Soon to be Four

You are reading that title correctly. Soon there will be FOUR Browns in this family. Josh, Heather, Caleb, and....another little boy! Baby Boy Brown #2 is expected sometime late November or early December -- official due date is December 2nd, 2018 (we'll see!).

It seems not so long ago we were announcing my first pregnancy and birth of Caleb. Now, we're adding another to our family crew. We're all very excited and can't wait to meet this little guy. I'll try to keep you in the loop as the year progresses! 

The big T-W-O

Can you believe it?! My little baby boy is two! TWO!!!! Of course, we had to celebrate with fun, friends, family, and treats. 

Poor guy, he basically has a holiday birthday. He was born January 2nd, so he's not quite a New Year's baby, but for me it all started on New Year's day so I say it counts. By his birthday, everyone is burnt out from Christmas and New Years. But this mom won't let the fun stop until after we party for his birthday! In fact, we celebrated twice - once on his actual birthday and again with friends at his party.

The Actual Birthday

This year Grandpa John and Grandma Jan were in town to help celebrate. Then Dad/Josh took the day off of work. Lots of family around to give Caleb birthday hugs and laughs.

As for treats, Caleb has two loves: frozen yogurt/ice cream and cookies. I think frozen yogurt beats ice cream only because it sticks to the spoon better so it's easier to eat. So, we all headed to Black Bear for some froyo. 

Caleb got some more gifts so we opened them. He LOVES his guitar from Grandma Nada and Grandpa Don. Seriously, he has his own jam sessions. Check out this video of him dancing

Grandma Jan and Grandpa John got him a wagon. We intended for him to sit and be pulled around, but he had something else in mind: pulling it. We should've know.  

I tried to get a cute picture of Caleb with this new sign, but he was more interested in playing with the sign. I usually take the birthday photos with the blocks, but the past few times he's thought it funny to knock them over - our wood floors fear him.

So the birthday was a nice day of treats, music, and wagon walks. 

The Big Party

Saturday, January 6th we celebrated his birthday with friends. We had the part at the Children's Museum of Tacoma. This is one of his favorite places - we go at least once a week. It seemed fitting (and easier than having it at home!). I called his party, "Ready TWO Play!" 

We partied for two hours. The first hour was in a party room. The kids played with play-doh, the parent's chatted, and then we all ate cookies.

Yup, cookies not cake. This kid loves cookies. It's probably the number one word used these days. He will randomly say it, too. Not to mention he thinks many things are cookies - crackers, circles, etc. He takes his fingers and pretends to eat and says, "cookie cookie cookie."  It's too freaking cute. So I put frosting on a cookie and used that for the candle. I made Cake Batter Chocolate Chip cookies and Funfetti Cookies Supreme. He grabbed both cookies - two hands, two cookies, two years. 

Here a video of us singing happy birthday to Caleb. I love how he sways with the singing and then tries so hard to blow out the candle.

Even though there is holiday burn out, we still had good friends show up to party! We are so thankful for such great friends. Caleb gets so excited these days when he hears his friend's name. We had Xola, Johann, Theo, Sebastian, and Liam. Yay for friends!

The second hour of the party was free play fun out in the museum. Caleb's face was red and flushed from all the running and playing...a true sign of a good time. He was all giggles. As we were all leaving, the kids all sat on the little blue couch and said, "cheese" for a picture. It was the cutest thing ever. 

Wow, just too much fun - this mom is tired out! But what a great celebration. Caleb is my little toddler, now. So grown up. We love him so much and can't believe how fast time has past. We are loving every minute with him (minus the tantrums...well ok, we will even take those as well, just because we love him that much). 

And I can't resist, here's Caleb at his two year check-up. He loved the paper on the bench. And he checked out great. Up to 8% from 2% in weight. Then up to 21% from 11% in height. My lower back knew he was growing. ;)

P.S. See all the birthday party photos here!

Six Years of Marriage

Let's count...

one year.

two years.

three years.

four years.

five years.

Now we're celebrating six years together (eh hem, that isn't counting all the years of dating either). But, these have been the best six years of my life! So much has happened these years - married, job changes, paid off debt, got a dog, moved, bought a house, pregnant, and a baby! 

We're celebrating with Thai take-out tonight, haha. However, we did get to celebrate in a more romantic way when we were in Kauai, though. We went to a delicious dinner at Bar Acuda and had cocktails at the St Regis Bar and watched the sunset (both sans toddler). 

And aren't we still looking young, hip, and cool?

Home Sweet Home for One Year

Today marks the one year anniversary of moving into our first home as well as our move down to Tacoma. I'd like to say I got some awesome pictures of the whole family in front of our house to commemorate the occasion, but Caleb was already down by the time Josh got home. And this mom ain't pushing back bedtime for a photo. 

I almost just posted a photo of the house (isn't it adorable?), but then Josh arrived home from work so we did a selfie (naturally).

We are so very happy in our home and with Tacoma. I particularly love...

