File this under: "Things That Bring Happiness to Your Life:"
I love flowers, all kinds of flowers, and I love to have them everywhere in the house. They are not something I have ever bought regularly--usually with my market budget, I'd rather spend the money on things we can eat, but when I am feeling flush, (and when my favorite peonies are in season) I buy flowers. Then I bring them home and wonder why I don't buy them more (or just grow pots and pots of them on my patio).
I also love to send flowers for birthdays and holidays. I've sent Thanksgiving centerpieces to family and friends or cute arrangements that friends can place on their buffets for their holiday open houses...I love to send as much as I love to receive. Who doesn't love flowers
Recently I was contacted by floral company Jackmans.com. This small floral company has been around since 1908 and I can personally attest to the fact that their bouquets are beautiful. They generously sent me two bouquets (free of charge) last weekend for my 40th birthday—one dramatic, one very sweet and cheery—and a week later, they still look really nice.
I wanted to wait a week before writing about them because sometimes delivered arrangements can start to look sad after a few days, but not these. Definitely not. They look wonderful. The local florist they used to fulfill the order used impeccably fresh flowers that still look perky 7 days later. (And a bonus for me, the florist just happened to be the same one we used for our wedding.) I wouldn't be gushing if the flowers weren't impeccable (said Ms. Pickypants), but don't take my word for it:
If you'd like to order some plants or flowers, use coupon code "BLOGGER" for 15% off delivery anywhere in North America. Enjoy!
I'm not buying, just coveting. Okay, I did buy the oil cloth because it was cheap! I'm headed out of town on an girls'-only antiquing (and wine drinking) trip this weekend so I am resisting the Etsy siren song. I'll be sure to share if I see anything good.
I'd just like to take a moment and thank my dear friend Bad Kitty for hooking me up with the PR person in charge of promoting the Karaoke Channel.
Bad Kitty knows what a mayjah role karaoke plays in my life because I've dragged her from one seedy karaoke bar to another across Hawaii and California in pursuit of thick song books and not too much reverb. Plus, she is married to Chief, someone who also has the k-bug. We can't explain it. Put the two of us together in front of a video screen scrolling the lyrics to "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around" or "You Don't Bring Me Flowers," and well, we shut it down, people. If I ever need money, I'm going to turn professional and go on the road with Chief. Bad Kitty will be our stylist because she has the best fashion sense of anyone I know.
So that is why, ever since I first typed karaokechannel.com into my browser, I have been a non-stop sangin' fool. From Ambrosia to One Republic to the Little River Band to Adele to Expose, it's been an almost 24 hour karaoke party. At my desk.
There are so manyterrificback-to-school (heh) guides out now that there's no sense trying to reinvent the wheel. I just thought I'd share a handful of things that make my life easier (and my kids happier) now that school's about to start.
Jelly Headbands. Easy for my 6-year-old to put on herself (after she brushes her own hair) and comfortable enough to wear all day. Her hair is wild and straw-like from all the swimming she's done this summer, but at least it's out of her face. Locally I source them at Honeys and Heroes. (My mom thinks it's a terrible name for a store, and yeah, okay, it is, but I prefer to think of the girls as the "heroes." They have a colorful selection of jelly headbands.)
Vans. Until my kids can tie their own laces (we're working on it), I refuse to put them in lace-up shoes. They wear slip-on tennies and Vans fit the bill. The shoes are well-made, the styles are abundant, and the price is right. To keep them clean, I give them a good spraying with moisture-/dirt-repellent spray before the first wearing.
This folks at ThisNext asked me to share some of my favorite things and they created a snazzy recommendation list for me. Here are my faves they are looking a lot prettier than just the URLs I supplied them with. I've gone in and added more favorites (and the cute little stickers), so I know it's not hard to do. If you like stuff—and you like to recommend things to friends and family(I love hearing recommendations as much as giving them) you'll have fun playing around with ThisNext.
