Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Rainbow of a Day

Today I went in to San Francisco to see my dentist. Last December when I went in, they found my first cavity EVER. Today I got it filled. I have no words of wisdom on how to go 39 years without a cavity. I was the child who never brushed her teeth and I still don't like to floss. Good genes and good luck are all I can site.

I went shopping after I got done with the dentist. And I came across this line up of colorful scooters, which just seem oh so San Francisco.

I bought a black skirt, black pants, striped tank, and a plaid outfit for Zoom. We'll do a fashion show for everyone soon :)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Gluten Free Tuesday: Gluten Free Bisquick

IMG_2447Last year, Bisquick came out with a gluten free version, and I must say, it's become a staple at our house. I don't need to tell you all the things that Bisquick can do; but I will say that this version of Bisquick is as tasty and reliable as the original.

In the last couple of months, I've seen Gluten Free Bisquick in various locations such as Safeway, Lucky, Target, and some of the smaller local markets. If you're going to be picking some up, be sure to check the price. One night, we saw it at Safeway for around $7.50 for a single box. If you get a "subscription" for it from Amazon, you can get it for less than $4 a box. I've set myself up for a subscription so I don't have to think about re-ordering.

To date, I've used Bisquick to make biscuits and pizza crust. And I made their Impossibly Easy Coconut Pie at Thanksgiving, which was a real treat.

Betty Crocker (makers of Bisquick) also has a bunch of recipes on their site. I'm thinking I may need to try their Strawberry Shortcake this summer. It sounds delicious!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Monday Reflections: All of Life is Holy Ground by Craig Taubman

Recently, we went to an outdoor music festival at the Los Gatos Jewish Community Center. We're always on the lookout for interesting events that offer music because Zoom loves it so much. We happened to get there in time to hear Craig Taubman, an artist out of LA and who came up to Norcal for this event.

I loved his music, especially the song "Holy Ground," which you can see here on You Tube (complete with liturgical dancing!)

There was a magical moment for me, sitting on the grass, holding sweet little Zoom, and listening to this song. It really hit home that these are the things that I want to teach him. To love, respect, delight, and embrace all of creation. To use his words to praise and love others. To look for the beauty in everything he encounters. To understand that everything, everyone is Holy, and all of it is Holy because it was all created by God.

Taubman's lyrics are simple and inspired. I hope to be able to use this song in a retreat sometime since it speaks such a deep, universal, spiritual truth. I've found myself listening to it on repeat in the car to and from work. Plain and simple, it makes me happy and makes me feel grounded.

All of Life is Holy Ground*
Every second, every minute, every hour, every day
Every thing, everyone, every place, every way
Where you walk
Where you stand
Where you love
Where you praise
All of life is Holy Ground

Every he, every she, every what, every who
It's in her, its in them, it's in me, it's in you
In the bitter, in the sweet, in the calm and in the storm
All of life is Holy Ground

*reprinted here with permission from Craig Traubman

Friday, June 24, 2011

Zoom Friday: Tea with Ladies and More Plum Updates!

On Thursday, Zoom and I ventured in to San Francisco with Nola (his Grandma, my Mom). We stopped off at Samovar Tea Room for lunch. It's got such a light, airy feel, and has delicious food. Zoom had apples, some of Nola's sandwich, and a lot of puffs. He loved it and was well behaved the whole time.


Then we went to SFMOMA and saw the Stein Collects exhibit. It's the collection of the Stein family (Gertrude Stein being the most famous member of the family), and it was amazing. While the Steins were American (from SF!), they moved to Paris and while there, collected impressionist and modern artists' work. They became close friends with many of the artists and had work by Cezanne, Matisse, and Picasso in their private collections, hanging in their homes. Just breath taking. It made me want to buy art by current artists, just to have beautiful things in our house.

Zoom saw some of the art, but it wore him out.

In other Zoom news, my sister pointed out that he's also on the rules page of the Plum contest... again, with the hilarious captions :) And, I think he's going to be in some banner ads on Babble, and other blogging sites.

Here's the rules page:

Happy Friday, everyone! Have any fun plans for this weekend? I think we might go to the BEACH!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Zoom-tastic! Zoom on the Plum Organics website!

Little Zoom recently was part of a photoshoot and today we can share his big modeling debut. He's on the front page of the Plum Organics website! Check him out - and be sure to enter their "Babies for Yum" contest on Facebook.

Zoom loves basil!

Our shoot was about two months ago, and we had a wonderful time meeting some of the people at Plum and working with a local ad agency. Plum Organics really do care about their food, and the babies that eat it. It's all organic, and I have to say, it tastes amazing (yes, I try everything I feed Zoom just so I know what it tastes like). Zoom ate Plum before the shoot and we LOVE their products. We were really excited to be a part of their campaign.

