Meet the Sullivans: September 2012

September 28, 2012

'round here lately

Has it been a while since I've written one of these? I feel like it has, but maybe not?


In no particular order...

I'm almost done with my chevron pumpkins. Checking that off my Fall To Do list!  

I bought a second baby book this week. It's okay for one baby to have two baby books, right?
Although I am usually loyal to OPI I tried some of the Essie Fall 2012 colors at Target yesterday. I could not decide which one to buy, so I came home without one. I tried on skirting the issue, recessionista and miss fancy pants.

Did you read the Harry Potter books? I did not, but I know J.K. Rowling is a great writer, so I'm wondering if her new book (which is for "adults") will be any good?

Keith's mom watched Owen for us last Saturday night so we could go to dinner (!!) and a movie (!!!). We've done dinner, and we've done a movie, but not in one night since Owen was born. It was like old times! Dinner and a movie was just a regular Friday or Saturday date night and now it's a REAL treat! We had cocktails (a beer for him and a blood orange drop for me) + dinner at King Fish (Keith had jambalaya and I had the best risotto). We saw The Bourne Legacy. It was really good!

We now have some beautiful mums on the front porch!

My iPhone5 arrived this week and I am LOVING it! The camera is just worlds and worlds better than the one on my 3Gs. Now I need to get a case for it, but it looks as though they haven't made any yet? Hm.

This cutie is teething. Badly. He is getting a top tooth and it has majorly messed up his sleeping at night. On Tuesday night he was up at 10:30, 11:30, 2:30 and from 3:30-5. Ugh. I am hoping that tooth cuts through and this will be over soon!

Have you tried the Thomas' Pumpkin Spice Bagels? They are gooood. They don't taste too much like pumpkin, which is good in my book. They also make pumpkin spice english muffins and bagel thins too!

AND, I was able to find my favorite coffee creamer (International Delights Coldstone Sweet Cream) at Target too! I also had to pick up the Pumpkin Spice Flavor. Keith would love the S'mores flavor--if he ever tried anything but nothing in his coffee.

AP from ILYMTC posted on Instagram about this app and I had to get it. Its an app that uploads all of your Instagram photos and then you can order them as 4x4s! If you're looking for some other great apps check out Nina's post on her Favorite Apps for Busy People

I can't wait to have my hair done on Saturday. I'm just having it colored, since I want to chop it, but I'd like for it to be long in our family photos we're taking this weekend! (!!!!)

And last but not least, how much does this boy love his daddy? Our favorite part of the day is when Dada comes home to play! ...after changing out of those scrubs and washing his hands thoroughly of course!

Thank goodness it's Friday, friends! 

September 27, 2012

The Best Jeans I've Ever Owned

I cannot contain my elation. I am in love with my new jeans.

I saw someone on Instagram post a picture about these skinny jeans from Ann Taylor LOFT last week and how amazing they were. I can't remember who it was and can't seem to find them in my feed. Was it you?

Side note: Are you on Instagram? It's so fun. I'm @meetthesullivans if you'd like to follow me! 

I can never find pants that fit my waist, are the correct length and are spacious through the hips and thighs.  I have the worst time finding pants, especially jeans.

Ever since skinny jeans became popular I've had pretty much NO luck finding a pair that fit me right. They always seem too tight, uncomfortable and binding.

In my newly acquired "mom style" (read: comfortable, reasonably priced and durable) I need to be able to lift a 20+ pound baby and a car seat, bend in and out of the car, get on the floor to play and then go out in public in those very same clothes. Like I said before, comfort and durability are a must, but so is style!

SO, anyway. I tried these on this weekend and oh. my. goodness. I am so glad I did. They fit perfectly (everywhere), the length is just right, and most importantly they are comfortable. If you're like me, either a mom or a woman with an "athletic" / "fuller" lower body (I sometimes refer to my thighs as chunk legs--there, I said it), you will LOVE these jeans. And they're less expensive (just $69.50) than your standard name brand Sevens or Joe's or Citizens or whatever expensive brand.

