Tuesday, December 29, 2009

2010 to-do list

i did not get a fish for christmas. (YET.) but we did have a lovely wonderful week with visiting family, yummy food, sparkly lights, and lots of love. and i did get two new books that i have been dying to read. books always make me happy. one can never go wrong with books.

i sewed a bunch of reusable produce bags for christmas gifts this year. stupidly, i did not take photos of them before i boxed them up and gave them as gifts. i hope everyone loves them as much as i do. i did regular muslin bags for dry produce and a mesh bag for small things like green beans, snap peas, or cherries. they were made out of a polyester athletic mesh so one can rinse the produce through the bag. i also made wet bags out of a silicone-impregnated ripstop nylon. that stuff was a bear to sew on. it was practically lighter than air (each bag ended up weighing just over half an ounce after the tie at the top was threaded in) and slippery as all get-out. ripstop is slippery anyways, but the silicone made it even more so. and i did not want to stick pins in it for fear of making holes. oy.

as 2009 comes to a close i have been reflecting a bit on the past twelve months. it has been a good year, and in some ways a not good one. i did not accomplish everything on my to-do list nor did i make a sizeable enough dent in it to be able to feel proud of what i did. namely, i have struggled with enjoying being a mother and that disappoints me. on the other hand, if i did not tick off even half of everything on my list, it is partly because i have been using my time to raise a happy, healthy, beautiful daughter whom i do adore.

in 2010 i will be making changes in my life. big ones, i hope. i need to be learning to not take on too much, to be content with what i have been given, to be kinder to those i love when i am not feeling kind. currently the etsy shop is closed, and it will remain closed for the time being until i can figure out how to manage the shop without allowing it to take over my spare time. until then, i am creating a new to-do list for 2010, one that will be printed out and posted where i can see it daily to remind myself of my goals for this year:

- create and maintain a household management schedule
- fill the planter box with dirt and plant a garden
- manage the etsy shop without allowing it to take over my life
- create and maintain a system for dealing with the paper/mail/crap that comes into the house and collects in the kitchen (yeah, this one didn't get done last year)
- sew buttonholes into the guest room comforter and ties for the duvet
- hang "artwork" in the guest room
- finish the quilt for the master bedroom
- start (and finish!) kerry's quilt
- take swim classes with hannah this summer
- replace the toilet seat in the upstairs bathroom
- find a good church and start going regularly again
- give myself regular pedicures
- finish out the door frame in the upstairs bathroom
- move the "decor store" to the unused cabinet above the fridge
- create and maintain a healthy, reasonable exercise routine (yeah, this one didn't get done last year either)
- get hannah baptized/christened/dedicated
- plan meals weekly and keep our grocery bill down
- take the pacific northwest road trip with my husband and daughter
- support, encourage, and love my husband
- enjoy being a mother

the one thing notably missing from my 2010 to-do list is one that i have not yet decided on. kerry wants me to run a half-marathon with her in march. i am not a runner and have not run since about high school when i was required to for pe class. i detest running, so training for this half-marathon would be a tremedous undertaking on my part. i want to do it, partly as a point of pride. i would like to be able to say i did it, and maybe i would come to enjoy it. stranger things have happened. on the other hand, i don't know if it is reasonable to commit to training for a half-marathon with an almost-8-month-old baby. i know others do, but on the other hand others are not necessarily starting from scratch in the running department along with everything else. thoughts?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

i think santa might bring me a fish this year

because i have been really wanting one for a long time. a betta. a girl betta. (because for some reason they are cheaper?) in a bowl with some sort of mesh lid on top so that the cat won't eat it. brian keeps nixing the idea, has for years, but a fish is so innocuous, and i almost bought one today when i saw how cheap they were at petco when i was getting kitty litter. all things considered it would only be like $20-25 to kit it out.

i'd name her finley. i love that.

she might mysteriously show up under the tree. or maybe in my stocking. would that be strange to find a fish in my stocking?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

gobble gobble

i am thankful for so much more than just three things this year, but right off the top of my head i can think that i am thankful for:

1. my family, especially my fabulous husband who works so hard to provide for us (especially now that i am a sahm), and especially my beautiful daughter, even after she was up twice last night and took two hours to go back to sleep the second time. i am also thankful for my extended family whom i do not get to see as often as i would like, especially my grandfather who has lymphoma but is still here to celebrate another holiday with us.

2. our home, our beautiful home. i am acutely aware of money now that i am unemployed, and cringe a little inwardly every time i see the mortgage statement come in the mail, even though i know that brian manages our money responsibly and well and that we are not in danger of losing our home. i love this house and everything about it and i love making it a home for my family.

3. not having to cook thanksgiving dinner this year! i am so very uninspired this year and i think the kiddo is partly to blame for that and was not looking forward to the idea of cooking a big meal. brian has to work today (unfortunately) so that he can be off for christmas, so our thanksgiving dinner guests will consist of: me, him, and hannah. hannah has a little jar of baby turkey to try for the first time and brian is bringing home a plate of turkey dinner from his chef for each of us, so we can at least have a little celebration together. so no cooking and we don't even have to spend the grocery money either. win win.

have a happy and safe thanksgiving! what are you thankful for this year?

Thursday, November 19, 2009


for some reason i am inordinately proud of these:

that's my soaping cabinet. it's next to my refrigerator in the kitchen, a lower cabinet. it contains all the soaping supplies i use on a regular basis - herbs, colorants, oils, soap scraps. tools that could hurt The Kiddo. glass bottles that could break. essential oils and fragrance oils that could be fatal if ingested. sodium hydroxide - LYE - that will destroy her skin if she touches it. we have latches for all our cabinet drawers and lower doors, but i wanted something sturdier for the soaping cabinet. something with a key.

those are just cabinet locks that i picked up in the latches section of home depot, the same area where you would find those little locks that go on window frames. they have a flat or offset piece in the back that swings across the cabinet frame, blocking the door, and they are pretty darn strong. the same kind of thing you'd find on a filing cabinet in your office. for some reason i was a bit put off by this project but decided to just dive in and do it, and it ended up being very simple. i traced the frame on the back of the door (so i knew where the frame hit the door) and then marked where i wanted the lock. i drilled a hole the size of the lock completely through the door, then diassembled the lock, fit it into the hole, and reassembled it in the hole. the concept is the same as installing a new door handle.

also, i should have checked but ended up completely lucking out - the locks are sold individually but the two i grabbed off the rack ended up taking the same key. the package does note on the back which key they use (ours was something like # 21233). i don't know why i didn't think to make sure when i bought them because it would have been a massive pain in the butt if i had to use one key to get into the left side and a different key to get into the right side.

