Friday, February 26, 2016

five on friday

1. Last weekend we drove over to Park Slope, Brooklyn to have brunch with friends. It was nice to explore a new area and get outside with the kids. As Spring approaches, I know we'll have more outings on the agenda. 

2. Fuller House! Who else is super excited?! I still watch the reruns of Full House from time to time and I always love a good remake. Good think Nick likes the show too... Also, did anyone else see the Jimmy Fallon skit? Loved it!
3. Target FTW: I mentioned the new kids collection called Pillowfort which was released last week. I love it! At least at our Target, they don' have as much in stores but I picked up a few things for the kids rooms since they are both in an unfinished state. This lamp for Charlotte's room and this adorable nightlight for Hayden, to name a couple items!  It's a recurring collection, like some of the other Target lines, so I know they'll just continue adding cute items to the line!
4.  Homemade Pizza Bar. One night I cut up a bunch of different toppings and made pizza dough for a homemade pizza bar. Hayden had so much fun putting toppings on his pizza and even put on some vegetables (and ate them)! I need to figure out more dinners like this so that he can participate even more and maybe try new foods. 
5. Lastly, we were out on a walk and we saw some firemen measuring the ice thickness of our neighborhood "lake". We walked around the lake and as we were coming back to our house, we saw the firemen again, testing out their ladder. They waved to us and asked Hayden if he wanted to hop in the front of the truck. It was such a fun, unexpected treat for him! 


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

green watercolor art

It feels a little silly but 90 % of the art on our walls is homemade by me. I was an art minor in college and still enjoy painting. Right now, it's the cheapest way to add art to our house- eventually, I'd love to purchase from real artists, but until then, I'll keep creating my own. 

Last week, we got out the watercolors and both the kids and I painted for a bit. I haven't done much  painting with water colors, mostly just oil or acrylic on canvas. This was considerably less fancy- I used Hayden's Crayola Paints  and $1 poster board.  However, I had fun with the patterns and blending the greens together. We ended up with 2 watercolor prints for our dining room. I like the marbled malachite-ish look of them. I just used really cheap poster frames from Target, that I spray painted them gold. If we end up holding on to these, I would probably frame them a bit in something a bit nicer. 

Anyway, it was an exercise in creativity, if nothing else!  

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

My favorite fitness apps

 Now that I'm officially done breastfeeding, I've been focusing on losing the last of the baby weight from Charlotte and getting in shape. On weeks when we don't all have the plague, we make it to the gym 3 - 4 times a week. I try to take 1 - 2 classes a week (pilates, spin, or a boot camp style class) and am in the gym the rest of the time. I used to just run, but I've been trying to mix it up and do a different exercise each day. These apps have been great for  keeping on track and helping me plan workouts and meals. 
My Fitness Pal: A calorie counter/log. You can set a goal for your daily intake and log meals. It's really helpful when you're first starting out because I'm much more intentional about what I'm eating and when. It saves your food and recipes so if you eat the same thing often, you can log your food super quickly. 
UP: Fitness tracker. I have a fitness tracker that I wear and this counts steps, calories burned, and sleep habits. I like knowing these things and how my body is working throughout the day.
Running for WeightLoss: This is a good one for HIIT workouts. It's an 8 week program with 3 levels and each workout is about 35 - 45 minutes. Good cardio and easy to do on the treadmill. The ads are kind of annoying, but it's free if you don't mind them!
Nike Training Club: This is good for mixing up the workout routine and working on legs or arms or abs. The workouts are short and they have videos that go along with each one to demonstrate the move.
7 Minute Workout: This is one for when I don't make it to the gym- it's 7 minutes and you're done (though you can do reps). It works all the major muscle groups of the body and is simple and quick.  
I'm curious - what are your go-to apps for health and fitness??  

