Dear Denali: Four Months

by LeeAnne on September 23, 2014

DenaliMonth4

These last few weeks have been so very good. I’d read about how babies change significantly at around three months, and with you, it’s true. You are markedly more alert and happy during the day (even in the car!), and you sleep really well at night (one wake-up, usually at 4 a.m.) and at nap times. We’ve also fallen into a mostly predictable and reliable schedule. I know patterns will change and evolve, but it’s really nice right now.

You continue to be very observant and curious: feeling the texture of the wall by your changing table, staring at the pattern of fabrics, following the shimmer of my engagement ring with your eyes. You’re full of personality: You smile easily, make hilarious expressions, and—perhaps your biggest development since last month—you have found your voice. You babble all the time. You “talk” to Daddy and me, and even to toys, lamps, and the owl poster in the living room. You have the most earnest expressions when you’re babbling; you really believe you’re communicating. One morning, you started blowing raspberries, and we made them back and forth for an hour while I made two cakes for Daddy’s birthday party. Now blowing raspberries is pretty much your favorite thing ever (video).

Physically, you had a big growth spurt over the last month. You flew through your 3-month clothes. Some outfits only got only one wear! Most 3–6s still fit, but you’ve moved on to 6-month footed sleepers. You’re still working on rolling over and have only done so a few times, but you often roll onto your side while playing. We practice sitting, and you do well with a little support. I hold onto your hands and move them around, kinda like we’re dancing. You love flipping through the pages of your board books and just started holding your own bottle.

You’re a big fan of Sophie, the teething giraffe. I keep her in your car seat, and you suck and chew on her ears and hooves whenever we’re out and about. You’ve also been sucking on your hands a lot lately, especially your left pointer finger. You’ve all but forgotten about your Binkys. You spit them out immediately, so we’ve just kinda stopped offering them. Despite all this dexterity, you still sometimes seem surprised by your own hands, turning them slowly in front of your wide eyes.

You had several firsts in recent weeks. Your first BART ride was to meet my friend, Kate, for lunch in Berkeley. You loved looking at all the people, the scenery flying by the window, and even the BART signage. You stared at the emergency procedures poster for so long, I thought for sure you had figured it all out. (If we’re ever stuck in the Transbay Tube, I’m counting on your expertise!) About halfway through, you fell asleep, although the loud clap! of a passing train startled you awake. You also had your first childcare experience, when I attended my first MOPS (Mothers of Pre-Schoolers) gathering at church. I wasn’t sure what to expect from your reaction. Turns out, you were a doll and charmed everyone.

The only time you’re really fussy and challenging is when we go out at night. I can’t tell if it’s just a bad time of day for you, or if you don’t like being among lots of people, or if you’re tired and can’t get settled outside familiar environs. Or all the above. But you have a hard time when we go out to dinner or spend the evening at a family birthday party. You cry loudly and will not be soothed by the usual tactics. For the first time, we’ve had to do some leaving early—and sometimes just after arriving! (For the record, you’re a great lunch date. You either fall asleep or enjoy a bottle while sitting happily on my lap.)

Let’s see, what else? We’re no longer swaddling you; it’s all about fleece and terrycloth sleep sacks now. You’re getting some color to your eyebrows, and your eyelashes have grown rather long. You also have random patches of longer hair on your head, which is kind of adorable. You respond to my voice, even when we’re in a crowded room. You watch me closely when I’m eating, and one day, you shoved your fist into my salsa. I think you’ll be ready to eat solids soon…

Month 4 Stats
Weight: 14 pounds, 13 ounces (65th percentile)
Height: 24.75 inches (64th percentile)
Clothes: 3–6 months, some 6 months
Diapers: Size 2
Food: 5 six-ounce bottles per day. Occasionally, one additional bottle in the middle of the night.

