budget glamour

I was reading Oprah's September issue at 3am (yes, I woke up with some back-to-school anxiety at 3am) and I happily read an article about Vera Wang's new line for Kohl's. Simply Vera Wang hits stores on September 9th! Apparel, accessories, shoes, jewelry, intimates, sleepwear, home, oh my! I have always preferred Target over Kohl's, but I'll be at a the nearest Kohls' on Sunday, September 9th!

Happy shopping!


peace, gratitude and ubuntu

Meet Melanie.
Melanie and I on my wedding day
Melanie is one of my closest girlfriends. She's filled with lots of love and laughter to offer others. She usually has me hysterically laughing, although sometimes, she inspires me to tears. I've known Melanie since 1999 when I first transferred to CSULB. We were instant friends and have been close ever since. Melanie not only reminds me to be thankful for all my blessings, but she also reminds me to "think globally".

Over the last few years, Melanie has traveled to Africa to go on safari (at least 3 times). To say she's become obsessed with the land, wildlife and the African culture is putting it mildly. Africa to Melanie is, "the land that leaves one bubbling over with heartfelt gratitude for being alive!"

Melanie is about to depart for her next Africa adventure in November. This time however, she will also visit an orphanage in Soweto, a large "city" outside of Johannesburg. She recently sent an email to her family and friends requesting some help. She writes:

Dear friends,

Here we go again, another trek to AFRICA - "the land that leaves one bubbling over with heartfelt gratitude for being alive!" In my short time there, this special continent has captivated and changed me. The land, animals and people have taught me one of life's great lessons, that we are all connected and have a great impact on each other.

In Africa, there is a social and spiritual philosophy called Ubuntu that serves as a framework for society. It is difficult to translate into Western language, but it speaks to the very essence of being human. One with Ubuntu respects all people and is concerned with the well being of others because he or she knows that they belong to a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or treated without dignity.

In the spirit of Ubuntu, we will be visiting an orphanage in Soweto and bringing the children items to make their lives a little better. We hope that they will hold their heads higher knowing that they are valued and loved.

As a result of lack of education and poverty due to Apartheid along with little or no access to healthcare, the large township of Soweto outside of Johannesburg, South Africa has a staggering HIV/AIDS rate. The disease has literally killed hundreds of thousands of parents making orphans of a whole generation of children, jeopardizing their health, their rights and their survival.

We need your help! We have asked the orphanage what they need most and were told:

• Linens - Bedding & Curtains
• Jerseys
• Shoes
• Cutlery - Plates / Cups / Tumblers / Spoons
• Computers
• Children’s books (ages 3 to 18yrs)

If you'd like to join us in helping, here are three things you can do:

• Donate any of the above items and we will take them with us.
• Get your friends and family involved - forward this e-mail to those who might be able to help or have contacts with big businesses who could donate items.
• Stick a few bucks in an envelope and send it our way. We will buy supplies in bulk.

Please remember the fond memories that you have from your childhood and do something special to help these children. We all want to feel that we have made a difference in our lifetime. Here is an opportunity to do so in a way that may seem small to you, but will have a big impact on kids who have been denied a basic childhood.

Get active!!

Peace, gratitude and Ubuntu,

Brad Pitt and the General of the Salvation Army recently visited this orphanage.

Here are some photographs captured from Melanie's previous safari trips...they're incredible!

I thought I would reach out to my blogging friends to share Melanie's upcoming journey. While most of us have never met, one thing I think we all have in common is helping out our girlfriends. If you have it in your heart to help, please send me an email and we work out the logistics (misspalmerskids at hotmail dot com).

Thank you for reading!


short, but sweet

The weekends never fail to pass by quickly. Here's a quick recap:

Friday: After I paid off the lady from Wednesday's fender bender (she was very nice and apologetic for being so upset - kill 'em with kindness, right?), Rob and I went out to dinner with our friends Gino and Rebecca. We went to our new favorite Italian restaurant, Caffe La Strada on 2nd St. (thank you, Gabe and Mimi, for introducing us to this great place). We always have such a great time with Gino and Rebecca. They're hysterical and always keep us laughing. We pretty much called it a night after dinner. Rob was feeling like he was coming down with a cold, so after some Theraflu, we were off to lala land.

