Monthly Archives

May 2014


Cute Summer Beach Dresses for Little Girls

Summer Dresses for Little Girls 2014

If Alexa could rank her favorite things of the moment, I think they’d go something like this:

  1. Hawaii and/or The Beach
  2. School
  3. Chocolate
  4. Park
  5. Jake (and the Never Land Pirates)
  6. Painting
  7. Popcorn
  8. The Gruffalo and/or Cinderella
  9. Shoes
  10. Dresses

I could write blog posts about all of these things, but let’s focus on No. 10 for today: summer dresses for girls. You don’t know how happy I am that she loves dresses. If you’ll bear with me, here is this mama’s list of reasons why dresses are the best for little girls:

  1. Easy
  2. Adaptable (See No. 1)
  3. Become tunics when said little girls shoot up like weeds (See Nos. 1, 2)
  4. Perfect emergency outfit (see Nos. 1, 2, 3)
  5. Twirling, duh!

Our favorites right now are lightweight jersey dresses. Wear them with sparkly shoes and they look like you tried, but you so didn’t. We dress them down for school, with a pair of shorts. They’re easy for a quick trip to the store. But above all, they are perfect for the beach. A summer dress can be a cover-up if it gets chilly, and it is much easier to put on at the end of the day of sun and surf than a pair of pants (if you’ve ever tried with wet legs and sand, you’ll know what I mean). I’m always on the hunt for more dresses for this growing girl, and the picks above are so darling. Now, the only question is whether to buy today’s size or tomorrow’s size. (I’m hedging my bets that she’ll be wearing tomorrow’s size before I know it.)

Find the Dresses

5 Things I’m Too Old For

It’s natural to change as you age — to outgrow certain habits and get gray hair (ugh, don’t remind me), to change your tastes in everything from food to clothes. I have come to terms with the way I need coffee in the morning, and how I get hangry if I do not eat eggs for breakfast.

Then there are the things that creep up on you. Things you used to tolerate, maybe even enjoy, that now will throw you into a fit of rage. You can file this under: things you outgrow.

I had one of these epiphanies last week when I found out The Strokes are going to play a festival here in L.A. At first I got excited, flipping through my mental checklist of what I’d need to do to make this concert happen. Then I remembered: I don’t do festivals.

Why not? I’ll tell you why not.

5 Things I'm Too Old For • ©

1. Going to music festivals.

In the past I could camp out in front of the stage for hours, never daring to pee or leave for another beer. I got thrashed around, pushed, stepped on. I once feared for my life when I unwittingly got pulled into a mosh pit. These are all stories I remember (some fondly, others not so much). The key word here is “stories.” I’m past the age where it’s acceptable to stand outside, baking in the hot sun far from a decent bathroom, worrying about carving out a 2-foot-square human space and warding off claustrophobia while nursing a $10 bottle of water. Give me a venue with a roof, seat and elbow room, and we can talk about buying tickets.

5 Things I'm Too Old For • ©

2. Shopping at Forever 21.

I’d like to do my shopping without a side of ADHD and hearing loss, thankyouverymuch.

5 Things I'm Too Old For • ©

3. Watching SNL.

There was only a handful of years I found SNL funny, and those years passed a long time ago. I have this theory that each large cast change is worse than the last because I’m getting further and further away from the target aud. (For the record: I think the target aud is 12-18.)

5 Things I'm Too Old For • ©

4. Sleeping on the floor.

I just can’t. My back aches at the thought. No more slumber parties for me. Or drunken blackouts (not that this ever happened).

5 Things I'm Too Old For • ©

5. Wearing high heels.

In my 20s, my step-grandmother used to cluck at me in my stilettos, telling me horror stories about how decades of wearing heels destroyed her feet. I used to sneer at her and be all, “whatever,” but now I’m older and wiser. As with SNL, my window for wearing precarious high heels has passed, and I am totally fine with that, especially when I see other women teeter around me while I’m wearing comfortable flats.

What about you? Anything you feel like you’re too old for now?

Credits: Shark sleeping bag, heels on wheels

Mermaid Art for Your Little Mermaid’s Room

I think my child might be part fish. She never wants to leave the ocean. Recently she jumped in and out of the surf for five hours, and when it was time to leave she nearly had to be dragged away kicking and screaming. Her zeal for the ocean might even outmatch ours, and H and I are bonafide beach bums.

