Thursday, February 16, 2017

2017 Annual Valentines Day Dessert Contest!

I always think about what traditions my kids will remember when they are older.  My mom had sooooo many when I was growing up.  I know my kids are little, but the tradition making needs to start soon doesn't it?

Well, we have ONE so far! ha

 I definitely want to continue [and want them to remember and look forward to]  our annual Valentine Desert contest.  It started three years ago when Marcelo was a baby.  We had the idea to put the kids to bed and have our romantic date right there at our own kitchen table.  Probably one of our best ideas, because it was so FUN!  We picked separate [secret] desserts, then tasted and judged who won. 
I am 1 for 3.  Wah-wahhhhh.  (First year I won with a molton lava cake. Second year Ernesto made the most amazing tiramisu!  Last year I won again with a chocolate tart.)

This year our THREE judges:
Knowing this made me want to pick something chocolatey, because well, you know, kids loooooove chocolate.  But who am I kidding?  My kids love anything sweet really.
Ernesto is tough to beat, and this year he said I took the "easy way out."  (which should be no surprise to anyone, as this is the story of my life!)  BUT! In my defense, this dessert is something I had been wanting to try ever since my friend Janie told me about it.  

Chocolate Avocado mousse!  And it was delicious, rich and super creamy.  Maybe a tad bit healthy with the avocados??  
Was it simple to make? Yes!  (throw ingredients in blender and wa-la!)  Did my husband spend 4x as long preparing his dessert? this why he won this year?  Maybe.
My kids also LOVE cupcakes!  Which is what papi brought to the table.  Not an ordinary cupcake, but a strawberry shortcake cupcake.  It was unbelievable! 
And oh so pretty! 
So yeah, the votes came in, and he beat me.  (on a side note: Mateo is giving my desert a "thumbs down" but he did scarf one of these ramekins down AFTER the winning cupcake!! #sweetfien

But you know what?  I am not a competitive person in the least.  Seriously. Beat me....just feed me something good! 
Oh! And some flowers would be nice too. 
The ladies of the house were very impressed with papi's picks!
Tulips, ranaculas, hydrangea, sunflowers, daffodils, stargazer lillies.  Maybe a bit overboard...but every girl needs that once in a while, right?   YEEEEARS and years ago, Ernesto did the same thing and brought me dozens and dozens of flowers.  
He does things unexpectedly, and you know me, I love surprises!
Did you guys have a great valentines?  Anything exciting?  Surprises?? Do tell!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Asheville + a Stop at West Elm Outlet

So, now that we are finished up with Christmas lights, we are starting to turn our focus to the house.  FINALLY!!!!
I have been sitting here imagining for MONTHS some of the things that we can/should do.  Number one being PAINT.  Oh what a difference paint makes! This has been underway for weeks, and we are coming close to completion (which I will share in a separate post) but the furniture situation has been sketchy since we moved in.  Our big leather couch is living in the downstairs of our new house.  I wanted something less huge for upstairs.  My requirements were leather and not puffy. 
I was almost set on a sectional for our living room.  It really would be perfect in our space.
This vintage beauty was calling my name for MONTHS.  It was perfect style-wise and the price was RIGHT!  But then it was CREAM FABRIC!  After a brief survey on FB, my friends verified that I would be absolutely nuts to get that with three toddlers.  But it is sooooooo good!

Still, the more I thought about it, I knew that I wanted leather.  Also, I realized that it would be very limiting in my layout.

Even more worrisome than limiting my layout options was limiting the number of chairs I could fit in the room.  GASP!  (and you know I have a chair addiction)

Last year when visiting my brother in Asheville I discovered that the West Elm Outlet is 15 minutes from his house.  What a great resource!  I only purchased a rug there last year, but with discounts being up to 60% off regular prices, I thought I should check there for a sofa.

I simply called the store Thursday and asked "Could you tell me if you have any couches in a saddle colored leather please?"  To which the wonderful saleslady, Sherry, replied yes!

Enter the Modern Chesterfield sofa. 

