Monday, August 30, 2010

Yum, yum...

Now that my little one is turning into a toddler, he is very interested in what his Dad and I are doing.  That includes eating.  That's right, he wants to try everything we have. As long as our food of choice is "safe" for him we have been letting him try it.  At this point he has liked everything we have given him including homemade burrito bowls!  They are very spicy and I let him lick the sauce off my happy!  This kid is amazing!  So here are some tips for starting finger food for your little one.  

Start with fresh organic vegetables. 

It is often better to steam veggies rather than boil them. Steaming helps preserve the nutrients.  Today I'm making carrots, squash, spinach with onions and sweet potatoes. 

Peel veggies (I love this KithenAid peeler) and dice into small pieces.  **Use the tip of your pinky finger as a size guide. **

Bring water to a boil and add veggies to steamer insert/basket.  Cover and steam until very soft.  It is best to steam one vegetable at a time since each type will require a different cooking time.  

Remove from steamer and place in individual containers to freeze.  If you are making a large batch and do not have enough small containers don't worry!  Grab a cookie sheet and line it with parchment or wax paper.  Sprinkle veggies on in a singe layer.  Stick the whole tray in the freezer until frozen (about 2-3 hours).  Then toss into a large zip lock bag.  This will keep the veggies from freezing into one solid mass.  You should be able to grab a single serving easily from the bag.  
I sprinkled a little thyme that my father dried for me (fresh from his garden) after cooking and before freezing.  

Spinach will be too stringy for your little one after it is cooked so you need to puree.  Since I knew I would be adding the spinach into "omelets" for Kieran, I sauteed onion (in olive oil) to puree with the spinach.  

Use a blender or immersion blender to puree.  (Be careful using the immersion blender.  I recently had an accident with mine resulting in a "crime scene" situation in the kitchen and 11 stitches in my left index finger!  YIKES!  All for a few pureed peas, iron fortified peas...)

So, when you are finished pureeing, spoon your spinach/onion mix into an ice cube tray.  There is a lot of spinach in each one of those little cubes.  Freeze and then pop into a zip lock.  

Simply microwave the sweet potatoes individually.  Kieran will eat half of a potato for one meal so it doesn't need to be frozen to preserve.  Just cut into small pieces and stick in the fridge. 

This whole process took less than an hour and Kieran has weeks of homemade fresh food to enjoy!  

The little dude with a little lunch left on his face.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Birthday invitations "how to"...

Kieran's first birthday invitation!
It's party time!  The last 11 months have flown by!  It's hard to believe my little dude is going to be one year old in a month!  He had grown so much and developed a sweet little  
November 2009
personality full of curiosity and silliness!  
I'm so excited to celebrate his first full year at my in law's home in New Hampshire.  My husband has two brothers, each with one son, and many cousins with many children of their own.  My hope is that Kieran spends his birthday having a ton of fun with his cousins and second cousins.  

Let the party planning begin!  First, we need invitations. Color theme: orange. (Of course!)  It's our favorite color, and Kieran's too ; )  After browsing in my favorite paper store, The Paper Source, I was pretty sure I had a design that I liked.  My inspiration came from this 40th birthday invitation that was on display. 
Please excuse the poor quality, cell phone pic...

It's graphic, modern and bold.  All I needed to buy was the orange envelopes. #10 open end, the other supplies I had at home.  

Not having a fancy program for layouts (like photoshop), it took a little fussing, but I figured out how to create the design using Word and "AppleWorks".  I typed out "one" many times using 4 different fonts and two colors. Next I copied the "one" s into AppleWorks.  There you can rotate the individual words by 90 degrees.  I did this until I had a nice ratio of horizontal and vertical.  Just do your best to line up the edges so you have a nice square pattern when finished.

Next, go back into Word and type out the details (name, location, time...). Copy that into AppleWorks and drag it into position.  This is what it looked like:
Then using your envelop as your guide for size, use a paper cutter the size down the invitation.
I used the edge of the words to guide me to insure an even border:
Print and cut as many invitations as you need.  Because I had a lot of HP everyday semi-gloss photo paper, and no white card stock, I used it for the invitations.  Either would be great but I am happy with the slightly shiny finish.

