It's Bunco Night and I'm on a Roll

I think my job here is done.
The neighborhood ladies have now pegged me Martha Stewart.
I'd like to make one thing clear, however:
The oxford shirts, I'm okay with. 
The haircut? 
I absolutely refuse.

I joke
but in all honesty, 
I DO love all the crafting and cooking and entertaining
and quite frankly, 
it has been a blessing to be able to do this.
It has helped us form new friendships
and nurture old ones.

Last night's first neighborhood Ladies Bunco Night 
was no exception.

I chose a Southern theme for this night,
largely because of my 
raging {yes, I used the word raging} love affair with mason jars,
which I knew would be the binding constant
for all the decor I was planning on using.



Not to mention,
this theme would be a great excuse for me to try to make
these pecan tartlets I'd been meaning to make for some time now.

I also made mini caprese salads,

two kinds of mini quiches,
mini pulled pork sandwiches
and grilled cheese sandwich bites
with creamy tomato soup shots




{I'm a sucker for everything mini}

And of course, what party would be complete
without a signature beverage?
I chose to have mint juleps
{served in my favorite latch bottles},
sweet tea, and lemon water
and labeled with adorable doily tags that I made.




{Yes, I realize that mint juleps are not supposed to be mixed with water, but at the same time, I didn't need to be blamed by the neighborhood husbands for their wives not coming home because they would have passed out on my living room floor with how strong the mix itself was! It was mostly bourbon!}

We spent the evening laughing and having so much fun learning how to play Bunco
that yours truly forgot to take pictures of us playing the game!
{and for those of you wondering, I won the night's Most Bunco's prize -- a whopping $25! Hooray for lunch money this week!}

I also got an adorable hostess gift
from my beloved Canadian Michéle,
who is an artist.
Her favorite hobby is glass fusing,
and she owns this amazing kiln to "bake" all her finished products.
She "baked" me something and it was such a sweet and thoughtful gift!

Merçi beaucoup, mon amie!

I must say, everyone had a wonderful time
and we are looking forward to next month's event!

Okay, I Give.

I was bad.
I know.

A couple of weeks ago, I made the announcement on my Facebook page that J and I had finally begun again in our IVF process.


And since then, I have made no other mention of what else we have been doing in the process. 
I get it.
I've kept you hanging. 
I'm sorry.

I was very leery about sharing again,
advised by many that last year's set of posts
may have "jinxed" it.
I get what they are saying.
Traditionally, you're not even supposed to announce the pregnancy
until at least 3 months of gestation.
Many frowned on my decision to share the journey
and especially the good news so early with everyone.

But how could I not?

This blog was created exactly for that purpose: 
to share this incredible and miraculous process with our friends and family.

I know that some may still frown upon my decision to share all the details again,
so to them I say this:
HAVE.
FAITH.
{source: Pinterest}

After all, it is not through science, but our FAITH in God and His GRACE alone that we were blessed with our girls.

And yes, "jumping the gun" and announcing so early that the pregnancy took may not be the way of tradition,
but it allowed for J and me to involve everyone in our happiness,
to share our love for each other and the fruits of our love with everyone.

When I lost the girls, a dear friend was consoling me on the phone, and when I told her that I wanted my girls back, she told me something that reaffirmed our decision to share our news with everyone. She said,

"Angela, you shared those girls with us
from the time even before they were made.
Because of that, we take ownership of them too.
Your loss is ours.
Those girls . . . they were our girls too."

You never wish what happened to us to anyone else,
but knowing that your friends and family help carry your load
brings comfort and solace beyond explanation. 

So now I will continue to share with you.



As of today, I have been on Day 15 of my birth control pills again, which, as you may remember from this post 
or maybe this post
that this is the first of many phases of the treatment.



On Tuesday, September 27th, I will be undergoing the hysteroscopy. J and I also have our labs ordered through Kaiser, and we will be doing those. 
Yes, the irony is that our timeline is just like last year's.
This time last year was when we were going through all these procedures.
Wouldn't it be a kick if August 8th would be the next baby's due date?

Redecoration Nation Part III

I told you so. 
I told you I'd been having a love affair
. . . with mason jars, that is ;-)

As promised in my preview post earlier this week,
here is a new addition to my decoration addiction.

So last week, I was perusing on Craigslist
{yes, I am a total gypsy. I LOVE Craigslist.}
And I saw this sweet corner unit.

I needed a corner shelf / hutch for my dining room
and I lucked out with this baby.


