Wednesday, May 29, 2013

How to Cut Fennel

How to slice Fennel, a picture tutorial from with recipe ideas!

Just in case you decided to make my grapefruit and fennel salad, or you've just seen this furry-topped veggie and wondered "how on earth do I cut that"?

1. Keep the top on (you can use it later, it has an anise (licorice) flavor to it). 

2. Slice in half.

How to slice Fennel, a picture tutorial from

3. Cut out the center using a triangular cut.

Removing the center of fennel, a picture tutorial from

4. Using the top as a "handle", slice as usual.

How to Chop a Fennel Bulb, a picture tutorial from

I also added the fennel to my Meatball and White Bean soup (instead of the chard), added a bit of ginger, and voila, a spring-ier meatball soup!


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Monday, May 27, 2013

Hiding my "monthly supplies"

Just warning you, this is a post about how to contain those "monthly" supplies, not sure you (DAD), really need to keep on reading.

Just saying...

 sanitary supplies runneth over...

This "before" is not pretty. It's like a walk down the sanitary products aisle at your local drugstore.

Needless to say, my husband was not so happy to see this on the back of our toilet tank once a month:)

the before- sanitary supplies runneth over...

Enter, a lovely box from West Elm (not available anymore, but similar to these).

Containing sanitary supplies (menstrual items) in a box on the toilet tank)

Everything is neatly corraled, including the tampons and pads,

Corralling tampons and pads so they don't take over your bathroom.

a place for everything, everything in it's place, and *hidden* from view!

Corralling tampons and pads so they don't take over your bathroom.

Problem solved!


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Friday, May 24, 2013

Baking as an Art not a Science (Banana Almond Cookies)

In my SkinnyGirl Margarita Cake post, I shared a little bit about this new idea that you can treat baking more like cooking. Instead of thinking of it as chemistry, a perfect science, think of it more as an art. If you add together fat, sweet, and a binder (butter, sugar, flour), then you will get either a dough or a batter.

flourless banana almond chocolate chip cookies

We had some old bananas and I wanted to try a cookie again, so I just decided to experiment. In this recipe there is no binder (or flour). I think the egg and almond butter are so sticky that it all holds together that way.

This is a riff on my flourless peanut butter cookie recipe.

Flourless Banana Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies:

2 mashed bananas
1 cup almond butter
1 egg
1/2 cup chocolate chip cookies
optional- sugar to taste, between 1 tablespoon and 1/2 cup

Mix all ingredients together (gratuitous shot of baby),

flourless banana almond chocolate chip cookies

scoop onto baking sheet,

flourless banana almond chocolate chip cookies

and bake at 350 for 12 minutes.

So yummy!


I made these for Passover along with the fluffy matzoh balls and chopped liver. Such a good dessert choice. Pin It

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Spending Money on What I Value

Recently I heard someone I greatly respect say that kids won't listen to what you say, they will do what you do.

Part of that involves actually doing what you want them to do. You know, exercising instead of watching TV and telling them to exercise. Reading instead of surfing the internet and telling them to read. Giving money away instead of shopping and telling them the importance of charity...

And an even trickier part is spending your money on what you value, so your kids can see it in action.

My kids are filling a box for my daughter to bring back to school for charity. LOVE that school!

Getting your kids involved in giving charity. Ask them where you think you send your money, and see what they say!

The other day, May 6th to be precise, I asked my 5 year old what she thought we spend our money on. Here are her answers:
  1. Charity (tzedakah in Hebrew)
  2. Her School
  3. Her Brother's School

So, I give us an A for conveying our values of giving to charity and education to our kids. Hooray!

Just for fun, here is where we actually spend our money:
  1. Housing
  2. Education
  3. Charity
  4. Food
  5. Exercise, Recreation, etc. (gym, pool, skiing, biking...)
Not too shabby, given that we are trained as architects and our built environment is incredibly important to us:)

What would your priorities look like? Real life versus ideal? Or what would your kids think? Ask them and let me know!


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Monday, May 20, 2013

Easy Hostess Gift

A quick and easy hostess gift or present, recuse a tin can as a vase.

My dear friend Ellie (who can be seen in this post about my daughter's rainbow birthday party), recently invited us over for a kid-free dinner, yay!

What to bring a friend when you have no time!

She has lovely, eclectic taste, so I just popped a few flowers together in a rinsed-out can, and attached a small paper tag. So simple, and yet bright and colorful, and totally her:)

an easy hostess gift- fresh flowers in a tin can! from

I wish I could say that I picked these from my garden, but my attempts at gardening just aren't that far along yet!


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Friday, May 17, 2013

Stacking Books on the Coffee Table

styling a coffee table with stacks of books- adds interest and color

You all know that I'm not really one for styling spaces, but even I couldn't help but notice that my gorgeous, giant burlwood coffee table in my living room, just wasn't living up to expectations. I do believe that a room without books is a little soul-less, so enter a happy accident when I discovered this post from Oh Happy Day.