...the window in our kitchen and how I can look into the backyard and see the flowers or dog running around. 

...the light that comes into the front room and how Asha and Caleb look outside together. 

...that we are so close to parks. There are at least three within walking distance. 

...the location. We can take a 15 minute walk to the Proctor district for coffee, library books, groceries, and the farmer's market. Or, hop in the car for fun at Point Defiance Zoo, Aquarium, and park. Or, go to the waterfront. 

...that we have a guest room, so friends and family can stay with us.

...our blueberry bush (wait, that's Caleb...well, I love it, too).

...that I know my way around town now, and we have our favorite spots (but still have opporunties to discover more!).

...that it is ours. 

It's amazing to think about all that has happened over the past year - especially with Caleb. It feels like we've lived here forever (in a good way). This definitely feels like home now!

Cheers to many more years! 

Caleb enjoying freshly picked blueberries from the backyard.

Caleb's First Birthday

Inconceivable! Hmm, "I do not think it means what you think it means." Okay, Heather, that was nerdy.

But seriously...oh.my.gosh Caleb is 1 year old now. It really does seem inconceivable sometimes. Yet, here we are with practically a toddler now. Generally I would launch into how quickly the year has gone by and yada yada. In reality though, sure it went fast, but parts of it went extremely slow. Like those nights where you wake up every three hours. That seemed slow. Or the days where he was Mr. Fussy pants and was all crankiness most likely due to who-knows-what -- sick, teething, tummy ache, it's a toss up sometimes. Yea, that all seemed slow.

Overall, though, I look back and think, "wow, we've raised this little guy from birth to a year old. That happened fast!" I keep thinking back to last year at this time. It's been an incredible journey so far (and it'll keep going and keep being incredible!). This has been the hardest, but most rewarding year of my life. Life has changed radically and I do not think I can even put it into words. It's been amazing to watch Caleb grow from the tiny little 5 pound 6 ounce newborn to his current 17 pound 5 ounce boy. I look at his newborn photos and it seems unreal now, but it still melts my heart. 

The little guy we have before us today still melts my heart. I'm 100% sure he'll melt my heart for the rest of my life. I go gaga over his little arms raised at me saying, "lift me up, mama!" Or that little finger he loves to point at everything and say "dat!" Or when he speed crawls down the hall, then stops and looks back expecting me to speed crawl after him. Then he continues on laughing. That laugh - it's contagious! Can you tell I'm in love? Is my gushing starting to get a little annoying. Well, it's my motherly duty. 

I bought him this adorable orange shirt. I think he looks pretty good in orange. He also looks good in blue; it brings out the blue in his eyes. Fun fact: the #1 thing strangers comment on are his blue eyes. They do seem to have a brilliant shade of blue and sparkle, especially when he smiles. The other two most commented things are his simple & dimple - he has a cute dimple on his cheek when he smiles. Also, I often get told he should be a Gerber baby model. I tend to agree (but I might be biased). 

To celebrate his first birthday, we had a small little get together at our home. I themed it "Winter ONEderland" (with sub-theme "celebrating Caleb's first on the first" since we had the party on 1/1/17) - yea, I'm corny. We decorated in blue, silver, and white to make it all wintery. Josh dressed up our holiday bear bust for the party, too. I thought it was pretty hilarious. It was fun to put it all together. Honestly, Caleb just wanted to tear everything down and put it in him mouth, so this was really for the parents. 

I got my crafty hands out and made this little chalkboard sign for the party. I wrote a DIY post if you're interested in how I made it. It was fun to put together and think about all the Caleb-isms. Although I realized I missed a few things. Under "I Love" I totally should have listed that he loves the Apple TV remote. It's crazy how much he loves it. What didn't fit were listing nicknames like "Captain Yogurt Face" given to him by Josh. Or what he's known for: his dashing smile, dimple, and blue eyes. Or his favorite word: Dat. Otherwise it really sums him up! 

Of course, we had to have cake. What's a party without cake. I made Caleb a little smash cake. I used the How Sweet It Is Mini Sprinkle Smash Cake recipe and it turned out quite tasty and totally sweet. I considered one of those healthy smash cakes they say for babies, but then I was like...why? We are celebrating..with sugar!

I totally expected Caleb to smash it and rub the cake and frosting through his fingers like he does with all his other food. Instead he just sort of stared at it. I took some and put it in his mouth and that got him interested, but he really didn't go smash crazy. I do like that he picked up half of it and tried to take a bite. Here's a video of us signing happy birthday, figuring it out, and taking a bite

The rest of us got cupcake versions of the smash cake. Of course, I didn't want to have folks leave on a sugar high, so we also provided snacks and beverages. We were sure to have some Caleb's Kola around as well. And who am I kidding, more sugar - hurray! So there was my new favorite crockpot hot chocolate

We did enjoy celebrating and Caleb enjoyed sitting in his throne, I mean high chair, waiving his king scepter, I mean party horn. 