cross-posted at baby stenz

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

diaper sprayer tutorial

it seems the new thing for me to learn these days is plumbing repairs. first the toilet in the upstairs bathroom was leaking. i discovered a huge puddle of water and it turned out that the connector that attaches the toilet supply line (the tube that runs from the water pipe in the wall to the toilet tank) was broken. for some reason this repair seemed awfully daunting at first, but it was simply a matter of picking up a new supply line ($6) from home depot, unscrewing the old one, and screwing the new one on.

my latest project was actually not a repair. i built myself a diaper sprayer! it was insanely easy, and i am so ridiculously proud of myself. we started tk on solids two weeks ago and her diapers have become a bit more solid as well. since she is in cloth diapers, we don't get to just throw away her mess and swooshing her soakers in the toilet bowl was just not working for me. a friend had suggested i could make my own very inexpensively. it cost me about $25 to make; apparently you can buy them for about twice the price and i'm thinking the only difference is that those might look a little more streamlined.

this one is from pottypail.com. it retails for $34 plus $6 s&h and you still have to do some assembly/installation. mine was cheaper and required minimal additional effort.

i actually did not use jaimey's instructions, i just could not understand them. sorry jaimey! the general idea is about the same though (i think) and there is a great video tutorial here. first, shut off the water at the main valve behind the toilet, and flush the toilet once or twice to drain the tank. then disconnect the supply line from the tank and the water pipe. you will need a flexible supply line to install your diaper sprayer; you might have to look for a toilet in your home that has a flexible line. i put ours in the upstairs bathroom closest to hannah's room.

you will need two 3/8" barb adapters; one 3/8" x 3/8" x 3/8" tee barb connector; five 1/4" - 5/8" hose clamps; one kitchen sprayer assembly; and one ball valve. the ball valve should be either 1/4" or 3/8", depending on the size of the threaded end (MIP) of the barb adapters. i got 1/4" because the 3/8" valve looked bulkier. also, you may want to measure your toilet supply line to be sure that you don't need a 1/2" tee barb connector, but apparently only about 5% of homes in america have 1/2" connectors.

you will also need a hacksaw or a small hand saw, a couple monkey wrenches or a set of crescent wrenches, a screwdriver for the hose clamps (usually flathead), and some teflon tape. you might also want a hook to hang the sprayer on the wall; i just used a large cup hook that i bent a bit more open with a pair of pliers. i thought about taking pictures while i was making this, but i was so excited to get it done that i just did it.

using a hacksaw, cut the supply line in half. cut the fitting end off the kitchen sprayer assembly as close as possible to the fitting (you want as much tubing as possible), and then cut the tubing again about six inches down from the spray nozzle. you will end up with a spray nozzle with a short bit of tubing attached, and a long piece of tubing with nothing on either end.

slide a loosened hose clamp onto one of the supply line pieces, then work one end of the tee barb into the hose. do the same for the other side of the supply line and tighten the clamps with the screwdriver.

wrap the threaded ends of the barb adapters with teflon tape, then slide a loosened hose clamp onto the tubing attached to the spray nozzle. work the barb end of one adapter into the tubing, then tighten the clamp. do the same for one end of the rest of the tubing, then slide a hose clamp onto the other end, work it onto the third end of the tee barb, and tighten the clamp.

screw one end of the ball valve onto one of the threaded ends of the barb adapters in the sprayer tubing and tighten with the wrenches. you will need two wrenches, one to hold the tubing and one to tighten the valve. do the same to connect the other end of the ball valve to the sprayer tubing.

now your assembly is complete and you just need to reinstall your jury-rigged supply line back onto the water line and the toilet tank.

turn the water back on a little and open the valve, then spray the sprayer. you will probably need to play with the valve to see how much water pressure you need to spray your diapers.

the purpose of the ball valve is to prevent constant water pressue on the kitchen sprayer. the sprayer is just plastic and i did not want anything in the sprayer to fail and cause a flood. when the red lever is sticking out, the valve is closed; i just line up the lever with the tubing to open the valve and "turn on" the sprayer.

you can see i just screwed that mug hook into the wall to hold the sprayer. apparently this is also good for rinsing kiddos while they are taking a bath, though the water is not heated so i don't see why you'd want to spray your kids with freezing cold water. personally i think this will also be awesome for spraying down the tub/shower when i'm cleaning it.

all total this project took me about twenty minutes from start to finish.

i know it isn't a huge thing, building and installing this sprayer, but if you would like to come to my house and marvel at my handiwork you're more than welcome to!!

update: i used it for the first time today and it works GREAT!! yay! also, i was thinking - this is a very easy thing to take with you if you move. just shut off the water to the toilet, take off the jury-rigged supply line/sprayer assembly, and reinstall a new (uncut) supply line. you could also easily install one in an apartment, just like you would your favorite showerhead.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

still here.

it's been a busy month, and i keep meaning to post, and it's not that i don't have anything to post about, i just keep forgetting. i guess this is what happens when your plate is maybe a bit too full?

i made our halloween costumes this year which i generally do though i have not made any in a couple years, just recycled the old ones. i have a stash of stuff that can make a pirate wench, a princess, or a gypsy. this year we wanted to do family costumes so there was much discussion regarding what we were going to be. someone in our family is not very creative and kept shooting down all the creative ideas from someone else, who granted is not as clever as this girl. in the end the kiddo ended up being a pumpkin.

of course, after i had purchased the pumpkin costume for hannah, kerry suggested a bunch of cute things. like, brian could be a polar bear, and i could be a penguin, and hannah could be a fish. the food chain! she also suggested that brian and i could be some sort of insects and hannah could be a grub. MY BABY IS NOT A GRUB thank you very much. i thought it would be clever if hannah was a pumpkin, brian was a frog, and i was a witch, but no one else seemed to think that was as amusing as i did. in the end we were just a jack-o-family.

i was not in love with our costumes though i guess they turned out cute. brian said he looked gay in his costume even though he got to be the scary pumpkin. i used felt for everything and after much ribbing from my sister, gave up looking for a pattern and made up one myself. basically they are just pullovers that i copied from old tee shirts, lined with tulle and stuffed with fiberfill with an elastic casing at the bottom. this was also my first attempt at applique-ing anything and i'm happy with the way the faces turned out. i used wonder-under first, i don't know if that is how appliques are usually done but that is how i did it. after i fused the felt face pieces on i zigzagged the edges. i used my walking foot for these costumes and really, i don't know how i've lived my life without it. i use it for so many things now.

