What We’ve Been Up To

Prudent Wishlist 2016: For Dudes!

1. “This color-coded chart traces the trajectories of every orbiter, lander, rover, flyby, and impactor to ever slip the surly bonds of Earth’s orbit and successfully complete its mission.” Umm, that’s amazing. Get The Chart of Cosmic Exploration and many other fabulous dude-gifts at popchartlab.com. 2. Sneakers meet duck boots. Perfect for dudes in colder… Read more »

Christmas, December, Entertaining + Food, Gifts, Hot Mess Mommy, Style

Marshmallow Gidget Cookies

We are in cozy holiday mode over here, which involves lots of movie nights. I LOVE IT! Since The Secret Life of Pets comes out today on Blu-ray & DVD (the new release comes with close to an hour of bonus footage PLUS 3 Mini Movies, eeep!) we couldn’t help but set up a fancy… Read more »

Desserts, Desserts, Party Themes, Sugar Arts

Prudent Wishlist 2016: For Dudes!

Prudent Wishlist 2016 For Dudes1. “This color-coded chart traces the trajectories of every orbiter, lander, rover, flyby, and impactor to ever slip the surly bonds of Earth’s orbit and successfully complete its mission.” Umm, that’s amazing. Get The Chart of Cosmic Exploration and many other fabulous dude-gifts at popchartlab.com.
2. Sneakers meet duck boots. Perfect for dudes in colder climates, from Vans.
3. This little gadget makes cold brew coffee. It doesn’t seem that exciting, but I gave one to Carleton last father’s day on my friend Wendy’s advice, and it is his most-used gift I ever gave him. He makes us a new batch every Sunday, and it’s amazing because it is so concentrated, but without the bitterness. If your dude is into coffee, get him the Toddy Cold Brew Coffee Maker.
4. If your dude likes to dress it up a bit, but is also generally down-to-earth, then we see a tweed sport coat from Orvis in his future.
5. So I got Carleton a Stanley Flask many moons ago. He liked that. Then I got him the Stanley thermos. He also liked that. Then Stanley came out with their new travel mugs, so I got him one of those. He promptly threw away every other travel mug we owned and replaced them all with these. They. Are. Good.: Stanley Classic One Hand Vacuum Mug. For extra coolness, always choose the Hammertone Green color.
6. I don’t really know what a Google Home does, but Carleton is way into it. Maybe your dude will be, too?
7. So I got one of these and spit into it (so much, like so much spit) and sent it off. I will share my results when I get them in six to eight weeks. It will be especially interesting due to my recently-discovered adopted status, but I think any dude would be fascinated to see their DNA sequenced? Geno 2.0 Next Generation from Helix and National Geographic will be a cool gift that you’ll all be talking about way into summer.
8. You guys know that I get something ridiculous for Carleton every year, right? It’s become a family tradition, we all wait to see what it is and how hard he will laugh. This year, it’s this. Make sure you also grab some helium from Michael’s if you want to see it in action on Christmas day.
9. If your dude likes beer, then he will like this: BottleKeeper.
10. And my final recommendation is a fun stocking stuffer. Like even if you don’t camp, your dude will feel like a prepared man if he has one of these in his glove compartment. It allows you to drink out of any nasty puddle you come across, all filtered and clean: LifeStraw Personal Water Filter

So, what are y’all getting for the dudes on your list this year?