Bday_One.jpg

And no party is a party without friends! We had a few friends over to help celebrate. 

It was great to have a little fun to celebrate one! I still have to post the usual update, but I thought you'd like to hear all about the party first. So up next: 12 month update! I'll be sure to gush some more. ;) 

Our 2016 Christmas Letter

Dearest Friends and Family,

It’s been big year for our family, full of blessings and changes! 

Caleb

People tell you that having a baby changes your life and before it happens you think “yea yea, sure, I get it.” However, you don’t truly understand what they mean until you actually have a baby of your own. 

Now, we understand. The change is huge, but wonderful. We feel so blessed to have Caleb in our lives. Josh and I often look at each other and try to remember life before Caleb, and it’s now all seems like a lifetime ago.

Caleb joined our family at the start of the year. He was very close to being a New Years baby and was born January 2, 2016. Although, it all did start on New Years day when we were out to dinner. People like to joke that we missed the tax benefit…that was the furtherest thing from our minds, haha. He came early and quickly, and he’s been on the go ever since. Caleb is almost a year old now and is non-stop energy and fun. We love his curious and observant nature. Soon he’ll be walking and his mama will be running. 

If you want to see him grow, here’s the posts from this year: birthwelcomenewborn photosfirststwo monthsthree monthsfour monthsfive months (and another), six monthsseven monthseight monthsnine monthsten months, and eleven months

House

When I said it was a big year for us, I really meant it. Not only did we welcome Caleb to the world, but we also bought our first home in a new town. We were thrilled to be able to find a cute home in Tacoma, WA. Tacoma is just about 30 miles southwest of Seattle. It’s smaller than Seattle, but very family oriented and we are enjoying exploring a new area. It’s been fun being first time home owners and definitely a change from renting. No more calling the landlord if an issue comes up! The home was move-in ready, perfect since taking on renovations with a baby sounded a bit terrifying. We do hope to make some updates to it in the future to really make it our style. 

Asha, the Pup

Asha is two years old now. She is the goofiest dog Josh and I have ever had. She’s been through changes this year with a baby to contend with and a new home. Luckily, she gets a backyard to roam and later on, a kid to play with. But for now she’s happy to curl up on her mat and just be near the family. 

She did go to doggie boot camp this fall and is now can walk off-leash with us and play at the park without running off. She’s definitely the biggest rascal we’ve had and look forward to her mellowing out (in a lovable way).

Work

More changes with jobs, too. I didn’t return to work after having Caleb, so I am officially a stay-at-home mom. I like to think of myself as Director of Home Operations. It’s amazing how much work staying at home is, but it’s totally worth it. This commercial captures it perfectly! That said, I have enjoyed seeing Caleb’s development and being able spend my days with him. Also, I have picked up writing for a pregnancy and parenting site called HelloBee

Josh is on his fourth year with Logic 20/20, a business and technology consulting firm. He still is project-based and goes where his client is located. Mainly, he’s been going to Tukwila, which is lucky since it’s halfway between Seattle and Tacoma. Mostly, his projects remain technology centered and the work keeps him very busy. 

Trips

Big trips weren’t in the cards this year given a baby and new home, but we managed a few getaways to the grandparents. We took Caleb down to San Diego to visit Grandma and Grandpa O’Neill in June and then in October we went to Ivins, UT to visit Grandma and Grandpa Brown. Caleb was a pretty good flier and thankfully the passengers surrounding us were all very friendly and nice (and patient). Otherwise, we enjoyed mini-day trips like the pumpkin patch or just around town in between nap time. 

We've enjoyed some visitors as well from both grandparents and Aunt Lindsay. And you’re always welcome to visit the Pacific Northwest! We love having people over. 

Merry Christmas!

We feel so blessed with all that have come to us this year. We are excited as we head into 2017 to see what adventures life will bring. We hope you are enjoying the holiday season. Cheers to our loving family and friends. 

Love,

Josh, Heather, Caleb, and Asha

Happily Celebrating 5 Years

Today we celebrate our fifth anniversary. Can you believe it? It seems like just the other day, yet so much has happened over the past five years. I'm not going to get all mushy, but I do have to say that I love Josh more than ever. I sure found a keeper! 

I love to look back at the wedding photos and remember what a great day it was. Such wonderful memories and such a wonderful day. 

To celebrate we ate leftovers (ha! there's having a baby for you). HOWEVER, I did manage to make a pumpkin pie with graham cracker crust. This was one of the pies we had at the wedding. It's the one we did the "feeding the other a bite" at the wedding. Having pie instead of cake was one of the best decisions of our marriage. Just kidding, or maybe not...

And here we are today. Yup, with an addition to our crew, Caleb. He's 9 months next week - I'll write about that in my next post probably. 

So, We Bought a House

Dog...check.

Baby...check.

House...CHECK!!!

We are officially first time homeowners. Yay! It's a wonderful feeling to finally have a place to call our own. We feel so grown-up. Never in our wildest dreams did we imagine being able to get such an adorable first time home. 

