Monthly Archives

August 2011

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The It List

Five things I’m lovin’ right now …
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This ridiculously cute camera bag. Shh, don’t tell anyone, but I think it would make a cute diaper bag, too.

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This photo by Hei Astrid. I want to re-create something similar with me and Alexa, both of us wearing matching outfits.

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An ode to that damn honey badger.


Speaking of videos, how about a video of Joseph Gordon-Levitt singing “Lithium.” Better than the Nirvana version, if I may be so bold.

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An illustration for Alexa’s room. Or mine.

As always, you can find more things I’m lovin’ on my Pinterest page.

Fashion Forward: Autumn Orange

Autumn Orange • Little Gold Pixel

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Autumn Orange • Little Gold Pixel

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Autumn Orange • Little Gold Pixel
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As soon as September rolls around I start to see orange. Orange is really that perfect autumn color. Just as nature intended, with the foliage and the pumpkins and the burnt sienna crayons that are synonymous with “back to school” to me.

This isn’t the first time I’ve written about orange (it probably won’t be my last, either).

Because autumn orange is such a classic fall color I’ve had my share of misadventures. Thick, thus loud, corduroy jeans circa 1995, I’m looking at you. Crushed velvet babydoll dress circa 1993, I’m looking at you. I tried to create an oops-free, comfy-fabric smorgasbord for this fall. Enjoy.

Autumn Orange • Little Gold Pixel

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Take a Trip to Hilton Head Island

Good morning, friends! For our second trip I’d like to introduce you to Liv, whose blog is a daily read of mine. She has so much passion for life — from her job as a nurse to her marriage of more than 10 years to being a wonderful mama to her beautiful daughters. I find myself nodding along in agreement to nearly everything she writes. I even found out that we were in New Orleans at the same exact time in 2001. Now if that isn’t a blog friend made in heaven, I don’t know what is. I highly recommend that you check out her site as soon as you finish scrolling through her trip.

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Hello, my name is Liv and I am a free-spirited, new experience craving, music loving, peace seeking, soul singing butterfly. My blog is a special place where I store away all of my treasures, a place where I record our daily adventures and reflect on the simple blessings in life. I love writing, learning new ideas, making music, taking photos, and collecting sentimental pieces. I spend my days balancing my time between working as a nurse and building a career I am passionate about while also being a wife and mama to my precious family. Together, we spend our days striving for peace in our hearts, kindness in our words, and adventure in our souls.

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Hello Little Gray Pixel family! I am so excited to be here, sharing a story that is near and dear to my heart. I absolutely adore Vanessa and her family and love following them on their little adventures. Today, I’d like to share one of my family’s adventures with you: a trip we took a few summers ago to South Carolina.

This trip was sort of a “last hoorah,” a chance to let loose and be free before we gave ourselves over to a new level of commitment. It was a time of celebration: I had just graduated from college, Shawn had just gotten a job promotion, and we were days away from signing paperwork and purchasing our first home. This trip was our last getaway before embarking on a whole new journey in our lives, and what better place to visit to let your soul dance free than the beautiful beaches of South Carolina!

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Accompanying us on this journey were some of our very best friends: Vinnie, Charlie, and their son Luka. We have been in each other’s lives for over 10 years, served in the military together, witnessed one another live our dreams out loud. They are our favorite family to travel with, and we always have the most amazing time together.

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We rented a condo on Hilton Head Island for a week on a very family friendly resort. It was beautiful: not the kind of beach you see in tropical magazines, but a woodsy, rustic vibe. It was like being in a thick, ancient forest with an ocean right along side. I loved the stark contrast, it was breathtaking.

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Charlie and I rented bicycles to travel the island, strapping our little ones in and peddling the days away. We had the deepest talks on these magical bikes, the wind in our hair, endorphins flowing through our veins. We talked about everything, confiding in each other the way only she and I can, our babies blissfully riding and watching the beautiful scenery go by.

We began each day early, loading up on a healthy breakfast and riding our bikes down to the beach by 9 am. The babies chased the hermit crabs around while we enjoyed the early morning sun. Traveling with another family is so comforting, you are able to help each other with your children, form a team and make the most of each moment. You are on the same page with scheduling, aware that time must be permitted for naps lest you have a screaming baby on your hands. And so we started each day early, giving ourselves enough room for an afternoon siesta and a much happier clan as a result.

