Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween with our little piggy

I realize that your Facebook newsfeed, Instagram, Twitter feed and blogroll will be filled with kids in their Halloween costumes.  I'm just adding another cutie to the mix with our little piggy.

Erik picked out her costume.  He's called her a little piggy ever since she was born.  She's always been a great eater and we love a little chub on our baby girl.  She sure is a cute little piglet.  Gotta love a baby's first Halloween.
"Oh, a leaf!" "Are we done yet, momma?" "Sorry, but you're not getting a smile out of me, even with dada here."

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Sneak peek: Alexia Foods sponsored dinner party

I hosted a dinner party with six couples on Saturday night (14 people including Erik and I!). It was a busy day; cleaning, prepping and spending lots of time with a sweet baby girl.

The party turned out awesome! Alexia Foods sent me a HUGE box filled with tasty appetizers (including mozzarella sticks and mushroom bites pictured above) and focaccia for the big party. I can't wait to share more photos, the menu and the fall-inspired dessert table.  I'm also including a breakdown of all the costs including food, booze and decor.

Stop back on Thursday for the full dinner party reveal (my post on Halloween is going to be a photo of my little girl, a piggie!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Beautiful fall, beautiful baby.

Erik and my new house is surrounded by tons of trees. It's private and beautiful and we really love it.  There was one tree in particular that was absolutely beautiful last weekend.  Yellow and glowing in the evening sun.  I knew I had to get a few photos.  You will not see me in these because I hadn't even showered that day.  Erik had just returned home from a Vikings game so he was decked out in his gear.

I'm always so grateful for these impromtu photo shoots.   I love capturing my little girl in all her sweetness. Soft, pretty light with my baby girl and her Dada (she has recently started saying dada, she doesn't know what it means yet, but we still love it). Erik and I have a busy weekend ahead.  I am having dessert and drinks with my girlfriends Melanie and Kristin on Friday evening and on Saturday we are hosting a dinner party with about 13 of our friends.  It's my Alexia Foods sponsored dinner party and I am super pumped.  It is going to have lots of fall-inspired foods and booze galore.  The best kind of party.

I hope you all enjoy the weekend!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Juliet and my favorite things: newborn to 8 months

I've been wanting to do a favorite things post for a while now. Juliet is already 8 months and there have been some products that have helped make our lives easier and some that have provided lots of fun for baby playtime.

