Sunday, October 24, 2010

Slide Show Sunday: Portraits

I'm currently taking a portrait class. The first assignment was to do a session using outdoor natural light. On Friday before the Sunday class, I finally got the ballerinas to agree to going out for a "photo shoot."

They were willing to dress up for the session. 

We found a cool old turquoise phone at a yard sale to bring along.

The lighting was going to be perfect for a whole hour. 

I was going to knock this assignment out of the park.

No more than 15 minutes into the shoot, the Little Ballerina tried to climb a jagged tree stump. Her skirt got caught. She wailed. She screamed. And by the time I got to her, she had a gash down her leg a good two feet long. For real. It was big. It was bad. It was bleeding. Needless to say, she was done. 

Photo Shoot Take 2: Saturday afternoon

The Little Ballerina wanted nothing to do with trying again. She wanted to stay home. She is six. Umm...that would be a no-go. Luckily, the Big Ballerina was willing to help me out. She put on another outfit and walked over to the dunes behind our house with me. 

She was patient.

She was a ham.

And she was serious.

She let me blind her in the sunlight.

She tried to figure out how to dial a rotary phone.

And she danced in the setting sun.
When we were done, I was pleased with the portraits. I felt they captured the ballerinas' spirits. I played around with sun flare. Something I've wanted to try. 

Did I knock the assignment out of the park? Not. even. close. I had a good share of criticism from the teacher. Hopefully, I'll remember it all the next time.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

What I Wore Wednesday

There's a fun blog party that happens every Wednesday. It's called What I Wore Wednesday. You take pictures of your outfits each day during the week and then you post them on Wednesdays. It's a great way to get inspiration from others, see what you ruts you may be in, or in my case, to push yourself to wear things in your closet that you  normally wouldn't.

Since this past week pictures of my outfits would consist mainly of sweaty gym clothes accessorized with a lovely pink neck and chest rash, I decided to spare all of you. Instead, I thought it would be more interesting to share a typical outfit that the Little Ballerina wears to school.

Here's LB dressed and ready for school. But first she needs to serenade us with a little ditty on BSD's ukulele.
Shirt - Gap Kids
Jeans - TJ Maxx
Headband - Target

Nothing runway worthy. Just basic kid clothing (or closing, as LB calls it). But let's take a little closer look...
Notice anything odd about her shirt? 

If you said it looks like it has a strange accent edging you would be correct. That's because she has another shirt on underneath the cute Gap Kids butterfly tee. Now I know layering is all the rage. You may be thinking, "Wow! She's so fashion-forward for a 6 year old!" 

Well...think again. She has that other shirt on underneath because she does not want to wear the cute butterfly tee. The one I had her try on in the store. The one she said she liked. The one she promised she would wear if I bought it.

So this is her M.O. - I tell Mommy I'll wear the shirt when she asks me in the morning. When she leaves the room and I get dressed, I'll put on the shirt I want to wear underneath. I'll get to school and take off the butterfly tee and shove it in my backpack.

The little stinker AFTER school.

I know I'm in for a bumpy ride with this child. It's been like this for six years. Why should the next 12 be any different? If she's already pulling this at six, I can only imagine what it will be like during the teen years. 

My seat belt is securely fastened. And my fridge is stocked with Corona. Crap, I better put a lock on there. I'm sure she'll be raiding my stash by 3rd grade!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Slide Show Sunday: Fall

NOTE: It's weird because this collage is a 4 picture x 4 picture grid. It shows up that way on my desktop, but on my laptop it's only 3x3. If you click on the collage, you can see it properly.

Up went the Halloween trimmings.
Down came a bunch of chard still growing in the garden.
Out came the big red pot.
Off to the pumpkin patch we went.
On went the hoodies. 
In we welcomed Fall.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Welcome Creativity

Today my fortune cookie read...
You are capable, competent, creative, careful. Prove it.

Whoa! Reading that felt like the snake was back, crossing my path. Another moment in my life where the universe was speaking to me. So I better listen. 

I would totally use those words to describe myself. I think I may have actually used a few of them in one of my first posts here. I can't remember. If I didn't, I should have. It describes exactly what I set out to do with this blog. I think I'll add this to my "About Me" statement.

I am a creative person. I like to dabble in all sorts of "arts and projects," as the ballerinas call it. Decorating, sewing, fashion, baking, writing, photography. It's all exciting and interesting to me. It's what I like. So what if I won't be publishing any cookbooks? So what if no celebrities are going to call me for style tips? So what if I'm not original enough to open an etsy shop? Pursuing these interests makes me happy. 

I am creative. And I'm going to prove it. To myself. And then maybe I'll be able to do more with it.

