What We’ve Been Up To

Oh! Possum! How Thou Hast Changed Me in Death and in Life

Two score and 18 weeks ago we loaded up a wagon with all of our worldly goods and migrated over the great hills of Hollywood to live henceforth in the land known as “The Valley.” We waved goodbye to poke restaurants to which we could walk, and streets that received weekly cleanings, and sighed hello… Read more »

Pets

5 Ways to Win the Back-To-School Snacking Game

Special thanks to CLIF Kid & POPSUGAR for being a sponsor and providing Zbar Filled products for us to try. All opinions, ideas and content are my own.            While I’m pretty proud of my summer parenting, i.e. less gaming and videos, more biking and fort building, I let my healthy… Read more »

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Our Favorite Kid Stuff in 2017 (so far)

It feels like Back-To-School has meant more time for at-home play this year. We still have a packed schedule of sports and other activities but the time that we do spend at the house has been filled with new craft projects, building projects, and imaginative play. I had started a list of cool stuff that people had… Read more »

Baby + Kid

Painted Fireplace Before & After

Welp, I did it. I painted my fireplace. In my mid-century modern home (lots of pics from before we moved in here). This is fairly controversial, especially in a period home like mine, but I did it. What do you think? Before I painted the fireplace, I did check with a few experts to see… Read more »

Decor, Furniture, Prudent Home, September

How to Paint A Pumpkin: Watercolor Tutorial

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Here is a beginner watercolor tutorial for painting pumpkins. Some people associate watercolor painting with the butterflies and flowers of spring and summer but I love to paint in autumn. You can see some of my recent fall-inspired apple and floral paintings on Instagram, plus how to paint the baby pumpkins in the image below, I just posted an Instagram video.  I always love to see the art that you create from my painting tutorials. Please send us your pics or tag us.

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Easiest Instant Pot Apple Compote Recipe

Are you looking for a easy, delicious Instant Pot apple recipe for apple compote?Image of Instant Pot Apple Recipe - Compote Oh my goodness, I love apples and cinnamon and the season is upon us. Here’s a fun and easy Instant Pot apple recipe (1 minute cook time!) for compote to use up your apple-picking scores. As you know we are very into our Instant Pot recipes lately, so I tried out a few apple-cinnamon compote combos and this one is my very favorite, and also the easiest! I like it on my steel-cut oatmeal in the morning, but it also works on ice cream or in a hand pie. Yum!

Get my easy recipe for Instant Pot Apple Recipe for Compote after the jump… (more…)

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Oh! Possum! How Thou Hast Changed Me in Death and in Life

1-opossum-paul-cannonTwo score and 18 weeks ago we loaded up a wagon with all of our worldly goods and migrated over the great hills of Hollywood to live henceforth in the land known as “The Valley.” We waved goodbye to poke restaurants to which we could walk, and streets that received weekly cleanings, and sighed hello to the warm prevailing winds of change, and also of burning smoke from a land almost constantly on fire.

Just a few short moons after arriving at our new homestead, we encountered the previously unknown-to-us beast known as the opossum. He and his brethren murdered our flock of hens, drowned in an errant empty pot, and came to untimely ends falling out of trees into our trashcan. But one of these loathsome creatures met its fate in a way that has stuck with me, and stuck to the ground, for quite some time.

I shall say that the possum is an animal that I do not appreciate. I do not appreciate his black, beady eyes; nor his pale, dirty, carrot-like tail that looks as though it was just plucked from the depths of the soil; nor his long fingers, which outstretch from entirely too human-like hands to grab trash and consume it as though it was a glorious roman feast. I do not appreciate you, fair possum! I shall rejoice when you dispatch forthwith from my homeland never to return again!

But, dear creature, you have lived, and you have loved, and you have tried so hard to establish a home for yourself and your children in this industrial wasteland of human excess. I acknowledge your dedication, I applaud your tenacity, I never hoped for your suffering. I truly never meant for you to meet this fate.