Best Friends Forever

Beloved Friends There are some friends of ours that I’d like you to meet. They are Scarlet’s BFFs. They smell just like her. They sleep with her every night. She makes them little houses and carrying cases out of every cardboard box that arrives, they each have their own voice, and without them she would be unable to sleep a single wink. Please meet Haunny, Buffy, and Fluff. haunnybuffyandfluff Haunny came to us many years ago, along with a book about Hannukah. Scarlet called her Hanukkah Bear, and eventually the name was shortened to Haunny. Haunny once disappeared, it was a TRAVESTY of mythical proportions. There was no sleep, no peace, no comfort while Haunny was gone. But then we came home from school one day and Haunny was sitting on our front porch with a note saying he was sorry he left abruptly, but he had to go take a trip, and was thankful to finally be home. You can imagine how that happened.. and it worked ;).
Buffy is from the annual South Dakota buffalo round up. Of all the trips I have taken all over the world, and all the little treats I have brought home for Scarlet, I never would have imagined that a stuffed buffalo from South Dakota would end up being her very favorite possession. Buffy is the leader of this group, the toy she takes to a slumber party (“Mom, I know lots of kids sleep with stuffed animals, but they usually don’t sleep with three! Can you cuddle Haunny and Fluff while we are gone?”) and the first one she picks up in the morning. Buffy is a snuggly embodiment of Scarlet’s very heart, and also Buffy has never been washed. Fluff is the most recent addition, who came to us via a birthday delivery of balloons from my sister and her wife. One of his arms is always stuck up in the air as though holding a balloon or giving a very meaningful speech. I don’t know how Fluff made it to the highest tier of Scarlet’s stuffed animal friends, but I suspect it is because Fluff is very, very soft. Do not refer to Fluff as “Fluffy,” he does not like that. Photo platesAs you can see, Haunny, Buff, and Fluff have been well loved. I have started enjoying taking portraits of them. For me, they have very real personalities that come through in their photos. I know their voices, their thoughts, and their places in Scarlet’s heart. So when CVS invited us to create a photo gift I knew I had to put their sweet faces on something, and after much deliberation over their photo gift options, I chose plates. We can hang them as decor in her room, and she can also serve her babies from them at her tea parties. cvs-plate-5-6 She loves them. The animals and the plates. Fluff You can order a porcelein photo plate from CVS.com/photo. Where you find the stuffed love of your little one’s life, that’s a something only your child will know. Fluff It’s pretty silly, but pretty cute, right? Anything for a smile like this one. CVS Photo Plates
Disclosure: I’m proud to partner with CVS Pharmacy for the Bring Holidays to Life campaign. I am being sponsored by CVS Pharmacy for my posts and activities, but all opinions expressed are my own, and all product claims or program details shared should be verified at CVS.com or with the appropriate manufacturers.


Prudent Wishlist 2016: For Kids!

Prudent Wishlist for Kids 2016 Scarlet’s wishlist for this year includes and iPhone and a hoverboard. Sorry, Scarlet. But here are some other fun things she has suggested that might just show up under the tree.

Playing Mexican Train Dominoes has become a holiday tradition for Jacinda, especially now that her youngest has discovered it. I think Scarlet will love it.

Every girl should have a subscription to Kazoo Magazine.

Have you played with one of these yet? It’s SO SATISFYING to push the sequins up and down. Scarlet has been begging for one: Reversible Sequin Pillow Cases.

These are the best pencils for any kid (or adult) who loves to color: Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils.

This DIY kit is fun to make and seriously so cute: Seedling Design Your Own Enchanted Flower Rose Crown.

All of the Handmade Charlotte Creativity Kits for Kids at Michael’s are awesome. We like this “adopt a cactus” one especially.

Kids can make ice cream in this! And you can eat it: Chef’n Sweet Spot Instant Ice Cream Maker!

Scarlet asked for this, and once I saw it I had to get it for every kid on my list. You tear out the pages and do what they say “float this page” etc.:Wreck This Journal.

These training chopsticks are a great stocking stuffer. Scarlet picked them out for her cousins. Chimpsticks Hinged Chopsticks

I cannot wait to see my little nephew snuggled up in this: Blankie Tails Shark Blanket, Gray and Deep Blue. There’s a mermaid tail version which may have also made it’s way under the tree.

So, what are you getting the littles on your list this year?


Holiday Traditions and School Pictures

School Picture OrnamentsHoliday traditions and school pictures: two of my favorite things! Also, Scarlet is my most favorite thing. Like any parent, I see her school pictures and I just go SQUEEEEEEEEE. Here she is from Pre-K through to now, in third grade. We’ve been getting the house all decorated for Christmas and Hanukkah (at the same time this year!) so of course I had to order her school picture ornament from CVS.com/photo. I do this every year, and every year it brings me such joy. School Photo Ornaments It also brings Scarlet joy. While she hangs them on the tree she will talk about her Kindergarten teacher or her favorite book from second grade. It’s so cute. Look at that proud face. Happy Scarlet I like the round porcelain ornament, though they also have glass and wood which are nice. I make them on the CVS site, it only takes a couple minutes, then I usually pick them up in store (though I had it delivered this year, and that worked out great). When CVS asked us to share how we use photos for holiday traditions, it just made sense because I already do this! I also order a bunch of gifts for my in-laws and my parents. My mom loved getting photo gifts of Scarlet, when she died we laughed at how many coasters and canvases and magnets she had of her only grandchild all over her house. It’s really the best gift for a loving grandparent, I think.

