The Near and Far Edition

This week was uneventful. Until last night. Marcus quickly came down with a nasty case of croup that just wreaked havoc on the poor kid. His cough is that of a sick seal (though it's improving already), and last night the little man just couldn't keep food down (today I've promised all the popsicles). A trip to the hospital was made to confirm croup, administer some breathing treatments as well as a steriod, and inform us that Julia is likely to get this too. So, yay... Seeing your babies sick is the worst.

But, it's Friday, so that's something to celebrate. Let's move on to the highlights of the week, shall we?

1. Blogger Meet Up in San Diego!
If you're in San Diego and looking for a spot with great food and killer view of the city I'd highly recommend Coast Terra.

Drinks and the sunset at Hotel Del.
Four bloggers from near and far met up in one of the greatest Southern California cities, and we had views that were top notch. It was basically a dream come true. Sara, Erin, Liz, thanks for such a stellar Sunday. I hope we have more meet ups in our future!
Isn't the blogging world the best?!

2. Mail from all over!
The kids and I are participating in a blogger mail exchange that I can't wait to share more about soon. Going to the mail box has become an afternoon highlight for Marcus. He's absolutely tickled when something is in our box just for him (and Julia, too, but we won't spoil his fun). We've had mail from all over the country, and Canada(!!) come just for the kiddos, and seeing Marcus' excitement over each piece is pretty fabulous.

3. These cute little label stickers and return address stamp!
While everyone is over there with their washi tape closing up envelopes and whatnot we're over here sealing ours with these cute little labels from Label Daddy. (Don't worry, I fully have a supply of washi tape that I use on the reg.) I'm now looking for all the things to put our family picture on. The labels are water resistant and great for a multitude of other things besides envelopes. But for now, envelopes it is!
We've also joined the ranks of cute mail with our return address stamp. We are making our mail look good one sticker and stamp at a time. Who knew mailing stuff could be so fun and cute?!

4. Grandma!
Grandma Dudding is headed our way very soon. Scott is going away for a few days for work, so Grandma kindly agreed to leave the frozen tundra of Iowa to come hang out with us here in sunny SoCal. We are all looking forward to some quality time with my mom (and I've got my fingers crossed I can make a solo Target run while she's here).

5. Stitch Fix update
This has absolutely nothing to do with things near or far, but I had to share that I was able to exchange sizes for the red and white striped shirt with elbow patches. YAY!
And, while the shirt below fits a little big in the bust I was worried if I went down a size it wouldn't be long enough (which I tend to have a problem with as I have a pretty long torso). SO! I decided to keep it, and I'm already loving the decision to hang on to this piece.
Chalk that up to two new pieces in this gals wardrobe. Holler!!

Happy Weekend!


Fix #3

For Christmas my mom was so generous to give me a credit to Stitch Fix (thanks, Mom!). Naturally that meant one thing, I needed to schedule a fix sooner rather than later.

In this particular fix I asked for light weight sweaters and tops. It never really gets cold enough in Southern California to warrant big, bulky sweaters. But, that's not to say it doesn't get chilly, and my wardrobe has been dying for a little cool weather revamp for the. longest. time. 

My stylist, Alex (hi!!!) , whom I adore, seemed to really gather a lot of inspiration from my Pinterest board and paid attention to my notes.

When I opened the box I wanted to love everything immediately. There looked to be SO. MUCH. POTENTIAL. However, I dropped the ball in failing to update my profile... More to come on that in the photos below. 

On to the goods...

Item 1: Pixley Greenich Striped Knit Top
Item 2: Liverpool Rizzo Skinny Pant
The Pixley Greenich Top! I LOVED it, for the most part. Elbow patches! The back was a bit longer than the front! The slits on the sides! I'm pretty sure I pinned that top, or a variation of that color top no less than five times to my Pinterest board. HOWEVER, because I failed to update my profile to a smaller top size, this top was too big. Though the photo doesn't really show it, and I'm not one to wear tight tops (at all), this top is just too large, particularly around my bust and under my arms. I've got an email out to customer service to see if I can exchange the size. Fingers crossed. I could see myself living in this top.

