November 30, 2010

Unfriended. When the "Social Network" Leaves You Feeling Disconnected.

I got an email from a former classmate last week. It went something like this, "Dear All (a group of 25 or so people), For all intents and purposes, I'm quitting Facebook. If you want to get in touch with me, email me at this address."

No problem. She recently taken a break from Facebook. I figured she came back and realized she was tired of it. I was disappointed that I'd miss her rippingly funny remarks and the cute updates she posted about her her kids. We don't live close so it's how I kept up with her.

Then yesterday, she showed up in my news feed when she "Liked" a friend's comment. "Yay!" I thought, "She's back!"- and promptly proceeded to make some silly remark.

I decided to hop over to her page to see if she'd posted anything new. I typed her name in the search box - but didn't see her.Weird. So, I clicked her name where she'd "Liked" my friend's comment. There she was! Oh. I just wasn't in the friend list anymore. And, I'd been blocked - because I couldn't actually find her when I looked. Wow.

I have no idea what my friend's reason was for un-friending me and a bunch of other people in such a cryptic way. Maybe she was felt overwhelmed of the constant status updates. Maybe she feels it's voyeuristic. It's completely her choice who she friends and un-friends. And, although it hurt, I really do love this person and genuinely respect her right to make that decision for herself.

However, the experience caused me to think a little bit about how we use social media like FB to connect with friends, business associates, former lovers, acquaintances, random people who found us on Twitter... How those connections or disconnections affect us. Social media can be a bit overwhelming at times. A little revealing, vulnerable. Sometimes painful. Kinda like a social land mine.

Naturally, I have a few thoughts on the subject. ;-)

1. Contrary to some of the opinions I've seen posited online, FB is not the work of the devil. After all, just like every other delectable possible addiction - like chocolate, sex, vampire novels or great TV shows, it's best to use these powers for good rather than avoid them completely. I know some of you are secretly shouting, "Yes! Team Edward!!!!" Crazy vampire people.       (p.s. Team Jacob!!)

2. FB is just another tool that allows us to connect with people (or not) - like a phone, email, snail mail - at whatever level we feel comfortable. We choose who we "friend" and we choose what we post (just like in "real" life - except this is in writing and it moves pretty fast so you can't take it back).

3. FB shouldn't take the place of actual face-to-face human interaction. Unless, you haven't had any adult contact for 24 hours because you've been holed up with sick kids and didn't even think of chatting on the phone till after 10:30 pm. Then, it's a heck of a lot better than nothing.

4. FB is great for catching up with old friends and possibly making new ones. I love finding or being found by  friends from days and places past and looking at pics of them or their sweet kids - small or grown. I even love the day to day minutia that sometimes gets posted. It's the stuff life is made of. Unless the minutia includes details of trips to the bathroom. We have enough of that around here without having to read about it. Eeew.

5. The variable number of one's Facebook friends should not cause serious internal debate about said person's value or cause long term social concerns. This one stings sometimes right? Being un-friended kinda stinks. But - chances are - if someone unfriends you, you weren't that close anyway. And that's ok.

6.  A little honesty goes a long way. If by some chance you feel the need to trim your Facebook page, you've every right to do so. Just don't say you're quitting and let some unsuspecting friend stumble over the fact that he just didn't "make the list".

Most importantly, even though our only connection to many of our Facebook "friends" is online and seems  somewhat impersonal, remember, it's not. You know that old saying, "It's not personal. It's just business."? Yeah. It's like that - and it's always personal. Remember, there's still a live human on the other end of that internet connection. Treat them with the same regard for their feelings that you'd use in "real" life. Unless you're kind of a jerk. Then - be nicer. :)

In real life, there's no un-friend button. You have to do it old school.

November 29, 2010

Can I Still Wish Her Happy Birthday? You'd Better Believe I Will!

I wrote this yesterday...p.s. this is long - and I can't say I'm sorry for it. It's not even close to being a complete record of her life.

This morning, I wrote the date, November 28, on my daughter's Sunday School sign in sheet and felt my breath catch in my throat and my eyes begin to tear. November 28 is my mom's birthday. She would have been 60 years old today if she were still with us. What a party that would have been! I took a deep breath and changed the subject in my head till I could find a private place to grieve.

For those of you who don't know, my Mom died 4 years ago this fall from colon cancer. When her doctors discovered the cancer, it was stage 4 and had devoured most of her liver as well. A childhood friend of mine is a DO who happened to be working in the hospital where she had surgery just after her diagnosis. He told me that it was rather a miracle she was still alive when the cancer was discovered. Leave it to mom to be the exception. She was a rather exceptional person.

True to her personality, she decided she wanted to live - and live she did - for another 15 months or so. She chose to undergo a major right resection of her colon and chemotherapy. Despite constant pain (as much as possible, she wanted to be unclouded by pain meds), she proceeded to live as she always had - full steam ahead. Encouragement from her daughters to rest went unheeded. She didn't want to miss anything. Looking back, I can't blame her.
 Mom with four of us - missing Janelle.