Top that with her request to read The Little Mermaid every night, the way she loves her Ariel dolls and her love of the teen mermaid show Mako Mermaids … I think we have a mermaid obsession on our hands.

After rearranging her room (baby steps toward making a real big-girl room) there is a giant space on the wall that is begging for art. Mermaid art, natch.

Finding the Perfect Mermaid Art • ©



So I set off on a quest to find the perfect mermaid art, and here’s what I found.

Any/all of the above mermaid art prints would be perfect for her. No. 3 reminds me of how she is constantly asking me when we will return to Hawaii so “we can swim like mermaids, Mama.” No. 5 is technically not a mermaid, but it’s so Alexa that it would be wrong of me not to include it here.

Did you ever obsess over a mythical creature when you were a kid? For me, it was (still is) unicorns.

Summer Fashion: Beat the Heat

I will have you know that it has been in the 90s lately. When it gets this hot all I want to do is harken back to the days when I wore Esleep pajama sets … to school. It happened, folks, it happened. In fact, it was a borderline epidemic at my school, to see how sloppily we could all dress without having to be sent home.

The boys in particular were real button-pushers with their Big Johnson shirts. It was a badge of (dis)honor to spot a kid walking through the halls wearing his T-shirt inside-out. It meant that he tested the limits of high school free speech (there is no such thing) and lived to tell the tale (with a warning). Fighting The Man for the right to wear groan-worthy penis puns on your chest — those were the days.

The point of all this? It’s hot, and I want to wear pajamas and/or not get dressed at all. The next best thing is wearing something as light as air, as cool as ice, as peachy as keen. Luckily for us, this is on trend for summer fashion 2014.

The shapeless frocks are a little bit ’90s, a little bit normcore, but not painfully so — they’re right in line with your new/old Birkenstocks. (You know you love those ugly sandals.)

Summer Fashion 2014: Beat the Heat • ©



At the moment, I’d like to wear Nos. 2&3 together and curl up on the couch with an ice cream sandwich pillow, ideally while eating an ice cream sandwich. Ah, dreams.

Family Movie Night / Frozen & Greenberg

Family Movie Night / Frozen & Greenberg • ©

We tested out these movies so you don’t have to. Pop some popcorn, curl up with your favorite people, and prepare for a double feature during Family Movie Night.

Family Movie Night: Family First

➾ Frozen
This might be the biggest no-duh endorsement ever, as I’m sure anyone with kids has already seen this movie a bajillion gazillion times, but here goes. Frozen is my favorite Disney animation since Aladdin in the early ’90s (note to self: revisit Aladdin soon; does it hold up?). I’ve heard kids, both boys and girls, singing and acting out scenes from this movie all over town. The music is infectious, the writing is sharp, and the overall message of controlling your fears is one that is just as important for adults as children. And if those reasons do not convince you, there’s Olaf, the snowman who likes warm hugs. Ahhh.YAY

Family Movie Night: For the Adults

➾ Greenberg
The description for this movie starts out: Roger Greenberg (Ben Stiller) is single, fortyish and deliberately doing nothing. You can probably figure out from that description whether this is a movie that would be up your alley. H and I gave it a go, and we found ourselves sucked in for the better part of an hour. After that, H lost interest and decided to make some green juice. I couldn’t stop watching, though, just because I needed to find out what was going to happen. Spoiler: nothing. I’m a sucker for films that capture a sense of place, and Noah Baumbach certainly captures an apt snapshot of life in Los Angeles. I think the reason most people can’t stomach the film (or finish the film) is because Roger Greenberg is an utterly despicable person, with no redeeming quality, and watching Greta Gerwig awkwardly mumble her way through the movie gets to be a bit much. Watch at your own risk! NAY

Do you have a Movie Night recommendation? Have a film you want us to test first before you commit to watching it?

P.S. More ideas for Movie Night.

A Month in the Life 2014: 4/12

Here we are, nearly halfway through May, and I’ve finally slogged through all of April’s photos for my monthly photo project. It was a busy month. Weekend beach outings, Easter, spring break with Alexa and a quick trip back to the Midwest. Whew. I’m not sure if I’ve fully caught my breath.

