Thursday, September 29, 2011

Parties, Babies, Sushi and John DEERE


I am a bad aunt and a bad blogger. Because I've been hogging all of these adorable baby and kid pictures for almost a month now. This is the beauty of having a spouse that takes photos nearly all the time now. Over Labor Day weekend Joe and I took an extra day off of work and made a long weekend and traveled up to Madison to hang out with family, specifically Jim and Katy, Joe's brother and his wife, and their three kids, Connor, Jack and newest addition, whom we hadn't met yet, Tierney.


Tierney is adorable and sweet and I'm thrilled to get to be one of her godparents. And other than our auspicious/hilarious first meeting that ended with me stepping on one of her used diapers and aggressively washing my foot, it was after that a delightfully poop on foot free weekend.


We had three and half great days with everyone. Days filled with Jack's 2nd birthday party and the noise that only 12 kids riding plastic toys on ceramic tile can make. A trip to buy balloons, a John Deere cake, which is what Jack loves to shout from the backseat whenever he spots a tractor or mower, putting some serious emphasis on the DEERE part.  Dinner out at Bluephies Restaurant and Vodkatorium, yes, you read that right. Though I think we all stuck with soda. And I'm pretty sure our waitress forgot to place our order because she came back about an hour later looking guilty and making up some excuse about the kitchen getting backed up. The kids were more patient than the adults waiting. But highly recommend it, delicious.


Mostly we just hung out and ran around with the kids and jumped on the trampoline, (clarification: they did not us,) and got some free dental work and giggled and ate stuff and laughed and passed the baby around and took trips in pretend forts that acted as both airplane, bus, car and train and managed to get us all the way to Arizona (Arizonia in Connorese) in less than 20 minutes with all the important toys in tow.


It was one of those weekends that slips by in a blur. Especially looking back at these photos almost a month later and preparing to head up to Madison again tonight. It makes me thankful that we all get along so well. Thankful that while the three Sands brothers and sisters in law might all bicker and give each other crap and "argue", I think we have a damn good time together. I wish we lived closer. But at the same time, if we did, would we get these long swaths of time together running after the kids in our pajamas and bitching about who's going to make the coffee?


Jim and Katy are great hosts to let us come and stay at their house and eat their food and drink their beverages and let us play with their kids. Let us hang out while Jack tries to use his new toy to saw everyone's heads, or watch Jake the cat hop into the vibrating baby seat every chance he gets. Or share the communal bag of Garrett's popcorn that Jon brought from Chicago, a sharing made peaceful by the fact that
both Jim and Joe knew they had their own stash of Garrett's that they don't have to share. Very important with three brothers.


Our friends Kristen and Sean were in Madison visiting family, so they came over for lunch on one of the days we were in town. Their son Aedan and Connor ran all over, stirring up trouble and surviving camp chairs falling on them and jumping on that trampoline again. Tierney made a good showing by puking all over Jim at just the right moment before being handed off to Kristen.


After several packed days, we wrapped up the weekend with the traditional sushi feast and a movie. Even Jack gets in on the sushi. Katy stayed home with the kiddos since movies with costumes drive her insane, and we all headed out to the super swanky Sundance Theatre. So swanky you can buy a beer for your movie, and "I'm not taking about beer in no paper cup, I'm talking about a glass of beer." I had a Stewart's Orange and Cream and sat back for the action, revenge face slashing flick The Debt. Helen Mirren is still hot. Germany after WWII is grim and creepy, and I highly recommend the movie. If all of our crew liked it, you know it has mass appeal.





Monday morning we packed, loaded the car, and Joe got some great portrait photography practice and took these beautiful shots of the Sands family and Tierney. She's a doll. I can't wait to see her tomorrow, and her parents and brothers. We are heading up for the Wisconsin Nebraska football game this weekend. Expect future posts filled with tailgating, people watching, me pretending to be excited about the actual game and not just the people watching and nephews/neice, and plenty of giddy moments of kid induced ridiculousness, gossipy delightful conversations, with my sister in law, and hoodies and fleece in red or black depending on your team loyalties. And pumpkin beer. I'm getting a pumpkin beer this weekend. 

Majority of photos by the always amazing JOE SANDS! A couple by Jim or me, if Joe is in them, I think.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Autumnal Musings- Gag, That Sounds Douchey

Sunday Morning Browse

It's that time of year again. All things crisp and fall and windows open and heavier blankets on the bed and allergy headaches that are totally worth the fresh air.

It's the Plaza Art Fair season. The jeans, no socks, soft sweaters time of year. Wandering down the closed streets and lingering inside booths filled with ceramics and color and photography. Stopping to talk to artists and marvel at tiny quilts designed from microscopic cells and robots made of tin cans and springs and cherry blossoms constructed from newsprint.