To make the cute sticker:

Duplicate the "one" square many times on the same page, I used plain white paper.  Punch out using a 1 inch hole punch like this one by Marvy Uchida which you can purchase at Michael's.
Now you are ready to stuff and seal!  Use a glue stick to adhere your paper disc to the flap.  Pretty simple! 

 Stamp, address and wait for the fun day!

Kieran had a blast while we were out in the park taking pictures of the invitations:
Is it crazy that I gave him an orange ball to play with simply because it matched the invitations?  Maybe just a little...

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Bedroom staged...

Finally the clouds parted in Boston and we could go outside and play!! It has been raining since Sunday and we were all getting a little bit stir crazy.  Before I could take the little dude out to the park for a good game of catch, I had a photo shoot to do.  

Here are a few before and after photos of our bedroom.  I am using a Cannon PowerShot (a point and shoot) so it was pretty difficult to get a wide frame.  Try your best, right?



Ta da! There's a huge improvement, right?  All for $0 to boot!  It feels freeing to have all of the unnecessary things tucked away in storage.  Open space feels good!  

Here's a sneak peak of tomorrow's "how to"...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Mirror, mirror on the wall...

Mirrors add light, visual space and reflect beautiful things. 

Here are my top five picks:
Eagan Multipanel Large Mirror from Pottery Barn Wouldn't this be great in a finished basement with drapery panels on either side make it it look like a large window...
Pottery Barn

Faux Bois Mirror from Hudson  This would be great in a room with white washed floors and crisp white walls.  I love playing up the texture in a monochromatic space. 

Restoration Hardware
Neiman Marcus
Bronze studded mirror from Blackman Cruz Workshop The industrial look of this amazing mirror would be great in a downtown loft or a rustic farmhouse.  
Blackman Cruz Workshop

So which is the fairest of them all? 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Bedroom staged...well, almost.

My intentions were good.  After a quick post work workout, I headed straight home to get started decluttering and revamping our bedroom for its "after" photo shoot.  Luckily our little dude was in a good mood and quite happy to play by himself (in his Joovy) as long as I checked in with him every few minutes.  So I got to work.  First I started by removing Kieran's bagged off season clothing, 2 fabric storage boxes (which I think are quite nice), and the original dining room light fixture from the top of the mirrored wardrobes.  Kieran's clothing went into his closet (look for a future post on that).  The storage boxes went into the other room just for the photo shoot and the light fixture finally made its way into the storage closet in the common hallway.  It is important to have clear horizontal spaces when trying to make your home appear large, airy and move-in ready. 

Next, I removed the practical things that everyone has but no one wants to see, the fan and the laundry basket.  They will both return to the room.  

Both of our bedside tables needed a little sprucing up so I started by adding a white candle and one of my father's paintings to my hubbies side of the bed.  Also, I used a basket that fit perfectly beneath his bottom shelf to contain my purses (I had a full bin on the open shelving but had to choose between purses and craft supplies...craft supplies won and most of my purses went to storage.)  On to my side.  I removed the lotions and Tylenol bottle which were just clutter.  The Tylenol went into the medicine cabinet and the lotions for a new home hidden in the boat bag that is now under the table neatly holding magazines.  I switched which side the lamp was on because it seemed to look nicer in the photo.  

We love our West Elm bed.  It has wonderful and much needed storage below and is dressed with a duvet and euro shams that I made when we first moved in.  Since the room in very neutral (mostly cream and white), the pewter duvet needed to have more of a presence and break up the white.  After neatly tucking in all three sides of the sheet and blanket, making "hospital corners", I pulled the duvet up to cover the bottom 1/3 of the bed and tucked tightly.  Much better!  Our loft is on the contemporary side, so crisp lines help tie it all together.  

I tidied up the open shelving unit a bit but this will mostly be covered (umm, and completed) in a future "office redo" post.  The key is the situation of open shelving sharing  bedroom and office space is to have art work, photos, boxes and pretty things hiding the necessary office stuff that you need but don't want seen. 

Take the time to vacuum, dust, wash windows and touchup any paint.  Potential buyers will notice and assume that you have not maintained the major systems of the home if there is visible lack luster right out in the open. 