Saturday: We tried to sleep in so we would be well rested for our day in Santa Barbara. Rob's friend Matt bought us Crowded House concert tickets at the Santa Barbara Bowl for our upcoming birthdays. It was originally going to be a "boys' day", but Matt found a deal on 3 tickets, so I got to tag along. Frankly, I only know a hand full of Crowded House songs, but how bad could a free concert be at the Santa Barbara Bowl? We arrived around 2pm and decided we all needed a nap, so we drove to the beach to rest. Rob was feeling head-achy all morning and afternoon, so he definitely needed some rest in order to make it through a concert. After our nap, we headed to State St. to grab some dinner. We found this great Italian restaurant on Yelp, Bucatini - yum! Highly recommend next time you're in SB! When Rob and I were in town a few weeks ago, we had some delicious cocktails at Chad's and wanted to share the experience with Matt. While Rob stuck with water, Matt and I each enjoyed a delicious fruity cocktail. We arrived at the SB Bowl just as Crowded House hit the stage.  They were really great!  They have some fun catchy tunes.  I'll definitely add them to my classroom playlist (I play music very quietly in my classroom - helps me and I think it helps my students too).  

Sunday: After church, we came home so Rob could get some rest.  I'm surprised he made it through the worship set with a sore throat and a headache...guess the show must always go on. We had plans in the evening to head over to Mimi's parent's house to celebrate my brother's birthday and then we were going to meet with some other friends for dinner and Flight of the Conchords reruns, but Rob didn't want to get anyone sick so he stayed home and I went to celebrate my bro's birthday.  I had a really great time with Mimi's family!  There were 4 kids there and they were so funny and adorable!  Boy, can kids get loud with screams and laughter. The food was delicious and the company was great. I think Gabe had an awesome birthday!  I was terrible and didn't take any photos, however Mimi posted a picture of one of the cakes she made on her blog.  When I came home, Rob was watching Hell Boy...I was so very thankful I had plans...

Monday: Today has been a great day!  Well, actually just my morning...I redeemed a spa gift card at Du Bunne in Torrance.  Haaa...heaven.  I love massages!  Like the weekend, my 50 minutes went too fast!  

Happy Monday!  


don't sweat the small stuff

I'll admit, I've had a relatively rough 24 hours. However, I certainly realize it's "small stuff" in the scheme of life events. Considering the recent passing of Kay's beloved father, Jolene and her family's continued struggle with Henry's illness, my recent Make-A-Wish experience, and a mysterious ailment/illness a very close girlfriend is currently experiencing, I would definitely say that I'm beyond blessed at the moment. All that being said, a few "small stuff" instances have occurred over the last 24 hours:

1. I was in a very minor fender bender yesterday morning. It was completely my fault. I looked down for literally one second and hit a Volvo SUV in front of me. Thankfully, we were at a stop and I had just taken my foot off the break when I saw that the light turned green. But that didn't stop my Charlotte from totally damaging the Volvo's bike rack. Charlotte got away with only a dented license plate. I'm going to pay off the lady tomorrow evening...only $372! I ordered a new license plate holder from VW today and I'm about to order a new license plate from the DMV.

To preface, these two are really minor, but nonetheless, a bit "depressing"...

2. My teacher training sessions are taking place in these bungalow classrooms and they are freezing! This morning I decided I would wear some pants. Except that I literally haven't worn pants since maybe May and when I tried on a pair this morning they were totally too tight! I thought it was just that pair, so I tried on another one...also too tight! And another one and another one...pant after pant of too tight pants! I was SO sad and also in total disbelief! What the heck happened? I eventually found something that was comfortable. I walked out of our bedroom with a huge pile of "pants to be donated" (with only few remaining in the closet). When I came home this afternoon I did the same thing with all my skirts...which turned out to be just as crappy. While I added to the "donated" pile, I just couldn't part with some of my skirts! I'm a skirt girl and some of these skirts were purchased on trips around the US and in the UK. I'll squeeze myself into them I guess. I'm about to be 30 in a couple weeks and evidently my metabolism has come to a screeching halt. I'll admit, I've been eating a lot lately, but I've also been working out. Guess I'll have to begin watching what I eat a little closer. I've even been running lately. Do you think there is a chance that running has made my butt bigger? Hmm...

