best part is the creeper security dude in the back. He adds that special something.

  Or maybe I’ll just send out this photo. It’s pretty great, too.

So This Is The New Year

29 Dec

I’m soured to the idea of making resolutions (simply because I’ve failed at so many) but I like the idea of making goals. The thing about goals is that even if you only accomplish them half way, you’ve still made all kinds of progress so it’s not a wash. Resolutions are so black and white, pass or fail–I’m defeated before I begin. But a To Do list I can handle.

I’ve been thinking about what I’d like to accomplish in the New Year and what I want my life to look like. I’ve also pulled out the old Life List to remember that life isn’t just about accomplishment, it’s about enjoying the time you have.

Write Every Day
Even if it’s just for fifteen minutes, I’d like to develop a daily writing practice.

Family Dinners
Making time for regular family dinners is something I believe in strongly. It’s hard, I make no mistake about that. You have to have the discipline to open up the cupboards after a long day of work and create a meal. You have to put in the work, every week, and perpetuate the cycle of shopping, planning, and cleaning. You have to have enough skill to make food your family will actually eat. You have to take the criticism in stride when you fail. I’m off to a pretty good start even if mentioning it here will possibly jinx it. I’ve found that success at dinner comes after a long string of failures. Honestly this has been something I’ve been attempting off and on for years, with varying degrees of success. I talk about my struggles here and offer solutions and tips here. I believe that a family needs dinner time in order to nourish the body with good, healthy food, but also to nourish the soul of the family.

Organization is another one of those areas in which a string of failures has lead to some successes, and in some cases, some great successes. My goal for this year is to maintain the organization I have worked so hard to establish as well as to identify areas that need organization before they get out of hand. This is the thing that surprises people most about organization: it’s not static. It’s not a matter of setting it up once and there you go! Organized for life. As your needs change and your life changes, your systems of organization need to reflect that. Here my goal is focused on the organization of the concrete things in life, like closets and paperwork and dishes, but equally important for me is the organization of data, media, and files. Technology is the life blood of my creative work, and it’s useless to me if it’s not organized.

To Do List
Although this ties in intimately with the concept of Organization, what sets my To Do list apart is that it creates the focus and momentum I need to get things done. This has been very important because I go back and forth from being on top of my to do list and having tasks go and embarrassingly long amount of time before getting accomplished. Did I ever tell you it took 5 years for me to order wedding photos? No? I’m someone who desperately needs to stay on the To Do List bandwagon.

WP Download and Ads
There are (hopefully) some big changes on the horizon for this year. I feel like talking about it would mean jinxing it, so let’s just say I need to level up my blog as far as technical knowledge goes. I need to acquire the skills to take blog management into my own hands. Scary.

Grow My Photography Business
I’m not exactly sure what success in this area would look like for me. I’m still trying to figure out what I want and balancing how much work I want to do with how much time I spend at home. But I want to see this business grow in the next year so I can develop the vision and decide what I want. I need some new equipment. I want to stay inspired.

Household & Seasonal Decorations
Money has been tight since, well, forever, and so my house has been sorely neglected. Slowly I’ve decorated areas of the house with thirfted treasures and things I’ve inherited, but we need a major overhaul. Paint, flooring, a new roof and furniture—these are the things we’ve needed but have had to overlook while Anthony went to school. I’d love to make our home more comfortable and beautiful on a daily basis. The past three years I’ve barely done any decorating for the holidays which makes me sad. It’s my goal to revive that tradition this year.

Life List:
9. Create a seasonal calendar with our traditions and celebrations
10. Decorate Isobel’s bedroom
11. Own a wardrobe I can be proud of
28. Eat one of Valerie’s desserts at her restaurant
45. Walk on the Golden Gate Bridge
56. Visit my friends Dave & Stef in Reno
71. Plant a dwarf orchard in the backyard
93. Meet our financial goal so I can be a SAHM
97. Take a Mommy and Me swimming class with Isobel, Angela & K
99. Throw my parents an anniversary party

What are you focused on in the New Year? What do you want your life to look like?

The Lead Paint Cookbook Bloject

2 Dec

One of my favorite twitter friends, who I shall refer to only as “Cookbook” for reasons of national security, has created a fun new project for bloggers who like to cook. She is inviting people to make a list of 25 things they always wanted to make but have never gotten around to for one reason or another. And then to cook from said list.

