Wednesday, July 9, 2014

WDW returns with ACAI BOWLS!


Meet my new obsession -- Acai bowls.

They are like ice cream that is good for you!
I like to eat them for breakfast or lunch but feel free to treat them like dessert!

What is an acai berry anyways?  It's considered a "superfood" from the Amazon rainforest in Brazil.  The acai tree is actaully a type of palm tree.  Brazilian natives consider the berry to be a secret of health, providing energy, and boosting immune and metabolic function.

Here are some interesting facts about acai berries:

-They contain amino acids & omega fatty acids.

-They have all the same vitamins and minerals of most fruits, but also contain unique chemical compounds found in no other fruit on the planet.  

-Acai contains one of the highest levels of antioxidants you can find -  including a superpotent one called anthocyanin.  It also has free radical powers. Acai's ORAC (oxygen radical absorbancy capacity) is over 3500, which is hundreds of times higher than your average apples and bananas.

The best way to get acai is by buying it frozen.
The company Sabazon sells convenient packets of plain Acai and Acai mixed with guarana extract.  The latter is lightly sweetened with organic cane juice and I prefer that one.


How to make 1 serving

 In high-powered blender add the following:
-1/2 frozen banana, cubed
-1 packet Sabazon Acai puree 
(I get mine at Costco, they also have it at Sprouts and probably Whole Foods)
-1/2 cup liquid (I like almond milk or raw milk or half OJ/half milk)
 -small handful of ice

Blend to the consistency of ice cream.
Now, the fun part... toppings!
 
I like to add the following:
fresh fruit 
(my faves are fresh berries, sliced bananas, peaches, and kiwi)
homemade granola
toasted shredded coconut
and my absolute fave: chia seeds

If you're near Los Angeles, and want a foodie adventure, here's a link to the best acai bowls in town!



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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Adventures with Annie Sloan Paint

Recently I got turned on to the ease of refinishing furniture with a product called Annie Sloan paint.

I knew a few people who had tried it and had raved about it.  With this type of paint, which is a chalk paint, you are able to paint over any wood finish without sanding or priming.  You just have to be sure your piece is cleaned off and you can start painting it.  I had a few pieces of pine furniture and a kitchen table set I wanted to refinish, so I decided to give it a try.  My sister Suzanne helped me with the first piece, which is a dresser we use in our family room.

Here is a before shot of the dresser (I forgot to take the pic before we painted the drawers).  Originally we purchased this piece unfinished over 10 years ago.  It's just a basic piece with not much detail.  When we got it, we put a clear coat on it and over the years it grew to be a light honey pine color.  

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Since I am slowly moving my house colors from the warm to cool.  So I chose a gray color called French Linen.  Annie Sloan paint is about $40 a quart but I only used about 1/4 of the can for this piece.

  We applied three coats of the paint and then I waxed it twice with Annie Sloan wax.  The chalk paint dries, well...chalky.  :-)  So you need to finish with a protective product after you paint.  The finish with the wax applied has just the slightest sheen but feels smooth.  This is easy to do with a brush or cloth.  I am really happy with the way this turned out (my walls are being painted a pale gray as I type, so just ignore the clash of the butter color- also do you think I could have straightened the lamp shade before snapping a pic?) Suzanne graciously donated some extra vintage-type glass knobs she had so I estimate the cost of this project to be about $10.  Nice!

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Next, Suzanne and I tackled my kitchen table.   Again, we had bought the set unfinished and we painted it black.  To be honest, I've never been very happy with the way it turned out, so it was the perfect candidate for Annie Sloan!   I chose the color Old White.   I am so thankful my sister helped me because this was a much bigger project.  We actually used a whole quart of the paint for this and put on three coats of Polycrylic.  Here is the table and chair before:

 


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And after:

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What a difference!  I love it.  
I did a light distress and some of the black paint came through and it's perfect.  The original micro suede chair cushions were aging and a bit blase with all the white, so I ordered this fun fabric to recover them with.  My walls are being painted a light grayish blue so this fabric will look perfect.   