1.  Bambino Land Muslin Organic Blankets - these are beautiful, soft blankets perfect for swaddling, using as a carseat or stroller cover to keep the sun out, snuggling blanket, etc.  They get softer after you wash and are well worth the price.  I have sweet memories of cuddling with Juliet in the rocking chair with these blankets.
2.  Fisher Price Rock n Play - this seems to be a favorite among new moms and I jumped right on the band wagon.  We bought this from Target when Juliet was 4 weeks old and she slept her first 4 hour stretch in it that night.  She was in our bedroom for about 4 and a half months and the rock n play is the perfect height for our bed and was super comfortable for Juliet.  When we weren't bedsharing, she was sleeping in her rock n play.
3.  Halo SleepSacks - the hospital where Juliet was born had these sleepsacks and I bought two more a couple days after we got home.  They are comfy and I liked the option to have arms in or out.  Juliet was a little Houdini and she could wiggle her arms out of any sleep sack.  She slept fine with her arms out, but this allowed her to still be a bit snuggled with the "wings" so this was perfect.
4.  Quinny Buzz 3 stroller - I really love our stroller and am a fan of the more expensive strollers because of it.  I purchased it used from a former colleague when I was just a few months pregnant and was unsure about it until we started using it.  The front tire stuck a bit, but after a brief cleaning and some dry teflon spray, it was as good as new.  It has awesome air-filled back tires for a smooth ride and the automatic unfolding is super convenient.  I don't think it's too heavy and have put it in and out of my trunk a hundred times.  Juliet and I logged miles and miles in her stroller while I was on maternity leave.  She was in the infant car seat for the first 5-6 months and then we switched her to the other seat. It has a memory foam cushion and seems super comfortable.  Juliet is always happy in her stroller.
5.  Tommee Tippee bottles - Juliet had been drinking out of Medela bottles since she was about 4 days old.  I was breastfeeding and pumping and Erik would help with feedings a few times a week.  She was always fine with these bottles until she was about 10 weeks old.  Then she went on bottle strike, as if sensing that I was going to be heading back to work soon.  It stressed me out to the max and we tried many different types of bottles.  Tommee Tippee bottles worked out the best for us and about two weeks after going back to work, Juliet was comfortable with the bottle.  She loves these bottles now and they are all we use.
6.  Medela Freestyle breast pump - I am a huge fan of this breast pump and have recommended it to my pregnant friends.  It's portable which means you can pump anywhere and don't have to worry about being plugged in.  It has a strong motor and has worked well for me.  I pump 3-4 times a day since going back to work at the end of May.  Truthfully, pumping in general is kind of a drag, I would rather breastfeed my sweetie, but if you are a working mom or ever plan to be away from your baby for longer than 3 hours, this is necessary.
7.  Maxi Cosi Mico infant car seat - we got this car seat because it is compatible with our Quinny stroller.  It is a lesser known brand in the US but hugely popular in Europe.  It has great safety ratings and Juliet has never been fussy in her car seat.  She always seems comfortable and the designs are simple and very non-baby-ish, which I like.
8.  Carters Fleece Sleepers - Juliet lived in comfortable fleece sleepers for the first few months of her life.  They are still our favorite thing to have her lounge around and sleep in.  When we had visitors or took her anywhere we would put on a cute dress or outfit, but we would always change her immediately back when we got home.  They are soft, snuggle-worthy, easy for diaper changes and affordable.
9.  Sophie the Giraffe Teether - I'm sure all you parents out there are aware that this is one of the most popular toys.  I didn't get it at first, but then gave it to Juliet and she loved it.  Absolutely loves it.  It squeaks and must be the perfect size and shape for stuffing in your mouth.  It's spendy though.  Luckily I got it as a shower gift.
10.  Oball rattle - I am in a March Mom's group on Facebook.  We all had babies in the February - April timeframe and they are the best group of moms to be to anytime I have a question, concern or just want to brag about my sweetie. We give products recommendations all the time and this was one of the first toys that was talked about.  It allows baby to hold it even before they have great hand coordination, because of the way it is structured.  She loved it at about 3-4 months. She still likes it now, mostly for chewing on.
11.  Fisher Price Rainforest Jumperoo - my mom bought us this jumperoo after my niece Chloe got one and went to town jumping and laughing.  Juliet didn't do much in it until about a month and a half ago. Now she jumps and screams and laughs. She really loves it. It's a great place for her to hang out in for 5 minutes or so when I need to empty the dishwasher or pick up around the living room.
12.  Samsung Smartview Video Monitor    - this is probably in my top 3 favorite baby things.  I am into technology in general, but I wouldn't have been able to get by without this.  That sounds dramatic, but I really needed it.  When Juliet moved from our bedroom to her nursery I had massive amounts of anxiety.  If it were up to me only, I would probably still have her in our bedroom BUT Erik insisted she was ready and actually, he was right.  She slept well in her crib and we all got a better night's rest.  I still checked on her a couple times a night, but was also able to constantly see her through the video monitor. It does have one sort of annoying feature in that it vibrates if she cries. There is no way to turn the vibrate function off.  She rarely cries at night but it's annoying to hear a loud vibrating sound in addition to the cries. She doesn't cry long since I run into her nursery anytime she makes a peep.  This annoys my husband, but I can't stand to hear her cry.  This monitor has a big screen and is super clear.  I love it.
13.  Timi and Leslie Charlie diaper bag -  I adore my diaper bag.  It's huge and I need a huge bag.  I put a lot of stuff in there.  Diapers, wipes, change of clothes, lotion, bottles, toys, blankets, etc.  The bag comes with a lot of accessories and I use the bottle holder and diaper changing pad a lot.  I get complimented on this diaper bag all the time.  Erik doesn't mind carrying it, but he is laid back and cool about these things.  I think it's pretty reasonably priced and plan to use it for years.  I kind of want a black one, too, but that's silly, right?  Timi and Leslie have a bunch of other cute styles, too.

