Friday, February 24, 2012

babysitting weekend recap

By all accounts, last weekend's babysitting extravaganza was a huge success! 

Despite it being Uncle and I's very first weekend of babysitting, we absolutely knocked it out of the park! We made Jell-o Play Dough, we listened to our adult friendly playlist for kids, we went to the park, we watched Caillou, we read stories (one of which required singing), we danced, we had tea parties, and we made plenty of kid snacks.

But wait until you hear what Uncle and I accomplished in the midst of all this.  We did some banking. Uncle brought his laptop to the tea party and he and I took turns logging in to pay our bills, while simultaneously sipping imaginary tea, and looking up Sesame Street clips on YouTube.  We also managed to buy a car.  Advanced parenting skills if you ask me! Friday and Saturday we researched, and test drove several different cars, one of which was the perfect fit for us. Then on Sunday morning, right after breakfast, we managed to get all three of us fed, bathed, dressed and packed for a morning at the car dealership.  Brandt did the paperwork, and I watched the Bebe.  I did eventually bring her in to the sales office - two year olds are, as it turns out, fabulous negotiators. We got a great deal!  Afterwards we rewarded our little one with a happy meal at McDonalds, and naps for everybody!

Now, it wasn't easy. Waking up before 7am on weekend days is no easy task. My attempt to shower before the Bebe woke up at 6:45am was foiled, by said Bebe waking up just as I was turning the hot water on... I had to abandon shower and go get her out of her crib. I did get to shower... eventually.  The next morning, there was a pancake incident which resulted in Uncle having to go out and buy more eggs mid-breakfast.  This one actually turned in to a bonus, as Uncle returned with eggs and Starbucks! For the first time in our lives, we found ourselves contemplating beer before 9am, and later that night, we found ourselves dead serious about going to bed at 8:37pm.  (Bebe had gone down at 7).

Despite the challenges, and the early wake up calls, we had an amazing weekend.  We had fun, and we got a lot accomplished! By the end of the weekend, I was even offered a promotion!  Instead of "Char," I am now referred to by the little one as "My Char." Brandt maintains that this designation was already taken, and that I am his Char. I'm going to leave it up to them to work this out.  He's got a pretty compelling case, but like I said before, two year olds are fabulous negotiators...

Le Petite Negotiator!
For today's music, I'm going to leave you with Rockabye Baby - our best kid friendly music find of the entire weekend!  This group does lullaby versions of just about every popular hit imaginable. We are talking the Beatles, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, even Radiohead! Totally amazing.  Best album covers, hands down, are the Madonna and Kanye Albums.  Hilarious. Brandt and I put ourselves to bed with Coldplay. Good night! <3

Friday, February 17, 2012

an adult friendly playlist for kids

In anticipation of the major babysitting weekend we've got ahead of us, I've created an adult friendly playlist for kids and babies.  I'm pretty excited about the results! 

After sifting through hundreds of terrible suggestions in a multitude of parenting forums, I decided to take things in to my own hands, and create my own.  I kept it lighthearted, modern, and catchy.  It's high on adult appeal, and I think the kids are gonna like it as well! As far as I'm aware, all songs are kid friendly enough. (disclaimer - I by no means sat down and analyzed every single lyric on this!) If you are particularly sensitive, you may want to skip the last track, "You and I" by Ingrid Michaelson.  There is talk of "spooning," (eating soup together!) as well as "doing what bunnies do"(hopping! obviously!).  You have been warned. Fair enough?

So without any further ado, here is my list of adult friendly music for kids! If you are on Spotify, you can use this link to pull the playlist up instantly. If not, I'm including my list below so you can see my suggestions.

Dog Days Are Over - Vitamin String Quartet
Mushaboom - Feist 
Campus - Vampire Weekend 
Be OK - Ingrid Michaelson
Far Away - Ingrid Michaelson
Swing - Zero 7
New Soul - Yael Naim 
You Are My Sunshine* - Sleep Good
The Wrote and the Writ - Johnny Flynn
Never Had Nobody Like You - M. Ward featuring Zoey Deschannel
Rave On - M. Ward featuring Zoey Deschannel
Wagon Wheel - Old Crow Medicine Show 
Home - Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros 
Sticky-Sweet - Erin McCarley 
The Way I Am - Ingrid Michaelson
Little Too Much - Natasha Beddingfield 
1234 - Feist (obviously!) 
Banana Pancakes - Jack Johnson 
You've Got The Love - Florence + The Machine 
If I Had Words - Sally Harmon (my favorite kid song) 
You've Got A Friend In Me - Randy Newman (I'm allowed 1 disney song, right?) 
Us - Regina Spektor 
Quelqu'un M'a Dit - Carla Bruni 
Little Monster Babies - Kimya Dawson
Sweet Darlin' - She & Him 
Dog Days Are Over - Florence + The Machine 
Cosmic Love - Florence + The Machine
Bird Song - Florence + The Machine 
Everyday People - Sly & The Family Stone 
I Do - Colbie Caillat 
Bottle It Up - Sara Bareilles 
Love Song - Sara Bareilles 
Sea of Love - Cat Power 
French Navy - Camera Obscura 
Animal - Miike Snow 
You and I - Ingrid Michaelson (see warning above - spooning alert!) 

