The Bathroom Saga: Medicine Cabinet

Just as exciting as The Twilight Saga. Not. The acting’s a lot better, though. Because Kristen Stewart . . . okay, I’m not even going to go there.

Someone who lived in this house long ago – two owners ago, I think – was a DIY-er who really should NOT have been DIY-ing it. Floors are not complete, i.e. there is an inch missing from a plank; they installed a microwave on a hole in the wall, when there was a perfectly good microwave in the kitchen 10 feet away; five or six layers of wallpaper in the dining room; an expansion built with no heating or A/C (or permits). Let’s just say that in the past 8 years I have done my share of fist-shaking at this person whose projects have given us so much grief, years later.

One such detail was getting a sunken-in medicine cabinet — and simply attaching it to the wall. I don’t know if you guys can see that it sticks out all the way, instead of just the doors sticking out:

I did not take a before pic. Bad, bad blogger.

My awesome husband decided enough was enough and sunk in the thing, so now it is at it should have been all along.

That red thing on the wall is my all time favorite ornament. Ever. In the history of ornaments. Well, except for whatever my kids make. 1) It is red. 2) It is a fleur-de-lis. and 3) It is glittery. It usually hangs above my monitor but now that ornaments are acceptable again, it being late November and all, I decided to put it in the bathroom. Although, it looks lonely. Maybe there are other glittery fleur-de-lis ornaments out there that want a wall-mate.

I am a girl on a mission.

I’ll show you some of our Christmas decorations in the next post ;D

Swedish baby shower

Over the weekend, I had the honor of hosting a baby shower for my sister-in-law, K. Her husband is from Sweden, where they live, and she’s visiting for a couple of weeks, so it was out only chance to get together and celebrate. I keep referring to her baby as baby Thor or baby Freya, but no, those are NOT the names they’re considering 😀 In fact, some of the names K likes for a girl (they don’t know the gender yet) are the ones I would have given to my child if I’d had a girl. I would LOVE it, if K’s baby is a girl, for my new niece to have those names I love, so yes, I am a little biased in what I hope she has.

Since we don’t know the baby’s gender yet, I decided to do the shower in the colors of the Swedish flag – blue and yellow:

I even learned to make pompoms!

Some of the wine was renamed with the names of Swedish places and the mommy- and daddy-to-be’s last name.

My husband did an amazing job decorating the house for Christmas, it looked beautiful!

I came up with a few games, including a crossword puzzle:

I had a blast planning and hosting the shower and even got gifts from my mother-in-law and sister-in-law for hosting! My husband was a fabulous assistant, he took many photos, helped set up, kept people fed and with drinks, he made my job so easy. K said she had a good time and was very thankful, which means the world to me. I am so excited for baby Thor or baby Freya to arrive next spring!!!

Christmas in the Park

It has become a holiday tradition for Gran and Grandpa to take our little family to Christmas in the Park. This year it was even more special because my sister-in-law, K, is here from Sweden where she lives with her husband. We all met at the light rail station and took the train to downtown San Jose.

During the walk from the downtown station to the park:

I love taking pics of my handsome men 😀

Here are my men with Gran and Grandpa, and Auntie K.

My little man’s favorite perch is his daddy’s shoulders – thank goodness he is still small enough!

My husband, his sister K, and the boys on the train – it was free until 6pm, score!

My youngest hams it up for mama’s camera 😀

My oldest did not want to go on the Ferris wheel

But my youngest was game, so he and I went up!

Last night was also the tree-lighting ceremony, I caught a pic as the tree was lit

We had a great time looking at all the displays – thanks Gran and Grandpa!

Our 2011 Thanksgiving

Our thanksgiving lunch went beautifully; Steve and I planned, made lists, set up a schedule, and with some help from our family, we had a great time.  I printed the menu and set it up in the dining room:

My father-in-law showed up early — he was in charge of the turkey — and also helped out with the rest of the cooking. He and my oldest had a blast peeling potatoes:

Soon my boy was a potato peeling expert!

I had told my husband that I’d seen (can’t remember where!) an idea to use a wreath as a centerpiece and he came up with this:

Isn’t that cool?

Soon the rest of the family showed up and we started doing the oven-revolving-door dance. Dishes would go in, in twos and threes, and something yummy would come out. Soon our dining room table looked like this:

This was about half of the food we made. The wine took up one of the hutches ;D and the desserts people brought took up another.

Here is some of my wonderful family.

The little cups hold the butternut squash bisque, which was DELICIOUS – Steve made it from scratch and I am so happy there is some left over, because I’m having some of it for lunch!

One of my favorite moments was when we all shared what we were grateful for and my oldest said he was grateful for “the colors of autumn”, I thought that was so unusual and sweet.

I hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful, and if you don’t celebrate it, then I hope today is a great Friday and I wish a wonderful weekend for everyone! I’m going to leave you with the menu we had for our Thanksgiving Lunch.

Weekend Bloggy Reading

Thankful for feasts and festivities

This holiday season we are hosting SIX events at our home. I know, we’re crazy. But I love it. I love going to other people’s houses, too, but then I’m always thinking about the boys. If they’re home I think about what they’re doing or if they’re driving Gran nuts or if they’re eating or or or. If they’re with us, I think about them knocking things over and playing nice with others, etc. At home, they’re in their turf and I can relax more.

The first event was the get-together we had for my 40th. My husband and his parents did 99% of the work so I just enjoyed everyone’s company and the great food. My mom made two flans, those things are so rich and delicious, and were definitely enjoyed. Here’s a funny bit about flan.

The second event will be Thanksgiving. We sort of stole it from my mother-in-law since she got her new dogs. I would walk in her house and within 15 minutes I’d be sucking on my inhaler. I’m not allergic to all dogs but the longer-haired ones do give me trouble.

The third event will be a baby shower. I am so psyched. I am planning lots of sweet things, or rather, “Swede” things, since it will be a Swedish baby 😀 (flag pic from Facebook).

The fourth will be a family dinner. We might have some guests from out-of-state and we had such fun last time they were here that we would love to host something for them. It’s still a maybe so we’ll see. (pic from The Martha)

The fifth will be Christmas breakfast and lunch. Again, stolen from my mother-in-law. The boys open the avalanche of gifts – we really do have generous families and friends – and then they go play with the boxes (ha!) while we eat breakfast with my in-laws. We do a quick dishwasher load and get things ready for lunch, which is when most people show up.(pic from The Martha)

The sixth will be a New Year’s Day brunch. We are not planning on going out this year so we invite friends and family to get over their hangover or to start the New Year with us.(yep, again – pic from The Martha)

So this is our plan so far, lots of friends, lots of family, lots of good food and wine, lots of wonderful memories being made — that’s what holidays are all about for me. Hope your Thanksgiving is wonderful, and if you do not celebrate, I hope you have a great rest-of-the-week!

The Bathroom Saga – Sink and Faucet

The last time y’all got a look at my bathroom was when my husband re-tiled the floor.

We had previously painted the walls, changing them from white to Ralph Lauren’s Chamois.

The next part of the ongoing transformation was to replace the sink and faucet.

When we moved in, the sink was already in poor condition. It was still working fine but it was rusted and stained. Over the years, it kept rusting to the point that there was a hole in the sink, so water could fall through into the cabinet. This is how it looked when removed:

Ew, right?

I wasn’t a fan of the banjo-shaped counter or the marble itself. It is apparently really pricey and top of the line, but as I’ve said at the beginning of the year, I am a complete peasant and I like what I like, regardless of price or trendiness.

I wanted a plain, white sink, so we went with this oval one from Lowe’s. For the faucet, I went with the Caldwell by Moen. They look so good together.

Uncle D was there to help my husband, Steve, and answer any questions – the amount of knowledge Steve has gained from Uncle D is truly invaluable. Here he is in action:

The coolest part, though, was when Steve couldn’t find his level and Uncle D downloaded an app on his phone and had a level ready to use in 19 seconds. No, we don’t have iPhones. Yet.

Here is the new sink in place

Isn’t it lovely, all that clean, sparkling white?

The faucet is gorgeous, too

I’m off to get more of the Chamois paint to touch up the areas that got messed up during the removal of the old sink. I am so happy with the way this bathroom is (almost) looking. My hubby went above and beyond and repainted the door back to its original white loveliness, too. Once the paint is touched up this bathroom will be ready for the next few gatherings we’re hosting. I’ll tell you more about that in my next post. Happy Monday!

Birthday weekend, part 4

After lunch and a nap, we got ready for dinner at Allegria.

Last year, our friends C&D had come to Napa with us and they’d gifted me a bottle of Caymus zinfandel.  I decided to bring the Caymus to my birthday dinner at Allegria and share it with my hubby and our friends J&M.

The wine went perfectly with our entrees and it was a delightful dinner.

Little did I know that our friends C&D would gift me another bottle of Caymus for this birthday – score!  Now I have wine for next year’s birthday dinner ;D

On Sunday, we had breakfast at the hotel and then headed home because we had invited people to celebrate with me – the party started at noon and we got home about 90 minutes before that.  My mother-in-law had watched the boys for us, my father-in-law got the house ready for guests, and both of them along with my husband did all the food.  I am so grateful to them!

