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Along Abbey Road | A Lifestyle And Family Blog : March 2014


Beach Day

Suit: c/o Albion Fit (we're collaborating for a fabulous swimwear giveaway coming soon!)
Hat: similar
Sunglasses: similar

It's finally that time of year where hanging out on the beach is the only appropriate weekend activity. This last weekend it was a sunny 70 degrees, and you bet your bottom dollar (or should I say sand dollar? Now that is the worst joke, ever!) we splashed around in those waves and built crumbly sand buildings. FYI, if you want to keep a child occupied at the beach for hours on end and recruit a small army of sandcastle-building minions, just dig a ginormous hole. You know, "if you dig it, they will come" mentality. 

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Easy, Effortless Hairstyles

(left to right) one. two. three. four. five. six

I don't know about you, but I am always on the search for easy, effortless hairstyles. Especially in the spring and summer. My hair is now short, so obviously I can only do a couple of these hairstyles, but these looks are my absolute favorite and the sort of hair doozies I always find myself pinning. Between all six of them, the depressing styling rut is a thing of legend, and you won't take a razor to your flowing locks (but it would be awesome if you did end up doing that, and I fully support the shaved head look).

1. The high ponytail. Simply pull up your hair into a ponytail on the crown of your head, and then loosen it by pulling out the hair above and underneath the band to give it some volume.

2. The messy side braid. Sweep your hair to one side. Back comb your hair a bit, and then either do a regular braid or fishtail braid. Secure with a clear band and go back and fluff it up by pulling on some of the pieces to give it a more full look.

3. Loose, tousled waves. I find the easiest way to achieve this look is sleeping on wet hair and then going through it with a 1-inch barrel in the morning to freshen up some of the waves that have naturally set in.

4. The low side ponytail. Create a deep side part, pull all of your hair to one side and secure it with a hair band around your jaw line.

5. The twisted low bun. This one looks more complicated than it is, but it is incredibly easy! On one side, take two pieces of hair and twist them, picking up hair as you go down. As soon as you reach the bottom, secure it with a bobby pin. Do this same thing on the other side and then wrap both sections into a loose, effortless bun.

6. Half up twist. Grab small sections of hair on each side, twist and secure with a bobby pin at the back. Done!

What are your favorite easy and effortless hairstyles for spring and summer?

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5 Tips For Raising A Happy Toddler

Whenever we are at the playground, Luke is most definitely that child running around squealing and laughing while all of the other kids stare in terror/amusement. It eventually ends up in all of them playing together and harmoniously squealing for joy, though. The reason being is that Luke is genuinely a happy toddler. Challenging, yes. But what toddler isn't? Screaming, learning boundaries and insanely high energy levels are the name of the game.

Oftentimes I blame myself thinking I am a terrible parent because my tot doesn't sit in one spot like a delicate flower and behave like a saint. I am beginning to realize how lame that is. Just because my toddler has bad moments doesn't mean I'm a bad mom. They are necessary and inevitable.

What I do know is that toddlers have the capacity to laugh and enjoy life beyond imagination. I read somewhere once that they laugh 50 times in an hour or something ridiculous like that (don't quote me on the amount, but the message here is that they laugh, a lot) and ever since I have wanted to make sure my toddler fills his capacity for happiness.

Here are my tips I have gathered along the way to raising a happy toddler:

  1. Keep them on a routine. This covers all facets of life. Meals, sleeping, playtime, etc. The more of a schedule they are on, the more secure they will be with life because they know what is coming next and their small world will have sense and order to it.
  2. Laugh and play with them. I don't know a little person that doesn't eat up every moment they get to play with their parents. Sharing in the silly moments of life creates a tight bond, and the best way to someone's heart is through laughter.
  3. Do not reinforce negative behavior. This one I am still working on. For example, it is tough and horribly embarrassing for me to let my child throw a mega-tantrum in public without reacting to it, but the more I've ignored it, the less of a problem we've had with negative behavior. Luke is learning to approach upsetting situations in a more sensible manner, which obviously keeps everyone in better spirits. Also, distraction is a wonderful tool for diverting unwanted behaviors and keeping things calm and happy.
  4. Actively reward them for positive behavior. I can't even begin to emphasize how important this is! Words of affirmation and encouragement do so much for a toddler's behavior and self-esteem by helping them feel important and validated.
  5. Tell them you love them often. Because how can you not be happy when you know someone unconditionally loves you?

