Saturday, February 28, 2015

Swoon Worthy

What a surprise, another frigidly cold weekend is upon us... Though the days are slowly getting longer, I'm just not sure how much more winter I can tolerate.

I keep finding myself daydreaming of spring strolls with my babes, sipping on iced coffee, and cruising with my sunroof open. I know it will be here soon... At least I hope.

Here's what I'm loving this week... 

1.  I'm always a sucker for a monogram, so obviously I had to have one of these pillow covers.

2.  Most definitely making these this weekend.

3.  You may not have liked the movie ( I did!), but the soundtrack is phenomenal!

4.  If lightening up my wine means that I can drink more of it, then I'm totally on board!  This sounds delightful.

5.  Baby. Jellies.  That is all.

6.  It is my belief that having a cool water bottle motivates me to drink more water.

7.  I realize that the majority of things on this list are from Target, but honestly, that's where I do a good portion of my shopping these days.  Isn't this burlap shamrock bunting that I picked up in their Dollar Spot the cutest?

8.  I have returned to my hair accessory making roots.  Check out some of the new mini bows I added to the shop.

9.  Assuming that someday in the (hopefully) near future, the fact that Max will finally be potty trained, has me swooning over these itty bitty boxer briefs.

10.  Target does it again!  I am loving these chic flats for spring!

Hope you're all having a great weekend! Stay warm if you live in the arctic like we do!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Ella Rose | 10 Month Update

I'm a few days behind, but couldn't bear break the tradition of blogging Ella's monthly updates.

I know I sound like a broken record, but I truly cannot believe our little lady is 10 months old.  I'm not sure what it is about having kids that makes time suddenly pass at warp speed, but I sure wish that wasn't the way it worked.

{bow | chair}

No sooner did I post Ella's 10 month photos on my Facebook page the other day, proclaiming that she "still had no teeth", did we wake up yesterday morning to find a tiny little tooth poking its way through her gums. She seems to be taking it well, so hopefully this lack of crankiness will last through the budding of all of those adorable baby chicklets.

With each month that passes, our sweet girl's personality seems to blossom just a little bit more.  It should come as no surprise to anyone who knows her father and I, that like her brother, she is not shy, and she is not at all quiet.

Her latest favorite past time seems to be having screaming contests with Max.  The two of them literally go back and forth shrieking at each other, and then they both burst into giggles simultaneously... it is both super cute, and outrageously obnoxious.

As Ella becomes more mobile, she has also become increasingly curious.  She wants to get into, and inspect, anything and everything, particularly our big stone fireplace (which we never had to baby proof with Max).

We have started to mostly give her table foods, whatever we are having, as opposed to purees.  She is an amazing eater, and pretty much takes down everything we put in front of her.  Lately she has been loving broccoli, sweet potatoes, green beans, turkey burgers, chicken, and avocado.  Fingers crossed that she does not become a picky toddler like someone else we know!

She is really starting to sleep a lot better lately.  We aim for 2 scheduled naps a day, and she's been great about sleeping through the night recently.  It's the cutest thing ever when we lay her in crib and she immediately starts sucking on her tiny thumb to soothe herself to sleep.

She loves bath time, bouncing in her bouncer, and playing with her big brother, when he's not saying, "you're in big twouble, Ella", because she touched his cars.  Really though they are the cutest together.  She loves it when Max sits in front of her and grabs her hands to either do "Row Your Boat" or "Pattycake".

I am so in love with watching her grow, but I would be lying if I said I wasn't having a total panic attack about planning another 1st birthday in the near future. Eek!!!

I love you to the moon and back sweet Ella Rose!
-J (Mommy)

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Swoon Worthy

I've been a little bit MIA this past week, while my best friend was in town. 

We were so very sad to say goodbye to her early this morning, but had such a blast with "Auntie" Jessie while she was here. 

It was definitely a treat for me to indulge in some much needed girl time, plus Max and Ella totally adore her, and she was super helpful with them while she was visiting!

We were out and about a good bit more during this week, in an effort to not totally bore her with our daily routine, so this week's Swoon Worthy list includes some of the fun new things that we discovered, and/or that my BFF introduced me to!  Here's what I am loving at the moment...

1.  First on the list, these awesome and inexpensive facial masks that we picked up for our "girl's night in" the other night.

2.  While Jessie was in town, we went to see 50 Shades of Grey, so I couldn't help but indulge myself in re-reading the entire series, but this book is next on my list of must-reads.

