Merry Christmas (To Me)

Did I mention that I needed to start my holiday shopping?

Spouse and I made a list last night of all the people we needed to gift, plus what we’d already accomplished.

Summary: The list spanned more than 50 people and the fait accompli section was a mere 20%.


Yet, despite all of this, the same this happened as does every year: the accounting showed that I had purchased some pretty sweet gifts for myself.

Seriously, the deals this time of year are impossible (for me) to resist.

(I know, I know).

I spent a portion of last night opening the mountain (yes, fair descriptor) of packages piled at the front door of Fancy Pants Ranch and discovered two items that were just for me.

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The first was an ice-blue cashmere scarf from Banana Republic that I got for 40% off and the second was a tee shirt from Bombas with a motivational message.

Since my resolution for 2015 is to be authentic, this shirt hit home with me.

Bee better.

So true.




Natural Cosmetics

Last week during my delicious spa escape, I got introduced to Susan Posnick cosmetics, an all-natural mineral line.

I’ve tried a few mineral-based make-up brands in the past with mixed results.

Some of the brands seemed to be cakey and unappealingly unnatural.

But in the end, I just love something new.

The first thing I tried from Susan Posnick was a dual ended pencil that was both a concealer and a brightener.


The pencil was really creamy and didn’t drag at all across thin undereye skin.


Next up: bronzer and foundation with buildable coverage, plus a neutral pencil with eyeshadow on one side and eyeliner on the other.


The eyeshadow/liner duo has a subtle gold eye shade with hazel liner. Gorgeous!

The lipsticks were real stand outs, with all-natural ingredients and nice flavor.

I got three:

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From left to right, they are “Dubai,” “LA” and “Shanghai.”

The most satisfying part is that they have a magnetic closure. Snap, snap, snap. Love.

One thing I noticed is that these products don’t seem to last all day and need reapplication, but I can live with that for a nontoxic trade-off.

P.S. There was a holiday gift with purchase of free shimmer powder and an adorable, tiny brush. Yay! I thought this was super pretty and sent it to my BFF as a fun surprise.














The Penguins

About five years ago, Spouse started a holiday tradition of decorating Fancy Pants Ranch with mechanical penguins.

It started with one, and now our flock numbers four.

During the intervening years the penguins have variously flown in formation in our front yard, frolicked on our swing set, and climbed a ladder to break into our garage, among other adventures.

(These elaborate dioramas are entirely courtesy of Spouse, the mechanical engineer).

This year a lone penguin in our front lawn is staring wistfully at the other three, who are warmly ensconced (and visible) through the upstairs windows.

Here’s the idea:




(Ok, it is so hard to photograph wire penguin forms at night with your iPhone).

Trixie decided that she would help by naming the penguins.

Much, much consideration went into their monikers.

End result:

  • Penguina
  • Waddles
  • Courage
  • Narwahl


This brought Spouse and I to a pause.

We had to ask Trixie what it was.

Her explanation: a unicorn whale.


We genuinely went back and forth: is this a real thing?

Turns out, it is.

From National Geographic:

This species of whale has an unusual and mysterious long tusk, once harvested and sold as a unicorn horn for ten times its weight in gold!

Go figure.

Here’s a video of Narwhals in action.



Holiday Shopping

Ugh. I really, really need to get in gear with my holiday shopping.

I haven’t even started on the easy people yet (my Lego crazy 7 year old and “Frozen” crazy 5 year old; I mean these are total softballs), not to mention the challenging recipients who require rare acquisitions that demand sourcing, prep work and occasional trips to strange stores that don’t even have signs out front.

I think I’m also going to need to select some type of emergency rush shipping option that involves uniformed butlers hand-delivering the goods to my front doorstep.

That should be cheap.

Meanwhile, I’ll dream of strolling through New York and viewing the fantastical window displays . Here’s a roundup of 2014’s best holiday windows, as per the “Today Show.”




Healing Knots

One of my favorite activities from my spa trip last week was bracelet making class.

So, yes, this place is basically camp for adults. 

Oh! And I didn’t mention yet that when I walked in the door, the first two people I saw were two women I met last year during my camp week. My new friends L., B., and I already made a plan for a repeat visit same time, same place next year. It was fun to pal around with them.

The idea behind the bracelet class was to make a piece of jewelry to wear with intention. 

It’s purposefully simple and rustic.

Healing Knots was started by a woman who made the bracelet as a way to heal from her brother’s death. (Full story here).

You can make the bracelet for any reason, but some people make them to celebrate a milestone, mark the weeks of pregnancy (40 beads, one for each week), to heal from a divorce/death/break-up, or to signify a goal. In the last case, you are supposed to wear the bracelet until you reach the goal, then give it away.

Another rule is that any time you meet someone who seems to need the bracelet more than you do, you need to give it away.

I decided to make my bracelet with beads in natural colors, except for one.

The lone bead is bright yellow, which symbolizes being authentic, which is a word I would use to describe myself and a way I try to live my life.

Here’s how it turned out:



My intention for 2015 is to live authentically. This is a reminder.

P.S. Here are two snaps of my own tiny spa garden, complete with fountain. It was heaven.

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Like most of my parenting moments, I discovered at the last minute that the Moscow Ballet would be performing “The Nutcracker” in our town.

That very night.



Last Friday as I drove the kids to school, we heard about the Russian troupe’s performance on Minnesota Public Radio.

When I got to work I was stunned to discover that tickets were still available. In the front row.

Spouse was already committed to a Work Holiday Party that night, so it was just Kids and Me.

I got three tickets in Section 1, Row 1.

FYI, if you are attending a ballet, Row 1 is not your friend.

You can see the dancers really well, but only from the knee up.

For the most part, the kids were enthralled.

Unfortunately for me, when the March played, all I could think about was this rip-off commercial from the ’80s for Smurfberry Crunch cereal:

Overall, kids had a blast.

I was just craving a Smurfy, fruity breakfast treat.