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Family Style

Me: Chambray top: Target. Pants: similar. Shoes: similar. Watch: ASOS. Sunglasses: similar.
Matt: Shirt: Target. Hat: similar. Pants: Gap.
Luke: Shirt: Target. Jeans: H&M. Shoes: Target.
(Sorry, Wes. Your outfit is a hand-me-down and there aren't even any similar items to link it to.)

Guess the title of this post would be more aptly named, "The Family Who Shops At Target Together, Stays Together And Goes Broke Together." I've said it once and I will say it again — those $1 bins are the sneakiest money wasters I've ever known. One moment you think you are simply buying a couple bucks worth of things that you've made up the lousiest excuses as to why you need them. (It has a geometric pattern and it's only A DOLLAR!) Then you get to checkout and it's like a bomb has been dropped on you.

Cashier: "$97.23."

You're all: "How much? I only bought milk and dish soap!! And a couple of lame things in the dollar bins ... Oh. OH. OHHH!"

I digress.

This post is really about how to easily add some dimension to your wardrobe by wearing prints, all while staying comfortable and practical. I personally prefer a good printed pant. It's a fun trend for the spring and summer, and pairs nicely with a roomy, plain tee (or a plain button-down for us nursing mamas) and a bright pair of flats. Throw on your favorite sunnies, a good chunky watch or bracelet, and you're good to go!

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It's Time For A Reader Survey

photo found here

Hi, guys. The time has come. The time for a reader survey, that is. You see, I'm at a point in my blogging where I need some help from all of you terrific people that make up the awesome community of readers at Along Abbey Road. I've been battling an inner struggle, which looks a little something like this...

"Do I post a survey and start creating content based on what my readers want? Or do I keep writing about whatever the crap I want because this is my space (remember MySpace? Yikes!) on the internet and so be it if everyone hates it?"

Well, turns out I do care what you want to hear and read because I LOVE YOU. I want to bring you the ultimate reading experience based on your interests from the categories I've been writing about for the past few years; the stuff that makes you want to continue coming back for more and share it with every single person you know! It will also help me target better sponsors and giveaways that are relevant to your needs and wants. I am pretty busy being a mom to two small children if you haven't noticed, and it would help to get some guidance to create a posting schedule of some sort as well.

I think after blogging for three years, it's time to put my big girl pants on and give this space something more. It's time for Along Abbey Road to spread its wings and fly, don't you think? Everyone has a story to tell, and I think mine is a good one.

So, would you do me the honors of taking a minute of your time to fill out the survey below? It's only nine questions and I pinky promise it will only take you one minute, or 30 seconds even! The survey is totally anonymous and the information collected is for my eyes only. I really appreciate, friends! Thanks again for all of your love and support! xo

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world's leading questionnaire tool.


The "Ugly" Truth

So, lifestyle blogs. The place where we are guaranteed to find radiating photos (taken on a DSLR camera, no less) of perfectly dressed children and their mothers (decked head to toe in overpriced, brand name clothing) working on a DIY project, laughing as they eat organic rhubarb (grown in their own garden — gotta' keep the farm-to-table trend alive and well!) cupcakes infused with lavender that were made hours earlier in their Pinterest-inspired kitchen on a reclaimed wood table (from Restoration Hardware or some other fantastically obscure designer based in Brooklyn). Give or take some of these descriptions to fit with the geographic location of the blog, and there you have the classic world of lifestyle blogging and the happiness it perpetuates.

I am absolutely no exception to this epidemic of showcasing our very best self, and I don't plan on stopping. (Did you see the cake I made in my last post? I'm practically H.H. Martha Stewart with that junk!) I am simply here today to share the un-staged sidelines of this blog, because life isn't constantly a platter brimming with a gingerly frosted cake topped with sprinkles (although my life is filled with a consistent supply of sugary treats of some sort because I firmly believe in eating my feelings).

