Meet the Sullivans: March 2013

March 29, 2013

The Little Things

Dear Dad,

It's The Little Things that make me miss you most...

A Beatles song playing on Pandora, seeing those silly San Francisco Giants Hawaiian shirts you loved to wear, the way Owen brushes his hands together when he's excited just like you used to, the sound of a baseball game on the radio...

I missed you greatly and overwhelmingly in the first months. I would hold back tears throughout the workday when something would remind me of you. For a long time I didn't think there would ever be a day when it would be "easy" to miss you. I though I would always be tortured by my memories and that the little things would make me sad.

Now those times of uncontrollable tears and emotions are far and few between. And although that in itself makes me sad I know you wouldn't want me to spend so much time in sorrow. People said it would get easier and that soon the memories would be comforting.

Now the little reminders make me feel nostalgic--I can cherish the memories and they help me feel closer to you...as though you're still here. That you're still a part of my everyday life.

They are happy, The Little Things.



Sorry for the "downer" post today. I always think of my dad this time of year (I think of him all the time, really). He loved Lenten season. He loved God. He loved Us. He loved holidays with his family. I miss him so much, so I thought this was appropriate to share.

I hope you all have a beautiful Easter weekend with your families! I know we will.


March 28, 2013

Easter Bunny Bark

Can you believe that we are on the heels of Easter and this is the first Easter themed treat I've made this season? I blame St. Patrick's Day and Easter being way too close together this year. I'm barely over celebrating The Luck of the Irish before it's time for The Easter Bunny. Anyway, I whipped up this sweet little treat this afternoon on a whim. It was my first experience making a bark and it was so easy I know I'll be making many more in the future!


 The Cast of Characters:
Chocolate Easter Bunnies, 20 ounces of good white chocolate {I used Ghirardelli squares}, + lots of colorful, tasty Easter candy. I used: 1 package pastel M&Ms, 3 chocolate covered marshmallow bunnies, two handfuls white chocolate covered pretzels and pastel colored candy corn. 


Step One: Chop up all of your Easter candy. The smaller candies (like candy corn) don't really need chopping.

Step Two: Line an 9 x 11 pan with parchment paper. A metal jellyroll pan works best.

Step Three: Spray a medium size microwave safe bowl with a bit of oil. This helps the chocolate to pour smoothly. Add all but one bar of chocolate to the bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds and stir. Continue to microwave chocolate for 30 seconds and then stir until chocolate is melted. Add the remaining chocolate and stir. If needed, pop the chocolate back in the microwave for 15 seconds, stirring until all the white chocolate is melted.


Step Four: Pour melted chocolate onto parchment paper and spread. Now comes the FUN part. Begin placing Easter candy in the white chocolate.

Step Five: Pop the Bunny Bark in the fridge for a few hours or until it is hard. Make sure it's totally hard before cutting. Transfer bark to a cutting board and cut into pieces! 

Source: Blooming on Bainbridge

Finding a Headboard for our Tiny Room

What is it about having a headboard on your bed that makes you feel like an adult? I've been wanting one since we got married over two years ago, but the task of finding the perfect fit for our room, at the perfect price, has been sitting on my to-do list for too long. Right now, in the house we call home, our room is so small and our bed rests against the window shutters. When Owen was a newborn, and I was up at all hours of the night nursing him in our bed, not having a headboard became a huge in convenience.

I've been in love with ones similar to this one sold at Pottery Barn for as long as I can remember, but at over $800 this one is out of my price range.



Over the weekend on our trip to Ikea to find curtains for Owen's nursery I thought I had finally found one that would work for us, the Bekkestua Headboard. In the end we decided not to take it home with us and I'm so glad we didn't. After tweeting Ikea on Twitter and emailing their customer service rep I found out that it doesn't connect to a standard metal bed frame. This is something I wish they would note in the details of the item either on line or in store. Can you imagine if we had gone through the trouble of hauling that beast home and up the stairs only to find it won't fit in our bed? I'm glad my level headed (brilliant, handsome, wonderful) husband talked me out of my impulse to just snatch it up.

