Friday, November 30, 2007

Baby Genius

When my kids were babies they loved all the Baby Einstein videos. Personally, I don't give a rip if they make 'em smarter...I was just relieved to have them entertained long enough so that I could take a shower or even just use the restroom! My babysitter used to always call them the Baby Genius movies, which we thought was cute. Now, of course, they wouldn't give them the time of day, but when I took them shopping to help me pick out a baby gift for my cousin, they helped me come up with a great idea. The kids really wanted to get the baby some (read ALL) of the Baby Einstein videos and toys from Target. Soooo, we decided to put together a Baby Einstein themed gift basket. These are some of the items we picked out:

I purchased a little plastic tub from a paper warehouse store for about $2.00 and filled the bottom with styrofoam peanuts. Don't ask me why, but I always seem to have plenty of these on hand!!! Then I placed the items in the bucket. This took some troubleshooting because they didn't really all fit and I ended up putting the blocks on the bottom. Then I stuck some blue paper krinkles down in between all the goodies. Finally, I wrapped it all in cellophane (I LOVE this stuff for wrapping!) and tied it all with a bow. Voila! I thought it turned out really cute and my cousin was thrilled to get something other than baby clothes!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Proud Sis

I'm so proud of my baby brother! I suppose 20 years old isn't quite a baby anymore but anyhoo... This summer Aaron worked as an intern at Virginia Living Magazine in Richmond. Part of his job was coming up with ideas for features and photo shoots. This is the perfect job for him. He has the most amazing sense of style and always seems to be one season ahead of the trends. He came up with the idea of doing a feature on Tinsley Mortimer, who is originally from Richmond but now lives in New York. She's huge on the social scene (I had to google her to see who she was but apparently everyone who's anyone knows who this chick is). He was lucky enough to get her to do it and as a result he got to come back to Richmond from Chapel Hill where he's in school to be a part of the shoot. He even got to pick her up from and take her back to the airport. Now, of course, they're bff's cause he's such an awesome kid.

Here's a picture of Aaron and I at my Dad's wedding a few years back.

I know, he's beautiful, right? Sorry ladies...he doesn't play for our team.

At any rate, check out this site to see more pictures of the photo shoot. You can also read all the snarky comments people made. Ruthless! As for me, I'm going to have to have Aaron call his new bff and hook me up with some clothes!

Friday, November 23, 2007

I don't get it, ya'll

I know that many of you, like myself, have been reading this book. I also know that many of you are giving it rave reviews. I have to say, I just don't get it. I have been trudging through this thing for weeks and I find it to be painfully boring. I liked the first part about Italy. It basically talked only about food, and I like food. That was cool. Now I'm about two thirds of the way through India and I can't stay awake. I find the author to be completely self involved and pathetic. Who has to go to INDIA to "find" themselves? How completely selfish is it that she is spending so much time focused on her problems and obsessing about why her life is a sh*t sandwich? Do you really have to learn how to meditate in order to realize your "true self"?
This all brings me back to a theory I've had for a long time. In life, there are the wanderers and nesters. Wanderers are the types of people who go through life always looking for the next best thing. Nothing is ever good enough and nothing will ever satisfy them because they are insatiable. I consider my husband to be one of these people. Life could be completely perfect and normal and he would find something to worry about or obsess about. People like this are usually pessimists as well.
Nesters, on the other hand, are the kind of people that have few complaints. They make their own happiness and don't over analyze everything. They know what they want and are fairly easily satisfied. Life is mostly lived with the cup half full and the appreciation of all that they have rather than all that they still need. These people are usually optimists. As you can probably guess, I consider myself to be a nester. It doesn't take much to please me and I'm fairly complacent for the most part.
I just can't imagine all the energy it takes to be so damned self involved that you can't see the forest for the trees! Does anyone else feel this way about this book or is it just me? And could you please tell me whether or not it gets any better because I'm ready to pass it on to someone else rather than pull my hair out trying to figure out the message...

Ladies...Start Your Ovens!!!

