Archive | July, 2012

Off the registry.

23 Jul

I’m that guest. I rarely purchase shower or wedding gifts off of the couples’/parents’ registry. I always like to find something more unique and personal. This is especially true when I know the person/couple well.

Baby and wedding season are in full swing. I have several friends that have recently had babies or are expecting. Not to mention a few upcoming weddings and showers. So not only am I on the hunt for unique gifts but I’m also trying to find some cost-effective options as well.

Since I go off the registry, I feel added pressure to make the gifts really special (to justify my defiance). When it comes to babies, you just can’t go wrong the personalized/keepsake items. When I had Myles I had all sorts of grandiose plans about how I would memorialize and commemorate his birth and subsequent milestones. Not surprisingly, none of it got done. So now I like to give something to new parents that has the key birth stats.

Recently, I’ve come across some great finds on Etsy. The customization options are endless and I think this is the type of gift “that keeps on giving.” These prints can be used for years. In fact, I ordered some for Myles as well!

I love just about everything at Etsy Shop, Mateo & Tobias.

But I settled on these two adorable prints.

Personalized Alphabet ABC Wall Art via Mateo & Tobias

Each print is $16 (frame not included). I will explore custom framing options but worse case I should be able to find something at Michael’s or even Ikea.

Opaque Name Modern Birth Announcement via Mateo & Tobias

Another cute birth announcement type gift is this pillow. These run about $50 each. Not terribly expensive but I have no less than 5 shower/baby gifts to buy and I just don’t have $250+ to spend.

The colors are so vibrant and the backside can be made with a fun print like, Chevron!

Birth Announcement Pillow from ThreelilStitches

I’m also loving these customizable onsies. I think all moms are obsessed with clothing that has their baby’s name on it (or is that just me). These simple white onsies have a great pop of color and would be perfect for pictures! And how cute would it be framed?

Personalized Onesie via SundayRookery

For bridal showers I really like to get something personal for the bride. This is my new favorite and as I bride-to-be I certainly wouldn’t mind getting one of these for myself!

available at Nordstrom and katespade.com for $78

Not only do I stray from the registry but I’m notoriously bad at getting wedding presents prior to the wedding, although etiquette says you have up to 6 months after the wedding to send the gift. But after the wedding the registry is usually  slim pickings so I’m forced to go rogue. I have a few tried and true items from Crate & Barrel but new to my arsenal are these Mr. & Mrs. pillows.

$49 from Pillows4Fun on Etsy

There is nothing like having your first child or getting married to bring out your most sentimental side. My hope is that these gifts add something to those sentiments.

It is HOT.

20 Jul

While most of the country was experiencing a crazy heat wave in June and early July, temps here were pretty mild. Now we’re officially baking. Despite spending most the day snoozing comfortably in the air-conditioned house, Venus continues to struggle with the heat. This dog must have a night gig that we don’t know about. What is she so exhausted from?

Drama.

Aside

Happy 2nd Birthday Baby!

18 Jul

Dear Myles,

Love is not a strong enough word to describe how I feel about you. You are the best thing I’ve ever done. Every single cliché about a mother’s love is 110% true. You amaze me on a daily basis. I laugh when you laugh, I cry when you cry (when there is actually something wrong) and I believe that my life is infinitely better with you in it. You are everything I never knew I wanted.

I don’t think anyone could possibly love you as much as I do but you father and grandparents will tell you different.  You have brought so much joy and love to all of our lives. It has been so fun to watch Grammy and Grandpoppy with you (because they were never like this with me). But the 8am Tootsie Rolls need to stop. Period.

You are such a special child. And I’m not just saying this as your mother. There is something so different about you from other kids. You’re so observant and intense. Everyone says you have an old soul. You are so smart and so full of personality. You talk all the time and the things that come out of your mouth are the funniest, most random and sometimes very poignant.

Here are some of your favorite things (that change almost daily):

Favorite foods: tomatoes, cucumbers, spaghetti and chicken meatballs, blueberries, mango, waffles

Favorite toy: anything that isn’t actually a toy like our shoes, the remote, our phones. But you also love your little suitcase and a Radio Flyer scooter that you call your skateboard.

Your favorite tv shows: Yo Gabba Gabba and the Fresh Beat Band. Elmo is coming in at a close third.

Your favorite person: Daddy (your very best friend)

Your favorite place to go: anywhere you can run around freely and you’re quite the people watcher

Your favorite book: Does a Kangaroo Have a Mother Too and Llama Llama Red Pajama

You also love to sing, dance and play your guitar or “rock out” as you call it.

These past two years have been a joy. It’s also been exhausting, hard work and an enormous challenge trying to balance being the best mom I can with working and keeping some semblance of being my own person. But you are so worth it all.