Project cost on this was about $80 since I'm recovering the chairs.  Pretty good for such a dramatic makeover. 


The breakfast nook will be so light and cheery!

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My next project was my master bathroom vanity cupboards.  They were a (yellowing) "white washed" oak, which is GREAT for the 1990's... anyways I should have had them refinished dark when my kitchen cupboards were refinished a few year ago - but I'm not that smart.  :-)   

I figured Annie Sloan would be a easy and quick fix and I was right.  My bathroom is also being painted a pale gray (hence swatches painted on the wall) so I thought to use the French Linen again on the cabinets. 

Again, I forgot my "before" picture until I was already trying the paint on a little. 

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Don't even ask what my bathroom tile is  -- it came with the house. It's kind of Southwesty/Art Deco (if there is such a category) and features unique metallic elements.  Yeah.
I've learned to make peace with it.  
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Ta-da!  Super easy facelift for about $5 and a few hours of time! 
I used 2 coats of Annie Sloan and 2 coats of Polycrylic. 
I am very pleased!


Stephanie was over last Saturday refinishing a vintage dresser my sister found her for $20 at a thrift store. She did it this fabulous Duck Egg blue and waxed it.  She's going to get some cool knobs for it and hang a large ornate mirror over it for her bedroom.

 Here's the before shot:

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And after - mid-century becomes funky and cool:

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Stephanie also helped me redo this cute little vanity seat I had from Rich's mom.  We used the French Linen then wet distressed it (wiping a damp cloth over it right after painting) which revealed the former cherry wood finish.  I put a quick coat of wax on this and it was done. We recovered the seat in a scrap of fabric I had laying around, and Stephanie is going to put it in her house.

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 So after all this, Rich asked me (in a very nice way) to please not paint EVERYTHING in the house - ha!

Just so you know, Home Depot also sells a less expensive chalk paint.  My sister tried it and she said it's similar to Annie Sloan.  
Happy painting!

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Friday, June 6, 2014

Princess BUTTAcup

{If you're not a Princess Bride fan, you may not get my title!}

I'm finally getting around to blogging about our little puppy girl Buttercup who we've had A MONTH already! She's doing so well and is a good little girl.  Don't get me wrong-- it's a lot of work (and it's tiring) to have a puppy who has a "schedule."  It's almost like having a baby!   I cannot go out for more than 2 hours at a time, since that is about all the time you can expect a puppy to wait without needing to relieve themselves.  :-)  And since our yard is not totally "puppy proof" when she is outside I must join her.  When she is inside she is either in her crate or in the kitchen closed off with baby gates.  :-)  I don't let her wander around the house just yet. She is about 90% housebroken now, and has begun communicating her need to go out, vs. just letting go on the floor, but I don't trust her fully yet.  So she keeps me busy!

We were very pleased that she came to us with the skill of sleeping through the night (PTL!). I expected some sleepless nights and bleary-eyed 3 am flashlight led potty runs, but alas she pleasantly surprised us.  She goes in her crate around 9pm and Rich gets her up around 5:00am.

Having her has reminded me of how much we adore labradors. I feel a little guilty when people ask where we got her (at a breeder). I know there are tons of pups in shelters needing homes, but we just love the purebred labs.  They have the BEST temperaments and love EVERYONE.  Not a mean bone in their bodies.  This is super important to me as she will likely be here when the grandkids start coming.  :-)  And I think it goes without saying that labs are some good looking dogs.  They are also super fun and love adventure like swimming and hiking.  Our kids adore her and she is already a very loved family dog.

Though it's cramped our empty nester style a bit (not gonna lie), we are really enjoying her.  It's a little hard that she can't really be out in public yet unless we carry her (and she has gone from 8 lb. to 15 lb. so it's getting harder to tote her around).  This is due to the fact that her vaccinations are not complete and the prevalence of canine parvovirus.  In two more weeks she can walk on a leash in public places and we are looking forward to that! 