Walking around the Plaza and checking out the Homecoming decked girls in fluffy 1980's dresses mixed with skimpy mid-drift baring gowns that make me realize I'm closer to these girls' parents' ages than their ages.

Newspaper Flowers

Long walks outside, kicking crunchy leaves and avoiding the hidden dog poop under those colorful piles of red and yellow.

Pumpkin bread, cupcakes, lattes and all things spiced. Though I do not recommend the Salted Caramel Mocha at Starbucks, unless you are just looking for hot chocolate, then go for it.

Savory crockpot stews and homemade bread after a long day at work, anything that helps me to be lazier at night is highly approved of over here for fall.
The smell of fireplace and gray ribbons of smoke floating out of chimneys all through our neighborhood. Which immediately makes me realize that we have stereo equipment and a Blue-ray player inside of our fireplace. May have to wait on making smores then.

Chunky cardigans over thin, long-sleeved shirts with long scarves double wrapped around my neck.

My Brunette Broads

Ginger chicken and noodles from Blue Koi with a pot of hot green tea to share, the perfect comfort food. Who wants to join me?

Boots, boots, and more boots, short ankle boots, tall slouchy vaguely slutty boots, flat snow boots with buckles. I like boots with everything.

I can now watch regular television, instead of just Netflix, since shows I like are back on instead of just crappy reality shows and reruns. Except 30 Rock and Mad Men and Justified, but they'll be back soon. Oh Justified, come back soon please. I miss Timothy Olyphant already.

I'm buying all kinds of crazy tights this fall, plain black or brown is just dull. Patterns, colors the whole thing, so far I've got gray argyle and purple. Not exactly crazy but I'm not 16, so I've got to be circumspect with the tights choices. Don't want to look like the wicked witch of the west in my stripes.

Wandering around apple orchards and sampling cider and hayrides. Though I don't remember the last time I went on a hayride. Probably the last time I drank peach schnapps and got felt up over my stone washed jean jacket.

Hot tea on the couch, covered with a blanket reading a good book watching the leaves blow around on our sidewalk.

The Cool Parents

People watching on a Sunday morning outside at Starbucks and wondering who decides that a tunic top over see through tights counts as a dress. Tights, even opaque tights, are not leggings, lady. We can see your underpants. If you have to tug something down 20 times in two minutes, maybe change clothes? I know it's Missoni. I know you fought some woman and pulled her hair to score that dress at Target, but yeah, it's not a dress. (Kristen's facial expression when she saw this agreed with me, without having to say a word.)

Football season! Ok, who am I kidding. I'm going to a football game this coming weekend, evidently it's important and I should feel torn about whether Wisconsin or Nebraska might win. Instead I'm just enjoying the Facebook smack talk around it and the chance to hang out with my in-laws, nephews and niece and maybe a pumpkin beer.

Misunderstood Monsters

These kooky and beautiful quilts that look like paintings until you get up close and see the tiny stitches and squares, triangles and bits of fabric all layered and melded together to create these strange folk art masterpieces.

All the good Oscar season movies coming out in the next couple of months. We are going to see a free screening of 50/50 tomorrow night, kicking off the movie season with a little Joseph Gordon Leavitt and some cancer. 

Upcoming road trips to see people we love. Throw in some football, some little kids, some pottery painting and conversation and October looks pretty great.

New Danglies

My new tradition: buying affordable art that I can wear on my ears. Last year I went with some coconut shell earrings in bright red that I wear the hell of out of. This time I went with these tiny aluminum disc danglies made by an artist who specializes in chain mail. Chain mail! Next time I might go with a chain mail scarf. Very King Arthur and Guinevere, or more like Monty Python and the Holy Grail. 

So what says fall/autumn for you? Buying new school supplies? Burning leaves in a big pile in the backyard? Halloween costume planning? Or maybe getting blitzed on peach schnaps and getting grounded again?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Compensating for My Lack of Italian Grandmother

Italian Chicken Noodle Soup

I do not hail from a family known for our exquisite cooking. Meals growing up were just fine. My mom made the basics. Spaghetti, chicken and rice, macaroni and cheese, iceberg lettuce salads and canned veggies, meatloaf: nothing amazing or horrible. But I don't think my mom got a lot of pleasure out of cooking. More like a duty that was occasionally fun. She made cream puffs from scratch for parties and I remember the warm fluffy pastry filled with the cool creamy pudding and drizzles of rich chocolate sauce. I remember thinking it was miraculous that she could create something that delicous out of such simple things like flour and sugar. She liked making those and you could taste it.

And the final product. I want another bowl for dinner.

