Sweetest Cross Country Proposal Ever

28 February 2010 | 2 Comments

Perfect.  Just perfect.

French Macarons with Cecilia.

Last weekend, we took a little trip up to Ann Arbor to visit Chef Cecilia Mercante at her kitchen.  We picked up a box the most delectable french macarons for our Parisian brunch.

Aside from the fact that the macarons were amazing, Cecilia is so approachable and friendly and wonderful that we will be back.  She is French, married to an American {which is what she's doing here in the US} and her English is impeccable.  She smiled and was attentive and chatted with me all the while cutting pieces of macron and lemon tarts for me to sample.  I can completely understand why she chose to attach her commercial kitchen to her house rather than having a storefront.  Her personality isn't hidden behind a counter, she is right there, inviting you into her kitchen, much like a friend rather than a customer.  She even whipped off her hair net to pose for a photo for me... if that doesn't say approachable, I don't know what does. 

Macarons aren't your style?  How about an individual lemon tart?  Biting into it reminded me of summer, I will be ordering several for my Meme's birthday.  Everything she uses is fresh from real vanilla bean, to lemons, to the apples in this gorgeous tart and you can really see the difference.

I'm a sucker for great packaging and everything in that department was lovely as well.  Handmade, tasteful tags are attached to each box with string.  *Insert me swooning here.*

I just can't say enough, truly.  I would love to get a group together here and have her come down to do a macaron class or cater a french dinner, both of which she does.

If you are in the Ann Arbor area, you must visit her.  She also makes trips to the Detroit area often.  For us, it was a 45 minute drive that I would gladly make time and again.  She is that good.  And aside from all of those U of M fans roaming around, {ha!} Ann Arbor is a fantastic town to shop.

{Full disclosure: This is my opinion.  Cecilia did not pay or compensate me in any way for this review, she is just so lovely, I wanted to share.}

Hey. Girl Scouts.

26 February 2010 | 11 Comments
I'm pretty sure that the Caramel Delights {or Samoas if you're into the bastardized version from those other "Girl Scouts"**} are going to be gone by the time Dave gets home from work. 

It's not my fault. 

Yes, they are $97 a box.  And they only roll around once a year.  But that gooey caramel and toasted coconut gets me every time.

So... sorry Dave, I ate two more while I was googling recipes to make my own.

This one from Baking Bites looks promising.

Or maybe these cupcakes from the Cooking of Joy.

And I should feel guilty probably.

But I don't.

Those suckers are the size of a silver dollar.  That's like 1/4 of a regular cookie.  AND there are only 15 in a package.  So really, it's like eating 3.75 cookies!

Seriously?  Ya little rip off artists.  $97 for 3.75 cookies???

I feel dirty.

Wait, three more are gone because this ranting is getting me all worked up.

The year that I was pregnant, I made Dave drive all around looking for those cookie booths. 

When did this start?  When I was a Brownie, if you didn't order them in January, you were screwed for the rest of the year.  So, if your mom was cool, which mine totally was, she would order like 25 boxes to last you through summer.  Now, you can go to Sam's or Kroger and pick them up from a cheerful little scout that knows you just ate the last of the coconutty goodness and your husband is going to be pissed because he only had like 3 of them.

Stupid Dave and his stupid restraint.  See where it got you Davester? 

Caramel Delight-less. 

**By the way, they aren't really bastardized versions, they just have two companies who do the scout cookie baking. One calls it one thing, and one calls it the other.   Thank you to Amy who taught me that many years ago.  Not that we spend a lot of time talking about these little gems of goodness or hide them in our cars so our husbands don't eat them or anything....

What are your favorite GS cookies?

Maybe she's premed so she can take care of her geriatric booty call?

Elise from the Attic is a weekly blog post from my sister Elise who is currently kicking up her heels and studying her ass off in Kentucky. She is a fashionista and a lunatic, but we love her. Mostly. Here is this week's edition of:
Please don't hate me for bailing on you last week. I was stressed to the max and my brain was overflowing with evolutionary theories and sociological terms, nothing you would have enjoyed reading about, I promise.

While I was hitting the books hard at the library though I did allow myself the slight pleasure of a little good hearted eavesdropping. I didn't feel bad at all because the girl was in no way trying to keep her voice down though I was in plain sight five feet from her and the poor boy whose ear she was talking off. You can always tell the students who are just at the library for social reasons or doing some mundane work compared to those who are actually studying for an exam or a paper. I was obviously a member of the latter group; my hair was in a ponytail that I had thrown up three days prior, I was wearing blue sweatpants with the elastic at the ankles still in tact, black fuzzy socks and my off white moccasins. I hadn't even bothered to wash the scar cream from the previous night off of my forehead before leaving my room.  {Michelle here.  Allow me to interject just a minute... ummm the scar cream on her forehead was from a zit the size of Mt Vesuvius at New Year.  Dave named it.  Zeke.}

I know she noticed this at first glance but, she continued to talk about the man that she was secretly meeting up with and kept assuring this boy that he wasn't that much older. This poor guy had just thrown out a casual "hey" as he was walking past her to what I assume was the bathroom or the elevator. She intercepted him and then dumped her personal life on him and kept saying, "That isn't really slutty, right?" The guy nodded towards the book in front of her, I'm guessing he was trying his hardest to get her to go back to her studying but she just told him she was only studying bio, which according to her was just "like sooo boring". She proceeded to share that, after an hour she was going out to get hammered and drunk text her boyfriend wannabe, who I assume, isn't too far from collecting social security.

