Sunday, January 29, 2012

5 Days A Week

The other day I looked at Rafael and couldn't believe how big he has gotten. I decided to start taking a photo of him 5 days a week, Monday through Friday.

It has become one of my favorite parts of the day: Raffi wakes me up at around 6:30, when it's still dark and my husband and the dogs are still deep asleep. Rafael and I kiss and nuzzle, I change his diaper, and then we go to the bathroom where I brush my teeth while he sits in his car seat by the heater and watches me with curious eyes.

Then we go to his room, which feels so warm and quiet, and while he swats at the wooden rings on his baby gym, I pick out the little outfit for the day. At some point, we hear the tip-tip-tip of doggy paws on the floor, and they join us in his room, with tail wags and sleepy stretches.

When there is a little sunlight, I sit him on the plump white chair, give him a toy, and take photos of him. He looks out the window, looks at his toy, looks at Boston or Kiki, sometimes looks at me.

Wherever he looks, he always looks CUTE.

shirt: C&A :: wool pants: H&M mouse: Powell Craft, a gift from Rachel

plaid shirt: Gap :: corduroy pants: H&M :: teddy bear: vintage find

striped shirt: cosilana :: jeans: H&M :: double decker bus: vintage find

striped onesie and sweat suit: H&M :: wooden toy: Walter

plaid jacket: Gap :: jeans: H&M :: sneakers: Nike :: crocheted bear with red scarf: Ana Paula Rimoli :: alphabet pillow: loop loft

Our tiny daily photo shoot has quickly become a morning ritual and I am so happy about it. I am so excited to watch him grow, picture for picture, day for day! So, I hope to keep this post series going every Sunday. 

Thanks for stopping by, lovelies!

xoxo





Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Helpful Tips On Shopping For Little Ones ONLINE


Ever since I got pregnant, I've been doing about 90% of my shopping online. It's made a huge difference for me:

1. No wasted time packing a big diaper bag for the trip
2. No lugging around the big diaper bag (or big baby, for that matter)
3. No screaming, tired baby while you are waiting in line to pay
4. No long lines
5. No sweating because it's cold outside and boiling in the store
6. No buying a bag full of clothes only to find out a few days later that the store is now having a big sale and you could have saved a bunch of money if you had waited


The one time I went clothes shopping since Rafael was born was a horrible experience (all six of the above happened), and made me all the more appreciative of online shops. After all, what could be better, more comfortable, and more practical than ordering furniture, clothes, and toys  in your pajamas while your baby sleeps and having them delivered to your doorstep a few days later?

I think I've gotten a pretty good hang of it and wanted to share a few things I've learned throughout this past year of online shopping for baby articles.

1. Get informed
Find out which stores are out there on the web that offer the kinds of clothing, toys, bedding, and furniture that you like. There are the basic favorites like Amazon and Baby Gap, but I've also found other stores which have a more unique selection by:
- searching with key words like 'handmade toys,' 'vintage kids room,' or 'boy fashion' on Pinterest
- putting specific words like 'red metal bed,' 'elephant pull toy,' or 'baby boy pilot hat' in Google images, and click on the pictures you like to follow the link to where you can buy them
- searching 'kids lookbook' in Google images to see which online shops offer pictures of children modeling their clothing

2. Become a member to save money
When you find an online store that has a lot of things you like, sign up for their newsletters. I have saved tons of money by always knowing when online shops were having a sale. Which leads me to...

3. Be prepared for sales when they come
Sign into an online shop and put all the items you like into your 'cart' or 'shopping bag.' In most online shops, as long as you don't sign out, you will remain signed in and the items will remain in your cart for quite some time. Wait for an email notice that they are having a sale or offering a day of free shipping and then pounce on it. Sometimes, by waiting longer, something you wanted may not be available anymore. So, if there is something you just HAVE to have, buy it right away. I learned this the hard way.

4. Buy on sale in the size available, even if it's too big
If there is something on sale that you really love, but it's not in your baby's size, BUY IT IN THE LARGER SIZE that is available. Your little one will turn 1 or 2 at some point, and then you'll have that adorable little coat or pajamas ready for them. And you will have bought it for an awesome price, too! I've done this quite a few times and have a nice stock of really, really great clothes for the older Raffi. There is one thing to take into consideration when buying like this, and that is:

5. Make sure the clothing fits the season of your child's future age
If your baby will be two in summer, it's clear that they won't be needing a thick sweater made for a two year old.

