...cool wooden toys, my sister and I went to the Bijou Market this last Friday in Provo (a bunch of local Esty Shop owners). They had so many cool hand-made items from jewelry to pillows, but the thing that caught my eye and that I can't quit thinking about is this little toy camera:

I mean, seriously, how cute is that? Can you imagine, come on cute babies, lets go on a photo shoot! So could someone please help me figure out how to make these cute, over-priced (well, maybe not because even as students I came very close to throwing down and extra $50 for two of them) little wooden cameras? My favorite part is that all the knobs turn, so you can change the "mode" of your camera or put it in "focus".

And speaking of...

...cameras, I'm taking a beginning photography class. Phil and I are thinking it might be fun to put my knew knowledge to use and get a nicer camera for Christmas. However, I don't know what type of camera to buy. It comes down to a nice point and shoot. I'm thinking like a Canon Powershot (something like this one) or a DLSR...I dunno, you tell me. So calling all photography friends (you know who you are) would you be ever so kind to weigh in on what type of camera we should get considering our personal situation.

  • I don't plan ever plan on being any sort of professional photographer. My entire goal is to learn how NOT to be an idiot behind a camera, like I currently am.
  • With that said, I love to blog and would love quality, clear, bright images. Yeah, baby.
  • I do like that cool "click" noise
  • As I've mentioned before, I plan on teaching myself graphic design and being able to take good pictures will probably come in very handy.
  • I don't find myself, at my current level ever wanting or needing to change lenses. Are there any other pros to a DLSR beside that feature opposed to a nicer point and shoot?


I'm not quite sure if I've been this excited about Christmas since I was a little girl. Now that Ryder is old enough to really get the concept of Santa (and hopefully, and more importantly, the birth of baby Jesus, right? Real meaning here, people!) Now, back to Santa...I really get now that being on the other end of Santa game is just as, if not more fun. However, it has been so very difficult for me to keep up the charade! Poor Ryder is going to know that Santa Clause isn't real at 3 years-old if I'm not careful.

However, it's tricky, getting your tykes something they'll love. Toy buying for me has always been stressful. I can not tell you the hours I'll spend in aisles of toys trying to find something that they'll love. Love as in they'll still want to play with it after two weeks. I can't stand throwing $20-$40 at a piece of plastic that will just sit in a corner taking up space.

Well, like I said, I'm excited--not stressed because due to an on-top-of-it sister who planned a very productive shopping excursion, I'm almost done. With R and P's stuff, anyway.  Autumn and I like to envision ourselves during the month of December sitting on the couch sipping hot cocoa and watching White Christmas while everyone else looks for a parking space at Costco. It's a good dream. But most likely I'll be in line at Costco with everyone else. But again--back to Santa. So in my few years as a parent I'm starting to learn a few tricks of the trade, if you will. Here are a few:

1. Have a sister who spends hours on Amazon.com researching the best, most popular toys. I told her next year I am going to call her around mid-November and ask, "So what are we getting our kids this year?" If you want to do the same, let me know and I'll get you her number. If I had to choose, I'd say this was our (her) pick for the season:

Why: They are a classic, well-made toy that kids never get tired of. This toy was got 208 reviews that averaged 5 stars. Plus, they have a really cool architectural set that goes along with it. 

2. If they need batteries, then go to Costco and buy in bulk (or get a charger) because they will need to be replaced OFTEN. Maybe it's just my son, but he'll be running a battery operated toy and then a few minutes later, he'll be doing something else, but that toy...is still runnin'. I'm trying to steer clear of such toys in general. Mostly because I'm a hideous mom and fail miserably at replacing batteries. Plus, I find all the blinky-blinky, noise making of it all a bit chaotic and they lack longevity in attention and quality. But granted some REALLY cool toys need batts.
 Something tells me this one needs batts.
3. I also love the idea of hand-made gifts. I'm hoping to make my neice and nephews a little somethin' somethin' this year (which shall be revealed after Christmas, if I succeed). I've also had the fabric cut and ready to go to make bean bags like these for Penny. I'm also a huge fan of putting an artist's kit together. I got one of those for Christmas when I was like 7 and I still remember it being one of my favorite gifts as a child. I've also thought of putting together a dress up kit (ie pirate clothes, hat, fake coins in a painted treasure chest that you can get at most craft stores.) And even bigger plus, is that these gifts usually are a bit more economical than others.
 Quiet books make amazing hand-made gifts. Although they are quality and special, they're usually not the cheapest/easy route to go. You can find more about this one here.

4. I know I'm dreaming when I envision shelves filled with classic, wooden, toys that encourage imaginative play and will last until my babies have babies, but dream I shall. I also feel there is something about a room messy with quality wooden/hand-made toys that is a little less daunting than a room full of the plastic, blinky-blinkey noise-makers. Which is why I love Melissa & Doug. FAO Shwartz have some really great wooden, material-made items as well. And I'm pretty sure it's better for our environment:)  Here are a couple of cool ones...

What about you? What do you want to get your kids? What are your toy preferences and tips? I mean in the end, it's really all about us, right?


(Peniscola, Spain)
So a long time ago, my parents, sister and I set out on a European adventure to go get my brother from his mission and bring him home. On our way to Barcelona we stopped in a beautiful city that sits on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. This place was called Peniscola. I don't think there was really anything not to like about this place. So we stopped there on our way back too. One evening we were sitting in our hotel room starving, waiting for my dad to bring us back some dinner. In an effort to keep ourselves amused, I think it was my sister who came up with the idea to play, "There's Nothing Better Than..." where you essentially go around the circle and everyone has to finish the sentence. The only response I could remember was my mom's: "There's nothing better than...hearing the garage door open and knowing that it is dad home from work for the day."

So in a feeble attempt to express some gratitude during this thankful month, I thought I'd take this fond memory of mine and use it as a way to record some things I am so very grateful for.

My first one is boring, but true...

There's nothing better than...
...the fresh start of a brand-new week.

I feel like I'm always making these little goals in my head and no matter how much I fail to keep them, I always feel like when Sunday evening rolls around I feel motivated to start over, with a clean slate, and try again to be a little bit better this week, than the week before.


I figured it was about time to take down the 'ol New York heading, since we've been back now, oh for two months...

However, speaking of New York headings, it does remind me about some news. Good news. Exciting news. And far away news. And I couldn't think of a better way to kick off this thankful month then to share with you how SO VERY grateful I am for Phil and his hard work because...

....earlier this month Phil happily accepted an offer with American Express in New York City. {Insert: Pace Picante's "It was made in New York City. NEW YORK CITY?!?!" minus the "It was made in New York City" part" here}

And now for the actual news: We will be moving back to New York this summer.  AND (I think) I'm excited. The fact that I've had a couple of months to process all of this, hasn't hurt either. After many, thorough discussions with my mom about how we will use the newest possible forms of technology to stay in touch and after continually reminding myself there will be no one actually forcing me to live on a fourth floor walk-up, I began to think I might really be able to do this AND actually enjoy myself in the process. It's been a tricky, yet somewhat liberating experience. I mean lets be honest, did we really think the Big Apple could keep me away? I mean, Jasmine+NYC=Destiny. Need I say more?

We're not quite sure where we will be living in NYC. Wherever it will be, we'll only be there for 16 months before spending a few months working out of the country (most likely in London or Brighton).

It's all quite new/scary/exciting.  I will occasionally wonder who in the world gave us the right to get married, have the audacity to bring cute babies into this world thinking we could actually do a good job raising them and then to top it all off take our tiny brood and move across the country?? Crazy. Life is crazy. It's very late now. I'm going to bed.