This is one of the many things I miss about my mom on a regular basis. She had an unabated desire to do her best at everything she attempted. More often than not, she hit the mark and succeeded beyond everyone's expectations (except her own - since she always believed she could do better). Of course, just being a  mom made her an overachiever. She was delighted to when she gave birth to a daughter first (she'd always wanted sisters) and didn't stop having girls until she had five! "No", she'd answer to those who asked, she wasn't "trying for a boy".

The memories I have of mom are varied - sometimes funny, sometimes sad and sometimes inspiring. Here are a few - especially for those of you who loved her with me.

Mom was born into a hard working mid-western family. The only girl amidst six boys, she did the work girls did on the farm - cooking and baking from early in the morning throughout the day so those hard working cowboys could eat and get back out to the field. She often wished for a sister but never did get one.

Mom met and fell in love with my dad in her early twenties. With a twenty-one year age difference, theirs was a May-December romance. Through good times and some not-so-good times, our parents believed in the commitment they'd made and chose to love through the hard times too. They were a good example to us. 
30+ years together and still having fun 

My mom was a lot of fun. She loved to laugh and have parties. She always told us our friends were welcome anytime, and they were. Over the years, thousands of people filed through our front door for food, swimming and other fun. She loved to play games and laugh. When I think of her, I often see her in our house, cooking or baking, making homemade salsa, laughing and telling guests, "Mi casa es su casa" & "there are the glasses, make yourself at home". She really meant it. Our home was a place people knew they could always find a welcome. It took me a while to realize not everyone lives this way. She was also really silly. She always reminded me of Lucille Ball - though she would HATE that comparison.
 See what I mean?

Mom taught us music from a young age. She took piano and dance as a girl and it stuck. Probably that nun rapping her fingers with a ruler during her piano lessons made forgetting impossible. When my sisters and I were small, we would stand around the piano for hours, singing together and fighting over voice parts. If you knew us, you probably saw us wearing matching outfits and singing, "I've Got Peace Like a River All the Way" at some point.

She was a great teacher. Mom's love of and skill for music snagged her a job as a music teacher at our school. She usually taught K-8th grade general music and several choirs at once, who usually won honors at whatever music conventions they visited. She didn't finish college - but I think it drove her to constantly seek more knowledge in her field. She was the best music teacher I've met. She knew how to translate those lines and dots on the page into something real and beautiful that touched the souls of the kids in her classes and choirs. I still know many of the people I knew at my small elementary and high school - and many of them are still singing or participating in music in some way.

Oh - and she coached the high school cheer squad. How do you like our awesome outfits?

Mom loved beauty. She searched for it daily, possibly unconsciously, and pointed it out to us. She saw it in the hummingbirds she fed outside her kitchen windows, in the music she sang and directed, in the little treasures she found while thrifting, in the people she loved and nourished.

Mom loved a good bargain. Memories of coupon clipping, driving to different stores and multiple kids standing in line to get a bargain, are part of our family's collective experience. Plus, as she said, she shopped at thrift stores before it was cool. It paid off as she fed our big family of seven or eight (2 parents, 5 girls and 1 grandma sometimes). I'm following in her footsteps because trolling through the local thrifts is a favorite past time of my girls and I!

Along those lines, Mom didn't believe in getting into debt for incidentals. They got into debt early in their marriage and paid it off completely - no bankruptcy filing for our parents! From then on, other than their house, they paid cash or they didn't buy it. We do the same at our house.

She believed in striving for excellence. Whether in her classroom or at home, Mom did her best. She taught this to her family, her students and lived it herself. 

And with excellence - she loved to win. Music festivals, driving (YIKES!) or playing cards (she could talk some serious smack), Mom wanted to win. If you were there, you know what I'm talkin' about.

She loved her family to distraction. We always knew she loved us and believed that we could accomplish whatever we put our minds to. She told us often. This included ME ('cause I was her favorite), then the rest of the girls, her sons-in-law (all three), grandkids (just kidding about the favorite, she loved us all the same - wink, wink).
I think Dad was taking the picture

She gave generously to anyone who was in need. Babysitting for exhausted new moms, financial support for anyone who needed it (even though she was a teacher at a private Christian school which = not a big salary), meals for families who'd had new babies - or lost a loved one, or moved to our neighborhood, or who'd had surgery. (She was a great cook and her candy making skills were unequaled). She gave free haircuts to teachers, missionaries or people who just looked kinda shaggy. She swept up a lot of hair from under the twirly chair in the kitchen!

If you're wondering about how in the world she did all this, the answer is, early mornings. She got that from the way she was raised.

She was strong. Remember her mid-western family with German roots? For her that meant smart, hardworking, early rising, frugal, generous, stoic, determined, no excuses. She gave birth to five children without an epidural, raised said five children to be strong, upstanding members of society, taught thousands of students about God, music and responsibility (Yes, you really got a 0 if you missed a concert to go on vacation after signing a choir contract), stayed married for 30+ years, passed a kidney stone (she said that was worse than birth!) and finally, made it through an excruciating illness like a trooper. And, she still had a sense of humor. Seriously, she's my hero.

My mom believed - I mean BELIEVED - in God. It's because of her faith and what she taught us that I learned about integrity, truth, strength of character, loving my neighbor, service, faithfulness, tenacity, a second chance and forgiveness. It's the foundation of who I am today. She also believed in the power of prayer - especially for poor misguided people who claimed they didn't like chocolate - or dessert. This was a serious issue she felt needed spiritual assistance.