6. Do your research
Take advantage of the fact that you can read people's feedback on sites like Amazon. Sometimes an item will have some people giving it 5 stars, others giving it 1. Pay much more attention to what they are writing about the product than the amount of stars: sometimes people reduce their rating stars for things like 'shipping took too long,' which has nothing to do with the integrity of the product itself.

7. Order large and heavy items
If you would rather see and feel clothing in person, at least consider ordering things like high chairs, cribs, or baby gyms online. It's so great having these things delivered to your doorstep!

8. Check if it's available in your country
I almost spent a lot of money on an adorable giraffe because the link on Pinterest led me to an Australian online shop and I didn't know it was available somewhere else. Right before buying (and spending way too much on shipping), I checked the Austrian Amazon site, and what do you know, they had it! So, it never hurts to check if that thing you love that you found in some shop from far, far away is available right near by.

9. Check if it's available at a better price through Amazon
Don't feel bad about checking Amazon for a better price on something wonderful you found in an online boutique. Amazon supports small businesses that sell through them, offering really great competitive prices. The first thing I do when I find something expensive that I love is copy the name and past it into the Amazon search.

Here's a list of my favorite places to shop:
(I'm giving you links to the American or British sites, but there are also other locations available)

Clothing:
Zara kids
Baby Gap
Mini Boden

Handmade Toys, Vintage Toys, Baby Blankets:
Etsy

Furniture:
Maisons du Monde

Clothing, Toys, Furniture, etc.
Amazon
Jako-o

Here is a link to my Pinterest board labeled 'Stuff for Babies and Kiddos"where I have posted, and regularly continue to post, toys and furniture for babies and children.

Here is a link to my Pinterest board labeled 'Rafael' where I post clothing and shoes for boys.

Hope these tips and links prove helpful for some of you!

xoxo

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Kaiserschmarrn: Traditional Rustic Austrian Pancake


On cold winter days like these, the most satisfying dishes are the traditional ones.

Here in Austria, there is a delicious dessert called 'Kaiserschmarrn,' which translates roughly to 'Emperor's mess.' It's a thick, eggy, fluffy, chopped up pancake sprinkled with powdered sugar. Perfect comfort food for this time of year. I'm calling it a dessert, but really, it's so filling that it is a meal on it's own.

Kaiserschmarrn


3 eggs, separated
3/4 cup flour
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup milk
butter for frying
raisins (optional)
powdered sugar

Combine flour, sugar, vanilla, and salt, then add the egg yolks and milk to make a thin batter.

Whisk egg whites until stiff and fold under the batter.

Melt butter in a hot pan and add the batter. (Optional: Sprinkle raisins over.)

When bubbles begin to form throughout the surface, cut the pancake into four pieces with your spatula and flip them over.

Allow these pieces to cook for about a minute before cutting into rough pieces with your spatula. Toss these pieces around until they are lightly browned.

Pile onto serving plates and sprinkle with sifted powdered sugar.

Serve with warm apple sauce or plum compote.




Enjoy!

xoxo

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Raffi's First Meal


Rafael recovered quickly from his fever a few days ago and today we decided it was time for him to try his first food. He sits on my lap while I eat and has been more and more interested in what I'm doing. Last night he even grabbed my fork and tried to eat the piece of dumpling on the end of it!

I bought wonderfully sweet organic carrots at the farmer's market and prepared them by peeling them, and then steaming and mixing them in a fantastic machine which can do both.

Once it cooled I took him on my lap and thought I would carefully bring a spoonful to his mouth. I expected him to spit it out at first. Instead he immediately opened his mouth wide and began chomping down carrot puree like no one's business! 




When his little bowl was empty he got upset and wanted more. But I froze what was left over because we had to see how his stomach would take this new kind of nourishment. Now, at the end of the day, we know...he handled it great!

More carrots tomorrow, and then we're trying parsnips.

I can't believe how quickly my tiny baby is becoming a little boy.

xoxo

P.S. Thanks to my hubby for taking pictures of these monumental moments!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Some Favorite Things In January


Make your own tags and ornaments with homemade salt dough, alphabet stamps, and paint.
Recipe here.