I’ll be honest with you: I have avoided making most of these things because I am chicken. I’m intimidated by some of them which is why this project is the perfect way to confront these fears take a risk. It could all go horribly wrong, and in front of the whole entire internet. But it could also lead to triumph.

I have to say that part of the reason I’m brave enough to attempt this is thanks to Bri at Sarcasmically and her NaDeNeFoMo project.

The other part of the reason is that my friend David came over one time and demanded we attempt to make mochi in front of a live studio audience. It turned out surprisingly well, given what we had to work with. Ahem.

Cookbook has proposed participants make their list of 25 Things to Cook, and we’ll take time each month to cook one item off that list and share the results on our blog. If this sounds like a fun challenge to you, head on over to her blog and sign up by posting in her comments.

My List of 25 Things to Cook

1.  Bagels – Making bagels is also on my Life List
2.  Chile Mole – a Guatemalan dish that I’ll have to learn from Mama Juani
3. Black Beans – prepared the Guatemalan way via instructions from Mama Juani
4. A cake – I don’t know which one. Any one I make myself will be an accomplishment
6. Sushi rice – this has seemed like a magical art to me
7. Chicken Picatta – I freaking love it
8. A steak – steak has always been so prohibitively expensive I’ve never bothered.
9. Sugar cookies with Frosting – because I have some cookie cutters I’m dying to use
10. Sunday Salsa – I’ve been meaning to make Sunday’s salsa forever now
11.  Sunday Fruit Pie – Like a Home Run Pie, except delicious
12. Chicken nuggets – I want to make a huge batch and freeze them
13. Sweet Potato Fries – the deep-fried version.
14. Pasta – I can only imagine fresh pasta as sublime
15. Vegetable Tempura – It’s true, I’m afraid of deep frying. But I love tempura.
16. Udon or Ramen – basically I want to create a delicious, brothy, Asian noodle soup.
17. Miso – I’ve never been able to recreate restaurant miso.
18. Cream Cheese Wontons – my favorite restaurant (now closed) used to serve these
19. Fondue – I own multiple fondue pots for chrissake.
20. Flavored Popcorn – I love me some poppin’ corns
21. A Classic Sauce of Some Sort – Yeah, I’ll figure this out later.
22. Grated carrots and beet salad – the staining power alone has held me back from this.
23. Pizza – Anthony wants to make this, too.
24. Mushroom Muffin Tartlet – It has mushrooms, so I’m all over it.
25. Swedish Christmas Bread – I’m the oldest daughter in my Swedish family, so I owe it to Saint Lucia to make this.

Life List: Isobel’s First Pumpkin

14 Oct

I’m so excited fall is just around the corner. People in the Valley tend to get very excited and impatient for fall because even though it’s mid-September our temperatures still soar into the 90s and sometimes reach 100 degrees F. That’s not uncommon. That’s how we roll. By October it’s been like our fifth month of summer and winter doesn’t begin in earnest until about Christmas.

Autumn excites me for lots reasons; not only does it signal the hope of cooler temperatures but my birthday is in October.  Each year I relish my chance to become more and more the self-satisfied crotchety old woman that I already am on the inside.

Last year I spent my 30th birthday crossing something off my life list and I realized that’s what I need to spend every birthday. What better gift could you give yourself? What better way to celebrate your life? I had a party to celebrate the milestone and it was a lot of fun, but my life list item was actually taking Isobel to pick out her first pumpkin from the pumpkin patch.

I had the day off work due to furloughs and we drove out of town and into a giant local fruit stand in the country. She was so little then she tended to fall asleep during car rides and that short drive was enough to put her out. We woke her up and she was amazed at what she saw. Isobel fell asleep on the way there Strange fruit! Tons of children! A lake full of fish! She looked around eagerly the whole time we were there. I don’t think she made a peep the entire time. She was too busy taking everything in.

Anthony and I were in agreement that even though she was small we needed to pick out an enormous pumpkin for her. It was bigger than she was and certainly much heavier.

Anthony handled the carving while I washed and roasted the seeds. Isobel sat in her highchair watching us work.

We decided to make her pumpkin look just like her by giving it large, smiling eyes and teeth of the same number and position as Isobel. It’s so hard to remember what my baby looked like with only two teeth! She has a whole mouthful now.

My birthday is on Saturday. If I’m lucky this year I’ll be able to cross something else off the life list.