Year in Review… Where Did the Time Go?

You guys… what a year! And what in the time warp? My daughter, Aria, turned one and I can hardly believe the transformation that she’s made in just that short a time. I know people say time flies but I literally just gave birth to her yesterday. How is she already a year old? Well, over the year, as you know, I’ve given here a different career every month to encourage her to imagine, play and dream big. Here’s that year in review.

One Month Old – Fairy

Two Months Old – Diva/Social Butterfly

Three Months Old – Baker

Four Months Old – Ballerina

Five Months Old – Cheerleader

Six Months Old – Astronaut

Seven Months Old – Fashion Designer

Eight Months Old – Pediatrician

Nine Months Old – News Anchor

Ten Months Old – Conservationist and Safari Guide

Eleven Months Old – Writer Good Morning Toes

Twelve Months Old – Service – Firefighter, Police Officer, Marine

Thank you for watching her journey and encouraging her for greatness. Even though the picture series is over, cultivating her imagination never is. Always tell your kids how great they are and that nothing is impossible.

XOXO 💋

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Aria in Onederland

My Bug just turned one and let me tell you, what an event it was. I had the most fun celebrating her and with her. As a crafty, EXTRA, mom (I told ya’ll I’m very extra) I had to everything and do everything big. We are in Texas after all. So this post is dedicated to everything Aria… in Onederland.

Babies, Bows, and Butterflies 🦋

My daughter loves to explore everything around her. She is a virtual sponge, even at 4-months old. She is so alert and attentive, I’m always so shocked that her attention span is greater than 30 seconds.

So for our family activity, we decided to go to the Cockrell Butterfly Center in Houston. To let her see the butterflies and see if they might like her enough to try to land on her. If they did, I would hope that she wouldn’t try to eat one. These days everything is hand to mouth. Luckily, they only flew nearby and we never had to have a butterfly emergency. Tiny meltdown, yes. Eaten butterflies, no.

She got all the compliments. There was even another baby there that lost quick interest in the butterflies and only had eyes for her. Step back little Romeo… no boys allowed until she’s 45. Her bow looked like a butterfly and so she fit right in. Join us on our journey.

Outfit Details:
👗 My dress: Diane von Furstenberg (old)
👕 Her Outfit: Cat & Jack by Target
🎀 Her Bow: Little Lopers

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Getting ready to go to the butterfly museum.
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Daddy, what are all of these things flying around. They look like my bow!
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Daddy, is that a fairy? No, Bug. It’s a butterfly. Tiny and beautiful… just like you.
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Weeeeeeee, mama. I can fly just like them.
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She’s so alert and pays attention to every little detail. Here, Daddy points out a small black and red butterfly.
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Mama, I want to be a butterfly.
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Snack break.
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In the middle of a meltdown. It happens folks. She was not a happy camper after a while. So we had to take a break in the middle. Hey, babies cry – even in the midst of such beauty.
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Happy again. Me and my family.
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Thanks to the Cockrell Butterfly Center for a great family day out!

Dazzling on Date Night

So in a previous post I talked about keeping the romance going after the baby. Well, I try to take my own advice- mostly.

This is one of those times. So I grabbed up my hubs and took him for a night out on the town. And I feel like I looked pretty damn good doing it too. Check me out.

You can get the dress here.

Insanely Gorgeous Summer Tables… On the Cheap

Don’t you love it when you pass by Pottery Barn or Crate and Barrel and you see those beautifully set tables. I do. I always think to myself, I want my table to look like that. So one day I did it. Here’s how:

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The first thing is I decided what theme I wanted. Since it’s warm out, I wanted something bright and pretty. So I decided on a pastel floral theme. And I’m obsessed with this gold flatware that we got as a wedding gift from Crate and Barrel – so I knew I would be incorporating that. I think Target (pronounced Targé) has a less expensive version in their home section, so if you’re pinching the pennies, go for that.

This is what you have to do:

  1. Decide your theme. Already discussed… moving right along.
  2. Check around your house. Chances are you already have most of the elements that you need sitting around the house. Those fake flowers sitting on the coffee table that are gathering dust, grab those. The birthday party decorations that you shoved in the attic that you wondered what you would do with after the party, yep, go through that too. Check out these cool Ikea lanterns that we had leftover from our engagement party nearly three years ago.img_4685.jpg
  3. Repurpose, repurpose, repurpose. Use unconventional containers as accents and other decorative elements. For example, my flower display sits on one of my cake stands. IMG_4697
  4. Use color and cool patterns! I can’t stress this one enough. Color draws the eye and just makes everything so much prettier. The patterns make them interesting. I used color from the flowers and bowls and patterns from the plates and chargers. I also threw in a little texture from my glasses. img_4686
  5. Use candles. The soft glow can’t be beat! Again, I repurposed some fake ones that we had from our engagement party. I prefer real ones, but these old tealights were handy. If you do use real one, just remember to keep them out of the way of the kiddos and to blow them out when you’re done.
  6. Use cool placemats and napkins. I had to buy mine. But they were el-cheapo from Targé. Also, don’t foget to add tiny touches and personal details. I wrote sweet little messages and stuck them inside butterfly placecard holders.
  7. Arrange it all together and you have your very own fancy tablescape – on a dime!!!