Here’s what April looked like for us:

A haphazard but very cozy vignette in the late evening, after the child is asleep and all is quiet.
A Month in the Life • April 2014 • ©

Stripes on stripes on stripes.
A Month in the Life • April 2014 • ©

The most ethereal moment, spied during the golden hour while exploring our Ewok village and blowing bubbles.
A Month in the Life • April 2014 • ©

Believe me, it’s painfully obvious that I have no alternative routes home.
A Month in the Life • April 2014 • ©

Six gold doubloons.
A Month in the Life • April 2014 • ©

The call of the sea.
A Month in the Life • April 2014 • ©

Playing soccer with a volleyball.
A Month in the Life • April 2014 • ©

My lunch, pretty much every day.
A Month in the Life • April 2014 • ©

Counting backwards.
A Month in the Life • April 2014 • ©

Fog over the harbor.
A Month in the Life • April 2014 • ©

“Let’s play night-night, Mama.”
A Month in the Life • April 2014 • ©

Before we go anywhere, we put on “lip stuff.”
A Month in the Life • April 2014 • ©

Caught in my crossfire.
A Month in the Life • April 2014 • ©

Photoshoot of a photoshoot.
A Month in the Life • April 2014 • ©

No swimsuit, no problem.
A Month in the Life • April 2014 • ©

A perfect day in Laguna.
A Month in the Life • April 2014 • ©

Something about this photo makes me want to sing “Circle in the Sand.”
A Month in the Life • April 2014 • ©

I’m a sucker for patterns (and sandy feet).
A Month in the Life • April 2014 • ©

We stayed till almost sundown.
A Month in the Life • April 2014 • ©

I build sand castles. She destroys them.
A Month in the Life • April 2014 • ©

Life is rosier through sunglasses.
A Month in the Life • April 2014 • ©

This book was kinda calling out to me (it was even written in 1979, the year I was born.)
A Month in the Life • April 2014 • ©

Sunset over the port.
A Month in the Life • April 2014 • ©

I gave them a pep talk.
A Month in the Life • April 2014 • ©

Power breakfast for two.
A Month in the Life • April 2014 • ©

Oooh, shiny objects.
A Month in the Life • April 2014 • ©

Thus begins Alexa’s spring break (and mine, too).
A Month in the Life • April 2014 • ©

It’s tough to keep this kid dry.
A Month in the Life • April 2014 • ©

Another spontaneous beach day, this time in Manhattan Beach.
A Month in the Life • April 2014 • ©

She found all the Easter eggs in record time.
A Month in the Life • April 2014 • ©

Never forget to look up.
A Month in the Life • April 2014 • ©

We painted and watched “Frozen” every day of spring break.
A Month in the Life • April 2014 • ©

Then I returned to Kansas City to relocate my dad.

The highlights included: The Roasterie …
A Month in the Life • April 2014 • ©

Sourdough bread at Spangles …
A Month in the Life • April 2014 • ©

This sunset …
A Month in the Life • April 2014 • ©

This post-move meal …
A Month in the Life • April 2014 • ©

Unloading the last thing from the U-Haul …
A Month in the Life • April 2014 • ©

Unearthing memories (I thoght this one was cute) …
A Month in the Life • April 2014 • ©

Squeezing in time with my niece …
A Month in the Life • April 2014 • ©

… and nephew …
A Month in the Life • April 2014 • ©

... and, of course, seeing my brother, sister-in-law, Dad, Uncle Terry and Aunt Mary Ann.)

Mobile devices approved during takeoff and landing!? Yay!
A Month in the Life • April 2014 • ©

Alexa plays with one of my old Barbies, who is wearing a dress my grandma made. (One of the best Christmas gifts ever!)
A Month in the Life • April 2014 • ©

It’s Dr. Phil and Judge Judy for me when I get the worst stomach bug. I’m so sick I can’t even move my hand to turn the channel. H is concerned by my TV choices, so he quickly Googles to make sure I am not dying.
A Month in the Life • April 2014 • ©

Alexa’s 3-Year-Old Photoshoot

3 Year Old Photoshoot // Little Gray Pixel

The last time I posted Alexa with her owl was in July, when she turned 2½. Before that, I took her photo once a month. My baby turned 3 in January, and regrettably we just got around to taking her 3-year-old pics, roughly three months late. Better late than never, right?

Shortly after Alexa’s birthday, she started preschool, and since then she has outgrown toddler status and has turned into a full-fledged kiddo, with all kinds of opinions and demands and hilarious stories. She loves going to school so much she is disappointed on the weekend that it’s just Mama and Daddy. Tough luck!

Her favorite TV show is “Jake and the Never Land Pirates.” She also loves to watch Disney Jr. shows like “Doc McStuffins” and “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.” We took her to see “Frozen” in the movie theater for her birthday, and she was an instant movie fan. As a result we’ve been hearing sporadic renditions of “Let It Go” for the past three months.