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Project Life Catch-Up Sesh

by LeeAnne on August 28, 2014

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Three months into parenthood, I feel like I’m getting into a good rhythm. With Denali’s longer and more predictable sleeping patterns, I’ve transitioned from sitting on the couch browsing the Baby Center message boards and binge-watching television (the entire series of Glee) to taking on some freelance writing and editing assignments and resuming some of my favorite hobbies. Today, I began organizing Denali’s scrapbook. I’ve decided to chronicle her first year week by week, Project Life–style. I’ve only made one other Project Life spread, ever. So despite having a ton of product, I’m still new to this system. I hope to share some of the completed spreads on the blog, but for now, here are some thoughts on the highlights and struggles thus far.

Photo Editing
After a couple years on my wish list, I splurged and bought myself Rad Lab. It’s a Photoshop plug-in with 80 photo effects and instant preview. You can see how every effect will look on your photo, all lined up side-by-side, before you make your selection. Afterward, you can fine-tune the “recipe” used to make the effect (sliders for brightness, contrast, strength, etc.). You can also create and save your own custom recipes. I’m really enjoying it: It’s much faster and easier than Photoshop actions.

Page Planning
To plot out each week’s two-page spread, I’ve been using Project Life planner templates from Marcy Penner, which I downloaded forever ago. It really helps for me to sketch out an initial plan and then let it evolve from there. For example, my first few attempts had way too many photos, so I’m working on paring them down.

Photo Printing
I randomly received a 100-free-prints offer from Shutterstock, so I prepped several weeks worth of photos for that. Unfortunately, I wasn’t thrilled with the quality. They just weren’t very vibrant. And, news to me, the Project Life pockets aren’t true 4×6 or 3×4 dimensions. I had to trim every photo. I abandoned those, and soon after, I learned that Persnickety Prints offers custom Project Life print sizes, and will even round the edges for you (at an additional cost). Their UI is a little clunky, but the photos themselves turned out great.

Journaling
Since I learned I was pregnant, I’ve been writing daily notes in the Notes app on my iPhone. This has been hugely helpful, and I can’t recommend it enough. I have major “mom brain” and can’t remember what I did yesterday, let alone Denali’s first weeks. With the app, I can easily pull up a list of what happened each day, from firsts to funny anecdotes to thoughts and feelings. For the theme and journal cards, I wanted to keep a consistent color story throughout the book. I stumbled across the Baby Girl Sn@p set by Simple Stories and really liked how it looked. I purchased two packs each of the 3×4 and 4×6 cards (so I can use some favorite designs more than once), as well as the sticker set. Since it’s not a Project Life product, I will need to trim these cards, but I’ll live. I also have the 3×4 and 4×6 lined Project Life journaling cards and the corner rounder. (The latter because, you guessed it, the corner size is unique to Project Life. My Crop-A-Dile corner chomper and my very old Creative Memories one won’t work. Obviously, this is a theme. I do wish all these things were more compatible.)

Whew. I hope that was helpful to anyone else getting started on Project Life. I’m off to get some scrapbooking done!

 

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Dear Denali: Three Months

by LeeAnne on August 23, 2014

DenaliMonth3

Confession: Before having a child of my own, I thought that for most of their first year, babies were more or less like slugs. Constantly growing, sure, but not doing much more than crying, eating, filling diapers, and laying there. It’s truly fascinating to me how much of a little person you already are at three months. You have so much personality, from your pouty lips (that’s a real, inborn thing?) to your shy-like face covering to your very involved and hilarious morning stretch routine. Sometimes when I put you in your crib, you smile at me so adorably, I want to take you back out and play.

You’re sleeping less and less during the day, but when you are awake, you are so much more alert and curious about the world around you. You’ve been wonderful to take out, especially to the grocery store: You stare in wonder at the aisles of products. I used to wait for you to fall asleep before I took a shower, but more than half the time, I’d hear you start crying and have to cut it short. Lately, I’ve been laying you on your play mat in the doorway, wide awake following a feeding, and you’re now making it through my full routine (shower, brush teeth, dry hair, put on makeup) before getting upset.