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In the midst of our trip, we were blessed to have a babysitter for a few hours and an amazing double date night as a result. We got all gussied up and enjoyed an amazing meal, adult conversation, and a wine I will never forget. We walked on the beach at sunset, our toes in the sand and our hearts on our sleeves. Love was in the air: how could it not be with such a picturesque backdrop?

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My favorite memory of this trip was on our last morning at the beach before we packed up and headed home. We found a couple of boogie boards at our condo and, with a grey and overcast morning, waves crashing in anticipation of a storm, we body boarded the morning away. We laughed until our bellies ached, playing with our children and enjoyed being children ourselves. On a journey where we were celebrating a new journey in our lives, this was the morning our souls got to be truly free. We had spent a week enjoying each other, confiding in one another, delving deeper inside ourselves and this was the morning to let all of that wash over us, letting the waves carry it all away in preparation of the next tide in our lives. It was truly magical.

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I will forever remember this trip in my heart, it was such a significant time in our lives with some of the best friends anyone could hope to have. We kissed our friends goodbye and wished them an until next time. We returned home to our HOME, keys to our first house together. We began a new chapter, armed and ready with the spirit of the beach. And on our new bookshelf, we placed a photo of our trip to sweet Carolina…

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Thanks for taking me on a trip down memory lane, Liv. We lived in Myrtle Beach for several years, and your photos are making me miss the Grand Strand something crazy. I can’t believe we never made it to Hilton Head Island when we lived there. Another destination to add to our vacation list? Definitely.

Calling all tourists: Care to dust off some vacation photos? I’d love for you to take me sightseeing. Send an email re “Take a Trip” to littlegraypixel@yahoo.com for details.

Steppin’ Out

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What I’m wearing:
Maxi dress: Old Navy (I want this one)
Cardigan: Target (similar here)
Silver sandals: Thrifted (similar here)
Necklace: Anthropologie

What H’s wearing:
Shirt: Lacoste, thrifted (similar here)
Jeans: Buffalo by David Bitton, thrifted (buy here)
Sneakers: Skechers, thrifted

What Alexa’s wearing:
Dress: Splendid, thrifted (this one is cute, too)
Navy bloomers: Old Navy
Hair clip: Gifted

H woke up with Alexa and let me sleep in till 8, when he pronounced it was “time to go buy your car in Santa Monica.” He is a wizard like that. He will look and look and stalk and stalk and when I’m about to give up, he will pounce in an instant on the perfect car when we’re shopping. This is what we wore to the dealership, picked out specifically for comfort and lightness because it was HOT in L.A.

The maxi dress I’m wearing has seen me through a lot. After Alexa was born I practically lived in the thing. I remember a specific stretch of three days when I wore it day and night. Of course I didn’t really know it was three days because those were the newborn days of sleeping for 15 minutes here and there and nursing and being in pain and middle-of-the-night infomercials and omigod how far we’ve come.

Another interesting tidbit about my outfit is that every item was purchased for less than $15. The dress was on clearance for $9.99, the necklace was $9.99, the cardigan was $14.99 and the shoes were $6.99.

H can beat me in the thrift department, though, because his entire outfit (not including the hat, which is less an article of clothing and more a permanent fixture on his head) cost $25. Gotta love thrifting.

When I heard it was going to be a super hot day I went off in search of this dress for Alexa. It is the lightest, most comfy item in her closet right now. Have you ever worn Splendid? The fabrics are so, so luxurious and airy and very expensive, so if you see something in the thrift store in your size, scoop it up.

I’m pleased to report we made it through the sweltering day with only a tiny bit of dehydration, which I’m quickly quenching now with three bottles of water. It only took me 20 minutes to drink them all.

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Baby Talk

twenty-nine weeks old

Dear Alexa,

Twenty-nine weeks old. You are starting to communicate with us in Alexa-ese. I just realized that you have a distinct word for poo-poo, and appropriately it is “EWWWWWWWWWW.” You raise your arms to be picked up now, and it made your Daddy’s day because he’s been trying to teach you this since you were born.

You’ve been babbling like crazy. Nananana. Mamamamama. Lalalalala. No Dadadada yet, though, haha.

Your biggest thing this week: THE SWING. You love to swing at the park, the faster the better.

You are playing with your wooden toys a lot these days. You let Mommy build something pretty, then you knock it down. You are really into hammering. You will pull your binky out and throw it. You are flipping around like crazy in your crib. There’s no stopping you now.

You are even scooting around now. Those legs of yours cannot be tamed.