We started Family Movie Night, where we get into the ritual of making popcorn and sitting down as a family for entertainment. Some of her favorite movies are “The Smurfs 2,” “Alvin & the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked” and anything Tinkerbell.

She is very imaginative, and one of her favorite things to do is line up all her favorite plush toys (the Never Land pirates, Mickey, Minnie, etc.) inside my flats and her roller skates, pretending that they’re driving in cars. She loves it when I make her stuffed animals come to life with a strategically hidden hand behind their heads.

Her favorite songs (besides “Let It Go,” of course) include any Never Land Pirates song (the theme song is a hit), “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” The Mermaid Song is an old standby. I think it’s our special mama-daughter song because it reminds her of Hawaii and “vacation.” Oh yeah, she remembers our trip from last summer.

We still like to play the Tickle Monster game. She laughs and laughs.

Alexa is a voracious reader. Our nighttime routine (bath, brush teeth, read stories) inevitably ends with a few more pleas for “one more story, pwease.” Her favorites rotate, but a few include: The Jungle Book, Never Tease a Weasel, The Little Mermaid, Peter Pan

We thought she was swearing off naps for good, but now that she’s in the preschool routine, she will take an afternoon nap wherever we place her nap mat. I wish we had thought about doing this earlier.

She is getting adventurous. Climbing taller playground equipment, going down the “big slide,” eagerly wading in the ocean. On the flip side, she is cautious. She is always the first to point out when other kids are doing “dangerous” things, and that they should “be careful.”

She’s wearing a mix of 3T/4T; 4T mostly for length on pants. We just graduated her to Size 10 shoes. When I the box arrived, she exclaimed, “I love shoes!”

Last night Alexa surprised us by reciting the entire Pledge of Allegiance, hand over heart and all. She is drawing stick figures now. She is a smart cookie, and I can’t wait to see what she gets into next.

Favorite toys: Action figures, plush toys for make-believe, cars, dolls, random dress-up, paints and markers for creating art

Stats: She stepped on the scale a few weeks ago and it read about 35 lbs. Not sure how tall she is, but she can reach things she shouldn’t be reaching … so she has grown!

A quick aside: This was the quickest owl photoshoot we’ve ever done. I asked her to hold it for Mama for “just a second.” She obliged, a little cross at first …

3 Year Old Photoshoot // Little Gray Pixel

… But 30 seconds later I said, “OK, let’s go to school,” and she smiled really big.

3 Year Old Photoshoot // Little Gray Pixel

Oh, my, how she’s grown. Evidence:
Alexa's First Year

second year

Read past updates here.

Listen & Look: Foster the People

Music Inspired Fashion / Listen & Look: Foster the People // Little Gray Pixel

Listen & Look is an occasional series focusing on music inspired fashion. I listen, then I create the look!

Wearing pastels is the ultimate way of saying, “Yes, I’m bad-ass.”

I can’t really pin down the new Foster the People album. One song I feel like I’m at Bayside High, getting saved by the bell. The next I am in my friend’s brother’s room sitting in the dark with a black light and lava lamp.

As much as I love this vibe now, I would’ve really dug it in high school. I would’ve gotten really into the lyrics, spending hours thinking about the truth behind words like these: “And you say that dreamers always get what they desire/Well I’ve found, the more I want the less I’ve got/Is this the life you’ve been waiting for?/Or are you hoping that you’ll be where you want with a little more?”

Then I would’ve dug out my composition book and written poetry that would leave readers concerned about my mental state. Ah, to be an angsty teenage girl again.

Listen & Look:

Crunch-tastic Salad Recipe

Crunch-tastic Easy Salad Recipe // Little Gold Pixel // Make the perfect crunchy salad, every time, by using this formula.

If you follow me on Instagram, you will know I’ve finally perfected my go-to easy salad recipe. It has been years in the making, friends. I am a tough customer. I was always one of those people who loved the idea of salad, and if I were in a restaurant, I would be over the moon for salad.

But …

The salad I would make in my own kitchen always fell flat in comparison.

Over the years there were bright spots, sure. Like the eight salads I made and liked or this Summer Salad Recipe (still so good, by the way).

But it wasn’t until recently that I discovered a way to make an easy salad recipe that would work for lunch every single day, and in a way I would never get tired of.


