Monday, June 8, 2015

Rustic Jungle Animal Baby Shower


Long time, no post!  I haven't completely forgotten about this blog.  Life has just been busy!

Here are some photos from a baby shower I helped throw this past weekend for a good college friend, Kim and her husband Peter.  Kim and Peter are some of the sweetest people I know.  Peter has a pediatric dentistry practice and Kim has her own orthodontics practice, both in my home town of South Pasadena.  Such a small world!  I couldn't have put this shower together without the help of my friend Christy, Peter's aunt Carol, and Kim's sister Anita.  Thanks guys!   



Is this not the cutest monkey cake ever?  A special thank you to my talented friend, Jen, and her amazing cake baking skills!  The chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream, chocolate chunks, and raspberries was DELICIOUS. 



Animal cracker favors with adorable stick-on animals from Michael's.
Can't wait for the arrival of Baby Joe!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Maternity and Postpartum Essentials


pregnancy and postpartum essentials

I have definitely been MIA and I am so lucky to have a great blogging partner in Sarah, who is single-handedly keeping the blog alive despite having her hands full with her adorable 9 month old daughter. I welcomed my own bundle of joy right before Thanksgiving and am thoroughly enjoying all that motherhood has to offer. While on maternity leave, I haven't had much time to snap outfit pics (need to teach a newborn how to operate a dSLR) but I do want to share with you some items that have proved to be invaluable to me during my pregnancy and in the first few months postpartum.

1. Ingrid and Isabel Maternity BellaBand - This product is no secret and it really came in handy during my first and second trimesters when I wasn't quite showing but was feeling bloated and thicker in my midsection. I was able to extend the life of my regular wardrobe and I didn't have to succumb to maternity wear until pretty late in my pregnancy.

2. Maternity leggings - Sarah got me these Ingrid and Isabel leggings and near the end, they were the only "pants" I wanted to wear. I wore them to the hospital when I was labor and also when I brought my daughter home. The belly panel can be folded down early on in the pregnancy and then pulled up over your bump as your grow. The seamless feature really makes these the most comfortable leggings in the world - ask any pregnant woman - seams are the enemy! I actually purchased these Hatch Collection leggings near the end of my pregnancy because I was desperate for a second pair of pants.  I wish I had gotten them earlier because these would have been perfect in the first trimester and second trimester as well.  I can see how the waistband may not be the most comfortable with the giant bump but I have been living in these pants postpartum.  The thick knit material provides comfort while hiding all those lovely flabby lumpy parts of my postpartum body. What I love about Hatch Collection leggings is that they don't feel or look like maternity wear.

3. J. Crew Minnie Maternity Pants - These were a lifesaver for work. They are a bit of a splurge. Luckily, J. Crew has frequent sales and I picked these up in black and navy and wore them throughout my entire pregnancy.

4. Mama Mio Tummy Rub - Unfortunately, there is no magic cream or potion that can prevent or cure stretch marks. Sorry ladies. But I loved rubbing this on my growing bump every day. I took advantage of the time to talk to the baby and pamper myself a bit.

5. ASOS Maternity BodyCon Dresses - Near the end of my pregnancy, I was having a hard time finding work appropriate attire. Regular clothing wouldn't cover my bump and maternity tops weren't that flattering on me. I relied on these ASOS maternity bodycon dresses. They were super comfortable and made me feel stylish and attractive when I was feeling the complete opposite.

6. Undercover Mama Nursing Tank - Sarah has already raved about these tanks in a previous post and I could not agree with her more. 

7. Bravado Body Silk Seamless Nursing Bra - I can't say enough about these nursing bras. If you are a nursing mommy, you need to get these. The end.

