(Christine, this is silly but I am channeling you in my post title ;p)

I was so happy with my Thanksgiving tablescape this year that I had to post pictures.

I saw this a year or two ago and haven't been able to get it out of my mind. Since I recently learned some brush lettering (thank you Kathy!), I decided to attempt my own version of it this year.

I wasn't quite sure when/how I was going to get this all done, but in the back of my mind, decorating the table was my "fun extra" that wasn't critical to the day/meal, but that would be the one thing I really wanted to do for myself. (See Note To Self #6.) It was quite a tension for me to hold during the day: that I really, really wanted to do something I may not end up getting to do.

With little kids around, I couldn't set the table before lunch. And while Cori's naps aren't coordinated yet with Emi's, I still managed to get the decorating done in the afternoon, before dinner.

I started with laying out the paper (from a kid's roll of easel paper). I couldn't find my burlap fabric that I sometimes use as a runner, so I folded up a coffee bag in half lengthwise.

There isn't much non-evergreen greenery outside anymore, so I took a philodendron from the mantel and spread out the vines (?). I added candles and various pumpkins we had accumulated this fall.

I traced dinner plates with my Tombow brush pens and then brush lettered the names. Instead of drawing the utensils (which was super cute in my inspo pic), I simply set the table with utensils and napkins. For dinner service, we set the plates at the buffet.

I didn't have enough time to decorate the buffet as well as I would have liked to - the 6-foot folding table we used for it had become the temporary dining table (where the kiddos usually craft and play all day) so I couldn't claim that early enough. I prioritized the dinner table and chose to be satisfied with that. Later I realized I had a lot more pumpkins around (especially on the front porch), which I could have grabbed to make a display with greater impact.

It was fun to have a paper table cloth and perhaps it was the inspiration for others to do art after dinner.

In terms of the food, some highlights this year were that David smoked the turkey, and made a sweet potato pie with ginger. Other than that, my mom and I prepped our classic family dishes.

Past Thanksgivings:
Thanksgiving 2014 | Friendsgiving 2016


A few randoms, III

Yes, those are reading glasses. WHAT IS HAPPENING.
1. This past weekend, I found a moment to get away to Panera with my journal*, brush pens, and washi tape. In newborn-land it is so hard to get out of tunnel vision, so I'm thankful I was able to shift my perspective and make some time. (#adulting?) I felt 110% like myself when I stepped out of the car with my backpack on, ready to have a coffee date with myself. (FYI, feeling like myself means I am 21 and in Berkeley)

*Molly, I'm still somewhat keeping up on GTD. You?

2. I've been on and off with using natural deodorant. I love the basic homemade coconut oil, corn starch, baking soda, and essential oils mixture. (My favorite combination is tea tree, lavender, and bergamot.) Recently I also checked out Schmidt's Lavender and Sage, which smells amazing. I think I'm having a few issues every once in a while with the baking soda and the stick is pretty hard in this weather but it helps to let it soften against my armpit for a few moments before applying. So I suppose it's a great alternative to homemade during the summer if/when we travel to warmer climates.

3. Podcasts that make me happy: The Lazy Genius, The Mom Hour, The Next Right Thing, Coffee+Crumbs. Please comment with your recent faves!

4. (Why is so hard to find good blogs these days? The good bloggers don't list their blog roll of who else they are reading so it's hard to find more. Please send me your faves! Also, once again: RIP Google Reader.)

5. I owe Christine an entire post on our chickens (who/what/where/when/why/how), but until then, here is a picture of their beautiful eggs. We have been enjoying these since mid-August (and we got them as chicks at the end of March, on Good Friday). Thanks to David for doing all the hard work! <3

6. I've been loving a homemade countertop spray: a few squirts of unscented Dr. Bronner's soap, a few drops of rosemary essential oil (sometimes also with a few drops of lemon), and the rest of the spray bottle filled up with water. It's been working well for me for months now, and I absolutely love how it smells.

7. On a positive note, check out my grandma glasses on these cuties.

(Ignore the super grown-out hair and/or mullets. Remember, newborn fog.)


