Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Cocoa Daisy Reveal | Hemingway Kit

This kit is so much fun.  Of course with a name like Hemingway, it had to celebrate one thing especially close to my heart: books!

I made a little unboxing video when I got my kit in the mail.  Here is the highlight reel, set to music.  It keeps posting upside down for some reason.  You can see the full video here.  

This is what I got this month:
July Planner kit and add-on

I made 3 layouts and one holiday book spread.  

I love using the planner pages on other stuff. Here I cut out a stack of macaroons from one of the pages and popped it up on a planner dashboard. 

Love all the pineapples this month. I fought the urge to hoard and piled up multiple pineapple designs on this page. The large pineapple is fussy cut from a DITL card. I used another card for my journaling.  I used some of the gold foil rub ons here as well.  It is always fun to fill up a block grid page with fun embellishments. 

This photo enlargement turned out so well I pretty much let it stand on its own. The large wood veneer was the perfect fit for it. 

This is the first layout I put together this month and I really love how it turned out. I sewed down strips of my favorite pattern paper to mimic book spines. Then I used up almost a whole pack of thickers spelling out some of the favorite books Lakshman likes. 

Head over to Cocoa Daisy to shop and see what everyone else created this month. It's a good one! 

Tomorrow is Today | Disney World 2015

Last time we went to Disney World, we managed to pull off the big surprise:

The surprise was so much fun for everyone.  We kind of kept letting it slip but they were too young to catch on to anything not stated outright.  

This time we let them know well in advance.  Somehow it did little to dampen their excitement on the day we left.  

We were counting the days for weeks beforehand.  It became a common topic of conversation at dinner time.  Many many extra bites were eaten by Nandini so she could grow enough to ride the big kid rides at the park.  She was dying to be able to ride the new Snow White ride.  

When we finally got within a few days, the numbers seemed to stretch out quite a bit.  By Nandini's count we had three days to go before our trip for almost a week.  Finally the day arrived and she declared, "Tomorrow is today! We are going to Disney Woooohld!"  

Oh to be four and have tomorrow, the day you have been waiting for and yearning for, finally arrive. 

At one point Avinash asked me why I love Disney World so much.  I almost didn't know what to say.  I was running on the Dwarf Mine Train ride with him and Nandini.  It was late at night and there were twinkling lights all around us.  I felt breathless from running and giddy with excitement to ride the roller coaster again.  I was thrilled that they said Nandini was tall enough to ride, just barely, but still able to ride.  I just told him that being there felt like heaven to me.  He said he felt magic was all around him.  

I will share more photos and projects soon.  I am slowly starting to scrap the pictures.  I did a few layouts but still might make a mini book as well. 

And, yes, we still try to make it to our favorite photo spots every time we visit.  Especially number one! 

Monday, July 27, 2015

5+ Reasons to Try Blue Apron | What to Make for Dinner

Blue Apron has a current promotion for two free meals with your first order.

I got really lucky with this one.  A friend of ours was going out of town and offered us her blue apron box for the week.  Luckily, we are both vegetarian so it was a good fit.  

I was so blown away by her generosity and even more pumped as I opened it up and found out what it was all about.  

Somehow I was expecting freeze dried trays of cafeteria food.  I was kind of excited about popping one into the microwave (???) for a quick lunch.  Ehhhhh.  Ok.  Weird much?

What I found instead was a huge box stuffed to the brim with fresh ingredients.  We got three meals with two servings each.  There was fresh produce, grains, oil, butter, vinegar, spices, garnishes.  Everything but the salt and pepper needed to make a meal.  (And very little of that is required along the way). 

I unloaded all of the fresh food into the fridge and left all the shelf stable ingredients together in the box.  

Dinner is usually a helter skelter affair around here.  I don't know why, but I seem to have run out of dinner ideas about four years ago and they show  no sign of returning.  Every once in a while I will see a Pioneer Woman blog post that looks interesting, but let's face it, it's mostly the desserts I want.  

I wouldn't even care about all this, except I can't get the first two meals we had out of my head.  They were so completely and utterly delicious.  I thought about the summer squash quesadillas all day.  They added some awesome spice mix to the box that made those normally completely unappealing looking knobby yellow squash, the kind you find cubed and forced into succotash as if it might make lima beans taste better, into something craveable.  I have a two ikea counter top shelves full of spices and I use them regularly but I'm still not sure how they made that spice blend taste so good.  

After the second dinner, rice with soy glazed eggplant and shisito peppers, I signed up for our own account.  I can not wait to get the next box.  It's kind of addicting scrolling through the cookbook online.  

