Ikea Lätt Children’s Table & Chairs Hack

by Leslie on April 12, 2013

ikea latt hackI’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!

CONTINUE ON TO SEE HOW I DID IT…

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Gus at 8 Months

by Leslie on April 3, 2013

IMG_0081Did I tell you we’re living in Providence? Just for the next couple months while Jolian works on a job here. Initially I was a little apprehensive about packing up our life and moving into a temporary apartment in a new city with a baby, but I have to say, so far it’s been great. Providence is a really cute city and it’s only an hour drive to Boston, Newport, and Cape Cod in each direction, so you can’t beat the location. Our apartment is about as charming as you would imagine corporate housing being, but what it lacks in charm, it makes up for in space (it’s twice the size of our Brooklyn apartment) and natural light. That light has made it so easy to take a good picture. I haven’t been able to stop. Here are some of my favorites. Beware, there are a lot. I lose the ability to edit down when it comes to photos of Gus!

CONTINUE ON FOR MORE PICTURES

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Kale Salad with Spicy Peanut Dressing

by Leslie on March 25, 2013

kale salad Let me start off by saying, I’m a terrible dieter and probably the least qualified person to give tips on healthy eating. As well documented on this blog, I eat out all the time and when I cook, I have a penchant for recipes that call for a quart of heavy cream. I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I haven’t been to the gym in so long that I’ve completely forgotten my locker combination, which I’ve happily made my new excuse as to why I can’t go. All that said, at the moment, I’m on a health kick. A kale/cucumber/celery/lemon/parsley juice every morning health kick. If that doesn’t scream short term diet, I don’t know what does. So bear with me, I’ll be back stuffing something with nutella before you know it.

All this started when I began making baby food. I found myself really inspired. Not by all the food, mind you. Pureeing meats had me gagging and seriously considering becoming a vegetarian. But the fruits and vegetables, tasting how flavorful they can be when simply steamed and pureed was sort of eye opening. I never cook anything without lots of olive oil, butter, salt, pepper, sugar, etc. Who knew they didn’t need it?! Especially if you combine the right flavors. Last night I fed Gus a mixture of butternut squash, carrots, apples and prunes (I stole this combo from Ella’s Kitchen) and it was de-lish. It’s inspired me to try to cook simpler, with cleaner flavors.

Also, planning Gus’s menu for the day, trying to put together a balanced diet, has made me reevaluate my own diet. I would estimate my daily intake this winter has been something like 60% carb/40% dairy. It’s a real wonder why I’m always so tired and my skin has turned a dull, pale, grayish hue.

spicy peanut dressingSo with this new found desire for healthy living, I’ve been on the hunt for simple, nutritious recipes. In a recent newsletter from the ladies behind Of a Kind, one of them provided a link to a recipe for a kale salad with spicy peanut dressing, saying she couldn’t stop eating it. She also mentioned that she’d used the leftover dressing to make pad thai. A kale salad that tastes like pad thai? Sold. I made the salad that night and have made it once a week since. It tastes ridiculously good, completely satisfying, and it’s good for you… lots of kale, no oil, the only fat coming from the peanut butter and peanuts – but that’s good fat, right? I used an all-natural-no-sugar-added peanut butter from Whole Foods, so there.

The salad only takes a few minutes to whip up. The original recipe calls for you to blanch the kale leaves, but if you use baby kale like I did, you can bypass this step. I added chicken, which was delicious, but not necessary. The only effort comes from mixing the dressing, which you can do in your blender or food processor. The first time I made it, I didn’t have either of those with me, so I mixed it by hand and that worked too. The recipe makes more dressing than you’ll need – trust me, you’ll be thankful – and it keeps for up to 6 weeks in the refrigerator. So far I’ve used the extra as dipping sauce for chicken sate and on the well-loved dish, my finger. Both delightful.

With recipes like this one, I’m hoping I’ll be able to stay on this health kick longer than I have in the past. Now, if only I could remember that lock combination…

kale salad with peanut dressing

CONTINUE ON FOR THE RECIPE…

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CITRUS LANE

by Leslie on March 13, 2013

IMG_9940We got so many great gifts when Gus was born, but one that really stood out was a subscription to Citrus Lane. We received an email that we’d been given this present with a link to redeem it, where we entered Gus’s date of birth. Then, for the next 3 months a box arrived in the mail filled with age appropriate toys, books, and products. I could see how a service like this could easily end up being a bunch of stuff you don’t need or particularly want, but our experience with Citrus Lane was exactly the opposite. The toys and books have consistently been the ones that Gus has favored, like the book, Spring is Here, pictured above and below. The products are always perfectly timed. A week before we started feeding him solids, we received a box that included Ella’s Kitchen pears. Our last box contained baby toothpaste, just in time for those teeth that are about to break through. Boxes have included other fun items like chewbeads, a lavender and cardamom lip balm for me, and an imprint baby keepsake, something I probably never would’ve gotten around to doing in those first few months of non-stop feeding/changing/crying if it hadn’t been given to me, but that chubby little hand imprint is now one of my prized possessions. All the products are favorites picked by actual moms. As a first time mom it’s been so nice to be introduced to these new brands. Plus, how fun is it to get a care package every month?! We loved it and look forward to giving a subscription to friends in the future. Each month is $25. You can check out all the details here.

