gallamore west: November 2008

Saturday, November 22, 2008


I didn't think I'd be that into "vampire" books written for teenage girls. But...
Reading the books was addicting and seeing the movie was so fun. All the shrieking, cheering, screaming, clapping teenage girls made it even more fun!
I'm a Esme! I found out through Which Twilight Female Are You? Take the quiz and find out!
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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Happy 4th Birthday Sam!!

Birthdays were always a big deal in our house growing up and I LOVE carrying on that tradition with our boys. So to celebrate the day that we were blessed to welcome this beautiful baby boy into our family four years ago...
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we had two parties in 5 days- one big crazy party and one smaller, more intimate party and we now have one VERY happy 4 year old. And one slightly jealous one and a half year old... but oh it's soooo funny to see him grab one of Sam's new toys and make a run for it!!
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The birthday boy's special request for breakfast... he's wearing one of his Daddy's white t-shirts because he is Kung Fu Panda (he changes characters at least three times every day!)
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Ok, back to the parties... I saw the idea for Sam's baseball themed parties here and loved it! Baseball tickets for invitations...
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The Concession Stand had hot dogs with all the fixings and ball park nachos...
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The Snack Bar was a hit with licorice, peanuts, popcorn, chips, and baseball cookies...
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Those baseball cookies were such a hit! One little party guest was rumored to have eaten SEVEN all by himself... no, not Jakers!
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Baseball shaped cupcakes and one bigger baseball for the birthday boy...
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Then there was this fun/slash/slightly crazy clown lady!
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The decorations were all red and white, peanuts instead of confetti and check out the vintage baseball picture of the birthday boy, taken last week and completely unplanned!
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And the favors... a MUST HAVE in my book, even for the adults who took home baseball mitt shaped peanut butter rice krispy treats with white chocolate baseballs...
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And for the kiddos... their party bags with brown lunch bags tied with a baseball shaped tag with each kid's "baseball name." Inside they had Big League Chew Gum, a baseball game, baseball stickers, homemade caramel corn, and their jersey cookie!
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And the party guests knew that the "Team Sam" colors were red and white. Opening the door to my brother holding this was AWESOME!!
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Look at that Spiderman face!!
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Sam had one of those too... I almost cried when I saw it :(
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but he hated it so I washed it off halfway thru the party and then he had "eyeliner" and weird makeup shine the rest of the party. And he chose to have a nice little Cookie Monster on his arm instead... someone let me know how I can bottle up his innocence, k?
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I had so much fun prepping Sam's parties and celebrating with good friends and family. We love him more than words could ever express. He is the sweetest, most thoughtful little guy ever and he cracks me up every single day with his wild imagination. Happy Birthday Samuel!!
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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Book Worm Alert!

I saw this here and thought it would be fun, especially for the book club girls. What you do is mark it bold for read, italics for owned, and starred ** is on the to-read list. I also had to add a ? because I have a truly horrible memory :( and apparently all those John Grisham books I read blurred into one memory because I know I read a lot of them, but can't remember which. And so sorry, same with the Harry Potter books.

Put your two cents in!

1 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone J.K. Rowling, art by Mary GrandPre

2 Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution Robert C. Atkins

3 The Da Vinci Code** Dan Brown

4 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows? J.K. Rowling, art by Mary GrandPre

5 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix J.K. Rowling, art by Mary GrandPre

6 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince? J.K. Rowling, art by Mary GrandPre

7 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets? J.K. Rowling, art by Mary GrandPre

8 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban? J.K. Rowling, art by Mary GrandPre

9 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire J.K. Rowling, art by Mary GrandPre

10 Who Moved My Cheese? Spencer Johnson

11 The South Beach Diet Arthur Agatston

12 Tuesdays With Morrie Mitch Albom

13 Angels & Demons Dan Brown

14 What to Expect When You’re Expecting Heidi Murkoff, Arlene Eisenberg, Sandee Hathaway

15 The Purpose-Driven Life** Rick Warren

16 The Five People You Meet in Heaven Mitch Albom

17 The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Stephen R. Covey

18 The Kite Runner Khaled Hosseini

19 Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus John Gray

20 The Secret Rhonda Byrne

21 Rich Dad, Poor Dad Robert T. Kiyosaki with Sharon L. Lechter

22 To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee

23 Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff … And It’s All Small Stuff Richard Carlson