The breathtakingly beautiful Swedish home of a blogger named Julia. All of her text is in Swedish, but you actually don't need to understand anything...the photos speak for themselves.
The pictures of her home, garden, and family, just fill me with inspiration and happiness.
Visit her blog, Julias Vita Drommar, here.


These DIY tea bags for Valentine's Day gifts. So simple and sweet!
Find the instructions here.


This handmade canvas backpack. Just think of all the things you could fit in here for hikes in the wilderness! Camera, snacks, thermos....Available here.


This newspaper snippet. Hehehe. Originally posted here.


This book! My mom sent it to me and it's great. It also has a very easy format for someone who has to dip in and out as time (i.e. baby) allows. You can find it for yourself or some new parents you know here.


This woman's pantry makeover, which you can see here.  Our pantry is in absolute chaos right now and I really hope Ramon will help me organize it this weekend. This woman's pantry is a great inspiration.


This quote from the amazing singer Adele.
In this month of New Year's resolutions, I can relate to her words.
Life isn't about being skinny.
At least it shouldn't be!
Here's to all the women who, despite so much pressure from all around (even other women!), don't lose sight of all of the great things about them and about their lives that are so much more important than fitting into a certain size of jeans.

xoxoxo

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Once Upon a Winter Day









"To be housebound in the dead of winter is one of the most voluptuous enjoyments that I know, a supreme glorification of the creature comforts; that snuggling down by a roaring fire while the blizzard rages without, that anticipatory planning of warm and heartening dishes, of a special winter edition of the cup that cheers, and to crown it all, the eventual retiring to a cozy bed with a book."
-Barbara Webster, The Green Year


I am thoroughly enjoying the snow now that it is finally here. The bundling up for walks outside...the cozying up with leg warmers and a cup of malty, milky Caro when you come home.

xoxo

On A Snowy Morning








Finally....SNOW!

We woke up to a whole lot of it covering everything in a blanket of white. The colder it is outside, the more you enjoy the warmth of your home. Rafael and I cuddled and snuggled and made each other laugh. The dogs came back in from a morning romp in the garden with snow stuck to their fur.

My little guy had a fever the past few days but was feeling much better today. So full of chuckles and kicks.

I didn't have the cable to my camera, so I took pictures with my iphone, which was fun.

I hope you are enjoying your week!

xoxo

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Rafael is 4 Months Old!







Yesterday my husband gave me the nicest compliment...he told me that it's obvious that I love being a mom, and that I am really good at it...that I am so nice to Raffi....that he loves me. Wow....I still feel wrapped up in the warming love of those words. It's a sensational feeling to have your dedication and hard work be recognized and appreciated. 

Rafael screamed so much this afternoon. I tried everything: breast feeding, playing with him, undressing him (he loves being naked), walking around with him, talking to him, holding him, massaging his belly. Nothing helped for long. I finally wrapped us up and stepped out into the fresh air on the terrace. That calmed him down a little. Then I decided to run a bath for him, as this always seems to relax him. I have his car seat placed on a chair by the heater in the bathroom, and I put him in it and ran his bath, humming a song as the water poured down. When I turned around to get him, he had fallen asleep. So now he is in his car seat by the heater in the bathroom, sleeping.

Four months that feel like a year. Sometimes I'm amazed how quickly Rafael is growing; other times, I feel like he has been with us forever and am surprised how young he still is. So many things I've learned and so many more still ahead! So many beautiful, intimate moments with my baby, and so many sweet moments waiting in our future.

xoxo

ETA: The birthday boy ended up having a fever...looks like he caught the stomach virus I had. Poor little guy! Needless to say, he didn't try his first foods today as we were planning. Let's hope he is feeling better soon!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Some Thoughts On Mothering



When you fall in love for the first time, or have your heart broken for the first time, all those novels and songs about love suddenly speak to you and you can relate to them on a very real level. It's the same when you have a baby. You come to understand why people risk their lives for their children. Why they work hard to provide for them. How they can accept hours of crying, loads of dirty diapers, and sleepless nights without getting bitter. I heard about these things before, but now I am living them. 