We probably have thousands of pictures but here are just a few of my favorites from the past 2 years.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MY PRECIOUS PUNKIN’! I LOVE YOU IMMENSELY. THANK YOU FOR THE BEST 2 YEARS OF MY LIFE.

only a few hours old and already “looking at people sideways”

one week later….

7 months

one year

two years!

Save or Splurge: kids’ table & chairs

15 Jul

The time has come to reclaim our family room and create a designated space for Myles to play and keep all of his toys. Part of my vision for his “play corner” is a table/chair set where he can eat, color, play, etc. While it needs to be toddler friendly, I want it to function well in the space and not scream “kiddie table.”

I regularly peruse the Buy Modern Baby blog for inspiration. She posted some very cute options but at this time I’m looking for pieces that are a little more budget friendly. But I absolutely love these oversized number tables. They would be a cute addition to any playroom. These Tambino tables retail for $185. The oversize number 2 is my favorite!

via Tambino.com

 

I found these adorable table & chairs at the Land of Nod. The table is $149 and the chairs are $69 each. I love the bright, fun colors of the chairs paired with a white table. Great contrast!

White Here, White There, Anywhere Table @ Land of Nod

 

White Parker Play Chair @ Land of Nod

 

I found a nearly identical set at IKEA. The SUNDVIK table and chairs are $39.99 and $19,99, respectively. Unfortunately, this set does not have has many bright color options. It comes in white, espresso and grey/brown. However, any toddler chair could be paired with this table to add color and I’m sure the chairs could even be painted.

SUNDVIK children’s table

SUNDVIK children’s chair

Watch for the play corner reveal to see if I decided to save or splurge!

Dinner Winner!

12 Jul

I really enjoy cooking! I would not call myself an amazing cook but I know my way around the kitchen. But a huge problem for me has been getting dinner prepared in a decent amount of time. It’s not unheard of for me to spending upwards of 90 minutes or even 2 hours on a simple lasagna or enchiladas. I didn’t believe that you could actually prepare a full meal in 30 minutes or less (partly because I’m not a fan of Rachel Ray, just saying…). So last night I decided to give this recipe a try from Bon Appetit.

I had some chicken thighs marinating because I had planned on just throwing them in the oven but we really prefer the skin to be crispy which never seems to happen when I bake chicken. So I was very excited to make this:

Perfect Pan Roasted Chicken Thighs via bonappetit.com

Unfortunately, because my chicken was too wet from the marinade my thighs came out like this:

However, they were still delicious! In the future I will forgo the marinade for just salt and pepper and be sure to “air dry” the chicken in the fridge for a few hours. I paired the chicken with a roasted vegetable medley from my recent farmer’s market trip. Some olive oil, salt, pepper, a dash of balsamic vinegar and about 25 minutes in the oven – so simple!

All in all this was about a 35 minute meal. Chicken thighs with the skin is certainly not the most healthy cut of chicken but it’s an inexpensive option and with recipes like this, a very tasty option too! Bon appetit!

Haute Stuff: July Birchbox is here!

12 Jul

My July Birchbox has arrived. This month Birchbox has teamed up with Glamour magazine and the collaboration brings some hits and misses. This box is supposed to be about “celebrating the five senses” and provided products that guarantee a “multi-sensory experience.”

For the me the Hits are the:

  • Eyeko London Skinny Liquid Eyeliner in black (presumably full sized)
  • Color Club nail polish in Blue Ming (very reminiscent of  the popular Turquoise & Caicos by Essie)
  • Tea Forte Minteas breath mints (I usually hate getting food items but I always like having breath mints on hand)

The Misses are the:

  • City Sunscreen Serum (this sample is useless and doesn’t come close to the recommended amount of sunscreen application which is supposed to be something equal to a full shot glass. These tiny pouches might be enough for my hands)
  • Harvey Prince Aeu Flirt (this is a new perfume, too “woodsy” for my taste)

On the fence:

  • ear buds (they are a fun cobalt/hot pink color combo but not something I would ever buy or even grab for free. But I suppose it never hurts to have an extra pair of headphones handy)

So 3 out of 6 Hits is good with me! Usually if just one product gets me excited I consider it a good month for Birchbox. These haute beauty products will help me stay cool and pretty this July!

Here’s a couple more pics:

Let Sleeping Babies Lie

12 Jul

Nap time is one of the most welcome times of the day! Myles is SUPER busy, on the go every second that he’s awake. His naps are a welcome opportunity to eat, shower, or even just sit still for a few minutes. I used to run around and try to be “productive” during his naps but now I take it as “mommy time.” I like flipping through a magazine, perusing wedding sites and now blogging.