24 The Secret Life of Bees Sue Monk Kidd

25 Eat, Pray, Love Elizabeth Gilbert

26 Twilight Stephenie Meyer

27 The Notebook** Nicholas Sparks

28 The Memory Keeper’s Daughter Kim Edwards

29 The Catcher in the Rye J.D. Salinger

30 Memoirs of a Geisha Arthur Golden

31 A New Earth Eckhart Tolle

32 Oh, the Places You’ll Go! Dr. Seuss

33 The Four Agreements Don Miguel Ruiz

34 Angela’s Ashes Frank McCourt

35 The Lovely Bones Alice Sebold

36 Body-for-Life Bill Phillips, Michael D’Orso

37 New Moon Stephenie Meyer

38 Night Elie Wiesel, translations by Marion Wiesel and Stella Rodway

39 Chicken Soup for the Soul Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen

40 The Greatest Generation Tom Brokaw

41 Breaking Dawn Stephenie Meyer

42 The Celestine Prophecy James Redfield

43 Wicked Gregory Maguire

44 Good to Great Jim Collins

45 Eclipse Stephenie Meyer

46 Eragon Christopher Paolini

47 Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood Rebecca Wells

48 Your Best Life Now Joel Osteen

49 In the Kitchen With Rosie Rosie Daley

50 Simple Abundance Sarah Ban Breathnach

51 A Child Called It Dave Pelzer

52 A Million Little Pieces James Frey

53 The Testament? John Grisham

54 Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Kimberly Kirberger

55 Deception Point Dan Brown

56 The Alchemist** Paulo Coelho

57 Marley & Me John Grogan

58 Dr. Atkins’ New Carbohydrate Gram Counter Robert C. Atkins

59 Life of Pi Yann Martel

60 The Brethren? John Grisham

61 The South Beach Diet Good Fats Good Carbs Guide Arthur Agatston

62 The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town John Grisham

63 For One More Day Mitch Albom

64 The Polar Express Chris Van Allsburg

65 The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald

66 The Last Lecture Randy Pausch, Jeffrey Zaslow

67 What to Expect the First Year Arlene Eisenberg, Heidi Murkoff, Sandee Hathaway

68 Love You Forever Robert Munsch, art by Sheila McGraw

69 Green Eggs and Ham Dr. Seuss

70 A Painted House? John Grisham

71 The Rainmaker? John Grisham

72 Skipping Christmas? John Grisham

73 Cold Mountain? Charles Frazier

74 The Curious Incident of the Dog In the Night-Time** Mark Haddon

75 Life Strategies Phillip C. McGraw

76 Seabiscuit: An American Legend Laura Hillenbrand

77 The Summons? John Grisham

78 Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil John Berendt

79 The Hobbit J.R.R. Tolkien

80 The Runaway Jury John Grisham

81 Goodnight Moon Board Book Margaret Wise Brown, art by Clement Hurd

82 The Perfect Storm Sebastian Junger

83 Snow Falling on Cedars David Guterson

84 The Giver Lois Lowry

85 Embraced by the Light Betty J. Eadie

86 The Chamber John Grisham

87 You: On A Diet Michael F. Roizen, Mehmet C. Oz

88 The Prayer of Jabez Bruce Wilkinson

89 Holes Louis Sachar

90 Digital Fortress Dan Brown

91 The Shack William P. Young

92 The Devil Wears Prada Lauren Weisberger

93 Water for Elephants Sara Gruen

94 A Thousand Splendid Suns Khaled Hosseini

95 The Seat of the Soul Gary Zukav

96 Chicken Soup for the Woman’s Soul Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Jennifer Read Hawthorne, Marci Shimoff