Crunch-tastic Easy Salad Recipe // Little Gold Pixel // Make the perfect crunchy salad, every time, by using this formula.


Crunch-tastic Easy Salad Recipe // Little Gold Pixel // Make the perfect crunchy salad, every time, by using this formula.


The best thing about salad is something crunchy, in my opinion. That’s why chopped salad is so good. Little nibbles, little crunch in every bite. It’s so satisfying. You can trick yourself into thinking you’re eating something more substantial than lettuce and vegetables, which to me is paramount. I want to feel like my lunch is lasagna … without the calories. (Not that I’m saying that salad tastes like lasagna. That would be a feat that could win me some kind of miracle-maker award.)

Let’s start with Sunday prep (to make assembly a cinch all week).

Crunch-tastic Easy Salad Recipe // Little Gold Pixel // Make the perfect crunchy salad, every time, by using this formula.

First you grab the crunchiest veggies you have. Then chop into tiny tiny pieces. That’s all. It seems to take a little while, especially if you have a small child who insists on putting vegetables into the bowl of rinsing water that is strategically placed just outside the photo frame.

Crunch-tastic Easy Salad Recipe // Little Gold Pixel // Make the perfect crunchy salad, every time, by using this formula.

Crunch-tastic Easy Salad Recipe // Little Gold Pixel // Make the perfect crunchy salad, every time, by using this formula.

Crunch-tastic Easy Salad Recipe // Little Gold Pixel // Make the perfect crunchy salad, every time, by using this formula.

My suggestions: bell peppers, onions, celery, cucumbers, carrots

Next, I grab a Ziploc bag and fill with walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, croutons and shake it up. Then I sprinkling just a little bit of this mixture atop my salad each day. The bag lasts weeks, I tell you. It is that extra layer of crunch that takes this salad to the next level.

Lastly, add your greens, a protein source and a dressing of your choice. You have yourself one Crunch-tastic Salad.

I’m not getting specific with the greens/protein/dressing because I have tried a lot of different varieties, and I can vouch for them all. This salad is highly customizable, especially if you’re not a picky eater. I’ve used a bed of spinach one day, kale another and romaine yet another. I’ve tried chicken and turkey meatballs and tuna. I’ve tried creamy dressings and vinaigrettes. My preference is for a romaine/kale mix (crunch, hello!), chicken and caesar vinaigrette, for what it’s worth, but it’s all been good.

Crunch-tastic Easy Salad Recipe


  • 3 handfuls salad greens/lettuce
  • 1.5-2 cups chopped vegetable mix
  • 1/8 cup nut/crouton mix
  • 1 serving protein (1 chicken breast, chopped small)
  • 1-2 tablespoons dressing (your call)

Greens + veggies + protein can live in the same container. Add nut/crouton mix and dressing immediately before salad-eating time. Ta-da! Easy salad recipe!

Calories will vary depending on your ingredients. Mine is usually in the range of 400-550 calories.

Family Movie Night / Tinker Bell & Mr. Nobody

Family Movie Night / Tinker Bell & Mr. Nobody • ©

We tested out these movies so you don’t have to. Pop some popcorn, curl up with your favorite people, and prepare for a double feature.

Family first

Secret of the Wings
Gotta say, I was never a big Tinker Bell fan growing up. She always seemed like such a pest in the Peter Pan stories, a jealous little thing who had nothing nice to say. Disney’s new Fairies series is turning me around, though, and I find that these quick little movies (1:15) are just the perfect length for small children and reluctant adults (H even admits that the Fairies movies are easy to sit through). In this particular movie, summer fairy Tink finds out that she has a twin sister who is a frost fairy, and they have to figure out how to reconcile their hot/cold environments so they can spend time together.

For the adults

Mr. Nobody
The tagline is “Nothing is real, everything is possible.” Put on your thinking caps, folks. You’re in for an existential ride. It twists, it turns, it teases, it baffles, it never gives a clear answer. But do not panic. You have beautiful eye candy along the way, and I’m not just talking about Jared Leto et al. The cinematography is fantastic; Wes Anderson fans should enjoy. Also, you will have fodder for interesting conversation with your significant other for days to come. Who knows, you may even be inspired to re-read “Slaughterhouse-Five” for similarities. I am now smarter for having watched this film (and I’m not able to say that very often). YAY

Do you have a Movie Night recommendation? Have a film you want us to test first before you commit to watching it?

P.S. More recommendations for Movie Night.