That's my adult friendly kid playlist! What do you think? Parents - any other suggestions??

*I literally listened to hundreds of versions of "You Are My Sunshine"  trying to find the right one for this playlist. I'm not 100% satisfied with this selection, but it was the best recording I could find before Brandt threatened to kick me out :) I'm still searching...

Thursday, February 16, 2012

this is not a drill

Ladies and Gentleman, please do not be alarmed if you don't hear from Brandt or I over the next three days.  Brandt and I will be babysitting his two year old niece for the entire weekend.  I repeat, this is not a drill. We have done an afternoon here and there, and a bed time or two, but this. is. serious.  B and I will be going full parental this weekend.

B's niece has been advised that Mommy and Daddy are going skiing, and "Uncle" and "Char" will be in charge. (We subsequently advised Mommy and Daddy to keep their cell phones on and in range AT ALL TIMES, ...and they laughed in our faces... )

Luckily, I've been diligently training for months now.  I've got 93 pins on my "Future Offspring" board on Pinterest. I'm also a loyal reader of "Parenting, Illustrated with Crappy Pictures." Brandt's experience sometimes looks more like a scene out of Three Men and a Baby, but only on certain "technical" skills. All kidding aside, the guy is amazing with kids.  "Uncle" and I are pretty pumped!  Niece is pretty fun to be around!  If you don't hear from us soon, it's because we're busy having fun! No need to send help. Maybe just send wine - bed time is at 7 :)

And with that, I'll leave you with one of my favorite song for kiddos, from the movie Babe, "If I Had Words."         If I Had Words - Played by Sally Harmon - On Spotify

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

will you be my sentimental valentine?

Happy Valentines Day from Healdsburg!  I hope everyone is feeling a little extra love today!

Valentines Day has been one of my favorite holidays since I was a child.  I loved the Valentines Day parties in elementary school, where we would all decorate little mailboxes, and then exchange valentines with the entire class.  There was something so exciting about picking out and addressing little valentines, and then so exciting to see which kinds you got from all of the other kids in the class.  Heart stickers, doilies, and all those cute little envelopes to open!

When I got home, I'd watch Valentines movies, my favorite being The Little Rascals. (see youtube clip below). 

I'd also read the Berenstein Bears Valentines Day Book, and marvel at the illustrations of snow for Valentines Day! In Washington State we never had snow on Valentines Day!  It wasn't until I turned 18 that I got to see snow on Valentines Day - something practically guaranteed to happen at Syracuse University! 

Of course in Healdsburg California, there is no snow on Valentines Day.  (It is sunny out today.) In preparation for Valentines Day this year,  I've been working on a Valentines Playlist of love songs from the 20s, 30s, and 40s, and a handful of songs after that.  Its got everything from Judy Garland and Shirley Temple, to Glenn Miller and Artie Shaw.  It's perfect for a romantic evening in, or if you and your Valentine are going out, it is fabulous getting ready music!  Please Enjoy my Sentimental Valentines Day Playlist!

On a somewhat more tangible note, I made everyone here in Healdsburg some Chocolate Speedy Oven Fudge from a tried and true recipe by Beverly Bernholtz that I found on  It is seriously so amazing and so delicious, and so easy! Its not too late to whip up a batch - or give it a try this weekend! 

I'm looking forward to going out to dinner with my Valentine tonight, but in the mean time I'll be listening to my Valentine's Playlist, and sneaking pieces of Chocolate Fudge here and there :)

Happy Valentines Day Everyone! :)

Friday, February 10, 2012

arts and crafts > being a good citizen

I had a job interview this morning.  My second since I've moved out here.  By all accounts the interview went marvelously... until they rounded out the morning by asking me to take a personality assessment.

A personality assessment for a design job!? By no means was this off base, but my experience thus far has been with small companies, none of which have had a formal interview processes, or really, processes of any kind.  Management tends not to be a strong suit amongst the creative set.

So I'm sitting in a conference room, looking at the computer.  It was one of those cloudy mornings, just perfect for focusing. Caffeine-fueled and left to my own devices, I really got in the zone.  We are talking serious concentration.  There were two parts to the exam.  The first part gave you four statements.  First you indicate which statement best describes you, then which statement least describes you, I think there were about ten of these.

The second portion was a bit more involved.  You had a list of 6 items.  You ranked those 6 items from most important to least important. Extremely mundane! There were 12 sets that needed to be ranked, which got old, real fast.  Eventually, one of the lists included "arts and crafts."  I love arts and crafts!  Boom! Ranked it number 1! All the rest were pretty boring, so I ranked 2-6 in the order of which I despised the least.  It was one of the last questions, so I was ready to get this thing over with!  As I hit the submit button, I scanned my responses.  I noticed that I had ranked "arts and crafts" over "being a good citizen."  Whoops!