97 The Partner? John Grisham

98 Lord of the Flies William Golding

99 Eldest: Inheritance, Book II Christopher Paolini

100 The Broker? John Grisham

101 The Street Lawyer ? John Grisham

102 A Series of Unfortunate Events No. 1: The Bad Beginning Lemony Snicket

103 The Poisonwood Bible Barbara Kingsolver

104 Into the Wild Jon Krakauer

105 The King of Torts John Grisham

106 The Tipping Point Malcolm Gladwell

107 The Horse Whisperer Nicholas Evans

108 Hannibal Thomas Harris

109 The Audacity of Hope** Barack Obama

110 Running With Scissors Augusten Burroughs

111 The Glass Castle: A Memoir Jeannette Walls

112 My Sister’s Keeper** Jodi Picoult

113 The Last Juror John Grisham

114 The Devil in the White City Erik Larson

115 Left Behind Tim LaHaye, Jerry B. Jenkins

116 America (The Book) Jon Stewart and The Writers of The Daily Show

117 The Red Tent Anita Diamant

118 John Adams David McCullough

119 The Christmas Box Richard Paul Evans

120 The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants Ann Brashares

121 Sugar Busters! H. Leighton Steward, Sam S. Andrews, Morrison C. Bethea, Luis A. Balart

122 Blink Malcolm Gladwell

123 The Power of Now Eckhart Tolle

124 90 Minutes in Heaven: A True Story of Death and Life Don Piper, Cecil Murphey

125 The Fellowship of the Ring J.R.R. Tolkien

126 1776 David McCullough

127 The Bridges of Madison County Robert James Waller

128 Where the Heart Is Billie Letts

129 The Ultimate Weight Solution Phillip C. McGraw

130 Protein Power Michael R. Eades, Mary Dan Eades

131 Chicken Soup for the Mother’s Soul Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Jennifer Read Hawthorne, Marci Shimoff

132 Into Thin Air Jon Krakauer

133 Middlesex Jeffrey Eugenides

134 Three Cups of Tea** Greg Mortenson, David Oliver Relin

135 You: The Owner’s Manual Michael F. Roizen, Mehmet C. Oz

136 1,000 Places to See Before You Die: A Traveler’s Life List** Patricia Schultz

137 Self Matters Phillip C. McGraw

138 She’s Come Undone Wally Lamb

139 1984 George Orwell

140 The Chronicles of Narnia C.S. Lewis

141 The Millionaire Next Door Thomas J. Stanley, William D. Danko

142 The Other Boleyn Girl Philippa Gregory

143 The Zone Barry Sears, Bill Lawren

144 The Pilot’s Wife Anita Shreve

145 The Lost World Michael Crichton

146 Atonement Ian McEwan

147 He’s Just Not That Into You Greg Behrendt, Liz Tuccillo

148 Fahrenheit 451 Ray Bradbury

149 The World Is Flat Thomas L. Friedman

150 Cross James Patterson

The End of The Ultimate Fall Cleaning Challenge!

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The last day was on Tuesday and I JUST now finished. That's because it's all about cleaning and winterizing (is that a word?) your car. I don't even have an excuse for being so slow about it because we live in lovely So. Cal so I don't even have to winterize my Goldfish Mobile (although I did re-stock the box in the back with fresh sweatshirts, blankets, and water... I should add some new goldfish crackers)! But the traveling Goldfish Mobile did get a car wash and a good vacuum job today. Plus, and this is sooooo the best part, I got free car seat checks from the CHP today!!! Those carseats are SO secure in there and as a mom, that is such a great feeling.
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To spare you the boring pictures of my Jeep Cherokee (that I love, love, love by the way!) here's a picture of Jake in his carseat while in the car wash. Look at those cute little lips... he was saying, "Oh WOW!!!" the entire time!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Creating a welcoming guest room

I've seen many bloggers participate in
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and it's such a great idea (post about something worthwhile for other readers to learn from is the basic idea) and today as I was cleaning the guest room for our company coming this weekend, I realized that 1) I LOVE our little guest room and 2) it's Wednesday!! So yay, here's my first works-for-me wednesday post.

