My Week Through Instagram


Last week was the first of three weeks before going back to school where Samantha has no activities. We have some things to cross off of our summer bucket list, but otherwise we have no schedule.

Let’s just say Miss Samantha works better with a schedule. She constantly needs something to keep her occupied. It’s just her personality. This shot was taken after I threw some sheets at her and told her to make a tent while I ran downstairs to do some laundry.

Ellie took her first train ride this week! She loved it. As soon as it started moving she yelled “Weeeeeee!” The rest of the ride into Manhattan was spent playing tic-tac-toe with Sam while Ellie climbed up and down off the seats like they were the best jungle gym ever invented.

We were going into the city to meet Tim’s parents at the Museum of Natural History (one of the items on our summer bucket list). The girls absolutely loved it. In fact, there are hardly any pictures of them from our visit that aren’t just a big blur from them running from one thing to the next.

The picture above is from the African mask exhibit, which is pretty awesome.

This shot is not from Instagram but from my mother-in-law’s phone. I had to share it for a few reasons. First, I needed to show proof that at times I carried my chunky little monkey around in what I couldn’t stop referring to as a papoose. Second, that I actually got her to take a nap while walking around the museum (thanks to the darkened bioluminescence exhibit). And last, to show off my little fashionista’s style. Please note her two sparkly purple headbands and her watch. The only thing missing from this shot is her sparkly sneakers.

You know a trip was successful when Samantha declares that she thinks she might take a nap (she never naps). She got comfy on the train using her new stuffed polar bear as a pillow.

The next day, my husband had a rare Friday off so we packed up the chickadees and headed to the pool. Samantha was thrilled to show off her swimming skills to Daddy while he was thrilled to splash me with the freezing water. Brat.

The quality of this picture is especially terrible, but I had to show it. It’s my mom’s driver’s license from the 80s, when she was my age now. The resemblance is a little freaky!

Last but not least, here is my monster caught in the act yet again. There was a bag of chips left over from a game night we had with friends that was tucked away on the side of the counter. Of course Ellie found it and dug right in. This is her trying to share a chip with me when she knew she was busted. That chip was in her mouth before the photo even registered.

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Help a Blogger Out?

Can I be really real for a second?

Lately, I’ve found myself in the middle of an identity crisis of sorts. I started this blog because I’m a hardcore word nerd (which is totally glamorous, if you ask me) and I was looking for an outlet to flex my writing muscles. Yet, in recent weeks, I’ve found myself turning my nose up at some of my own posts way too often. They seem so frivolous and fluffy, as if they’re written by someone on autopilot. And maybe that’s because they are.

I’ll spend an hour finding the perfect shirt and skirt combo and then surround it with writing that is nothing short of bullshit. Yes, I mean it when I say I like a particular outfit. But it’s as if I’ve been sleepwalking through the writing part of my posts. I’ve been throwing superlatives around like rice at a wedding and leaving it at that.

This must change.

There’s honestly no point of continuing with this blog if I’m not doing it right. Spewing out thoughtless sentences and not challenging myself or trying to improve my word nerdery (yeah, you can be a language geek and make up your own words) just feels wrong. I feel like a little bit of a fraud.

So, I’ve decided to switch some things up around here. I’m hoping all the changes will be for the better and I know the general direction I want to move in, but I need your help. I’m curious to know which posts are your favorites. Are there any that stand out? Is there anything you’d like to see that I haven’t been covering? Do you have any constructive criticism that might help a sister out? I’m a big girl, I can take it.

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Get the Look: Kate Beckinsale

Kate Beckinsale has been looking amazing on her Total Recall publicity tour. Seriously amazing. My absolute favorite look so far has been an H&M/Diane von Furstenberg combo that she wore for interviews in Dublin.

While the skirt is kind of a weird length, it’s my only complaint about this look. I love the top tucked in and loosely draping over the waist of the fitted skirt. It’s a gorgeous silhouette. But my favorite part about this look is the color combo. It’s bright and cheery and so incredibly summery. I want it in my closet!

office: H&M sleeveless blouse, ModCloth skirt | date: ModCloth dress, Michael Antonio heels | errands: Mossimo Supply Co. tank, Mossimo Supply Co. shorts

Are you as obsessed as I am?

