Meet the Sullivans: August 2012

August 30, 2012

Renting Books for School

I have been a student for 26 years. I started Kindergarten at the age of 4 (I was an October baby) and I have pretty much never stopped going to school since then.

In all those years of education a large amount of textbooks have passed through my hands. At times in  college I would sometimes need to buy 3-4 books for one class.

Textbooks are so expensive to buy, and I have never had much luck selling them back to the school's book store. I currently have a large stack of books I'm no longer using, would like to get rid of, but can't. I don't want to throw them out, because that would just be wasteful.

Not only do we have my leftover books, but we have Keith's too. And most of the ones from his doctorate studies are massive and weigh a ton. We're swimming in text books over here, people.

I have one more class to take before I'm finished with the course work for my teaching credential. I will surely need at least one or two books for my final course and I don't want to add to my pile of textbooks, so next semester I am going to rent the books I need instead.

I could have easily rented the Guided Reading book above for $33 for the entire semester--less than half of what it cost me to buy it.

Rent Textbooks 

There are quite a few things that make Campus Book Rentals a really great option for your textbook needs:
  • they have nearly every book you could need available for rent,
  • they let you rent for a semester / quarter / your own desired amount of time,  
  • they ship books on time, 
  • they give you a prepaid return envelope to send your books back in, 
  • every rental comes with a 30 day worry free guarantee and a 15 day grace period (so if you drop your class you don't have to worry about the books) 
  • and they pay you for referring friends! 
I really believe renting books is the way to go and wouldn't recommend Campus Book Rentals if I didn't think it was a smart choice. I only wish I'd found out about them sooner! It will also make your home neater and more organized not having all these books laying around like I do.

August 29, 2012

Millions of Peaches. Peaches for Owen.

I'm still working on the solid food thing with this young gentleman. He is not nearly as fond of or interested in it as we all imagined he would be. So far apples and pears are his favorite. We tried peaches last night and he was only having it for two tastes and then started refusing it. So instead of giving up we just gave him the container. Might as well, right? I think he may have eaten some of it, but I know most of it ended up on him and not in him. 

Let it be known that this boy went straight into the bath from his highchair. Is it true that "food before 1 is (supposed to be) for fun"? Also, do you have a favorite high chair? We may be looking into one that can keep this monkey contained a bit more. He is determined to Houdini his way out of the thing.

Also, we tried a little baby fed weaning (BFW) two nights ago (I was inspired by Meredith and by Samma and their successful BFW experiences) thinking maybe he would like that instead. He was pretty cute. He looked more afraid and weary of the half a banana and avocado slices in front of him. 

He mushed them up in his fingers and gnawed on the banana a bit. 

I'm not giving up though. I will try it again because I know my boy well and I can tell by the way he watches our food that he will enjoy "real" food. 

In other Sullivan Family news...

I look at these photos and just can't believe I'm raising this adorable little boy. Yep, b-o-y. That's right, I called him a boy. I know he is really still a baby, and a year or even a few months from now I'll look back and think how little he was at 7 months. But today, as I watch him play and observe and experience, I really see such a change in him from a month ago. I'm sure the "tie" and real pants look contribute just a bit. And the teeth. And the side swept hair.

That's all for now! I hope you enjoyed this little dose of my little sunshine! 

August 28, 2012

the weekend

Keith's schedule was different this weekend, so he had Friday-Sunday off. Wow, I don't even know the last time he had a "real" weekend! We were busy, busy, busy. 

On Friday morning we got going bright and early and headed up to San Francisco to visit the California Academy of Sciences. Owen loved the fish in the aquarium the most.
More on that later this week!


We bought Owen this cute little baby dinosaur because we call him our baby dino. Don't ask why. I always come up with funny pet names for those I love.

That night we had some friends over for a barbecue. One of Keith's neighborhood friends from when he was young is visiting from the Phillipeans with his wife and little girl. It was such a nice visit!

Saturday morning I meet two other local bloggers for brunch. Jessica who blogs over at Rainbows and Butterflies and Lauren who blogs at Seventeenth & Irving. This was my first time meeting other bloggers and I have to say it was so much fun to meet them in person! We met at a cute little place in Palo Alto called Tootsies.