It turns out that after researching the item a little more at home and picturing it in our (tiny) bedroom I didn't even like the thing that much. While it was upholstered, like I wanted and had button detailing, like I thought I wanted, it just wasn't what I wanted. Plus? At $250 it seemed overpriced for Ikea furniture.

AND I'm really thankful we didn't buy it, because I found that I'm just IN LOVE WITH and it is under $200 with fantastic reviews! I'm just waiting for it to come back in stock so I can rush order the thing.
And here is someone's (Instagram?) photo of it in their bedroom. In the reviews online a lot of people have said it is more taupe than tan, as you can see in the photo below. 


Once it arrives and I've finished giving out tiny little bedroom a mini-makeover I'll be sure to share photos and details! 

Happy Thursday, friends!



March 26, 2013

Sullivan Family Favorite: Creamy Chicken Chili Recipe

This Creamy Chicken Chili recipe quickly became a family favorite last Fall when I stumbled upon it while perusing around Samma's great blog. She posted it years ago and I think she original found it on Eat, Live, Run. Sometimes I adapt the recipe just a tiny bit to fit our liking--no green chilies or by using ground turkey. I think what I like most about this recipe is that it uses pureed oven roasted cauliflower for it's creamy texture. And I think it bodes incredibly well for this chili to add that Owen gobbles it up by the spoonful, and he's my picky eater!

Creamy Chicken Chili
For a printer-friendly version click here. 

1 head cauliflower
2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
1lb ground chicken
1 onion, diced
3-4 cloves garlic
2 cans cannellini
14.5 ounces chicken broth (plus an additional 1/2 cup)

2 7-ounce cans chopped green chilies
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/2 cup milk
8 ounce reduced fat sour cream

1. Heat the oven to 400.  Break apart the cauliflower and toss with a couple tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt. Roast on a baking sheet until browned- about 25 minutes.

2. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add chopped onion and sauté for about six minutes, or until the the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another three minutes. Add chicken and stir. If using ground chicken (or turkey) stir and cook until browned and no longer pink.

3. Add the beans, spices, chicken broth and green chilies and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for thirty minutes.

4. Meanwhile, remove the cauliflower from  the oven and put in a large bowl.  Add a 1/2 cup of chicken broth, and puree with an immersion blender (or put in a blender).  Add to the chili and cook another 10-15 minutes.

5. Turn off the heat and add the sour cream and half & half. Serve with cheddar cheese and additional sour cream to top.

Yum! Enjoy!

The Weekend is for Living

I try my best to enjoy each day for what it is. Rainy? Let's stay home and get cozy on the couch. Sunny and bright? The world is our oyster--let's play outside! But really, there is nothing better than The Weekend. Some might think "The Weekend" is the same as "The Week" to a stay-at-home mom, but not for me. On the weekend my little family can all be together, my friends are off and I get to see my mom and sister. The Weekend is still what I look forward to!

Owen and I (Keith is still working in the hospital on Saturdays. We're hoping that will change this Summer and that he'll have a normal weekend) started off the weekend on Saturday with a picnic lunch and some playing with my mom and sister at the park. Owen sat in my lap while we ate and shared a turkey sandwich. I'm so happy he can share lunch with me now and is content to just sit in my lap and enjoy his food. 

 
We played on the grass and on the playground. Owen loves to go down the slide and say "weeee". He "asks" to go in the swings now and sits so happily in them while we push him. He was so calm he almost seemed like he might go to sleep. 

Saturday night was a really rough night of sleep for all of us. Owen was up at 12:30, 3:30 and 4am.

Sunday morning we went to breakfast and ran errands as a family.


