12.20.2013

friday foto: sisters.

Just one more post before this week is up! I'm pinching myself over this photo, and it's too sweet not to share.
Polka dots. Sisters. Love.

For more Friday Fotos, start here

12.19.2013

from the mailbox.

Before we dive into Christmas week - it's almost here! - I wanted to share with you our Christmas cards that were made possible with some pretty photos, shot by Jenna Beth Photography, of course!
Taken back in October in our friend's courtyard, Jenna brought to life Mari's twinkle and smile, and captured some precious pregnant moments for our family. A longtime family friend, Jenna has been shooting us for a few years now, and like last year's card and the card before it, these cards were one of my favorite projects that I look forward to all year long.
Totally inspired by the photography, I went with one of Mari's best shots - oh, the excitement over rocks - and played with navy, white and raspberry. I paired the cards with my favorite Paper Source envelopes, in night.

I wish everyone a wonderful holiday, and look forward to starting the new year, newly inspired by our own Jenna, with lots more to share and lots more to write.

Merry Christmas, sweet friends, near and far.

12.16.2013

hello, world.

This is Jenna Corinne.
Our second daughter arrived last Sunday, and I've spent the last week marveling over life, the sweetness of newborns and the adaptability of big sisters. All over very little sleep, of course!

Jenna looks a lot like Mari in the very early days, but their labors could not have been more different. This time, which I hear is common with the second, was indeed much easier for me. Jenna was also a fantastic labor partner - with 9lbs., 1 oz. behind her, she helped get herself out.

I've felt so much love in the last week, from family and friends, near and far. To open up our refrigerator and see it stocked with food and love nearly brings me to tears. To introduce Jenna to her cousins and dear friends for the first time ever does the same. Feeding her by the twinkle of the Christmas lights warms my heart in ways I just cannot put into words.
And then there is Mari. Who, in one week, has grown up so much that I get choked up just thinking about it - a mix of beaming pride, love and wanting to stop time all at once. She's just amazing and is the sweetest big sister you can imagine.

I wish everyone could experience a newborn at Christmastime. There is something so magical about this new life, and to get to cherish it by the glow and warmth of the Christmas tree, the arms of loved ones and the true spirit of the season is one of my life's three greatest gifts.
{photo by Bella Baby Photography}

12.06.2013

friday foto: christmas spirit.

We're still hanging on over here - just a few more days to go before my due date - and with each passing day, I'm finding more and more Christmas joy to share with Mari. Even when you think you've got no steam left, Christmas and kids have a way of lifting you up and filling you with a second wind, and so much love.
Last weekend, we got to work around the house - the advent calendar was filled, nativity scene was placed, stockings and wreaths went up and the goodness of fresh Christmas tree filled the house. It may have taken us about four days to get it decorated, but we did it and to share it with Mari, who this year, was basically in charge of the whole production, made everything so magical.

Before we did all that, we made a gingerbread house - our first in this house - and someday, when I'm not nearly 10 months pregnant, I'll do this all from scratch. In the meantime, an $8 kit from Target was all we needed to kick off the first weekend of December.

I didn't think it'd be easy, but I remember gingerbread house decorating being way easier than this. It's probably because I had a wonderful mother who did everything from scratch so everything would be just right.

But, even with finicky frosting and heavy gingerbread that really didn't stand a chance, Mari and I ate a lot of sugar and had so much fun. While it practically fell apart the next day, Mari is so proud of it and we're going to keep it around as long as it lasts. Which probably isn't much longer, but like Christmas, it's about the memories we created, along with lots of gum drops and peppermint, that will always make us smile. Oh, to watch her fall in love with gumdrops! There just isn't much better in life.

Hope you find something holly and jolly to make your weekend extra special. Manhattan Beach Christmas Fireworks, perhaps?

And, I'll surely keep you posted on the baby front. Follow me on Instagram for insta-updates!

For more Friday Fotos, see last week's post.

11.22.2013

friday foto: enjoying the view.

In our house, "higher, higher" directly translates into "let's swing!"
Taken with my iPhone, this is from an overcast walk last Saturday morning, where we found ourselves on the big kid swings, with the ocean and dolphins right in front of us. Except that my back was to the water, because my perfect view was just swinging away.

For more Friday Fotos, see last week's post.

11.21.2013

DIY: nautical striped envelope liners.

This was such a fun project! There are lots of ways to line envelopes - or at least to get your envelope liners cut, and I could not have done this without one of my favorite designers and calligraphers, Bianca of Little Miss Press. When we exchanged notes and realized I had access to a Cricut machine (thanks to Whitney), the process was super simple; she sent me a die-cut, Whitney imported it to her machine and started cutting away.
So, really, I had nothing to do with cutting the liners. I researched some options with Paper Source - both liners and templates - and was all set to use their system, until I found this paper on Zazzle, of all places!

