Monday, May 30, 2011



If you come over for dinner at our house, don't be surprised if for desert we have milkshakes.  We love them and they love us.  We use only 2 simple ingredients: 3 berry frozen mix AND Kirkland vanilla ice cream.  The key is the blender.  We spear by ours.  The Vitamix is the best blender, ever.  You really should buy one.  Anyway, it mixes up a fantastic milkshake.  My guilty pleasure milkshake is Heath bar and vanilla.  Is your mouth watering yet?  Yeah, these shakes are awesome!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Adventuring Abroad - Iceland

Grocery Stores:  If possible, find a website of a grocery store in the country.  Do you know a local?  Ask them for suggestions.  Hopefully the website will have a map of more than one different locations.  For Iceland the store we'll use is Bonus.  This map shoes the locations throughout the country.

Feeding a Baby:  I want to make sure we feed our baby better than just PB&J's like we may have.  So, I'll be bringing some plenty from home.  He'll enjoy organic baby food pouches like these from Plum Organics (there are other brands).  We'll bring lots of puffs too.  These freeze dried fruits are genius, we'll be bringing a ton.  Water is free from the rivers - it is the freshest, cleanest, best water I have ever drunk.  I won't mind feeding it to my baby.  It will be easy to feed the baby for cheap.

Feeding the Rest of Us:  We try not to eat out more than once a day.  And since we'll be driving a good part of the days and who knows how many places there will be to eat along the way, it will be a good idea if we have this planned out, sort of.  We'll use some locations from this Budget Travel site while in Reykjavik.  But for the rest of the trip and so we don't spend too much at Bonus, I'll also bring some things from home to ensure we stay healthy and happy.  

cereal (we'll see about this, it will be powder before we land)
oats + craisins - just add water, 
small containers of PB & J, 
this nut mix from Costco, 
these soup packets - just add water, 
Crystal Light Pure powder packets - just add water, 
*with all of the just add water items, this is getting me thinking.  I guess I need to bring some emergency TP.  Its never a bad idea.  Besides, we will be camping for a good part of the trip, who knows if we'll choose a camp ground with facilities. hmm, something else to consider.

Non-food Items: For baby - 1 sippy cup and bottle, 2 spoons, 2 bowls and lids (filled with cereal), 3 bibs (we hear there aren't always washing facilities to use), cover for carrier.  For us - 1 knife, fork & spoon, 1 sharp knife, 2 water bottles, matches

What will we buy in Iceland?  We'll buy some milk and cheese to have too.  Some bread, some fruits and/or veggies.  If lunch meats are not too high priced we'll buy and store that too.  So, I guess that means I'll be bringing a little thing of mustard.  It will save some cost when we get hot dogs  (They are pretty popular in the country, they are mostly made of lamb)

How will we keep things from the grocery store cold?  We have a little 15"x8" cooler we'll bring.  I guess that means we'll be buying some frozen peas to keep things cold then for the baby to eat. Perfect!

Friday, May 27, 2011

how to get things done as a new mom : a simple schedule

Since having a baby, I have really had to firgure out to get everything done.  There are only so many hours in the day when I am not wrangling, teaching, feeding, etc.  So, I needed to visually be able to see when my baby is napping and thus, can get things done, and when my baby is awake and thus, needs my attention.  Basically, when he is asleep, I get stuff done, as well as spend quality time with Zack. 

* The shaded in areas are when I am on Mom Duty.   Mom Duty is when I play with, talk to, teach, take walks with, snuggle, read to, and feed my baby. 

* The blank areas are when I am on My Time.  My Time is when I do dishes, clean, eat, shower, blog, read, craft/sew, nap, etc.   This time goes by so quickly it hurts sometimes.  But sooner than I know it, another nap comes again and I have another chance to be productive and get my things done.

//  I know this will change soon as he'll probably go to one nap soon and it will need to be perfected when I have another baby but for now, it is a fantastic visual guide.  Productivity for me comes when I can see my day in stages.  This has been a very helpful little schedule!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

packing up, moving it out

I wish I was moving somewhere, but we're not, yet.  A while ago we decide rather than getting a bigger apartment, we'd just get a small storage unit.  It has been much cheaper and very helpful!  Here are 10 bins before, and 10 bins after.  We don't have a luxury home but now we have sanity and order of one, at least.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

What do you see?