My mom was full of life - and love - till the day she lost her ability to rise from her bed. Some people would change what they were doing if they found out they were dying. Not my Mom. She was already doing what she loved. She was giving a piano lesson to a young music student when her body finally gave out. She fell into a coma shortly after that. We all circled round her till she breathed her last.

But it's not those days that I think of the most - though the memory of her frail frame (that couldn't be my mom!) and the gasping breaths of her failing body haunted me for years.

No. I think of my mom all the time - but the anniversary of her death is not a trigger for me. If you'll pardon the Star Wars reference, "the force was strong in that one"- and it's a living, vibrant picture of my mom I remember most. And all she taught me through that living.

And my thoughts of her are usually happy. I think of Mom when I clean my house (she trained us well!), find a great bargain, tickle my girls (like mom used to), listen to (or sing!) breathtakingly beautiful music, dress my daughters for church, , hear her voice coming out of my mouth (Ack!), kiss my husband (she loved him cause he is "AWESOME-no-other-reason-really"), cook (she was my first teacher), or look into the green eyes of my youngest daughter (she reminds me so much of mom!).

I miss Mom when I wish I could call and share something funny the girls have done or ask advice or just hang out and go shopping - and I can't call her up and talk. I miss her when I'm writing the date on my youngest's Sunday School sign-in sheet and suddenly realize it would have been her 60th birthday.

While I feel the mistiness of tears and an ache in my heart over saying goodbye to my mom, in my opinion, far too early, mostly I am grateful to have known her as long as I did. All that she did and taught me, follows me through my days - thank goodness. She was an amazing woman.

Happy Birthday, Mom!

November 22, 2010

Whip it! Whip it Good! (or, How to Make Homemade Whipped Cream!)

So, if you are considering buying whipped cream in a can this week, I beg you to reconsider. Making it yourself tastes SO much better and your friends will all be impressed with your amazing culinary skills. Best of all, it only takes 5 minutes (so a little longer than I suggest in the video). Haha!

You can shorten the whipping time by using a stainless steel bowl - and do what I forgot to mention, chill the bowl with the cream in it for 15 minutes prior to whipping.


November 18, 2010

Hissyfits Hullabaloo 2010 Review, part 2

Day two of the Hissyfits Hullabaloo review. Just a reminder - these are the recovered pics from a dying camera. Please offer the camera (photographer and pics) the respect due and offer a moment of silence rather than complaints about quality. I was just glad it stayed on long enough to take these.

You've probably noticed by now that a lot of these business owners are moms who, like many of us, are looking for ways to contribute to their families' financial welfare. From what I could see at the Hullabaloo, they all offered high quality, creative and useful items. Why not consider foregoing the big box stores for a least a few of your holiday gifts this year and spending your money with one of these businesses? You'll probably get a higher quality item for the money and one that's indubitably more hip. Most of all, your buying local contributes directly to Arizona's financial success and helps someone just like you provide for his or her family.

***By the way - A Shout-out to Hissyfits!***
I would be completely remiss in my review of the Hissyfits Hullabaloo if I did not acknowledge Hissyfits owner, Nikki, for her amazing initiative in planning this event and hosting it so perfectly. I'm so impressed with Nikki. First, for the way she runs her shop. It has a great vibe & she only takes in good quality clothes to re-sell. Secondly, she supports local moms/artists by carrying their items at the store. If you haven't been by Hissyfits resale shop on 7th Street just north of Glendale in Phoenix, it's time to stop by and find a great deal!! Also, you can find Hissyfits on Facebook to get the latest news about great deals and the kinds of items they're looking to sell.

Flowergirl - Tammy R. Mendoza, 602-617-9226
I fell in love with the work of our next artist, Tammy Mendez. Tammy got her start making simple flower hair barettes for her own daughters. As she kept making them, the designs became more elaborate. The pieces she creates for Flowergirl are anything but plain. Her romantic pieces bloom with beautiful flowers and glimmer with "jewels" and other lovely embellishments, some of which have a vintage feel. 

Tammy's headbands and barettes make the perfect accessory to nearly any outfit. And, don't think these hair adornments are just for little girls. They're elegant enough to look appropriate on an adult as well. Who among us grown up girls doesn't need a little shimmer now and then? Now if I could only get my little girls to keep them in their hair!

Tammy's table was crowded with people who wanted to get one of the gorgeous pieces - so I could only get one decent shot. Don't worry. Just call her if you want a chance to own one of these.

Flowergirl Headbands

Hustle Mama - (currently at
Shannon Woodruff's business, Hustle Mama, offers a variety of items from barettes, to cute handmade purses (or diaper bags) to re-usable sandwhich bags. You can choose from a variety of fabrics and her workmanship is professional. This girl is a seriously crafty woman. You all know that this is not my gift! (see my last attempt at handmade art here). So, I would be really jealous of her if she hadn't been so sweet. 

