Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Cameron's New Room!!

Finally!! We've been in our new home for a little over four months now and despite the fact that the kids' rooms were complete almost before anything else, it's taken me this long to get the photos pulled together. And their rooms are not entirely even "done," because I left room for them to add to things as they grow. But this is probably the closest and most picked up they'll be for a while (having them home in the summer is like letting animals run rampant in the house. If I have to pick up one more wet bathing suit off of the hardwood floors, I'm going to lose it).

But, I digress. Back to the fun stuff. Our home is a very open design, so before we even moved in, we made the decision to paint every single wall the same light grey color. It's a great neutral that really allows the design of rooms to come from elsewhere. So, my starting point for Cam's room was The Land of Nod's aptly named Ahmaze Quilt, designed by Ampersand Design Studio. I got a glimpse of it at the Nod spring preview in New York and knew I had to make it happen. Fortunately for us, our friends at Nod really helped us pull together the kids' rooms -- thank you, thank you, thank you!! It was high time that Cam had a real "big girl bed," and I fell in love with Nod's black Jenny Lind bed -- it's a classic design, but I think the black makes it so modern and bold. I paired those with the Gold Dot Sheet Set, the pattern on which also ties in Cameron's favorite quilt made by by mom. My mother makes a quilt for every grandchild and, with each successive one, incorporates pieces of our own childhood quilts and the previous grandchildrens' quilts.

My mom started such an amazing tradition and I love how it repeats the quilting effect, so I knew I had to make that another starting point for her room. Thus came the hot pink. Everything else flowed once I had graphic black + white paired up with hot pink + metallics. I had had my eye on that fabulous gold pouf for a while as well, so that was a given. And I paired it with a faux sheepskin to bring in a little warmth and texture. Cam likes to pull both up to her side table (which used to be my bedside table at our old home as well as my bedside lamp) and pretend she's using a "desk" to write in her "diary." I reused previous party decor over her bed, including two Nod garlands and the gold pig from Cami's fourth birthday party (I never throw out party decorations!!).

I reused our previous family room's graphic black + white striped carpet to lay out the main play area in her room. She has a great reading corner, featuring Nod's hot pink Domino Lounge Chair paired with another sheepskin (this one's real since it's off the floor) and a striped pillow friend. I put her books nearby on a bookcase and featured her most favorites on Nod's Gold Standard Shelving (along with a few of her sentimental collections and the hot pink "C" from her second birthday party). Nod's awesome metallic Mod Storage bins hold all her toys and keep them looking pretty (seriously, these hold SO much stuff). The gold lamp gives the perfect amount of reading light and she loves to curl up here and look at her books in front of a fire (which she honestly rearranges pretty much every day).

And if she's not in that chair reading or serenading her stuffed animals with her pink ukelele, you're likely find her in the ridiculously fabulous gold striped teepee!! When we first got this, she tried to sleep in it every night and demanded a comfortable cushion in there. So I wrapped a floor cushion in Nod's Neon Dash Blanket and she moved in. However, after several middle-of-the-night wakings, I'm happy to report that she's back in her comfy bed and using the teepee just for playing.

We also started a gallery wall here for her, including Cam's hieroglyphic name her dad brought her from Egypt, two sweet paintings of ballerinas and doggies (from my mother's childhood room and then my own -- still in the same framing!), and a great weaving by Nod's Creative Director, Danielle (other artwork here and here). The commitment of hanging artwork with nails in kid's rooms gives me anxiety, so the gallery wall and its movability works perfectly. I can't wait to see what Cam adds over the years.

Last but not least, I fixed a little dramatic play corner for her using Nod's metallic bin and brightly-colored fruit hooks. Cameron still loves playing dress up and has a TON of it, but the metallic bin easily holds all of it. I'm proud that the light saber gets just as much play as the princess shoes.

That pretty much covers it! I think I succeeded in pulling together a room that is as bright, bold, and fun as Cami, but that is also organized, easy for her to keep picked up, and that will grow with her. Thanks again to The Land of Nod and my interior design friend, Suzanne, who helped me with the layout of the kids' rooms. Kane's room will be up next week!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Grilled Salmon with Avocado Salsa + 30 Days of Dinner

If you follow me at all on Instagram, you might have noticed less photos of cocktails and macarons and more photos of dinners. After a school year full of hours of daily carpool commuting, a big house move, and lots of work crammed into little time, I needed to get back to healthy eating. A few years ago I did a Whole30 and ate a "clean" diet for a good chunk of time. It was difficult to keep up, but I had more energy, slept better, and had a more positive outlook on things in general. So I decided to give it another go and just finished up another Whole30.

And I've been feeling so good this time around that I decided to extend it to a Whole60. I always find people sharing their menus and recipes super helpful and since I've already received questions from lots of people about this particular Whole30, I thought I'd share our month of meals. This is not going to turn into a Paleo food blog -- I plan on posting just once a month -- and if you have no interest in it, feel free to not read these particular posts!

I've found that I am most successful at Whole30s when I keep up our regular social life (even though that means not cocktailing when we're out with friends), eating out on the weekends (ordering as clean eats as I can find), and cooking extras to have plenty of food for leftovers (that way I have food already cooked for breakfast and lunch). So my month of meals generally means I'm cooking most weekday nights, but eating out or leftovers on the weekends.

One of my most favorite foods is sushi, but rice is a no go on Whole30. And even though I generally dislike cooked seafood, I've been on the hunt for recipes so that I still incorporate fish into our diet. This salmon was a big hit and was super easy to make. For the most part, the kids eat the main protein and vegetables we have, and then I add in an extra carb source for them (e.g., rice, quinoa, bread, etc.). Read through for the recipe and our full 30 days of meals at the end -- I started on a Wednesday, so that's when my meals start, but use the 30 days however you wish!

