Thursday, October 30, 2014

What to do with leftover half and half #tbt

Every Friday my dad picks up my preschooler and takes her to the park for lunch and playing. I know, I'm super lucky. Believe me, you do't even want to hear about what the other 3 local grand parents do, they are all amazing:) Anyhoo, my dad brings half and half for my daughter to drink (just go with it), and we often have some left over in our fridge.

Recently, as the weather has been turned a bit cooler, and I'm nursing the baby only during the day (he sleeps at night), I've revisited one of my favorite cocktails, the Brandy Alexander. I first discovered it at the Bar at La Terrasse, a great restaurant in West Philly, when I was in college, and Ive brought it back as a special occasion drink. It fills both the dessert and drink categories, so take that into account when planning when to have it!

After getting back to my wedding weight (I posted about it yesterday), I certainly only have this as a special occasion drink. And as a mom, that usually means a day when the preschooler refused to wear a costume to the Halloween party, the baby is snotty, the kindergartener left his library book at home, and the second grader had really hard questions about life that she only thought of 5 minutes *after* bedtime:)

Find my original post and recipe for a Brandy Alexander cocktail here.

recipe for a brandy alexander cocktail

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Getting to Wedding Weight

As I mentioned last week, I lost the baby weight in less than 3 months. This was the first time that has happened, and the weight just kept coming off. Not as fast, but slowly and steadily, and in the 4 months that followed, I've lost another 22 pounds, which puts me a few pounds *under* my wedding weight!

How I lost the baby weight and made it to wedding weight! 72 pounds in 7 months!

Big pause while I jump around the room.... (then realize that I'm not wearing any makeup in that photo). Here's another version of me, last weekend at a Halloween party.

I am so so happy, and proud, and excited, and trilled, and surprised and even a little bit scared that I might gain some of it back.

The most shocking part of this whole thing, has been how much I've really changed my lifestyle. So much so that now unhealthy foods actually make me sick. OK, I'm feeling a little sick/shameful just writing that, but it's true. 1 slice of pizza can do me in. Enough with the TMI:)

I got married at the same weight that I had been for most of college and graduate school, and I stayed that weight for the first year of our marriage before I gained 10 pounds with Clomid, a fertility drug. After that, I never went below my "pre-first-baby" weight again.

Last summer, knowing/hoping that we would get pregnant with #4 soon, I declared it my "summer of fun". For me that meant eating and drinking and eating and snacking and watching TV and eating and baking... So I started the last pregnancy about 10 pounds higher than my usual being-a-mom weight. With the fourth and final baby here, I'm super motivated to get back to the old normal, and I want to be fit and strong and happy and healthy for the future.

Is this topic even remotely interesting to anyone reading? It's taken up a ton of my brain space for the past 7 months, but as I get better at making better choices it's taking less and less thinking time, but I'd still like to write it all down for sometime this winter when I inevitably just want to eat fried things and drink hot drinks with alcohol in them every day:)

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Monday, October 27, 2014

Safari Nursery

Safari Themed Nursery from StayatHomeista

What? I'm posting a mood board for a mythical baby and I haven't even showed you MY baby's nursery? Yes, I know. I will rectify that eventually, although, spoiler alert, it's pretty much the same as the room was when it belonged to my daughter (pink and teal nursery), except that I swapped out the pink bedding for my son's old crib bedding (best seen here in the post about double sheeting a crib), and changed the diaper changed to orange.

Here's what I would do for a gender-neutral nursery. Plus, I'm in love with the wallpaper:)


No affiliate links were used in this post, I just like to create fantasy rooms for mythical babies:) Pin It

Friday, October 24, 2014

How I Survive Without Coffee

Ceremonie tea

I have made it through high school, college, architecture school, and now having 4 children all without having coffee. I wish there was a good reason, some moral outrage against the coffee industry, or a health reason, but honestly, I just never liked the taste and by the time I realized that I "should" drink it, it was too late.

I do love the ritual of coffee, so to duplicate that calm feeling (and give me a *little* caffeine boost), I drink tea instead.

My new favorite, is the Earl Grey Lavender from Ceremonie Tea. It's my go-to morning tea, perfect with a splash of milk.