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Mouthwatering Hamburgers in 30 Minutes! Score one for Mom!

So at the Cook residence with a 2-month old and all the other obligations of the day, good food is something that my husband and I look forward to. Aria is still a little young for us to be toting in and out of restaurants, so we tend to bring the restaurant home. And since both my husband and I looooove to cook, making burger night special is kind of a homerun and no-brainer.

These burgers were so quick and easy and most importantly delicious that I just knew that I needed to share it with you. So busy moms – and dads – this one’s for you. Holy hamburger night, Batman! This is gonna be good. Check the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs ground sirloin
  • 1 diced jalapeño
  • 1 diced small yellow onion
  • 1 cup diced mushrooms
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper, plus a pinch
  • hefty pinch dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt, plus a pinch

Directions:

  1. Combine all the vegetables (jalapeño, mushrooms, onion) and sautée until tender. Season with the pinches of sea salt and pepper. DSC_0495
  2. Add seasoned vegetables to ground sirloin. Add additional spices and  blend well. DSC_0501
  3. Shape into 6 oz. hamburger patties.dsc_0512.jpg
  4. Grill to desired level of doneness. (Personally, I love a well-done burger, but if you’re a medium-well type of person – go for it!)
  5. Toast your bun and add your desired trimmings. snapseed-2

Here’s a little bonus too! What’s a good burger without delicious fries??? Those mouthwatering ones that are fresh cut with the skin on – oh my gosh, I might have to make some for lunch! This is easy too. All you need is a a few large russet potatoes, some vegetable oil and a fryer.

Directions for the fries:

  1. Slice the potatoes to resemble fries. Soak in cold water for about 10 minutes. Drain.DSC_0498DSC_0507
  2. The key to yummy, crispy french fries is to double fry them. Sounds crazy right? Trust me. Set your deep fryer to about 275°. Your first fry should be at this temperature for about 4 to 5 minutes. Just to quickly cook them. They shouldn’t have any color at all at this point. Drain the grease off the fries.DSC_0513
  3. Adjust your deep fryer to 300°. Now when you drop your fries, they’ll go until they get that beautiful golden color. Probably another 4 minutes.DSC_0514DSC_0515

I do hope you enjoy this as much as we do. Bon appetit.

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Rediscover The Style in Your Own Backyard

So, full disclosure, this isn’t my backyard – although I surely wish that it was. This is a little stroll my pixie and I took through the McGovern Centennial Gardens in Houston’s Hermann Park district. It’s easy to forget all that your city has to offer. After a while you tend to overlook things that you see everyday. Here’s a reminder to stop and smell the roses and remember that every city has something(s) special to offer.

I have to admit that Houston definitely has some gems if you look out for them. This is one. With beautifully manicured grounds and the perfect place for a picnic – I’d recommend it for a summer stroll with your family and loved ones.

There’s only one caveat, it’s mostly open without a lot of tree cover for shade (there’s some on the side) so bring lots of water and a hat because the Houston sun can be brutal.Right when you enter, you will immediately see the beauty of the property. There are plants and flowers everywhere in pretty much every shade. The focal point is this massive water fountain that you can take a short walk to the top of and catch views of the entire gardens and some of the park on the outside.

My peanut and I did a quick photo shoot, even though the sun was beaming and we were sweltering in the heat. Everywhere you turn makes a great backdrop for photos and selfies. These pics don’t do these red and yellow flowers any justice though. Forgive me for the terrible shots, the sun made it extremely hard to see what I was shooting.

Time to stop for a quick refreshing beverage. Remember I told you to bring water. Well she had the delicious “boob juice” and mommy, well I wasn’t smart. I had none. I’ll know better next time. She lit up my life with those cute flowers in her hair and bow.

Check us out, soaking up the sun. Make sure you protect yourself with sunscreen when you’re out. Sunburn makes for a not-so-happy person. Also, no worries, baby Aria was only in the sun long enough for me to take a quick snap and then she was covered right back under her trusty Pipa shade. I’m paranoid about the sun.

After a nice day in the park, my little pixie was finished. Time for a nap.