Also, it's pretty awesome to be able to sit on the couch and say, "hey, we should paint that wall" and we don't have to ask permission. I'm sure there is the flip side to that, like when something breaks, but whatever...WE HAVE A HOME! 

We landed in Tacoma, WA, which is about 32 miles southwest of Seattle. We're still near Puget Sound, too. In fact, we're only about a mile from the waterfront. And, we get views of Mount Rainier - even better views since we're closer to it. We are in the North End area, which we hear is the "place to be" - it's growing and an up-and-coming area.

We decided on Tacoma for a few reasons. For one, it's is much, much, much more affordable to buy a home here than in Seattle. Right now, the Seattle market is absurdly ridiculous and we just couldn't justify buying there - it totally priced us out. Another reason is that Tacoma is much more of a family oriented town. We could envision Caleb riding his bike on the less busy, bigger streets here...it was a nice picture. Also, we've heard many people say that the Tacoma area is growing and it's getting all the Seattle overflow. We can still head to Seattle when we want since it just up the road. Best of both worlds.

Josh has a bit longer of a commute, and I need to find some new support systems for moms & babies but we think this will be a great place for Caleb to grow up. We are still unpacking (it's slow with a baby), so I'll share pictures down the road. For now, here's some from the real estate listing. 

It's four bedrooms and two baths, so we have much more space. There is also a backyard with some beautiful flowers and a garden. I'm going to do my best to not kill the flowers. The neighborhood is quiet and near Point Defiance park and zoo, but also not a far drive to the waterfront or downtown Tacoma. We couldn't be more thrilled. 

Come visit!!!!!

Baby Stories: Caleb's Birth

Here I am again. Finally. Everyday I say to myself, "today is the day I'll get to a blog post." But then I get distracted by diapers, feedings, crying, tummy time, groceries, dinner, dog walks, dinner prep...you get the idea. 

So, today I'm going to share some more about little Caleb. I promise this blog isn't going to just become a Baby Caleb blog, but it will certainly include much, much more about him. Think about it...my life basic centers around the little man now 24/7 (watch this video, #worldstoughestjob). I totally understand now why mom's Facebook and Instagram accounts are all photos of their babies/kids (Exhibit A: my Instagram is all Caleb these days. #SorryNotSorry). You are constantly with them; its just the two of you, plus you are in love with the him/her, so what else do you do but take photos. Lots and lots of photos. I just counted the photos in my photo library and it's 1,010. That's just two months of his life. I think I'll need to get a new computer or external hard drive at this rate. 

Today I'm going to rewind and tell you a bit about the day Caleb was born. I'll keep it PG, don't worry, and do the abridged version. My full version is probably pages long since for me it was probably the craziest day of my life. 

It all started at dinner on New Year's Day - I was 37 weeks & 5 days pregnant. We were eating at The Ballard Annex when I started to feel some cramps. I remembered my mom mentioning contractions feeling like cramps. But I thought to myself this is way too early for labor, these must be false contractions (but secretly I started to freak out just a bit inside). I mentioned it to Josh and he (also secretly freaking out inside) asked if there was any pattern. I couldn't tell, so I tried to start to track it to see. 

When we got home, we packed our hospital bag and put in the car seat...just in case. These were things we were planning to do that weekend, but the "cramps" motivated us a bit more. The "cramps" didn't stop by 10pm, and I thought there may have been a chance that my water broke earlier that day, so I called the on-call doctor. She wasn't sure of my status from the call, so they had me go into the hospital.

They assessed my situation and determined that I was having slight contractions, but they could go away and I could not have the baby for a few days or if he did come it wouldn't be until at least a full day away. So they sent me home with a shot to help with contractions and let me sleep better.

I woke up around 3am shaking uncontrollably, so we headed back in. Again, they assessed and said I was only 1 cm dilated and it wouldn't be at least until the following evening. But, they let me sleep there for a bit to get some rest. 

Around 7am, we were out of the hospital again and headed home. I was still having contractions, but they were bareable so we made a stop at the coffee shop for a latte and treat. When we got home, I just chilled on the couch ready to deal with a long labor.

Then at 11am the glider chair delivery guys called saying they were on their way. I headed to the bedroom to get out of the way since they chair was going to be in the living room. As they were delivering it, my water broke. Then the pain hit me. Josh dealt with the chair and we were on our way to the hospital - for reals - this time. 

The drive to the hospital felt like an eternity but really only took 5 minutes (thank goodness the Ballard bridge wasn't up as that would have been disastrous). As we walked to the Labor & Delivery center, I paused on the skybridge bracing myself - omg, this is pain. I was in another world, and Josh had to convince me to keep moving. But we made it to the center and I was ready. Yup, I was ready to deliver the little man pretty much as soon as we arrived. 