3. Lastly, I found a couple grey hairs...I quickly plucked them out but was sad to think that soon I may need to start dying my naturally red hair. If this happens, I'll just start with dying it the same color. I'm really proud to say that I've never dyed my hair (well, except for that one unfortunate month in high school when I went burgundy. I try to forget that though). All my life I've been asked, "Is your hair naturally red?" And my response was always, "Yes."...Guess that may have to change when I start finding more grey...

My wonderful husband has been very supportive! The accident seemed like no big deal to him (which in reality, it wasn't a big deal) and even my tantrum this morning had him laughing. I asked for his "approval" to buy some pants that fit my rolly poly belly and his response, "Sure, baby, just don't go hog wild." Ha ha...get it...hog wild...It made me giggle all day...I love when he makes me giggle all day from one silly comment!

Continuing to pray for Tianna, Jolene and now Kay...



If you're looking for something to do in your spare time, I highly recommend becoming a wish granter for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Tonight I had the opportunity to have dinner with Tianna, a sweet 17-year old girl (stricken with Hodgkin's disease) who is about to set sail on a 5-day Disney Cruise in Orlando, Florida. Tianna, her darling boyfriend (who at 17-years old is absolutely incredible and attentive), Tianna's mom, Tianna's longest childhood girlfriend and her mom, myself and my wish granting partner ate at Outback Steakhouse, Tianna's favorite restaurant. Tianna had no idea that we were going to whisk her away in a limo and treat her to one of her favorite meals. While she had just taken some medication to ease pain from a recent procedure and an upset stomach, she tried to really enjoy herself and be present to remember this exciting evening. Unfortunately, her medication makes her extremely tired so she was having a hard time keeping her eyes open and she also wasn't hungry. Thankfully, lots of photos were taken and her giant steak dinner was wrapped up for her to enjoy after the medication wears off (which her boyfriend lovingly cut in to little pieces because she didn't have enough strength to cut through the thick steak herself). During dinner we presented her with a travel bag filled with her favorite things - a Kelly Clarkson CD, a DVD, some jammies, girlie magazines, a cute polka dot scarf, a hat, travel size goodies and $750 spending money. She leaves on Saturday where she will fly to Orlando with all of tonight's dinner guests (minus the jealous boyfriend and us envious wish granters). Unfortunately, she hasn't been very well lately and has been in and out of the hospital over the last several weeks. Her doctors wanted to make sure she would be well enough for this trip so they put her on some special treatment plan, but when she returns she'll be back to her regular regimen. I pray this trip refuels her energy, her spirits, her inspiration and her fight. When I first met Tianna back in January, she was stronger and healthier, but she took a turn for the worse in May and has been fighting to get healthy. She is an incredible girl with big dreams and lofty aspirations - I hope she can beat this crappy disease so she can start preparing for her future. Something about her gives me the peace that she'll be okay soon.

Even though I had to fight back the tears when I hugged her skinny body, brushed my hands through her red wig (she selected a good color though), watched her tired eyes, her desire to enjoy the night and her boyfriend hold her up as she walked, I was so honored to be a Make-A-Wish volunteer and a part of this special night in Tianna's life. I'm new to this organization and have only done two wishes now. I've been told some wishes are easier than others. When I first worked on this wish, I thought it would be a piece of cake. I thought, "She's totally healthy. She doesn't even look like she has cancer." I even talked my friend Emily into becoming a volunteer (well, maybe not after she reads this blog entry). I told her, "It's great! The kids are sick, but it's not sad." Well, after I visited her in the hospital back in May and after tonight's dinner, I was wrong. Tonight was incredibly hard. And I also realized that I need to be doing this more often.

Praying for Tianna and her family...


random inspiration

I hope you had a wonderful weekend! Rob and I had a great weekend, even productive actually! The highlights: finally agreeing on where to place our new kitchen cabinet knobs (thank you, Crystal, for being "Switzerland"), hanging the framed paper I made last week, dinner with Brent and Kristi (they prepared Kung Pao chicken for us, it was delicious), watching a Flight of the Conchords episode (this show is hysterical!), 2 good workouts and some more wedding picture perusal (oy...I'm kinda getting sick of looking at us). On Friday I also caught up with Mimi. We grabbed a bite to eat and then hit up Loehmann's, Banana Republic and Gap. We both ended up with the basic black pant, but we saw lots of other cute things - can't wait for the sales in a few weeks!

