Christmas Card 2016

 

This time last year we were celebrating Christmas as new parents. Tad was barely two weeks old, and we weren’t able to manage getting Christmas cards out. I always enjoy receiving them from friends and family and like to display them on our mantle, so I wanted to make sure to send them out this year. Ted kept asking me what I wanted for Christmas so I told him I wanted pictures – a nice family photo, a one year old photo of Tad, and a picture with Santa. We were pretty ambitious in trying to knock them all out in one day, but we made it through and managed to get a few good shots, thanks to Amanda Donohue and her husband who is professional at getting little ones to laugh.

To our friends and family who were sweet enough to include us in their Christmas card list this year – thank you! We’ve enjoyed looking at the beautiful pictures and reading about your year for those that included letters and milestone events. Even though I planned ahead for photos, I didn’t actually get them in the mail until we left town for the holidays, but they are on their way so please don’t cross us off the list for next year!

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

xoxo,

Kristen

Photography by Amanda Donohue

My outfit: J. Crew sweater, Rocksbox necklace, Ann Taylor skirt (old; similar style here), MAC Rebel lipstick

Ted’s outfit: Ledbury shirt, Nordstrom Rack sweater and scarf

Tad’s outfit: Ralph Lauren Baby, Freshly Picked

 

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Easter Sunday

I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter weekend!

Since having Tad, traveling home for holidays has been tough given that the drive home to North Carolina is no easy task with an infant and dog in tow. He did great on our trip back in February, but I was worried we wouldn’t be able to fit everyone in the car with all the stuff! Staying home in Alexandria has given us the chance to create some of our own family traditions. For me, those traditions mainly focus on activities that I grew up with associating with major holidays (trimming the tree, a special Easter outfit, etc.). For Ted, it means a meal.

The Easter Bunny stopped by our house and left a basket for Tad with new playsuits (here and here), an Easter bottle, and books including an old classic, Peter Cottontail, and a new favorite, I Love You Night and Day. Since I can’t sing, I found a recording of Peter Cottontail to help me read it to him last night, and Ted and I took turns reading I Love You Night and Day. It’s the sweetest!

After changing out of our church clothes, Ted started whipping up a classic Easter feast complete with glazed ham, green bean casserole, and sweet potato soufflé. We like to add a bit of bourbon to the glaze kit that comes with the ham, and I insist on sweet potato soufflé at Thanksgiving and Easter. Below is the recipe that my Mom’s family has been making for years from an old church cookbook.

Sweet Potato Soufflé

Mix together 3 cups mashed sweet potatoes, 1 cup white sugar (I reduce to half), 1/2 teaspoon salt, 2 1/3 tablespoons melted margarine (we use Kerrygold Irish butter instead), 2 eggs, 1/2 cup evaporated milk, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Pour mixture into a baking dish.

Chop together 1 cup light brown sugar, 1/3 cup flour, 1 cup chopped pecans, 2 1/3 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted, and 2 cup of shredded coconut. Sprinkle over the sweet potato mixture and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

I always love hearing about other family traditions. Do you do anything special to celebrate Easter?

xo,

Kristen

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9 Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas for a Glamour Girl

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I don’t usually make a big deal out of Valentine’s Day because I don’t think you should need a holiday to do something nice for your sweetie or spend time together. Flowers and chocolate are always lovely to receive, whether from the swanky specialty shop or from the supermarket, but are even better when they are gifted “just because”. I like to pick out (or hint at) Valentine’s Day gifts that feel a little luxurious. This year my picks lend themselves to a relaxing night in – perhaps because staying in is less stressful than going out with a new baby.

1. As much as I love a dark nail color in the winter months, this light pink is classically feminine and pretty for a well manicured look since chips are less obvious. Would you expect any less from a Ciate collection that is a collaboration with Olivia Palermo?

