Thanksgiving: “Table for Eight”

Aside from family and food, my favorite part of Thanksgiving is hosting—not something that most people typically enjoy. What I like about hosting is setting a fancy table, since we are not fancy people. In fact, it is probably the only “white tablecloth” meal we enjoy all year, which makes it even more special. My kids also pick up on the mood, which I love. They immediately recognize the day is different from the rest. Since I only have to set a “table for eight,” it is much easier to pull this off. Obviously the larger the group, the more expensive this gets. In this downer of a year, Thanksgiving has been one of the highlights. In reality, it’s always one of the highlights. Yet another reason I love it so much. And this year’s Thanksgiving’s table has thus far been my favorite even though it didn’t go exactly as planned. But has anything in 2020 gone as planned?

Initially, I intended to load up the table up with pumpkins in all colors and sizes. So I bought seven pumpkins in beautiful neutral colors and set them on my porch. One day, I noticed one of them contained a bite mark. Odd, I thought. The next day, I noticed a second bite mark this time in a different pumpkin. The following day, there was a third bite mark in yet another pumpkin. Of course the bite marks were on the small white pumpkins that I wanted to set on the plates on the table. Since you can’t use pumpkins with bite marks for decoration, I discarded these ones and then naturally, I bought more. 

To no one’s surprise,  the same thing occurred. The final blow was when I returned from an outing and found a raccoon (or opossum) tried to drag one of my new pumpkins down the steps of our house. I kept holding off on keeping this pumpkins for my Thanksgiving table until I came home from work one day. and found all the pumpkins gone. But this time, it wasn’t the raccoons and opossums. It was my husband! He tossed them. He said they attracted rodents and animals. To be fair, he had good reason. It was just hard to accept, but I moved on (eventually).

When Thanksgiving finally rolled around, most of the pumpkins were sold out in local stores. I also didn’t want to fork out much more money so I picked up two remaining orange pumpkins from Belair and they became the ones you see below.

Some have called my table “festive.” I think it’s more “rich.” Rich in color and rich in memories of those who gathered around it. What would you call it?

Faux Eucalyptus (Amazon) mixed with real Eucalyptus (Trader Joe’s)
Turkey Plates (Williams Sonoma); Gold Chargers (Michael’s); Gold stemware (World Market)
Table runner (Mayan Village in Lake Atitlan, Guatemala)
Gold stemware (World Market); Napkin Greenery (Trader Joe’s)
Metal Leaves, which are actually napkins rings (Williams Sonoma)
Pomegranate Name Tags (Walmart, Less than $2/each)

Half Moon Bay Getaway

We had big plans for August 2020. It was our 15th wedding anniversary and we planned on going out of the country without our kids in-toe. Of course when COVID hit, plans changed. We decided to make our first trip to Half Moon Bay where we stayed at the Ritz Carlton. It only cost us a paltry 100k Marriott points for the one night we stayed. Going rate starts at $900 USD/night + tax + parking. So I guess that means we got a “deal.”

Our room was absolutely beautiful. Just look at the view we had overlooking the golf course.

View of the golf course from our hotel room.

After checking in, we explored the hotel property. The views are pretty impressive. It’s shocking this hotel was built at the end of a residential street. Despite this large hotel, the surrounding area remains pretty quiet.

View of the golf course associated with the Ritz

Another view from the Ritz property. Who wouldn’t want to read a book on the beach?

Before sunset each night, someone plays the bagpipe on this lookout. The hotel definitely has an “Irish feel” to it.

Sunset

On the second day, we opted for a good 5-mile hike to the local brewery. The beaches were empty and the views would leave anyone contemplative.

Would I go back? Probably not. Although it was a stunning laid back property, the opportunity cost of 100k points was still considerably high. For me it was more of a once and a lifetime experience. However, I can definitely understand why people go there and live there. It’s peaceful. It’s quiet and you don’t feel like you are in California.

Sometimes You Just Have to Look

I think it’s all too common that we don’t look up. At least this is certainly true of myself. With technology these days, it’s easy to spend our “free time” on our phones, or other electronic devices. And when you are stuck in traffic on “Black Friday” coming back from San Francisco who could blame you?

My natural inclination is to get on my phone and scroll social media, but since I recently deleted most of my social media apps, my view wasn’t everyone else’s photos. It was the side of the freeway. Along the way, I took out my camera and snapped a few images. Looking at these images made me realize that even off the freeway, there is a lot of beauty to be seen. Sometimes all you have to do, is look.