3. This lady's little shop features the most beautiful floral crowns/headbands I have ever seen.

4.  I've been such a sucker for flavored popcorn lately, so I'm totally loving this cheddar and chipotle flavor that I just tried for the first time.

5.  I'm having a hard time thinking about spring clothing as I sit here and watch the snow falling outside, but this dress is adorable.

6.  Max has been obsessed with letters and numbers lately... I love this magnetic set for him.

7.  Adding this little tunic to Ella's must-haves for this summer.

8.  Thanks to Jessie, I'm now hooked on these mini guacamole cups... and, now that I found this at Target, my life is complete.

9.  This shop's onesies, tees, and headbands are to die for!

10.  I've given up sweets for Lent, but these easy-to-make pains au chocolat, are sure to be the first thing I stuff my face with when Lent is over!

Aside from all of the fun things I'm swooning over, I also enjoyed my first-ever trip to a Hobby Lobby while Jessie was here. I'm so in love with this canvas that I picked up for Ella's room!

And... Target's Easter line has me lusting over everything pink and blue!

Lastly,  because I'm dying for winter to be over and I just love to walk through Pottery Barn and mentally decorate my house...a little bright and cheery, spring-time tablescape.

Hope you're all enjoying your weekend!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Our Weekend and Then Some...

It's been a crazy few days around here while my best friend, Jessie, is in town.  We've been out and about more than usual, despite the weather, and we're having a whole lot of fun.

Jessie arrived on Valentine's Day, just in time to see Max and Ella all decked out in their red and hearts.  On our drive back from the airport we made a pit stop at Hobby Lobby, a first trip for all of us.  Wow is that place great!!! Needless to say, I wanted to buy mostly everything in the store, but exercised at least a little bit of restraint.  

When we were done shopping and needed to refuel, we stopped to grab lunch, and then it was home to lounge in front of the fire, while the temperatures here dropped below zero again.

Jessie was kind enough to push Mike and I out the door on Sunday night for a belated V-Day date.  We enjoyed a coursed meal and some adult beverages at one of our favorite restaurants, sans kids, and it was such a treat, even though we were still home in time to put M&E to bed.

Yesterday, we hit up the Children's Museum, and I'm sure you can tell from the photos, that Max had a blast, especially in the water play room (and yes, I brought him a dry change of clothes!).  Ella is still a bit little to enjoy all the museum has to offer, but she seemed to enjoy watching her big brother.

Last night Jessie and I ventured out after bedtime to see a movie... 50 Shades of Grey, of course... feel free to judge, but it's rare that I get to indulge in girl time these days, so I took full advantage of the opportunity, and honestly really enjoyed the film.

Today it is snowy and cold again (what else is new???), so we made a little trip to the mall, and now we're spending the afternoon just hanging around the house and trying to stay warm.

I hope you're all having a great week so far!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Swoon Worthy

Happy Valentine's Day friends.  Whether you're single or hitched, like chocolate and roses, or don't,  I hope you're all finding a way to enjoy this day!

My best friend in the whole wide world is coming to visit for the week, and is arriving today, so I'm pretty psyched about that, and will be cutting straight to the point with this week's Swoon Worthy list, so that I can prepare for her arrival!

Here's what I'm loving this week...

1.  If you're hanging at home tonight and still on the search for an easy Valentine's Day indulgence, perhaps this chocolate fondue will tickle your fancy.

2.  By now you guys know that my love of anything with pompoms runs deep.  I basically want one of everything from this little shop!

3.  While we were browsing at the mall the other day I came across the cutest little necklace.  I didn't buy it while we were there, but couldn't stop thinking about it for Ella, so I ordered it when we got home.  She's still a little young for it, but I can't wait for her to wear it in the future.

4.  I don't know about you guys, but my lips have been so dry this winter thanks to the unbearably icy temperatures... this lip scrub is amazing!

5.  I didn't go too crazy buying my kids gifts for Valentine's Day, but I did pick up this book to add to Ella's little collection, and this adorable set for Max who is obsessed with cars, trains, and planes.

6.  I have been wanting to try this recipe for awhile now, but Mike is not a big ricotta cheese fan (crazy, I know), hopefully I can give it a whirl this week while my BFF is here!

7.  If you have kids... and those kids make you a little crazy sometimes... and you're in need of a good laugh... this book is hilarious!  Disclaimer... if you can't handle a little vulgar humor, this is not the book for you.  If you like that kind of stuff, then you will love this!

8.  You all know how much I love supporting other handmade shop owners... This mama's shop is full of the most adorable bows and headbands.

