Keepin’ It Real: December 2014

Happy New Year! I hope you are all safe and well! 2015?! Ready or not, here it is.


Can you believe it? It actually snowed at our house on New Year’s Eve! And I mean snowed! My husband woke us all up at six in the morning and we played in the snow while our neighbors slept. I am going to hope they were sleeping and were not peering out their windows at this getup. It was so peaceful and odd and thrilling. I managed to squeeze in five outfit pictures. I had worn these clothes throughout the week (minus the gnome hat, but now you know I have it. The secret is out), but my husband was gone until dark most nights so we could not get pictures. So this setup worked out perfectly. I got to quickly photograph what I wore and it was so fun! This sweater was one that I picked up at the flea market a few weeks ago. The snow was mostly gone by the time the sun set. Wouldn’t it have been crazy if it had done this last week? It was never something I ever hoped to dream of. A white Christmas. But now I ever shall do so in the future.


Here is another peek of an outfit post coming up that I took that day. I went to Anthropologie on Monday and did some reviews that I will be posting soon. This is the one thing I bought besides the most amazing Christmas tree skirt for next year’s small Christmas tree. I just had to quickly talk about this ruffled sweatercoat while the 25% off sale promo is still going on. It is amazing. It is slimming. The color (plum) in person is a zillion times better than what is shown online. This might be my best buy of the season. I used some of a gift card on it. I sized down to a small. I am wearing a black tank underneath it so it is kind of hard to see the exact shape. I am so surprised that this hasn’t sold out yet at its sale price. It is reminiscent of vintage Anthropologie.


Oh my goodness. My husband and I were driving through our town the day it snowed and when we drove by this park we saw it was filled with about thirty to forty snowmen that different children had built throughout the day. It made my heart surge with joy at the rare sight. At this point other kids had come along to destroy the creations. I wanted a picture of the snowmen while they still stood. Well, I was wearing my slippers so I could not get out of the car. As one is wont to always do after a snowstorm. My sweet husband got out of the car and as he was walking along taking pictures with his phone, the other parents (that actually had kids at the park, imagine that) stared at him leerily. I dissolved into giggles so hard that I was crying because the poor guy looked like a creeper at the park. Oh, I owe him big time.


On Monday we also drove down to Los Angeles to go to The Pompei Exhibit. I had wanted to go all year and had been planning for months to get there during Christmas break. Well, it was poor planning. The exhibit was sold out. I tried not to cry and succeeded but it was a huge disappointment.

We went to The Natural History Museum. We had planned on going there after The Pompei Exhibit, because we make a trip there any way once a year. There used to be the coolest exhibits in the children’s wing for kids, but it was different this time. Their extensive live bug collection used to be worth the trip alone, but it has dwindled in size, which was a bummer. We did enjoy the dinosaurs. They have an amazing dinosaur exhibit.


I think this mask at The Natural History Museum looks oddly like my husband. I wasn’t going to say anything, but the lady next to us looked at the mask, then looked at my husband and said, “Hey! It’s you!” So I had to get a picture of it.


Christmas presents. I received the sweetest and most thoughtful presents for Christmas this year. My mom and stepdad actually found me this antique gnome book from Poland. My mom handmade me a sweet present I will post about in a few months. My dad and stepmom gifted me the sweetest bracelet and bird hooks. My sister and brother-in-law hunted down the vintage letters with my husband and my initials and I cannot wait to display them! And my mom and stepdad gave me three unique pieces of jewelry from Etsy. Every time I will wear them, I will think of them. My sweet friend gifted me the yummiest treats, most awesome peacock ornament and a beautiful trivet.

I found my mom a vintage mother of pearl brass jewelry box along with a few other things (including framed self portraits the kids painted) and the Tavia Peasant Blouse from Anthropologie. For my stepmom I purchased a Durango Vests in purple like the one I have. My sister and brother-in-law wanted Disney gift cards to buy passes this year so we contributed towards that and I picked up my sister this shirt in the khaki color from Anthropologie. And now I want it after seeing it on her. I hope to grab mine on sale one day.


Now get thee to a Trader Joe’s stat. These Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Salted Caramel Truffles are the very best things ever. Ever. Must go hoard some more.


It is hard to think of things that happened in December without Christmas looming ever present. We went and saw the final installment of “The Hobbit” a few nights ago. I really enjoyed it, but I have liked them all.


Coming up in January:

The Perfect Dress
Cheesy Salsa-Chicken Empanadas
The Talent Show
Making a Snowgnome
Reading: Throne of Glass (series)

I cannot believe it is January. Instead of making a giant goal for the year or resolution, I have decided to break it down and try to do small monthly goals instead. I need instant gratification or a realistic thing to shoot for. I am trying to lose the fifteen pounds I gained last year. So, in January, I made a monthly goal to not eat anything after dinner or 7:00. Back to iced water only for me at night for the next twenty eight days (and then I hope it becomes a regular good habit again) .

