favorite things

I haven’t posted in what seems a really long time. Sometimes I find that life moves so quickly that before I know it, a couple weeks have passed and I can’t remember what kept me so busy. It’s been like that. We’ve been running this way and that and haven’t had much of a chance to slow down. Most memorably over the last week or so, I got my 40th birthday present (albeit a little early)- a new bike. I have a major race in a few weeks, and my husband was sweet enough to not only buy me my dream bike, but also to get it for me early enough so I could race on it. I also had a beyond fun road trip with some dear college friends to Baltimore, where we met up with a group of our friends from college. It was incredibly fun. So fun, in fact, that I’m still tired from it. This girl is getting old. Another great thing that happened is that my last post was featured on West Elm’s design blog, Front and Main! I was so incredibly honored and excited to see that. It really and truly made my day when I saw that yesterday. It was (and still is) a fantastic feeling to have someone share your work. You can see the post here: http://blog.westelm.com/2013/08/18/lets-get-moving-brooklyn-plates-more/

Today, I felt like sharing a few more favorite things of mine. Most of these things are newly placed on my radar, and for good reason. Here they are:

Could this possibly be the coolest candle ever? I think so. It’s the Muse D’Or by Jonathan Adler- a floral candle in a beautiful porcelain gold vessel. At $78, it might be more than you would normally spend on a candle, but personally, I think the best part is using the vessel after the candle is gone. It wold look great with flowers, pencils, keys…just about anything. I love it. It’s from Waiting on Martha, which has become one of my favorite shops and blogs. Great place for all things home/entertaining related. http://www.shopwaitingonmartha.com/

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This is Anastasia brow gel, and I don’t leave home without it. Brows can really change a face. They can make you look like a mess-or they can make you look amazing. One little swipe of this stuff will tame and shape you brows, and it will stay all day. I’ve tried a few different gels, and this one is by far my favorite. It’s $30 and you can buy it here: http://www.sephora.com/

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I literally ordered these candle holders today; I got the CB2 catalog in the mail and as soon as I saw them, I knew they had to be mine. CB2 is a place that I love to go to for really affordable home decor. The prices are definitely husband-approved;  the set of three is $19.99. (whaaaaaat?) I bought gray taper candles to go in them, which gave them a kind of moody feel. Great for fall. I found them here: http://www.cb2.com/

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Today, I was turned onto a site called Wunway, and I found the sweetest little hair clips and accessories for little girls that I have ever seen. When my daughter saw this one, her face lit up. If you have a little girl, you really must take a look; everything is so charming and whimsical. This particular one is their crown clip and it’s $22. http://www.wunway.com/

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Ok, so I’m not a fan of taxidermy. It freaks the hell out of me. (Dead animals as decor? I don’t get it.)  But this (faux) deer head, for some reason, I’m obsessed with. I’ve had it as one of my “favorite items” on Etsy for the longest time, and if I had enough wall space for it, I would order it. I visit the shop from time to time to make sure they’re still being made, because when we move to a bigger place, this will be one of the first things I buy. It’s so cool, and it’s a great conversation piece.  And don’t get me stared on the glitter antlers. It’s $119.99 and can be found here: http://www.etsy.com/listing/107367343/gift-ideas-for-him-her-couples-white?ref=col_view

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I definitely have a thing for skulls. Especially when they’re on a pretty little box like this. You can never have enough little trinket boxes. I want this one for my coffee table. For $29.99 it can be on yours, too. Find here: http://www.zgallerie.com/

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This beauty is from Zara’s fall line. I’m head over heels for the gold hardware on this bag. This would be such a great everyday bag, and it’s big enough for juice boxes and extra Spiderman underwear. Bonus. Available at http://www.zara.com/us/