So Thanksgiving is over and the Christmas insanity begins. We actually ended up going to the Officer's Club at Ft. Lee instead of the mess hall for Thanksgiving Dinner. It was unbelievably good. I was so happy to not be cooking or doing dishes that I didn't even mind waiting in the buffet line. The kids behaved themselves, which seems to be new development for them, and we made it home in time to get the kids in bed early and watch some "mindless television" as Dr. Daddy loves to call it.
For three generations, the ladies in my family have had a holiday tradition of baking Sherry Cakes for friends, neighbors, teachers, and work colleagues. I remember one year my mother made 59 of these delicious, delectible cakes. The recipe is one that came from my father's mother and it is divine. It's very simple and comes out of the oven so moist it melts in your mouth. My grandmother started the tradition and would bake the cakes for weeks before Christmas, freeze them, and then deliver them the week of Christmas. She and my mother always wrapped them in aluminum foil and put a bow on top. I have continued the tradition but found a way to jazz up the packaging a bit. I always order beautiful monogrammed cake boxes from Williams-Sonoma to place the cakes in for delivery. This year, however, Williams-Sonoma has totally screwed me over (I'm sure it wasn't personal but I'm certainly taking it personally!) by not selling the large cake boxes in packages of 4. You have to by a combination of several different sizes and shapes. I called the company and they assure me they've had multiple complaints to no avail. Get with the program, people! Don't you know I have gifting to do?
Luckily, I've found a new supplier. And, they're cheaper! Baking Boxes has the boxes in stock and the red boxes are on sale for $12.99 for 4. Originally, I was going to do chocolate brown boxes with a cute coordinating sticker but when I realized the red was on sale I had to change my tune.

So, I've ordered my red cake boxes and this adorable Boatman Gellar sticker with red font. To make the deal even sweeter, the company I ordered the stickers from has amazing prices. 48 stickers for $38 including shipping. This is almost half the price of anywhere else I looked. Click on the bold "Boatman Gellar" above to go directly to the page on their site that I used to order mine.

I'm psyched about the Zebra print because first of all, I love animal prints and secondly, it perfectly coordinates with the Christmas cards I'm using.

I decided to go with this picture taken by the fabulous Stefanie Weber.

Now all I have to do is decorate! This is no small task in our house. I have trees in each of the kids' rooms as well as in the formal living room and sun room. All full sized trees. And, now that I know for certain that my family is coming for Christmas I need to finish decorating our guest room!!!

Finally, THE RECIPE. I promise, you're going to LOVE IT.

Mom's Sherry Cake

1 box yellow cake mix (I told you this was going to be easy!)
1 pkg. instant vanilla pudding
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup pale dry sherry
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. nutmeg
4 eggs
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (I use a food processor to pulverize mine into a kind of paste. I don't like the texture of nuts in my food but I love the flavor so this is a good compromise)

Mix all together - about five minutes. Bake in a bundt pan at 350 degrees for about an hour or until a toothpick in the middle comes out clean. YOU HAVE TO USE A BUNDT PAN!!! No exceptions. :) Not that I'm a control freak or anything...

This cakes freezes beautifully and tastes great re-warmed with a side of vanilla ice cream.

Happy Baking!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Welcome to MIAMI

We had a great trip at The Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables. I didn't realize how close it would be to Miami, so we got to see a lot of Miami as well!
Our trip didn't start off so well, however. We had used our American Airlines frequent flyer miles for our tickets so we ended up having to drive three hours to the aiport. Fine by us...we enjoy quiet time in the car. Sometimes, it's the only time we get to talk without interruption from the little darlings. Anyway, about two hours into our trip I reached into my purse to get some chapstick. I noticed that my wallet wasn't in there. Frantically, I tore apart my carry on as well as most of the car. After a slew of four letter words and astonished silence from Dr. Daddy I was finally able to put together a legible sentence. "We have to go back...they won't let me on the plane without ID." F*ck, f*ck, f*ck. It was 9:30am and our flight was at 12:45am. Not an chance in hell we'd make it back in time. I called the airline and luckily they were able to reschedule us for a later flight. Our three hour drive had now turned into a seven hour drive. Sweet.
Finally, we got back to the airport, made our flight, and landed in Miami. At which point I started searching for the info about our rental car. F*ck again. I left the rental car info at home as well! At this point, Dr. Daddy didn't even yell or complain. I think he was simply terrified that I, the one who is ALWAYS organized and on top of things, had lost two important items in one day. All he could say was "You're fired. I'm hiring a new travel agent." I couldn't remember which rental company I had picked off of so we just went to each desk, one after another, until we found one that had us in the computer. Finally, we figured it out and were on our way.
We found our hotel pretty easily. It was pretty close to the airport and in kind of a residential neighborhood so there wasn't much traffic. We immediately fell in love with the spanish/meditteranean style of the hotel. Gorgeous and so well renovated. After throwing our junk in our room we set off to find the restaurant. I needed a glass of wine in a wicked way. We found the restaurant and I ordered my $15! glass of wine. Welcome to Miami.
Next day, we played tennis and then went shopping. We ate at one of my favorite restaurants, Mariposa at Neiman Marcus. I love the Neiman's restaurants because I always know that whatever city we're in, it's going to taste great. The popovers and strawberry butter alone are enough to send me into a carb and fat frenzy. Luckily, Dr. Daddy loves to shop and people watch. Well, not so much on the shopping but he does love to people watch.
The next several days were more of the same. Tennis, shopping and eating. I did manage to pick up an adorable Milly dress and my favorite Tory Burch flats in a black patent at the Neiman's in Bal Harbour. The dress is much longer on me, since I'm only 5'3". Here, we had lunch at the Zodiac Room at Neiman Marcus. (are we noticing a pattern here?).