2. Jo Malone became a household name when it was reported that Kate Middleton placed these candles in the bathrooms at her wedding. I’m a fan of anything in the Peony & Blush Suede collection.

3. These Sorrel boots are on the practical side of my gift list, but made the cut after realizing that my beloved metallic Hunter boots are not really snow-ready.

4. What glamour girl doesn’t love jewelry? The Aria cuff by Stella & Dot is bold yet versatile due to the crackled quartz and gold color palette.

5. Nothing screams luxury more than silk pajamas. These even come in box that’s just beautiful!

6. Remember the royal blue satin pumps that every bride wished for thanks to Carrie Bradshaw? The classic Manolo Blahnik Hangisi Jeweled pump is now available in this shimmering neutral hue.

7. A wool or cashmere throw is perfect for cuddling up under with your sweetie to watch a good old Romantic Comedy, or by yourself to watch Breakfast at Tiffany’s for the umpteenth time (champagne and sparkly earrings also recommended).

8. Would I buy a wine because the instagram account is so good? Maybe, but it helps that the wine is good too!

9. It’s possible that I’ve been watching too much Scandal lately to get caught up before the new episode this week, but I can’t stop thinking about how cozy Olivia Pope always looks in her oversized cashmere cardigans sipping red wine and noshing on popcorn. This cream cashmere robe is both indulgent and budget-friendly.

What are you hoping for this Valentine’s day?

Snow Play

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We survived winter storm Jonas! Though we saw a couple of feet of snow, we were lucky not to lose power, and welcomed the sunny day today. After Ted helped the other guys in the neighborhood shovel our sidewalks and a path between our houses, we bundled up and headed out for a walk around the block. The snow was almost up to my knees, and Tad’s snowsuit was a tad too big, but we had fun anyway. (Hint to new mamas shopping for a snowsuit…Ralph Lauren sizes run quite large. This was a 3 month size, the smallest I could find, but it was still very large.) Hope everyone is staying safe and warm!

My jacket: Laundry by Shelli Segal

Boots: Hunter. If you live in Old Town, The Shoe Hive is offering a 30% discount on Hunter products tomorrow!

 

Master Bedroom Inspiration

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This snow day has me thinking about being cozied up in a nice, warm, bed. We recently purchased new bedroom furniture since we had been using a bedroom set that I picked out in high school. While it had seen us through many moves, it was time for something new, and I was able to pass it along to my little sister, who is starting off on her own. Quality furniture can be handed down, so I knew I wanted to invest in a new dresser and mirror for myself, and storage chest for Ted. I settled on the dresser and media chest from Bernhardt’s Salon Collection. Ironically, the ivory and gold is reminiscent of a bedroom set that my mother kept for years and years, despite me telling her it was outdated. The Salon Collection is a fresh take on a classic combo.

I would absolutely love to do wallpaper in our bedroom, but we plan on selling our house in the next couple of years, so I don’t think it’s worth the investment. Our walls are a custom grey-taupe, almost identical to Benjamin Moore’s Revere Pewter. I love textured neutrals, especially for investment pieces, but am looking for ways to inject a pop of color (though not too much since I still want it to be a tranquil and relaxing space). The color palette is shaping up to be cream, gold, and muted lavender to pick up on the bit of color in the rug. Would love ideas for art and other accents to bring the space to life, as well as bedding that feel hotel-worthy!

Dresser, Mirror, and Media Chest: Bernhardt Salon Collection

Rug: Safavieh Vintage Ivory/Grey Rug

Jewelry Tree: Heather Gold Jewelry Tree

Bed: Safavieh Theron Bed

 

Owlet: up all night so I don’t have to be

Before having Tad, I never imagined how anxious I would be about falling asleep at night. I had read about SIDS and felt comfortable that by creating a safe sleep environment and following other guidelines to minimize the risk that I would be able to sleep soundly knowing we had done all the right things. I saw an ad for the Owlet monitor a week or so before my due date and went ahead an ordered one thinking maybe we’ll use it, maybe we won’t and if not, at least I can return it. Unlike other sleep monitors that detect movement, the Owlet measures blood oxygen saturation and heart rate. Those are metrics that my data minded self liked the sound of, and sounded much more sensible than trying to use movement or lack thereof to tell you anything about your baby’s breathing. Why wouldn’t you just monitor that they are getting the oxygen they need and that their little hearts are beating…especially when the price tag is on par with all of the other monitors out there that are notorious for false alarms, or not working through double-sided mattresses?

