Friday, July 29, 2016

Bye, Bye, July

And hello, August! My sweet baby boy will start pre-school this month, and while I know it will be good for him (and me) it's going to be such a dramatic change in our schedules (and lives). I'm ready, though, and fall is looking so good right about now (especially after a spell of heat advisories around here!). Here are my Friday Favorites, all things I can't actually enjoy right now... but come autumn I'll be all about them!

1.
  Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life


Netflix announced this week that the new installation of Gilmore Girls will premier this November 25th! In the meantime, I'll just be streaming the old seasons on Netflix during nap time (never mind that I've already watched the entire series multiple times). 

2.
  This Fringe Infinity Scarf


I ordered several of these from the #nsale to give as gifts for Parker's teachers later this year (he'll have his regular pre-school teachers, plus foreign language and piano!). At just eleven dollars each, they were a steal. They arrived this week and they are even better in person. They're super soft and just darling - so much so that I'm keeping at least one and probably ordering more! Shop them here - both the red and green colors are still in stock.


3. 


We just love all the LBT books around here - and I was thrilled to discover that the latest one just came out! It's a Halloween themed book, so we'll have to wait a bit to dive into it, but it made me so excited for all things fall I just had to order it now :)

4.
The PSL


And when I think of fall, I think Pumpkin Spice Latte. I had the Starbucks barristas wrapped around my finger last year, slipping me the drinks in August - we'll see if I can get them to hand them out early this year, too ;)



Because how cute will I be sipping on my PSL while wearing this hat?? It was another #nsale purchase, and I'm still waiting for it to arrive. Once the temperature dips, I can't wait to wear it out!

Is anyone else out there itching for all things fall?







Thursday, July 28, 2016

A Birthday and a Cake (Vol. 2)

Last year, I blogged about Max's birthday and the yummy chocolate chocolate chip cake he requested (recipe here). This July, I'm back with another birthday - and another cake!


Max's birthday just so happened to be opening night for the traveling Cirque du Soleil show, Ovo. Ovo is at the Von Braun Center down the road (just a mile and a half from our house!) through the weekend. We were quite impressed with the entire production and it made for such a fun birthday evening.


Fun fact: exactly eight years before, I had surprised my then-boyfriend Max with flights to Vegas and tickets to Cirque du Soliel's O on his birthday night. It was crazy that eight years later, I was surprising my husband with Cirque tickets (in Alabama no less!), and that we were now a family of three.



We had tickets on the floor, which was perfect for front-loading our little guy because pre-show lots of the artists wander around the floor seats in costume. Parker got to see them up close and even interact with them (almost every single one who walked by stopped and got down on Parker's level, giving high fives and letting him touch them - so sweet). By the time the show started, he was already pretty comfortable with the artists (we had also talked quite a bit beforehand about what was going to happen, like the lights dimming and the costume wearing). Little Man was a phenomenal audience member (like always) and we totally recommend Ovo if it's coming near you!



I also promised a cake - did I not? This year, Max requested another favorite from his childhood - Coffee Angel Food Cake with Coffee Butter Icing. It's twelve kinds of incredible.


This recipe is adapted from Helen Corbitt's Cookbook. Helen Corbitt was the director of Neiman Marcus restaurants in the 1960's (and also lived in Texas). Funny story - when I was dating Max, and even after we married, I'd see handwritten recipes from his mom and sister that would be titled Helen Corbitt's Cornbread or Helen Corbitt's Brownies. I just assumed she was a family friend, or maybe a neighbor. It wasn't until just a couple years ago that I spotted Helen Corbitt's Cookbook in Max's mom's kitchen - and realized that the recipes were from the book, and that Helen Corbitt was this famously talented lady. Anyway, as you can imagine, anything that was served at Neiman Marcus has to be incredible. This cake is just that! It's also very involved - almost all the ingredients are sifted, there are a ton of egg whites that need to be separated, a million bowls... so it's definitely a "special occasion cake" making it perfect for a birthday!




