Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sensory Nibble Bag

Is anyone getting sick of my Pinterest re-do's? Since there's only, oh, I don't know, 5 readers at best who read this blog, I'm going to just keep on keeping on. Hope you don't mind.

Pinterest is loaded with ideas for toddlers, but what can you really do with infants??? I  am so excited to start making things for Denver to play with and learn from, but he is too little for most of the things I've pinned.  Then I found this sensory bag from Plain Vanilla Mom! It's perfect because he is starting to get curious and grasp and touch things. Also, it could be made with stuff from the dollar that!

Take a ziplock bag--freezer bags are best because they are the thickest and most durable. Fill with a bottle of hair gel, and then whatever little trinkets you can find. I got some beads, plastic fish and frogs, marbles, and a shiny new penny.  Then, I trimmed the whole thing with duct tape to make sure it wouldn't leak or split open at the edges. I love decorative duct tape! And the black and white checkers are a perfect bold visual for infants! 

Denver loves this fact, it might be his favorite.  when I hold it up in front of him, he gets so doesn't even really do anything, he just loves to look at it.  Maybe it's the color, or the bold edges. When I give it to him, he grabs at it a bit which is what he's supposed to do with it since its a sensory bag...and then right into his mouth it goes! I guess even the sensory bag is a little too advanced for him. So for now, it's a nibble bag. Luckily he has no teeth yet so we don't have to worry about him biting through it. 

Anti-Anti- Pasto

My aunt and uncle threw a little soirée to welcome my cousin home from his deployment in Afghanistan and they asked that everyone bring something. So what was the first thing that I did??? I excitedly went running to Pinterest looking for appetizer ideas. I wanted something that would travel well, wouldn't need to be warmed, and would be easy to eat. Within seconds, I found it! Antipasto skewers!  The Hungry Housewife offered a great recipe.

I mixed up the original recipe to better suit my taste...and make them a bit more substantial...because lets face it, bigger is better! Also, with the tortellini, I guess it's not really antipasto, so I call mine the anti-antipasto.  Ian did cut the skewers down a bit so they would fit on my dish, and it also helped the food to fit perfectly without too much skewer left over. So, here's what I ended up with...

  1. Large green olive
  2. Pepperoni
  3. Cheese tortellini - cooked and marinated in balsamic vinaigrette overnight
  4. Provolone cheese
  5. Cherry tomato
  6. Prosciutto
  7. Marinated mozzarella ball
  8. Salami
  9. Black olive
I thought a small Parmesan chunk would be a nice touch...but pricey!

If you know me, then you know that I definitely obsessed over the order of the tasty bites for quite some time. I wanted the skewer to be a journey of sight and taste...kidding. But yes, I did obsess over the order.

So easy, huge hit...and no leftovers :(

Friday, April 13, 2012

What I've Learned as a New Mommy

Denver just passed the 3 month mark.  I know it's cliche, but he is growing so fast! Ian made a good point, that 3 months is a big milestone.  It's a dividing line in development and clothes! ...well, for our looong boy, we hit 3-6 month clothes a while ago! Anyway, I thought that even though I am no expert and I still have plenty to learn, this would be a good time to write about some of the things that I have learned so far.

  • All babies really are different.  You read all of the books, magazines, websites, community boards and you wonder if you're baby is normal, ahead, or behind.  I am finally realizing, with a baby in 6-9 month clothes (because of length, not weight!) that I can't compare him to anyone else.
  • It's okay not to breastfeed I was devastated when I stopped trying.  Everyone talks about how there is no closer bond and how it's the most beautiful thing in the world, yada yada yada. Those things weighed heavy on my mind when I was ready to give up. Denver hated it! He would scream mercilessly, to the point where he was almost choking and hyperventilating. I couldn't do it anymore, especially when we were both at the point of exhaustion.  And it has been okay! He still has unconditional love for me. I am still the one who settles him down. We still have those special moments where we stare into each others eyes.  No regrets. Here is a blog that supports other mommies who struggle with breastfeeding.
  • Tri-fold cloth diapers are the best burp cloths.  That's it.
  • Babies don't have to hate belly time! Many do because they sleep on their backs. Denver screamed when we would try to put him on his belly to exercise his neck muscles.  Then we tried laying on our backs and laying him on his belly, on our chests so that he could see our faces.  It took a couple of weeks...first he screamed, then the screams turns to cries, the cries turned to squeals, the squeals turned to whines, and now he actually smiles and laughs because as he lifts his head, he sees us smiling and encouraging him.  This has become a great game.