You’re starting to fill out: chubby cheeks, Buddha belly, chunky thighs. And you’re so strong. People comment on it all the time. You have such good head control, you lift your chest at tummy time, and you’ve started pulling yourself from your back to your side, using the toys hanging above your play mat. You’ve started quasi crab walking when I change your diaper. Just as I’m about to secure the tabs, you dig in your heels and scoot your butt back. It’s funny and also frustrating. I know diaper changes will get harder and harder as you get more mobile! You’re able to hold onto things now. You don’t really know how to manipulate them, but you hold onto them tightly. I started giving you your owl blankie or giraffe rattle to hold in your car seat. And you grab my hair all the time.

You’re testing out your vocal chords with sounds like, “Eeeeeeeeyeah!” and “Gooooooooooguh!” and “Ahhgoooooo!” and “Guulllllaug!” Lots of G’s. It sounds vaguely German. I repeat the words back and we have a fun little conversation. And sometimes I just get silly and respond with stuff like, “Get out! Mr. Bug said what to you!?”

We had a bunch of firsts this month. We went on our first walk “for exercise,” after dropping off Daddy at BART for his new job. We went three miles around the neighborhood. You slept through the first half and were fascinated by everything for the second. We now do this 2–3 times a week and are up to four miles. We had our first post-baby houseguest, when Mommy’s college roommate, Kristin, came to visit. She thought you were very cute and enjoyed playing with and feeding you. She did not want anything to do with diaper changes, though. Can’t blame her: You have some pretty wicked poop! You had your first physical interaction with a “stranger.” A little girl in Target saw you and got really excited. She squealed “baby!” and grabbed your hands. Before I even realized what was happening, her mom jumped in and said, “Don’t touch that baby with your dirty hands!” Hehe. So, the girl admired you from afar. I’m not terribly concerned with stuff like this. You will get germs; you will get sick. I’d rather you didn’t live in fear. And I’d rather not parent in fear.

Speaking of germs… You had your first cold this month. When you woke for a feeding at 4:00 a.m. (one night-time feeding at this hour has become fairly routine), you had a stuffy nose and the saddest little cough. For the next few days, you were raspy and sneezey and just wanted to sleep, sleep, sleep. You took four-hour naps and fell asleep on my chest while burping you. It’s been several weeks since you’ve slept on me, and it was so sweet. Colds = cuddles.

You got to be in your first wedding! Auntie Charissa and Uncle Joey got married and had all their nieces and nephews in the ceremony. You were a “flower girl.” You wore a pretty white dress, frilly white diaper cover (which Mama bought in Blackhawk – fancy!), patent leather shoes, and a floral headband made by Auntie Christina. You looked so pretty. Your oldest cousin, Anna, held you for the processional and for several minutes up front for the welcome and the family prayer. Then, she handed me to you when the junior bridesmaids took their seats. You did so well! You started fussing once, but Anna calmed you down right away with a little bouncing. You were great for the wedding party photos and then cried through photos with Mommy and Daddy—of course. You stayed awake through most of the reception at the rodeo grounds—so much to see and hear! We changed you into a floral romper and some tiny cowboy boots. Those got a lot of attention. That night, you slept the longest yet, from 11p.m. to 9:15a.m.

Lastly, a funny story: I lost you and your grandmother in the mall. You were upset (you were hungry, and Mommy wasn’t prepared with enough formula), and Grandma offered to take you for a walk and to be changed while I paid for my final purchases. The Macy’s restroom was closed, so she said she’d take you to “the one out in the mall.” When I finished, I stepped out into the mall and realized that there was no bathroom on that wing and I had no idea where she’d taken you. Complicating things, my phone was in the cup holder of your stroller. At first, I contemplated checking every bathroom in the mall. Then, I thought maybe I should stick near Macy’s, in case you guys returned looking for me. Finally, clarity came, and I asked a clerk to use the store phone and called my cell. Thankfully, Grandma picked up. We laughed a lot about it later. It was only a few minutes of panic, but I can’t imagine how hungry and angry you would have been if it had taken a long time to find each other! Mommy is always overly prepared now. :)

Month 3 Stats
Clothes: 3 months, some bigger 0–3 months
Diapers: Size 1
Food: 5–6 five-ounce bottles per day, including one in the middle of the night.