On Courage and Fear

"Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear" - Meg Cabot

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Gluten Free Tuesday: Pasta 'Skillet'

Another gluten free favorite at our house is something we call "skillet." I picked this up on another gluten free blog and it's been a solid addition to our dinner rotation.

It's an easy one - you need:
- 1 pound of ground beef
- Italian seasoning
- 1 package of gluten free pasta
- 1 jar of gluten free pasta sauce
- shredded cheese (cheddar works well)
- diced tomatoes (we use canned)


You'll want to brown the ground beef, and cook it so it's crumbly. I often add Italian seasoning, or rosemary / cilantro / oregano and a little bit of garlic salt. Or fresh garlic. Either works.

Once you have the ground beef underway, start boiling the water for the pasta.
At the same time, pre-heat your oven at 350 degrees.

The nice thing about this dish is that you can use basically any gluten free pasta. I get picky about flavor / texture in other dishes, but because you are combining the pasta and cooking it again, it doesn't seem to matter what kind of gluten free pasta you use.

The pasta should be cooked al dente, or a little tough. You don't want cook it all the way through.

Place the pasta in the bottom of a 9x9 oven safe dish. Take the ground beef (drain the grease off) and place it on top of the pasta. Then add the full jar of pasta sauce, the diced tomatoes, and stir. You'll need to eyeball this a bit; you want there to be a little room left so that the contents of the dish aren't spilling over the sides. Once you've got everything mixed, add cheese to the top.

Place in the oven for about 20 minutes or until the cheese is melted and a little browned.

Do you have any favorite gluten free dishes?

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Wisdom of My Father on Big Decisions

Growing up, my Dad always encouraged me to dream big and work hard to make those dreams a reality. When I decided I wanted to go back to Divinity School for a Master's in Religion, it happened to coincide with a bad breakup with a long term boyfriend. My first choice of schools was all the way across the country. As we talked about my options and possible decision, my Dad said "Paula, its a big decision and we will always support the decisions you make. Please make sure that you are running towards something you want for your life, and not running away from something else."
This little tidbit helped confirm my decision, and I often use my Dad's words as a compass to make sure I'm following my own heart in life's big decisions. Am I running towards something with the excitement of new things to learn, new possibilities? Or am I turning tail and running away, backing down from who I am and what I have come here to do with my life?
The answer to my Divinity School question was that I was running, arms open, towards what I needed to do with my life. It was a big decision. It was the right decision. And I'm so grateful my Dad asked such a lovely question to make sure I was following my dreams.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Zoom Friday: 9 Months Old

It may be a strange time to start this up, but I thought it would be fun to start doing a monthly recap, corresponding to Zoom's monthly birthdays. I'm borrowing this particular format from That Wife and thank her whole-heartedly for the inspiration!

Nicknames: Zoom, Doodle, Bunny, Poodle
Temperament: Quite Curious, crawling to explore new things, happy most of the time
Things I Could Do Without: The occasional screaming when you're tired, or having to pull you away from the cords because you like to chew on them.
Item/Toy We Love The Most: The little freebie umbrella stroller, it's nice to be able to take you on a walk whenever.
Items/Toys You Love The Most: Noah's Arc or the Shapes Book I gave you when we went to Arizona.You love the big pink bear named Dandee and the Lambie, too.
Things I’m Loving Most Right Now: You crawl towards us so excitedly when we pick you up from day care, your complete joy when you're laughing, your intensity when you're trying to figure out new things.
Things You’re Loving Most Right Now: You love the light switch and know how to turn off the lights. You love the wipes box (still) and will open and shut that for a long time. And you love staring at the board books and turning the pages. The juicy orange picture and the purple flower picture are your favorites.
Sounds/Words: You make sounds like Mumumum and Daadaadaa, and bwob. These aren't sounds you've connected to anyone or anything yet. You like to "sing" which is nonsense sounds you make when music is playing. And you make a screeching noise that I think I accidentally taught you.
Foods you like: Cantaloupe juice is your favorite. You like yogurt a lot, and started finger foods (puffs) this month, which you love. You really try just about anything, like tonight you had black beans, rice, tomato, and some tortilla. I'm glad you're OK with trying foods of all flavors and textures.
New this month: You've been crawling on your knees, and you can army crawl really quickly. You understand questions and respond in actions to them. You can hold my hand when I ask, turn off the light, and you understood that you could touch the orange in the book when I told you. You pull yourself up, and yesterday Daddy found you standing in the Pack 'n Play laughing at the fan.


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Heavenly Nap: Angel in the Shade at San Damiano

A happy, slumbering angel in the garden at San Damiano. I'd love to curl up like this for a nap and unwind in the peace of a heavenly place.