There you have it. My seven maternity and postpartum essentials. I'll be back with some outfit, DIY, and recipe posts soon but for now, I'm just enjoying being a new mommy. Happy New Year everyone!

xo,
Carolyn

Friday, February 13, 2015

Brocade, Lace, and Wicked



While I might be spending Valentine's Day working all day and eating takeout Thai food for dinner, my husband and I managed to sneak away for a rare date night a few weeks back.  The night was such a welcome respite from our regular routine.  Since having a baby, the smallest things can feel like luxuries.  Taking a shower where I can take the time to use shampoo and conditioner.  Sleeping for more than 4 hours straight.   Leaving our place on a whim, without lugging around a huge bag full of stuff and a stroller.  These were considered "givens" at one point pre-baby.  What about a night out to eat dinner and to watch Wicked (definitely one of my favorite musicals of all time!) with just the two of us?  That's like winning the lottery!  Sure, I called my mom after dinner, before the show, during intermission, and after the show to make sure the baby was safe and sound.  We still enjoyed every moment of our night out!







Dress: Leifsdottir 'Water Garden Dress from Anthropologie.  Jacket: Sandro 'Vendredi' (similar here). Silver beaded clutch: Vintage from mom (similar here).  Fleece lined tights (amazing when I was living in the Northeast!): from Korea.  Peep-toe booties: Jill Stuart.


Monday, January 5, 2015

Happy New Year



Dr. S and I spent a rare dinner out on New Year's Eve with a couple good friends.  It was our second dinner out without our baby bear since she was born 7.5 months ago (the first being Dr. S' birthday a couple months back).  Those days when we would spontaneously go out to dinner for a date night seem like a lifetime ago!  Luckily, our baby bear's sleep has become decently regular over the past couple months, and we gladly accepted my parents' offer to babysit for a few hours.  Although the weather was a bit nippy by Southern California standards, I braved the chill in this hi-low multi-print number I picked up during the recent tag sale at Anthropologie.   It's official - I've completely lost my tolerance for cold weather that I developed after being in the Northeast for 11 years.  After dinner, we drove back to my parents house and watched the ball drop (albeit 3 hours later with the time difference) in our cozy PJs.  With the birth of our daughter and starting fellowship, it's been an amazing and memorable 2014.  Here's to an equally amazing 2015!






Dress: Anthropologie 'Cadria High Low Dress' by Troubadour (also called the Troubadour 'Croix' dress and available here). Coat: Zara (old).  Handbag: Chanel medium flap bag in black caviar leather.  Multi-strap calf hair heels: Proenza Schouler (also worn here). 

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Smashed Squash Toasts with Cider Vinegar and Ricotta



My baby girl started eating solids a little over a month ago.  First, she started with a rice cereal slurry, then moved on to smushed up avocado, and then sweet potatoes.  For most veggies, I end up steaming them without any seasoning and then puree them smooth in my Magic Bullet.  Plain steamed broccoli may be unappetizing to me, but my 7 month old gobbles it up (usually). 

I was trying to find ways to re-purpose baby food for grown-up meals and came across this squash toast recipe on one of my favorite food blogs, Smitten Kitchen.  The only major adjustment I made was using pre-cut butternut squash rather than buying it whole, to save on time.  While I roasted most of the butternut squash in oil, salt, pepper, and chili flakes for the recipe, I set aside a cup and roasted it plain for my daughter.  She loved the squash, and us adults were equally happy with our squash toasts.  The vinegary caramelized onions balance out the sweetness of the squash and creaminess of the ricotta.  The mint might seem random, but it just works.  These are perfect for a New Year's Eve cocktail party, or even a weeknight meal in as the components can be made ahead of time and keep well.


