Freckles in April: August 2015

Monday, August 31, 2015

7 Fall Essentials with Monica from Blueprint for Style

A few months ago Alt announced a collaborative effort with Blogalicious and Latina Bloggers Connect. The idea was that they would team up to connect their communities and the resulting partnerships would come up with some sort of collaborative project.

Since I'm all about expanding my community I jumped right in and got paired with Monica of Blueprint for Style, an amazing blogger and stylist from Washington DC.

My road trip put a big dent in our time to work together but we still managed to collaborate on two different projects. The first involved me picking her brain for a ton of super helpful information for a project I've started and stalled on several times. Her expertise was incredibly helpful!

For the second project we decided to come up with a list of 7 fall essentials that could work for both of us- her as a professional working in a metro area and me as a stay-at-home mom in the suburbs! Here's what we came up with:

1. A flattering skirt with a pattern or print

I've actually been on the hunt for one of these for a while! I want something that is comfortable, non restrictive, and can be worn casually with a tee-shirt and a cardigan. Also, it has to be at least knee length since I get down on the floor a lot and try really hard not to show off my underthings. I LOVE this one that Merrick sewed for herself (POCKETS)- it's great with sandals, it would work with booties, and would be darling with white sneakers. For a similar shape I'm loving this polka dot + floral option (though maybe I should just dust off my sewing machine and make myself one?).



2. Jersey throw-n-go dress

I have a couple of these that I LIVE in. This maxi one is just fine on it's own with a necklace and flats but it also dresses up with a blazer, belt, and metallic accessories.

Mine is no longer available but this one is super similar



3. Dark denim bottoms

For you this might mean a denim skirt but, for me, these AG jeans are my fall workhorse. "Fall" in Arizona isn't particularly cold so a tee and some layered necklaces are usually about as fancy as I get but since they're about the most basic building block there is, they also go well with the more traditional fall staples- sweaters, jackets, scarves, etc. You know, for those 3 days in December when it's actually chilly here.



4. Cream or white sneakers


Janssen's outfit is fall perfection. I love the easy dress, the casual jacket and those iconic white sneakers. I'm dying for a pair of Converse but I think my feet are too wide so I'm in the market for another option. They are ridiculously versatile and lend a casual vibe to just about anything!


5. Versatile layering sweater

I think this will be different for everyone, depending on taste and lifestyle. My favorite "sweaters" for layering are actually oversized waffle thermals I get from the men's section of Gap (I go for the raglan style sleeves if they've got them because it prevents that awkward droopy shoulder seam look). They're washing machine friendly and don't snag! I like mine bigger so I can wear them with leggings or tube skirts but as long as you can fit a button-down shirt underneath then a more-fitted one is great too.





6. Bad hair day hat

I'll be honest, I've been trying to find one of these for ages. It's possible that I just don't have the kind of head that looks good in a hat? BUT I WANT ONE. I find images like this one so inspiring. I want to be that girl who rocks a ball cap.



7. Fabulous button down



Grace's lightweight subtly patterned button-down is so mom-friendly. She'd given birth like 3 minutes before these pictures and she looks amazing thanks to the dark denim and a mombod friendly shirt (also, it must be said, she's just tiny. But still, you see my point). Busier patterns are great for hiding stains (like spit-up!) and it would look darling tucked into a dark pencil skirt for date night or church! For a similar option, try this chiffon blouse. I like both colorways!


Want to see Monica's take on these 7 fall essentials? Hop over to her blog, Blueprint for Style, and take a look!


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Saturday, August 29, 2015

Weekend Reads | Relationships

via Society6


At one point this week I had all of these articles opened in browser tabs at the same time and realized they had a common theme. I think being in therapy and talking frequently about my relationships (especially my marriage) has made me read a lot more of this kind of stuff. It's on my brain, you know?