i realized too late that we should have dressed hannah up like this (costume borrowed from a friend for a photo):

and brian could have been a gorilla and i could have been a monkey. HANNAH BANANA!! my good ideas always come a day late.

we also had a huge storm a couple weeks ago, the first of the season. it was hugely rainy and impossibly windy and almost all of the trees around here still had their leaves, including the beautiful japanese maple that was in our front yard. (it actually looks rather pathetic in that picture, which must be insanely old too, because the tree was quite a bit bigger than that.) i came home from work that afternoon to find this:

of course, it didn't even touch the pathetic, ugly tree that is also in our front yard, in a strange spot way too close to the rosebushes. i would have been happy to lose that tree. my husband was a champ and cut up the tree into pieces and even dug out the stump, which left us with a giant hole in the yard, two weeks before halloween when tons of children ignore the walkway and tramp up our lawn.

lawsuit, begone!

i don't know what we will do now that halloween is over. probably fill in the hole with some turf builder on top, though there has been talk of putting a pumpkin in it for thanksgiving and a snowman for christmas and making it a theme hole. we are also those people who take their baby to a rock concert. don't you wish we could be YOUR neighbors?

i am now a sahm officially - i quit my job because half of my income was going right back out the door to daycare, which sucks. technically i was let go as my boss changed my quit into a discharge the week before my last day, which is technically legal but in my humble opinion kind of jerk-ish of him, so i'm glad to be out of there.

i have also been working like a crazy girl on the etsy shop. there is a ton of cool stuff up if i do say so myself, go check it out! i am still ridiculously excited about it, and i even made a couple custom halloween costumes. also, i am going to be a vendor! how exciting is that! it's a super-tiny event - mil is a legal secretary, and they always have a couple vendors at their local annual dinner, and she got me a table. there will only be around 30 people in attendance, but the table was free (no vendor fee), and i don't have to share a percentage of my sales, so anything i make from this is gravy. it's in two weeks, and i am ridiculously excited, and we will even have tee shirts, if i can get some iron-on transfer paper that actually works!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

more soap photos

more batches of soap:

holiday spice - apple-y with nutmeg essential oil and bits of cinnamon bark, yum!

lime & clary sage, kind of a unisex scent and one of my favorites. the citrus from the lime is tempered by the earthiness of the clary sage.

this coffee soap was a special order for candice, though there is another batch to make as i have more orders for it. at first i was not very thrilled with it (similar to the oatmeal, milk & honey soap) but as it cures it is getting better and better and is really growing on me. i really hope candice likes it!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

thankful thursday

it's not that i'm no longer thankful, it's just that i have a baby and sometimes forget to blog about what i am thankful for. i have a lot that i am grateful for, much more than can fit here. this week i am thankful for:

1. my husband, who is AWESOME and won his competition at work, which is AWESOME, and i am so proud of him. he works very hard not only to be a good provider for our family, but also to do his job well and help his company thrive. he's amazing and i love him.

2. my sister, who came to visit me this afternoon and spend time with The Kiddo, who was a bit fussy. i always wish we lived closer. thanks for letting her borrow you car, andy, i do appreciate it!!

3. soap and soap orders! i am so ridiculously excited about this. and good heavens they all look so much prettier than i ever expected. i made lime & clary sage soap yesterday and holiday spice today (pictures soon) and i just love them, and my house smells heavenly from the holiday spice scent as well - apples and a bit of nutmeg. YUM.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

soap bubbles

i've been soaping up a storm lately, kind of in preparation for christmas, also because i have orders coming in!! i'm so excited, i cannot even tell you. (thank you, jess!) it all started because my mom "ordered" 20 bars earlier in the year, to give as christmas gifts for her teachers, and it's snowballed into this huge wonderful selling thing, and now i'm thinking i might as well put it up on the etsy shop. soap would fit in nicely with my random assortment of craftiness there, don't you think?

anyone else who might be interested in buying some, email me (estensler[at]comcast[dot]net) and i'll send you the email about the soap. in the meantime, here is the fun i've been having (with even more to do!):

oatmeal, milk & honey (same as this one)

hawaiian sand - a blend of bramble berry's matcha green tea, plumeria, and cybilla's vanilla vanilla, with almond meal swirled into it

gentle me - the baby soap

cool mint - a blend of peppermint, spearmint, rosemary, and fir needle essential oils. i was initially unhappy that the swirl did not come out as i had intended (i had hoped for a more vibrant, contrasting green and blue) but i like the subtlety.

clean & green - a blend of bramble berry's zucchini flower and lettuce fragrances, with calendula petals. the scent is a lot prettier than i had thought it would be.

buttermilk lavender castile - the very same

sunshine - because everyone always loves this one

if i put them up on the etsy shop, i haven't decided if i'll also put up the cedar & saffron soap that i made before the kiddo was born. i have a lot of it left over and the smell is pretty heavenly (in a masculine sort of way). the color turned out fantabulous imho, but i used a bit too much colorant i think, because the lather is sort of reddish-brown from the pigment. it doesn't turn your skin colors or anything so it isn't a problem, but it could make people think twice about continuing to use it. we'll see.

in other news, i love fall not only because the weather will change soon and i'll get to pull out my cozy sweaters in lovely rich colors, but also because the roses in front of my house go nuts this time of year. i have no idea what to do with them but i must be doing something (nothing) right, because they keep on blooming. occasionally i go out and hack them back and chop off the dead ones, and the pretty ones come into the house and into a vase with a bit of everything else in the yard.

two kinds of roses, day lilies, a branch from the mulberry tree (i think?), some pittosporum, some eugenia, even some rosemary. mmmm!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


sorry, it's not mine. but! i thought i'd send kelly some blog love. she's finally back after a busy summer, so go check her out. while you're there, don't forget to enter her giveaway. she's giving away two beautiful, handmade reuseable shopping bags, so go visit!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

meal planning

i'm sitting on my sofa with my five favorite cookbooks spread out around me, planning our meals for the week so i can plan my grocery list for this afternoon's shopping. i had not previously been a huge meal-planner, and i'm not quite sure why. i'm making the effort now in order to save us money on our grocery bill, and i really like knowing that when i come home from work, i don't have to rack my brain trying to figure out what to make for dinner (baked chicken again? with rice or pasta?) or whether or not we have the ingredients for it.

the other thing i'm really enjoying about meal-planning is that it is encouraging me (and brian, by extension) to try new recipes that we may have otherwise overlooked. i have a bit of a cookbook obsession - there's forty-five of them on my kitchen shelves. FORTY-FIVE COOKBOOKS. no, i am not kidding. would you believe that i want more? there's a couple that i am currently coveting, but when you already have FORTY-FIVE COOKBOOKS you try to hold off on indulging that particular obsession because your husband might throw you and your cookbooks out if you bring another one home.

