29 Trips Around the Sun for the Hubs

Happy Birthday to you!
Happy Birthday to you!
Happy Birthday, dear hubby!
Happy Birthday to you!

Twenty nine (and one day) years ago, my wonderful husband was born! Almost four years ago, he walked into my life, and I still remember in our very first conversations how amazed and impressed I was with his intelligence, his wide range of talents, and his simple kindness and compassion.

It seems cliché to say that he makes me a better person - but he does in every way. He challenges me to do things I would never do on my own, and brings out the brave and adventurous side I never knew I had. We're three months apart in age, so from now until October I'm going to have fun saying that I'm married to "an older man" ; )

Handmade Birthday banner:

Breaking out the silver and china for the birthday cake:

Fun photo from the birthday dinner:

Happy 29 years (yesterday) to my very best friend. xoxo

Friday Mish Mash : )

*I've been sneaking into the classroom here and there and finally finished my classroom library!

*I've also jumped on the fabric train and have stopped using paper for bulletin boards. Fabric opened up a whole new world!! Here's the beginning of my welcome board - I'm thinking a big palm tree with the kids' names on coconuts and the title Wild About First Grade. Whadda ya think??

*I ordered Behind the Wheel: Italian 1 on Amazon and it arrived last night! Yes, I will be that odd person in the car conjugating verbs out loud : D I thought Italian would be helpful if Max and I ever make it to Italy...

*The hubby's birthday is coming up next week and I'm making red velvet cake (his request). Since I've never made it from scratch before, I'm wondering if I should also pick up a boxed mix, just in case? The recipe I plan to follow is from Paula Dean so at least we know it will be low calorie ; )

(image from Paula's Website here)

Happy Friday!

A (Yummy) Taste of the Islands

While in Cayman, Max and I picked up a pack of their famous rum cakes : ) I stuck them in our pantry (which has become our black hole) when we returned home and just remembered them. I swear I shouldn't be allowed to have a pantry - things go in and they never come out (or, they do when I clean the pantry out, but by then I have to throw away the food in question because it's expired/dried out/scary looking... any tips on keeping a good pantry??). Anyway, back to the rum cakes. We heard lots about them while on Grand Cayman so we had made a special trip to one of the Tortuga Rum Cake Factory stores and selected a sampler pack which included Chocolate and Key Lime:

We started with the Original Golden:

Which pairs well with Blue Bell vanilla ice cream (as everything does):

One down, five to go ; )

What I'm Loving Wednesday!

I'm loving the Skinnygirl margarita! It's fresh and delicious and I love that it's made from clear agave tequila (yum). Read more about how the owners of Jim Beam purchased the brand from Bethenny Frankel here.

I'm loving this deer head from Z Gallerie. I love animal heads. I can't explain why - I was a vegetarian for nine years so you would think I would be opposed to them, but no.

We already own this sweet rhino from Anthropologie, but really, one can't have too many animal heads.

I'm loving getting ready for the new school year! I cannot wait to meet my incoming firsties!

I'm loving these chocolate covered frozen banana pieces from Trader Joe's. I mean, LOVING. The box was empty before my car even entered the garage. I blame the Scottsdale heat of course - I was only trying to cool down ; )

I'm loving this funny and adorable free printable found here. I'm also loving that my husband started singing "let us turn up the beat" when I showed it to him ; )
I'm loving that a month ago Max and I were here in Cayman - such wonderful memories, but really the best part is just being married no matter where we are : )


The bees are back! No hives this year (thank goodness) but we have seen them all over these purple flowers that are blooming everywhere. Max took out his new macro lens this weekend to get some shots of the pollination process.

The lens is really difficult to shoot with. In fact, before Max purchased it we had a conversation with a professional photographer who said that it was tricky for even him. I swear I saw inside Max's mind at that very moment and he was deciding then and there to master it ; )

Part of what makes shooting with the lens so tricky is that the only way to focus is by changing the distance away from the subject. When the subject is so small, the difference between in-focus and out-of-focus might be just a few sheets of paper thick.

As I was out there snapping photos of my husband snapping photos of the bees, he offered to switch lenses. This is what I got with the macro:

See? Tricky McTrickerson. I finally was able to get a leaf in focus, but never managed to get a bee in a shot. I mean, they were moving. As soon as I focused on the spot, the bee was gone (actually, I would still be focusing/moving and Max would have to tell me there was no bee anymore).

