Starts and Finishes

Starting line of the Rodeo Run. My first 10k. So nervous.

Having the Aggie band at the starting line did not pump me up. People, when I'm nervous, the Aggies are not going to help!
Feet, get ready for some running. 1 hour, six minutes to be exact.Thank God for T, my running buddy. Without her encouragement and company, I would have started walking at about mile 3! Our conversation around mile 3:
Me: This officially sucks.
T: The adrenaline will kick in soon.
Me: My adrenaline is looking for a chair.
At the finish line. Thank God. A 10K is more than twice as worse as a 5k.
On the way to the car after the race, T and I saw chandeliers hanging in the trees at Discovery Green. How perfect. What a great idea for an outdoor party or event.

After running longer than I have ever run before, a parkway full of chandeliers was well deserved! I'm half-way to my half marathon goal. It wasn't pretty, but we did it. The rest of the weekend? I was too tired to remember anything!

Friday Favorites

Two of my new favorite things

1) Twitter. Ok, I am late in coming to the party. But, I love it. I can actually "talk" with Mir, Karen, and even Neil Patrick Harris. It's easier than texting, and quicker than email. If you are not using this, sign up now. Remember how cool it was when you first discovered e-mail? That's twitter. My husband did tell me to stop reading him all the funny tweets I receive. I can't help it, Mir cracks me up!

2) Nutland nut snacks. *Not a paid review. I purchased all my packages of NutLand with my own money* These are so good. They are so good that I have driven or called around to most of the grocery and specialty food stores in Houston to find them. Only one store, Central Market, carries the line. I make special trips to Central Market to buy in bulk. Yes, they are that much better than anyone else's line-trust me. Gluten Free, Trans Fat Free, All taste. Yummy.

Love Thursday-Colors

My younger daughter, M, loves colors. M firmly believes that the more colors she wears, the better. Her colorful clothes match her personality perfectly. I love how she selects the colors to mix and match. I love that, while she might like pink glitter shoes, she has no desire to be dressed like a princess from head to foot. I love her individuality and hope that she doesn't give in to the pressure to conform.

Happy Love Thursday everyone-embrace all the colors around you today.

Mom 2.0 In Summary-if summary meant longwinded

Alternate Title- I met people and learned things

Last week I attended part of the Mom 2.0 Summit. Unfortunately I was only able to attend two evening events. It actually worked out well since Mom 2.0 is really designed for bigger bloggers and marketers and I am not there yet. Also, if I am going to take several days off of work it’s going to be to go to Mexico, not to BlogHer. Full disclosure: despite being both a blogger and an avid photographer, I have relatively few pictures. I'm bound to leave people out of my summary. Forgive me, this was my first blogging event; I'm trying to do it justice.

Mom 2.0 was easy for me to attend since it was held here in Houston and I knew awesome women hosting and speaking at Mom 2.0. The really strange part of Mom 2.0 was how incredibly stressed I was Thursday. I am a very social person. I was in a sorority and involved in politics for years- I've never met an awkward social situation. So, why was I so nervous? I think it boils down to the fact that the women who attended the conference were, for the most part, the women I first found blogging many years ago. Basically, all the popular mom bloggers from 2004 (when I first found blogs) were there- walking around-around me! These are the women who created the Internet community we have today. These women pioneered the Internet journal medium and first translated blogs into businesses. I really admire their determination and business savvy. Obviously my summary of Mom 2.0 is going to be different than everyone else since I didn't get to attend the sessions, and am not ready to attend those sessions yet. (I feel like I need to define my blog more before really soaking in Mom 2.0).
For me, it was important to meet these women and let them know how important their stories have been to me. How much I appreciate their honesty, humor, and their well deserved success. The best way to describe the night events is like a sorority rush party or class reunion; there is a commonality and no one cares anymore who the "cool" kids are.
*Here it is important to note that without Karen's encouragement, I would never have had the courage to attend any part of the conference. Once I was at the parties, Karen was so kind and wonderful to me as always. Karen's introduction of me gave me a credibility I would not have had without her. Karen has this great peaceful easy feeling about her that is contagious. I think everyone kind of has a girl crush on her.*