A good friend of mine now works for Ceremonie, and when he asked if I'd like a free box to sample, I jumped at the chance. Here are my favorite things:

  • The packaging is elegant and pretty enough to be left out
  • They have a bento-box-esque display tray that makes offering company tea an elegant experience
  • I adore the minicubes. Each person can have their own touching all the other bags.
  • The flavors are inventive and yummy, Ginger peach? Lemongrass & Verbena?
  • They come in pretty pyramid sachets which just makes me feel fancy:)

I'm also using tea as a key part of my weight loss strategy. (You can read about how I lost almost 50 pounds of baby weight in less than three months here). After dinner, instead of putting the kids to bed, pouring a glass of wine, and then giving in to food cravings that only exist because of said glass of wine, I drink tea instead. I've even gotten my 7 year old on the tea-after-dinner wagon, and we make a few cups, sit on the couch, read, talk and actually connect, all without me having random cravings for a bowl of chocolate chips, almonds, ice cream... you get the idea. At night, I go for the non-caffeinated tea, so Moroccan Mint is my fave.

Ceremonie tea

If you are local, you can find it at Oakland Kosher. Friends farther afield can find Ceremonie Tea online at Abe's Market or more info at

Ceremonie tea

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

How I lost the baby weight in 10.5 weeks

Questioning whether I should even write this post, but in the spirit of the blog being for me (and for you only in as much as you enjoy it and chose to read it), here goes. This is how, after having baby #4 (!!!), I lost the 49.5 pounds of pregnancy weight that I gained, and I lost it in only 10.5 weeks.

It is very important to be precise here, since weight gain and loss can feel very precise. 49.5 pounds sounds a heck of a lot better in my head than 50 pounds, and 10.5 weeks sounds better than 11 weeks:)

The three main things I did were:

1. Weight Watchers

2. Exercising 5-6 days a week

3. Reading books, magazines and blogs about fitness and weight loss to keep me motivated.

Before: 3 days before giving birth... After: 10.5 weeks later...(sorry I don't have one of only me)

Weight Watchers-

I have used Weight Watchers before, so I know that the system works for me. I need to write down everything that I eat, and have no food "off limits" in order to see results. Of course, as I get more fit, I wind up making better food choices anyway, since it feels better, but coming right off having a baby, I needed to know that I could eat anything, but I had to track it (write it down online or in the app).

I did the online version of the plan, since I knew the basics, and who can get to a meeting with a newborn? Not I. I read the blogs on the site, used the app to track my food but also my water intake, and overall just shifted the amount that I was eating. Plus, no more nausea really helps me chose to eat veggies, rather than anything that I think won't hurt coming back up:)


I started a few days after giving birth with simple breathing exercises to strengthen my abs. I used a video from Fit2B (not an affiliate link) and just worked my way up. My husband and I started walking each day, first for 5 minutes, then for 10, then 15. Maybe I was up to 30 minutes of slow walking by 2 weeks postpartum, so nothing crazy, just moving my body outside. Sometimes I would walk on our treadmill at home too.

The real game changer was starting doing Jillian Michaels (you know her from the Biggest Loser) DVDs at home. I started with 30 Day Shred, Level 1, and I couldn't even get through the whole thing for a few weeks! I just kept at it, doing a few more reps each day, resting less, then adding in Level 2 once I felt stronger. By the 11 week mark when I had lost all of the weight, I was doing all 3 levels of 30 Day Shred, plus level 1 of 6 Week 6 Pack. (It took another 2 months before I could do level 2 of 6 Week 6 Pack without stopping)!

The DVD's were perfect for after having a baby since they are short (22 minutes to 40 minutes), and I could pause to go nurse/change a diaper etc then come back to them and pick up where I left off. The stress of getting to a class at a specific time was just too much for me in that newborn stage, you never know when the baby will be hungry or have a diaper blowout...

Staying Motivated-

I read the following books (usually while nursing)!

Slim By Design, by Brian Wansink Ph.D.
The End of Overeating, by David A Kessler, M.D.
The Everygirl's Guide to Diet and Fitness, by Maria Menounos
Thin Side Out, by Josie Spinaldi
Skinny Thinking, by Laura Katleman-Prue
Mindless Eating, by Brian Wansink Ph.D.

Each one gave me a little push to make positive changes. from reorganizing my refrigerator so the fruits and veggies are at eye level and the junk is in the crisper, to always leaving a bite on my plate, each one helped me to make tiny changes, usually 1 change per week.

I also rewarded myself whenever I went to the grocery store and *didn't* buy a donut (my pregnancy craving this round). I would buy as many health and fitness magazines as I wanted. Whether or not I did the workouts or cooked the food, I was motivated to keep on track, keep going, and just the act of tearing out an ab workout served to motivate me a little bit each day.