For whence you tried to cross the freeway off-ramp, perhaps to get slightly closer to the riches of cheese that awaited you in the Taco Bell parking lot, your struggle ended abruptly and I’m quite sure, painfully. The sight of your bloodied corpse from the window of my carriage did not bring me joy, sir. It did not bring me joy.

When I saw your desecrated body there upon the road again the next day, I was truly disgusted, though not with you or your kind. Disgusted by the sight of your entrails, and by the fact that you remained there for lo now 24 hours, uncared for. Un-buried. Un-dead in a sense. It brought me sadness. It caused me to reflect upon your struggle, and really all of our struggles. Who am I to judge you, god’s creature? Are we not the same? Are we all not engaged in a great struggle to survive and also sometimes to get to Taco Bell?

When in a fortnight your body still remained un-interred upon the barren off-ramp of the road known as the 170, I became concerned. Concerned for my city, uncaring to clean your surely diseased corpse from this intersection of human experience, this great crossroads of lives? I considered donning the costume of the gravedigger, lifting you with gloved hand into a strong sack and laying you to rest in a peaceful bin, but alas the danger was too great. I feared I would meet your same fate. So I did nothing. My child gazed upon you in wonder that you were no longer bloody, and had grown rather flat. What message was I sending her? Is life worthless? Is there any meaning in anything? Do we have no responsibilities? Don’t we owe even our filthy vermin enemies some dignity, some overarching kindness?

I posted a notice about you in the town square, hoping the criers would take up your cause! But the townspeople on nextdoor.com saw you as a symbol of everything wrong with our outpost; of disassociation from public services, a lack of caring, a sense of doom about the future. I removed myself from the town square before the hysteria grew too great. And still, you remained, growing flatter and grayer and sadder as the tides changed, the moons grew and shrank, even as the sun shaded over and eclipsed your memory. You slowly turned to dust, dear opossum, as we all must eventually.

Upon the fine morning of yester, I rose like any other morning and proceeded to dispatch my child to her place of education so as she could continue her studies in hopes of rising herself to a world not littered with the desiccated corpses of opossums. It hath been 12 moons now that we have seeked out and found your body with our eyes, it has become a light post to us, a signal that we are almost home, a fine point on the end of our daily voyage through the hills and desert to our family’s land.

But alas, yesterday you were not there! Our signposts have broken, our north star hath dimmed! What change! What monumental shift in the fabric of space and time! Let it be here known that upon Monday, the 18th of September, the year of our lord Two Thousand and Seventeen, you, dear opossum, valued friend, confidant of our deepest fears, gateway to the afterlife, were street-swept from the median and risen to the heavens, where you shall live out your days as a hero in our hearts!

My soul feels wiped clean! A new season is upon us! A new hope arises! From ashes we come, and to ashes you have returned. May you rise from them ever stronger! Godspeed, dear possum! Godspeed.

The image of the adorable possum is by Paul Canon, and can be purchased in print form here: Fine Art America.

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Perfect Instant Pot Chicken Broth

You have to try our Perfect Instant Pot Chicken Broth! You will never go back to store bought.Perfect Instant Pot Chicken Broth After a 5 days of my girls both requesting a can of chicken noodle soup in a thermos for lunch (bleech) I decided to try a homemade version. I knew that I could make homemade chicken broth pretty quickly in the Instant Pot but I had no idea how delicious it would be with a few personal tweaks. It is amazing! I start with this broth recipe and make a batch of the Best Chicken Noodle Soup Recipe once a week. I’ve even started eating it for breakfast. We are all addicted! With the help of an Electric Pressure Cooker, Perfect Instant Pot Chicken Broth from scratch doesn’t have to be an all day affair.  Perfect Instant Pot Chicken Broth

Read on for my Perfect Instant Pot Chicken Broth recipe… (more…)

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5 Ways to Win the Back-To-School Snacking Game

