Joe's Birthday Cupcakes

Friday, September 26, 2008

* oversized cupcake liner
* devil's food cake
* homemade raspberry filling
* dark chocolate fudge frosting
* Ghiradelli's dark chocolate raspberry filled square

Um.... YUM.

Joe's favorite dessert flavor combo is raspberry with chocolate, so I decided to try to make something up for him to make his birthday extra wonderful. Needless to say, these were a hit!

So Far Today:

Monday, September 22, 2008

* I managed a brief morning nap while Noah napped

* I'm three loads of laundry down, three to go
* I got to photograph the teeniest eensiest little newborn at his house (5 pounds, and still five weeks away from his supposed-to-be-due-date!!)

* ... WITH restless, whiny Noah in tow. (PHEW. That's tough! Thanks, Rita, for wrassling him in your new-mom-exhausted state!)

* I'm two-thirds through with a delicious Baja Blast Mountain Dew from Taco Bell

* I'm nearly done editing all the mini-sessions!

* I have a 90% clean house

* I get to hang out with Joe, his bro Dave, and his mom Vicki this evening.

* I tricked Noah into taking his second nap in spite of his stubborn refusals.

...I'm okay with this. It is an acceptable start to my week.

Tomorrow, my primary goals are: more editing, GROCERIES!! (big trip needed), and another newborn shoot at their loft. this one isn't 5 pounds, but she IS only five days old! SWEET!...Oh, and another jaunt to the zoo with Noah and Joe and his bro and mom. Gotta mix in the fun with the work, right??

Happy Monday, all!

Four Incredible Years...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

This is, hands down, my favorite photo from our wedding day. Fresh out of the temple, as newly-wedded as we could possibly be... And completely unaware that as much as we loved each other in that moment, it wouldn't be even a fraction of the love we were destined to feel as time went on.

Moments I cherish from our wedding day:

* that oh-so-brief time just sitting together alone in a lovely, quiet side room, just prior to being led to the room our ceremony would be held in. Just Joe and I, holding hands so tightly, knowing with deepest conviction that this was exactly where we were meant to be.

* the people in attendance at our sealing...Truly the most indescribable feelings even to this day as I reflect on each face I saw there that day. Dear family, loving new family, and the friends-- oh my girls, you know who you are. To my dying day, I will hold the memory of your faces there, having come such a long way to celebrate with me-- so selfless, so full of happiness FOR me...Powerful stuff, those memories.

* curling into Joe's lap in the back of the car as Rochelle drove us back to Columbia for the reception... huge petticoat off for the time being, Joe lightly stroking my cheek as I dozed for most of the two-hour drive... Waking up to hop out of the car at the fireworks stand in the middle of rural nowhere, in my wedding dress, to purchase sparklers for the reception... I love the randomness of it!

* photos with just Joe and I and Katie... Moments to simply BE and not fuss about the rest of the day's details.

* singing "Feels Like Home" for my new husband... Not as polished as I had planned, a bit raggedy when tears threatened, but the sentiment being so true and so real:

Something in your eyes makes me want to lose myself,
Makes me want to lose myself in your arms.
There's something in your voice makes my heart beat fast...
Hope this feeling lasts the rest of my life.
If you knew how lonely my life has been,
And how long I've been so alone.
If you knew how I wanted someone to come along,
And change my life the way you've done.


It Feels like home to me, it feels like home to me,
It Feels like I'm on my way back where I come from.
It Feels like home to me, it feels like home to me,
It Feels like I'm on my way back where I belong.

* and then leaving the reception-- freshly-purchased sparklers lining both sides of our exit route, grins, hoots, smiles, last words from all our dear ones as we ran to the car, ready to finally be just the two of us... for the first day of eternity.

Happy anniversary, Love. It's only gotten better and deeper and richer and more joyful. I'm truly blessed.

Photo by Kate Benson

Busy, busy, busy...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

This will be a QUICK check-in, because I am a busy girl! Tonight is our first Mason dinner of the season... I have hundreds of wedding and senior and family photos to edit...Noah is teething (probably) and VERY clingy and touchy...Tomorrow is Joe's and my anniversary...I have family from both sides coming into town this weekend...I have to make more baby food...We headed out to do yardwork at my in-laws 35 minutes away this morning... Etc. Etc.Etc...
So. Needless to say, there has been very little time to wax philosophic or nostalgic or reminiscent here on my blog, and NO time to edit personal photos for fun, and....well... the end result of all that is that I have nothing of interest to show or write here this minute. Boo.

I'm hoping to knock out a lot of the paid photo stuff by this weekend, so I can "indulge" in some photos of my own. Noah turns 10 months old on Thursday, and I like to get a few of him for that. And with family in town, there always a chance I can get some fun photos there... But til then, this wordy, uninteresting post will have to do.

