Sunday, April 20, 2014

Dinner Last Night: Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons

Nothing better to beat a rainy day than a steaming bowl of tomato soup and grilled cheese, am I right?  This was my inaugural try at homemade tomato soup.  Thus, I turned to the Barefoot Contessa herself for tomato soup with grilled cheese croutons.  Her recipe calls for gruyere cheese, but who keeps that on hand on a regular basis?  Sharp cheddar substituted just fine!  Putting this recipe in my back pocket for another rainy day.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

10 Reasons Why I Love You

Two months late, but better late than never…right?
{5 Months}

1. You rolled over, back to front, for the first time unassisted!  February 15, 2014.  We were in Big Sky, Montana on a family ski trip, and you casually rolled back to front like it was no big deal.  Dad led us in a rousing cheer, and you smiled your sweet gummy smile in silent pride.  We’re so proud of you!  You then continued to show off your mad roll skills a handful of times later that day.

2. You are such a calm, mellow baby.  Many people have commented on your relaxed, easy going, and calm demeanor.  And they’re completely right, you are a pretty “chill” baby, your dad says you definitely get that from him and not me.  He’s probably right...  

3. You’ve become much more skilled at finding your thumb while sitting up. In the car seat, seated on the airplane, leaning on mom’s shoulder, you’ve improved your aim at engaging that left thumb with a comfortable suck.  It’s the sweetest.

4. We’ve discovered your infatuation / fear of bubbles.  It is hysterical!  You are awed by the soapy bubbles floating through the air, but often terrified as they pop before your eyes, throwing your hands back with a sharp gasp.  It provides endless entertainment.

5. Since you mastered thumb sucking at a mere 6 weeks, I guess it was only a matter of time before you discovered it is also possible to suck your toes.  This is your latest endeavor on the beloved changing table, grabbing your feet and pulling them up to your face, with an occasional  toe meeting lips.  Oh, my flexible daughter!

6. I love your deep, contented sigh.  Sometimes, after a gaze that takes it all in, you exhale this deep breathe and shrug your shoulders a tiny bit.  It’s the most adorable thing.

7. You’ve discovered how to sit up in the bath tub, reaching your little fingers forward to grip the opposite edge of the bathtub, reaching for the little rubber ducky and frog.  It makes mommy a little nervous, but you’re always eager to explore, and I don’t want to stand in your way.

8. Every day you become more aware of your environment.  The lights glowing on the ceiling, the clouds in the sky, a car started behind you.  You look, stare, survey, and gaze at everything, knowingly taking it all in. I wish I knew what you were thinking as your big blue eyes gaze around at this big world we live in.

9. You’re a ticklish little one.  I hold my fingers high above your head and slowly wiggle my fingers creeping closer and closer to you. You usually giggle in anticipation as my fingers come closer and closer, and you definitely burst into a fit of giggles when my fingers meet your skin.  It’s so much fun to play with you.

10. Every night we tell you what we’re thankful for.  You, of course!  We share specifics, thankful for a family member, a good day at work, but usually our thanks are everything to do with sweet, wonderufl you, the latest giggle, a new milestone, we are thankful for you every day.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Dinner Last Night: Dinner Strata

I've decided to escape my spaghetti rut and get back to meal planning.  My husband has been traveling for work, leaving me to play single mom for many weeknights this past month.  I admit, in spite of all my efforts, I did fall into a spaghetti + red sauce, frozen pizza, and pancake of a dinner vortex which I am finally emerging from in need of healthier food, and even better, variety.

A quick scour of the Food Network this weekend merited some promising recipes, even a few from the FN host everyone loves to hate - Rachael Ray.  I've never been a huge Rachael Ray fan.  It bugs me how she refers to olive oil as "EVOO" (i.e. extra virgin olive oil).  Really, does it take THAT long to say that phrase?  (Sigh).  Ultimately, I'm not her biggest fan. I would rather watch Giada, Ina, or even Ree chop, sautĂ©, and flambĂ© any day.  However...the girl does know how to put together an easy weeknight meal - hence my attempt at Dinner Strata.  Always a fan of a breakfast casserole, this strata is essentially a casserole through a dinner lens.  Works for me!

