Friday, February 12, 2016

Friday Favorites + Valentine's Throwback

Happy Friday! We have a big weekend ahead of us, Harper's 4th birthday party tomorrow & Valentine's Day on Sunday!! Making that second cup of coffee as I type! ;)

If you follow us on Instagram @jlgarvin, you may have seen this pic I posted of Claire yesterday, she is wearing a Valentine's outfit that Harper wore on her first Valentine's day, which was the eve of her first birthday! Feeling so sentimental over here, all three of my girls wearing the same clothes handed down always makes me a bit teary eyed!

 That yellow instagram filter from a few years ago is a bit much, yeah? ;)

Time for a few Friday Favorites before we sign off for the weekend. I wanted to share this grey ruffle Wisteria bedding I snagged after Christmas on clearance at Anthro, it is back in stock & on sale with an additional 40% off today! My husband is pretty picky about quilts being too warm, but he loves this one too, the weight & softness is just right! Plus, you know I am a sucker for grey. It's also available in navy & it's so beautiful!

Also, many of you have asked about my Mix Whisk Stir bowls (they're old from West Elm) so I did a little digging this week & was able to find an almost identical set here, I bought them for my mom & they're even more perfect in person!

 Harper's new favorite coloring books, handmade by a fellow-Iowan! Seriously these are more fun to color in than the adult coloring books I have, especially the crown jewels placemats which are so fun for going out to eat!

These hungry hungry hippo rolls for soup are the cutest ever! Bunny ones for Easter would be so fun too. Add this too the baby led weaning lineup! ;)

Loving the new Oh Joy! swaddle blanket collection, the prettiest patterns & colors for both girls and for boys! I haven't been able to find them at any of the Targets near us, so I had to hunt them down online, they are all so fun for Spring!

And last, who watched the trailer for Fuller House?! It totally made me tear up & I can't wait to watch it!! I think they should just bring back TGIF entirely, don't you agree? :)
Happy weekend to you all!!! XO

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Valentine's Day Brunch + Claire loves waffles!

Last weekend, we had a few of our friends over for a little Valentine's Day inspired brunch. Before kids, we used to always go out with friends or have them over late, but now that we are all home putting our babies to bed at night, we try to find other alternatives to still get together to eat, drink & be merry! ;) With Harper's birthday over Valentine's Day weekend, we decided to do it a week early, which was less hectic & still so much fun.

Pink Glasses // 3-Tier Stand old from PB (similar here & a wood version here)

We put together a waffle bar, the girls' favorite breakfast food, with lots of different toppings,  strawberries + Nutella is our favorite combo! A few small tricks for serving up an easy brunch like this in no time at all: prep the night before, like cutting fruit or setting up the table. I serve things like Nutella, whipped cream or peanut butter in simple mason jars & small bowls, yes it makes for more dishes but it looks so pretty & put together. We typically use our Bella waffle maker, which we got as a wedding gift over seven years ago (and it is still going strong!) but since we needed to make + serve a bunch all at once, I used gourmet belgian waffles from Publix, you can throw them all on a baking sheet & warm them all at once. They are SO good!! We always serve hot coffee, iced coffee & a pretty drink, this time some yummy grapefruit mimosas in pink glasses from Harper's birthday party last year! :)

 Grapefruit Mimosas
1 750mL Bottle Prosecco, chilled
Juice from 4 fresh grapefruits, chilled
Optional splash of orange juice

Squeeze grapefruits & combine with splash of orange juice, shake with ice if needed to chill.
Add Prosecco, serve & enjoy! Recipe makes 6 mimosas.

Brunch got all that much sweeter when Eloise gave Claire one of her waffles. All along we are thinking Claire just hates food, we have given her tons of different purees, cereal, oatmeal, etc. and she isn't really loving anything other than peaches. She loves her fresh food feeder (apples, peaches, frozen yogurt pops) so we decided to just start giving her foods we eat, and she is going nuts! She is also loving bananas & mashed potatoes, like can't get enough! I am so happy to find things she likes, and really she is only 7.5 months so we aren't really in a rush, but she also has no teeth & hasn't really gotten the hang of feeding herself (like bananas, so slippery!). So if you have any recommendations of things (sorta baby led weaning style) your babies at this age loved to feed themselves, I would love to hear your thoughts! :)

Hope you all are having a happy Valentine's week & have something fun + festive planned for the weekend! XO

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Valentine's Day Date Ideas

I asked Brandon to work with me on this post, I wanted to get his thoughts on Valentine's Day, and his first response was "cool, yeah, but don't call it Valentine's Day date ideas or something, that sounds so cheesy.";) #noted. If you know me well enough, you know I love any excuse to celebrate, even if that just means staying in & planning something fun. So, together, we came up with this list of five fun ways to spend your Valentine's Day!

