Thursday, September 26, 2013

Recipe: Pumpkin Butter

Flavored butter is the easiest way to elevate breakfast to another level. In the past, I've experimented with strawberry butter and cashew butter, but this week, I wanted to bring autumn into our kitchen with this pumpkin butter recipe.

I really don't have a lot of time these days as I've been juggling two munchkins in the mornings, but this was so quick and easy and will make various breakfasts taste heartier and homier. Pumpkin butter is perfect when spread on any ordinary english muffin or slice of toast. The added bonus is that it smells as good as it tastes! Next time, I plan to add a dash of maple syrup to it for a slightly sweeter version... perfect for pancakes.

I can't wait to continue using pumpkin in many fun ways this fall. Any particular recipe suggestions?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Being Mommy: J's First Day of School

I didn't realize little J's first day of school would be such an emotional experience for me as a mother. This past week, as I was getting things ready for school, putting away little J's summer dresses, shorts, and tanks -- I was overwhelmed with a feeling of nostalgia. It wasn't easy to replace the carefree, floral sundresses for wool sweaters and the bright tanks for the warm colors of fall. Because J has both outgrown those summer clothes, and the season is changing, I can see how she is growing up right before my eyes. She can suddenly have full conversations, drink from a regular cup, use the toilet, sleep in a big girl bed and even choose her own clothes. She's definitely not a baby anymore!

Today was her first day of school (a 2's program, which is basically pre-nursery school), and there are so many other firsts to come along with that. This morning, my heart was heavy as I watched my baby girl take her first steps into a world where we, as parents, cannot follow. It's both sad and wonderful to think of all the learning, laughing and life lessons she will learn while we are not present. Through her school days, we will only be in the sidelines to cheer her on... and it's not easy to let go. Thank goodness for waterproof mascara.

Wish us luck as we go through this transition!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Back to School

The end of summer is always marked with a certain sadness and a ton of happy memories...but it's also the beginning of crisp air, fall leaves, pumpkin spice lattes... and back to school shopping!

I have been finding such adorable school gear on etsy! Today I'm sharing a few of my faves.

What a fun, delicious treat... back to school cake pops!!

Adorable, personalized pencil case

What a great idea! Cozy nap-mat that can be personalized and comes in many colors...

Beautiful waterproof art smock

Magnets to display art work, aced quizzes, stellar report cards...

Monogrammed camelback water bottle

Wouldn't these make starting pre-school so much fun?

Monday, September 23, 2013

Recipe: Veggie & Lentil Stew for Fall

With all the baby madness in our home, I've been turning to easy, make-ahead dishes for hearty and enriching meals. The slow-cooker is one of our most utilized tools these days!!

Here's a great recipe for fall... don't you just want to cuddle up with this warm and cozy slow-cooked stew? I added lentils, subbed in veggie stock for chicken, and served it over brown rice sauteed with peas and turmeric, with a dollop of plain yogurt and cilantro.

Any other great slow-cooker recipes I should know about?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Book Review: We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

This book is best enjoyed without having read many reviews or previews, because the "reveal" that comes in the middle of the novel is critical to its success. While this reveal could have easily landed this novel into the realm of absurd and fantastical, this author keeps the book grounded while unveiling many truths about humanity, family, and sisterhood. This is a compelling, relatable, witty and extremely well written novel that touches on many subjects, but is mostly about family.

At the heart of this novel is a confused narrator, Rosemary Cooke, who was loquacious as a child but has become a woman entrapped in silence. The focus is on something that happened that was so awful she must try to forget it. As she says, "Though I was only five when she disappeared from my life, I do remember her. I remember her sharply — her smell and touch, scattered images of her face, her ears, her chin, her eyes. Her arms, her feet, her fingers. But I don’t remember her fully..."

The Cooke family is a loving, close-knit unit which endures many unexpected losses. The family becomes a dysfunctional one as it disinentagrates...and here, Fowler explores the relationship between humans and animals, the impact of scientific experimentation, and the bonds of family. The reader's own confusion while we sort out the facts of the story are mirrored by Rosie's same feelings, and I especially loved the intersection of truth and memory as they came together and clashed in many circumstances. As Fowler explains, “The happening and telling are very different things. This doesn’t mean that the story isn’t true, only that I honestly don’t know anymore if I really remember it or only remember how to tell it. Language does this to our memories, simplifies, solidifies, codifies, mummifies. An off-told story is like a photograph in a family album. Eventually it replaces the moment it was meant to capture.” 

I love that this book is an amazing and strange story, but also will provoke you to think about larger issues like animal rights and the food industries. The author unfolds a sensitive, intellectual, plot-driven novel which is highly readable and merits many praises. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Decor: Baby L's Nursery

Nursery Letters from Etsy, Butterfly stickers from Pottery Barn Kids
I wanted Baby L's nursery to be a soothing but bright space, and I'm so happy with how it turned out. This same room used to be big sister's nursery, so we already had the basic colors and layout, but made a few modifications to personalize it for the new baby and to create an airier room. 

The first major change was replacing the dusty pink shag rug (too dull, dirty and too difficult to clean) with a more modern, bright lavender rug from Pottery Barn Kids. It made a world of a difference! See before and after below.



The other major change is that we swapped out the full bed which was too big and mismatched for the room, for a more compact day bed with a trundle! It's perfect for our nanny, sleepovers, or guests. This made so much more space for playtime, and brightened the room further. A daybed is great for a child's nursery - it comes in so handy already! 

Bedding by Ralph Lauren, Throw pillows by Glenna Jean, and Butterfly Mirrors from Pottery Barn Kids
I also organized all the baby essentials, teething rings, other toys into accessible, uniform and lovely baskets, also from Pottery Barn Kids. I love that everything is so handy to reach, yet away from a toddler's grasp! 

There are so many knick-knacks in this room that add to its charm:

Armoire and all furniture from Pottery Barn Kids
Ruffled Crib Skirt and Sheets by Pottery Barn Kids, Mobile by TinyLove, Decals from Land of Nod (no longer available)


Piggy Banks from Tiffany & Co., Personalized Throw Pillow from Etsy, "All You Need is Love" posters from Etsy, framed by a local studio


I loved working with these decals -- it was so easy to place them on the walls, and they add so much texture and daintiness... exactly what I was going for. Decals and stencils are great ways for amateurs to elevate their decor in a cost effective way. Have you tried them at all?

I've been spending a lot of time in this room -- late night cuddling, nursing and tons of diaper changes. But no matter how tired I am, this room feels so soft and cozy. What do you think?

Monday, September 9, 2013

Introducing Baby Leela

As you might have guessed from my radio-silence on the blog, baby Leela has finally arrived! She was born on August 27, 2013 at 10:02 in the morning, weighing 8 lbs 6 oz! She has a full head of hair and juicy little cheeks :) We are all over the moon!

Leela means "miracle" in Hindi and Telegu, and also could mean "play" or "youthful." We chose it because we felt it pairs well with Jiya, is easy to say, and sounds so sweet! Leela and I have been enjoying lots of snuggles over the past couple of weeks. Big sister loves her and has been adjusting well.

More to come soon.