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Dear Denali: Two Months

by LeeAnne on July 23, 2014

DenaliMonth2

Let’s just get right to what everyone wants to know: how you’re sleeping. I’m happy to report that your sleeping habits improved dramatically this month. At six weeks, we moved you from the bassinet in Mommy and Daddy’s room to the crib in your room. Your nighttime sounds (grunts, sighs, etc.) plus the squeaky squeak of your wicker bassinet were keeping me awake and I was ready to try something new. That first night in your crib, I worried a little and checked on you often. But guess what? That’s when you began “sleeping through the night.” (!!!) From then on, you’ve slept 5 or 6 hours at a time, sometimes 7 or 8. It’s been wonderful! Perhaps the bassinet (or Daddy’s snoring) were keeping you awake? Everyone is getting better sleep now. And we’re getting better at learning what you like best. For example, you sleep longer when you’re in a tight swaddle with your arms pinned (a variation on the “secret” swaddle that we call the “sumo” swaddle, because the extra fabric goes up between your legs and wraps around your arms again, haha).

After several days of near-smiles (your eyes would kind of sparkle and then your lips would curl up every so slightly at the edges), you finally got your smile on. You were on the changing table, and I was looking away, fussing with wipes. When I turned back to you, you were grinning up at me. It was adorable and memorable and made me so very happy.

Your Auntie Erin taught you how to mimic sticking your tongue out, which is pretty cute. Sometimes when I say, “Mamamamama” to you (trying to teach you to say “Mama”), you open and close your mouth, as if you’re mimicking the mouth shapes. You’re also testing the limits of your vocal chords with some new high-pitched squeals and screams.

You’ve got quite the social life for a two-month-old. Recently, you attended a dance studio reunion picnic, a baby shower, a family birthday party, visits to both sets of grandparents, a Fourth of July party, and more. Several different people have fed and changed you, and you seem to handle it OK. Speaking of the Fourth of July… at the party, Grandma took you into her salt-water pool. You looked so cute in your little orange swimsuit and terrycloth cover-up. At first you seemed to like the pool, but then you started crying. We think it may have been the bright sun bothering you the most, though. Later, you saw your first fireworks show. The loud noise didn’t faze you, and we put a glow stick in your lap, which you seemed to enjoy.

These days, you are more alert and can spend 20–30 minutes on your play mat, watching the toys overhead. It frees me up to do small tasks nearby, like washing dishes or watering the patio plants. You’ve started swatting at the cow mirror handing from the center. Your movement is a bit clumsy and slow but you totally get it. And you stare at yourself in the mirror for long stretches of time.

Perhaps TMI, but you’ve started pooping consistently every other day, and when you do, it’s usually a blowout. Apparently, this skipping days thing is totally normal. It makes me feel so very carefree on some days, running a bunch of errands without having to worry about poopie diapers. On other days, you’re like a ticking time bomb. Your Daddy and I have gotten smart, though: We put little waterproof pads underneath you in your car sear, swing, crib, play mat, etc. Much easier cleanup!

You had your first trip to “the city,” AKA San Francisco. We went with Grandma and Grandpa and drove over the Bay Bridge. You weren’t super impressed: You slept most of the way. There, we met up with Uncle Bryan for lunch, as he was in town for a work conference.