Special thanks to CLIF Kid & POPSUGAR for being a sponsor and providing Zbar Filled products for us to try. All opinions, ideas and content are my own.IMG_3169            While I’m pretty proud of my summer parenting, i.e. less gaming and videos, more biking and fort building, I let my healthy snack game slide a bit. It felt freeing to roll out of the house with three kids and not a care in the world (or cracker in my purse) but then I had to drop some $$ on a sno-cone or a fast food bite whenever anyone got parched or felt the ol’ hunger pains. Alas, all good-ish things must come to an end so I’m here to share a few of my new-school-year-resolutions. It’s time to focus more on the food that I put in these precious little baby birds of mine (who are shockingly starting 1st, 3rd, and 5th grade this year, what?)

IMG_3172Let’s talk about nourishing their busy little bodies and brains with nutritious snacks. I’ve never claimed to be a parenting expert, I’m winging it just like you, but I do have a few tricks that I use to give the little ones a full tummy and an alert mind as they roll between school pick-up, drama, soccer, scouts, and whatever else happens to be on our agenda. Maybe these are all common sense… or maybe they are crazy enough to work?!? Nah, they are all super easy ways to help kids stay happy and satisfied between the school bell and the dinner bell. (Now I want to buy a dinner bell.) (more…)

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Our Favorite Kid Stuff in 2017 (so far)

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It feels like Back-To-School has meant more time for at-home play this year. We still have a packed schedule of sports and other activities but the time that we do spend at the house has been filled with new craft projects, building projects, and imaginative play. I had started a list of cool stuff that people had sent for us to review along with fun items that we had found on our own, so I thought I would share it here just in case you are looking for the perfect birthday gift for a 6, 8, or 10 year old. I’ll warn you that our list is LEGO, Harry Potter, and “fashion design” heavy. These kids know what they like. Have your kids been obsessed with anything new lately? Please let us know what they are loving right now!

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Don’t laugh! The only things that matter in Gordon’s life right now are all things Harry Potter and LEGOS, oh and crystals. Does anyone know why a 6-yr-old may have recently become obsessed with crystals?

The illustrated editions of Sorcerer’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets were a magical introduction to the book series for my son Gordon who, gasp, had seen all of the movies first. I know, I know. We are really looking forward to Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: The Illustrated Edition which comes out in October. We already have a copy reserved.

On our summer vacation, we stopped at my sister’s house for a few days of horse back riding and eating giant slices of pizza. One morning included a few rounds of the Clue Harry Potter Board Game. I’ve always loved CLUE but playing a Harry Potter version just pushed it over the edge. We have one of these on our Christmas list.

These Harry Potter Paper Flyers have been great as Gordon is learning to follow written instructions. It’s a beautiful Klutz book filled with Harry Potter themed paper flyers to punch out, cut and fold. The illustrations are amazing and there is a ton of bonus content to read and enjoy. Highly recommend!

Folks stop us on the street to comment on Gordon’s Harry T-Shirt. The graphic designer in me loves the simple, iconic image.

The LEGO Creator 3-in-1 sets are some of our favorites. While it’s cool to display a LEGO set once complete, and even cooler to take it apart to make something from your own imagination, how perfect is it that you can use the instructions to build three total different things, like this Robot/Dog/Bird LEGO Creator Robo Explorer set.

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Moving on to my big girl Clare who is now solidly a tween. This basically means that you never know what you’re gonna get when you wake up in the morning. Exciting! She is dabbling in some big girl stuff but is also discovering that she now likes some toys that she has never been interested in before, like Barbies, what?

The Nokia Go is the perfect first step tracker. It’s simple to use, under $50, and doesn’t provide the distractions of a smart watch. It comes in a bunch of pretty colors and is also a basic watch.

We all joined in the rock painting craze this summer but Clare was really inspired by seeing beautiful examples in books like Art on the Rocks. It was fun for her to follow instructions and bring her artwork to a new technical level.