We were rushed to a room and things started (skipping details to keep this PG). I asked for an epidural - please, oh please - but apparently it was too late to be any good. WHAT?! So, yea, no epidural my friends and an hour later - at 12:39pm on 1/2 to be exact - Caleb was in my arms. 

First Days at the hospital

Caleb was born a happy, healthy, little baby at 5 Ib, 5.9 oz. The next day was pretty routine, but when it came time to start the discharge process there was a hiccup. Caleb failed the car seat test - required for smaller, early babies. Apparently his heart rate dipped a few times while in the car seat. This turned into a four hour monitoring of him in the car seat, which resulted in more heart rate dips coupled with some dips in oxygen. 

We were transferred to the Special Care nursery to investigate the issue. Monitors were hooked up and we spent the next couple days running tests and Caleb on 24 hour monitoring. By Wednesday, things were looking much better, and it was determined it was just him being a wee bit premie. He passed the car seat test, and by Wednesday evening we were home sweet home. 

Days in the Special Care Nursery

We walked into the house after five days in the hospital and looked at each other and said, "now what!?" We have a baby! Ahhh!

First days at home

Welcome Baby Caleb

I would love to introduce to you our son, Caleb. You might recall my due date being mid-January...well, he decided to join this world a bit early on Saturday, January 2nd, taking both Josh and I a bit by surprise. We were released from the hospital on Wednesday after a few days in the special care nursery due to some heart rate concerns. Fortunately, he proved to be healthy and we headed home to start our new life as a family.

Now, he is already a week old - can you believe it?! Josh and I are still settling down and figuring out the parenting thing, but Caleb has already captured our hearts. 

I'll share more details with you soon since writing a whole post right now is probably not going to happen given I keep starting a task and only halfway completing it and/or falling asleep. So for now I wanted to share some photos from the hospital. 

And a few more...

Isn't he the cutest? Expect many more photos of this little dude. ;)

Best of 2015, Looking to 2016

Happy New Year!

First, happy 2016! I can't believe its here already. But before we head into the new year, let's do a quick look back on 2015.

If you're an Instagram junkie, then you most likely heard of the 2015 Best Nine. It's a site that picks your top photos from 2015. I did it and it gave me this collage, or just see it below. 

While I like the collage it created, I felt I could make a collage that better captured our year. Here's what I came up with instead.

This collage captures 2015 highlights - the pregnancy, the new rental home, our little pup, the trip to the South, my baking and blog, and family for the holidays. 

2015 was such a wonderful year. I can't believe all that happened, but 2016 is going to be even BIGGER! I can't wait for all the exciting adventures 2016 will bring.

My only 2016 resolution is have this little baby and figure out how to raise him! 

Happy New Years!!!!

Celebrating 4 Years

Yesterday was our four year anniversary. Wowza, how has it been four years already? Luckily, they have been four crazy awesome good years! (3 years2 years1 year)

And really it's 12 years of being together. Dang, we're getting old. This year has been pretty fantastic, hence our smiling faces...

This year has been especially momentous - we moved to a new place, got a puppy, and now we're expecting! To celebrate, we went out to a romantic dinner at Eden Hill in Queen Anne. It was delicious! My favorites were the sugar pumpkin gnocchi and ricotta donut for dessert. Food is always a good way to celebrate. 

And because I can't help myself, I looked at our wedding photos again last night. Here's one that seems to capture the love. 

Cheers! And here's to another year! 

Our Next Adventure: Three

Josh and I have enjoyed many new adventures this year: 

Towards the beginning of the year we moved into a rental house in Magnolia a real house with a yard and no shared walls.

Shortly after moving, we got our little Asha puppy. 

And now, we want to share the biggest of them all...

Wait for it...

Here's a hint: it involves a bump.

WE ARE EXPECTING TO BE THREE!

(well, Asha just pawed me and reminded me it actually going to be four).

Oh man, it feels so good to share the news. Finally! 

Little Baby Boy Brown is expected to join our family in mid-January 2016. I'm sure you have many questions. (guess what? so do we!) 

Let's see if I can at least answer some of your questions. 

  • Special delivery is coming January 17th, 2016.
  • It's going to be all snips and snails, and puppy-dogs' tails - a boy!
  • The mama? I'm good! I was pretty lucky in my first trimester mainly dealing with fatigue, tummy aches, and my super sensitive sense of smell going into overdrive. Now, I'm in the second trimester and feeling better (more about all that in a separate post). 
  • The papa? He's so excited, especially to have a little boy.  

Unsurprisingly, we're psyched and thinking a lot about babies now. Pretty much 110% of my thoughts are about babies (especially our baby). I get to compare the baby to a fruit each week. Last week he was a peach, and this week a lemon! 

We contemplated some other ways to share the news in pictures. Our friend Aaron Smith was kind enough to take them for us. 

Because of my love of baking, we thought of saying there is a bun in the oven: 

Also, we got this cute little onesie with a heart in Seattle. Pretty darn cute. Ha, with the one photo below, you can see why Asha wasn't included in most of the shots. In fact, after that shot, the little rascal got lose and ran in circles like a crazy dog.