1. Movie night! The obvious, easy date night. But spice it up a little bit, blow up an air mattress on the living room floor, order pizza or Chinese food & rent something you both want to see! Try Martian if you're looking for something new, Valentine's Day if you want something romantic & festive, or Wedding Crashers for a good laugh.

2. A Valentine's Day Feast Challenge! We love cooking together, and it's super therapeutic! Head to the grocery store with a $20 bill each, split up & pick out whatever you can come up with, using only that money. Then using only the ingredients the other person bought (and spices you may have at home) you must creatively cook a meal for them.  Take your time cooking, throw on some good tunes & don't forget the wine. ;) And wherever you decide to eat your meal, don't forget to string up some leftover Christmas lights just for the fun of it.

3. Dress up & go try a new restaurant. It's easy to get in habits of eating at the same places (ahem, chipotle) but it's so fun to be in new environment & try new food. Maybe even order for each other. And if you don't feel like dressing up? Throw on your pajamas & head to your favorite breakfast-for-dinner restaurant, you can never go wrong with pancakes.

4. Grab a cocktail, a coffee or even your favorite snack, and take turns playing songs from your favorite playlist that you both put together ahead of time (or impromptu picks!) Maybe songs from when you first fell in love, or songs that you just can't help but get up and dance to! This is one of our favorite stay-at-home date nights for after the kids go to bed.

5. Flowers aren't really your thing? Spend the evening picking up a few bouquets of flowers, or even splitting them into mini-bouquets & drive around to deliver to others! Maybe that is your mom or grandma, a friend who has lost a loved one or is going through a tough time or just someone sweet who might need a little pick me up. Giving is always better than receiving, and we can bet you'll feel extra warm & fuzzy inside with this date night idea.

Brandon & I have been married for over seven years & were high school sweethearts. It's kinda crazy to look back on all of our years together, and at the end of the day, one major thing stands out. We have always made it a priority to make time for our relationship. Life is crazy and chaotic, work & kids consume our every day. But not a single week goes by where we don't get to kick back with a drink, hold hands & laugh about something. We text love notes, make each others coffee, and go out of our way to do little things that make each others life a little bit easier. Not to say that marriage doesn't come with its fair share of struggles & arguments, I could probably go on all day about things we disagree on or fight about. But that's not what relationships are about! ;) So may Valentine's Day be a little reminder to focus on the good, to celebrate all the things there are to love about eachother & to have a little fun. 

Thanks for reading my ramblings. Do share your favorite date night ideas. And have the happiest Valentine's week! XO

Monday, February 8, 2016

DIY Open Shelving Reveal

I am so excited to share our new open shelving project in our kitchen, after about three years of thinking about it, and three weeks of working on it, it is finished! And we love it!

I thought I would share a little bit about the process in case any of you were considering doing something similar. We started by pulling down the existing cabinet that was on the wall, which was a little harder than we expected, but it came down without too much damage to the wall. Next, we worked on removing the bricks on the left side of the wall. The brick is real, although it is just a partial brick, so it is about 1/2 inch thick. We had to cut through the brick using a metal cutting wheel attached to a dremmel, which required quite a bit of drywall work afterwards to smooth out the surface. My dad was the plaster master & it turned out great!

We found our floating shelf brackets on Etsy, the sizes were completely customizable & the amount of weight they hold was well over what we needed. We were thinking of using raw cedar for the shelves but went with pine instead, since it was easier to get in the size that we needed, we used 2x10s. We had a custom stain made at Sherwin Williams that complimented the color of our floors, but just a bit lighter. Once the holes were drilled in the back of the wood, the shelves were assembled enough that we could hold them up in the space and level them. Then we marked the wall with a pencil to where the brackets should be (since drilling into the wood was not exactly level, the brackets had to compensate for that in order for the overall shelf to be straight). Hanging them was pretty seamless, we were pleasantly surprised! :) I can't wait to finish accessorizing them now, I just threw a few of my favorite things up, while waiting for my new Gatherware bowls to arrive that I am super excited about! I may also find (or make!) some fun artwork to prop up as well.
Whisk & Mix Bowls old from West Elm (similar here) // Cake Stand // Gold Flatware // Recipe Box

This was such a fun project for us, it wasn't terribly hard to pull off (although my husband might disagree after all of his crazy measuring, drilling & work to make sure they all fit just right) but we are so happy with the results! And I am so thankful for all of his hard work!! :) It gives our kitchen a much more custom look & it's going to be so fun to display festive things on the shelves over the holidays!
Hope you find a little inspiration to take away! XO