Verdict: Waiting to see if I can exchange

The Rizzo Skinnies. I loved how they fit. The length was  just right, the fit was great. And, I asked for leggings in my last fix. Sadly, I have a pair very similar to this that I bought a while back. I just don't see the need for two pair of pants that are pretty much the same.

Verdict: Returned

Item 3: Market & Spruce Bernadette Lace Overlay Raglan Top
This top. I fell in love with it before I even pulled it totally out of the box. The material is SO soft, and and raglan spruced up with lace? Yes, please. BUT.... Because my sizing was off this was too big (again, the photo doesn't really show it, but under the arms and around the bust was just too large). Damn it!

Verdict: Waiting to hear back from customer service to see if I can exchange for a smaller size

Item 4: 41Hawthorn Filber Arrow Print Henley Blouse
This top is cute. And it fit well. In fact, this was the only top that was actually the correct size. And, I think it's really quite flattering on. But, I feel like chevron's ship has sailed, and to be totally honest, I'm kind of tired of this particular pattern. Let's also point out this top was ONE HUNDRED PERCENT polyester. I'm constantly chasing kids around, there is no way I could wear this and be comfortable, given polyester isn't exactly known for it's breathability.

Verdict: Returned 

Item 5: Renee C Andrea Airy Knit Scoop Neck Sweater
When I pulled this out of the box I was initially excited. Then I put it on and I was left a little underwhelmed. It fit pretty well, but the hole detailing kind of threw me for a loop. No matter what I'm wearing underneath (i.e. a bra) I feel I'd constantly be worried if everything was lined up just so, and that my bra wasn't showing - like it is in the picture. I need my tops maintenance free. This one just wasn't going to fit that bill.

Verdict: Returned

So, this fix has the potential to be a 2/5, pending I can exchange sizes for the Greenich Striped top and the Bernadette Lace Overylay. Did I make the right selections? Am I sending the right pieces back? Let me know your thoughts! I have a few more days before I have to send the goodies back to Stitch Fix.

If you're not signed up for Stitch Fix why are you waiting? The $20 styling fee is basically the equivalent of gas to and from the mall along with the Starbucks you'd buy while out and about shopping. If you want to get started on your first Fix click here! There's seriously nothing more fun than coming home to a SF box waiting at your front door! 


M & J Monday

It's no secret we've been looking ahead to Valentine's Day - cookies, crafts, and now clothes! I'm sure we'll be sharing more of all three as we near the pink and red holiday. 
They're teaching me to embrace the blur.
Maybe some day I'll get them both to sit still...
My little loves.
Happy Monday!


3 Easy Handprint Valentine Crafts

I've come to terms with the fact that Marcus isn't real big into crafting. It's just not his thing, and that's ok. But, that's not to say I don't want some of those cute crafts I see floating all over social media to happen in our home, too.

So, for Valentine's Day I decided Marcus, Julia and I would whip up three handprint/footprint crafts that would require very little time from either child, but would still fulfill my desire to have said items don our home and make for some cute Valentine's to send to the grandparents.

May it also be noted I did these pretty much all at the same time. We were able to knock out hand and foot prints rather quickly, and the kiddos were able to move on to their next desired activity.

Hand & Footprint Valentine Bouquet
What You'll Need
Paper or cardstock
Paint colors of your choice - I'd recommend three different colors for the flower
Paint brush
Two little hands and two little feet

How It Comes Together
This is pretty self-explanatory.
I first painted did Marcus' hands and made the flowers, and let those dry. Pro tip - I have zero patience for paint drying, so I threw the paper in the microwave for about a minute. Bam! Dried paint.
After the flowers were dry I quickly painted Julia's feet and pressed them down onto the paper to create leaves. Again, threw the paper in the microwave for speedy dry time.
After the leaves and flowers were properly dry I added a few stems to finish off the bouquet.
I then added a the little saying about "hand" picked bouquet with a marker.
This one will be dropped in the mail and sent off to the grandmas and grandpas.
Total craft time: approximately 10 minutes

