Tuesday, August 21, 2012

{The Nursery: Closet Makeover}

One of my favorite aspects of Claire's nursery is the massive closet. I mean, how many 9-month old's do you know with their very own walk-in? Not only does it easily accommodate her generous wardrobe, but since we first transformed the room, I've pictured her own little space in there. I've had all sorts of ideas, from a reading nook, to a play area, to a place to play dress-up! I also envision her making forts in there with her siblings one day :) The possibilities are endless and I really wanted to maximize the space.

A few weeks ago as I was packing away the clothes she's outgrown, I decided it was time to make the upgrade. Ultimately, we decided that our biggest need right now was a place to put Claire's toys and a cozy nook to read with her. So we popped on over to Ikea and grabbed a few bins for her smaller toys, a small carpet square for texture and a pop of color, a reading chair (for when she gets older) and of course, these toys I talked about!

And then there was the matter of book shelves I wanted to build to easily store most of her book collection. I found a quick and easy tutorial and my hubby went out and purchased the materials. But then something happened...we made another quick trip to Ikea last weekend and discovered they had basically the exact same ledge-like shelves he was going to make. For only $10 each! (check them out!) Now friends, we are diy-ers all the way, but when you can find, for all functioning purposes, the same thing pre-made for cheaper than you can build it, sometimes it's just worth it! And since we knew our time was limited, we decided that Ikea's shelves were the route to go.

I feel like the shelves really made the most of our space and provided much-needed storage without taking up precious floor space. And the best part, the whole transformation was pretty inexpensive and will easily accommodate any updates as she gets bigger!

Come and take a peek inside Claire's new reading nook/playroom!

Her toys now have a home that isn't the living room or hallway- Yay!!

I've been storing these pillows for a while, knowing they would come in handy at some point! In the future I may sew some new pillow covers, but for now they are perfect for snuggling up and reading to my girl!

I was a little concerned about the height of the bottom shelf as Claire will pull herself up on anything within reach. So hubby made sure to install the extra heavy duty anchors so they wouldn't come out if she used them for standing support (which she already has!).

I love how easily accessible and visible her books are now!

This is where we spend a lot of our indoor playtime these days!

She seems to love her new space :)

Wouldn't you want to play and read here?!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Claire Elizabeth {9 Months}

Happy nine months of life, my Darling! I am having a hard time believing that you have now been out of my belly as long as you were inside. In my mind, nine months was a huge milestone and now here we are. Where does the time go? You are a mere three months away from turning one and yet it feels like yesterday we were bringing you home from the hospital.

What can I say except that you are now officially crawling and are seriously giving me a run for my money! The combination of your energy, curiosity, fearlessness and ability to get anywhere {in .2 seconds} leaves me exhausted at the end of each day. But I seriously wouldn't have it any other way! Of course, this new stage has shown us even more of your personality. You are adventurous and you know what you want. And you definitely do not scare easily. Example: Mommy saying "No" in a stern voice brings you into a serious laughing fit - oy vey! I've tried all different variations of, "No", "Ah ah", clapping, anything that might startle you from say, putting a phone charger in your mouth, but to no avail. We've got to keep our eyes on you, child!

Something I deeply enjoy is the impression you make on everyone you meet! You have such a sweet, happy disposition that everyone stops and plays with you, whether it be in Home Depot, Target or grocery store, you are always making new friends. I love this about you!

And probably my favorite is your hearty, infectious giggle! It has the amazing power to make everything right in the world and can always put a smile on our face. And we can pretty much get it out of you by simply giving you a little tickle (you love being tickled), making silly noises or chomping on your little toes. Claire, you truly are a bringer of joy!

Exciting this month was you learning how to drink from a straw! I am probably more excited than most moms about this, but I love that we've now added green smoothies to your diet! So far, you've sucked down every one I put in front of you. {That's my girl!} You are still an excellent eater and will try everything we give you. Though with all the exercise you get now, you are definitely trimming out and have held 22 lbs for a couple of months now!

Aside from some painful teething lately, this month has been incredibly fun! We got to meet a few Disney princesses, had your first camping trip, spent time with your little aunts and uncles and overall have really enjoyed the summer! You're getting the hang of waving 'hi' and 'bye' and will pretty consistently kiss on demand. And I'm almost scared to admit that you've been taking assisted steps for a few weeks now, as I'm not ready for you to be that independent yet! Though, when you're ready to walk, we're ready for the new challenge :)

Claire Elizabeth, you are our sweetest earthly gift and we feel undoubtedly blessed to be your parents! We love you to the moon, Princess!

All my love, Mama

Friday, August 10, 2012

{Foodie Friday: Blueberry Crumble Muffins}

As soon as I saw these in the current Clean Eating Magazine I knew I had to test them out! Because anytime someone claims that a healthier version of a classic brunch favorite is just as tasty, I simply must give them a try.

These blueberry crumble muffins are exactly as the article claims: moist, fluffy and detectably (and about 1/3 less calories than traditional versions!) I really believe it's the crumble factor that lends these muffins their sinful-tasting goodness. Paired with our morning coffee, these were nothing short of heavenly and will most definitely be showing up in my kitchen again!