While cooking wasn't something she loved herself, she did encourage me to learn to cook. I remember making my first meal at age 7 or so out of my very own kids cookbook. It was a version of meatloaf baked with mashed potatoes and cheese over the top, a modified Shepherd's pie, corn and cream cheese filled chocolate cupcakes for dessert. A full meal and I remember feeling so proud of myself. And grateful to my mom for helping me and encouraging me and joyfully eating what was probably a pretty foul meal. We don't really have that many family recipes. But I want them. I want to pass down my love of cooking to my kids someday and this recipe is just the kind of recipe that meets that comfort level that you expect from family recipes. I'm a mix of German, French and other random European cultures, but if I had to choose I would want to be Italian, just for the food alone. And this Pioneer Woman Italian Chicken Noodle Soup recipe, while entirely American, pulls together that creamy oregano and tomato base that makes my mouth and belly happy. I'd like to think my grandmother and mother would like it too.

It was time consuming but delicious, and spending last Saturday morning making it on that rainy bleak day, was a perfect way to dive into this multi step multi pot and pan recipe and imagine tweaking it and changing it to suit my tastes. Making it over and over each year until it becomes a classic, a soothing dish served with crusty bread and sage motherly advice. I think I'll invite my mom over next time to join me. It's certainly better than that mashed potato covered meatloaf.

Friday, September 23, 2011



Good morning, friends. All of the beautiful bare faced portraits in 7 Days this week inspired me. (Click on those words back there to go see, they are gorgeous women.)

Here I am. No make up, on our deck looking for the most flattering light and wishing that little red patch on my cheek would go away. I wear make up nearly every single day. I like it, a lot. Not heavy, but just the right amount to make me feel polished and confident. I do not feel so confident here. And maybe that's something I need to think about.


Here's my alternate. Complete with dottery mug to distract and hide the lower half of my face. This is my all time favorite mug. It is covered with beautiful dottery and curse words. For real. Bethany kicks ass.

I'll be back tomorrow with real blog posts now that 7 Days is over this round. It seems to steal all of my free time and suck it away into comment land. The photos are fun to take, but the commenting on everyone's work is what seems to take enormous amounts of time. Totally worth it though. But I promise more actual writing content and less of my face. I've got posts about trips to Madison with the cutest baby/kid pictures ever, our last couple of days in San Francisco, a trip to the Plaza Art Fair on Sunday and a post I've been working on for ages about my most memorable travel experience ever, a month spent in West Africa in the late 1990's. So I'll see you Saturday!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Rosemary Caramel Latte

Tonight I did two things I love. I drank a Rosemary Caramel Latte and I had hung out with the beautiful Kristen of 7 Days fame and our lovely friend Tara. Kristen had to head home to nurse her injured husband so she's not shown here, but Tara and I lingered outside until the sun started to disappear and that cool fall breeze made goose bumps stand up on our arms.

Rosemary Caramel Latte

And though Tara is more than 8 months pregnant here, when I asked her if she felt photogenic enough tonight to be in my photo she said, "I haven't felt photogenic in months" but she jumped right in and said "absolutely." This is what I love about these women, it's the same thing I love about all of the 7 days photographers, we put aside our self consciousness and our vanity and we dive right in for the experience. The chance to capture a moment, a second in time that may not look perfect, but feels perfect. Worthy of the lens and worthy of that glimpse into the simplicity of our daily lives. I am lucky to have some pretty amazing friends.

fall is here

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Around the Block


I gazed out of my office window this morning, it was bright and sunny and 65 and I planned this wide angle, cinematic beautiful family meal photo on our deck. Joe and I romantically sharing grilled steaks and homemade guacamole, maybe some wine on a Wednesday. (I really don't drink wine that often, but last night's bottle was open and I don't want it to go bad!) And then around 4:30 it got really cloudy. And dark. And gloomy. And I realized this outside dinner dream shot wasn't gonna happen. Unless we wanted to wear rain slickers and eat under umbrellas. Wait, that would have been hilarious!

But instead I quick changed clothes, got the dog all riled up about going for a walk (he loses his cool about walks, running around in circles, knocking his head against my calves to hurry me along, tail wagging at hyper-speed cute) We started to head out, and then Joe got home. So I tortured the dog forcing him to wait for Joe. Then we walked around the block. Or should I say half way around the block. I took some photos, Joe walked the dog and popped out right behind my head attempting to photo bomb my shots. It was fun. Then it started raining. We quick cut our walk short and headed home. Time for those steaks, inside!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tonight's Plan

Tonight's Plan

Here's the plan:
Drop off pants at elderly seamstress' house complete with cats, her frail toothy smile, and heavy Eastern European accent.

Buy tampon multi pack at CVS, this was a genius marketing idea.

Pop three Advil upon entering house and realize that I am as cranky as any irritating Pamprin commercial you've ever seen. Feel stereotypical and then pissy about how gender stereotypes suck, especially when they are occasionally accurate.

Pick fight with Joe over absolutely nothing because he's here and nice.

Nearly cry while watching an episode of Friends.

Eat leftovers for dinner so minimal exertion is required.