I see a lot of benefits to the subscription, even if it is $60 a box normally. 

1. Less grocery shopping.  
Grocery shopping is all too often a trap.  I spend hours of time carting all the kids around the store.  They whine for cookies and I try to distract and mollify.  I pick up random ingredients with a vague idea of cooking something.  And yet, by the time I get home I have no energy left to think of a recipe to make, let alone cook.

2. Less Produce Wasted
By the time the end of the week rolls around we are lucky if we haven't thrown away at least half of the produce we never got around to using. It's so wasteful and makes me feel like I'm pouring money into the trash.  It gets harder the next time at the grocery store to steer clear of packaged foods I know won't spoil.  Bags of tortilla chips and oreo packages are not helping me lose the baby weight.  Which is more like toddler weight at this point. 

3. Make it stretch
Even though we spend almost twice that amount on groceries each week, and even more when you count eating out expenses, I still can't help but flinch a little at the cost.  This week we were able to use the two-person meals to feed our whole family.  For the quesadillas, I made extra plain cheese quesadillas for the kids.   We even made extra for their lunches the next day, which is a big help when camp starts at 8 AM.  And, don't even think about being late, because that means a nature hike for mama while trying to find his group. 
The next day I opened up a box of silken tofu and added it to the eggplant stir fry.  I baked a portion of the tofu to make it crispy and try to avoid the naysayers.  Turns out Avinash only wanted eggplant and Ryan ate the tofu.  Stranger things have happened.  The best part was I didn't have to think about how to prep and season the tofu because the soy glaze added more than enough flavor to the whole dish.

4. Make it your own
The dishes are really well seasoned on their own but there is still room to play around where you want.  I added curry leaves and a bit of coconut oil to the rice to add some flavor there.  Scrolling through the upcoming menus I think I will be opening a can of garbanzo beans or black beans to a lot of the recipes to add extra protein and help make extra servings as well.

5.  Steal from your own box
I love that each dish has fresh herbs going into it.  The herbs are in half bunches or quarter bunches, compared to a normal bunch from the grocery store.  This helps to keep things from going bad, but I found there was more than enough garlic chives for example to grab a few for my morning scrambled eggs without taking anything away from the dish.  The basil for the risotto was also very abundant and could have been used for other dishes (except I wasn't cooking many other main dishes aside from Blue Apron).

6. Get help cooking
The recipe instructions are so easy to follow that my husband could make all of the meals we tried by himself.  This is huge.  I love to cook for my family, but that doesn't mean I have the energy to do it every night.  Having an option other than greasy take out food is awesome.  Plus, I think my husband is learning more about cooking in general this way. Bonus!

This is not a sponsored post, just my honest take on Blue Apron.  I loved it so much, I had to share!  Hopefully they will start a referral program soon, lol.

I know there are a lot of other dinner delivery services out there now.  What is your favorite trick to help get dinner on the table?

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Cocoa Daisy Bistro Kit Reveal

This was a really fabulous month at Cocoa Daisy.  I got the Main kit, Day in the Life kit, and Corner Cafe Add-on Paper.

Holiday Mini Book | Summer Lists  
The Holidays Mini Book is back!  I love this little project I started in January to document different celebrations and holidays throughout the year.  I have a tendency to start these little books and not always finish.   Getting to the half way mark is a big help.

I love having a transparent pocket on my pages.  I stapled the month cirlces directly on to the plastic for a fun overlapping color effect.

To celebrate the start of summer I added a summer bucket list and reading list.  No photos, just fun ideas to record.

Originally shared on IG, I made this gif to show  how I embellished the library books DITL card. I love to add an extra special card to a pocket page.  I think it keeps thing interesting while allowing the page to not get too cluttered.  


I love all the Crate Paper ephemera in the main kit.  Just perfect for creating a loose grid design.  I love that big yellow tag, it adds so much color to the page.  I used a combination of pop dots and stitching to add depth and texture to the page.  Those wooden buttons from the BYOAO section are really thick and lovely feeling.

Hello Pooh Bear

Lakshman was just the cutest when meeting the characters at Disney World.  I layered the cloud vellum from the Shimelle line, over the dark blue paper to tone down the femininity a bit.

Honeyduke's Sweet Shop

This was such a fun layout to work.  I was going through my photos from the World of Harry Potter trip and found so many delicious little moments.  I printed out a bunch of them and scattered them around the page.  I added journaling with some hand drawn doodling here and there.  Love the how eclectic feel of the page captured the mood I was trying to convey.  It's always fun to try new techniques to add a little variety to my albums.