Hopefully this assessment takes in to account that I'm a designer.  Creative tendencies are good for us! And its not like I am otherwise not a good citizen - I vote (gladly), do jury duty (not as gladly), and obey all posted traffic signs (apologies to those who have driven behind me on the 101). I just like crafting so much more than I like doing all of those things.  This is why I'm an interior designer, and not a police officer -- Nobody move! I've got a glue gun!

suspect is armed and dangerous

The Crafty Bitch - Howard Britz (on Spotify) Perfect jazz music for a rainy focused morning in the office! ;)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

a proper farewell to washingon dc

Dupont Circle

Healdsburg has been wonderful so far, but...

Washington DC, you will always be my first love.  For that,  I owe you a proper goodbye.

Washington DC, I first fell in love with you on an unseasonably warm October evening in 2002.  It was my sophomore year of college, and I was on a class trip with Syracuse University's Entrepreneurship Club.  We were in Georgetown, crossing over the C&O Canal bridge.  The sun had gone down, but the Patagonia store still had its doors wide open, and as I walked past, one of my very favorite songs drifted out in to the night air.  With the moon out, the water below, and the street lamps glowing gold, it was a perfect serendipitous moment. I knew instantly that we were meant for each other.
Autumn Leaves in Georgetown
Once I arrived, you endlessly charmed me with your museums, monuments, and beautiful city scenes.

The Willard Hotel

You sparked an passion for politics that will stay with me for the rest of my life.
The United States Capitol Building

You introduced me to one of my favorite spots on earth, Glover Park.
W Street in Glover Park
 And it was there in Glover Park that you first introduced me to the love of my life.
Brandt and I in front of the National Gallery of Art

 Washington DC, you have been nothing short of magical, and for that, I thank you <3

Connection between the East and West Wings of the National Gallery of Art. 

Monday, February 6, 2012

where is healdsburg california?

Downtown Healdsburg
Just about everyone I know has asked me; where exactly is Healdsburg? Others have asked if I live on an actual vineyard.  (not quite, but close!) Don't feel bad, though! Last time I checked, there wasn't a "wine country unit" in any geography class that I know of.

I first visited wine country in the summer of 2010.  Two of my good friends Brie and Chris from Washington DC were getting married in San Francisco.  After their wedding, I met up with my Aunt Louise, and we did an epic road trip up the west coast, all the way up to my hometown of Bellevue Washington.
Passing through wine country in August of 2010
Up until that moment, my only knowledge of wine country came from the movie Sideways, (or if we're getting technical, I guess it would really be Lindsay Lohan's character, "Hallie", in Disney's 1998 remake of The Parent Trap.) I knew it was *somewhere* in California, but I had no idea it was further north of San Francisco!

As we crossed the Golden Gate bridge out of San Francisco, Louise (who had lived in San Francisco for many years) suggested that we stop in wine country for lunch on our way to Crescent City.  I was surprised and excited.  This was the first time that I realized how far north wine country is. I had always assumed it was somewhere in the depths Southern California!  Turned out, its about an hour and a half north of San Francisco on the 101.  (I know, I know, you are probably wondering how I went from not knowing where wine country is, to moving here in less than 1.5 years, but we'll save that one for another post) :) 

Historic Healdsburg Poster on display at Zin
Healdsburg is in the heart of Sonoma County wine country, at the convergence of three wine producing valleys: Alexander, Dry Creek, and The Russian River Valley.  As you can imagine from that description, Healdsburg is indeed mostly vineyards, valleys, and winerys. (and those awesome windy wine country roads like they show in Sideways.) Just being here makes me feel relaxed. 

Mustache Bakery
Healdsburg really seems to have a corner on that whole "rustic chic" thing. At the very center of Healdsburg lies a small town square.  It is filled with adorable boutiques, world class restaurants, tasting rooms, and several incredible bakeries.

You won't find many chains in Healdsburg, the closest mall is 20 minutes south of here in Santa Rosa.  The closest Nordstroms is an hour away.  (I'm coping).  There is, however, exactly one (1) Starbucks in town, which is precisely my minimum requirement for any town (no matter how charming) to qualify to have this Seattle girl as a resident.  There is also a completely lovely local coffee shop called The Flying Goat, which most locals understandably prefer. 

Outside of the town square are a handful of residential developments, which are immediately surrounded by all of the vinyards.  This is where we're staying while we look for our own place, and we plan to settle here.  So while we don't live on a vineyard, we are surrounded with them!  It's beyond amazing.

Now that I've answered your question, I've got one for you: When are you coming to visit?? :)
Today's song (ideal for getting lost on the back roads of wine country) is Far Away by Washed Out (linked here on Spotify).