Pipe dream

You guys. Most days lately I'm operating on the lowest levels of Maslow's hierarchy of needs, simply keeping small and big people alive. Self-actualization? Just a pipe dream.

But thoughts are always flowing through my brain, and instead of worrying about them not being good enough to put out into the world, I just need to do it. Always my lesson.

The format and/or quality may not be what I aspire to. But this is my space, so for whom does it really matter? It's better to have shitty first drafts than none at all, right?

(Be, and act as, my own authority. Forever my lesson as a 6.)

Also, it's so weird, but I'm only now discovering in my 30s that self-disclosure is not my strong suit. As a flaming extrovert I had no idea how true this is about me. No one told me I need to work on this, I just feel like I need to.


Despite crazy low moments of stress / exhaustion / overwhelm / anxiety, I'm having some really good moments. Moments I feel evolved, lol. Like this morning, when I heard the heater turn on, instead of feeling worried about bills, I thought, Thank you that we have heat. What stupid privileged conversation I often waste my brain space on, worrying about the things we have.

So, thank You, thank You, thank You.



Theo picked these pumpkins on his field trip (knowing I would love them) and David put them on the shelf and it makes me SO HAPPY.

That's all for now. Thinking about you readers all the time, even though I'm not writing much these days. <3 to you.


Yes week

My journey of coming into my own as a parent in the Northwest has felt not unlike what I imagine it would be like to train for a marathon in higher altitudes. There are so many days when I think, it'd be so much easier for me to do this in the Bay Area - easier weather on me and the kids, and the support of family.

But then there are days I look up (or maybe slow down) and realize that all my effort and striving is actually providing sweeter fruit. And I am stronger for having worked harder at this thing called life.

I so resonated with my friend Christine's recent post, where she talked about slowing down being the perfect (if not unexpected) antidote to the stress of busyness.

Parenting a two- and four-year old feels relentless most days (especially when observed from the span of a week, or a month, or a year), so when I find those moments when I manage to sink deeper into the mess of whatever is that moment, or better yet, when I can contribute to that mess in my own way, I actually find that the time passes more quickly. Or is it rather that the passage of time ceases to matter so much? We're just here, fully in this moment.

We fell/flowed into a pretty creative groove this week. It may have started when my friend Kayla texted me this how-to draw your own mandala blog post.

When the kids were out with David on a quick errand, I brewed myself a cup of ginger turmeric tea, borrowed a compass from Kathy, and got started on the template.

Half an hour into it, the kids ran in and wanted to join me. We keep art supplies somewhat reachable for them whenever they want, so they both climbed up and started their own projects. I didn't say anything about what I was doing, so it was fascinating to see Emilyn draw her circles. Theo noticed the compass and wanted me to show him how to use it. His first drawing here is within those penciled circles, and his next one is completely his own creation.

Another day I had had some weird time block to fill, so I cut up a cereal box into a puzzle - the front panel into 12 pieces for Theo, and the back into 6 pieces for Emilyn. They were occupied for a solid 25 minutes.

And then just today I made some playdough. They have been loving it at other people's houses (you know, where the nice moms live). I'm not a huge fan (who is?) but today I felt like making it. I had some old whole wheat flour that was going a little stale (lol) so I guess I made hippie playdough.

It made me happy dance inside to see Theo with it. First of all, he helped me with mixing and kneading it, and then when I came back upstairs from waking Emilyn up, I saw that he had split the dough into two piles, placing one of them in front of a chair for his sister.

First, Theo made a snowman. (If you look closely above, you can see a snowman with a tiny head and no midsection.)

Next, he opened up a soup/noodles/dumpling shop and asked me what I wanted from the "calendar" (menu). He then asked if I wanted it "hand shaved" (as opposed to hand cut, the other option available at King Noodle).

Finally, he started rolling balls of cookie dough, so that his customers could "enjoy it." I was most impressed by the uniformity of his balls. I think he's learned from watching Kathy bake.