You’re becoming quite the shopper. We took our first walk to the grocery store. We met up with Mommy’s old friend Andrea and her daughter, Cora, at Peet’s first, then picked up groceries on the way back. You also had your first outlet shopping excursion, where we got a huge haul from Cater’s, Gymboree, and The Children’s Place—whoops. You used a changing table in a public restroom for the first time, at the Container Store. That felt like a really big moment for Mommy. And you had your first trips to the mall: We went with Auntie Erin to both Stoneridge Shopping Center and Blackhawk Plaza. You seemed to be able to see the ducks in the pond at Blackhawk. I can’t wait until you’re ready for the zoo. I love animals, and we’re going to get annual passes.

Speaking of animals… Daddy told me about a live “big cats” show at his work’s summer camp, and we crashed it! Unfortunately, you didn’t stay long because the show hosts wouldn’t let me stand up in the back (it can make the cats nervous), and you were too fussy when I sat still. Daddy took you outside and you watched through the windows for a while. We saw a Cervil cat, Bondu cat, Osolat, and Joffries cat.

You had your first round of vaccines at your two-month doctor’s appointment: three shots and one oral vaccine. You cried pretty hard while they were administered but stopped as soon as I picked you up (the nurse said babies fare much better than older kids). You slept much of the rest of that day and were back to normal the next day. Physically, you’re holding your head up very well. You don’t really need support any longer. And you had your first “injury” this month. When Daddy was changing your diaper, he noticed a trickle of blood coming from your eye and called me in. Thankfully, it was your eyelid, not your eye. You scratched yourself good with your razor claws!

Lastly, a note on your peers: Your future friends will have quite unique names. So far, Mama’s friends have welcomed (or will soon welcome) Maverick, Anders, Jett, Desmond, Juniper, and Kennedy.

Month 2 Stats
Weight: 10 pounds, 6 ounces (26th percentile)
Height: 22 inches (28th percentile)
Clothes: 0–3 months, some bigger newborn, and some smaller 3 months
Diapers: Size 1
Food: 6 four-ounce bottles per day, including one in the middle of the night.

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Best Movies of 2013

by LeeAnne on February 25, 2014

(Over the next couple weeks, I’ll be wrapping up a bunch of old partially written posts and back-dating them, so I that can move forward with this very outdated blog. Just warning ya…)

2013Movies

It was a very good year for movies, don’t you think!? With the Oscars around the corner, it’s time for me to finalize my favorite films of 2013.  I love watching movies—especially in the theater—and I caught 43 new flicks this year.  Whenever I see a new movie, I insert the title into a running ranked list.  Then, at the end of the year (actually, a month or so into the next year, as many new releases are scheduled over the holidays), I make adjustments based on how strongly the movie’s story still resonates.  So without further adieu…

1. American Hustle
2. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
3. The Place Beyond the Pines
4. August: Osage County
5. About Time
6. Hunger Games: Catching Fire
7. 12 Years a Slave
8. Gravity
9. Inside Llewyn Davis
10. The Wolf of Wall Street

Honorable mentions: Austenland (for making me laugh out loud so very, very hard; a Pride and Prejudice fan’s must), Saving Mr. Banks (for Paul Giamatti, who slays me, always), 20 Feet From Stardom (for making me appreciate back-up singers), Captain Phillips (for Tom Hanks in an Oscar-worthy final scene), Short Term 12 (for Brie Larson, star in the making), World War Z (for making me like a zombie movie – what!?!?), The Great Gatsby (for eye candy), and Thor 2 (for Loki, who needs his own film franchise).

What I wish I hadn’t wasted time on: Quartet (we don’t even get to hear them SING!?), Despicable Me 2 (not the same magic as the original), and Gangster Squad (was it supposed to be satire?)

What I didn’t get around to seeing but wish I had: Mud and The Book Thief.

Now it’s your turn. What were your favorites? Please share them in the comments!

P.S. – I’ve been making movie-related top 10 and best-0f lists for a long time. Here’s where you can find them for 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, and 2003.  And, I also have a Top Movies of the Decade list, representing 2000 to 2010.