I decided to start with a new wreath for the front door. The one we have now has seen better days. I figured an over-the-hill wreath would definitely be a major blunder in the art of Feng Shui. A block to the flow of creativity trying to enter.

You can see some of the "berries" were crushed exposing the white styrofoam underneath. And those black berries. They used to be green. Maybe they "burnt" from the sun? I have looked for a replacement wreath, but I can never find one that I like well enough. Most of them are either overdone, too cutesy, too country or just plain ugly to me. I finally gave up searching and decided to just recycle this one. 

Off came the "rotting" berries.

Using some of BSD's fishing line, on went some Autumn-colored pussy willow branches. And in less than an hour later, it was done.

I like it. It's simple. It puts a smile on my face. And it's definitely more inviting than what was there before. Welcome creativity. Come on in.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

I've Cried Ten Times So Far Today...

I cried four times at the dentist's office this morning.

1) The Little Ballerina was getting her first filling. She freaked out after her tooth started going numb. She made it through the novocaine shot. The HARD part. And then she wouldn't go any further. The dentist coaxed and coaxed. Finally, she said she had to refer LB to a pediatric dentist instead.

So, I cried. Tears of frustration.

2) I cried because LB couldn't see that she was going to have to go through the HARD part all over again. At a place where they strap you down. Have a million patients in a big open space. Yet they have no patience.

We walked out of the office. LB clinging to her beloved bumpers. Me, walking briskly in front. Mad, irritated, frustrated. She asked why I was so mad. I told her about her upcoming fate. That I didn't want to go to that place. She stopped. Walked back inside, by herself, and told them she would try again.

So, I cried. Tears of relief.

3) While waiting for her, a woman in her 30's or 40's walked in trembling. She shared her xrays with the dental assistants. She said she was told she had to have all of her teeth extracted. They were rotting, breaking. They were infected. She couldn't eat. She was scared. She didn't have a lot of money. She didn't want to be without teeth. It was going to cost $875 at the "affordable denture" office.

So, I cried. Tears of empathy.

At that moment, I wished I had an extra $1000 to write her a check. To tell her to jump into the chair as soon as LB was done and get her teeth fixed. "Get it over with. Don't wait any longer. It will only get worse. You'll have to do it anyway. Get it over with." The same words I had just spoken to LB, I wanted to speak to her. I wanted to take her pain away.

4) A few minutes later, LB emerged from the room. She did it. She was elated. The dentist was elated. The assistant was elated. I was elated. She pushed through it. She conquered her fear. Her stubbornness. I knew it was going to be ok. She would not leave there today with a compounding fear of the dentist.

So, I cried. Tears of pride.

6)Backing up a bit to early this morning, I found out that a mom on my street died yesterday. She had a heart attack on Thursday and didn't make it.

So, I cried. Tears of shock.

7) She was in her 40's. She was fit. She was healthy.

So, I cried. Tears of fear.

8) Her husband had just survived an unsurvivable heart attack last year. Things were finally getting back on track. And now this.

So, I cried. Tears of incomprehension.

9) She has a daughter in 8th grade. A son just off to his first year of college.

So, I cried. Tears of overwhelming sadness. For children without a mother. For a mother who will miss out on her children.

10) Sitting here writing this...

I cried. Tears of selfish gratitude.

That the worst thing my family had to face today was a cavity.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Ten on Ten on Ten Ten Ten

It was a busy Sunday. I think having Ten on Ten on a Sunday was actually harder for me than a weekday. Maybe it was because we were bouncing around from place to place. And some of those places were difficult to photograph. I'm still a little gun shy about pulling out my camera in major public places. I always think people will think I'm a nut. Or a thief casing the joint. But I managed.

Above Photo by Richard Avedon

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Just Thinkin' About Tomorrow...

Tomorrow is Sunday. YEAH! Sundays are the only days I don't have to get out of bed at any set time. That I don't have to drag any ballerinas out of bed. That I don't have to figure out what on earth I'm going to pack in any lunchboxes. 

Just thinkin' about tomorrow...

Tomorrow is 10-10-10. Awesome! Someone have a baby. What an awesome birthday to have. I know two babies with 09-09-09 birthdays, but 10-10-10 is even cooler. That also means tomorrow is Ten on Ten. Get your cameras ready, baby! It's a day off. No excuses.

Just thinkin' about tomorrow...

Tomorrow I have a date with my crack dealer, Larry. I can't wait. I sure hope what he's got is as good as it looks. It will be great to get a good fix. Haven't had one in a while.

Just thinkin' about tomorrow...

Tomorrow I'm starting a new class. I'm very excited. Not sure if it's because of the class or because of the babysitter. It'll be the first night since BSD left on his trip that I won't have to put the ballerinas to bed. 