I was feeling pretty good about myself in comparison to this girl until she asked her friend what he finally declared as his major. He answered business and she literally went off about how lame he was and how only people who aren't even smart enough to be in college major in business and that sheee was premed.  I wondered what she would have said about me, seeing as I don't have a major... or any inkling of what it may be in the future. Then, I remembered this girl who was complaining about how totally lame bio was, planned on being a doctor. Apparently, only airheads study business and you don't have to enjoy, or have an interest in biology to be premed. I'm thinking ten years down the road if I find out this girl became a doctor after all I may boycott healthcare altogher.

Until Next Week,

Elise, From The Attic

Finnegan's 3rd Birthday Party Ideas

25 February 2010 | 1 Comments

Disney Cars Birthday Party
This year Finnegan's obsession with the movie Cars led to his party idea.  We tossed around the ideas of a superhero {since he loves his superhero cape} and an animal/zoo party which we will likely do next year when they are old enough to enjoy running around the zoo a little more.  There really wasn't even an option here, he loves Lightening McQueen and his buddies so he's going to be thrilled to walk into a room filled with race car stuff.  My challenge {one that I'm ready to tackle} is to keep the licensed products to a minimum and make it more interesting/fun than buying some Cars plates and slapping them out.  I'm finding that a little creativity is going a long way in creating a Cars feel without having Lightening & Mater pasted all over everything.  Maybe more Route 66 and less Disney?

Any and all ideas are MORE than welcome!


24 February 2010 | 5 Comments
I nap.

I'm a napper. 

Snuggling up under the flannel sheets, down comforter, & room darkening blinds closed up tightly.

Pretty sure I should be a genius according to Life Hacker.

It doesn't say anything about then being up until 2 am randomly dorking around on the internet.

How do you feel about naps?

There Always Has to be an International Incident With Him - Part 1

22 February 2010 | 7 Comments

My husband isn't really a good traveller.  On our first flight together, we were going to Florida and he had about 12 things in his hands before I kindly reminded him that everything needed to be in his bag or on his person because you can't just get on a flight with a bunch of stuff.  Admittedly, he is now a much better traveller since he has to travel for work fairly often, he's got that one bag rule down.

But allow me to share with you the international incidents.  Oh yes, not just one incident, there is an S there people.  This is also the reason that, while I'd like to add a stamp in my passport in my 101 Things, I am afraid.  Very afraid.

#1 St Martin 
It started on our first international trip together.  It was to St Martin in 2005.  Dave didn't realize that he needed a non-military passport because well, at that point he had only been out of the US when with the ANG.  So, we had to expidite it, but he received it in time and we made our way to St Martin.

We had some swimsuits drying on the railing and they fell down, so being the drunk nice guy that he is, Dave decided to walk down to get them.  Please note the following...

This is the villa we stayed in.  Notice the virtual JUNGLE that is right under the railing.  This is where he was going to get the swimsuits.

This guy hung out daily sunning himself right where he was going to get the swimsuits.

And so did a huge wasp/bees nest.  So alas, my fiance at the time, is hacking his way through the jungle yard and disturbs said bees.  He comes SCREAMING bloody murder, running, dancing around like a maniac and trying to rip his shirt off up the path to the stairs.  And we're all laughing because, it's St Martin, we've been drinking rum since 10 am, and we think he is screwing around.  I think he finally ripped his shirt off and jumped in the pool before we realize that he's been stung lots.  Thankfully, he was just sore and felt better later.  He never did get those suits, but later Britt jumped right over the railing onto a little landing, grabbed the suits, and climbed back up... incident free.

He also decided that he would be the driver the night my mom & Richard got married on the beach.  Big mistake.  That stone wall came outta nowhere!

And then there was this...

Dave decided to get plastered at this hut {literally a shack} on the beach with my step-dad while my sister & Britt were snorkeling.  He was drinking gin when Lyndsey came out of the ocean, parched and thinking it was water, asked if she could take a drink.  Oh yes, he let her take a big swig... nothing like saltwater washed down with a little gin, eh?  They then carted him back up to the house where he proceeded to have the following conversation with my mother...

Dave:  What is totally AWESOME for $2000 Alex? *imagine a finger snap & clap here* THE DAVESTER.

Janet:  What were you drinking?

Dave: Oh, maybe some Gin with Richard.  Your mother's a whore Trebeck.

Janet:  Gin makes you sin.  Go take a nap before Michelle wakes up and finds you like this.

Dave:  OK

When I woke up from my nap, the "Davester" was curled up in the fetal position on a lounge chair by the pool with his shirt pulled up like a belly shirt.  He was hung over by 4 pm.

