Friday, April 4, 2014

dirty dozen + clean 15 printable

Remember back in October when I told you about a creative burst, the Dirty Dozen Grocery Tote? Well, the watercolors are back.

Since we're not yet in farmer's market season, it was time to create the complement to the "Dirty Dozen" list and illustrate the "Clean 15" list. That way, when you're at the standard grocery store with limited organic options, you know which fruits + vegetables to heads towards with a clear [meaning low pesticide residue] conscience.

You can purchase your own Clean 15 Budget Tote from my Zazzle store, or print a wallet guide [shown at top] from my Etsy shop.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

thirty, flirty, and thriving

This was my year to turn the "big" 3-0. Previous years have found us celebrating St. Patrick's Day with the revelers in St. Paul, but this year felt different. This March found me in the final months of preparing for Baby #2 and dealing with the toddler antics of C (aka Baby #1). On top of that, the days prior to my birthday were spent hosting a dozen family members. Needless to say, my attentions really weren't on myself. God, however, orchestrated a *wonderful* 30th birthday; I couldn't have planned it better.

As stated, the weekend before my birthday we hosted a dozen family members. It was *so* much fun having them all here. A few of them slept in hotels, which meant C and her 5-year-old cousin got to hang out at the pool! We'd never been to a kiddie pool before and C *loved* it. She fell into the water a few times the first day but didn't seem to mind "swimming" one bit.

We also made a colossal cake in honor of the milestone birthday gals present. It was "Heaven and Hell Cake," made of devil's food, angel food, peanut butter mousse and covered in milk chocolate ganache. Very rich, dirties a lot of dishes in the making, but still worth it for a special event. Somehow I never managed to get a picture of it sliced, so you'll have to use your imagination or visit the link.

The day of my birthday I dressed C up in her best green tutu and met friends + the hubs at a restaurant for lunch. C was so exhausted from the weekend! That evening Grandpa & Grandma took over while my husband and I went on a special date to Piccolo. He told them in advance that it was my birthday, so I got lots of "Happy Birthday" wishes and a special card and + candle with my dessert course. It was the perfect, relaxing end to the day.

The rest of the week organically developed into getting together with a variety of friends, some who live far away and some whom I haven't seen in too long. Though the visits may not have been planned around my birthday, I counted them as birthday blessings nonetheless.

All in all, being 30 really isn't so bad. Feels kind of good, actually!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

room darkening nursery curtains

I've always been a "project" person. In fact, my mother stated the thing she was looking forward to most after I moved out would be the absence of my "piles," which were generally various projects in many states of "on hold."

Unfortunately for my husband, this habit is hard to break. Fortunately for my husband, I've at least managed to limit myself to one[ish] project at a time. Got a new creative idea? Better finish that last one first! Sometimes this only delays the beginning of a new idea rather than actually finishing an old one, but I'm a work in progress.

One of my latest projects got a jumpstart by an upcoming visit of family. Isn't hosting the best solution for accomplishing tasks? I simply *couldn't* have this fabric lying around any longer. It had to find its way into curtains.

And find its way it did. Using this tutorial as a basis. [Though, can I add a note about width? It omitted that detail, so for your reference, total finished width should be 1.5x-2x the width of your window, adding 4 inches per panel for hem allowance.] The nursery does have room darkening roll shades in addition to white accordian blinds, but roll shades are my arch nemesis. The spring loaded action [or non-action] drives me batty. So I simply *had* to make darkening curtains to eliminate athe roll shade. Now if only I actually completed that portion of the project ...

Friday, February 21, 2014

polar vortex + chubby cheeks

Somewhere on the Internet I saw a headline that went something like, "The Winter That Killed Moms Everywhere." We've been colder and had more snow this winter than many past, but on the whole, C & I have been handling it pretty well.

The one thing that wasn't handling this cold very well were her poor chubby cheeks. Combine the chapped side effects of teething with daily windchill advisories, and they were starting to really look bad. Granted, I'm a first timer, but right when the weather turned cold they got so red I was self-conscious that someone would report me for neglect. But we have to brave the outdoors at some point, even if it's just hustling down the parking lot towards the heated respite of the grocery store, so what's a paranoid mom to do?

As they say, necessity breeds invention. You can spy her normal get-up in my previous post. Warm shirt[s] covered by warm fleece jacket, topped with pink panda hat from the talented Pam Court, which is then topped by circle scarf, made by me. Putting it over the hat makes it tighter and covers her cheeks better, and the fact that it's a circle means it's really quick to plop over her head and she can't untie it. Win!

The above photo was right after it was finished, so she wasn't too sure about wearing it yet. She's since figured out it does help block the cold, and lets it cover her face to right under her nose. Her scarf is two-toned because of course Mommy was trying to use up some soft scrap yarn she had and ran out. I've gifted similar scarves to other moms, but theirs are all one color. Turns out knitting is a great way to pass the [chilly] time!