What are some of your favorite places to go that are in your backyard? Perhaps Aria and I will visit them. Let us know your family moments and summer traditions too! See you later.

xoxo

Adventures in Earrings

She passed the mark. Two months shots done and now it’s time for the treat. Earrings. Never mind that Dad bought her her first pair of diamonds at two weeks old, before we could even think about ear adornments. But she’s a Daddy’s Girl, so what did I expect? And if I’m a not-so-practical mom, my husband, well, you get the idea of our family.

We went to Claire’s Boutique for the deed. It went really fast too. She was only BIG MAD for about 20 seconds and then she dried up the tears and was her fabulous self again. I think she likes them. What do you think about Aria’s new ear wear?

 

Breastfeeding for Dummies… i.e. Me.

This is a chronicle of the (mis)adventures and mishaps of my milk making. Blah.

Right now, as I write this blog, I find myself on the floor of my bedroom, in the not quite middle of the night (10 pm), but to my exhausted and beaten body it feels like 3, pumping for my life – or should I say my tiny angel. Breastfeeding moms this one is for you, you’ll definitely feel me.

Now, as I was saying, I’m here in the floor – trying to be as quiet as possible, the entire house is fast asleep – even the two huskies – who snore lazily and look up at me as I reach for the lanolin, take a yawn that eerily sounds like “poor sucker” and go right back to sleep. I’m trying to be incognito because I promise if that baby wakes up, it’s just about enough to send me right over the edge. So shhhhhhhh…. please and thank you. Save your applause ’til the end.

Here’s what I’ve been trying to do. I’ve been trying to get a surplus of milk. And while some of you reading this may have a freezer chock full of Medela storage bags – well that’s not my story. You take your excess 300 ounces and shove ’em. (Do I sound bitter? It’s probably because I am…and jealous. Excuse me, it’s the middle of the night. Be nice to your milk bags. I’m sure they are very nice people.) I barely have 30 extra ounces. And that’s from like 2 weeks of pumping. That’s right, only that much. So moms out there that loooooove to give advice, both solicited and un-, this is your chance. Tell me what to do. Please.

I’ve read all the blogs. Tried all the tricks, looking at her, looking at pictures, holding a blanket to smell (at this point I might as well hold a diaper full of yellow seeds – if you get my drift), feeding her right after pumping, feeding her before pumping and waiting no time, 30 minutes, an hour… still… beans. I’m on the more milk supplements. I’m drinking the lactation tea, and if I see ONE MORE oatmeal cylinder, I’m going to vomit. (I hate oatmeal.) If I drink any more water I’m gonna have to come and pee at your house. It’s not working.

True, every now and again I might get a good haul. Then I think excited, “it’s working.” Then the next time… beans. Giant F word. Back to the drawing board I go. I know, I know. I have to stick with it. But between working for a living (my household is a two-income household), blogging for a living, taking care of the baby before, during (yes, I said during), and after work, trying to pump and get healthy food in me. Forget about it. You want me to shower and comb my hair too??? You’re asking too much. What’s the secret? I really, really need to know. Can I please get invited to the surplus milk supply club? It’s important.

Not for nothing though, there are a couple of things that I have tried that I can appreciate. So even though my supply isn’t where I want it to be, they definitely make the struggle more convenient.

  1. Willow Breast Pump – Shout out to the moms at Willow who knew the importance of being able to be mobile and pump at the same time. I know that there’s that bra that you can wear that lets you be “hands free,” but this little gem let’s me be hands free, plug free and whatever else free that I need to be. Imagine me going to celebrate someone’s birthday and excusing myself to the restroom for a quick install and right back to the group to keep the party going.fullsizerender-6
  2. Hakaa Silicone Pump – I call it the “Boob Sucker.” This little contraption let’s me pump on one boob while Aria snacks on the other. Never miss a let down. On a good day I can get about 2 ounces on it. Mostly I get about a half ounce. But I’ll take what I can get. Beggars can’t choosers.
  3. Oatmeal Raisin Cookies – Didn’t I say I hate oatmeal. There’s something about the texture that I can’t get with, so these cookies are a lifesaver. To spice it up I add white chocolate chips, cranberries, and toffee bits. I even throw in a little flaxseed meal for good measure… you know to help with the milk. They are soooo good. So if I must eat oatmeal, this is the way.bac496dc-037f-4e32-a965-c3e81b5cd193
  4. Fenugreek – These pills definitely help, but aren’t a silver bullet for me. I did take some moringa but those darn things dried me up so I had to kick those to the curb and get back to the ‘greek.acf8d4a8-d562-4d91-adb5-8289482e2508

Other than that, I don’t know what else to do. Like I said, I’m soliciting advice. So gimme what ya got. I’ll keep you posted on how things turn out.

xoxo