christmas cards

One thing I love about the holiday season is receiving Christmas cards from so many friends and family members.

We had a great photo shoot this summer but I was thinking that it might be fun to have a holiday themed photo of Elia for our card, instead of a summery one and thought I'd try to take some photos myself.

I just had to share the results.  Below is the best shot I got outdoors.

 We moved the party inside and the photos didn't improve much,

At least her outfit was cute.  Can't wait to see how your holiday cards turned out!


thanksgiving week

After a two month hiatus, there is nothing like the beginning of the holiday season to kick start a family blog.  We have spent the last week enjoying lots of time with both of our families, relaxing, and getting ready for the marathon that is December.

Elia loved playing with her cousins this week, especially Madeline who taught her all about being a two-year old.  Elia can't wait to try all of her tips out when she turns two this spring.  She liked seeing Griffin, too and if you ask her, she would be happy to confirm that he is a "bebe", as she stated every time she saw him.

The girls kept busy playing with marshmallows on Thanksgiving before we settled in for a delicious meal followed by much-needed naps for kids and grown-ups (at least me, not sure about the others, I was too busy napping to notice).

Tradition called for the annual cutting of the family Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving.

It was cold but Elia was a trooper and helped us pick the perfect one.

Today, we went to meet a reindeer.

Look closely and you'll see is in the background, she was not at all interested in petting the creature but we sure enjoyed looking at them.

The train though, she would have watched the train for hours.

After dinner tonight we got to work on trimming the tree and I have to tell you, we have discovered a better way to add lights to your tree.

Look at all of those lights!  We have never been able to achieve such full light coverage without the configuration of the lights being quite visible before.

The key? Add your lights vertically.  Stop wrapping your tree with lights and just go up and down.  It works and it's easy!  Thank you, Real Simple, for the tip!

Now we have ornaments to add.  Happy Thanksgiving and may your holiday season be filled with joy!


leaf piles

The leaves in our neighborhood are starting to turn and fall and today E decided to take advantage of the leaf piles on our evening walk.

I think she may have started to pick up on this trick from the kids who were jumping in leaf piles at school. The thrill of the leaves falling around her head for the first time, that is sheer delight.

Watching her explore her world is the most wonderful, eye-opening experience. Having a toddler challenges you to see the world for a fresh perspective.

It slows you down. Literally. Yesterday's walk around the block took nearly an hour.

That is what happens when you are noticing sticks and leaves and want to acknowledge every dog that passes through your sight line, when so many things are extraordinary or surprising.

Life with a toddler is slower but it is so good.

If you get a chance, play in a leaf pile this fall - it's pretty fun, you can take Elia's word for it.


e's golden (month) birthday

Now that Elia is over a year old, her monthly birthdays feel less and less important but when a girl turns seventeen month on the 17th, that's noteworthy, right?  In honor of her golden (month) birthday, here are some of things that are ruling Elia's world.

Favorite foods:

  • Wafles. Yes, that's spelled correctly, as in "waf-lays", breakfast of champions.
  • Broccoli. She clearly doesn't get her taste buds from me.
  • Raspberries, strawberries, blueberries. All day, every day, by the handful if you please.
  • Applesauce. Her self-feeding has come a long way but an applesauce beard is a given with this treat.
  • Frozen peas. Why heat 'em when you can just eat 'em?

Thankfully, we've been blessed with a good eater.  She has things she doesn't like and some foods can be hit or miss but overall we've had no issues with picky eating.


  • Mama - Is it me?  Is it Todd? Who knows but, she says it to refer to either of her parents.
  • Maa Maa - Not to be confused with "Mama" this is "más, más" (more in Spanish) usually used in the context of "I want more food." and occasionally just used for "I'm hungry."
  • Baba - We think that means Todd.  Same with "Dada", seems pretty straightforward.
  • Nigh nigh - "Night night". Often followed by her laying her head on something soft and pretending to be sleeping.  One of my favorites.
  • Yea - Yes, to everything.  We have the most agreeable child on the face of the earth.  ¿Quieres jugar con mami? "Yea." Did you see Grandma today? "Yea." ¿Estás haciendo popó? "Yea." Do you want broccoli for breakfast, lunch, and dinner? "Yea!"
  • Gua - "Agua".  Water. 
  • Bye bye - This is self-explanatory.
She also can tell you what a dog says, "Fffff" (the tail-end of "woof" - ha, tail-end, I crack myself up), and what a duck says, "Gack", and sometimes what other animals say. She has a handful of other words, too.

Favorite Song:

Row, row, row your boat. And she sings along. "Row, row, row." Melt my heart, little one.

Favorite Activities:

  • Bath time. Hands down, the most fun to be had is in the bath.
  • Hiking. Girl loves nature.
  • Going fast. Pick this kid up, start to run, and she'll be as happy as can be.
  • Tickle parties! Because, they're just fun. And funny.  The belly laughs are the best.
  • Reading. She's really started to enjoy reading books with us over the past few weeks.
  • Helping. Also in the past few weeks, she's really been taken pride in helping around the house and doing things on her own such as putting things away or bringing things to one of us. It's so cool to see this happen.
  • Showing us her belly. Oy vey. This started over the weekend.
  • Pointing at dogs.
  • Carrying things around. This may not seem like an activity but to Elia it is a sport. Preferably, with two identical items, one in each hand.

I hope all of this gives you a glimpse into who our baby girl is turning out to be. She is in such a fun and exciting stage where she is moving quickly from baby to little girl and every day is different. 

