9.30.2011

mom milestone: road trip with mari.

Let me start by saying this: I did not think it was possible to get a little R&R with a baby. The thought of getting away after much list-making, packing and preparation had me exhausted before the road trip began.
What was I thinking? All you need is a little room service, some pool time and the people you love and you've got the best vacation ever (a smooth glass of red to get your wine palate back doesn't hurt, either).

Over the weekend, we took a mini-vacation in Carlsbad, just to the north of one of our favorite California cities and Mari got her first taste of resort living, and I think she loved it. I know I did, and I didn't realize how badly I needed a break from the day-to-day. A change of scenery, some major indulging and sun screen, even if just for a few days, can really do the trick.

We're inching our way towards travel-by-air. But, when it comes to the road, we've had some practice runs to my parent's house, and we seem to have a good system. Here's what's working for us (noting that, since we had our car, we over packed - because we could!):

On Packing
+ Mari's clothes, A+A blankets and burp cloths (one for each day) got their own medium-sized duffel bag with two big side pockets, each stuffed with a few of her favorite toys.
+ She was gifted the best personalized travel bag, which you may not think is necessary, until you realize you need to pack things like the bulb syringe, Aquaphor, thermometer, baby acetaminophen... and hairbrush, of course.
+ Supplies: diapers, wipes, the pump (and parts) and backup milk (in small insulated bag) got dumped into a giant L.L. Bean Extra Large Boat Tote.
+ On the pump parts: I keep all of mine in a loaf pan-sized plastic container everyday, so when we packed up to go, I snapped the lid on and was rolling.
+ Extras that made it into the boat tote: Gentle Giraffe, two medium-weight blankets (to spread on hotel bed linens for play time) and the Boppy, which lightly rested on top of the giant bag.

On Sleeping
+ If I didn't love my stroller enough, I really do now. Mari still fits in her Vista bassinet (but not for long!), which was the perfect little home for nap time and nighttime. (If you are considering stroller options and want to chat, drop me a line!).

On Hotels
+ On our mini-vacation, I was thankful for two things; (1) a large, outdoor property with beautiful grounds, which allowed for long walks and pool time; and (2) great food/bev options making room service very glamorous - and good!
+ I'm a little OCD on keeping things sanitary. Wiping down hotel room surfaces when we checked in gave me some peace of mind.

Mom Vets: I'm learning as I go, so let's hear your travel tips.

New moms: looking for some advice about travel with babe? Scour Rookie Moms' articles on the subject. Good, helpful stuff.

9.28.2011

oh, hello.

I'm still here, for the record. I got caught up in the glee of our first family mini-vacation and a baby shower for a dear friend, but I'm back and catching up on some much-missed reading and writing.
I've got sunflowers, a fab lobster salad recipe and a few bits about traveling with baby (in the car, we're not talking planes yet) coming up, so please come on back!

9.21.2011

fall.

I happily recognize that we Southern Californians get to enjoy Summer well into October. As the days pass so very quickly with Miss Mari, I nearly forgot that my favorite season is upon us. Life without watching the calendar is liberating, but it flies by at a rapid pace, and before you know it, September is coming to a close.

This month flew by exceptionally fast, and it was extraordinarily special as I celebrated my first birthday as a mother. As years pass, birthday parties usually get a bit smaller, and you realize that the most important people in your life are indeed your family (and yes, my best girls included in that family), and there is nothing more special than blowing out candles, with daughter in hand and husband at my side, with family singing.

Birthdays are special, and so is this beautiful season. My birthday ushers in so many things that I love about Fall, and a little list will help me get in the mood, and remind me to slow down. This is one season I like to sip and enjoy.
+ school supply shopping
+ baking
+ college football
+ cozy candelit evenings
+ soup and chili for dinner
+ warm, seasonal drinks from CBTL
+ decorating with pumpkins and accessorizing the house
+ scarves and boots
+ honoring national yoga month
+ funnel cakes at the Hometown Fair
+ canning
+ Christmas list making and tag prepping

And, in the 'now I have a kid'-category, I'm looking forward to so many things, like Halloween, her first Thanksgiving and Christmas and all the fun in the in between. But I don't mean to wish the days away. If I could stop time with little Mari in my arms at approx. 11 pounds, 4 ounces, I just might.

9.19.2011

tray chic.

I'm a bit tray-obsessed. This isn't a phase, this is an all-the-time thing. When I was visiting my parents, my mom broke out her latest tray purchase; a $6.95 find at Pier1, which she lined with a plastic woven placemat for some added chic-ness.
Voila. Such a nice little touch for house guests, and at $6.95 a pop, you can spring for a couple.

...which got me window shopping for trays, and I saved my favorites over at Pinterest. Hop on over for pics, prices and links.

9.14.2011

the ultimate kitchen.

This is long, long overdue, but how about a look at one of the most beautiful kitchens you'll ever see? It's rustic farmhouse meets classic traditional. It's warm and inviting, and it's my parent's.