  • There is no such thing as a schedule. Sure, they may sleep through the nit eventually and patterns may develop, but each at is different. Take today for example.  Denver usually takes a nap 2 hours after he wakes up, for about 30 minutes, then a longer nap anytime from 11am-2pm, and then another around 4 before he goes to bed at 6:30ish.  I had all kinds of plans today based on that pattern and the little man only took three 20 minute naps at odd times.  So much for my to-do list.
  • You can't really get babies into a routine, try as you might.  It will just happen.  I researched and read all about how to help baby sleep through the night. You can read more about that here. I tried lots of things to help him get to this milestone, but one night, he just did it.  Maybe my hard work accumulated and had some influence, but Denver was ready. Lesson learned: don't try so hard.
  • Take lots of pictures! Even in 3 short months, they grow so much. Without pictures, I would have no way to see Denver's incredible growth. He's a little boy, now.  It's hard to remember what he looked like in his earlier weeks. I even take a weekly picture every Sunday so that one day I can make a collage or some sort of timeline.  Already, it's amazing to see his changes week to week.
  • Sleepers are comfy and awesome...not the sleep sacks, though they're nice, too. But I love the footed pajamas. However, there are those that snap and those that zip. Go with the zip! Makes those 3am diaper changes less challenging.
  • Bottle warmer, shmottle shwarmer.  I thought we needed a bottle warmer to avoid hot spots, so we got one. More often, I just use the microwave.  Takes about 1/8 the time.
  • You really can interpret cries. I wasn't sure about this at first, but then I read something online that helped me crack the code. Long drown out cries, sometimes even fake, mean hungry.  Whiny, squeaky cries are gas...often associated with stiffening body and jerky legs.  Unexplainable, indistinguishable cried means wet diaper. If you are playing and the baby looks away, they are done and want to be left alone. Sounds crazy, but thanks to these tips, Denver rarely has crying fits. 
  • Trust your instincts.  This is a tough one as a new mom because I've never had motherly instincts. It's strange to have a feeling and just know. You are the mom, you really do know best...not because you're the boss or all-knowing, but because you know your baby, better than even you realize. It's not a just do! 

  • Dust if you must. My mom taught me this.  I was feeling kind of guilty because I am home and Ian has to work, so I was trying to be mother and wife of the meals, clean house, clean laundry. I managed, but I was exhausted.  Worse than that, I found myself hoping Denver would sleep so that I could do everything on my to-do list. Then I realized that when I go back to work in September, I would look back and regret nt spending every possible minute with him.  That's when I started letting things go.  It's okay.  The house is still clean, we still eat, and we wear clean clothes.
  • Go outside. My mom told me the my nana said, even if it is only for a few minutes, you should take your baby outside everyday.  And that's what we've done! Denver loves the fresh air, and the sites and sounds. In fact, if he's having a meltdown, all I have to do is step outside, and all is right in his world.  

  • Don't let others tell you what to do. Only weeks after I was home, people were pressuring me to get out of the house, take a break, get some me time. I didn't want any of that. I just wanted to take in every possible minute with my son. I listened to them, though. I left the house...and I hated it. I found myself resenting the people who were trying to help. I just wasn't ready...and that's ok. Now, Denver is 3 months old and I leave him with other people. I have been for weeks. I go out and get me time, and now it's right.  I'm ready. Don't let other people, even if they are well-intentioned, force you to do things you don't want to do. They mean well, but move at your own pace.
  • Thermos...genius! Ok, I'm not claiming to be the mother of this brain child, but in all of the books, magazines, websites, and discussion boards that I have read, I have never seen this.  I have been struggling with how to manage bottles on long day trips.  I have a car warmer, but it takes a while and it's hard to get the temperature just right. I could ask restaurants to heat up a bottle, but what if there's no restaurant? Then I thought to myself, there must be a way to carry warm water so I can mix a bottle when I need one. Surely, something must exist that can help me with this. DUH! Thermos. Well actually, my first thought was to put warm water in a travel coffee mug. Longer day trip??? Thermos! If anyone has a better idea, please share! I should market this.