As you'll see in the pics, she's getting along very well with our 13 year old chocolate lab, Missy. I think Missy has gotten a little perkier, too having a puppy friend.   I tell you, Missy has the patience of Job.   Buttercup does everything annoying possible to her.   Sometimes she barks at her, but I know she wouldn't hurt her.  They have a cute relationship.

Enjoy the pics!

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First day home - 8 weeks, 8 lb.

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9 weeks

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First outing -- Chipotle on Rich's birthday.

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A few pics of her all tuckered out ...

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Don't think of it as "sleeping" but rather "recharging" :-)

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Fun with sissy Missy

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11 weeks - last Saturday afternoon at Montrose Arts/Crafts Festival.
People continuously stopped us to admire her cuteness  :-)


Friday, May 16, 2014

Anniversaries... it must be May

Celebrating 27 years of marriage today with this guy, who has always carried me through life.  

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THEN:  May 16, 1987
Marina del Rey Hotel



NOW:  May 8, 2014
Bouchon Restaurant

And, it's hard to believe, but these two will be celebrating their one year anniversary on Sunday.  It seems like yesterday. 
Congrats Drew & Stephanie!

View More: http://tracydodsonphotography.pass.us/drewandstephanie

May 18, 2013
Santa Clarita

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Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day


I always dreamed of having four children. 
But, after my 3rd pregnancy, it seemed like that would be it for me.

However, God has blessed me with these four:

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People often ask me if I like the people my kids married. 
The answer is always a resounding "YES!"
I truly love and adore them like my own.

Even if I had been given free choice in the whole world, I couldn't have found anyone better to be my son and daughter in law than Nick and Stephanie.

I am really proud of all of them.

I could say much about them, but here are just a few words.

Drew is fun and funny, and super even-keeled.  So much like Rich, really. This past year I have proudly watched him graduate college, get a good job, and become a great husband.  It's been a true joy.

Stephanie is sweet, fun, creative, and thoughtful, and I love her personality.  I love to see how much she enjoys and loves my son.  She is so good-natured, and has fit in perfectly with our family since day one!  

Emma is hard-working, adventurous, & people-oriented. She really endears herself to all. It is so wonderful to watch her in her new role as a wife and homemaker. She has a very busy life with nannying and photography but she has put a lot of effort into making a lovely new home for her and Nick.

Nick is kind, hardworking, and patient.  He's also very fun to be with.  Even though he has had a lot of physical trials in the past couple years, but you don't hear him complain.  He has strong character, and I trust him completely to take care of my daughter.

The best part about these four is that they all love the Lord.
I am richly blessed by this common bond.
It brings me great joy that they have found the one "whom their soul loves."  
I love to see them so happy.

And today, May 11th, also happens to be my son Brady's birthday.  He would have been 25 years old today.  I marvel that He is in the presence of God and I look forward to our reunion someday.

 My heart is full this Mother's Day.



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Thursday, May 1, 2014

Our new little love (warning: cuteness overload ahead!)


In a little over a week, we'll be adding a new member to our family.
We've been wanting a Labrador puppy for some time...
I finally found a good local breeder with this litter of yellow labs-- the white color ones... and I almost died!!
We are naming her Buttercup. She is only 5 weeks old here, the day we picked her out. 
 Just look at this little LOVE!!

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Empty nesters in need of a new baby. :-)

 

Seriously in love!!

 

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Emma's cell phone that she picked up in her little mouth --  next to her shows how tiny she is!

 

That face... those eyes... that chubby pink belly!!!

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Oh, and that lab profile! It kills me.

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The three girls we had to choose from -- not an easy decision!
 We finally decided on the biggest most playful one.
Is there anything cuter than a lab puppy??

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Monday, April 28, 2014

Washington Getaway!