I was astounded at the number of bad nosejobs and ridiculous lip injections that we saw at Bal Harbour. I can't understand how, if you have THAT much money, you are incapable of finding a good plastic surgeon?! Do they really think they look GOOD?

On our third night in Miami we met a really nice 29 year old guy at the bar while sipping $13! Mojitos. Welcome to Miami.
He was super nice and celebrating his birthday. He and Dr. Daddy got to talking and of course, it turned to politics and business. (it always does) This guy was fascinating, though. He was Cuban and his family had come to Miami when he was 6 to escape Fidel Castro. He gave us a real education about Miami and how the Cubans have pretty much come in and "taken over" the city, but in a good way. They are quite the capitalistic, productive bunch I tell ya'. As someone who has lived in Texas and felt the pain of the immigration issuse there, it was nice to see that there was another side of the story that was really encouraging. Up to that point, I had been irritated that EVERYONE in Miami spoke Spanish and many did not speak English.

Alas, now we're home and Thanksgiving is THIS WEEK! I can't believe it. My stepmom and I made a command decision this year that we were not cooking. For me, this is huge. I always cook a huge spread of food. I'm just over it this year, I guess. We're driving to Richmond and Dr. Daddy, the kids and I, my parents and my three brothers are all going to Thanksgiving at the mess hall at Ft. Lee. It's an old Army tradition and one I'm happy to rekindle. Ft. Lee is home to the Army culinary school so the food should be amazing. And, at only $2.18 per person it makes all those $13 Mojitos seem well worth it!


We're back from vacation and very relaxed! I'll post about that later. For now, I wanted to respond to the many questions and comments I got about the "gift box" floral arrangement in my last post. I'm so glad ya'll liked it! I meant it when I said this is EASY to make.
Here's what you'll need:

1. Depending on the size box you want, you'll need wet floral foam soaked in water and cut to size. It's best to soak your foam BEFORE you cut it. The arrangement I made was pretty big, so I used six full size rectangles of foam. You could easily use four and cut them down to make the proportions right for you if you wanted a smaller arragement.

2. Waterproof floral tape. The waterproof part is really important.

3. Green kermit or any other green mum. You could use white as well, although it might be more obvious if some of the foam is showing through. The quantity will vary depending on the size of your arrangement but I'd say a good rule of thumb is one bunch for every five square inches of surface area. (dust off the calculator, girls!)

4. Ribbon of your choice. Don't get wired won't cascade properly.

5. Greenery, one dozen roses, hypericum berries (there are none in this particular arrangement but only because I couldn't find them on short notice).

6. Some type of pedestal stand.

7. Floral pins (the metal kind). Stick pins work, too if that's all you have.

Now, here's what you do.

1. Cut your mums really short (only about an inch of stem left)
2. Soak your wet foam for 1/2 an hour and then cut it to the shape you want.
3. Use your waterproof tape to bind all of your wet foam pieces together. Use a don't want it to fall apart when you're putting the mums on.
4. Place the wet foam square or rectangle on the pedestal you intend to display the arrangement on. You can do it on a plate and then transfer it but this puppy is going to be HEAVY when you're done so it's easiest to just do it on the pedestal.
5. Cover the surface area of the foam with your green mums. Just stick em in the foam. Use a lot and make sure they are tightly bunched together. You don't want any foam showing through.
6. Now, take your greenery and berries and make kind of a wreath on top of the box. Be sure you stick the stems into the foam so that it will be secure. Next, intermittently stick the roses, which you have cut so that there is about three inches of stem left, into the foam as well until you are happy with the shape of the "topper".
7. Cut your ribbon about a yard long and make some loops on one end. Stick the pin through the loops and then stick the pin with the ribbon attached into the foam. You may have to work around the flowers and greenery but get the ribbon way down in there so that it's kind of squished. This will help it stand up better.

