Falling Out of Summer

Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Confession: I love when my inbox is suddenly flooded with fall fashion emails.  While this once meant back-to-school-for-teacher shopping was just a few short weeks away, now it is the perfect time to think about updating my mommy style (and Lu's too)! :)

My fall/winter uniform typically involves tall boots and a layered approach.  Yes, 'uniform' because I love that comfy bundled feel so much that I wear it every.single.day for 6 months.  

But, transitioning from summer into fall allows for more mixing.  There is still room for summer's nautical stripes- just use it with a jacket!  

On a side note, I am especially excited about this fall because my wardrobe will not be built around the need to nurse every 2 hours- like last year.  What a liberating feeling! ;)

Here is my take on great basics for the next few months: subtle prints, gray denim, pop of color, and jersey blazers.  

Falling Out of Summer

Summer-to-Fall for Mama: Jersey BlazerJeansTOMSScarfLace Tee

Summer-to-Fall for Munchkin: Sweatshirt JacketHatJeansTop

Amateur Mother-of-the-Year

Monday, July 29, 2013
Happy Monday! 

Two things happened on Friday that are blog-related: 

1. I thought it was Thursday and didn't post my weekly favorites. 

2.  This happened. 

That's right, my beautiful girl had her first real fall.  I was carrying in two armloads of groceries when she toppled over the step into the garage.  I saw the whole thing in slow motion.  And I felt like the worst mother in the world.  (I realize this is just the first episode of life-long motherly guilt.)

She, on the other hand, was fine within 5 minutes.  

The worst part is, her first birthday party is this weekend.  Oh, and we have a family portrait scheduled with the entire Sparrow clan on Friday.  More photos will be taken during those two events than in the entire past 6 months.  Awesome. 

Here is the progress today... 

Clearly she is not amused.  Insert mom guilt, again. 

Rainy Day Re-purpose

Wednesday, July 24, 2013
This is a re-purpose in the most basic form- and I love it!  

We had a rainy day at home yesterday which resulted in a moment of inspiration.  Don't you love those sudden flashes of insight?! 

I have a beautiful leather magazine rack from Crate & Barrel that sits collecting dust in our sunroom/playroom.  It dawned on me (as I was clearing out the old summer catalogs) that it would be the perfect book storage spot.  

A quick wipe down with non-toxic cleaner and ta-da:  Lu's new board-book bin.  It is the perfect height for her to reach right in.  

Don't worry- all of her paper books will remain safely on the bookcase in her bedroom. :) 

Of course, I had a little helper sliding across my pile of old catalogs and magazines.

On the Go... With Baby In Tow!

Monday, July 22, 2013
Happy Monday! 

Our recent trip was the second round-trip plane adventure for little Lu.  In prepping for our first trip months back I found plenty of travel tips for flying with an infant... 

Feed during take-off to help ease pressure in the ears.  It works.  

Schedule the flight around naptime so the baby will want to sleep.  Great tip.  

And while there is certainly no guarantee of a happy baby on a flight, we have had good luck and I really believe that thoughtful packing is key.  Packing your carry-on carefully for baby (and leaving the glossy magazine behind) is essential.  Every item should have a purpose (or multiple if possible) and a place in your carry-on bag. 

Here are 6 things that will hopefully help limit the glares from other passengers when you fly with a baby...

On the Go... With Baby In Tow!
1. Aden + Anais Swaddle Blanket: It is no secret that these are the best swaddle blankets for newborns, but for older babes it also serves as a great cuddle blanket, nursing cover, and scary-airport-bathroom-changing-table-drop-cloth.  Trust me.

2. Comfy PJ's (preferably 2-piece): I like to dress in comfortable layers when traveling, so do the same with the baby.  Two-piece pj's are convenient for quick diaper changes... and if you are delayed sitting on a hot tarmac and the little one needs to partially undress.  Stash an extra change of clothes in your carry-on that is more appropriate for the weather outside the airport.

3.Lightweight Scarf for Mama: I often get cold while flying, so this is an easy way to layer.  It can quickly be stashed in your carry-on when not in use.  For baby, it can serve as an inconspicuous nursing cover or peek-a-boo game accessory. 

4. Diaper Bag Carry-On: It took me a long time to choose the 'perfect' diaper bag, but I couldn't be happier with this one.  It also happens to be the ideal carry-on.  It has just enough pockets that you can organize toys, tickets, food, wipes and everything else you may need to frantically grab in 0.2 seconds.  

5. Mixed Puree Pouches: No spoon, no bowl, no problem.  Lu loves to suck the delicious balanced food groups straight from the pouch.  Easy and more nutritious than airport food.  I pack several of these in my bag in case I need one later in the day too. 

6. Touchy Feely Book: Pack a new toy (or book) and a familiar toy from home- you never know which one will be the best distraction for a fussing baby.  I often bring this book when we leave the house- it is one of Lu's favorites and the 'touchy' parts keep her busy. 

Here is my sleepy jet-setter all wrapped up in an aden + anais blanket AND my scarf.  