If you know me you probably know that I pretty much wear my hair one of two ways: down or in a low pony. And I washed it every single day. Well, motherhood has forced me to become an every-other-day-hair-washer and it's working out well for me. I tried a little braided side thing and loved it! My beautiful and fashion forward younger sister was my inspiration. If I ever dress cool, know anything about trends or pop culture, it's because of her.



We tried the coffee shop near our house for lunch and Owen got his very own Mickey Mouse pancake (!!!) for breakfast! We were excited for him, but he didn't even want to take a bite. Big sad face for mom and dad. He did, however, enjoy smashing it up with his spoon.



After breakfast we went to Ikea, to have Keith's haircut, Trader Joe's to do our shopping and then finally made it home. I'm so excited to finally have curtains up in Owen's room. We bought and hung some from Target last weekend and I spent all week hating them. The ones we have now don't block out the light as well as the other ones but they look so much better...and we all know what's really important here, right?

Our whole purpose for the Ikea trip was to find a headboard for our bed. We don't currently have one and our bed rests up against the shutters that cover the sliding doors in our room. Not great for reading in bed. We were considering the Bekkestua Headboard, but after much consideration I think that at $250 it's over-priced for Ikea and for what it is. So no headboard yet.

You're probably wondering when this post is going to end.... Not yet! We still have to talk about Monday.

Since Keith works on Saturdays he is usually off work on Mondays. We have a running list going of places we want to take Owen for our #sullyfamilyfunday's. The AT&T Ball Park Tour was at the top of our list, so off we went.



Unfortunately, when we got there the tour was all sold out. Womp womp. Never fear, we still managed to find some fun! We bought Owen his first San Francisco Giants baseball jersey and an authentic / traditional matching baseball cap, and walked the perimeter of the park.

Tours run daily (game days and special events excluded, etc), so we plan on trying again soon. Also, the slide and play area are open daily, but only starting in June.


Look how much fun Owen had running around! He loved greeting all of the passersby.



That expression is mischief. Pure mischief.


Of all the cool things going on around him... skateboarders, runners, birds, sailboats, the bay... Owen found these holes in he ground most interesting. We had to tear him away. There were tears.



Shaking the gates, and trying to break in.



After terrorizing the exterior of the stadium we ventured on to lunch across the street at Lucky Strike. Have you been to one? I never had. Pretty fun, and fine for lunch, but definitely not the place for babies at night.




The beer was cold and the food was hot. What more can you ask for? Owen insisted on dancing for the other patrons through lunch. We obliged, because how could we deprive our fellow lunchers of such cuteness?

March 25, 2013

Weekly Bites

I love to plan our weekly menus! It is one of my many my guilty pleasure. I also LOVE to take photos of what I've cooked. Did you watch Glee last week? The theme was guilty pleasures. I don't always get to follow through with what I've planned to make. Life gets in the way, we end up eating out or picking up take-out, or going to a friend's house, so sharing what we had after we've had it gives a much better picture of our weekly menu!

MONDAY: I made one of my very favorite favorites for dinner, Chicken and Brie Sandwiches with Roast Cherry Tomatoes. This is not a simple or quick sandwich to throw together per say, but if you make extra you could easily save leftovers and make another pretty quickly the next night.


TUESDAY: Cobb Salad, we topped ours with my own homemade version of a creamy balsamic, but it's really good with this salad dressing too.

WEDNESDAY: Creamy Chicken Chili topped with cheddar cheese, olives and avocado. Even Owen loved this. I have a hard time getting him to eat what cook, but he let me feed him spoonful after spoonful of this.

THURSDAY: BBQ Chicken Pizza with Corn. Thursday afternoon kicked my behind. Owen decided not to nap and I considered ordering take-out, but decided to save us some money and make what we already have. We didn't end up eating dinner (on the couch, while watching TV) until after putting Owen to bed.

