summer picnic

Madelyn starts first grade tomorrow. FIRST. GRADE. I can’t even believe that, but here we are! Last week we had a bit of time, just her and me, so I decided it was time we had a picnic! She had been wanting to have one for so long, so she was very excited! We made simple little sandwiches, packed up some grapes, mixed pink lemonade and played our favorite matching game from Bannor Toys. We clinked our glasses together and she beat me twice! She’s four years older than Kora is and (almost) six years older than Caleb, so sometimes I feel guilty that she misses out on some big kid stuff because the babies can’t always do the things she wants to do, so it was really nice to spend this time together. I think it’s so important to still make time for that one-on-one with your kids, especially once they get bigger.

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Pantry m a k e o v e r!

We moved to our house back in March and we had most of the interior painted white (specifically the most dreamy “White Dove” by Benjamin Moore). For whatever reason, I was like oh, don’t worry about the pantry, I can paint that myself. Who cares, you say? It’s just the pantry, right? Well. The former owners had painted the shelves and the wall behind and on the sides of the shelves red. Like bright, blood red. Not a great color for a pantry closet. (The before photos are at the end for your viewing pleasure! ūüėČ ) It drove me crazy. So finally I got up the nerve to paint. I knew it would take a while and with three little kids, it’s hard to find the time. But I am so thrilled that I went ahead with the project, even though it took me practically all day. I primed, painted, went through everything, tossed some things, organized others. It was fun! Plus, I’m so in love with my new pantry I keep opening the door just to look at how nice and organized it is. Haha!

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as promised, here are some photos of my process…Photo Aug 05, 12 38 40 PM

primed…Photo Aug 05, 6 15 50 AM

first coat…Photo Aug 05, 12 18 25 PM

Easter + Our Bunnies

Easter always catches me off guard. I’m not sure why, but it swoops in and I am always feeling unprepared.¬†This year felt that way even more so, I barely had fresh eggs, let alone anything to dye them with. So, thankfully there is Google and thankfully I have a large assortment of food coloring. I used a recipe I found on McCormick’s website and it was perfect. It was easy and the colors turned out really fun! DSC_5207collage2DSC_5219DSC_5245collage3DSC_5254DSC_5262DSC_5277DSC_5278DSC_5280DSC_5284DSC_5290DSC_5293DSC_5300

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…and we had our very own baby bunny, too. ūüėČ

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a thoughtful DIY gift

A couple of years ago, I came across Heather Bullard on Instagram. She is amaaaazing. She is a prop stylist and everything she does is gorgeous, so naturally I was an instant fan. She shared her recipe for Organic Madagascar Vanilla Extract and I was like oh yes, I must do this! I love to bake and I really like thoughtful gift ideas, so this was perfect. Finally, two summers ago, a friend and I decided to¬†try it out. It’s so easy, but you must have time. Time is the key ingredient here, because you have to let the vanilla cure for 6+ months, the longer the better. Mine has been curing for a year and a half, so you can imagine how excited I was to finally bottle this stuff up!! I highly suggest you¬†visit Heather’s page for all things beautiful and inspiring and for lots and lots of recipes. (Note: I am not afiliated with Heather at all, I just am sharing what inspires me and oh my gosh does she ever!)

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For the finishing touch, and to make it extra festive, I simply tied some baker’s twine around the top of the bottle and added a couple of cinnamon sticks. I think it’s beautiful and I can’t wait to give these as gifts this year. I had an extra bottle so¬†I am stashing that in my pantry for holiday baking! ūüėČdsc_2797dsc_2807dsc_2809

festive gingerbread men

Christmastime is my all-time favorite. I’ve always loved the season – decorating, listening to Christmas Carols, drinking egg nog out of Christmas glasses, hot chocolate with peppermint sticks, looking at Christmas lights, extra family time…I mean, all of it, I love it! And this year, I wanted to make some gingerbread men ornaments. I found thee perfect recipe¬†from McCormick’s. It’s easy and your home will smell fantastic! You need to try it, get your kiddos involved and have at it!