Monday, February 22, 2016

dining room dreaming

Our dining room in our new house is largely unused. When we have visitors (or date night) we will drag the kitchen chairs into there, but otherwise, it's just a pass thru room from the kitchen to the rest of the house. I would love to start working on it because it's at the center of the house has the potential to be a really pretty space. Of course, dining room tables and chairs tend to be pretty pricy and we need to replace both (our old chairs went to the kitchen table and our current dining room table is super small for the room).
Anyway, I have it all figured out. I just could use a little money, honey....
dining room dreaming

First things first, I want to paint the walls a deep navy (actually the same color as our dining room accent wall in our old house- Hale Navy by Benjamin Moore.) The light fixture needs to be replaced. We have a beautiful and intricate finial on the ceiling and I love the juxtaposition of old and new (kind of like this image) so I would love to replace the light with something a bit more modern.
The table- I want it light wood and simple. This one is perfect- maybe something we could try and DIY?? Both our dads are coming to visit this spring and might want a project ;)  
For the chairs, we have the 2 end chairs already and I really like the look of mixing and matching and love these Eames look-alike chairs. However, Nick would not be certain these were comfortable and would probably want to get the matching armless chairs to our end chairs.
For the rug, I love this with it's pink tones- lots of pattern to hide any food spillage!
We have a built in china cabinet and lots of storage so I don't think I want to go with a buffet cabinet in here. Something simple and light, like this console table would be perfect for a couple of lamps and as a place to set dishes.
 So that's the plan... We have a lot of big expenses for this room so it will probably be slow-going, but a girl can dream.... 

Friday, February 19, 2016

five on friday

It's been a recurring theme this winter, but we had another sick week at our house... Both kids had terrible head colds and coughs which developed into ear infections, bronchiolitis, and very little sleep this week. They passed on their colds to Momma so we have been staying in and trying to recuperate. Looking forward to feeling better and hopefully leaving the house this weekend! 
On Monday, we made a quick grocery run before a winter storm hit and stopped at Starbucks because, well, I really needed some coffee. Anyway, I got the kids a maple walnut muffin and sampled a bit- it was so delicious! I found this recipe on Pinterest to try and replicate next week when we're all feeling better.
Valentine's Day is over and I've been thinking about the next holiday- St. Patrick's Day! Here are some cute things that I'm eyeing for the kids. How cute are those gold bunny flats?!  

Despite the plague over here, we did manage to make it on a couple errands (Target, naturally) this week and I picked up these hand towels for our main/guest bathroom.  That bathroom is a little tricky with it's retro tile and finishes so I loved that these towels felt like they really matched. 

Guys, this curl on the back of Charlotte's head kills me. It's so much longer than the rest of her hair and it sticks out after she wears a hat. Hayden always says, "Charlotte's hair is fabulous." 
Our California trip is 3 weeks away and here's the number 2 reason, I'm can't wait to get out there (after seeing our family and friends of course):

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

working from home tips

I certainly won't claim to have all the answers for how to best work at home, but I've been doing it now for 2.5 years and have really figured out a system that works for me. I should preface this by says that both jobs that I work are part time and VERY flexible. I can make my own schedule and I typically work around 30 hours a week. I will also say that I currently have no childcare or preschool, so I'm home with the kids 100 percent of the time. It can be a little tricky  (and sometimes frustrating) to find time to work, but I love what I do and I'm so happy that I can earn money and stay at home with the babies. So here are my tips for making it work as a "work-at-home" mom:
1. Maximize the morning time: Charlotte sleeps till about 7:00 (sometimes later) and Hayden never comes out of his room before 7:30 (this clock has been the key to that!). So if I get up at 5:00 am, I have at least 2 hours of uninterrupted work time. It's early, but I am mostly a morning person and getting up early to work usually results in some productive work time. Making a cup of coffee, lighting my favorite candle, and putting on some peaceful music makes getting out of bed much easier.
2. Make a weekly to-do list: I make a list each week of tasks to finish by the end of the week. Most of my work is self-driven, so it helps to stay focused and not jump from task to task. It also helps to have an idea of what I should accomplish each week. This way, if something (missed nap time, for example) prevents me from working on a Monday afternoon, I know that I still have 4 more days to get the task done. I try to plan ahead for actual work deadlines, knowing that things crop up during the week, and it's easier if my deadlines for other people are done ahead of time. 
3. Schedule calls and meetings when you know your kids will be asleep: I usually have 2 - 3 scheduled calls or meetings a week. I always give my availability between 1 and 3 pm when my kids are typically napping. Sometimes one of them takes a short nap (or no nap!) and are up during a call, but everyone is really understanding of my dual-roles and don't mind hearing a little baby chatter on the other end.
4. Work when your kids sleep: This is a big one. I try not to work during the time they are awake. That means early mornings (see #1), always working during nap times, and trying to work for an hour or two at night. I know myself, and I can't do a good job mothering or working when I'm not completely focused one or the other. So, I try to avoid multi-tasking when they are awake. However.... if I need to work when they are awake, I: 
5.  Find engaging activities for each child: Busy boxes, snack time, and creating play spaces around the house are great for engaging them, when I can't be 100% present. Sometimes I spread out a few blankets throughout our downstairs, and put various toys on each one. It keeps Charlotte busy moving from one blanket to the next and playing with the toys. For Hayden, he can be pretty self-entertaining with his trains or other games he makes up, but my last resort is a quick show or iPad time. 
6.  Get out of the house! It can be a little isolating working at home and staying at home with the kids full time, so I try and make it out of the house at least once a day. We go to story time, the gym, run errands or go to our play group. This makes the day go a lot more smoothly for all of us! 

