Thursday, January 31, 2013

my maternity wear trick


My bump is getting bigger so I'm now able to enjoy the latest purchases I recently made from Old Navy.  I don't like to spend a lot of money on maternity wear for obvious reasons and ideally I like to buy pieces that I can wear in that fourth trimester (you moms who have gained more than 20 pounds during pregnancy know what I'm talking about) too.  So, Old Navy and H&M have been my go-to places when I need a maternity wardrobe refresher.  For this pregnancy here's what I ordered and I've been really happy with all of it.  The trick I've discovered in ordering pregnancy clothes is going to the "tall" category when picking tops.  That way the shirts or cardigans are long enough to fit over a growing belly but don't have that "I'm from motherhood maternity store" look to them.  So here's what I ordered, and only the jeans are "maternity."

I love these jeans--most of the maternity jeans I already have are bootcut or flare so I decided to add these into the mix this time around....



LOVE this top but I have it in their gray/charcoal color.  It's so comfortable and looks nicer than it probably is.  It comes in a ton of colors so I may snag it in a few more.



Another from their "tall" category...love it, it reminds me of something that you might find at lilly pulitzer or some preppy store like that.


Now I can wear a hip "chambray" shirt even while pregnant, just get it in tall (someone please let me know if chambray shirts are still cool? I knew they were a little while ago, but maybe I'm fooling myself wearing one now)?



Their "boyfriend" cardigan. Definitely long enough to cover the bootay if I'm wearing leggings, which is necessary these days and all days but especially now :)



Part of my "uniform," I got it in black of course.



I bought about four of these in solid colors to wear under cardigans, zip-ups and for when it warms up just by themselves.  Definitely wish I would have discovered them for the other three pregnancies as they are really really long and light weight (again, buy them in "tall")



And the final two pieces of my serious every day uniform are the below two dry-fit tops from their Activewear section.  Unfortunately I couldn't find them in "tall" but they still stretch over the bump because of the material.  They are so comfortable and cute (I got both of them in gray, not pink) and perfect for a very casual mom on the go...me.  Slap one of these on with some yoga pants and at least I look like I'm trying to have a fit and active pregnancy even if I don't make it to the gym that day :)


And this post would not be complete if I failed to mention these:


Anthropologie fleece-lined leggings for EIGHTEEN bucks!  I have them in black and gray and they are so cozy, even after washing them a lot, they've maintained their cozy warm feel.  Even though they are lined with fleece you wouldn't know it by looking at them because they don't look thicker than normal leggings.


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Monday, January 28, 2013

mudroom makeover


Our home has a small hallway with a built-in bench right off of the garage.  I've had plans for a while (three years) to hang hooks, buy baskets, paint the bench, etc. but that's all they've been, plans.  Until this weekend!! I'd finally had enough of storing coats on the counter and gloves on the floor and decided to hang some darn hooks.  I couldn't find any pre-mounted board/hook sets that had 8 hooks on them and looked decent and durable, so I knew I needed to diy it.  As much as I want to be a "diy"-er I can honestly say that most of the time, at least in this phase of life, I do not enjoy the process. Something as simple as mounting hooks on a wall turns into 4 home depot trips and lots of last minute head scratching, not to mention entire nap times taken up by projects when I'd rather be napping too.  Anyway, after all that, I'm very happy with how it turned out and think it will make our home feel less cluttered.  I took the kids out this morning and afterward, the boys hung up their own coats instead of throwing them on the floor.  Glorious!!

this is where i put everything before.

here's our hallway/bench before this weekend




And here's the start of our "MUDROOM!"

I plan to add a mirror, some baskets and a fun runner/rug and call it a day.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

hey mama whatchu makin for breakfast?


Is the question I hear every morning from my hungry hippos and I usually give the same (in my opinion boring) answer "oatmeal!"  Lucky for me, all the kids love mama's oatmeal and I feel good about giving it to them pretty much every day of the week.  On weekends I'll branch out and make eggs, pancakes or waffles but the standard Mon-Fri procedure is oatmeal.  Rather than making the instant oats, I take an extra 10-15 minutes on the stovetop and make the old fashioned slower cooking oats, which I've read are healthier for you, and I have a solid, easy to memorize recipe to share that will hopefully please your kiddos and/or yourself.

