Thursday, May 26, 2011

one hundred years of solitude

Apparently it's a great book and had enormous historic impact in Latin America, but since I didn't make it past page 23, I cannot swear by those words. It was chosen for our latest book club meeting, and since my plan to work over the chosen weekend was postponed at the last minute, I had very little time to read the novel. I mean really, 400 pages in one week? I am tooootally delusional.

I went anyway because I have been dying to see Rachel's house in person.

Um, yeah - that's the back porch by the window-lined living room. I die.

And here is the rest of the backside of the house! Drool now running freely down chin.

As expected, I loved every single mid-century inch of Rachel's house. She and her husband purchased it from the original owners who built it in 1965. It was chockfull of original built-ins in pristine condition.

And after the tour, where I probably acted like a maniac freely scoping out every room, we needed to get down to business and actually discuss the book. And since I didn't read it, I just settled back and took badly lit photos. Just call me the yearbook staff.

And since Rachel is also a high school Spanish teacher, she was a wealth of knowledge concerning Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Latin American history. Kinda wishing I would've read the book at that point, but I still happily indulged in the delicious Colombian dessert she served – arroz con leche (rice pudding w/ raisins).

Book or no book, spending time with girl friends while eating homemade guacamole and sharing a few bottles of wine is one of the greatest simple pleasures on earth, don't ya think?

Okay, so what is the next book? Any recommendations?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

little bits of awesome: stockley gardens

The Stockley Gardens Arts Festival is held in a shaded park surrounded by beautiful historic homes in the Ghent section of Norfolk. It benefits the non-profit Hope House Foundation and occurs twice a year.

Once upon a time, I lived in a tiny one-bedroom apartment in a converted Victorian House down the street from where the festival is held. Ahh...those were the days.

There were a couple of new exciting artists this year, but we mostly just go for the food and scenery.

And the likelihood of running into friends is very high.

Dr. Pter met us and we leisurely strolled the grounds together.

Bobby the Clown is always in attendance and Ave was delighted when he was handed a "ninja pickle" at his request.

The highlight of our trip involved Avery's first corn dog. He was in heaven.

And yes, I purchased a foot-long corn dog for myself and it was scrumptious (I did share half with the husband). And I know, I look so surly in these pics, but all of the ones where I look overly excited to be consuming my corn dog came out insanely phallic, so those won't be seeing the light of day. Um, yeah.

Monday, May 23, 2011

monday, monday

Hi, guys. The stress of a Monday is killing me today, so let's catch up tomorrow - okay?

Friday, May 20, 2011

things to do...

This weekend there will so much happening to see and do.

We hope to:
  • hit up the Stratford Chase neighborhood garage sale in VB on Saturday (that is, if I can wake up and get the kiddo out there by 7am - wish me luck)
  • stroll Stockley Gardens Art Festival with a funnel cake in one hand and a chicken skewer in the other.
  • attend Book Club at Rachel's beautiful mid-century ranch. I haven't read the book, but I'm just dying to see her house! Why did I actually expect to get through a 400 page book in one week? That was some crazy thinking on my part (One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez).
  • have Dr. Pter over for brunch on Sunday.
What are your plans?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

oh deer

Ever since reading this post on Ash and Coppice, I've been looking at everything in a whole new light. Would this look fantastic sprayed a solid bright color? Yes, please!

Enter the 2.99 dusty rose reindeer. I'm sure he spent some great times during the holidays in some old lady's knick-knack filled home, but he was just sitting lonesome on the thrift store shelf sans floral arrangement. Poor guy. He needed some sunshine.

Woah – let the sun shine in! I had leftover paint from Zuul the chihuahua, so this guy was sprayed a citrus yellow to add more cheer to our morning bowls of cereal at the kitchen table. I love the way it picks up the yellow in the framed map.

That succulent growing out his back is a jade plant commonly referred to as "E.T.'s fingers." I'll admit, the name sold me. We'll see how it fares, as I don't have the best track record with indoor plants, but I've asked Avery to say nice things to it everyday in hopes the good energy will pull it through my inevitable future neglect. Keeping my fingers crossed.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

and the color is...

Thanks to everyone who cast their palette at Ash and Coppice.

Meet Zuul. If you stare intently into his eyes, you may catch a glimpse of the cosmos.

He is the best pet ever. He's always cute, never barks or needs to be let out, and saves us money on food. Now, if I could just get my cats to stop vomiting nasty hairballs and pooping in front of the litterbox, I'd be a happy camper.

He has taken up final residence in Avery's room right by the door. He's a great guard dog.

Some production notes:
  • Montana Gold acrylic spray paint in Citrus Yellow. It's a graffiti artist paint sold locally at Jerry's Artarama (they keep it locked up). It's pricier than the average Home Depot variety (6.99 a can) but the quality is higher, the color choices are vast, and the finish is smooth and very opaque.
  • For the eyes: Testors enamel in 1146 Silver (1/4 fl. oz. glass bottle - used for detail painting on train models - found at Michaels) Around 2.99 a bottle.
little bits of awesome: good vibrations

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

gettin' all crafty

Necklaces draped on the corner of my mirror frame - that's how I store my jewelry. I try to slip one off ever so carefully and the entire mass crashes on the dresser. What is a gal to do?