Of course the hubs got some great shots. Here's what the macro can do:

Seriously, it's amazing to see these guys so close up!

I think this one is my favorite - it reminds me of Winnie the Pooh getting stuck with his bum out trying to get some honey : )

Bzzzz from our front yard : )

Seeing Spots

Years and years ago I purchased one of those unfinished wooden chair stools from Michaels. I painted it white and added cute roses for good measure. The chair stool followed me from Santa Barbara to San Jose where it lived in my fourth grade classroom for four years (it loved it there). The chair stool has been hanging around the house since we moved to Arizona, helping me with projects like painting the bathrooms (see below).

I decided, however, it was time for it to head back to the classroom and to meet some first graders this upcoming year. Here it is so sad looking mid-sanding:

And here it is after I added... leopard spots! I thought my upcoming firsties would get a kick out of them (them seem to love the animal prints):

I had no idea what I was doing painting "leopard" but luckily six year olds are easy to please : )

Guest Bath Mini Makeover

When we first bought our house, Max and I had a professional painting team come in to paint the entire inside of the house. I'm so glad that we did this - the inside definitely needed a little facelift and there was no way I was getting anywhere near the tops of the open two-story ceilings. We had a limited number of overlap days where we would still be living in the rental, so our time was a bit rushed. I chose just two colors for the entire house - a cream color for most of the walls, and a deeper tan for all of the rooms and bathrooms. For the most part, this turned out well. The cream contrasted well with the new hardwoods and the tan was a nice color for the bedrooms. But as soon as I walked into the baths, I knew it was the wrong choice. I could literally hear David Bromstad from HGTV's Color Splash gasping in horror. By painting the bathroom walls tan, we were left with a monochromatic bathroom. Yes, everything was varying shades of beige. The floors, the cabinets, even the counters. Blah.

With a very long list of house to-do's (we've been baseboardless downstairs for over a year now), the bathrooms have been overlooked. Until now ; ) I started by looking for a blue-gray color to give the walls some life. Unfortunately, that meant several trips to Dunn Edwards. I kept picking samples that looked blue-gray on the cards, but showed up bright blue on the walls. I eventually went with a gray, which looked absolutely gray on the card, but blue-gray on the walls (the bottom color in the photo).

Before I could paint the walls, Max helped by painting the beige cabinets white (all of the cabinets in our house started off in the 80's whitewash beige color, and we're slowly painting them all white). He used his trusty air compressor and a paint gun which made the process so much faster (that is, after we discovered the trick: when you're painting with a sprayer, the viscosity of the paint should resemble milk. We started off with a consistency closer to honey before we thinned the paint, which was a disaster to work with).

Ho-hum, painting prep:

Mid-spraying the cabinets white:

Did I mention the hubs is super safety conscience? (I see our moms smiling out there.) He used a respirator as he was spraying in a closed space.

I tried it on for fun. It was not.

Max even remembered to change the filter on it:

I stood back where it was safe to breath but got this fun little message:

Max took the removable parts outside (i.e. the actual cabinet doors and drawers that opened) to spray then brought them in when they were done:

After all the parts were put back and the blue-gray was added to the walls, we ended up with a lovelier, brighter guest bath:

It's definitely not our dream guest bath - we'd love to gut it someday and try our hand at tile work! But mini steps so make me happy!

Summer In Scottsdale

I love that we're now at the age where college friends have turned into longtime (10+ years) friends : ) This past weekend, we had the pleasure of hosting my dear college friends Brent and Abby.

Me with Abby at their wedding in 2008:

Max with Brent at our wedding in 2009:

Max and I were super thrilled of course that Brent and Abby decided to brave the heat and head out to Arizona in the (eeek!) summer. I was a little worried as Brent had informed me earlier in the week that it was literally twice as hot in Scottsdale as it was in San Francisco where they would be coming from.

That of course just meant lots of pool time.
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Which turned into playing with heavy things underwater.

And who doesn't love underwater photo shoots?

Getting us all into one shot was a bit tricky:

That self timer is hard to predict!

We finally caught one with all four of us!

Thanks so much to our favorite San Franciscans for coming out!!
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