Thursday, December 17, 2009

Proud as a Peacock

I have not turned out to be a very good blogger at all. Just to recap: the vegetable garden was a huge success for our entire family. We had something fresh from the garden everyday well into October. We had all had a tremendous sense of accomplishment, my oldest daughter learned that she loved cucumbers, and we will do it again (even bigger) next year. The Pinkalicous Party was great (will post on that eventually) and I spent most of the next months executing our preschool's big fundraiser. It was a huge task but, even in this economy, we raised a lot of money. With the craziness of the fundraiser and getting us settled into our schedule of school, work, dance lessons, and swim lessons, I hardly know where the Fall went. It felt like this: we picked our pumpkins, carved them, let them rot (not entirely to oblivion this year), and cleaned them up---Fall was Finished. That is obviously the short version, but it really felt that fast!

So, now December was upon us and we were faced with a new issue. We are a Jewish Family--not so religious but religious enough that we don't put up a tree (some Jews do, not that there is anything wrong with that). My daughters have become increasingly aware of Christmas and are fascinated with beauty of it all. To be honest, so am I. My husband and I were even engaged at a display of "winter" lights. We love the smell of pine trees, drinking eggnog and of course the parties, but we are old enough to know that is not a part of our personal religious practice. It is a little harder when you are two or four.

That's why I make a big point of Hanukkah being a big deal in our home. Hanukkah is actually a relatively minor holiday that happens to involve gift-exchange and fall near Christmas, so its status sort of got "elevated" in recent history. I am sure you can find lots of articles about that on the web.... but more about me! HA! I usually go all out and decorate for the kids, but I had a serious problem this year. Hanukkah decorations are ugly. Really ugly! Aside from menorahs, the candelabras central to the celebration, most Hanukkah stuff is terribly juvenile looking and usually made of Mylar or plastic ( a few Crate and Barrel and Pottery Barn things excepted). I normally don't mind this and the kids love it in all its mismatched, rainbow-hued glory. But my annual (inter-faith) adult dinner party was scheduled on the second night of Hanukkah and the plastic dreidel decor was not going to work. I thought about putting out cylinders filled with silver and blue ornaments, but decided that if I did that, I might as well be a Jew with a tree (not that there's anything wrong with that). Anyway, we came up with this theme: "Proud as a Peacock to Celebrate Hanukkah." I think the look is almost as lux as the average Christmas stuff and didn't use any specifically Christmas items. It was based on the blue, silver, and gold found in our menorahs. Not only am I proud as a peacock to celebrate Hanukkah, I am pretty proud of myself too. Let me know what you think!
A few of our Menorahs on display along with some beautiful handmade candles. My oldest daughter placed the rest in the windows, where the technically are supposed to go, but I loved when they were all grouped on the table together (not pictured).
Notice anything familiar? This was the Very Hungry Caterpillar tree from Annabelle's birthday! I never use the same stuff twice, but this was a different crowd. I re-used rather than having to find, bundle, and re-paint more sticks.

Our huge menorah. This was once a store display in a Chico's when I was in college. (Note: I was not actually shopping in Chico's as a college student, but passing by) I saw it, and asked if I could have it when they were finished. Someone had beaten me to the punch--I asked for the next two years. On the third year, they gave it to me! It has its own rainbow colored candles and I have filled it with those or cupcakes over the years. The cupcake menorah was awesome, but I can't find any pictures of it. This year we used royal blue and emerald green glass votives with gold details from Target to match our Proud as a Peacock Theme. It is placed on some old silk scarves that I picked up in Thailand when I was in graduate school--they just happen to be the right colors. I also ended up scattering gelt (gold-covered chocolate coins) around the table to break up the green and blue and added one purple peacock as a nod to my girls' favorite color and one purple plastic driedel to the table (it is Hanukkah after all)! below you will see it lit for the seventh night of Hanukkah.

The most perfect wall decals from HomeGoods!

Here are some details from the dinner party: Signs we used and adorable cocktail napkins!

Since I went this far, I figured that we better rent some plates that matched (from Head of The Table--check out her fabulous rentals that beat the pants off your plain old while rentals:

The plates were too fabulous for paper, so I had to roll up my silverware in gold napkins and tie them with blue, green, and blue-and-green-polka-dotted ribbons!

