Last year at this time, I was up to my eyeballs in snow (a rarity in Seattle) and very humbug-ish because of the unfinished tasks the snow prevented me from completing. This year, I'm calm, enjoying the sun, help from my in-laws and smiles on my boys' faces. We're off to our church pageant in a few hours and I know my shepherd and star are ready to perform.
Business is booming at PaperCourt Press and I'm literally in a sea of holiday cards (and other holiday madness). I've had so little time for life that I have to jump over piles of clean, unfolded laundry to get to my printer and work station. C'est la vie! I'm thrilled to be this busy!
BTW, I'm still taking orders! Contact me personally if you need to order after the 13th and we'll work out an action plan to get your cards in time! courtney (at) papercourtpress (dot) com
Excuse the pun but I whipped up the cutest Black Apple Doll yesterday for my niece's 1st birthday. I can barely sew people and this was easy (except that I didn't get the entire arm sewed on so I had to rig it a little...hopefully the little one will be gentle with dolly).
I picked out fabric at an adorable new store in my 'hood, Fabric Crush. Sarah's fabrics are to die for. She also has an etsy shop so check her out. This store makes me want to learn to "really" sew.
I found my "holiday party" dress for 2009. I really wanted the Ruffle Shimmer Dress to work from Ann Taylor Loft but the fit was way off. I decided on the Satin Dress with Neckline Applique. The fit and price were right and it'll go well with Mr. PaperCourt's crazy pants. The Ann Taylor website says "online exclusive" but I bought it in the store.
But more specifically, teaching them about Thank You notes. Several posts ago, I mentioned my son's 6th birthday party. Sadly, it's taken us until today to get all of the thank you notes written. I felt that since he knows how to write and needs the practice, he should write the notes himself. That's quite a task considering he just started kindergarten and is exhausted at the end of the day. According to Emily Post, I should've waited a year on that (oops). To make them easier to write, I added ruled lines when designing the stationery (which can be done with any PaperCourt Press order - just let me know).
Emily Post offers the following tips to parents and kids regarding thank you notes:
Explain that receiving thank-you notes makes people feel good. And it lets them know that the gift arrived safely and is appreciated.
The sooner the better! Get those notes written as soon as possible. But don’t be embarrassed by a note sent a bit late, even a month after the gift was received. It’s far better to send a late note than no note at all.
Spend a few minutes talking about the gift and what made it special: It’s a book you loved reading. You’ve already made three projects with the art kit. The toy is so much fun to play with you haven’t wanted to do anything else. You had a great time shopping with your friends and found the perfect sweater with the gift card.
Have fun, age appropriate materials on hand to get your child interested in the project: colorful notepaper, markers, fun pens, stickers and stamps.
If you have a camera, take a picture of your child and the gift. Include the photo with the thank-you note.
Again, remember to keep it fun! If you view this as drudgery, so will the kids.
Mr. PaperCourt picked these out for his company party. People in Seattle do NOT wear critter pants (especially red corduroy with Christmas trees) so I can't wait to see everyone's reactions. I personally think they're adorable. If you want a pair, you can find them (and a slew of other preppy items) at Castaway Clothing.
Now what am I going to wear? Clearly, the pink dress is now out of the question.
I'll be honest. If there is a bucket of candy sitting around, I'm going to eat it. I have no self control whatsoever. I heard somewhere about donating Halloween candy to our troops so googled it found Operation Gratitude. They are taking up a collection and will send it to the US military in Iraq and Afghanistan. So start collecting...and send it on to California and they'll distribute.
What a great way to teach the kids about giving! I'm even asking the parents at preschool to participate!
My oldest is turning six next week and he was very specific about wanting a "Blue Angel" birthday party after seeing them perform this summer. Mr. Almost Six was also very sure he wanted the party to be at our house. That would be our teeny tiny house. I wasn't so sure I wanted a house full of kindergarten boys but it worked out thanks to Mother Nature giving us clear skies.