 

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A New Year

by LeeAnne on January 26, 2014

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Sooooo… it’s basically been a year since I’ve posted here! Oops. There is so much to catch up on that I just won’t even bother. Let’s just press ahead, shall we?

If you follow me on Instagram, you already know, but the biggest thing going on in my life right now is that I am nearly six months pregnant.  O.o  I am excited and scared.  True joyfear.  In our premarital counseling, Paul and I discussed a mutual desire to start a family about two years into our marriage.  But I never felt ready and kept pushing it back further and further.  We’ve now been married five years, and I just had to face the fact that I’ll never feel ready and I’m not getting any younger!  So, at 34, we are anxiously expecting our first child, a girl, in May.  I am very grateful that it’s been a fairly easy and healthy pregnancy thus far: no morning sickness, only six pounds gained.  But I do feel behind on preparations.  We don’t have a name picked out, a nursery set-up, etc.  I’m sure I’ll get my act together at some point…

The image above was our social media announcement last fall.  I had fun carving the pumpkin and making cartoon versions of our features.  Unfortunately, it does look like I’m eating my baby… :/

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Winter 2013 Mix Tape

by LeeAnne on February 23, 2013

WebI’m not very good at this blog thing, hehehe. *Sigh.* But, I do have a new mix tape for ya! As always, I’m not the world’s hippest music fan. I’m just a music fan. These are the songs currently in heavy rotation on my iPod, whether new, new-to-me, or old favorites that I’ve come back to for one reason or another. I like to put all my current faves into playlists by season, like a soundtrack of my life at that particular time. I often burn a copy onto CD for my sister, and occasionally other friends, so I eventually spend some time arranging them into what I think is a nice progression.

Anyway, I was soooo excited to have some new music from The Civil Wars while they are on hiatus (or are they broken up?). They co-wrote the soundtrack to the food documentary A Place at the Table, and I really dig the first “single” from it. Also, I could listen to “Promises” all day every day. Just sayin.

1. “Sunshine Goodtime” – Minnutes (iTunes)
2. “Hello Hello” – Missy Higgins (iTunes)
3. “Next to Me” – Emeli Sandé (iTunes)
4. “Brokenhearted” – Karmin (iTunes)
5. “Promises” – Nero / Skillet Remix (iTunes)
6. “Sweet Nothing” – Calvin Harris feat. Florence Welch (iTunes)
7. “Madness” – Muse (iTunes)
8. “Under the Stars” – Morning Parade (iTunes)
9. “Feel Again” – OneRepublic (iTunes)
10. “Red Hands” – Walk Off the Earth (iTunes)
11. “I Will Wait” – Mumford & Sons (iTunes)
12. “Come to the River” – Rhett Walker Band (iTunes)
13. “Long Time Gone” – The Civil Wars & T Bone Burnett (iTunes)
14. “All My Tears” (acoustic) – Jars of Clay (iTunes)
15. “Playing Dead” – Breathe Owl Breathe (iTunes)
16. “Stars” – Grace Potter & The Nocturnals (iTunes)
17. “When I Was Your Man” – Bruno Mars (iTunes)
18. “Carry On” – Fun (iTunes)

To check out past mix tapes, go here, here, here, and here.

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InstaFriday No. 18

by LeeAnne on February 15, 2013

Whew, it’s been a while. Lots of photos to catch up on! Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Valentine’s Day! Hehe. I’ll get to about half of my recent iPhone photos here and the rest next Friday. Here’s what life’s been like around here…

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1: I made mini muffins for my in-law’s all-day Christmas Eve gathering: banana nut, blueberry, and pumpkin chocolate-chip. They were a hit. I don’t think any of them came back home with me!

2: Paul opens gifts with the kids. :) I love this picture of him and Nomnom. He jokes that he doesn’t “like” the cats, but he totally does.

3: Best. Christmas. Gift. Ever. Paul got me a Cameo Silhouette. Naturally, my first project was to make him a thank-you card. :)  Love how easy it is to make cuts of any fonts installed on my computer. It’s going to be so fun to play with this.