I've been listening to the India Arie album lately and I'm so inspired by one of her songs...There's Hope...it's beautiful and every time I hear it I get chills and am reminded to thank God for all the blessings in my life.

Another fun song that oddly inspires me, perhaps because of the high energy, is a song from Legally Blond: The Musical (Legally Blonde is definitely my favorite movie).

I must find a way to get to New York to see this musical!

Finally, a couple wedding photos to share.

The excited bride

The nervous groom

Side note: I actually don't think Rob was that nervous (that's what he tells me anyhow), it was chilly...but it's a funny quintessential groom shot.

This entire week is "New Teacher Institute". I am mostly looking forward to it...but also know that the end of summer vacation is quickly approaching. But when I listen to "There's Hope," I'm eager to get back in the classroom!

Happy Monday!


green, clear, guiltless

I LOVE frozen yogurt, particularly Golden Spoon. Recently, I was enjoying a waffle cone filled with the delicious creaminess of old fashion vanilla and just chocolate when my girlfriend Melanie mentioned that, by getting a waffle cone, I was being "green." I giggled at her comment until I realized in the end I was! All I had left was the napkin wrapped around my cone while she had a cup, a spoon and a napkin remaining! While I'm certainly working on other ways to live a "greener" life, I found one way that actually complements my life. Another reason I love frozen yogurt - it evidently clears acne! I knew it strengthened immunity, bones, teeth, etc., but I had no idea of the clearing skin benefit. Though I've never suffered from sever acne, I do get hit with the occasional chin or forehead zit. All this time when I thought I was over-indulging in daily GS runs, I was actually getting more health benefits than I anticipated.

Green, clear, guiltless, what more would you want in a snack?

Happy weekend!

[picture provided by this Flickr]


fun things

For a long time I've wanted to frame beautiful paper, but Rob didn't really get my desire to frame paper. With this new scrapbooking hobby of mine, I can finally give in to my paper obsession. During a recent trip to the Paper-Source, I was inspired to buy paper and frame it, hoping Rob would go along with my plan if the paper complimented both of our personalities (my husband has a valid concern that if the decorating were left up to me, our condo would become more colorful and shabby chic than something more neutral that we created together. However in it's current state, it's definitely more representative of him, pre-marriage). Anyhow, I discovered some really pretty paper that would look perfect in our bedroom. And to enhance my sell to Rob, I would include a lovely prayer that was given to us at one of my bridal showers that we've been wanting to hang somewhere. This is the paper {we} decided on:

Bertini Gold Ribbon and Luxe Poppy Dots

Here's the final product, hopefully we'll hang them this weekend!

The prayer is really beautiful and I can't wait for it to be hung in our bedroom:

Lord, help us to remember the time we first met and the strong love that grew between us. Help us to apply that love in practical things so nothing divides us. We humbly ask for kind words filled with love and for hearts always ready to ask for forgiveness, as well as to forgive. Lord, we leave our marriage in your hands. Amen

On another note, I've been checking out Kaboodle.com lately and found this adorable cupcake hat. I haven't purchased it yet, but I'm definitely thinking about it. Sometimes I wish we lived in a cooler climate (not really, but there are some really cute jackets and wellies (aka: rain boots, according to J.Crew).

Also, Mimi, my SIL, has a party/wedding planning business and she recently started blogging. Enjoy! her blog! From her blog, I discovered lots of other blogs that I also love, especially:

My Life {as a Sugar Lander} - a designer living in Sugar Land, TX shares her love of crafts, design, photography, Jesus and HGTV.

the {swell} life - a blog written by a San Fran girl who loves crafting, all things vintage, pastel colors, friends & fam, planning parties (& weddings!), taking photos, drinking chai lattes, and most of all Jesus.


i heart school and our wedding photos!

I know, I know, we are trained to not enjoy school, but I love nothing more than learning how to be a great teacher. Obviously, I have lots to learn, but I'm very excited for the school year to begin. I was supposed to have a 3-day training this week but it was changed to a 1 -1/2-day training. Yipiee! Next week however will be a more intensive 5-dayer, and I have a feeling they won't let us out early.