Wow.  There you have it.  Our top favorite things.  I'd love to hear about yours.  Leave a comment and share!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The weekend already?

Holy crap the weekend is already here (almost)?  This week has gone by FAST!  It's been pretty busy from a work stand point but overall has been a pretty great week.  I am looking forward to all the fun things planned for the next few days including my niece's first birthday party, pedis and dinner with Kristin and lots and lots of time with Erik and Juliet.

These foodie pics are from last weekend.  Brunch with friends (store-bought quiche, oh how things have changed...)
Homemade shrimp spring rolls with a spicy peanut dipping sauce.  Yum.  They aren't the prettiest things you've ever seen but they tasted great.  I made these for my mom's bday celebration last Sunday.  We also had chicken lettuce wraps, mock chowmein, edammame salad and these adorable mini Boston Cream Pies. The party was a potluck and everybody brought an item to share.  This was awesome. The weekend ended with my little girlie, her daddy and I hanging out and watching the Vikes.

The winner of the Alexia giveaway is:

Bryan and Melissa Pearson who said: I would love to try their sweet potato fries!

Please email me and send me your address! PS. I checked out your blog and your daughter is adorable!!!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Juliet: 8 months

My sweet girl is 8 months today! Her little Vikings jersey is for her daddy, a HUGE Vikes fan.  Otherwise I would have liked to put her in a cute dress, but...we gotta show some love for daddy, right?!

Here are her latest milestones:

  • Juliet got her first cold! Boo. It happened during her third week of daycare. Everyone told me to just wait and see, that she would be getting sick soon after starting daycare. Erik had been going around and bragging that "his girlie never gets sick". Well...she did get a little sick, but it wasn't too bad. Lasted about 7 days and she never seemed to notice.
  • She stopped sleeping through the night.  Another boo.  I've heard of sleep regression and I guess this must be it.  I think it started as a growth spurt and then became a habit and now she's been getting up about twice a night.  I am a tired momma but have hope that it's just a phase.  Erik has brought up letting her cry-it-out in an attempt to get her to stop waking up, but I'm not sure I'm up for that.  In the meantime I'll be rocking and feeding her.
  • Juliet has been going strong on solids and she has been eating table foods, cut up really small.  She knows how to chew (although she doesn't have teeth yet) and loves strawberries, peas, black beans and chicken.  She also still gets plenty of purees. I am continuing to make most of her food.
  • Juliet isn't too mobile yet, but she rolls around quite a bit and every once in a while does a backwards scoot.  She can "crawl" when we let her push her feet off our hands.  I'm not in any hurry for her to be actually crawling and she'll do it when she's ready.
  • Juliet has learned how to scream. And loudly. So loud that she scares her cousin Chloe.  I think she learned to scream at daycare.  There are lots of other little kids around and I assume it gets pretty loud there.  Maybe she screams to make sure everyone knows she's the boss.  
  • Juliet had her first couple of days without her momma.  I went on a girl's trip up north to Lutsen for two nights and while I was a nervous wreck prior to leaving, the trip was awesome and Juliet did amazing with her daddy.  It was great all around.  I did miss her like crazy though. 
  • This milestone is for me.  I finally started feeling better being back at work.  I realized that I really wouldn't be happy being a full-time stay-at-home-mom...that just wouldn't be for me.  I enjoy working and while overtime is a drag, I like what I do and am glad that my job is somewhat flexible.  I can leave the office everyday right at 5pm so I get my evening time with my honey girl, and when things are really busy, I work from home after she goes to sleep.  Don't get me wrong, some extra time at home with Juliet would be a dream (like a part-time gig), but it's not in the cards right now.  
Everyday my little girl gets sweeter, more fun, more animated and her little personality develops so much.  I love when I walk in the door from work and she lights up and wraps her arms around my neck and buries her face in my shoulder.  She is a very laid back little girl, taking after her daddy in that regard.  She can hang out for hours at a time without any crying or tears at all.  In fact, some entire days go by and I swear she never cries.  She is just a happy little girl who likes to take in everything around her.  She loves her momma and daddy a lot.  Daddy makes her smile and laugh all the time and her favorite pastime with momma is eating.  