FORTY-FIVE COOKBOOKS. that does not include my five binders full of recipes handed down from family and friends and torn out of magazines. so, there are a lot of yummy recipes to try each week. of course, there are a few trusted standbys. joy of cooking, of course - i refer to it as the kitchen bible. rachael ray's 2, 4, 6, 8, because everything in there is pretty much guaranteed to get dinner on the table quickly, with a minimum of fuss, and the larger recipes are easy to adapt to two people. any of my cooking light cookbooks - i especially like this one - for guilt-free cooking that still tastes good. i love julia child's french chef cookbook though most of her recipes are "weekend" food, not weeknight cooking. williams-sonoma puts out beautiful cookbooks with gorgeous photos and delicious recipes. the chicken cookbook and the pasta cookbook are definite go-tos in my house. and my all-time favorite dessert cookbook, butter sugar flour eggs - just the book itself is so beautiful as to be lust-inducing.

what are your favorite cookbooks? what should i be looking to purchase next? do tell!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

cannot live without my sewing machine.

it's been a busy week or so over here at our house. fortunately it's also been rather warm, so i don't feel guilty sitting inside and sewing instead of being out and enjoying all that sunshine. imho it's hard to enjoy a nice day when you're standing in a puddle of sweat.

the keema alu i made last week was WONDERFUL. so delicious and quite simple and cheap. i think brian was less than impressed however, and definitely less than impressed with my dal. nor did he want to go out for indian food when it was suggested as a possible activity at some point in the future. well, oh well. we might anyways, because sometimes we do things i want to do too. i took a picture of the whole delicious dinner but i can't find it now, sorry.

my package arrived and oh, how i love getting packages in the mail and new toys to play with. i was very surprised, the zorb is like felt. i am not sure what i was expecting, but. the diapermaker lining jersey reminded me of sports jerseys, only not mesh. i also got a half yard of organic french terry, which was a super splurge and i must say i'm not sure i'm thrilled with french terry. i used all of this to make washable soakers for the kiddo's diapers and i L.O.V.E. them. i used two layers of zorb (i think even three might be better) sandwiched between a layer of lining jersey and a layer of french terry; the jersey goes against her bottom, of course, to wick away the moisture. even though it is like felt, the zorb is not stiff, which was the problem with using only terrycloth - i had to use three or four layers to make it absorbent enough, and then the soakers were so stiff it was like putting a mattress between my baby's legs. no thanks. a walking foot (which i have since purchased) would have made making the soakers so much easier, but oh well, she's only going to pee on them. i got 13 out of $23 worth of fabric which comes out to $1.79 each. w00t!

i've also been sewing up a storm, sort of for the new etsy shop. alice's sexy kitchen set was a huge hit at the bridal shower and with the bride herself, and one of her friends asked me if i would be willing to make her some aprons and potholders to give as gifts. i said yes on the condition that i could use the pictures to start the etsy shop, and lo, she ordered four sets! the aprons are all finished as are half of the potholders; the other half are waiting on insul-brite which the fabric store has been out of lately. i am ridiculously excited about the etsy shop and really hoping this takes off, if only to support my sewing/fabric habit. also, my sewing machine? is my mother's old elna, which she received as a high-school graduation gift. 42 years ago. it has been in pretty much continuous, daily use since the day she got it. it's a wonderful machine... but it's old. she had to have the foot pedal replaced a couple years ago, and her repairman told her that it was getting harder and harder to find parts for it and there would come a point where he would not be able to repair it. currently the clutch is slipping a little, but it's only mildly annoying and not preventing me from working. but... brian has been informed that when the elna dies, we will need to buy a new sewing machine, and with the way i sew, a $100 singer from target is not going to cut it. (no offense to anyone who owns a $100 singer from target.) this will be a MAJOR purchase, on the order of $1500-3000, and not something that can be delayed for long after the elna dies. so if the etsy shop takes off, it will help ease the financial pain of buying a new machine, which means i will [hopefully] be able to get a more fun machine that does lots of fancy stitches and embroidery.

also, if the etsy shop takes off? i am SO getting one of these. and then one of these, because making bias tape? is the bane of my existence.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

check me out!

finally, at long last, i've set myself up an etsy shop! it's something i've been meaning to do, and i'm so excited now that i have. there's only a couple things up right now, more to come, but head on over to hannah's toybox and check me out!

Friday, August 28, 2009

keema alu

my job situation is a little funky at the moment, so i did some recon in our freezer before going to the grocery store today. we have a very full freezer and really, i ought to be using that stuff before buying more food anyway. i guess i have this kind of depression mentality passed down from my grandmother via my mother... grandma and mom always had VERY full pantries, so it feels strange to me when ours gets "low," which really isn't low by any normal person's standards. like, there is nothing to eat because we only have 8 cans of tomatoes and 4 cans of corn and a bunch of pasta but no sauce and NO OLIVES, ohmygod what are we going to do without olives.

anyway, i found some ground beef and wondered what in the world i could do with it besides the usual: burritos, meatloaf, tamale pie, jury-rigged stroganoff. i looked through joy of cooking and found this recipe, and MAN if it doesn't ever sound good, and i generally have all these ingredients on hand anyway. apparently, it is traditionally served with dal, raita, and pita bread. YUM. we're definitely having this tomorrow night for dinner (tonight is ham with black-eyed peas and collard greens, yum!) so i'll let you know how it turned out.

keema alu (ground beef with potatoes and spices)
serves 4

3 T. vegetable oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 tsp. minced garlic
2 tsp. grated peeled fresh ginger
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. turmeric
¼ tsp. ground red pepper, or to taste
1 lb. ground beed or turkey
½ c. chopped canned tomatoes, drained, plus 1 T. juice
¾ tsp. salt
12 oz. boiling potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
1 c. water
2 T. chopped fresh cilantro
1 fresh serrano or jalapeño pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips (optional)

heat oil over medium-high heat in a large heavy skillet; cook onion until golden brown, 5-7 minutes. add garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, turmeric, and ground red pepper, and cook quickly, stirring just until well mixed. stir in beef, tomatoes, and salt; cook until meat is no logner pink and liquid is all evaporated, leaving the meat to sizzle in the oil, 8-10 minutes. stir in potatoes and cook for 2 minutes. add water. cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until the potatoes are tender, 15-20 minutes. uncover, increase heat, and cook until all the water is evaporated. taste and adjust seasonings. sprinkle with cilantro and pepper strips, if desired. serve with pita bread, dal, and raita.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

i'm getting a box soon!