I pinned this image last week as the perfect solution to my storage problem. Old frame. Chicken wire. Done

Made a special trip to Home Depot. Picked up a succulent and two dowel rods. Drove home. Forgot chicken wire. Doh!

Time for a little improvisation.

Climbed into the attic and found a suitable frame. In my former life freshly out of college, I worked as a custom framer for a small gallery. I saved every scrap and made a million frames which I have stockpiled in our attic.

Also, grabbed some picture wire and my handy staple gun. That staple gun never lets me down.

Stretched picture wire across frame and secured.

Voila! Instant jewelry display and the necklaces will no longer get tangled. I hung it in the back of my closet (not pictured because it resembles a dungeon) and pretend I'm entering a little boutique every time I pick out a necklace to wear for the day.
giving in

As I folded laundry this weekend in the wee hours of Sunday morning, I flicked on AMC and caught the 1987 hit Overboard. You remember this movie, yes? So, as Goldie's character is introduced to her "sons," the youngest replies with a strange throaty voice and Kurt's character explains to her how he is obsessed with Pee-Wee Herman. And she nods in agreement like she can remember who Pee-Wee Herman is with her selective amnesia, but not her own name. Such a small detail, but it brought me back to the fourth grade and watching Pee-Wee's Playhouse every Saturday morning.

It was such a bizarre program and I remember loving every detail of his Playhouse set. And so I went into the kitchen to fill up my coffee, I stopped dead in my tracks, looked around, and noticed my kitchen resembles a refined version of Pee-Wee's. The color & the cheeriness. The tangent continues...

So during Secrets of a Stylist last week, Emily repainted a couple's guest house a lovely soothing blue-green color, but later repainted over it because "it was too juvenile." Ugh. I really liked that color. And I imagine Emily diagnosing my style taste as mid-century juvenile, or MadMen-PeeWee. I am accepting this and working with it, which leads me to...

Learning to embrace the child aesthetic in your home.

We have a spacious two-bedroom house. Oxymoron? Our living space is large, though our bedrooms are fit for the dwarfs who apparently lived here in 1938.

I try to contain Ave's growing amount of play stuff in his bedroom and our TV room. Needless to say, the TV room looks like a daycare with miniature appliances/workbenches lining every wall in that tiny room. Because I've finally accepted the juvenile nature of our home, I made the decision to move some of his items throughout the house in appropriate rooms. GASP! And we're looking to sell our house, you say? THE HORROR!

So, Ave's kitchen is now in OUR kitchen. And you know, it fits perfectly.

Y'all are probably wondering where I found a boy-appropriate kitchen set, right?

Thrift store - $8. It was pink, so we repainted.

Boy-appropriate kitchen accessories: Green Toys Tea Set $18 and made from curbside recycled milk containers.

Monday, May 16, 2011

can we do that again?

Aaahhhh...the weekend. Nothing makes me happier than opening the windows to let in a cool breeze and looking outside and seeing it's still daylight at 8pm. This is my favorite time of the year. Still too early for mosquitoes and the stifling Virginia humidity.

So, I celebrated this weekend by exposing my blinding pale legs for the world to see and wore a questionably short dress for a 34 year-old mother. But folks, I think I've finally reached the point of not caring.

Avery and I spent the weekend tracing one another with chalk on the sidewalks (well, Ave drew more ON me than around me), blowing on pinwheels, and chasing bubbles. I must say – I'm really enjoying my second childhood.

Though, due to our hectic schedules, all the exciting chores like grocery shopping (I loathe!) and cleaning the house get crammed into the weekend, too. Needless to say, personal projects and the book I have to read for book club next Saturday have been put aside. This is why it takes me 2 months to read one book.

But Ave and I made it a point to visit the Chrysler Museum of Art to see the Curious George exhibition. The Chrysler hosts a Family Day the second Saturday of every month from 12-3pm and has special activities for children, plus FREE admission to ALL of the galleries.

Ave found the courtyard fountain far more entertaining than the exhibition, but what can you expect from a two year-old boy?

The pastels were worth a try, but the little dude managed to smear more of the other children's artwork on his pants than create his own.

On Sunday, Bobby suggested we follow the hordes of people walking past our house to the annual Greek Festival. Every year, the Greek Orthodox Cathedral sets up a HUGE tent with a gazillion long tables and serves up traditional food and entertainment. It is beyond popular, but every year I throw my hands in the air and exclaim, "I just don't get it! What is the mass appeal?" And so, as I made my annual speech, Bobby turned to me and said, "Cassie, it's simple. You don't like to just eat and celebrate." Oh. He's so right.

We gave the festival a shot and I nearly fainted when I saw the mile-long food line (just for the loukoumades!), but we took a seat near the stage anyway sans food. And the live music was loud and people started hopping from their seat to join the dancers on stage and the light finally went on. Oh, I get it now. It IS fun to just eat, celebrate, and enjoy the company around you. It's really so simple.