Just thinkin' about tomorrow. I love ya tomorrow. I'll be back tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Just Like Store-Bought Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins

It seems one of my friends introduced the ballerinas to the little packages of chocolate chip mini muffins sold in the grocery store. For $3.99/box. The box that includes five packages. Of four muffins each. So, 20 teeny tiny muffins runs you four bucks. OUCH!

I very rarely buy packaged baked goods. They never taste as good as homemade. Yet growing up, I used to think the highest praise I could lavish on my dad (who was an awesome cook) were the words, "This is SO good. Tastes just like store-bought!" Sorry about that, Dad. 

But after continual begging, I finally caved and bought a box. They were gone the next day. Poof! We bought them again. And again. They were easy grab-n-go snacks. I was about to toss them into my cart on my next shopping trip, when I took a look at the price. And I realized this had to stop.

I searched and searched for the best chocolate chip muffin recipe. I tried a few.

"Too chocolatey,"  choked the Big Ballerina.

"Too mushy," mumbled the Little Ballerina.

I tweaked a few more recipes until I heard the words, "These are SO good. Tastes just like the ones from the store!" Bingo. My work was done.

And now to save you from throwing your money out the window on overpriced, unhealthy muffins, here's the ballerina-approved recipe. You're welcome.

Just Like Store-Bought Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins
 Makes about 40 mini muffins
adapted from a Taste of Home recipe
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) plain* yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup MINI semisweet chocolate chips (the mini chips are KEY!)
  • flaxseed meal** 
  • In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in yogurt and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; add to the creamed mixture just until moistened. Fold in chocolate chips. Fill non-stick*** muffin cups two-thirds full.****
  • Bake at 350° for 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan to wire rack.

*I've been using vanilla yogurt because we always have these leftover from the variety pack we buy at Trader Joe's. But plain yogurt works just as well. 

**To make these a little healthier, I sprinkle a generous amount of flaxseed into the dry ingredients. If I was married to Jerry Seinfeld, I'd have my own cookbook. *sigh*

 ***a non-stick muffin pan has been the best way to make these. You don't need to grease the cups or use liners. The muffins tumble right out. And don't be tricked into trying a silicone pan. Using one of those was an epic fail. The muffins never browned and then they fell apart trying to remove them.

 **** a mini ice cream scoop is the perfect portion and makes filling the cups quick and easy.

I'm linking this up to the I Heart Faces Weekly Challenge.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Do You Boo?

We started this tradition in our neighborhood a good five or six years ago. One of my friends told me about it, and I knew we lived in the perfect neighborhood for this to take off. And it has.

If you don't know what "Boo'ing" is, simply put it's like a chain letter version of "Ding Dong Ditch." Only you leave a little Halloween treat for the family on the doorstep before you run off into the night giggling like fools. In turn, the recipient must "Boo" three other neighbors within 48 hours to keep the Boo going until Halloween.

The Ballerinas LOVE the "ding dong ditch" part. We take off on our bikes under the cover of darkness, riding super slowly so our carefully packed baskets don't topple over. The Big Ballerina is the one who usually walks the basket up to the doorstep while the rest of us hide behind a tree to watch. The nervous anticipation of getting caught is half the fun. Choosing what and who to Boo, and then keeping it a secret all month is the other half.  

Getting Boo'ed in return is also a big part of it. You hope that you'll get something good. After a few years of getting less than a stellar stash (and one year nothing at all :(), we finally hit the mother lode last year. We were Boo'ed by our neighbor who is an artist. She knew I'd been drooling over her Halloween driftwood sculptures so when we found THIS on our doorstep, I was doing the Monster Mash. The ballerinas, on the other hand, were a wee bit disappointed that we didn't get a basketful of sugar.

The treat you leave can be whatever you like. We usually try to bake a Halloween goodie (although last year I was lazy and just baked chocolate chip cookies) and add some other fun Halloween decorations. Since we'll be bombarded with candy on the 31st, I try not to add much candy at all. Last year, I started adding a little adult beverage to the basket. A little Firefly vodka and some lemonade.

 This year, I found some fun Magic Hat "Hex" beers that fit the theme perfectly.

We made some pretzel pops. Hard to tell from the photo, but the brown one is a Witch's Finger.  

Threw in a little black crow, a mini pumpkin and some gummy pirate's teeth, and...

We're ready for nightfall. 

Hopefully, we won't get caught. And LB won't blab our secret at the bus stop on Monday morning. If you're interested in starting this in your neighborhood, leave a comment and drop me an email at I'll email you the Boo letter and instructions to get you going.