They put it on hold for me and at 7pm Friday night I decided I was going to take a road trip to Asheville sans family. (Ernesto was not into driving that weekend, but did want a couch, so he sent me off)  I tried my persuasiveness on two friends [who have kids] so they would drop everything and go with me, but it was just too late:(

I ended up on the road sola with Starbucks in hand at 10am.  It was an exhilerating feeling...ahhh to be free!!  I ended up talking to my sister on the phone for the THREE hour drive.  She was painting and I was driving, so we both loved passing the time on the phone.

She said "Wow, this is great! I haven't had your undivided attention for years." LOL. So. True.

What a relaxing morning. Things got even better when I walked into West Elm to find all the sofas were and EXTRA 20% off!! yeah!
 I was so close to buying this sofa as well.  The Brooklyn has the coolest wooden legs and of course the "licorice" leather was so good. 
Wasn't sure if my room could handle two full size couches, but if I had thought they would fit in the truck I would've just bought it and figured out what to do with it later.  #supergooddeal  #storyofmylife 
 With the money that I "saved" from the unexpected 20% discount, I was able to basically get two chandeliers FOR FREE.
I am such a great shopper!!

I made it to tio Brrrian's house by 4pm and we hung out a bit in the old cabby-cabin before heading downtown for some noodle bowls and out to his friend Jeff's farm where we had a major jam session in his new, awesomely modern barn.  No pics of IT, but this video is sure to make you smile.
Tio Brrrian has a great group of friends who I have gotten to know over the years and I was happy to party it up with them.  It had been waaaaaaay too long.  It was nice having some beers knowing that I didn't have any responsibilities the next morning. Yes!
The next morning while lounging with coffee, I just happened to open up Craigslist Asheville to see if there was anything interesting...and you aren't going to believe this but THERE WAS...there was something interesting!!  Veeeeeery interesting indeed! In fact, I decided immediately that I needed it and could not text the lady fast enough.

"Will you take $25?"  (she was asking $40 which was a total STEAL yet the bargainer that I am, I had to offer less)  "I can come this morning and pick these up.  Please text me asap."

No answer, no answer.

Brrrian and I headed out for breakfast and a little cruise around town.  Past the Grover Park Inn, which is amazing no matter how many times you drive by.
Also, I'm sorry, but who has an all copper roof??  Gutters too?? This house. Drooooling......

Back to the cabin....

I was all packed up to leave Asheville and .....Still no word from the Craigslist seller.
Sigh.   I left for Atlanta. 

Well no,  the lady did not return my text.....until TWO DAYS later when I was already back in Atlanta....without ANY bargaining power.
This guy wanted NOTHING to do with my Craigslist transaction.

He ignored my texts even. Not abnormal actually, but I knew with this favor looming he would NEVER answer.  UGH!  Tio Brrriannnnnnnnnnnn! Donde estassssss???

I ended up having now choice but to ask my sweet friend Fenella (whom I met through Brrrian) if she would mind picking up the treasures.  She answered me back in one minute flat. 
"Sure.  What is the address?"  Oh I love it when things are so easy!

So what was it that I HAD to have???  You are dying to know, right?
What did I NEED to have so badly?

Wait for it.....Behold...... my new pets.....heron 1 and heron 2
OMG!!  I AM SO EXCITED to get these birdies polished up and sitting in front of my house!  Oh, what a SCORE! This is probably one of my best.  $30??  They are over 3' tall!!! Solid brass! Ridiculous.  I am a little bit scared that Fenella and Rob might be getting too attached to these guys.  She told me the first day that she really likes them and wants me to help her find some herons too.  I mean look how awesome they are sitting in her yard, can you blame her?
Sometimes you don't know what you need until you do your friend a favor and pick up some herons and place them in your yard.  Yes, yes I need 2 huge brass herons!!

And there you have it my friends.  That is how my wonderful care free, couch buying, brother visiting, beer drinking, heron stalking weekend went down.  FUN FUN FUN!!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Donating My Hair to Cancer Patients Through Pantene!