Our time breastfeeding continues to be amazing.  If I had to choose one thing I loved the most about being a momma, I would say breastfeeding Juliet, hands down.  It is such great quality time, so awesome for bonding.  Just her and I.  Our special time.  I still breastfeed Juliet about 3-4 times a day and plan to continue doing it for quite a while.  I'll let her wean when she is ready and if that's not until she's two then so be it.  In fact, I hope to do it until then.  We'll see what happens.  

These 8 months have gone by fast but I have tried my best to take every second with Juliet in and appreciate this time with her.  When we breastfeed I put away all technology, anything that might be distracting, and just sit in her rocking chair or we lay in bed and I just stare at her, talk to her, brush her hair, stroke her soft skin.  I know I've said this already but it. is. the. best.  The absolute best.  

Happy 8 months my sweet little sugar plum.  Momma loves you more than you could possibly ever know.  

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Alexia Tastemaker program + giveaway

A couple months ago I was contacted by Alexia Foods to see if I was interested in becoming an Alexia Tastemaker. I didn't hesitate because I am a big fan of their natural side dishes and appetizers (especially the sweet potato fries!) and enjoy these types of sponsorships that fit right into my blog.

Officially, the partnership means I get to try new products such as these Multi-Grain Onion Rings and the House-Cut Julienne Fries.  They arrived on my doorstep on dry ice one afternoon and Erik and ate them up that week.  Super tasty.

I will also be doing some other fun things with Alexia Foods such as hosting a fall-inspired dinner party with their tasty sides and appetizers, plus a menu that I created with lots of hearty, fall fare.

Here is the tentative menu (I will probably change my mind on the menu up until a couple days before the party). If you want to check out more details for the party, please follow my Pinterest board.

Apple cider punch
Pork tenderloin with apples and onions
Ricotta, gorgonzola and honey spread crostini with apples
Pumpkin mac and cheese 
Butternut squash soup 
Pumpkin spice truffles

Plus Alexia Foods rolls, appetizers and sides.

Sounds pretty good, doesn't it?

I have a fun giveaway today, too!
 
The giveaway includes an apron, a potholder, a set of wine charms and 3 coupons for free Alexia Foods products.

To enter, check out Alexia Foods products and comment on this post which side or appetizer you would include at your next dinner party.  Or, if you are a fan of Alexia Foods products, comment and tell me what your favorite product is.

Giveaway will be open until 11:59pm Tuesday, October 16.  Eligible to US residents only.

Disclaimer: I am being compensated for the partnership as an Alexia Tastemaker.  All my opinions on their products are my own. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

An awesome fall weekend

My weekend began with Erik's family arriving on Friday evening.  We grilled steaks, had drinks and relaxed. The next morning I rushed around to get ready to co-host my friend Brooke's baby shower.

