Things I Love Thursdays

Stick-eez Clothing Labels by Oliver’s Labels

I have 6.5 years of labeling experience now and I can state with confidence that my favorite labels are the Stick-eez Clothing Labels made by Oliver’s Labels.  They are meant for clothing, but I’ve put them on everything.  They are tiny (a feature I prefer) and they survive the washing machine just as well as they survive the dishwasher. The designs are great and totally customizable.  We are currently loving the Eric Carle “Brown Bear” themed labels.  Plum was two before I figured out that if I put only my family’s last name on the labels I could use them for the entire family!  (Duh.)  They aren’t cheap, but they are worth it (says the woman who has recently purchased 3 replacement water bottles because she forgot to label the first two. Ugh.)

labels

 

One-Man Band Toy by Vilac

What a cool toy! I might even travel to France to buy a few of these for my nieces and nephews.  C’mon, what kid wouldn’t love this?!  I do think, however, that the parents of said nieces and nephews are probably glad this toy is so far away and so hard to get.

homme-orchestre-vilac

 

Casco Bay Butter Co.

I’m pretty sure good bread with good butter is one of the world’s most perfect things. Truly. Simple and indulgent. You have to try these amazing butters made in Maine by the Casco Bay Butter Co.  I’m a sucker for the traditional sea salt, but every one I’ve tried is excellent.  Blue cheese butter melted over a steak?  Garlic and herb butter stirred into mashed potatoes? Yes, please!

logo

butter

 

(Links are for your convenience only.  I don’t get any money – or free butter – for recommending this stuff, it is simply stuff I think is great.)

Things I Love Thursdays – Baby Shower Edition

Baby Showers!  I’m nearing 40 so, alas, my baby shower attendance has dropped off a bit in the last few years. Sadness.  Hopefully I have a few left to attend.  Here is a list of a few of my favorite baby shower gifts to give (and get!).

L.L. Bean Boat and Tote

This is one of my very favorite gifts to give.  They are made in the good ol’ U.S. of A and last forever.  Know baby’s name?  Add a monogram!  Or perhaps add just the last initial.  I have a large collection of these bags and use them for everything.  They have served as diaper bags, luggage, and grocery bags.  I use them daily.  My favorite is the large tote with long handles (to go over shoulders when arms are full of baby and baby things).  I do have a zippered version, which works well for travel.

112636_2253_41

 

Nightlights

I always get an inexpensive pack of nightlights for new moms and dads.  These are really helpful when you are groggily nursing at 4am, and they are usually an afterthought.  Middle of the night diaper changes are jarring enough, low light makes it a little easier.

Nightlights

 

Books

Now that my littlest is in size 3T (sniff!) I am certainly drawn towards those adorable tiny clothes.  But new parents get lots of clothes at showers, so I usually try to give them something else – books.  Also, I am a nerd.  I pretty much think books are the coolest.  I usually try to give a small collection of the titles that were kid tested and kid approved at my house.  So many are available inexpensively on Amazon.  And many come in a variety of formats – board books for younger children, hard cover for keepsakes, and soft cover for when they are a little older.

Engine

 

Zoo

 

words

 

jack

 

bear

 

Clothes

Yes, I know I said I tend to avoid giving clothes, but I love these Hanna Andersson sleepers so much I sometimes just have to gift them.  They are a bit pricey, but the quality is always excellent, and the cotton really is the softest.  We own a lot of Hanna Andersson at my house and not one piece has ever worn out – even items that have been handed down three times.  So pick up one of these adorable sleepers in a gender neutral pattern, and know that it will last through kid after kid after kid and wash after wash after wash.  I like the footed ones for babies, and the footless ones for toddlers.

Sleeper 1

 

village

 

After the shower…

Anything personalized makes a great new baby gift.  Sweet gifts include personalized blankets, birthday blocks, and framed birth info (check Etsy for tons of choices).  And of course, gift certificates to local restaurants are great, too.  With a new baby, sometimes take out is a life saver!

Chamois Stroller Blankets from Pottery Barn are lovely, useful and not too expensive.

Chamois Stroller Blankets from Pottery Barn are lovely, useful and not too expensive.

 

Keepsake Birth Blocks by Smiling Tree Toys

Keepsake Birth Blocks by Smiling Tree Toys

 

As always, no affiliate links.  I have linked these items for your convenience. 