I started the theme with these invitations from yours truly, PaperCourt Press. Next, we rented a yellow and blue bouncy house for the yard. I made a sign for the light post that said "Last Name Field - Air Station Magnolia" (Magnolia is our neighborhood). I made a badge for each child and I bought Blue Angel airplanes and pencils for party favors from Airshow.com. The cake was from Whole Foods. I also had a Blue Angels DVD showing on the tv in our playroom.
A good time was had by all and I'm so thankful that it didn't rain!
In celebration of the launch of the new and improved PaperCourt Press website, I'm hosting a giveaway! A set of 20 personalized notecards.
It's easy, peasy. Just go to PaperCourt Press and pick out your favorite. You'll get one entry for commenting, one more for becoming a Facebook fan or a follower of the blog and a third for posting about the giveaway on your site.
Come join the fun! Entry deadline is Friday, October 30th at 5pm Pacific.
I'm slowly chugging along on the website. New invitations, notecards, labels, etc. are being added daily and it's definitely taking a lot longer than I expected. My new printer is installed and it does a beautiful job!
Website release coming in two weeks! Plus a GIVEAWAY! Stay tuned.
This summer hasn't been all fun and games. Behind the scenes, I'v been working on exciting upgrades for PaperCourt Press - a new macbook pro, a fancy pants printer and a new e-commerce website. I'm so excited I can hardly contain myself! And with the boys starting school in four short weeks, I may actually have time to work. Yay!
Now I'm off again to enjoy the last few weeks of sunshine (actually, it's 67 and cloudy today but I'm sure the sun will be coming back soon).
It's been awhile. Don't say I didn't warn you. With only 4 hours a week of childcare, I've had little time to blog but of plenty of time to enjoy my boys. The days have been jam packed with activities -- swimming, beach, play dates, park -- and we haven't even touched our "things we want to do this summer list".
Also, I finally have a diagnosis on my Achilles issues. It's actually my ankle joint and ligaments. Something about the fibula and tibia not fitting tightly in my ankle joint and the ligaments and Achilles being stressed. I don't get it either. However, a little athletic tape across the front of my ankle that holds my bones together and weekly PT should fix me right up. I'll be running in no time (fingers crossed).
Tonight, I should be carb loading, hydrating, resting and laying out my new running skirt for tomorrow's race. Unfortunately, I won't be doing any of this. I hurt my Achilles and after a painful 10 mile run last week, I came to the realization that I won't be able to run the inaugural Seattle Rock 'n Roll half marathon.
So instead of doing the preparations listed above, I think I'll relax and drink wine with Mr. PaperCourt. And I'll think good thoughts for the other 24,999 people who are running tomorrow. Go runners!!!
I went to IKEA yesterday. That place is dangerous. Dangerous, I say. One hour of free childcare and a sale....who could ask for more?
I found the cutest bud vase on sale for $1. In my mind, I pictured 5 or 6 vases clustered together with colorful blooms at the center of my dining room table. And, honestly, if I was going through the trouble of filling the vases it would only make sense to have a party, right? See how my mind works? A $1 vase becomes a $200 party in just moments. Again, IKEA is dangerous. In the end, I didn't buy the $1 bud vase.
It was today....and I made it through the entire thing with no tears. Woo hoo for me!
Now let's talk about kids' attire for said event. Seattle is known for grunge and preschool graduation did not break any stereotypes. I know I am super anal about what my kids wear (i.e. no athletic shorts to school, etc.) but t-shirts and sweatpants for graduation? Seriously?
Sorry if this sounds snobby but I think it's important to get a little spiffed up for special occasions. I'll step down from my soap box now.
My friend overheard her son and my son, H, discussing "girlfriends" in the back of the car. Her son asked H if he had a girlfriend and who he was going to marry. H replied, "I don't need to have a girlfriend until I'm older....like my dad did."
Last week was construction week at our house. We had a few projects that needed to be done and one project that I've been wanting to do for years....the kitchen backsplash. We remodeled our kitchen almost 6 years ago and either because of lack of energy or lack of funds at the end of the project, we never did anything with our backsplash.
(please excuse the horrendous photo....it's not really yellow)
It didn't look bad before but looks so much better now. And we got a new faucet because the old one sucked! And check out my new cereal storage...