Yesterday was the second anniversary of my grandmother’s passing. Instead of the usual “Overheard In” post that would typically follow this one, I wrote about the last conversation I had with my grandma. It was hard.

What did you enjoy most about December? Are you excited it is a new year? Did you make resolutions? If you live in Southern California, did you make it to The Pompei Exhibit? You still have a few days to get there before it ends and moves on to Seattle. I don’t drive on the freeway so my opportunity to see it is unfortunately gone. Maybe one year I will make it to the real Pompei.

Happy New Year!

Whew! That year was a quick one. Am I right? Well, to me it seems quicker than usual. My kids keep getting bigger and older and more wise with each second. And all of my will cannot keep them small. Their schooling is harder. Their stress load is higher. Therefore, my stress load as a parent is astronomical.

I humbly bow to those that completed their New Year’s Resolutions. I honestly do not think I accomplished a thing. I did write a silly children’s story that I might have my kids illustrate for me, but I did not write the book I wanted to. All of my time seems to be taken or trickling into unimportant things mixed with the urgency of importance.

And I gained weight instead of the goal I made last year of maintaining it. Oh, sigh. And harumph. And oh well. I can still fit into my clothes and that is all that matters. If you must, you could sing “Jenni gained weight and I don’t care,” to the beat of “Johnny Cracked Corn…” But only if you must. I always seem to must.

I am having a hard time making goals this year. Because my heart can dream big but my soul is so lazy. It is an odd train to be upon with a thumping trumpeting heart as the conductor pulls a long train stuffed with my prostrate spirit oozing sleepiness and lethargic doom, followed by the caboose of reality. Choo! Choo!

There were so many beautiful moments with my family this year. My daughter turned fifteen and soon will be getting her driving permit. Gulp. My husband and I got away to Las Vegas. We went to Maui as a family and I had l planned upon returning this coming summer, but my son and I were convinced to take a family road trip instead. And by convinced, I mean my teenager bombarded us with the persistence of youth, to do so. The long trip terrifies me with its planning and I worry for my slothful soul. I even booked us a yurt to stay in. A yurt?! Hold my hand. 2015 is looking adventurous.

This is where most blogs put up their favorite posts of 2014. Well, most blogs did that last week. This lazy soul is late, as ever.


My favorite outfit post was Bohemian Black Lace. This is my husband’s favorite dress and my favorite shoes. Together, they made me happy.


My favorite food post was A Better Crockpot Salsa Chicken. I use this constantly and for so many recipes. I love it!


My favorite short story was My Husband’s Secret. I wrote it in bed one night and it still makes me laugh. In fact every time I see his secret, I smile. It truly is the little things.

Are you making goals and resolutions for the new year? Do you plan your vacations this far in advance? Do you party tonight? Stay home? Stay up until midnight? I watch Anderson Cooper’s New Year’s Show. It is our favorite. Ever since I saw him on The Mole, I knew he would be my very best friend. Maybe in 2015?


May 2015 be the year you are most proud of.

With or without Anderson Cooper as a bosom buddy.

Rose Bowl Flea Market December 2014


It happened again.

I got up before the crack of dawn.

To shop, of course.

What else is worth getting up early on a weekend for?


My husband and I both love going to The Rose Bowl Flea Market in December. The weather is nice and cool. Cold but not too cold. The vendors are a little more jolly. It is just a nice time to go. Plus, it is fun to pick up unusual one of a kind Christmas gifts for people who will truly appreciate them.


We have now worked out what is most enjoyable for us when we go to the flea market. We like to get there early and leave early. We got there at 7:05 and left at 9:05. Well, we left the first time at 9:05 and the second time at 10:05. But that is a long story involving me thinking we had lost a piece to an item only to come to the conclusion it had always been missing. You know, because items that are old… Vintage… They are always in pristine condition and you should never inspect them before you buy. Or always inspect them. It is one of those for sure.

There were so many amazing items there this time. We saw a beautiful library cabinet. It was too expensive for us, but I am sure someone grabbed it. And, of course, we did not get a picture of the beautiful piece.


An Indian wedding bench from a wedding house. Actually two of them. And the third one, a blue one, had just sold. They were $350 each. They were so beautiful they made my heart ache. I have absolutely nowhere to put them. The sweet owner said I could treat them and put them outside to which I not jokingly replied I would move my bed out there first. I would never ruin such beauties with the outdoor elements.


This green laundry bin was really cool. I have enough laundry bins. But I had not seen one like this before. And I am not quite sure it was a laundry bin, but it was perfect for the task. I hope it went to a good home. It even had wheels.