Once Whitney got everything cut, I got to work with my favorite glue (another recommendation that is all thanks to Bianca - what would I do without her?).

Here's all you need to line envelopes on a clean, flat surface:
+ Yes! paste
+ small sponge (cut a scrap from the kitchen) or sponge brush
+ a small paper or disposable bowl, plus a few dabs of water
+ nice to have on-hand: a paper towel or two

Step one: stuff liners in envelopes and fold at the crease.
Step two: in a small disposable bowl, mix a little paste (a lot goes a long way!) with a few drips of water to thin. And get that sponge ready!
Step three: with the sponge, brush a thin stroke of glue along the top edges of the liner, adhere to the envelope and then firmly close the envelope with your very clean hands (as if you were sealing the envelope). This is where a paper towel comes in handy if your hands are a bit sticky. 
Step four: set aside for hours (or a day!) to dry completely.
There are a handful of companies out there who can make cuts for you, or who make liners, just like Paper Source and if you don't have access to a Cricut, do some research to find the process that will work best for you.

If you're doing a big project - say, 100+ wedding invitations - I recommend having paper custom cut by a company like Paper and More. I used them to cut liners for my rectangle-flapped wedding invitations, and then did DIY lining at home, using the above process.

11.15.2013

friday foto: sneak peak.

Someone has a big girl bed! Here's a little peak at what we've been up to lately.
And I'm officially in love with Mari's room, all over again.

Many more details and photos to come, after we add a headboard, which is coming from my parent's house and was actually the one I had growing up. Plus, a very special custom-made quilt will be added soon, from my most favorite Etsy seller, Jayna from Rocky Top Design.

Mari's going to share her sweet room with baby no. 2, so we're working on the big girl bed transition now. We are experimenting with bed rails, and I'll share some thoughts on that, too. Her gender-neutral light blue room and orange-themed crib will stay the same for the next kid, which in hindsight makes it really easy when you're waiting on a little surprise.

For more Friday Fotos, see last week's post.

11.13.2013

nautical-themed baby shower invitations.

Last month, I took on a few design projects for some of my close friends, and this nautical-inspired baby shower invitation is something I'm so proud of. I think it might be my most favorite project and product to date. It was a tri-collaboration with some very creative gals that gave me a blank slate with which to work. As a nod to the guest of honor's nursery that she's designing, I went to town in navy and pink.
When you're making something special for someone you really love, you've got some ingredients for a really meaningful project. I could not be more thrilled for my friend Andrea who's expecting a baby girl early next year. If you like these invitations, you would have swooned over her shower. Her party planning committee did an amazing job.
With a combination of pinks color matched from Paper Source's color palette, we paired the invitations with envelopes from Paper Source, which I lined with navy-and-white striped paper.

Those liners were a labor of love and my favorite piece of the whole ensemble. They were a group effort, made possible by my brilliant friend, designer and hand-letter artist Bianca and sister-in-law Whitney. More on that to come, including a DIY!

Quick details / sources
+ fonts: Bebas Neue, League Script Thin and Novecento Condensed Ultralight
+ color swatches: Blossom, Fuscia and Night
+ printer: Manhattan Repro printed the 5x7 cards on 110# white paper
+ envelopes: Paper Source, in blossom

11.08.2013

friday foto: two-for-one.

I had big plans to share this photo last Friday, but my entire body crashed after such a fun Halloween. And by fun, I mean super fun and super exhausting for my almost 36-week pregnant self. But, like last year, we took some photos on our deck, and before I could snap a few myself, Mari had taken control of an old, old camera and got behind the lens herself.
She is so funny, in how she imitates what I do when I photograph, and it is one of my favorite things. As are photos of Mari and her daddy, just like last year.
The three of us polar bears put on our caps from Etsy seller Knit Like the Dickens and Mari got another DIY puffy tulle tutu, this time with white sparkle tulle that made for a really full and shiny skirt, especially when caught in between Halloween twinkle lights.

Onto November! Happy weekend, all.

For more Friday Fotos, start here.

10.25.2013

friday foto: from the pumpkin patch.

Lately, I feel really productive if I can get just one photo up each week. In this case, it's one of my recent favorites of Miss Mari, making her way through the pumpkins at Tanaka Farms.
I can't get enough of her little ponytail.