I snorted yesterday during Pilates and was sure I'd come down with Swine flu. Honestly, the hype of the media is getting a little annoying. A few "friends" on Facebook were talking about pulling their kids out of preschool. Really? Doesn't that seem a little drastic?
Here's a cute invitation for your next "swine" party....
This is an invitation I designed for a friend whose daughters are having a joint birthday party. I also made matching return address labels and party favor labels. I may even stencil a shirt for each girl with the corresponding silhouette and her name. How cute would that be?
(the color looks a little off on this jpeg...it's not quite so pink)
I just signed up for the inaugural Seattle Rock 'n Roll marathon (or half marathon, in my case). I know I'm probably a little crazy for doing so based on the stomach episode following my last race. But I love a good time and a band every mile sounds soooo fun.
Seattle is cold almost year round so I usually run in my Lululemon boogie crops. The RnR race is in June so I'll likely need to wear shorts (ick) or a running skirt. Can any runners out there recommend a skirt? I need it to be long...especially the under shorts.
A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that my mom and I had done an cheap inexpensive Ikea makeover in my guestroom. I failed to take before pictures but here is the end result. It's very simple but I love the pop of the green quilt. I purchased the table a few months ago at Target for $60. The pictures over the bed are black floral fabric ($8.99/yard) stretched over wood frames ($5/each).
Breaking News just posted about this interactive map on Zappos. There are some ugly arse shoes being bought across the country (i.e. watermelon vans). So if you've read every blog you love and caught up on your Facebook newsfeed, check this out.
The PaperCourt family is back. What a great, relaxing vacation! Our vacation started with a 5am flight Wednesday morning. As painful as it was, it was awesome to be checked into our hotel at 9am with a full sunny day ahead of us.
sandy beach leading into the pool
The Hyatt Gainey Ranch is a perfect family destination. They had no less than five kid activities planned per day....bracelet making, Native American dancing, Birds of Prey show, bumper boat races in the pool...the list goes on. And they have a Camp Hyatt for "drop-off" opportunities! It was like a real vacation.Birds of prey show
Mr. PaperCourt and I just decided that we are going to host Easter dinner this year. I'm sending out this electronic invitation...
We're planning to feed the kids first then hire a sitter to entertain the kids (6 boys) in our playroom. Last year, I made an amazing cake (pictured below) with a nest made of chocolate on top and I'm hoping to recreate that masterpiece.
My mom is in town and today we went to Ikea. That place rocks! We're redoing our guestroom today for under $150. I can't wait to share the pictures!
In other news, my stomach is feeling better and I froze my arse off at my son's first t-ball practice. I wore ballet flats - it was 40 degrees and muddy. I'm not so smart sometimes. And the most exciting news of all, we decided to take a leap and commit to the independent private school for my son.
I did it! I finished the Mercer Island Half Marathon on Sunday with my fastest time ever! YIPPEE! My time was 2:06....11 minutes faster than the Seattle half marathon last November and 19 minutes faster than the Seattle half when I was 25. Am I getting faster with age?
Unfortunately, my body took a major beating. Two hours after the race, I was doubled over with stomach pain. After two doctors visits yesterday, I found out I have some inflammation in my intestines. It hurts and involves 3 weeks of medication. And, sadly, I don't think I'll be signing up for the inaugural Seattle Rock 'n Roll half marathon in June. The thought makes me want to cry...I seriously LOVE, LOVE running 13.1 miles.
All of the local independent private schools sent out their "acceptance" letters yesterday which means they are due to arrive in my mailbox any minute. This is for kindergarten, my friends. You would not believe what it takes to get into kindergarten. One school takes a maximum of 300 applications......for 32 spots. We're talking tours, five page applications, intelligence tests, parent interviews, student visits....it was practically a full time job.
A couple of weeks ago we were accepted to the local Catholic school. We're not Catholic but it's a good school and the price is right. We'd pretty much decided that was the route we were going to take......until today.
This morning we got an email from one of the schools and my son was accepted. Damn, damn. Now we have to make a decision. It would've been a lot easier if we'd been rejected.