Thank god you’re not a picky eater. You’ll eat anything we give you, although you pause and make an icky face when I feed you soft fruits or veggies with texture. Still not a big fan of texture.

Perhaps that’s because you’re still waiting on those teeth to breath through. You’ve been sucking on your thumb, asking for the binky a lot and you even tried to eat a dried-up leaf at the park.


Things you love: eating solids (you’re becoming a pro, less messy than ever), jabbering first thing in the morning, swinging!
Things you hate: poo-poo (ewwww), naps, waiting for mama to “wake up”

Xoxo,
Mommy

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First Time in a Swing


“We’ll just sit her in the swing and see if she likes it,” H said. “It’s not too hot, is it?”

I felt the sun-scorched baby swing with a mother’s discerning hand, and without a word I fashioned a seat cover out of a canvas bag stowed within the diaper bag.

H gingerly brought Alexa to the swing and sat her inside. He showed her how to wrap her little hands around the metal and hold on tight. She regarded us with curiosity and skepticism.


But when her daddy gave her a push, a mischievous gleam entered her eyes. Her mouth turned upward into a smile. Into a laugh. A few gentle pushes back and forth, back and forth.


“Do it again, Daddy!” her giggles seemed to say. “Only faster this time!”


I took post at the bigger swing next to Alexa, watching her adventurous personality shine. I remembered when I was a little girl. We lived a block away from an elementary school with two playgrounds full of swings and other jungle gym equipment. How I would spend afternoons, evenings, entire summer days dangling precariously from the monkey bars, pushing the merry-go-round and jumping on when it was moving really really fast, pumping my legs on the swing set till they were numb then jumping out to see how high I’d fly and how far I’d be when I landed — even if it meant stumbling and scraping my knees in the process.

So I started pumping my legs again, letting the wind whoosh past my face and hearing the gentle creaking of the chains in motion. I climbed higher and higher, Alexa and I looking at each other the whole time. I thought about jumping. But I’m no longer a child. I have a child.


I know Alexa will want to jump out of the swing someday, just as I did.


And I’ll be there to cheer her on. And I’ll have bandages should she scrape her knees.

Fashion Forward: Brown Bags

I confess, I’ve been carrying the same Forever 21 handbag for the past six months or so. It’s not even that great. It’s a faux leather patchwork hobo. And the faux leather is chipping away. EMBARRASSING.

But it’s convenient and it’s big enough for me to cram … well, everything. I have been known to fit two or three pieces of tupperware (lunch, y’all) inside, not to mention toys and blankets for Alexa. So you can see it’s really the convenience and the comfortable shoulder band that keep me from changing out my bag.

But then I saw this:

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We fell in love a few weekends ago, and now I must have her. The leather is soft and buttery and … real. Also, there is a zippered center with two snap side pockets. Perfect design for a mom on the go. I’m smitten, but with a price tag of $228 it will have to wait awhile. I’ve decided I’m not willing to compromise with a fast fashion knockoff that will only fall apart on me later. My next handbag will be real brown leather.

If not the Anthro piece above, perhaps one of these lovelies below?

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Take a Trip to Big Sur

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It’s been a year since I ventured outside Los Angeles. This is the longest time I’ve ever gone without hopping on a plane or driving far, far away in my car. The wanderlust is strong in me. I love to travel, to experience new things and see new scenery. When I take a vacation, my mind is wiped clean — of everything that seemed so important in my daily life, of all the drama buildup, of the monotonous existence of being a responsible adult.

Woah. I’m getting deep here.

What I really mean to say is, vacations make me feel like a new person. A better person.

So to channel that new frame of mind, I’m going to take you on a trip every Monday morning, just in time to wipe your mind clean for the new week. I have some amazing guests lined up to share their favorite spots, but for this inaugural daytrip I want to take you on a favorite trip of mine: Big Sur.


One of my favorite authors is Jack Kerouac. I vividly remember reading “Big Sur” for the first time as a senior in high school. It is one of the few books I’ve re-read. The way he would describe the beauty and the power of nature gave me goosebumps.

“We walk under the bridge and come to those heartless breakers busting in on sand higher than earth and looking like the heartlessness of wisdom.”

I knew someday I’d have to go there.


It was 2007, back when H was doing a lot of work in the film biz as an extra. Back when I was starting to get into my photography. We were celebrating our ninth anniversary by driving up Pacific Coast Highway to the place where breakers looked like “the heartlessness of wisdom.” I didn’t really expect that this trip would be anything more than a pleasant excursion, another notch on my belt of travel — albeit a notch I’d been dying to make since I was 17.