Oh, and quick tip: if you do make it to the Tanaka Farms pumpkin patch, pick up a few loaves of pumpkin bread. It's made by a local bakery and is so worth it. And though I'm not a huge pumpkin-flavor-fan, I look forward to it every year.

Speaking of, we've got more pumpkin plans this weekend in our fun little town, and the Halloween costumes are ready. Last night's dress rehearsal went over really well, and let me just say that white glitter tulle makes for a fabulous, poofy tutu.

Happy fall.

For more Friday Fotos, see last week's post

10.18.2013

friday foto: october sunset.

If you've never been to Southern California in October, it's magical. Locals know that this is when the living really gets good, and while the days are still warm (and I know we're all craving soups and boots, but it's hard to complain, isn't it?), the nights are clear and cool. It's my favorite time of year here.
While it took him a few shots to get it just right, Eddie was determined to capture my bump against Thursday's most perfect sunset. It required the panaormic setting. 

Here's Mari at 116 weeks and baby no. 2 at 32 weeks. 

Happy weekend.

For more Friday Fotos, see last week's post.

10.17.2013

some fun fall ideas.

I have been going back through the archives to find some fall inspiration for our home, and stumbled on a few things that you might find inspiring, too.
Some new, some old(er), but worthy of a quick round-up before Halloween sneaks up on us.

+ inspiring navy and peach palette at home
+ comfort cooking: chicken noodle soup and white bean chicken chili
+ for your sweet tooth: pumpkin bread pudding and my all-time favorite: sliced apples with caramel cream cheese dip
+ decor: white pumpkins and simple DIY wreaths
+ halloween party planning inspiration and sweets buffet
+ pumpkin tagging
+ for your little one: DIY tutu for her halloween costume (I'm making Mari's this weekend and here's how last year's lady bug turned out)

How is your fall coming along? We've got another fair and a pumpkin patch on the books in the next week! I just love this season.

10.11.2013

friday foto: go daddy, go!

When I look at photos from just one year ago, time is quickly put in perspective.
Manhattan Beach officially rang in fall last weekend, amidst some of the highest temperatures we've had in months, and to keep up with tradition, Eddie ran the Manhattan Beach 10K. We cheered him on along the route, and are so proud of him.

We made not one but two stops at the Hometown Fair, and instead of just picking at snow cones like she did last year, Mari ate one all on her own. She tossed wiffle balls for gold fish and chowed down on a brat. She loved the petting zoo and ponies, but from afar (we're working up to riding one!). We ran into friends, all over town, and were reminded how much we love this place and are so grateful to live here.

Next up in the fall category is pumpkin patch'ing at our favorite farm. Which, we're very ready for since we've been reading this book all year long, counting down to October. It's one of our favorites.

By the way, thank you for your kind notes on my home office! My new friend and fabulous photographer Siri Berting posted about it yesterday, and I hope you'll hop over to her beautiful blog to check it out.

And, finally, I have to give one last big shout out to our no. 1 birthday boy: Carson! Happy second birthday to Mari's best friend on Earth. We can't wait to celebrate you all weekend long!

Happy fall, all!

For more Friday Fotos, see last week's post.

10.10.2013

sources: my home office.

If it weren't for Siri and her pretty photos, I may have never posted about my home office. I'm so thankful I got to share this space with you, which is usually where I blog from, too, so now you have a visual.
Here is a quick sources list for what you see. Some things are still around, some aren't. Some were bought the day before the shoot out of styling desperation (ah hem, the bulletin board - see more below).

+ desk: bases from Target (Coastline line no longer avail.); custom-built and stained top by my dad
+ chrome task lamp: Ikea 
+ bulletin board: Aaron Bros., to it I added a big criss-cross of white grosgrain ribbon
+ pencil holder: Target, no longer avail.
+ charging station: Pottery Barn
+ wall pockets: Ballard Designs
+ awesome turquoise and crab desktop wallpaper on my Mac: Alma Loveland for Nicole's Classes
+ chair and pillow: from our kitchen Crate & Barrel kitchen table (like this one); pillow was handmade by my mom with some of my favorite fabric

And Mari's little shoes you see pictured, from Target, were really leftover from a quick mid-day hug and kiss that we opted to leave on display for the photos. She is, by far, the best thing about working from home.

10.08.2013

reveal: my home office.

This post is a treat for me. Last month, South Bay Magazine featured Eddie and I in a feature on working from home. Before we did the interview, my warning was that my home office life resembles a bit of a college dorm, with my desk within arms reach from our bed. But writer Katrina Zawojski was game, and was so fun to get to know, as was photographer Siri Berting, who was kind enough to share her photos with me.