I saw something this board on Pinterest and decided to make my own:

The afternoon was wonderful, it was so nice to see so many people from so many facets of my life.  When thinking about what to say if people asked what I wanted for my birthday, I took my inspiration from the book that started my veggie garden adventure – Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, by Barbara Kingsolver.  For her 50th birthday, Barbara asks everyone to bring her a plant.  I couldn’t do the same since her birthday was in May, perfect for planting, but mine is in November, and I was guessing many plants would not survive the winter.  So instead, to those who asked, I simply asked for seeds.  Any type of veggie or flower would do.  And oh my goodness, I now have a serious stack of seeds for my 2012 garden!  Plus other, very generous gifts that will all come in handy.

I didn’t want to blow out FORTY candles so my husband, helpfully, decided to get four “decade” candles.

My boys had tons of fun as well since they had lots of friends to play with.

It was such a wonderful end to my birthday weekend, so many wonderful friends and relatives.  Despite all the whining and moaning I’ve done about turning forty, I know am a very lucky girl.

I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Birthday weekend, part 3

After leaving Castello di Amorosa, we drove to Joseph Phelps for the tasting our friends C&D had set up for us.

Joseph Phelps has not only great wines, but also glorious views from their tasting terrace:

The tasting we had included their Insignia wines:

My favorite was the 2006 Insignia, followed by the 2005 Cab.  I am a Bordeaux girl at heart but love Cabs as well, so this tasting was right up my alley.

Me with our friend M.  Yes, I am a hobbit.  Ironic since she is from New Zealand 😀

For lunch, M had made reservations at Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen, a super charming restaurant from the owner of Brassica and Mustards.  I loved that the window boxes surrounding the restaurant were full of vegetables!

I had the Backstreet Burger, my husband and J had the Adult Grilled Cheese, and M had the Duck burger.  Everything was delicious and we headed back to the hotel for a nap.  More about my birthday weekend tomorrow!

Birthday weekend, part 2

My husband had planned a surprise for Saturday morning, my actual birthday.  He and our friends convinced me to get up early and “beat the rush” — I am a morning person and I thought, hey, if you want to get up at 6am too, whatever.  Well, the three of them were in on the secret, which was a balloon ride!

Unfortunately, Calistoga was very foggy that morning so it was canceled.  Boo.  Hiss.  At which point my husband told me of the plans and I was disappointed but not as much as the three of them, who were so excited over the balloon ride.  Oh well.  It was a super sweet plan and someday we’ll go up and see the sights from way up high.

Instead, we ended up going to a winery I’d been wanting to visit for a while.  If you ever get a chance, you should visit Castello di Amorosa.

image above from destination 360.com

Dario Sattui, owner of V. Sattui, built this castle in the style of a medieval Italian castle, and only produces Italian style wines.  You can read the story here.  It is quite historically accurate – following modern codes and regulations, of course – and it was nice to see details like the one my husband pointed out; a warming fire used to heat the rocks that made up the walls and then that heat would radiate into the rooms, making them cozier.

This place is breathtaking, and to someone who a) likes wine, and b) is a history addict, visiting Castello de Amorosa was a great experience.

My husband at the entrance of the castle.

The banquet room

My husband chose to have the wine & chocolate tasting.  Honestly, this day just kept getting better and better!  Our guide, Alene, was awesome, full of information, engaging, etc.  After the tasting, we headed over to Joseph Phelps because our friends C&D had set up a tasting for us there.

I’ll tell you more about it tomorrow 😀

Thursday Favorite ThingsWeekend Bloggy Reading

Birthday weekend, part 1

I turned 40 on Saturday. I am lucky that I have wonderful family and friends to make the thing less traumatic, and part of the celebration included a couple of days in Napa.

This helps a lot when you’re starting to worry about getting old. A few of these and you stop wondering what size Depends you’re going to need.

We headed up there with our friends J&M – M set up a tasting at Kuleto Winery, which is just gorgeous and full of lovely things I wanted to buy.


They had the cutest pear candles and all sorts of goodies but my favorite were the two sweet dogs that greeted everyone who arrived.

The tasting room was beautiful as well:

They had different cheeses and crackers to try with the wines, and those were yummy.

After the tasting we walked around for a bit before heading to our hotel room. The grounds were a little gray because it had been raining but they were still beautiful:



I could sit in this little spot and read for hours, couldn’t you?

We had dinner at Fume, I had the Flat Iron and my husband had the Filet. I don’t remember what our friends had (my bad!) but everything was quite good.  J&M sprang their air miles for our hotel stay as a gift to me, we stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn and had a very nice stay.

More tomorrow!