What I generally share on this blog is a very small sliver of our life, and I'd be a big, fat liar if I said I didn't put a great deal of effort into creating a specific aesthetic and image that I want portrayed. (We bloggers would make for a mighty fine sociology study, don't you think?) So, here I am putting on blast the "ugly" parts of life as lifestyle blogging has conditioned me to think, when in reality this is just normal.

Couldn't tell you the last time I organized this shelf even if I tried. This is where all of our bills, paperwork and random stuff I don't know what to do with goes to die. (I am pretty sure there may be dead bugs inside that paisley box. I do live with all boys, you know . . . )

This dirty laundry has been piling up for a solid week now, and it will probably remain that way for another day . . . or three. Maybe even five if I'm feeling extra unruly.

And here is our clean laundry . . . What was that? It looks about the same? Thank you for noticing! I worked extra hard on it. I call it my "DIY Organization Hack" which fits right up there with my meticulously color-coded filing system as outlined above.

This picture doesn't do the crumbs and general filthiness on our counter the justice it deserves. Actually, the more I stare at this picture, the more I realize this is rather sorta' clean looking. Those dishes have been sitting in the sink for two days and that sandwich stands as a symbol of toddler rebellion in refusal to eat real food. Luke has eaten three bowls of Rice Chex today (with cow's milk that probably has been treated with hormones because I bought it at the Smart N' Final across the street because I can't muster the energy to drive to Trader Joe's . . . gasp!) and nothing else because I am too tired to argue with a 2-year-old that he needs to eat his vegetables and whole grains.

If you were to look reaaallly close, you'd see lots of dirt and crumbs that probably migrated from the aforementioned kitchen counters onto the rug. Those are regular old plastic toys that use batteries (another gasp!). It's not all expensive wooden toys and a playroom that envies that of a Swedish interior designer's nursery. And yes, Luke is still in his pajamas at 2 pm, and we have no intentions of getting out of them at this point in the day. Better luck tomorrow?

You know all those Instagram photos and blog projects I post with a lovely white backdrop in an attempt to make them look beautifully staged? They are all taken on this table, which just so happens to have grimy toe smudges and banana goo all over the bottom and edges.

Yep, I'm still in my pajamas, too, which consists of one of my husband's ragged tees and no pants. Complete with milk stains, snot and unknown bodily fluid I'd probably prefer to keep a mystery. No post-processing here, folks. This is me in my full glory with no makeup, under-eye bags, pimples and dirty, rooty hair. Oh, and that little green string in the bottom right corner? That's desperation in the form of a tied string on the bathroom doorknob to Luke's doorknob to keep him in his room because he refused to take a nap and we'd been battling all day, going back and forth with him opening his door and me barking orders in my best Napoleon-esque French accent to "get back in ze bed!" It's one of those days.

And while I was taking the above picture, I thought I'd add in this lovely bathroom mirror that hasn't been cleaned for about a week. And that concludes today's photo tour of our life.

I fear that in an effort to throw a little sunshine out into the world by means of sharing the cheery, creative parts of our lives, there is this stark backlash of inadequacy and exclusion creeping in and robbing our self-esteem as fellow mothers and women from all different walks of life.

I can just see the comments playing through my mind half the time as I read blogs and scroll through Instagram accounts, and I am betting you probably do the same . . . "Wow, her house is so perfectly organized and decorated, and mine looks like a daycare threw a rager. And man, is that thing from (insert various designer household appliances and furniture)?! Must be nice to have a wildly disposable income. Is that mother of five wearing heels?! Psshhh, puh-leaze! That girl is trippin'!" (Worst joke, EVER . . . )

I am writing these phrases from experience and as I read them back to myself, I would like to give myself a swift slap in the face! How and why do I let myself sink to those unhealthy, materialistic levels? It's toxic and downright shameful, honestly. Is all that crap really that important? Answer: NO.