Being an organic mama, I especially like the re-useable food bags. They're great for the following reasons:
1. They reduce plastic waste. Ziplock baggies may be convenient but they're hard on the environment.
2. They're probably safer for eating because they're not really edible, unlike plastic zip bags. I learned this today when I found Destructo Girl gnawing on a ziplock a friend had given to her (containing treats), toddlers will try to eat anything when bored.
3. They're economical because once you buy them, you can use them over and over. See? Money saved!

If you're interested in any of Ms. Woodruff's pieces, check her out on Etsy. While her card says to visit the hustlemama site, most of her work is actually over on

Hustlemama bags
Hustlemama bags

Heaven's Closet -
Cindy Wheat is the gifted seamstress behind Heaven's Closet. She creates unique and custom ensembles intended to make every little girl feel like a princess. She definitely succeeds. There is no doubt that this mama's clothes are made with lots of love as well as skill. Her designs are sweet and whimsical and her model - daughter Heaven - wears them well. 

Cindy offers different themed designs like Thanksgiving, Christmas and Stars and Stripes.  If you need something special for you little princess, Heaven's Closet is a good place to look!

Cindy Wheat from Heaven's Closet

Precious Baby Boutique caught my eye because they sell a very popular kind of baby toy that usually comes in plastic. You know those stackable baby rings? Some babies just love those but I've never really liked the fact that so many of them are made of plastic, which is not the best thing for babies to suck on (but they do) - and it's not a great choice for our environment. Sarah Hoel of Precious Baby makes her stacking rings of fun colored fabrics. They are so bright and cheerful, any baby would love playing with them.

I also clicked over to Precious Baby's Etsy site and discovered Sarah also offers some cute decorated onesies. My favorite is a pink one with a guitar and there are some other fun ones with ties. Perfect little presents for the next baby shower!

Precious Baby Boutique

Nikki of Lemonberry Kiss is another of those accessory mavens. Her hair ornaments are particularly unique; unusual items like zippers and peacock feathers set them apart. In this case, picture speak louder than words.

She also creates these cool barettes with fun vintage pics of glam stars like Marilyn Monroe and Elvis.

I'd let these butterflies rest in my hair.

Flipped Bird –

I can’t confirm or deny the origin of the name of this vendor and it’s possible association with the gesture commonly referred to as a Flipped Bird. Ok, I actually can, but you’ll have to read their website to find out if your guess is right. I will tell you that owner Marci McDonald’s husband calls her “bird” – so that’s part of where the name started. You'll have to figure out the rest yourself. However, let’s move on to her product.

Marci sent a friend to represent her because she had multiple local events to attend the day of the Hullabaloo. Once you see her bags and hats, you’ll understand why. Her handmade bags come in fabulous colors and patterns and are designed to flip inside out so you can wear them in the reverse! These cloth bags are so cool, they’ve been sighted near such famed teen sensations as – Justin Bieber. Haha!

Sadly, by the time I got to Marci’s bags, my camera had died completely, so I reverted to my cell phone – which does NOT take good quality pics. Be sure to check out her websites for the best representation of her work. By the way, the friend Marci sent to represent her bags was super friendly and not a Phoenix native. However, she survived the summer and is excited about the local feel she’s finding here. Yay, Phoenix!!

Here's one of the Flipped Bird bags with it's reverse side...

Ok, I realize that some of you might be on girly-girl overload right now, especially if you're not into pink/frills/sparkly stuff or dessert-shaped soaps. So, in your honor, let's take a break from it all and talk about something much simpler. Like T-shirts. Yes. T-shirts. But these are special T-shirts!

The people who created Holy Pinata are seriously into loving Phoenix and patronizing local business (which you know I can support!). This local business inspires it's fellow "believers in Phoenix" to show the love by - well - wearing a tshirt to prove it. The shirts are all 100% combed cotton by American Apparel and sport themes like "I cactus PHX" or "I pinetree Flag". They come in all sizes - baby to adult - so you and your baby can match.

A visit to Holy Pinata's facebook page is also good for a laugh because they post pics of sightings of the holy pinata (their red, paper-mache mascot) visiting locations all over Arizona. Best of all, $2 from the proceeds of each sale can be designated toward a local charity.

Holy Pinata's T-shirts

In case you're wondering...NO, these businesses did not pay me to write a review about them. I only write positive reviews for businesses I really think are cool. And, these were not the only businesses I loved at the Hullabaloo. Over 80 vendors were scheduled to attend this event so there is truly no way I could review them all! If I missed you or I met you and didn't review you, it's because my epic camera FAIL ruined the pic. I'll catch you at the next local event!! For those of you who'd like to see more of the great businesses who attended Hissyfits Hullabaloo, check out Hissyfits Facebook page.

November 15, 2010

Hissyfits Hullabaloo Review

I attended the Hissyfits Hullabalo a week ago Sunday and have been trying to finish my post about it all week. Unfortunately, I had major camera issues - again - proving that it's time for a new camera. My camera tanked and then I couldn't even get the pics off the SD card for several days. Grrrr....Well, thanks to my sweet husband, I got a few off the disk.

So, here are the pics I took of the great things available to buy at the Hullabaloo. Best of all, if you missed it, you can still get in touch with these awesome local artisans! As with the Sunnyslope Art Fair, I'll split my finds into two different posts. There were so many awesome local businesses there - I could possibly cover them all so here is a small sampling.