Voila! You're done.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Job's done...time to vacay!

This week has been CRAZY, as I was the chairperson of the above event. It went smashingly well and now I get to go on vacation as a reward! This is an event our Junior League holds each year as a precursor to our big fundraiser, The Stocked Market, which is a huge shopping bazaar.
As the event coordinator I get to arrange food and drink for 400 people, as well as solicit donations for prize wine bottles that we sell to raise extra money. We sell 100 bottles, so we end up having to solicit about 200 prizes, including those given by our vendors.
I also got to do the flowers, which was super fun. I took the opportunity to do a little arrangement that I've been wanting to do for months now. It's a "gift box" covered in mums and with a rose "bow" on top. I also did some carnation and boxwood topiaries to compliment the colors of our event. These are all extremely inexpensive flowers that last a really long time.

Now that the event is over Dr. Daddy and I are leaving the kids with the in-laws and heading here for some much needed R & R. So, you won't hear from me this week but we'll catch up next Saturday!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

You've GOT to be kidding me...

As a (former) runner...okay, jogger. Whatever. All I have to say is...can you just imagine how pissed Katie Holmes' bodyguards are? Wouldn't you have just LOVED to have been a fly on the wall when she made the announcement that they were going to have to run the F'ing NYC MARATHON with her? And I really want to know at what point did she decide that the girls didn't need to be ratcheted up in a sports bra? For the love of all things perky after childbirth...

Saturday, November 3, 2007

In the Jungle...

Back to the archives today for a post about a jungle themed baby shower I did for one of my best girlfriends several months ago. We had it at her mom's house and I had so much fun planning! All of her friends got together and came up with great food and some cute games. Happy Housewife was generous enough to lend me some of her jungle themed Lynn Chase serving pieces which really made the tablescape.

For the centerpiece I used manzanita branches with flower covered floral foam balls wedged in the branches. We hung silver cups and rattles from the other branches and had a stuffed gorilla hanging from the chandelier above.

For favors I passed out mini champagne bottles dressed up with cellophane and raffia.

Napkins courtesy of Preppy Napkin.

This worked out to be a great idea; pre addressed envelopes for the new mom to send thank you's in.

Our friend Anna, who we've known since high school, did a great job of organizing the old match the baby picture game. As usual, she managed to be gorgeous at the same time.

The tablescape and one of those adorable Lynn Chase serving pieces all dressed up with veggies and dip.

The best part? I ended up not having to do ANY dishes! Thanks, girls!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Our little Republican

For those of you who love Hillary Clinton, you might want to skip this blog entry. It's no secret around here that Dr. Daddy and I are pretty conservative. We even named our daughter after our favorite president (and her name is NOT Carter!). So I found it hilarious the other day when BabyGirl picked up this magazine and said "Hey, there's that liar lady!". It would seem that she and Dr. Daddy have been hitting the Fox News Channel pretty hard lately.

She then noticed that Dr. Daddy had made good use of his time in the O.R. by creating some lovely artwork and decided she'd go one better and bust out the Sharpie.

We're so proud.

Halloween Madness

LOVE Halloween. Especially since we've moved to a neighborhood that is more trick-or-treat friendly for the kids. Last night we had 20 adults and 23 kids over for trick-or-treat pre-game. This was the first time we had entertained more than about 10 or so people since moving in. Boy, you think your house is big until you have that many people over!!! Maybe it was just the number of kids. At any rate, we had pizza and beer and wine and all the kids had a great time. After the party, I convinced Dr. Daddy and his Dad to take the kids trick or treating while I cleaned up. Not too hard to convince him on that one!

The night before, while Dr. Daddy was hiding out at the hospital, I carved pumpkins with the kids. More accurately, I carved the pictures the kids had chosen AFTER they went to bed. Four glasses of wine and several toothpicks later, this is what I ended up with. (the toothpicks were necessary to hold part of the ship together after I sliced it (and almost my finger) off)

I think next year Dr. Daddy and I will sign up for the Chefs vs. Surgeons pumpkin carving contest that is held in our town each year. I think we might have a shot!