Monthly Archives: April 2012

Vintage-Framed Photography

We hit up the Fairfax Fine Arts Festival this past weekend and bought an awesome new print for our dining room. The artist, Dan Albright, takes photos all over the world and then expertly mats and frames them in antique and vintage picture frames. My dad is a framer, so I know how unique these frames are—and how expensive they can be. So I thought the $65 price tag was a good deal.

We loved this quote from W.C. Fields and thought the picture would look great next to our bar. Mr. Albright even allowed us to switch the print to a different frame that we thought would match our house a little better. I still have my eye on one of his other prints in a cherry red vintage frame—could be a great pop of color in our new master bathroom!

If you’re looking for some unique framed photography for your home, definitely check out Dan Albright Studio!


Orange Ginger Chicken

I debated on whether or not to even post this “recipe” because it would mean I’d have to admit to you all that I sometimes feed my family entirely out of the microwave. But then I realized there’s no way I’m the only mom who has done this (and will continue to do it when we’re short on time). This meal goes from freezer to table in less than 10 minutes (seriously!) and makes enough for two adults and a toddler.

Orange Ginger Chicken and Rice

1 bag frozen stir fry veggies (I prefer the steam-in-the-bag kind because they’re so easy- for this, I used a mix of carrots, sugar snap peas, and baby corn)

1 bag microwavable brown rice, such as Uncle Ben’s Ready Rice® Whole Grain Brown Rice

1-2 cups diced grilled chicken strips, such as Tyson® Grilled and Ready Chicken Breast Strips

Bottled orange sauce (I use the Iron Chef Orange Sauce Glaze with Ginger, which I scored at TJ Maxx for $3)

 

Microwave the first three ingredients separately, according to their directions. Throw everything in a large bowl, add orange sauce to taste and stir to mix well. Done and Done.

 


Confessions of a Working Mom

I have a confession to make.

I took the day off work today and still took Olivia to daycare. (gasp)

As a mom who works outside the home, this is a big deal. I get so little time with my daughter that I want to spend every waking minute outside of the office with her. I know how crazy and unhealthy that sounds, that experts everywhere will say you need time away to recharge and refuel blah blah blah. When you only see your child for an hour and a half a day during the week, it’s just not that easy.

I’ve been walking around with a massage gift certificate in my wallet for a year and a half because I just couldn’t shake the guilt of spending that time away from my little girl (that and for a good 7 months after Olivia was born, I couldn’t fathom laying on my chest on a massage table—I was sure I’d leak everywhere, which is the opposite of relaxing!).

So I made the decision that this day would be for me, and to make sure I couldn’t wriggle out of it and just take Olivia to the park or something, I booked three back-to-back appointments at the spa. I was finally cashing in some of the gift certificates I’d received for my past two birthdays! Sure, I took Olivia to daycare later than normal and picked her up a few hours early, but the time in between—that was mine. And let me tell you, I made the most of it.

I went straight to Starbucks after the daycare drop-off and savored every drop of my chai tea latte on my way to the spa, where I was massaged, manicured and waxed to within an inch of my life. After my appointments, I grabbed a salad at the café next door and then did a little window shopping. It was exhilarating! And you know what? I did feel refreshed and recharged, not guilt-ridden and awful like I thought I would feel by taking a day for myself.

These spa days will be few and far between (in large part because I’m now out of gift certificates), but I think I’ll put a little more effort into taking some time for myself. It makes me feel like me again, which I think makes me a better mom and a better wife.


Go Ahead, Find Your “Me Time”

A couple of weeks ago, Wired Momma’s Monica Sakala interviewed NBC4’s Angie Goff about work-life balance. It was a good piece, but the nugget that stuck out most to me what was Goff had to say about her “me time.” She has her “me time” between 1 and 2 a.m., after she gets home from delivering the 11 p.m. news. My first thought was, isn’t she exhausted?! I thought, if it were me, I’d be crawling into bed the minute I stepped in the door.

