Picturing My Motherhood Story

I recently read a post from Gabrielle at DesignMom and was inspired. I thought it was a great idea to try to tell my motherhood story in photos. This weekend I made an effort to take a moment and take a few pictures of our story.
There was playdough.
And painting (I taught Em how to paint dots with the end of her paintbrush; she loved it).
Playing with make-up. The girls love to play in their make-up while I put on mine. And, of course, playgrounds.
I want to teach my children the importance of creativity, imagination, and expression. I want to create an environment where my children are encouraged to be children. I want them to have fun, to learn, to grow, to hang upside down. That's part of my motherhood story.
Not pictured-the swimming, jumping, and sno-cone eating we did. What a weekend! We managed to squeeze in meeting the indomitable Pam and her amazing family. She's done a great write-up, as you'd expect. I'll have to think of how to do justice to that post; it was such a fun time! It also amazes me how consistently awesome bloggers are in real life. We are a cool bunch.

Friday Favorite- The Beauty of Different

I don't think it is a secret that I absolutely adore Karen. In fact, I don't know that anyone could meet her and not adore her. She is real, beautiful, artistic, and electric. She's just one of those people that you instantly feel comfortable around and want to be like when you grow up. Karen (very deservedly) earned a 2 book deal last year and her first book, The Beauty of Different is due to be released this fall. I've already ordered 3 copies, and not just because I am fortunate enough to be in the book. The message, that we are all beautiful is so important and so often overlooked. You can find more details about the book here and watch the trailer below. I encourage you to buy one, or ten for you and your loved ones. It is sure to become a favorite and is my Friday favorite.

Love Thursday-Graduation

Today's post is for my daughter Em, as she graduates from Kindergarten. (And, yes, she can read it!) I am a pretty emotional person and have been known to cry at just about everything (except Titanic, that movie sucked). However, I am strangely ok with the graduation. I'm ok because I think Kindergarten graduations are sort of funny. But, mostly because you, my sweet Em, are ready. There’s a book that says that Everything I Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, I don’t think I completely agree with that, but Em, you have learned great life lessons:

You’ve learned that people are different, but the differences make us unique.

You’ve learned that learning new things isn’t always easy, but it’s always worth it.

You’ve learned that life is not fair.

You’ve learned that there are mean girls, even in Kindergarten. And, I’ve learned how incredibly pleased I am that you are not a mean girl, nor ever will be.

You’ve learned that you are a leader and a role model and with that comes responsibility.

You’ve learned that every living thing eventually dies, even hamsters.

You’ve learned that, try as your teachers might to hide it, you are their favorite.

You’ve learned that sometimes you just need to dance; your favorites-Taylor Swift, Miley Cyrus, and the Black Eyed Peas

You’ve learned that there is a time and place for being silly, but circle time is not the time nor the place.

You’ve learned that taking your time the first time is worth it-my God, have you seen your handwriting? It’s better than mine!

You’ve learned that rules are often arbitrary- like how some words sound different but are spelled the same way and some words sound the same but are spelled differently.

You’ve learned that it’s nice to be important but it’s more important to be nice.

You’ve learned that things aren’t as scary as they seem-remember your first time on the monkey bars?

You’ve learned that, as much as we like our friends, there are certain things we don’t share-like brushes (lice, I’m looking at you!).

There’s so much more you’ll learn my dear. Life’s lessons aren’t always easy, but they are necessary. I will be there for you, every step of the way, every lesson, every success, every stumble. Today is just the first of many graduation ceremonies. Please know that I celebrate every achievement, the small and the large, with the same amount of pride and love. I love you.
I am lucky to be your mom. And, yeah, I'll be the dork taking pictures and clapping for you today.

Celebrate your successes today and those of your loved ones on this Love Thursday.

Door Decor

I took these three photos on our recent trip to Mexico. There's something about doors that is so interesting to me. Maybe it's wondering what is behind the door.
Or admiring the handiwork involved in making the door.
Whatever it is, the story or the art, these doors grabbed me. I went to party the other day at an gorgeous home here in Houston and one of the most interesting parts of the home (to me) was the antique wooden door-it looked like it came from an old french farmhouse. Who knows, maybe it did! I had to restrain myself from taking a picture of the door. Is there a design element that inspires you that others might look past?