I met Lindsay from Suburban Turmoil, who is just gorgeous. I know its shallow, but Gorgeous. I think I might have scared a few women like Yvonne and Heather when meeting them. I definitely scared Sarah when I tackled her; there aren't alot of mom/lifestyle bloggers who also profess their love for sports and Sarah does. She doesn't blog about college football or the supremacy of Texas, but I'll forgive her that (at least until I convince her otherwise). Stefania had me convinced she was from the South, that's how gracious she is. In fact, we should give her honorary Southern designation-she's that nice. Just a wonderful warm person and she made me feel instantly better-Miss Congeniality Award. Susan is so lovely, classy and nice. Susan's fashion posts over the past few years have helped me examine what I am wearing and what I should be wearing. I was super psyched when she complimented my my skirt. It would be second only to Tim Gunn remarking that I had nice shoes. Oh, if only....I can't tell you how excited I was to meet Mir, I big pink puffy glittery heart Mir. Did you know she has a Masters from Stanford? So, on top of being an astute business woman, she's great to talk to (and funny). Also, she can tolerate more nonsense than I ever could. She’s my Internet shopping idol and I got to hang with her- squeeeeee. Obviously she has great taste in accessories, maybe that is a shared superpower?

I also met some crafty ladies who I love and follow like Marie and Laurie. Laurie was just like her site, full of great ideas, so natural, so perfectly perfect. Laurie, I am organizing a trip to Canton, you me and whoever will make the trip! Also, please can you tell me who made that headband (above)? I have been dreaming about it since Friday night! *Updated, she got it from Sweetgrass Mill on etsy.

Of course, I made it a point to meet Gabrielle. Her design aesthetic was clear in her Mad Men outfit; she wore this great vintage orange caftany thing. I would have looked like Big Bird, she looked like a Kennedy wife. I had to find her since my card designer (Pretty Smitten) said how much she admired Gabrielle. I thought, I have to show Gabrielle these cards because I know that would make Elizabeth happy. And I did, and it did. Mission accomplished.

Speaking of gorgeous, the ever gorgeous and perfectly coiffed Laura gets “Most Fabulous” not only for her absolutely fabulous effort in putting the conference together, but also because I have never seen her looking anything but fabulous. Never. If you can work a full length brocade jacket and come off looking that awesome, you have serious fashion prowess.
The Mad Men party Thursday night was so much fun. I missed getting my hair styled (I had to work the next day), but it would have been fun to get a big tease or updo. One attendee said I looked just like the character from “Mad Men.” Thank you. I tried-not that I know any of the characters. I should have taken a picture, but I think my lipstick was half off all night. I'm inspired to throw a theme night party-maybe the ladies from Cheeky Vintage can help me?!!

Friday night was the photo/art exhibition at FotoFest and it was amazing. The photos were laid out to tell a wonderful story; each image was captivating. Katherine Center's very powerful video was playing on a continual loop. I might have cried through it as it played...twice... I met the very talented Tracey Clark at the exhibition. I am going to sign up for Tracey's Spring photography class-you should too. I love meeting people who are following their passion, like Tracey and Karen. It makes me believe in the promise of possibility.

The photo exhibition really drove home the point that the blogging movement is a movement. We control our ideas and our actions. How we make the difference is our choice, but we can, and we should make a difference.

My only issue with the conference was from the marketing perspective. I met several marketers and was surprised at how little they seemed to know about these women. All of the bloggers in attendance have put their lives online for years; it is relatively easy to figure out who has kids, what their content is, audience, etc. I did not attend the day events, so it is entirely likely that the marketers were better prepared during the full day sessions. I know there were a number of events and promotions going on during the day, but I didn't get to witness those...this year. Next year I will be ready, prepared, and a full participant.

Favorite Pictures-Babies

I love photographing children and babies. Thankfully my friends are kind enough to let me work on my photography skills with their little ones. Here are a few of my favorite shots from a recent photo shoot I did for our friend's sweet baby girl. I had a great subject; this little one is happy all the time. She was kind of tired the day we took pictures though!
One of mom and her sweet girl.And one taken just hanging around the kitchen one day. See? Great subject.

What You Do Matters

I was fortunate enough to attend part of the Mom 2.0 Conference this week. While I compose my thoughts, I had to post immediately about Katherine Center's wonderful video and essay developed for Mom 2.0. A narrative can be found here and the video here. I saw the video about a week ago, but in person, it was more. So, moms, grab a box of Kleenex and enjoy the profound Katherine Center and the movement of moms-OUR movement.

Friday Favorite- Girl Scout Cookie Time!