#2 Cancun
And then came Cancun.  We get off the plane and I tell Dave, "Do not give our luggage to anyone under any circumstances."  He agrees.  So when you're going through customs in Cancun, you have to press this button and it gives you either a green light (proceed) or a red light (stop and be searched).  I press the button, GREEN and I start walking through, Dave's hand is on the button before I yell noooooooooo.  You only need to press it once with your spouse.  Luckily, he stopped just before pressing it.  Then we're walking out to get a shuttle and I turn around and Dave is walking next to some kid who was probably 14 who has his suitcase.  The kid walked probably 20 feet with his bag before I told him to get it back and then he wanted a tip.  So Dave gets pissed because he has to tip this kid and he can't figure out in the first place HOW he let the kid take his bag from him.

It gets better... a couple days later we're coming back from dinner and the doormen open the door and say, "Buenos Noches."  I reply with the same.  Dave replys with, "Baños NaNaNachos."  At that point, I turn around to look to see if he indeed just said "bathroom nachos" with a stutter and laughed so hard I, indeed did need to find a baño before I peed my pants.

And then, Tropical Storm Stan rolled in...

You can read about our international incidents in #3 Ireland & #4 Paris that I wrote about earlier.  That didn't even include the British Airways flight from hell being trapped in a plane filled with the smell of salmon... they convieniently ran out of the chicken aka: the reason I will never fly BA again. 

So maybe now, you can understand my trepidation with international travel and the Davester.

I'd love to know we're not the only ones, what your travel adventures have been!

I Love Paris in the Springtime {Brunch}

21 February 2010 | 17 Comments
Really, Paris in the spring... there isn't anything better.

I love the food, Laudree macarons and warm baguette and brie.  I love the drinks, red wine and champagne.  I love the Eiffel Tower and Sainte-Chappelle and the Centre Pompidou, the mix of very old juxtiposed with the very new.  And I love that brunch, an American concept, is becoming a popular thing in Paris. 

My favorite thing is sitting around with great friends, good food, and laughing for hours.  The lingering over that table listening to French music & debating for hours means more than the vintage silver or the menu planning, though after reading this blog, you know I enjoy those too.

To decorate, we pulled lots of black and white Paris photos from around the house, some we had taken ourselves.  I added lots of white and lavender flowers in different types of vases and jars.  To set the table, we pulled out the silver Dave's great aunt left him, the vintage glasses that we received as a wedding present, vintage linen napkins given to me by my aunt that were hand stiched by her mother in law & mixed all of those with glass plates picked up at the Dollar store and our everyday white plates.   We used what we had {though admittedly, there is a lot of French stuff in the house to choose from} & pulled out special pieces that we don't enjoy often enough.

I made the placecards using a French photograph from Graphics Fairy.  She finds some amazing graphics that she cleans up & encourages you to use for free!  I loved it because it was whimsical & the caption reads "true friendship" in French.  Even if I was the only one who knew that, I just loved the message.  I also printed out several vintage French labels from her site to use on the vases & jars.  I just used some double sided tape to stick them on for easy removal after the party.

The macarons were made by the fabulous Cecilia Mercante.  I am going to give those a separate post later in the week to tell you all about our visit.  We drove up to Ann Arbor to get them at her kitchen and they are, in a word... amazing.

Le Menu
Creme Brulee French Toast
Fruit Salad
Sausage Links
Croissants & Bonne Maman Cherry Preserves

Nutella, Raspberry, & Vanilla Macarons

Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice
French Roast Coffee 

And we can't forget les enfants!  Our little guest Oliver is obsessed with the Ratatouille movie, which is set in Paris.  He has been telling his mom how excited he was to come to a french brunch, so I themed the table for Ollie and Finnegan based on the movie.  I used a red and white tablecloth & turquoise napkins, chairs, & glasses.  I added a silver pot, some wooden spoons, red flowers, Remy place cards, crayons, & coloring pages.  And really, for the two year olds, they thought it was awesome to have brunch with a view of the Eiffel Tower!


Just one last thing... This is Oliver's Mama and me {we are the two in the top middle} in the spring of 1992 1993 when my love affair with Paris began.  How amazingly wonderful that eighteen seventeen years later, we're still enjoying croissants... and now our boys are too.  {Edited because I am an idiot & Amy set me straight in the comments!}

Randomness for your Friday.

19 February 2010 | 5 Comments
Never fear, there might be a bonus Elise from the Attic for you this afternoon, but I gave her a pass this week if she needs it. I know you all love her neurotic collegy tendancies to brighten your Fridays, but girlie is swamped and still laptop-less.

Did you love the Sea Salt Chocolate Covered Oreos?  Here is a fabulous cake from Baked NYC {via Amy Atlas} that would be right up your alley!

I am entering this contest over at Maddycakes Muse.  You should too, there are great prizes!  Michelle is one of my regular reads and it's a great party planning site to check out even if you don't enter.  I can't wait to share my entry with everyone... you just have to wait a couple more days, it should be up Sunday evening.  And this is turning out to be a little adventure too.

And you... leave a comment for me with a link to your favorite post this week.  It can be a post from your blog or from one of your favorite blog reads.  


A question for you.

17 February 2010 | 7 Comments
Does {insert name here of your husband/wife/spouse/lover/significant other} read or participate in your blog?