Oh- and I kept losing weight! That might be the craziest part of this. Instead of just stopping or plateauing at my pre-baby weight, I kept losing, another 23 pounds, getting back to my wedding weight (technically 2 pounds less)! I'll write another post with those tips to stay motivated (and pics!) soon.


Here's a link to the workout I did. You can find lots for free if you are an Amazon Prime member, or I bought this one for less than $10. (affiliate link, but I bought it and love it, so you know it's good)

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Monday, October 20, 2014

Master Bedroom Tweaking

For some reason, my master bedroom has never fully lived up to my expectations I think it might just be too gray, too dark, something, but I am blessed with a husband who actually cares about the aesthetics of our house, and he is adamant that we keep the wall color. And the gray roman shades. And the gray velvet curtains... So I'm imagining a few tweaks to make it a little more cheerful. 

I'd like to add bedside lamps in a larger scale. These navy ones from Target look good (similar ones here), although I'm also open to these clear disc ones from West Elm.

I'm loving the collage wall from Young House Love. I'm happy with our existing yellow prints from Little Brown Pen of Paris in a yellow color story, but maybe if I brought in more photos of our family, the wall would fill in nicely.

I've already pulled the trigger on these mirror collage frames from West Elm. Plus the 4 prints from Minted: & Bricks, Golden Mums, Sundrop, and Hexagon Cluster.

The corner with the chaise (from Wisteria) could use a little pop of color. Maybe a side table, a lamp, a throw and a new pillow?

Any other ideas for me? I'm not sure how much I will actually implement, but it's always fun to dream!


No affiliate links were used in this post, just fyi:)

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Owl Cupcakes #tbt

As i mentioned in my original Throwback Thursday post, I'm embracing some of my favorite posts from years past, just in case you missed them the first time around:)

I've made these Owl Cupcakes each year for Halloween, fun, easy, the kids can do it themselves... Nothing better than that:)

Owl cupcakes with oreo and m&m eyes

Find my original post with more pics and instructions (in case you need them) here.

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Monday, October 13, 2014

Collage Wall in a Boy's Bedroom

boy bedroom inspiration with decals, collage wall, cardboard animal head, and a nautical mirror

So this is what I'm thinking about for our 5 year old son's room.

bed - the Catalina in Navy from Pottery Barn Kids
sheeting - construction themed from Target
orange nightstand - DIY (I spray painted an old wood side table)
wall color - Marlborough Blue from Benjamin Moore

nautical mirror from Pottery Barn Kids
Cardboard Elephant Head
Artwork Collage including his own paintings, and anything else extra lying around the house
Decals - he wants orange polka dots (similar to in our daughter's room)

He was feeling left out of the great bedroom upgrade, so I decided that he needed a quick refresh. We did his room originally when he was two, so it's been 3 years, and about time for a little mini-update. 

I'm often thinking these things through with the help of Pinterest, so come check me out there, updates and final photos to come!


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Thursday, October 9, 2014

Happy 6 months!

Baby #4 (Yoyo by nickname) is 6 months old! I'm so, so happy that we added him to our family. He is a pleasure to have as a baby, mellow, easygoing, and very happy. Plus his ears stick out just a bit, which alternately make shim look like an elf, and reminds me of my grandfather for whom he was named.

He has blonde hair and blue eyes. He loves to eat baby food, and happy pulls my fingers into his mouth to chew on. He also enjoys chewing on any food that might be on my fingers: bread, green beans, orange segments, hummus... He will even chew on the Baby Bjorn, teething much?


While he won't take a bottle or a sippy cup yet (which means that I'm always within 2-3 hours of nursing him), he has slowly started taking a little water from a sippy, so I'm hopeful that I can wean him around 10 months, so that my husband and I can go away alone!

Yoyo can't yet sit up, but that might be our fault, with 4 kids, we sometimes forget to let him practice that skill:) But he loves the swing!


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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

How to Know When There is Too Much TV?

Quick ways to know when the TV watching has gone overboard:

  • My almost 3- year old wants a "purple horse that flies, just like Sophia" for her birthday
  • When, "What does Elsa eat in her ice castle"? is a legitimate conversation topic with your spouse
  • When you justify your tummy pooch by thinking that if Caillou's mommy has one, then it must be normal.
  • When you mumble channel numbers in your sleep, "289 for Disney Junior..."
  • When you are getting dressed to go out and find yourself humming the Jake and the Neverland Pirates theme song
  • When playing with miniature horses and the two year old names them: Elsa, Anna, Sofia, Dora, Cinderella...