Ingredients:

3/4 c. applesauce

2 of the 2.37 oz bottles of ground cinnamon

Cookie Cutters (we used gingerbread, but I plan on doing some more with hearts and stars and trees #obsessed)

Drinking Straw (I used festive ones of course! ūüėČ )

Ribbon

Directions:

Mix your applesauce and cinnamon together until a dough ball forms (I used my hands, it’s easier). Once it’s mixed, separate the dough into¬†four separate dough balls. Place one of the¬†dough balls on a sheet of plastic wrap and then cover it with another sheet of plastic wrap (this trick is wonderful!). Use¬†a rolling pin to roll out each dough ball to 1/4 – 1/3 inches (per the recipe…I just eyeballed it, though) and cut out shapes with your cookie cutters. Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat with the remaining dough. Once you have a full sheet of ornaments, use a straw to poke a hole at the top (or two in the center if you want to make garland like I did). Bake at 200 degrees for 2 1/2 hours (your home will smell SO good!). Once baked and cooled a bit, string ribbon through the holes and you’re all set! You could even decorate them if you wish. I wanted mine plain for the garland.

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We had one extra, so we strung some baker’s twine through it and made an ornament for our tree!dsc_2825

Nursery Update

The other day, I got the urge to rearrange/reorganize the nursery. Since Caleb is still in our room, but will move into the nursery at some point, I have made an effort to create a neutral space that will easily transition from Kora’s room to Caleb’s room, or perhaps a even shared room, depending on what we do once Caleb moves out of our room. I haven’t quite figured out if Kora will move into Madelyn’s room or if she and Caleb will share.¬†Kora sleeps in the nursery, but since Caleb is in our room and gets diaper changes in the wee hours of the morning, we moved the changing table into our bedroom for the time being so that I wouldn’t wake Kora up every time I had to change Caleb in the middle of the night. Having done that created an empty space in the nursery that was driving me crazy. So, over the past week or so, I’ve changed things around and created a space I really, really love. I thought I’d share the update here! I also listed some of the places I got some of our things at the bottom of this post¬†in case you’re interested. ūüôā

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Picture frames, wood crate, cloth fringe bin, and blue cabinet: Target

Blue eucalyptus wreath: I made this from some dried eucalyptus I had ūüôā

“ABC” wooden stool: Home Goods

Children’s wooden fold-up chair: thrifted

Wooden car and stacking blocks: Bannor Toys

Wooden caterpillar: Little Sapling Toys

Fur rug: TJ Maxx

Hanging Elephant Bell: World Market

Roald Dahl Print: Oh My Deer Handmade (Etsy)

White baby blanket: Yoli & Otis

Baby sling: Wild Bird

Blue striped baby hat: Willaby Clothier

Dream Catcher: Etsy Shop – unfortunately they don’t make this anymore ūüôĀ

 

fall crafts

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I’m always looking for new ideas to keep my little ones busy.¬†Whether it’s drawing, painting, baking or something alike, creating is something we always enjoy¬†to do together and it’s a good way to keep little hands busy. ¬†Madelyn is at the age where she is coming up with her own creations and I just love it. Autumn is such an inspirational time of year, I think. Last weekend, we spent most of the weekend at home and so we decided to use the cornstarch dough recipe we usually use for Christmas ornaments and made¬†some fall leaf ornaments. We then used an old hanger and made a fall mobile. While we were in the spirit, we made some ghosts out of old fabric I had and Madelyn made some spooky drawings to decorate our front door. We turned on some Halloween tunes and crafted away. If you’re interested in the cornstarch dough recipe, it’s super simple:

1/2 cup cornstarch

1 cup baking soda

3/4 cup water

Mix ingredients in a medium pot on the stove over medium heat, stir continuously until the mixture begins to thicken and has the texture of mashed potatoes. Remove from heat and spoon the ball of dough into a bowl. Cover with a damp cloth until it is cool. Once it is cool, sprinkle the surface of a cutting board or table with some cornstarch and knead the dough, add additional cornstarch as necessary so that the dough is not sticky. Once your dough as a similar consistency to sugar cookie dough, roll it out and use cookie cutters to create your ornaments. Transfer ornaments to a parchment lined baking sheet. Use a straw to poke a hole at the top of each for hanging. Bake at 175 degrees (f) for one hour, turn them over after 30 minutes to bake evenly.

After we baked our ornaments and let them cool, we painted them with gouache paint (that’s what I had on hand). I have also used glitter to decorate in the past and that is also fun!

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creamy tomato + basil soup

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I must admit, cooking has never really been my strong suit. I love to bake, but cooking has always been a bit harder for me. I am learning, though – and I’ve grown more interested in it, so that helps too! Anyway, I’ve made this soup a couple of times and I must say it makes me proud. It’s yummy and creamy and not terribly difficult to make (so long as you have an immersion blender – using a regular blender is a MESS, let me tell ya!). Since it’s that time of year when soup just sounds so tasty, I thought I’d share this from when I made it the other day. The other good thing about soup is that you can make it ahead of time, it tastes just as yummy reheated and you usually have leftovers that you can either freeze or have for lunch the next day.