Friday, February 5, 2016

The 5 Components of a Perfect Toddler Meal

When it comes to dinner around here, it seems like we are constantly brainstorming new things we can make or wondering what we are currently doing wrong in the kitchen. Our kids are pretty good eaters & aren't terribly picky, although Harper lately seems to have more opinions on what we eat & she doesn't really like red meat at all unless it is in pasta. Eloise will eat anything, but makes an enormous mess out of every meal. Dinner time never fails to end in disaster one way or another. Whether the food took too long to cook (and now it's bedtime), the kids decide they hate the food and want something else or dinner was a total success, but now the kids are in bed & the kitchen is trashed. Brandon comes home at 6, and we are heading upstairs to put the kids in the tub by 7, so I like to have dinner ready right when he gets home so we can all eat together & have a little time to play afterwards. This means, I cook while all of the kids are at their wits end with the day, so it's ideal to have something that doesn't take a ton of prep work. We tried the whole meal prep route, which is great, but sometimes you have to sacrifice flavor when everything is made ahead of time, frozen, etc.

So we sat down the other night thinking, how can we make this easier on ourselves. We realized, for us, there are five components to the perfect meal, for toddlers mostly, but ideally something we can make that everyone can eat (I'm not really one to make separate meals for the kids, although if we eat spicy food we typically cook two separate things).

1. Healthy. I think we can all agree that this is the most important. We all want to feed our kids nutritious foods, things that are good for their bodies & aren't full of artificial ingredients. We do try to feed our kids mostly healthy foods, and incorporate lots of fruits & vegetables into most meals, but we also find a good balance in letting them still be kids and still have sweets & treats here and there.

2. Minimal Mess. Pasta is one of our favorite things to make, but every time we eat it, we spend an hour in the kitchen cleaning up, swearing we aren't doing it again for months. What can we make that doesn't require pressure washing the kitchen later?!

3. Minimal Prep Time. Lots of my favorite, healthy meals require lots of prep time. Whether it's cutting vegetables, cutting chicken or just too many pots on the stove. We're looking at slow cooker & one-pot meals to solve this.

4. Affordable. There are options like pre-prepped meal kits or even dining out that could solve basically all of these other issues, but they're not always affordable. Most times, even lots of really healthy food, especially all-organic, is quite a bit higher priced.

5. And your kids actually like it. You made a healthy, affordable meal, that requires minimal prep time & results in minimal messes, but the kicker, will your kids enjoy it?

So, what fits into all of those categories?! I don't really have the answer, but it would be ideal to start making a list of things that work for weeknight dinners. Weekends don't count, it's a free-for-all over here & I don't mind spending hours in the kitchen prepping/cleaning for something delicious! :)

A few things that do work for us here, are most breakfast foods. The kids do so well with oatmeal, yogurt & waffles/pancakes, topped with fruit. Lunch meat or rotisserie chicken is usually a good option as well, the girls love grilled turkey or ham & cheese sandwiches with sliced apples, bananas or oranges. Steamed edamame is another favorite, super quick, healthy & they eat every last bit. But then it comes to dinners, and it's hard to find things that fit into every category. Our plan is to work on this list & over the course of the next four weeks, come back with a solid list of dinner ideas! :)

For now, I'm sharing a few of the meals that have been on repeat this month for the kids.

Overnight oats with fruit // Yogurt, granola & blueberries with mini waffles // Grapefruit & cereal // Toast with nutella, peanut butter & cream cheese + fruit // Shredded chicken, pasta & edamame // Chicken, bacon & broccoli pasta // Chicken quesadillas + orange slices // Turkey & cheese sandwiches with apple & cucumber

For a bunch more ideas & a breakdown of what our current weekly lineup looks like (slightly different as this was a few months ago, but still very close), most of it is documented in this post! :)

So, how do you make meal time work for you? If you have any ideas of meals that fit into our five categories, please share! :) We can make this a collaborative mini-meal effort!
Happy Friday!! XO

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

DIY Valentines

It's feeling Valentines-y up in here! As if our house doesn't have enough pink, we have hung a few  decorations over the last few days & we are loving it. Fresh flowers & a bunch of little heart shaped things all over the house. These woolie ball garlands from Hooray Everyday are my very favorite! Side note, after I told Harper we were decorating for Valentine's day, she snuck into one of our cabinets with the magnetic locks while I was rocking Claire & pulled out 40 heart shaped paper plates and lined them up all over the kitchen. Go big or go home! ;)

I'm sharing some super easy, extra festive Valentines that we made, we took them to a friend's house for a play date this morning & plan to deliver a few more {with love} over the next few days.