Little Love Bug
What You'll Need
Paper or card stock for background as well as wings
Paint Brush
One little hand

How It Comes Together
This one was a Marcus-only effort.
We started with painting Marcus hand and adding the print to the card stock. Then I threw the paper in the microwave to dry.
Meanwhile, I quickly cut out two hearts that would eventually form the bug wings.
After the paint was dry Marcus helped me apply glue to the hearts, and then he helped place the hearts onto the bug's body.
With a marker I added the bug's eyes, nose, and mouth.
At the bottom I wrote the little "Love Bug" phrase.
Again, we'll be sending these to the grandmas and grandpas for a little Valentine's Day love.
Total craft time: approximately 10 minutes

LOVE Canvas
Please note the little smudge spot between the "V" and "E". That's courtesy of Julia's drool. I wanted to fix it, but thought better, this perfectly reflects what stage the kids are in their little lives.
What You'll Need
Canvas large enough for your child(ren)s hand and foot prints - this one is an 11x11
Paint color for canvas background and paint color for letters
One little hand and one little foot

How It Comes Together
Lightly apply a base color all over the canvas.
Allow canvas to dry. This I allowed to happen organically, as I was a little worried what might happen if I threw the canvas into the microwave.
After canvas is totally dry apply paint to one hand and place where you would like the "O" to be. Do the same for the feet, and where you would like the "V" to be.
After the "O" and "V" have dried complete the canvas with the "L" and "E".
This one is going to be Scott's Valentine's gift from the kids - even though Scott did help me get Julia's wiggly little feet onto the canvas. So, not so much of a surprise for him. But, it will be fun for Marcus to give his dad a gift, so all isn't lost.

And there you have it, three crafts that took about 15 minutes of participation from my kids - just enough time! - and little keepsakes that have met all my mom-crafting dreams.
Total craft time: approximately 4 hours (including dry time for paint)

There you have it. Three quick and easy Valentine crafts that even the most unenthused crafter can do to appease the momma desire to have a little hand or footprint creation.


M & J Monday

Taking pictures of these two giggly wiggly worms together has become increasingly more challenging.
Happy Monday!


Valentine Cake Mix Jello Cookies

This week was a long one. The kids and I spent a lot of quality time together - alone. Scott put in some crazy hours, and sadly, we didn't see a whole lot of him. That meant we had hours upon hours to fill to keep ourselves entertained.

One afternoon I'd pulled out every craft, puzzle, and toy in our house, and we still had HOURS of evening to fill. So, to the kitchen we went. Marcus loves helping pour and mix and stir, and of course, throw sprinkles on to anything I'll let him. 

We decided we were ready to start our Valentine's prep. And Valentine Cake Mix Jello Cookies were born. 

Let's talk about how easy and quick these were to whip up. Marcus was able to help with every aspect (minus the cracking of the egg), and he thought it was just the coolest to make the cookies almost totally himself. 

print recipe

Valentine Cake Mix Jello Cookies
A fun, festive treat perfect for Valentine's Day
  • 1 box White cake mix
  • 1 box Strawberry jello
  • 4 Tablespoons, softened Butter
  • 4 oz, softened Cream cheese
  • 1 Egg
  • 2 cups Powdered sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons, melted Butter
  • 3 Tablespoons Half and Half
  • 1/4 teaspoon Vanilla extract
COOKIES: In a mixing bowl combine cake mix, dry jello mix, softened butter, softened cream cheese, and egg. Mix until thoroughly incorporated. Roll out 24-36 balls and place on cookie sheet. Slightly flatten them. Bake at 325 degrees for 11-13 minutes. Move to cooling rack.FROSTING: In a small bowl combine powdered sugar, melted butter, half and half, and vanilla. Mix until smooth. When cookies are cooled, spread frosting atop cookies. Immediately sprinkle with festive sprinkles, if so desired.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 24-36
I do have to point out that these are SUPER soft and SUPER sweet. I loved them, Marcus loved them, and I immediately sent a dozen to work with Scott (I couldn't have all that temptation staring at me for too long)! Scott informed me later that the cookies were a hit in the office. Glad I wasn't the only one who thought these were pretty fab. 
Grab a glass of milk and enjoy a cookie (or two). It's the perfect way to start celebrating Valentine's Day!

