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Lovely Things This Week (7.4.14)

“And we must have a pie. Stress cannot exit in the presence of a pie.” David Mamet

Happy 4th!  Hope you are enjoying the long weekend.  I’ve already started counting down the days to my delivery date (beginning of October) and our upcoming trip to Northern Italy (August).  I started working on the baby’s room this week and re-organized my craft room, which has made it so much easier to start and organize projects and keep track of all of my supplies!  Here a few highlights from this week and last week:

1. Fox Baltimore

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I love the change of pace in my day when I do a Fox Baltimore segment and this one was equally exciting.  This segment was on Delivery Room and Newborn Necessities and included fun ideas like stainless steal toy keys (minus the germs and sharp edges), cord collection kits, and artwork made from baby sonograms.  The bump is really showing now and the hubs and I had a delicious sweet and savory brunch afterward at Woodberry Kitchen, only a few blocks away.

2. Scavenger Hunt at Grandma’s

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Last weekend, we did some summer swimming and then went on a scavenger hunt to find all of the fun and interesting creatures in Grandma’s backyard.  The prompts were photographs that we took of the various creatures (she has an impressive collection of animals musing in the yard–and some that are even full size!), cut the photos into smaller sizes, and laminated them into cards for the hunt.

3. Nakd. Bars

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I received a box of these Nakd. bars last week and have been devouring them left and right.  They’re made entirely of all fruits and nuts with no sugar, dairy, wheat, gluten, or GM projects with flavors like Cashew Cookie, Cocoa Orange, Ginger Bread, Pecan Pie, Cocoa Mint, Cocoa Delight and Berry Delight to name a few.  They’re the perfect marriage between sweet decadence and healthy and filling (a shangri-la for pregnancy snacking).

4. Scotch Ice Cube Trays

590A3739 I’m still experimenting with my husband’s scotch ice cube trays and coming up with all the ways to incorporate them into every occasion.  I used pomegranate juice for these red ice cubes and added a few blueberries to make them even more patriotic for our 4th of July celebrations.  They went into a pomegranate sparkling lemonade cocktail I mixed up (with 2 parts pomegranate syrup, 4 parts sparkling lemonade, and 1 part vodka).

5.  Mini-Pies:  I’ve been scouring Pinterest and the design/crafting blogs for the most scrumptuous mini-pies using my favorite summer fruit–cherries.  How cute are these?  And these?  One of these minis will most certainly be making their way to the blog via lovely things this week (next) week.

 

Thank you to Nakd. for sponsoring this post!  Happy 4th of July weekend!

xx

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July 7, 2014 - 6:17 pm

Laurel Bill - Love the scavenger hunt at Grandma’s and the awesome ice cube drinks. Thanks for sharing these ideas!

July 7, 2014 - 8:39 pm

kungphoo - Congrats, that’s some great exposure being on FOX! Oh yeah, and the Italy trip doesn’t sound too bad either!

July 7, 2014 - 10:30 pm

jo casey - I love that ice cube idea – genius! and Nakd bars are always a favorite in our house

July 8, 2014 - 12:48 am

Daniele Holmberg - These look like some great summery ideas! I love the awesome drink ideas with the sparkling lemonade. They sound so very refreshing! :)

July 8, 2014 - 3:33 am

Dov Shapira - How exciting for you.
I wish you easy time till October and congrats to you on the new baby to come.
!!

July 8, 2014 - 5:38 am

Veronica - You are such a cute pregnant momma! It looks like those Nak’d bars are pretty good.

July 8, 2014 - 11:08 am

John Obidi - Sounds like you’ve got quite a lot on your hands. Happy 4th!

July 8, 2014 - 1:03 pm

Bradley Finnearty - The scotch ice trays look interestingly refreshing. Let us know how the experiment goes. I am sure some of us would like to give it a whirl.

July 8, 2014 - 6:20 pm

Uplifting Families - That is so cool that you got to be features on Fox. ;)

July 9, 2014 - 12:42 pm

Imelda Guanzon - I love the Scotch Ice Cube Trays! I want one. Congrats on this!

Pink Donut Cake Birthday Celebration

DSC0078 680x1024 Pink Donut Cake Birthday Celebration

My husband’s and son’s birthdays are two of my favorite days of the year (along with Valentine’s).  I have so much fun planning their birthdays that I’ve been known to start the planning months in advance just to prolong the joy it brings me.  This year, he wanted a more low-key day, so the planning for this pink donut cake birthday celebration commenced only a week or so ago.