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2017 Beauty Products

Beauty products are worthy every penny when they actually do what they say they are going to do.  Well sometimes. And how often does that actually happen? Well, here are some of my favorite recently discovered products that I believe fall into the “must try” if not “must have” category.

 Dry Shampoo: Klorane

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This stuff is magic and I’ve tried a whole lot of dry shampoo. A whole lot. This is the only aerosol dry shampoo that doesn’t change the texture of my hair, make it stiff, or make me cringe every time I touch it knowing it is full of dry shampoo. I’m not brunette, but I hear it is especially great for brunettes too. Perhaps this is why it keeps winning  the Allure award every year for best dry shampoo and it’s sulfate free! The only downsize is that it isn’t cheap. If you are just wanting to test it out for the first time, it does come in a travel size. I tend to buy it in bulk at www.bluefly.com when they have this product in their inventory. (P.S. If you are wondering what dry shampoos I have tried, here they are: Not Your Mother’s Clean Freak, Batiste, Living Proof, Dove Refresh and Care Dry Shampoo Detox & Purify, Dove Refresh and Care Volume & Fullness Shampoo, Oscar Blandi, Philosophy, Drybar Detox and a few others I can’t think of right now).

 Makeup Brush: Artis Oval Brush

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 The first time I read about these brushes I didn’t believe they were worth the hype. One would think the sponge would remove all your makeup instead of smoothing it out giving it that airbrushed finish. I absolutely LOVED the MAC foundation brush I had for years, but decided on whim to try this out this brush since I had a gift card. After the first try, I was totally sold. Trust me, your foundation will go on flawlessly. No wonder all the celebrities use this brand of brushes! They make these brushes in different sizes for different purposes. So far, I only use it for foundation, but would love to branch out into the other brushes provided I can get a “deal” on them. You can get these brushes on the Artis website, Anthropologie, or Nordstrom. Watch out for knock-offs. Not all brushes are created equal.

 At-Home Face Peel: Ole Henriksen Power Bright Peels

images-2Love, love, love! After having a baby I decided to gives these peels a try. If you’ve ever had a baby, you know you can’t really do too much for your skin when you are pregnant.  I read many of the reviews of this product on Sephora and decided to give it a try. After all, who wouldn’t want to try an at-home peel formulated for celebrities to use while they travel? I was very skeptical, but after one use my skin glowed and I mean GLOWED the following day and the next day. It didn’t leave it red either. While these peels aren’t cheap, there is enough product to make it last two uses if you have a ziplock bag handy to store the remaining product. If you aren’t worried about saving product, you can always use the leftovers on your décolletage, which actually isn’t a bad idea. This is worth every penny especially for a special event or family photos.

Split End Treatment: Monat Rejuvabeads

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This stuff is amazing and I don’t sell it. If you have dry hair and split ends this stuff is wonderful. It will make your hair feel so good. Like the other products, it’s pricey but the good news is that you only have to use every three washes. If you are like me and love it so much, you will want to use it ever wash. The smell is great too.

I’d love to hear about you favorite beauty products and finds. Let me know what you have found!

Baby Boy: First Birthday

My favorite thing about Etsy is that it is a total haven for talented graphic designers. It also just so happens that the children’s birthday party-related items are not only very unique, but also so much cuter than most of the items sold at party stores. Of course, this is just my personal preference and I’m sure some would beg to differ. To each their own.

For my son’s first birthday, I found an owl themed party pack on Etsy that I just had to have. After downloading the party package, I had the invitations, hats, cupcake holders, straws, owl masks, and so forth printed out in color at Kinko’s.  It was quite a bit of work to assemble everything by hand, because it entailed a lot of cutting, taping, and patience (something I’ve never had a lot of). This is probably the exact reason why smarter people purchase party decorations from a party store – much easier and less stressful. You might say I learned my lesson because for his next birthday, I found myself at Party City buying preassembled decorations. And you know what? They were still very adorable.

Needless to say, probably my favorite decoration was his birthday cake. I took the party invitation to Ettore’s–a local European bakery–in hopes of having a simple cake made in the same colors. I would be even happier if they could add a few stripes to match the invitation. To my surprise, the cake maker asked if I wanted a cake to match the invitations including making an edible fondant owl. I couldn’t believe this was even possible!  Of course, I said “yes.”

When it came time to pick up the cake on the morning of our little get together, I had tears in my eyes when they opened the box to show it to me.  My baby was turning one and we had the most perfect cake to celebrate. This was also the last “perfect cake” because as you can guess “perfect cakes” are expensive.

Here are a few images of that special day:

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