Friday, September 30, 2016

The Friday Five!

We've been having a great week. Despite the fact that it's been raining for almost over 24 hours straight, I'm excited about the drop in temps and the distinct fallness in the air. We're all adjusting to our new school, homework, and extracurricular activity schedule. I'm having a hard time carving out a good chunk of time for the kids to tinker and create, so I just joined Tinkerlab's 7-Day Art Start Challenge and hope that will hold us to making time to art. It looks awesome -- join us!

Here's what else we've been up to ....

Reading -- Cam sometimes gets bored with our audiobook picks--it can be hard to find something that appeals to both of their interests. But she has been cracking up over House of Robots this week. It deals with a lot of school social issues, which has been particularly timely for back to school (or at least it has been for us). Kane's been loving the Cam Jansen series and this one is great for the Halloween season.

Making -- We have been all about playdough this week--I think the kids needed a little sensory relief! This apple pie playdough of ours is a seasonal fave.

Cooking -- I've been cooking all kinds of yummy fall dinners this week, but I am kind of addicted to this little lunch dish I came up with. It's Perfect Fluffy Crispy Potatoes (I skipped the nutritional yeast and subbed in smoked paprika for the chipotle powder), with smoked salmon, capers, thinly sliced red onion, avocado, and a bit of goat cheese. I almost don't miss the bagel.

Playing -- Kane has been really cranky over having to play math games for homework. Simply because it's more homework. So I've been trying to mix in some of our old fave boardgames. Everyone loves SORRY--especially the fire and ice edition.

Wanting -- I frequently make do without a lot of fancy kitchen gear, but I got a Le Creuset dutch oven last year (white with gold handle!) and I've really been needing a cast iron pan to go with it. And the white one is on sale at WS. It's a sign.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Scotland + Ireland: Cobh and Dublin Days 8 + 9

One of the big reasons we chose to travel to Scotland and Ireland this past summer was to celebrate a big birthday of my MIL. They'd done a little research into their Irish family roots and wanted to stop at the Cobh Heritage Centre, which has a on-site genealogist to help you do just that. As a major transatlantic Irish port, Cobh served as a significant departure point for people emigrating to America.  Because this was the last port of call for many Irish emmigrants, it is frequently mis-recorded as people's place of origin in ancestral documents. It is also famously the last port of call for the Titanic. And another brightly painted seaside town, so we were all interested in checking it out.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Slow Cooked Carnitas with Peach and Tomato Salsa + 30 Days of Dinner!!

I know that peach season is long gone, but everyone so loved these Slow Cooked Carnitas with Peach + Tomato Salsa, that I'd make them again and again and just leave out the peaches. It was so easy for so much flavor! And I doubled the recipe so we used the leftovers in multiple dishes (brinner, tacos, etc.), which always adds up to a huge win in my book.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Stargazing Playdate

We finally knocked one of our long running bucket list items off! The kids and I spent an afternoon reading a few books about constellations and making our own yummy versions. Head over to Honest to Nod to see all the fun!

Friday, September 23, 2016

The Friday Five!

This week has been a little nuts, so I'm keeping it short and sweet for this Friday Five!

Reading -- I have mixed feelings about Gwyneth, but I'm finding a lot of good recipes in It's All Easy. We finally finished How to Catch a Bogle (everyone loved it!) and just started Woods Runner.

Playing -- Kane has a lot more homework this year and we've been trying to really stay on top of it. He has loved his math homework so far, which is usually in the form of a fun game. And I love that the whole family gets in on it. This week we played round after round of Garbage. All you need is a regular deck of cards, but I like this sturdy set.

Wanting -- I'm not a huge fan of plaid, but I love a good windowpane pattern. Especially if it's black + white. I'm obsessed with these Kate Spade PJs.

Cooking -- I have my kitchen back!!! I couldn't believe how much it bothered the whole family to have to eat out or order in for more than a week. We are all so much better off for a slew of reasons when I cook at home. These super simple Lamp Chops with Pistachio Tapenade were so fast to make and a winner with everyone.