I come from a scouting family (two Gold awards, one Eagle, a couple trips to Philmont, etc.) and adore chocolate. So, it should come as no shock that Girl Scout cookie time is one of my favorite times of the year. My dad is one of the very few Americans who buys enough cookies and stashes them throughout the house so he can have GS cookies all year long. Me, they maybe last 2-3 weeks-tops-even though I buy in bulk. A sleeve of Thin Mints and a tall glass of milk, perfect.

Olympics in summary-So far

Can we stop a moment and thank God for the Winter Olympics? I love it all. I love the athleticism, the bat crap craziness of the speeds, the skating costumes.

A few observations on the Olympics so far:

Snowboard Cross is my new favorite sport. Those athletes are crazy talented.

Moguls suck. Moguls and flips? Are you out of your mind. Alexandre Bilodeau, you earned it. I think that for every mogul/aerial skier born, another orthopedic surgeon is also born. The American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons should sponsor the US Ski team from here on out!

This year's ice skating outfits are some of the most "interesting" I have ever seen.

Exhibit (1)
Blades of Glory reject costume from the Ukrainian pairs team,

Exhibit (2) Wackadoodle country outfit worn by an Italian skater. He's from Italy, birthplace of about a thousand designers? Come ON! They actually made Johnny Weir's costume look tame. There were so many great/notable costumes. Did you have any favorites?

Speed skaters must be a little bit crazy. Have you seen how fast the really good skaters are? The skaters are all bunched up, just waiting for a major wreck. Also, the Koreans do not like the Americans, especially (apparently) Apolo Anton Ohno. Seems like sour frozen grapes to me.

P&G Proud Sponsor of Moms campaign. Oh, my heart. WAY better than anything in the Super Bowl. "To their Moms, they'll always be little kids." Love.

I've got some Half pipe to watch now!

A Real Valentine's Day

I received the following e-mail exhange last week and for the first time since startingthis blog, I told my husband "You know I'm blogging this, right?" If your February 14th wasn't all you imagined, take comfort in knowing that this did not happen to you-TWICE!

Email from mutual friend:
Hey, I was at the card shop earlier this week and had this weird panic moment that I might be looking at a card I had gotten before. Did we know someone who did that or was that just a bad sitcom move?

Husband's response:
Subject: Re: Valentines Card Question
Umm before the wife answers. I have, not once but twice given the Mrs. a card she received the previous year. She thinks it’s a big deal, I told her it’s one of my little quirks and it’s endearing. For the record however, please avoid doing so.

Another "helpful" friend chimed in with this email response:
You know, of course, that if you get her the same card THREE years in a row it shows you really care because now its a sentimental tradition.

Note: I actually have received the same card 2 years in a row for our anniversary and (I believe) my birthday. He did manage to get me a new card this year.

Has this happened to anyone else? Do you have a similar story we can all laugh and cry through? God love my husband, Hallmark is not his favorite place!

Scenes from our Weekend

"New" vintage looking sign I picked up from a talented artist in Austin.

There was a lot of comparing Valentine's cards and trading cards, and pretending with cards.
We traveled to Austin for my goddaughter's Baptism.
Such a sweet baby.
I am so honored her parents chose me to help her in this special way.

Also, there was bacon dipped in chocolate. Enough said.

Hope your weekend was full of sweetness!

Sweet Crafts for Valentine's Day

We had an unexpected day off this week. The change in plans helped the girls and me finish some Valentine's projects-not all our projects- but a couple.

First, we finished the Ladybug Valentines for Em's class. Thankfully M's class made their Valentine's in class, so we didn't have to prepare anything for her to exchange. Since we had a little more time,. we took on a more time intensive valentine. The ladybug Valentine itself is not too difficult, but making over 30 of them does take some time. Cindy has a detailed tutorial here. I made the following changes: 1) we used stickers and foam hearts on the wings to let Em get really involved, 2) I couldn't find googly eyes anywhere, so we substituted pink tissue paper for the head and then used a marker to make eyes, 3) We used tape for the lollipops, and 4) I used mini scrapbook brads (they come in black and white) to connect the wings; using a safety pin to pierce the card stock worked really well.

We enjoy art projects and this project let Em and M create while I did the more mechanical parts. M loved the ladybugs so much that she insisted on making some for her teachers. I really love the way the ladybugs turned out. I just can't buy store-made Valentines. But, next year, I am doing these-awesome!

We also finished Valentine's heart monogram shirts for each girl. I love making freezer stencil shirts. So easy, such a great impact. I also love this craft because you can basically let the kids do whatever they want.