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Ingredients:

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 red onions, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced (I use the pre-minced Market Pantry garlic from Target!)

1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes

4 cups chicken stock

Kosher salt

Black pepper

1 cup heavy cream

1 bunch basil, torn or chopped into pieces (plus some extra for garnish if you like to pretty it up ūüėČ )

Parmesan cheese (to taste + for garnish – I like cheese, so I add some in the soup and also some on my bowl for garnish)

To make…

Heat olive oil over medium-low heat; once it is hot, add the chopped onions and cook until soft and starting to turn golden brown (stir occasionally). Add the garlic and cook for approximately 1 minute, stir to avoid burning.

Stir in the crushed tomatoes and chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 15 minutes (or longer).

Puree the soup using an immersion blender.

Stir in the cream and basil and let simmer for another 15 minutes or so. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Careful not to over-salt. Add parmesan cheese, stir.

Spoon into bowls and garnish with additional parmesan cheese and basil leaves.

I like to serve this with warm bread and caesar salad. Enjoy, friends!

 

 

baby caleb

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Last Saturday, I went into labor in the afternoon while taking these maternity photos of myself. I was getting ready to go to a movie with my husband, a date night that we figured would be our last for a while, and since I was getting dressed, I thought I should take some photos while I still had some energy. I was carrying very low and had very bad round ligament pain throughout most of my pregnancy, so my energy level was dipping more and more every day. I had my camera out and was going back and forth with my self-timer, checking the focus, etc. While I was doing this, I noticed that I started…leaking a little (sorry TMI!). I wasn’t sure what it really was because my due date was four weeks away and I had never actually had my water break with my two previous pregnancies. I had been told, though, that if your water breaks you need to get to the hospital. I googled “what happens when your water breaks” to see if that was what was happening and then I decided to call the nurse. They said I definitely needed to go in, so instead of going to a movie, my husband and I headed to the hospital. I was feeling very unsure, I kept thinking, no, it’s not happening yet. It’s probably nothing. But¬†as we got closer to the hospital, I was¬†like, ok, wait…I’m not ready yet – this was supposed to happen in another month! Well, my water did break, it was a slow “leak” you could say. It was a very long night. I felt 100% fine when I was admitted, so the labor was slow at first. We practically stayed up all night waiting for contractions and when they finally started, they came on pretty quickly. Caleb Michael was born at 6:33 am Sunday morning, he was four weeks early and weighed 7 lbs. 1.8 oz. He is so tiny to me! (My other two babies were 8 lbs., 9 oz. and 9 lbs., 11 oz.) The first thing the nurses called out when they were cleaning him off, was “he has dimples!” and he sure does. We had to stay in the hospital an extra day because he was late pre-term. He had a couple of issues, but overall was very healthy. When we left, he was still high-risk for jaundice, but the pediatrician assured me last week that as long as he is eating normally, he will be fine. He’s still pretty sleepy, but he’s starting to stay awake a little longer every day.¬†We are so in love with our precious boy!

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And…he’s an October baby, so of course I had to get some photos of our pumpkin¬†with our pumpkins! ūüėČ

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our very first “back-to-school”

It’s that time of year again, autumn is rolling in and all the kiddos are going back¬†to school. It’s very nostalgic for me and I really¬†love this time of year. Madelyn started Kindergarten, so for the first time since I was in school, “back to school” was a big deal.¬†We talked about it a lot and other than a night of hesitation, most of her feelings were of excitement, so that was a relief for me. We sometimes tell stories at bedtime rather than reading books and a few weeks before school started, she asked me to tell her a story, so I came up with a fun story¬†about a girl going into Kindergarten and how and exciting it was, it really helped her get excited about it all.

As we gathered the short list of supplies for her classroom, we also talked about what she was going to wear. Choosing my back to school outfit was always fun for me.¬†Madelyn takes after me in that she is pretty opinionated about what she wears. I like to lay things out for her, but usually she doesn’t end up wearing them like she did when she was small and so I’ve sort of had to let it go.¬†She does sometimes wear things she knows I like and will tell me, “mommy, I’m wearing your favorite shirt”. It’s pretty cute and always makes me smile. We picked out a couple of options the day before school and were excited to coordinate her clothes with her really fun new shoes she picked out from Skechers. They light up and they’re sparkly and most importantly, they’re comfortable and she can run and play in them! Comfort is always number one for my girl!

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A great big “thank you” to Skechers for Madelyn’s back-to-school shoes. They’re a huge hit!