I am in a full-on macaron obsessed mode. It’s funny, because there’s so much hype about these tiny little pastries, and for the longest time, I didn’t get it. The first time I had one, I was baffled. It was fine, but didn’t blow my hair back. I thought they were just for snobby rich people. (Think Blair Waldorf.)  Then I tried another one a little while back. And then I got it. It was heavenly. Since then, I pick them up whenever I can. They haven’t all been divine, as like everything, some places make better ones, but they haven’t exactly sucked, either. And I can always count on Trader Joe’s for a fix. They are cheap and surprisingly good. But there is one place that I have yet to go to-and that’s Laduree. These dessert shops are all over the world, mostly in France, and I am lucky enough to have one close by on the upper east side of NYC. They are a bit pricey here, but I am hoping to receive one of these lovely little pink boxes for my birthday in a couple months. (Ok, honey? PINK box, please. Love you.) http://www.laduree.com

Now that the season is winding down and my husband and I are caught up on Breaking Bad, I plan on writing more. Not just here, but I’ve had some things swirling in my head for years that I’ve got to get on paper. (Or computer.) I’ll share if it becomes anything.

Enjoy the week.

One last hurrah at the beach

Since I last posted, my family and I have taken two mini-vacations to the beach. My husband has declared that he is officially “beached out.” (For me, there is no such thing. What a weirdo.) Our trips were filled with family, friends, long beach days, swims in the ocean, outdoor dining, and some serious lack of sleep. While that last part I could do without, the trips were really quite wonderful. Our most recent trip was to a place called Stone Harbor, which is about 30 minutes (and a world) away from Atlantic City. It was my first time being there, and I can say that I’m a huge fan. It is such a charming and chic town. We obvoiusly went for the beach, but I really fell in love with the downtown. The flower and tree-lined streets are filled with great boutiques, cafes, bakeries and bookstores, and the people are as friendly as can be. Truly, a quite picturesque and lovely place. Here’s a look at our time there:

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It’s a good thing that that I didn’t have my wallet when I stumbled upon a few of these places. Zoe and I spent some time browsing around a boutique called Skirt (how cute is that?), and it really was a practice in self-restraint. That was followed by finding some delicious mararons (thankfully by then I was reunited with my wallet) and treats for all (my son is covered in his.) I hope to visit this charming town again soon.

Until then, I plan on enjoying the rest of our summer at home. We’ll spend lots of time at the pool and our backyard, go the movies and the park and enjoy NOT packing our suitcases again.  I love going away, but I love coming home just as much. But man, the laundry sucks.

A day fit for a princess

Yesterday, my baby girl turned four. She’s growing up so fast right before my eyes, and it’s both amazing and bittersweet to see. I long for the days when I could cradle her in my arms for hours, yet I marvel at the things she’s learning to do and at her growing independence. We were at the park the other day, and she mastered a piece of playground equipment that in the past, she always needed help with. She turned to me and said “I don’t need you anymore, mommy!!” I told her how wonderful that was, and then turned away and cried a little bit. Watching your children grow up is so amazing, yet at every step you long for them to stop growing.  It’s quite a mixed bag.

This was the first year that my daughter was pretty specific about the kind of birthday she wanted. In the past, I could decorate with whatever I thought was cute and buy her some sweet gifts, and no matter what they were, she would be happy as can be. However, this year, she was clear. She wanted princesses for her birthday. And a tea party. And princess balloons, and princess streamers, and princess cups and plates, and well, you get the idea. It’s really funny just how  much a girly-girl she’s become, and it’s not like these are things I really introduced or pushed onto her. Since my children were newborns, I went about dressing them/decorating their room/buying toys in a rather unisex way. I didn’t go crazy on pink or blue with anything, and bought things that could be enjoyed by either a girl or a boy. Yet despite all of those things, my little girl is crazy about all things girly-princesses, dolls, anything pink/purple/sparkly, ballet, and dresses. And my little boy is all about cars, trucks, dinosaurs, superheroes, and anything that has a motor. It just happened naturally.  So yesterday, along with my parents, we had a lovely tea party at a place called Alice’s Tea Cup in NYC’s upper east side. It is a charming little place with a sort of Alice in Wonderland theme. (my favorite Disney movie) It was absolutely adorable and everyone loved it. It was my first time sampling different types of tea; I’m more of a coffee gal, but this was delicious. There were also yummy little sandwiches and scones, and a little birthday cupcake for Zoe. Tea was followed by dinner, cake and presents at our house with family. It truly was a day fit for a princess.