Making -- with the return of our kitchen, we also got our arts and crafts area back. The kids haven't wanted to do anything particularly organized, but they've been so happy just messing around with everything in our art cabinet, all of which seems new again! And they wouldn't put our fave watercolor pods away.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

2016 Fall Bucket List -- 50+ Ideas of Fall Family Fun!

Happy Fall!!! We had such a good summer, but I'm ready for some sweater weather. It is the first day of the season, so we only thought it fitting to share our new Fall Bucket List! From recipes to outings to DIYs, we put together over fifty fun ideas for the family to do together this season. And we can't wait to start!!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Kane's Favorite Fall Looks!

Kane had incredibly specific ideas of what he wanted his fall back-to-school wardrobe to look like. He told me: dress up clothes ("for a party, like a tuxedo"), skinny green pants, and striped shirts. He said no characters (which I generally wouldn't get him anyway -- house rule) unless it was a minimal graphic design. Needless to say, we had a few negotiations over shopping. But I think we arrived at several looks that work for both of us.

Much like Cam, I'd say that Kane has moved a little more in the alternative direction, but there's still plenty of prep there too. And he is wearing a lot darker colors these days, which might just be my attempt to co-opt them to wear a uniform of all black and grey like me. At least he has continued to resist the all Under Armour look, although I'm sure that's coming some day. Here's what he's working.

Everyday Stripes -- still his main look, Kane dons skinnies and a striped shirt pretty much every day. He's branched out a little to include a few graphics, but if stripes are available, that's what he's wearing. He also started collecting leather and wax coated bracelets this summer from everywhere we traveled. And then friends starting bringing them back for him from places too. He's got a whole armful.

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Friday, September 16, 2016

The Friday Five!

I'm glad it's Friday, but this week (and upcoming weekend when we'll be a roaming family while the last of our floors are hopefully finished up) can suck it. Here's all the things we (crankily) did this week.

Reading -- I grew up in a sailing family, so even though my strongest personal sailing skill is lounging, I'm getting a kick out of the sailing-obsessed family in Before the Wind which takes place on Puget Sound--another temporary home of mine. Kane and his friends at school have been running some kind of rock shop on the playground during recess and he has been bringing home pockets FULL of rocks. He checked this Rock and Gem book out of the library and has been pouring through it in hopes that he's dug up the next Hope Diamond.

Playing -- I've finally succumbed to the fact that I will not be doing any serious long distance running without constant PT and pain. It's annoyed me to no end and I've gone through cycles of not running at all, ill-advisedly running one off long stretches, and unhappily running 3 mile loops just to get it the aerobic exercise. I tried this new running app this week that's designed for weight loss and kind of love it. It's like running with a trainer without having to run with another actual person (hey, I like running by myself). I don't know if it will lead to any weight loss, but I'm mostly doing it to mix up my running routine and it's working.

Wanting -- I hated on Lulu a long time. But after spending lots of time in workout clothes, I can't help to love it. It's started to get a little chilly in the mornings (yay!!) so I have my eye on the classic Scuba hoodie in a new print (and yes I hate myself a little bit just for that sentence).

Making -- without our normal arts and crafts area, we still haven't been making much. But Cam has been working on a self-portrait at school and is all in a tizzy to get out the oil pastels at home as soon as we can. I love oil pastels and we have this great student set, but we hardly ever use them. So I'm committed to trying out a few new projects!