The Edition Without a Proper Title

We survived this week. Whew. It was a long one, and Scott logged so. many. hours. at work. But, we've made it to the weekend. So let's get to the highlights, which are a hodgepodge of everything.

1. Valentine's Threads.
{1} {2} {3}
{1} {2} {3}
I love holiday clothes for my kiddos as much as the next mom, but I really wanted this year's Valentine's pieces to wear for longer than just the week of the holiday. I think I managed to find just that. 

2. The babes. 
One of then days Scott was gone the kids were particularly smiley. At. the. same. time. We thought we should document the moment - and send it to Scott to say, "Hi!" And, that we missed him. 

3. Did I mention these babes?

One of our favorite times is story time right before bed (because, stories. And bedtime.). Julia seems to love snuggling up with Marcus as we read stories to them. It's basically all of my dreams come true. 

4. Marcus/Mommy Date. 

Earlier this week the little guy and I were able to slip away for a few hours, just the two of us. Naturally that meant shakes from In and Out, balloons, and a trip to the park were involved. 

5. Jingle Bell VoxBox.

Influenster knocked this one out of the park. 
The Biscoff cookies were gone in s flash.

Marcus loved the idea of a little something coming his way with the itty bitty Spider Man doll (which has since been gifted to Julia). 

And I'm loving the Cetaphil hand cream, which couldn't have come at a more fitting time of year. The ICE nail polish will be applied soon (the color - swooning!), and the next time I need to get good and gussied up I'll be using the KISS eye liner, and maybe even try my hand at those fancy lashes. Plus, they sent free OreIda tater tots. Enough said. 

That's a wrap. Happy weekend!


The Picture Perfect Project {{1}} - Sunsets

The inaugural post of The Picture Perfect Project is upon us! It doesn't seem possible we are already recapping parts of 2016, but alas, here we are.

When I was first trying to decide what I wanted my objective to be for the first installment of TPPP a million ideas raced through my head:
Did I want to focus on technique? No, not just yet. 
Did I want to dedicate most of my photos to my kids? Well, I basically already do. I mean, I take hundreds of photos of Marcus and Julia on any given day, but I figured maybe I'd wait to focus my attention on those two for another day/month. 
Then it hit me smack dab in the middle of driving home one evening. 
The sky. 
As I was driving home with a magnificent canvas of brilliant colors above me I knew I wanted to focus my efforts of this particular recap on sunsets. It seems California has a season for good sunsets (of which I'm obsessed), and wouldn't you know it, right now happens to be that time.

My favorite spot to catch the sun setting is by the ocean. Naturally. However, getting to the ocean (which is all of 5 miles from our house) at 4:45pm - with two kids - proved to be perhaps the biggest challenge when it came to capturing a pretty sunset. I was hoping to get down to the water more than I did. But, lucky for me, there were two evenings where I was able to sneak away for some breathtaking sky displays. 

Evening #1 by the water:
 I haven't done much shooting with my newest lens, the AF Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm. These two shots were using that lens.
While the clouds were sparse and wispy, they were just enough to add some depth and color to the sky. I also love that when you look out from the beach you can see Catalina Island off in the distance. The island seems to help break up the endless sea and sky scape. 

Night #2 by the water:
Back at the same beach, this time using my AF-S Nikkor 18-55mm (which is what I use to take most of my photos).
I was amazed at how differently the sky was painted simply by looking in different directions, or by just waiting a few minutes the sky would change to a completely different color. 
There are jagged rocks off the coast, and when the waves hit hard enough a massive spray is produced. I'd love to learn a little more about how to better capture moving water so it looks less blurry and more like it's actually moving.
The difference in color in these two photos blows my mind. The pictures were taken minutes apart. The top photo has a much warmer feel, while the bottom photo comes off as much cooler.
 And this shot, right as I was about to leave... The sky was just gorgeous.
*Disclaimer: I did not edit or touch up any of these photos in any way. 
So, this month was about sunsets, and simply playing around a bit with my new lens.
Next month I'd really like to pull out the 70-300 a little more so I can get better acquainted with that. The few photos I have taken with it are great, but I'd like to have a better feel for that lens. I'd also really like to take some time and catch a tutorial or two on getting out of automatic mode and start doing some shooting in manual mode. I don't know what it is, but the idea of manual mode intimidates me and skyrockets my anxiety.