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

date night at home

(super old pre-kids picture- back when we had date nights out!)
Since moving to New Jersey, we've had less opportunities to go out on dates outside the house than we used to in California. We have a babysitter, but she's not always available. Plus, it can get pricey when you add a babysitting fee + nice dinner out + drinks, etc. So a few weeks ago, we instituted a new tradition- date night in! 
Typically dinner is a rushed affair, with multiple trips to and from the table for cups of milk, dropped silverware, and second helpings. We try and eat together as a family most nights but it's  most definitely not a time for us to linger over dinner and have good conversation. 
Our new tradition is once every week or two:  put the kids to bed and make dinner together. It's fun working in the kitchen together. We plan a whole meal from a special cocktail to start the night, to an appetizer, our main course, and sometimes dessert (or just splitting some fancy chocolate on the couch). We have good wine and turn on some music and get to relax during the food prep process and also eating. We even eat in the dining room - which feels fancier than the kitchen table.
It makes for such a nice evening and some quality time together. Plus, since we are cutting out the babysitting cost, the dinner out, etc., even splurging on nicer food and alcohol  at the grocery store is significantly cheaper than a night out at a moderately priced restaurant.  
So, if you're a couple with young kids who doesn't get to go out too often, I'd really recommend this option!  

Monday, February 15, 2016

our valentine's weekend

We were lucky to have visitors for Valentine's weekend- my sister and her boyfriend came to stay with us, making the polar-vortex/stuck inside weekend, 100 times better! I love Valentine's Day and love to make it a little special for the kids (sorry, Nick...)

This year, I decorated the playroom for a little Valentine's breakfast, which included Hayden's favorite - bacon and pancakes. Then we went on a special scavenger hunt to find the kid's valentine's gifts. The scavenger hunt was super fun, easy to create, and 100% age-appropriate for Hayden. I walked around the house the night before and snapped pictures of various locations. Then Nick printed out the pictures and we glued them to construction paper hearts. Hayden would search for each clue in the new location and that one would lead him to the next. As for gifts, we don't usually give them anything major. Hayden got a new train for his collection and Charlotte got this shape sorter. I also picked up two more of our favorite sippy cups now that both kids are drinking from them. For dinner, my sister and I collaborated on a heart shaped pizza for the kids.
For the adult-portion of the holiday, we all worked together in the kitchen to create  a wonderful meal that we enjoyed once the kids went to bed. We had lobster tail, steak, asparagus, twice baked potatoes and blackberry bread pudding. We started the evening with these fun and festive drinks .  It was so much fun relaxing and celebrating with another couple and we really enjoyed our time with my sister and Nick (her boyfriend's name, coincidentally).
Nick and I usually don't go big with gifts and this year, he got me some sour candy (my fav!), my favorite candle from Anthropologie, and a fitness tracker (my 4th.... I've lost 1 and 2 others stopped working....).  I gave Nick a book about steam heating (he asked for it, I swear!) and 3 jars of homemade ice cream. 
The only downside to the weekend (besides the cold weather) was that poor Charlotte was so sick. She has a really bad cough and a fever for the last few days. Unfortunately, it looks like Hayden is catching whatever it is. She seems to be getting worse, rather than better - so it's off to the doctor we go in a couple hours! 
I hope you had a lovely Valentine's Day too!  