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I saw this donut cake on one of the blogs I read (although when I went back to link it, I couldn’t find it! So if you saw the post, please forward), and wanted to try it.  My husband also requested strawberry shortcake for his birthday dessert, so Judah and I did both.

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The day ended up working out best with two dessert options, because while this cake is gorgeous, it’s difficult to cut into slices and structurally slightly worrisome.  I thought for sure the cake was a goner when I went to bed and it was leaning at a 45 degree angle.  But, it endured.

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To make it , I used a vanilla donut recipe and progressive amounts of red food coloring for each donut.  I then skewered the donuts together into a cake and poured icing on top.  (I didn’t realize how fast donut icing dried and so there was no time for sprinkles.)

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All of the decorations for the birthday were recycled from past events and mostly from Judah’s 1st ball-themed birthday.  The only new addition was a half dozen or so brightly-colored paper airplanes that Judah and I folded the day before, which we also used as Judah’s card to his daddy.  The kids had fun flying them at the party, the colors brightened up the tablescape, and it gave me a much needed break from having to do another 2 year old card (between the end of the school year, father’s day, and mother’s day, I’m running out of storage space for cards depicting my 2 year old’s hand).

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By next year, I think it’s going to be time to update my Happy Birthday sign and give it a fresh look…

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Lastly, I’ve been experimenting lately with (what was formerly) my husband’s scotch ice cube tray.  As it turns out, I’ve yet to taste a drink that isn’t improved with scotch ice cubes, and they are also especially conducive to making your own decorative/party ice.  These ice cubes had blueberries, basil, and raspberries in them, and I added a slice of lemon for extra color.

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As you can tell, my husband enjoyed the festivities and all the birthday efforts.

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See you next post!

xx

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July 2, 2014 - 5:12 pm

rochefel - That was very creative! A doughnut cake and a decorated icecube! You gave me a lot of party ideas! Thank you!!!!! :)

July 2, 2014 - 5:50 pm

Roslyn Tanner Evans - Your photos are so fabulous I want an invite to one of your parties. It is clear how much love and fun goes into all your celebrations.

July 2, 2014 - 7:55 pm

beverleygolden - What a lovely celebration you created Jessica! The photo chronicles are wonderful as a way to see the fun and beautiful care you put into all the details. Love the expression on Judah’s face too! Glad to see that everyone had a fabulous time.

July 2, 2014 - 10:19 pm

Anonymous - that is such a fun cake! I bet your hubby loved it!

July 2, 2014 - 10:20 pm

Veronica - That is such a cool looking cake. I bet hubby loved it. Looks like a lot of fun

July 2, 2014 - 11:20 pm

kungphoo - That looks delicious.. ( i mean the drinks of coarse:))

July 3, 2014 - 12:53 am

Don Purdum - It looks absolutely delicious, and fun!!!!

July 3, 2014 - 3:35 am

Nate - This is freakin’ awesome. Looks like everyone in the picture had a blast!

July 4, 2014 - 8:16 pm

Gina - Cool looking cake. The party setup looks very festive!

5 Ways to Get Your Toddler to do Almost Anything

DSC0619 Version 2 1024x680 5 Ways to Get Your Toddler to do Almost Anything

This is a piece I wrote recently for a parenting outlet on how I get my toddler to listen.  Enjoy! xx

1.  Leverage the FOMO Phenomenon

The FOMO (“Fear of Missing Out”) Phenomenon isn’t limited to attractive 20-somethings living in Manhattan.  Shortly after my son started to understand language, I learned through trial and error that toddlers actually experience FOMO too.  Unlike New Yorkers, though, toddlers can be persuaded by a Fear Of Missing Out by a stuffed animal, imaginary person, or even mom and dad.  And it didn’t take long for my husband and I to start leveraging the FOMO phenomenon on a daily basis:  “What sweetie? You don’t want to take a bath before daycare?  Beeeeaaaarrrr!!  Bear! You’re on deck!  Get ready to go to school, today’s your big day!”  (Witness as toddler quickly scampers into the tub.)  Best for:  getting out the door in record time