Thoughts? Feedback? Tips on using either of the lenses I have? Favorite places to find tutorials? Let me know! I'm all ears. 

Now, how about you? Have any great captures from this month? I'd love to see! Link up with a host of great ladies, as well as myself, for The Picture Perfect Project. You can also join along on InstaGram using #ThePicturePerfectProject. 


Hearty Slow Cooker Turkey Chili

One of the last things to be crossed off the Winter Bucket List was to make, and enjoy, chili. And though I'm just getting around to posting about it, we've had this particular chili a handful of times since the weather has gotten cooler around these parts.

This chili is a favorite of mine for a few reasons.
1) Scott likes his chili practically dry. This chili doesn't have a ton of liquid, and Scott is able to essentially strain what little liquid there is.
2) I *do* like my chili a little on the runny side, so this is the perfect compromise for both of us.
3) It's made in the crock pot. So. Easy.

May it be noted, I don't eat beef, but this recipe could easily switch out the turkey for beef, and the beer (or chicken broth) with beef broth.

Now, without further adieu, my rendition of Slow Cooker Crock Pot chili, adapted from Allie at Gimme Some Oven.

print recipe

Hearty Slow Cooker Turkey Chili
A hearty chili perfect for cool evenings, tailgates, or large gatherings with friends.
  • 2 pounds Ground Turkey
  • 1 medium Yellow onion, diced
  • 4 Garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 (15 oz) cans, rinsed Dark red kidney beans
  • 1 (15 oz) can, rinsed Light red kidney beans
  • 1 (30 oz) can Tomato sauce
  • 1 (14 oz can) Petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 (4 oz) can Chopped green chilies
  • 1 cup Beer (or chicken broth)
  • 2 Tablespoons Chili powder
  • 1 Tablespoon Ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ground black pepper
In a large skillet, over medium heat, brown turkey and onions until turkey is no longer pink. Drain fat from turkey. Add meat and onions to slow cooker. Add all other ingredients to slow cooker, and stir to combine. Cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 3-4 hours.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: Approximately 8-10


M & J Monday

My little Cyclones.
Clearly I don't have any clout when it comes to the team for whom they cheer . :) 

Happy Monday!


The Baptism Edition

Earlier, I briefly touched on the fact that we baptized Julia over our holiday break. After a little thought I decided it wouldn't be right to leave out such an important detail of her life. This space is virtually our children's baby books, and Julia's baptism isn't something that I felt I should just skim. So, today's top moments are be from her baptism.

January 1, 2016 Julia was welcomed into the Catholic church.
Her face in this photo - I cracked up when I saw it. 

Through most of the Mass both the kids did exceptionally well. That's a miracle in and of itself. 
Julia only cried once, for a brief stint, during the blessing (and only spit up once as she was being blessed).
The ceremony was incredibly special, and Monsignor - as usual - delivered a beautiful message, that made Julia's moment very personal.
We were blessed to have my sister-in-law and brother-in-law so graciously agree to roles as Godparents.
Godmother - Susan
Godfather - Bryan
The baptismal gown Julia wore is the same gown I wore 32 years ago (and the blue dress I wore is a Stitch Fix keeper)
And, to top it all off, we were completely surrounded by both sides of our family, and blanketed in love. It was a special day that, several times left me teary-eyed, and one that I am sure to never forget. 
Both sets of grandparents as well as Monsignor.
The whole clan.
I couldn't imagine a better way to begin 2016.
May the Lord bless this child and keep her.
May the Lord make his face to shine upon her, and be gracious to her.
May the Lord lift up his countenance upon her and give her peace. 
Numbers 6 : 24-26

Welcome to the church, Julia!