We are so ecstatic about this baby that we're jumping up and down! 

I'll be sure to keep you up-to-date on all the news. 

Grandma Ruth

I've been debating as to whether to write this post or not. Ultimately, as you can see, I decided to write it. You may have been wondering why my blog has been so silent lately. Well, the reason is that I've been grieving since my grandma passed away the week before last. While we knew it was bound to happen, especially since she's been slowly going down hill, it nonetheless hit me pretty hard when it really happened. 

I was really close to my grandma. She made a point of making such close relationships with all her children and grandchildren. She was the quintessential grandma - sweet, kind, loving, and had that cute grandma hair cut (you know, the one that required going to the salon about once a week). I have such fond memories of our time together over the years. She visited us often out in Encinitas and we spend many hot summer days out in Chicago. She even came out for many Christmas and Easter holidays. So she never really seemed far away.

As she was with me, she was with others - always there. And there was no doubt of the love and connections she made over her lifetime as I witnessed the hundreds that showed up to pay their respect over the course of the two days when I was in Chicago last week for the wake and funeral. I felt so honored to be her granddaughter.

I have some many good memories with my Grandma Ruth. Here's just a few...the list goes on and on. 

  • She taught me how to draw a daisy.
  • She was always joined me for frozen yogurt outings.
  • Her love for Navy Pier and Chicago was totally infectious.
  • When she visited for Easter when I was young, she would play endless rounds of egg hunts.
  • We would take long bike rides together through the park (over crunchy locust, yuck!).
  • I can't eat a Frango without thinking of her. 
  • The time at Heathrow when she insisted on us following her, only for her to turn around moments later to confess she didn't know where she was headed.
  • Driving along in the torture mobile, eh hem, I mean blue Oldsmobile.
  • Her infamous German Chocolate Cake and manicotti - a must when she visited. She always made me a cupcake without the gross coconut frosting. 
  • Celebrating St Patricks Day with brownies that had wintergreen tic-tacs on top as "green sprinkles."
  • Every bit of her was Irish even though her ancestry wasn't really Irish, but she had the last name O'Neill.
  • When she was in town, she's get bagels and cream cheese on weekend mornings and have it waiting for us for breakfast.
  • Johnny Pat, in Chicago when it rains and you have the wind shield wipers on you need to put your lights on as well. Dad turns off the wind shield wipers.
  • On our Hawaii trip, I looked at Grandma and asking why she's wearing the same clothes as yesterday. She gently reminded me that her luggage had be lost. Oh vey!
  • The tiger blankets she had at the Frontage Road home.
  • Grandma told me once that a young man raised his middle finger at her, and then proceed to ask me once if there was road rage in California. I said of course not.
  • While on our Colorado trip as a child, I asked about thunder. Grandma explained it was the angel's bowling.
  • She had no fear of garlic, she would just lather it on at Little Joe's in San Francisco. 
  • During college, she would send cookie packages (with a slice of bread to keep them fresh!).
  • Hooters. We should go there sometime. 

If you knew Grandma Ruth, I'd love to hear your memories in the comments! 

Also, I created a video full of photos of Grandma. As a longer term project (I had to put this together pretty fast), I hope to make a book full of photos of her. If you have any, please send them my way.  

If you'd like to download this video, go to the video on Vimeo. There should be a button to download underneath the video. If you have any troubles, please let me know.

You are not forgotten, loved one
Nor will you ever be,
As long as life and memory last
We will remember thee.
We miss you now, our hearts are sore.
As time goes by we’ll miss you more.
Your loving smile, your gentle fact,
No one can fill your vacant place.

Lastly, here is her Obituary.

Our Newest Family Member, Asha

Allow me to introduce the newest member of the Brown family, Asha! We got her on Friday and we've spent the weekend getting to know each other. She is the sweetest, most adorable puppy. Don't you think? 

Photo courtesy of Valerie, Asha's foster mom

It's the eyes that melt my heart. Those eyes! It's so HARD to say no to those eyes.

I first saw Asha when my old co-worker posted a few pictures of her to Instagram - like this one. The cuteness was overwhelming! I didn't realize she needed a home until one photo caption said, "Somebody please adopt this little thing." Of course, I said, "I will, I will!" 

One criteria for our new home was a place that allowed dogs and ideally had a yard. And we got it! Maybe we hurried into it a bit consider she came to into the family after our second week at our new digs (and not quite all the way unpacked), but I've said it already...how can you say no to those adorable, soul-searching eyes?

Asha comes from PAWS, which is a great animal shelter and organization. They were great to work with. In fact, they wanted us to take her last Friday (our first week in the new home), but we felt we weren't quite ready with the house yet. So, they found a place for her to stay an extra week. Then we arranged to meet her to ensure it was a "go," and it was love at first sight! 