4: Our newest Christmas ornament, from our trip to Hawaii. Paul and I have been collecting ornaments on our travels, and it’s so fun to unpack them and recall the special memories.

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5: Happy New Year! I had a little fun with the bowl of confetti while waiting for midnight. :)

6: Human disco ball. I bought this cute sequined sweatshirt by American Rag. Unfortunately, the construction is a little obnoxious. The sequined material was run through the seam and cut, so the sharp edges of sequins keep cutting me, especially under my arms. I was a wreck the first day of wear. My current temp fix is to cover the seams inside with masking tape, LOL. Need to have someone sew in a panel.

7: It’s always sad to say goodbye to the Christmas tree…

8: And even more sad to say goodby to family. My brother- and sister-in-law, Ryan and Ashlee, moved to Nevada right after Christmas. I will miss them and my cute niece Grace.

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9: Socked in with fog on a winter morning. Oh, Bay Area.

10: As usual, I came home to find my cat-kids, Nomnom and Pepper, napping together on the couch.  It’s so funny how cats have certain spots that they like to be at different times during the day.

11: The first step is admitting you have a problem. Actually, I have a lot more than this now. Addicted to washi tape.

12: Working on save the date cards for my little sister, Lindsey.  She’s doing a lot of DIY for the wedding and is stamping and embossing the finished stationery.

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13: For the family Super Bowl party, I was in charge of pretzels and cheese. So, I tried out some cheese dip recipes ahead of the gathering. This was a beer-cheddar-gouda dip. It was delicious, but I could never get the consistency quite right. I also made roasted jalapeno-white cheddar, which turned out perfectly.

14: One of the two snack spreads at my aunt and uncle’s house. So festive!

15: My adorable parents.  I have no idea where they got these shirts.  They almost look like true Giants fans (in truth, no one in my immediate family really watches sports, hehehe).

16: Lily, my aunt and uncle’s dog looks adorable in her 49ers scarf.

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17: I spent a day in the city (San Francisco) for a Folio workshop on magazines and digital media.  It was pretty cool.  I learned a few new tricks for social media and met many of the editors of Sunset, which I read regularly. I thought I’d spend a couple hours shopping afterward but I was pooped. I basically just walked through Antho in a haze.

18: Paul and I getting ready for a date night.  I think in this picture, we were seeing The Hobbit.  I see so many movies, it’s hard to keep track!

19: A birthday cake I made for my mom. It was a box cake with can frosting (spice and cream cheese), but I made sure to make it extra pretty with cute Wilton sugar flowers.

20: The second in Diablo‘s quarterly City Series, the Lamorinda Book, arrived.  It’s fun to work on something a little different.

That’s it for this week!  Join in the fun by linking up your photos with Life Rearranged.

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Best Movies of 2012

by LeeAnne on January 13, 2013

2012MovieCollage

With the Golden Globes being broadcast tonight, it’s time for me to stop stalling and name my favorite films of 2012.  I love watching movies—especially in the theater—and I caught 47 new flicks in 2012.  Whenever I see a new movie, I insert the title into a running ranked list.  Then, at the end of the year (actually, a month or so into the next year, as many new releases are scheduled over the holidays), I make adjustments based on how strongly the movie’s story still resonates.

This year, I was absolutely charmed by Moonrise Kingdom.  Wes Anderson movies are always creative and interesting, but this was the first one I connected with on an emotional level.  (My friend Aaron will rejoice that a Wes Anderson movie has finally made one of my lists.  Hehe.)  I loved the naive and adventurous kids, the dry humor, the detailed sets and costumes, the music, even the gorgeous Jessica Hische typography on the posters and credits.  If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it.  Here’s my full list…

1. Moonrise Kingdom
2. Argo
3. The Hobbit
4. Les Miserables
5. Zero Dark Thirty
6. Silver Linings Playbook
7. Anna Karenina
8. Bernie
9. Lincoln
10. Your Sister’s Sister

Honorable mentions: Looper (for bringing some much-needed originality to the silver screen this year; so many book adaptations and sequels!), Django Unchained and The Master (for having such memorable characters and incredible performances), The Dark Knight Rises and Skyfall (for elevating their respective series), First Position and The Queen of Versailles (for introducing some interesting people, and making me laugh more than documentaries normally do), Beasts of the Southern Wild (for Quvenzhane Wallis… whoa), The Impossible (for making me feel as though I experienced the tsunami; that film just gutted me), and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (for re-inspiring me to live a full life).