3 months isn't just a milestone for Denver, but also for Ian and me. As parents, we are more confidant. As husband and wife, we are finding our balance, which has been tough since we went from two to three. We still have so much to learn, and I'm sure there are things that I am leaving out, so this will be Part 1. To be continued...

Perfect 1st Anniversary Paper Gift

Jessie just received her anniversary gift, and she loved it!  
Now it's safe to publish this post...

I just love it when Ian is home from work.  Not only did I have time to finish some crafty odds and ends, but I am actually sitting, feet up, coffee nearby (still hot), and am blogging from the couch...watching Disney because I can't reach the remote...while daddy feeds little Denver. Love today!

April 8 was my sister's one year anniversary and since one year is paper, and I just loved this calendar idea from Design Sponge that I found on Pinterest, I knew exactly what to give Jessie and Brian!  I made one for myself, but I definitely like the way that theirs came out's more personal, as you'll see.

Kate Pruitt @ Design Sponge
First, I bought the largest index cards I could find and cut them in half. Easy. Then I bought a date stamp.  This was super cheap at Staples and since I plan on making lots of these perpetual calendars, I cut off the year band of the stamp so that only the month and date remained. Then I stamped each card with a date until I had 365 cards.

Quick story, because with all of the bad out there, you hardly ever hear about people who do good: A few weeks ago when Ian and I went antiquing, I saw used, wooden, fruit containers that would be perfect for my calendar. There were four tied together with some ribbon. I can't remember how much they were so I don't want to exaggerate the price, but I remember thinking, I can't spend that on those! So I thought I would continue my search for another perfect container...but none existed. I couldn't stop thinking about the overpriced fruit boxes. I had to have them. Trouble was, I couldn't remember if I saw them at the first or second stop. We went to one of the two antique shops...I rushed in as if there was a run on used fruit boxes! I asked the woman if she had any in the shop and explained the story about how there were four used fruit boxes, tied together with ribbon, but that I couldn't remember if I saw them at her shop or the one up the street.  Much to my disappointment, she said she did not have the containers.  She was asking me all kinds of questions, like what i wanted them for and how they were sold at the other store...i got the impression she was fishing for ideas.  Then she disappeared.  So, Ian and I did a quick walk-about to see if any new gems had come in. The woman found me as we were leaving and had six of my fruit containers! She said she was shocked that anyone would charge for them, let alone charge such a ridiculous price! So she gave them to me, for free dollars! All she asked was that I come back to show her the finished project.  Deal! See, good people really do exist!

Anyway, back to it.  I had the perfect I needed postcards to divide each month.  For my own calendar, I bought a lot of vintage postcards on eBay. I didn't care where they were from. I was just interested in color.  But for my sister's I wanted something more special.  Her husband collects vintage postcards from the New Jersey Shore...that's where we are from and they still live there.  So back to the antique store I went! I picked out 12 beautiful Jersey Shore post cards.  It's like two gifts in one! And it really brings home the paper anniversary theme.

Finally, I wrote some case index cards in a box don't make sense.

I wrapped up the entire package in baking was such a nice touch in the original Pinterest find that I couldn't resist! 

I made them a card...yep, more paper! I also used the baking twine for some extra pizazz. It's so charming...and when I buy a new craft toy, I can't help but overuse it.

So, I packaged it up and stuck it in the mail.  I was a little nervous about the presentation upon arrival, but it is what it is.


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

My Storybook Baby Shower

This is long overdue, but better late than never!

I am so lucky to have the most thoughtful mommy and sister!  They threw me a storybook shower...literally.  It was a book-themed event, down to every detail.  Here are some of the highlights.

The invitations were made to look like Golden Books.  Everything was inside.

The shower information was printed on library!

