Six months on

In March of this year, we embarked on an adventure — we moved from California, the only place my husband and my boys have ever lived in, and started a road trip that would take us to our new home in Wisconsin.

That morning, we said goodbye to friends and family, and to the home we’d lived in for 10 years.

We drove mostly along route 66, seeing places like Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon, discovering new foods like fry bread (which Alexander loved!), and driving through long stretches of road that seemed to go on forever. We saw bits and pieces of Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, and Illinois, before arriving in our new home state of Wisconsin.

We lucked out in that we arrived just as the snow was almost gone. On the boys’ first day of school, there were barely any traces of it, and so we escaped the worst of winter. Speaking of school, we couldn’t be happier. The difference in school budgets is clear (even though Governor Walker has done his best to cut funding, he hasn’t wrecked the budgets to California level) – and the resources that my boys can enjoy are amazing.

Our home – what can I say about our beautiful new home?

We have plans for the landscaping, and the exterior paint, although the latter might not happen for a couple of years due to budget constraints. But as far as I’m concerned, it’s beautiful, and a house we could never have lived in back in California. It’s three times the size (without including the basement) and it still cost significantly less than our house in San Jose.

I keep being told to “just wait” until I go through my first winter here. People are probably right and it will be much more difficult than I imagine, but I am sure as heck enjoying the fall weather right now. Today’s high temp will be 64. That’s my kind of weather. True, the humidity is kind of icky, but not having entire weeks of 100-degree weather is a relief to me.

On a personal level, I am making some good friendships here, meeting wonderful people. Our neighbors are delightful and one is about to have a baby girl. I get to shop in the pink aisle! πŸ˜€ I am also currently in a lot of pain because of an aerial yoga class I took two days ago. Oh, so worth it. I loved it. There is so much to do here, lots of it family-friendly, including scenic drives (picture courtesy Travel Wisconsin):

Six months have gone by so quickly, we arrived with the promise of spring and now the leaves are changing color. Thank you, Wisconsin, for welcoming us with so much kindness and beauty.

One announcement Two

First of all, how is it almost April? Good grief. This year is so getting away from me. I am in planning mode for a party next month, plus I wanted to share some news with y’all. So far I’ve come up with Red Wedding Cupcakes for the Game of Thrones station πŸ˜€

Ok, onto the news: I’m happy to tell you guys that I am a new Stella & Dot stylist! WOOT!!! I am super excited about this new venture. I love putting looks together and playing with sparkly pretties, so hey, I am already having a lot of fun with this.

Some of you who know me a little bit more will remember that I used to make jewelry. I had a pretty successful business back in the ’00s and still play around with beads and things. However, and I guess this is kind of an announcement in the sense that I haven’t talked about it before, but mostly it’s because I just don’t keep much to myself. I’ve mentioned my youngest son’s autism, my hysterectomy, etc. I don’t think I’ve mentioned that I take Paxil, but ha, I just did. I am super happy and love my life — there’s always that pesky 5% of the time when I want to throw someone out the window — but I have accepted that my brain needs some extra goodness in order not to be on a continuous emotional rollercoaster. Nothing wrong with that. However, what I actually wanted to mention today is that I was making some jewelry last weekend after going through my craft tower, and it’s just become a fact that arthritis is taking its toll on my hands. Which is why I haven’t crocheted in a while, and why I am glad that project is an afghan for the FALL. Both my parents had/have it pretty badly, my darling dad had to have surgery on his knee because the arthritis was making his life miserable with severe pain, and my mom has constant pain on her limbs. I do plan on seeing my doctor to see what they can do for me, as well as adapting my diet.

Point is, I don’t think I can make jewelry on a constant basis in order to make it a business, but I CAN sell beautiful, on trend, colorful jewelry that can make an outfit. Like so:

Aren’t they gorgeous???