It was so cold that morning that I actually put on a scarf before leaving the house and bundled Owen up in a blanket in his carseat. And then it was incredibly sunny and warm 20 minutes South of here in Palo Alto. Typical Northern California weather.


I stopped by Crate & Barrel on my way home to browse. Our closest store closed over a year ago and I have missed just looking around in that store. Most of our kitchen stuff is from there! I picked up this cute sign for my cold beverage jar. We're having a bunch of friends over to kick off the football season and I can't wait to mix up some fun drinks for the beverage jar and use this adorable sign.

One of my very best friends Nikki text me these photos this weekend. Old photos are fun. In case you can't figure it out, I'm on the far left. This was one of those times I decided to dye my hair brown. Yuck. I look better blond I think. I think this was Sophomore or Junior year in high school, so that would make this 1998 or 1999.

She also sent me this one of Keith and I probably about seven years ago.
We look so young and well rested!

In afternoon my mom and sister came by to spend some time with Keith, Owen and I. It was a quick visit, but I'm glad we got to play with Owen together and catch up. It's only been a week since my mom has been back to school and I already miss all of our Summer quality time together. 

That evening we got together with Keith's family for dinner. We all made our own French bread pizzas and just hung out. Owen had a ball playing with his grandma, cousins, aunts and uncles! 

Sunday was a day to catch up on chores at home and try to do some napping. After all that fun and a pretty restless night of sleep we were beat. We had to miss our friend's birthday brunch because we were just too exhausted to make it out of the house. We napped, ate, did laundry, played and just hung out. Keith and I each made it out of the house once though, but kept Owen at home. He had had a social overload. I picked up burritos for dinner and we even managed to watch Friends with Kids after Owen went to sleep. 

We have another busy weekend coming up with wine tasting in Napa for our friend Anne's 30th Birthday (!!!!!!) on Saturday and Keith's friends' annual Football Draft Party / the wive's Anti-Draft Party on Sunday. 

How was your weekend? What are your weekend plans for next week?

What to Wear Where? {Back-to-School Night}

Playing dress up is so much fun, isn't it? Today I'm linking up with Melissa at I Pick Pretty (remember my post about that blog I just adore?) and Amy at 4ever29 for their very first What to Wear Where link up. If you're wondering what it's all about read first hand Melissa's description in her own words:

"The idea is that we - and hopefully you! - will post an outfit each Tuesday that we plan to wear for an event actually happening in our lives at that time, in clothes we would actually wear - you know, as opposed to the magazine editorial look where moms are dropping off kids at school in pigeon-fur stillettos or whatever."

This week the theme for the link up is back-to-school night. Owen is only just 7 months old, so I will not be attending any back-to-school nights for another few years, BUT I have gone to my fair share of them as a teacher. So I decided to participate, and share what I would wear on back-to-school night if I were still teaching.

Now, let's talk about back-to-school night...

You know I how I was talking about back-to-school yesterday? And how this time of the year I'm usually gearing up for the new school year? And that I miss it all?

The only part of all that that I don't miss is back-to-school night. I enjoyed meeting the parents, getting back into the swing of things, etc. but I just get so nervous speaking in front of a room full of people. By the fourth year you would think I would have it down pat, and I did, in my mind... but once I get up there and the room is quiet and everyone is watching me and I can hear my own voice I just lose it.

What would always help me get through that night was knowing my classroom was perfectly set up and that I was wearing the right outfit. The right outfit was always cute, classic and also modestly stylish.
Back to School (teacher)

Doesn't this dress just scream "school teacher"? Especially with the bow neckline. It's sweet and conservative. The heels, with the wedge, are perfect for these kind of events when you want to look pulled together, but don't want to be teetering around in silly heels. Although I have absolutely now reason to wear it I'm still trying to figure out how I could justify buying the dress. Any ideas?

The link up will continue next week, so if you're interested here is the schedule:

Tuesday, August 28th: back-to-school open house

- Tuesday, September 4th: family photo session

- Tuesday, September 11th: girls' night out

- Tuesday, September 18th: transition to fall

I'm excited for the link up next week since we will really be having family photos taken at the end of the month. This will be some extra motivation for me to start planning our "looks".