Dave and I were talking about it a few days ago because he rarely comments on my blog, but subscribes to the RSS, catches up every day & talks to me about it at home.  He has been a pretty big supporter of the blog and lets me talk about amusing things at his expense.  He even told me to go for it back in August when I contemplated taking the blog from private to public.  I'm sure that he feels that supporting me in something I love is a good thing and would do that whether it's blogging or something else.  Plus, it helps that he's a fancy pants programmer and can help me with stuff I break. Which, ummm, never happens here. 

I think though, having said all that, that I'm intrigued at the anonymity some bloggers are able to maintain.  I could see myself not sharing my blog with people I am dating casually.  I could also see spouses that aren't tech savvy "not getting it" or just not being into it.

So, I'm curious.  I don't think there is any right or wrong answer here.  Is your blog something you share with your special person? Is it something you keep to yourself?

Valentine's Day... The Movie & The Reality

Can I just say that you all are sweet with your cheery messages?  Thanks for being so NICE, even when I'm cranky.  I had a good talk with my Janet (aka mom) and that cures a multitude of bad days.  In our family, we mostly like to laugh through our tears and being totally inappropriate makes us who we are.  She is currently experiencing roid rage due to a dose of steroids to help with a random allergic reaction and/or virus she's experienced twice in the last couple months.  It got scary with throat swelling, thus the need for a dose of steroids and anyway, if you know my Janet in real life, you'll know she might appear to have roid rage on a regular basis, so actual roid rage is almost so bad that it is comical.  We commiserated on the piling up of a million tiny things going wrong and made plans to go see Valentine's Day tonight.  Because nothing cures shit like a good chick flick.  Right?

I know it got panned by pretty much every critic everywhere, but it was a cute movie.  Yes, yes there were too many characters and really there are probably 3 sets of couples that I think could have gone by the wayside because I just didn't care about their story.  And yes, it was cheesy and predictable.  I'm ok with that in my chick flicks.  And if nothing else, McSteamy is in it and his shirt is happily OFF in like 70% of his scenes, so yeah, see it.  The characters that Taylor Swift and Taylor "I am a teen werewolf" Lautner played had me rolling and remembering the love angsty teenagery hormone infused times of days gone by.   

Plus, Lyndsey and I almost had to hold the roid raging Janet down when a jackass in the back of the theater decided to have a conversation on her cell in the middle of the theater.  Why, oh why do peeps feel the need to do that?

So, now our actual Valentine's Day that I should have been posting about instead of my crappy day yesterday.  Dave made steaks on the grill, then it was downtown for dessert at my mom's.  I'm pretty sure the pics do more justice than my rambling.  My step dad pretty much rocks because this was ALL his doing, from the dozens of white roses {Janet's fave} to the cooking, to the rose petals on the table, to the chilled champagne {me} to the port {Dave} to red wine {Janet} everything was perfection.

 There was almond white cake with raspberries and packages of sea salted caramels for everyone.

Chocolate is more your style?  How about Melt Cakes with ice cream?

Maybe it was the champagne {with a grapefruit rosemary simple syrup added to it} talking or the fact that he let me sleep in till eleven, but I love this guy {Microsoft shirt and surprised look and all} and the little munchkin stuffing his face too.

I hope yours was just as fabulous.

Tough Days.

15 February 2010 | 12 Comments
What do you do to get through them?

Because today was a doozy and I really could do with a hug or a glass of wine or something.


An Anniversary Like No Other

Today is my anniversary.

           Not my wedding anniversary. 

                              Not my bloggaversary.

                                           Or the anniversary of my birth.

It's more important than that.

Four years ago, I quit smoking.

Even typing that, I have to stop and let it soak in.

It was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life.  And there are some moments it still is...

Mostly, I have to say that now, I don't even remember who I was as a smoker.  And I like that, but it took a long time to get there.  It's much better than the first year, when I didn't know who I was as a non-smoker.  I smoked for ten years, pretty much all of my adult life.  I had to find my way.  And the doubt crept in daily whether I could even do it.

So, so, so many times I had tried before. I think I had to quit fifteen or so times before I did it for real. Persistance pays off.  Try... even if you have tried twenty times before.  It's worth it.

Gradually, my clothes started to smell like fabric softener. My hair smelled like shampoo. My car didn't smell like an ashtray. Little victories pushed me on. Running up a flight of stairs and not being winded. Colds not lasting for weeks. And the money... I am now $1500 richer EVERY YEAR.
Most importantly, I'm glad that Finn has never known me as a smoker.  I don't want him to ever think it's ok, or for it to even be on his radar.  I did it for me, you'll never make it if you're doing it for someone else... but on those rare days or moments when it's tough, I stick with it for him.
So today, I'm doing a little celebrating because y'all I'm a non-smoker and I'm pretty sure, that is worth shouting from the rooftops.

Sea Salt Chocolate Covered Oreos

13 February 2010 | 18 Comments
I am pretty sure I've just created the world's most perfect food.

Oh yes, yes I have.

And it's EASY.  So easy that even Elise can do this... and they look fancy.  And they taste even more fancy than they look. 