Cooking -- Our kitchen floors are being redone so I haven't cooked a thing all week long. It's making me insane. I feel like all I've consumed this week are salads in the car. And the kids are sick of eating out and not having our regular breakfast. Hopefully just a few more days until I get my kitchen back!!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Scotland + Ireland: The Dingle Peninsula Day 6

We went round and round about which western coastal area of Ireland to visit. Most people do the Ring of Kerry, but since we were doing just a day trip and driving ourselves, we wanted to skip the crowded tourist loop. I really wanted to check out the lesser known Beara Peninsula—it was a touch closer to Cork and was supposed to be much, much less crowded than Kerry or the Dingle Peninsula. Plus there was the option to hop across to a little rocky island refuge and see a pretty amazing mountain pass. But after the third or fourth Irish person we asked about it appeared to have never even heard of it, the others in our group really wanted to head to Dingle. I'm pretty sure we were all just saying it wrong, but I went along with the group's decision. And it was one of my favorite days of the entire vacation.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Final 2016 Summer Bucket List Update

We had a fabulous summer! I finally feel like I had just the right balance of camp, travel, and free time with the kiddos (although I think they actually would have liked more camp). We actually didn't knock that many more items off our Summer Bucket List this last month--mostly because we had a lot of DIY projects left and we were either traveling or out and about in DC because we've been doing work on the house. But 73 things for the whole season isn't too shabby (last year we hit 55 and 46 the year before that). Here's how we finished it up!

61. - 62. 2 New Museums -- we went to lots of new museums this summer, but the two I'm counting are the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art and the National History Museum of Ireland.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Scotland + Ireland: Cork and Kinsale Days 5 + 7

We headed out of Scotland to Cork, Ireland on our fifth day of vacaye. I was sad to leave Edinburgh because there was so much more I wanted to do there, BUT we were meeting up with my MIL and FIL in Cork and the kids were beyond excited for that. The flight was super easy and quick and we headed right to pick up our rental car at the Cork airport.

Friday, September 9, 2016

The Friday Five!

Woohoo! We made it to the end of the first week back to school (and I only forgot to pick up the kids once)!! It's been a week full of emotions for us all, but it's done. In between laughing and crying, here's what else we did.

Reading -- we scored a copy of the new Harry Potter script from the library this week and dove right in. It's an interesting challenge to read an entire script aloud to the kids, but I think it's a fun new family reading exercise. Cam was feeling a little nervous about 1st grade, so we started reading The Gutsy Girl: Escapades for Your Life of Epic Adventure together. It's awesome.

Making -- we are redoing the hardwood floors on the kids' level this week (excellent timing, I know), which meant everything from their rooms has been packed up and sitting in my living room (and dining room, and kitchen, and bathroom). So we haven't been able to make a whole lot this week, but Cam has been all over our Nod easel now that she's got unrestricted access to it (it's usually on the balcony off of Kane's room). Painting, sketching, drawing. She's doing it all.

Cooking -- this is my last week in the kitchen for a while (those floors are next - [sarcastic] yippee!!) so I tried to cook a lot even though it was hard with the first week back to school schedule. These Easy Weeknight Chicken Tacos were hands down the family fave this week. I put the kids in tortillas and mine over cauliflower rice.

Playing -- as I mentioned, we've mostly been playing "pack it up and put it somewhere we're unlikely to find it" this week. BUT when we're not doing that, Cam keeps insisting we all play family Twister right in the middle of the the S show that is our living room. Makes perfect sense. Sensing my impending blowup, Kane throws her a bone and plays with her.

Wanting -- I really need a new wallet. My current Kate Spade wallet (Lake Blue in Ostrich) has been carrying everything ever for almost forever and it's done. I can't really justify it, but this Christian Louboutin Spiked number would certainly help keep the kids from looking for spare change. Plus it's that perfect shade of nude I'm obsessing over.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Cameron's Favorite Fall Looks

Our kids normally love back to school shopping. But for some reason this year, they both resisted giving up the clothes they'd outgrown. Kane relented in less fabulous fashion, but Cameron through a full on tantrum about giving away last year's clothes. I finally let her hold on to a dress she'd worn to her 6th birthday party for "sentimental reasons." Once we got over that, they both got much more in the shopping mood. So, as always, I'm putting together their favorite fall looks to share.