Coffee Angel Food Cake

1 1/2 cups sifted sugar
1 cup sifted cake flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups egg whites (10-12)
1 1/4 teaspoons cream of tartar 
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder (specifically, use this one)

Add half a cup of the sugar to the flour and stir four times. Add salt to egg whites and beat until foamy. Sprinkle cream of tartar over eggs and beat until soft peaks form. Add the remaining cup of sugar 1/4 cup at a time, blending twenty strokes after each addition. Fold in flavorings. Stir flour/sugar mixture over egg whites, 1/4 at a time, string ten times lightly after each addition. Pour into an ungreased tube pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes, until the cake pulls away from the pan. Remove from oven and invert pan on cooling rack.


Coffee Butter Icing

3/4 cup butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 3/4 cups sifted powdered sugar
4-6 tablespoons milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder

Cream butter, add salt and sugar, a small amount at a time while beating. Add milk as needed, and flavoring.

*Make sure you use the espresso powder featured below. I ran out of it once and used regular ol' instant coffee powder in a pinch, and it pretty much ruined the cake and frosting, making it very bitter. I'm not sure what the magic of this stuff is, but it's real.



Happy Baking!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Five Tips for 5AM Pure Barre + Five Reasons to Go



I'm not a morning person, and I'm certainly not a workout-in-the-morning person. Case in point - all throughout undergrad, I would run the same 4-6 mile loop in the afternoons and evenings. But if I ever tried to do the same exact run in the morning, I couldn't do it. I would literally have to stop, feeling like death warmed over - my body just not having it. And just for funsies, this is where I would do my running:


Yep, the gorgeous bluffs overlooking the Pacific. I will argue all day that I went to the prettiest university ever. Also, this is why I'm a running snob to this day. #gottahaveanoceanview


Anyway, this past fall when I was completing the 20 Pure Barre Classes in 20 Days challenge, I realized with dismay that in order to get all twenty classes into my schedule, I'd have to do some early A.M. classes... like five forty-five in the morning classes. I was worried, but come to find out, doing barre in the morning is not at all like running in the morning. It's low impact (one of the reasons why I love it), not cardio focused, and involves just little movements and holding positions. Much easier when I'm still trying to open my eyes. My first class was really no different from any of the later morning or evening classes - score. And then I was hooked. Early morning classes are the best thing ever I declared! And this is why...

(My very favorite leggings are on super sale right now here!)

1. It's free time. 
Like, literally. I don't know about you, but I'm normally sleeping at 5 A.M. So to get a workout in is a bonus hour - especially nice if you are a Mama. The fifty-five Pure Barre minutes are pure bliss - I leave everything at the door and it's my "me time" :)  I slip back in the house afterwards and Sweet P is still sleeping and Max is usually still showering or getting ready for work... it's like I never left!

2. It sets the tone for the day. 
I read some article awhile back about how music in the morning can alter your mood and set a positive day in motion. My eyes have still barely opened by the time an early morning class starts, so I'm pretty much beginning my day with the fun and upbeat tunes from class. It seriously sets such a happy path for the whole day. 

3. There's never a wait list.
There is definitely a dedicated group of early morning ladies who go to class every morning (they are go-getters and so motivating!), but generally speaking, there is a bit more breathing room in five am class (and I've never, ever had a class be totally booked/full - there's always room to join!). 

4. Your workout is done before seven.
I love my PB classes (that's why I do them, duh) but if I have a late-in-the-day class, I think about it all day long. I don't dread it, it's more the constant reminder in the back of my head: Don't forget class! You have class today! Do you remember? Class tonight! If you attend the early morning class, it's done before you do anything else and you can free yourself for the whole rest of the day. 

5. You feel like superwoman.
Yep. On these days I feel like superwoman. I return home before seven, super energized and ready to get. things. done. It's fabulous. Pure Barre is just the best start to a day - so much so that when I turned thirty-three last October, I began my day with the 5:45A.M. class.

And how adorable is this? My studio has special colorful weights for birthdays!



So, have I convinced you? Will I see you at class in the morning? Here are five tips for early morning Pure Barre...