First, put a bag of Double Stuf {and yes, there is weirdly only one F in Stuf} Oreos into the freezer. 

Then, I made the red hearts using Wilton melts.  Microwave at half power in 30 second increments until melted & pour into a pastry bag.  Snip the end off and make two circles right next to each other.  Then, using a knife, pull the bottoms of the circles out to form the point of the heart.

Then microwave half a bag of good semi-sweet chocolate, half power in 30 second increments, just like the Wilton melts.  I used Ghiradeli chocolate.  I also threw in a handful of bittersweet because I like the chocolate a little less sweet.  Retrieve the Oreos from the freezer and start dipping, using a fork to turn over and to pull them out of their yummy chocolate bath.

I did about 5 at a time to allow for a little cooling of the chocolate before sprinkling with Vanilla Bean Sea Salt.  I use Fusion Sea Salt from Salt Works, it can be found locally at Anderson's or you can buy it here.  Warning, if you go over and take a peek, you may just find 10 different salt flavors you can't live without.  I would LOVE to try their Espresso Brava Sea Salt for these cookies next time.  You can also use whatever good quality plain sea salt that you have available to you.  Do not use table salt here, it's way too harsh for something like this.

These are gorgeous as is, and any other time of the year, I would leave them with just the sea salt on top.

I did add the heart to the top, it's Valentine's Day after all.  These took no time at all to make, so give them a try.  I promise, they are worth it.

The Butt Cake and The Attempted Robbery of My Converse Sneaker

12 February 2010 | 7 Comments
Elise from the Attic is a weekly blog post from my sister Elise who is currently kicking up her heels and studying her ass off in Kentucky. She is a fashionista and a lunatic, but we love her. Mostly. Here is this week's edition of:

I am afraid to death of confrontation.

I avoid it at all possible costs. In fact, the things I do to avoid confrontation are quite irrational, and getting worse.

When I was little, I'd have my step mom tell my dad if I got a bad grade because I was afraid to tell him myself.

In Jr. High it elevated.

I once ordered a burger from McDonalds with ketchup only and when I got my burger with mustard, pickles etc., I walked away pretending to be satisfied before I begged my cousin to order me another. I don't know what I thought the less than meticulous McDonalds employee would do to me if I spoke up, but I was not going to take the chance.

My freshman year of high school, in French class we could make a dessert to share with the class for extra credit. I jumped on the idea and since it was Christmas time, asked my mom to make me the "Buche de Noel," a cake that had to be shaped and frosted to look like a log. She worked on this thing for hours and it was beautiful.

Well... I rode the bus in high school before I got my driver's license. The regulars of the public bus system I noticed, did not seem to be any more friendly than the McDonalds employee, as you can imagine. So I sat down, with the cake that my mother slaved over on a glass platter in a box next to me.

As I sat thinking to myself about how impressed my teacher would be with my extra credit, a man walked onto the bus. He was scary looking to say the least, dirty and scowling. And just guess which seat this man chose to sit his unclean behind on? The one that had been occupied by my gorgeous, time consuming, amazing cake, which was ON A PLATTER... IN.  A.  BOX.

I wish I was lying. Did I mention that there were MAYBE three seats on the bus that were taken? The man SAT ON MY CAKE, but the best part is...guess what I said to him?

Absolutely nothing.

We rode to school, twenty minutes, with this man sitting about four inches away from me on what was obviously not an empty seat. I was crying at this point.

My friends were sitting across from the man, the cake and I, laughing silently yet hysterically at the fact that I hadn't said a word and was silently weeping. The man looked over at me and said "Am I bothering you?" at one point, and I said no... I'm telling you, something is wrong with me.

{This is not my cake}

When we finally got to school one of my friends asked the man for my cake.  He stood up, handed it to her and asked me why I hadn't said anything... I ran off the bus. I had never laughed or cried harder in my life than when we opened that box as the bus pulled away to see a huge ass print in what was once a decadent log shaped cake.  Butt Cake.

I wish I could tell you that I was young and stupid, but the truth is I am now four years older... and still stupid.

A few months ago I was in the library, at a desk that sits four people, two on either side of a wall. You can't see the people across from you, but if you look under the desk, you can see their feet. Supposedly the two boys on the other side of the wall noticed me take my shoes off and thought it would be funny to take one of them.

I heard them talking about it and laughing but, I said nothing.  I didn't even move to see if I was missing a shoe until they left. I then looked over to my friend, who had been on the bus with me so many years ago, and explained the situation. She cried laughing as we searched the entire floor of the library for my shoe and eventually found it up on a shelf.

I would have walked back to my dorm shoeless before I would have told that shoe stealing bastard to back off my Converse.

As you can see, I am deathly afraid of confrontation and though it often puts me into unfortunate predicaments, I justify it to myself,  knowing that at least other people get a kick out of it. If you only knew my family, you would understand that I am the black sheep if there ever was one when it comes to speaking up.

I'm working on it.

Until next week,

Elise, From the Attic

Birthday Wishes

11 February 2010 | 18 Comments
THIS is what I want for my birthday in April.  Well, this and a Cricut Expression machine, but mostly this.  I am going to make it happen.  The ideas are already swirling.  AND my birthday is a Saturday this year.  Fate, no?