very excited to be getting some of this and this to make soakers for hannah's gdiapers. the only problem is, my serger had to go in to the repair shop. and though it is now out of the repair shop, it is sitting at my mother's house. 500 miles away. zigzag, here we come!

anyone tried using that zorb fabric or know anything about it?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


i'm making up a new word. freesewing. it's similar to upcycling, but the difference is that you're making something new from new materials, not reusing old ones. in freesewing, you cannot have purchased anything to make the item (fabric, pattern, and trims) except for notions. fabric you use, if you purchased it, must have been purchased at least 12 months ago. long enough ago that you probably won't ever get around to that project you had originally planned for it. (although, i did once use fabric for its intended purpose, ten years later - this dress that i wore to a friend's wedding in 2007.)

freesewing is more like this blouse or this blouse or even this blouse. this weekend's projects were more upcycling than freesewing, but i just wanted to get that out there.

first i cut down and recreated a tee shirt. i generally don't wear those oversize, unisex tee shirts; i just don't like how i look in them. so i cut them down if i care enough. this one is a promo shirt from last fall's life campaign at work. i'm welcome to wear it on casual fridays but i never had. (partly because i got knocked up, but still.) so for a year it just hung in my closet taking up space. it wasn't even a painting shirt.

now it is something i'll actually wear on casual fridays. i've also done this with old tees of brian's that i like and are still in good condition. for example, this giants tee:

total cost to me: $0.

i also made this little blanket for hannah. we've been hauling her nice quilt to mommy group each week, but it's kind of big. and because i take it back up to her room each week, sometimes i forget to bring it altogether. i know, i'm a bad mommy. what kind of mother forgets to bring her daughter's blanket to mommy group? one who hates her child, OBVIOUSLY. so this one is a small convenient size and i can just keep it in the car.

we had received these cute receiving blankets as a gift, but we just had so many blankets. i tried to return them but babies r us would not take them back. said they didn't carry them. LIARS. so i took them home, washed them, and hoped we'd use them. we didn't. and now here is where brian says my snob is showing: do you see how much those COST?? all they are is a piece of flannel with the edges serged. man, i should sell those. i could make me a killing. each of those i bet cost the company no more than $1 to make, and they sell them for $15 for four. ROBBERY, I TELL YOU. i could make better blankets for cheaper. so i did. her blanket is two of those pieces of flannel with a leftover piece of batting from alice's wedding quilt, quilted randomly, and bound with strips from a third blanket. total cost to me: $0.

now, what do i do with the fourth blanket? more burpies?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

childhood memories

the owl and the pussycat went to sea
in a beautiful pea-green boat.
they took some honey and plenty of money,
tied up in a five-pound note.
puss said to the owl, "you elegant fowl,
how charmingly sweet you sing.
so let us be married, too long we have tarried!
but what shall we do for a ring?"
they sailed away for a year and a day
to the land where the bong-trees grow.
and there in the wood a piggy-wig stood
with a ring at the end of his nose, his nose, his nose -
with a ring at the end of his nose.

"dear pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling, your ring?"
said the piggy, "i will."
so they took it away and were married next day
by the turkey who lives on the hill.
they dined on mince and slices of quince
which they ate with a runcible spoon,
and hand in hand on the edge of the sand
they danced by the light of the moon, the moon, the moon -
they danced by the light of the moon.

edward lear, "the owl and the pussycat" (1871)

Friday, August 21, 2009

did not fall off the face of the earth

instead, had a baby. said baby takes a lot of energy that could otherwise be devoted to blogging.

this month has been a bit of a busy one so far. the kiddo had her first overnight stay with nana while brian and i celebrated our five-year wedding anniversary, and she and i took her first big trip away when we went to san diego for a week to marry off my best friend. we're refinancing our house and i start back to work on september 1, so we have all the day care paperwork to deal with and i'm trying to enjoy my last days of freedom (and clean the house while i actually have the time). i will blog again, i promise.

Monday, August 3, 2009

update: it was the pattern after all.

thanks to elizabeth's comment the other day, i checked out pattern review to see what other people were saying about that dress i made. lo, i had already signed up for pattern review. how do i forget these things? i guess i am signed up for so darn many websites that it's easy to forget. it seems like everyone wants you to sign up (it's free!) just to access their content. only, you'd think i'd remember something like pattern review. and it's not like i signed up 86 billion years ago and hadn't used it since. it was only a couple months ago. oh wait. I HAD A BABY IN THE MEANTIME, that's where my brain went.

anyway, the reviews all pretty much had the same beefs i did. the bodice is insanely low, strange construction, and entirely too large. good to know i'm not nuts. the other thing i noticed that others commented on (but i did not post about) is how huge the skirt is. it is also gathered, which makes it a bit poofy. i had my reservations about doing the skirt that way instead of some sort of a-line, but this is what happens when you don't listen to yourself. you get a somewhat poofy, somewhat maternity-ish skirt. did i mention that they also removed my brain when they took hannah out of me?

all this to say, i still like the dress well enough to wear it to the bridal shower next sunday, and when do i get my brain back? oh, and sign up.

Friday, July 31, 2009

wherein the seam ripper gets quite a workout

either the pattern is off or it's me, and i'm choosing to believe it's the pattern. i made this cute sundress, butterick # 5181, the first garment i have tried to fit to my new post-baby body. i measured (i have a 39" bust?? how and when did that happen?) and GOOD LORD I AM A SIZE 14 according to the pattern. i've never been a 14 in my life. no offense to anyone who is a 14. it was just a shock to me... up until a few years ago i had always been a 10, and most recently a 12. well, i thought, it must be that little bit of baby weight that's left over and the breastfeeding boobs. did i mention how strangely mondo they are?

i fell in love with that beautiful paisley cotton a couple weeks ago at the fabric store and have been coveting it ever since, and finally treated myself to some to make this dress. the pattern said "easy" and it was, incredibly simplistic, i think i got this done in one morning though it might have been two if the kiddo didn't nap well. the bodice is a bit scandalously low, i will definitely be wearing a cami with this, and i love the raised waistband as i have a very long torso and appreciate anything that gives the impression of a more balanced body and longer legs. HOWEVER i would definitely make some changes if/when i make it again (which i kind of hope to do in that vintage-looking black-and-tan floral):

first off, the skirt is a bit short for my taste. it hits right above my knee. i've been known to wear skirts that short and shorter (see: anything i wore in high school or college) but lately i prefer skirts to hit just below the knee. i think 3-4 inches additional on the skirt panel would do it.