Off I go... Back to work.

Happy Birthday, Joe!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Today was Joe's birthday. Twenty-nine years old. SOOOO old, right?? (Yet somehow he still manages to stay two years younger than me. Boo.) So, lucky, happy coincidence, today happened to also be a VERY free day for the birthday boy. No school, no work 'til 11 p.m., and a whole lovely day to just be SPECIAL.
I started him off with lemon scones (from Soulemama's blog) and ham and eggs. Then we played with cutie-pie Noah for a bit before putting him down for his morning nap. Then, pure luxury-- both Joe and I took our own morning naps while Noah slept. Yum!
When Noah got up, we decided, spur-of-the-moment, to head to the zoo that is less than two miles from our house. Turns out, this was the best possible day in the world for our outing. It was 65 degrees and clear, sunny and beautiful. Noah was in great spirits, Joe, though fighting a cold, was happy and relaxed... And I kept feeling waves of pure delight as we strolled through the lovely landscaping of our amazing zoo, smelling yummy BBQ smells from the food pavilions, feeling the crisp pre-fall breeze... PERFECTION.
As a treat, we decided Noah needed to experience his first carousel ride. So Joe held Noah and I snapped photos of the beautifully restored carousel and my cute boys on it.

Such a fun little moment in our amazing day...

And then we headed off to enjoy other parts of the zoo... The monkeys, the penguins, the sea lions-- And Noah is finally at an age where he NOTICES these critters, and enjoys watching them. Makes the zoo even more fun for us!

After the zoo, we headed home for some downtime, then Joe's sister Mary came over to treat Joe to some one-on-one time with just me while she babysat Noah and we got to go to dinner.

{Thanks, Mary!!}
And Joe's choice? P.F. Changs, just for their DanDan Noodles. He dreams about that dish...

(Ya know- we don't get much couple-time outside our home these days... and while we don't really notice that we're missing it at the time, when we actually get out together without baby, it is SO NICE. We both loved our little dinner date. LOVED it. )

To finish off the evening, Joe opened the rest of his gifts, we enjoyed dark chocolate raspberry cupcakes (made by me, and I am SO proud of them. Photos to come tomorrow if Joe doesn't eat the rest of them tonight!!), and both of us just chilled out... me editing photos, Joe watching Goonies and talking to his family members on the phone, accepting birthday wishes.

All in all, a pretty great birthday, according to Joe. I loved this marvelous day as well.


To finish, a few more fun vintage shots of my awesome hubby-- just one last tribute to him on his 29th birthday. Love you, Joe.

{the kiddos' expressions= PRICELESS!!}

{LOVE LOVE LOVE this next one. LOVE it. He is so dang cute!!}
{ever the soccer buff...}
{and what a hammy, cheesy "hey, ladies" grin from this young, awkward adolescent. Seriously. What a schmoozer!}
...Ah. This is the man I love.... We had a pretty amazing day today, didn't we, love?

Photos n' Notes

Friday, September 5, 2008

So... today was 63 degrees and grey. After Noah's second nap, I threw on a sweater and grabbed a blanket for him and we went out to sit on our "front porch" and watch the cars go by. It was unplanned, unmomentous, and unmemorable, yet it was the best part of my entire day. Watching Noah scoot after ants, smelling the promise of Fall in the chilly air, letting the hum of constant traffic lull me, feeling at peace in my hasty sweater and red flip flops...

And a part of me began that old autumn nostalgia/yearning/natsukashii* that so many of us feel at this time of year. The ache for memories already past, the thinking ahead to new memories I might want to create...The sense that something will always be missing, but not in an entirely terrible way.

I'm doing an awful job describing it. But the overall feeling was a kind of ache. Like every perfect Fall moment was over and done with, already in the past... And perhaps with the lack of money or flexibility this year, I wouldn't get to HAVE those things this year. A mind-boil of thoughts and memories and wishes.

And then I let my mind relax a bit and shift to a little epiphany: This "Fall Feeling"doesn't have to be bittersweet every time. I don't have to let it feel like something's missing. If I really try, I can sit in this very moment and be so deeply grateful that I can begin to realize that this very moment is all I need. And all the memories, the amazing moments from my past, the "perfect Fall days", the trips and the photos and the festivals and the pumpkins and all the things I had begun to ache for and worry about missing-- well, I can let them be just that: experiences I have already been so blessed to have. I HAVE those memories. If I don't get to recreate a few of them this fall, well, okay... But I can sit and breathe deeply and REMEMBER... and it can be enough.

So I sat there, on my wide stone steps, and held Noah in his fleecy blanket, letting him play with a few foxtails as I sat and breathed in the smell of his hair and the crispness on the air... Feeling his warm, heavy, living, growing body blend into mine as I held him...And I let the poignancy flow over me and let myself be content.