Drastically different from the kitchen we grew up in, their kitchen is all grown up. It's the kind you dream about, and it was designed by them and constructed with their own two hands (ok, and with lots of help from lots of experts). It was a labor of love, nearly 30 years in the making, so everything is customized perfectly for them.
It's got all the bells and whistles of today's most functional kitchen; hidden storage everywhere; built-in vertical racks for those oddly shaped essentials, like giant cutting boards and cookie sheets; a wine frig; custom drawers for knives and spices; a warming drawer; cabinet-faced appliances; and loads more. It's the perfect combination of function and style.

Mari and I got to spend some time at their house last week (btw: sleeping with your daughter in your old room = surreal!), and I finally got to snap what I love most about it.

Wrought iron chandelier and a vaulted, whitewashed red cedar wood-planked ceiling.

Hardware.

Function.

The island and those bar stools.

Custom buffet with hutch.

Pretty details.

Awesome, right? Someday.

9.09.2011

good-for-you cookies.

I have never been a Real Housewives fan. Gasp. Hope I'm not offending anyone. But, now I'm at least a fan of one housewife.

Remember when I mentioned that new baby = food from thoughtful friends and family? Yet another neighbor showered us in Mari's first week of life with delicious vegan chocolate-y banana-y cookies. I have been craving them ever since and scoured the internet to find them, and turns out Bethenny Frankel is behind these little nuggets of healthy goodness.
They're super easy and chewy, which is what I like best about them. And, in these post-partum days, I'm all for a healthier cookie. Also, without any egg, you can indulge in as much batter as you want. My kind of cookie.

Vegan Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
adapted from Bethenny Frankel's original recipe
Yield: 2 dozen+ small cookies

1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup raw organic sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/4 cup oat flour*
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large overripe bananas**
1 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, mix together the oil, sugar, vanilla, oat flour, baking soda and salt.

In a separate small bowl, peel and mash bananas using a pastry cutter or potato masher. Add the mashed bananas to the large bowl mixture, stir to mix and fold in the chocolate chips (and then taste the batter - YUM! (no raw egg!)).

Spoon batter into teaspoon-sized balls onto cookie sheets (a melon baller or small ice cream scoop does a nice job for this) and bake for 15 minutes until cookies are golden brown.
*If you cannot find oat flour, or prefer not to buy it, I learned that you can make your own by using old fashioned rolled oats (not instant or quick cooking) and your favorite electric blender. We used the Cuisinart, added a few cups of oats and blended until they turned into a fine powder. And that, says the world wide web, is oat flour.
**Freeze your bananas when they start to turn and try this if you love baking with bananas.

PS: The banana and chocolate combo is so good, but next time, I'm thinking I will go not-so-Vegan and add peanut butter chips. Can you imagine that banana + peanut butter goodness?

PSS: You may notice that this kitchen does not look a whole lot like my kitchen. It belongs to my mom, and next week, I'll have a peak at her dream kitchen!

9.07.2011

first month must haves.

Hardly an expert on anything parental, but feeling more grounded each day, I have taken note of a few must-have items for the first month with a new little person. Besides the obvious, here's what I was so thankful to have during month one.

Aden + Anais Swaddle Blankets: Ah, swaddling. I recently told my girlfriend that if I could trade more diaper changing for less swaddling, I would. But, now that we're to the eight week mark (!), it's not as hard as it was, and I'm more and more thankful for the number of a+a swaddle blankets we have on tap. We use them for everything; we roll them up to support Mari's head for those things that are still a little big for her (e.g. car seat, the swing and most everything); we use more blanket rolls help keep her feel snug in her bassinet - one on each side of her body; and we drape the gauzy wonders over the stroller and car seat when the sun's shining.

Aden + Anais Burpy Bibs: It really doesn't matter what kind, but I've fallen in love with these burp cloths because they're easy to drape over your shoulder and never fall off. They're substantial in size, last through several spit ups and are easy to spot around the house when we're scrambling for clean up. Plus, it's more gauzy goodness that's soft on Mari's skin.

Aden + Anais Wash Cloths: Ditto on the wash cloths. We use them all the time, in and out of the bath.

Baby nail clippers: I was terrified to break out the nail clippers, and yes, I've already drawn blood (sorry, Mari!), but we needed these almost immediately after coming home from the hospital (the nail file I planned to use didn't work on new, fresh and thin baby nails). Nail clippers seem to be sold as part of a first aid kit, and we've also already used the thermometer (twice), and like this handy case that keeps everything organized.

Lansinoh Soothies Gel Pads: For breastfeeding moms, these are a first week must. The pads last about four days, and provide such soothing relief when you need it most in the early stages of breastfeeding. Tip: leave them in the frig to chill for extra, extra feel-good relief.

Hand sanitizer: Is this obvious to you? Because it wasn't so obvious to me. I'm all about the sanitizer, but this was a brilliant idea to me (from genius mom and bestie Staci): get a pump for your changing table and you can be as fresh and clean as your little one. Stat.

New (and not-so-new moms): what else is on your first month essential list?

9.01.2011

get your white in.

Is it September already? If nothing else but for my lack of clothing options (that fit!), I'm thankful that the Southern California summer lasts well into October. Must wear skinny white maternity jeans a few more times!
Somehow I don't think the rule of white applies to cute baby ballerina shoes. Mari's first babyBLOCHs will be in season all year long. As long as her tiny feet fit.

Happy Labor Day weekend, all!

PS MB locals: you can get your baby some BLOCHs here.