I ended up taking this old game wheel home… I know. But my bleary (not Beery) eyes fell in love.

It was probably from some hometown carnival many years ago. It was not a professional wheel, but I loved the colors and the sentiment of it. Now where to put it? I had originally planned on hanging it above my daughter’s bed. Then the grogginess of the morning wore off and I once again became aware that we live in earthquake country. Probably not the wisest move to hang a heavy wooden object with rusty metal above your kid’s bed. It is a good thing I do not make most of my life decisions at dawn.


I loved this old, I believe it was from Nepal but I could be wrong, alter. It was from the 1800s and very pretty.


Of course, I had to take pictures of the unusual, too. This old Hamburger symbol. It was huge. I do not know what someone would do with it, but I had to take a picture of it after that dream I had a few months ago.


Dolls. Dolls. Dolls.

They are watching me.


With hungry eyes.


I do not know why, but this sign made me giggle. I just pictured giving it to someone as a gift. I have since learned it was an old time actor. But I thought it was a bar sign. Both cases make me smile.


In my hoarder’s ultimate fantasy, I would have a room filled with these metal letters. And I could reach in and grab handfuls at a time and they would slip through my fingers. And whatever letters were left would be my fortune for the day.

And that would make as much sense as a bar sign advertising Beery. Which, by the way, would always be my fortune of the day.


I did not buy any of these letters, but they were neat. It was an overwhelming amount of choices.


The coat is Anthropologie Tartan Blanket Coat (previously styled here).

There is a man at the flea market that sells exotic textiles whom I think has the best taste. He was there again on Sunday. He was selling the most beautiful blanket. It was like a kantha, but unlike any kantha I had ever seen. It was white with red and blue stitching. It had patches of kantha-like material. It was subtle but beautiful. I wanted it desperately. But my sweet husband really wanted to buy me a coat at another vendor because he thought it was perfect for me and I would wear it and think of him and so he did for Christmas. And the blanket had to give for the coat. I took a picture of the blanket in my mind. The coat will stay on my body and in my heart… When I get it.


I picked up this fun little chest covered in fish for $20.


I also purchased three of these afghan cardigans. Two for me and one for my daughter. I did not really think she would like them, but my husband was insistent that she would. What would be your guess? Would a teenage girl wear one of these?

I do know the answer.

Just like I did before the purchase was made. ; )


I saw this dog and I thought it was a perfect cross of what Ollie and Murphy would look like if they had a love child.


What would one would do with these geese? They looked interesting. Almost like they were from a set of a 1940s movie. They were also in pristine condition. I would have loved to have learned what the purchaser was planning on doing with them.

Remember when that man asked me if I was looking for an iceberg detector the last time I went to the flea market? Well, my husband recognized him again right away in his booth. He actually had glowing devices and was asking people as they walked by, “Do you need an iceberg detector?”

He added a new part to the line this time, too, “Or a zombie zapper?” So, if you are looking for either of those devices, look no further. But best to have some beery before your first use.

Would you be excited or sad to get a gift from a flea market? I only purchased gifts for people there who I knew would like them. If I gave certain people a used item, I would never ever ever hear the end of it. I will show the pictures of the gifts I bought in “Keepin’ It Real” at the end of the month. July’s Rose Bowl Flea Market trip can be viewed here.

P.S. I shared this on Savvy Southern Style.

Keepin’ It Real November 2014

Ahhhhh, November. I love November, not nearly as much as December, but it doesn’t need to know that. I am behind on my blog. Because it has been so cozy, I have wanted to do nothing but bake and read books. I apologize for my being behind on comments. It is my selfish book reading heart’s fault. I have not been on the internet as much this week. My kids had the whole week off and it was just so nice to decompress with them. I hope to be back on schedule this week. As a family, we went and saw “Big Hero Six.” This is one of the best movies I have ever seen. I give it a ten out of ten. Bring tissues. And be sure to stay until after the ending credits.

My family and I were so sick for two weeks of November. Two weeks. I remember on day twelve bursting into tears because I was so tired of feeling awful, but it did pass. For that, I am grateful. November is a grateful month. It is the dark month of reflection. The lightness of laughter remembered. The darkness of finding light in trying circumstances. I know so many people who are going through a hard time. It is very difficult for me to be happy sometimes when I know their struggles.

My grandmother’s birthday was on the seventh and my heart felt so heavy that day. Yet, I am so thankful for the time I did have with her.

Here is November briefly recapped with things that did not make it on the blog:


I rescued a sea lion.


On Thanksgiving, my aunts, uncle and mother gave me back the last Christmas present I had gifted to my grandma the week before she passed away. It was very sweet. It was a sad moment that day when we watched my laughing grandma on an old VHS tape.