 





Smashed squash toasts with ricotta and cider vinegar
Adapted from recipe from here

Ingredients
2 pounds of cubed butternut squash (I bought the pre-cut bag from Trader Joe's for $4.99)
1/2 c of olive oil
1/2 tsp dried chili flakes
2 tsp of sea salt
1 yellow onion, sliced
1/3 c apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons of maple syrup
1/3 of a round of sourdough bread (I used the Trader Joe's cracked wheat sourdough bread for some extra texture)
1/2 c of ricotta
10 mint leaves

Directions
Heat oven to 450 degrees.  Toss the cubed butternut squash with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 tsp of salt, and the chili flakes.  Roast on a foil lined baking sheet for 15 minutes, and then flip and roast until lightly browned, about 5-10 minutes more.
While the squash is roasting, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the onions and salt, and cook while intermittently stirring until lightly browned.  Then add the vinegar and maple syrup, cooking for another 15 minutes until the onions are very soft and broken down.  Combine the caramelized onions and the squash, smashing them all together.
Heat a large skillet and 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat.  Cook the bread in a single layer until golden brown on both sides.  Spread the ricotta on the toasts.  Pile on the squash mixture, sprinkle with coarse salt, and garnish with mint leaves.
 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Pumpkin Mini Cupcakes

I commemorated my baby girl's half birthday with a batch of pumpkin mini cupcakes.  I figured that even though she couldn't have any (we have just barely started solids), they went well together in that they are both mini and sweet!  The original recipe calls them "muffins," but given that I topped them with a tangy cream cheese frosting, that makes it a cupcake!  I'm such a sucker for cream cheese frosting on anything - carrot cake, red velvet cake, etc.  I cut down on the sugar from the original recipes in both the frosting and the cake itself, but they were still sweet enough in my opinion.  They were super moist, and pretty much guilt-free since they're so small.  That is, unless you are me and have five in one sitting!

 




Pumpkin Mini Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from this recipe
 
Ingredients
1 3/4 c all purpose flower
2/3 c white sugar
1/2 c dark brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg (fresh grated is best!)
2 eggs
1 15 ounce can pure pumpkin puree
1/2 c vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Whisk together flour, white and brown sugar, baking soda, salt, and spices in a medium bowl and set aside.  In another bowl, whisk together eggs, pumpkin puree, vegetable oil, and vanilla extract.  Combine the wet and dry ingredients and stir until just incorporated.  Be careful not to overmix!  
Place cupcake liners into muffin tins and fill each well until the top of the liner.  Then bake for 13-15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  For regular-sized cupcakes, you can probably bake for 20-22 minutes.  Wait until they are cooled completely to frost.

Cream Cheese Frosting
Ingredients 
1 8oz brick of cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick or 1/2 cup of unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/3-2 cups of powdered sugar

Directions
Whisk together cream cheese and butter, ideally in a stand mixer.  Then slowly add powdered sugar in parts and mix, tasting along the way to reach the desired sweetness.  I ended up using 1 1/3 cups as I like the tang and don't like my frosting super sweet, but it's up to you!  Once whisked together and there are no clumpy bits of powdered sugar, place into a piping bag or plastic ziploc bag (what I did).  Snip a little hole, and pipe on top of the cooled cupcakes.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Simple Fall Separates


The little baby bear is now 6 months (!!) old but I'm still either breastfeeding or pumping every 4 hours or so.  As I mentioned in my last couple posts, the frequent feeds create some slight fashion hiccups.  You can imagine that hoisting up a shift dress is not an ideal way to breastfeed a wriggly baby.  Therefore, my wardrobe consists mostly of separates.  Nursing camisoles allow for more wardrobe flexibility as you can throw over a shirt/sweater/cardigan.  Once it comes time to nurse, you just take off your top layer, and then pull down part of the tank top, leaving your belly still covered.  My favorite nursing tank top is from Undercover Mama and can be attached to any nursing bra.  It's not as wide at the bottom as the Target or Bravado ones, so it's a bit better for when you are a few months out and want to suck everything in.

 



Green knit cardigan: Theory.  Nursing tank: Undercover Mama.  Jeans: J Brand 'Maria' in Black Luxe Sateen.  Patent leather slingbacks: Manolo Blahnik.  Earrings: H&M.  
Handbag: Fendi 2Jours Medium Tote in 'Dove.
Blogging tips