What do you see in this picture?  Maybe its just me but, I see a face in the ground?  How cool is that?!  It kind of looks like the Lion King.  Zack thinks its where the Treasure is buried.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Iceland - Travel Book

As I usually do, I made a travel journal book, this time, for our trip to Iceland.  I tried using some more fun paper rather than rely on what things I acquired there solely.  I am pleased with the outcome and very excited to fill it.  

*  I got Elise's pdf workshop on making mini books and it was a good reference and guide to feeling more comfortable with my "mini" books, in particular this travel book.  Its was totally worth the $.

*  Also, thanks to her, I'll be attempting to put it together on the road.  Rather than collecting all the pieces and then trying to recapture the essence at home.  I already know it will be a much better outcome.  

//  I can't wait to fill it up...

Saturday, May 21, 2011

beauty at the wall

Spring has been good to me.  It is very green, I love the rain, and there are gems like this in my park.  I love how this picture epitomizes (for me) what city life is all about.

* the view that caught my eye - all of that is so new york: fence, random tree, brick wall, graffiti painted over flowers fenced in, mangled fence in a lonely spot of beauty, vines finding their way around the place

Friday, May 20, 2011

Adventuring Abroad - Iceland

Accommodations: We'll be camping some nights (as in tent and sleeping bags) and staying in cottages, a hotel and farm houses on other nights.  Whats the best way to reserve rooms? I prefer email, its the best way.  We'll check availability giving them a general time frame so we can be more flexible with the rest of the trip.  (I am definitely mentioning that we have a baby, you never know what they have to offer or what will be a negative.  Its good just to mention it so they are aware.)

Here are some websites we used:
 Hostelling International - They offer car rental and hostel packages.  This is a really good deal if you aren't traveling by a strict schedule or a short timeline.
Visit Iceland - This is a great site with all things for touring Iceland.  A local gave us this site to reference, she uses it too.
North Iceland Travel Guide - This is exclusively for the North West region.  It has info for everything from hostels, to hotels, to campsites.
Icelandic Farm Holidays - A very informative site with a map to see where the listings are located.  This is my favorite way to plan, I'm such a visual person.

* a lot of places have information on their websites telling you what landmarks and attractions are near by.  I am planning our stays according to what we want to see in the area.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

i like candy

I am trying to get all of my planning for Iceland done in between baby time and I got thinking.  I don't know what it is about this week, but its been tough.  I think it has something to do with the fact that my baby can't talk and we are getting to the point that he wants to communicate something but I don't understand...  we both get frustrated and neither wants to "talk about it".  We've been taking many naps to help get us through this week (which is also a busy one for my tag-teamer - husband).

Somehow I've found the motivation and energy to do a few things.  (many of which will be posted about)  I ordered pizza, got 3 fun packages in the mail and ate a lot of candy.  Those things made me happy.  Thanks, for the packages and the candy!!!  I needed the little pick me up, as we still have a lot to plan for our trip.

// today we're going out side on an adventure across the city.  if I made that sound like a big deal but you have doubts, well, its actually a huge deal with a baby and bags of things to return, not to mention what we'll be bringing back.  I'm planning on 3 hours just to go about 15 miles and back!  ah, the life here in our small (and continuously getting smaller) 1 BR.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

San Diego : Mission Beach

This was another highlight of the trip.  My good friend from college who has the same birthday as me lives in San Diego area with her family.  We spent the night and day with them before heading back to LA.

They introduced us to the best Mexican food place.  It sounds funny but I am really sad I didn't get a picture of the place.  It was so` good, I have craved it many times since we ate there.  (thanks a lot grant)  It was so good to see my friends and their kids and introduce them to my family.

It was the best time taking O Baby to the beach.  It was his first time at the Pacific Ocean.  It was a windy and colder day but he only smiled and played.  He didn't cry once.  Even when we put him in the waves and set him in seaweed, he just enjoyed it.  Is it really possible to have such an awesome child?  I am just a proud little mother, that's all. 

//  That is all there was to our little California adventures.  I look forward to our next adventure, soon...

