Friday Favorites- Garden Edition

Friday, June 28, 2013
Happy Friday!  

Since we are in the midst of a major yard transformation here at the Sparrow home, I thought it would only be appropriate to share some gardening favorites from this week.  It may have been hot and humid, but we still enjoyed some time outdoors!

Favorite Garden Accessory: Mud garden gloves

I've worn out a half-dozen pairs of garden gloves in just the last two years.  These are by far my favorite- lightweight and a close fit.  This pair has survived heavy use this week and is still in great shape (and admittedly in need of a wash!).  If you have a helper-tot they make Mud Puddles for kids too! 

Vegetable Garden Favorite: Sun Gold Cherry Tomatoes

The first 3 ripe tomatoes of the season!  I picked them and ate them in the garden- just like candy!  If you don't grow tomatoes, you can definitely find a hybrid type in your grocery store this time of year.  Don't be scared if they are yellow or orange- they taste delicious and make a lovely colorful salad.

Favorite Little Helper:

Lulu decided that as we mulched she would de-mulch...and got absolutely filthy.  Luckily, it had cooled down that afternoon and she was wearing clothes (and mismatched socks) which made for an easy clean-up.

And when it did get too hot, she got to "air out" on the grandparents lawn.  Nothing cuter than a naked baby bottom! 

Hope you are finding ways to keep cool!  This weekend may call for an extra large pitcher of sangria, don't you think? ;)

Weekend Getaway

Monday, June 24, 2013
Happy Monday!  I hope you had a great weekend!  

I don't have a crafty post today because we went on a two-night trip to Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire over the weekend.  It was complete with a lake-side sunset, greasy Chinese food, and our little one digging in the sandy shore.  Quiet and low-key (no tv or Internet!) and refreshing for the soul!  I actually had time to read a book- not a baby book or magazine- a real book.  See the proof below. 

See the open pages on my lap?!

Barefoot with a view and a glass of wine.  Perfection.

Pu-Pu platter for 2 (and a half...).  Lu ate most of the crab rangoons!  I always feed her natural/organic and this weekend I had to turn a blind-eye...

She loved watching the tide come and go!

Of course, now I have a million and one things I have to do back at home.  But, the busy part of life is good for the soul too! :)

Friday Favorites- Buy & Drink

Friday, June 21, 2013
Happy Friday!

This week's favorites may seem a bit like product pushing- but I promise these are items that I genuinely discovered on my own and have fallen in love with! 

Favorite Recent Purchase:

Now that I am home, I rarely have the opportunity to get a real manicure.  (Besides, she isn't noticing my imperfect nails so why bother?).  I already told you about my fav Essie color Here, but my recent discovery is the Essie mini 4-pack.  Yes, you get 4 colors for the price of one regular-sized bottle!  The colors are complimentary (my fingers and toes actually go together!) and the mini bottles are perfect for me- I never use an entire bottle of polish before it separates or gets all gooey.  I bought the 2013 Wedding Collection colors, but This is another option. 

Favorite Summer Beverage:

I have to admit that I am a long-time summer Corona drinker (I even had a Corona bikini in college... which is now embarrassing).  I just love the fresh lime.  This summer I have strayed and fallen in love with Leinenkugel's Summer Shandy.  It has the perfect citrus touch without being too sweet.  Yum!  

And if that isn't convincing enough... Lu is still nursing, so you know that my limited adult beverages are going to be good! :)

Favorite Baby Moment:

The little one discovered long ago that this playmat was puzzle pieces and loves to pull them apart.  But now that she is finally on the move (doing the trademark Sparrow scoot), she can grab and go! 

I just love the "who, me?" look in her eyes. 

Hope you have a sunny weekend ahead! 

Festive Fourth Inspiration

Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Are you beginning to make plans for July Fourth?  Whether you will be going to a pool party, beach party, or backyard bbq these are a few fun and festive add-ons for your holiday gathering.  

I like to include red white & blue without an in-your-face-stars-and-stripes-and-bald-eagles motif.  This way, you can use it/wear it all summer.  After all, who wouldn't want a beach towel with scuba-diving lobsters??

Festive Fourth Inspiration

Festive Fourth Inspiration by sparrowathome 

True Story: My parents and my in-laws have croquet sets that are used regularly.  Trust me on this one- it is so much more fun than a bean-bag toss! :)

Festive Fourth Wreath

Monday, June 17, 2013
Happy Monday!  

This weekend was our first official Father's Day in the Sparrow home! 

You can see our little one took it very seriously...

...and couldn't contain her excitement about spending the day with Daddy! 

I have loved watching the daddy-daughter moments over the last 10 months.  Makes my heart so full! 

Now for the regular weekly craft! :)

I have a super easy DIY wreath project to move you from Father's Day to the next holiday- July 4th!  I promise it is not only easy, but quick and cheap too.  