I started making these shirts last summer after looking at the numbered shirts for sale, but decided that I could make something just as good for less money. I use the tutorials from Ambrosia Girl and Bethany Actually and have made shirts as party gifts and birthday gifts. There are a ton of great tutorials out there, so I'll just add my suggestions gained from experience:1) wash the shirts before painting, 2) choose a bold, simple design, and 3) don't let your kids paint in white shirts-that was a rookie mistake! The most difficult part is finding solid color shirts in the right sizes.

Friday Favorite- Word Garland

I saw these awesome word garlands on katie did this week and I immediately gasped. So brilliant and so very simple. She used her garlands for a Christmas party, original post here. I can imagine creating similar word garlands for birthdays-with statements about the person, the age in different languages (two, dos, etc.) or along a theme (princess, castle, glitter, pink, etc.). I think it is one of the very best party decor ideas I have seen in a long time. Such an original way to make a statement, but ultimately very simple. I plan to use this soon, and to thank Katie for the great idea!

Any Friday Favorites you want to share?

Love Thursday- Friends

My daughter Em made this for one of her BFFs, Grace last weekend. I figured that since I featured our BFFs last week, it was only fitting to showcase hers, Miss Grace. What better to say to your friend than I like you because I like you? Doesn't that say it all?

Happy Love Thursday everyone. Take the time to thank your friends, old and new.

Finally Something Crafty

I had grand designs when I started this blog about all the craft and decorating projects I would do. And then, well, the best laid plans and all that. This weekend I finally managed to attack some projects. The first was a moss covered R for my friend T. Tand her husband hosted a very swanky (and totally fun) wine tasting event Saturday night. I had to bring something, but I didn’t want to bring wine since they clearly know more about wine than I do! (Lucky for us, yummy wines). Then, I thought about a burlap wreath like this one. But, T is queen of burlap. Then, I saw a moss letter mongram on a blog late last week (I wish I could find the link, but I didn't write it down). Perfect, it would be a nice addition to her natural and white d├ęcor. The project itself is pretty easy, grab a letter (mine was a gold letter from Hobby Lobby), add moss using hot glue. However, be careful, since the moss is so transparent that when you stick it on the glue, you will burn the heck out of your hands. Mega blister time. Ow. But, I think it was worth it. I hope T likes it.

I’m also in the home stretch of my Family Rules canvas project that I started so many months ago it is embarrassing. Hopefully I'll be done by this weekend.

I'm writing my next projects down to keep me on track: Valentine's stencil shirts (freezer paper, so easy); Valentine’s Day banner; silhouettes; handprint art; Burlap/fabric wreath. Keep me honest here. Also, please tell me, does it always take you much longer to finish projects? I start one, then tinker about, then start another one. It's terrible. My house is home to the most unfinished projects ever!

Super Bowl Chowdown Sunday

As much as I love college football, I just can't get too excited about professional football. Part of my apathy comes from years of disappointment in the Texans. But, I do love a great Super Bowl party as much as the next fan. So, we headed to our friend's party this evening. We came prepared with three of our most popular dishes: beer bread, bacon stuffed jalapeno poppers, and chocolate sheet cake. None of these recipes are my own, but I'll share two with you today because the results are undeniable. (The third recipe is my husband's and I have no idea how he makes them!)

1) Beer bread, originally from my friend Alex. I think her recipe varies slightly from this:
3 cups self-rising flour, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 12oz beer. Combine ingredients and place dough in a greased loaf pan. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes. You can add some melted butter at the end and cook it a bit longer, but I find that unnecessary. The bread comes out fairly dense, but very moist. While there is beer inside, it is perfectly safe for kids to eat. I suggest serving this with BBQ, cutting lengthwise and horizontally.

2) The Best Chocolate Sheet Cake (Pioneer Woman's recipe), renamed the "Almost a Pound of Butter Cake." I used to be known for homemade brownies, this cake has quickly supplanted my brownies in terms of requests from friends and neighbors. Make this today-but only if you have alot of guests. You need lots of people to help you eat it or you will be tempted to eat an entire cake. So good.

I hope everyone enjoyed an evening full of good friends and great food. What is your favorite football watching snack or food? I'd have to pick queso and chips-yum!