also, the construction was just plain strange, and i still cannot figure out why the directions called for it to be constructed the way it was. the bodice is fully lined, which is always nicer than a facing of course. so you line the bodice, all right, no problem, turn it, press, and then the directions say to understitch as far as possible. say what? true, in the past i have not been a fan of understitching, but it helps keep the lining (or facings) from rolling so i generally always do it. i just could not figure out how to understitch the lining after i had turned it, with those [relatively] narrow shoulders. i tried but it was so much swearing. in the future i would attach the lining at the neck, understitch, and THEN attach the lining at the armscye and turn. it just isn't possible (that i can see) to understitch both, and i'd rather the neckline be done than the armscye.

then there was the attachment of that midriff band. the bodice is lined with batiste, but the midriff band calls for two pieces to be cut - one for the outside and one for the inside/lining. huh? why not just cut one from the batiste lining? that would save money, feel nicer against the skin, and (not always a concern, but i like it) look nicer on the inside. the band was attached by sandwiching the bodice pieces between the two (inner and outer) midriff pieces, instead of the traditional lining method (basically, making a second garment and sewing it into the outer garment). granted, i'm not sure how i would attach it differently, because the right and left bodice pieces were separate, not lapped over each other or stitched together, but it sure made it difficult to insert an invisible zipper, because i like to encase my zipper between the fabric and the lining so the stiff edges of the zipper tape don't rub. and it looks nicer.

the way the midriff band was attached also made the dress difficult to alter. i thought it had properly fit the pattern to my body before i cut it out, but it turns out i'm NOT a 14 after all (!), i'm still a 12. the dress was too big and i had to go back and rip out most of the bodice so i could take in the side seams. usually this isn't too difficult but the way the bodice was encased in the midriff band made it so that i had to rip everything out. but - now it fits, albeit a bit short. i'm thinking i may remedy that with a band of the paisley fabric attached to the brown, what do you think?

(with my alterations, i think the fabric amounts should be: 2 yards fabric (45"), ¾ yard contrast (45"), and ¾ yard batiste or voile [lining].)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

aruba part 1

we did not leave for our honeymoon immediately after our wedding; instead, we left at the end of the week. (we got married on a sunday but did not leave until the following saturday.) brian had to go in to work for two days during that week which kind of sucked, but i was off work and used the time to write thank you notes and just enjoy being a brand-new-newlywed. and then saturday came and we were off to aruba!

we had a week booked at the caribbean palm village resort starting on saturday august 7, so we took the red-eye out of san francisco on friday night. you can't fly directly to aruba from the west coast, so we flew into jfk in new york and from there headed down to aruba. we arrived early saturday afternoon and stepped out of the airport into the balmy, breezy caribbean air. fabulous! we spent that afternoon unpacking and relaxing by the pool before we went to dinner at the resort's italian restaurant, valentino's.

the next day we slathered on the sunscreen (aruba is in the tropics, so the sun is stronger and we didn't want to burn) and headed into downtown oranjestad, the capital city. aruba is a small island of only about 110,000 people, and oranjestad is pretty much the only town of interest. the other "towns" (like noord, where we stayed) are really tiny hamlets, and are scattered around the island's southwest half. the southwest half of the island is pretty, developed, and the beaches are white sand and sheltered from the pounding waves of the sea. the water is warm, turquoise, and calm, like a giant bathtub.

on the pier at king's beach

the next afternoon we took a submarine tour of aruba's coast. we saw a couple shipwrecks, common because the populated southwest shore is so shallow. (the calm, clear water, shipwrecks, and abundant sea life all make for great snorkeling and diving as well.) neither of us had ever been on a real submarine before - the ride at disneyland doesn't count! the captain even settled the submarine down on the ocean floor. it was very neat being under the sea, knowing that it wasn't a theatrical ride tethered to a track along the bottom.

we visited two shipwrecks in the submarine. because the water off aruba's populated coast is so shallow, numerous ships have wrecked there.

the next day we headed back into oranjestad - we were taking a heli-tour of the island! again, neither of us had ever been in a helicopter either, and we didn't know what to expect. i'm not a huge fan of flying and was terrified for the first ten minutes, but i finally relaxed enough to enjoy the ride. our pilot, christian, took us over the barren northeast coast, whetting our appetite to see more of aruba.

with our pilot christian, before i gave myself a heart attack

oranjestad from the air

the natural bridge, on the northest coast

after our heli-tour we explored downtown oranjestad. pretty much every day in aruba is around 85° with a cool ocean breeze - in other words, perfect and perfect for strolling. we had lunch on the marina (and maybe enjoyed some yummy aruban beer) and then went out to see what we could see. downtown aruba is pretty small and quite walkable, and there were a few historic sights for us history lovers.

lg smith boulevard, downtown o'stad

caribbean colors in downtown o'stad

iguanas are a protected species in aruba, so they're everywhere. there are four in this photo. though they are protected, they are also a delicacy, and we were told if we wanted to sample some iguana soup, there was this guy down on the beach...

jan henrik, one of aruba's prime ministers

brian thought queen wilhelmina was pretty hot

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

not a professional

i try to find time most days to get some sewing done or put in some time on a project. i don't think it is a secret that i'm happiest when i have a project and i fervently believe that taking care of me means i can be a better wife and mommy. brian also seems to understand this and often lately handles TK (the kiddo) so i can sew and thereby reset myself back into my happy place.

my latest project has been alice's bridal shower gift. i finished her wedding gift a while back and then had to figure out what to do for her bridal shower. lingerie was (kind of) out as she had requested a recipe/words of wisdom shower and was kind of nervous about being embarrassed in front of some older family members. i still wanted to do lingerie though (she gave me a SCANDALOUS red nothing for my bridal shower, in front of my lutheran grandmother) and i had to find a yummy recipe. this is what i came up with:

it's a play on my dinners-in-a-bag, only this one is a "sexy breakfast." my recipe of choice was these delicious waffles, only i called them "baby give me more" waffles. i also put in a recipe for "mmm i love that" berry syrup to drizzle on top. i found a cute sort of vintage-looking bra and panties set (i love the boyshort-cut of those panties) and some inexpensive but lovely bamboo spoons. and then i made that cute vintage-y apron, hot pads (they are supposed to be heart-shaped, but my sewing turned out a bit wonky there), and matching dishtowels. high heels not included. can you see where i am going with this?

the only problem is, i love it so much. i love that black and tan floral, and i love the giant rickrack. i love half-aprons, and i love the black and tan polka dot fabric that is the tie on the apron. [secret note to kerry: i actually got it for your quilt, but then it matched perfectly with the floral so i used a little for alice. but it was yours first.] it's also the bias binding on the towels and hot pads, which i love. i found insulated cloth for the hot pads and i love that i used it. i love the color of the towels. i do not want to give this up.

incidentally (if you were wondering) this is the reason i generally do not sew for other people. friends often ask why i don't sell the things i sew, and this is why: i'm way too selfish.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

another heart calls

this week i am thankful for:

1. disability insurance.