I saw this festive bunch of stars & stripes faux flowers on my last trip to Michael's (any big craft store should have something similar) for only $ on the Michael's iphone app (download it right now!) dropped the price to $2.00.  Fake flowers aren't really my style, but I knew I'd get inspired so I threw it in the cart.  

Then we passed the aisle with wreath bases and- aha moment!- I spotted this 12-inch floral wreath ring for $2.29.   That brings our total cost to under $5.00! 

So here is your fast & easy tutorial...

Plug in your trusty hot glue gun (told you this was easy).  While you wait for it to heat up, pull the flowers off the plastic stems and decide on your color arrangement.  I wanted alternating red white & blue...original, I know.  Now, put glue around one of the holes.  Stick in the flower and press firmly in place for about 10 seconds to let the glue set. 

 Repeat for each hole/flower.  I initially wanted the wreath to hang from a ribbon, and strung some leftover ribbon in the last hole... I didn't love the way it looked, so I left the ribbon (for pretty bow effect) in place but added the last flower.  Do what looks good to you!  

Hang in place and admire your handiwork- it's finished!  

You could easily paint the base, but I kept the natural color for contrast... And let's be honest, that would double the time for this project!  :) 

Friday Favorites

Friday, June 14, 2013
Happy Friday!  We have a busy weekend ahead with a family bday celebration, yard project, and most importantly- Father's Day!  I have a few surprises up my sleeve for my husband's first big day as a Daddy.  :)  

For now, I'd love to share 3 fun things we enjoyed this week before heading into this packed weekend...

Fav #1: Farmer's Market
Last year we joined a CSA which was AMAZING.  But, it didn't make sense for us this year, so I decided instead to make a weekly visit to a farmer's market to keep getting fresh local produce.  On Thursday we braved the rain and headed to the first week of the Westborough Farmer's Market.  The local vendors were selling everything from fish to jalapeƱo jelly!  I'd just gone to the regular grocery store the day before, but I still grabbed some red lettuce and sampled the apple ice wine (at noon...).  To find a farmer's market near you, check out

Twisting to see the live banjo!

Fav #2: FREE Library Classes for Mommy & Me
If you have a little one at home, check out the online calendar of events for the library in your town and surrounding towns   Chances are you can find a storytime or music class that is free.  Some classes require registration and have limited enrollment, so look early and often!  This week we went to a great sing-a-long for kids of all ages.

Fav #3: Boon Pod Bath Toy Scoop
While I (admittedly) usually leave Lu's bath toys on the bottom of the tub each night, I knew I needed something to hold them when we have guests.  I already have a love for Boon products, and this is no exception!  Adorable and super practical- just scoop up the toys and hang on the wall.  It also comes as a ladybug Here.

Kid Picnic Table Face-lift

Tuesday, June 11, 2013
This may seem like a self-explanatory post, but I am so thrilled with the results that I just had to please humor me, share in my amazing-deal-gloating, and keep reading!

I managed to score this Step2 Picnic Table at a yard sale on Saturday for $5.  Yes, $5!  And it was a church yard sale so I didn't even negotiate (more on my new crazy-yard-sale-lady ways in a future post).  I didn't even finish looking around because I wanted to get this in the car before anyone else spotted it. 

You can see that the table was lovingly used by another child who enjoyed problem!  I knew I could give this table a quick face-lift with a little spray paint.  I taped off the  areas where the table-top and seats connected to the base using blue painter's tape.  I sprayed the table-top first and then sprayed the seats second.  And here it is! 

I have to give credit to my husband for picking which colors to use: Rustoleum Ultra Cover Green Apple (top) and French Lilac (seats).

Total cost for this project (table & new cans spray paint): $11!  You can find the same table new for $99 Here.  I think Lu likes her upcycled version just fine! 

...And her little dog too! :)

My plan is to bring it indoors this winter as a play table.  

Did I mention it was only $5?!  

Individual Strawberry Shortcake

Sunday, June 9, 2013
We were invited to a no-longer-a-Surprise 30th Birthday party this weekend and I needed to bring some food.  Since I still had a lot of leftover strawberries from our pick-your-own adventure last week, I decided Strawberry Shortcake would be perfect.  I added a little twist to make it individual portions- ideal for a party to eliminate the hassle of a plate & fork! 

I used this recipe for inspiration, but then just used what I already had on hand (that's pretty much how I cook 90% of the time).

Individual Shortcake Ingredients:
2 c. Flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
3 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
8 tbsp (1 stick) butter cold & cubed
2/3 c. Heavy cream

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Take a mini-muffin pan and spray with non-stick cooking spray and then lightly dust bottoms of muffin holes with flour.  Mix together dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Gently mix in cubed butter with your fingers- this should turn into a kind of crumbled mess.  Don't over-mix because you want the butter to stay relatively cold (standard for most pastry recipes).  Next, use your fingers to make a "well" in the center of the dough in the bowl- pour the cream into this space and then slowly fold the dough into the center.  