What I wish I hadn’t wasted time on: To Rome with Love, Five-Year Engagement, and The Vow. Where have the good romantic comedies gone!?!?!

What I didn’t get around to seeing but wish I had: Life of Pi, Amour, Mansome, and Pitch Perfect.

Now it’s your turn. What were your favorites? Please share them in the comments!

P.S. – I’ve been making movie-related top 10 and best-0f lists for a long time. Here’s where you can find them for 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, and 2003.  And, I also have a Top Movies of the Decade list, representing 2000 to 2010.

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InstaFriday No. 17

by LeeAnne on December 28, 2012

Hello! I hope you had a very Merry Christmas! Mine was a whirlwind of fun—lots of time with family, great food, and fun gifts. Here is what my life looked like during the first half of December, according to my iPhone. I’ll catch up with Christmas photos next week.

1–4: The family headed to Tracy to see my sister perform in Anastasis Ballet Company‘s production of Handel’s Messiah at the Grand Theatre. We started the evening with a feast at Famous Dave’s; we pretty much stop here every time we’re in Tracy. Can’t say no to brisket. Then, we headed to the theater for the performance—and the army of cute ballerina sheep for sale in the lobby. Lindsey was gorgeous, as always!

5: There was no room at the inn—and there is barely enough room on our mantel for the nativity scene!  I love it, though.

6: Paul with our Christmas tree selection. We decided to not open it in the lot, so the shape was a surprise when we untied it at home. We chose pretty well!

7: I pulled together our Christmas newsletter in record time this year. It’s a great way to look back on the year and get it on record.

8: We’ve been in our condo for a few years now, but this Christmas was the first with a wreath on the door. My awesome dad helped us install a knob on the inside, where we can tie ribbon (the shape and size of our door didn’t play nicely with standard wreath hangers).

9–12: For the second year in a row, I hosted a Christmas Craft Party and Cookie Exchange. So much fun! I invited family and close friends, and asked them to bring four dozen of the same cookie. We gathered to work on various projects—from writing Christmas cards to knitting blanket gifts to grading end-of-the semester papers—while listening to holiday music. Then, we swapped cookies!  We each left with four of each kind in a keepsake container as well as a print-out of all the recipes from the night.  I brought my bounty to work the next day, and they were a hit!

13: Brett and Lindsey get silly at Sauced before the debut of Smuin’s Christmas Ballet in Livermore.

14: I totally snapped this photo of Smuin during their snow-fight at bows.  I figure it’s best to risk getting kicked out at the end of a performance…

15: Also new in Livermore this year: The Living Bethlehem. This production was pretty impressive, with hundreds of actors in costume, livestock, and architectural replicas. They have a few kicks to iron out for next year—like raising the stage for the nativity a good 10 feet (couldn’t see a thing)—but it seemed to be a success.

16: Winter means peppermint brownie cake pops at Starbucks. Mmmmm…

17: Sales reps Toni and Ali are festive in their reindeer antlers at the Diablo holiday party at Elevé.

18: The December issue exudes a wintery feel.

19: Diablo‘s annual Threads of Hope Awards returned to the Orinda Theatre. I love that they replace the movie poster displays with event-specific posters. So fun!

20: Saying goodbye to great interns is no fun. Mararons make it a little easier.

That’s it for this week!  Join in the fun by linking up your photos with Life Rearranged.

 

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