2. Alice in Wonderland Your Life

The tooth fairy, Easter bunny, and even Santa himself can’t compete with the magic of tiny blue speckled eggs in a mystery bird’s nest, dazed and fuzzy yolk-colored ducklings marching hazily in a row, or a mama spider spinning her web from a highrise window as raindrops buzz by.  Day-to-day frustrations, frenzied outbursts, and even the routinely mundane are eclipsed by awe when you direct your toddler’s attention to the magic all around us.  “(Interrupting a crying spell) Did anybody else see that rabbit scamper across the road (or living room)?” Best for: redirecting and qwelling tantrums

3. Everybody Likes a Little Reward Now and Then

Adults are motivated by tangible rewards, and so are little people.  It can be a challenge, though, to find the sweet spot between a motivational incentive and the cultivation of a bad habit.  I can’t think of a more compelling incentive than a Starbuck’s donut, but rewarding myself with a donut every time I go to the gym is not the most productive leverage. Along the same lines, my son wouldn’t mind an ice cream sandwich each time he brushes his teeth, but our dental insurance has a crazy high deductible. Dried fruit like cherries, pineapple, and apples work miracles, are healthier than mini-M&Ms, and can last for months even if your toddler is the personification of perfect and negotiates his way up to 4 dried cherries per good deed.  We also throw a dollar bill or lollipop into the mix every now and then for good measure.

Best for: activities that require delayed gratification

4.  Like the Animals Do

Whether it’s swimming like a fish, eating salad like a iguana, or putting on sunscreen like a seal (if you didn’t know seals wear sunscreen, see #2 above), children are drawn to the animal kingdom and have an instinctual need to observe, learn from, and imitate their wild brethren.  Dipping your feet in the ocean can be scary and intimidating, but jumping over the waves like a dolphin or kicking in the pool like a whiskerfish, that’s living.  Best for: overcoming toddler resistance

5.  Follow the Principles of the Universe

In the world of adulthood, bad decisions result in bad consequences.   Changing the rules of the Universe because you’re dealing with a 2-year-old only paves the road for an artificially extended learning curve.  One of the most educational moments for my toddler was the day he fell into our stinky neighborhood water fountain after he leaned too far over the edge (it was only 10 feet wide and 2 feet deep).  He had a ride of shame home on his tricycle wearing only his damp Elmo underpants and my crocheted sweater. But he still reminds us whenever we’re walking near stagnant water: “Guys, don’t get too close or you can fall in!”  As long as the toddler is aware of the boundaries (because, in this case, ignorance of law is an excuse) and fully informed of the consequences, crossing a well-defined boundary demands a displeasing consequence, according to the laws of the Universe.  Time-out works wonders in our house…or the occasional smelly, shallow fountain.  Best for:  severe transgressions such as drawing on walls

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June 18, 2014 - 2:24 am

Kathleen - Interested in what u do

June 18, 2014 - 4:51 am

Laurel Bill - I love this – my grandson just turned 2 and I will share with my daughter. Thank you!

June 18, 2014 - 6:06 am

Imelda Guanzon - Awesome tips! I could use this for my 4 years old son.

June 18, 2014 - 7:10 am

John Baker - that was a lot of insight, it sounds like you have experience along with the wisdom

June 18, 2014 - 11:54 am

Lauren Stevens - SO true! We’re currently living this, and this is our first go-round with a toddler…

June 18, 2014 - 12:00 pm

Katie @ Pick Any Two - Love these tips! I will never forget the day my toddler started eating broccoli ferociously because I told him that it was dinosaur food (hey, some dinosaurs ate trees and broccoli florets look like trees!). Game-changer, right there!

June 18, 2014 - 6:45 pm

beverleygolden - Very valuable tips, especially knowing that the first seven years of child development are all about “mirroring” and learning from the world around them. Enjoyed how you include imagination in tip number #2 and how you bring nature and the animal kingdom into play as well. Love how you also included honouring the laws of the Universe.

June 18, 2014 - 6:57 pm

Meryl Hershey Beck - These are great ideas! I love the way you combine imagination with redirection tantrums, and definitely find to FOMO phenomenon interesting. Thank you for sharing!

June 18, 2014 - 7:39 pm

Carele Belanger - Great tips. I remember using a a little reward system for my kids and it was always working.

June 18, 2014 - 8:43 pm

Kungphoo - These are awesome ideas and tip! Definitely something I will have to try in the future, especially redirecting tantrums to something beautiful and amazing in the world around us. Thanks for providing this!