FRIDAY: Everything Salad. It's Lent, so no meat. In the past I've had a hard time figuring out what to make on Fridays during Lent. Romaine lettuce, cucumber, tomato, yellow bell pepper, garbanzo beans, black olives, blue cheese and cheddar cheese and garlic toast.

WEEKEND: I also made a s'mores poke cake over the weekend. It was goooood!

...and I had WAY too many of these all week long. What did you have for dinner last week? What do you have planned for this week?

March 24, 2013

Renegade

Stella & Dot has taken Hollywood by storm with celebrities and editors adoring Stella & Dot's boutique style jewelry and accessories line!


Elizabeth Banks, an actress, producer and director, has been spotted wearing the Stella & Dot Medina Bib Necklace on multiple occasions! Add this necklace to a summer dress or with a shirt and jeans.



Carly Rae Jepsen was seen accessorizing with the Spring Awakening Necklace while posing with Seventeen magazine. This beautiful necklace is perfect for spring!


Shay Mitchell looks stunning in the Pegasus Necklace and owns several Stella & Dot pieces. Be your own celebrity and flaunt Stella & Dot's couture style. Happy Accessorizing!

My personal favorite right now? The Renegade Cluster Bracelet, seen her on my fave Smash actress Katharine McPhee. Perfect addition to a fabulous arm party like this one I just pinned:


March 22, 2013

Owen Meets The Easter Bunny (Again)

Yesterday after morning nap and lunch my sister (Auntie KC) and I took Owen to see the Easter Bunny. I was a little worried he would be afraid this year since he is so aware of his surroundings. Last year when he met TEB (The Easter Bunny) he was only a few months old, so he had no idea what was going on. Last year was a breeze, no crying at all. 

Well, as you can see Owen did fine. He was actually more than fine. He LOVED TEB! While we waited for the photographer to be ready for us I sat Owen down next to the big old bunny rabbit and he was just thrilled. He snuggled in under his arm, held his hand and smiled at him adoringly. How awesome is this kid? He is just such a love! I am so proud of how well he did! 

The only tears happened when we had to leave TEB and continue on our shopping trip at the mall. He wanted to stay and play with TEB all day!

March 21, 2013

Owen's Easter Basket

I feel like it was just a month ago that I was sharing Owen's First Easter Basket, but here I am sharing his second one. Last year he was a wee 3 month old and it was hard trying to find much to go in his basket. All he really wanted last year this time was to be held, drink milk from his momma and have a paci.


I'm linking this post up with the adorable and sweet Darci of The Good Life Blog for her Easter Basket Blog Hop. If you haven't checked out her blog yet you must! It's too cute and creative to miss. Also, make sure you browse through all the other cute baskets that have been linked up!

Children grow and change so quickly. This year he is SO different and likes so many things, which made filling his Easter basket this year SO much fun!


Most of what's in there is from Target, with a few exceptions: A big box of Crayola Washable Sidewalk Chalk, a Little Kids Spill-Free Bubble Tumbler, Jellycat Bashful Beige Medium Bunny (purchased from Francesca's), Tell Me About Easter Baby Blessings book (from The Reading Bug), a little Animal Adventures brown bunny, Lion Wash Mitt, Playtex Disney Easter Sippy Cup and a little squeaky rubber Easter sight word book.

I bought his Easter basket last year from Pottery barn Kids. It was under $20 + personalization. I'm going to order him a wicker basket + personalized liner when they go on sale this year after Easter, so next year he'll use this fabric one for Easter egg hunts.


Speaking of egg hunts... What do you put in a toddler's eggs for an Easter egg hunt? Certainly not chocolate eggs or jelly beans! Not unless you want them bouncing off the walls all morning and afternoon. I'm filling Owen's eggs with yogurt cremes, Goldfish crackers and puffs.

Keith, if you're reading this don't feel left out! I have a little Easter basket for you too!

Now we're off to the mall to see the Easter Bunny! I sure hope Owen is as happy to see him as he was last year. Wish me luck!