 

Things I Love Thursdays

July is very nearly here!  Summers really do fly.  And even though our routine is pretty much the same – I still work full time and my kids are in camp/school/daycare – somehow summer feels more magical than it ever has before. I love it.

A few favorites I’m getting around to sharing.  This time I’m sharing some of my clothing favs.

Alice + Ames

These dresses are just my favorite.  They do cost more than I’d usually spend but they are well made, the colors/patterns are beautiful, and the fabric has just enough stretch so that the dresses are super comfortable (according to Plum, at least).  The best part? THE TWIRL!

 

Note: the selection online is currently pretty limited – I believe they are due to restock soon.  In the meantime, I’ve been eyeing this mustard dot Sunday dress…

mustarddot1

 

Keen “Bug Shoes”

Pistachio (almost 2 1/2) needed a second pair of closed-toed sneakers to wear at school so I got him some funky Keens with bugs on them.  He adores them! They have held up beautifully and they’re really cute, though they do look slightly clownish with their big green toes.  The only negative is that the tongues are thin canvas and need wrangling every time we put them on.

8634_magnet_bugs_3q

 

Mini Boden Dinosaurs

A while back Mini Boden launched a line of clothes for girls that feature dinosaurs.  They are adorable – and I’m so happy when I can get Plum something that doesn’t feature a kitten, some sort of food product (so much ice cream and candy on girls’ clothes!) or Elsa.  She has the shirt, but I may look around and see if I can find a dress on sale somewhere (supplies at the Boden website seem limited).  RAWR!

16GSPR_31966_GRY 16GSPR_33415_DIN

 

In other happy TILT news, the strawberry Vans I got for Plum a few months ago have become her favorite pair of shoes.  Though I need to give them some TLC since they are now brown.  I’m considering replacing them, or perhaps getting her a new pair in rose gold leather.  Because 1. leather doesn’t get quite as dirty, and 2. every gal should own at least one pair of gold shoes.

vans

3423577-p-MULTIVIEW

Happy 4th to all!

 

(PS – As always, links aren’t affiliate, they’re just there for your convenience.)

Things I Love Thursdays

Happy Friday!  A few more things I love on this lovely Spring day.  Happy Mother’s Day to all!

Orlando Owl by Jellycat – I’m pretty sure Orlando is my spirit animal.

Who?

Better Life Bags – Beautiful, custom bags made by women in Detroit. A business with a great mission and a great product.  I’m thinking I might need to order a special new bag for Mother’s Day.

nicolebag

Strawberry Slip-Ons by Vans – These are definitely Plum’s very favorite shoes.  I love them because they are adorable, apparently comfy, and require no assistance from me to put them on.  Do these come in adult sizes? Yes. Yes they do.

vans

Longer days, things are getting greener, bugs aren’t really biting yet – hooray for May!

(Just an FYI – there are no affiliate links here, they are just for your convenience.)

Things I Love Thursdays

And here we are again.

It is February.  And that means it is cold, and dark (but getting lighter!) and I’m in the thick of the most challenging part of my year.  But all is well!  And the kids are (at least for today, and this minute) healthy!  Though there is a constant, unyielding stream of snot at my house.  SO MUCH SNOT.  Ugh.

So here is a mid-winter installment of TILT for you – fun, light and lovely things to offset the seasonal blahs…

 

Tulips! They start arriving at my local grocery store in mid-January.  Ten stems for $4.99!  I buy them every week because they make me happy every time I see them.  I fill a vase with ice and water, trim the stems and pop them in, and they last for 7-8 days without drooping.

tulip-for-hapiness-1559712-1280x960

Milestone Baby Cards from Anthropologie.  I’m sure you’ve seen the stickers or blocks that are used as props in baby photos?  You know, the ones that say “One Month Old,” “Two Months Old,” and so on and so forth?  These are similar.  They are the modern, iPhone era version of a baby book entry.  And they are adorable.  They would have been perfect for Pistachio, my third, who is in a lot of photos, but whose baby book is pretty sad and empty.

Click on the photo to be brought to the Anthropologie page.

Click on the photo to be brought to the Anthropologie page.

The kate spade champagne bottle clutch is ridiculous and impractical, but maybe that’s why I like it? 

