Archives for category: How To

Last night we hosted a little dinner party. I made this simple centerpiece that was inexpensive and super festive. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A table runner
  • White or red bouquet of flowers
  • Small votive holders & small glass vases
  • Tealight candles
  • Fresh pine tree clippings

The whole spread cost less that $10 dollars. I went to our neighborhood hardware store and asked if they had any Christmas tree clippings lying around, they pointed me in the direction of a huge bin and offered me as much as I wanted for free! I can’t wait to get a bunch next year and make wreaths and garland for our mantle!

Begin by laying down your runner. This gives you a good guide as well as keeps any sap from dripping on your table. Next arrange the stems in an even layer on the runner, adding enough so to not leave any gaps. I had a pair of clippers on hand to trim some branches off and keep it straight.

After that arrange your flowers into a few separate vases. I bought one bouquet from Trader Joe’s and divided it up into the three. I like the look a smaller simpler arrangements rather than huge gaudy elaborate ones. Nestle the flowers along with the candles around the greenery.

Images: sammyw

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Paige is going to be 3 months old tomorrow (crazy!). Like I mentioned a while back, I wanted to compile a list of newborn essentials I swear by. Here are a few of our favorite things.

Newborn Must Haves

 

1. Sophie the Giraffe Paige has just started loving this teether. The feet are easy for her to grab and put in her mouth. It’s made of natural rubber, so it’s super soft and lightweight for her to hold on to.

2. Wearable Blankets I’m not going to lie, I think these things are super ugly and look really cheesy. All that aside they are very practical. With the cool San Francisco summers and our 100 year old apartments drafty windows, this allows Paige to keep warm without having to worry about a blanket getting anywhere near her head. And for that I love these things.

3. Glass Bottles We try our best to stay away from plastic products and stick to glass in our kitchen, so we’d choose nothing different for the baby. I love these bottles. They are easy to clean, heavy duty and adorable. It’s so nice being able to pump and take a bottle for Paige when we’re out for lunch or at church. Bottles are also wonderful for leaving Paige with babysitters for date night.

4. Bouncer I stick Paige in this bouncer & she travels around the house with me. It sits on the table while Isaac & I are eating breakfast and dinner, I put it on the bathroom floor while I shower, it goes in our room while I fold laundry, in the living room while I work out and in the kitchen when I cook dinner. It’s sweet having my little buddy with me everywhere I go, she is so content and watches everything I do. We also have the matching swing which was wonderful for the first month, but since sleep training Paige to sleep in her crib, we barely use the swing anymore.

5. Swaddle Blanket This blanket is amazing. It’s made of thick flannel, it’s huge; perfect for wrapping up a burrito baby. Paige slept and napped swaddled for the first two months and it was a dream. Whenever she would get all riled up, we’d swaddle her and walk her around the apartment and she calmed down almost instantly.

6. Sleepers Sleepers with feet and a zipper are far superior to those without feet and with snaps. Baby socks never stay on, especially during the night, so having the feet all in one sleepers are wonderful. Also diaper changes are a hourly affair in the beginning, being able to quickly zip instead of snap 10 buttons is swell, especially at 2am.

7. White Onesies I love these. I prefer the Carters brand to Gerber, they are thicker and made better in my opinion. Little babies should be comfortable and cozy, and all babies look precious in white. These are great for layering under outfits too for cooler weather. You can’t have to many of these.

8. Diaper Cream Burt’s Bees diaper cream is awesome. It smells wonderful and is paraben free, made with almond oil and beeswax. And best of all it works in a day. Love this stuff.

9. Stroller I spent so much time researching strollers. Since walking is our main mode of transportation for us city dwellers, I had a long wish list. Lightweight, small, easily foldable, affordable, could be used from birth on up, just to name a few. I am so happy with this City Mini. It is super light, can fold with one hand and is super smooth and folds to almost nothing. You can purchase a carseat adapter separately but we haven’t even needed to, she’s been fine in the stroller with one of these to make it extra snugly since birth. We take this thing everywhere, out to coffee, grocery shopping, walking through Golden Gate Park and to church.

10. Tights Using tights are another way to keep little feet warm without worrying about socks. Paige has tights in all colors (cream, pink, red, gray, yellow, etc) it’s easy to stick them under a Carters’ onesie and you’ve got a cute warm outfit.

11. Portable Diaper Changer Another city living must. Most places don’t have a changing station in the bathroom, if they even have a bathroom at all. This allows me to change Paige anywhere, it’s already proved it’s worth in these last few months.