The shower was a subtle fall theme.  We had pumpkin chocolate chip cookie favors and pretty sunflowers in mason jars.
Little pumpkins! It was a brunch shower so we served mimosas.
A pretty display of cupcakes. For an activity we had each guest write down a wish or piece of advice for Brooke and her baby and went around the room and ready them aloud. Some were funny and some were really sweet.   I took a few maternity photos of Brooke a couple weeks ago and displayed one next to the favors.  The pretty momma-to-be opening gifts.  The co-hosts and Brooke.  On Sunday morning we turned on the fireplace for the first time and made a hearty breakfast.   Grandma Karen and Juliet had lots of playtime. Grandma Karen and I took Juliet outside on Sunday afternoon for a quick photoshoot.  My little sweetie looked kinda grumpy in most of the photos.     Until grandma started throwing leaves, making Juliet laugh.Gotta love that pretty October light!

Thanks to Erik's family for visiting us, we loved spending time with you last weekend!

Monday, October 8, 2012

A sweet fall photo + quick weekend recap

Happy Monday! This is going to be a super quick post because I am tired from a fun and very busy weekend.

Erik's family was in town all weekend and they stayed with us.  Our new home is big enough for guests, yay! We made great meals and grandma Karen had some major quality time with Juliet. Erik and his uncle and brother went to the Vikings game on Sunday and had a blast.

I also co-hosted a baby shower on Saturday morning, which went very well and I couldn't be happier for Brooke, the mom-to-be.

So like I said. BUSY. But I did manage to get Juliet outside for a very quick fall photo shoot. It was a little chilly and we didn't have a smiley girl for the most part, but did manage to get a few awesome shots.

I'll be back this week with more photos from the weekend plus information on my new partnership with Alexia Foods (super exciting!).

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Lutsen girl's trip

My girl's weekend was much needed.  Relaxing, fun, great conversation, wine, massages, beautiful weather, perfect fall foliage.  It was a nice little break.

It was my first time ever being away from Juliet.  I didn't need a break from her. No, not at all.  In fact, I was pretty damn anxious leading up to the trip and almost changed my mind ten times about going at all.  My girlfriends were pretty understanding, they even said I could bring her if I wanted.  But I knew that would make it a much different weekend.  And I knew the time at home with daddy would be fun, and good for both of them.

So I went.  And I'm so glad I did.  I missed her, of course....but I came home to a very happy baby girl and I was one relaxed momma.
I went with my best girlfriends from highschool, I'm sure they've been mentioned a lot here...Melanie, Kristin and Amy.  We left on Friday around 11am to head up north.  We stopped at the Scenic Cafe in Duluth, a little rustic place with great food.

For an appetizer we had figs with blue cheese and crostini.
I can't remember what kind of soup this was...cous cous with garbanzo beans and curry maybe?  Anyway, it was delish.   Melanie and Kristin ordered a heirloom tomato mozzarella sandwich.  Amy and I ordered an asparagus and egg sandwich with frisee and gruyere.  It was rich and yummy.
Kristin is having a baby girl in November.  Her friends and I recently hosted her baby shower.  We arrived at Lutsen Resort around 4pm and got settled into our room (which was sort of more like a townhome).  It had a gorgeous view of Lake Superior.  We opened a bottle of wine and relaxed for a bit.  Then we hung out in the hot tub and pool before heading to the pub at the resort for dinner. This was the beautiful sunrise on Saturday morning.  We woke up pretty early and had massages and breakfast.   Next we headed to Lutsen Mountain Ski Resort to check out the scenery and ride the gondolas. Amazing colors.  Did I mention it was perfect weather this day?  Upper 60's and pure sunshine. Don't mind us...we hadn't showered yet that day! At the top of the gondola ride there was a view of the lake. Breathtaking! On Saturday evening we got ready for dinner and headed into Grand Marais.  We ate at Chez Jude which I thought was great (I ordered fried chicken and waffles, yum!) but the other gals weren't as impressed.  Sunday morning came too fast and we left the resort pretty early.  We had breakfast at Coho Cafe and then made a quick stop at Gooseberry Falls.   No shortage of instagram photos.Thanks to my girls for a wonderful weekend. We need to do this at least once a year!