Friday Favorites- Bathtime Edition

Friday, September 27, 2013
Happy Friday!

Lu started requesting a "bah" this week as soon as we finished dinner.  Bathtime has always been her favorite time of day, but it was unbelievably cute to hear her verbally request a bath for the first time. 

To honor that love of bathtime, I thought this week's favorites should be bath related.  Here are our favorite things in the bath right now...

Favorite Baby Bath Product: California Baby Calendula Bubble Bath

Lu is obsessed with bubbles, or as she says "buhbuh."  Even though the California Baby products are a little pricey, the bubble bath is definitely worth it.  A small cap full makes a lot of bubbles, so the bottle will last a long time.  Not only is the natural fragrance amazing, but it also has no gross toxic additives which means I don't worry when Lu shoves a handful of suds in her mouth.  Extra bonus- it comes with a bubble wand so you can blow real bubbles in the air!  Fair warning: your child will  point to the bottle requesting the wand every.single.night. 

A close second for our favorite baby bath product would be Burt's Bees Shampoo & Wash.  It is 98.9% natural and doesn't have a fragrance- so your baby smells like a baby!

Favorite Tub Accessory: Skip Hop Moby Bath Spout Cover

This was a baby shower gift that keeps on giving- by preventing bath boo-boos.  Lu flops around in the tub liked a beached whale sometimes and I am forever grateful that she isn't slamming into the hard metal spout.  Plus, it is adorable that Lu likes to touch the whale's face.

Second place in this category goes to the Boon Frog Pod toy organizer.  We only put the toys away when company comes (just being honest!) versus the spout cover which is appreciated daily.  But both are cute and functional!

Favorite Bath Toy: My First Slash Foam Cubes

We've been through all kinds of tub toys- rubber ducks, stacking cups, you name it!  Lu's current favorite are foam cubes from Babies R' Us.  I got them from end-of-summer clearance and they are a big hit!  She loves to squeeze the water out, while saying "weeze," over and over.  We have also been working on identifying new animals on the cubes.  She pinches her own arm when I ask her to find the crab.  Too funny. 

What are your favorite baby or child bath accessories?  I'd love to hear! 

Pear & Blackberry Mini Pies

Thursday, September 26, 2013
Today I'm sharing another recipe that I used with the homegrown apples& pears from my husband's parents.  My father-in-law mentioned his love for pear & blackberry pie, so I ad-libbed this recipe when we had him over for lunch.  

Pear & Blackberry Mini Pies (makes four)

5 pears peeled, cored & quartered
12-15 blackberries (more if they are small)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 rolled pie crust dough (premade is easy!)
1 egg (beaten for egg wash)

In a large bowl mix your pear slices, brown sugar, vanilla, and pumpkin pie spice- set aside.  Roll out your premade pie crust dough onto a floured cutting board.  Using the top of one individual sized ramekin, mark four circle indents into the dough.  Then, use a knife to cut out a circle 1/2 inch larger than the indent.  

Spray the inside of four ramekins with nonstick cooking spray and fill with pear mixture.  Top with 3-4 blackberries.  Place one pie dough circle on the top of each ramekin, folding over the edge and pressing to seal.  Use a knife to cut 3-4 slits in the top of the dough.  

Last, brush on your egg wash to give the dough a nice golden brown color as it cooks.  Pop into a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes, until the crust is golden.  

Optional indulgence: top with a scoop of ice cream before serving!

You can easily adapt this with other types of fruit or spices.  I think the pumpkin pie spice just makes it extra fallish. :)

If you don't have small ramekins, make one large top-crust only pie in a standard pie pan.  I just love individual-sized desserts.  It somehow seems more special.  


Mud Room Makeover: Small Space, BIG Impact!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Sharing with Made to be a MommaDIY ShowoffMy Sister's SuitcaseSuburbs MamaRain on a Tin Roof

Here is a true story: We have the world's smallest mud room.