What's your favorite weeknight dinner recipe? I'd love to add to my inventory!


Friday, March 28, 2014

A Day of Snuggles

Today I took a sick day.  My little bug was up most of the night, with what turned out to be a double ear infection. Poor thing.  So today, instead of my usual grind of corralling and attempting to inspire 26 first graders, I spent the day at home, snuggling with my baby.  I'll admit I was tired, I didn't get much shut eye last night either, but somehow that didn't matter.  Cuddling her soft little body against my mine, her tired head heavy against my chest, little hands curling around my fingers in our laps.  Today was a day well spent.  A day where I can't get enough of being a mom, of the sweetness and wonderfulness of my little one.  Snuggling on the couch together, listening to her soft breathing beside me, and coaxing out a few "I'm feeling better" smiles.  These are the days I want to remember.  Days where I wore my yoga pants all day long, my hair is in a messy knot atop my head, not a stitch of make-up has been applied.  Days where the sink is full of dishes, and I'm dining on frozen pizza for dinner, but even in spite of this darn ear infection, everything in my life feels perfect.


Friday, March 21, 2014

Link Love

+ Paul Rudd's lip-sync off feature on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, his rendition of Queen's "Don't Stop Me Now" is PERFECTION, and um, has he aged at ALL since Clueless?!?  Love him!

+ Can't wait to make this cocktail - the Mexican hipster (P.S., love the name!)

+ Bette Midler's "Wing Beneath My Wings" at the Oscars…did anyone else cry like I did?

+ Jimmy Fallon and Jon Hamm photo bomb NYC tourists!

+ Parents lip sync spot-on to the Frozen soundtrack in the car, while their bored daughter in the backseat.  HILARIOUS!

+ The walking on eggshells CHALLENGE!


Wednesday, March 12, 2014


Don't let the overzealous CGI fire swirl of a cover deter you.  This book is pretty gripping!  At a girlfriends dinner a few weeks ago, I realized all of my closest friends had read this book, and peer pressure got the best of me...I downloaded it via kindle that evening to catch up in order to fully participate in the "Divergent dialogue" that I know will ensue at our next gathering.  Yes, we are that cool!

So…Divergent.  It kind of has a futuristic post-apocolyptic Hunger Games world combined with Hogwart's sorting hat and a splash of The Giver for a plot.  Does that help in the slightest?  It's the first in a trilogy, and it's pretty good so far.  And of course, there's already a movie debuting March 21st, I swear Hollywood moves at lightening speed these days, remember when it took years, decades even for a book to become a movie?!

Have you been sucked in yet?


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Life Lately

Hello, out there.  Remember me?  It's been weeks since I've even opened feedly, and my latest glance at my own blog revealed a measly 11 posts this year.  Eleven.  Pathetic, I tell you.  My apologies  to the any loyal readers who are still out there.

While going back to work in January hasn't been consistent smooth sailing, I feel like we've finally fallen into a routine that's comfortable.  Needless to say, with only a few limited hours with my sweet girl, blogging has definitely been the short straw in terms of priorities.  However, I do really want to keep blogging, I love knowing that anecdotes of our life at this exact moment exist.  Words to capture the everyday snippets of our daily routine, the growth and sweet milestones of my daughter's life - so I can one day look back on these with warm nostalgia and remember when.

But between teaching 26 first graders all day long, running errands, making a semi-nutritious and/or healthy dinner, quality time with my husband, and of course playing, giggling, and loving up my daughter…sometimes at the end of the day, a heaping glass of red wine - boxed, of course ;) - and kicking my feet up while I indulge in an episode of Scandal is all I can manage.  And don't get me wrong, this is not a complaint in the slightest, as I sincerely love my life, and everything in it.  But truly, I'm curious, how do you find balance?  Somedays, I feel like I'm a master juggler, all the balls are gloriously floating through the air harmoniously in sync, others, it feels like I'm callously dropping balls left and right.  Is there a secret formula I am missing, or does it just take time and practice?  

What's your secret to balancing everything in your life?


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Let It Go

This made me smile today, have you seen?  
What a great song.  Now, I MUST see this movie!  Have you seen Frozen?

