I had the nicest Mother's Day weekend. I hope you did, too. On Saturday we went to a very sweet wedding at our church, and on Sunday morning we went to church and Sunday school and all talked about how happy we were about that wedding. :)
I spent a lot of the weekend on the back patio reading and enjoying my family and crazy pets. I think Mother's Day to me is Official Permission to Relax. I never have that "I should be doing something productive" feeling on Mother's Day. What a blessing.
Last night we went to The Luggage Room, which is one of my favorite restaurants in Pasadena during the spring and summer. (I don't like sitting inside there particularly, so that is why I prefer it in spring and summer. My favorite thing about California is how much we get to eat outside.)
I like to sit at the long wooden tables on the patio and eat avocado pizza (with basil and lemon zest and sun-dried tomatoes ... it is DELICIOUS) and talk. :)
It is the very tail end of my birthday, and I always think this gives me a little excuse to do something a bit self-indulgent here in suziebeezieland. :)
I was trying to think of what that might be this year, and decided I want to share this new video short with you about one of my favorite artists, Makoto Fujimura. I have talked about him a little bit in suziebeezieland before.
I think if you enjoy beauty, you will like this video. It is not very long. (The full-length version is coming out this spring.) Click on the screen twice quickly to make it bigger so you can see it properly.
We decorate our dining room for Hallowe'en every October 1, and then on hallowe'en itself we usually have a little hallowe'en party because we have good sidewalks and nice neighbors for trick-or-treating.
This year, we were planning a slightly larger hallowe'en party, but a small family medical emergency came up (everybody's fine), and a party was no longer a good idea.
So we called our understanding friends and explained, and instead of our bigger hallowe'en party, we had family come over for dinner and trick-or-treating.
I had already shopped and baked and cooked for the larger-sized party, so we had a LOT of food!
One of my favorite human beings of all time had a birthday this month, and I wanted to have a little birthday breakfast for her.
But our house is a little chaotic lately. On the day of the breakfast, there was tile cutting going on in our front yard, and tile laying going on in the small bathroom. So we couldn't sit in the living room or dining room or kitchen.
I'd thought we could go out on the back patio, but the next-door-neighbors unexpectedly had their house tented for termites that day, and the men were on the roof overlooking our backyard and securing the tent. Besides, it was cold and wet outside.
So I decided to set our breakfast up in Claire's room, because it was the last place in the house that was both private and not noisy. (I've spent the majority of the past few weeks in Claire's room. I'm here now typing this, as a matter of fact.)
Bob helped me get the table into the bedroom from the kitchen. It wouldn't fit through the doorway, so he took two of the legs off and put them back on once it was inside the room. He had just called our veterinarian's office to find out if we could board our cat there for a couple days since we couldn't let her outside because of the fumigation, and he was in his suit for work, getting ready to drive Claire to school for me and then take the cat to the vet. So he did the whole table thing in a couple minutes. He is an excellent multitasker. I was so thankful for his help.
I pushed her bed over and we used it as one of the seats.
And I pulled down her blinds a bit so you couldn't see the guy next door standing on the roof of the garage, or the signs that said "Danger! Peligro! Fumigation!"
We had fun! It didn't feel like there was a bunch of crazy activity surrounding it. It was cozy, like a tea party for little girls. :)
On Saturday, we had a little Harry-Potter-themed family birthday party for Claire. (On her actual birthday she went bowling with a few friends and then came back to the house for pizza and cake.)
I say "a little Harry Potter birthday party" because if you Google "Harry Potter parties," you will see that some people have devoted their life savings and the bulk of their days on earth to throwing really huge and elaborate Harry Potter parties, in which their entire homes are remodeled to look like Hogwarts.
These looked like a lot of fun. :D
I just did my typical thing where we only decorate the dining room. This keeps it under control. :) I was in charge of food and decor. I kept it simple ... we had (at Claire's request) shepherd's pie, peas (my brother-in-law Greg said it was the first birthday party he had ever been to that had peas), English muffins, and, inexplicably, peppermint creams. Also, cupcakes.
Bob was in charge of all the fun activities. He also made the butterbeer.
And whoo I'm telling you, that boy had FUN.
He had a little Ollivander's wand selection ceremony in the kitchen that involved Claire and her cousins all standing on chairs watching a science experiment in the microwave ... it was incredibly clever, and I'm going to videotape him doing it and show you later on in case you ever want to do it yourself.
He made THE BEST butterbeer, and I'll have him show you that, too.
He also made a Quidditch pitch in the front yard and ran a quidditch practice (after previewing the quidditch game in the first Harry Potter movie with the kids).