Saturday, May 14, 2011


The song, styling, choreography, set design, cinematography...everything makes this video our family's favorite of the moment. Enjoy and happy weekend.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

can we dress like it's the kentucky derby everyday?

(crappy iphone pic - sorry)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

some scenes from mother's day

Bobby made the best eibrot, which is a Swiss version of french toast,
and served it with fresh fruit, blackberry preserves, and nutella.

The nutella made quite an impression on this guy.

The best gift of all: peace and quiet.

Monday, May 09, 2011

on mothering and being someone's child

Instead of exchanging the usual flowers and cards this year, I asked my mom if she would give me some words of advice on mothering; and in turn, I would write her a letter of appreciation. With her permission, I'm sharing these letters with you, in hopes they'll inspire you to write a letter of your own to someone who's had an impact in your life. Mothers, fathers, teachers, friends. Pen on paper - not typed. I know these are words I will hang onto in my darkest hours.

My mother's letter is first.

To my daughter on Mother's Day,
You asked me to write words of advice on being a good mother and I find myself doubting my qualifications for doing so. Mothering is not an exact science with proven methods for getting the desired results. So much of it is trial and error and just doing the best that you can do. There are a few things that I think "work," after all, I am very proud of the woman that was once, and will always be, my little girl.
  • L Lessons taught early will be remembered longer. This is an especially good time to teach moral values.
  • O Only children can be a challenge in that sometimes they think the world revolves around them. Often we have a tendency to give a child too many material things because we do not need to buy for his siblings. This can really spoil a child. The most fun can be had with the simplest of things - pots and pans, etc. Just because we can buy it doesn't mean we should.
  • V Value every moment that you spend with him. Whether you are reading to him, playing, or teaching him to "cook," cherish every moment. He will grow up so fast that it will break your heart.
  • E Eating dinner together as a family is very important. He should learn to stay seated at the table until he is excused. It is a wonderful time to discuss everyone's day. No television or other distractions. It is family time.
  • H Have fun with him. Playing with him brings you into his world and makes him feel important.
  • I Instead of picking up his toys for him, help him pick up his own toys. This should carry over into keeping his room clean and clothes picked up off the floor (somehow I failed to do this well enough).
  • M Make sure that he learns to do his part as a member of the family. Let him help with the laundry, dishes, etc. Chores teach a child responsibility and concern for others. After all, he will be taking care of you one day.
Obviously, the most important piece of advice is something that you know and do so well. Just LOVE HIM with all of your heart. A child that grows up loved will, most likely, be a loving adult. What more can you ask for?

10 Reasons I'm so grateful to have you as my mom.
  1. You made me honestly believe you had the ability to cure any illness with a kiss and a little sip of Pepsi-Cola.
  2. You convinced me that my birthday was THE most important day of the year and you put great effort into ensuring it would also be the most fun.
  3. As an educator, you were constantly working little teaching moments into our daily lives. On our nature walks, you would always point out lichen and quiz me about symbiotic relationships, plus it seemed necessity to classify/name every bird we came across. I still can't help but point out every glossy ibis, red-winged blackbird, or snow egret no matter who I'm with.
  4. You were such a dedicated teacher and a loving mother figure to your students who desperately needed one of their own.
  5. You being so insistent I study abroad in Italy and "grab the gusto." You challenged this introvert to step outside of my comfort zone and take chances, no matter what the outcome.
  6. The sparkle in your eye when you whisper "Avery is amazing," like you're letting me in on a secret truth.
  7. You taught me to take great pride in everything I do, no matter how mundane the activity.
  8. You introduced me to the great simple pleasures in life: walking to Mr. Whippy for an ice cream cone, taking car rides on the refuge at dusk with the windows rolled down so we could listen to "night sounds," and cream cheese on graham crackers.
  9. I have never questioned the love you have for me and our family.
  10. And most importantly, you taught me through example that loving, honoring, and respecting one's mother is one of the most important acts in life. And that it is a trait I should look for in a mate and in the company I keep. As a child, I was lucky to witness the complete admiration you had for your mother and your dedication to her when she fell ill. I know her passing created a hole in your heart, but I just wanted to let you know I see her every time I watch you and Avery together. She lives on through you and the joy you bring to our lives.

Yeah, we cried together after exchanging letters. Lots of tears and I'm not one to show emotion.

The simplest of gestures can mean so much to someone. My mom remarked that she had no idea that those little things she did while I was growing up would carry such great importance. Now she does and always will.

Friday, May 06, 2011

gone fishing

Do you guys read aesthetic outburst? If so, then you already know that Abbey makes something creative everyday, solely to give away to her readers. All one has to do is comment and the winner is picked at random.

We lucked out big time.

A delicately wrapped package came last week containing three sweet embroidered felt fish and a fishing pole. We transformed an empty cookie jar into the perfect fish bowl.

The fish stick to the pole by magnet. It's very easy for little ones to use, but still gave Ave enough challenge to line up the magnets just right. Oh, and in case you're wondering, I keep them out of reach when not in he doesn't eat them or anything (you know, magnets are very dangerous for babies).

Handmade toys are simply the greatest.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

little bits of awesome (part 2): the chocolate bunny is going down