Thanks for looking!  Check out all of the kits and add-ons over at Cocoa Daisy here. Hope you enjoy this month's Cocoa Daisy kit as much as I did too ;)

You can see my other Cocoa Daisy Projects here.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Around Here | June 2015

**This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

Slowly getting out of the Disney fog.  Nandini asks when we are going back almost daily, with the one notable exception of water day at camp.
"We can go to Di-ney World the next day after water day, ok Mommy?"

Already scrapping about it of course, but not getting enough time as I want to get all these memories down.  It is so much easier when they are fresh!

Going to the movies. I may have cried for over half of it, but it was so good.  Nandini asked for her "movie dress", like dressing up in character is now a given everywhere we go.  I dressed her up like Mindy Kaling's character "disgust" of course.  Avinash was anger in red.

Lakshman was sporting the bow tie like Fear.  People just assumed we wanted to dress up him in formal attire all day. Which makes sense because he's a very formal baby.

Feeling a little better about him.  I can't thank everyone enough for all their kind words here and on facebook after my last post.  Your support means so much!!

Attempting to get out of my yoga pants and T-shirts rut with a ten pieces in ten days type challenge.  Will post about that soon. It's been kind of a success I think.

Going swimming about once a week.  There are so many great pools around Austin.  I love this one because of the huge kiddie pool.  It's great for all of my kids, even the little guy.

Loving Tea's India collection.  I have been stalking it for months and was so excited to see it go on sale finally.  I may have gone a little crazy after that. Check out the sale here: Tea Collection's Summer Sale, 50% off 

Reading all the books.  When we are not at home reading and re-reading The Little Red Caboose, we are out at Book People finding new favorites.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Dear Facebook, I'm feeling a little insecure | Feeding Disorders Are Hard

After gaining two pounds at Disney World, Lakshman has, in protest I think, decided to lose it all back again.  Every day this week his weight has dropped below 17 pounds.  He usually gains back half a pound or so during the day, but the weight can't seem to accumulate.  To say we are feeling stressed about this would be an understatement.

His intake hasn't really changed, so we are a bit stuck.  Objectively he is really really small and not even close to getting back on the growth curve one hospital stay, several feeding tube trials, three different pediatricians, four GI specialists, and two therapists later.

Having this stuff stress us out does nothing to help the situation of course.  We both get nervous about every feeding.  Missed ounces feel like a tragedy.  I become very sensitive to remarks from random strangers.  Probably unnecessarily so.  But why does every part of parenting have to turn into a competition.  The stupid growth chart, with it's grade like percentage points, really isn't helping.

I know, I know, the percentiles are nothing like grades.  Getting a 99 isn't analogous to an A+ or something.  I still can't help feeling a bit jealous though.

The way the facebook comments erupt into a shouting match below an article posted about breastfeeding.  Bottle feeding parents feel slighted and want to let everyone know.  (All of my kids have done both for the record.)  In reality, I think, the articles are often referencing pretty dry study findings.  The judgement and guilt we read into those findings are our own.  '

I spew all my random frustrations about comments on Lakshman's size on facebook too.  It's my favorite place to vent.  I mean, if I never felt insecure I would probably never be on facebook at all. 

Of course I think that other parents should feel proud of their kids and how big they are.  I feel the same way about my one child who actually does willingly eat his food and seems to be growing.

Of course people may comment on his size or ask his age.  It's just small talk.  I pretty much have nothing to say to other kids other than comments about their appearance.  "Hey [kid]!  I like that shirt/pants/dress/shoes."  I don't know.  What do less awkward people talk to other kids about?  Seriously, I have no clue.

I know all this, but the insecurities still find me.  I feel like he is being judged as lacking.  I'm sure he probably isn't. But his weight is all I can think about anymore.  It's hard feeling like I am failing him so badly that random strangers can't help but point it out to me.

With the weight of all this stress on me I was starting to feel underwater.  The facebook comments and support from friends were nice but I needed a big win today.  Or several small ones even.

In the spirit of memory keeping, this is what I need to remember right now.