With all this spare time, I've started going through all our wedding photos (well, there are 2 DVD's and I've only been through about 50 photos). Rob and I are deciding which photographs we will frame and which will be placed in an album. It's a VERY long process...there are tons and tons of photos! Natalie Moser, our photographer, was incredible! So far, here are a few of my favorites:

My hot groom and I

My favorite sweatshirt: "Mrs. Tucker Est. 02.10.07"

I felt so pretty on our wedding day...

Me and my girls
Some details...

It was chilly, so we wanted our guests to stay warm with shawls during the outdoor ceremony
Rather than table numbers we had table names after the places we've traveled to together (on the other side of the table name was a picture of us at that city)
Our delicious chocolate cake (even had chocolate chips inside)
I'll post more of my favorites as I get through them. It's fun re-living our wedding day!


back to reality, but a girl can dream

Today was my last day off before heading back to some new teacher trainings tomorrow and then just around the corner will be the start of the school year. Don't get me wrong, I'm very excited to be heading back to school, but not working really rocks! The last few days have flown by, here's a quick recap:

Thursday: I was captured by the baking bug! I made really delicious chocolate chip cookies. Recently a "Neiman-Marcus" cookie recipe was forwarded to me and to be honest, I believed it to be the true "Neiman-Marcus" cookie, so I decided to make it. Though never having had an actual Neiman-Marcus cookie to compare it to, it was the best cookie I ever made.


(our 6 month wedding anniversary): We met up with our good friends Joe and Emily and had some delicious sushi from Sushi on Fire in Huntington Beach. While my heart will always remain with Sushi Studio, Sushi on Fire is pretty good too. Afterwards, we hit up Yogurtland in Fullerton and then called it a night.

Saturday: After some morning paper shopping, my newest obsession, we drove down to San Diego. Rob's mom & dad were performing with their ukulele club in Carlsbad at the Museum of Music Making. While we missed their performance (traffic was terrible), we had some time to walk around the museum, which is pretty cool, especially if you're a music lover. Afterwards, my dad and Patrice (his girlfriend) met up with us for dinner to celebrate Laura's birthday at the Fish Market in Del Mar.

This is about when the paper obsession began...

Sunday: After church, we attended a couples baby shower for our good friends Ken and Kelly. They are expecting a little boy in mid-September. We had a great time with everyone as we showered the soon-to-be-parents (again) with love and good wishes for the arrival of baby #2. We can't wait to meet the little guy in a few weeks!

Ken, the baby daddy

I did a horrible job at taking pictures this weekend, but Kelly will hopefully send me some pictures soon and I'll post the highlights.

I had a few minutes today to daydream about what I would do if we didn't have to work [sigh]. Here's what I came up with:

- Volunteer more with the Make-A-Wish Foundation
- Workout for 2 hours each day
- Read 1 book each week
- Write letters to our local government about potential improvements (thank you West Wing and Sicko for the inspiration)
- Organize our photos and place them in albums
- Archive our old VHS tapes onto a DVD
- Learn how to knit
- Go back to ballet classes (hopefully the 2 hours of working out will help the body image)
- Get back into making jewelry
- Go for a walk or bike ride each day
- Make dinner (most days at least)
- Volunteer at a local school
- Learn how to maintain a garden
- Write letters to long-distance friends
- Learn a foreign language, perhaps German (that's what I took in high school)
- Volunteer at a local shelter

This is just the start of what I would do...my list could go on and on, but alas, it's bedtime. What would you do?

My day begins at 8am...Yikes! Coffee Bean here I come!

makeover 2.0

I thought my blog needed a makeover, or blogger 2.0 as my husband calls it. I feel like this design and the new colors are more representative of me. I love pink, brown, green and simple designs, so now my blog looks more like the things I love.

More about our weekend soon.


playground chants

Remember when you were a little girl and sang songs or chants on the playground with your girlfriends? I vaguely remember the lyrics, but definitely remember singing and having coordinated hand jives. Today, the chants go something like this:

Brick wall, waterfall, girl you think you got it all, but you don't, cause I do so BOOM with that attitude. BANG BANG, choo choo train wind me up, I'll do my thang. Reeses pieces, 7-Up, you mess with me I'll mess you up.

One thing I know for sure, the chants I sang didn't have this kind of attitude. I was one square kid...


bravo for bravo!