We started out in my little green Beetle after H finished an audition. As soon as we left L.A. and Malibu and then Santa Barbara, things started to get breathtaking.

The small cliffs of Southern California gave way to big cliffs. Our little car climbed higher and higher and drove around tighter and tighter curves along these cliffs. It was terrifying, exhilarating and breathtaking all at once.


We were prepared for nothing and everything. H carried a trusty survival kit on his belt. I was wearing inappropriate footwear, like always. Together we drove those winding roads and took turns off the beaten path to see what we would find. We would then go back to our rustic motel/cabin and soak in a hot tub. There was no TV. There was no wifi. There was no cellphone signal.

We were off the grid. It was glorious and weird.

We were used to the city, to constantly being plugged in. We were used to background noise. Surely we were going to go crazy. Right?

After the initial shock of silence, we started to embrace it.



We found many beaches that were nearly secluded. It turns out these were the beaches Kerouac was talking about. The treacherous winds that knocked sand about. Up, down, sideways. So much for throwing the frisbee. It was every person for himself. She who holds the towel avoids getting pelted with sand.

Some rock formations were so beautiful photography couldn’t do them justice. At the risk of sounding cliche, the kind of unworldly scenery we stumbled upon was the kind that makes you stop and question your role in the grand scheme of things.


We came across ice-cold mountain springs, where we would strip off our hiking clothes and jump in the water, losing our breath at the shock of the temperature, allowing our bodies to relax as we exhaled into the stream. We marveled at the clarity of the water. Crystal clear, just like our minds.


We ate the most delicious mahi mahi sandwiches and dined at Nepenthe, where we sat along the ledge of the end of the earth and took a photo in which two tourists stood in the background like they were extras in our own private film. Look at that couple posing! This photo remains one of our most-giggled-over till this day.


As the sun set we would drive again along Highway 1, taking in the rainbow of colors the sun made over the Pacific and zipping up our jackets in the chilly wind. We would tuck ourselves back at the lodge of our hotel/cabin and drink Heinekens well into the evening. We would go to sleep early because there was nothing else to do. Imagine that!



We found trails to hidden waterfalls. We found spots to sit and meditate. We talked and laughed a lot, but we also sat in silence. We took in the quietness of Big Sur. I took photos on film with my old Nikon SLR. H took point-and-shoot photos with our digital Nikon. We would point the cameras on each other and take mirror images. I would stare at the blue horizon through my lens and think, “Is this real?”


In “Pulp Fiction,” Uma Thurman’s character says that you know you are close with someone when you can just share a comfortable silence.

Try a comfortable, silent, wise vacation. Nine years of closeness. This was our long and winding road, and it led us right to each other.

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If you’d like to share photos from a favorite trip you’ve taken (near or far, on an island or in your own backyard), send an email to littlegraypixel@yahoo.com for details. Please put “Take a Trip” in the subject line.

Steppin’ Out





What I’m wearing:
Dress: Ross
Leggings: Old Navy
Gold sandals: Payless
Cardigan: Fashion Bug
Gold hoops: Gift from H
Necklace: Forever 21

What Alexa’s wearing:
Dress: Old Navy, gift from Sara
Hair clip: Target

Mama and Alexa are dressed up nice and pretty for a trip to … the park? Sure, why not! We were the best-dressed for sure. I even put on concealer and powder for the occasion so the world wouldn’t have to witness my dark raccoon eyes.

This dress is another comfy staple from my pregnancy collection. I love that I bought jersey dresses that were stretchy and not ill-fitting maternity clothes. This dress is a go-to because it is just that cozy, thin and light. Sometimes I worry that the drape is a little to, er, revealing because it can be clingy, but hey, nothing’s perfect.

Unless you’re talking about Alexa’s cute face, which is as close to perfection as I’ve ever seen. Her dress is super cute, too. It looks pretty dressy in photos, but it is a lovely light cotton that is very breathable and perfect for summer. It was in brand-new condition for about 10 minutes. After taking these photos she promptly spit up. Then she got frozen yogurt and drool on it as the day progressed. Kids, they’re messy. She has certainly forced me to relax my standards since she was born. I used to get into such a tizzy with spit-up, dropping everything and running around frantically searching for spit rag and cursing under my breath while thinking “how gross!” Now I barely blink an eye, saying, “eh” and taking my sweet time to clean her (or me) up.

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