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The day truly was a success as Zoe told me it was her “most amazing birthday ever!!” I can’t wait to see what this coming year will bring for my amazing little princess.

Check out Alice’s Tea Cup here: http://alicesteacup.com/

flowers and popsicles

I’m struggling this week. Getting back to normal after vacation is difficult. I can’t seem to catch up on cleaning. I haven’t really cooked much this week and I just finally got back to the gym today. It’s not like I flew to Europe and have major jet lag. I’m just being lazy and want to be sitting on the beach, and not doing that every day just plain sucks. Sigh.

I did do a couple cool things this week. Sort of. Well, I did a couple things. I finally made one of the 3,000 recipes I have pinned on my Pinterest account. (I always pin these awesome looking recipes thinking “I’ll totally make that”, only to never, ever do it.) But I didn’t set my goal too high-I made popsicles. They’re something I thought my kids would love, so we went out and bought the popsicle molds and all the fixins. They were so excited and the chant of “posicles!!! popsicles!!” went on all day. However, I had forgotten that a blade from my blender had broken, and I don’t own a food processor (gasp!), and the popsicles called for pureed fruit. So….first I tried doing it with a hand mixer. Ever do that? Well, don’t. Fruit basically flew everywhere, all over me, and both kids. The option I had left was to hand mash all the fruit. That’s 2 cups of blueberries and 2 cups of strawberries. Not fun. Not fun at all. But whatever, they came out cute and here’s the results:

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That happy face is because I told the kids they could have popsicles for breakfast. They weren’t ready until this morning, and there’s only strawberries, blueberries, yogurt and honey in them, so totally appropriate, I thought. And fun. But after only 3 licks, Brody decided he didn’t like them. Zoe took about 7. Fail. Well, I liked them. You can find the recipe here: http://www.thenourishista.com/2012/06/red-white-and-blueberry-popsicles-for.html.

One of the first things I did this week was to make a beautiful flower arrangement. When I’m kinda feeling like I’m in a funk, I like to buy flowers. They just make me happy. So I bought some mums, hydrangeas, and lilies, all in white. I usually cut the stems down pretty short and make several short arrangements, but this time I wanted to make one tall one. DSC_0289

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I love that my daughter has taken such a liking to flowers. She always asks to have some put in her room, which I think is so sweet. She can also identify many different types. (Much like my son can do with cars. So funny.) I really wish I knew what I was doing when it comes to arranging flowers. I’ve read a few little things, but would love to get really good at it. I’ve been considering taking a class at some point with all the free time I have. (Please note sarcasm.) I just found this one and love the idea of doing it from home: http://nicolesclasses.com/portfolio/floral-arranging-101/

Other than that, the kids and I went to the movies, went swimming, and did lots of little things. This weekend is my daughter’s 4th birthday, and it’s the first year when she’s had a real wish list. And it all involves princesses. So I’m up to my eyeballs in princesses. I’m really looking forward to it and cannot wait to see how much she likes everything we have planed.

Until Monday!!

Back to reality

So, we’re back from our vacation. Every year, I’m excited yet hesitant about our trips. Historically, they’ve been a bit rough. There have been a lot of sleepless nights, tantrums, unfortunate swim diaper incidents and much, much more. But this year, we didn’t pack one bottle or diaper. Both of my kids have dropped their naps (which means no trips back to the house, but a mixed blessing), and both kids are out of cribs. So I was pretty excited. But still hesitant. However, this week turned out to be really, really nice. Every year, my family and I go to Long Beach Island, which is part of the Jersey Shore. I have been going there all my life, as has my mother. It makes me so happy to now bring my own children there. Despite the wonderful time had by all, it was hard not to notice how Hurricane Sandy affected the island. We saw many closed businesses, and the island almost seemed deserted compared to how it normally is. On the flip side, it was nice to see how LBI rebuilt and came back. As the saying around here goes, “We are stronger than the storm.” Seeing this rebuilt community made me proud to be a Jersey Girl.