Bon Appetit, muffin lovers!

Blueberry Crumble Muffins
recipe from Clean Eating Magazine


2 cups plus 3 Tbsp white whole-wheat flour, divided
2/3 cup plus 3 Tbsp organic evaporated cane juice, divided
1 oz raw unsalted pecans, finely chopped
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, divided
1/4 tsp plus 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg, divided
1/2 tsp plus 1/8 tsp sea salt, divided
2 Tbsp organic unsalted butter, melted
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 cups fresh blueberries, washed and dried thoroughly
1 large egg
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
3 Tbsp safflower oil

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line a 12-count muffin tin with paper liners.
  2. Prepare crumble topping: in a small bowl, combine 3 Tbsp flour, 3 Tbsp cane juice, pecans, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/8 tsp nutmeg and 1/8 tsp salt. Drizzle in butter and stir with a fork until just moistened. Set Aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together remaining 2 cups flour, 2/3 cup cane juice, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1/2 tsp salt, baking powder and baking soda. Gently stir in blueberries. IN a medium bowl, whisk egg, buttermilk and oil. Add to blueberry mixture and stir until just moistened. Spoon into muffin cups.
  4. With your fingers, crumble topping over muffin batter. Bake in center of oven, rotating tin halfway through, until edges are lightly browned and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in center, 18-20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool in tin for 5 minutes. Carefully remove muffins from tin and transfer to a cooling rack.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

{Tunnel Vision}

Now that Claire is crawling all over the place and standing on everything, Chris and I thought it was time to get some new toys for our big girl.

When it comes to our parenting style, we really want Claire to embrace her imagination in such a technology-crazed world. After all, we aren't big on TV, love the outdoors and want to foster those habits in her, too! And so, the toys we give her are suited for that purpose.

A few weekends ago, we took a trip to Ikea and bought several of their awesome wooden toys, a walker/wagon and a mesh tunnel. First of all, I love and appreciate how inexpensive everything is, especially when compared to very similar items elsewhere! And secondly, they are a huge hit with our daughter!

I've been especially pleased with the mesh tunnel we purchased. It may be the best $15 we've spent lately! Our girl loves to crawl back and forth through it, stop in the middle and peek around to see me when I'm on the opposite side of her. It's hilarious and provides us all tons of entertainment! The past week or so it's become our morning routine to pop open the tunnel and begin our day crawling around in our pjs. It's the best!

And a huge perk - it folds right up and stores easily away. Thank you Ikea, for awesome products that are also budget-friendly!

I took these photos the first day we got it. At first she was a bit skeptical and would only get a few steps in before backing herself out, but now she has become a seasoned pro at blasting from one side to the other (and back again and again!). I love her sweet curiosity!

Monday, August 6, 2012

{A Royal Weekend}

This weekend Claire had her first encounter with not one, but two princesses! Thanks to the First Friday at the Fountains happening all summer long, she got to meet Cinderella and Ariel before even visiting Disneyland. It was such a fun family event and we're looking forward to it next month!

{Our little princess's first picture with Cinderella!}

{Claire & Ariel}

{Two silly peas in a pod waiting in line}

{Claire with Grandma & Grandpa}

{Claire & Aunt Judy}

And since my cousin and his fiance are in town, we drove to Lake Tahoe on Saturday for lunch and a hike at Emerald Bay.

{A beautiful afternoon at Sunnyside Resort}

{Our lunch view}

{Emerald Bay - Lake Tahoe}

{Fun reminder - this was Claire and me at Emerald Bay last year!}

{At the bottom of our hike. An overcast day made for a gorgeous skyline}

The makings of yet another fun weekend! Happy Monday!

Friday, August 3, 2012

{Camping Trip 2012}

Happy Friday! Surely I'm not alone in welcoming the weekend with open arms! This week was a tough one, getting use to my husband being at Raiders' training camp for a good part of the week. Phew, let's just say that I am not cut out to be a single parent! 

{But that said, I am beyond proud of him and incredibly grateful for his new job!}

 It might have been a bit easier had we not just come back from a weekend of camping! Though the exhaustion and extra laundry was well worth the precious time spent with my Dad, step-mom and sweet brothers and sisters!

We camped at a beautiful campsite in Sonoma Valley and took a drive to Bodega Bay on Sunday afternoon where the kids got to play at the beach. Great food, great company and lots of wine by the camp fire made for a lovely visit. Though, as always, I wish we had more time together. These trips just never seem to be long enough. But {sigh} we will take all we can get!

And as usual, here are some photos from the weekend

She's gonna love me for this one someday ;)

Silly girls, begging to sleep in our tent :)

Melt. My. Heart.

My favorite girls on the planet: my sisters and my daughter!

The spectacular view from our campsite!

Just chillin'

My sweethearts on the beach

Beach fun (even though the water was freezing!)

Taking in the lovely sights after lunch in Bodega Bay

The official picture of Claire with her Aunts & Uncles! I love this so much!

And a shot of the whole family. Not bad for attempting to get ten people to smile!

Weekends like these are definitely Summer at it's finest!
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