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Dinner Last Night: Vegetarian Chili Verde

This might be my favorite new dinner - Giada's Vegetarian Chili Verde from her latest book, Giada's Feel Good Food.  I've made this chili three times thus far; and concluded it is definitely a go-to recipe for Winter months.  It's a simple, with fresh, colorful ingredients, and the end result has been delicious every time!  A few minor changes I've made: Giada suggests using poblano chiles and fresh tomatillos.  Well…my local Safeway doesn't carry poblano chiles, so I omitted this ingredient.  Second, rather than fresh tomatillos, I opted for 2 cans of whole tomatillos, pulsed for about 15 seconds in the Nutribullet - same desired effect in half the time!   

This past Sunday night, feeling especially ambitious, I decided to make the suggested side of buttermilk-sour cream cornbread.  It was superb!  Now I'm not a cornbread aficionado in the slightest, but my husband is a fiend for the stuff, and he heartily approved.  Of course I adjusted this recipe as well - because really - who EVER has buttermilk on hand?  I imagine only farmers who actually milk their own cows for dairy ever actually keep buttermilk readily available in their fridge!   This has to be one of my least favorite ingredients ever, as I feel it's such a waste to buy a whole carton for the tiniest smidge a recipe calls for!  I didn't have sour cream, so I subbed in plain Greek yogurt instead, and just topped off what I would've included in buttermilk with more Greek yogurt.  To-may-toe, to-ma-to…it worked!

Thank you Giada, once again, for a fresh, healthy dinner that reheats excellent for lunch the next two days.  

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

10 Reasons Why I Love You

{4 months}

1. You have the cutest little dimple just above your elbow.  Finally, you’ve gathered enough fat to create those adorable, pudgy, baby rolls, albeit only in your arms and legs.  I could eat them up!

2. You love touching our faces.  You palm our cheeks, cup our chins (and attempt to bite with gusto), tug at our hair, all the while sharing your sweeter than sweet gummy smile.

3.  You’ve discovered your feet.  On the changing table (which for the record, is still your favorite place IN the world!) you lift your feet up in the air, grabbing them toward your face - usually mid diaper change, and roll back and forth boasting your flexibility with bravado.

4. You are growing so fast - already wearing 9 month, even 12-month clothes and you're only 4 months!  While the clothes hang around your mid-section, your lengthy physique causes the need for the bigger size, you are one long little babe.

5. Your hair is growing in! You have a tuft of long, dark hair atop your head that curls across your forehead in a wisp of straight bangs.  Of course, countering that, is a patchy bald spot centered on the back of your head where your hair has rubbed away from laying on your back.  When your dad and I look back through pictures of you from birth until now, we’re amazed at your full head of hair and how quickly it has grown.

6. You are a giggler!  You love to laugh, giggle, coo, and blow raspberries much to your delight and our own.  We love hearing your sweet chortle, it’s the sweetest music my ears have ever heard.  I could listen to you giggle all day long.

7. You definitely enjoy your naked time.  At the end of the day, just before bath time, we turn up the heat and allow you to indulge in a little naked time, letting you wiggle, roll, kick, and play in the buff.  You love every minute of it!

8. You have grippy little toes, just like mommy.  I've been able to pick up items with my toes since I was young, and I’m predicting you’ll bestow the same talents.  When I kiss your toes, you can grip my lip with a single foot, which makes you giggle as your grip is steadfast.

9. You continue to play with your hair as a self soothing technique.  While eating, you extend your fingers, and palm your face, running your fingers back and forth from your eyebrow, across your forehead, to the nape of your neck, and back. It's the sweetest thing.

10. Sometimes, when you're tired, you'll lay your head gently upon my shoulder, tucked in the nook between my chin and shoulder, and exhale a deep sigh.  I enjoy these quiet little moments of closeness together more than you'll ever know.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Dinner Last Night: Pork Fried Rice

Hey there, remember me?  I used to blog?  Well in case you're wondering why I've been so M.I.A., I went back to work full time on January 6th.  Yep, I'm a working mom, and man, is it tough!  Time has now become my most precious commodity, and I now more than ever, I am determined to make every second count!  Mad props to all you out there who juggle a career, child, and more.  