We had a week full of beach time, ice cream, great food, rides for the kids, bike rides for all, and runs and long walks on the beach. Coming home sucked. Just really, really sucked. I always get a little down after coming home from vacation. And because of crappy planning, my husband and I had a triathlon planned for the following day. Although the race went great, we are nearly comatose right now and I’m really not even sure how I’m able to type at the moment.

I just wanted to share one of my favorite nights from our trip. We went onto the beach around sunset, which is actually my favorite time of day to be there. The sand is nice and cool and feels so good on your toes, the beach is deserted, and the light and colors are spectacular. There was a nice breeze going, so we took the kids down to fly kites. Try as we may, the kites didn’t stay up for too long, but the kids were thrilled. So naturally, so were we.

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Batman and Barbie may not have had a lot of flight time, but it was  pretty fun while it lasted. But now, it’s back to reality. Sigh.

Ten things I’ve learned.

This summer, both of my kids have birthdays. My daughter will turn 4 at the end of this month, and my son will turn 3 at the end of August. In these last 4 years, I have learned so many things. Things about motherhood, myself, my husband, and everything in between. Lessons that I would never have learned if it were not for having my two little ones in my life. Here’s just a few of the nuggets I’ve picked up along the way:

1. On almost no sleep, I can take care of 2 children, clean the house (many, many times), take care of a dog, go food shopping (to more than one supermarket), do the laundry, make breakfast, lunch and dinner for everyone, read many books, run around at the playground, give baths, and re-clean whole house. I take back every complaint about being tired pre-kids. I knew nothing. In fact, if I could ever go back in time and hear myself say “I’m so tired!” at any point before children, I would slap the crap out of myself.

2. The toilet is the best seat in the house. And it is sometimes (sometimes) the only place I can get 5 minutes of privacy. It is ideal for sorting through mail, reading magazines, checking email and even having a snack. Sure, my feet may go a little numb, but that’s a small price to pay. I’ll lie about pooping to get as much time in the bathroom as possible. And now that my kids are old enough to stay alive on their own for a few minutes, I use that lie a lot. My kids think I poop several times a day. My response to “Mommy!!!!!!!! Brody hit me!!!” is “Mommy’s pooping!!!”

3. I could probably get by with doing my own laundry once a month. Ok, so not things like underwear, but the rest, yup. I am so on top of my kids laundry it’s ridiculous, but when it comes to my own, I slack off. The jeans I’m wearing today? They probably haven’t been washed in weeks. Do I care? Have they been puked, peed or pooped on? If not, then no. (In all honesty, if the answer is yes, I’ve probably used a baby wipe on them and kept wearing them.)

4. My marriage can withstand a lot. For a very long time, we had screaming infants at all hours of the day. It took a toll on us, but we came out of it stronger. Closer. I strongly think that how you handle situations helps to define you. Well, I think we did ok there. We are a better couple now. We got this shit covered.

5. I learned how to organize. This is actually a big one for me-I suck at organizing. I used to live with messy piles everywhere. Kids have forced me to become organized; life with kids can be tricky enough-messy piles make it worse. Now, everything in our house has its place. The only glitch? My husband never wants to get rid of anything; he’s a bit of a hoarder. We once had a 30 minute discussion about why he should or shouldn’t get rid of his Polo teddy bear. (Remember Gund teddy bears? It was one of those with a Polo sweater.) The end result? Peace out, bear. But it’s an ongoing battle. Good thing I have lots of baskets. But that damn bear will not be in one of them.

6. I learned I love being a mom. Like really, really love. It is my most favorite job ever. Sure, I might complain that my kids have been screaming all day or that one of them mashed a banana in my hair, but the instant I’m away from them (ok, sometimes it takes a bit longer than an instant), I miss them. I can’t imagine my life without them. They bring me pure joy. Bring a mother is amazing, and I’m one lucky girl.