Cute, right?

Here are the touches I added to it:

Mason jars on a cake pedestal.
The mason jars are standard Kerr widemouth jars
and the cake pedestal was purchased from Crate and Barrel last year.


These vintage milk bottles are a recent find also from Crate and Barrel. 
I absolutely fell in love with them and it was such a bonus to me that they are Italian glass!


You asking about these babies?
Yes, they are some of my new favorite items in my house!
And the best part?
They are upcycled projects I made!
They were inspired by a find I had from Pinterest!
These vases are actually ones that my flowers have come in when J had given me some {i.e. Valentine's Day, anniversaries, and -- the best kind -- the "just because" ones!}.

J had bought me some paint in chartreuse green / Tiffany blue
{I sent him to Home Depot with one of my Tiffany boxes to get the correct blue}
and I used them to paint the inside of the vases.
{a DIY project to come in a future post!}
Now they stand proudly on top of my new corner hutch
next to my peonies in my white ceramic pitcher...
and I am
IN.
LOVE.

So next project to share:
My newly "vintage" tinted mason jars.
I haven't exactly figured out where they will be placed,
but I know I'm going to use them as lanterns
for my upcoming Bunco party that I'm hosting for the neighborhood ladies.
Our theme: Southern Belles and Mint Juleps!
Stay tuned for that post!

P.S.
Have you checked out our Etsy store lately?
Remember that all followers of the blog 
get an additional 20% off your entire purchase!






Redecoration Nation Part III PREVIEW

A preview of what is to come
for my next installation of Redecoration Nation
featuring...






... tah-dah!! 
Repurposed / upcycled vases!
Tune in for the next Redecoration Nation post!

Blackout!

I looked out over the valley last night and found a sea of darkness. The last of days of summer had been pounding us with heat and humidity and this evening was no exception. Though the night had brought cooler weather, it remained still and breezeless. 


I am shaken from my zoned out state by the stifled giggles of children running past me. It is 8:45 p.m. on a school night and close to twenty neighborhood children are playing Cops and Robbers on our street. In the background, I hear chatter and laughter from the adults, with 90's pop music and the Green Bay Packers vs. New Orleans Saints game from someone's car radio.


It is a blackout, an event that I spent many years enduring as a child in the Philippines, but as a resident of South Orange County, CA, this event is unheard of.


The power went out at about 3:30 p.m., when I was still at work. With most of my duties performed on a computer, it brought our entire office to a standstill. Upon checking my cell phone, I noticed that it read, "No Service". The cell relay sites must have gone down too, I was told. I was able to leave a few minutes earlier to stop by and drop off mail at the post office. No luck -- by the time I had arrived there at 4:30, the doors were shut and locked. 


I headed to the supermarket with the intention of purchasing some ice to keep in our ice chest and in the freezer to save my precious steaks and ice cream {a balanced diet, I know}, holding my breath that it may not even be open. Surprisingly, they were open for business, and even more shockingly, they were still able to run on minimal power and accept debit and credit cards. Though I had cash on me, I could hear my husband's voice in my head {"Keep the cash. Use the debit card, since you can. We may need the cash later and not be able to get some"}. Sweet, I thought. It wasn't long until I was greeted by disappointment when I found an almost empty ice case. The lady in front of me had grabbed the last block of ice. Not letting that get in the way of my goal, I grabbed five large bags of the only other alternative: flavored ice. I figured it would do the job of saving my steaks, and if anything, they'd make for great cocktails that I counted on having later on that evening. No matter what, I wanted to get home, and quick, as I was sure that everyone was going to treat this situation as a disastrous catastrophe, and that equated to ridiculous traffic. 


I got home and ensured that my movements were slow -- with the heat, humidity, and no electricity to run our air conditioning, I was not about to tire myself out. It wasn't long until our neighbors started gathering on my driveway... and suddenly people were bringing lawn chairs, blankets to sit on our front lawn, candles, and flashlights. 



As dark became more imminent, children huddled in small and large groups, plotting the rules of whatever game they happened to be playing at the moment. 

 At about 9:00 p.m., screams of jubilation resounded through our cul-de-sac, as phone calls to parents came in from the local school district's automated message service, announcing that school had been cancelled the next day.



Women gathered in groups on patios, sharing stories and gossip.


Several parents brought out whatever popsicles, ice cream sandwiches, and other cold items from their freezers and handed them out to the eager neighborhood children {and even some other adults!}. At one point, someone even brought out a fire pit and put it in the street directly in front of our driveway.