I know that some of you are thinking you'd give your left leg for any mud room space... But our's was mutilated by the previous owner and we were left with a 2.5-square-foot space outside of the garage door swing zone.  A space that must be walked through to get to the laundry room.  Oh, and did I mention you can see this from our main living area?

Even though the size of the space itself couldn't be altered, I did want to amp up the "welcome to our home" feel of this less-formal entry.  The beige walls on beige tiles didn't send much of a welcome message at all.  And even if we are the only ones to use this door, well, shouldn't we be loving the feel of our home the moment we walk in??  That was my thought process for this mini makeover. 

My original idea was to use a large-scale stencil.  But, after a little search on Pinterest I decided to create a graphic statement using only painter's tape.  Hello, herringbone.

The chevron trend is (not surprisingly) also catapulting the popularity of herringbone and you can find a lot of tutorials out there for making a herringbone wall.  BUT make sure you think about how the taped space will fit in.  Asymmetry bothers me.  A lot.

I tweaked a few other tutorials to create a method that made my symmetrical heart happy.

Here is my DIY two-tone herringbone wall tutorial:

First, decide how many columns you will want.  I chose 4 for a bigger-scale impact.  Next, measure the width of the wall, divide, and then adjust for the width of your tape.  My columns measured 15 inches wide with a 1 1/2 inch tape width between.

Now (using no sort of precise calculation) decide the height you'd like for your pattern.  I chose 10 inches.  It just looked right.  Measure and mark on your tape and use the mark as the lower line for your next tape line.  This is the only thing you really need to keep track of as you measure, mark, and tape- always align the bottom of your tape to the mark.

I chose to do the two middle columns first, measuring straight up to the ceiling, and them worked my way up the outer columns.  This took one nap (about 1 hour) from start to finish.

I bought 2 Behr color samples from Home Depot to decide on the main wall color and actually loved them both... and they looked great together!  This is how I decided to use both colors to make this a two-tone herringbone.  The lighter mint is Behr "April Mist" and the grey-blue is "Contemplation."  I painted the surrounding walls "April Mist."

I painted one color first, alternating diamonds (rhombus? whatever.), then I went back to fill in the opposite diamonds with my second color.  This took me another nap to finish.

Between naps, Lu used the paint stir-sticks to drum on the floor...

Let dry and then remove your tape.  My only mistake was doing this on a humid day and the tape pulled off some of the old paint underneath.  Ugh.  Thankfully I found an old can of beige paint in the basement to fill.  I really can't complain since my tape lines came out GREAT- Frog Tape is definitely worth the extra few dollars.

On the opposite wall (visible from our living area), I painted the old coat hook rack white.  I also used white spray paint to give an old scrollwork mirror a facelift and hung it for the perfect last-minute-check as we leave the house.  The white metal S (HomeGoods find that had been in the kitchen) I added for a personal family touch.  I also repainted the molding bright white to freshen up the space.

I kept everything white because the hooks will fill with stuff and I don't want it to look too busy.

Above the door to the laundry room I used an old black frame to hang this "Love Shines Here" free printable  that I had printed months ago.  Perfect spot!

Here's the final product!  What do you think??

Fall Decor for Target, of Course!

Friday, September 20, 2013
Today's Friday Favorites has been collapsed into two essentials for for making your home fall festive.  And to make your life even easier it requires one-stop-shopping at the forever favorite, Target. 

Backstory: My Pottery Barn Spirited Celebrations catalog came in the mail over the weekend, and I fell in love with the orange mercury glass pumpkins.  Perfect leave-out-all-fall-to-add-a-little-shine accessory for the home.  But $29 for the small (and let's get serious, I was envisioning a grouping) isn't happening. 

Then on Monday morning we walked into Target and, as if on cue, I saw them.  

Dollar zone metallic pumpkins.  

Mercury glass shine without the real price tag- check.  Cute size- check.  Orange and red and green- check check check

I grabbed three... and immediately regretted not buying more.

The moral of the story here is that you need to go to Target (and walk straight past the Phillip Lim stuff- big disappointment) to get some $1 metallic pumpkins before they are gone. 