Anyway, you’ll probably see me sporting some of the Stella & Dot beauties around town and I’m wishing for a lot of fun and some good opportunities! Hope Monday treated you well!

Star Wars at the Tech!

We are super happy that the Tech Museum exhibition on Star Wars was extended because we have been so busy that we would have missed it otherwise.

There were lots of props and costumes used in the actual films:

My three men:

Something that caught my little ones’ attention was the interactive sound/visual stations. You moved your fingers across a small screen and your movements became bright patterns of color and sound.

It caught my attention as well, because I have something called synaesthesia. I’ve always perceived that letters have specific colors, that pain has not only color but taste as well, and that something too bright can leave me feeling like I’m deaf. In plain English, it’s a condition where all your senses run together and, for example, instead of perceiving something visual just with your sense of sight, you perceive it with one or more of your other senses as well.

The highlight of our museum trip for our oldest was the robot-building area:

Lastly, the boys had fun figuring out where we live πŸ˜€

It was a super fun trip, and it’s only on for sic more days, so if you’re a local and have wanted to see this, this is your chance!


This is how old I am now. I’ve been 42 for a couple of days now, since 11.12.13 πŸ˜€

November 12 happens to be a popular date for births in our family. My sister was born that day as well, although on a different year. My cousin was also born on that date and so was a cousin-by-marriage.

My latest birthday started wonderfully, with some presents and my three men singing Happy Birthday to me. My sons happened to have the day off because of school conferences so it was a very lazy day, spent mostly in pajamas, except when I decided to try on my gifts:

My husband got me a beautiful fedora and an adorable fox sweater. Because yes, I am totally into the whole fox trend. I also used some of my birthday money to get these sweet fox earrings, although mostly because my dog’s name is Foxy. The day ended with our cousins watching the boys so Steve and I could go out to dinner, which was paid for by my mother-in-law, who kindly gave me a restaurant gift card. Sa-weet!!!

I have to say that I am a very lucky girl. I have a wonderful family, sweet friends, I get to stay home with my monkeys, I am over the plague we all had (except for the cough, but I can live with that) and I hope the rest of my 42nd year is as wonderful as the first few days have been!

Ten years ago

We swore to love each other.

Sometimes it feels like yesterday. And, let’s be real, sometimes it feels like a hundred years πŸ˜€ But I chose well. Steve is the love of my life, my best friend, and the best father I could ever have wanted for our children.

Things are going to get a little colorful this weekend . . . see you on Monday!


I’ve been a little MIA for the past few days but today was a very colorful day πŸ˜€

I met up with my college friend Carina at our usual nail place and I got that pretty shade of warm red. It’s Essie’s Formal Affair and I LOVE it! I had a bunch of dark reds and glittery reds and burgundies, but they’re more of a fall or holiday feel for me, so I wanted a nice, warm tomato red. This one looks like bright red jello and it makes me smile.

I’m also working on my 3rd beret – I tell you, my mom got me re-addicted to crocheting – and this one is made of a rainbow yarn. Unfortunately I think one of my cats ran off with the tag so I don’t have the brand and name right now – boo.

This one was my first beret, modeled by my awesome and very glamorous friend M.

Next Tuesday I will be undergoing laparoscopic surgery – apparently a bunch of cysts have decided to build a condo building on one of my Fallopian tubes. Or the remains anyway, since I had a hysterectomy almost 4 years ago. The doctor does not foresee having to remove my ovaries at this point so I hope that is, indeed, the case. I have a mini stash of yarn to keep me busy as well as a very nice debut novel I will be reviewing on this very blog. I bet you didn’t know I used to be a book reviewer, eh? Mostly romances but also other fiction and biographies. I am almost done with the book and am taking my Kindle with me everywhere so I can read a few pages here and there. Lovely friends and family are helping with school and karate rides for the boys and keeping me company during the first few days.