As such, I've had to sacrifice a few things for the sake of spare time; blogging being one of them.  My home is to crank out a bunch of posts one weekend when I'm feeling energized and relaxed…we'll see. In the meantime, one thing I am excited about is our new plan for advanced meal planning.  I wish I could outline the entire program today, but it's a Wednesday, and I'm utilizing this narrow window between a cat nap, cooking dinner, and a bed time routine to crank out this post.

One of our solutions is finding relatively simple, yet nutritional dinners, including this fab find via Dinner: A Love Story - pork fried rice.  After an internet search of "quick weeknight dinners" this post was near the top of the list.  Initially I thought, "pork fried rice," are you kidding me?  How is that easy?  OMG…it is!  Trader Joe's frozen rice will save your life - I am a convert!  Plus, it reheats well for leftovers.  CHA-CHING!  

More quick and easy dinners + my awesome new meal plan routine to follow.  Stay tuned…

image & recipe/dinneralovestory

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

What Are You Reading?

It's been a while since I've read a book - a real book - that didn't relate to the topics of parenting, breastfeeding, or sleep schedules.  What are you reading these days?  Do tell…  I've love a recommendation or two! 


Friday, January 17, 2014

10 Reasons Why I Love You

I'm falling behind on my posts...

{3 months}
1. You’ve discovered your hands!  While you’ve already been captivated by your thumb, you’ve made the recent discovery of your hands.  You hold one over the other, knitting them together in your grasp as if to say a tiny prayer.   This hand holding alternates pretty steadily with tucking them in your mouth, your whole fist sometimes!

2. You still adore your changing pad, especially around the bewitching hours of 5-6 o’clock.  We place you on there, lock eyes with us, and there’s this spark in your pupils as you begin your kicking, reaching, “flailing” routine, it’s like an above water swim or something.  Both Daddy and I can recognize that spark in your eyes, it’s as if you’re showing off your mad skills.  We look forward to this every night.

3. You’ve begun to grasp at everything!  The toys hanging from your play mat, the tassles on mommy’s hoodie, my hair, and may I say you’ve got quite a grip!  It’s amazing how the world is coming alive to you, things you used to just look at are now becoming objects you can touch and connect with.  It’s amazing to see you grow and interact with your world.

4. Since about 6 or 7 weeks, you’ve been quite the talker, but you save your true personality for mom and dad.  It’s funny, because others will try to cajole a smile out of you, and while you often oblige, it’s as if you’re saving your true colors for us.  Your laugh, giggles, sweet smile, and wiggles, we love to make you smile, it melts our hearts every time.

5. You’ve almost rolled over!  You’re more interested in rolling back to front than front to pack.  Your latest move: lay on your back, arch your back and twist, thus propelling your body on its side.  Just one little elbow tucked underneath stands in your way from a full body roll over.  It’s bound to happen soon!

6. You’re such a happy girl!  You light up whenever your dad comes home.  When we hear the keys turn in the door, and his footsteps in the hall, you look up and around, and reward him with a big gummy smile when he walks in the room. It’s priceless!

7. Your noises have multiplied!  From cries to “cat calls” to chirps and gargles, your range of sounds and vocals has quadrupled.  We love hearing you talk, babble, and communicate with us.

8. You’re a copy cat!  One of your favorite things to mimic is sticking out your tongue!  We stick our tongue out at you, and instantly you’re mesmerized; intently studying and watching, before you try this “trick” yourself.  Another move you enjoy mimicking is when we roll our “R’s” and you gargle back, that and blowing raspberries…you love to copy us blowing your lips together to make us laugh.  

9. Sitting up!  The Bumbo is your new best friend, although it’s a tight squeeze with a cloth diaper on (haha).  You enjoy sitting up on the counter, giving you the best vantage point in town as we make dinner.  

10. You have the cutest way of crossing your feet as you lay on your back.  You rest one foot atop the other, and often switching back and forth as you wiggle and play.  At night, in you snooze in your crib, we can see the two little feet, nestled across each other in the bottom of your sleep sack.  

