All we need is love

All we need is love
All we need is love

Monday, December 17, 2012

12K's of Christmas

I ran the a race called the 12K's of Christmas with one of by best girlfriends today. We dressed up in festive tutus for the run and had a blast! It was cold and wet in the Arizona snow (it rained), but that didn't stop a ton of people for showing up in fun costumes to run. There were stations all along the race with carolers serenading the participants- some individuals and a few full choirs. It was the Christmas version of cheerleaders! There was even a bell choir! I loved every minute of it- thanks for the treat Riss! ox

Friday, December 14, 2012

She said "YES"!!

My oldest and dearest got engaged tonight! A wonderful year of dating the perfect guy for her culminated in a private engagement and public SURPRISE celebration of the event. It was so amazing! I cried like a blubbering fool! No one deserves as much happiness as much as she does and I can't wait for the big day!
 It started out with a singing flash mob as she entered the house, her family started singing the song Mandy (with a few lyrics changed to fit). Then brother came in singing the 3rd verse, followed by many of her closest friends and family singing the chorus. It was so perfectly planned! She had no clue!

After our song, her mother led a beautiful blessing where the couple were prayed over by Mandy's mother, father, brother and her old pastor. Then we all laid hands on them and prayed over them and promised to help them through their journey. It was touching and beautiful!
 Then we had a party to celebrate their engagement! 
 They make such a great couple!
 So amazing to see them together- so in love!

Congratulations Mandy and Danny! I am so incredibly happy for you both! Thanks for having the strength and conviction to do it the right way- what an amazing example for the world to see!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Fall Leaves- a little late. . .

. . .but very welcomed!
 How nice of Chloe's neighbors to let the girls rake up the leaves so they could jump in and play in the pile!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Winter Choral Concert

My sweet Aria and her classmates got all dolled up in their black dress attire tonight to perform at their winter choir concert. They sang like angels! 
My favorite song they performed- Carol of the bells.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Lyczynski Family Photos

I photographed my sister's family yesterday at Mesa Center for the Arts- one of my favorite places to take portraits. She has a bigger family than I'm used to photographing, so that posed a few challenges for my novice skill set, but overall, I'd say the shoot was a success! Here are some of my favorites!

I heart the Lyczynski Family! ox

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Custom, Home-made Tortilla Chips

I co-hosted a baby shower on Saturday for a friend who is having a girl, and decided that, since we were having Mexican fare, we should have some appropriately PINK, heart-shaped tortilla chips to go with it all. perfecto.
I have been making fun tortilla chips for different occasions for years- Fall Leaves in November. . . black cats, white ghosts and orange pumpkins for Halloween parties. . . it's a fun, creative way to add a custom detail to a party for not a lot of money. What's more- they don't taste any different from any other fresh tortilla chips. (I'm lying- I think they taste BETTER!) 
They're easy to make- in fact, my daughter and her friends helped me with most of this batch- I just did the frying. Let me show you just how simple these cuties are. 

1. Cut out your desired shape from a bag of raw corn tortillas, using a cookie cutter.
  I used 2 different sized heart cutters to make the most of my tiny tortillas. 

2. Place your corn tortilla cut-outs on a cookie sheet and, using a pastry brush, brush them with a coating of very dilute food coloring. I used about 1 drop of gel coloring in 1-2 cups of WARM water. The warm water helps the gel color to distribute evenly. The more concentrated your colored water is, the darker your chips will turn out. We wanted light pink chips, so I used a very dilute color. 
Be sure to flip them over and brush the opposite side as well.

3. In the mean time, have a 4-6 inches of vegetable oil heating in a large stock pot with a candy thermometer ready. Your oil needs to be about 375 degrees F for perfect, crispy chips. 
CAREFULLY drop them into the heated oil as fast as you can. If you don't get them all in about the same time, they won't cook evenly. If they are a little crowded, they should be fine- they shouldn't stick together. 
Fry them for about 3-5 minutes, or until they are slightly golden and crispy. 
4. Remove them from the pot quickly with a slotted spoon and salt them immediately. The chips dry quickly, so if you don't season them right away, your flavor will not stick!

5. Drain them on a plate or bowl fitted with a couple of dry paper towels for a minute or two and then remove them and place them in a bowl for serving. Change out the paper towels with new ones after every 2-3 batches so the towels can absorb the oil.  
They should last for a couple of days in a zip lock bag if they were cooked all the way.

Serve them with some yummy salsa or guac- and enjoy!

Plus- I must say, heart-shaped chips are just about the best shape for dipping and eating that I've ever had! I think I can feel a new Valentine's Day tradition coming on!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

A Baby Shower fit for a princess!

A few of my dear friends and I put on a baby shower for one of our wonderful co-workers who is about to have a girl! It had been a while since I had planned a baby shower, so I was looking forward to it- and loving the theme created after the mommy-to-be's love for monkeys and (of course) the color PINK!

Here is a little of what we did. 

The night before, I made some paper crafted decorations, like:

these falling heart streamers. . .

. . . custom napkin rings to fit the theme. . .

A pretty chair, just for the mommy-to-be. . .

. . . lovely little embellishments in honor of the baby on board, like this floral "A". . .

A festive wreath to greet the party guests. . .

. . .and lots and lots of paper fans!

 There were pink and white flower poufs here and there as well.
My favorite site is always the buffet- I like to make it my focal point for the decor theme.

Pictures from the mommy-to-be's photo shoot could be found around the house.

A friend of a friend make this amazing cake with baby animals on it to follow the theme. It was so pretty and fit the decorations perfectly!

The tables outside were dressed with white linens topped with runners in shades of pink and beautiful bouquets of daisies and roses.

We even had a clothes line adorned with clothes purchased for the baby from our party guests.

It was a lovely event! 
I was so glad everyone was able to attend to enjoy it all and shower our friend with pretty little things for her new baby girl.