As I stand here on my hypocritical soapbox, I am not intending to demean or belittle the beautiful lives that people in blogland choose to share. I simply want to inspire and empower my fellow women, and let them know that it's okay to be imperfect. Trivial and mundane things, such as unorganized cupboards, messy floors, pimples, and the contents of our closets and living rooms, to the very real and emotional things such as relationship struggles, physical and mental health issues, addictions, and labels based on socioeconomic status and race should not define us and be a gauge of our self worth. Nobody, I repeat, nobody is perfect, and we are certainly fools to compare ourselves to other people and believe that their lives come with no "ugly." After all, as our beloved Pinterest ironically says in sleek and whimsical typography, comparison is the thief of joy.

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Vanilla Buttercream Sprinkled Cake

It seems that every image I am pinning of cakes these days is a simple white buttercream, with some delicate flowers or a punch of sprinkles. I love the aesthetic of the bright white and pop of color in the sprinkles, and thought I'd try my hand at making one. You know, in celebration of spring! The process, to my surprise, was fantastically easy and I will definitely be doing this next time I need to decorate a birthday cake or a throw a party.

One word comes to mind when I think of this cake: scrumdiddlyumptious. The batter and frosting were so light and fluffy, they could've flown away. And they did ...  into my stomach! For a sugar addict such as myself, this stuff is the crème de la crème. I found the cake and frosting recipe on this blog, and I've included it below.

White Cake
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • ½ cup vegetable shortening
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 5 eggs, room temperature
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup whole milk, room temperature
  • ½ cup buttermilk, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350º F. Prep three 9-inch round cake pans with nonstick baking spray or coat well with shortening or butter.
  2. Cream together butter and shortening until light and fluffy with an electric mixer. Slowly add sugar one cup at a time, mixing thoroughly before adding another. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well each time.
  3. Pour milks and vanilla into measuring cup and mix together. Add to butter and shortening mixture.  Sift in the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  4. Mix all ingredients until well combined. Stop mixer and scrape down sides and bottom of bowl, making sure everything is mixed thoroughly.
  5. Evenly distribute cake batter between cake pans and place pans into oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove and allow to cool slightly in cake pans for about 5 minutes, then cool completely on a wire rack.
Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened
  • 3 – 4 cups confectioner’s sugar (powdered sugar)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • pinch salt
  • 2-3 tablespoons milk, heavy cream, or half-and-half
  1. Mix softened butter with an electric mixer or stand mixer on a medium setting and cream the butter until it is smooth and has lightened in color —  about 3 minutes.
  2. Add confectioner’s sugar, ½ a cup at a time. After each cup has been thoroughly mixed, turn the mixer onto the highest speed setting for about 10 seconds to lighten the frosting.
  3. Add vanilla and a pinch of salt and mix thoroughly.
  4. Add milk, heavy cream or half-and-half until the frosting has reached the preferred consistency. For a firmer frosting, add more confectioner’s sugar, a ¼ cup at a time. For a softer frosting, add more milk or cream, a tablespoon at a time.

I used this tutorial to properly frost my cake. It is best to have an icing spatula, however any wide-blade type of knife could work if you don't have one handy. Also, I went all MacGyver and used my microwave tray as a spinning stand because I am cheap and refuse to buy a legitimate icing stand. It works just as well, especially if you decorate cakes once in a blue moon like me.

Now for the fun part — the sprinkles! This is an easy way to add a fun and colorful look to your cakes. Make sure all of the excess frosting is wiped away from the edges of your cake board, because the sprinkles will stick to it if not. Now, take a handful of sprinkles in your palm (I used the Wilton Rainbow Jimmies sprinkles) and then gently pat them onto the bottom half with a lightly cupped hand. You don't need to press too hard; keep a light hand so the icing doesn't go all wonky. Keep doing this until the entire cake is covered, and then continue on with the same process for the top half. I prefer the look of sprinkles just on the sides to give it some vibrant contrast with the white, but you can add it to the top, too if you are a major league sprinkle enthusiast. Once it is finished, gently wipe away excess sprinkles at the bottom and pour them back into your bottle.

