Vanna White Potential???

As promised, the start of my bargain shopping finds.

"Obsessed with bargain shopping" should seriously become my middle name. Or, at least for awhile until I get over this hump. We moved into our house back in November and gained two extra rooms and tons of extra space. What does and what did that mean? More decorating for me. Now, a stay at home mom living off one income and needing to fill the walls to make our house a home. Thus, the reason to bargain shop.

I've always know about Vanna White.

But did not always know that my daughter enjoys posing like Vanna, in a model like fashion.

Wheel of Fortune definitely did not show clocks on their show, but, after I found this beauty at goodwill the other day I felt like I had won a fortune and spun the wheel saying, "BARGAIN! Must buy me."

So, of course, a picture of Ms. A showing off my new find, which is now beautifully hanging in our kitchen eating area.

And, I must add, it was brand new, still in the box. You can start drooling now.


Say your Prayers

If you are the type that will say a prayer or two, this blogging family needs all they can get. I've been following this blog [thanks to Leah :)] and definitely have learned more about SVT and heart conditions than I ever thought I would.

And, I guess now that I'm a momma, I can emphathize on a different level than I used to ... with other moms and what they go through with their children.

Have I been through anything like MckMama, nope. But have I had my fair share of moments with A that have sent my heart racing through the roof. Most definitely. The time she stopped breathing around 2-months-old. Was completely lifeless, limp, cold, and turning blue. Again around 11-months-old when she began vomiting all throughout the night with severe diarrhea and could not keep anything in her stomach for almost a week. My list of "scares" could go on and on.

But, it's not me that needs to be thought of right now. It's MckMama and families like hers.

Prayers for Stellan


Backyard Bliss, Backyard Beauty & Some Spray

Moving into a new house can be thrilling and exciting, especially when you have a garden in your backyard full of new surprises all the time. The old owners must have put some serious thought and effort into this landscaping because we have had flowers blooming all throughout the summer season. For example, as the peonies wilted away, the roses began to bloom. As the roses continued to flourish, the lilies began to sprout. Absolutely stunning. A few similar comments can also be found here, but the flowers are truly too good to be true.

To my wonder and amazement, I have new flowers once again. Too beautiful not to share. However, this time I'm also adding one of my new "spray paint" projects. Just a teaser into some of the bigger projects, which I have completed, just have not had time to post.

I always dreamed of having a backyard full of hydrangeas. Big, beautiful flowers - full of life and color. Just like peonies, you can add three stems to a vase and have a huge arrangement because of their size. And, do not forget about the white dahlias.

And, what a better way to display flowers than with a recently modified vase. :) The vase started out like this ...

And, although this arrangement definitely topped the list on "longest lasting bouquet ever" and was truly stunning ... what was I ever going to do with a pink vase again? This was one of the bouquets we received when Ms. A was born. Maybe add it as decor to a girls room. But, really? How could I reuse this vase on a regular basis.

How? Spray paint! I thought black would be a versatile color for our kitchen table and living room centerpieces. The white dahlias in our backyard were the perfect combination. Or shall I say, I think they are dahlias. (Yes, I'm still learning about flowers and how to be my own backyard arborist).

And, how did I do it? I simply just spray painted the vase. No buffing, no sanding - just 97 cent spray paint from Home Depot in the satin finish. I used cardboard boxes as my barrier to keep the spray paint from attacking the garage floor. Then, I started spraying and made this finished product.

Now, my vase is more functional, stylist - and most importantly - was free. I already had the vase and I already had the paint. Perfect-O! Another project crossed off my list. And, most importantly, a new fun vase for my freshly cut flowers straight from my own backyard. Now that is bliss. And, beauty, too. Backyard beauty and a little spray makes for the perfect centerpiece combination. Absolutely beautiful.


Jamison Square

Jamison Square Park. Maybe I liked this park because of the name similarities. Maybe I liked this park because it was in this part of Portland. Or, maybe I enjoyed this park because Ms. A had an afternoon play date.

Regardless, it is always great to get away from Vancouver and experience a few of Portland's fine treasures and gems. And if you did not know, Jamison Square Park was named as one of the hot spots on Bugaboo's website for day trips. For Portland to be highlighted among some of the other elite cities across the world is phenomenal, and to be able to share in some of these experiences with my daughter is absolutely wonderful as well. Now, we'll have to work on getting Vancouver added to this list.

In regards to the park, the focal point of the park is a fountain which simulates a shallow tidal pool. The tide comes in and goes back out, which is completely fun for little ones. Plus, if you have bigger kids they can play in the "deep" (ankle/knee height) and little ones can splash in the puddles. Plus, how can you resist the fabulous shopping, boutiques and restaurants surrounding in the Pearl District. You simply cannot.

And, after seeing such a fun park and enjoying our afternoon ... you probably could only imagine that little A was more interested in the leaves on the ground than the water from the fountain. We could have been in our own backyard for all she knew. Toddlers. That will have to be saved for another post at another time. At least we had fun. Or shall I say, at least I had fun.


Hunting & Spray Paint?