I pour about 1.25 cups of oats into a pot ( it feeds three toddlers and then most days I have a little leftover to put in smoothies).  Then I add 1.25 cups water and 1.25 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk (any milk will work though) with some cinnamon and sometimes a tablespoon or two of maple syrup.


Turn it on high and bring it all to a beautiful frothy boil.



Give it a good stir and turn heat to low.  Let it simmer for about ten minutes or until it reaches almost the consistency that you want.  



Then I let it sit for a couple minutes to cool off and absorb the last little bit of liquid and let the kids have at it.  Sometimes I'll add in blueberries, bananas or raisins for a nice little topping.  Healthy, inexpensive and relatively fast.  Let's hope I can keep up with the oatmeal making in the future when we actually have to get some of the kids off to preschool in the morning, but for now I'll savor the lazy breakfasts and mornings we get to have...and I'll have you know all three of them are still in their jammies and it's almost 2pm.  And so am I.  



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Monday, January 21, 2013

Strength



Over the past 24 hours I've held intense conversation with two different women.  The first woman I ran into was a freshman in my high school when I was a senior.  We had not talked in over ten years and she was very curious to hear about my life and now children, husband, etc.  She just graduated from business school, makes great money and spends her free time traveling with friends.  I described to her my day-to-day routine and she was a little shocked to hear how repetitive and unglamorous it is.  Of course I explained to her how cute and hilarious my kids are and how I love (almost) every second of being a stay-at-home mama, but still she just couldn't believe the around the clock work that small children require.  She told me a few times that she loved the strength and confidence that she saw in me yesterday as well as twelve years ago.  I think she was trying to attribute it to my birth month, or astrological sign, but I insisted that it is all from God, even back in high school.  I am actually content with my station in life as a stay at home mom, who wears yoga pants pretty much every day and can't seem to find  enough shower time to wash my hair more than twice a week (max) and I am still content?! Well thankfully I've known Him well for a long time and now receive my sense of identity/security from Him.  Maybe I imparted a tiny bit of wisdom to a woman a few years younger than me, searching for her spot in the world, but mostly the encounter just made me so satisfied to know my maker and to know exactly who I am and be wonderfully okay with it.

Today I talked with a woman exactly my age who desperately needs strength from somewhere in order to leave the extremely controlling boyfriend with whom she lives.  She thinks that if she finds another boyfriend than she will have the strength to leave.  I encouraged her to stop telling herself that she doesn't have the strength to leave and to start telling herself that she was made for more.  I encouraged her to seek her identity from somewhere other than a man and to take a break from having a boyfriend for a while, so she can prove to herself that she is strong.  With tears in her eyes, she agreed.  

I know that most of my friends who check this blog are in the same stage of life and frame of mind as me.  But in case you aren't or in case you know of someone who is searching for security and strength, please encourage her to find it somewhere other than money or men.  Mine has come from God for a long time and I imagine it will always come from Him, even though I tried hard during one period of my life to find security in beauty and being thin.  Ugh.  But that's for another blog posting day....

Friday, January 18, 2013

New Looks


New look for the hizzy and new look for the blog! Pics of the house to come; painters are done, what a whirlwind it was with three little ones around here. Thank goodness for a basement and a tv in the master bedroom is all I have to say. Happy Friday!!!!!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Newborn Essentials


Jackie baby, all 9 pounds 7 ounces of him
A handful of my friends are about to have their first baby.  Some have asked me questions about what items are absolutely necessary to have for the first week or two, so I thought I'd do a blog post in case even more of you want some recommendations.  I can make this list pretty minimal given that I've only really decorated one nursery for the three babies I've brought home, sorry Chase, Lili and tbd!!...With Jack I went all out and basically took a month off work before his arrival to "get things ready" for him.  With the others, here's what I did:

Diapers: Pampers Brand, "Swaddlers."  I buy one big box of size N (newborn).  These are the best for leak protection, just make sure that you fasten the diaper snug!

Diapering Gear:
-If I'm having a boy I make sure to have Vaseline and soft gauze at home for when you have to tend to their circumcision.
-I love Costco's Kirkland baby wipes.
-And I make sure to have Desitin diaper rash cream ready to go.