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

6 Years of Blogging

This blog is 6 years old today.  SIX!  Where has the time gone?!  While my posting frequency has lagged in the last year(s), I still love blogging and hope to continue it indefinitely, even if my posts do become fewer and far between.  Blogging for me began as a hobby, a creative outlet to write, share, ask, and express.  But this blog has evolved into so much more for me, and become a time capsule, preserving moments of my life in time.  Now look back on and reread snippets of my thought process from the most important moments from my life with nostalgia...meeting my husband, falling in love, getting married, my's a gift to read these feelings preserved in time.  

Here's to 6 more years of blogging...and BEYOND!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Quote of the Week

I began to realize how important it was to be an enthusiast in life. If you are interested in something, no matter what it is, go at it full speed ahead. Embrace it with both arms, hug it, love it and above all become passionate about it. Lukewarm is no good. Hot is no good, either. White hot and passionate is the only thing to be.
~ Roald Dahl

*thanks for the inspiring quote Heather!


Thursday, January 2, 2014

Goals for 2014

+ Maintain balance
As I prepare to return to work after four months of maternity leave, what I'm most anxious about is balance.  In the coming year I want to strive to maintain a balance as best I can; loving up my little girl, continuing to date my husband, carve out time to laugh with my friends and family, work hard in my job, and make time for myself.  All of these things are important, and I know it will take some time to learn how to juggle everything successfully.

+ Explore and discover
I am constantly amazed and awed as I see my daughter soak up the world around her. Seeing the world through her bright eyes, everything is fresh, wonderous  and gloriously new and interesting.  I want to adopt this way of thinking for myself as well.  2014 is our year to see everything anew; the waterfall at the park, the crackling leaves of a tree, the frost in the window.  I want to see and do more, and delight in seeing familiar people, places, and things through her eyes.

+ Meal planning
Going hand in hand with juggling, my husband and I are attempting a new method of meal planning to streamline our food budget, fridge stock, and overall sanity, inspired by this post.  I'm excited for this new approach, and committed to making it a success...I'll keep you posted! 

+ Be active
With two bridesmaid stints ahead in 2014, I gotta get my butt back in gear and start the year off right!  Whether that be a good old fashioned run outside or a stroller walk on a clear day, I'm looking forward to getting my body back to pre-baby shape.

+ Unplug, write letters, call friends
There used to be a handful of friends I'd frequently chat on the phone with, and lately that number has dwindled.  While we still keep in touch via text or email, I miss the sound of a friend's laugh through the airwaves or the smile inspired by the sight of a friend's familiar handwriting on an envelope when picking up my mail.  While I've always been a card-sender for birthdays and such, this year I aspire to write more letters, call more friends, and unplug just a bit more.  When I look back at my life I want to remember being present in every moment.  Snapshots of me checking my phone, scrolling a feed, or perusing Facebook is not a memory I want to have of myself.  Here's to unplugging more in 2014.

What are your goals for the New Year?

Cloth Diapering: How It's Going

You may remember way back when, my husband and I were considering doing cloth diapering. Well...we bit the bullet and jumped on the cloth diaper bandwagon, and I figured it was high time to report back on how it's going! Since our daughter's birth, we've been doing cloth diapers almost exclusively, and with great success! Our current stash is a hodgepode of cloth diapers.  Some I registered for on Amazon, others I picked up via zulily deals, and many I bought on consignment through local moms groups and craigslist, and finally the rest I purchased new.

For the first month to 6 weeks, we exclusively diapered using size 1 cotton prefolds, held on with a Snappi, underneath Thirsties Duo Wrap waterproof covers.  At this point, she was starting to outgrow size 1 prefold diapers, so we began using size 2 prefolds with the same waterproof covers, and started using some AIO (all in one) diapers. For you cloth diaper newbies, AIOs are basically a diaper cover that's fleece lined that you stuff with an insert (which resembles a cotton maxi pad).  These are designed to wick away the moisture from the baby, so when she pees, the wetness goes through the fleece layer, and soaks the cotton insert, keeping the baby feeling dry.  Then, you can reuse the cover if the baby just pees (just restuffing it with a new insert),  and if they poop,  you have to wash the whole thing.  