Do you have any carry-on essentials when you travel with a little one?  Happy travels! :)

Friday Favorites- Back in Town Edition

Friday, July 19, 2013
Happy Friday!

I hope you had a good week and are surviving this massive heat wave.  We are finally home from Florida, where believe it or not the weather was more tolerable!  I have just a few things to share today before we get back into our normal life routine next week... 

Favorite Way to Beat the Heat: homemade Popsicles! 

My mom picked up This cute set of Popsicle molds for our beach vaca- and they were a big hit!  

You don't need a real recipe- just blend together smoothie ingredients and freeze.  healthy, delicious, and you control the sugar content for your little one! 

For 4 popsicles I blended together 1 cup Greek yogurt, 1/2 banana, and 1 peach (peeled & sliced).  It was a little tangy from the yogurt, so a splash of juice could make it a bit sweeter.  But Lu still loved it! 

The molds are already back in the freezer with a new blend:1 cup strawberry yogurt, 2 slices watermelon, 1/2 banana.  Yum! 

Favorite Garden Harvest: Blackberries! 

My tomatoes started coming in while we were gone, but I am most excited that the blackberries are beginning to ripen!  If you don't want to make a big veg garden, I promise you can easily start with a berry bush.   You can pick up a thornless variety of blackberries (or raspberries if you prefer) at your local garden nursery or Home Depot for less than $20- they are super low maintenance. 

 Today was the first handful of yummy home-grown berries.  Blackberries are Lu's favorite fruit and I couldn't wait to give her some from our garden.

Yes, she ate them on the floor in only a diaper...

...Because this is what it looked like when she was done. 

Favorite Baby Travel Necessity:  Explora Bibs

I use these practically every day already, but for traveling they are an absolute necessity. Just wipe and stash back in the diaper bag.  I only had to bring one bib for the week away- huge packing bonus. 

More travel tips to come (when I finish getting caught up on chores around the house...)!

 Have a great weekend!

Friday Favorites- Beach House Edition

Friday, July 12, 2013
Happy Friday from the Sunshine State!

While the husband holds down the fort back home, Lu and I are busy boosting the beachy-vibe at my parents' second home in Venice, Florida.  She is loving the bonding time with her Nana!  

Here are our favorite things at the half-way mark in our remodeling/relaxing girls week.

Favorite Baby Beach Accessory: 

My obsession with the Honest Company continues.  I bought their reusable swim diaper in size large (for the not-so-little one) at the beginning of the summer and LOVE it.  Lulu got an awful diaper rash from the name brand swim diapers on our beach vaca in April, but not this time!  You just wash it with the rest of your laundry.  Bonus- it is cute enough to use without a swimsuit!  Check it out Here.

Why is a potbelly so adorable on a baby?!  Love her.

Favorite Painting Tool: 

On day 2 we redecorated and painted the guest bath and living room.  (More details on that in a later post!)  My mom picked up this Wooster Shortcut 2-inch angled rubber handle brush at Home Depot for cutting-in.  Amazing find!  The handle is short and flexible.  This will change your (painting) life- I mean it.

Favorite Shopping Score:  Discontinued Designer Fabric Samples at JoAnn Fabrics

They are on sale right now... For $1.  Seriously.  Originally $54.99 per yard squares that you can use to recover a chair, or pillow, or wall art- yes, please!

My mom grabbed these samples to turn into pillows for the newly painted beach house living room. 

 I grabbed a bunch for my own house too, but you have to wait and see them once they have been used! 

And of course, another favorite this week would have to be the Gulf Coast sunshine.  It is actually cooler and less humid than New England.  Perfect for sipping a cold wine spritzer!  Cheers! 

Another excuse to go to Starbucks!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013
(As if you really need another reason...)

It will help your garden!  Yep, you heard that right.  

A great gardening tip is mixing used coffee grounds into your soil.  Plants like hydrangeas, blueberries, and azaleas like the high acidity.  You can also add coffee grounds to a compost pile if you have one (I don't...yet).  

I reserve my own morning coffee grounds, but I had recently read on a garden site that you can request them at Starbucks- for free!  

Or, you may just find an overflowing offering bin!  

I grabbed one of the free bags this weekend and started feeding my newly planted Blue Wave Lacecap hydrangea. 

Go run out to Starbucks and get some free coffee grounds- and an iced nonfat caramel macchiato while you are in there! 

Independence Day Wrap-Up

Monday, July 8, 2013
Happy Monday!

I hope you enjoyed the holiday weekend as much as we did in the Sparrow family!  If you missed it, the details of our exciting July 4th can be found here.  

We continued the festivities on Saturday with a neighborhood parade and lake-side party.  For a bunch of Brits, the Sparrow family always goes big for the Fourth! 

The parade float is for grandchildren only- so this was our first year participating!  Our float theme was Lady Liberty- complete with a 3-foot inflatable statue- so the kids were all decked out in green crowns and togas.  It was adorable.  AND we won the prize for "Best Family Costumes."  I believe the prize was bragging rights. ;)

7 grandchildren on board and not a single tear- they did so well! 

Parked at the lake, ready for food and games! 