June 18, 2014 - 8:50 pm

Alexandra McAllister - These are all great ideas and tips! I can see you have a lot of experience with a toddler! ;) Thanks so much for sharing! The pic is so sweet! :)

June 18, 2014 - 9:57 pm

Shari Yantes - These tips are fabulous!! I’m going to have to share this with all of my friends and family with young cildren! Thanks so much for sharing!!

June 18, 2014 - 10:20 pm

casavilorainteriors - Rewards are what worked fro me with my kids. Punishment works too when they don’t do as they are told.

June 19, 2014 - 3:43 am

rochefel - Thank you for this post, Jessica. Follow the Principles of the Universe made a lot of sense to me with 3 children at home, (3 and 4yrs). I get to do the reward system, too and it works at time. Well, not all the time, but it does. Lol! Having babies at home is really lot of fun with a TON of responsibilities especially right now that we decided to homeschool them. Your post is very timely. :)

June 19, 2014 - 3:46 pm

Sharon O'Day - I don’t have kids or grandkids, but I read each and every word with fascination. Peeking into the human brain became a priority for me when I started mentoring grown women around their money … and I found that so many issues grew out of things that occurred at the age you are writing about. Suddenly the challenges of parenting took on a whole other aspect. Keep writing!

June 19, 2014 - 4:37 pm

Nate - All very helpful tips. Thank you!

June 19, 2014 - 8:26 pm

danisdecadentdeals - What a cute post! I do not have any kids, but I will pass these tips along to my friends:)

June 19, 2014 - 10:51 pm

Roslyn - Great ideas. Intuitively used some years ago and was told by elders I wasn’t being firm enough. I guess it depends on your belief system about using psychology or control.

June 20, 2014 - 1:10 am

Tina - What great ideas! I remember when Lauren was about 4 and attending a Montessori School. She refused to get dressed and be ready on time. The instructor said to simply bring her in her pjs (making sure I had a change of clothes for her cubby). I did…which means she went to school in her pjs. ONLY ONCE. Smart Montessori teacher!

June 20, 2014 - 11:29 am

Don Purdum - I appreciate so much that you mention a conversation around rewards. I know as a young parent years ago I did was taught as a child – negative reinforcement to get my son to do what we wanted him to do. It doesn’t work and it risks bending their personalities long-term into a negative perspective as well.

Positive reinforcement is so much better and it does work!!!!! There is a time for negative discipline (like a spanking or grounding), but perhaps fewer is more impactful than often.

June 20, 2014 - 6:02 pm

Gina Binder - This is golden: “Changing the rules of the Universe because you’re dealing with a 2-year-old only paves the road for an artificially extended learning curve”. These same applies to dealing with teenagers!

June 20, 2014 - 6:55 pm

Tom Holmberg - Getting toddlers to listen isvlike getting a puppy to focus. These are great tips.

June 22, 2014 - 5:48 pm

Robin Strohmaier - These are great tips, Jessica! Positive reinforcement is so much better and it does work!

June 23, 2014 - 3:10 am

Gilly - These are very creative and fun ideas to working it out with your cutie pie :D

Lovely Things This Week (6.8.14)

IMG 0247 1024x1024 Lovely Things This Week (6.8.14)Hope you had a wonderful week and are ready for a new one!  I haven’t done a lovely things post in a while, and have been playing with a few new apps (snapseed and pictapgo) after BlogU this past weekend, so I’m sharing a few things we’ve been up to in the last few weeks.  At the top of the list is enjoying every minute of this gorgeous spring weather, which includes lots of bike rides, trips to the park, and outdoor dining.

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xx

 

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June 9, 2014 - 2:35 pm

Kungphoo - Looks like a great week! Loving the picture with your son playing the violin, he looks like a professional! So cute!

June 9, 2014 - 2:40 pm

Deanna Heiliger - I love the pics, your life is very full. Violin so young…that is precious!

June 9, 2014 - 3:50 pm

Deborah - The challa french toast looks really good. Very cute Elmo swimming trunks or maybe they were underwear. LOL!

June 9, 2014 - 4:37 pm

Laurel Bill - The love and fun shine through in your photos – thanks for making me start my day with a smile!

