New York City is at its best right now. Let’s face it, summer in the city is sweltering. Winter is an endless bone-chilling, slushy mess. But oh does NYC know how to do fall and spring. For a few short weeks the city is magic. This past Saturday, temperatures rose just high enough for us to leave our coats at home.
Light sweater weather is where it’s at! We headed straight to Central Park for a picture perfect fall day – cool, crisp air; all the trees in amazing shades of gold, orange, and red; that irresistible crunch under our feet. Gus played in the leaves, practiced walking (He’s finally walking! Yay!), and tried to shove every acorn in his mouth. A day like this can make me forget all about that foul-smelling, un-airconditioned subway ride in August and the icy puddle I will inevitably step in soon. A day like this and all’s forgiven.
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Happy Halloween! Here’s Gus dressed as Gus Gus, the mouse from Cinderella. I decided to make his costume this year and I think it turned out pretty cute. The shirt is a little wonky, but I’m proud of those ears! Gus is seconds away from pulling them off and smearing his whiskers. Thankfully I got a few pictures before it’s destroyed. Putting a costume on a 1 year old ain’t easy! Hope you all have a fun and safe Halloween!
Every year around this time, I want nothing more than to join in on all the warm, fuzzy, fall activities that fill my Instagram feed – leaf peeping, apple picking, corn mazes, anything involving apple cider doughnuts… and every year I’m met with a roll of the eye and the suggestion that we go get a pumpkin ale at a neighborhood bar instead. But not this year. No sir. This year I had the Gus card to play, which trumps all other cards with its love, guilt, and hope for providing an idyllic childhood wrapped up in it. Yep, this year we piled in the car and headed to Long Island to pick pumpkins straight from the vine, Gus dressed in mustard cords to be color coordinated with the pumpkins – go big or go home, right? We went to Elwood Pumpkin Farm in Huntington, NY and had the best time. We went on a hay ride. Gus crawled around the patch and picked out pumpkins and gourds to bring home. He rode in a wheelbarrow. All my fall dreams came true.
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In early August, Jolian had a week off from work and it just so happened to coincide with Gus’s first birthday, so we packed it up and headed north to cooler temperatures to celebrate our little bubba. This summer was a hot one and sometimes you just can’t take the smell of steamy trash for one more day! We rented a house for the week in the tiny, picturesque village of Grafton, Vermont.
The house was beautiful, but turned out to be not so baby friendly. There was a white rug, a white couch, glass objects, marble lamps, antique furniture – all things I should realize scream “DON’T BRING YOUR BABY HERE!,” but at the time of booking, they just screamed “PRETTY!” Needless to say, we were Gus’s shadow for the week, catching trucks in midair before they were banged on the 100 year old farm table. Lesson learned. Made me think of this quote! (via Cup of Jo)
The town itself couldn’t have been more lovely with its beautiful old houses, inn, tavern, pond, cheese factory, covered bridges… we’re talking serious charm here. We’d driven through it on our way home from Woodstock, VT last winter, but it was covered in a blanket of snow at the time. I was so happy to see it was just as pretty in the summer. I posted some pictures from our trip below if you’re interested. Warning: I didn’t hold back. Hope you’ve got some time to spare!
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There’s something so satisfying about getting Gus to eat. For the most part, he’s a good eater. We went through a period where he spit everything out, but thankfully that stage has ended. Now, he’ll eat a lot some days and others he won’t eat a thing. But the food I can always count on for success is a good ole’ avocado (this recipe is also a sure thing). He loves to squeeze it between his fingers, rub it in his hair, ears, on his clothes, but a good amount of it is happily gobbled down, which makes me feel like I’m doing my job. And as a bonus, half an avocado is left over for me to smash on toast with a little sprinkle of salt and crushed red pepper flakes. So good. Needless to say, I buy a lot of avocados these days and I buy them to be eaten immediately. I do not have the patience to let an avocado ripen on my counter for days. In the past, I’ve had some trouble. An avocado would feel perfect to me in the store, but then I’d get home and cut into it and it was overripe. Well, no more! I recently learned a new trick. First press the skin of the avocado and find one that feels ripe. Then remove the little stem. If it’s green underneath, it’s still good. If it’s brown, it’s past its prime. Easy as that. Now I buy perfectly ripe avocados every single time.
Lately, I’ve been spending a lot of time looking for an apartment to buy – only half seriously. The market in Brooklyn is kind of insane so it might not be the best time, but I have this panicked feeling that if we don’t buy now we’ll be priced out forever. Overall, it’s been pretty depressing seeing what we can afford – I use the word afford very loosely. The other week, I’d finally found a place that could work, was reasonably priced, and in a great location. We went to the open house and someone offered cash while we were there. Whomp. Whomp.
The whole process can make a person go a little nuts. You lose the ability for rational thought in your desperate attempt to find some place… any place. You start thinking, maybe I could survive with a kitchenette. I could carry a stroller up five flights of stairs every day. Closets are really overrated. Last week I was trying to sell Jolian on a tiny, rundown townhouse next to the Gowanus Canal, which mind you is a Superfund site, and wait, it gets better, floods. I think I used the phrase, “It’s a steal!” when telling him the price that would be considered a ridiculous amount most places.