Edited to add: I wrote this out in case it helps those who are looking for a digital SLR (for hobbies) to make a decision. Definitely scan your local paper, esp. the Sunday section for deals. Often, they are as cheap as anything found online. Today's Sunday paper had ads for several digital SLR deals including the Canon Rebel and Sony (both with two lenses), but my price was still better. People are often wedded to a particular brand of camera because it's a brand they already own. In my case, that was true, but I approached the process with an open mind. Sony is new to the SLR game, but is a respected electronics brand in its own right. My camera has many bells/whistles only offered on more expensive Canons or Nikons but without the steep price. Since they are new, Sony has to be competitive, and that's great for the consumer.
So after much agonizing (and, by the way, thanks to everyone who commented with suggestions) I finally got my digital SLR camera. A Sony A100. Happy Mother's Day to me!
I'm one of those people that never R's TFM, and because I already have a Sony point-and-shoot, I'm really pleased that I could just charge the battery and start taking pictures.
In fact, the questions that I did have (how to review pics, mainly) were answered in the "quick start guide." I'll bring the manual on my trip to Hawaii and (maybe) read it there (or not).
People comment all the time on my food photos. Even though I'm not striving for food stylist-level quality (nor do I ever want my food to look too perfect), I do try to make what I cook look appealing. And for a point-and-shoot that I push to the absolute limit, I've been really happy the photos that my little Sony takes.
After spending months researching, pricing, and holding digital SLRs (they are heavy), I saw an ad in the paper yesterday for a huge 42nd anniversary camera sale at a respected camera store, the place where I bought my very first "analog" camera. The prices on their cameras were competitive and they were offering to pay the sales tax on all purchases. They had deals on just about every kind of camera and accessory you can imagine.
We walked into a mob scene, but within seconds, a friendly sales person asked if we needed help. He asked the typcial questions:
"What are you looking for in a camera?" (I want to take pretty pictures of food, and pretty pictures of my family.) "How much do you want to spend?" (Under a thou.) "Are you considering a specific brand?" (Not really. But I've looked at Canons, Nikons, and the Sony.) "Anything else?" (I'd like it not to be so heavy.)
After listening to me prattle on, he suggested that I look at the Sony. It didn't take long to sell me on it. What finally convinced me was that it comes with the same stabilizer technology that the Nikon D200 has without having to spend the extra $800 to get it. It has a 3 frame per second shooting speed (and shutters nicely) which is fine for me. And, best of all it came with 2 lenses, the 18-70mm plus lens and the 75-300mm zoom lens (an over $200 value, basically free). The Canon Rebel XTi also came with 2 lenses (18-55mm and 75-300mm), but cost $100 more for the kit.
So because of the sale, I was able to get the camera kit with 2 lenses, a 2 GB card, 2 UV filters, an instructional DVD (seriously, I won't read the manual but I might watch this), and a camera bag (20% off), all for under a grand. Plus they threw in all kinds of Sony shwag including t-shirts, hats, 2 flashlights, a couple of caribiners.
And reason # 8,928 to get a Mac, I hooked up the USB cable and the photos were imported into my iPhoto in about 3 seconds. No additional software (or hassle) needed.
Here are the first few photos I took. So far, so good.
Apilco Egg Cups. I grew up eating coddled eggs out of these which I love to this day. But they are a bitch to wash. I have been hunting for just the right egg cups for a while now. After reading Frances, Bunny decided she wanted to eat her boiled eggs out of an egg cup like Frances does. Now she can.
Pure Komachi knives. This was a Christmas present from Tata (my mom). I love it! (Warn your children that these are not plastic. They are too tempting to little hands.)
Yu-Be lotion from Japan. My skin has been painfully cracked and dry since coming back from moist Hawaii to dry California. Yu-Be helps. A lot. It's the best.
Deep Survival. Fascinating stories about people who survive (and are killed by) dangerous lifestyles. I stayed up until 2:00AM reading it the other night. I couldn't put it down.