What Two Religions Tell Us About the Modern Dating Crisis

This got shared ALLLLL over my various social media feeds after I first read it so you've probably seen it too. BUT in case you haven't, it's a super interesting look at how lopsided gender ratios are causing a marriage crisis for some populations and thus changing dating behaviors and even some cultural mores.


My Ex Was Raised Like Josh Duggar- And They Turned Out The Same

I'll be honest, when Josh Duggar turned up in the Ashley Madison hack I could not stop laughing. Something about it was just so perfectly ridiculous that it felt scripted. Like maybe we were being punked? Alas, he really is just a massive creep with a wife and kids who are going to bear the public shame of his sins forever.

The above article makes some really good points about how Josh is a product of the environment in which he was raised. As parents we need to make sure we allow our kids to experience healthy sexual development, regardless of religious beliefs.


Love in the Age of Big Data

Long read (took me most of the day since I never seem to have more than 3 minutes at a time to sit at my computer) but so good. I just put one of John Gottman's books on hold at the library so I can check out more of his ideas but one thing they talk about in the article really struck me- relationships are partially built on how you respond to your loved ones' "bids for connection" (9 paragraphs down, if you want to see what I mean). I'm pretty good at doing that with Aaron but I realized I SUCK at doing this with my kids since so often their bids are nonsensical or really just don't require an answer. I spent the day looking at their interactions with me in a new way and it helped me to respond differently.


The Complexity of Loving Your Neighbor

My sister is going to be giving a talk on loving your neighbor in church and she mentioned that it's a mercifully simple and noncontroversial topic. I kind of disagreed- I believer we are all on the same page with the idea of loving your neighbor but what that actually looks like can vary widely. I think that loving your neighbor can (and maybe should?) be a little uncomfortable. This article explains that idea much better than I can.


Have a lovely weekend!

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Friday, August 28, 2015

Friday Favorite | Bedtime Math



Our boys go to an amazing elementary school that has a heavy emphasis on reading great literature. The school routinely hosts authors and has reading nights and is generally fantastic at encouraging a love of reading and writing. The "homework" for kindergarten (as well as 1st and 2nd grade so far) is 15 minutes of reading every evening, either independently or as a family. Each night the boys get ready for bed then plop on the floor next to me and we read.

Bedtime Math is their current favorite book. I'm fairly certain we got it from the grandparents a couple years ago and it has been a huge hit. Each page has a short blurb about something kids will find interesting and then 3 word problems of increasing difficulty. I love that we're getting some reading time in while also making their brains work at some math. It's such a great multi-purpose type book and my boys love it!




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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Visiting Los Angeles with Kids

Over the next few weeks I'll be posting about some of our road trip destinations along with a few recommendations for things to do with kids if you ever find yourself in the area. 


We arrived in the early evening and headed off to the Santa Monica pier. If you have bigger kids then the rides at Pacific Park will appeal. For our little boys we let them each choose a midway game and a treat then spent the rest of our evening strolling along the pier enjoying the breeze and the sunset.

Parking costs vary but when we went (a weekend during the high season) it was $15 to park in the lot. There are other (cheaper!) parking options further out though. We spent $5/kid on midway games. You could also buy tickets for the rides or do unlimited wristbands (pricing info here).


On Saturday we threw around a few ideas for things to do (Venice Beach, the Kidspace Museum) but I decided I wanted to revisit one of my childhood favorites- the La Brea Tar Pits.

The tar pits are this crazy primordial spot right smack dab in the middle of LA. They've excavated thousands and thousands of Ice Age fossils from the pits and they're still working. There are active excavations going on and you can often see people at work in and around the pits. Watch your step- tar oozes up all over the place around the grounds!


We only had enough time to walk around and view the outdoor excavation areas but there's also a really fun museum. Stinky was sad to miss out on the museum (I was too, there's super cool stuff in there) but the grounds alone are pretty awesome with lots to see, including an active excavation pit.

There is a paid parking lot but it was full when we arrived and we ended up finding cheaper metered parking one street over. Walking around the grounds is free and there's plenty of stuff to look at but the museum is fairly affordable. A basic ticket is $12 for adults and $9 for kids (more pricing info here).