Since Rob's been back at work, I've been able to catch up on some things around the house. I've also become obsessed with 3 new Bravo shows. I can't remember the last time I watched Bravo, but they have really created some great programming:

Welcome to the Parker - My brother and sister-in-law were actually married at the Parker in June '06. It really is a "Happy Chic" (in Jonathan Adler's words) hotel. I love the behind the scenes frenzy!

Flipping Out - I just watched this show today for the first time and I love the drama created by Jeff, the estate flipper. He's OCD and totally crazy!

The Real Housewives of the OC - Yesterday I had the pleasure of watching a 5 hour marathon (I was multi-tasking) and it's absolutely unreal! These women have such a skewed view of reality, it's hysterical!

3 new shows I definitely need to add to our DVR...



I made a delicious dinner tonight (if I do say so myself). Despite the warm weather, I made soup (I finally used our new Le Creuset french oven). Here's the recipe that I used:

Hearty Cheddar Chowder

3 cups water, 3 chicken bouillon cubes
4 med. potatoes, diced
1 med. onion-sliced
1 cup sliced carrots
1/2 cup green pepper, diced (bell pepper)
1/3 cup margarine
1/3 cup plain flour
3 1/2 cups milk
4 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1(2 oz.) jar pimientos, drained
1/4 tsp. Tabasco

Combine water & bouillon cubes in Dutch oven and bring to boil. Add vegetables, cover and simmer until tender. Melt margarine in heavy saucepan; blend in flour and cook 1 min.; gradually add milk; cook over medium heat until thickened, stirring constantly. Add cheese stirring until melted. Stir cheese mixture, pimiento, and Tabasco into vegetable. mixture. Cook over low heat til thoroughly heated. DO NOT BOIL. 8-10 servings

This recipe made enough for lots of left overs!

Bon Appetite!


some catching up to do

I didn’t realize that being on vacation would prevent me from my daily blogging, but it has. For the last week, I’ve totally missed reading all my favorite blogs!

We’ve certainly been keeping ourselves busy, but the highlight was definitely Santa Barbara last week. I’ve been thinking about what to share from our get-a-way and there were a few highlights. First, the food! My favorite was Rose Café, a little family-owned Mexican restaurant near the beach. The beef potato tacos were amazing! Chads’s on Chapala also had excellent food and cocktails!

Our delicious cocktails

In between eating, napping and lounging by the pool, I managed to squeeze in a little shoe shopping. Aldo is my new favorite shoe brand. Flats are a requirement for me as a teacher and they have a really great selection (so does Target, my usual shoe store).

I was most excited about these, unfortunately they won't arrive until late next week

We also saw Sicko - wow, were we incredibly angry after watching this movie. While we typically don’t enjoy Michael Moore movies, we felt obligated to see this film and we're glad we saw it.

While walking on State St., we realized how prevalent homelessness is in the area. We are very grateful for all the blessings in our lives and felt a little sad about what we saw. Before leaving Santa Barbara we decided to buy a dozen bagels and distribute them around State St. All seemed very thankful, however it was really sad when a few people struggled to make eye contact with us, nonetheless, at least they were guaranteed something to eat that day. This experience has made me realize that I need to be doing more, not sure what yet, but I’m praying to see where God leads me.

Other than Santa Barbara, the other highlight was discovering a new hobby…scrapbooking. I didn’t think I was one for scrapbooking, but I was invited yesterday to a scrapbooking warehouse in Valencia and it turns out I absolutely LOVE it. I’m obsessed with paper, so now I have an excuse to buy paper. My current project is our honeymoon. Next project will be the vacations Rob and I have taken together. I won’t do our wedding - that seems like a monster of a project. Thank you Susan for helping me yesterday! Can’t wait for next time!

We also saw a couple movies in the last few days, both of which I would totally recommend. Freedom Writers (which we just bought) and Déjà Vu. I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to see Freedom Writers! As a teacher in Long Beach, I’m a bit ashamed. Déja Vu was a mind game for us, and we’re still trying to figure it out. We may need to rent it again and watch it with the commentary on in order to understand it better.

Rob begins a two month assignment tomorrow at Saatchi. It’s funny, I just left last month – they can’t get rid of us. I’m hoping to start sorting through all our wedding photos next week. I look forward to posting some of my favorites.

I’m off to catch up on my favorite blogs! Until next time…