CVS also did a survey, and asked us to share some statistics: A recent survey from Harris Poll on behalf of CVS Photo found that 3 in 4 adults (75%) indicate thoughtful gifts are the best to receive followed by personalized gifts at 52%. Nearly 2 in 3 adults have also created a photo gift. So, I guess other people like to put photos on stuff too. School Picture OrnamentsIf you love your kid’s school pictures as much as I do, I highly recommend making them into ornaments. It just adds one more layer of nostalgia to the holidays. I look forward to having 14 of these by the time she heads off to college! I might make her pose for a “school photo” every year for the rest of her life. And by “might,” I mean “will.”

Disclosure: I’m proud to partner with CVS Pharmacy for the Bring Holidays to Life campaign. I am being sponsored by CVS Pharmacy for my posts and activities, but all opinions expressed are my own, and all product claims or program details shared should be verified at CVS.com or with the appropriate manufacturers.


Marshmallow Gidget Cookies


We are in cozy holiday mode over here, which involves lots of movie nights. I LOVE IT! Since The Secret Life of Pets comes out today on Blu-ray & DVD (the new release comes with close to an hour of bonus footage PLUS 3 Mini Movies, eeep!) we couldn’t help but set up a fancy little snack table inspired by our sponsor Universal Pictures Home Entertainment and my favorite character from the movie, Gidget.


Gidget is a white fluff ball of a pup with a pink bow and a heart as big as New York City. I just love how brave and determined she is to find Max. It warms my soul. It’s so fun to fantasize about what our pets do when we aren’t home. I doubt their adventures are quite this exciting.


The highlight of our spread was pretty, pretty marshmallow cookies that are simple to put together, darling to look at, and a delight to nosh on. Read on for the simple no-bake instructions plus more ideas for a cute “Pets”-themed party. And yes those are malt milk balls in a kitty bowl. The kids are cracking up. And a little scared.


From the humans behind Despicable Me, The Secret Life of Pets is a comedy about the lives our pets lead after we leave for work or school each day. The all-star voice cast includes Louis C.K., Eric Stonestreet, Kevin Hart, Jenny Slate, Ellie Kemper, Lake Bell, Dana Carvey, Hannibal Buress, Bobby Moynihan, Steve Coogan and Albert Brooks.



All The Wreaths You Could Make This Week

Take some stuff and make it circular, and voila, it’s holiday decor. We love wreaths. They serve no actual purpose, but are festive and joyful. They make me smile and also make me want to craft. Here’s some of our favorite DIY wreath projects from years past…
DIY Jingle Bell Wreath, bonus, it makes a happy sound when guests come over. DIY Jingle Bell Wreath

You need virtually no DIY skills to make this Ribbon Wreath, and it’s so pretty! diy-ribbon-wreath

This fun wreath Jacinda made was featured in All You magazine. I love the surprise of upcycling yogurt cups to make it. A fun one to paint with the littles. diy upcycled yogurt cup wreath

One of our most popular posts ever, this DIY Living Succulent Wreath is sure to amaze and can last forever.diy-succulent-wreath You can also follow our tute for making a living succulent tree.

If you can crochet just a little bit, you can make a Crochet Wreath. Jacinda made two and they’re both so fun. diy-crochet-wreath-1 diy-crochet-wreath-2

And just for fun, make a salad wreath at your holiday party. The kids will love it.DIY Salad Wreath


No More Nursery: A Boy’s Bedroom Makeover


Now that Gordon is a big Kindergartener, our nursery days are over. I’m cool with it. He still gives me some pretty amazing hugs. Welp. Ok, back to that nursery. We recently ditched the toddler bed, moved our queen bed into his room, and upgraded ours to a King. Now he will have a bed he can stay in for as long as he is here. It can be forever. I’m totally ok with that. Now it is time to round out the room with toy storage, a nightstand and some lighting! We’ve partnered with our longtime friends at Lamps Plus, to help us furnish and illuminate the room with their gorgeous products. While the inspiration board above might not look like the bedroom of a 5 year old, that is my goal. I want this to be a room that he can live in for as long as he lives here. Read on for all of the details… (more…)