If you are on Ravelry, I would love to friend you, you can find me here. My days are filled with pre-op appts., finalizing plans to make sure all is taken care of, and prepping some food to have a stash in the freezer. I will try to pop in before Tuesday – but if not, wish me well. See you soon!!!

My word for 2013

Given that I am a very lucky girl – lovely husband, lovely children, lovely family and friends, lovely readers!!! – it took me a while to figure out how to narrow down my desire for the upcoming new year. More than anything, I want to make sure I make as much time as possible for those people who make my life worth living.

The first word was LESS – as in, LESS stuff, LESS things to fill up my house, LESS clothes that I don’t wear and just take up space, LESS energy put into friendships that have run their course. I find myself so overwhelmed at times with so many things I want to do, that I end up doing none of them. At least none of them are done well, and then, what is really the point?

But simply getting rid of things or clothes or projects wasn’t really enough. I do want to do all those things, but what about what is left behind? I don’t want to spend 2013 just ridding myself of items or wasted emotions. I want to enjoy 2013, and, hopefully, many years after that.

So instead of LESS, I chose FOCUS.

In 2013, I plan to be more particular about projects that I tackle, things that I purchase, and what I invest my time and energy in. Because I want what is chosen to mean more. And less time wasted on half-hearted projects means more time to spend with my family and dear friends. It is very difficult for me to maintain focus, so I think this will be a true challenge, but a rewarding one.

I wish you all the best for the upcoming year. Our first bash of 2013 is our Annual New Year’s Day Brunch; we provide all the waffles people can eat and our guests bring whatever else they want to enjoy, like OJ, bacon, eggs, etc. I am working on some sparkly items to decorate – see you next year!

The Lettered Cottage

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

(20) twelve things about me

Last January 1st I told you eleven things about me, so I figured I’d make it a yearly ritual.

1 – I turned 40 almost 2 months ago. I celebrated the milestone with a trip to Napa with some friends, and a big party back home for lots of lovely friends and family. It was awesome to see so many people from different areas of my life.

2 – For my birthday, I requested (those guests who asked) seeds or garden stuff for my veggie/fruit garden. I got so much that I am not sure if I have space for everything, and I have a pretty big backyard, a raised bed on the side of the house, and a front yard.

3 – I canned produce for the first time a few months ago. Although I ended up with a deep cut on my finger that didn’t totally close for three days, I am actually going to try it again this year. Don’t worry, I threw away the pear I was cutting when I had my accident ;D

4 – My youngest is autistic. He is officially a HFA, PDD-NOS (say what?) — High Functioning Autistic with a Pervasive Developmental Disorderβ€”Not Otherwise Specified. Meaning, he has some developmental issues but doesn’t have “typical” autism symptoms. He has always been a happy, sociable boy and thanks to wonderful teachers and some medications, he has made great progress. These last few months, in fact, have been amazing.

5 – My color tastes have gone from All Burgundy, All The Time, to Turquoise and Olive Green. Who knew? I still love burgundy but it makes up a much smaller percentage of my closet.

6 – Life is better on amphetamines. LET ME CLEAR THAT UP. I’ve always been super scattered, like that California cheese commercial where the cow is intent on winning the race and all of a sudden “ooh, dandelions!” — so I asked my doctor for some help on focusing and I tell ya, it’s like night and day. I honestly don’t know how I spent 40 years the way I did. I ran out of my prescription for a couple of days and it was awful, I would literally stand in the middle of the living room with no idea of what I was supposed to be doing, and with 1,000 ideas of what to do, all at the same time. Now I actually finish things instead of starting 5 projects and leaving them all half-done. This is in NO WAY a recommendation or suggestion for anyone to take amphetamines, but just sharing what my experience has been.