But the comment made me think about my own “me time,” and I realized people would probably think what I considered “me time” pretty strange as well. You see, my commute is my “me time.” I know, this doesn’t seem like the logical time to destress and decompress, and it didn’t used to be. Then I discovered audio books. I’ve always been an avid reader, a book snob of sorts. I turned my nose up to audio books for a long time because I haughtily thought they would “taint the inner voices I lent to characters as I read.” I’m serious—I actually think I said that exact thing to someone once over dinner. But once I started, I was instantly hooked!

I commute to work 45 minutes to an hour each way, so that’s an uninterrupted hour and a half  (minimum, it is NoVA after all) that I get every day. When I’m listening to a particularly good book, I can’t wait to get in the car for my drive. I don’t get as annoyed by stupid drivers anymore, and I actually get excited when I get caught by a red light (I get to hear more of the story!). And with my library card in hand, I have a steady stream of free, in-car entertainment to fill my “me time.”

The point of me sharing this seemingly insignificant story is to encourage all women, but especially moms, to work with what you’ve got to carve out your “me time.” Even if it’s just 30 minutes here and 20 minutes there. The time is there—it just might need a little tweaking, or a really great audio book!

When do you find “me time”?


Is Your Toddler Getting Drunk on Hand Sanitizer?

Have you heard about this? Apparently, the latest way teenagers have found to get high is by drinking hand sanitizer. I thought it was weird when the whipped cream was sequestered in the back room of the grocery store, available only upon request and after producing a valid ID, but this? This is not only stupid, it’s just gross. But it appears that hand sanitizer can be distilled into pure 120-proof alcohol and ingested for a buzz.

I watched a piece about this new danger on the Today Show with mild interest and bewilderment; that is, until they threw up the Poison Control Center’s 2010 stats for hand sanitizer poisoning. Out of the 3,767 cases of hand sanitizer poisoning that year, 411 were teenaged and older. The other 2,932 were children aged 5 and younger who accidentally ingested the poison.

Well, that had my attention. As the parents of a toddler, we go through hand sanitizer about as fast as we do milk. Our daughter has seen us use it so much that she will grab the little bottle and mimic putting it on her hands and rubbing them together. We have hand sanitizer all over our house and even attached to the strap of our diaper bag—easily accessible to little hands. And this isn’t the generic Purell with no real smell. We usually have the little bottles from Bath & Body Works that smell like delicious apple pie or warm vanilla cookies. Kids are bad enough about putting stuff in their mouths, and here we are, unwittingly tempting our child with sweet-smelling poison. Yikes.

Our house is baby proofed to the hilt, but the thought of those tiny bottles being a threat never even crossed our minds; that changed about 10 minutes after that segment of the show was over. I went around the house and put away every bit of hand sanitizer I found, somewhere little hands couldn’t reach.

Take a moment to look around your house and make sure you don’t have any of these seemingly innocent bottles within your child’s reach. We are so used to seeing them everywhere and using them that, at least in our house, they can be easily overlooked.


Santa Fe Chicken Pizza

I love the Santa Fe Chicken pizza at CPK, and I was heartbroken to see that it had been taken off the menu. So I decided to try recreating it at home and, I have to say, I think I gave CPK a run for their money! Plus, the whole meal was ready in less than 30 minutes, which makes it totally doable for crazy weeknights! To really speed things up, use leftover chicken or a rotisserie chicken from the store.

1 can Pillsbury pizza crust (or other premade dough or crust)
1/2 cup thinly sliced onion
1 tomato, thinly sliced
1.5 cups mozzarella cheese
1 cup cooked, diced chicken
store-bought or homemade guacamole (recipe follows)
sour cream
store-bought or homemade salsa

For Guacamole:

1 avocado
2 tbsp fresh, chopped cilantro
1 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp lime juice
1 tsp olive oil
salt
pepper

Preheat oven to 400°. Spray your pizza pan or cookie sheet with nonstick cooking spray, and press the pizza dough out onto it. Top with sliced onions and tomatoes and then sprinkle with cheese. Add the diced chicken and bake for 10 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

While the pizza is cooking, scoop out the avocado and put it and the other guacamole ingredients into a bowl. Mash the avocado with the back of a fork and mix everything together.

Top each slice of pizza with sour cream, guacamole and salsa.