For those who have been reading for a couple of years now, you may recall that this desk started off in Mari's room. Let me say this now for any of you out there considering an office/nursery combo: once your baby starts to actually sleep in her own room, she takes over. There is no hope of making an office work in her space, if you want her to actually sleep. Which you do. You really, really do.
As I transitioned to working from home this year, so did the rest of our house. The desk moved into our bedroom, and Eddie, for whom this desk was originally made (thanks, Dad!) was relegated to the kitchen table. We make it work in our tiny beach house, and we're thankful every day for this life that gives us so much time together. While there are days when I miss my office mates, I have never looked back - as long as I carve out some time for some fresh air during the days work.
Because my office is in our bedroom, I try to live as a minimalist and keep it as simple as possible. Flowers also help. Everything. Later this week, I'll have a list of sources for what you see above.

And, just for fun, here are a few family outtakes from the shoot.
Thanks to Siri's magical eye, our home looks so very shiny and bright. She was so wonderful to work with, and we've started a great friendship that I look forward to growing.

While her commercial work is so impressive, she does do family portraits and it's just about that time of year, so if you're in the market for a family photographer, you must go check out Siri's work and her blog. She's taking appointments now for holiday photos, and will also offer her gorgeous black & white portrait project in November.

10.04.2013

friday foto: a first.

We took Mari down to the Redondo Beach Pier last weekend for the first time, and had a blast. From the fish to the birds to the ocean, shops and arcade, she was on sensory overload.
And then Eddie introduced her to skee ball. Why throw the ball from the floor when you can walk right up, check things out and then toss the ball in?

Way back when I lived by myself, Eddie and I enjoyed date nights at the pier, most times for our favorite happy hour (or one of them, at least). I remember going to Kincaid's on New Year's Eve when I was just barely three months pregnant with Mari, and I remember going there when I was very pregnant, just before she was born. Our visit last weekend was the first since she made our little family complete.

Noshing on clam chowder soup, crab cakes and sweet potato fries over lunch - complete with spills, stains and crumbs - it reminded me how much life has changed. And how I love every single messy second of it (though it would have been nice to down a mimosa... just saying.).

Happy weekend.

For more Friday Fotos, start here

10.01.2013

all tied up: not so much.

Hi, friends. Talk about some radio silence over here, huh? I know we're all busy, so I won't dwell on it, but this space has been on my heart lately, so I figured I'd open the door a bit.

I'm so happy October is here, for so many reasons. There's so much to look forward to this month, and in between measuring Mari for her polar bear skirt, I am just trying so hard to capture life and savor it in my mind and heart. Which means being present and not always capturing it on my camera, though in retrospect, it would be amazing to have saved a snapshot of those little moments, wouldn't it?
We've been busy over here in between some business travel and prepping for this wonderful season ahead, and by season, I mean: getting things in order for baby #2. I've got my Christmas list in my bag at all times, along with fabric samples from Mari's sweet room, plus my favorite notebook that tries desperately to keep it all together.

On my mind right now is Mari, and making sure that everyday she feels that I'm not slowing down even though I feel that I am. So, we're making the most of the minutes when we can. And, sometimes that means watching her favorite TV character on the couch together (by the way: for better or worse, it's not Mickey or Curious George. It's Phoebe. Phoebe Buffay. I think it's her fun hairstyles and guitar-playing that draws her in). And as much as I don't love that we sit and watch TV, sometimes it's as much as either of us can do, and that's okay with me.

While I figure out this new balance in the third trimester (hooray: it's here!), I am very happy to report that I've been having fun working on some side paper projects for friends, and have big plans to share them with you, including a DIY on envelope lining that is way overdue. I promised this way back when I shared our wedding invitations, and I've finally got some step-by-step photos that are blog-decent to show you my process and share a cute nautical-themed stationery suite for a very special friend.

So, I've got some good stuff to come and hope you'll join me. When I'm not active in this space that I love so much, I do manage to snap a few photos here and there for my Instagram, which you can follow, here.

9.20.2013

friday foto: falling into fall.

I'm so excited it's finally Fall. I picked up these fun pencils at the dollar spot at Target a couple of weeks ago, and they make me so happy. Pencils are one of my favorite signs of the season.
I'm also spotting piles of pumpkins and apples at the market, and I'm so ready in mind and spirit, though you would never know if you walked into our home. While I'm in the mood for comforting casseroles and soups, it still feels and looks a lot like summer around here. Turning the oven up doesn't feel quite right just yet. 

I hope that wherever you are, you are enjoying each day, in whatever season strikes you. This transitional month of September is one of my favorites, and last night, I was reminded to slow down and not wish it away so soon. 