When I talked to my counselor today I was trying to figure out why exactly this spontaneous week of creativity was so life-giving for me as their mom. I figured out that it's because I got to create as well, not just set them up for creating. I got to draw, and so I cared less about what they did (and yet they blew me out of the water with their drawings). I got to make playdough and so it didn't matter how much they enjoyed the playdough. I cut up the puzzle using stuff we already had and which was going to the recycling bin anyway.

It's a little like what Dave Ramsey refers to as happy-happy situations - happy if it works out and happy if it doesn't. I didn't spend a million dollars or buy products with tons of packaging.

I recently listened to a podcast where they talked about a "yes hour" - when you actually say yes to your kids instead of the usual no along with the litany of excuses why not. It can be such a good reset. And while I did not tell any people under the age of 5 that we are having a "yes week" I think I have succeeded in shaking things up.


Closing randoms:

Kendra of The Lazy Genius has been killing it lately with her podcasts. Her recent two series on routine and summer have inspired and guided me.

Also really blessed by Emily P. Freeman's podcast The Next Right Thing. (Maybe listen from the beginning?? Recent memorable episodes are number 25 and 34.)

Made these raspberry yogurt popsicles last week. It's the second time I've made them and I was still weirded out by the Pepto-Bismol look of them when you're blending it up. But it freezes beautifully. If you have a Vitamix I recommend not trying to blitz the seeds to pieces or else they won't go through the strainer as well and you'll end up with even more seediness. Third time's the charm, I guess. (Also, Molly says she reduces the sugar from 3/4 cup down to 1/2 cup now. Go with your gut, I've done both.)

(Last year's post on popsicles. And have I not yet posted about golden milk popsicles??)

Mango sticky rice is always a good idea.


Mother's Day Brunch

My sister-in-law and I hosted a Mother's Day brunch for a few of our friends this past Saturday and I had such a blast. The initial idea was inspired by Coffee+Crumbs, and while I didn't use any of the materials they provided, I was so grateful for the idea.

From the beginning, I envisioned it being somewhat multi-generational (we have a family friend who is turning 94 this year and has not only great-grandchildren, but great-great-grandchildren!) and full of delicious special food, the kind we make for our girlfriends (never wasted on little people). 

I was really proud of the planning and execution of the party. At this stage in my life with tiny people, it can be a challenge to strike a balance between having all those special touches and also living in the reality that I simply don't have time for every detail. This is where other people pitching in helped make it happen.

First of all, it was a potluck, so I didn't have to do all the food. I did a cheese platter, a caprese salad, my mom's veggie cream cheese and bagels, and a fruit-infused water. I really wanted a carrot cake to happen but it was one of the things that got dropped at the last minute, until David graciously offered to make it. Insert all the heart eyes.

(Others brought: tuna salad, egg salad, deviled eggs, yam and sweet potato galette, fruit salad, quinoa salad, sesame soba salad, shakshuka with sous vide eggs.)

Kathy and I have been playing around with watercolor lately (mostly her, and I've been inspired) so I asked her to help me incorporate some fun touches. Together we made floral patterns on name tags, food tent cards, and some stationery. She even made a bonus piece on a small canvas.

The day was bright and beautiful and the group of ladies who came were spectacular. We had fun conversation (I think everyone felt threatened that Diana would give them our "conversation starters" if they didn't come up with conversation on their own, lol), and did I mention the food was amazing?

To someone (or someones, because I think I can speak for Diana on this, too) whose love languages are food and quality time, this was all the Mother's Day present I needed: the opportunity to host and eat with my friends.


And now for the meta-notes I need for the future. (I actually went back to another post I wrote when I needed help remembering my own party planning tricks. Most helpful for me are: (1) write down everything, in as many different types of lists as possible - don't evaluate yourself as you're planning, just do it the way your brain works; (2) drop the stupid stuff and weight of dumb expectations; (3) plan on some stuff you're really excited about, even if it seems somewhat frivolous. I think now I can add to this list: (4) trust that it will all work out, and maybe even let people help you with some stuff!)

