From pirate room to superhero lair

After our oldest’s awesome superhero party, we left the backdrop up on the living room wall for a few days.  Then it became a couple of weeks.  And by the time it was a month after the party, frankly, it needed to be taken down but we didn’t want to just trash it.

My boy on his birthday with the awesome backdrop made by my husband and his momma.

Our friend Jen – we have about 5 of them but this is my newest Jen-friend LOL – suggested we put it in our son’s bedroom. He’d been clear that he didn’t really dig the pirate theme and while we didn’t want to tear all of it down, putting up the butcher paper mural was a good compromise.

We cut down the entire thing (it was mounted on temporary molding) in one piece, rolled it as we went, then stapled it in Aidan’s bedroom.

We might put up the molding, but for now it’s topped by a banner I made out of Captain America fabric.

The blanket was made (ha! more like hemmed a square piece of fabric) from Marvel heroes and villains fleece:

And I took the scraps of Captain America fabric to border a sham for his bed.

Aidan’s menagerie of animals to sleep with:

The little guy on the left, Soft Elephant, has been a trusted friend for almost 5 years now.

Our boy added some more superhero decals to complete his lair:

We were all happy with the result, and to be able to keep – for a while, at least, because it is paper, after all – this sweet backdrop for a bit longer.

I hope you enjoyed this re-purposing of the superhero birthday backdrop — I have an awesome makeover coming up in a couple of weeks. Have a great weekend!

Tender Tulips

I do not often purchase flowers – my veggies keep me busy enough, but on Monday I saw these sweet little tulips at Trader Joe’s (my home away from home) and I could not resist them.

I put them in the little spring vases I made from Starbucks drink bottles and they brighten up my dining room so much that even my husband commented on how cheerful they are.

One of my goals for next year is to grow some pretty flowers. This year, there’s just no way, all the veggies I am growing from seed will (hopefully) keep me super busy, but next year, I will be looking for pretty bits of sunshine to scatter around my house.

Wishing you a fabulous Wednesday!

Another one bites the dust

Joining the Berry household, along with our months-old dishwasher, is our new clothes washer.  After 2 days of trying to get the darn thing to drain and seeing the same water get darker and darker, I finally asked the man to please take a look and he did.  The verdict: we could get a new motor (engine? something? I forget) but its cost and the installation would be close to a new washer, and considering the previous owners left this baby here when they moved out, 8 1/2 years ago, we decided it was time for a new washing machine.

Our new roommate is an Energy Star and High Efficient washer without an agitator, twice the capacity of our old washer and lovely sounds to indicate it has finished its job.

I just want the thing to work well for 10 years, thankyouverymuch!

Bits of Spring and Easter

I’m not one for many Easter vignettes — for one, I bought some lovely decorative eggs and set them up nicely. Two minutes later my boys had gotten a frying pan down and were “frying” the glittery eggs. Mm-hmm. But then I found a vase that is actually an “egg vase” from PB and put the glittery goodness inside.

This poor critter has been taken out and put back in a few times already as my children grab Easter candy corn:

And this way, ladies and gentlemen, we have the world-famous Monogram Corner — and we’re walking, and we’re walking, and we’re stopping. (Bonus points if you get the reference. Because I love that movie.)

Thank goodness the boys waited until the candle flame was out before they dove for the Hershey’s Kisses. Sheesh.

The little bottles are from Starbucks drinks, with colorful paper and self-adhesive edging I found at Michael’s.

Those are my little Spring/Easter accents around the house – because anything more complicated is just going to end up victimized by flying Angry Birds. My husband built a life-sized slingshot for the boys to hurl their stuffed toys. The boys cheered, my husband fist-bumped them, and I ran to take all the crystal stuff off the mantel. Happy weekend everyone!

Interview with Lisa Epp of Captured Grace Photography

I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Lisa since we were both brides-to-be on a wedding planning message board. Some of the local brides would get together and eventually some of us became friends, attending each other’s ceremonies and keeping in touch past the “I do” moment.

Back then, Lisa was known as the one who would capture beautiful details at our weddings, she would catch a corner of a wedding cake or the lacy hem of a bridal gown and compose beautiful images. Today, she does the same with nature, truly capturing grace in the details that most of us miss.