Lululand Designs - or Lululand on Facebook  
Being a mom of girls, I was immediately drawn to the bright colors and frilliness available at the Lululand Table. These are just so cute - and they come in all different colors. If you have a little princess who needs a tutu, this is a great place to get one. They even have colors for you ASU alumni!
Andrea Blanchard creates these awesome puffs of fluff.

Daily Scrubs - Email:
For those of you who are getting nervous about the gi-normous amount of sweets that will soon be staring you in the face this holiday season, I have a solution for you!!! Next time you're craving something sweet, instead of reaching for an edible treat, make some time for yourself and take a bath. 

The creator of this business has a solution for those who would love a giant ice cream sandwich, sugar cookie, cinnamon roll or cupcake but don't actually want to use up two days of calories on one food item. She makes these delightful delicacies out of soap! These soaps look exactly like their intended sugary treat and smell like them too. They would make great stocking stuffers!!

Frilly Butts -
Are you a hip mama disillusioned by the boring-ness of typical baby onesies? Never fear! I've found the answer to your problem. Frilly Butts. For real. And, as their name implies, their motto is, "Business in the front, party in the back" (just like a mullet). Holly Trueblood's creations feature cool designs and - for girls - frilly booties.

Also, if you're having a hard time getting your toddler interested in potty training, Holly can hook you up with some pretty cute little training pants.

You can see more of Holly's great art on her Frilly Butts Etsy page. Frilly Butts! Frilly Butts! (Sorry, I think my four year old is rubbing off on me. I can't stop saying their name!) Seriously, check out their page. She even has a sale section!! Woohoo!!

Sew Cute in AZ -
Sew Cute in AZ solves the problem of ugly car seat covers. Her car seat covers are just darling and she offers several different fabric offerings, including one with guitars - which you know would go over big at our house! Not only were the fabrics and designs super cute, the quality of her work seemed really high as well. If you're looking for an extra car seat cover or boppy cover, this is the place to look.

Here are a few pics of her work.

That's all for today folks. Tune in tomorrow to see some more fabulous local artists!! 

As usual, show these local businesses some love by sharing this post on Twitter, Facebook or your own blog. YOU can make a difference in our economy by shopping local!!

November 12, 2010

Why Buy Local? And - What's Going on in Phoenix This Weekend!

I love buying local. You probably already know this because I talk about it in this blog all the time. If you talk to me in person, you might have to ask me to change the subject because I'll definitely go on and on about the great businesses we have here in Phoenix. But why is this so important to me? I'm SO glad you asked.  Obviously, I have a lot to say on this subject.

I grew up here in Phoenix. And, while the beaches of Cali and the rainy ways of Colorado or Oregon call to me for vacation, I really just love the Valley of the Sun. The huge expanse of blue sky filled with puffy white clouds, the hiking trails, the sunsets, the great weather (Come on! It's incredible 9 months out of the year!) and the casual lifestyle all fit me perfectly. In addition, I have roots here and have friends from all over Arizona and thanks to Facebook, I get to see how they intersect with each other in the most amazing ways. I love staying in touch with all of them and knowing they're still here, making a life for themselves and their families in my hometown.

There are a lot of reasons I could site for my choice to buy local, from environment to quality to economy.

First, I get to meet new people and learn about their lives/history/goals/dreams all the time (which I LOVE!)

Second, I know that what I buy is usually going to be better quality because that business will only see me again and get my vote of confidence if what I've purchased works and lasts.

Third, I genuinely love the creative talents exhibited everywhere in Phoenix. I hate when people say Phoenix has no culture. It's just not true. There are so many amazingly gifted artists, performers, boutique owners, chefs and various business owners in Phoenix, I'll literally NEVER be able to list them all. For the most part, if you can dream it, you can probably buy it here.

Fourth, I am financially supporting my neighbors (and myself) when I spend my money at a local business. Spending local makes a HUGE difference in how much money stays in the local economy. According to Local First, $73 of every $100 spent locally stays in our community - in wages, taxes, local business services etc. Spending that same $100 at a non-locally owned business will only put $43 back into our community. My little contribution makes a huge difference to my neighbors! For more about how our individual purchases can help our own community, check out ShiftArizona, Shift the Way You Shop.

My biggest reason is Community. Buying local connects me to my neighbors in an amazing way.

 Are you tired of hearing about local business yet? I hope not because I'm getting ready to post a lot more about it.

Here are a few exciting things going on in Phoenix this weekend!

Local First Fall Festival -
Local First Arizona is a non-profit organization focused on strengthening local economy by supporting, promoting and celebrating local businesses. Tomorrow Local First is hosting a local fall fest featuring free food, live music, fun stuff for kids, shopping and lots of local businesses. The fun starts at 10 and lasts till 3 pm at Duck and Decanter - 16th Street and Camelback.

Chow Bella & Roosevelt Row's Pie Social
Now this sounds like something right up my alley! Entry fee is $10 or two homemade pies. Event is in the Roosevelt Row Arts District and lasts from 2-6 pm. Proceeds benefit Kenilworth Elementary Schools after school programs. Good will and good pie - all in one event. Yum.