Each invitation had a bookmark that explained the wishing well.

Guests were asked to put this label in the book that they brought for the wishing well.

The tables each had antique, glass baby bottles holding baby's breath...get it? 
They also had wooden baby blocks, jars of baby food as candle holders, and printouts of classic children's books. Every seat had a little packet, fastened with a blue diaper pin, with games and spaces to write messages to the baby.

The wishing well was a bed...for all of the bedtime stories...get it?!

I highly recommend My Book About Me.  It's a Dr. Seuss activity book where children learn and write about themselves.  Also, On the Night You Were Born is a great book that you are supposed to bring to the hospital when baby is born.  Everyone there--doctors, nurses, guests--writes a little note to the baby in the book.  Then, you read all of the sweet notes every year on your child's birthday.  It was hard to get people to sign the book, but I am looking forward to reading the notes that we did get on Denver's first birthday. 

The favors were mini books that were actually boxes. Inside was a moon bookmark.
  A candy buffet! ...storybook themed, of course. I am crazy for candy buffets!
One of my very best friends put this together.  She did such an incredible job!
Does the banner look familiar? It hangs over Denver's crib, now.

Each candy matched a classic book title.

Beautiful, right? Everything was incredible.  Isn't it crazy how much thought and time goes into these celebrations, and then they go by so quickly?!  I really tried to take it all in. 
...I miss my bump.  I loved being pregnant!

It was a wonderful day with amazing friends and family.  
And to was all in preparation of this little man.

A Spin on the Perfect Gift

For Christmas, I made my sister an ornament that held her wedding invitation. Perfect for a gift-giver on a budget! ...and super sentimental!

(wish I could have gotten a better picture)
As I mentioned in that post, it was not my idea...I snagged it from Pinterest, which you can read about in my earlier post. Is my addiction becoming apparent yet???

By Christy @ From Glitter to Gumdrops
I vowed to never throw away another invitation or announcement! ...and that's just what I did. Sorry friends and family...spoiler alert.  

Anyway, I held onto one of my friend's invitations with the intention of making her one of these clever gifts. I was so careful to keep it in a safe place that I couldn't find it! After a week of frantic searching, I finally spotted it amongst all of the cards we received when Denver was born. Then, I made Ian go into the depths of our attic to get my clear Christmas ball ornaments. I sliced up the invitation, curled the pieces, twisted them in...and then it hit me. My soon-to-be married friend celebrates Hanukkah, not Christmas. That's right. Some friend I am. So off to the craft store I went, with my little sidekick who was perfect the whole time.

My friend had a beach wedding in Aruba so I found this perfect round bottle with a cork and a nice starfish charm, and problem solved! I think it came out just as nice as the ornaments and it can stay out all year.

Another successful craft project! Thanks Pinterest!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Picture Problem Solved

If you pin as much as I do, you probably came across this gem.  I had no idea it would be so easy, but it really really was! If I can do this, anyone can do this.

Ian and I were looking for a way to display our first family picture.  I was going to order a canvas print but it was expensive! Worse than that, it was really hard to create a canvas print in Shutterfly...sorry know I love you, but seriously.  So, our picture ended up in a plain, old, boring, matte-less frame.  So lame!  So lame, in fact, that I shamefully displayed my beloved picture in a dark corner of our house.  

Then it hit me...I pinned something that just might work perfectly. So off to Michael's I went.  In fact, it was my first shopping trip with Denver. He was great! I bought Mod Podge and a gel medium...I had a super hard time finding the gel medium since I had no idea what it was or what it is really used for. Hint: check the paint aisle.  Then as I was taking advantage of Denver's awesomeness, I stumbled upon a slice of a tree, bark and all, for $6! 

Next stop, Staples to make copies of our family picture.  I made a black and white and a color copy because I wasn't sure if one would look better than the other.  While there, I also bought a date stamp for another project. More on that later.

I followed the super simple video step by step.  First, gel medium and face down print...let dry over night.

Next, wet and rub off all paper residue.

Finally, Mod Podge.

That's it!  Too easy.  This is definitely a go-to project for hear that friends and family? You might just get one with a big red bow one day!