Clothes:
-I like dressing newborns in the sleep "gowns."  The ones that don't have buttons or zippers or legs/feet.  They look like a dress with elastic at the bottom.  **BEST TIP EVER: When dressing/undressing your baby, don't put shirts, onesies, gowns, etc. over the baby's head.  Mine have always hated it and it's just hard to do with a "delicate newborn."  Instead, start at their feet and go feet first through the neckline.**
-Socks because their feet get cold.
-Swaddling Blankets! I've probably tried them all, but I love the Woombie the best because it zippers closed!  No crazy acrobatics necessary--husband & babysitter tested and approved :)  I also love the Miracle Blanket and the velcrow tab ones, but nobody ever gets those as tight as mama.  And you want to swaddle tight!!

Food:
-Have a few basic bottles ready (you won't need fancy Dr. Browns or Born Free bottles in the first few weeks) in case you need to give baby a bottle.
-Have a can of formula (I would recommend Earth's Best Organic) in case you need to give formula.

Breastfeeding:
-Two nursing SLEEP bras.  Those are by far the most comfortable in the first week when your milk arrives and you're just lounging around the hospital and house anyway.  You can go out to Target later and find some that are more attractive.
-Lotion (nursing lotion) but the hospital will usually give you a few small tubes to take home.
-Nursing clean-up wipes for yourself.  Use them as often as you can manage to prevent infection!
-Nursing pads: I love the Johnson & Johnson brand but I think every mom has their favorite depending on a few different factors.  The hospital sends you home with enough to get you through a few days though.
-Bibs to put under baby's chin for the milk that will be drip.  Keep baby's neck rolls clean and crust free.  Sounds gross but trust me, use a cloth or something.  Feel free to sponge bathe his face and neck as often as you want so that milk doesn't stay trapped in the creases.
-Breastfriend Nursing Pillow.  This is super helpful if you have a c-section and/or if you are an A or B cup before baby comes.  It just helps lift them up which gives some relief to your arms and back.
-Itzbeen App on your iPhone to keep track of how often you nurse.

Baby Gear:
-Somewhere for baby to sleep other than the crib like a pack-n-play or bassinet (and bedding with a few extra crib sheets).
-Somewhere for the baby to lay/sit/sleep after nursing sessions.  An infant chair like this: http://www.fisher-price.com/en_US/brands/babygear/products/46925
-Changing Pad, you don't really need to bother putting your nice new cover on it until you become a diapering pro, because it will just live in the washing machine the first few weeks.  Instead, just snag all the baby hospital blankets (that you've paid for anyway) on your way out and use those as your "changing pad cover" in the beginning.  Seriously, take everything in the room on your way out because when you look at your bill a month later, you realize that you've paid for it all anyway.
-The hospital gives you the blue snot-sucker bulb thing.
-The hospital gives you pacifiers. You can buy more on your first Target run (freedommmm)!  if your baby (and you) are lucky enough to take one.
-Make sure you have fingernail clippers. Those suckers grow crazy fast and newborns can't find their hands to suck on with those mitten things on.  Just take a deep breath and clip them or rip them (gently of course).
-Car seat and stroller.  The car seat I've used with all my babies is the Graco Snugride.  And I can't say enough amazing things about my beloved BOB stroller.  Yes, it's heavy, but babies make you grow muscles :)

Bathing Gear:
-Infant tub with a reclining sling.  Put it near (or in) a sink and use a washcloth and Burts Bees (my favorite) baby wash to sponge bathe the baby until the cord falls off.  I always just keep a dry towel over the baby after I'm done washing one section so he doesn't freeze while I work on the rest of him.  And when you're done, get the diaper back on FAST!
-I love Burt's Bees baby lotion.  But like I said, first put the diaper on, then worry about lotion.
-Mustela's No-Rinse Cleaning Solution.  This makes your baby smell like a baby for those visitors who arrive before you had time to bathe little junior.  Pump this onto a washcloth or paper towel, wipe him down with it and he'll smell how he's "supposed" to smell :)

Usually my babies start having gas pain around 2 weeks.  I make sure to have my stock of Mylicon drops ready for when that fun period starts.  You can't overdose on Mylicon so grab a bunch of those too.  