Bubble

Heather Ross fabrics designed for Windham Fabrics.  These make me want to sew things.  Or quilt things.  Or make cute smocks, and dresses for my children and friends’ children. Only I don’t actually know how to do any of those things.  Maybe someday!  I just adore the Tiger Lily and Briar Rose collections.   

Briar Rose Collection by Heather Ross

Briar Rose Collection by Heather Ross

 

My favorite from the Tiger Lily Collection.  Ms. Ross was inspired by her childhood summers in Vermont.

My favorite from the Tiger Lily Collection. Ms. Ross was inspired by her childhood summers in Vermont.

Happy Valentine’s Day to all – I hope you get lots of love and chocolate.  And maybe some tulips, too.

Admissions of a Tired Mom – Part Five

1. My kids wear their shoes on the wrong feet ALL OF THE TIME.  I always tell them, but I don’t usually make them switch them if they don’t want to.

2. I dislike the word “cray” (meaning crazy).  The Brits and Aussies (Kiwis, too) are really good at slang. “Bro, this Chrimbo, I’m going to slap some shrimp on the barbie for brekkie before we open prezzies, s’truth!” (Okay, I probably butchered that a bit, but a basic translation would be “This Christmas I’m going to grill shrimp for breakfast before we open gifts.”) Cockney slang takes things to a whole amazing other level.  Americans?  We’re just not as good at slang.

3. I could eat Russell Stover pectin jellybeans until my tongue bled.  I’m not proud of this.

Nom nom nom.  Image from Russell Stover.

Nom nom nom. Image from Russell Stover.

4. I thought my brie and Juicy Juice dinner was awful.  Then I got sick, for quite some time. I lost my appetite and most of my sense of taste. So dinner a few weeks ago was croutons.  Out of the bag.  Because I couldn’t taste much.  We needed to go food shopping.  And they were crunchy.  And there. And I was tired. And I wanted to go to sleep, but I was supposed to eat something with my meds, and stay upright for at least 10 minutes (weird, instruction, right?).

Crunch.  Image from Pepperidge Farm.

Crunch. Image from Pepperidge Farm.

5. Rare moment of parenting genius? Buying my 4-year-old son a DUSTBUSTER for Christmas.  He and his sister love it.  They can carry it, it is noisy, and exciting.  They cruise around the house, dustbuster at the ready, looking for “yuckies” to suck up into its whirling vortex.  And when they suck up something they shouldn’t (there was a dollar bill on the floor?) we can simply open the DB up, and retrieve the item. And I never have to yell “Shut that thing off already!” because it is rechargeable, and needs to be plugged back in after 30 minutes of hunting yuckies. $40 very well spent.  Thanks, Santa.

Vrooooom.  Image from Amazon.

Vrooooom. Image from Amazon.

Happy Friday, and happy Spring!  Bring on the mud and daffodils!

PS – Not affiliate links, just for your convenience.

Permission Granted

By the power vested in me by… well, no one, I’m giving you permission.

A friend called me, concerned. She had breastfed for a year, and didn’t feel like stopping but thought that somehow she should. “Can I keep breastfeeding?” she asked, unsure of herself. “Of course you can!” was my response.

Speaking with the receptionist at my dentist’s office, she worried aloud about her daughter, a new mom, who was barely keeping hide and hair together, sad, working full time, commuting too far, pumping and nursing around the clock, with a grumpy baby who didn’t sleep. (Okay, maybe my dentist’s front office staff is prone to oversharing, but I don’t mind, the ladies are lovely.) “Has anyone told her she can stop pumping or nursing?” The receptionist was caught off guard by my suggestion, probably figuring that her daughter already knew that. But I wasn’t worried about whether she knew that, rather, I wondered if anyone had ever told her so, out loud.

So let me say it outloud, er, in writing. You have permission. Sometimes you just need to hear someone else say it.

These are breastfeeding examples, but there are so many more.

Motherhood, strike that, parenthood is really just improv. You do the best you can, as you go, guided by instincts, friends, family, doctors, books, and the internet. It’s no wonder that so many of us second guess our choices and decisions. I do it all the time.

So here’s the thing. Odds are very good that you’re doing it right.

We don’t tell each other that enough.

So stop second guessing.

Do you want to stop breastfeeding? Stop breastfeeding.

Do you want to keep breastfeeding? Keep breastfeeding.

Do you want to name your child “North”? Go ahead.

Do you want to circumcise/not circumcise your son? Do it.