What would / will you be wearing to back-to-school night or open house? Link up and show us!

Happy Tuesday!

August 27, 2012

Welcome Back to School Goodie Bags

This is the first August in the last 5 years that I have not been starting back at school for the beginning of the school year. I love being home with Owen, but a little part of me is missing the excitement of the new school year.

I miss getting my classroom all set up. You can see my room from a few years ago HERE in a post about Kindergarten.

I miss meeting my new students, and introducing them to our routine and classroom.

I miss teaching with a group of kind, resourceful and smart men and women.

I miss the schedule and obligation.

I miss being a part of the school and church community.

Teaching was a great career for me. I just loved everything about it.

My mom is a Catholic school teacher. She taught before my sister and I were born and went back full time after I graduated from high school. She has been teaching the Third Grade for over 9 years. She is the reason I became interested in teaching in the first place.
She has some great ideas in her bag of tricks, and I wanted to share this adorable idea for back to school goodie bags with all of you.

My mom saw this on Really Good Stuff's blog and decided to make them for her students this year. The bags are the creation of Hadar Maor, author of the education blog Miss Kindergarten. If you are an elementary school teacher I highly suggest following Hadar's blog. She has lots of creative & cute ideas.

My mom limited the amount of things in the bags she gave, but below you can find the original list of items and "poem".

Items for goodie bags:
  • clear bag
  • eraser
  • pencil
  • page of stickers
  • puzzle piece
  • bookmark
  • Smarties candy
  • LifeSaver candy
  • Laffy Taffy candy
  • Starburst candy

Each item in the bag has a special meaning. Its a really sweet idea. The little piece of paper in each bag says:

The eraser is to remind you
that it is ok to make mistakes.
We’ll work & learn together,
No matter what it takes.

The pencil represents all the
work that we will do.
It may seem a little tough at first
But we’ll have tons of fun too!

The stickers mean we’ll stick together
and work hard as a team.

The puzzle piece shows how we fit
together, working towards a common theme.

The bookmark is to show you
You always have a place.
If you ever feel a little lost
We’ll help you find your space.

The Smarties are to remind you
how smart I think you are.
Work hard & do your very best
Remember to aim far.

The Lifesaver is to show you that
even if things get rough along the way,
Your friends & I are here to lend a hand each and every day.

The Laffy Taffy is to keep you laughing
as with hard work comes a lot of fun.
Remember to always keep smiling
and in the end we’ll all have won.

The Starburst is to show you
that in my eyes you are a STAR.
Do your best, try your hardest & stay just the way you are! 

It is so important to start the year off on the right foot and I think this ideas is such a nice way to start the year. Happy back-to-school everyone!

August 26, 2012

It's Scarf Swap Time!

Meredith over at The Tichenor Family blog is hosting her fourth annual scarf swap and I'm so excited to be joining in the fun this year! 

You're probably wondering "what is a scarf swap"? Well, Meredith pairs up participants and you exchange scarves. Simple as that! 

Need more details? Head over to The Tichenor Family blog to read up more! If you'd like to join in you'll need to leave Meredith a comment on the Scarf Swap post before August 31st. Let the fun begin! 

August 24, 2012

Recipe: Stuffed Red Peppers

I made these peppers recently and we really liked them. Unlike most "skinny" dinners, these don't make you feel deprived--they are actually very satisfying and flavorful!

We liked them so much that tonight I am making them again, but with a taco inspired twist to them. If it all works out I will be sure to share the recipe.

makes servings: 6 servings (1/2 pepper each) 

1 lb lean ground turkey
1 garlic, minced
1/4 onion, minced
1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp cumin powder
salt to taste
3 large sweet red bell peppers, washed
1 cup fat free chicken broth
1/4 cup tomato sauce
1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice
Olive oil spray
1/4 cup reduced fat shredded cheese

Heat oven to 400°. Spray a little olive oil spray in a medium size saute pan and heat on a medium flame. Add onion, garlic and cilantro to the pan. Saute about 2 minutes and add ground turkey. Season with salt and garlic powder, and cumin and brownmeat for several minutes until meat is completely cooked through. Add 1/4 cup of tomato sauce and 1/2 cup of chicken broth, mix well and simmer on low for about 5 minutes. Combine cooked rice and meat together.