I might ask for your help.

Who is in?

Six Reasons I Want a Mixed CD for Valentine's Day {Maybe You Do Too.}

10 February 2010 | 3 Comments
  1. It's Hot. 
  2. It's Personal.  You wouldn't catch me with any death metal on my own personal soundtrack, but maybe you would have it on yours?  Maybe you'd like all music from when you started dating your husband in the 90s?  Maybe you want to include a song from every concert the two of you ever attended together? 
  3. It's Inexpensive.  If you don't already own the cds or mp3s of songs that you want to include, most can be purchased inexpensively on Amazon.  {Added Bonus: There are even playlists for you to peruse for ideas.}
  4. It's Thoughtful.  Mixed CDs take a little time to get the right mix of great songs, it takes some thought and a little planning.  Thoughtful trumps store bought.
  5. It's Mood Setting.  Add a scented candle if you're feeling so inclined.
  6. It's the Gift That Keeps Giving.  You can listen to that cd in August just as easily as you can in February and it's still hot. 

Need some song suggestions to get you started?  My personal faves...

Secret - Maroon 5
Remember to Breathe - Dashboard Confessional
My Love - Justin Timberlake {Ok, I'm almost embarassed to put JT on here, but it's a great song.}
Fade Into You - Mazzy Star
Untitled {How Does It Feel} - D'Angelo
Nice & Slow - Usher
Crush - Dave Matthews Band
Anywhere - 112
Naughty Girl - Beyonce
Crash Into You - Dave Matthews Band

So tell me, what is YOUR must have song? 

Check out this article at NPR for more inspiration!  The Make Out Mix:  Love Songs From NPR Music

Snowed In.

09 February 2010 | 4 Comments

I've been waiting for snow all winter.  We were 9 inches down for the snow count this season and I've missed it. 

I know, I'm weird.  I'm ok with that.

I started my day with a message.  The arrival of a new baby.  It brought tears to my eyes and a smile to my face.  Her name is Lindsey and her Mama is amazing.

I've decided I want to start all my days with the arrival of new babies and the promise of snow.

Schools were cancelled before a flake of snow hit the ground.  My sister arrived with donuts and six movies.

We have been snuggled in with a pot of stew, buttery biscuits, and hot chocolate... the real kind, made with cream and vanilla bean and melted dark chocolate. 

Tomorrow, we play.  Finn is so excited.  And I am too.

Super Mario Theme Birthday Ideas for JHB

07 February 2010 | 7 Comments
My friend Stephanie is planning a Super Mario party for her son's birthday and asked for some ideas to get started.  So Steph, I hope you get lots of inspiration here.  Please take lots of photos so we can do a feature of JHB's party!

I try to skip buying licensed products as much as possible, I think it makes a bigger impact when used in small doses.  So for the tableware & utensils, skip the boring Mario plates and just go with any of the bright colors.  I might make a little exception for these cute napkins from Amazon.  The same with brightly colored balloons, they make a big impact and they're about 1/4 the cost of the licensed products.  You could also cut out & hang Mario stars or the 1-up mushrooms from the ceiling, or just stick them random places.

Colors:  Red, Green, Blue, & Yellow

Free Printable Items:
Question Mark block template, print on heavy white cardstock, cut and assemble.  These would be cute for tables or for favors to take home.

Tons of free Mario coloring pages are here.  They would be great for keeping the kids busy or for sending home with the goodie bags.

From Oriental Trading:
Mustaches so you can have a bunch of Marios & Luigis running around.  I'm guessing that these are so fun, even the adults would get into this one {you may want to get extras} $4.99/dozen

Gold Coins use these for winning games just like Mario collects them throughout the game, the kids can take them home in their goodie bags too.  $3.99/144pcs  or if you prefer, you can get Chocolate Coins $9.99/60 pieces.

Bright Baseball Caps can be made into Luigi & Mario caps. $19.99/doz.  Ok, I know that they're only supposed to be red & green, but I don't think the kids will mind & all of these colors would match the party.  Get some white felt and cut circles out, glue those on and some felt to match the color of the hat to cut the letters out.  If you want to be super awesome, you can use each child's initial to make their own special cap!

Inspiration Parties & Ideas:
Danielle's party via At Home with Kim Vallee

I love EVERYTHING about this awesome Mario Party via The Tanooki.  The piranah plant centerpieces are do-able and absolutely incredible.  They make such a statement & look pretty easy to figure out. 

These invites from Chica & Jo would be easy to re-create, especially with the great tutorial she gives.

Food Ideas:
These cookies from Geeky Cookies would be super easy to re-create!  Check out this post for a great cookie & frosting recipe.  The dots on the 1-up mushroom would be so simple using flood royal icing.

Keep it simple and go with multi-colored cupcakes & make cute cupcake toppers!  If you would rather buy the toppers, these from Etsy seller ddiapercakes would be a great addition at $22.99 for 40.

Updated to add:  this link of FABULOUS Mario cakes ideas from Cake Wrecks.

