April 27, 2023

Applause Appreciated

Today's exciting accomplishment: clapping!
All it takes is a "yay!" and there it goes.
I love how simple it is to be happy around a baby.

April 26, 2023

Vegetarian Black Bean and Zucchini Soft Tacos

If I'm in a good mood, I enjoy being creative in the kitchen.  I cook 95% of our meals on a daily basis, the majority of them being vegetarian.  I have my stand-bys, but every so often, I make up something that really pleases this guy.
I've found that my most inventive and successful cooking happens when I have only a few fresh ingredients on hand.  Today I had a really ripe mango, a really ripe avocado, corn tortillas, and some pantry staples.  So I made this:
I mashed up the avocado, diced the mango, added a teeny bit of finely chopped raw onion and a squeeze of fresh orange juice.  Our garden is already producing itty-bitty cilantro plants (volunteers from last year's crop) so I added some of that too.
For the bean mixture, I sauteed an onion and 3 minced garlic cloves in olive oil, added a teaspoon of cumin and a teaspoon of chipotle pepper liquid (from a can of them) and cooked until the onion was translucent.

I added a can of black beans, partially drained, a diced zucchini, and a cup of frozen corn kernels.  I salted and peppered it to taste.
Right before serving, I toasted corn tortillas on our iron stovetop grill until soft and pliable. 
Then you just tuck the bean mixture inside a tortilla, sprinkle on some cheddar jack cheese, and top with the mango/avocado salsa.

Served alongside rice (I love my rice cooker! So easy to throw on a pot of the stuff), this is a tasty yet messy meal.  Keep the napkins near by.
I alter the ingredients depending what I have on hand or what's coming up in the garden.  Enjoy!

April 25, 2023

Ahoy Matey!

I'm noticing glimmers of it every day--the boys are starting to play together.
More accurately, Jude is grabbing at everything, while Soren plays imaginatively.  And Jude is just animated enough for Soren to pretend he's a character (or prop, depending on the play theme).  He does this sometimes with Oscar the cat too.
This gives me such optimism for a future where I'm mostly exempt from pushing toy cars around the floor with false bravado and acting out scenarios of pirates taking over the seaside village.  Isn't that the reason parents add children to the family? :)
Yay for siblings!  And brothers no less.  Mateys indeed (hopefully).
PS. Thanks Uncle Paul and Aunt Ashley for the pirate costume.  It's been a hit in our dress up box.

April 24, 2023

Not Quite Psycho

Since we bought our 100+ year old house in 2006, we've spent time fixing things up--refinishing floors, painting, refurbishing the front door--yet looming over our heads the entire time were the bathrooms, particularly the upstairs one.
This space incites feelings not unlike the shower scene in Psycho;  of course, I'm exaggerating for affect, but really, it's hideous.  We should have known there was trouble when during our initial tour of the house, there was a throw rug tacked sloppily over the window.  I've since replaced it with sheers, but it's still ugly.
The bathroom is an odd space, with the toilet and shower in front of the window, partially blocked by a makeshift wall.  Ah, there's nothing like a butt crack peeking out a window to entice the neighbors to invite us over for a backyard barbeque (sorry for the visual).
I've tried my best to put lipstick on this pig by painting it (I still love that color, which sadly doesn't show up well in these photos), adding some artwork, and disposing of the dolphin shower curtain and hooks.  However, this space needs full overhaul.
Thankfully, we've finally saved up enough to have it completely gutted and renovated.  While we'd love to minimize our budget by doing it ourselves, the space is just too complicated and beyond our skill-set to do so.  It involves moving the plumbing, ripping out walls and the floor, wiring and tiling, all while minding two little ones.  We're just not of the Young House Love persuasion.
I cannot express how much relief I have, knowing I won't have to bathe the a  fore-mentioned little ones in this anymore:
I couldn't bear to even shoot a close up of that grout.  Yuck!  But I must share with you this odd overhead light that the previous owner rigged up. WTH???
Chris calls this house and specifically this room, the "house of a thousand moldings" because it seems like the prior owners were afraid of spackling.  If there was a seam, tack up some molding instead!

I feel so vulnerable and dirty, having shared this embarrassing space with you.  I also feel oddly relieved!

