last christmas

Last Christmas, he saw snow for the first time:

He was almost one year old, and his perfect, almond-shaped brown eyes cut right to my heart:

Like true desert-dwellers, we overdressed:

The snow diffused the sounds, and the lights:

And he (barely) tolerated the striped cap we made him wear. He ripped it off not long after this photo was snapped:

This year, we're staying home. Instead of a picturesque Midwest Christmas, we'll sit by the fire on my parent's back patio, eat tamales, menudo, salsa, flautas and leftover birthday cake, and enjoy the crisp night air. Someone will probably wear flip-flops to dinner, and my brother and I will strike a few ninja poses for the camera. We always do.

Thanks for being a part of my life and always leaving such encouraging and kind comments. I know most people are taking a blog break next week, but I'm hoping to keep my blogging momentum going (4 posts in this month so far! Must be a record for me) and power through the final chapter of Isaac's birth story.

Merry Christmas!

i've got my love to keep me warm

Today is my birthday. I've got two cute men by my side. What more could a girl ask for?

Tonight we're going out for Thai food, then coming back to our place for cake + ice cream + presents. It's the one day out of the year that everyone in my family comes over to our apartment. We're always squished and cramped and sitting on the floor, but I love it. It's going to be a great night!

[Photos by Scott Foust, taken December 2010]

Anatomy of the DIY Gift Wrap: Budget Edition

Is it just me, or do DIY crafts always seem to end up being more expensive than if you went and bought it pre-made at the store? I have such limited space in my home (my bath towels share a shelf with the tool set) that it's impossible for me to stockpile a useful stash of materials. As much as I'd like to, I really can't hold onto old sweaters in the hopes that one day I'll rip them up and use the fabric as decorative accent on gift wrap. Where would I keep them - in my crockpot? It's just not practical right now.

And let's not forget that all that pretty DIY takes a fair amount of time, which is not abundant in the life of a toddler mom/small business owner/wife/wannabe writer.  It takes even more time when you are not naturally design-y (not a word, I know) as well as an indecisive perfectionist. Translation: I'm very good at wasting time on unimportant details because I don't know what I am doing.

So when I get the urge to do something homemade -- fairly frequently, thanks to all the amazing, creative bloggers out there -- I usually end up with a diminished bank account and a discouraged spirit.

I promised that I wouldn't do that to myself this Christmas, despite being completely taken by Summer's luxurious monochromatic gift wrap and Sally's more modern, gilded take and wishing I could create something similar.

I reached into the the closet, pulled out the old, gaudy, drugstore bargain-bin rolls of wrapping paper and forgot about it.


When we opened the three small boxes that store our Christmas decorations, out tumbled a few rolls of wide, shimmery gold metallic ribbon and some tiny, round, gold ornaments. They used to adorn my small, college-apartment Christmas tree, but have sat unused in the box since then.

It gave me a little idea. So I started scrounging deeper - in the Christmas boxes, in the kitchen, in my closet. Here's what I found:

White Yarn
Tiny Gold Ornaments
Wide Gold Ribbon
Skinny Gold + Silver Ribbon
Miscellaneous Buttons
Roll of White Paper

(FYI: The white paper is from my son's art easel that we bought at IKEA. It's the MALA paper, and I'm officially in love with it. Go get a roll. It's heavy and perfect for wrapping).

I decided to try to make some pretty packaging with those items, plus these things from the clearance aisle at Michaels & JoAnn Fabric:

Sheer Ivory Ribbon - .75 cents
1 Yard of Burlap - $3.00
Glitter Leaves - .49 cents
Glitter Gift Bag (to make tags)- $1.29

Total Cost: $5.53

Here's what I ended up with. 

Not bad for under six bucks, if you don't mind me saying so. I'm glad I didn't let my need for perfection stop me from at least trying. It feels simple, but special. Isn't that what do-it-yourself is all about, anyway?

love in details

Years from now, I'll remember that sweet head of baby fine blonde hair. But I might forget the way the wind swept it up into a tiny golden tornado that day.

We have lots of photos of Isaac - an overwhelming number, thanks to the unholy trinity of photography, first-time parenting and digital cameras.

They're all special to me, but I have a soft spot for the details. Someday, when I'm old and he's grown - I know they will bring me a lot of joy. They already do.