Friday, January 27, 2017

Friday Favorites

Favorites on this (gasp!) last Friday in January...

1. Flowers and coffee, coffee and flowers


 Really, there's nothing better than the two of these combined. Together they can save any day and make it instantly better. After yesterday morning started off with a broken house heater and a shattered glass bowl that made a disaster of the kitchen, I decided I needed a little pick-me-up. A drive-thru Starbucks followed by fresh blooms from Costco was just the ticket. By the way, I heart Costco for flowers - they have the best prices and the flowers are always gorgeous. Bonus - our Costco has a Starbucks in the same shopping center, and it's all on the way to Sweet P's preschool.


I tried both the Smoked Butterscotch Latte and the new Cascara Latte this week, and give both a thumbs-up! The Smoked Butterscotch is similar to a Caramel Macchiato, but not as sweet (which I actually prefer). The Cascara Latte is actually a pretty light drink. They syrup used in the drink is made from sugar and dried coffee "cherries" (the fruit which produces coffee beans). The flavor is very subtle - overall similar to a Vanilla Latte. Nutrition wise, the Cascara Latte is slightly lower in calories than a Vanilla Latte (190 calories for a tall) and the Smoked Butterscotch Latte (made with a butterscotch syrup containing cream) comes in at 270 calories for a tall (slightly less than a Mocha Latte at 290). 

2. Talking as Fast as I Can
Last week, I wrote that I had placed a hold at our library for the recent release Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham, and I was not so patiently waiting for it. The way our online holds system works, you can only tell how many total holds have been placed, not where you are in line. There were a number of holds already in the system when I placed mine, but the number kept growing and growing every time I checked in, so I had no idea how long I had to go. Color me surprised when my name came up yesterday! I can't even count the number of times I've watched the full series of Gilmore Girls (I like to just have it streaming in the background whenever I'm doing laundry or other housework), and Lauren Graham is just my favorite - so my expectations for this book are high!



 3. Sweat, smile & repeat


Going along with my "I'm going to take care of my body" New Year's Goal, I've been getting my sweat on - which really does get smiles. Mentally and emotionally, a workout does so much good. I totally and completely need the accountability of a time and a class, so my go-tos these days are (still) Pure Barre (especially the kicked up cardio platform version):


And I've been mixing it up with group Pilates more and more. The weekday class that fits into my schedule with Parker's preschool is the advanced class, though, and I'm not gonna lie - at points I think I'm going to fall off my machine (there are serious standing and balancing portions and all sorts of gymnastics going on while holding hand weights) but I can also say I feel fabulous afterward ;)



4. Smoothie bowls for days


I'm back on my smoothie bowl kick - partly because they're so tasty, partly because they're so pretty, and partly because the highs this week were close to seventy degrees. I've been making them more creamy versus fruity lately (more plain greek yogurt, less fruit) but still super thick. This one was 1/2 cup plain greek yogurt, 3/4 cup frozen mixed berries, 1/2 frozen banana, 2 Tbs. natural peanut butter, and a pinch of salt. I used my food processor to mix it all, but a heavy-duty blender will work also.


Earlier this week, I wrote about our recent outing with Parker to see our own Huntsville Symphony Orchestra (original post found here). I so loved all the comments on classical music, and how some readers are doing the same thing with their little ones! Parker is still talking about the music we heard (his favorite from the night was Vivaldi's The Goldfinch), and this book is back on repeat: 


I seriously cannot recommend it enough for teaching kids all about orchestras and classical music (bonus, it's discounted on Amazon right now). 

Enjoy this last weekend of January!






Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Welcome to the Symphony


From the very first time I played him Vivaldi's Four Seasons at age two, Parker was smitten. He insisted it be played over and over, and developed a love for other classical composers as well. Max and I are still the arbiters of taste for him, as Sweet P is only really exposed to what we present, however his interest in classical music really exceeds anything we've done.  I first wrote about Parker's love for all things orchestra here, about this time last year. At the time, he was almost three, and we took him to his first symphony. Looking back, I still can't believe we took a 2.75 year old to the symphony... but Parker was seriously the perfect audience member, and was totally jazzed to be there. We prepped him beforehand with this book


It's still a favorite in this house and we even read it before bed just last night. Welcome to the Symphony goes over all the instruments in an orchestra, traditions, rituals and even has accompanying music played via buttons (all from Beethoven's Fifth Symphony). It taught Parker so much - at age two he was identifying all instruments and their respective sections as well as rattling off the random facts presented. I highly recommend the book for kids of all ages - it goes into great detail about what a night out at the symphony entails, so it's perfect for front-loading if you have a symphony night planned with your little one. 


This year, our little guy was an old pro. Plus, I found a night when our Huntsville Symphony Orchestra was performing (among other composers) Antonio Vivaldi! Parker was stoked.


At intermission, we had multiple audience members come up to us commending Parker's behavior and attention. As a parent it's so nice to hear this because I still basically hold my breath the entire time, hoping Parker remains the perfect little audience member. At times the entire room was silent, and even a whisper would have been heard - but little man was amazing. We did have to give some redirections this year (like, we only clap, not cheer, at the symphony) so I was a bit worried what the people around us were thinking, but it made my heart so happy that they were so supportive. In our hearts, I know we think it's great exposure to be introducing, but I'd never want to take away from anyone else's experience. Luckily, a night listening to classical music is exactly what our little old soul was made for :)


Monday, January 23, 2017

Homemade Kids Valentines



 With each passing year, celebrating holidays with Parker gets better and better.  He understands more, can do more, and gets more excited about all each holiday entails. This year, I'm twelve kinds of excited to share my very favorite holiday with him. He'll already tell anyone he sees that he can't wait for Valentine's Day because we get to eat lots of chocolate :) We decided to get an early start on some of little man's valentines after I came across this nifty set of blank cards at Target's Dollar Spot:


They were just begging for a tiny person makeover. We brought them home and I placed heart shaped stickers on the fronts of the cards (you could also use painters tape cut into heart shapes - the idea is to get something that can be peeled off after painting). Then, I brought out the Crayola Washables and offered pinks, whites and purples to Parker. He looooves opening the containers and pouring the paint onto the paper plate all by himself, because three-and-a-half. I instructed him to cover up the heart with paint. He began with the paintbrush...


But soon after asked if he could just use his hands. Why not? I usually put out some sort of box top to corral his work, and by far our best investment for our kitchen has been this tiny kids table and chairs. Parker prefers to do all his artwork at the table, sitting or standing it's the perfect height and size.


He made it through several cards before pronouncing he was done. I let the paint dry and then peeled off the stickers and voilĂ ! Homemade valentines, ready to be popped in the mail to family and friends. Parker just needs to add his name :)


Homemade Kids Valentines

Items Needed
1. Blank white cards from the Dollar Spot (or any other card with a canvas like or shiny texture that will stand up to a sticker being peeled off)

2. Heart shaped stickers or wide painters tape cut into heart shapes

3. Crayola Washable Paint (select colors that will blend well together)

4. Paint brushes - or hands ;)

5. Paper plate for paint

6. Optional - box top to serve as workspace 

Directions
1. Place heart shapes onto cards (I like to stick them on the back of my hand a few times to reduce stickiness since the goal is to peel them off the card when done).

2. Pour paint onto paper plate (or have your little one do it). Instruct your little one to cover up the hearts with the paint.

3. Let dry and peel of the hearts. 

4. Enjoy your valentines! :)


Friday, January 20, 2017

Winter Essentials

1.
I'm loving this print by Jones Design Company for all things winter! Who couldn't use a darling yellow coat?



Or perfect black heels? I own these exact Cole Haan ones and I'm absolutely in love with them. 



2. 
Also perfect for a winter's day? A good read.


I have been waiting for what seems like ages for my library hold to come in for The Woman in Cabin 10 (I think I was something like number fifteen on the hold list) so I was stoked when my name came up this week! Hopefully it will tide me over until my hold comes up for this book, because I'm this close to just ordering it on Amazon!