We've hired a contractor, who will start working on the room in May.  I've been enjoying planning how the space will look, from tiles to paint color.
My heart is set on a Peacock Blue, or something dramatic against all of that white subway tile we're having installed throughout the space.
One of my inspiration bathrooms
We're trying to return the room to its 1903 style, with a claw foot (resin) tub (with a standing shower above), a pedestal sink and period fixtures.  I've created a Pinterest board with some of my ideas and inspirations. 

I'm excited to share the progress of the space over the next month.  Any tips for surviving without a shower/bath for a few weeks?  I'm sure we'll be relying on our close friends neighbors quite a bit.

April 23, 2023

Love Connection

While I'm lying in bed at the end of a long day, winding down for sleep, I often flip through a magazine.  Sadly, my mind is too exhausted for books lately, so I have a supply of subscriptions as well as a few magazine issues passed on to me by my dear friend, Shana.

I get the cast-offs of New York magazine, which she and her husband enjoy each month, and I'm always so touched when I come to the crossword puzzle in the back.
It is so sweet to see it (mostly) completed, knowing that they work on this together in bed once the kids are asleep.  The intersection of letters and minds, working together to finish something, even as small as a puzzle, is profound to me.

Chris and I often reflect upon our marriage, and how so much of its success hinges on shared projects, even the most simple ones.  Buying and working on a house, raising children, learning new skills, or even cooking a meal together connects us and brings us closer.

How do you and your special someone connect?

April 22, 2023

Cafe Play

I'm thrilled that Soren has hit the stage of pretend play, as in dressing up and play-acting "real life" scenarios.  Other than the ones that involve pretending to be me ("I said No!!"), I really enjoy watching him and his friends play pretend and dress-up in costumes.

We've gotten hours of play this week from our own mini cafe, tucked into a corner of our laundry/mud room.
Over the years, I've collected various things for such a space, the table and chairs having appeared one trash-day in our alley (ah, the joys of living in town), the vintage spice tins came from Gigi's kitchen, and the kitchen was a birthday gift from a few years ago. It's gotten lots of use from boys and girls alike.
Soren and I created a special menu for the Cafe, and though the prices are a bit high, the place has been a hit right from the get-go. 
I highly recommend the Salad Stew and Sugar Spices.  Apparently, the menu is a seasonal one, and changes frequently. That in itself is a fun activity to imagine with children.
I find that the kids really like playing with real things, like ceramic cups, a fresh flower arrangement on the table, water for drinking and snacks like fruit, vegetables, and popcorn for the tiny plates.
It's a great way to get your kids to eat their veggies! Soren must have had a dozen baby carrots.
Even if you don't have all these props at home, you can still fashion some pretend kitchen items from boxes.  There are lots of options via an online search for "cardboard box kitchen".  This one from Family Fun magazine is adorable and do-able,
as is this one from Parents magazine.
The best part about our cafe--it's always open and ready for play.
Hope you're enjoying some imaginative play on this lovely Sunday.

April 20, 2023

Baby Everlasting

Though nine months has somehow flown by, I find that Jude has been in perpetual infant-mode.  It feels like he's a forever baby, not changing too much, which allows me to savor his babyhood.
However, as I've mentioned before, it worries me a bit--I mean, he's barely 15lbs!  Such a little peanut, despite his voracious and eager appetite.  His pediatrician seems unconcerned, believing he's just on a lower curve, since he is still riding his curve well in relation to his height.  And we've yet to find a food he doesn't like; he eats nearly everything, beans, rice, fruits, potatoes.  I'm not sure where all those calories are going.

Unlike his brother, Jude is slow to grow, not just in size but in movement.   Well, I'm pleased to say that at 9 1/2 months, Jude is finally crawling!
And by crawling, I really mean dragging himself across the floor.  And that's usually when there's some sort of baby-forbidden object to desire, like my ring.  Don't worry, I don't let him put it in his mouth, nor the battery-operated tea light that has fascinated him as well.

Up until this point, Jude has seemed to be younger than his years--er, months--but now it feels like his baby-ness is slowly receding.
Soon he'll be pulling up on things (he actually is better at standing and holding onto things like our train table than crawling) and walking.  But please, not too soon!  Kid A walked at 9 1/2 months--hard to believe that he was Jude's age and toddling around the house.
What a handful!  But a fun one, at that.  And while poking through the photos, I found Soren wearing the same outfit Jude has on. 
Ah, the beauty and convenience of digital photography, even with my old, crappy camera.  I've certainly come a long way.  Happy weekend friends!