The thing is a massive 6 feet long, and the one little tray (that I got from Joss and Main), just wasn't filling the space, or making it feel homey. You can check out my new art additions here.

styling a coffee table with stacks of books- adds interest and color

Thankfully, by adding four neat stacks of books to the table, the space is filled, and I'm actually encouraged to look at these coffee table books!

a kid-friendly way to style a living room- stacks of books

My favorite books can be found in this post of the gifts I bought myself.

a kid-friendly way to style a living room- stacks of books

Better, right?

Plus, with 3 kids under 6, there is no way I'm styling this sucker with anything breakable or precious:) Even those flowers were only a there-for-the-photos kind of thing.


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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Gardening on a Deck

This year, my attempts at gardening are more realistic. Last year, we brought up 2 enormous blue planters and planted bright pink bougainvillea,

blue and orange accents on a deck by

built our own DIY planter (for the never-to-bloom veggie garden, this year you can see herbs and flowers),

diy planter on a deck

and overall spruced up our deck.

This year, I just wanted to add some color to the bougainvillea pots (amazingly we didn't kill it over the winter!), and let the kids have a place to "garden" on their own. This year we are testing out a theory I found on Pinterest, that if you put a raw egg in the hole with the flowers, they will grow better!

add an egg to your gardening hole to nourish flowers

You can see what happens when I let a 3 year old boy garden here:)

Oh, plus I grabbed a few $2 green pots at Ikea and filled them with this super soft grassy stuff that I picked up at Home Depot. The goal was to keep it alive long enough to use as centerpieces at my daughter's school gala, mission accomplished:)

outdoor dining decor, ikea pots and a metal trough full of grasses

Teak dining table and chairs for outdoor dining, perfect with the natural green accents

Anything else you are craving this spring? It feels like each year I downsize my resolutions, and try to focus on what really matters. This spring planting season, that just means I want a few hits of color, and to be able to relax with my family.


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Monday, May 13, 2013

Using Groovebook to take my photos off the iphone

Like most of us, I take a ton of photos on my iPhone and then just leave them there to rot. Or be deleted by an overly tech-savvy 18 month old:)

printing out my iPhone photos

Not anymore! I downloaded the Groovebook app (free), and now I order a little photo book each month with up to 100 picture sin it, all right from my phone!

sweet and easy photo book, 100 photos a month, from Groovebook

Wait, now I sound like an infomercial, but I wanted to share how I get the photos *out*, so i can add them to our photo albums or give them out to others. The photos are perforated, so you can easily tear them out, and they even say when and where you took the photo, score!

It's $2.99 a month for a book for 100, which is a great deal, since 30 cents a photo including shipping totally rocks, and it's easy, with no annoying transferring of photos.

If you want to download the Groovebook app, put in my promo code GROOVEISTA and you'll get your first book free!

using groovebook to get my phone photos printed and sent to me

You can get the app from the apple app store, by going to Plus you can check out this video for a quick demo.

Let me know what you think, it's my favorite thing, and if for some inexplicable reason I don't take 100 photos one month, then I plan on making cute little books for family members!


If you enter my code, I'll get a small amount back, but you'll be getting a free book of photos, so I think it's a win-win! Plus, I won't ever endorse something I don't already use (and love)!
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Friday, May 10, 2013

Dishwashing the Tub Toys

Did you now you could do this?

I mean, I'm pretty sure I've read it in a bout a zillion magazines, and I think I hand-washed each toy after a bath when our first was a baby, but with three kids, somethings have to slide.

And, apparently, washing out bath toys was just one of those things:)

You can wash your bath toys in the dishwasher! Brilliant,  and they get sanitized as well.


We were giving all three kiddos a bath in *our* tub, when the baby decided she had yet to make use of a tub as a giant diaper. You know what I mean?

Yep, so, so, so disgusting!

Not helped by the screams of the older two, "DISGUSTING"!

So after actually cleaning the kids (in the shower), and cleaning the tub itself, it was time to seriously disinfect the tub toys.

Man, this was easy. Pop in upper rack of dishwasher on "sanitize". Done.

If I had adventurous resolutions (which I do not, I like do-able resolutions) I'd resolve to wash the tub toys each week. Instead, I'm settling for every few months, or when we have hazmat level conditions:)

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Thursday, May 9, 2013

A Sleep Number Pillow

Some mornings I wake up with a crik in my neck.

Or a "crick"? Creek?