I don't mean the kind of hunting you do with a rifle in hand in the woods ... I'm talking about bargain hunting for items for your house. Yes, this is my new found obsession. Checking out garage sales, goodwill, home goods, etc to find that perfect item. And for the locals, I usually bargain hunt at the Goodwill on 164th and the Home Goods in Cascade Station.

And, better yet, most bargain items can "come back to life" with a simple coat of spray paint. Haha, yup, you heard me. Spray paint. I also do not mean the 6 dollars a can spray paint either. Just the dollar paint (if you are using black or white) and 3 dollar can if you are using brown or other colors.

A few of my works in progress ... turning my already current baskets in my laundry room to an espresso color. My goodwill finds? A $4.99 chair and a set of bookends for our bookcase

You should see my garage right now. Cardboard boxes layered on the floor surrounded by freshly painted bargain finds. Just ask my husband.

Stay tuned for the finished results.

Somehow I have to find a reason NOT to go to the bargain stores on a weekly basis.


hot, Hot, HOt, HOT

"Ole ole - ole ole, Ole ole - ole ole ... Feeling hot hot hot!" sung to the lyrics

Yes, that's exactly how the Chef Family feels today. And yesterday. And tomorrow. And we probably felt that way the day before yesterday too. It's so HOT! But, it's also beautiful. I am thankful that after some fresh air and sunshine I am able to go inside to a nice cold air conditioned house. I am not sure how I would make it with a little one and no air conditioning.

To enjoy the warm weather and meet up with good friends, we headed to downtown Portland for an adventure. What was supposed to be an enjoyable picnic at the park turned out to be one wet 'n wild afternoon. I did not think Ms. A would be as adventurous as she was and play in the splash pond, but little did I know ...

Dry ...

Extremely soaked ...

And everything in between.

I was lucky to have a change of clothes and a towel in my diaper bag. I was definitely not expecting her bravery. We cooled down and felt very refreshed. Maybe the sous Chef (myself) enjoyed a little bit of the splash pond as well. Just maybe.

We wrapped up our park visit and headed to the nearest Starbucks to finish cooling off. What a better way to enjoy an afternoon than with a iced skinny vanilla latte in hand and meeting with some of our favorite friends from Chicago.

But yes, let me remember, it is still hot, hot, hot. Maybe the Chef Family will try out this park again this weekend.


Natural Bug Repellent

Michigan is known to be bug central - flies, mosquitoes, etc. Yuck - especially with a little one. Because bug spray is a no-no for kids that age, I was on the hunt for something called "geranium bracelets" that work as a natural bug repellent. I did not find the bracelets, but did find something else. A yellow bug repellent band from one of the local Rite-Aids. Worked like a charm AND Ms. A kept them on whenever we needed to use them. They were only about $1 and once opened from the bag they work for 200 hours. Definitely worth every penny as long as you are willing to smell citronella and whatever other scents the bracelets included. If only I could remember the name!

Yellow bands around arms are bug repellent bracelets!



Summer is about fun and splendor and a fabulous break. My almost three week stint away from WA was very well needed and fit all of my qualifications for a fabulous vacation. My trip started off in Chicago, IL for my sisters bachelorette party. Besides being almost 90 degrees and 100 percent humidity, the weekend was a blast. I spent plenty of time shopping on Michigan Avenue, yes I need to highlight that one, and then spent the rest of the weekend with my sisters friends and enjoying the bachelorette party and trolley bar crawl. Here is a view of downtown Chicago from my sister's fabulous pad!

And, since little A thought she missed out on the fun ... she decided to make up for lost time. HAHA. She is very into "accessories" these days and loves to add as much bling as she can. She carries a purse around and loves necklaces. Well, here's what she decided to do after I came back from Chicago. She through a party of her own.

Then, we headed to my parents cottage on Lake Huron for some relaxation.

After a wonderful 4th of July in Alpena and on Lake Huron, it was back to the other side of MI - the Lake Michigan side - for another enjoyable week. More time with family and friends - and even a Sheryl Crow concert - was about all my week consisted of. The Chef Family swam almost everyday, managed to play golf and relaxed.

Chubby cuteness in a little coat. Just check out that stomach. Too adorable not to take a picture. haha.

Little Ms. A LOVED being on the golf course. She would clap and cheer when she put the balls in the hole.

I had to post this picture of Lake Huron and the beach. Not everyone realizes the beauty of the Great Lakes and surely doesn't enjoy it until they have witnessed the beauty themselves. Truly magnificent.

1st Haircut

Baby curls and wispy hairs are no longer (just minimal) on the head of Ms. A. I broke down and had her haircut on Saturday while still vacationing in Michigan. Her hair was starting to get very stringy at the ends and was in need of a little reshaping. And, I decided I would forgo the normal "kiddie salon" with princess and race car chairs and I opted for a real salon and a real hair-do rather than a straight across the back cut. With Ms. A in training to be a flower girl, I wanted a cute little girl haircut that would suit her for the summer as well as for the wedding.

So ... thanks to Glamazon Artistic Hair Culture in Muskegon, MI and our families favorite stylist, she now has a cute, layered bob similar to Suri Cruise when she was younger - minus the bangs - they are growing out and doing quite well I might add.

My little baby is turning into a little girl.