How about Princess Peach smoothies or Yoshi juice?  You could also go with brightly colored juice boxes or small gatorades in yellow, red, green, & blue.

Fill bowls or a vase with brightly colored m&ms.

And PIZZAS, of course, as an hommage to Mario & Luigi's heritage.  If you're feeling adventurous, you can even have the boys create their own.

If you're REALLY feeling adventurous and you have the time, check out the 1Up Mushroom Burgers from Instructables.

Games & Activities:
How about a wii Mario Kart tournament?

Yoshi's Egg Hunt - fill easter eggs {they should be redily available right now!} with gold coins, some could have pics of Bowser Jr or Kammy Koopa.  The person with the most gold coins at the end could win a special prize.

CreatWe an obstacle course for the boys to run through.  Through a tube, over the koopas, jump up to hit the 1-up mushroom, etc...

Want to see how it turned out?  Best Super Mario party ever.

Oh Harry, How I Wish We Were Together.

06 February 2010 | 5 Comments
Hello.  Hi.  Welcome.  Let me grab a drink for you.  It isn't too early for wine is it?  It's after noon, so I think we're good.  Sit down and stay awhile.  My name is Michelle, I'm an Aries, I like long walks on the beach and flowers.  Wait.  This is the wrong place for that.  There are lots of fun things to read over there in my sidebar if you want to learn a little about me.  ---->

If you're lazy like me, here are my 5 favorite posts.
  1. My mother meets Snoop.
  2. I am an idiot.
  3. My husband's surprise 30th.
  4. Being thankful.
  5. My sister gets arrested.  I wish I were kidding.

So, I'm not at Blissdom this weekend.  Bummer.  For those of you non-bloggers, Blissdom is a blogging conference being held in Nashville this weekend.  Think 500 bloggers {& an intimate concert with Harry Connick, Jr} just hanging out, enjoying bloggy goodness, and learning a lot.  There is always next year.

{Image via Harry}

So... the next best thing?  Joining Blessed Moon for the I'm Not At Blissdom Blog Hop!  Say hello.  Link up & visit those of us who will have to drool over Harry from afar.   

The Fornification of Frogs

05 February 2010 | 6 Comments
Elise from the Attic is a weekly blog post from my sister Elise who is currently kicking up her heels and studying her ass off in Kentucky. She is a fashionista and a lunatic, but we love her. Mostly. Here is this week's edition of:
I am questioning my sanity and the sanity of the Kentucky population.

First, my sociology teaching assistant, who moved here from China two years ago, went on for twenty minutes about how "our society puts us in chins" before I realized that he was saying chains.

As I was leaving that class, this guy stops me and asks me to point him to the journalism buliding. I guess he thought I looked nerdy enough that I would know where every class on campus is held... he was correct. But, as I'm pointing to a girl in the distance, using her as a reference in describing to him which way to go I said,  "See the blonde girl way up there?"   He responded with, "Oh yeah, the one with the hUGE ass? hahahahahaha," this guy was looking at me like I was going to laugh along and compliment him on his charm and wit.  It took every amount of class I have in me to restrain myself from beating him down right there on the sidewalk. He obviously did not look close enough to see the behind that my mother passed on to me.

The craziness does not end there my friends.

In Biology, my nut of a professor {who my friend and I have decided cannot possibly be married} decided to lecture on the fornification of species of toads and frogs. This, coming from a man who refers to himself as "rat bastard".  THE. MAN. CALLS. HIMSELF. RAT. BASTARD. PEOPLE! Anyway, before pulling out two large snakes from a bag at the end of the class to show us {for no obvious reason at all} he showed slides of frogs getting it on for an hour and fifteen minutes.

Is it creepy that I kind of found it really interesting though? If the answer to that question is yes, then I was just kidding.

But, to prove his theory that a frog will eat anything that moves and fits in its mouth and mates with anything that moves and doesn't fit in its mouth, he put his HAND in a pond in his back yard and watched three toads hump it for hours.... 6 hours to be exact. He said they would have gone for 12.

Naturally, he showed us the pictures.

I was beginning to think I was the only person on this campus with a semblence of sanity left...until I tried to pull the door open at the tanning salon for a good five minutes until realizing I was supposed to push. This is what I'm dealing with on a daily basis.....If I haven't lost my mind yet, it will undoubtedly happen soon.

Until next week,

Elise, From the Attic

Another SUPER Happy Thursday Thing...

04 February 2010 | 0 Comments

Do you know the Birthday Girl?  If not hop, skip, & JUMP right over to check out Becca's fabulous party blog.

Pssst... there is a fab write up about Finn's Seuss Party right here!

I am so excited.  And thankful.  Becca, you're wonderful and I love it.  Love.  It.