March 20, 2013

Owen is 14 Months!

You may be thinking It seems like just yesterday I read "Owen is 13 Months", well you probably did, because I was THAT behind in blogging monthly updates.

Dear Owen,

You are fourteen months old! You've kissed babyhood goodbye and are marching full speed ahead right on into toddlerhood. You're so smart--it is hard getting anything past you these days. You surprise us each day with a new word, skill, physical ability or act of kindness. You're the sweetest love bug I know!

Owen's Shirt
Weight: A million pounds! Just kidding, but it feels like that if I need to carry you any further than from the house to the car.

Health: You had your first stomach bug this month and have a little runny nose right now. The stomach bug didn't seem to run you down much. You didn't even have a fever, but you weren't able to keep your milk down. Your doctor ruled out a milk allergy. Luckily it only lasted 24 hours.

Sleep: The stomach bug, the time change and your cold have thrown your awesome new sleep habits for a loop. You've regressed to waking up at least once a night and have been waking up even earlier than you were before--often around 5:30. It has been exhausting.

The only saving grace seems to be your naps... Although I thought you were dropping one last week, but it seems like you still want two a day, which is really good in my book. Today, for example, you took two 1.5 hour naps. It was glorious.

Social: You love people and other children. When we go to the grocery store you say "HI!" to people and offer them the contents of my wallet. Usually the credit cards first. You have so much fun playing with other kids when we're out or with friends. You're very sweet to other children and often offer them the toy you're playing with. When they're not as sweet in return (like the little boy at the book store today who tried to shove his train in your mouth) you don't seem to know what to do. I know you could knock them over if you tried, but I'm proud you don't and that you stay calm.

Verbal: You understand a lot of different words now. If I ask if you want to go "outside" you'll run for the door and start banging on it with your hands. If I ask for a "kiss" you'll gladly give one. We wave "bye bye" to Daddy each morning and you blow him kisses. You say "ball", "no" (we hear this one a lot), "mama", "dada", "daw" (dog), "go" (usually when talking to the dog) and a ton of other baby babbles.

Diet: You take a 8+ ounce bottle of milk first thing in the morning, followed by breakfast. This week I have been giving you yogurt, Cheerios and berries. You don't want the berries once they touch your lips, although you keep trying them. Lunch is usually a protein (meatball, chicken nugget, turkey), tortilla, cheese and more fruit. For dinner you've been eating part of whatever we're eating. You love the veggie pizza we had last Friday night. You've been seriously addicted to cremes. I've bought four bags in the last 10 days.


Activity: You're trying to climb everything. First you figure out where you can stick your little feet to hoist yourself up and then you use your arm muscles to pull with all your might. It's really dangerous. You started spinning yourself in circles last week and saying "whooooooooa" while you do it. You laugh when / if you fall down. You're a riot! You're getting better about climbing off the furniture (which you can easily climb onto yourself now) feet first.

And you've started giving out kisses by the boat load! It is the sweetest thing and anyone who is lucky enough to get one just MELTS!


Gear: Your favorite kind of toy is a ball. You love to pick them up, throw them, say "ba ballll", and do it all over again. We just started using the NoseFrieda, which you hate, but it is so much faster and more efficient than the bulb syringe. Your second favorite toy to play with is your broom or your golf clubs. two totally different toys in the eyes of a grown-up, but to you a stick is a stick and you love to hit things (like ME) with them. We've had to hide them from you.


Owen you are the center of our world and we wouldn't want it any other way. You make our life better in every way. Your love and excitement for each new day and thing inspires me and warms my heart. I love you, my tiny baby!

xoxo,
Mommy

March 19, 2013

Peep Shows

Now that St. Patrick's Day is done I am moving full speed ahead onto Easter. I've already had my Easter wreath and some (minimal) decorations up for weeks, I've ordered (and received) Owen's Easter attire and yesterday I put together his Easter basket. You can expect photos and details on that later this week.