Use a spatula to scrape the dough from the edges into the center until it was mixed together.  Use your fingers to roll small chunks of dough into meatball-sized balls (again, don't handle too much) and place one ball into each muffin hole.  No need to go crazy here about the perfect size or shape since the ball is going to cook down!  Continue until the dough is gone.  This should fill a 24-count mini tin.  

Now, pop your full muffin tin into the oven and cook until the tops begin to brown (mine took 12 minutes).  Remove from oven and let cool. 

Now, to turn your beautiful mini shortcakes into strawberry shortcake, simply cut in half and fill with sliced strawberry and fresh whipped cream!  

I added some fresh mint from my garden and a little lemon zest into the whipped cream.  A mixed berry shortcake with marscapone would be yummy... Or maybe some basil and goat cheese for a savory dessert?  

If you are taking these to a party or bbq, assemble each in a full-sized cupcake wrapper- this makes for an easy grab-and-eat treat.  

You can also do this a few days in advance if timing is a concern.  I made the shortcakes the day before and then assembled right before heading out, popping them in the fridge at the party until it was time for dessert.  You dont want your beautiful desserts to be soggy!

I'm telling you, these were super-easy to make and tasted delicious.  Who would pass up a cute individual-sized dessert?  No one!  

Happy eating! 

Friday Favorites

Friday, June 7, 2013
Happy Friday!  

This week was full of stuff to do around the house and garden.  The type of week that makes you stop and smell the- peonies! :)  Don't you love having a moment to just appreciate the little things?  Here are a few of the little things that made us smile around here...

Favorite Recipe: Crock-pot Indian chicken

I love anything I can throw in the slow cooker.  The Husband loves Indian food.  So when I found this recipe on Pinterest a few months ago, I was really hoping it would be great...and it was!  So great, in fact, that this week was the third or fourth time I've made it.  
You can find the original recipe HERE- I usually cut it in half to make 4 servings.

Favorite Garden Moment (you saw this one coming): Peonies are out!  

Big bloom.  Amazing fragrance.  Perfection in a bud vase. 

Favorite Happy-House Helper: Method All-Purpose Cleaner

It is non-toxic so I feel comfortable using it on everything from Lu's high chair to the entry table.  It works great and it smells delicious (and natural!).  I would take a picture, but my bottle is literally almost empty.

The set includes a book, matching characters, and a 'house' to store them- all made from cloth.  The oversized book has felt pages, and the characters have a velcro tab, so you can stick them to the book.  Genius for more interactive toddler play and (let's be honest) non-plastic toys that are ok for an infant to chew... Lu has loved the Farm set for a few months, so I was thrilled when I found the Circus set this weekend (at a yard sale- for $2!!!).  These will get a lot of playtime for several years. 

She's decided the seal balancing a ball is the best act! 

What 'little' favorite things have you noticed around your home in the last week?  I'd love to hear! 


U-Pick Then U-Eat

Wednesday, June 5, 2013
 Strawberries are finally in season and we are lucky to have a U-Pick farm just a few miles away.  I called the fruit hotline yesterday morning (really- call before you go!) and was happy to hear that they had ripe strawberries ready to be picked.  Grocery shopping would have to wait until the afternoon...Off we went! 

She lasted about 5 minutes in the Ergo before she wanted in on the fun...

Filling up our tray...

 Sad to leave or exhausted from picking (ie. eating)? 

My snack during Lu's afternoon nap- yum!

Fresh Strawberry smoothie (makes 1): 

2 handfuls of baby spinach
2 large mint leaves
2 handfuls of fresh strawberries 
1 handful of ice (or use frozen berries and no ice!)
2 heaping spoonfuls of Greek yogurt

Blend together and enjoy in the sunshine! :)

Father's Day Gift Guide- Under $60

Monday, June 3, 2013
Happy Monday!  

I hope you had a relaxing weekend.  We certainly did, and I'm using that as inspiration for latest gift guide...

Father's Day is just around the corner so I've pulled together a few items to help the father in your life de-stress and enjoy the day.  No honey-do task or grill tools here.  Feel free to add a massage (diy for free!) to boost the relaxation level even more.  

Father's Day Gifts Under $60
1.Aruba Hammock: Does this even require an explanation?
2. Tommy Bahama swim shorts: This is reversible!  Lounge by the pool twice as often.
3. "Father Mows Best" Life is good T-shirt: Cute slogan for any lawn-proud dad.
4. Personalized Beer Labels and Beer Journal: Wrap the labels around his favorite brew!

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