Do you want to make your child wear a onesie that says “I heart titties and beer”? Um, no. Please, don’t do that.

But you get my point.

Baby Favorites (Giveaway!)

As I switched on the quiet whhhiiiirrrrr of the white noise machine Mr. Pickle’s thumps and yells instantly became background noise.  Plum closed her eyes and drifted off to sleep.

I have my own white noise machine, Plum is a light sleeper, Pickle is loud, and our house is small.  I don’t know why it took me so long to get her her own white noise machine.  She has slept better, and longer with it.  (Of course, the ear tubes and her age could have something to do with that, too.) Add that magical machine to my list of favorite baby things!

What follows is a partial list of my didn’t-want-them/didn’t-know-I’d-need-them/had-no-idea-how-much-I’d-love-them items for newborns/infants/toddlers.

Dohm-DS Dual Speed Sound Conditioner by Marpac

Dohm-DS Dual Speed Sound Conditioner by Marpac

There are cuter ones, but I love this white noise machine.  It creates a whoosh of air, so there are no strange electronic loops.  You can change the tone and speed (volume).  It is very portable and does exactly what it is advertised to do.  The only negative? No bells, whistles, music, lights if that’s what you’re looking for.

Carter's One-Piece Microfleece Zip-Up Sleeper

Carter’s One-Piece Microfleece Zip-Up Sleeper

Cozy, comfy and inexpensive. I love these. We have all sorts of one-piece sleepers and these are my favorites.  When you’re doing a squirmy-wailing-middle-of-the-night diaper change the zipper is a lifesaver – who decided 15 snaps was a good idea?  These wash well and my little ones seem to think they’re great.  Thank you Carter’s! The only negative?  Pickle has big feet, and sometimes his feet outgrew the sleepers before the rest of him did. Also, they aren’t ideal during potty training.

The Happy Frog mobile by Flensted

The Happy Frog mobile by Flensted

I like old-fashioned mobiles. I don’t want big fluffy, chunky animals, music, plastic.  I like airy, elegant, whimsical, floating mobiles. I like mobiles that dance, and balance.  Thankfully, I found Flensted mobiles. LOVE.  I’m considering getting more of them – like the bunnies (BUNNIES!), or the cycling elephants (CYCLEPHANTS!). I want to put funky Danish mobiles all over my house.  The negatives? A little expensive for paper and wire, and sometimes I fear the mobile will get wound up up up when the ceiling fan is on and it circles in same direction over and over and over.

"That's Not My Donkey..." by Fiona Watt and Usborne Publishing

“That’s Not My Donkey…” by Fiona Watt and Usborne Publishing

It is hard to find books for little bitty ones. Attention spans are short and there are much more exciting things to do, like eating things they should not, sticking fingers in outlets, and tormenting the cat.  However, the “That’s Not My…” series by Usborne has proven to be a huge hit among my under-2 set.  They are short, sweet, tactile, and colorful.  Negatives?  My husband and I disagree about the appropriate emphasis. Is it, “That’s not my donkey, its tummy is too squashy” or “That’s not my donkey, its tummy is too squashy“?  Also, is “squashy” a word?

Giveaway!  Post a comment here and be in the running for two Usborne books and two Carter’s Microfleece sleepers!  Winner will be chosen at random, and can specify age and size of recipient(s).  (No, you don’t have to have kids/grandkids to win! These make great shower gifts, or donations!) (Update: ends at noon EST on 1/22/13!)

Note: I don’t know anyone at Marpac, Carter’s, Flensted or Usborne.  I just think these baby-related items are great.

Things I Love Thursdays!

Typical Sarky school lunch, grade 3:

  • Homemade baguette
  • Homemade country pate
  • Homemade honey mustard
  • Cornichon

Teachers offered to trade.

I snuck over to my friends’ houses to snack on items that were verboten in the Tartlet house – Oscar Meyer bologna (heaven!), Wonder Bread (so soft and squishy!), Handisnacks (so. good.) and Kool Aid (red, of course).

Dining – lovely, fancy, exotic, amazing dining – was and is a hobby.

So this admission is hard for me.

Very hard.

I love ranch dressing.

I do.

Creamy, cool and All-American.  Thankyouverymuch, Hidden Valley!

And while I’m happy to whip up a nice vinaigrette, I’d always shied away from attempting to make a creamy dressing… until now.