And what better way to top off our appreciation for all things spring, cake and color? An exclamation of "HOORAY" of course! This darling cake topper is from the Oh Joy! for Target collection. It was the last one and for only $4 I simply had to snag it.

Happy Spring and cake eating, my friends!



Spring & Summer Wardrobe Staples For Toddler Boys

Target tee. H&M tank tops. Target hoodie. Target play shorts. H&M colored pants. Baby Gap denim shorts. Target bow tie. Old Navy button-down. Janie & Jack overalls. Baby Gap sunglasses. Baby Bee sunscreen stick. Zara swim shorts. Hoy Shoe Salt-Water sandals. H&M flip-flops. Target high-top sneakers.

Whenever I am flipping through a magazine or see a really sweet men's outfit, I think to myself, "Man, sometimes I wish I were a dude!" There are some super sleek and awesome details about a man's wardrobe. And lucky for me I have not one, but two handsome fellows whom I can dress vicariously through!

These are all of my go-to toddler boy wardrobe staples for the spring and summer. The heat and sun are upon us here in Encinitas, so Luke's closet is basically a mirror image of this. I prefer to keep things simple for the summer since we are either at the park or beach most days.

The key to creating an affordable, stylish and effortless boy's wardrobe is to get basics that can easily mix and match. I shop at the listed stores above for all of my boys' clothing and give two enthusiastic thumbs up to all of the options and styles available for little guys. I've realized that boys don't need five million different accessories and doodads as I've trained my girl brain to think, so let this be a guide if you are feeling perplexed as to what shopping needs to get done for the warm weather.

-Tees. Luke lives in these. We get four to five tees for him that can color coordinate with bottoms.
-Tank tops. These are essential if you live in a warm place, plus they are darling.
-A hoodie. This is all Luke needs for when it cools down in the evening with a light beach breeze. I personally always opt for gray since it can go with anything.
-Play shorts. Luke also lives in these because you can't properly climb a jungle gym in anything more restricting!
-Colored pants. Luke wears these to church or if we need to go somewhere where the dress code calls for a more polished look.
-Denim shorts. We prefer the slim fitting cut-offs for the days we want to get a little more trendy.
-White button-down and a bow tie. This is Luke's church uniform, which is paired with either colored pants or overalls.
-Overalls. Because it doesn't get cuter than a toddler in overalls, and they can be dressed up or down.
-Swim shorts. I figure he will only be able to pull these Euro style swim shorts off while he is little and those legs and buns are all stocky and squishy!
-Sunglasses and sunscreen. Obvious necessities when the sun shines its glorious face.
-Sandals. They are worn with pretty much everything.
-Flip-flops. Because trying to fiddle with the buckles on those damn Saltwaters at the beach and pool makes me swear like a sailor.
-Sneakers. High-tops to be specific, because the kid needs to run and get a little crazy sometimes.

And there you have it. You need no more and no less to curate an adorable and affordable toddler boy wardrobe for the impending warm weather. Hope the sun is shining your way today!

(Shop the items from above right down here and check out my summer staples for a baby boy here!)

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Why I Love Being A Mom

Quietly sitting in the back corner of the room, I gently rocked Wes back and forth as he dozed off for a nap on my chest. A wrinkly, adorable old man stood at the front of the room talking about how his 50th wedding anniversary was an arm's reach away. Immediately my mind began to frantically race with dramatic thoughts of my parents not living to meet all of my children, and I felt my heart crash like a ton of bricks. My eyes flooded with unexpected, hot tears at the thought of how fleeting life is. I felt the immense pressure of sorrow, and then had one of those epiphanies that suddenly make you feel decades more mature.

The more sorrow we endure, the greater our capacity is for love.

This can take on many meanings for every stage of life, but for me at this exact moment in my timeline it means that the older I become the more sorrow and sadness will creep its way into my life, whether it is people I love passing on in one way or another, or empathizing on behalf of a loved one or my child. Yes, my child. Now that I am just a little bit older, I am at that phase where I've been given children. And there is no greater love than a mother's love.