Our neighbor brought home her baby boy yesterday, and when I looked this new beautiful mom in the eyes, it hit me that my pregnancy will come and go before I know it. I have been trying to speed time up - maybe it's because I feel more tired these days, or maybe it's because I forgot that pregnancy isn't a walk in the park - but when I saw my friend, taking on her new life that's changing by the minute, it literally took my breath away. I'm so happy for our new parental friends and I'm thankful that they've helped me remember to take each day one step at a time even when it feels like a race. 

Congratulations to two of Mari's very favorite people (and one very special dog) on Earth!

For more Friday Fotos, start here.

9.17.2013

five questions with: bella beach's kris d'errico.

Well, hello there. Life is just zooming along. Totally whizzing me by. Eddie recommended that I put up a Friday Foto last week since my posting fell off the blogosphere - which of course never happened - but I do appreciate that someone out there is looking out for my cyber well-being. Even if he is my roommate.

If you're joining me this week, thank you for bearing with the drought. I'm happy to say that I'm back with a big one today: an official "five questions with" interview with Kris D'Errico of Bella Beach and Bella Beach Kids in Manhattan Beach.
If you're a local, there's no doubt you've been into her carefully curated stores. Over the last few years, we've gotten to know and become good friends with Kris and her husband, business partner and Manhattan Beach City Councilman Tony D'Errico. They are two very busy and inspiring people, and we just love spending time with them.

When I'm stuck searching for a sweet baby gift or a little addition to my home, there's no doubt I can find what I didn't even know I was looking for at Bella Beach or Bella Beach Kids. A longtime Lilly Pulitzer devotee, Kris' shop is the only one around who carries signature Lilly fashions and products, and this weekend, she's helping sponsor Lunch with Lilly, a fundraiser to benefit the Palos Verdes Art Center.
Over lunch at Bella Beach's next door neighbor Simmzy's, we talked about her Lilly love, how she started her small, booming business with her husband and her favorite way to spend a free night. Let's dive in.

one: how did it all start?
Manhattan Beach is a part of my DNA. I grew up here, and my first jobs included working at local boutiques, including Cotton Cargo, Dolly Rocker and 3rd Gallery, which inspired my dream of owning my own store. When the economy changed five years ago, coveted space was becoming available in downtown Manhattan Beach, so we took the plunge and opened Bella Beach. Shortly after, one of the town's children's stores closed, so I saw an opportunity to open a kids component. When the space next to us became available, I decided to open up an entire kids store, and it was like having twins! And jumping feet first into this business that has been a wonderful ride ever since.

two: what's it like running a business with your husband [a very busy husband who is a local political figure]?
We work really well together. We each bring different skill sets to the business side of our relationship, both personally and professionally. He runs the day-to-day business operations and I'm the creative, running all customer-facing operations. Together, it gives us shared goals and helps make our personal relationship stronger and more dynamic. While we live, eat and breath our stores and Manhattan Beach and we don't rest, we feel really fortunate and blessed to work with each other, and are excited about being able to share it.

three: what's the best and worst part of owning your own beautiful shop?
The best part is building customer relationships and being part of this community. And, a lot of the things we sell are by local designers, so we truly preach and practice buy and shop local. I also love being surrounded by really beautiful things. But it's like working in an ice cream shop - you can't eat all the ice cream!
The worst thing is that running a business is on your mind 24/7 and it's hard to disconnect. Sometimes we have to physically leave the city to get a little freedom and really enjoy a day off.

four: we're seeing some lovely new things for the fall... tell us more.
This year, for women, we're seeing lots of different styles with metallics and lightweight sweaters with feminine embellishments. Burgundy is the hot hue, from everything to leather dresses, to lace and silks. It's a really gorgeous fall palette.

For little girls, tunic and legging sets are taken to the next level with ruffles and other special touches. Tutu dresses continue to trend, and with the birth of the royal baby, there's been a real shift towards classic dressing for babies and kids. Today, parents have more choices than ever to dress their kids.

five: we know you love to cook - what's your favorite thing to make for friends and what are some of your favorite restaurants in town?
Tony is Italian, and we have a love for all things Italian - our stores are named Bella Beach for good reason! Tony and I love to cook together, and our favorite thing to make is homemade pasta or pizza on the grill. Tony's specialty is his Aunt Antoinette's eggplant and is usually everyone's request. And, when we cook and eat at home, we love to enjoy good red Italian wine or anything from our friend's Los Olivos winery, Demetria.