Today's been a good day. In fact, if I let go of expectations, worry, and fear, most of my days are pretty amazing. I'm deeply blessed.

Natsukashii: "Natsukashii is one of those Japanese words that is quite difficult to render into English; poignant might be a close approximation. It signifies the tinge of sadness that comes with the reminder of/remembering familiar things. Maybe a place that was once significant and not longer is, but nevertheless, still holds emotional appeal." Wanderings and Wonderings

Pieces of My Day...

Thursday, September 4, 2008

A low-key week so far... Just what I've been needing. Labor Day was busy, but the last couple of days have been really mellow. A massive grocery shopping trip with hubby and baby, some baby food blending/freezing, some laundry... A few fun phone conversations. A walk or two in my neighborhood. Lots of "floor time" with Noah as he learns to scoot/cruise/crawl/explore...
Not much in the way of "BIG LIFE MOMENTS", but then again, all these little pieces are really what life IS, ya know?
Today is grey, grey, grey...Gustav (SUCH a dumb name for a hurricane) is reigning and raining here in STL, and it makes the whole house feel cloaked in quiet and stillness. Add to that the constant hum of the blow dryer CD in Noah's room as he works on getting himself to sleep, and the steady breathing of my sleeping-off-his-night-shift husband, and this morning here in the Mason Attic is a haven of peace.

I love it.

I don't have a point to this post... Just sharing randomness. Yesterday, Noah and I went in search of a STL bakery I'd read about, Veruca Bakeshop and Cafe.
{1831 Sidney St. St. Louis, MO 63104 314-664-4343}

Rumor was they have cupcakes. So we went, and found it tucked in the edges of the Soulard neighborhood area. And yes, there were cupcakes, but only one flavor. I guess they only feature one cupcake and then switch the flavor every month or so. While this was kinda disapointing, in a way it is also good because it'll keep me from popping by often to get a "fix". But for this visit, I picked up two of their peanut butter and jelly cupcakes (one for Joe), and a yummy-looking red velvet cakewich.

And the yummy stuff didn't disappoint. The red velvet cake was dense and heavy, but in a cake-y way, and the frosting was AMAZING and in perfect proportion to the cake. The cupcakes were lovely to eat as well, though a bit boring to look at (hence the lack of a photo).

And my friend Kate came by later in the evening yesterday with MORE cupcakes, these from my favorite The Cupcakery... so it was a double-y-yummy baked goods kind of day.

Um... Oh. And the other photos I took yesterday were of my little heart-melter... A little bathtime fun:


I was getting creative with that long hair of his. (Lots of the girl November babies have been sporting pigtails in their growing hair lately... Maybe that should be my next attempt with Noah. Wonder how Joe would react to his son in cute ponytails?)

Noah doesn't look like he'd mind...

And with Joe sleeping between shifts yesterday, I was on my own for dinner and bathtime with my baby. And I never mind the extra time with him-- he makes me smile a million times a day. And the post-bathtime Noah is irresistibly snuggly, so I grabbed my camera once again and tried to get a couple of self-portraits with baby...

(notice Noah looking at the camera like,"What is all THIS?"... and me looking at the area I'm TRYING to focus the camera on... So we both end up looking a bit silly...)

Anyhoo... Like I said: not much of a point to this post. Just feeling like checking in with myself and with the world... trying to stay connected when I spend so much of my time with just a baby...Feeling mellow, grey-weather meloncholy, unhurried, no plans or expectations for the day...
Just--enjoying the pieces of my day.

We Have a Winner!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

I know, I know-- I'm way overdue with this announcement. Labor Day was really packed, then the day after Labor Day was spent recovering and pulling my life back to order... So last night was the soonest I could cut up all the comments I had printed out earlier...fold each one... and then place the bundle in the nearest recepticle:

Yeah. That's a dinosaur puppet. Noah LOVES that thing. Not scared of it at ALL. What can I say? It was the handiest thing nearby!

So then, after cramming the dino-head full of potential winners, then I had to find an impartial assistant to help me draw a name. And since this was at 10:00 p.m., Noah was out. So I had to go pester Joe, fresh from a pre-night-shift nap:

And ....Christy! You're my winner!

Christy, email me at southerlandgirl at yahoo dot com with a mailing address, and that cute lil apron and a couple of my mom's classic recipes are on their way to your home!

thanks, everyone else, for celebrating my blog-a-versary with me. I'm in the middle of "slurping" the first two years of my blog into a coffee table book from It's been pretty intense work, and a crazy journey down memory lane. So even if this lil' blog fades into oblivion in everyone else's minds, I'll have i preserved for me, gathering dust on one of my bookshelves. Fun!

Hope your weeks are flying by!
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