Our first night home, I was so glad I had ordered it. Ted immediately took it out of the box and got the app set up on our phones as soon as I showed it to him. The monitoring system includes a base station and a monitor that is inserted into one of several different sized socks that the baby wears during the night. You can turn the monitor on and off from your phone, and see real-time data. An alarm also sounds if the heart rate or blood oxygen saturation falls out of range, or if the sock is too far from the base station. The alarms sound different so you know immediately what is happening – a nursery rhyme for too far away, and a typical alarm sound for worrisome data. The base station works without the app as well. You won’t see the actual numerical data, but the alarms will still sound and the green glow light will turn red.

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One of the main criticisms is that if the baby is moving too much, the sensor can’t get a read. I’m okay with this because if my baby is moving, he is alive and at least trying to breathe, and the alarm will sound if he’s not getting enough oxygen. It also does not have a camera (as that is not the purpose), but it’s quite possible that a camera could be integrated on later models. Overall, I am so glad I bought the Owlet. It not only gives me peace of mind, but I have also learned Tad’s typical heart rate when he is awake, just nodding off, or in deep sleep so I know how soundly he is sleeping. If this all makes me a paranoid new mom, I’m okay with that. I’d rather be extra cautious than wish I had taken advantage of the technology available to me.

New (and seasoned) moms – what monitors are you using? Is anyone else using the Owlet?

 

 

Maternity Leave So Far

I thought maternity leave would mean lots of time to blog and take pictures. While Tad’s room has become my new home office, I haven’t been paying attention to blogging like I thought I would. We are taking plenty of pictures of the little man, but like most parents, aren’t keen on openly sharing all of our family moments, especially given all of the fears that come along with putting your whole life online.

We were very fortunate that everything went well with his birth for both of us, and that all four grandparents were anxiously waiting just outside the door to meet him. I don’t have a dramatic rush-to-the-hospital story as we ended up scheduling the delivery, which was the perfect choice for me. I wasn’t going to go into details here, but this seems to be what all of my friends are asking about! I went into the hospital around 6am and they started Pitocin to induce contractions a couple of hours later. Since Pitocin (a synthetic form of the hormone oxytocin) can cause pretty intense contractions that come on quickly, they gradually increased the dosage in my IV every 20-30 minutes. I didn’t feel a thing until around noon, but by 3pm, when the maximum dosage was being delivered, I definitely felt the contractions. I wasn’t set on having an epidural, but was open to it, and Ted strongly encouraged me to go for it at that point, especially since the anesthesiologist was only two doors down. I literally felt no pain for the rest of the day, and was still excited and somewhat rested when Tad finally made his appearance. The combination of a scheduled delivery and epidural makes for a pretty boring story, but I’m glad I got to  watch Gossip Girl on Netflix all day and relax.

Once we got home, I was excited to find that my clothes fit again, but quickly realized that wool/cashmere dry clean only sweaters are not newborn friendly and pretty quickly regressed to wearing mostly workout wear and cuddly fabrics. My new mom “uniform” is mostly Lululemon crops, a cotton nursing tank, and a cuddly sweater or soft jacket that won’t scratch or irritate Tad’s little face. I have to admit that I have more fun getting him dressed these days than getting dressed myself, though we both usually have an outfit change or two during the day! Days are filled with lots of cuddles, and nights are less anxiety provoking now (partially due to Tad’s Owlet monitor).