7 – I have become a nail polish and perfume whore. Both of which I can blame on others, thank goodness πŸ˜€ My dear college friend took me to this place where the pricey polishes are all 1/2 off, which is the only way I’d ever buy them. My husband is always getting me new perfume – he’ll ask people what they’re wearing if he likes it and then buy it for me. This one waitress kept looking at me when he asked her, and I’m all “no, really, he’s not being creepy, he just wants to buy me whatever it is you’re wearing.” After wearing one or two scents for years, I now have added LOVELY & Hanae Mori to my repertoire.

8 – I am a voracious reader. Even though I utterly failed in my “50 in 2011” challenge. To be fair, it was a super busy year, but now that my husband and some friends chipped in to get me a Kindle Fire for Christmas, I think I’m going to be doing a lot more reading. My favorite genres are mysteries, urban fantasy, historical fiction and biographies.

9 – I need to learn how to walk in heels. Again. Having two small boys has meant running around in Skechers for the past 7 years, but it has also meant that when I need to wear heels I look like a major loser. I don’t plan on being all Victoria Beckham, wearing stilettos to the playground, but I really need to get my high heel groove back.

10 – Thai food is my cooking goal this year. My husband loves it but I can’t really have hot spicy foods because a) I have GERD, and b) I just don’t like it, so going to Thai restaurants is an issue. The solution is for me to learn how to make all his dishes and then be able to control the amount of spicy heat on my portions.

11 – I have never watched The Exorcist, Paranormal Activity, or any of those movies. And I never will. I learned this lesson after watching The Blair Witch Project and then realizing my roommates were out for the evening. I slept with the lights on that night.

12 – I am blissfully happy with my husband and my kids. Sure, there’s always those days, but I am glad we found each other. I was an old maid of 31 when I got married and I am sure many people were shocked to (finally!) get a wedding invite from me, but the way I see it is, if I’d just wanted to get married I could have gotten married years before. I wanted the wonderful marriage, not just the wonderful wedding. We’re still the goofy silly dorks we were 10 years ago, except older and wider. But we’re going to work on that “wider” part ;D

So that’s my 12 for (20)12 – I love comments and questions, so please say hi!

Taking a moment

We’re going full throttle around here. It’s the holidays — there are things to do, things to clean, things to make, things to buy, things to cook — and life is busier than ever. Which is why it’s important to me, in the midst of all this wonderful chaos, that we take time to simply be.

As much as I love Starbucks’ Caramel Brulee Latte, I’m not willing to plunk down $4 every morning, so I’m using our Caramel and Vanilla Torani syrups to make a reasonable copy. Then my darling husband got me this and I’ve been LOVING my morning coffee:

It’s non-alc, yo, so don’t freak about my driving the boys around in a Real Happy mood ;D

Always – ALWAYS – dreaming of my favorite city in the world. I’ve been here a few times, never when it’s snowed, though, so when one of my favorite bloggers posted this today I just had to snag the pic:

I mean, seriously. Wrapped up in a (faux) fur jacket, walking arm-in-arm with my sweetheart, then ducking into a cozy cafe for some warming up and people-watching. Someday.

I recently gave in to my tingling little hands and grabbed some beads. I used to have a jewelry business and although I do not have one now, once in a while I feel the urge to make something pretty. So I made something with this:


I’ll show you in a few days ;D but how perfect is this? A pendant with a map of Paris, in turquoise. Hello?!?!

Enjoying a few days with my mama, she’s spending some time with us and we’re having a great time. It would be better if I hadn’t been sick most of the week, because this nasty cough and sore throat thing is annoying me to no end. At least the stomach thing is over. You really don’t want to know.

Enjoying my family. The boys are off for two weeks as of this afternoon so I mean to take lots of pics, do lots of crafts, and just spend lots of time hanging out with them. I love that my youngest is a total snuggle-bunny, and my oldest, although a self-proclaimed big boy, is still sweet enough to want to cuddle with me. My husband and I have some alone time planned as well, nothing super romantic but just being able to hang out and talk without the chaos of life is gift enough.

So, I hope you have a great weekend, and I hope I get rid of the last of my germies, too!