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DIY: Flower Headband

I know I gave you a headband DIY last week, but I just couldn’t help myself from posting this one. It’s so easy and so versatile! You can make one as a gift for your best friend’s birthday or for your bridesmaids to wear on your wedding day. You can wear it to the supermarket or you can send your little lady off to her first day of school wearing one. It’s magical, really.

Seriously though, it takes about 15 minutes and is super inexpensive. Why wouldn’t you make one? Here’s what you need:

  • headband (I used a plain silver one but you can pick up any color your little heart desires at just about any drug store)
  • silk flowers
  • felt
  • glue gun
  • needle and thread
  • if you want to be all fancy like, you can also add a vintage brooch or sparkly beads (I ended up ditching the brooch because it interfered with the petals of my fluffy little dahlia)

First, take your flower apart. Remove the stem and all of the little plastic pieces holding it together. Don’t be afraid to really pull at it. Those little pieces can be stubborn, but fret not; you won’t tear the petals.

Once it’s all disassembled, sew a few stitches through the middle to keep all of the layers together. Don’t worry about messiness on the underside. It will be covered.

If you’re going to add anything sparkletastic, now is the time. You can sew a few beads in while securing your petals.

Once your petals are nice and secure, break out the hot glue gun and attach a patch of felt to the bottom of your flower. Make sure the piece of felt is a decent size. It will help anchor your flower to your headband.

Next, attach your headband. Put some hot glue on the felt that’s on the flower then push the headband into the glue before applying another piece of felt over both the headband and the felt that is already attached to the flower. Push down on the felt firmly to make sure everything sticks nice and securely.

That’s it! Once the glue has dried you can put it on and prance around the house with a goofy look on your face thinking you’re the bees knees (what the hell does that even mean?). Or, you can put it on your daughter’s head and wonder aloud how you gave birth to such an adorable little creature.

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My Week Through Instagram

Last week was Sam’s last at camp for the summer. And I have to tell you, Ellie showed off the drama lessons she’s taken from her sister. On more than one occasion I found her looking at pictures of her sister and pouting (this one doesn’t really count because she’s going through an album of Sam’s baby pictures, but still). On one particular occasion she pouted before cooing at the photo and kissing her sister. The cuteness factor was just about unbearable.

When she wasn’t being equal parts cute and dramatic, she was terrorizing me. She learned that she can push chairs around this week (sidenote: the girl is strong. She was leisurely wandering around the house with my five-pound weight ball the other day, calling me to make sure I saw). Her new favorite activity is pushing the chair up against the counter and breaking into the massive pretzel container we keep there. She likes to take a bite out of one and then put it back in and look for one that might taste better. She also likes to stash them in the KitchenAid mixer that sits on the counter.

We got some cousin time in on Saturday. This is one of the few times these two were smiling. I swear, they’re like brother and sister. They miss the crap out of each other when they’re not together but they are at each other’s throats when they’re reunited.

Side note: I love the little devil plotting her next move in the background.

Sams had a birthday party this weekend. She’s very much into creating her own wrapping paper, which is fine by me! Boredom fighting activity + inexpensive supplies = fabulous in my book.

Speaking of cheap boredom busters, I put together a little Pinterest-inspired boredom jar on Sam’s last day of camp. That morning, all I heard was how bored she was and how there was nothing to dooooo. I had visions of hearing nothing but that phrase for the next three weeks, so I had to do something about it. Thus, my little jar of boredom busters was born.

We had planned on going to the pool yesterday, but it was all dreary and rainy so we had to turn to The Jar. It’s filled with little popsicle sticks that have fun little activities on them (more on this soon, I promise). She picked one that said “design your own t-shirt” and was absolutely dumbfounded. She could do such a thing?!

I pulled out an over-sized white t-shirt and some fabric markers and let her go to town. I’ll post a photo of her finished product soon!

Last but not least, here’s my little bean out cold–presumably dreaming of ways to make us laugh and scare the pants off her poor mother.