April 17, 2023

Oil and Water

Despite having shared the same aquatic pre-birth home (aka, my womb), my boys are so different.  Soren is energetic, theatrical, particular, and impulsive, while Jude is laid-back, easy-going, and more observant and cautious.  Despite being like oil and water, there is one thing they have in common--well, water!
These boys can't get enough of baths, sprinklers, pools, sinks, and even cups of the stuff.  Jude's favorite "toy" is a cup of water. It's impossible to drink and hold him.

With a rare April day in the upper 80s, the boys were in heaven when I pulled out the turtle sandbox-turned wading pool yesterday.
Soren usually wants to strip down and bring every toy outside to put in the pool.  Jude on the other hand, just wants to slap the water, even if it keeps hitting him in the face.
I can't wait for summer and to see them both in the town pool.  Though I don't see myself relaxing poolside with these two water bugs.

April 13, 2023

Crafting a Seaside Wreath with Factory Direct Craft

Summer is quickly approaching, as are daydreams of relaxing on the beach and smelling that sea air.  Naturally, my thoughts turn to changing out the spring decor in our home to accents that beckon warm weather.

 I love making my own decorations around my home, so I was excited to partner with Factory Direct Craft to create a project using their products.
I decided to make a Seaside Wreath with Sandpaper Flowers, something that will look equally lovely on my front door or inside the house when summer arrives.
Here's what you'll need:
10" Styrofoam Wreath | Spanish Moss | Hot Glue gun and glue sticks |Tacky Glue | Wide Ribbon or fabric | Seashells | Light Blue Raffia Ribbon | 3"x3" Mini Chalkboard | Scissors| Sandpaper (two colors/kinds for contrast) | Straight pins | clothesline rope or cord | Natural Palm Cone spirals | Paint Marker

First, I wrapped my Styrofoam wreath in wide ribbon, just to hide the white color.
Then I generously coated it with tacky glue to hold on the Spanish Moss.  Be sure to coat the inner and outer edges too.
I tucked the moss around the wreath form, making sure all areas were covered.
You could use a little hot glue too, if needed.
I tucked it in even tighter with my hands, pushing the moss onto the wreath form.
Once the wreath was moss covered, I started adding shells.  I laid them out how I wanted them to look, then used liberal amounts of hot glue to hold them in place.
The shells that I got from Factory Direct Craft were only $1.49 for a small basket, and came with some lovely colors and patterns.
Next, I created some flowers using sandpaper.  Simply cut a circle, fold it into quarters (like making a snowflake)
and trim the petals.  I made two flowers, one larger and one smaller out of two different colors of sandpaper.  I cut a little circle out of the first color, then stuck the layered pieces into the wreath with a straight pin.
I love how these turned out. They really make the wreath.
I also added some of the Palm Cone spirals under the flowers, kind of like tendrils coming out of them.
To add some more charm, I used one of the 3x3 mini chalkboards (which by the way, are so adorable. I see so many possibilities in these, like for labeling party food, etc. And they have a variety of sizes and shapes) and a white Paint Pen to write "Beach" on the board.
Then with some clothesline rope for a nautical look, I hot glued the rope to the back for hanging inside the wreath.
I then pinned the sign on the back of the wreath with two straight pins so it hung in the center.
To add some more color to the wreath, I added some blue raffia ribbon.
I cut two short lengths, knotted them, and pinned them to the wreath.
It's easy to hide the pin in the moss.  I think the blue complements the green and peachy colors, and the raffia adds a nice, contrasting texture to the shells and moss.
To finish it off, cut another length of clothesline rope and pin it to the back.  Looks messy, but it's functional!
Then hang anywhere you want to be reminded of the sea.
I also had a driftwood garland, that is no longer sold at Factory Direct Craft (I hope they might restock it), that looks charming strung above the wreath.
If I'm feeling brave, I might take the garland apart and make another simple driftwood wreath with it, or embellish a round mirror.
So pretty!  I'm ready to dip my toes in the sea.

I must say that I was really impressed with the quality, variety and prices at Factory DirectCraft.  I see many projects coming from their products in my future. I could easily lose a few hours browsing their website!  They also have a fabulous blog with some inspiring ideas.  Check it out, as well as their Twitter and Facebook pages.
Disclosure: I received sample product from Factory Direct Craft for review purposes.  All opinions are my own.
Related Posts with Thumbnails