Open all of your shades/window treatments and turn on all of the lights.  

So what was the problem you ask?  Well, it is teaming down rain and there is no light in our west facing, so much light getting loft!  After taking some photos, it was clear, this is not the day to take "after" pictures.  Thursday should be nice so I will try again then.  In the mean time here is an "after" photo of my bedside table:
Oh, and that brown thing you see next to my hubby's side of the bed (first photo) is a bench seat that I upholstered for a friend who just bought a new home.  She is settled in now and I have reminded her that it is waiting to be picked up.  Maybe I will post a how-to on that one day...

Do you have any other tips on how to get a home ready to sell?  Do you know anyone looking for a hip downtown loft in Boston? : )

Monday, August 23, 2010

Clean house equals sold house...we hope!

Okay, so here it goes...we are going to try to tackle selling our condo, on our own!  We have a lot of work to do to get our hip downtown loft "debabyfied" and majorly organized.  I have to admit, the much of the clutter around our home is mine.  My constant need to have a "project" going has left our once open space more like a Jackson Pollack piece.  I'm referring to the chaos, not that my clutter is somehow artistic in any way.  
We live in a gorgeous loft (just under 1100 sf) with original hardwood floors and pressed tin ceiling.  The steel posts, exposed brick and 6 giant windows along with an open floor plan make our space special.  There are few true lofts left in Boston and we have one!  Did I mention it is also a 5 minute walk to both of our jobs?  (Yes, I work out of the house too.  We have a nanny from 6:30 - 2 everyday so I can do my big girl job.)  Why do we want to leave this wonderful home?  - We are torn, but the busy pitter patter of Kieran's feet remind us that we really would love a yard for him to be able to play in, not to mention a door for his bedroom and ours!  No outdoor space with this condo : (
Over the next couple weeks I will be posting the before and after photos, room by room (okay, it's all one room..).  My goal is to have a series of photos that represent our loft in it's finest, almost baby free form. 
Here is a sneak peek of the "before" bedroom.
This is how we leave the room on a typical day.
Check in tomorrow afternoon for the after photos...

What improvements have you made to your home?  Were you trying to sell?  Or maybe just getting ready for a visit from your inlaws? 

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Birthday garland for baby's first big day...

Colorful Garland:
This project is quick and easy.  You can even use scraps of paper you may otherwise be tossing.

Since I am making this for my son's birthday, I decided to use some of the paper I used to make his invitations.  The orange paper with white polka dots is wrapping paper that I had in the closet from Paper Source.  You will see that there is white paper with type on it...this was a happy accident thanks to a silly mistake.  When printing the first invitation, I realized I didn't leave enough room for an even border.  As I headed to toss it into the recycling bin, I had the idea to use a hole punch over the different fonts spelling out the word "one".   It worked and to top it off, I don't have to feel badly about wasting the pricey semi-gloss photo paper.  

So here's what you need...

1. Paper, as many colors/designs as you like. (It helps if at least one side of the garland is card stock.)
2. Glue stick
3. Yarn or narrow ribbon 
4. Large hole punch (I used 2 sizes)
5. Scissors
I used left over paper from the invitations.
Mark the distance you like between your discs to make the process easier.
After marking a piece of paper with the distance you like between discs, tape it to your work surface.  This step saves you a lot of time and makes it easy to evenly space the discs.  Using the glue stick, glue two discs together with the yarn running between them.  Continue this process using different combinations of paper until you have your desired length.  Snip the end and you are done.  One quick and easy project that is sure to make you smile!

How have you decorated for your kids' birthday parties? 

Friday, August 20, 2010

Baby related crafts...

Here are 2 quick and easy projects you can do while your baby is taking a nap!  If your baby sleeps for about an hour, congratulations!  You have made it to the point where you can do something YOU feel like doing!  It makes me happy to do a little paper crafting every once in a while.  Hmm...what can I do while Kieran is sleeping?  I know, I saw a silhouette on one of my favorite blogs, Making It Lovely.  She used hers for a birthday decoration.  I know someone with a first birthday coming up!  Since I already know my color theme, I just needed to decide which color, green or orange.  After looking at my card stock supply it became clear, green, the color that was sitting neatly in the folder marked "card stock".   (No orange!)