I think I want need them in every color. For my next pair I'll opt for the color pop jeans in deep raisin.

September 26, 2012

{recipe} Banana Poke Cake

I made this cake on a whim one day. We had all the ingredients except for the vanilla wafers, so after a quick trip to the store I was in business.

I have to say, I enjoyed this cake, and that's why I'm sharing, but next time I might switch out one of the banana puddings with a vanilla pudding instead.

I really like the method of poking holes in the cake and adding pudding--it makes for an incredibly moist and flavorful cake.


Ingredients:
1 box yellow cake mix
ingredients needed to make cake (eggs, oil & water)
2 (3.4 oz.) packages instant banana pudding
4 cups milk
1 (8 oz.) tub frozen whipped topping, thawed
20 vanilla wafers, crushed

Directions:
Prepare cake mix according to package directions for a 9x13 cake.
Once cake comes out of the oven, allow it to cool for just a couple of minutes.
Then, with a wooden spoon handle, a spatula handle, or some other similarly-sized object, begin poking holes in the cake.

You want the holes to be BIG so that the pudding has plenty of room to get down in there.
Be sure to poke right down to the bottom of the cake.

In a bowl, prepare pudding. Whisk together instant pudding mix with 4 cups milk.
Stir until all the lumps are gone.

Pour pudding over cake. Taking care to pour it right into the holes as much as possible.
Spread it all out and using the back of the spoon, gently push pudding down into the holes.

Put the cake into the fridge to set and cool (about 2 hours).
Once your cake has completely cooled, spread on whipped topping.

If you haven't done so already, crush your vanilla wafers.
I just place mine in a ziploc bag and crush them with a rolling pin.
Leave some of the pieces big. It's nice to have a bit of a crunch when you eat the cake.

Spread crushed wafers onto the top of the cake. You can do this part immediately before serving the cake if you like. This will ensure the wafers are crunchy when you serve it.

Serve with freshly sliced bananas. Keep refrigerated.

recipe source: The Country Cook

This cake can be made in many different variations, just change the cake flavor, pudding flavor and cookies to your liking. Check out The Country Cook for other recipes !

September 25, 2012

Owen's Favorite Books

You've heard from me about my favorite books and books I'm reading. But today I'd like to take a minute and share with you my little guy's favorite reads.

You see, he's really taken to books. He no longer squiggles or fusses when we try to read to him.



If it's a book he likes he'll happily sit on the floor next to us, or in one of our laps and look at the book as we read.



This boy puts everything in his mouth, but when we're reading his favorite books he focuses on touching and looking at the pictures and doesn't even try to put them in his mouth. (...still tries to eat them when we aren't reading them though...)

His Baby Touch and Feel: Animals by DK Publishing is his very favorite.

He stares intently at the pictures and just loves feeling the puppy, monkey and bunny with his fingers.



His other favorite is Peek-a-WHO? by Nina Laden.

He will sit and listen to this over and over and over again. We know he's done when he crawls away after the tenth "Peak-a-YOU!".

He also enjoys the bears in his musical The Wheels on the Bus by David Elwand. 

I've tried to get him to enjoy the books I like for him, like On the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman, God Gave Us You by Lisa Tawn Bergren and various Dr. Seuss books.



As part of my baby shower each guest brought a book inscribed with a message in place of giving a card---so Owen has lots of great books! Most of his favorites are the board books, which we have a lot of.

I keep his non-board books in a shelf inside his closet. I bought most of these books for my classroom when I was teaching Kindergarten. Someday they will be great books for him to enjoy. There are many wonderful stories in there with valuable lessons.


There are also more books on the table near the rocking chair. These are the ones we read together the most in his room on the floor.


And of course there are a few of the "night night" books that I can easily grab when we're rocking before bed.