9.  If you're looking for a way to make eating fun for your little ones, this product is a genius idea.

10.  Yup... another gigantic tote bag... but I love this one.  It's affordable and reversible, which basically means you get 2 bags for the price of one!

Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Cabin Fever & My "Mom Uniform"

I feel a little bad complaining about the winter when my friends and family in the Northeast seem to be getting repeatedly buried by foot, after foot, of snow, but it isn't exactly all warm and springy here in PA either.

This weekend temperatures here are apparently supposed to drop back below 10 degrees, and let me tell you from experience, trudging out into Arctic weather with two little ones is certainly no walk in the park.

The combination of freezing cold temperatures and sporadic accumulations of snow have left us with a case of cabin fever friends, and we've got it bad.  

Today we bundled up, and after what seemed to take literally hours to get out of the house, we headed for the mall in an effort to keep from going completely stir crazy.

Yup, that's a selfie from Nordstrom's family bathroom, where we inevitably had to stop for diaper duty.

Thankfully our mall has a pretty decent play area, so it was the perfect place to let Max burn off a little energy while Ella and I sat back and took in the craziness, and I sipped on a Flat White.

After that we browsed around and took full advantage of the opportunity for me to get in some of my 10,000 daily steps (on my fitbit).

Is it just me, or does anyone else love to browse around the Crewcuts section at J Crew and wish that they were small enough to buy one of everything for themselves?

Anyhow, all of this browsing got me thinking a little bit about my "mom uniform".  

Once upon a time (what seems like a billion years ago), I used to get dressed up every day for work.  I would wear dresses, and even heels (gasp), and spend a lot of time applying my make up and blowing out my hair.  These days all of that would be a bit much, seeing as I'm all about whatever is comfortable and socially acceptable for running errands and playing on the floor with my kids, and only occasionally pull out those dressier staples.

So... I thought I would share some of my favorites items with you guys.  The items that I wear over and over again, and can't get enough of... Essentially, my "mom uniform".

From top left:

My go-to dress up or dress down must-have are these jeggings.  They are perfect for when I need something dressier than, let's say yoga pants, but they're still super comfortable.  They come in a denim version as well, and are super affordable.

I love, love, love my Nike's for something super easy to just throw on and kick around in.  This style is no longer available, but I'm totally swooning over these ones in the gold salt color.

My favorite sweatshirt was a bit of a splurge, but for the amount of times it has been worn, I certainly have gotten my monies worth.

The boots I literally wear the most from fall to spring are for sure my Hunters.  I love that I can just slip them off and on, that they go perfectly with leggings, and that I don't have to worry about how wet and muddy it is out when I wear them.

This blanket scarf is by far one of my favorite accessories.  I throw this on with just about everything, and I love how warm and cozy it is.

If I could wear these sweats every day, I swear I would... and they are a much more affordable version than the J Crew and Gap ones!

Another splurge, but Mike got me these leggings a couple of years ago for Christmas, and they are seriously the best pair I have ever owned.

Hands down the most comfortable pair of ballet flats out there.  When I actually put on jeans, these are the shoes I reach for.

Possibly the best staple item I have ever purchased.  I wear this chambray shirt over dresses, bathing suits, tank tops and leggings.  It's so versatile and by far one of my favorite clothing items.

***Not pictured, the greatest puffer vest ever and the most comfortable undershirts!

There you have it.  Nothing super glamorous, but lately I'm much more into quality than quantity.  If I'm going to wear something all the time, than I totally feel okay about spending a little extra on it, versus something I will rarely wear.  I like to have staple pieces, and then add accessories and wear them in different ways.  What are some of your closet staples?  I always love to hear what other ladies are wearing.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Valentine's Day Treats

With Valentine's Day being just a few days away, we are full-on taking advantage of the holiday that makes it socially acceptable to indulge in heart-shaped everything, and to turn chocolate into the star ingredient in nearly all of our favorite recipes.

We enjoyed these easy-to-make heart shaped mini pizzas for lunch today, and it had me reflecting on last year's Valentine's Day post, and what we were enjoying a year ago at this time.  So... I thought I would share the how-to for these pizza's, along with some of the treat ideas I'm loving from Pinterest and some my favorite creative bloggers.  Another holiday themed "round up" if you will. 

For these pizzas, we used Pillsbury Pizza Crust, but feel free to use your favorite dough.  Using a large heart-shaped cookie cutter, I cut as many mini pizzas as I could from the dough.  The directions on the package advise you to pre-bake the dough, but going on the assumption that these hearts were much smaller than a full-sized pizza crust, and would likely cook faster, I opted not to do that.