To Market, To Market

I do not enjoy garage sales. I never find anything at thrift stores, but I love imagining great finds. I see amazing furniture and decor transformations all over the internet and in decor magazines and wish I had the patience or the eye, or the luck to replicate. However, I do like markets. I guess I like to see everything in one place (preferably inside, with wine) from actual vendors.
Last weekend, the Urban Market opened in Houston. I think they host the market once every quarter. I went with Tricia and some friends. Ladies, if you are looking for great home decor, Tricia will find it for you. She's always knows the decorating trends, so I was really interested to see what items caught her eyes and what she planned to make out of each piece.
I found a few things that interested me. I love the amber colors of these vintage bottles. I've been looking for an older wooden crate and bottles for my living room, but $40 for each bottle? I don't think so.
I loved the colors of this display, the green was so bright in person. The bright green against the white was a really nice pop. I think I'll try to replicate this look next Spring.
I am really digging typography right now and found two great finds. I'm not sure how great a deal I got on these items, but I love them and they are perfect for what I want to do, so I am happy with them. First, I found this galvanized rusted letter B for our living room. I think you know that I love rusted things. We have a lot of copper and gold in the living room, so I think this piece will pull it all together. At $23, this is a statement piece.
I also found retro plastic letters E-A-T. The T is chipped, so the vendor gave me an extra to see if I could figure out how to fix it. It will look great around the other instructions/words in the kitchen. $15 for the lot; I think that is a pretty good deal.
These are my Trifty Treasures today. I'm excited to post on Rhoda's Thifty party since I never have any Thrifty finds, this will probably be my last...at least until the next Urban Market! Do you like garage sales? Do you have good luck in thrift stores? If so, how do you do it?! What are some of your favorite finds lately?

Love Thursday-Fishing

One of our favorite activities while we are on vacation is deep-sea fishing. We had the best fishing luck several years ago off the shore of Puerto Vallarta when my husband reeled in a marlin over 250 pounds and at least 8 feet (I reeled in the bait fish-a 10 pound dorado). Lately though, we have had terrible luck. The great thing about deep sea fishing is catching beautiful fish (we catch and release the trophy fish). The not so great thing is not catching fish.
Since we had so few days in Ixtapa, we decided to go off-shore fishing in Zihuatanejo. We'd be gone half the time and should catch something.
We ended up catching everything. I think we caught 9 or 10 fish total.

I caught some great pictures.

It was great to just sit down and learn from Huaco (our captain) and just be. Fishing requires alot of patience and time, just like Love.

Take your time and be patient. Happy Love Thursday.

Wednesday On the Rocks

This Wednesday really feels like a "hump" day to me. I feel like I'm pushed from one side, pulled from the other, sort of like being smashed between rocks.

All pictures mine -Capella Ixtapa

I remembered these shots from Mexico and thought they would be perfect. Sometimes just reflecting on nature and the power of minute things-like a drop of water; how powerful it becomes when combined with trillions of others- can really ground me. I don't feel so powerless. I feel calmed, rested, and ready to attack the rest of the week. What about you? Are you ready to tackle the day, some new project, what trick calms you?

Mexican Design

I figure I'm about 3 days away from wearing you all out with stories about Mexico. Since I have 3 posts left, it works out well! I love great design and was really inspired by a number of different things-flowers, rocks, wood, doors, decor. I hope you find something that inspires you. This is the view looking up at the hotel. This view reminded me quite a bit of my travels in Italy and Southern France, but with Bouganveilla instead of lavender.

A few shots of the sunning deck above the beach. I loved the lanterns hanging in the trees.

And the lanterns in the rock.

Will you indulge me in four posts? Because, the doors warrant their own post. Well, it is my blog, so four more posts it is!

The Best Margarita Recipe EVER

Of the many things we enjoyed most during our vacation (Yes, I'm still talking about it) were the delicious drinks we enjoyed. Capella Ixtapa makes the most delicious margaritas. The basil margaritas are legendary, but we enjoyed the regular margaritas most of all. These margaritas were so good that my husband and I literally stopped what we were doing to have a second, third, etc taste. THAT good.
When we were told that the hotel runs a Margarita class, we immediately scheduled a class. We were not disappointed.
This is Carlos. Carols knows alot about margaritas.
Meet Miguel. Miguel also knows alot about margaritas and is a great bartender. Carlos and Miguel make the BEST margaritas.No, really, the best. I should know, I've done alot of taste testing. The night of our class we made and tasted a regular Capella Ixtapa margarita, a basil margarita, an orange margarita, and a jalapeno margarita.
Here we are shaking the margarita to blend. The key to shaking is to shake until your hands get really, rilly, rilly cold. That's the technical term coined by Carlos. Who am I to argue with the experts?
After taking the class, the crucial difference between a FANTASTIC Capella Margarita and a pretty good margarita is prety simple: real fresh squeezed limes and simple syrup. No limeade people. Makes a huge difference.
The BEST Margarita Ever Recipe:
1.5 ounces fresh squeezed citrus juice, no pulp (it must be FRESH)*
1.5 ounces tequila (we use mid-range tequila, but any will work)
1 ounce Cointreau or Controy if you can get it
A very small amount of simple syrup, about 1/2 tbsp
Mix all ingredients in shaker and add enough ice to cover. Shake well. If you want flavored margaritas- crush in fresh fruit, vegetables or herbs prior to adding ice and shaking. *Try with other citrus juice; we've had orange and grapefruit as well as limes. I suggest using a hand juicer. If you juice by hand, use gloves!
To finish, use sea salt to rim the glasses, but only rim halfway so you don't get a mouth full of salt. (I think that is nasty and off-putting.) That's kind of brilliant, right?