In town, we love to dine locally. Our favorites include Simmzy's, MB Post, The Strand House, Café Pierre and Petros.

Thank you, Kris for the good conversation and for your little space of shopping bliss in MB. 
By the way: our love affair with Bella Beach really started when I was pregnant with Mari and was agonizing over strollers. Such a big decision that I was not taking lightly. It turns out that Bella Beach Kids exclusively sells UPPABaby strollers, and they happen to be experts in every thing UPPA. Not only did they put our beautiful stroller together for us, they spent hours with me talking about safety, options for expanding when we have more kids and more. It's customer service done so right, and we're of course going back for more so we can add onto our beautiful Vista later this year. It's worth a stop-in for the stroller knowledge alone if you're expecting. They are experts.

8.30.2013

friday foto: beaching it.

We have finally had some clear, sunny skies at our beach. I'm not complaining, but we've had a gray summer. So, when the weather has been as gorgeous as it has been in the last few days, evenings on the sand are in order.
This is a quick snap from my Instagram, and next week, I'll share more favorites from the month of August, and a few from July since I seem to have overlooked that entire month.

One of my sweet friends asked if that's a cell phone in Miss Mari's pocket, and while it's not really a cell phone, it's her pretend phone. It's actually a small, skinny magnet that happens to be one of her most prized possessions from Eddie's dad that comes with us most places we go. Like her mom, she likes to travel lightly and tucks it in her pockets as often as she can.

Wherever you are this long weekend, I hope you find your beach, crash on your version of the sand and enjoy it.

PS: shirt from Target; gifted jeggings, courtesy of Auntie Whit, from The Children's Place.

For more Friday Fotos, start here.

8.28.2013

contained.

The nesting rolls on, friends. I've been working on a few spaces for weeks now, cleaning, purging and getting organized. The latest happy place is Mari's room, which we updated with a kid-sized table, her chalkboard easel and some toy storage bins. And, over the weekend, I got started on a multi-day project; organizing our crafting/wrapping/media/etc. closet. It got me thinking that the reason why I am making progress, albeit slowly, is that I've found the right containers that work for our space(s).

After more than 15 years of re-purposing containers bought at the Container Store when I shipped off to college, I invested in a few new purchases, and paired with some of my tried-and-true favorites.

Here's what I'm loving.
one // The Container Store's jumbo utility cart is exactly what I needed to organize my crafts and wrapping materials. It rolls easily, so I can move it from room-to-room, and I'm no longer lugging multiple totes and crates of ribbon, tags, tape, etc. that have been poorly organized for way too long. I actually got two carts; one is exclusively for wrapping, which holds my tags and twine, ribbon, bags and boxes and tissue paper (btw: I keep my wrapping paper in an old Container Store trash can, like this one, that I have loved for years).  The second utility cart houses everything else crafty, like my overflowing rubber stamp collection, punches and all types of glues and guns.

two // The Container Store's Stockholm storage collection is clean and simple. Stackable white paper trays and boxes make a good home for easy access to things like printer paper, cardstock, letterhead and labels.  Also: everything in the Stockholm collection is on sale. Now.

three and four // My favorite office supplies come from Russell + Hazel (have been a mini binder devotee for years), and Container Store sells their notepads, which fit perfectly in magnetic mesh bins that slap right onto the frig. Genius.

five // For Mari's room, we hmm'd and haw'd over toy storage. Turns out we are in love with Land of Nod's polka dotted storage collection that's sturdy, but soft and matches nicely in white with the rest of her room.

six // Isn't it great when you find something that you can use for new things? This cute drawer organizer, meant for delicates, is the perfect narrow shoebox for my collection of stationery and envelopes. Favorite purchase of the group.

seven // This storage collection is the workhorse. I dumped my old, warped plastic boxes and updated with Container Store's Smart Store System. Different sizes are customizable with smaller white dividers. Perfect for keepsakes, reserve office supplies and extra crafting materials.

I hope to share some photos of Mari's room soon, plus our crafting closet once it's done. Next up is our garage (yikes) and smaller spaces, like our medicines and first aid supplies.

8.20.2013

nesting, for my current kid.

I hope you don't think I'm crazy, but I've started thinking all things Fall, especially the holidays. I just settled on Mari's halloween costume and have the first piece ordered (a DIY tulle ballet skirt will be involved!) and actually just purchased my first Christmas presents last week. I'm sure there are moms out there who have all of their holiday shopping done, btw. I don't think I'm unique, but this is certainly unique for me!