SO, if you don't take an entire month off of work before your first baby arrives, just make sure that you have what I talked about above and you'll be fine for a week or two (or longer).  Experienced mamas, feel free to add or subtract things in the comments section!  And here's a look at my first baby's nursery.  Somehow Chase and Lili have grown into happy toddlers in spite of their un-finished (and un-started) baby rooms though :)








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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

bedding for the boyz


My boys share a room and both need bedding.  Currently they still insist on using their collection of baby blankets to keep them warm at night, but according to Chase's recent middle of the night screams for more blankets, his teeny tiny knit ones aren't enough for him.  Poor guy.  Jack's temperature stays true to his Canadian blood, warm always, but Chase is a different story.  This little big man needs some extra coverage.  So the hunt is on for their "big boy" bedding.  I randomly looked online at World Market today and may have found the winner .  And it's on sale.  Well that was easier than picking out paint.  The Shanta quilt below reminds me of John Robshaw's textiles, which of course are probably 20 times the cost of what World Market would charge for their most expensive item.
Shanta Quilt: On sale for $39!  Two please. 
Now that I have their bedding I'm totally ready to put together the rest of their room...here's a peek of what I'm thinking for the room:

Jack & Chase's Eclectic Safari Little Man Cave

I've already got the rug, drapes, yellow campaign chest, beds and artwork.  I may reupholster a wing back chair that I already have for their room and then of course, pick up the bedding from World Market.  What do you all think?

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Monday, January 14, 2013

The Perfect White


Happy Monday! Hope you had a wonderful weekend. Ours was fun, we had an evening with friends and their baby and then I enjoyed a nice Sunday afternoon with the neighborhood girls at a group baby shower.  Four of us are due within a month or so of each other and we all live within a 1-block radius!  Crazy!  Like my one neighbor said at a Christmas party this year, "you come to Brambleton to breed."  He couldn't be more accurate.  Time with girlfriends is so special, and I love that I live in a community like ours, where neighbors actually get to know each other and do life together.  In our neighborhood we celebrate summer with block parties, celebrate babies with showers, the holidays with some great parties, and girl time with wine and laughter.  This community also seriously comes together to help those in need which is the icing on the cake.  I've seen my neighbors donate clothes to a kid in school who has been seen in the same sweatshirt for weeks, raise money for all sorts of charities and events and give away all their nice baby gear to financially struggling moms.  It's so encouraging to me to see how aware this community is of how blessed we are and how willing it is to generously bless others.

On another note, while the kiddos napped I literally watched paint dry.  I would not wish the search for the perfect white paint on anyone, not even the nurse who presses on your stomach so hard twenty million times right after you give birth.  Is that not the worst thing ever?!!!!  I am dreading that come the arrival of baby boy.

I did not know what I was getting into when I said I was going white.  Well, the painters come tomorrow morning, which means I've made my final picks.  Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace for the trim and Benjamin Moore Simply White for the walls.  



Chantilly Lace is a pure, crisp white.  I painted samples of each white in almost every room, and Chantilly Lace held bright, clean white everywhere. 



Simply White is another pure white but just a tad softer, which I thought would look great on the walls. Even though it has a warmer feel to it than Chantilly Lace, it never looks yellow or tan.  

Other whites I tried and my reviews:  Keep in mind I tested these whites in mostly south-facing rooms that get a lot of natural light.  Also, I have light warm wood floors and cabinets.  With these factors combined, I knew he slightest hint of yellow or tan or pink that happened to be in these white paints would be noticed. 



Benjamin Moore Decorator's White: I was so excited for this one.  I thought that surely it would be the winner given that it's one of Pottery Barn's whites and highly recommended by many designers as a pure, cool white.  But I saw pink!!  It was my fastest "definite no."



Benjamin Moore Swiss Coffee:  I was so tempted to choose this for about a 12 hour period. It looked great in every room but once I compared it to Chantilly Lace and Simply White, it became clear that it's part of the off-white family (at least in my home), which is the exact color from which I want to escape!



Dunn Edwards Swiss Coffee: Pretty much the same feelings toward this color as the Benjamin Moore Swiss Coffee, but it was overall just a tad "duller" than Ben Moore's version.  