  • We had therapy this morning.  He eat one shred of cheese total.  But his face.  His face when he was blowing bubbles with the therapist. It was too cute for words.  He pursed his lips and tried to help but didn't actually know that he needed to blow air out.  The therapist and I both died of cuteness for a minute there.
  • Despite the call for a tropical storm in Texas, we actually had a delightfully sunny morning.  Lakshman played on the water table while I sat on the garden steps reading a book!  A book.  A really real book.  Not The Little Red Caboose, not Guess Who Elmo.  Not even Barbie the Bunny. But a real adult fiction book.  This last almost fifteen minutes and it felt awesome. 
  • I took the kids to get pie before taking them to a promised bouncy house visit.  This took almost an hour (one less hour trying to keep Lakshman from jumping into the ball pit that you know is fullllll of old bandaids, ew).  They also completely filled up and forgot to ask me for snacks every ten minutes at said bounce house.  Because they never want the snacks I bring.  They only thing they will eat is the $5 bag of microwave popcorn.  Or pie apparently. 
  • Eating apple pie gave me so much energy I actually ran around the bounce house with them instead of sitting catatonically in a chair like I usually want to do.  
  • At home, Avinash told me to come upstairs because he had a little surprise for me.  I sort of panicked on my way there expecting to see a dried up lizard carcass or something.  Instead he had written out "I love you" with his locker magnets.  The amazing part is that his room was clean too.  I know. Will wonders never cease.  He asked me to watch TV exactly zero times today.  Not exactly normal behavior. 

  • My random decision to make quinoa for dinner tonight actually paid off.  I haven't thought about eating it in at least a year.  Not only did Ryan not complain, he enthusiastically ate it.  Then Lakshman watched Nandini take a spoonful in her mouth and decided he wanted some too.  On a spoon.  Fed by us.  I started getting heart palpitations from joy and the fear that this wouldn't last. It didn't. He only had one or two bites, but he let me hand feed after that.  When he wasn't wildly craning his head in the other direction, he even smiled and seemed to be enjoying the taste.  The kid who wouldn't try pie today.  Not apple, not blueberry, not sweet and salty caramel chocolate.  That kid was enjoying quinoa. I know it wasn't many calories, but I was still thrilled.  For our very stubborn and won't take food from anybody this was huge.  I know that breakthrough is coming.
Maybe try to put some of that cereal in your mouth instead of all over the floor?  That would be great, thanks. 

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Let's Go! | June Cocoa Daisy Projects

The June Cocoa Daisy Kit is here!  It was such a pleasure to work with.  I had plenty of rainy days at home this month to play with paper.  Luckily our house has escaped the flooding here. 
This kit has so many fun bold colors.  I love them paired with the silvery and grey alphas available in the kit.  It matches the nautical and travel theme really well.  Such a fun kit. 

Leap | I love this picture of Avinash.  I always have to sit outside during watch day at Ballet because of my other two little (and loud ones).  I couldn't be happier with the angle of pictures I was able to get.  I tried to emphasize the vertical on this page.
I love the silver thickers in this kit and made a focal point out of the title.
Luckily, this kit is also great for "boy" pages and I layered a lot of blues and neutrals around the picture.  The lime green is a nice pop of contrast while staying in the same color family.

Around Here | This patterned paper with different shipping tags caught my eye, of course.  I am obsessed with shipping tags and have gone through two 1,000 tag bulk boxes in the last two years alone.  So weird, I know.
This paper reminded me of a patchwork so I tried to sort of fit my photos into the pattern.  I like balancing the busy paper with a wide strip of white.  That flair badge was my favorite.  I could use about ten more.

Project Life | It has been a while since I worked on my PL album.  I seem to start a lot of spreads and never finish them.  It has really been bugging me though, so I decided to get back into the swing of things!  This month's DITL kit has so many fun cards, it turned out the spread was a lot easier to put together than I thought.  I even did my journaling.  Yay me.

The kits are on sale now.  The Build Your Own Add-ons options are great this month.  I love how flexible it makes shopping for kits.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Saturdays Are the Greatest

Saturdays are for ...

Sleeping in.  Until 8:45 after being woken up every fifteen minutes since 6am.

Taking Avinash to soccer.  During the only hour of sunlight we've had all week.  The temptation to skip and pretend it was cancelled would probably have been a lot higher knowing what I know now about the sky opening up right after and the flash flood and tornado watch all evening.

Chasing after the baby on the sidelines.  Because he just decided he is walking everywhere now.  Trying to get him to steer clear from all the fire ant hills and poison ivy around the field.  At least the field is well maintained.

Shopping at Target. To pick goldfish crackers since the fridge is down and we need to feed the kids something other than dry cereal and leftover peanut butter cake this weekend.

Going out for doughnuts and Mexican food.  When we realize plan A is a serious failure.  And, life without cheese is basically no life.