Monday, June 13, 2011

Redoing the Bins in our Side Table

Spicing up the little side table that I moved under our stairs was a multi-faceted project. If you recall, the table looked like this when it first was placed under the stairs:

I'd bought the bins specifically for the table in it's new home, but I found their overly-matchy nature distracting once they were in the table. I wished I could find something unique, with all of the bins having a similar color scheme. And, I wanted something that matched our style and our home.

Then I went to Target and fell in love the with fabric in this table runner. Yellow has been one of my favorite colors for a very long time. These patterns were just bohemian enough to be fun, yet planned enough to look polished. I thought about it - why not cut one of these up and use it to recover the bins .... ???

I went home and had a discussion with my assistant. He quickly demonstrated how easy it would be to disassemble the bins and prepare them for a new cover.


After I measured out the cuts, I used a glue gun to attach the fabric. I also used some cloth napkins to cover the sides and back, those portions that wouldn't be seen from the front of the sofa table. To finish off the bottom, I cut pieces of felt and glued those to the bottom. I wanted a smooth surface that would allow the bins to slide easily on the shelves.

Here are the redone bins from the front. See the grosgain ribbon on the bin on the upper left? I love how that turned out, it's actually covering a rough edge. I ended up using the very last part of the scraps on the smallest bin. I lucked out in remembering that I had it handy, I feel like the white ribbon really helps tie in with the white of the table.


And here they are inside the table. I really like the vibe of the classic table lines and the funky bin fabric.

I still love getting to see the table in it's new location, and really glad that we have a spot for all of Zoom's stuff, along with other things like fabric shopping bags, camera cases, and some shoes near the door.

Linking up to: DIY Showoff, Sugar Bee Crafts, Ginger Snap Crafts

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Featured on Eisy Morgan and Bella Before & After

As you guys know, I like doing crafty things around the house to make our home look a little more like us :) I'm trying to find the balance of what I talk about here, amongst the retreat leading, the baby, and the home. Honestly, all of these things inspire me. That's why I love to talk about them.

It's cool when another blogger features you, so I thought I'd give two a little shout out here and give them both a special thanks for spreading the love on their blogs.

Back in May, the Bulletin Board post was featured on Bella Before & After. Bella's blog is lovely, and she really embodies the spirit of encouragement. She loves to feature her own home improvement projects and roots for all of us who are also trying to DIY our way to a lovely place to live.

This month, Ashley at Eisy Morgan featured my side table redo. Ashley's blog has a warm, welcoming tone, and you can just tell she's a genuinely friendly person. She's a California girl living in Colorado, which is a flip flop of me! (OK, OK, I only lived in Colorado for 3 months after I was born there...)

I want to thank both of these lovely ladies for stopping by and for hosting such fun linky parties :)

Friday, June 10, 2011

Zoom Friday: 'Crawling' and 'Dancing'

Zoom has been quite busy working on some new skills. Over the past few weeks he's learned to "army crawl." In the last week he's gotten quite quick and made his way into the kitchen. One of the funnier moments was when he started yelling at the refrigerator. I fed him after that and it seemed that he was yelling about food.

Here's a little footage of him "crawling," and grabbing a shoe. Inevitably he always wants to get into something he shouldn't!

We also went to another music festival last weekend. Zoom loved the music, and when he was standing (he still holds on to someone or something when he stands) he started moving his legs around to the beat. I'd never seen him "dance" before, but it was a great start! I can't wait until he can really get moving :) You can see a little of it here.
Happy Friday! I hope you all have a great weekend :)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

And there's this to contend with...

This just in. Zoom is now able to pull himself up and stand unassisted. In other news, he is also wearing pants sized 24 months that clearly are a tripping hazard. Bad combo, mom, bad combo.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Easy Dwell Studios Inspired Accent Art

IMGP0515Last week I revealed the little re-do I did under our stairs, and I made reference to an easy art project I did to lighten up the space. A couple of years ago, I found a triptych style frame at Pier One in the clearance bin. It was scratched up, and it was missing glass in one of the frames, and one of the backings for the frame was missing. It was marked down to $5.

A tiny bit of paint, some glass from another frame, and some cardboard and the frame was like new. And then it sat for awhile after we moved.

The frame was the perfect width to fit over the side table, and so I got to figuring out the way to make it work.

Sean bought me these cool Dwell Studios Mandala place mats from Target for my birthday and I immediately knew I wanted the pattern to be something that was on display all of the time. I snapped 3 photos of them on my iPhone and dropped them into, and then printed them and popped them in to the frame. A little grosgrain ribbon, and voila! Updated art on the cheap!