Friday, February 12, 2016

5 on Friday

Good morning and happy long weekend/ Valentine's weekend! It's one of my favorite holidays - especially now that we have kids! My sister and her boyfriend are visiting from CA this weekend and we are having a little Valentine's Day brunch with the kids on Sunday morning + a fancy at-home adult dinner on Sunday night. 
(our past Valentine's Day brunches
Last weekend we went to the Crayola Museum in Easton, Pennsylvania. It was really cute and we had a fun day exploring. The kids got to make their own crayons + labels. Hayden named his crayons very original names like "yellow crayon"  reminiscent of one of our favorite books ;) 
What are you watching lately?? Nick and I have been into Sherlock which is fun because it's a little longer show (1.5 hours) so it almost feels like we are watching a movie. (Typically, one or both of us falls asleep when we turn on a movie #parentingprobs.) Anyway, Sherlock has only 9 episodes so we are almost done. So, what do you recommend?
Okay, this has me so excited and has Nick rolling his eyes.... Target is coming out with a new kids line in a couple weeks! You know their home decor as of late has been so so good, but their kids line has never impressed me. That's all changing people and I can't wait! Our kids rooms both feel a little unfinished to me and I'm sure we can find a couple things and good old Targs to make them feel complete. To take a look, search the term "Pillow Fort" on Target's website- so much goodness! 
Little Miss Mae is saying some new words No! (thanks to her brother constantly telling her No! when it comes to his toys) and  Ohhhhhh (when she tries something new or is excited about something). She's been having a rough week with 3 new teeth coming in, having a blood draw (routine), and losing her favorite paci. It's been nice to see something happy too!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Rice Krispie Heart Cake Pops

For today's playgroup, Hayden and I made some festive treats to celebrate Valentine's Day. I wants something that was easy to make, child-friendly, and cute. This picture from Pinterest was my inspiration, though we did our own thing from the start. 
Here's what you need:
  • Rice Krispies 
  •  1 bag of marshmallows
  •  heart sprinkles  
  •  chocolate (for melting) I used about 1/2 a bag of chocolate chips + a little butter
  •  cake pop sticks OR paper straws cut in half 
  •  heart-shaped cookie cutter
  1. Make Rice Krispie treats on the stove, according to the recipe on the box. When you add in the Rice Krispies, add in a liberal amount of heart sprinkles.
  2.  Lay down a large piece of parchment paper on your counter and roll or smooth out the Rice Krispies until they are about 1 inch thick. I found that wetting my hands and just pressing them down worked better than any other method. 
  3. Use your cookie cutter to cut out hearts. Work quickly, because you want them to still be warm for the next step. 
  4. Insert the cake pop stick or straw (what we used) into the bottom of the heart while it is still warm. You can mold the back of the treat a little to make is stay better.
  5. Finally, dip the back of the treats into melted chocolate.
  6. Set the heart pops on a parchment-lined baking sheet and put in the refrigerator for a couple hours, so that the chocolate hardens.

 Super easy and a fun toddler treat! 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Living Room Progress & Plans

Our living room is probably the most traditional room in the house, with a large stone fireplace, overhead beams, and an architectural style that feels like a cross between Spanish Revival/Craftsman/Tudor. The walls are textured plaster and all the doors, stairs, ledges, and beams are the original wood. It's a really pretty room and it's nice to have a sitting space that doesn't include the TV. We have used most of the same furniture from our California living room and opted not to have a coffee table. It's nice to have an open space and the kids play in here a lot, so it makes sense for now.
The only changes we've made to this room since we moved in were to switch out the light fixtures and take down the heavy window treatments left by the previous owner. We opted for bright white drapes and these wall sconces from West Elm. (You can see the previous lights in this post.)
Eventually, I'd like to switch out the two arm chairs for different seating. They aren't the most comfortable or substantial chairs. My dream set up would be to have a second couch facing the current one, but since that would be really costly (and if we move, we might not have space for 3 couches...) I'm thinking about adding in two larger armchairs

The other things that are on my list for this room are to change out the rug, and maybe (maybe) add an overhead light fixture. The rug has seen better days (lots of animal accidents) and it also feels like too much brown for the room. I'd love a vintage-looking onewith a bit more color  or a shaggy Moroccan rug instead. We'll see.... 
Even without these changes, it's a comfortable room and I'm always happy to curl up on the couch with a cup of coffee and my laptop to work!

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