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

San Diego : Queen Bee Market

After the birthday festivities earlier in the week, I looked forward to the end of the week when we'd drive down to San Diego.  I have lived in and visited many places in CA, many times.  I feel like I grew up in CA, almost.  So, I was really looking forward to being in some of the southern areas that I once knew so well.  The weather was overcast and a little chilly compared to the sunny days in LA but that did not stop us.  Oh, and, of course we made a stop at some outlets along the way.  There is just something about traveling and shopping at outlets that we both love so much. 

I had looked forward to going to the Queen Bee Market since before we even arrived in CA.   I just like the idea of a low key event that wouldn't be crowded with tons of city folk.  Zack is a fan of craftiness too so he didn't mind accompanying me.

I especially wanted to pick up some items made by one of my favorite bloggers. I came away with a print and a minibook, and wished I would have gotten a couple more items too.  Oh, well, I can just get them online.

We couldn't resist getting something for O Baby.   It has the same soft bumpy fabric like his favorite blanket and his new toy from Santa Monica Pier.

*  This craft market deserved a whole post all of its own, since it was one of the highlights for me.

// We made one more stop that I am excited to post about next.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


It might be a surprise to learn that I really don't like chocolate very much.  I usually make chocolate deserts but that is because that is what my husband likes and I think chocolate goodies are easy to make. Also, I associate everything that is not chocolate with fruity goodies, that I love.  I hope to get a little more creative this summer and use fruit to make things that we'll both like.  I am open for recipe suggestions.

try it!  its easy and SO YUMMY.  (some people call this "better than sex" cake but I prefer my name)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

a surprise package

I have made some dear friends in my life.  One of them I am lucky enough to also have developed friendships with her parents and family.  These sweet parents sent us a surprise package.  I was so surprised to get it and so grateful!  It was like I got big hugs via the USPS.   Getting mail is the best!

* Thank you, my North Ridge friends!

Friday, May 13, 2011

We're going on an adventure!

We are taking a long trip to Iceland this year.  It is going to take quite a bit of planning since we must rent a car, find accommodations around the country and not to mention, pack and plan for traveling with our baby for about 2 weeks.  To help me plan and to keep it fun and organized, I have decided to post regularly about our Iceland 2011 preparations.  It has been very helpful to come across travel blogs (I don't claim that title here) especially when they have traveled to Iceland.  While we have been there before, it was not for as long, and not with a baby.  So, here's to planning a trip to Iceland (or any trip abroad).   Enjoy the preparations!

*Preparing to go*
Best time to buy tickets to Iceland:  We started checking the prices in Oct. when it was cheapest.  We didn't buy until December and it was a little bit more, but still inexpensive.

Cheapest time to travel to Iceland: Off Season, like any other place, roughly:  Jan - May & Sept - Dec. 

Best time of year to travel to Iceland:  The best weather is in June through Aug.  The sun is out most of the day, really (it sort of sets around 9PM).  The summer months are the high season so, these months are most expensive.  However, spring and fall aren't bad, just wetter than the summer months.  (The climate is similar to NYC if that gives you any perspective.)

The Route: When we go on road trips, we journey pretty spontaneously.  How do we stay focused on seeing a lot?  We usually choose a "goal" city to reach every other day or so.  This keeps us from spending too much time in one place.  When you want to see "it all" you want some sort of schedule.

The Timeline: With about 2 weeks, we'll spend up to three days in each region.  For example, we fly in early.  Then we'll immediately head to the NW region to our first spot, probably stopping at the Blue Lagoon on our way. Jet lag is apparent but with two drivers we should be fine.  Then the plan is roughly: NW-2days, N-1days, NE-2days, W-1days, SW-2days, S-3days, Reyk-2days... We have a couple of days to give if needed.

*Planning Tip* - Grocery Stores:  Another way we plan our travel route and time line is by where the grocery stores are.  Food can quickly add up and especially Iceland isn't known for its bargain eats.
(I'll do separate post on eating for cheap.)

// More Iceland travel tips to come.  A post about accommodations is next... 

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Santa Monica Pier

Work paid for a private dinner and tickets to several rides for each of us.  It was really fun just to be there to party.  I haven't been to the Pier for a long time so, it brought back some memories.  I really do like California, but it was actually not as great as I remembered it.  Still great, but not a place I want to live anymore.  ( I am totally a mountain and snow girl, although I love to be near and in the ocean )

I have become such a baby when it comes to rides.  I don't like them, even the harmless Ferris Wheel.  What I did like, a lot, was being able to see the ocean from high up at night.  It was so peaceful and grand.  The ocean is beautiful.  I loved having that perspective and we got to enjoy several rides, thanks work! ( and this is our friend who O baby just loved! )

It was these boys' birthday and work provided a cake and cheers to celebrate these two.  They are so fun when they are together.  Notice the cake on their face?  They did it to each other, in true "buddies" form.  They're crazy!  But Happy Birthday boys!