All of this trickles down to the thoughts I've recently been entertaining and tossing around in my mind; reasons why I love being a mom. This photo began as a bit of a probe, and I've decided to dive more deeply into this topic. I find comfort in knowing that if I write it down somewhere, I will never forget the little things that give proof to the hype of why motherhood rules. And it wouldn't be right unless I compiled it in a list, because lists rule.

1. I couldn't be a mom without babies, and babies are like manna from heaven. Their sweet, delicious breath that I wish I could bottle up by the gallon and keep with a guaranteed lifetime supply. Their droopy hound cheeks and squishy rolls. The coos. The way they grab hold of your hand with those perfectly formed, one-inch fingers. Fuzzy lint caught inside of those perfect fingers. Discovering those perfect fingers ... and toes ... and then trying to eat them, while simultaneously trying to blow bubbles with a tongue that has also recently been discovered. The way they look at you as their mama, and how you are the only one to bring them comfort when not another soul can. This list could go on for a mile, but I will stop here for now.

2. I get to hang out with a miniature human, commonly known as a toddler. A hilarious toddler. A toddler who mimics my bizarre catchphrases and goofy mannerisms and makes me realize just how ridiculous I, in fact, am. One of my favorite things about toddlers is how they go around putting together fantastically delightful sentences to describe the world around them because of their limited vocabulary, which deserves its own coffee table book. It's all so endearing. And the laughs. Oh, those deep-bellied giggles only toddlers can muster! I wish I could bottle those up, too. Toddlers also know how to raise hell like the devil himself, which is always an excellent reminder to work on that little virtue called patience that I really suck at.

3. Motherhood has taught me how to love myself. I think when you deeply love other individuals —namely children in this case — your capacity to love yourself deepens, because you receive a full understanding that the worth of every soul truly is great. At least in my case it has. I firmly believe in teaching my children by example. It is such a powerful tool, and I want them to love themselves and be confident in their own skin. If I encourage a healthy self-confidence in my own life, they will hopefully pick up on it and learn the tools to have their own sense of self-awareness and feel empowered in who they are as individuals.

4. Motherhood has stretched my capacity for learning and developing skills. I am that person that will not venture across the comfort zone line if I don't have to. But, parenting couldn't give two poops about comfort zones! It is kind of one giant bundle of uncomfortable experiences in the best of ways. Like growing pains. But at the end of each uncomfortable daily situation is a valuable lesson learned, a newfound skill (I can actually kinda sorta cook now that a child depends on a routine dinner schedule!) or a fancy, tear-jerking emotion you didn't know you possessed. That's the best kind of self growth.

5. Being a mom brings me inexpressible joy. I really wish there was a word to describe this love, kind of how other cultures have loads of cool words that are untranslatable and often describe intense feelings. I suppose I know what word I could slap on to describe the ineffable mother's love ... Luke and Wes. Their names are my special words that make my heart swell with the warm fuzzies of the mommy variety.

As I said before, this list could continue on for years, but these are the specific things I am loving as a mother in this exact stage of life as a mama of a four-month old and a two-year old. It will positively change as time passes, and as much as I wish I could hold on to each stage forever, every coming stage will indelibly become my favorite.

Motherhood undoubtedly gets defeating and crazy (translation: hormones) a good chunk of the time, but focusing on the love that fuels the mom train melts those I-want-to-rip-my-hair-out scenes away. I encourage you to compile your own list as to why you love being a mom, and celebrate the joys of motherhood with me. And let's spread this love! If you would like to play along, simply post a picture spotlighting a personal mom moment of your own that screams "I love motherhood!" on Instagram using hashtag #proclaimyourmamalove. Or write a blog post about it! Or journal it for your own eyes and safekeeping. Whatever it is, just take a moment to proclaim your love for being a mom!

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Gluten-Free Apple Crisp

We bought an enormous bag of apples at Costco two weeks ago, mainly because Luke likes to perch on the little stoop from our sliding door to the balcony and eat his daily apple, and also because I was on a serious Nutella-eating rampage. Apples were the obvious choice! And lots of them! Unfortunately, this boatload of apples started to go bad faster than anticipated. The obvious answer to the dilemma was apple crisp.