The only downside was holding a float-rope on the drive (run) uphill to the parade starting line.  I haven't run/jogged/speedwalked outside of a mall in at least 5 years (more like 10).  How I got that job, I have no idea! 

Sunday we were able to decompress, me in the garden and the husband watching the Wimbledon finals.  

Lu showed her UK pride (after an all-American weekend) and watched Murray win! 

Do you ever feel more exhausted after a holiday weekend than you did going into it??  

Friday Favorites- Fourth of July Edition

Friday, July 5, 2013
Happy Friday and happy Independence Day!  Today is the intermission for our multi-day celebration. :). While we rest up, I'm excited to share a few of the favorite things from yesterday's festivities!  

We spent the afternoon at historic Old Sturbridge Village for a Naturalization Ceremony- my father-in-law became a US citizen!  The whole family set-up camp in a shady spot and had pinwheels, flags, and Pom-poms waving.

We may have missed the fireworks (too late for little Lu) this year, but watching 100 people swoon with pride as they became Americans was pretty incredible too. 

Here is the newest American Sparrow!

On to the favorite festive things...

Festive Outfits:
Lu donned a "little sparkler" t-shirt from Gymboree and Chambray ruffle bloomers.  She was in the celebratory mood!  

This was her last "first" holiday!  And yes, I do realize that is a very 'mom' thing for me to say...

Festive Beverage:
We toasted the newest citizen with red white & blue bubbly!  Add a spoonful of raspberries and blueberries to the bottom of the glass and fill it up (I used Cava)! 

Festive Dessert: 
My Red White & Bluenana Bundt cake was a huge hit with all the kiddos!  The novice blogger in me didn't think to get a pic until it had been devoured.  Recipe found Here.

More holiday favorites to come after round two of our festivities this weekend...  Hope you have a fun weekend planned too!  

Red White & Bluenana Cake

Wednesday, July 3, 2013
Are you still looking for a last minute dessert idea for the Fourth?  I have the PERFECT one for you!  

First, here is the backstory on this recipe's birth...  

I have been admiring the 100 Bundt Cake recipes over at Mix and Match Mama and decided to take a cue from her philosophy and "mix up" my own recipe.  I used the original Bundt cake recipe base and tweaked it.  I thought it would be fun to incorporate blueberries and strawberries (of course!) as festive fruit, and then I realized I could make it a strawberry-banana cake too!  A classic flavor combo in yogurt, ice cream sundaes, smoothies- so why not Bundt cake?!

Red, White, and Bluenana Bundt Cake

1 box white cake mix
2 small boxes (3.4 oz each) of banana instant pudding mix
4 eggs
1 1/4 cups water
1/2 cup veg. oil
1 can cream cheese frosting (room temp)
1 jar sugar-free strawberry preserves
Blue food coloring
Fresh strawberries & blueberries for garnish

Preheat your oven to 350.  Spray/grease a large bundt cake pan.  Mix together the cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, water, and oil in a large bowl until your batter is smooth.  Now, pour half the batter (just estimate) into your greased cake pan and smooth if needed.  This is your "white" layer.  Spoon your strawberry preserves on top of the white batter, as evenly as possible, leaving only 2 tablespoons reserved for icing.  

Next, add blue food coloring to the remaining batter in your bowl.  Mix to make the color evenly distributed and continue adding coloring until you get your desired shade of blue (I probably used about 15 drops).  Pour the blue batter on top of the preserve layer, again as evenly as possible (but don't drive yourself crazy!).  

Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool for 10 minutes before flipping it out of the pan and onto your cake plate.  

For the icing, scoop about 2/3 of a container of cream cheese frosting into a small bowl.  Add the reserved 2 tbsp. strawberry preserve and mix together.  If your icing is room temperature you can spoon it over the Bundt cake and it will drizzle over the edges for a pretty homemade look.  Continue until you have the desired amount of icing.  Garnish with blueberries and strawberries.  I chose to fill the center hole with blueberries and line the cake with sliced strawberries- do whatever you like! 

I am DYING to cut into the cake to see the festive colored inside, but we are bringing this to a party.  Will be sure to snap a pic there so you can see! 

Thanks again to Shay over at Mix  and Match Mama for the inspiration!  You can check out all of her Bundt cake recipes Here.

Beating the Heat... With a Watermelon Margarita!

Monday, July 1, 2013
Without any planning, this weekend's wrap-up post seems to be all about keeping cool.  

We started the weekend with the intent to keep working on our yard project, but the muggy weather had us like this instead...

Breaking out the hammock-stand that the husband got for Father's Day!  

Lucy decided to splash in some cool water...

Who needs a pool when you have a dog bowl? 

And then this happened...

Yes, I just stood by taking pictures. 

I decided to keep cool with a yummy cocktail (not surprising, right?) using some leftover watermelon.  Here is what I made-up using what we had on hand: 

Recipe for a Foolproof Fresh Watermelon Margarita (makes two):

3 oz tequila
1 oz triple sec
2 oz sour mix
2 slices watermelon cubed

Blend ingredients together.  Pour mix over crushed ice and serve in a margarita glass. 

 Cute garnish is optional.  Enjoy! 
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