I think it's because this baby is coming in December, and I remember how hard it was to really enjoy the holidays when I was newly pregnant with Mari. I am determined to be merry, and I'm hoping that getting some tasks out of the way early will help. I think it's also easier to bend over gifts, wrapping paper, tape and bows at seven months than it is at nine, no?

My brain is so scattered these days. Let's go back to the halloween topic.
The costume catalogs are coming, and because Mari is most fond of ballet skirts and simple dress up versus the big, oversized costumes that look uncomfortable even for adults, we're going to make this really simple. She got her choice of knit animal hats on Etsy - it was a hard decision between an owl, lobster, fish, chicken and polar bear - but, in honor of her recent love affair at Sea World, she's going polar. I asked her about 10 times over two days, and she was certain: "polar."

My plan is to pair this cute, knitted hat by Chelsy at Knit Like the Dickens with a shiny white and sparkle-y homemade tulle skirt over a white long-sleeved leotard/shirt/whatever we can find. Tights will be optional, as will some white fluffy mittens if I can find them. Perhaps some black face paint would be acceptable by Miss M for a little bear nose. Game time decision.

If you're thinking about costumes and stumped, take a look at what Etsy has to offer - lots of good quality and creativity to help get your gears going (and so affordable!). And if you're up for making a skirt - which makes every costume better, in my opinion - I've got DIY instructions from Mari's first halloween costume up. If you have any questions, please drop me a line!

Now if Eddie and I could get our act together and get our costumes settled on before Oct. 30...

8.16.2013

friday foto: perfect produce.

Just when I think I don't know what we're having for dinner, I remember that we seem to always be with the most beautiful, organic produce thanks to our CSA subscription. I was chatting with friends over email this week about how this simple box has transformed what we put down on our dinner table every night (that we cook!).

There was a time when I was not enjoying cooking, thanks to the joys of the first trimester, when I doubted the box. Now that I'm back in the kitchen, summer reminds me that this is such a gift to our family, and finding ways to cook with what you have is more satisfying than ever.
I haven't been doing much photography in the last week, so I'm stealing an Instagram from last month, and those beautiful ears of corn are straight from Tanaka Farms. The basil is clipped from our little herb garden. Summer bliss, I tell you.

On the Insta note, I totally failed to post some photos from the month of July, so I'll do a combined July/August special at the end of the month. Until then, you can follow along at @alisonsalcedo.

Happy weekend!

For more Friday Fotos, see last week's post

8.15.2013

for baby: the little and not-so-little things.

Let's talk baby, shall we? I forgot about how much fun it is to be pregnant when you have other pregnant friends around you, even if someone is struck with morning/all-day sickness. It really is nice to talk about the baby topic with good friends and share thoughts over some decaffeinated or non-alcoholic beverages.

When expecting moms ask me what made our parental life easier and what were some of our best purchases, a few things - big and little - come to mind. I also always say that more than half the battle is finding what works for you and your family's lifestyle, because we are all so different. Personally, we favor walking over driving; we spend a lot of time outdoors for long periods of time; we are social, but we also really like to sleep.

While I shared some must-haves in the early, early months, I've gained some motherly wisdom in the last two years, and for us, here's what has helped make life work good.
one // UPPABaby Vista Stroller // I'm thankful for this workhorse every single day, and have never wanted for anything different or even smaller. The bassinet option is such a luxury in the early months, especially for travel, and we're looking forward to adding the PiggyBack for Mari when No. 2 arrives. 

two // Mini Nike Backpack // The hours spent pouring over diaper bags boils down to this: a little backpack is really all we need day-to-day. This small Nike bag is big enough to carry wipes, dipes, sunscreen and our purse-like essentials. I do have a lovely big bag (this one, in fact, but in navy) that I use for extended trips, but as for everyday, I could not live without a little tote like this one (note: ours is an older version of this 2013 style).

three // OXO Wipes Dispenser // Necessary? For me. I have battles with the disposable wipes boxes that claim to be dispensers, but for me, they never work. We started with a Prince Lionheart wipes warmer that broke, and what I found was that I kept it around, just for its dispenser. This OXO product - like most everything they make - makes me so, so happy with every single wipe. And there are lots.

four // Miracle Blanket // It was a miracle for Mari, and we'll be trying it again with the next babe. So many friends recommended this to us, and we are so grateful. We even borrowed a pair from some dear friends for nearly all of Mari's swaddling life.

five // Ergobaby // This was Eddie's pick, after trying it on versus the Baby Bjorn. The Ergo felt better to him, and I'm so happy it did because it might be my most favorite of all favorites. Baby carrying is just plain awesome when you find one that feels good on your body.

six // Go Clean Travel Bag // For wet diapers and swimsuits, which seem to always be in our bag, this little handy sack keeps everything else in tow nice and dry.

seven // Stokke Tripp Trapp // You may know my feelings about eating at the dinner table. This beautiful chair supports everything we believe in, literally and figuratively. It slides right up, and from day one, Mari was eating with us, at our table. She's grown with it and it just gets better with age. Like her!

eight // Bum Book // This is the only repeat from a previous list, but it's worth it. This book was key to helping us understand Mari's rhythms in the early days. For months, we tracked her every move and I treasure her little bum books and am thankful I will have them to reference the second time around.