I was flipping through the latest issue of Food Network Magazine yesterday and came across an interesting article all about Peeps Dioramas. Yep, sculptures made out of peeps!

The Food Network has opened me up to all kinds of crazy uses for food and I guess I shouldn't be surprised people are making art out of Peeps since I know there are people out there crazy about those sugary marshmallow treats.

I decided to Google "marshmallow Peep dioramas and found some more interesting creations, my favorite of which are either inspired by my favorite TV shows or pop culture related.

 Royal Wedding Peeps is complete with a "Peeps Middleton" carrying the princess' veil!

 The Good Night Moon Peeps diorama even has Peeps in the art work on the walls!

The hot air balloon made of Peeps inspired by UP is really cool, but check out that house! It looks exactly like the one in the movie.

How could I not include Downton Abbey Peeps in my list?! The Dowager Countess is so fancy!

How neat are these? The details must take forever to get right. My very favorite one is the Good Night Moon diarama, perhaps because I read it to Owen everyday and know that room like the back of my hand. 

You can see more Peeps dioramas starring your favorite TV shows here.

March 17, 2013

St. Patrick's Weekend Wrap-Up

St. Patrick's Day weekend is a weekend I look forward to for months. We get to see a lot of our family, celebrate and everyone is wearing my favorite color all weekend long!
The weekend started on Friday with a Lenten Friday vegetarian dinner. I'm usually stumped over what to make for dinner on Fridays during Lent, but this week I think I came up with a pretty good meal. I used a Pillsbury pizza crust (so much better than the pre-made Bobili), topped it with pesto, freshly grated mozzarella, yellow bell pepper, tomatoes, steamed broccoli and cauliflower, red onion and more cheese. We had it with a Caesar salad. We all loved it, even my baby boy with a veggie aversion.

We started Saturday morning up and running. I made my Irish Soda Bread for the evening's festivities, packed Owen up to go to my mom's and got us both showered and ready. I barely had time to take a sip of my coffee before we left the house.
I dropped Owen off at my mom's and then went to have my hair highlighted and cut. The left is my Before photo and the Right is the after. Everyone knows how great it feels to have a fresh color and cut. My hair stylist Brooke is so sweet and I love catching up with her during my appointment. She does a fantastic job and always styles and curls my hair before sending me off. I wish she were here every morning to style my hair! 

Keith's mom cooked a traditional Irish dinner for us all that evening. We had three out of four of Keith's siblings and their families over, as well Keith's Aunt Janet, my mom and sister. We had a packed house and it was SO much fun!
In addition to the Irish Soda Bread, I also threw together a St. Patty's Cheese plate. I got the idea Friday afternoon when I was shopping at Trader Joe's. I picked up a green Pesto Gouda, Dubliner Cheddar, Celtic Cheddar and green grapes. I thought it was a pretty festive little spread.

No St. Patrick's Day is complete in our book without at least one Irish Car Bomb


St. Patrick's dinner never looks very appetizing, but trust me it was really good! 
 
And out NoseFrida came in the mail. Poor Owen is freaked out by the thing, but it is so much more efficient than using the bulb syringe.
Owen was up at the break of dawn Sunday morning, so we ran out to get doughnuts for our house guests before anyone else was up. Just so happens Safeway had green doughnuts! We continued our sugar binged later in the day with Shamrock Shakes. I had never had one before and thought it was just okay. The mint flavor was way too strong for me. I felt like I was drinking a pack of gum. 

Sunday afternoon (after my glorious two hour long nap) we ran a few errands and took Owen to the park. Time at the park goes so fast, before I knew it an hour had flown by. Owen skipped taking his second nap again, so he went down early. Keith and I wrapped up the evening by watching The Walking Dead and eating salads (to balance out those doughnuts and shakes) on the couch. 

How was you weekend? Did you celebrate St. Patrick's Day?