2. my sewing machine, not that i have the free time anymore to use it as much as i'd like.

3. hannah, who giggles and coos in her sleep sometimes when i am holding her, waiting for her to be asleep enough to put her in her crib so i can sneak away and, i don't know, pee, or eat. (this kid firmly exercises her constitutional right to protest when i put her down. yes, protest. she does not do it peacefully.) those giggles and coos are the cutest. thing. EVER.

Monday, July 6, 2009

not fit to be called woman

my bridesmaid shoes just arrived and i love them. LOVE. THEM. it has been so long since i treated myself to a new pair of shoes that getting these was like a hit of cocaine. or something, i don't know, i've never done a drug in my life. except that one time, in college.

i tried them on and discovered something else: that it has been so long since i've worn any kind of heel (let alone a 3-inch one) that i was wobbly and teetering. i have to re-learn how to walk in heels.

i'm sorry, ladies. i'm an embarrassment to you all.

Friday, July 3, 2009

rockpaperscissors giveaway

rockpaperscissors GUEST GIVEAWAY!!!! over at grosgrain. how cute would the wedding dresses invite be for alice's bridal shower? (invites are my responsibility.) love them.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

sadly, bottle rockets are not permitted.

this week i am thankful for:

1. a husband who came home early tonight!

2. fireworks this weekend! i love fireworks.

3. freedom. america was founded on an idea: that all men (and women) were created equal and are entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. i love that. happy birthday, america.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

recent addiction: quilting

i know, i know. i said before that i hate quilting. but then, remember? i said it wasn't so bad. and then i said it was actually kind of fun. so fun, in fact, that i've made a couple more. and i've started to buy quilting supplies and gadgets and tools. it's bad.

here is a picture of my first quilt. hah! just kidding. that's just a blanket made with a cheater cloth. i don't have the patience for those curved seams and tiny squares.

this was my first real foray into quilting. i made this about eight or nine years ago. (brian: why are you taking pictures of that? it's not like it's new or anything.) a bit ambitious, don't you think? yes folks, that's my king-size bed. a cal king. nothing like going for the gold on the very first try. i mean, how hard can it be?

i love the log cabin pattern. it is so easy to cut and piece and it doesn't really matter if the seams come out a bit wonky, like they did on this one. you can't tell once the blocks are set. traditionally the center square is red or yellow, representing either the hearth of the home (red) or a candle left burning to guide one home (yellow), and the values radiate light to dark on either side to represent happiness and sorrow, symbolizing life in a home. at the time i had no idea of the history behind log cabin quilts - just about the light and dark values - so i chose blues for my quilt. the setting is very similar to the popular sunshine and shadow setting though i did not know that at the time either.

i don't know that i would truly call that one a quilt, because i didn't actually quilt it. i toyed with the idea of tying it (now i know that is the traditional manner of anchoring a log cabin quilt) but i didn't want to spend the money on batting. hey, i was a poor college student. and i was insanely frustrated by how slow it was going. i'm kind of an impatient seamstress. so i simply backed the top with two sheets (one to protect the raw edges) to make it into a duvet.

my second "quilt" i did the same thing with. i'm sure this pattern has a name, but i don't know what it is. i like how it looks like geese flying, kind of like that mc escher drawing.

you can tell how frustrated i was by the blue log cabin quilt because the squares are much bigger in this pattern and it went quite a bit faster. i made this one about three years ago. again, it's not a true quilt, because i just backed it twice (once to protect the raw edges) to make another duvet instead of actually quilting it. that one is our "winter" quilt and will go on the bed later in the fall. it's nice to change things up once in a while and the colors make me feel so cozy.

and of course we all know how the baby quilt turned out. that one was a sampler which i like in a small quilt (45" x 54") but i think would be too busy and distracting in a larger "bed" size. it was fun trying out all those different patterns though. there is a log cabin block in there also, the far left in the second row from the top.

i was so inspired by the baby quilt that i decided to make a quilt for a friend as a wedding gift. i think that log cabin pattern is my favorite and it's pretty easy, so i decided to make hers in a log cabin also, only in the colors of her wedding (somewhat). sorry i didn't get the red in there, jess. the colors also made me think of oregon, where she lives, so i thought that was appropriate. it turned out a lot prettier than i thought it would be. at first i was not thrilled with the colors - they were not what i would have chosen, but that didn't matter because it was not for me. i really love how it all came together in the end and i think it is beautiful. i almost didn't want to give it up. it's a nice two-person "snuggle" size, 60" x 60".

after i made that quilt i started doing a little research on the history of log cabin quilts. that's when i found out about the red or yellow center square - jessika's yellow center square was not planned, but a happy accident. i'd like to think it's so she and b can always find their way home to each other. the arrangement is a very simple setting called straight setting, and i love how elegant and rhythmic it is. i actually quilted this one, before i learned that log cabin quilts were traditionally tied and never quilted. i had no idea what pattern to quilt it in, so i tried a technique called stippling. even though it is a bit unorthodox, i love how it turned out, but the stippling was harder than i expected and i don't think i would try it again. i used a cotton/bamboo batting for this quilt and really like how it makes the finished quilt feel. i've used poly batting before in other projects (like quillows) but i don't think i'd use it again now that i have discovered cotton batting.

the most recent quilt i finished is also a wedding gift, for my girlfriend alice who is getting married in august. i arranged the blocks in a broken dishes setting which i find quite intriguing and beautiful but caused much swearing. i could not for the life of me set those blocks together properly. i have never ripped out and resewn so many seams in my life.

this quilt was tied, partly because i don't have a machine with an arm long enough to quilt it easily nor the skill to do so, partly because it is more traditional that way. quite a bit of love and energy went into this project (and money, which brian is complaining about), but she is my best girl and deserves it. i really love the colors and if she weren't getting married i'd keep it for myself. it looks gorgeous in our guest room. maybe i'll get more fabric and make us one.

my latest project is a patchwork scrap quilt for our bed. this is an ambitious project, not only because i have a new baby but also because we have that cal king bed. i have most of the little squares cut out; it's just a matter of piecing together the top, mostly. oy! i'll post pictures when i have something substantial to post pictures of.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

may be jinxing it

this week i am thankful for:

1. sleep, glorious sleep! we (finally) borrowed a bassinet from a friend, picked it up on sunday. and the kiddo has been going through a growth spurt and eating like nobody's business. i don't know if it is the bassinet, or that she is so tired from growing, or that she is tanking up so much at night and doesn't need to feed as often in the wee hours, but since sunday she has slept through the night. six to eight hours straight each night. maybe it's a combination of the three. maybe i'm jinxing it by mentioning it, but i have felt amazing this week and hope this continues.