Instead, I arranged all of my hearts on a parchment lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart, and topped with our favorite jarred sauce, and shredded cheese. Then I baked them at 400 degrees until the cheese was slightly brown and bubbly, about 10-12 minutes (this may vary depending on your oven and the size of your hearts).

That's it, super easy, super fast, and definitely toddler friendly.  Max kept repeating, "look mama, a heart!", before gobbling one up!

Here are some of my other favorite ideas/recipes for Valentine's Day Treats...

What are some of your favorite recipes and treats for Valentine's Day?  Traditions?

I think we'll be having a nice cozy night at home by the fire with the kids, super romantic I know, but to be honest I'm not big on dealing with crowded restaurants and lengthy wait times.  Mike usually cooks me dinner for the occasion, and I'm thinking we might indulge in some chocolate fondue for dessert, or perhaps a heart-themed s'more buffet! We'll see.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Weekend Recap

It was a BIG weekend around here folks.  We did more than just lounge around in pajamas while watching Fireman Sam on repeat for once (not that there's anything wrong with that).

Our sweet Ella Rose was baptized and welcomed into our church yesterday, and the day was pure perfection.

Beyond the fact that we totally lucked out by having a 45 degree, non-rainy/snowy day in February for the occasion, we were blessed enough to be surrounded by my husband's family (If you do not know this already, my family members live in Maine), and some of our dearest friends.

Our babe looked totally angelic in her beautiful white dress and bonnet, and was a delight to be around the entire day, even though her usual afternoon nap was cut drastically short due to the celebration.

We were so pleased when Mike's cousin Nicole and her husband, Aaron, agreed to be Ella's Godparents, as we knew they were the perfect pair for Ella to have as role models and guides in regards to her faith.

We followed the church service with a reception at our home, where enjoyed dinner, drinks, and of course cake.

Max had an absolute blast playing with all of the kids, and after everyone was gone both he and Ella crashed hard... just as I expected they would.

Today it was back to business as usual... cleaning and grocery shopping.

We decided to whip up some super easy Valentine's Day treats, so I thought I'd share the details with you all!

These fun cookies come together in a snap, and can be decorated for any occasion really, but we're psyched for V-day around here, so when we saw the newly released Red Velvet Oreos, we grabbed them immediately without giving it a second thought.  You could use any cookie really though, I've made festive vanilla wafers, sugar wafers, and even pretzel rods using this method before.

What You'll Need:

Cookie (or other item) of your choice
White Chocolate Chips
Decorative Sprinkles
Parchment Paper

Now for the really difficult part...

You'll want to melt your white chocolate in either a microwave safe bowl or in a double boiler.  For these we used the microwave method, and just heated the chocolate in 30 second increments, stopping to stir in between, until all of the chocolate was melted.

You'll then dip your cookie into the chocolate, place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and decorate with sprinkles.  That's it.  Then you just have to allow them to cool/harden.  

Told you it was super easy.

Now I just need to refrain from eating the Red Velvet Oreos... easier said than done!

Hope you all have the absolute best week!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Swoon Worthy

Craft projects, and new recipes, and super cute clothes... there is so much great stuff that I'm loving/swooning over right now (isn't there always?).  As I was saying last week, I am beyond pumped to be seeing all of the fun Spring stuff that is making it's way on to the shelves of my favorite stores, and on to the social media platforms of my favorite handmade shops... I just wish the weather would play along.  Spring will get here eventually, and soon enough we'll all inevitably be cursing the heat once again.  Isn't that always the way it goes?

Oh Well.

Here's what I'm swooning over this week...

1.  I'm not sure if I've mentioned it before, but I take my morning coffee sweetened with a tiny bit of real maple syrup and a healthy dose of coconut milk. It's a change I made awhile back, in an effort to find a more natural way to enjoy my favorite beverage. I also couldn't live with my aerolatte, which I use to froth up the coconut milk, making my coffee almost cappuccino-like. You can imagine how thrilled I was to hear, that Starbucks will soon be offering this soy/dairy free alternative! Random side note, aren't these mugs the cutest?

2.  I love how flattering this sweater style is.  The price is great too!

3.  If you're looking for an easy and cute Valentine's Day craft, I adore these little heart pouches.

4.  Quinoa fried rice is my latest obsession.

5.  Max is outgrowing shoes like crazy lately. I'm in love with these sneakers for him for the spring.

6.  As you all know by now, I'm all about comfort these days... But that doesn't mean I don't still enjoy pretty things. These bralettes are the best. I'm working on owning one in every color.