Just in time for those holiday guests, here are some tips on how to create a welcoming room for your guests:

-The most important thing is a comfy place to sleep of course! Make sure that the sheets are freshly washed (duh, right?) and that you have provided your guests with the appropriate amount of blankets so that they are comfortable. If you're not sure, put an extra blanket or two at the foot of the bed.
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-Have something for your guests to read. I filled one of my gazillions of baskets with a variety of magazines and I make sure that the magazine on top is related to the current season. Who needs to read about Easter in November, right?
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-Have fresh towels and commonly used toiletries readily available so they don't have to ask. I realize that these items could go in the bathroom, but it works better for our space to keep them in the guest room itself. Always have a new box of soap for your guests!
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-Place a single flower from your garden in a small vase on the night stand or have a softly scented candle burning... something to welcome them and let them know that you prepared the room for THEM.
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- I like to put a little treat on the pillows. Our company coming this weekend likes Reeses! And I'll also write a quick little note to put on the pillow to thank our friends for traveling a long distance to visit with us.
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-Have a few hangers and space in the closet for them to hang their clothing and couple of empty drawers for your guests to unpack is nice so they don't have to live out of their suitcase.

-Have a chair or somewhere for your guests to sit (in our guest room, we happen to have a piano bench... because it couldn't stay with the piano since little Jakers likes to pull it down on his forehead :( so sad!)

I don't believe that a guest room has to have perfectly cleared out closets (mine doubles as my craft closet!) or that it needs to have the most expensive bedding- just something comfortable and welcoming. By implementing these simple tips in creating your guest room (whether it's an actual guest room or a blow-up air mattress in your family room) you can make a lasting impression on your guests that lets them know that they are welcome visitors in your home.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Mosiac Me- Take 2

I tried to do this a couple of days ago, but I'm technologically challenged so it didn't work. Let's see if I can figure it out this time...

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Ta-da!! And seriously, the celebrity crush?! I agree, what are we... five? I mean, really, who in the world REALLY thinks Matthew McWhateverHisNameIs is cute? Geesh, silly girls :)

Wanna do it? Here is what you do...

a. Type your answer to each of the questions below into Flickr Search or just google it.

b. Using only the first page of search results, pick an image.

c. Copy and paste each of the URLs for the images into the mosaic maker. Choose 3 columns with 4 rows.

The mosaic maker is on this web address: (I actually had to then save mine, then upload to to paste the code, but I have a mac and I think everything is weird with a macaroni and cheese computer.)

The Questions:
1. What is your first name?
2. What is your favorite food?
3. What high school did you go to?
4. What is your favorite color?
5. Who is your celebrity crush?
6. Favorite drink?
7. Dream vacation?
8. Favorite dessert?
9. What you want to be when you grow up?
10. What do you love most in life?
11. One Word to describe you.
12. Your flickr name -

Monday, November 10, 2008

Days 5 and 6 of The Ultimate Fall Cleaning Challenge

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Day 5 consisted of the family/living room areas and was a breeze since we recently had the carpets cleaned and just a couple of weeks ago put new covers on our couch. This is THE most perfect couch for those of you with little ones because each cushion has a removable, wash-able slipcover. We washed the old ones a million times and after 4 years of being very well-loved, we recently replaced them at a fraction of the cost of buying a new couch. Yay Ikea! We'll splurge on a fancy couch once the boys are past this oh-so-fun, but not so clean stage of life (mud, bugs, goldfish crackers smashed into the cushions, etc.) But hey, at least we're past the spit-up everywhere stage... for now :)

Here's picture of our favorite room in our house all cleaned up (for about 5 minutes!)
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And Day 6 took me outside to wash the windows, clean the porch, and all that fun stuff. Luckily for me in lovely So. Cal. there isn't much to bring in for the long hard winter. It was 62 degrees yesterday and that was pretty much "like totally sooooo freeeezzzzzing cold here"... LOVE it!!! Here's the backyard, all ready for winter (ok, I did put the lounge chairs away!)
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And here's our super clean porch (Helper #1 popping his head into the picture). Twice a year we spray off the entire house because we get these ugly little spider webs that make the white stucco look horrible. This weekend was one of those weekends and now I love admiring our clean porch again!
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I am LOVING my clean house, inside and out!!