At about 6 weeks, we began adding in the following diapers - a combination of AIO’s (all-in-ones), waterproof covers, and cloth inserts.
- 4 Lotus Bumz diapers with inserts
- 1 Little Monsters cloth diapers
- 2 Flip diapers covers with inserts

My favorites so far are BumGenius 4.0 and GroVia diapers.  I enjoy GroVia’s, (though the most expensive of our lot) because they have a convenient snap-in system, inserts snap into place, and can be easily removed and replaced. These diapers are extremely absorbent and suitable for nighttime wear.  BumGenius 4.0 I also really like, the fleece lining is soft, and wicks moisture away easily, keeping baby happy and dry.  We've had several wet leaks with the few Lotus Bumz and Little Monsters diapers we have, so those are always the last ones I use before doing laundry.  To date, we’ve had zero blow outs.  Zero!  And I'm told that's something to be proud of! There’s something to be said about a diaper cover, it holds all the mess in!

Once she has dirtied a diaper, we place said diaper in a waterproof wet bag.  These wetbags are our brilliant, by far my favorite kind! They zip closed and contain not only the messy diaper, but the smell as well!  Luckily, we haven’t had any problems with diaper odors infiltrating her nursery.  Once the wet bag is full of dirty diapers, it’s time to do laundry!  We keep 2-3 wetbags on hand (one extra is intended for day care), and alternate, so when one is being laundered, there are typically 1-2 others to contain any new dirty diapers.

Many people are discouraged from this form of cloth diapering due to the fact that you must launder the diapers yourselves. And while I’m only about 3 months in, I can say, it’s really not that bad.  Honestly!  We do laundry roughly every other day, sometimes every 3 days.  At this stage, she’s exclusively breastfeeding, and breastfed poo is more liquidy to begin with.  Translation, it washes off fairly easily.  We had been washing her diapers in our utility sink in our basement, where we pre-wash the diapers, rinsing off any solids, before a hot rinse in the washing machine, followed by a wash cycle using this cloth diaper detergent (cloth diaper detergents are recommended to preserve the life of the diapers and prevent any detergent residue build up).

For the skeptics, I'm here to tell you it can work. Will you spend more money upfront? Yes. Will you do more laundry? Yes. But is it worth it? In my opinion, a thousand times yes. We have bought maybe 5 packages of disposable diapers in 3 months. And at $9.99 - $24.99 a pop, those boxes aren't cheap! We still use disposables when traveling, to avoid doing laundry on the road, but I'm sure if you were really committed you could easily continue the cloth habit while on the move. So while our investment into cloth diapering was up front, I'm confident we will save hundreds, even thousands of dollars as our daughter grows, and ideally be able to use the diapers again when we decide to have more kids.

I'm a big advocate of this system, and believe it can work for your family, with a little research, preparation, and the stamina to follow through. If you have any queries, I'd be happy to answer questions or provide any insight from my own experience; email me at lovelylittlethingsblog {at} gmail {dot} com.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Traveling with Kids

After a successful three flights over the Christmas holiday with a 3-month old, and an inspiring boost of confidence from this video, I have a new hope and enthusiasm about the prospect of traveling the world with our kid(s) someday...
Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Goals Recap

Blog more.
Well I can't say I really accomplished this since my posts per year has steadily decreased since I began blogging in 2008 (blogger fail!).  However, I have been a tad busier this year with our newest addition :)

Save more.
I can honestly say I have saved more (yay!).  I've made a conscious effort to transfer out funds from each paycheck into various accounts that are slowly growing. 

Take more pictures.
Absolutely!  Of course, having a baby is also a huge picture-taking motivator!

Eat out less and eat more vegetables.
Yes - while we do love our takeout, together my husband and I have made a more conscious effort to plan and cook dinner, and full intend to continue this with more commitment into 2014.  

Watch less TV.
Well, yes and no.  I definitely watched more TV during the last few months of my pregnancy; as I was more tired, uncomfortable, and less mobile.  However, since Riley has been born, I find myself watching MUCH less TV, it just isn't a priority anymore, and happily, I don't miss it at all.  We do still have a handful of shows that we watch on Hulu, but otherwise, our TV intake is significantly down. Huge victory!

Worry less.
Well... I think I did better, but I don't think I'll ever be able to "not worry," and that's just life. :)  

Stay tuned for goals/resolutions for 2014...


Monday, December 30, 2013

Quote of the Week

"Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance and order and rhythm and harmony."

~ Thomas Merton


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