3.
You might be able to tell from my Hunters above that it's been crazy rainy here this week. We still try to get outside on wet days... because #boymom

Parker's favorite activity on a rainy day? Puddle stomping of course! On a side note, the picture below was an Instagram "story" :) I've been having so much fun using the story editing features. Have you tried it? Follow along with our stories @sugarmande


4. 
On our Insta, you'll also see lots of food pics, like this one!

Parker loves his sushi, just like Mama and Dada! Sushi was, after all, our very fist date way back in California. Other food favorites this week include air-popped popcorn with truffle salt and melted butter...


And waffles with Nutella, strawberries and cream. Yum. 

Followed by Pilates, so I can still fit into my pants. 

5.
Finally, Target had my heart this week...

Parker selected bouncy balls to hand out as his valentines (they came in packs of four and even offered the phrase "You make my heart bounce" which we'll print on our own tags), and I was swooning over these too cute erasers. But my favorite Dollar Spot find? 


These amazing felt manipulatives and flash cards. Parker went to town with them as soon as we got home. #allthefeltthingsplease


Happy winter weekend!






Friday, January 13, 2017

Friday Five

Happy Friday the 13th! I told husby I'm a bit superstitiously apprehensive about going out today - you see, I definitely started the year with a round of bad luck... on our layover at DFW New Year's Day, I was using the ladies room when the metal waste bin that's attached to the stall wall fell. On the tile and on my foot. The metal on the tile made the loudest crashing sound ever, and startled me so much that I screamed. Max said he (and everyone else in the terminal) heard the whole thing. I was totally shaken up, you know, not being used to random heavy things falling on me while I'm in the restroom. Then after we deplaned in Huntsville at 10:30pm after a full day of traveling, I remembered to put on my backpack but completely forgot my small cross-body purse that I'd also carried on under the seat in front of me (it was in my checked bag on the way out to California, but I had it with me on the way back since we came straight from brunch). The cross-body bag had my wallet in it, and after a brief freak-out (since we had already left security), we got a call from the airlines saying they had found it. Phew. Actually maybe that right there was my luck changing around? I suppose I can brave it our there on Friday the thirteenth today :) Here's what I'm loving on this weekend eve...

1.
Parker and I busted out our matching Hunters this week - he was too excited to splash in every puddle he could find with his new boots :)

Nevermind it was fifteen degrees last week - it was seventy yesterday. It's just impossible to keep up with this crazy southern weather!! But neighborhood walks in January? We'll take it!


2.
Yesterday, I posted my first Throwback Thursday post, a rewrite of my yummy beef pot pie recipe. I'm excited to go back into the archives and see what other post can use a little refresher!


And as for that pot pie, this little guy was a fan. He actually pulled out his notebook and a marker to write about the meal. He had us help him sound out the letters for "pot pie", and wrote it all on his own along with a picture. Too sweet!

3.
Speaking of delicious food, husby and I have been streaming the latest season of Top Chef, my very favorite show! No, we still don't have television, but every so often once Parker goes down for the night, we like to stream a show and watch together. Top Chef has been on out to-watch list since we were dating, and we enjoy learning new facts about food and cooking, as well as "playing" judge whenever I make a new meal or when we're out to eat.


 Being a superfan, I've also of course read the memoirs released by the host, Padma, and judge Gail. Padma's, Love, Loss, and What We Ate, read the same way she comes off on the show (aloof and condescending - sorry, but true!), while Gail's, Talking with My Mouth Full: My Life as a Professional Eater, was sweetly composed and endearing, much like her (I seriously adore Gail).

4.
A new bakery opened up right by Parker's school, and y'all, I'm in trouble. I went for the first time today, but I'm 99% sure I'll be back there tomorrow. 


5.
Good thing I have Pure Barre and Pilates to keep me in check ;)


Happy Weekend!



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