Sharing on: Not just a Housewife, Sugar bee crafts, The DIY Showoff, Gingersnap Crafts, Somewhat  Simple

Stations of the Cross: Remember Also Those of Ill Will

San Damiano Retreat: Stations of the Cross
At our "Living Joy to the Fullest" retreat, we took part of the afternoon to walk the stations of the cross. San Damiano's stations are set in a gorgeous outdoor oak grove. Growing up, I never walked the Stations. I don't know if it's just not Lutheran (the whole no idols thing perhaps?) or what. In fact, I don't think I really understood the Stations until I went to Israel and saw the actual Stations of the Cross in the streets in Jerusalem.

Since then, I've walked it many times, which is something that always gives me great reason to pause and take in the enormity of what this walk represents. Jesus' final journey is something both foretold and inescapable. It is humbling and horrifying. It is a death sentence, and yet it is freeing. It is love beyond my Earthly comprehension, and in it's last moments (Father, Father, why have you foresaken me?) it is as human as any moment in all of creation. I could write volumes on that moment, of Jesus crying out. It rocks me to my foundation and I can get lost thinking about it.

As a group, we read a meditation from the Vatican at each Station, and took the time to think about Jesus, those around him, and the Romans. When we ended, I read this poem, which was written at the time of the Holocaust. The stories of it's origins are varied. It may have been found in a concentration camp, on a deceased child, in her pocket. It is moving. It seemed to tie with Jesus' last journey and the forgiveness and love that he altruistically portrayed for all of us.

O Lord, remember not only the men and women of good will, but also those of ill will.
But, do not remember all of the suffering they have inflicted on us;
 remember the fruits we have borne thanks to this suffering —
our fellowship, our loyalty to one another, our humility, our courage,
our generosity, the greatness of heart that has grown from this trouble.
When our persecutors come to judgment, let all of these fruits
which we have borne be their forgiveness. - Author Unknown

Friday, June 3, 2011

Zoom Friday: Zoom's Favorite Playtime Things

Recently, Zoom started to show a preference for certain toys. You can tell because his face lights up when he sees them, and he snuggles his face into them (well at least the stuffed animals). Now Zoom seems to genuinely prefer three toys - his pink Valentine Bear named Dandee, his white Gund snuggly lamb from Auntie Cris, and his new Noah's Ark.

Here's the first day that Zoom met Dandee. Love at first site! You can see how pleased he is to have found this enormous bear :)
Zoom & Dandee_r

Zoom also adores this white lamb that Cris brought the first time she visited.


And, the latest and greatest craze at our house is over this Noah's Ark. It makes noises. It has wheels. The giraffe sounds like a donkey. Amazing things happen on the ark!


Zoom's favorite playmates are his cousins. Here they are in the park last weekend. Zoom and Bella chat about the red ball.


And here's Ralph, stealing the show by butting in to the photo with Zoom and Bella (who look oh so serious...). This picture is so very Ralphie. What a funny boy!

So, what should we name the white cuddly lambie?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Our Deepest Fear Is That We Are Powerful

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us most.
We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and famous?’
Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that people won’t feel insecure around you.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us; it’s in all of us.
And when we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. Maryanne Williamson

wild flowers

Old Table Re-do: A Media Stand Becomes an Entry Way Table

We had an media stand that worked well in our old apartment. It was exactly the width of the space that held our TV. When we moved, we found that the TV seemed perched rather precariously on it. Add a baby to the mix and I knew we needed to find a new home for the media stand.

Here's the precariously placed TV. Now that Zoom has started pulling himself up, I'm really glad we no longer have a heavy TV on it.

We have this area under the stairs, that really needed some help. The space had become a storage area for whatever came in to the house (since it's just inside the front door). And, this is the view I see when I sit on the couch:


Zoom has enough stuff that it seemed this area would be good staging space for the diaper bag, baby shoes, etc. I bought some bins, moved the furniture, and cleaned up everything under the stairs. Which got me here:

Still a little dark for my tastes, and the color and matchy-ness of the bins made it feel a little too "candy store." I decided to paint the table white. It took a coat of Kilz primer and two coats of white interior semi-gloss paint. This is the table at the half way point, we brought it in overnight.

And finally, finally, the table was done, and placed under the stairs and I decided to redo the bins!! The drawer pulls are from Anthropologie. The art above the table is something I made from photos of a place mat, and the other decor pieces are from around our home.

A detail of the top of the table:

And a before and after:


I love the mood of this little corner of our home now. The project took awhile to pull together, and I'll do another post on the bins and the art above the table. It was really satisfying to have the space finished and functional.

Submitted to Linky parties at: Lil' Luna, Eisy Morgan, My Girlish Whims, Not Just a Housewife