She also does portraits, maternity, family and baby pictures and recently opened an Etsy shop — Recently I got a chance to ask her a few questions about her work:

CB: If you could spend a day anywhere in the world, photographing anything or anyone, what would it be?
SUCH a hard question because there are several places that get my blood pumping thinking about the photography opportunities.
I would love to see Ireland and the rolling hills, the towns, general beauty of the land
Italy and Greece call to me for the bright colors and architectural details I have seen in images.
AND if I could photograph anyone I would be running towards Johnny Depp. There is something so captivating in his face and voice, that make me just want to capture him.

CB: What is it about the details of nature that draw you to capture them?
I am drawn to the details of nature because they are so amazing when you take time to really look and appreciate all the details.
Yes flowers are pretty to look at, but if you look at them from a different angle, examine how they are put together, the petals and colors it is breathtaking. Take a leaf in fall, the colors are stunning, the textures and patterns. Each one different.
I love taking the time to notice what we pass by every day without taking the time to really look at it.

CB: What kind of camera/equipment do you have?
I have a Nikon D700. Love it!
I generally almost always have my 50mm. 1.4 lens on, but I also adore my 85mm lens.

CB: What is the best compliment you have received on your work?
Well I don’t have a specific one, but when people comment that I made them really appreciate and see the beauty in the simple details of life, it is wonderful.

CB: What do you see for your photography in the next 5 years?
I would love to be doing more portrait sessions, especially with babies, my favorite.:)
Mostly, I just hope to be still looking for those details of life and enjoying my journey with photography.

If you are in the South Bay of the San Francisco Bay Area, and need some newborn, family or engagement portraiture, Captured Grace is a wonderful choice. She also does very tasteful and elegant boudoir portraits, which I highly recommend as a special gift to your other half.

Lisa is also kind enough to offer a 20% discount on any item in her Etsy shop with the code 20claudia, good until the end of April — she has gorgeous note card sets, nature and still life prints, there are a couple I would LOVE to have framed up in my office area.

Thank you Lisa, it’s always nice to chat with you, chicka!

A Peruvian St. Patrick’s Day

I know, weird, right? But let me tell you how it happened.

Recently, I saw on Facebook that my brother was a fan of a Peruvian food truck called Sanguchon. The main locations are up in San Francisco, but, much to my delight, I saw that they were also in various places around the bay area. My husband, his parents and our oldest had business to attend to on Saturday – they would be gone the whole morning and part of the afternoon, so I decided to take my youngest to try a bit of Peruvian food. Our good friends J&M were free for lunch and live super close to where the food trucks would be, so we met up there.

The menu looked pretty good, many Peruvian dishes made into sandwiches or wraps, and lovely side dishes, dessert and drinks were also available.

The first offering on the picture above is Pan con Chicharron – a sandwich that includes the ingredients for the traditional weekend breakfast in Peru. The bread was crunchy but not hard, made specially for Sanguchon, and the meat inside was flavorful and moist. At home we would serve this on a plate instead of as a sandwich, the meat alongside the fried yams, with some red onion and spicy yellow pepper sauce. I was happy that the flavors worked all together in the sandwich, and my friends seemed to enjoy theirs as well.

My friend M holding up her Pan con Chicharron. Yum!

The next picture is of Lomo Saltado, which, again, we serve as a meal, but next time I would love to try it as a sandwich. It’s stir-fried pork or beef with fries, tomatoes and onions. My husband learned to make this for me 😀

Next are Yuca Fries, which, I will be totally honest, are not my thing. I find Yuca to be too dry and am happier with sweet potatoes or yams as a side dish.

Inca Kola is the national soda of Peru – back there we love to drink it with anything, but for some reason it really seems to work with Chinese/Peruvian food. Every Chifa (Chinese restaurant in Peru) says that their food goes great with some Inca Kola, and it’s true. It’s very sweet and crisp and I love it. They now sell it at my local Target (???) and I do my best to avoid it because there is no Diet Inca Kola.

The last item in the picture is Chicha Morada. Peru has many varieties of corn, including a purple corn that we use to make this sweet drink and a sweet pudding called Mazamorra. My dear friend K loves Mazamorra and calls it “purple stuff” ;D I’ve discovered that Whole Foods carries Purple Corn flour from Peru so I’m going to try and make some Mazamorra.

Our favorite part of lunch, however, were the Alfajores:

I love alfajores. Alfajores are so bad for me, because I can’t eat just one. My little man was chowing down on these and kept asking for more. Shortbread cookies with dulce de leche (or manjarblanco, as we call it in Peru) in between, dusted with powdered sugar. So good. These were excellent. The cookies were very tender and the filling just right.