7.  I don't know about you, but I'm totally on board with the whole "zoodle" thing... That's why I love following Inspiralized on Insta and reading her blog. She comes up with the best recipes.

8.  Always a fan of handmade shops, I am totally swooning over this shop's adorable little shoes!

9.  I began my search for the perfect spring jacket, even though it does not appear that warmer temps will be returning any time soon. This one is definitely on my radar.

10.  I have big plans to give this recipe a whirl this weekend.

Happy weekend friends. Hope you're all staying warm!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Birthday Celebrations and Other Randoms

It just so happens, that yesterday was Mike's birthday.

Seeing as it is freezing outside, it was a Wednesday, and that we have two kids, the day didn't involve anything too crazy, but I'm a firm believer that on your birthday you should feel particularly special and well taken care of.

So, when my now 33 year old husband requested ice cream cone cupcakes, I was happy to oblige, knowing full well, that a certain toddler would be over the moon about 2 of his favorite things coming together as one. 

These treats are super easy and fun to make.  

We picked up a boxed cake mix (funfetti, duh!), some icing, and some cup style ice cream cones.  I followed the directions on the box for baking the cake, and placed 12 cones into each compartment of a regular sized muffin pan.  I then filled each cone a little more than half way, and baked them following the directions for cupcakes.  You will definitely have leftover batter, so feel free to make mini cupcakes, like we did... because we obviously needed more sugar.  When the cakes are done baking, allow them to cool, then frost and decorate.

*** I did not follow these instructions, but I am linking a Pinterest pin for Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes, due to my lack of photos of the baking process, so you get a better idea.

We also picked Mike up from work and took him out to lunch during the day, which was a nice treat.  Max surprised him with a Thomas birthday balloon, and insisted upon repeatedly telling our waiter that it was in fact, "Daddy's Birthday".

In the morning I had been attempting to teach him how to sing "Happy Birthday", thinking there was no chance that I would get him to sing it to Mike, but low and behold, he sang that song for the rest of the day.  In the checkout line at the grocery store, at the restaurant, in the car, etc... so, mission accomplished.

Mike is Purdue alumni, and avidly follows their Men's Basketball program, so he was thrilled when he realized they would be playing on his birthday.  While he relaxed and enjoyed the game, I got to preparing his requested birthday dinner, Spring Rolls.

I promised some lovely ladies that I would share my recipe/instructions/what I did to prepare them, but as I have said before, recipe writing isn't one of my strengths, so bear with me.

I didn't follow an actual recipe for these either, so I'm going to provide you guys with some helpful links and recipes on this one too.

Essentially, here's what you'll need:

Rice Paper Wrappers
Rice Vermicelli Noodles
Shredded Carrots
Leafy Lettuce (I used Bibb Lettuce)
Your choice of meat or seafood (I used cooked chicken, but you could use shrimp)

I first prepared the rice noodles as directed on the package, and got all of my other ingredients organized into a sort of assembly line.  You'll want to fill a large dish with luke warm water (for softening the rice paper), and lay down a damp tea towl/dish towel to use as your rolling surface.

When the noodles were ready, I drained them and chopped them up, and added them to my "assembly line"

You start by soaking one rice paper at a time in the luke warm water.  Soak for about 15 seconds, they may not feel soft/pliable enough when you take them out of the water, but trust me, they will be.

Lay the rice paper down on your damp towel.

Place your choice of fillings in the center of the wrapper.  Then fold in both sides and then roll from the bottom.

That's it! These are super easy to make, super fresh, and super tasty.  We enjoyed ours with a store-bought Thai peanut dipping sauce.

***Here are a few links with photos of how to roll them, and different filling options:  Prawn Spring Rolls with Mango, How to Roll Fresh Spring Rolls, Spring Rolls with Peanut Sauce.

In 100% unrelated news, you guys know how much I love sharing my new finds/faves with you all, so I just wanted to show you some of my latest favorites.

I am obsessed with these Baby Lips Dr Rescue lip balms.  I need more chapsticks like I need a hole in my head, but I love the slight hint of color these give, and they literally cured my chapped winter lips in like a day!

And... we are HUGE Boom Chicka Pop fans in this house, so when we found these mini bags in Target's Valentine's Day section, we snapped them up immediately!  If you're looking for a healthier alternative to candy, these are perfect for your kids to hand out to their friends... or if you're like us, to hoard and keep all to yourself to eat!

That's about it for now.  We're busy preparing for Ella's Baptism this coming weekend, so there's lots to do around here!  Hope you're all having a great week!
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