And yet, with four kids, heck even when I had three kids, I'm much more willing to let them watch TV than I was before.

Our first watched no TV at all until she was 2, and since she had a 4 month old brother at the time, it was only on airplanes or long car rides. The second one started watching on airplanes and in the car (rides longer than 2 hours count for me) when he was 18 months. He adored shows, which was helpful on 6 hour cross-country flights when our first wouldn't sleep or watch shows, and would only cry or vomit. Fun times:)

When we had our third, I was willing to let the older two watch TV as a special treat during the week or on weekends. So maybe 22 minutes in the morning if the baby was fussy and I was on my own. Or an hour on the weekend during nap time so I could have a minute to myself.

Continue on to pregnancy with number 4, and all rules were out the window. Six weeks of bed rest and I was happy to let any of them watch as much TV as they could outside of meals, school, and sleeping. Total this was maybe 30 minutes to 2 hours a day, depending on how much help I had.

We've scaled back since the baby was born and I'm back on my feet as a fully functional parent:) TV is a treat during the week, maybe 2-3 days a week they get half an hour, probably in the morning if we are done with breakfast early, all bags and lunches packed, clothes and shoes on, sunscreen on...
Weekends offer maybe an hour a day for them, although that first child just isn't that into it. Maybe we restricted it too much when she was younger and now she won't watch?

What's your TV/screen time policy?

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Monday, October 6, 2014

A Mid-Century Dining Room Update

It's been at least 4 years that we've had this Bjursta table from Ikea, and it has served out family well, but it's time for an upgrade. Nothing crazy, we still have 4 kids under 8, so spills and sticky messes area  twice-daily occurrence.

Here's my master plan:

StayatHomeista double table dining room with Eames chairs and #westelm tables

The main changes are switching to 2 tables and swapping out the chairs for something wipeable. Here's the rundown of our dining room before. We are keeping the striped rug (Flor tiles) for now, and the linen and paper artwork.

Now that we think our family is complete with 4 kids, I'd like to have a table where we fit perfectly as a family of 6. We don't have a breakfast room (or a table in the kitchen at all), so the dining room is where we eat breakfast together everyday at 7am, and dinner together each night at 5pm (small children eat early). Lunch for the baby and preschooler is eaten at the kitchen counter, or out at a park or with grandparents.

So, with the idea of a smaller table, but not wanting to lose the functionality of the large table, I started thinking about having a pair of tables. These West Elm Expandable Mid-century tables fit the bill. We can push them together into an almost-square when we entertain, which easily seats 12 (3 per side), or extend each table and push them together to seat 14-18 (big square versus end-to-end).

The chairs, Becca linen stripe from Overstock, were very comfortable, but got super dirty over the last 3 years of constant use. Even though I stain-treated them, after 2 years they started to look a tiny bit dingy, and by this summer I couldn't take it anymore. It might also have something to do with our tastes shifting to a more modern, or mid-century modern aesthetic. In "fantasy life" we adore this table and formal chairs, but real life and little kids prevent us from spending over $10,000 on a table alone!

We went for the knockoff chairs from EModernDecor, since again, almost $400 per chair for the real version seemed excessive, and the $75 versions work well for us. Each time we buy things that need assembly, my husband and I look at each other and ask, "when will be be grown-up enough to stop buying furniture that needs to be put together"? But then we just do it all over again, since for 8 chairs, the cost saving was over $2500!

Since I'm getting back into the blogging swing of things, I'll have to snap a picture and post the results soon!


No affiliate links in this post, just letting you know where to find things:) Pin It

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Fruitcake Cookies #tbt

I have decided to embrace blogging as an outlet for all creative endeavors, my parenting successes and failures, my decorating fantasies and real-life projects, and as a way to remember the foods I cook, parties I throw, and the people who I share them with. To that end, I've decided to bring in Throw Back Thursday #tbt posts, of some of my favorite posts from the past. While I've been blogging less this past year, in 2012 I posted 256 times! More than enough for me to want to go back and remember some of the better recipes, tips, and fun.

I made these again this year for Rosh Hashanah, it's become something of a tradition for me and the kids, but the spiciness and warmth of the cookies works perfectly all fall and winter long.

fruitcake cookies, perfect fall Dan winter treat

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