For more shots of our week, follow me @atouchoflovely!

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Handmade Haven: Summer Artwork

Samantha’s last day of summer camp was last Friday, which is making the onslaught of fall seem all the more real. I’m not really ready for cooler temperatures and structured schedules. I’m enjoying the easy breezy summer. I’m finally starting to embrace hair that can’t be tamed and dewy (aka sweaty) skin.

I’m pretty positive that once gloomy winter rears its head, I’m going to be grasping for any bit of summer I can find. That’s why my handmade finds today are all summer-themed works of art. I like the idea of hanging a little masterpiece in the house that I can look at when summer seems way too far away.

Any of these lovely finds would do just the trick…

LouBe Photography

Ana Ramirez Photography

Art by Autumn Rose

Mayan Soffia Photography

Stormscape Studio

Stine Wiemann Photography

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These Shoes Are Made for Walking

With September starting to breathe down my neck, I’m getting serious about working on our summer must-do list. We took our little getaway, swimming lessons are done and summer camp is also officially checked off. We have the rest of August to get through what’s left of our little list. It includes places like zoos, a museum, and a carousel ride–all of which require a certain amount of walking.

My tried and true Gap flip flops are taking their last gasping breaths (I’m just hoping they last until the end of the summer when I plan to retire them). Plus, they kind of suck for anything that requires more than minimal walking.

So, I’ve rounded up a bunch of cute shoes (some of which are from brands that might surprise you!) that can go anywhere your feet may take you–in comfort and style.

Crocs

Dr. Scholl’s

Saucony

Payless

TOMS

Vans

Sperry Topsider

Is there a particular brand of shoe that’s your go-to when it comes to comfort? I’m pretty fond of my TOMS, they never seem to disappoint–plus for every pair you buy a pair is donated to a child in need. You can’t really go wrong with that!

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S’more Madness

Did you know that August 10th is National S’more Day? Yeah, I didn’t either, but any excuse to eat chocolate is a good one in my book!

No dessert screams summertime more than s’mores. They automatically bring to mind the crackle and smell of a camp fire (and I almost start swatting away imaginary bugs).

I do get bored of the same old thing though. So I hunted around a little for new interpretations of an old classic. Here are some of the yummy treats I found (click the corresponding description below the picture for recipes!):

1 mini cups via A Wedding Story / 2 cake in a jar via How Sweet It Is/ 3 chocolate covered via Jen Loves Kev / 4 cupcakes via Ai Bake Cake / 5 cookie bars via Lovin’ From the Oven / 6 pie via The New York Times Magazine

My mouth was pretty much watering when I finished this essential “research,” so I decided I absolutely had to make some s’mores for Samantha’s post-camp snack (making one for myself too, obvi). I decided the quickest, coolest and easiest option would be the little chocolate dipped sandwiches. But I decided to do them my own way.

Ingredients:

  • one graham cracker for each sandwich
  • chocolate chips
  • marshmallows
  • olive oil
  • sprinkles

Since it’s so insanely hot out, I was not about to turn on my oven. And forget about an open fire when I’m home alone with my little bean. Lord knows what trouble she’d get us into! Instead, I turned to the next best thing: my toaster oven.

I lined up the ingredients on the tray and baked them at 400°F for a few minutes—as soon as they started smelling roasty and toasty (those are technical terms), I checked on them. When I took them out, they looked like this:

The graham crackers were toasted, the chocolate chips were beginning to melt and the marshmallows were nice and browned. They smelled soooo delicious. Next step? Sandwiching them.

Not thinking (as usual) I grabbed a graham cracker with chocolate chips first and flipped it to put it on top of the marshmallow. Of course, all of my chocolate chips ended up all over the place. It would be smarter to flip the graham cracker with the single sticky ingredient that won’t fly all over the kitchen.

Once we were all sandwiched up, I put the tray in the fridge to cool.

Next up was dipping these yummies in some chocolate. Instead of using a double broiler, I put a couple of handfuls of chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl and threw them in the microwave for 45 seconds. If they’re not quite melted enough, keep putting them in for 30 second intervals. Just make sure you watch them carefully. You don’t want burnt chocolate!