Anyway, you know that feeling that you just haven't slept well, but you know for sure you aren't pregnant so there isn't something obvious to blame it on? (Also, no small children in my bed, so *no* good excuse). master bedroom with pintuck charcoal grey bedding

After a few too many nights of this, I received an email from Sleep Number asking if I'd like a free pillow to try out. Heck ya! Who doesn't want a free pillow?

Especially if I get to take a special quiz to find just the right pillow for me! I mean, a quiz? It's like my birthday all over again.- Yes, I know, I'm a total nerd. But that nerdiness did take me to Harvard where I met my husband, so I'm allowed to get over excited about a pillow quiz:)

So, I went online, took the quiz and was sent the perfect pillow for me. Or for the me that took the quiz.

Turns out that while I am very good at knowing that I get hot (so I need a cool comfort pillow), that I like memory foam (that mattress saved me when pregnant with #2), and that I sleep in a Cal King bed, I don't actually know what position I sleep in.

I *thought* I was a back and side sleeper. So the pillow I received is perfect for that! It's all contoured and lovely and cradles your neck and head and when I'm laying on my back in bed it's super relaxing and lovely. Except- and this is the part where you know I'm telling you like it really is- I apparently sleep on my stomach. All those years of side-sleeping due to pregnancy and nursing while I sleep are over, and now I start on my side, then slip onto my stomach. So the lovely contoured pillow that is supposed to cradle the back of my neck winds up half-choking me by hitting my throat.

So... I'm keeping the pillow for my attempts at meditating, full-body relaxing and maybe my guest room:) And when I need a new pillow for actual sleeping, I know who to go to (plus I'll get to take the quiz all over again, yipee)!


I was offered a free pillow from Sleep Number for me to try, but my opinions and words are all my own. Pin It

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Cherry Blossom Flowers: an Egg Carton Craft

Use an egg crate to create cardboard cherry blossoms, then paint the with your kids. And easy spring DIY craft.

Sometimes my kids are begging for a quick and easy craft. Something they can do in the 30 minutes between finishing breakfast and leaving for school. (You can check out my morning launch pad that helps smooth this process, and my tricks to save 10 hours a week, so I actually have time for crafting with the kiddos.)

Yesterday, my almost-4-year-old, wanted a "special" craft, so I looked into my craft box (my craft supplies are not as organized as they once were, but I still have a to-do box), found an egg carton, and looked on Pinterest to find inspiration.

Colorful cherry blossoms made form an egg carton

Enter this pin, originally from Snapguide. It's an easy to follow picture tutorial, but the basic rundown is: cut out the egg "cups", slice each one 4 times and trim to create "petals", paint.

How to make cardboard flowers out of an egg carton, an easy tutorial

We chose pink, orange and red, so at least the colors go together well.

An easy craft for kids- use an egg crate to create cardboard flowers

I might have time for another baby food jar craft, like last year's mother's day vases, or teacher appreciation pencil vases.

egg cartons turned into cherry blossoms


Linking up to the Spring Pinterest Challenge with Young House Love, Bower PowerSparkle Meets Pop and Red Bird Blue
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Sunday, May 5, 2013

New Living Room Art

To start at the end- I'm in love with Joss and Main, and my new artwork, tada!!!

stayathomeista living room art,

Now, back to the beginning:)

First, there was this.

stayathomeista living room art

Then, we added this art.

So it looked like this...

stayathomeista living room art

Pretty, but then zoom out to the entire room.

stayathomeista living room art

Not so balanced, right?

Even though I love the texture and raised feel of the art (which we got from Crate and Barrel), I thought the other side was too dark and needed something else light, and white.

crate and barrel linear white art

Enter, my beloved flash sale site, Joss and Main.

Joss and Main art print over black console with blue glass bowl,

I adore a ton of their things, but this art print, by a California surfer artist  had all the right colors, and looks just right in the room!

charcoal grey living room by, complete with white artwork from Joss and Main

Any other home decor sites you are loving?


Linking up this week:

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Friday, May 3, 2013

Crayons plus Craft Paper equals a Kid-friendly Tablecloth

bundles of crayons on a craft paper table for dinnertime crafting to keep kids at the table!

Using craft paper to create a tablecloth for a dinner with kids

Easiest table setting I ever did.

variety of crayons as a tablescape.

Who knew I had so many different types of crayons?

Using craft paper to create a tablecloth for a dinner with kids

Run a stripe of brown paper down the center of the table.

Using craft paper to create a tablecloth for a dinner with kids

Add crayons and children.

Using craft paper to create a tablecloth for a dinner with kids


I also (later) added candles, food, other people, dishes, etc. 

crayons and craft paper for easy table decor, fun for kids and adults!

Oh! And my 5 year old wrote people's names above their place settings so it worked as a place card too!

The kids loved getting to draw on the "tablecloth" during dinner, and it certainly kept them occupied longer than usual so we could have a wee bit more adult conversation before they needed our help.


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