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!

8.02.2013

friday foto(s): old fashioned banana layer cake + a party hat.

Thanks for all of your thoughtful comments on Mari's 2nd birthday party. Over the weekend, I did some very light lifting, helping my bestie with her daughter's first birthday party, and we both agree that with every party, we forget just how much work they are. Do not let the photos fool you - in between dusting the house yellow, there were multiple breakdowns for both Mari and me. We're thankful for Eddie and his grounding. And ability to re-set the entire house with a joke, some snackies or a quick walk around the block.

Now, onto some exciting and yummy stuff. The oh-so-talented and super sweet Stevie of Shop Sweet Lulu posted some photos with Mari's birthday cake and party hat today, over on the blog.
Topped with mini taper candles from Shop Sweet Lulu, we served up The Barefoot Contessa's Old Fashioned Banana Cake in a layer cake, by doubling the recipe (both the cake and icing). This is one banana cake we've tried before and loved, and the only thing I alter is that I go easy on the orange zest, which is just a personal preference.
To make the layers, let the cake cool completely (for hours or even overnight), remove carefully from pans, and then slice horizontally to make four even discs. You can always shave off some uneven cake if you need to; the frosting is the glue that will cover everything up. I baked the cakes one day in advance, and frosted (with little two-year-old fingers helping) the morning of her party.
Complimenting the cake was Mari's party hat, which was a quick DIY project, using Shop Sweet Lulu's party hats, which were recycled from last year's birthday party. Supplies used included a glue gun (always!), tulle (nearly always!) and the number "2," which I printed out in one of my favorite fonts and cut using some good, sharp scissors. I reflected it in Illustrator so that the trim lines would not be visible after cutting (does that even make sense? I hope so...). Double-sided tape adhered the number to the hat.
By the way, for the bunting on the cake, I used the same reflect, print, cut and tape method on some pre-cut kraft paper triangles I found at Jo-Ann, saving me some time. I used wooden skewers and Shop Sweet Lulu's oyster gray divine twine to bring it all together.

You can head on over to Stevie's post to see a few more photos of the birthday goodness.

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