I decided to try this zucchini recipe from Smells Like Home the other week. (Brief review: yummy hot out of the oven, but I felt like the panko was too drying and bland overall.)  Ranch dressing was the suggested dip.  Oh yes, cool yumminess.  So I checked out the included recipe, and miracle of miracles, I had the entire list!

I WILL NEVER GO BACK.

First, I love giving my son stuff that I make, with ingredients I can pronounce. Second, it is easy – put all ingredients in blender, whhhiiiiirrrrrrrr, done. Third, it tastes awesome.  Make some. Put it on BBQ chicken pizza.  Dunk chicken nuggets in it.  Cut up some veggies and start chowing.  Just eat it.

Ranch Dressing

  • 3/4 C. mayo (light if you would prefer)
  • 3/4 C. sour cream (light if you would prefer)
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 T. lemon juice
  • 1/4 C. buttermilk (I love Kate’s!)
  • Small bunch of chives OR 2 scallions
  • Small handful of parsley (if that seems vague, I would lean towards putting in too much rather than too little)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1/2 t. sea salt
  • 1/4 t. black pepper (some people like less, some people like white pepper – you choose what you like best!)

Easiest directions ever: put all ingredients in a blender.  Blend. Done.

Also…

  • I like my dressing a bit thicker.  If you would like thinner dressing, use more buttermilk.
  • It’s pretty garlicky.  Use 1/2 a clove or none at all if you’re garlic phobic/averse.
  • Cook up some red potatoes. Chill ’em and pour this goodness over the top.  Voila, delicious potato salad.
  • This will last 2-3 weeks in the fridge.

(Recipe adapted from Smells Like Home, who adapted it from Confections of a Foodie Bride, who adapted it from Gourmet 2004.)

Breezy, Baby!

I read this People headline twice:

15 Newborn Essentials That Make Motherhood a Breeze

First, I know you’re wondering… and yes, I occasionally read People.  It’s like junk food for my brain. Nom nom nom.

Second.  Heck!  Why didn’t I read an article like this  before I had kids?! I couldn’t wait to see what was on the list. Motherhood a breeze?  Sign me up!

Highlights:

  • A $46 onesie that looks like business attire.  Because that makes sense.  Poop, pee, spit up, drool be damned! Fancy kid onesies makes motherhood easier!
  • A $1000 stroller system that boasts a rotating stroller seat so it is easier to put kiddos in and take them out.  (Is it really that difficult?)
  • Cloth diapers and a wipe warmer for cloth wipes.  Don’t get me wrong, I think cloth dipes and wipes are awesome.  And I’ve heard many mamas say they aren’t that much of a challenge, once you get the hang of it. But I’m not sure these make life a breeze for mamas.
  • A $90 alarm clock/night-light/thermometer/noise machine/baby timer/bass-o-matic.  The Serenity Star. Ah, I like the sound of that.  And I’ll admit, this thing actually looks cool.  I’m not sure it would actually make my life more breezy, but it might make me feel a little bit cooler owning it.  And it’s cute.
  • The $345 diaper bag.  I don’t know about you, but life isn’t breezier if I feel like I have to spend a car payment on expensive bags to carry burp cloths and diapers.

To be fair, there’s some good stuff on the list too.  Swaddles, some affordable layette gear, pacifiers, the Sleep Sheep (yup, we have and use one – but the mother’s heartbeat sound is creepy), and the Ergobaby, to name a few.

But, c’mon, really.  Who writes these headlines?

Motherhood is great, and it is really hard for so many reasons.  The suggestion that any of the items on the list will make motherhood a breeze is laughable.  And I prickle at the constant message to moms that what it takes to parent well and with ease, is money and stuff.

In case you’re wondering, the length of your baby registry and the cuteness of the nursery does not translate to a blissful labor and delivery or a sweet-smelling, angelic baby who sleeps well.

So what would really make motherhood a breeze?

A cook? A maid? A nanny? Endless patience? Lots of money? A loving, involved supportive spouse? Extra hours in the day? Affordable, high quality child care? A sense of humor? Drugs, lots?

Sure some/all of these might help.

But really, motherhood isn’t a breeze because it isn’t supposed to be.  It is hard, exhausting, fun, silly, and fascinating.  And it is good most of the time, no matter what kind of diaper bag you have.

I still might get one of these though…

serenity star by aden + anais