I'm so happy he's loving books, even if its just because he can put them in his mouth. I hope his interest in them continues to grow and that he'll discover the exciting places--real and make believe-- they can take him too.


Happy Friday, friends!

September 23, 2012

Swapped!

I joined in on the fun over at Meredith's blog, The Tichenor Family, this year for the 4th Annual Scarf Swap.

I was matched up with Courtney who blogs over at The Chirping Moms. She is so sweet! She and her neighbor Julie blog together and use their blog as an outlet for connecting with other mom's and sharing ideas about children and motherhood. Its a cool blog with lots to check out!

How pretty is the package she sent?


I just adore the scarf she sent me! I didn't have any light blue scarves before this one, so I'm happy to be getting to add this one to my collection. I really like the ruffles along its edges.


Thank you so much Courtney for the beautiful scarf and for the sweet note! I've really enjoyed connecting with you too!

And thank you Meredith for hosting the Scarf Swap! It's been such a fun way to get to know and discover more bloggers.

I forgot to take pictures of the scarf I sent Courtney, but you can head on over to her blog to see what I picked for her!

September 21, 2012

Orange you glad it's Friday?

Goodbye Summer! Fall will been here tomorrow, officially.

There is something about Fall that just makes me want to buy and wear lovely things in orange. Orange is Fall's color, after all!

Did you know that Tangerine Tango, which is essentially orange, was voted Panatone's Color of the year? It is really a great Summer or Fall color.


While doing my favorite past time, browsing online shops, I can't help but bookmark all things orange! 

orange

Now, I know it would look totally silly (and a lot like a pumpkin) if someone were to wear all this orange at once. But a little pop of the Fall color here and there fits right in with the cooler weather, pumpkin scented everything and the fun of Fall. 

September 20, 2012

{recipe} S'mores Cupcakes

My very favorite kind of food to make is dessert. When I have the opportunity to bring dessert to a gathering I jump right on it. I'm always really excited to pick whatever kind of treat it is I wan to make. I always ask Keith "Should I make a cake? Pie? Trifle? Cookies? Brownies? Something with ice cream?". The delicious possibilities are endless.

Recently when I asked Keith what kind of trifle to make he said I should make a s'mores trifle. Well, I searched the high and low to find one that sounded like it would work for me, but I was unsuccessful, so I went with this Peanut Butter Cup Brownie Trifle instead.

A few weeks ago, when we were having friends over to watch the first 49er game of the season, I asked Keith again for his input on dessert. I was making cupcakes this time, and again he requested a s'mores inspired version for dessert. SO, this time I just went for it! And oh, aren't I glad I did!

These little treats were time consuming, but very worth all the work!


INGREDIENTS

for crust
  • 1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs (approximately 1 1/2 sleeves) 
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 6 1/4 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup mini choc chips
  • 1 cup mini marshmallows

for cupcakes
  • 1 boxed chocolate cake mix

for filling and/or frosting (if using the cupcake plunger you will need at least 2x the filling)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 3/4 cup Marshmallow Fluff
  • 1 tablespoons heavy cream

for topping (I used 1 1/2 x this to top my cupcakes)
  • 3 oz semi sweet chocolate/chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup of softened butter
  • 14 large marshmallows, cut in half 
DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat your oven to 350° and grease or line cupcake pans.

2. Prepare the crust! Grind up your graham crackers in a food processor until fine. Add sugar and melted butter to the graham crackers and process until mixed. Then add the mini chocolate chips. Stir with a spoon until blended.

3. Using a tablespoon spoon mixture into the bottoms of each cupcake liner. Press each mound down into the bottom and slightly up the sides, not too much, but make sure each one is fairly compacted in the pan. Drop 5 mini marshmallows into each cupcake liner on top of the graham cracker mixture. Place in the heated over for about 5 minutes.

4. While those are baking, get your cake batter ready. Remove cupcake tins from the oven and fill with cake batter. Bake 18-20 minutes, but do not over bake. As soon as the cupcakes bounce back slightly to the touch and a toothpick comes out clean when you test it, they are done.