For this party in particular, it was helpful to:
  • have everyone bring a dish (sign-up via Evite; I made generic suggestions in the What To Bring section, which helped make sure there were enough drinks and a balance of sweet and savory dishes)
  • have someone bring and set up a 12-cup coffee maker half an hour before the party. (Plus, amazing Vanilla Bean syrup...)
  • use our 6' table to set-up food so the kitchen counters are free for prep, which - in an ideal world, not mine obviously - can then be wiped down to look beautiful during the party. One day I'll get there. (Christine, this was something I noticed at your events in February which makes such a big difference!)
  • have tent cards available for guests to label the food they brought and any relevant allergy notations
When Diana and I talked about what we would change if we did it again, I couldn't think of anything (other than maybe invite more people next time). All she had to say was, "More meat." ;p


Emilyn says

Here are some things about Emilyn since May (16 months) to now (2 years):

She is as playful (if not more than) Theo. She has a hammy/mischievous grin, and she also does this thing where she turns her head sideways while keeping her eyes on you.

At 16 months (on May 15, to be exact) she said "Nigh nigh and I love you" when I laid her down for bed.

She says "jammy jammy" for Sandra Boynton's Pajama Time.

"Be you!" for "bless you!"

She calls keys "gee"

She's been calling Kathy either "nunu" or "nono" and able to call David's parent "harby" and "harmy"

She says "my" for me/I (e.g., "my do it")

When I asked her if she had a good nap, she said yes, and then she pointed at me, to ask if I had a good nap. Then the same question regarding Theo, and Kathy.

Around 18 months she started calling Theo "Tho-dor" even though we always referred to him as either "Theo" or "oppa." Recently she has changed it to "Thee-dor." (Even Theo the other day said, "she used to call me Tho-dor. Now she calls me Thee-dor.")

She still loves food, especially meat and fruit. Unlike everyone else int he family, she doesn't finish carbs. She can eat spicy food like curry, Shin Ramyun, and even Sriracha without freaking out.

She's a full-on toddler who looks at me while disobeying.

She says "uh oh" for something that's broken or fallen.

She constantly asks "ay" which means "where...?" "Ay nunu go? Ay appa?"

She says "yah" for "yes" in a very definitive manner.

She says "ticka ticka" (tickle) and goes through each person, e.g., "Ticka ticka umma, ticka ticka nunu, ticka ticka tho-dor"

When our friend Jason offered to push her on the swing at camp (21 months) she said to him (and she likes this guy) "no no no no no" followed by "go go go go go."  Jason clarified, "you don't want me to push you?" and Emi said, "Yah!"

When you wake her up, she can tell if you've been eating something and she says "foo foo foo" or "ea ea ea" all while signing food/eat. (Update: now at 2yo 3mo she asks, "What Umma eating?")

She loves to ask about each person in the family, repeatedly.

"Aighee" is ice cream. "Geekgee" is cookie. "Geegoh" is thank you.

One day when we left a restaurant, David was going to give Emilyn the rest of her shaved ice drink in the car. I told him we should wait until we got home. Without missing a beat, Emilyn piped in with, "Bib. No mess." (Only, she pronounces "mess" like "mesh.")

She has a strong sense of where everyone should be sitting - at the dining table, or in the car.

David and Theo often say, "What the??" to feign surprise. Emilyn copies them, and says, "bah-dah?!"

She still pronounces I love you like "I la voo."

She often says "Emi do it."

One time when David was rubbing her back, she surprised him and said "no dutch" by which she meant, "no touch."

So then weeks later when David made dutch baby pancakes, it was easy to get her to say "dutch baby."

When she picked up something for her cousin Baby Amara and put it back on her booster tray, she told her, "say geekgoo unni" (unni is older sister in Korean).

She loves tea, especially drinking my chai.

Overall Emilyn is as her middle name, a pure joy. She loves playing with Theo, whether it be Legos, chase, or digging in the dirt. She loves food and music and making people laugh.