At the end of our time at the pier, we decided to play some games for a prize for our Boy (even though all of Zack's coworkers gave or offered him several from their own winnings).    I am not a stuffed animal kind of girl but when I played I won a prize.  The thing is, I only knocked down 2 of the 3 you need for a big toy (shown in the picture) but the nice guy gave us this big prize anyway.  The coolest part about this kind grand prize gift is that it is 1. red - we love red and 2. it is the same material of O Baby's favorite blankets.  I couldn't stop thanking the worker guy.  He was so awesome to give it and it was awesome that it would be an easy favorite of O baby's.  It was a really good win!

*  Santa Monica Pier was a blast!

// next up San Diego and a visit with an old friend.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Los Angeles

We accompanied Zack on a work trip in Los Angeles.  It was sunny and nice.  We stayed at the Mondrian Hotel in West Hollywood.

It was the nicest hotel I've ever stayed in.  From our room we had an awesome view of Sunset Blvd and the entire Los Angeles valley.  The hotel had very clean and modern decor which was a nice change from my pre-war apartment.

While staying here, we celebrated O baby's first birthday and Zack's.  His coworkers were sweet in adding some birthday touches here and there.

Zack took O Baby swimming  which was a nice little break for me since he was working most of the time.  I love water babies, and I am stoked that mine is one!  It was really cute watching them play together in the pool, and there were never any tears.  I could do this all the time...

So, I mentioned that the hotel was beautiful.  One of my favorite parts of the place was the pool area which was really pretty.  It had green vines with bright fuchsia flowers growing up and around.  Also, these planters that were gigantic and so cool.  We didn't go to the pool very many times but when we did, I enjoyed sitting and enjoying the unique and gorgeous touches around.

*  I didn't go to LA with Zack just to spend the week in a hotel room.  We did do other things, go other places, and see other people.  So, more on that next.  (if only Blogger hadn't deleted my last post on this day..  grrr!)

//  Santa Monica Pier is next...

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

zday gift


Here's my little boy loving this display, wanting to get his hands on it to put in his mouth...  He didn't get it, thank goodness!  (this is our beautiful hotel room at the MONDRIAN  more on that tomorrow)

I saw this print on a cup of jo and was happy when Zack liked it too.  I knew I could recreate it.  I had a 12 x 12 sheet of a grey paper (I would have liked to have used cardstock) that I just sketched out (with pencil) something that looked like a whale using the original print as a reference.

holes poked and working on the first round of sewing

Next I poked holes (using an embroidery needle) along the outline and body detail.  This went pretty smoothly but it is important not to poke too close to other holes so that the thread/embroidery floss doesn't tear the paper.

Once the outline was poked with holes I sewed with embroidery floss around the entire shape and then again to get solid finished lines.

Now that the outline has a solid line sewn around, I then switched to sewing thread for the eye and teeth detail.  Again, around twice to ensure solid finished lines.

* unfortunately it did not turn out to be a standard frame shape and that is why it is not finished yet.  boo hoo!  How disappointing is that!?!  I am really bummed.  It is going to cost at least $110 to frame.  I must shop around online to find a better price.  If you know my husband, then you know I will find a MUCH better price.  I don't mind waiting, I hope you don't either.  

// now I have more time to figure out how I can get some nails in our stupid old walls. (grrrr!)

Monday, May 9, 2011

the best month to visit NYC

We are back from a little vacation and every thing is so green here in NYC!  (above is what it looked like a few weeks ago)  It looks and feels like Spring is gone.  Its official, the best time to visit New York City is in May. 

//  Good-bye blossoms.  Hello blistering heat.

teaser : zday gift

For Zack's birthday (aka Bday, aka Zday) I couldn't come up with a good gift.  But, finally while away from home, it came to me to recreate a simple little print he likes.  Since I didn't have all of the materials (I know, lame) I had to give him the bare bones. 

//  Check back for the finished product tomorrow.