1. Go to bed early.
I said it was free time, but technically it's sleep time and you have to make that up somehow - so hit the sack early the night before (you'll thank me later).

2. Plan ahead.
I set my alarm for 5:20AM for a 5:45AM class. I want to make sure I get every single minute of shut-eye possible. This gives me ten minutes to get dressed, another ten to drive to the studio and get settled, and I'm in my seat five minutes before the start of class to do some stretching (classes always start right on time - another reason I love PB!).

3. Set out your entire outfit the night before.
And by entire, I mean every single thing you need (don't forget shoes, undies, jacket in the winter). I learned this the hard way - it takes ten times longer to locate, say, a hairband in the morning when you are barely awake than it does the night before. This is also how I can do my streamlined "leave the house in ten minutes" routine - get up, brush teeth, put on everything in front of me, take-off. Bonus points if you have fun new workout gear to lay out - I have my eye on these adorable cut-out leggings right now, and these fun mesh ones are on sale and calling my name, too!

4. Listen to your body.
Are you a breakfast eater? Grab something portable on your way out (a breakfast bar, a banana). My stomach is so not ready for food that early, so just a water bottle is all I need until post-class. 

5. Have something to look forward to.
After every single early morning class, I mobile order a cappuccino from my phone and swing by Starbucks to pick it up. It adds maybe three minutes to my commute home since the parking lot is pretty empty that early, and I get to just run in and run out. It's fabulous and it makes the morning even more special. Maybe you're a cold-pressed juice gal, or a smoothie lover? Anything to give yourself a special pat-on-the-back/high-five for being awesome ;)



Full disclosure: I did not make it to a single early morning class all summer long. Summer was just too full of travel, and lazy mornings, and pool days and taking it easy. But come the new school year, I totally intend on getting back in the groove doing at least one early morning a week. And what about you? Have I convinced you on early morning work-outs???


Friday, July 22, 2016

Friday Faves - Summertime Edition


Summer ends a bit earlier here in the South... schools start back the first week of August - the first week! That's right around the corner. And while Sweet P's preschool doesn't start until mid-August, I'm still feeling the push to soak up every bit of summer that's left. Here's what I'm loving lately...

1. 
Reading Little Owl's Night with Parker


We love this sweet story that tells of Little Owl's evening adventures in the forest. It's a true Friday favorite - husby has proclaimed on more than one occasion that it's his very favorite children's book. The teacher in me loves that it introduces a novel setting (nighttime!) and throws in some science - Parker points out all the animals that are nocterminal (nocturnal). The story is sweet and I never tire of reading it. Plus, the forest setting reminds me of camping which is so summer. Parker has been asking to do some real camping, so I think a backyard campout is in our not-too-distant future.

2. 
Getting our Swim On


I've said it before - I love belonging to a community pool! It was fabulous having our own pool in Scottsdale, but I never went in alone with Parker on weekdays because #safety. Anyway, the community pool has a lifeguard + playmates (for Mommy and for Parker, ha!). Plus, it's only a short walk away. We just load up our trusty wagon, and these shoes have been my jam. They are super comfy for walking but keep my feet cool in the summer sun. Parker prefers his natives (I think he's on the third size of the exact same shoe, exact same color - they are a godsend each summer).

3.
At-Home Manicures


 Good As Gold by essie is where it's at. I'm a lover of all essie, but this color has a special place in my heart. It's the best for at-home manis because the metallic color is super forgiving. You can't mess up your do-it-yourself manicure with this (and it's all DIYs here right now). Use this gel-setter on top and you'll be good for at least a week.



4.
Reality T.V.


As you know, we don't have a television in the house, but I do love to stream shows while Sweet P is napping and I'm folding laundry or tidying up the house. I had totally forgotten that the newest season of the O.C. Housewives had started, so I've been binge watching/listening this week during nap time. #guiltypleasure #lovemesomeheatherdubrow

5. 
Family walks to Concerts in the Park


This is just quintessential summertime to me - a family walk downtown, dinner from the food trucks, listening to live music... long live summer!