7. Thanks to my son, I think I have earned an honorary degree in paleontology. I have read more dinosaur books than I ever thought even existed, and know so many different ones it makes my head spin. Every day, between all the books, watching Dino Dan (who is cute but kinda needs a slap in the face) and Dinosaur Train, I have gathered tons of dino information. All those years, I really didn’t know exactly what Ross from Friends did. I do now.

8. I truly, truly know what unconditional love is, and it’s incredible. There is just nothing in this world that could make me not love my children. Love like that is really something else. It’s actually like nothing else.

9. I can make a boo boo better with a kiss. I can make monsters go away by singing a silly song. I can make my kids’ bad day a good one by taking them out for ice cream. I know that my son likes his waffles with syrup on the side and always wants his bread toasted when I’m making him a sandwich. I know just the type of dresses to buy my daughter that will make her happy and where we keep our stash of “secret chocolate”. (Not to be shared with her brother or daddy.) I know how to line-up my son’s stuffed animals/toys on his bed just the way he likes it, and I know to put a box of tissues on my daughter’s bed at night because she’s always blowing her nose. Those things, and a thousand more just like them.

10. I’ve learned that what I like writing about the most is my family. It’s funny, I went back through all my blog posts today, and I was upset that I named my very first post “This is not a mommy blog.” Why was I so intent on saying that? It seems silly now, thinking about it. So silly, in fact, that I went back and changed it to “This is not just a mommy blog.” Because I am, first and foremost, a mommy, and it is my most treasured job. So I am going to write about that, and about all the other things I love.

So, thanks so much for reading my mommy blog.

Oh, and the family and I are on vacation starting this Saturday for a week, so I won’t be writing. I’ll be too busy doing all the same stuff I normally do, just somewhere prettier. Aka, vacation with kids. (An oxymoron.)

favorite things

I hope everyone had a wonderful Fourth of July!! I find that the Fourth has a way of unifying people like not many other things do. It’s like everyone forgets their differences and remembers what they have in common: being an American. For one day, people remember all the wonderful things they share-all the freedoms, luxuries and opportunities. Even my douchey neighbors manage to smile and say hello. (Tomorrow it will be business as usual, I’m sure, and they’ll be back to complaining about everyone.) It’s a great day filled with family, friends and patriotism. I wish I could say that my kids enjoyed the fireworks, but they spent the entire time on my lap (not a pleasant thing when it’s 90 degrees and muggy as all get out) and crying about wanting to go home. Sigh. Maybe next year. I said that last year, too.

Besides having a wonderful Fourth of July, there were just a few little special things going on that I wanted to share. Just a few favorite things that have made me smile. And here they are:

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A new candle always makes me happy. And this is one of my favorites-Voluspa Crisp Champagne. It smells like luxury. That’s the best way I can explain it. I dare you not to want to drink champagne while burning this.

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Paper chevron straws. I love little details like this. These little straws make a glass of water seem just a little more special. And my kids love picking one out. So fun. I got mine at: http://www.etsy.com/shop/InTheClear.

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My monogrammed clutch. It came in the most beautifully wrapped box. So beautiful, in fact, that my daughter was convinced it had to be for her. Who else could get such a pretty box? I don’t have a middle name, so the monogram is a little smaller than I’d like, but I’m still so happy with it. And a white leather clutch goes with everything. I got it here: http://www.markandgraham.com

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On Friday night, I told the kids we could have a picnic/movie night in the living room. So we ordered a pizza, put down a blanket, watched The Incredibles and ate. It was so much fun and the kids loved it. We’ll be doing that again, for sure.

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Working out with Zoe. As I mentioned previously, our sitter moved away. We are still in the process of finding another one (had to fire one before she even started; long story), so I can’t get to the gym. So I’ve been working out at at home. It’s not always possible, but when it is, my daughter likes to join me. It’s hard to focus, because it’s so cute and funny. She has so much fun-until we get to the planks. She says, “this is too hard, mommy.” We’ll have to work on that. (Did you notice what Zoe is using for weights? Barbie dolls. Atta girl.)

That’s a wrap. Have a wonderful weekend!