First Meeting Asha

She comes from a shelter down in California, so she's a Seattle transport...just like us! When we first asked her foster mom what breed, she said Asha was a lab mix with maybe some pit. Her PAWS papers said mastiff mix. Then her papers from California indicated mastiff/pit mix. I think she probably has a bit of each! Whatever she is, we love her.

Our first, full day with her was Saturday. It was a beautiful, sunny day. We got to spent lots of time playing and walking her. 

Asha with her dog-parents

You might be wondering now about her name. We didn't pick it, but we decided to keep it. Asha derived from sanskrit means hope, wish, or desire. I thought it fitting with my first dog named Faith. And then I was really hoping and desiring a doggie FOREVER. Seemed like Asha was meant to be. 

She was a perfect angel on the ride to her new home. She didn't yelp or bark, but just looked out the window or at us. Our first morning, we took her in the car to a nearby coffee shop. Again, she was just ready for the ride. I have a feeling we'll be taking her around with us...everywhere.

First Car Rides

We've had some great playtimes out in the backyard. She loves her kong and the tennis ball. She been pretty good on walks, but she definitely got some puppy training ahead of her. 

Playtime and Walks

Monday was the first workday with her. I decided to work from home to ease her into the new routine we had planned. It turned out, my assistant just slept on the job the whole time. It's hard to find good help these days.

Sleeping on the Job

We've been trying our best to follow Caesar's best advice for raising the perfect pup. It ain't easy! He makes it sound so simple. We'll be signing up for some training soon. Luckily, her foster moms got her pretty much housebroken and crate trained. We just have to continue the training. And the chewing has been kept to just toys so far (knock on wood). She really is a good puppy.

So this is our life for a while - puppy, work, puppy, eat, work, puppy, work on the house, puppy, sleep. But we're loving it! 

Josh, Asha, and our living room

Knock Knock, Anyone Home?

Oh hi, yes I'm home. I may have been silent lately on my blog, but I've been waging war here on the home front. It's Josh and me against the boxes. At first I thought the boxes were winning, but we shall win the war. 

Still have no idea what I'm talking about? Well, we moved! We are now in the new (rental) home! A real, grown-up home. With no shared walls, just us and the home....and unpacking. I'm sure as you all know, this is a challenge and a pain. All the boxes scare me. The basement really scares me as that's our hidden, un-organized space. See what I mean:

Luckily, the end result is rewarding. Or at least, that's what I keep telling myself. HA! 

But seriously, we're loving the new home. I LOVE that we have a dishwasher. I play this game - pick up an item and then ask myself: "Can this go in the dishwasher?" It's awesome.

We also now have a washer and dryer. When I did the laundry the other day, I took something out of the drier and realized it was still damp. You know what I did? I put it back in. No big deal. It's awesome.

Not to mention, it's a HOME. A real home and a yard. Guess what's next...a dog! 

So we now live in Magnolia. It's darling, quite and just a great neighborhood. There is Discovery Park just around the corner. We also have some pretty darn good views. All in all, I can we are  pretty pleased.

A tour of the house is yet to come. I'm waiting until it's a bit more presentable. For now, enjoy a photo of the front of the house...

Yay! Live is good...and busy...but good for sure!

3 Blissful Years

Monday marked our three year anniversary.* Boy, does time fly! To think three years ago I was on my honeymoon (oh man, what I wouldn't give to be there right now!). Our three years has been great and we're still as much in love as we were on our wedding day (and I would venture to say even more). 

*We have been together since 2003. So actually...it's been more like 11 years.

Here's a few shots of our past three years together since everyone loves a picture.

2 years. {post}

1 year. {post}

The Beginning. {post}

And for our anniversary, Josh had some beautiful flowers delivered to me at work. We also celebrated with a delicious dinner at Stoneburner. Three cheers for three years!

Turning Older

I woke up on June 18th feeling a year older. Okay, that's really not true. But people like to ask you that on your birthday - sillies. If you ask me this whole getting older thing is weird...I really don't feel all that much older. Am I supposed to feel older? Maybe I do sometimes - like when I have a hard time stay up on New Years. This list actually sums it up pretty well. 

I really don't mind birthdays. In fact, I love them. You get all the attention. Eat where you want. Go where you want. Get presents. It's a celebration of YOU. Soak it up. Enjoy it. Yay for being born. That's my birthday philosophy. 

I had to work on my birthday. Wah wah wah. But luckily I have pretty cool co-workers. They sang to me. They gave me cards, cupcakes, coffee, and cheers (all the C's). So that was pretty awesome. Then for dinner, Josh and I got a drink at Essex and pizza at Delancey. And I opened all my cards.

And here some of the food and drink we enjoyed. A tasty snap pea brusetta and a yummy cocktail. 

So that was pretty nice. But then the weekend after my birthday, we did a even bigger food and drink excursion. We went out to Capitol Hill to Terra Plata for a romantic birthday dinner. Before dinner, we got some lovely cocktails at a speakeasy bar, Knee High Stocking Company. One of those places that you should have a reservation to (oops!) and you have to ring the doorbell. With true, classic bartenders (those that make bartending their career). I had two drinks - I tell you, I'm wild and crazy at this age...