And he came up with a really great Sorting Hat ceremony (a random drawing rather than a test, although he did rig it so that all the kids ended up in Gryffindor) that was one of the funniest things I've ever seen, because both my mom and Bob's mom ended up (completely randomly) in Slytherin and were then cheering Slytherin on. They totally cracked me up.
I put Harry up the day before the party, and then was scared by him all day whenever I walked by. I kept thinking Bob was home from work.
I found these quidditch broomstick favors here, and the directions were here. They were very fast and easy to make. I filled the base up with Skittles Riddles, which are a different flavor than the color would indicate, and which seemed kind of magical. :)
Isn't Harry realistic? Seriously, I jumped out of my skin about twenty times on Friday.
To say that Bilbo's breath was taken away is no description at all. There are no words left to express his staggerment ... (JRR Tolkien, The Hobbit)
I turned 46 last Friday, which as you may recall was 11/11/11.
My sweet husband surprised me with a Hobbit-themed "elevenses" party at 11:00 a.m. If you are not familiar with "elevenses," it is the meal that the Hobbits eat between second breakfast and luncheon. (They call it "elevensies".)
It is a brief, healing pause in the crisis of the day. :)
Hobbits prefer to eat six times a day: Breakfast, Second Breakfast, Elevensies, Luncheon, Afternoon Tea, Dinner, and Supper.
Bob had sent out funny Hobbit invitations, and gone to an English tearoom to buy some wonderful jams and drinks and sausage rolls. His mom and my mom helped him get set up, and he made scrambled eggs and cooked bangers (sausage) on the grill, and there were two types of bacon, and scones and REAL clotted cream, and he had decorated and had games for us to play ... riddles (Hobbits love riddles) and oh, it was so sweet I could hardly stand it.
Four of us there had just read The Hobbit this year, so that made it especially fun.
Long live elevenses, and Hobbits, and sweet husbands.
"'Never laugh at live dragons, Bilbo you fool!' he said to himself, and it became a favorite saying of his later, and passed into a proverb."
"It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him."
"There is more in you of good than you know, child of the kindly West. Some courage and some wisdom, blended in measure. If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”
Claire's class had their Thanksgiving feast last Friday. They each brought one ingredient to make a big stew. (We brought two pounds of ground beef. There were some more two-pounds-of-ground-beef people, and then some vegetable people.)
This week is a short week, as there are parent-teacher conferences Thursday and Friday, and then they get the entire next week off for Thanksgiving break, so that's why they had their feast so early.
So here is my little pilgrim. She had a cold, and I can tell she is not feeling too hot, but I guess that's just because I'm her mom. My mom always said she could tell in photos when I was sick, too. Our eyes look different.
Linda B., I know what you're going to say about the costume, but Hermione was not a pilgrim. :D I got this one here. I did have to hem it because I ordered a medium and it turns out Claire is a small in Pilgrim costumes. But no Supermom maneuvers. Easy peasy. :)
A couple weeks ago, my cousins came out to visit us from Kansas and we went to Disneyland. It was such a fun day.
In Disneyland, there is always so much to look at, especially during the holidays, when they go all out with the decorating. Sometimes they have a little display in a quiet corner in one of the lands that would constitute a complete festival in its own right if it happened in your town, and would be a major life memory for your kids if it happened at your house. But because it's at Disneyland, it's just a little piece of the (much, much) larger show.
The older I get, though, these are the things I remember best and like best about Disneyland. :) I like the quieter things.
Take these pumpkins, for instance.
These are freshly carved real pumpkins, and the man who carved them was sitting right there carving some more.
Last weekend, for Easter, Claire and I made these chicken cupcakes. And by "chicken cupcakes," I mean cupcakes that look like chickens. I do not mean cupcakes that have chicken in them.
And by "look like chickens," I mean that if I tell you ahead of time that they are chickens, you will see the chicken resemblance.
Afterwards, I wasn't really sure how Easter-y chickens are. I guess you could dye them yellow and then they would look like chicks. They are really delicious if you remove the Mike 'n Ikes and licorice before eating them. :) That buttercream frosting is extremely buttery. Yum.
After the first one, we decided to make the rest without feet.
As the buttercream frosting gets warm, the project and the chickens get messier. But do not let that deter you. Also, do not become discouraged if you run out of red Mike 'n Ikes. Other colors also work well. Because as long as you tell everyone these are chickens, they will believe you.
(It is true that during Easter dinner, Faith noticed that if you remove the red comb from the head, they look like Violet the Puppy cupcakes.)