A Nursery That’s for the Birds

Birds and owls seem to be everywhere, especially when it comes to nursery decor—and they’re not just for girls. I’ve curated some of the cutest stuff on the web, so start clicking and get inspired!

1. I love the watercolor quality of this bird print by cute little nursery on Etsy, $12
2. Owl Always Love You clock from Target, $29.99
3. It may be pricey (as far as nightlights go), but it’s darn cute. Nocturnal Owl Nightlight from Land of Nod, $49
4. Speaking of pricey but adorable, Jonathan Adler bookends, $195
5. Ferm Living Tweeting Birds wall stickers, $69
6. Every baby needs a humidifier, so why not get this cute little guy?! Crane Humidifier, $45
7. Great print for a boy or girl—Dwell Studio crib sheet, $40
8. Pottery Barn Kids’ Birdie Anywhere Chair, $139
9. Soooo many great prints on this site- I had trouble picking just one! Sleep Baby Sleep print from Oopsy Daisy, $60.03
10. Owl Alphabet print (also comes in pink) from Gingiber on Etsy, $20
11. Handmade crib mobile from lovely friend on Etsy, $78
12. Skip Hop Treetop Friends crib sheet, $24
13. Perfect for those newborn pictures—Two’s Company picture frame, $25.95
14. Metal bird hooks, $19.99
15. Silver Bird Set from Pottery Barn Kids, $29


The Look for Less: White Ceramic Serveware

I recently went to brunch at a coworker’s house and took her a cute cream and sugar set I found at Target as a hostess gift. I realized later what a good deal I scored when I found a nearly identical set at Crate and Barrel for more. Fast forward a couple of weeks. . .I see a fabulous ceramic bread basket at Williams-Sonoma, and it hits me that there’s one just like it at Target—for $32 less! Call it copy cat, call it imitation, call it whatever you want, but Target’s new White Collection is giving some higher-end shops a run for their money. Here are a few of my favorite looks for less!

 


The Summertime Blues

Make sure your little one is feeling blue this summer in a good way!

1. Finally, ballet flats for toddlers that have a prayer of staying on! Joe Fresh Ballet Flats, $14
2. Zara Boys’ Fine Stripe Trousers, $25.90
3. J. Crew Girls’ Folly Dress, $48
4. Pumpkin Patch Dungaree with Bow, $24.50
5. So cute and preppy—Ralph Lauren Bal Harbour Slip-On, $28
6. Ruffles AND nautical stripes. Hanna Andersson Little Star Two-Piece, $28
7. Zutano Crab Polo Shirt, $30
8. Tea Collection Boys’ Roll-Up Safari Shirt, $36
9. I love this little umbrella! Hatley Blue Whales Umbrella, $20


Great Online Resources for Home Design Inspiration

We all know that Pinterest is a great place to start when you’re looking for design ideas and inspiration for your home. But if you’re looking for a few more helpful sites and resources, visit some of my favs below.

Copy Cat Chic specializes in finding the inexpensive alternative to that tulip chair you covet that’s not quite in the budget.

Decor8 has “fresh finds for hip spaces” and features beautiful photography full of chic urban lofts and pops of color.

One of my favorite DIY inspiration sites is Young House Love. John and Sherry Petersik (along with their dog and baby girl) have renovated and redecorated not one but two (!!) houses. I love their style and ability to deliver a high end look on a budget.

I discovered Apartment Therapy when a friend’s sister had her apartment featured a couple of years ago (click here to see the article). The site is super easy to navigate, with menu categories including small spaces, budget living, green living and searching by room.

The HGTV web site is a great resource for info on a plethora of topics. I love looking through the Rate My Space rooms to get inspiration from everyday spaces, especially when I was working on the little one’s nursery.

Houzz is a great site if you’re not only looking for design inspiration but also want the ability to search for and purchase items. I find it so frustrating when I find the perfect bath vanity in a picture and have no way of knowing who the manufacturer is or where I can buy it.

Finally, House Beautiful is where I go when I’m putting together my dream home in my head. The designer-styled rooms are simply stunning. I love them.

What sites do you frequent when looking for design inspiration?