Phoenix Annual Parade of the Arts 2010
In this event - YOU are the art at a parade supporting the "arts and culture that are a vital part of Downtown" Phoenix. Be part of supporting the downtown community and dress up, ride a bike, make a little float. Whatever. Meet some new people and have fun with your kids. This event will be right next to the pie social - so eat some pie and then walk in the parade! Even Mayor Phil Gordon is supposed to be at this event. I wonder if he'll wear a costume?

As usual, support local events and businesses by posting this on Facebook or Twitter and feel free to send me information about upcoming local events. I'll do my best to post them. 

November 11, 2010

I'm actually the luckiest girl I know...

Ten years ago, I married the most amazing guy I know. Seriously. Maybe I'll write the story of how we met someday - but for now, the best part of the story is how (and why) I love him even more today than I did when he stood up in front of over 200 of our closest friends and pledged his undying love to me - wearing a skirt kilt.

My four year old daughter wanted to know if we were going to get married again today. We're not actually doing that now - but I'd marry him again in a second. Every day I wake and go to sleep - I thank God for the amazing guy I get to share my life with. So, while we're not renewing our vows with a ceremony, I have a few things I'd like to say to him today - in front of some of those same friends - and some new ones who now read this blog.

My Dearest Love,

When we married, I was attracted to so many things about you. Your laugh (who can forget it?! I kinda miss that crazy laugh but I like your grown up one too.), your kindness, your music (NOT the prog rock but everything else), your strength and wisdom were among them. I also found you incredibly attractive! Remember how we used to drive our friends crazy with constant PDA. Though, I think Chelley's version of the stories are wildly exaggerated. Haha! Wish I could apologize but I just couldn't help myself! Here's us back then. :)

Ten years later - I still love the "big idea" things about you because they're what drives you to do the little things that make life easier and enjoyable.

You don't bring me flowers or buy me lots of jewelry. THANK GOODNESS! You know me well enough to know I don't care about that stuff and that I can grow my own flowers.

But, you do...
Love watching movies and analyzing them to find the plot holes or to praise the great writing as much as I do.

You do the dishes, pick up toys and generally pitch in everywhere.

You make up crazy games to keep our daughters occupied and your kindness and love for them makes them  think the sun rises and sets in you. I watched our oldest wake you the other day and the smile you gave her before you even opened your eyes lit up her face and left no doubt in her that you would rather be with her than finish your dream.

You are so HOT.

You are a true, loyal friend - to every person who is lucky enough to know you.

You are a great cook!

You take care of me when I'm sick. Thanks sweetie!

You love to read as much as I do - Hurrah!!

You have a wonderful family and I'm so glad to be part of it.

You are a great sparring partner. If fight I must (and I'm afraid at this point in my life, I'm not about to change. I've realized I like a good argument), you are the one I want to make up with. ;-)

You pulled me out of the deep end during the years I thought I would drown with the grief of watching my brother, mother and father die, one after the other.

You are amazing at getting up in the night with babies who need to be fed, changed or who have thrown up all over the bed. Ugh.

You constantly say and do things to make me feel attractive.

You constantly set new physical goals for yourself - cycling, running and more. You are seriously my hero and I think of you every day as I get out of bed to make them for myself.

You always listen - even when you have a deadline to meet.

Hot, really HOT!

You always encourage me to be the best version of myself - even when I want to give up on her.

You never let me give up on my dreams, gifts and goals - even when I do.

You are a renaissance man - always challenging yourself to learn more and be the best at whatever you put your hand to. So far, you haven't found much at which you don't excel.

You are not perfect, thank God, though it's hard to find much fault with you. If you were, I'd really feel insecure about myself!

You gave me two precious little girls to play with every day.

You have always loved, always believed, always hoped in me - even when I was at my lowest.

You never lie to me.

You are still the kindest person I know.

You still have a great laugh.

Did I mention, you're seriously hot?!

My love, you are my best, most honest and truest friend. You have loved me at my best and - more often - my worst. You are my strength, my encourager and my champion and I am yours.

Thank you for being faithful to our love for these twelve years. For finding out who I really am and still loving me - and even liking me.

I love that we are living a life we love - with everything, and especially everyone that it has brought to us. I honestly could not have picked a better person to share my life with and I am amazed everyday that you picked me. I married the person I admire most of anyone in the world - even more than Bono - and that's saying something.

I love you with every fibre of my being and I will love you till I draw my last breath.

You are - and always will be - the "shade of my heart*".

*R. Jordan, Wheel of Time Series

November 9, 2010

What a Difference a Year Makes...

Last year about this time, I wrote a post (read it here) about how I realized that I needed to make some changes in the way I mother. I noticed that my daughter was picking up on my bad habits - short temper, grumpiness etc. Haha - my true personality! As with most things these changes are not easy. But I AM determined to grow - with a constant audience of two little people. As a result, this year has been a lot different. Here is where I am now.