Happy seventeen months, Bug.  Te amo muchisísimo.


welcoming fall

It's here. A season filled with apples, falling leaves, and the all-important sweater weather. We rung in the first fall-like weekend of the year with a trip to Robinette's.

Doughnuts. Check.
Cider. Check.
Apple picking. Check.

Traditional ladder climbing. (We'll go with it.) Check.

Wooded hike. Check.

Someone has changed a bit since last year's first orchard trip.

We're ready for more.  Welcome to fall.


animal park and amigos

As a working mom, I don't get to spend as much time with Elia during the day as I'd like to. When my college bestie, Jess, mentioned she and her family were planning to head through town today, I jumped at the chance to take the day off and enjoy a morning with them and Ms. E. We decided to meet at Boulder Ridge Wild Animal Park, and call up our friends Sarah and Parker to join us.

Boulder Ridge was new to all of us and has only been open to the public since 2011. When we got there, we were excited to find out that you could feed many of the animals. Parker, in particular, had no fear when it came to feeding the animals. He fed the goats, a camel, the giraffes, and even the birds (who Aunt Jess and Aunt Kate wanted nothing to do with).  

Owen did a great job feeding the animals too.

Elia spent most of the time huddled up to mom's legs. It takes her a while to warm up to creatures.

We also went on a safari ride, which was a hit with the kids. Elia especially enjoyed throwing her pacifier out the bus window. Oops.

We had a great time at Boulder Ridge and I can't wait to visit again.  Though, I might avoid the aviary next time. Who wants birds swooping towards them?  Not me.

After seeing all of the animals, we had lunch at Flat River Grill in Lowell before the Smiths headed out and Sarah, Parker, and we headed home.

It's always fun to see these college friends and I love watching their families grow up. Thanks for visiting, Smiths!

What a fun morning - maybe I should take more weekdays off. I like the sound of that!


this is summertime

 Summer, summer, summertime.


Time to sit back and unwind.


And put your [boat] on cruise and lay back cause...

...this is summertime.


porch party

This week I attended a Porch Party Workshop hosted by 6.25 Paper StudioArt of the Table, and Aperitivo at 6.25's storefront downtown. When I signed up for the event I wasn't sure what to expect but they mentioned party decor and summer cocktails and that sounded just grand to me. My mom attended as well and we had the best time.

We were greeted by a darling tablescape, complete with personalized straws and pinwheels. The decor was so playful and inviting.

The workshop began with a presentation by Amy Ruis, owner of Art of the Table, a local staple for gourmet food gifts, wine, and kitchen decor. She also owns Aperitivo, a wine and cheese bar in the Downtown Market, a favorite of ours. 

Amy taught us all about cheeses and accompaniments, giving us great suggestions for entertaining, as well as a few great cocktail recipes.

6.25 took over from there, leading us through our first activity of the night, painting a chalkboard cheeseboard. We painted our boards, had some snacks, and then spent time creating our own paper decor as we enjoyed Amy's libations.

All of the hosts were fabulous and the mood of the evening was so fun and light, and I really enjoyed tapping into my creative side. We left with great ideas for summer parties and I'm looking forward to future events like these at 6.25 Paper Studio. 

For great summer cocktail recipes and porch party ideas, check out the book they recommended: Porch Parties: Cocktail Recipes and Easy Ideas for Outdoor Entertaining.


honey lavender goat cheese crostini

When I have people over, or if I'm bringing a dish to a friend's house, I like to bring something that is, or at least seems, just a little bit adventurous or creative. It's a great opportunity to try something new. Yesterday, a friend hosted a girls' night and I knew I needed the dish I brought to be quick and easy to make since I'd be putting it together after work with E underfoot.

Enter goat cheese crostini.

On nights when I don't have time or energy to produce much of a meal, I like to make crostini. It's so simple, you cut the bread, add some olive oil, toast it up, and top it off. Easy peasy.

Goat cheese is one of my favorite ingredients to work with because it's so versatile. It can be used in sweet or savory dishes, it plays nice with other ingredients, and of course there's that delicious tang.

Add a goat cheese mixture to crostini and you have a surprising simple little treat that's beautiful to boot.

Honey Lavender Goat Cheese Crostini

1 loaf baguette
1/4 cup olive oil
10.5 ounces (or so) soft goat cheese
1/2 cup milk of your choice
2 teaspoons culinary lavender
2-3 tablespoons honey
10 blackberries, halved lengthwise

Heat oven to 425 degrees. 

Cut your baguette into thin slices, say a quarter-inch thick. I like to cut mine on an angle, it adds more surface area for extra toppings. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper if you'd like then place the baguette slices on the baking sheet. Brush each slice with olive oil, then flip the slices and repeat.  Bake the slices for 6-8 minutes, flipping half way, until the edges start to toast, then remove from the oven and let cool slightly.

Whisk together goat cheese, milk, lavender, and honey.

Once the toasts have cooled a bit, spread with goat cheese mixture. Top with blackberry halves. Bon appétit!

Next time you need a quick dish to pass, try these out.  If you don't like these flavors, you can try all sorts of combinations: goat cheese with figs, apricots or strawberry and balsamic - basically any fruit would be good, mushrooms, ricotta with mint and peas, try blue cheese or brie, or add prosciutto or bacon, even shrimp. Pick whatever you love and, I promise, these will become a fast favorite.


a weekend in denver

The best weekends are filled with:



Time with family.

New friends.

And just hanging out with your favorite people.

Ours will filled with all of those things and we had a blast visiting our family in Denver this past weekend.

Can't wait to see all of them again in July!