Love Thursday-Friends Who'll Help Follow Dreams

I spoke with Karen the other day (lovely as always) about reaching one of my goals, to swim with whale sharks. For several years growing up I thought about becoming a marine biologist and hoped to specialize in sharks. Clearly I went in another direction but, I still love marine life and especially love sharks. I decided several years ago to swim with as many species of sharks as I possibly could. I discovered that whale sharks are pretty much the most docile thing in the water, so I decided to start with whale sharks. Whale sharks migrate to a little island off Mexico, Isla Holbox, to feed on the microscopic plankton. Two years ago, we roped our very dear friends, Karla and Travis to join us for a rustic vacation to swim with whale sharks. I began to remember all the wonderful things that happened on our trip to swim with whale sharks.
Preparing to enter the water, see "Bruce" our whale shark in the water? (Photo courtesy of Travis)

What really stands out to me is how great Karla and Travis have been to us over the years. We have enjoyed so many fun trips thanks to them. We've been fortunate enough to convince them to come with us on most of our hair-brained adventures. Travis is a huge motivating force in getting me to run the half marathon (Karla will accompany my husband in drinking the Napa grapes while Travis and I run-and hopefully T runs as well). It seems fitting then, that this Love Thursday is for the love of good friends, the friends that travel well; who support crazy, hair brained ideas. We pink puffy heart you Karla and Travis.

Don't be Jealous of My Boogie*

More pop culture remarks because something has to fill my time between Project Runway shows.

We started watching a bit of each American Idol episode with the girls after dinner and before bedtime. Normally we watch Dancing with the Stars or So You Think You Can Dance, but they are not on. I haven't really ever gotten "into" American Idol beyond knowing who wins each season. I'll listen to the music, but that's about it. So, this will not turn into an AI blog. But, I had to share some observations. The auditions have featured a guest judge since Paula left. At first we didn't understand why they needed 4 judges, then Neil Patrick Harris (NPH) guest judged and we realized it's because NPH is awesome. During the auditions NPH judged, a former Barney girl came in full leather Dominatrix regalia. How do you get any better than that? When she said that she wanted to show people that Barney kids grow up and NPH said (paraphrase) "into bad girls." That was classic. Classic. That's just good tv. Our older daughter, Em, will decide in 2 seconds if she likes the contestant or not. Her judging for AI has kicked her up a notch since her dancing judging is usually based solely on the outfits. She gets really angry if a female dancer is wearing pants. She hates it!

*Please, someone, tell me you have heard this song! It has been stuck in my head for days now. darn you Ru Paul and your super catchy tunes! I have a guilty pleasure and I am going to admit it here and now, I like watching Ru Paul’s Drag Race. So Awesome. It is the best of Project Runway in terms of creativity with early ANTM (when it was good) thrown in and packages it all up with a lot of sass and quick wit. Good drag makes for great TV!! Observations on Season 1 and the beginning of Season 2: 1) Ru Paul is holding up very well and has extremely toned arms. Seriously, what exercises does he do? Fabulous. 2) The best contestants are really gorgeous women. My favorite from last season was Shannel. If she ever performs in Houston, I am going. 3) Ru is so witty and the queen of one-liners. 4) They selected some of the bit%hiest contestants, which makes for great TV. Love it.

Tell me, do you have a guilty TV pleasure? The Bachelor? Rock of Love (no, I don't watch either one). Are you an Idol fan?

Fug or Fab

I love fashion, and I love pop culture, and so I love the day after an awards show. I never really watch the actual show, I just wait to see the outfits. The Grammy carpet was no disappointment. I'm not going to profile every dress, that's what the fug girls are for. But, I have to talk about two of my favorite entertainers, with very different results.
I love Glee! Love, love, love it. Lea Michel is just the best thing ever, such a gorgeous voice and great talent. She has really been impressive at awards shows lately. But, her Grammy dress takes the cake; it is so pretty and so much fun. Gorgeous.

Now for the not so good. (Lady Gaga and Beyonce are too easy). I was most disappointed in Britney. Britney has been looking so great lately, especially given some of her more egregious missteps. I have been a Britney fan for years, my iPod is full of Britney, I even went to her Circus concert (IT ROCKED, absolute best show ever!). So, I try to support her (but not buy that crappy perfume). I had high hopes for her dress. Then, she shows up in a leotard and black doily? Ugh. She is way too pretty for that. You know Lady Gaga and Katy Perry are going to bring out the weird, so she could have gone edgy but cool or classic, or just diva it out. But, she went weird and just looked kind of lame in comparison. Britney, for the record, I like it when you look classy and pretty.

What about you? Do you love awards season too? Do you watch for the awards, performances, or dresses? And, who was your favorite?