1. I am learning to give thanks - a lot. Here's why. A friend once told me that gratitude is one of the most powerful things we can do to bring positive energy into our day.  There are a lot of times in my day when I'm pulling my 22 month old down from standing ON TOP of her play kitchen set (for the 5th time in 10 minutes - SERIOUSLY), I've cut off part of my fingernail with my potato peeler, I'm tripping over the toys that are EVERYWHERE (so I can't even reach the floor to sweep it), my oldest daughter's dropped a book on top of my bare foot and it's swollen and throbbing and both girls are shrieking at me for some reason (usually not happily). In these moments, I just want my day to be over so I can go to sleep. (btw, I don't actually give in to this fantasy...) But, so much for enjoying my kids while I'm home with them. *Wince.*

My goal: In these moments - STOP and say "Thanks" - that I have a toddler to rescue, a finger to cut, a floor to fall on, a foot to hurt and two little girls who think I can solve all their problems. 

It really does work - just not always in that second. First, I have to fight the panic rising in my mind that tells me I totally STINK at doing this and sometimes, I don't FEEL the thankfulness till I'm lying in bed snuggling two little cuties to sleep. Well, what can I say - it's a work in progress!

2. I am learning to smile and say "yes" as much as possible to my babies (and - to my husband ;). If I need to finish something before I focus on them, I try to say, "That sounds great! I will be able to do that in ____ minutes." OR, "AAAAAHHHH!!!! Can you wait just ONE minute?!" (Wait, did I just type that "out loud"? Oops...) Thankfully, my oldest is getting better at waiting.

3. I am learning to forgive myself when things aren't perfect. There are just going to be times when things are to be out of place for a few hours (or a few days). I can either choose to lose my cool because I have "failed" to keep it perfect or just take a deep breath and focus on the most important thing - the PEOPLE living in the imperfect space. Some days I'm better at this than others.

4. I am learning to be IN THE MOMENT. This eliminates my inclination to beat myself up for what I didn't accomplish and keeps me from stressing about whatever I still need to do. See how perfectly that works? Theoretically.

5. I back to making time for myself on a regular basis. Every week, I get away from everyone in my house for at least a few hours. Sometimes, I need to be alone with my thoughts and other times, I hang out with girlfriends. There are still times when I find it hard to extract myself from a baby who is crying, "I want to hold you!!!!!" while tears streak down her face. But, I hug and kiss them - and then leave them in my husband's loving and capable hands. I know I need to get that time alone if I hope to implement my plant to be grateful and smile and say things like, "Yes! What a great idea!" Or - you know - just maintain my sanity.

My goal in learning these things can be summed up in one word. Happiness. I want to be in the moment I'm in and enjoy it. I wish the same for you!


November 8, 2010

Fast Morning Make-Up for School or Work

I found this great makeup artist over the weekend. She gives online tutorials on for free - for ALL kinds of makeup looks. She's not using organic or natural makeups (I usually do) but she is amazing and a bubbly, fun person. Hope you enjoy!

November 5, 2010

Staying Healthy When Everyone Else is Dropping Like Flies Around You

We've reached the time of year when the darkness of night comes sooner and lasts longer. In it, I find the  reflective, quieter part of me beginning to surface. I find I'm ready for bed earlier and my body seems to want the rest. Listening to my body is a big part of my staying healthy - and keeping my kids that way. Since it's getting to be that time of year - when flu and cold season is beginning - I thought a little visit back to what I posted last year about building a healthy immune system might be in order.

How to stay healthy when everyone else is dropping like flies around you. Remember that rest, good nutrition and exercise are the best way to get started on a healthy immune system. As my mom used to say, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

Here's what I said last year about staying healthy and it still holds.

And, if you're already in the throes of the season's sickly woes, here's a good recipe for chicken noodle soup, click here.

Healthy Blessings.


November 4, 2010

Great Phoenix Fall Events - Hissyfits Hullabaloo, ASU Art Event and Believe - a Chandler Boutique Event

 This is such a fun time of year in Arizona as the we start to enjoy the reason we all live here - Perfect Weather! This weekend, enjoy the blue skies and cool temperatures by attending one of the many awesome local events going on around here and - support local businesses! Here are a few events to consider - and, admission is FREE.

Hissyfits Hullabaloo is a fabulous, fun craft fair at a great local kids resale store - Hissyfits. Thanks to Hissyfits' hip mama owner, Nikki, the store is known for providing Phoenix's coolest kids with feisty, affordable style. I expect no less from their outdoor vendor show. Hissyfits has been posting previews of their vendors - and the talents represented there will range from handmade items to photographers to teas. Among the 84 vendors attending are - Fleur De Tea, Forever Photography by Valisa, Cakegirl, Purdy Things, Dolce Vita Mia, Unravel Me, Night Owl, and Finley and Me.   For more info, check out their link and then just come! Hissyfits Hullabaloo - this Sunday from 10 am - 3 pm. 

You can also find Hissyfits on Facebook if you want to keep up with their latest sales and events. 
Not only can you buy awesome, cool kids clothing, maternity, kid furniture and toys 
in great condition at this great little spot - you can consign yours too! 
Located on the west side of 7th Street just north of Glendale.
I'll be at this one!

The 6th Annual Believe - A Holiday Boutique looks like a lot of fun. Two great local business owners I know personally will be at this Chandler hosted event - Zaaina Skincare and Blings Unlimited. You can reach both of these businesses through Facebook or click on their names to go straight to their sites. Although you can always find them online, there's nothing like spending a day meeting new people and checking out some great local businesses!