A love of creating doll fashions from single socks and scrap fabric has led to a love of Barbie Dolls. She recently spent a birthday gift card on this gorgeous The Look Barbie in a Sweater Dress. She seems to be the perfect doll for an older Barbie-lover.

This girl also loves Harry Potter and has a weird bet with her cousin that she will wear crazy socks every day this school year. I can’t wait to surprise her with their set of Harry Potter Houses Knee Socks. She also wears them to soccer!

Is your girl begging you for some color in her hair? We aren’t ready for permanent hues but we love to let her add some chalk to her goldie locks. These from Hair Flairs are some of our favs.

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And now for my sweet crafty 8-year-old Quinn. We have been finding the coolest crafty kits for her to do alone or with a little help from her mama.

Have you seethe new snow resort LEGO Friends sets? Our favorite is the LEGO Friends Snow Resort Chalet but they are all adorable and as much fun to play with as they are to put together. I love all of the thoughtful details included in this set. Both of the girls went crazy over all of the cuteness.

D.I.Y. Dollhouse is a lavishly illustrated guide for budding architects, builders, and designers, showing then how to build and furnish their own eco-friendly dollhouse! This sounds like the perfect book to inspire creative, cozy winter projects at home.

We have outgrown hair bows but these Hair flower clips look great in a cluster or alone. Get a whole rainbow of colors for under $20.

Given the girls new found love of sewing clothes for their dolls, these Fashion Designers Kits By Seedling which come in 2 versions; Inspired by New York and Inspired By Audrey Fashion. The kits come with everything you need to design and create beautiful fashion designs. The sets are beautifully put together and make a fantastic gift for any crafty kiddo.

This Robotime DIY Dollhouse greenhouse kit is a good project for a parent and kid to do together. The tiny details are wonderful and I can’t wait to surprise Quinn with one of these this holiday season. It will be really fun to have some quality time creating this little magical wonderland.

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Elotes Popsicle Recipe (Spicy Sweet Corn & Lime)

Everybody loves elotes. If you haven’t had Mexican sweet corn grilled and loaded up with chili, lime, and cheese you need to get on it! It’s amazing! Elotes Sweet Corn Popsicle Recipe I make a salad version of it, the recipe is here. September is pretty much the sweetest time to grab some fresh sweet corn, so do that, and make these pops for the final hot days ahead. It takes a little time, but is so worth it. I make a simple sweet corn popsicle often, and even though it sounds a bit odd, it is one of my most favorite pop recipes (and as you can see here, I love pop recipes).

This time around I added some lime zest and juice, and topped them off with some Tajin, which is a lime-chili-salt seasoning we find in LA (the best is fruit vendors who slice your fruit and generously sprinkle it with Tajin right on the street on a hot summer afternoon). All in all this corn popsicle is a little sweet, a little salty, a little spicy, and a lot amazing. Elotes Sweet Corn Popsicle RecipeGo ahead, give your mouth a treat with my Elotes Sweet Corn Popsicle Recipe, after the jump… (more…)

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Painted Fireplace Before & After

Welp, I did it. I painted my fireplace. In my mid-century modern home (lots of pics from before we moved in here). This is fairly controversial, especially in a period home like mine, but I did it. What do you think? Fireplace After Before I painted the fireplace, I did check with a few experts to see if it was important period masonry (it wasn’t) or if the brick was valuable (it’s not). This was boring red brick that wasn’t aged or interesting, but was dirty and I felt like it was dragging the living room down. The carpet also contributes to that, but one thing at a time. One day it just came over me, that it had to be done. I used a masonry primer, then several coats of white paint (the same white as my walls), then some caulking to fill in holes between the brick and the wall. I have to say I’m happy with it. Of course, now I just want to remove the drop ceiling and tear up the carpet, but I’m taking it month by month. Sometimes I wonder if I did the right thing, I’d like your opinion. Here are the before and after shots…
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Before:Fireplace Before After:Painted Fireplace After What do you think?

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