And so now I have this bowl, knives and kitchen mittens that I feel I need to do something special with. That I am terrified of breaking. And yet, they make me feel weary. Tired. My grandma never used them, so even though I try to tie an emotional connection to these things, I find myself incapable of doing so. Unwilling, if you will. For my grandmother never used them when she was alive, so they sat unused because… she died. When I look at these items, I remember her death. Not her life. Hence the weariness. I need to contemplate how I feel about this more. I think instead of the items being a tribute to my grandmother, I will remember them as being lovingly saved by four siblings as a gift to me. I will remember my mother, my aunts and uncle when I use them. Of overcoming insurmountable grief to think of another person during a dark time. Of the love that was saved for me. Ahhhh…So many ponderings over kitchen items.


I have a problem. A tuna problem. I cannot quit it. I ate a whole entire tuna pie all by myself in three sittings. Is there a meeting for this?


Today is Cyber Monday. Because I purchased so much the week of Black Friday, I am sitting this one out (unless you know of an amazing waffle maker on an amazing deal, because I had to throw away my old one yesterday). And I don’t want to do yet another shopping post. However Modcloth is having an awesome sale today offering 25% off everything with code CYBERMONDAY. I will tell you, the following links are affiliate links. Purchasing through the links will provide a small income for this little ol’ blog. Everything I am listing is actually sitting in my cart awaiting a future indulgence (except the blue dress which I all ready purchased through Dear Creatures). Modcloth always offers free shipping on orders over $50:

1. The Chilly Commute Dress. This is adorable. Easy. I like the colors. I like the shape. I like it.

2. Gnome Man’s Land Socks. Oh! I want these so badly! Actually I want ten pairs of these so badly. I have to stop looking at them or I am going to buy them.

3. Channel The Charm Dress by Dear Creatures. If you missed out on Dear Creature’s 40% off sale, where I purchased this dress, this is still a good price with the code. Plus, the return policy is much better.

4. The Copious Comfort Poncho looks almost exactly like the poncho from Anthropologie that I missed out on last year.

Outfit Outtakes:


Ollie being a stubborn bulldog. Original outfit post here.


Being a dork. Original outfit post here.


I found my perfect restaurant. Individual brewed iced teas and tuna sandwiches. What more could a girl ask for?


Coming Up In December:

Three Stripes Your Out-fit
House Tour
Sisters In Tulle
Crazy Searches
The Easiest Salted Caramel Cookie Bars

I am also going to need some help deciding on some purchases I made during Free People’s awesome sale. I bought these boots in red for my husband to gift to me for Christmas. Well, I could not resist peeking at them or trying them on. Now I am unsure. My thighs are much larger than my calves. I feel like having the boot stop right at the start of my thigh is unflattering. I might post a picture soon to see what you think. And I am thinking of returning The Embroidered Moto Jacket. I love the embroidery but I am not sure of the fit on me. And I need some styling help on The Eyelet Duster. So would it be wrong to have a post about items I need help deciding on?

We are now in December. My very favorite month. I love the brightness of the big holiday. The colors everywhere. The excitement. I love giving gifts. I love the smells. It can be overwhelming, though. Because of this, I do a random act of kindness every single day this month. It makes me put the holidays into perspective. It is something I do for my soul to try to balance the present greed. With that in mind, I want to note that while it is so awesome to donate toys for children at this time, please do not forget the elderly amongst us. I definitely will be donating toys, but this is the month when my heart goes towards the forgotten amongst us…

The day after Thanksgiving, I ran into a grocery store to quickly grab two items. I decided to cut through the cookie/cracker aisle to get to the register. As I entered the aisle, a lone woman was slowly pushing her cart in front of me. She was in her late sixties. Not old by any means. Her pants had slid down underneath her bare bottom.

I did not know what to do.

I did not want to embarrass her, but I also did not want a mean person to laugh at her circumstances. I approached the woman and said to her, “Ma’am, you’re pants have slid down.”

She thanked me as she groaned. She was ill. It was the day after Thanksgiving. She was sick. She was shopping for food. By herself. Alone. Like so many elderly people. They have to venture out sick, alone, spend the holidays by themselves. I did not know what I could do for her. My family was waiting in the car. My husband had to get to work. Selfishly, I did not want to get sick myself. So, I left. I have many excuses, but none of them are enough.

I am so imperfect.

Yet it breaks my heart. Makes me feel helpless. Overwhelmed. Guilty.

It could happen to any of us. And so for me, I try to concentrate on making sure I am remembering to take the older generations into consideration this month.

How was November for you? Are you more excited for December? How do you decompress during this busy season? Are you reading anything good? I have read five books this week. I can recommend one of them. It is One Came Home. I will be doing a review about it soon, but it is an easy (it is a children’s book) beautiful read.