Back in December, my sis-in-law told me she was cutting her hair and donating it.   I decided to join her and get rid of my long locks too.  I had been wanting to cut my hair for months.  It is always in a bun or ponytail, which is great, but every time I washed it (which honestly, was not very often) it was a tangled mess.  Ain't nobody got time for that!

Short story short, we never got to the salon together over Christmas and ended up getting it done separately and sending pictures! Our hair was pretty much the same length. I donated 10 inches and she did 12.

We got the same shots and texted them to each other!

No I didn't get my hair colored, but it does look much darker in the after shot, doesn't it?  It's got to be the lighting in salon.

For some reason, every time I am about to get my cut my hair,  I wear my hair down and decide that I like it long.   Should I just get a little trim?  I quickly think about the knots I combed out the day before and how I just don't want to mess with it anymore.  NOOOOOOOOOOO
When I say that I felt better the second it was cut off I mean it.  To be able to swing my hair now is EVERYTHING!
I have gone to Helmet for years, (although not recently) so when I saw a Groupon for a cut and style, I jumped on it.
Anne did a fabulous job and I walked out of there feeling like a million bucks.  God, did I need that!!
Of course I have not used a blowdryer (or done anything!) to my hair ever since my cut, but I am still loving my short carefree hair!  NO MORE DREADLOCKS TANGLES! 

If you are interested in donating your hair, there are a plethora of organizations which accept them.
 Pantene Beautiful Lengths has partnered with the American Cancer Society to make wigs for women battling cancer and they have donated over 42,000 real-hair wigs to ACS wig bank.

Although a lot of donated hair is not able to be used for a wig (for a variety of reasons) I am hoping my healthy, never-did-anything-to-it hair will be part of a wig that helps someone!

You can learn more about the program by reading the Frequently Asked Questions.  It was a very easy process.  I read about preparing your hair and making the cut. Then I mailed in my locks.
Have you ever donated your hair?  Would you consider it?  

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Our New Van + Buying through CARVANA

Guys!  Have you heard of Carvana? We just bought a new car through them TOTALLY ONLINE and it was a wonderful experience!!

After driving around a rented mini-van for a week last November, I finally succumbed to the family pressure fact that our family would be a good candidate for one. (plus, I was driving said rental due to a broken rear axel of our trusted SUV.   It had been a GREAT reliable car, but it was a 2004 and we felt like we should sell).

Looking back to when we bought our Lexus SUV almost 6 years ago,  I would say we got screwed at the dealership [somewhere in an Atlanta suburb]. We thought they were giving us a good deal with the trade-in, but really what they do is adjust the cost of the car you are buying, etc.  PLUS, the whole process took us ALL afternoon.  Ain't nobody got time for that! 

A friend of mine had been driving around her black Honda Odyssey and it was growing on me. She visited several dealerships looking for the right car/deal. 

She said "if I ever buy another car, I will do what my neighbors did and buy from Carvana.  They didn't even have to leave the house.  They bought the car online and it was delivered to their house."

Yes! That sounded easy.  I told Ernesto that I wanted a BLACK Odyssey and this is how our car buying discussion went:

The first thing I did on the Carvana site, was type in the VIN number of our Lexus. I checked the boxes of any extra features that were not identified with the VIN, and in a couple minutes, I was told EXACTLY how much they would give me for the trade in!  This is too easy.....

WHAAAAT?  $7400 for a 2004?! Hell yeah!!

Searching was super easy too.  Our trade-in value was already applied towards new purchase price PLUS we scored a $500 off referral bonus from my friend neighbor.  (He got $100 cash for giving us the referral-isn't that awesome?)
In the search I specified:  mini-van > Honda > Black
Several options popped up.
  We didn't look anywhere else.  I guess we aren't a researching kind of couple.  BUT! The prices were straight forward and when you are buying a new car, pricing is pretty much the same, unless the car has issues.   PLUS,  there was not a person there to confuse things.

Done and Done.  Carvana told me "YOU'RE A CAR BUYING GENIUS!"  and two days later, this nice lady pulled up in our driveway with our new car!