Then let your baby play with them...

And don't forget to grab a bag of Pumpkin Spice M&M's at the check-out.  How did I not know about these sooner?? 

You're welcome. :) 

5 Tips for Shopping for Kids Clothes (without Going Broke!)

Thursday, September 19, 2013
Sharing with Mums Make Lists

I have always been a bargain hunter, and I never (ok, maybe once a year) buy things at full price.  I love the thrill of the hunt AND knowing that you can get so much more for your money.  

When you combine my pre-existing love for deals with the fact that Lu is now on her seventh wardrobe (that's right, she is in 24 month clothing at 13 months old), I like to think I am a pretty savvy shopper for kids clothes.  

These are my top 5 tips for keeping your kid stylish without breaking the bank.

Tip #1: ALWAYS Check Clearance

This isn't as time-consuming as flicking through the clearance rack of women's clothes- I promise you can do this with a baby in tow.  I have scored some amazing deals for Lu.  Old Navy and Target especially have some cheap mark-downs for less than $2 per item, and Crewcuts online shopping is always free shipping- even clearance items!  

These boots at Old Navy were regularly $25.99.  I got them for... 97 cents!  They probably won't fit until next winter, but that leads us to tip #2...

Tip #2: Buy UP (Size and Season)

You can find great stuff marked down at the end of the season.  Buy a bigger size and stash it away for next year.  I recently bought two swimsuits for $4 each (regularly...)  at Babies-R-Us and they should fit Lu next summer. 

Buy up a size for items you think may last more than one season.  Roll up pants or coat sleeves.  You will get longer wear for fewer dollars this way. 

Tip #3: Children's Consignment

Ok people, I'm not talking about an old consignment shop that smells like Grandma's closet... At least it won't in a good children's consignment shop!  

You can probably think of a few beautiful things your baby only wore once (or never!)- that is exactly what you can find at a good quality children's consignment shop.  Some shops specialize in name brands (Buttons and Bows in Acton, MA and Twice Is Nice in Mystic, CT are GREAT) and others are franchised (Children's Orchard).  Keep searching until you find a good one, and then visit once a month. 

I picked up a BabyGap white and silver ruffle-sleeve romper with the tags still on from my local Children's Orchard.   Original price was $30... I paid $3.   It is definitely not the most practical outfit, but it looked gorgeous in Lu's one-year portraits.  

Tip #4: Good Tag Sales

This is what I have learned to appreciate the most over the last year.  

Look for single family yard sales advertising kids's stuff and don't be afraid to negotiate the price- remember, people just want this stuff out of their house! 

I picked up a pair of barely used (I'm talking about perfect soles, people) L.L. Bean snow boots and Lands End rain boots for $1 each.  These sell for over $30 brand new.  $30 for rain boots my child will wear 5 times before her feet grow?!  I'll save my money for something else, thank you! 

Also, look for big group tag sales that are heavy on kid/baby items.  Local churches, daycares, or neighborhood yard sales will often advertise.  

Last, find out if there is a Mothers of Multiples group in your area.  If they host a tag sale, you've hit the jackpot.  

I got this load of clothes, including a lot of Ralph Lauren, Hanna Anderson, Mini Boden, and BabyGap, last spring for a steal

The local WSCMMOTA biannual tag sale is my go-to place for inexpensive wardrobe basics for Lu.  Check out the upcoming fall sale Here.

Tip #5: Hand-me-down and Help-them-out

Family, friends, or family-of-friends who have older kids are likely to offer clothes and other baby gear.  Take them appreciatively!  Lu has been known to rock her boy cousins' pj's and she doesn't seem to mind. :)

Return the favor by offering up any clothes that are too big, or passing along your maternity clothes no longer in use.  Everyone wins (and saves $)!  

At the end of the day, my approach to shopping for children's clothing is pretty basic.  I want my child to look stylish.  I want the clothes to be good quality.  But, I don't want to spend a ton of money.  I hope these tips help you achieve the same!  