Right next door to the La Brea Tar Pits is the LA County Museum of Art (LACMA). We didn't go inside but there are several outdoor installations that kids will thing are pretty neat, like this...spaghetti forest? And a giant boulder they can walk under. Having modern art next to tar pits full of ancient bones is a pretty interesting juxtaposition. That's LA for you!

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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

20 Minute Roasted Red Pepper Pesto Pasta


Our two boys are very different people. Baby 2 is a leader. He knows who he is and what he likes and, for better or worse, he is loud about it. He drives us nuts sometimes but we know he will never want for friends and that his voice will never be lost in the crowd. He's a born cool kid.

Stinky is our introvert. He's a quiet autodidact but he's also not totally comfortable in his own skin. We worry that he will be a follower, always swept up in the tides of what other people are doing and saying and liking.

Fortunately, Stinky has not caught on to the stigma of joining the chess club and that's exactly what he did this week. Aaron taught him a few weeks ago and he decided it was the coolest game ever. When the flyer for chess club came home he hovered 2 feet away from me until I had filled out the registration and put it in the mailbox.

And so that is one more thing I have added to our weekly schedule. Chess club, swimming lessons, and jiu jitsu on top of homework, chores and hopefully a little bit of family time. I have a kindergartner and a 2nd grader and I'm a total taxi mom. I was totally opposed to this life! How did this happen?!?

Anyway, the point is that dinner is freaking hard when you're living in your car most afternoons after school. Sometimes I'm super on top of things and get all prepped early but, more often than not, I'm scrambling at 6pm trying to get dinner on the table before my kids need to get ready for bed. This roasted red pepper pesto comes together in the time it takes to cook the pasta and everyone in my family loves it (including the baby, who dyed her high chair orange last night with her pasta mess).

I usually buy a rotisserie chicken at some point during the week, shred it up and keep it in the fridge in a container to make dinners a little easier. I'll use about 1/3 of the container when I make this recipe. If I don't have any rotisserie chicken on hand I'll just cook and shred one chicken breast. You could easily do more chicken if you'd like or leave it out entirely for a meatless meal.

Roasted Red Pepper Pesto Pasta

Very slightly adapted from here


1/3 c extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1/3 c pine nuts
3 oz parmesan cut into chunks
1 12oz jar of roasted red bell peppers, drained
1 cup fresh basil leaves
1/3 c heavy cream (optional. I've done it with and without and both are good)
Shredded rotisserie chicken
16 oz pasta

Extra pine nuts, grated parmesan and chopped basil for garnish


Bring a pot of salted water to boil and cook pasta to desired doneness.

While the pasta cooks, add olive oil and garlic cloves to a small pan and heat over medium low heat for a few minutes, until the garlic starts to cook a bit. Add the pine nuts and let simmer for a minute or two.

Add the contents of the pan to a food processor and give it a good whirl. Add the parmesan cheese chunks and process until the mixture forms a paste. Add the drained roasted peppers and basil leaves and let process until thoroughly combined. With the processor running, add the cream in a thin stream.

Drain the pasta and return to the pot. Stir in the sauce and the chicken and leave on the burner for just a couple minutes until it's all heated through.

Serve with pine nuts, parmesan and basil for garnish.

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Monday, August 24, 2015

Blame

This weekend our kitchen went to pot. When I woke up this morning there were a ton of nasty dishes in the sink, crumbs on the counter and sticky drops of popsicle on the floor. After I put the boys on the bus and the baby in the high chair with her breakfast I rolled up my sleeves and went to work.

Things were going swimmingly until I went to hang a frying pan on our pot rack above the island in the middle of our kitchen and I totally smashed myself in the chin with the pan. It was clearly my fault but my immediate reaction was a lot similar to Brene Brown's in this hilarious and thought-provoking video. As soon as the words "Damn you Aaron!" were out of my mouth I started cracking up and went to find it to remind myself that "fault" isn't important- empathy is.