Cleaning out our closet.  The cumulative effect of all the decluttering and capsule wardrobes being discussed on the internet has infected my brain like a wifi-borne zombie plague.  I rearrange everything, fill up a huge bag for thred up and still have nothing to wear.  Great.

Building Nandini's Little Mermaid Lego set.  Because she wants to bring it to Disney World when we go in June and that's never gonna happen.  She and I talk about putting the lego lipstick on Ariel while Avinash does most of the building with Ryan.   She's the stereotypical lego friends consumer so reviled by feminists everywhere- verbal and into role playing little characters over construction.

Knowing I get to wake up and do (large parts of it) all over again tomorrow.  Is it September yet? Just kidding. Sort of. Not really.

***affiliate links used***
Tea Collection's Memorial Day Sale: Take 20% off everything with code WEGOTHERE plus receive totally free shipping

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Oh the Places You'll Go | Kindergarten Graduation

Avinash had a great milestone this past week.

He will always be my baby but it is so fun to watch him grow.  He loves school.  He is getting to be a pretty good reader and writer, he is obsessed with animals and did his research project on raptors (hawks, owls, etc).  Don't call them birds please, they are dinosaurs!

We couldn't be prouder of him finishing kindergarten.  A lot of schools around here have a yearly tradition of a kindergarten graduation but Avinash's school is kind of progressive and they tend to shy away from that sort of conventional fan fare.

Lucky for us one of the other moms in the class wasn't afraid to ask and went to the administration and all the parents for approval to hold a scaled back graduation ceremony.  Caps and gowns were forbidden.  Even though I never would have thought of it myself or have had a single clue about getting it all organized, I was totally on board and signed up to help.

We made yearbooks and diplomas together.  I just googled diploma images from UT and we made our version on photoshop.  We got gold foil rimmed paper to print them out on and gold seals from the university shop.  One of the benefits of having our kids at the on campus preschool.

We asked their teacher to write a letter to go in the yearbook and she used a Dr. Seuss theme.  I loved it so much and decided to run with it for the rest of my crafting.

I put all of the diplomas in document covers and they were looking really professional and awesome but not at all childish and fun.  So I pulled out the silhouette and made little cards with their names and different patterned papers to add some color and whimsy to the project.  I found a great Dr. Suess font for free on dafont. I cut out the phrase "Oh the Places You'll Go!" and personalized it for each child.
I tied each card to the the document cover with twine.  We decided that the parents would get the diplomas directly since the kids might be prone to crumpling or otherwise messing with them.

For the actual graduation part we did tie up little scrolls with some red ribbon so the teacher and principal could have something to hand to the kids.

Of course I couldn't resist an opportunity to decorate and brought a few things along with me.  I turned to trusty pinterest for some inspiration.    

I really loved this quote.  I decided to make some chalkboard art with it, just to up the Seuss factor.  

I was so lucky to have my mother in law around that day to watch the baby while I worked on this stuff. 

For the auditorium, I pulled a big book of Maps and a globe from our house to use as well.  That with the basket of red ribbon wrapped diplomas was all it really needed.  Instead of Seuss-themed pom poms, I just hung up a pre made chalkboard banner from Target.  The red and white twine was perfect. 

We had to have food too of course.  People brought cookies and cupcakes and these really good rice krispie treats with pink icing.    

   I have the most talented friends.  I am obsessed with this photo she took of Avinash.  She took photos of all the kids.  We also had a little slideshow of the kids over the years.  I don't know how I didn't start crying right then.  

   The thing that made me tear up the most though was his teacher's speech.  Her last bit of advice really hit me "Behave, as if this is the day [you] will be remembered."   He has learned so much about being a good listener (at school at least), sitting still during circle time and playing well with his friends in class.  
   Of course as soon the formalities ended he and his friends spent the rest of the time grinding cupcake icing into the carpet and running up and down the stairs.  It's their last day of school, and I think they felt like they needed to let loose.  At least he helps me keep things in perspective, after all they are only six. Ha!

I love the sneakers with the suit vest.  Kindgarten fashion at it's finest.   I don't know why I didn't put a tie on him.

The children all did a little questionnaire about school.  The answers to that were read out as they walked to the front of the room to accept their "diplomas".

Here are Avinash's answers:

My favorite memory of lab school is: playing hide and seek outside.

I learned about: a boy that saved all of the eagles and they were endangered.

What I will miss most about school is: learning. There is so much learning you can learn in every classroom.

First grade, here we come! Avinash is excited about his new school having a chess club, a library and getting graded next year.



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