Start your engines!

Ben raced in the Valley-Wide 500 go-kart race this weekend to raise money for the grass for our local baseball fields. I can't wait to watch our boys play sports right down the street from our house!

Sam loved cheering on his Daddy...
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But the real reason I posted this is because we actually got a picture taken of us where ALL FOUR of us are actually looking at the camera!!!!! (Never mind the fact that Jake isn't actually smiling, k?)
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Thursday, November 6, 2008

Days 3 and 4- The Challenge continues!

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It's all about the bathrooms these days... who knew I had so much junk in my cabinets?! Anyway, no pictures of that because it is
Today was all about scrubbing floors, washing shower curtains, cleaning sinks, etc. I *almost* finished it (2 and a half of 3 bathrooms completed) but I'm trying my hardest to not get this cold that's coming on and after having cleaned what's behind this door...
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I am ready for bed... zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Hopefully with some Nyquil and a good night sleep, I'll be up for tomorrow's challenge.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Democracy for Dinner!

I found this idea in a Family Fun magazine a couple months ago and couldn't wait to do it! I know, I know... my boys are just a *little* young for elections, but this was a HUGE deal and I wanted them (at least Mr. Samuel) to remember this moment in history. Young Jake slept through elections and crashed for the night long before the results were announced, but he did thoroughly enjoy his brother's voting style!

And the winners were............................ (drum-roll please)

*Presidential Pizza was a landslide winner over Super Tuesday Soup
*Bipartisan Salad narrowly beat out Corruption-Free Carrots
*Choc-OBAMA-late milk clearly won the voters hearts over Le-MCCAIN-ade
*Sweet treats Campaign Trail Mix and Red White and Blue Creme Cookies were too close to call so we ate them both :)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Day 2- The Ultimate Fall Cleaning Challenge!!

Today's challenge was Part 2 of Conquering the Kitchen. Here is today's list. Go to Katie's amazing blog for details and get on board!!

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I'm loving my sparkling clean kitchen!! Seriously, this is fun :) Although with my kitchen this clean, I'm not sure I want to mess it up by cooking dinner! Do you see the reflection of the microwave on the granite?! Hello beautiful!
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And this picture is one of my favorite parts of my entire house... the looooongest counter with tons of storage and the perfect place for fun buffet-style party food. I'm thinking it's calling out to the girls for a holiday dessert exchange!
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Saturday, November 1, 2008

Day 1- The Ultimate Fall Cleaning Challenge!!

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When Katie posted her GINORMOUS Fall cleaning list the other day, I was completely inspired and completely overwhelmed too! Luckily for me, she somehow got inside my brain, read my thoughts, and broke it down into do-able daily tasks. Well, do-able depending on how much *help* I get from my *helpers*. Seriously, I think I should get extra credit or something!! Now that it's broken down into daily tasks, it's like a game and I LOVE games!! This morning I printed out my list for the day and got to work.

Check out that messy pantry!
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But then with Jake's *help*...
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This is what my pantry looks like now... horray ME!!
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And Jake was nice enough to help clean up all those bread crumbs :)
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Plus, I totally scrubbed out ALL the shelves and drawers in the fridge, all the drawers in the kitchen (and lucky me, I have sooo many!) AND I reorganized my cookbooks/cleaners/vases/seasonal little candy dishes, etc...

BEFORE... Those of you with little ones understand the need to keep the cleaners far out of reach, but did I really need the toilet bowl cleaner way up top with the vases?!?!
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But wait there's more!! I gathered up a bunch of stuff that was taking up space in my cupboards and boxed it all up for my next garage sale. Wahoo!! No way... I'm cleaning AND making money?!?! I can't wait to see what tomorrow brings :) It's not too late if anyone wants to join me. It's fun!


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