It was all so pretty and didn't compromise our family's identity in anyway. Now, if I could just get it to smell like a pine tree!!!!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

TWO-cute Eric Carle Birthday

Last weekend we celebrated the second birthday of our "baby" daughter. The first book that she ever loved was Brown Bear Brown Bear by Bill Martin, Jr with illustrations by Eric Carle. The second was The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. Oodles of books have come and gone since then, but these two remain her favorites. So, I being a diligent mother, HAD to throw her birthday bash in Eric Carle style. It was a lot of fun. Guests received invitations that read "Annabelle, Annabelle, What do you see? I see a brown bear, a hungry caterpillar and my friends looking at me." Get it? I used mountaincow to do them as well as matching thank you notes and all the paper things you see. The design highlights follow (though, the kids were what really made the party). A) guests were greeted by a paper lantern very hungry caterpillar. The fabulous Amy at uses them liberally and since I am SO on her bandwagon that I actually consulted her about doing this party (but I found my inner planner and did it myself--I'll bring in the big guns when I really need them).....
B) the minis were shown to the "Carle Crafts". Due to the unpredictable St. Louis weather, I had to place them in my garage, but the garage was resplendent in kids' tables, the craft area, and a Very Grouchy Ladybug Juice station. Three various age-level appropriate crafts were featured--a pudding paint brown bear, an egg-crate caterpillar and a v.h. caterpillar bookmark. C) After free-play with tunnels, inflatables, balls,etc, the kids headed to story hour. Our sitter read books by EC and Anabelle's grandmas enacted the stories with a sign language bear and an adorable hungry caterpillar velcroy-story-tellingy-apron. D) Next it was inside to eat the things the caterpillar eats (for those of you who don't have kids: the caterpillar eats his way through the week but remains hungry until Saturday when he feasts on all sorts of goodies and gets a tummy ache). I have to admit that I am in love with the centerpiece I made--it explained the buffet to anyone who may not have been listening during story hour, by which I mean the daddies. Check out the lollipop cookies--thanks to featuring those just when I needed lollipops! You'll see I used a lot clothespins through the party--they were painted by my soon to be four-year-old daughter (who will get the party treatment herself on the 28th with a Pinkalicious "Pajama" Party). She was such a big help with her sissy's party, right down to making sure that each kid went home with a goody bag (E). (F) You'll see both girls (clothing custom made by my friend Cynthia at she is awesome)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Veg Out!

We started our long-anticipated vegetable garden today. It has proven to be a lot of work, in part, because I chose to do it with as little financial investment as possible. I read that one of the best ways to start a little garden for young kids was to use raised beds or just do it in pots. But that costs money and since I am pretty sure that all of this could result in a) a nice meal for rabbits or b) a total disaster that I never touch again, I didn't want to make too big of an investment. I have all this unused ground for free, so why not just use it? Here's why:

We just built our house last summer. The back has neither been landscaped nor really gotten the grass coverage that I want in some places. I thought it would be easy enough to dig in one of the sunny and bare spots. I totally underestimated the power of that grass--it is sparse but scrappy! The roots were so strong I could barely dig, but I refuse to use a grass killer because it would put chemicals in the food (defeating the purpose of the garden). I tried digging for awhile until I realized that the reason that the grass was not coming in was that it was also where the masons had mixed mortar and the drive-way guys dumped left-over aggregate and the carpenters left wood. To my horror, I basically live on a really fancy landfill. I was prepared to keep digging, though, because my husband would never let me forget the hole I dug in our yard for no reason if I stopped.

Finally, I realized that this was going to require a home depot run. An hour later, I am back with a tiller and feeling like Goldie Hawn in "Overboard" (think bubbubububububububbbu). It was a beast, but I did feel pretty cool that I never asked for help (not that it was offered to me, thankyouverymuch). My 1 and 3 year olds helped me pull out the big chunks--they were dolls in their garden gloves. Actually, the little one was just in plain-old-gloves, but we didn't have the heart to tell her.

Then I realized that I should be mixing the compost in with the tiller. I rush over to local nursery with my two kids (again, thankyouverymuch), got the compost, and rushed back to mix it in time to get the tiller back to home depot before the rental ran out. Since no one offered to make lunch, I did that too. Its hard being a stay at home mom attorney organic gardener y'all!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

What is this blog all about?

My friend Holly started a blog about three years ago and I thought it was the most absurd thing I had ever heard. About a year ago, though, my daughter wanted to have a Fancy Nancy birthday party. I hit the net looking for ideas. I discovered that I love some blogs out there and that this might be a fun way to share bits of our life that may help others. The name of the blog is a nod to my address 31 "Something" Lane (sadly, I have been 32 for a few months now). Here goes!