A good friend of my family has a killer Alfajor recipe, and now I need to get it from her because I didn’t realize how much I had missed them! Who knew a dessert of Arabic origins, brought from Spain to South America, would become such an integral part of our cuisine?

And what on earth does Sanguchon mean? Well, in Spanish, the word “sandwich” became “sanguche” (SAN-goo-che) and a Sanguchon means a big sandwich. I ate only half of mine and saved the rest for later. It was a nice surprise to find Peruvian food and be able to share it with our friends. If you’re in the SF Bay Area, check out Sanguchon’s schedule to see if there a food truck near you!

Oh, and if you’re going to try the alfajores, please don’t wear black pants like I did – the powdered sugar went everywhere! ;D

Leprechaun Trap!

Ah, the much awaited leprechaun trap. Last year my son was in kindergarten and I saw all the first graders proudly parading their creations — and now it’s his turn!

With his dad’s help, they created a seemingly innocent structure in friendly hunter green. A helpful ladder led to the top . . .

And what is that I see? A rainbow? And Lucky Charms?
Come on, little leprechaun, it’s only a few steps to the bounty!!!
Just ignore those lines of moss, they’re not hiding anything like cuts on the floor . . .

My sweet boy displaying his leprechaun trap.

I think they’re going to catch one or two greedy leprechauns, don’t you think?

She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not

I’m linking up to the awesome Michaela’s She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not linky party ;D

She Loves Me

1. My family – I love my husband and boys more than anything!!

2. Having a big backyard for my boys to play in and for me to grow veggies in.

3. Nail polish! I am late to this game but I love wearing all sorts of weird colors on my nails.

4. My homeland – Peru – and my dear family and friends who are there. I am planning on going to get some yummy Peruvian food on Saturday, if any locals would like to try Peruvian food, you should!!! ;D

5. Throwing parties! Seriously, I love it. It always gets a little hectic right before but I love putting things together, coming up with ideas with my husband, and seeing them come to life ;D

She Loves Me Not

1. People who think like this. Who don’t care about anyone else’s wishes and only think about what they want. (pic from Pinterest)

2. Cliques. They’re bad in high school and downright pathetic in adulthood. (pic from Pinterest)

3. Factory farmed food. I am guilty as hell of enjoying meat but one of my goals this year is to have more meals be made without factory farmed animals. Pic from here.

4. Empire waists and horizontal stripes. I’m 5’1″, with big boobs and hips. This dress would make me look like a pregnant circus tent. Dress from Old Navy.

5. That I am so far from Paris ;D

Downton Martha garden file box

I saw this idea on The Martha’s website the other day and decided to make something similar. Alas, at the time I was watching Downton Abbey, so you see, the end result is something of a hybrid ;D

We had a spare DVD storage box that I appropriated for this project, and covered in gorgeous 18-century floral print wrapping paper that I got from a book on clearance. Score! It has a few different prints so I used two, the lighter one to cover the box, and the darker one for the cardstock dividers.

I made the Seeds sign with stickers I had leftover from my craft table project. Since this file box will be outside some of the time, I added some wide packing tape to the edges of the box, the Seeds sign and the dividers, to protect the printed paper. I had some bias tape that coordinated with the paper, so I made handles for the box and added a ribbon detail to the top of the box, with a cute button on the Seeds sign.

The seed packets are attached (once empty) to plain index cards where I can write down how well they did, where they were planted, etc. I have a spreadsheet I use for my garden plans but I had been holding on to the empty seed envelopes because I didn’t want to throw them away. Now I have a pretty box to store them in and add information for future plantings.

Hope you enjoyed this Downton / Martha inspired craft!

Garden numbers

6 – The number of broccoli seedlings I planted yesterday.

22 – Number of carefully-nurtured tomato seedlings that got planted.

25 – Number of wax beans I planted, after soaking for an hour.

72 – Number of tomato seedlings I was supposed to plant. Of course, then I’d have to move out because there would be no place for me.

My mother-in-law is, thank goodness, taking a few tomato seedlings. Because we’re supposed to go camping in August and I don’t know who’ll be canning the zillion tomatoes we’ll be getting. Our friend K wants to do a canning day, which sounds fab. The manly men will watch the kidlets while the womenfolk get our canning on.

After I planted the 22 tomato seedlings I realized I grabbed seedlings at random, without keeping track of which kind went where. Yeah. I swear I’m a little more organized with my kids.

And by the way, Trader Joe’s, your “Amusant” wine wasn’t Amusant at all. I still love you, though, because your rice milk is the cheapest in town.


Mme. Non-sequitur