Grilled Salmon with Avocado Salsa

- 2 lbs salmon, cut into 4 pieces
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp paprika powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp ancho chili powder
- 1 tsp black pepper

for the Avocado Salsa:
- 1 avocado, sliced
- 1/2 small red onion, diced
- juice from 2 limes
- 1-2 tbs finely chopped cilantro
- salt to taste

1. Mix the salt, chili powder, cumin, paprika, onion and black pepper together, rub the salmon fillets with olive oil and this seasoning mix.
2. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
3. Pre-heat the grill.
4. Combine the avocado, onion, cilantro, lime juice, and salt in a bowl and mix well. Chill until ready to use.
5. Grill the salmon to desired doneness (I do just about 5 minutes total).
6. Top with avocado salsa.

Monthly Meal Plan 

Day 1 (W) -- Grilled Balsamic Chicken, broiled sweet potatoes, and green salad
Day 4 (Sat) -- dinner out - I had Greek meatballs and a salad
Day 5 (Sun)-- dinner out - I had a tomato "sandwich" and more veggies (thus, also leftover stew when I got home)

Day 7 (Tues) -- Lemon Chicken with Red Onion, Roasted Green Beans, and leftover cauliflower + carrot puree
Day 8 (W) -- Greek Meatballs with Avocado Tzatziki Sauce and veggie kabobs (I just slice and toss veggies in olive oil and spices, skewer them, and grill them for a few minutes)
Day 9 (Th) -- Italian Baked Eggs (sans cheese and bread) over sweet potato "noodles" and green salad 
Day 10 (F) -- Carne Asada with Avocado Tomatillo Salsa and baked sweet potato fries (this steak was delicious and is my new favorite steak recipe!)
Day 11 (Sat) -- dinner out - I had a burger and brussels sprouts
Day 12 (Sun) -- dinner out - I had a green salad with grilled chicken and brussels sprouts 

Day 13 (M) -- Citrus Bacon Shrimp + Grilled Stonefruit Salad (kids had pasta and meatballs)
Day 14 (Tues) -- Slow Cooker Shredded Beef Tacos (in romaine lettuce "tortillas") and veggie kabobs 
Day 15 (W) -- Avocado Turkey Burgers, sweet potato fries, brussels sprouts, and watermelon 
Day 16 (Th) -- leftovers
Day 17 (F) -- dinner "out" - WholeFoods salad bar
Day 18 (Sat) -- dinner out - it was my first birthday dinner so I had oysters, steak, and potatoes with duck confit 
Day 19 (Sun) -- dinner out - my second birthday dinner :) I had oysters, a burger, and a baked potato 

Day 20 (M) -- Paleo Burgers and veggie kabobs
Day 21 (Tues) -- Grilled Salmon with Avocado Salsa over paleo rice and veggie kabobs 
Day 22 (W) -- Sweet Potato Chili (the kids LOVED this!) and Roasted Green Beans 
Day 23 (Th) -- leftovers + brinner for the kids 
Day 24 (F) -- dinner "out" - WholeFoods salad bar
Day 25 (Sat) -- dinner party at our house - I made Whole30-compliant food and a pasta salad for our friends, who also graciously brought more carbs and sweets for them :) I made Bacon-Wrapped Dates for an appetizer (without brown sugar and some without goat cheese for me and also served charcuterie), Carne Asada, and Sweet Roasted Beets with Herb Citrus Dressing
Day 26 (Sun) -- leftovers

Day 28 (Tues) -- Paleo Chicken Nuggets and Parsnip Fries (my nuggets did not turn out as nuggets, more like a coconut chicken stir fry. So I added cashews and it was delicious)
Day 30 (Th) -- leftovers, sweet potato wedges, and green salad

Friday, June 26, 2015

Weekend Makes

We've had alternating days of outrageous heat and thunderstorms in DC this summer. Besides being incredibly difficult to plan outdoor activities with the kids, the weather pattern has really brought on the bugs. From fun fireflies to menacing mosquitoes, the bugs are back. So we're embracing them this weekend.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Project 52 -- Week 25

Cam spent her first week of camp making friends with a group of girls from Kane's class. The difference between five-year-old and six-year-old girls is amazing. Cam went from having a little bit of baby left to her to teaching Kane hand-slap songs, asking me whether I knew that "Katy Perry and Taylor Swift used to be friends, but now they're not," and throwing around the word "totes" like it was her job. God help us all.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

A Day in the Life (June 2015)

As is apparently par for the course this season, June 12th was obnoxiously hot in DC. Like singe your eyelashes off hot. But the kids were off of school and had not yet started camp, so we refused to stay inside all day.

6.30 am -- I tried to get up early to run before it became unbearably hot. It was still a rainforesty run at 6.30, but picking my shoes from the family's pile of muddy running shoes made me happy.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Flag Ponds Nature Park

By this point in the summer, we've usually been to the New Jersey shore at least twice. But with new school schedules, extracurricular activities, and my attempt to right the disaster created by sending the kids to only two weeks of summer camp last year, we just haven't been yet. But I wanted to go to a beach for my birthday and I wanted an adventurous day trip. I started researching around a bit and then I remembered that my friend Darcy (from No Monsters in My Bed) had blogged about a super cool beach in Maryland where you can find fossil shark teeth: Flag Ponds Nature Park. When I realized it was only about an hour and a half away and close to Solomons Island (which has been on my list for a while), it was a go.