It's funny, when I'm changing an exploding diaper that is filling the room with an unbelievably foul smell and I realize, I don't even mind. I'm too busy laughing with Raffi, congratulating him on a full diaper, feeling glad that his diaper rash has cleared up. It's like that with all of the uncomfortable things that come along with having a baby. I just don't mind that much. Rafael's wide excited smile...his face when he is deep asleep...his relieved sighs when he's been crying and is finally at my breast...his incredibly soft doughy thighs that I pinch delicately...it all makes up for it in so many ways.

BUT:

It's almost 1 AM as I'm writing this, and I can tell you why. Even though I love being a mother so much, and I love Rafael so much, I have discovered that I need time every day to be alone with myself. Ramon and I retire to the couch after Raffi has gone to sleep, and after we've been entertained for a while with a movie or television, and have talked and laughed a bit, he goes to sleep, too. That's when the ME TIME begins. I stay on the couch with my laptop and browse pinterest, answer emails, work in photoshop, visit blogs, and write in my own. 

Am I missing out on precious sleep in doing so? Yes. But this time for myself to zone out and not take care of anything or anyone else is precious, too. 

My father came to visit the other day. He said, "You know, I need time to myself in the evening. When everyone else has gone to sleep, I stay up and just relax." I laughed: "Now I know who I have it from."

*******

There is constantly something to learn and adapt to as a parent, because your child is constantly growing and changing. The minute I think there is a dependable rhythm, things change. The real challenge is to recognize when things have changed, and not try to stick to something that isn't working anymore.

*******

Have you ever noticed that 'Bah Bah Black Sheep,' 'The Alphabet Song,' and 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star' all have the same melody? Just something odd I noticed while humming Rafael to sleep.

*******

My mother-in-law said she was showing some friends pictures of Rafael. After a while one of them asked, "Where is the mother?" 

That's the problem when you are the one taking photos. There are none of you!

I would have loved to have this post be topped with a nice photo of Rafael and me. But it just didn't happen.

ETA: I took these with my phone this morning! My favorite thing lately is when Raffi touches my face when I lean over him or lay next to him. The other day I fell asleep while I was nursing him, and the gentle stroke of his fingers on my cheek woke me up. Heavenly.

P.S. Yes, that is my husband's messy dresser in the background. Which brings me to:

*******

When reading blogs that other mothers have, I have to be very careful about not comparing myself. 'Myself' meaning my post-pregnancy body compared to theirs, my blog posting frequency compared to theirs, the tidy-ness of my home compared to theirs. I realized that this morning, while taking photos of Rafael playing on the living room floor. I had just vacuumed, the sun was shining, he was cheerful, and the photos turned out beautifully. It hit me suddenly that, if I were to post these, you would never guess that the floor was filthy ten minutes before...that it was overcast the rest of the day...that he started crying a few minutes afterwards...and that I have been sick with the stomach flu for the past four days. 

Isn't that good to know? 

None of us bloggers, mommies or otherwise, are quite as interesting, tidy, or perfect as our blogs might have you think.

Well....at least I'm not. 

xoxoxo

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Peanut Butter Chocolate Cookies






Over the many years that Ramon and I have been together, we have formed little traditions, which I treasure, no matter how simple, because they are our own. 

One of these traditions is that, every year at Christmas time, and only at Christmas time, we make these cookies. Their ingredients are so simple, and the result so delicious, especially with a tall glass of cold milk. 

When we have finished eating the entire batch (which doesn't take long), I always want to make a second, but never do. Because part of the tradition is that we only have these once a year, which makes them very special.

Here is the recipe, based on one from the ever wonderful Betty Crocker. I hope you will enjoy them as much as we do!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Cookies

Pre-heat oven to 375°F or 190°C

Ingredients:

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup softened butter
1 egg
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
granulated sugar for rolling
chocolate candies, chunks, or pieces for the middle

Stir the sugars, the peanut butter, the softened butter, and the egg in a standing mixer.

Stir in the flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Add the vanilla and mix.

Form small balls of dough; roll in the granulated sugar. Place about 2 inches apart on ungreased cookies sheets. No need to press them; they will spread on their own.

Bake for about 8 minutes, being careful not to let them get brown, so that they stay chewy.

Immediately after removing then from the oven, press one chocolate firmly into the center of each cookie. 

Cool on a wire rack.


xoxo

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