The kids were super excited and ran outside.  We all did.  It WAS exciting!

She took our trade-in for a quick spin down the road and that was that! "Looks good!"

We went over the paperwork and she reminded us that we had 7 days to return the car with NO PENTALTIES or questions asked.  (Basically a week test drive, if you will.)

In less than 30 minutes, she drove our old car off into the Sunset.....
...and our new car turned into an Imaginext playground.  Seriously.  The boys played here the rest of the night.

I have only driven it to target (a mile away), but Ernesto did all of the carting of kids today and said it was AWESOME!  What a difference!   Ok, if driving a new car with bluetooth, keyless entry and auto everything gives me the title of "soccer mom" Ill take it.  I am surprisingly not feeling like I have "given up" but I'm seriously going to have to step up my MILF game. LOL

Anyhoo, if any of you are in the market for a new car, I highly recommend buying through Carvana AND don't forget to contact me so I can send you a referral code for $500 off your purchase.

Friday, February 03, 2017

SIXTEEN MONTHS {Paloma's Monthly Photo}

Oh my beautiful baby girl! This picture cracks me up.  You are a character for sure.  Learning new things all the time.  Making us laugh daily....And boy, you are on the move!  I wanted to get a sweet smiling picture, but you would not stay in that darn chair long enough for me to get it.  Silly face it is.  Sweet silly smiling face. I don't think I could even count how many times a day I kiss those cheeks. 

*  You are ALMOST not a baby anymore!!!  But yet you will always be my baby!

*  Your hair is growing at record speed and we are loving the "mexi-mullet" that you are sporting. (same as your brothers did-and your papi for that matter)

*  4 teeth on top and 4 on the bottom

* You are NOT talking up a storm, but your communications skills are highly effective.  Pointing and saying "da" (translation: that) gets you pretty much everything you want.  You do ask for "agua" by name.

*  You are slowly easing away from the hand signal for "mas" and just yelling in rapid fire succession "MA[S], MA[S], MA[S]"  until we comply with your wishes.

*  You are an eating machine and pack away meat, chicken, beans, cheese sticks, fruits and veges by the tray full.  Current faves include:  blueberries. avocados, frozen peas, apples, cucumbers, beans, cheese, cheese and more cheese.  Also I would be remiss if I didn't mention that you love dipping chips in salsa [with a little kick].  Yes so cliche for a mexicana, but ....

* Most favorite thing by far though is still breast milk. "chichi" is the first word out of your mouth every morning... and I am happy to give it to you baby girl.  I'm *thinking* about weaning to just morning an night but darn it, if you are not persistent, then I don't know who is. ha!

*  You are absolutely and undeniably IN LOVE with your papi.  When I say papi is coming home, you run to the window to see if his truck has pulled in the carport and then wait for him at the top of the entry stairs.

*  Your dancing skills are on point.  I mean seriously.  Rhythm and everything.  You have got Gangnam Style (your favorite song) down and request it by breaking out in the famous arm motion that made this song famous.  You bring me my phone and if you don't break out in Gangnam moves, I have to guess what song you want.  You emphatically nod your head when I guess the right one.  Usually Can't Stop the Feeling (Justin Timberlake) or Don't Wanna Know (Maroon 5)

* The book reading could go on forever.  My little book worm.  Pajama Time has been your FAVORITE since day one.  Other favorites, Spider Tea Party, Jamberry, Opuestos, Night Night Pookie

*  You want to kiss everyone before leaving for mimis (another Mexicana tradition - your abuelos are going to be very impressed!)

* You love to try and keep up with your hermanos when they are running around, and even though you are frequently plowed down, you are a tough cookie and join back in.

* Besides your tried and true entertainment of mixing bowls and whisks, taking apart mami's Russian nesting dolls, licking the lime and salt from papi's empty beer cans [that you dig out of the recycling -yuck!], your latest hobby is climbing stools (or pushing your chair close) so you can flick the lights on and off. Off and on.  On.  And.  Off already! 


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