Hi, my name is Kayla, and I'm a blamer.

(but I'm working on it!)


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Friday, August 21, 2015

7 Parenting Hacks Using Binder Clips



You know when you have something small that has been vaguely annoying you for AGES and then you see someone with a totally simple solution and you feel a bit dumb?

That's what happened for me when my sister showed up with her newborn baby boy at the beginning of July with binder clips on his car seat canopy for holding a blanket in place. I immediately went out and bought a pack and they have been solving all kinds of small problems for me ever since.

Here are 7 small ways binder clips can improve your life as a parent:




1. Blanket Holder

The canopies on car seats and strollers are helpful up to a certain point but sometimes you need more coverage. That's when you drape a blanket over, right? And it works really well...as long as there's no wind or grabby baby hands. Use a couple binder clips to secure the blanket to the canopy and you're good to go!




2. Canopy Anchoring Device

Breaking my canopy is HILARIOUS

As soon as my babies reach a certain age they realize that they can pull down their car seat canopies and then kick the snot out of them, often breaking them. It drives me insane, especially when they pull them down to their feet and then cry because the sun is in their eyes.




Before we left on our road trip in July I used a couple binder clips to secure the canopy to the back of The Caboose's carseat. She could no longer pull it down and soon lost interest. Miracle!



3. Curtain Coraller

Our road trip was 3 weeks long and every night we were crashing in people's guest rooms and in hotels with all three of our kids sleeping wherever we could stick them. The Caboose is used to her SUPER dark room and there was one hotel in particular where the only place we could put her was right by a window with curtains that wouldn't close all the way. She woke up crazy early the first morning because a shaft of light was falling through directly onto her face. The following night I got smart and used a couple binder clips to keep the curtains tightly closed.

We also used the clips to hang a blanket over a friend's window that had sheer curtains that let in far too much early morning light for our family of night owls.




4. Bloomer Holder


I'm generally not too concerned about keeping outfits together (mix and match, I say!) but The Caboose does have a few outfits that I like to keep together. I use a binder clip to keep bloomers attached to their corresponding dresses. It fits perfectly over the hanger and keeps things together very neatly.


5. Cord Wrangling

Cords are the worst. I mean, they serve a purpose obviously but they're ugly and always in the way. It's even worse when you have a crawling baby who thinks cords look delicious.


Binder clips are great for keeping a too-long cord bundled together and out of the way.



You can also use them to keep a dangling cord up and out of baby's reach. This is the view behind our TV. The Caboose LOVED to chew those cords when they were at her eye level on the floor so I clipped them together and used a push pin to keep the whole shebang up and away from her tiny teeth.


6. Button Replacement

One of my boys somehow lost the button on his shorts while we were wandering around Seattle on our trip. I remembered another trick I learned from my sister and used a binder clip I found in the depths of my diaper bag to keep his pants together and on his skinny little bod!


7. Snack Saver


The Caboose has 6ish teeth and it takes her a LONG time to work her way through snacks. I'll often open a bag and she won't get anywhere close to finishing it. A binder clip keeps her snacks fresh and from spilling all over the inside of my diaper bag!



What are your fixes for small parenting annoyances? Let's hear 'em!

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Thursday, August 20, 2015

A Roadtrip Retrospective



Just over a month ago we hopped in our car and headed to LA for the first leg of our 3 week road trip. We had an incredible time as we worked our way up the west coast and into British Columbia and then back down through Utah. It was LONG but if I had the chance to do it again tomorrow I would start throwing stuff in the car right now. I'll be talking about it in a lot more detail over the coming weeks but for now I'm just going to share some of Aaron's amazing pictures.

Monterey






San Francisco








The Redwoods





Trinidad, California



Samuel H. Boardman State Park, Oregon




Oregon








Vancouver




Capilano






Vancouver Island














Victoria










Seattle







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