Friday, July 15, 2016

Friday I'm in Love


1. 
A few months back, Parker and I attended story time at 1818 Farms. If you're in the Tennessee Valley area, I totally recommend checking it out - there's always something fun going on (yoga, gardening, photography and calligraphy classes, and lots more). As part of the story time experience, Parker got to feed the animals and even collect eggs from the hen house. They didn't have any eggs ready for sale that day, so we didn't go home with any... until this week! Yesterday, the farm brought all sorts of goodies into town to sell - including dozens of farm fresh eggs. I'm loving all the different colors from the different kinds of hens! 


       2.


Parker has been asking to go blueberry picking pretty much since the car ride home from strawberry picking this spring :) We finally made it out to a (new to us) berry farm this past week, and little guy was stoked. 

He insisted we go right home and bake a blueberry crisp. I was happy to oblige. We made this recipe from Cooking Light, best served with vanilla bean ice cream of course!

3.
Most of our swim time these days is done at our community pool where I like to be a bit more covered up than, say, when we lived in Scottsdale and had a pool in our own backyard. The options, then, are one-pieces and tankinis. Much to my dismay, I've realized that one pieces are more flattering than tankinis... I say this, because bathrooms. Precisely the reason I refuse to purchase a romper. Rompers are cute and trendy, but does no one else use the restroom throughout the day? Anyway, I've resigned myself to the fact that one-pieces just look nicer. I had seen a few other bloggers write about this Trina Turk one-piece, so I took a gamble and ordered it... and it's super flattering! I seriously think it would look fabulous on anyone! 


It was a bit more than I would usually spend on a suit (husby, look away), but the quality was phenomenal which helped justify it. Also I promised myself I'd take really good care of it ;) Some colors are even on sale right now!

4.
Speaking of sale, my beloved Zella live-in leggings are on super sale right now.


I own these exact black ones, and love them with tennies for running errands or even for flying. They are maybe the comfiest pants I own. The bright colors and patterns (like these below) are perfect far barre class - bonus, they don't fade!



 5. 
I know everyone is all about the pink and purple drinks from Starbucks right now, but I'm slow. So I just discovered the S'mores Frappucino that was so popular last summer

Ummmm, it's like heaven in a cup with a straw. Pink drink, maybe I'll get around to you in 2017.

If you're looking for us this weekend, we'll be here...

... and the boys will probably be matching ;)
Happy Summertime!





Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Kid(s) Behind the Blog - July Edition

The last time I did one of the Kid Behind the Blog interviews with Parker, he was all about it. For days after, he wanted to be the interviewer and would ask me questions and "write down" my answers. This time, I said I wanted to interview him, and he responded with Mama, I need to get my violin. And by violin, he means the two rulers he rubs together while proclaiming he's playing Vivaldi and Beethoven and Bach. Of course when he was presented with a real violin on a music school visit a few weeks ago, he wanted nothing to do with it... so the jury is still out on our tiny musician. Anyway, this month's questions all centered around the season - summer! 


We re-read Let It Shine right before to jog his memory on all the special things about summer. I highly recommend this series if you have a little one - there is a book for winter, spring, summer and fall. Each one is full of bright illustrations and appropriate information, written in fun narrative form. Also, the end of each book leads into the next season which is perfect for front-loading kids on what's coming next.

Here are this month's questions...

1. What two things do you like to do outside in the summer?

I like to play t-ball. 

I like going to concerts in the park.


2. If you could go anywhere this summer, where would you go and why?

All the way to D.C. where Mimi is. That because I get to ride the metro. That because it says 'Step back. Doors closing. Step back. Doors opening. Allow passengers to exit.'


3. What is your favorite thing about summer?

My favorite thing about summer is going to the pool.


4. If you could pick any way to spend a summer day, how would you spend it?

With Dada.


5. What is your favorite summer treat?

Ice cream. Vanilla. 

After being down and out with the summer flu for the last week or so (it hit our whole house - fevers all around!) we are ready to dive back into all things summer. Hope y'all are staying happy and healthy :)

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