To make one of your own, look through your images for a profile picture of your subject.  

After choosing a good image, convert it to black and white and make the contrast very high so it is easier to cut out following the lines exactly.  

I cropped mine to fit a 5 x 7 frame, (In iPhoto, you can easily set the constraint for many specific sizes.)

Print out the image and cut out around the face trying to be as exact as possible.  

Once you are happy with the shape, trace the cut out photo onto the "wrong side" of the card stock.  *Make sure the face is pointing in the direction you wish on the "right side". 

I used a frame I already had that didn't have a mat to go with it.  Instead, I just cut a piece of card stock, $1.50 at CVS, to fit the frame and be the backdrop. I may decide to paint a border, but for now, this is how it is going to stay.  Project time, 25 minutes.

Kieran is still sleeping!

Project #2 

Paper Bunting (the idea came from my other favorite blog, Young House Love for

Okay, here I go off to the races to quickly finish another project before The Bug wakes up.  

Start by cutting out a triangle template using card stock.  (My base is 4 1/4 and the height is 5 1/4.)   

Choose your paper (I used card stock that I used in another art project) and trace the triangle onto the "wrong side" of your paper.  Make sure the paper is oriented properly if you are using a pattern.  Repeat using as many patterns as you like.  

Choose a coordinating ribbon and glue the triangles to the ribbon using a craft glue.  I used Aleene's Original Tacky Glue.  

All you have to do is wait for the glue to dry (and your baby to wake) and you are ready to hang your bunting.  

I think this added a little cheer to Kieran's nursery.  

How would you use a paper bunting?  

There he is, my baby calls...

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Nothing beats late summer's fresh tomatoes...

Do you have a farm stand nearby?  Or maybe even your own backyard garden (not this city chic)...I had a hankering for fresh tomatoes, basil and balsamic vinegar after having a conversation with a friend this morning about just that.  So off I went, baby in tow, to the local farmer's market near South Station.  I came across Keown Orchard's booth and could not pass it by.  There, right before my eyes, were the most beautiful tomatoes and the most fragrant basil.  I nearly skipped home (really, I would have, but the 25 pound baby strapped to my chest took a little bounce out of my step) excited to combine the flavors that epitomize summer.

For a simply (and I mean SIMPLE) delicious side dish:
Wash and pat dry tomatoes and basil
Cut the tomatoes in half and place in your serving dish
Roughly chop several basil leaves (not too many, they can be overpowering)
Sprinkle on the basil and your balsamic vinegar (we love O&Co)
Serve and watch the smiles appear...

Friday, August 13, 2010

Homemade food for your homegrown babe...

Are you spending a fortune on jars/packets of organic baby food?  It's as easy to eat through a case of baby food as it is to pick it up at the grocery store.  We realized this when I got a little bit lazy and let my freezer supply of homemade baby food dwindle down to a few lone cubes.  I picked up 2 cases of Earth's Best Organics dinners for $15 (they were on sale) last Sunday for Babies R Us.  It is Friday and we have only 6 left!  Yikes!  Not exactly a price performer.  So if you are thinking the same thing as I am...that's insane for a 24 lb little person who only has 6 teeth, grab your organic veggies, saucepan and ice cube trays.  Let's cook! 

It's so simple: 
Prepare organic fruits/veggies for cooking (peel if necessary)
Place in steamer basket
Steam the heck out of what you are cooking 
Reserve your cooking water
Dump the steamed fruit/veggies into the food processor or blender and blend away
Add cooking liquid to make desired thickness/texture
Plop into a few ice cube trays and freeze

Ta da!  You have just made your baby a healthy meal that he or she is going to love!  Don't forget to take pictures of your little one enjoying your creations! 

I found that my son really enjoyed spices and seasonings right off the bat.  (Of course, make sure your child can tolerate the food alone before adding a spice.) For example:

  • Peas - fresh mint (from my Dad's garden)
  • Sweet potatoes - cinnamon
  • Squash - nutmeg
  • Chicken/turkey - sage

We really want to encourage Kieran to enjoy different flavors and textures.  No one likes a picky eater!