I picked up a few kraft paper bags & glitter heart stickers from the dollar spot at Target, and we are filling them up with some fun treats. Heart balloons, some dipped pretzels made with white almond bark & festive sprinkles (almost all of these got eaten the first day, so we had to make a second batch), lollipops & bunny fruit snacks. And yes, I really wanted a good excuse to pull out the girls' envelope chair backers from a few years ago, I still need to find a coordinating one for Claire since they stopped making this exact style. Third child probs! ;)

We added some treats for the moms too, a little sparkling wine & homemade grapefruit mint sugar scrub (recipe in this post). Hopefully these treats will help them survive the Valentine's Day sugar high that all of our kids will be enjoying. 

Sealed with a kiss... or... toddler sucker slobber.

Monday, February 1, 2016

8 Things Nobody Tells You About Having Kids

We've all read posts like these, and although none of them can actually prepare us for motherhood any better, sometimes it's just reassuring to know that we aren't in this alone.
I actually thought about writing this post after I came across this photo in my old phone from shortly after Eloise was born. It was four something in the morning, my eyes were swollen from crying, my chest is covered in hives (for some reason I got them whenever I nursed her) & she is wide eyed because she never, ever slept. What everyone always tells you about having kids is that you're going to miss even the hardest times. And I remember taking this and thinking, I'm taking this photo to look back on one day, to see if I do in fact miss this. Because not only was I certain I would never miss it, but I was also not even sure if I would survive it. But here I am, alive & well, and totally missing the shit out of that very moment with that little teeny tiny baby. The nights are so long, and lonely, and they seem like they'll never end. But they do, and you'll always want them back.

1. The love is so overwhelming, that it's actually terrifying. I read an article once about how motherhood is compared to walking along side a cliff, the most beautiful, wonderful, breathtaking cliff in the world, that at any moment, you could step off of & fall to your death. Sounds great right? You literally love these little people so hard, it makes your heart hurt. Nobody can prepare you for that, and at the end of the day, it's what makes everything else worth it.

2. Sleep is a thing of the past. And not just because of your baby. If your newborn isn't waking you up all night because they're hungry, your six month old is waking you up because their paci fell out, or your 18 month old is waking you up because their sock fell off or your three year old is waking you up because they saw a big truck in their room. Or maybe, all of your kids actually slept all night, but you're awake looking at pictures of them wondering how they're growing so fast. Or you can't stop thinking about that sad article you read or maybe you can't sleep because all you had for dinner was wine. Either way, sleep? Gone forever.

3. You can strangely function on no sleep. Refer to point number two. Somehow, after sixteen days straight of only 1.5 hours of sleep per night, four cups of coffee & a banana, you can handle more shit than you ever could pre-baby. You might look like roadkill, but in reality, life is good & you are handling it like a boss.

4. You become a complete hypochondriac. You will worry like you've never worried before, you imagine the worst in every situation. every. single. time. Every cold must be pneumonia, that rash? must be a peanut allergy. And don't even get me started on how many times you'll think you or your kid has Cancer. It is scary and stressful and you will waste so many hours googling symptoms and texting your mom friends and dragging your kids to urgent care on a Saturday. You will also never forget a single sad story you ever hear & your heart will break for parents that you don't even know.

5. You will cry, a lot. Nobody really talks about the baby blues that can occur for the first few weeks after your baby is born, which results in floods of pretty much every emotion imaginable & lots and lots of tears. Crying because your baby is growing too fast, crying because you aren't actually sure if you are capable of taking care of a tiny human being, or maybe just crying because you can't stop crying. All aboard the crazy train! Just be sure to seek help from your doctor if it lasts more than a few weeks, postpartum depression is a very real, and scary thing, and in order to take care of your babies, you must first take care of yourself.

6. Just when you think things couldn't get any worse, your hair falls out. Postpartum hair loss has gotten the best of me, first it falls out, leaving you bald patches all along your hairline & your bathroom looking like chewbacca showered in there. Then it grows back, slowly but surely, leaving one inch baby hairs sticking out all over your head. So in the words of Cousin Eddie, no matter what you do, "your hair just ain't gonna look right" ;)

7. Your kids will be exactly like you in all the worst ways. All of your flaws will be magnified & thrown in your face by your sweet little angels. And your mom will probably smile thinking of all the times she told you that she hopes one day, you have a child just like you.

8. You might casually want to have a million more babies. Especially once you have three kids, which based on my experience & what I have been told by lots of moms with more than three, you kinda feel like you've hit the maximum chaos capacity. And then you start to have crazy thoughts about maybe having just one or two more.
Because, refer to point number one, that love is everything.