Monday, February 10, 2014

second time around

Oh, uh, p.s., we're expecting?

That's kind of how announcing our second child has been approached. We're excited, but also a little nervous. Our children will be 20 months apart, which is more than many sibling spacings, but at the same time I feel a little crazy. Here I am, excited that my daughter is walking and learning to talk, and I'm what?! Going to have *another* baby? I fear the incredulous look in their eyes when they hear the news. "They" could be just about anybody, but fortunately, it has been only a few. In reality, people are excited for us. While they do say, "You're going to be busy!," they're supportive.

Things that are different the second time around:
- The first trimester was harder. Being tired and feeling a little icky at a desk job? Just another day in the office. Being tired and feeling icky while your toddler is crying because she wants you to play and be fun but you feel like you have nothing to give? Now that's exhausting.
- You *do* feel the movement earlier, because you understand the difference between baby and gas. [tmi?]
- Gender is seen less as "how will it be to raise a boy vs. a girl?" and more "what will C's life be like if we have a boy vs. a girl?"

Things that might be different the second time around:
- I'm more confident about delivery. Been there, done that. Obviously, each time is different, but at least I understand pushing now.
- When the midwife hands me our baby, I won't be surprised. Somehow throughout the whole labor and delivery my brain was so concentrated on relaxing through the contractions and obeying my Bradley instructor that I didn't really grasp the end result would be a newborn in my arms. Strange what the mind can do.
- In the same vein, with C I was caught up in "acing" the whole process. I wanted the perfect labor, delivery, baby, breastfeeding, you name it, I was going to go by the book. As you probably know, life doesn't go by the book. This time, I'm going to relax and not worry if I'm not doing everything "right." And if things don't go as expected, I'm not going to be ashamed that I did something wrong. You can't control everything. [repeat]
- This baby is probably going to get snuggled more. With C, I was tired, sore, overwhelmed, maybe confused, mostly overwhelmed, and I didn't cherish those newborn snuggles. I didn't know what to do with a newborn besides feed her, change her, and desperately try to get her to sleep. Here's hoping for a sunnier experience the second time around.

Anyone else have similar first-time experiences? You with multiple children, what differences do you remember?

Saturday, December 21, 2013

christmas baking 2013

Last year was a bust when it came to my Christmas baking. I tried a saltine English toffee recipe from Pinterest, and the butter separated from the sugar. I tried to make my grandma’s molasses spritz and found out nobody really liked them anyway. Our house was full of sugary confections that nobody wanted to eat...well, nobody except me. Yeesh.

This year I vowed to make at least one recipe my husband would actually like and that I could be proud to add to the selection of Christmas goodies at family gatherings. Armed with new recipes from Pinterest and an old standby, I set out to create treats worthy of a cookie exchange. It was a success.

C “helped” by standing on chairs, banging measuring cups on the counter, watching the mixer, and taking long naps so Mommy could be more efficient. Simultaneously I smile and cringe at the thought of next year perhaps tackling sugar cookies together. Those might not make it to an exchange, but we’ll have some good memories.

If you’re curious, here are the recipes for the Peanut Butter Pretzel Bars [totally taste like Take 5 candy bars, but better] and the Samoas/Caramel Delite Bars. *Note on the Caramel Delite:* The original recipe has you cut the bars and dip them in chocolate. Who has time for that? Instead, bake the shortbread layer, spread the chocolate evenly on top, then stick it in your freezer. While you get the caramel layer ready, the chocolate hardens, so you can flip the whole thing over onto parchment paper and then spread coconut+caramel goodness all over the other side. Also, you can drizzle melted chocolate with a spoon over the whole thing, rather than piping through a plastic bag. *So much easier.*

Easy Coconut Macaroons
⅔ c. flour
5 ½ c. coconut
¼ tsp. salt
14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
2 tsp. vanilla
8 oz. chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Mix all ingredients together until blended well.
3. Drop by tablespoon onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper.
4. Bake 12-15 min. or until coconut is toasted.
5. Dip cooled macaroons into melted chocolate chips for a tasty finish.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

burst 2: minneapolis neighborhood map

My husband and I love to explore. Our weekly date night [we’re totally spoiled, I know] usually consists of going to a restaurant we’ve never visited. One of us picks the place [usually my husband] and keeps it a mystery from the other until we’ve arrived.

As he drives us to our destination, I love taking in the various neighborhood flavors a large city has to offer. There is such diversity in culture, architecture, landscaping, and business offerings that driving through even familiar neighborhoods is a visual buffet.

Being an organized type, I needed a way to categorize this input. Fortunately, there is a solution already in existence: maps! I just needed a nice-looking neighborhood map that we could display in our home and remember where we’ve been and see where we still need to go.

And so this map was born. I’m still deciding how big I want it to be, and if I want to track our outings with pins or labeling the restaurants, but I’m really happy with the design result. Maybe I’ll add it to my Etsy store someday, but for now it’s just for us. That kinda makes me happy, too.
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