Cut the bell peppers in half lengthwise, and remove all seeds. Place in a baking dish.Spoon the meat mixture into each pepper half and fill it with as much as you can.Place all stuffed pepper halves on the baking dish and pour the remainder of the chicken broth on the bottom of the pan. Cover tight with aluminum foil and bake for about 35 minutes. Top with shredded cheddar cheese and enjoy.

recipe credit: Skinny Taste

August 23, 2012

M-o-m-m-y Needs C-o-f-f-e-e

Have you heard "The Coffee Song" by Ralph Colvert? If not, you need to!

Take a moment and listen: 

I play music in Owen's room while I put away his laundry and he plays on the floor. I had a CD from a kindergarten end of the year picnic from when I taught. It has a lot of fun songs on it that are up beat and fun for mommy and baby. Anyway, mixed in was this song. 

I could have not heard it at a better time yesterday. It was a day of teeny tiny super short naps and a very fussy baby (teething??). The CD was made by a parent, and just knowing that this song is out there and that other people have listened to it made me feel just a little bit better about being sleep deprived and want to drink two gallons of coffee each morning.

And here are the lyrics to our new theme song each morning!  

M-O-M-M-Y needs C-O-F-F-E-E
D-A-D-D-Y needs C-O-F-F-E-E
I love my kid... I love my kid
Gosh, I need love my kid
But I need what I need, and I need a lot of what I need
M-O-M-M-Y needs C-O-F-F-E-E
D-A-D-D-Y needs C-O-F-F-E-E
I want a latte, a cappuccino
And tonight I think I’ll have a little vino
M-O-M-M-Y needs C-O-F-F-E-E
D-A-D-D-Y needs C-O-F-F-E-E

Happy Thursday!

August 22, 2012

sweet treats

I've shared this recipe for Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Banana Bread on the blog before, but since I just made it again, and re-experienced its deliciousness, I felt compelled to remind ya'll of its existence. 

Instead of the standard large loaf pan I made three mini loaves to share with others. Note: If you make mini loaves cut the bake time down a bit and check on them half way through for doneness. 

Not only does this bread taste great, but it also makes for a really sweet little back-to-school teacher gift or a "thank you" to a friend / co-worker / neighbor. Especially when you make the mini-loaves and wrap them up with some ribbon! 

In case you missed it, HERE is a link to the original recipe. Enjoy! 

August 21, 2012

Bridal Shower Flashback

I love taking pictures. I have millions and barely a day goes by that I don't take at least one picture on either my iphone or with one of my cameras.

I take so many pictures not just because I find it fun, but because I love to reminice. Smells, sounds, flavors and photos can take you back in time in the blink of an eye. 

Over two years ago we became husband and wife and leading up to our wedding we were showered with love from family, friends and my sweet students and their parents. 

Today I was going through old photos of the shower my kindergarten class threw for me before our wedding. These photos bring back such great memories of how exciting a time that was for us and they really make me miss teaching. 

How darling are these cupcakes? The mom who made them is an amazing woman. She's one of those women who makes you think "How does she do it all?".

The shower was held at the end of the school day outside at our snack / lunch tables. It was a rainy Spring day. Didn't they do an amazing job turning our lunch area into a party?

There were crafts for the kids. They were so excited for this party all day long! See below to find out what they were making.

I thought this idea was really sweet. Each  student decorated a fabric flower and write their name on it. When everyone was done one of the moms secured them all together to make a bouquet for me to use at our rehearsal, which I did of course!

They gave us my very favorite kitchen appliance, the KicthenAid Stand Mixer, as a bridal shower gift from the class. Along with the mixer they also gave us a book of advice for a happy marriage. Each child either wrote or dictated their advice one a piece of card stock that was then inserted into a scrapbook. 