Benjamin Moore Super White: A very bright white as you the name lends you to believe, but in my home it looked too gray.


Benjamin Moore White Dove: Nice white, but again, I would probably place it in the off-white family. In my darker rooms, I saw the tan factor.


Benjamin Moore Cloud White:  I understand why this is a very popular color for trim, if you want a solid, bright off-white trim.  It looks the same in every room, but it's in the off-white family.  

If I were willing to go off-white again for trim and walls, Cloud White trim with Swiss Coffee walls would be an amazing combination.

Stay tuned for pics of the fresh new vibe hopefully!!!!!  If you're reading this, please reassure me that it will look great.  I'm having a bit of anxiety over how it will turn out!! 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Healthy Homemade Cherry Pie [lara bars]


Today is the type of day where I feel SO blessed to be a stay at home mom.  Ever since I became I mom, when the cold winter weather hits I kind of start to just hold my breath and brace myself until it's finished!  I savor every day of good summer, spring and fall weather, but winter and I typically do not jive, except for today.  I got outside and warmed my bones and it was wonnnnnderful.  Apparently my 3-year old agrees; he repeated "Mom this is the best ever! Sunshine is awesome!" about twenty times. A boy after my own heart.  *sidenote: have I really kept you locked up indoors for this long? I'm kind of embarrassed that you just said that so many times!!!*

Before we headed over to my parents' farm this morning to enjoy the sunshine and harass the chickens, we all ate a couple homemade LARA bars.  Hands-down the kids' favorite "healthy" snack.  Bars are great for everyone who is on-the-go...Edward loves them, Tia loves them, I love them, the kids love them.  Since we eat so many of them I try and make sure that we eat healthy bars.  In my opinion and from what I've heard, Lara Bars and Kind Bars are good options.  Both are full of just fruits and nuts and things from nature rather than a long list of processed ingredients.  Both bars are also really expensive, so I make my own Cherry Pie Lara Bars and they taste exactly the same as the real thing.  Here's how to do it:

Ingredients:
1 cup almonds (preferably raw)
1/2 cup dried pitted dates
1/2 cup dried cherries

Chop almonds into little bits. I use my blendtec blender (similar to a vitamix or maybe a nina blender) and "pulse" until they are in tiny lara bar-sized pieces. If you don't have a high-powered blender you can use a food processor.  After the almonds are finely chopped, I pour them into my kitchen aid mixer bowl.



I then process the dates and cherries into a sticky paste.  I use the "pulse" function.  This part takes a little more patience than the almonds because of the stick factor.  Sometimes I need to use a spoon or a knife to help the process along because the cherries and dates get stuck.





Once the cherries and dates turn into a sticky paste, I add them to my kitchen aid mixer bowl and blend the mixture using............my kitchen aid mixer!





When everything forms one big glob, I shape the glob into a huge rectangle on my cutting board and roll it out flat with the rolling pin. This is the part where Jack and Chase love to help and sneak as much of it into their mouths as fast as possible, surprise surprise!




After the "big bar" is flat, I use a pizza cutter to cut it into smaller bars.  Then I wrap them all in plastic wrap and store in the fridge.  Wa-la!  :)



If you've never had a lara bar and you like cherry pie just not at breakfast and snack time, seriously you should make these.  


Here's the recipe and process all in one section:

Homemade Cherry Pie Lara Bars
1 cup almonds (preferably raw)
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup dried pitted dates
optional ingredient: 1 teaspoon of cinnamon.  Adds a nice touch/element.

Chop almonds into teeny little bits using a high powered blender or food processor.  Add almonds to a mixing bowl.

Pulse cherries and dates until they form a sticky paste.  Spoon and scrape the paste into the same mixing bowl.

Either with your hands (a little wetted down is helpful) or the kitchen aid mixer white mixer attachment, mix the three ingredients until they form one large glob.

On a cutting board, shape the glob into a large rectangle and then roll it flat (to about 3/4 inch thickness).  Use a pizza cutter or knife to cut it into individual bars.  Some people like to make cherry pie balls so you could also roll the mixture into little cherry-pie energy balls, whatever suits your fancy!

Store in the refrigerator.

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