If you want to go Downtown - ASU 411 Gallery Exhibition

The ASU 411 Gallery Exhibition includes over 100 new, diverse pieces from community and student artists. The Fall 2010 exhibition artwork focuses on pressing social issues related to Social Justice and Human Rights.  Peer Allies Youth Leader Mannyy Aguirre will have three pieces from his series, Lady Parts, 
on view in this exhibition!
The event is part of Artlink’s First Fridays, and a shuttle stop will be located at AE England Building/Civic Space Park. The Gallery 411 Exhibition is presented in partnership with the Civic Space Park Collaboration’s First Friday Event, where live music and interactive art will take place.
The exhibit will be open from 6-8 p.m. Friday, November 5 at the ASU Downtown Phoenix campus - University Center, 411 N. Central Avenue, Phoenix.

Get out and meet your neighbors this weekend!!

Support these local events by sharing this link via FB or Twitter. And, if you know of any great upcoming events, send them my way.

November 3, 2010

Some Trust in Chariots...

Last week, we finished a series at my church about politics and the kingdom of God. It's been on my mind all week. I realize that some of you might be ready to stop reading this post already - but just give me a moment. I may not be going the direction you think...

The younger version of myself worked briefly for a public policy organization while on a "break" from college years ago. I was passionate about what a true statesman could do in office - like show us a different way of governing America. When my party swept into power, I was convinced that America had a brighter and better future. After all, GOD was on my party's side and we would prevail.

Since then, we've been through war, recession and power struggles that have given both parties opportunity to show what they're really made of. And what have both of them proved over and over? That neither integrity, scandal, good intention nor corruption are characteristics exclusive to either party and that business as usual is often a prominent theme for both. When it comes right down to it, politics is a messy business and no matter who you voted for, they are sure to disappoint you in some way.

So, what am I suggesting? Don't I believe in America? Should we throw in the towel and stop voting? Give up and hope for the best?  Don't I believe God is a Republican/Democrat?

Well, in order -
1. YES!
2. No and
3. No.
4. Uh, no. I don't.

Here's what I DO believe about politics

I believe in exercising my right to vote. If you are feeling disillusioned, just look at the world around us and see what happens when people don't have the chance to vote or the incredible opportunity we have to change who's in power. Even when party members prove to be less than the "saviors" we're hoping them to be, they still create change and prove that the checks and balances in our system still work.

I believe in the people of America and more specifically - the people in my immediate community. They have proven over and over again their extraordinary strength, courage and compassion in the times it has been needed most.  Think 9-11, Katrina and countless other disasters here at home and around the world. I believe in my fellow country-people and I believe in the Constitution of this country, which provides the  framework for a culture that produced such fiercely freedom-loving and caring people.

I believe that change begins with me. More than affiliation with the right political party, I believe the characteristic which should define my life is love for my neighbor -even if he or she doesn't share my political views. And not just theoretical love - where I say, "I love him but I don't like him very much" and consequently don't associate with him or her. I'm talking about real, genuine love and friendship - which guides the way I treat my neighbors and causes me to engage in real relationships within my community.

So, for those of you who are disappointed/excited about the election results this morning, remember that REAL, lasting change won't be a result of any one party getting into office. Because when elections are over, politicians and the public often go back to business as usual. Real change in our world will happen when people like you and like me choose to get up off our couches, leave the comfort zone of our houses, families and churches and (as Gandhi said) become the change we want to see in the world.

What do you believe? Agree or not - post your opinions below. Just do it courteously.

November 1, 2010

The Baker's Daughter - Grand Opening

We had the best time this weekend at the opening of The Baker's Daughter!! Most of you saw my review of The Baker's Daughter last week. If you didn't, check it out here...

If you didn't make it to her grand opening celebration this weekend, here are a few pictures of the festivities. We ate free brats (and they were the good kind!), sauerkraut and dessert and visited with new friends. Of course, the camera I was using had technical issues that night. Thank goodness my husband had his phone!

Stefanie passing out the amazing brats

Some Halloween fun

And CHOCOLATE, of course!
 People enjoying their neighbors

 More chocolate. Shimmering, glimmering chocolate...

 A friend who gave me some good advice on homemade sauerkraut.
 Me with Christine - we were trying to get the chocolate 
in the background of our self portrait. Hahaha!

Fall petit fours

People filtered in and out during the hour that we were there and it was packed the whole time. The Baker's Daughter & Karl's Bakery are both places where you're likely to experience a wonderful smattering of different cultures as you hear English, French, German and Spanish spoken - all in one visit. And their customers all have favorites for which they come - the apple dumplings, Challah, petit fours, linzer cookies, pumpkin donuts and of course, the chocolate. Everything is made fresh daily with high quality ingredients.

But the people who visit year after year really come because when they walk into the stores, they know that the Boerner family - who own both shops - will remember who they are and welcome them with genuine friendship. You really can't ask for more in a local shop. If you didn't stop by this weekend, check them out in the next few months and try their holiday treats. They are located on 7th Street and Dunlap. You'll be glad you did!

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