Cam has held strong in the girly and glam department, but definitely added a little more edge this year. She loved all the boots and motorcycle jackets we spotted out and about on our trip to Scotland + Ireland so she'll be sporting plenty of edge with her prep and gold this year. I think she does a good job of balancing, but I do have to rein in her accessories some days!

Glam Cam -- still her number one look, the more gems, gold, and glitter she can work into one outfit, the better. Too much sparkle? No such thing. And I'm not complaining. She has started saying that somewhat cutesy clothes are "for babies" though, which kills me because she will always be my baby (which I prove by scooping her up and rocking her like one). She picked out a fab iridescent backpack from J.Crew this year (shown here), but it's out of stock so I linked to a similar one. Glam on, Cam. Glam on.

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Rock with a Smidge of Hipster -- she'll never give up all her glam, but Cam was obsessed with getting a moto jacket for fall and keeps sporting fake hipster frames at home. She is finally into skinny jeans and loves wearing them with boots (gold boots, obvi).

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Weekend Casual -- Cam is continuing with several sports this fall, but always tries to work her own clothes into the uniform requirement. We've been watching Project Runway together, which probably isn't helping. But I like that she tries to make things her own. When not in full on sports gear on the weekends, she likes to basically wear things that feel like pajamas but don't look like pajamas (really, who doesn't?). With lots of accessories (she is still learning the art of editing a la Tim Gunn).

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Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Scotland + Ireland: Edinburgh Day 4

After our day long trek out to the Highlands, we were ready for a bit of a chill day for our last day in Edinburgh. But since it was our last day, had a lot to pack in. Nevertheless, we woke up on the later side (by the kids' standards) and just the four of us headed out to spend the morning at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. We picked up breakfast on the way and walked over to the New Town while we ate and then cabbed it the rest of the way. It was a really gray morning so I knew some indoor time was what everyone needed.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Unpack Your Backpack Station!

It's finally back to school day for us! As expected, we were all excited and then this morning everyone was sad and nervous. BUT at least we were organized. I put together this Unpack Your Backpack Station with The Land of Nod this year and so far (one day in) it's worked like a charm. Check it out!

Friday, September 2, 2016

The Friday Five!

We are T-4 days until the our kiddos finally head back to school and I am dragging. I generally try not to complain about the kids or how long summer is, because who really needs to hear that (plus, personally I think they're pretty great kids and I'm lucky to get to spend the time with them). But all of us are over each other and this summer. Cam has taken to pretending a large cardboard box is "school" and she dons her back-to-school gear, slings her backpack on, and climbs into it for stretches of time just to be by herself. I know come Tuesday we'll all be crying about missing each other, but for now, we. are. ready. We managed to keep ourselves busy this week though ....

Reading -- one of the first trips we made when we got back was to the library to restock. School Story (be one of our fave authors Andrew Clements) and How to Catch a Bogle have been our favorites this week.

Playing -- we are redoing the floors in our house and the kids' floor is up next. So we had to start packing up the entire rooms. It's been a good opportunity to rediscover toys (and toss/donate others!) and Cam has been all over her set of Magna-Tiles this week.

Cooking -- if it didn't involve peaches, tomatoes, or raspberries, chances are I didn't cook it this week. We picked tons and tons of them last week. These Slow Cooked Carnitas with Summer Peach + Tomato were a family fave.

Wanting -- I'm also counting down the days until our master bath reno is done and I need a new robe. Cashmere. Black. Yes. 

Making -- on our trip to Scotland Kane discovered Warhammer Age of Sigmar. I'll admit, I don't fully understand any of it, but he's obsessed. His uncle bought him the tabletop battle game full of strategy. But before you can even play, you have to build (and paint!) the whole set. So there's been A LOT of that this week.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Frank Lloyd Wright's Pope-Leighy House

Between our vacation and all the construction going on at our house, you might have noticed that we've been spending A LOT of time out of the house this summer. The kids love to explore, but they are getting tired of museums and run-of-the-mill field trips. And so am I. So I was excited when I found out that there was a Frank Lloyd Wright home not too far away.