6. With the cupcakes cooling nicely, start to make your filling. Add the softened butter, marshmallow fluff, and powdered sugar into a bowl and beat until whipped and fluffy. Add the heavy cream and beat for about a minute longer.

7. Spoon filling into a piping bag and set aside. 

8. You can fill your cupcakes one of two ways:

Option One: I used this cupcake plunger that I purchased at Bed Bath & Beyond. The directs are simple and it was incredibly easy to use. After I "plunged" all of my cupcakes I used the piping bag to add the filling. 


Option Two: If you don't have a cupcake plunger just place the tip of piping bag into the center of each cupcake and gently squeeze bag as you slowly lift the bag out of the cupcake. This option uses about half of the filling mixture. 

9. Once those are all filled, begin making your ganache. Add all ingredients to a glass bowl and set over a double boiler. Cook over low heat until the chocolate and butter have all melted and its nice and smooth. Take each cupcake and turn it upside down to coat the tops. 

10. While you let the ganache cool and thicken for a bit cut the 14 large marshmallows in half and place one half on top of each cupcake. Once you are ready to serve pre-heat your broiler and place all of your cupcakes on foil lined cookie sheets. Stick your cookie sheets in the oven under the broiler for just long enough for the marshmallow to brown and get toasted. 

11. Remove from the oven and serve! 

These cupcakes were fantastic and if I ever have the extra time I will make them again!
recipe inspired by corina

September 19, 2012

Owen is 8 Months!

Dear Owen,

This week you turn eight months old! You are 3/4 of a year old. Stop time, someone! Quick!

You...
...are crawling all over the house. Even up all 12 of the stairs.

...like to dance!

...are a dare devil and pull up on everything and anything.

...cruise around the furniture and walls.

...sometimes stand unassisted after letting go of whatever you've used to pull yourself up.

...use the walk-behind walker or a laundry basket turned upside down to get around.

...say ba-dada, dadada, mmm-ba, mmm-ma and heee.

...still love Gymboree class and have had fun keeping up with the "big kids" at open gym times.

...are eating solids like a champ. New foods you've tried this month are mashed avocado, Ella's brand ginger baby cookies, tomato basil soup, grapes, home baked sweet potatoes with cinnamon and yogurt.

...are drawn to books. Peek-a-Who? and Touch and Feel: Animals are your favorites.

...hate having your diaper changed. You prefer to be moving as opposed to laying around.

...smell as I imagine Heaven smells. I wish I could bottle it up and save it for when you're all grown up.

...take 3 naps a day. On a great day at least one of them is 90 minutes long.

...eat solids twice a day. The first time is after your morning nap and the second is at the dinner table with us during dinner time.

...are wearing 6-12 month clothes (and some 12-18 months outfits) and size 3 diapers.

...are rocked to sleep for each nap and at night.

...you wake up and nurse about 2-3 times a night.

...seem to be getting another tooth. The drool is coming out of your mouth in buckets.

...are the sweetest, smartest, most angelic little boy I have ever known and I love you with ever ounce of me.




xoxo,
Mommy

September 18, 2012

The California Academy of Sciences

I am so late on posting about our little family day up in San Francisco at the California Academy of Sciences. 

We had such a great time and Owen just loved looking at all the fish, the alligator, the butterflies, etc. I can't decide whether the aquarium or the rainforest are my favorite exhibits. 

My little dude ready for his first museum / aquarium experience. 





The 4 story living rainforest is contained within a spectacular 90-foot diameter glass dome. It's the largest spherical rainforest exhibit in the world.





I was really worried Owen was going to catch one of the butterflies.


The dark rooms that house the aquariums were especially cool for Owen.

The fish are so colorful.

This guy gives me the creeps! The Swamp in the Steinhardt Aquarium contains Claude, an albino American alligator and several alligator snapping turtles. You can view the animals from the surface as well as from an underwater window. This photo was taken from the balcony above the Swamp. 