In any other given time or place, it may have been easy to complain, squirm in discomfort, or find blame in whoever or whatever it may have been that caused us all to come out of the comfort of our homes, but luckily, such was not the case on the night of the big West Coast Power Outage. It seemed to me that everyone was actually thankful for it.


For a few hours, summer seemed to have found its way back to our street. Illuminated only by flashlights, candles, and glowsticks, everyone was able to have an encore of a hurrah for summer.

Redecoration Nation Part II

Everything in this home is such a work in progress. I've finished the backdrop wall at the dining room and have migrated my redecorating fever to the family room.


Lately, I've been teaching myself how to sew.
Thank goodness that a few weeks ago, my mother-in-law came to visit
and she gave me a few pointers on how to use my sewing machine.


One of the first things I wanted to make was new pillowcases for my throw pillows in our family room.


Inspired by finds from my favorite Pinterest boards, 
and armed with some new muslin fabric
and adorable stencils from Mary LabarreArtistic Stencils, and Your Memories Captured all on Etsy
I began the daunting task of putting together designs and a color scheme to make my family room look more like it belongs in a home.


More than anything, I wanted to prove that I could actually sew something
with nothing more than a YouTube sewing education in my resume.


You tell me.


The room started out like this: free pillows with cheap hotel looking covers.



God-awful polyester quasi velvet ugliness:

As soon as we first bought the couch last year, I bought some lumbar pillows from Home Goods so as to soften the look of the room and to add a pop of color in what would have been a mere collage of poop brown.

Naturally, the first thing I did was to remove the Fruit Roll Up looking striped pillowcases and stashed them in depths of my laundry room that are only inhabited by lost socks.
And I replaced them with happier, self-stenciled, self-SEWN pillows.



{Yes, I know, the new pillowcases are wrinkled. That would be in large thanks to my brother and stepson, visiting for the weekend, and throwing their lanky, adolescent appendages haphazardly all over my furniture. Forgive me.}



Otherwise, I'm happy so far to have gotten rid of the velvety stripes. 

Next, the family room, and that lonely wall ascending by my stairs.

Have a lovely Sunday!





There Once Was a Party Girl

My baby cousin {well he's 24 years old...} is visiting us from New York this week.
He graduated from college last year, and graduated from his first long term relationship. Right now, he's enjoying the single life. 


On the other side of the family, I was talking to J's cousin earlier.
She's 21, going into her last year of college, and newly realizing that being young and single is actually a pretty cool thing... that you don't have to be in a relationship all the time to be happy. 


Talking to these two, I was reminded {a little bit} of this girl I once knew, think about sometimes, but very seldom miss. {Not that either of them is like this girl... it's just that they are both young and single too}


I'm talking about: 

Now I'm not going to lie, she was a lot of fun.
If I'm not mistaken, 
on more than one occasion
and by several different circles
she was known to be the party animal of the group.




She wasn't afraid of banzai road trips to Las Vegas
Late nights and all nighters in Hollywood
usually diluted in countless cocktails.
She was usually followed by a cloud of smoke
and an attitude that reeked of 
a lack of care for the world.


She was over 21, working, living on her own, and nothing else mattered.
Birthdays, holidays, weekends... and heck, any given week night
were celebrated with a mix of Captain Morgan and Diet Coke {her beverage of choice on most occasions}


And then one day it all changed.
Suddenly everything spiraled out of control.
The life she worked so hard to keep up with
finally ran too quickly for her
and she simply 
spun.
out.


It took a while and some pretty drastic events and measures to get it all back under control. 
Slowly but surely, life started falling into place again. 
And she realized that family is really what matters. 
And life is not supposed to be a party. 
At least not all the time.
and that was more than absolutely okay. 


Five years later, here I am. 
I am happily and blissfully married.
I have, maybe, a glass of wine every so often. 
I was first to pass out asleep on my bachelorette party in Las Vegas last year. 
At 11:00 p.m.


I am a wife.
I am a mother. {Yes, of angels so far, but a mother no less}
I spend my evenings blogging, Facebooking,
Happiness these days is a warm glue gun in my hand.
Cooking with my husband,
Trying out new restaurants,
Cuddling up and watching movies with J,
Riding bikes around the neighborhood,
Giving out popsicles to the neighborhood kids {yes, I'm VERY popular with them}.
And while I no longer spend my nights partying,
I spend my everyday knowing this life is my kind of celebration.