And there you have it. These products have been with us for the long haul. They are tried and true, and in the end, make me really happy because for us, they make good sense and that's so comforting when you have another one on the way. It makes for a few less things to keep me up in the wee hours of the morning.

If you're baby shopping and want more testimonial-type info. on any of these products, drop me a line or leave a comment. I'd love to talk baby with you!

8.09.2013

friday foto: big girl.

We took a quick trip down to San Diego last weekend to introduce Mari to Sea World, and it was a crazy fun time. Amazing how her little brain works, and to watch her take in everything. She's been a big fan of our little aquarium in Manhattan Beach, so this trip was especially meaningful.
What I loved about Sea World is that it combines learning and play. We spent time in the kids zone on our way in and out to blow off some steam, which made stopping, staring and listening to the animals very breezy. Mari's favorites included the dolphins, penguins and alligator fish.

If you're planning at trip to the park, the best online deal was at SeaWorld.com, where they are offering $15 off adult tickets. Kids three and under are free. There are lots of deals through other sites for park packs, if you will be visiting others, like the zoo and Wild Animal Park.

For more Friday Fotos, see last week's post

8.06.2013

ikea DIY: chalkboard + magnetic easel.

Hello, August. I'm looking forward to what you have to offer. Things like... taking advantage of summer peaches before it's too late, making sure to make more popsicles, all things back-to-school and the kickoff of football season. I'm also anxious to take advantage of this second trimester and do some major DIY / home projects.

Speaking of, I was able to piece together an IKEA hack job for Mari's birthday, with the help of my handy dad. While Eddie was traveling in the weeks leading up to the big day, my dad helped me transform an IKEA favorite, the Mala Easel, to a brighter, more personalized piece for Mari's room.
This is a simple DIY. Since everything IKEA comes disassembled, it's ready for you to tape up and paint. On the opposite side, I covered the whiteboard that comes with the easel with a piece of cut-to-size galvanized magnetic steel for Mari to have some magnetic fun (and take the burden off of our refrigerator (read: bonus for me)).
All you need:
+ white spray paint (I like a white satin or semi-gloss)
+ painter's tape and newspaper to cover what you don't want painted
+ piece of galvanized magnetic steel, which you can find at your local Lowe's or Home Depot (you may have to cut it on your own, so make sure you have the right kind of snips as recommended by the sales people)
+ heavy duty velcro tape
+ contact paper of your choice (see notes below)
+ for the finishing touches: lots of chalk and magnets

After we taped off and sprayed the easel, I let it dry for a couple of days to really harden before doing anything else.

Onto the tray: To get a two-toned look that blends well with Mari's room, I left the tray in natural wood, but covered up the bright red paint that lines it with sticky white contact paper. I covered the white paper with a removable piece of clear plastic ribbed shelf liner, which has been amazing. Whenever it's looking a bit too chalky, I take it out, wipe it clean with a sponge and it's brand new. This discovery came from a conversation with another friendly shopper while in major indecision mode at Target.
For the magnetic board, make sure you test the piece of steel with a magnet before you walk out of the store and find out how best to cut it. If you don't own some sharp snippers, find out what you may need to buy. Once we measured and cut down to fit exactly (it took several tries of perfectionism), we wiped down the board with a damp paper towel to break it in, and used sticky velcro tape to adhere it to the easel. I love velcro tape almost as much as I love painter's tape.

By the way, I know there is such thing as magnetic spray paint. After reading lots of online reviews, I opted for the real steel deal which is said to have a much stronger magnetic charge than any kind of paint. If you have ever used magnetic spray paint, I'd love to hear about it, so do tell in the comments!
Weeks later, Mari is still loving the new, creative addition to her room, and so am I. I do most of the drawing and she does most of the chalk arranging in the tray. She's very busy and likes to make sure the chalk is happy in its new home.

A note on painting while pregnant: you need a helping hand. Not even a mask will do with the harsh chemicals of spray paint, in my opinion. That's when your dad who subs in for your traveling husband comes in really handy. Thanks, dad!