2. mommy + me group. such a neat group of women and the cutest kiddos ever.

3. being a good citizen and paying my taxes, because now the government is sending me disability checks, which are really helping me stay home with the kiddo. i paid in to the system and now it is paying back to me. nice.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

summer in the city

this week i am thankful for:

1. a lovely afternoon spent with my sister in the city, even though the kiddo decided to be a bit fussy. i wish we lived closer to that girl.

2. blue cheese, which i had not had in... 10 months? it was divine.

3. gorgeous weather, which makes the city even prettier. as soon as i saw the city skyline from the freeway in albany, i remembered how much i love san francisco and how much i miss living in the bay area. sf is even more fabulous on a beautiful day and today did not disappoint.

Monday, June 15, 2009

did they ever get us good

because we knew brian's leave was ending soon, we decided to take a trip over to the jelly belly factory in fairfield. it's no secret that jelly bellies are my favorite candy ever and i've been wanting to take a tour of the factory in the worst way for the longest time.

we got there just in time to browse the lobby a bit and get in for the last tour of the day. we're not moving very quickly these days with the kiddo and all. there was a ton of ronald reagan memorabilia (he famously loved jelly bellies also!) as well as jelly belly art, "mosaics" made with jelly bellies.

then we took the tour. unfortunately photography is not allowed on the tour but let me tell you how neat it was! i love seeing how things are made and this did not disappoint. there was a room full of huge kettles for melting sugar, right across from stacked pallets of sugar and 2,000-pound bags of cornstarch.

we saw the huge machines sorting out the beans that were too small and too large, and other irregular beans. these are called belly flops. i love that. the factory goes through 85,000 pounds of sugar in an 8-hour period, by the way. c&h comes by every morning to refill two huge silos outside. they also use real oils and flavors in the beans. for example, the chocolate beans are made with real dark chocolate, and the jalapeño ones have real pepper oil. also, the flavor is in the bean itself, not just the hard shell, unlike most other jelly beans.

after the tour of course we browsed in the shop. they sell each individual flavor in bulk which i like because then i can make myself a mixed bag without the yucky flavors like licorice. (that's how we were able to do jelly bellies in only our wedding colors as our wedding favors.) this is where they get you: the tour itself is free, and they even give you a free bag of jelly bellies at the end. we spent way too much money in that shop. man do i love those jelly bellies.

the factory also makes much more than just jelly bellies. chocolate and gummies are two we saw loads of. if you're ever in the bay area, the factory tour is a fun way to spend an afternoon.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

for your consideration

this week i am thankful for:

1. making it through the first month with my sanity [mostly] intact.

2. my considerate husband, who always holds the door for me, which is more than i can say for some men when i am walking into the bank with a baby in my arms.

3. a well-stocked freezer. brian isn't doing much in the way of cooking and fast food gets old very quickly.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


brian got a promotion!

so proud of you, honey!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

these four walls are driving me insane. fresh air needed. now.

this week i am thankful for:

1. mil, who is so wonderfully supportive and encouraging and fun, and even babysat monday night so brian and i could get out and see a movie. there is life after children after all.

2. brian, for giving me time-outs when i need them.

3. mommy + me network. it's nice to be somewhere where the baby's screams aren't a bother, and where other women are going through the same things i am. plus, it gets me out of the house.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

happy birthday

to the wonderful man i am lucky enough to call my husband, whom my daughter is lucky enough to call her father. i love you, sweetie.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

wedding part ii

after taking all those pictures we headed up the hill to our reception. boy were we excited - we were finally married! i was on cloud 9 and brian just could not believe it. married! i was mrs. stensler! pretty amazing if you ask me. when we got to the clubhouse, one the catering staff met us outside to see if we wanted any particular drink to be waiting at our table for us. i certainly wasn't going to pass up a drink on my wedding day so i ordered myself a beer. brian declined anything. i took one look at his awestruck, semi-shell-shocked face... and ordered him a beer as well.

the dj started playing "center field" and we followed our bridal party in to our reception. i had gotten the garden wedding that i had always hoped for, but i wanted to incorporate brian's love of baseball as well. "center field" seemed like such a fun thing to walk in to. "put me in, coach!" then we got down to business: FOOD. it was lunchtime and we had just gotten married, so we were HUNGRY. and man was there a lot of food! we had a big buffet with three different entrees and eight different salads.

jimmy, alice, paul, kerry, brian, me, ed, jackie, dave, and kirsten

we had asked the photographer to pull us away during lunch for some additional photos, so we wouldn't miss out on socializing with our guests. unfortunately he didn't and i'm not sure why not. the upshot was that we got to eat at least. i was famished and scarfed down a bunch of food but brian was too nervous to eat much of anything and didn't even touch his beer.

my beautiful bridesmaids jackie, alice, kerry, and kirsten

those boys! dave, ed, brian, paul, and jimmy

brian wanted to shoot our photographer by this point.

after we took some more pictures we went back inside. it was time for the fun stuff! we got to cut our beautiful cake - with a baseball on top, just for brian. (our tables were also "named" for different ballparks instead of just numbers, and our favors were small bags of jelly bellies and baseball gumballs.)

and man was it ever yummy. chocolate with chocolate raspberry filling and vanila buttercream frosting. delicious. and there was no smashing in the faces either. my makeup and i thanked brian for his restraint.

we danced our first dance to eric heatherly's "swimming in champagne." it was so nice to have a moment together with no one else vying for our attention. we both agreed that our first dance was our favorite part of the reception.

then, sadly, it was time to go. we were both so tired from all the excitement and activity of the day, but we were having so much fun with our guests that we didn't want to go. but we still had to. our guests saw us off in a shower of rose petals and then we hopped into brian's truck, which had been detailed and then decorated by the boys for the occasion.

we were married! it was off to spend our wedding night at the pacifica beach resort hotel, and then in a couple days we were off to our honeymoon in aruba!