12. Pampers Swaddlers These diapers are so soft, lightweight, and leak proof. I used some Huggies for a while and couldn’t believe how much better Pampers are. Sign up for Amazon Mom and Subscribe and Save and these diapers are surprisingly affordable.

13. Sleep Sheep Isaac & I both lost our voices ‘shhhing’ Paige to calm her in the beginning. Then we downloaded a white noise app on our phones. That worked awesome, until we needed our phones. This Sleep Sheep attaches to her crib has four calming noise choices and is set to a timer. She loves her little sheep. We use the ocean setting. A word of advice, stay away from the whale setting, it’s pretty scary.

I love to bake but with just Isaac & I in the house a full batch of cookies or a dozen muffins are just a little overboard for us to eat at any given time. Plus who wants to eat a 3 day old muffin!? Trust me by day 3 or 4 that muffin has lost it’s lure. I’ve come up with a plan to prep remaining unbaked dough to store in my freezer for a later time.

For cookie dough, I use my cookie scoop to spoon out remaining dough and place it on my cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. I slide this into the freezer for about an hour until the dough has a chance to harden a bit. Then I pull out the dough, place them in a freezer bag labeled ‘Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough 350 10-12 minutes’. That way I know what is inside and how long to bake and at what temperature. This has worked so well for us, we are able to bake off 6 or so cookies at a time and they are always warm and fresh. Plus it works great in a pinch if we have people over for coffee on the fly I usually always have some dough in the freezer ready to use.

For muffins, I fill the muffin tin lined with baking cups and place the whole tin in the freezer again for about an hour. This allows them to set as well as hold their shape. After a hour, I do the same thing as I do with the cookie dough. Stick them in a freezer bag labeled with the contents and baking instructions.

The possibilities are endless. I do the same thing with pizza and pie dough. Whenever I make these I always double the recipe, it is no more work to pulse 1/2 stick of butter vs 1 cup in the food processor. And the ease of being able to pull out homemade pizza dough dough on a busy weeknight is so worth the little extra effort.

Images: sammyw

This week marks week 30 in my pregnancy. Only 10 more to go! I’ve been surprised at the amount of ‘maternity’ items that I’ve been able to do without. It is overwhelming and a little ridiculous to me to think about re-creating an entire wardrobe for a small 4 month or so time frame. I thought I’d give a little run down of the basics I’ve purchased and how I’ve morphed my pre-pregnancy wardrobe to work for my ever growing belly.

How To: Maternity Clothes

Pants: I have 2 pairs of maternity jeans (one denim, one gray). Each I found on sale for under $40. I also have some black leggings that still fit and work with my big belly.

Tops: I have 5 maternity shirts, all bought on sale for under $15 a piece. They are all very simple,  solid in color (white, black, gray, dark blue, cream), thin shirts I can layer with my existing cardigans, jackets and wraps. I also have 2-3 non-maternity shirts in my next size up and have been able to use those as maternity tops as well.

Accessories: I have a Bella Band which worked wonderful the first 6 months until I needed to wear maternity pants. Also I love my maternity camisoles. I have 1 black and 2 whites ones that are perfect for creating length to almost all of my non-maternity tops.

That’s it! With these basics in my closet I feel like I have a ton of choices. When I no longer need my maternity clothes, they can easily be stored in a small container up in our closet. Since I’ve invested in very classic, timeless pieces I will be able to use these for my next pregnancy as well.

I am trying to use these same principles when creating a wardrobe for baby Paige. Due to space and how fast she will grow I want to limit her clothing to only the necessities. Look for a post about her clothes coming up soon :)

Images:
Pants: Old Navy
Scarf: Forever 21
Pink Cardigan: Forever 21
Shirt: Gap
Camisole: Old Navy

Maybe it’s just me, stuffing Christmas lights into our Christmas box at the end of the year knowing next year I’m going to be sitting in front of a huge tangled mess makes me cringe. So as I was taking down our tree a couple weeks ago I found a great no tangle method via Martha:

Take a stand of lights:

Cut a rectangular piece of cardboard with a slit at the top and a slit at the bottom:

Beginning with one end, slide through the slit and begin to roll the strand of lights around the cardboard until you’ve reached the bottom, securing it with the slit below:

This actually takes up less room in our Christmas box than the wads of lights tangled lights in years past. Since space is an issue for us, I use a large clear box with wheels for our Christmas box which I store under our bed. It fits all our lights, stockings, ornaments, garland and other misc. Christmas decor.

Images: sammyw