Of course, if you have any more shopping tips, I'd love to hear them! :)

Homemade Applesauce

Wednesday, September 18, 2013
I told you about how we got a big load of apples and pears Here.  The first thing I did was make two big batches of applesauce.  

It is super easy, and makes your house smell like fall as it simmers away.  Mmmm.  

I've combined a few different recipes to make one that works for me:

15 medium-sized apples (peeled, cored, quartered)
1 1/2 cups apple cider
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 cinnamon sticks
Dash of nutmeg

Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes.  Discard the cinnamon sticks and mash (with potato masher) in the pot.  This makes about 4 cups.  You can serve it warm, cold, or freeze it for later.  

Apples are in season so get peeling.  No need to buy GoGo Squeez applesauce for the next few months! 

Friday Favorites- Baby with a Cold Edition

Friday, September 13, 2013
Happy Friday! 

Lu is finally coming out the other end of a cold (hopefully the first and last of the season!) so this week's favorites are the things that got us through this week being (mostly) stuck in the house.  

Fav New Toy: LeapFrog Shapes and Sharing Picnic Basket

I put away a lot of the new toys Lu got last month at her birthday party because I wanted to spread out the excitement.  About once a week I pull out something new and it is a nice change to her playtime routine (for both of us!).  

This LeapFrog Picnic set is a huge hit with Lu.  She is starting to use pretend play so it is absolutely adorable watching her 'eat' with the fork...or maybe just eat the fork itself?  Same idea!  

The basket sings songs which she enjoys now, and it also and asks you to "find a square" (ie. plastic sandwich), which will be fun later.  Any toy that will still be age-appropriate in another year is a hit with me too! :)

Favorite Fresh Pick of the Season: Apples and Pears

My in-laws basically have a mini-orchard with a variety of fruit trees, and we were the lucky recipients of apples and pears on Sunday.  Homegrown goodness!  

Then the realization set in that I had to do something with a boatload of fresh fruit...

Apparently Lu wanted me to get on the homemade applesauce ASAP because she started unloading behind my back.  Sneaky monkey.

I'll be sharing some easy recipes next week so you'll know what to do with a boatload of fresh apples and pears, too! 

Mom-with-a-sick-kid Favorite: Harpoon Fall Tailgater Variety Pack

Is it wrong that I took my barefoot and sweaty child to the liquor store?  

While the husband was at the Pats game last night, I had this lovely Harpoon Octoberfest (with a side of DVR'd Bravo shows).  

Happy Mommy! :)

And happy weekend to you! 

DIY Birthday Crown

Thursday, September 12, 2013
Today's DIY project is one that I forgot to share last month in the midst of Lu's first birthday.  Adapt for any number! :)

For Lu's first birthday I knew I wanted a cute headpiece- one that would be seen in her smash cake photos and she could wear again on her actual birthday.  I had seen a few variations of crowns on etsy and decided to make my own.  

The total cost of supplies was about $3 and it took 5 minutes to make.  Not bad! :)

Felt (8x10 sheet from a craft store, or scraps if you have some already!)
Headband (Dollar zone at Target)
Ribbon/Fabric/Felt scrap for #1
Hot glue gun

First, I cut a strip 3 inches wide from a sheet of pink felt I had left from another project.   Next, fold the felt in half lengthwise and cut a chevron edge along the two open edges. 

 Here is what it looks like if you unfold it. 

Bring the two ends of your still-folded strip together and secure in place with hot glue.  I also glued the points of the crown together inside- this is up to you.  

Cut a number for the birthday girl/boy out of a contrasting color ribbon or fabric scrap and glue on the front of the crown.  

I also added adhesive rhinestones to mine- do what you like to personalize!  

Last step- use the glue gun to secure the crown to your headband at an angle that you like.  So easy, cheap, and adorable!  

Even cute when the smile begins to wear off toward the end of the party... :)

You can see the details of Lu's first birthday party Here and other DIY birthday ideas Here.

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