Friday Favorite-Capella Ixtapa (duh)

Absolutely, hands down, the best hotel/resort I've stayed in- Capella Ixtapa is my Friday Favorite. Let's be honest, it will be my Friday Favorite for the next year. It was that awesome. Awesome.
This view outside the bedroom? Stunning.

Amazing. truly, madly, deeply amazing.
I may never vacation again it was that great. Pffht, who are we kidding?

Capella Ixtapa, my Friday Favorite. Do you have a favorite vacation destination or hotel? I'd love to know and start daydreaming about my next vacation...

Love Thursday- Ah, Romance

Today's post describes my relationship with my husband perfectly. I hope it makes you smile.

My husband and I have been together for over 11 years. He’s all sports, hunting, power tools, and dirty laundry. Imagine my surprise when he called about a week before we left on vacation and asked whether I wanted to use any of the spa services. Not one to turn down a massage, I immediately agreed to a couples massage. I have to admit that in 11 years, I don't think I'd ever seen him in a robe. That alone was well worth it. After filling out the information form, we were separated to change into robes. After I changed, my masseuse told me it was going to take a while since my husband has decided to take a shower. What?! Apparently he got very confused when he saw the robe and shower and panicked. "Should I take a shower? I don't know, am I supposed to take a shower?" So he took a shower. How hilarious! Maybe not, maybe everybody else takes showers before a massage?

By the time he came into the massage room (overlooking the ocean-awesome), I was in near hysterics just thinking about his internal thinking-"What do I do? Well, there are showers and stuff, I guess I should…" When the masseuses left to allow us get on the massage tables, he was again confused. "What’s with the sheet?" You put it over you so they don’t see anything. They’ll roll it up and down. Throughout my entire massage I was just laughing thinking of him getting all anxious about the massage. It was the funniest massage I have ever had. I think I'm probably the only person who has giggled through a couples massage. He ended up really liking the massage, but has told me that will probably be his last massage for quite some time.

That’s us as a couple. We have the most romantic setting- a private couples massage in Mexico, overlooking the ocean and I am cracking up because of the showers and imagining his internal dialogue. I hope your Love Thursday is full of laughter or romance, or best of all-both.

Plants, Petals, and Weird Scaly Things

One of my favorite parts of Mexico is the vibrant flowers and plants.
We're used to seeing unbelievably gorgeous Bougainvillea like the ones above. Actually the Bougainvillea around the property reminded me quite a bit of Italy and Southern France-you'll see why in a day or two.

But this time, we found some really interesting plants and flowers.Like this tree bark that looked like barnacles or sea snails.

And, this banana? Plantain plant?
It had the most unusual deep purple flower at the bottom of a long thick stem (?), with a bunch of fruit up top.

The resort was really big on growing their own herbs and used basil for lots of yummy things-like margaritas (recipe to follow soon). This little concrete pot with basil flowers was on our patio and was so fragrant during our entire stay.

Do you know any of the plants above? We are really interested to find out what the banana plant is. I'm sure google knows what it is, but haven't gotten there yet.

An Ocean View

I might have mentioned once or twice (or 100 if you follow me on Twitter!) that I just got back from an amazing vacation to Ixtapa, Mexico. We only stayed for 4 days, but every minute was a-m-a-z-i-n-g. I have enough pictures and stories to keep this blog going for years. Since that might get a tad boring for you, I'll try to keep in down to a few posts and select photos. Today I wanted to focus on a few sea views.
My husband and I LOVE vacationing in Mexico. From Houston, we can reach our destination within a couple of hours, the people are so warm and generous, the food is great, the costs are relatively low, there are plenty of activities, and the views are outstanding. This time we returned to Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo (where we honeymooned 9 years ago), so this vacation was quite special. The trip was made more special by being able to stay at one of the world's finest hotels, Capella Ixtapa. Oh my! We won the trip package during a charity auction last year and were not disappointed.
The view from our room's patio. I KNOW-amazing!
One of the hotel's infinity pools, where we spent a couple of lazy afternoons.
The Pacific coast of Mexico is known for rocky cliffs and strong currents. So, we didn't spend a lot of time on the beach. Last time we stayed in Ixtapa, I completely lost it during a huge wave and lost my sunglasses, etc. So, I only dipped my feet in this time. But, the hotel's beach view was still very pretty.
The obligatory feet and pool/ocean view.