Whenever I feel myself start to lose it and need a break from my search, I like to play the game, “Where would we live if money weren’t an issue?” I slide that little bar over until it reads “any price” and I immediately feel my spirits lift. There are some amazing properties in this city for deep pockets! My favorite right now is this triplex penthouse in DUMBO’s Clock Tower building. Isn’t it so bizarre, but awesome? And it can be yours for the measly asking price of 18 million dollars. It’s a steal!
The thing I miss most about life before baby is going out to dinner. It used to be such a big part of our life and one of the benefits of living in New York, where you are surrounded by some of the best restaurants in the country. We still do it occasionally, but it’s not the same. It’s hard to really enjoy a meal when we’re eating at 5 PM, not quite hungry yet but trying to beat the crowd, all the dishes crowded onto a narrow strip of the table out of the baby’s reach, playing peekaboo with the napkin while quickly shoveling food into our mouths to try to finish the meal before the first scream. Most of the time it’s just not worth it. We did recently discover a trick that I’m a little ashamed to admit. French fries. Order a side of fries and they will keep Gus happy and occupied the entire meal. Isn’t that awful? How did I go from making all of his food myself using only organic produce to giving him french fries so I can enjoy another glass of wine?! Eh, at least I made it a year… almost a year. I feel bad for future Blevins babies. I foresee orange Fanta in their bottles.
I really miss eating at Rucola, a Northern Italian restaurant located in Boerum Hill. I’ve mentioned Rucola here, here, and here. We used to go all the time, but haven’t been in ages – no fries on the menu! Everything is good. The arugula salad, the pastas, the pie… oh, that pie from Four & Twenty Blackbirds. But the other day I was craving their roasted carrot salad and saw these little carrots at the farmer’s market, so I decided to try to recreate it. I tossed the carrots in a little olive oil, salt and pepper and cooked them in a 400 degree oven until they were caramelized and tender. I love most roasted vegetables (lately I’ve been hooked on roasted sugar snap peas – so good) but you really can’t beat a roasted carrot. I laid them on top of a bed of lentils that had been cooked with onion and garlic and a splash of champagne vinegar at the end. That splash is so key. Don’t skip the splash. Use champagne vinegar, red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar – it doesn’t matter – whatever you have on hand. Ina taught me this step and it really makes a huge difference. I then crumbled goat cheese on top, which adds a tangy-ness (Is that a word? Spell check thinks not. You know what I mean) and sprinkled on a little chopped dill. Delicious and simple. It’s the type of light meal that leaves you feeling good, but full and satisfied. It would be better if was followed by a piece of strawberry balsamic pie, but we can’t have everything. This guy is worth the sacrifice.
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Another baby, another tied quilt! I swear I have more friends pregnant right now than not. I love it. Yay for more babies!
I made this quilt for a friend’s little girl born last month. I used fabric designed by Eliza of if she sleeps… that’s sold on Spoonflower. If you’ve never checked out Spoonflower, you should. It’s pretty cool. You can upload your own design or pick from the millions designed by other people. You can then have it printed on your choice of 10 different types of fabric, wallpaper (it’s removable, great for renters!), gift wrap, or decals. I had these 3 navy and white designs printed on cotton voile, which is really thin and extremely soft. Perfect for a baby growing up in the Texas heat. For the edge of the quilt, rather than using ric rac or pom pom trim like I did for my previous tied quilts, I used a double fold binding method. It takes a little more time, but is easy enough and looks really nice. There is a great tutorial here. I’m happy with the way it turned out. Hopefully it will make tummy time for that sweet gal a little less painful!
PS) If you like Eliza’s designs, check out her new company Hopewell Workshop. Right now she’s selling gorgeous quilts and napkins.
I’ve been meaning to share these pictures with you for a few weeks now. I almost didn’t write this post at all because I’d waited so long, but I’m averaging one post every two months these days, so I figured I couldn’t waste it. Plus, while a little selfish, one of my favorite parts of having this blog is being able to go back and relive events in my life, and this is one I don’t want to forget. So please forgive me as I use this space as my own personal scrapbook. I swear I’m going to get it together and start blogging regularly again… about things that interest more people than just my relatives. Will somebody please come over and teach this baby to nap?
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I’m a fan of any good furniture makeover, but an IKEA hack really gets me excited. I love that the original pieces are affordable and accessible for anyone who wants to recreate the project. Jenny’s built-ins made from Billy bookcases are probably my all-time favorite IKEA hack, but this linen covered Rast dresser is a close second. So creative and inspiring, right? This week I attempted my own.
When we were in IKEA buying Gus a crib to use while we’re in Providence, I spotted the Lätt children’s table and chairs for $19.99. I figured there had to be something I could do to it to make it a little cuter, and if I failed, it was only $19.99!
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