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MIXING FLORALS AND STRIPES

by Leslie on March 7, 2013

Get ready folks, as soon as this snow stops and spring weather arrives, I’m going to wear this trend to death. I love it so much. See below for more ways to mix florals and stripes, my new favorite look.

floralandstripes(Above photo from Omoeros)

CLICK HERE TO SHOP THIS LOOK

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Pure Maple Candy Hearts

by Leslie on February 12, 2013

maple candy heartWhen we got back from our trip to Vermont, Jolian suggested I read First Person Rural. It’s a book of essays on Vermont life by New Yorker turned Vermont farmer and Dartmouth professor, Noel Perrin. The subjects range from fence posts to raising sheep to churning butter, but the chapter that really caught my attention was the one describing how to make maple candy. We’d eaten some on our trip, so the flavor was fresh in my memory and I loved the idea of making my own. They’re seriously good. They have an intense maple flavor and practically melt in your mouth. I thought they might make a fun alternative to traditional Valentine’s candy this year.

HERE’S HOW TO MAKE THEM…

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Woodstock, Vermont

by Leslie on January 24, 2013

IMG_9696I began dreaming of one day visiting Vermont sometime around 1987 when I first saw the movie Baby Boom. Why a seven year old living in Texas would become obsessed with a film about a workaholic New Yorker who gives up the “rat race” to move to rural Vermont to make gourmet baby food, I’m not sure. It does help explain why I missed out on a whole slew of 80′s childhood classics like Goonies though. Luckily my husband shares my love of the Green Mountain State, and with good reason. He grew up there. A slightly more solid reason than Diane Keaton and episodes of Newhart, but whatever. While neither of us are quite ready to follow J.C. Wiatt’s lead and pack it in, buy a Wagoneer, and head north for good, we did agree a short trip to Vermont last week sounded perfect.

I’ve only been to Vermont a few times. Once during high school to look at colleges, and then again with Jolian to visit his hometown of Montpelier and to go camping in Brattleboro. For this trip though, I did my research, and by research I mean googling “cutest towns in Vermont.” Everyone seemed to agree Woodstock, VT was where it’s at. There’s a river and a brook running through town, beautiful architecture dating back to the 1800s, a covered bridge, a good number of restaurants and shops in town, skiing nearby, and one of the prettiest inns I’ve ever stayed at. Words like charming and quaint don’t even begin to do it justice. To top it off, Christmas decorations were still up around town. Wreaths and garland hung on every window and door, twinkly lights on everything, including the covered bridge. I’m a sucker for twinkly lights. It was a great little trip. Check out my pictures below. I threw in some of Gus because I couldn’t help myself.

CLICK HERE TO SEE MORE PICTURES

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Happy Holidays!

by Leslie on December 23, 2012

IMG_9321Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

(Our Christmas card pictured above from Pinhole Press)

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Spice Bag Gift Topper

by Leslie on December 21, 2012

spice sack gift topperOne of the things I love most about having a pot of spiced apple cider simmering on the stove or gingerbread baking in the oven is the way it makes my apartment smell. When those warm spices fill the air I immediately feel cozy and full of holiday spirit. For all the times I don’t feel like baking, but want to enjoy that smell, I’ve got an easy cheat. If you put some spices in a small pot of simmering water, it’ll make your house smell just as good. I made these gift toppers to let my friends and family in on this trick. I filled small spice bags with a cinnamon stick, a vanilla bean, allspice berries, and cloves (you can use any combination of spices you have on hand as long as they’re whole), added a snowflake stamp to the bag, and attached them to my Christmas presents with a little tag to let them know what to do. If nothing else, I’ll definitely win the award for best smelling gifts this year!

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Stamped Wrapping Paper

by Leslie on December 20, 2012

Stamped wrapping paperThis is a really easy way to make your Christmas presents extra special this year. Instead of buying wrapping paper, consider making your own. All you need is an inexpensive roll of kraft paper, a stamp and some ink pads. In only a few minutes you’ll have your own personalized gift wrap. It makes really cute tags and bags as well. Get stamping!

(Stamp and stamp pads from Paper Source. Black and gold glitter twine from Knot & Bow)

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