This little book is such a treasure. Marriage advice from 5 and 6 year olds is the best kind of advice because it is genuine and unaffected. Some of their advice: laugh a lot together, play games, have babies, kiss and hug and go to Sharks games together. 

We displayed it at our wedding for our guests to flip through as they waited to sign the guest book during cocktail hour. 

And there you have it. A little trip back in time!

August 20, 2012

Owen is 7 months!

Dear Owen,

This week you turn 7 months old! This has been a huge month for you in terms of milestones!

-You are crawling! We're baby proofing and we are constantly chasing after you. You can finally get around on your own and this makes you a really happy guy!

-You're pulling up on all the furniture and the walls and the sliding glass door.

-You're kneeling and are really proud of yourself when you balance on your knees.

-You have two teeth! Bottom middles.

-You love to drum your hands on the high chair, the kitchen counter, your changing table or any surface to make drumming noises. I think you learned this in Gymboree.

- Solids have been going well! So far you've tried rice cereal, apples, pears, squash, carrots, sweet potatoes and bananas. I've also bought for you a few baby foods at the store that have meat in them. You've had vegetable turkey dinner and sweet potatoes and chicken dinner. You really like pears and meat baby food the most. You eat twice a day and can eat anywhere from 3 spoonfuls to a whole jar / pod of food depending on your mood and appetite!

-You're napping right now, but when you wake up my plan is to weigh and measure you.

-You fit well into 6-9 months clothes, but I usually dress you in 9 month or 6-12 month clothes since they give you a little more room.

-Sleep: I'm going to be honest, sleep is not your strong suit. You are pretty much only letting me put you to sleep these days. You and I usually pace around your room for a few minutes while I hum you a song. Once you're sleepy I sit in the rocker with you and rock you back and forth until you're fast asleep. Recently you've been waking at least 3 times a night. You usually nurse and go back to sleep right away.

-You take 3-4 naps a day, usually 3. The middle / afternoon nap is usually the longest and on a good day it can last up to 2 hours.

-You babble a lot when you're feeling calm and energized, which is usually right after a nap. You make high pitched squeals, because I think you like to play with your voice and see what it can do. You look really satisfied with yourself when its loud. You can roll your tongue into an O and you like to blow bubbles this way. You say mmm-ba and maaa.

-You are still in love with Rocky, your grandma's dog. Everything he does is fascinating to you.

-Your favorite place to be is outside, especially in the backyard. You like to touch all the plants in our herb garden, help us water with the hose, play with the wind chimes and knock over some of the little things out there and hear them crash to the ground. You're all BOY!

-We've taken you a handful of places.
  • I took you to the grocery store for a full on shopping trip this month. 
  • You sat in the cart and enjoyed checking everyone out as we rode around. 
  • We went to Half Moon Bay and you put your feet in the Pacific Ocean for the first time. 
  • You went to your first sporting event: the San Francisco 49ers Training Day / Fan Fest at Candlestick Park. 
  • We took you to Crissy Field and the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco. 
-Wherever we go you are almost always all smiles for the people we see and meet. Sometimes you'll spot someone and give a big smile before they see you're there, so you'll cock your head to the side and pull your head up a bit and smile even more. It's really sweet, just like you!

-You are very curious and observant. You like to watch people, birds, kids and other animals. You check everything out as you crawl around. You have an eye for details! 

You're the sweetest little person, Owen, and we love you so much! I am loving our time together, so much that I often wish I could freeze time or bottle up your cuteness and keep it with me always.


August 17, 2012

A Little Thrill: Bridier Baubles

The little things in life can be a big thrill. A little while back I showed you two necklaces I'd been eyeing from Bridier Baubles.

Well, I finally picked one! I went with navy because it's one of my favorite colors.

I will absolutely shop with Bridier Baubles again.

The $30 price tag for the necklace included shipping (and tax, or maybe there is no tax?)

My necklace arrived Thursday morning and I had only just ordered it on Sunday.

It was wrapped up so sweetly in tissue, in a cute little bag and the necklace even came with matching earrings--an unexpected and wonderful surprise!

If you're looking for beautiful and affordable jewelry please check out this shop!

Happy weekend, friends!