Happy Things for Thursday

  • We're getting snow!  Oh, it isn't a lot, just 2-4 inches expected, but we're down 6 or so inches for the year and I miss it.  The rest of the eastern half of the country is supposed to get much more.  Lucky.
  • Pregnancies!  {Not mine! Ha.}  Two of my good friends have announced pregnancies recently and I couldn't be happier for them.
  • Scrabble on Facebook.  Amy & I are addicted.  Pretty much right up to the line on whether we should join a support group.  So we play, game after game.  With a hit of Word Twist thrown in the mix.  Oh yeah.
  • I got a much needed brow wax yesterday.  I'm a freak about my eyebrows.  I like them to have shape and not be too thin and not look like I need to draw them on, but compliment my eyes nicely.  {I know... it's the only area of my life that I am high maintenance.}  I had to give up on my usual girl after years of going to her and have been on a mad search to find someone I loved equally.  Well, I saw Tristan before our trip to California and again yesterday.  I'm in love.  LOVE.  She is fantastic.  Local girls, I'll be happy to pass along her info, just shoot me an email.
  • The Superbowl is this weekend and while I'm not a big pro-ball fan, I love the advertising.  Fingers crossed for a good crop of commercials this year.  This might call for a pot of turkey chili. 
  • Tomorrow is another installment of Elise from the Attic!  I think I *may* look forward to these posts more than anyone.  Tomorrow also brings the winner of the fun 80s book!  I realize that I didn't put a time on it, so let's say you have until 6 pm {EST} on Friday to enter.
  • EIGHT more days & I can not wait!!!

Tell me something happy in your world today!

I Miss My Plastic Charm Necklace.

01 February 2010 | 20 Comments
Once, when Lyndsey and I were little, she shoved American cheese into my Strawberry Shortcake Blow Kiss doll.  You have no idea what I am talking about?  Strawberry Shortcake had baby dolls that, when you squeezed them, would blow fruit scented air into your face.  It was our favorite activity while dancing around in our Wonder Woman underoos watching Saturday morning cartoons.  I believe these days, they call it huffing, but whatevs. We had Lemon Meringue and Strawberry.  And Lyndsey had shoved the american cheese into her mouth which put the end to the strawberry scented goodness until one day, the cheese dried out enough to be dislodged just so.  When we pushed on her belly, she shot cheese out of her mouth at such a great speed that I'm pretty sure Rainbow Brite and Christina Marie were scared.  Christina Marie was my Cabbage Patch... she had a normal name because she was one of the first edition, procured by some miracle the Christmas I was seven  by my Meme from a friend of hers in New York.  Don't tell anyone, but she still lives in my house.

Lynds and I were children of the eighties.  We walked to the drugstore to buy giant flourescent pink triangle earrings.  We wore jelly shoes until our feet blistered.  We had every color of embroidery floss imaginable and would spend hours making friendship bracelets.  That was after the beaded friendship pin craze had died off a bit.  The Christmas that I was in sixth grade, my aunt took me to the Limited to buy an Outback Red shirt, I was in seventh heaven.  It was just about as awesome as my friends renting a white limo for my thirteenth birthday.  We rode around and drank two liters of soda.  How cool can you get?

My aunt also worked for Apple and got a IIe for us.  My mom probably had a $400 phone bill every month in 1987 when we were introduced to Prodigy by my Uncle Jim.  "Mom, we can meet someone in Oklahoma or Maine or New Hampshire!  You just use the phone line!  It is sooooo cool."  It lived in our bedroom, that we somehow convinced my mother to let us paint with bright white walls and black trim.  I can't even fathom the kind of "cool mom" factor it takes to let your pre-teens paint that hideousness with your blessing. 

Of course, it wasn't all Funshine & Cheer Bears, there were bad things too.  It is still the bane of my existance that I lost the tape of Lyndsey falling on her butt captured on my PXL-2000.  I was sure that was my ticket to Bob Sagett and his Funny Videos.  We ran out of cake mix & light bulbs burnt out of our Easy Bake Ovens.  My cousin John had all of his action figures stolen right out of the back of my Meme's Pacer in the parking lot of the grocery store.  And we do have photographic evidence of me only wearing pink and white, mostly flashdance-esque sweatshirts, for about two years of my life.  And the shoulder pads, the shoulder pads.  Who would let a fourth grader wear a turquoise blazer with shoulder pads to school?  That's right.  My mother. 

And the charm necklace.  Ohhhhh the sweet sweet plastic charm necklace.  Filled with clip on charms like a baby bottle, a tennis racket, and an abacus, because in 1985, you never knew when you might need a miniature plastic abacus.  To do your counting of Hello Kitty items or Garbage Pail Kid cards or ummm whatever?  If I had that pink plastic goodness today, I would be forced to wear it AND pretend I was putting on the plastic lipstick charm, the awesomeness was just that powerful.  There is no point in denying it.

This post is really for my awesome friend Merrily, who introduced me to this book, modeled by the gorgeous Christina Marie herself...

It's a book, it's a Trapper, there are images of smelly stickers, it's totally RAD.  I read this and laughed hysterically.  And now, I'm passing it on to one of you.  {Full disclosure, I totally paid for this sucker & already read it.} Leave a comment with YOUR favorite and thing about the eighties.  I will choose a winner on Friday, February 5.

Gotta go.  Digrassi Junior High is on and my crimper is done heating up. 

{UPDATE:  Thank you to all the entries!  The winner, chosen very democratically by writing everyone's name on paper and having Finnegan choose one, is GEORGIE!  Congrats!  I need your address to get your book to you!}
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