Another cool and scary exhibit is the Earthquake Exhibit: Life on a Dynamic Planet. See the yellow line labeled San Andreas Fault? Right underneath it is part of the Crystal Springs Reservoir, which is just a few minutes from our house. Yikes.


There was a neat little spot where people could write down their memories of earthquakes they've experience. I had O-man in the Bjorn, so I couldn't write, but if I did I would have shared my dad's story from the 1989 Loma Prieta  earthquake. He was just getting seated for the third game of the World Series between the Oakland A's and the San Francisco Giants (both Bay Area teams) at Candlestick Park. It was a 7.1 and all I remember is that it knocked a ton of crystal out of my mom's china cabinet, there was a huge mess and it took forever for my dad to get home from the game. Ah, memories.

They have a earthquake simulator where you can feel what the 1906 and 1989 (the largest quakes to hit the Bay) feel like. Children under a certain age are not allowed, and definitely not babies, so Keith went in while O and I looked around some more. Keith said it was very cool!

The outside of the simulator.

While O and I waited we checked out the cute baby ostriches outside. Owen would have loved to crawl around in there with them!

We had a great time and I can't wait to take Owen back there again someday soon!

September 17, 2012

Grab Some Coffee. Let's Catch Up!

I feel like there are so many little things I want to share today, so grab some coffee 'cause this is a long one!

-I ordered the new iPhone 5 this weekend. I'm so excited for it to come in the mail. I'm going to be tracking that baby from the moment it ships until it arrives on our doorstep. My iPhone 3Gs is on its way to phone heaven. The poor baby just isn't working the way it used to and is on its deathbed.

-Last week I went to FIVE different grocery stores searching for my beloved coffee creamer (Lynadri's, Piazza, two Safeways and Target), International Delight ColdStone Creamery Sweet Cream. I had no luck. And then on the way to my mom's yesterday we stopped at Lucky's and on a whim I thought I'd just check to see if they had it and they did! And it was the last bottle on the shelf. Its the little things, right?

-Owen is saying "dada dada". He calls Keith "dada", he calls the dog "dada" and he even calls me "dada". So, we know he's not referring to Keith specifically but it's still real sweet to hear him mumble it over and over again.

-Our project of consolidating the DVD collection is almost complete. Hooray! I'm so proud of us for starting and finishing this huge undertaking within a week. Our plan for today is to tackle a few other little projects around the house, do laundry and relax.


-Our family photos are in less than two weeks and I still don't have our looks nailed down. I'm starting to panic a little.

-Last week I did a post on all the things I'm looking forward to about Fall and I forgot to include adding another blown glass pumpkin from the Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival to my collection. It's a tradition that I buy a new one each year and I'm excited to chose a new color this year.


-Katy Perry's movie comes out on DVD tomorrow and I'm so excited. We'll be making a trip to Target just for that. ...and a few other necessities too of course.

-I went out for a little girls' night over the weekend in honor of my friend Hilary's 31st birthday. You may remember my post about her 30th celebration that kicked off the year of 30ths for my high school friends. We had such a wonderful time and laughed a ton! The food was amazing and the restaurant, 31st Union, is locally sustainable and gets all of its ingredients and wine, etc from California exclusively.

-It felt like it had been ages since I actually got dressed, did my hair and my make up. I felt like a real life person!

-I'm hunting for the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe. I've tried a fe recently and this weekend I baked chocolate chip walnut cookies using the Nestle Tollhouse (anyone else think of Friends when they hear Nestle Tollhouse?) recipe that comes on the back of the chocolate chip bag. They tasted great, but lacked the cake like consistency I'm aiming for. Please share your go to recipe!!

-Speaking of recipes, I still owe you that S'mores Cupcake recipe. I'll have it up this week, but right now I'm off to the grocery store.

Have a marvelous Monday friends!