June 9, 2014 - 4:55 pm

Jen - It was wonderful meeting you this weekend! Your little is too cute. Looking forward to learning more about you and your blog :)

June 10, 2014 - 12:48 am

teresa - Looks like fun, love the Elmo pants at the waterfront:)

June 10, 2014 - 5:30 am

Tom's Foodie Blog - WoW!!! Challah French toast looked so amazing! I need to try this out this weekend.

June 10, 2014 - 6:11 am

Veronica - So sweet in your world. You are blessed. He is learning violin? How sweet

June 10, 2014 - 6:44 am

Daniele Holmberg - What a great bunch of photos and that Challah French toast looks absolutely amazing!! YUMMM!!

June 10, 2014 - 2:27 pm

Jim Striegel - Very impressed that he’s playing the violin at such a young age. That’s great.

June 10, 2014 - 2:40 pm

Imelda Guanzon - What a lovely week to spend. A violin lesson for such a young age is awesome.

June 10, 2014 - 3:08 pm

Lisa Hodges - I miss those days of water parks. Such great memories you’re making.

June 10, 2014 - 3:08 pm

Marjory Johnson - What fabulous amazing times you’re documenting. He’s a lucky boy!!!

June 10, 2014 - 8:52 pm

Eng Tinkham - I will be doing this in next few years with my son and wife :)

June 11, 2014 - 1:51 pm

WordPress.com Support - Hi Jen–likewise

Wynn, Las Vegas

wynn1 1024x680 Wynn, Las VegasHappy Sunday! I mentioned a few weeks ago our upcoming work trip to Las Vegas for ICSC Recon.  Remember my trip last year?  I was blown away by the flower balls at the Wynn, and this year they  upped the flower ante by building a carousel and hot air balloon in the lobby, made entirely out of flowers.  It was incredible and of course the Wynn has a sublime beauty all its own.

We were in Vegas for 5 days this year, which was a bit too long for my tastes, even though it’s one of my favorite places.  We did get some downtime by the pool/hot tub almost every day–you can see my bump is growing and with this cover-up, I fit right in with the Wynn’s decor!

wynn2 1024x680 Wynn, Las VegasHere are a few more shots of the incredible decor (all instagram/iphone pics–I didn’t bring the DSLR).

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On a few more random notes, Blog U is coming up and this is my first year attending! If you’ll be there, let me know so that we can connect.

I’ll be appearing again on Fox 5 Baltimore on 6/14 to share some must-have products if you’re expecting (still trying to figure out what to wear and how to dress the bump!)

I’ve also had some time to tackle my reading list in the last few weeks, check out Paradox of Choice and Daily Rituals–both recs I got from Tim Ferris and have voraciously dived into.

Have a wonderful week!

xx

 

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June 2, 2014 - 4:42 am

teresa - Beautiful photos, cannot believe what they do with flowers. Looks like you had a great time, thanks for sharing

June 2, 2014 - 4:45 am

Laurel Bill - Oh, my goodness, the flower designs are absolutely gorgeous!

June 2, 2014 - 6:49 am

Imelda Guanzon - wow, I love the air balloon.. The ambiance of the place was just wonderful.

June 2, 2014 - 12:16 pm

Anonymous - Casinos are always a wonder to walk through and enjoy

June 2, 2014 - 12:16 pm

Anonymous - Casinos are always a wonder to walk through and enjoy

June 2, 2014 - 12:19 pm

john - I love walking through the resorts in Vegas

June 2, 2014 - 12:19 pm

john - I love walking through the resorts in Vegas

June 2, 2014 - 3:03 pm

Deanna Heiliger - I have stayed at the Wynn before and it is beautiful. The flowers are spectacular! You look super cute, and no matter what you wear you will rock it!

June 2, 2014 - 9:19 pm

kungphoo - What an atmosphere… looks amazing!

June 3, 2014 - 12:37 am

Ashley - Those flower designs are beautiful! Great photos!

June 3, 2014 - 4:26 am

Lucy - Wow, I wanna be there!

June 3, 2014 - 5:25 am

Daniele Holmberg - Gorgeous photos! I love Vegas! I am heading there tomorrow to stay there for 4 nights to celebrate our 9 year wedding anniversary!:)

June 3, 2014 - 12:05 pm

Jim Striegel - Those are amazing photos, so colorful!

June 3, 2014 - 12:44 pm

veronica - Looks like you had a great time there. Such a cute baby bump