But for all the parents out there – have you ever been paralyzed with the fear that your kid will wake up “any second” and therefore you get nothing done? I’ve seen many hours of precious time slip away because I was fearful of starting something when it seemed like Myles was on the verge of waking up but then ended up sleeping for 2 hours as I stood there in anticipation almost the entire time. Sometimes I do enjoy just watching him. I think God made babies exceptionally cute when they sleep so that you forget just how much they test your patience when they’re awake!

But I’ve learned to enjoy all time to myself, be it 5 minutes or 3 hours. I’ve also taken the pressure of myself to be “productive.” No big deal if I don’t work, clean, cook, do laundry etc. I’m embracing and enjoying this down time. Now, when will it no longer be frowned upon to enjoy a glass of wine at 1pm? =)

How Did You Celebrate the Holiday?

8 Jul

No, not the 4th of July – friday was National Fried Chicken Day! There was a segment about it on the Today show therefore it’s a totally legit holiday! It was the perfect excuse to defrost the loads of chicken in the freezer and fry it up. In my opinion, everyone should know how to fry chicken. It’s a classic dish that even the healthiest of people will indulge in every once in a while.

I have several family recipes that I’ve tweaked over the years and I’ve come up with a few “secrets” of my own. For starters, I believe in the double dip – dip your chicken in the egg wash, seasoned flour and repeat. My other requirements are seasoning/flavoring the egg wash and for added crispness, I add some panko bread crumbs to my flour mix.

Since I’m one week strong into bootcamp and trying to improve my eating habits (as well as my family’s), I balanced out all the golden fried goodness with the warm quinoa salad over spinach. It was perfection and so easy to make! I’ve just recently started buying quinoa and so far we’re all really liking it!

the double-dip egg wash & flour method

cast iron skillet – my favorite way to fry!

golden fried perfection!

paired with a warm quinoa salad. baby spinach topped with quinoa and sauteed corn, tomatos & mushrooms. Light and tasty!

Speaking of Birthdays….

5 Jul

America almost had to share her birthday with Myles. My original due date was July 4. But my strong-willed son made is debut in dramatic fashion, 11 days late and via emergency cesarean. His first birthday was quite the ordeal – our “ONE-derful” Celebration took me months to plan and while it wasn’t crazy expensive, it certainly wasn’t a drop in the bucket. I stressed out for several weeks leading up to the party, the day of and for a couple of weeks after (about sending pictures and timely thank-you cards). The turn out was nice, the kids had fun, Myles was fast asleep by the time we were singing happy birthday. Nonetheless, we sat him in front of his cake, sang and posed for pictures while he slept. (How is it that he’ll wake up at the sound of a pin dropping at home?)

Now with his 2nd birthday just 10 days away, I have no plans. And I have zero desire to throw a party. Is this wrong? Am I a bad mom? I’m bombarded daily with the cutest and most creative images of kids’ parties on Pinterest. Typically, I love throwing a party for any reason. But this just feels different. I’d much rather do something simple and intimate with immediate family. Why not save the pomp and circumstance for when he’ll actually remember and actually understand that it’s his birthday.

Some days I am fine with this decision. Other days the guilt is overwhelming. Are kids’ birthday parties a right of passage? Is it ok to just be practical and put any money we would spend on a party into his savings account?

But just in case I have to throw something together at the last-minute, here are my top two inspirations:

Yo Gabba Gabba – Myles favorite show
via Pinterest

The Very Hungry Caterpillar – Myles’ favorite book
via the Hostess with the Mostess

Wedding Details: budget friendly favors

4 Jul

6:45 a.m. I waited in this insanely long line. 5 hours and 2 stores later, I had the goods. My goal is to create a “shoe valet” with creatively displayed flip-flops available for guests. A friend did this at her wedding and I thought it was such a thoughtful and fun touch!

via Love Is All You Need

Score! 35 pairs of flip-flops

line in front of Old Navy at 6:45am!

I battled the crowds at the Old Navy One Day Wonder $1 Flip Flop sale. It was madness. I had no idea so many people got so hype about flip-flops. There was a limit of 5 per customer so I had to get creative. I dispatched my mom and aunt to Old Navy stores in their city and I headed out on my own at 6:30am. I recruited a group of 14 year olds that were only getting a couple of pairs each to help me max out the limit. I got all that could from the first store, picked up my family and headed to store number 2.

But for needing 50 pairs, I never would have endured these shenanigans for the 5 pair limit, I’d rather just pay full price and avoid waiting in line for over an hour.

Up next I need to add a decorative label and figure out how to display them. More importantly, I have to figure out the best way to transport them all the way to Mexico.

After all this drama I better see a packed dance floor full of flop-flop clad guests! This is any easy to do and affordable favor that I hope my guests will use again.