Pour large cool glass of white wine.

Change into pants with elastic waist and reading themed tshirt.

Plop on couch in front of open window with cool fall breeze pulled in by the attic fan.

Contemplate second large glass of wine.

Open book and start reading.

Turn on the Arcade Fire live from Spain concert and realize that by tomorrow I will lose the cranky and return to my normal chipper self.

Apologize to Joe and eat some dark chocolate, just to round out the stereotypes totally.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Dames are Trouble

Dames are Trouble

Joe told me this looked like a vintage poster for a fortune teller or a magician. I prefer vintage poster for a noir murder mystery. I just need a cigarette, a life insurance policy, a rich old husband, a gun, and an easily manipulated lover to help my plot. And some red lipstick.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Laundry Day

Laundry Day

It's Sunday. It's raining. Joe is off shooting a photo job for a client. So it's been "inside" chores like cleaning, laundry and working out for me. I might get dressed and venture "outside" to do some bargain hunting. I'm sort of off today so who knows. Blah. So here's some drying bras and a little reflection for you. Joe's got all the good cameras, so the iPhone had to do. I'm going to go have another cup of coffee and perk up. See you tomorrow.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Change Over

It seems as if fall just magically appeared here in Kansas City. With October like weather, it was cool and rainy and the perfect type of day to dump my entire closet on the bed. I started weeding out the things to give or throw away, things I continue to wear but probably shouldn't, my favorite black pants that need a zipper replaced, perfect jeans other than that hole in the crotch, and a red cardigan with so many pills it could open a pharmacy. So I have the fix/repair pile, give away and the throw aways.

help, my closet exploded!

Plus trading out the cute cotton skirts and sandals for boots and tights and sweaters, my favorite season. But the pile was a little overwhelming. What have I gotten myself into? Should I even admit how many cardigans I own? Cardigans and necklaces? And scarves? I might have an addiction.


But I dug in. Oh, I persevered through this daunting, seemingly insurmountable pile of crap that I've accumulated. I made a sizeable pile of giveaways. I even went through the shoes and dresser drawers. Two hours later and I have a clean, organized closet. I know it isn't like I cured cancer or taught a child how to read, but who doesn't like a clean closet?


Now the fun part comes tomorrow, matching up all of my existing pieces and trying to whip up some new combinations and new outfits. I have new mustard yellow shoes, very 1940's, that are looking for an outfit. So I might treat myself to a brief shopping trip to spice things up. I'm thinking some boldly colored or textured tights, maybe a new red cardigan and a couple of layering pieces with some bright color or pattern. Nothing too trendy, just fun. So what would you buy to jazz up your wardrobe this year? What am I missing? What do I need this season?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Nine Times? Nine Times.

Tomorrow the Fall round of 7 Days gets started. (And by the way, if you have no idea what I'm talking about, go here or here!) When I realized this earlier in the week, I went back to Flickr to see how many times I'd participated in what is one of the most friendly, supportive and creative photo groups out there. (Of the two photo groups I've ever participated in, maybe my testing sample is small but my results are completely accurate.)  And to quote Edward Rooney, it will be, "nine times" for me this round.

While I've been a part of this self portrait photography groups' quarterly week-long run since 2009, I'm still a relative newbie compared to many, many other people who enthusiastically participate each year. I think in the two years since I joined, the group has changed and fluctuated. There are more kids involved, there are many more camera phone shots, and Hipstamatic and Instagram are prevalent. But the things that stay consistent are the hilarious and clever commentary, the ingenuity and unique vision of some of the incredibly talented photographers, the inspirational photo ideas, and the consistent and slightly voyeuristic thrill of getting a slim peek into someone's everyday life.

So I thought I'd pick my eight favorite shots from the last eight 7 days sessions, and then after this week I'll come back and add my favorite from this, my ninth slightly-narcissistic, challenging and silly week of reflective surfaces and arms length smiles, public humiliation and laughter inducing self portraits.

Day 3: Before and After
Fall 2009 -There seems to be a hair theme in many of the 7 Days shots, I tend to get my haircut quarterly and it just lines up.

Getting our brunch on, with silverware!
Winter 2009- There is also a Bethany theme in 7 Days too! 

Mother and Daughter
Spring 2010- This is my mother, not my twin. I promise.

Festive Chaos
Summer 2010- The mess and chaos after our Italian Feast dinner party. I want pasta now.

Fall 2010- This is what most of my mornings look like. Today actually, same rollers, different mug.

7 Days:6- The Snowy North
Winter 2010- Driving up to Madison for Christmas and keeping us amused. I did this whole thing in the car. I love technology.

Spring 2011- Reading in bed. Nightly occurrence and black and white makes my random adult zit breakout look more like freckles. Black and white is forgiving.

Making a Ginger
Summer 2011- 1950's housewife colors her hair at home.