Once they were melted enough, I stirred them until smooth (adding a little bit of olive oil to thin it out). Next, I did a combination of dipping my little sandwiches into the chocolate and spooning chocolate into any bare areas. If you’re going to add sprinkles like I did, you don’t have to worry about being all neat and tidy. The sprinkles are pretty and they hide the mess.

Pop them back in the fridge to let the chocolate cool and harden and you’re done! Yummy, toasty s’mores—without the heat.

And for the record, these tasty snacks are most definitely child approved.

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The Easiest Headband DIY Ever!

If you can manage to ignore the dumb look on my face and the awkward pose (hey, I was singing and dancing in between taking self photos to keep my little bean happy. This is as good as it gets!), you’re going to love this super easy DIY. In fact, it’s so easy, it hardly qualifies as a DIY.

I’ve mentioned how much I like buns. And I’ve mentioned how I need to accessorize a bit more to escape the rut I’m finding myself in. This super quick, super easy (and super cheap!) headband combines all of my favorite things.

All you need is some tulle (you can buy 25 yards of it for less than three dollars on Amazon!). The piece that I used was roughly 26″ long by 8″ wide. Wrap the tulle around the back of your head and tie a knot in front as if you’re about to tie your shoes. Make sure it’s snug so that you’re not tugging at it all day! Once you’re happy with how secure it is, knot it again. You can either leave the ends out for a bow-like look that’s fun and whimsical or you can tuck them under (like I did here).

Cute. Easy. Inexpensive. Just how I like it!

What do you think?

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My Week Through Instagram

On Friday night, my brother Tommy had a show at a local coffeehouse. It’s been awhile since he had one and I have to say, he rocked it.

It was sort of a running joke (if you can call it that?) that I would end up crying at every one of his shows while pregnant with Ellie. I joked with my mom early on in the show that we could be sure that I’m not pregnant (don’t worry, I’m not) if I didn’t cry.

Well. I cried. Like a baby. He played a song about our dad that I had never heard before and it was heartbreaking and wonderful at the same time. For those that don’t know, my dad died from brain cancer when I was 14 and Tommy (my youngest sibling) was 8. But that’s a story for another day.

In case you can’t tell, I can’t get enough of this messy face! My friend Janine was telling me this morning that when she showed her husband this picture after I posted it on Instagram, he thought he had already seen it. He hadn’t. She’s just that messy and I just post that many pictures of her messiness. The culprit this time was a blueberry smoothie. She loved it, of course!

My husband worked on Saturday, so the girls and I decided to take a walk that morning before it got too hot. Apparently, leaving our house before 9 wasn’t early enough.

We started out with lots of enthusiasm. Sam brought her binoculars to look for birds. She even jogged a bit. But then we hit a wall. A sweaty, cranky, breathless wall. I ended up carrying her on my back for awhile. She was, however, thrilled to do a little “balance beam” action on a fence we passed. Gymnastics is her favorite Olympic sport, with diving coming in just behind it.

Later that day, we met our buddies at the riverfront for a little festival that was going on. We sweat some more, wandered through booths, had an unsuccessful experience with the bouncy slide (it was way too hot!), and found a craft table. The girls made sculptures while Ben tried to make a little print, which would have been more successful if the ladies running that station were more kid friendly. Still, the kids had a blast. We capped it off by stopping in the delicious bakery that was right by where we found parking. Ellie had (and thoroughly enjoyed) her first linzer tart.

Somewhere in our travels, the girls went headband crazy. Sam started giggling wildly when she put on one of Ellie’s headbands and then we all lost it when Ellie put on this headband, which is oversized on adults (I made it for our bohemian Bijou shoot). Ellie will do just about anything for a laugh–especially one from her big sister!

Last but not least, this one was from yesterday. We decided to go back-to-school shopping at Target after picking Sam up from camp (they’re having crazy good sales this week!). Seems she couldn’t keep those little eyes open after gymnastics and ping pong and bouncy castle jumping and whatever else she did at camp.

Follow along all week @atouchoflovely.

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