The Real Story of How Our Pets Went to the “Farm Upstate”

chickens-17 If you follow us on Facebook or Instagram, then you may have heard the tragic tale of the prudent chickens. We had our seven chickens for about three years. We loved them. We got two of them as pullets, hatched one of them ourselves, and got the other four as baby chicks in the mail. You can see our life with them at the #prudentchickens hashtag. It was filled with strawberries, eggs, and lazy days in the grass. It was good. Scarlet and Pippi We adored our feathered friends. When we moved to our new house, they were freaking out at night, so much squawking and shuffling. We thought maybe it was because they were in a new place. We were wrong. We awoke one morning a few weeks after moving in to two brutally murdered pets torn apart on our deck. We aren’t sure what animal did this, but there have been coyote sightings in the neighborhood. We definitely have a possum problem, as our gardeners found two dead possum corpses in our yard recently. Regardless, we had to accept that we couldn’t keep the chickens safe in our new neighborhood, which is closer to the mountains and more rich in wild animals then our previous home. chickens So, on that fateful morning, we talked to Scarlet (who luckily did not see the gory bloodbath) about what we should do. We knew that if we didn’t find a new home for the five remaining chickens, that whatever animal had killed the first two would be back, and probably that very night. Scarlet was emotional, but knew that the best thing would be to find a new home for them. So as I drove her to school, knowing she would probably not see them again, she asked me for only one thing: “Mom, whatever you do, please don’t tell me that you sent them to a farm upstate. I saw it on a TV show and I know that’s just a thing parents tell their children when their pets are dead.” I assured her I would not tell her such a lie. chickens-2 So, I dropped her at school, cried some of my own tears, and got on the phone. I called the humane society, I called local feed stores, I posted on chicken message boards, and I waited for replies. The local LA animal shelter said they would take our chickens, but could not guarantee they would be adopted (we do live in Los Angeles after all, not a lot of chicken owners here). The chicken groups all offered to reach out to their friends, but most people who want chickens around here already have them, and introducing a new flock is a fraught situation, as anyone who has ever owned chickens would understand. Then, when I had just about given up hope and was picturing another night of nerves and morning of blood and gore, I got a return call. chickens-7

That call came from an organization called Farm Sanctuary. This is a national charity that rescues farm animals. They have a small farm in Acton, CA about an hour or two from my house. They said I could bring my girls there right away. I packed them up in a dog crate, put them in my trunk, and hit the road. The only catch? Their Acton farm was full, and the birds would be transferred to their bigger farm… upstate.

This sounded perfect to me! And it was, I am so grateful for this organization. The real problem? Explaning to Scarlet that I sent her pets to a farm upstate and I WAS TELLING THE TRUTH. She believed me, but I know in her heart she wasn’t sure. chickens-8

Well, the amazing women at Farm Sanctuary not only rescued our hens from certain death, they also helped prove to my daughter that I am an honest woman. This Thanksgiving week we drove up to visit our family in the Sacramento area, and took a day to drive the couple hours North to the Farm Sanctuary in Orland, CA to visit our sweet birds. What a magical place it is! chickens-17

All five of them were there, happy and thriving, in a magical, beautiful hen house on acres of rolling hills that is really a chicken’s dream come true. I could never have made them such a beautiful home. They will live out their lives as a flock with everything they need. They even got to keep their names. So Queen Singalong Ice Cream, Pippi, Fluffy, Marble, and Zebra are living the good life (R.I.P. Love Traveler and Lemon). chickens-3chickens-2chickens-4chickens-1
The farmers at the sanctuary know the name of every animal there. And we are talking a flock of 30 white ducks, each with their own name and personality. Along with cows, chickens-16 goats,chickens-15 sheep,chickens-13pigs,chickens-9 and their favorite, turkeys (After meeting their turkeys, I can say I have a new appreciation for this animal. They were like puppies, running over for pets and kisses). chickens-11 Thank you so much Farm Sanctuary for giving our girls the home they deserve that we couldn’t provide. And thank you for allowing my daughter and I to visit them. They couldn’t be happier, and neither could we.chickens-6
I donated to Farm Sanctuary. If this story touches your heart, I hope you will too. Learn how to donate to their efforts here: FarmSanctuary.org, and how to tour a farm near you here.