*FYI this is all my personal opinion. I was not compensated for this post in any way.

August 16, 2012

like v. love

Do you ever feel the word love is over used? I do. I know I'm guilty of it, especially on this blog. I'm sure I've said I love some inanimate object or recipe many many times.

It must have been when I was teaching kindergarten that I first realized my / our / everyone's over use of this word to describe feelings. It may have been something said to me by an older nun and colleague, or possibly being more self aware as I taught young impressionable minds, but I began to think about the difference between liking something and loving something. Or someone.

The word love, in my own life, is a word used to describe feelings of affection and adoration toward living things like family, pets, friends, etc. Love should be reserved for the living (or once living).

If I say I love this necklace, for example..
Then what does that say about how I feel about these two handsome men in comparison? Should they be grouped in the same category?

There is just something in me that feels like love should be used to describe God's creations, not our own.

I know this isn't serious. And the word just places an intensity on how we feel and I'm pretty sure I will have a hard time limiting my use of it.

I'm trying to be better about using the word love to describe feelings of like.

So bare with me on this one!

August 15, 2012

Chambray with _________ ?

I just adore the chambray shirt trend. It looks so effortlessly preppy when paired with the right items.

I bought one recently at Forever 21 for under $15. It is exactly what I'd been looking for in my ideal chambray shirt. I like the color, the softness of the fabric, the buttons and the shape of the pockets. I also really like that it's taken in a bit at the waist.

Now that I've finally found what I've been looking for I just have to figure out how to wear it. There seem to be some nice options out there.

Classic pairing with white / neon / colored denim shorts or pants from Hello Fashion
I could even wear it with my aqua bubble necklace. 

Tied in a knot over a maxi dress or skirt like on Dream into Happiness.

Under a sweater for Fall as seen on Pink Peonies.    

And here is the lovely Reese Witherspoon rocking the chambray button down with denim pants, which I definitely could not pull off. Or could I?

I've tried to wear it a few times...

...with a dress and along necklace. Not sure I really loved this look, but it worked. I think some other combo might showcase the chambray better. This just seemed like a stand in for my usual cardigan.

I also tried it with some white shorts. The denim and the white shorts go nicely together, but I refuse to wear shorts. There is nothing wrong with shorts. I just don't like the way they look on me. 

Any ideas on how I can wear this shirt better? Or what to wear it with? I'm going to try some of the looks above soon, but if you have any suggestions I'd like to hear 'em! I'm dying to wear this shirt to its full potential! 

August 14, 2012

Recipe: P.F. Chang's Lettuce Wraps

Do you like Chinese food? We do, but often times it's really greasy and leaves us feeling gross. We really like P.F. Chang's because it is really the only time we can have authentically flavored Chinese food that tastes fresh. Well, this recipe for lettuce wraps is inspired by the recipe for lettuce wraps that P.F. Chang's has on their menu. We really enjoyed this and we're even having it again one night this week! 

16 Boston, bibb or butter lettuce leaves
1 pound ground chicken breast
1 large onion, chopped
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar or red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons Asian chili pepper sauce (see Note)
1 can (8 oz) sliced water chestnuts, drained, finely chopped
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons Asian sesame oil
1/4 cup chopped cashews

1. Rinse lettuce leaves, keeping them whole. Set aside to drain.

2. Cook chicken in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring often to break up the meat. Add onion, garlic, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, ginger, vinegar and chili sauce. Cook until the meat is crumbled and brown. Add water chestnuts and green onions. Cook until onions begin to wilt, about 2 minutes.

3. Stir in sesame oil and chopped cashews. Arrange lettuce leaves on the outer edge of a platter. Spoon meat mixture in center. Allow diners to spoon meat mixture into lettuce leaves and eat like a taco.

They also look really nice buffet style if you're having guests. Put the filling in a bistro-style serving bowl with a large serving spoon and pile up the lettuce on a long platter

Cook's Notes

Asian chili pepper sauce can be found in the Asian section of most supermarkets. Some brands contain garlic, which is fine. You can use 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper or 1/2 teaspoon dried red chili flakes instead like I did.