While I've been nursing, I haven't gone back to full-time gluten-free eating. For whatever reason my milk supply started to dwindle when I initially returned to eating that way on a consistent basis, and that was no good. The Chubby Dubby needs to stay chubby! 

I digress.

I reserve my gluten intake for healthy eating when I can, so naturally all of my sweets and baked goods I still try to keep gluten-free whenever possible. This recipe is basically a made up version based on other apple crisp recipes I've tasted in the past, and I liked the way it turned out for the most part. (Flour substitutes will never be as great as the real thing, but hey, I'm trying to work with it!) .

4 apples — peeled, cored and sliced
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 cups almond meal
1/2 cup gluten-free oats
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon xantham gum
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, beaten
4 tablespoons butter, melted

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C)

2. In a 8x8 pan, mix brown sugar and apples together. In a large mixing bowl, combine your almond meal, oats, white sugar, cinnamon, xantham gum and salt. Mix together thoroughly. In a smaller mixing bowl, beat together the egg and melted butter. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well. Spread mixture evenly over the top of the apples.

3. Bake in oven for 60-90 minutes, or until the almond meal mixture is golden and crisp.

4. Allow it to cool for a couple of minutes, and then top with vanilla ice cream and enjoy!



Humble Hilo

Bag: Humble Hilo
Dress: similar
Hat: Anthropologie (on crazy sale, like, you need to buy it!)
Boots: similar

*Photos by Nathan Petty

A few months ago I won this bag from Humble Hilo (it doubles as an extra cute diaper or camera bag), and I thought it would be fun to share their brand and story with you! Humble Hilo is run by two entrepreneurial mamas, and all of the bags are one-of-a-kind and handmade from "huipiles" in Guatemala. The making of these goods employs women in small Guatemalan towns, which in turn helps them support their own families and communities. 

My absolute favorite part of this brand is that you get to choose in which way you would like to give humanitarian aid whenever you purchase an item — the options are infant and child nutrition, literacy and education, and microfinance loans for women. And what's even more awesome is that they give an update every month of how many women and children have been helped. Girl power!

Mixing fashion with philanthropy is pure genius. I love the awareness and self-reliance it creates on all ends of the spectrum. If you're going to go shopping, why not make it a double whammy by supporting small business and eliminating the effects of poverty? Yep, makes sense to me, too.

And one last thing before I sign off. Have you seen these baby sandals? ADORABLE. Hello, summer sandals for Luke and Wes (I wish they were in my size)!

Be sure to go check out their shop. It's well worth it and I have a feeling you won't leave empty-handed. 

*No, I don't have extensions. These photos are from a few solid weeks ago, although it would be fun to have long hair for a day. Maybe.

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My Dream Kitchen

one | two | three | four

Every time I am pinning home design ideas on Pinterest, I always find myself wishing there was some sort of app to input all of my images that will spit out my dream house. I am sure that would be a crazy impossible algorithm to compute, but wouldn't that be such a wonderful addition to Pinterest? In case they ever add that feature, just remember you heard it here first, k? ;)

Anyway, after years of putting together my home board, I finally know what my dream kitchen looks like! Should an architect, contractor and a million dollars come walking my way, I will hand them this image and say, "Have at it!"

What does your dream kitchen look like?



4 Simple Mantras To Live By

Two nights ago while I was silently crouched over in child's pose, my yoga instructor recited four mantras to gather from, which I desperately needed to hear. I wanted to share them in case you needed to hear these words this week, too.

1. Be impeccable with your words — speak with integrity and say only what you mean.

2. Don't take it personally — let the opinions and actions of others bounce off of you and do not internalize them. They are not intended for you, and are merely a projection of their own self.

3. Never make assumptions — if you have a question or doubts, simply ask to find clarity and understanding.

4. Always do your best — take note that our "best" constantly varies in time and situation; consider your physical stamina while you are sick, versus when you are feeling your most healthy. Your best will assuredly fluctuate at different levels. So, be gentle with yourself and take comfort and peace in putting your best out there, and not the "best" of others.

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