Then, as happy as a clam (remember those two drinks), we headed to dinner at Terra Plata. We sat out on the rooftop patio, which was oh-so-nice. I felt special since they printed "Happy Birthday Heather" on our menus. 

We really enjoyed the patio. 

And we enjoyed the food - some halibut (for the hell of it), and some roasted pig. Oh and our appetizer of roasted grapes with goat cheese. Nom nom nom. And then we finished it all off with one of my favorites, macarons.

And that was one fine birthday. Now I'm ready to face another year. 

Thanks to everyone for the love on my birthday. xo, heather

Cook's Corner: Thanksgiving Feast

I know, I know, it's already mid-December and I'm only just sharing my Thanksgiving with you now. Is there a 12 days of Thanksgiving? No? Bummer. Well, maybe you can pick up some of these recipes for Christmas. The two dinners are pretty similar (at least, in my family), so there's that at least.

So I bring you Cook's Corner as opposed to Baker's Corner. And this is a special Thanksgiving edition! 

Spiced Cranberry Sauce

I found this while looking on Sunset magazine's website for recipes. I saw the secret ingredient - Earl Grey tea - and knew it must be made. I love the brightness of cranberries, and the punch it gives to your meal. The best part, though, is putting git on a turkey sandwich. We were originally going to skip this one and buy cranberry sauce to save time, but Josh gave the saddest face, so we ended up making it. Glad we did!

Rustic Herb Skillet Stuffing 

[aka Dressing - my parents call stuffing dressing. I'm not sure how I ended up calling it stuffing. Weird] Now here's something about me. I don't like stuffing. But, this stuffing made me change my mind. No joke, it was that good. I picked it because it was mostly made on the stove top, and I knew I wouldn't have much time with the oven given the turkey and all. The other reason was the parmesan. I am a sucker for parm - Josh and I put it on practically everything. Oh, and we used a tasty potato bread from a local bakery, MarcinaSo give this one a whirl, you won't be disappointed.  

Mashed Potatoes

This is more of a method than a recipe. I used the video to make these lovely mashed potatoes. They turned out perfect - smooth, creamy, and oh-so-good. I watched the video and then wrote the recipe out, printed it, and then deleted it (sorry). Watch the video though, it'll be great. You could be doing it all wrong!

Roasted Veggies

I wanted to make both sweet potatoes and brussels sprouts. Alas there was not enough time. So I cooked both in one! So clever. This was a classic roasted veggie dish, and they were a great side to the meal. I added some brown sugar for the last few minutes of roasting to add some sweetness. 

And I didn't make my own rolls. I wanted to, but there wasn't enough time. Just pop them in the oven and they taste homemade. Guess there is always next year! 

Turkey Breast

The main event: the turkey! Although in my opinion, it should be dessert. Wink wink. For one, I totally need to take the time to brine the bird. Just do it. I use this brine from Allrecipes. Then I used this recipe for the bird itself. I only did a beast - we just don't need the whole bird. This was just enough for the four of us, and it even made leftovers (and we used the carcass for soup - eh carcass, that sounds gross, but the soup is good).

Pumpkin Pie

Now, this is what I'm talking about - dessert! This is the main event, no doubt. I made the pumpkin pie the way I like it - with a gingersnap crush. This pie was perfection. I think it helped that I made my own pumpkin puree. I found that this is actually pretty easy. You know what made this even better, the spiced whipped cream. And Nada & Don bought us a special whipped cream dispenser. I reminded me of my Starbucks days. I know there are fun creations with this ahead. 

The Table

The flowers were a gift from my father-in-law. Isn't he sweet. Without them, the table would have been lacking. This was the wonderful table upon which we ate all the food above. If you go to so much trouble to make the food, let's dress the table up too. The table wants to be part of the party.

The Cooks

Nada and I were the cooks of the feast. I was the chef, and Nada my sous chef. We were great together. 

2 Year Anniversary

Josh and I have been together two years now. No. Wait. That doesn't seem quite right. Make that 10 years. Yes, that feels more like it. Have I confused you, yet? No, I'm not saying the past two years feels like ten years. Rather, Josh and I have been together for 10 years this fall, and as of today, we've been married for two years. That's my long winded way of telling you we're celebrating our two year anniversary together.

It's been a great two, I mean ten, I mean two years. 

Holy cow, looks at us back then...here's a photo of us now and then.

Heather & Josh, Circa 2003

Heather & Josh, September 2013

And because it's our anniversary, I can't help post a wedding collage. All day today I was playing the game, "two years ago today, we were...." Awwww, such good memories. And no joke, our wedding day was the best day of my life (to this point).

Check out more... 

{Sorry, when I transferred to my new blog (software update), so of my past blog posts lost there "look" and got a bit wonky. But remember, it's all about the content.}