I have a dear friend in Washington. Carol and I met in college when we pledged the same sorority our freshman year.  We were both new believers and the Lord really drew us to each other.  We both lived in Glendale so we carpooled together in her little Karmann Ghia.  We got married about a year apart and Drew and her first, Sarah, were born very close together.  Ever since, our friendship has continued to grow and even though she has lived in Washington for over 20 years now, we have remained as close as ever.  She is so, so special to me.   Her daughter even remarked that though our lives are very different today we are so similar (I'm an empty nester and she still has 7 kids at home! She actually has 8 but one is married) We see eye to eye on pretty much everything you can imagine -- from deep spiritual beliefs down to the smallest detail such as kitchen pantry items!  We really have a great time together --we have a lot of laughs but a lot of heart to heart talks, too.  She encourages me by not only by her example, but in many tangible ways.  I have great admiration and love for her.

Recently, Rich told me he had a business trip and I happen to see an ad for cheap Southwest flights.  A little light bulb went off in my head --- maybe I should fly up and see her?   I shot her off a quick email to basically invite myself, and she immediately responded, "are you kidding.... YES!"   So I booked it and last week flew up for 3 nights to stay with her and her sweet family.

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I loved waking up each morning to this view from my guest room in the basement.
They live on 5 acres of wooded beauty about 1 1/2 hours north of Seattle.

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I happened to come at a great time as they had a one week old baby kinder goat.  It was so cute and loved to snuggle!  Here I am getting in on the 6 am milking and feeding!!

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Here, Carol's adorable daughter Hannah doing the morning milking.

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Son Matthew snuggling baby Ka'anapal'i 
(most of their goats are named after beaches, a nod to their love for the sea)

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Attempting to feed baby.  
She ended up having to go back with her mama as she didn't bottle feed well.

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Here are baby and mama --- so adorable!!

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Though I was perfectly content to hang out at "the farm" Carol planned a sweet excursion to neighboring town Snohomish for the two of us.  She took me for lunch at the cutest place that had all kinds of crepes and of course, wonderful lattes.   We ate and chatted for a good long time, and it was glorious. 

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I'm normally not a huge fan of savory crepes but O MY this one was AMAZING.  Scrambled eggs, bell peppers, mushrooms, green onions with a basil cream sauce on top.  SO good!

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And of course we had to get a sweet crepe -- this one had Nutella and bananas. DELISH.

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Somehow lattes just taste better to me in Washington!  
{Especially ones made from fresh goat milk at Carol's-- what a treat!}



The cute town of Snohomish.   I loved all the adorable boutiques and antique stores.  I even found a tiny treasure to bring home -- a pyrex butter dish in my favorite pattern Butterprint (the one my mom had).



The shops are all on this picturesque river.

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Back home, we had lots of fun working in the kitchen together.  Feeding a family her size is so foreign to me but it was very fun!  Blurry selfie.  :-)

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Two of the "littles"  Ellie and Abbie.  I love these sweet and affectionate girlies! We played lots of card games.

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And this "selfie" of us playing in the girls' room includes the youngest, Mary.  She charmed me to pieces.  She would come hug me, and then look me in the eye and say "what yo name again?"  :-)

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This girl can not only milk a goat, but has mad homemaking skills!!  Here she is making homemade yeast doughnuts for us one evening.   Hannah, you rock!!

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Brother Daniel is happy to help frost the delicacies!  I also had lots of fun playing Lego Minataur with this awesome kid!

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Homemade doughnuts are just a beautiful thing.



Shaking some cinnamon sugar ones ... and maybe eating some as I go...

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Eating lots of donuts and quoting Napoleon Dynamite -- so fun!

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Farewell hugs for me as it's time to return home to Rich.  Our time together went by so fast.
{P.S. Does this look like a woman who has had 8 kids??  I mean, seriously --is she not gorgeous?!)



LOVE this girl.   I seriously wish I could have brought her home with me.  She is the sweetest--even packed me some doughnuts to go for my suitcase!!

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