The crud has invaded the PaperCourt household. I have one feverish boy and one coughing boy. Not fun! We're on day two so hopefully they will be better for their St. Patrick's Day celebrations at school tomorrow.
To pass the time on this icky day, we made Irish Brown Bread from Family Fun magazine. It uses everyday ingredients (and no yeast...I suck at using yeast). I didn't have buttermilk on hand so I used this trick to make my own. It worked like a charm. I may never buy buttermilk again.
The boys watched Madagascar 2 and I cleaned out their drawers. What a great feeling! I plan to list a few shirts (mini boden and crew cuts) on ebay in the next few days.
And about that "jeans" post. I'm having a hard time writing about something so superficial during these hard times. After reading Ashley's post about losing her house, I've decided to focus on other things right now.
Have you ever calculated your Walk Score? Walk Score helps people find walkable places to live. I am a city dweller and I feel very lucky to have access to my daily needs by foot. Someone today was telling me how they are moving to 40 acres a few counties north of Seattle. I honestly can't imagine. I really can't even imagine living in the suburbs. Within a half mile of my house, I have access to a grocery store, a library, ten restaurants, four coffee shops, a gas station, a drug store, the post office, four preschools, 2 schools (one public and one private) and numerous other shops (books store, wine bar, boutiques, etc). My 'hood scored an 89 out of 100.
This is where we're going for Spring Break. Don't hate me. I really need the sunshine and heat! I do live in Seattle after all. And the fact that they have a kid's camp and I now have a potty-trained 3-year-old is icing on the cake.
I've been on the hunt for a new kitchen rug for months. We had a cute black and white rug from Target that literally bit the dust a year ago and I really needed a replacement. Our kitchen is very high traffic. We track all of the day's mud and dirt into that room so I needed something that could easily be cleaned. Lo and behold, the FLOR catalog arrived with new designs and I found the perfect fit. And to top it off, two tiles were only $35 with shipping. What do you think?
Last Saturday, we gathered with our newly formed Supper Club for a Southern dinner. The hostess is from Mississippi and she made her mom's gumbo. It was spicy and delicious. I made a pitcher of Hurricanes and banana pudding. Any ideas for a theme when it's my turn to host?
We were out until 11 and I was still able to get up at 6 to run 13 miles with a friend. I suppose that means I'm ready for the half marathon I'm running in 2 weeks. It was pouring and cold (and I had a little hangover) but we did it!
Those of you who know me in real life or from my former blog, know that I've been struggling with tummy issues since giving birth to my children. Big babies wrecked me and all the running in the world (plus working out) could not fix the damage! After consulting with a plastic surgeon, I decided I had to give one more thing a try before taking drastic measures.
I happy to say that Pilates has done the trick. I can see results after 2 private sessions a week for 3 weeks. My posture has improved and my stomach is getting tighter. I'm thrilled! You should try it!
My kids ate (and enjoyed) the dinner I cooked two nights in a row. I'm shocked...and thrilled.
I'm one of those moms who cooks one meal. You can take it or leave it but you're getting nothing else until breakfast. If I'm in a good mood, you may get the option of carrots and hummus instead of the dinner...but don't count on it.
I thought it would only be fair to share the recipes that lured my kids to the table. Enjoy!
Homemade sloppy joes 1 red pepper, chopped finely 1 celery stalk, chopped finely 1/2 onion, chopped finely 2 cloves of garlic minced 1 lb of the leanest ground beef you can find 1 - 15oz can of tomato sauce 1/4 cup of ketchup 1 tbsp of Worcestershire
Saute the first 4 ingredients until soft. Add the ground beef and cook until brown. Add tomato sauce, ketchup and Worcestershire and simmer until thickened...about 10 minutes.
I served mine on whole wheat dinner rolls (halved, of course,). Rolls are smaller than hamburger buns and I'm watchin' my waistline.
Green Beans with lime 1 lb fresh green beans 1 tbsp olive oil 1 lime kosher salt
Cook green beans in a the olive oil on the stove top for 18-20 minutes. Add one tsp of lime zest during the last minute of cooking time. Remove from heat and squeeze lemon juice over the top and add salt to taste.