our Palm Springs family vacation...

As I write this it is raining in Wisconsin... but at least it's not snowing... and I have pictures of California to look at and lightly sun kissed cheeks to remind me of our Palm Springs get-away last week!  It was awesome and Nick and I took way too many pictures of palm trees and our baby running around the California desert.  Here are a few highlights from our trip...

Stepping off the plane we were greeted with 85 degree temps and gorgeous views of the desert mountains that surround Palm Springs.  They are very prehistoric looking and reminded us of The Flinstones.  So, of course, we taught Edwin how to say "yabadabadoo!"

One of our favorite things about the trip was getting to stay at the Ace Hotel & Swim Club!  Our room had a patio attached which was really nice for Edwin to run around in.  We also went swimming in the pool every day.  On the weekends there was a dj playing awesome music (like this song) and during the week the pool was full of kids and families.  We loved it and would definitely stay there again.

One of the big things we wanted to do on our trip was hike around Joshua Tree National Park.  But, the airline completely broke our Kelty hiking pack and it was destroyed. :(  So, we did more of a driving tour through the park and stopped to stretch our legs on a few short paths that Edwin could walk with us.  He loved running around the park and refused to hold our hands.  It was so windy at the park that his little sunhat kept blowing away!
Driving back from Joshua Tree gave us amazing views of the wind farms that are right outside of Palm Springs.  The wind picks up in the afternoons and it was sort of scary getting out of the car to take pictures because the wind was so strong and these turbines are so huge!

There was a lot to keep Edwin active and entertained on our trip!  We found a really beautiful park in Palm Desert (with ducks!) and Edwin even discovered his love of ping pong at the Ace!

And, of course, it wouldn't be a real vacation if we didn't eat tons of great food.  We stopped at the grocery store a few times for snacks, fruit, or the salad bar, but we also tried tons of great restaurants.  Our favorite was Cheeky's where Edwin devoured almond paste stuffed french toast.  We also had lots of smoothies, coconut water, and a delicious date shake at Kings Highway.  Eating on the go with Edwin went really well and he loved getting crayons and cups with straws to keep him occupied while we waited for our food.

One afternoon, Nick stayed at the hotel so I could go for a solo hike.  It was nice to get away by myself for a bit...especially because our hiking pack was broken.  I hiked Tahquitz Canyon, about 2 miles to find a desert waterfall!
We loved Palm Springs and thought it was a beautiful mix of desert & greenery.  The town itself was small enough for us to easily navigate on foot or with our rental car, was laid back, family friendly, and of course, had perfect weather every day.  Southern California really knows how to do March!

This trip felt like a really big deal.  Nick and I have been so busy these last few years with our house, careers, and now family, that we've neglected to take the time to have fun and relax.  Going to California was the perfect thing for us to do.  We got to enjoy the sunshine and scenery and see what it feels like to take a real vacation...we are already planning our next adventure!  It also felt like a really important step for us to fly with Edwin, something we were nervous to do, but in the end went totally fine and we are so glad we did it.  Til next time!


up, up, and away....

In just a couple of days we will be leaving on our first vacation in over 4 years...and our first-ever trip with the little guy.  I am so excited and nervous I can hardly stand it!  We'll be flying into Palm Springs and spending 6 days soaking up the sunshine, lounging and swimming at the Ace Hotel & Swim Club, hiking around Joshua Tree National Park, and hopefully finding lots of citrus to eat.  We're going to play it by ear, but we've also thought of taking a quick day trip to San Diego to dip our toes in the ocean.

If we're lucky, the piles of snow outside our window right now will be at least part-way melted by the time we return...wishful thinking, I know.  ;)  California, you are the light at the end of our looong winter tunnel.  See you soon!

(Above is a super quick project I made for Edwin's room this week.  I used all scrap fabric and followed this pattern for the balloon!)


my little flirt...

Sometimes after lunch we find something silly to do to fill that awkward time before nap...like work on giving kisses!  I honestly think I could write a whole blog dedicated to those extremely sweet, awkward, and slobbery baby kisses that sometimes happen with their entire mouths wide open and if you're lucky, their little arms wrapped tight around your neck.  Edwin's always been kind of a flirt, but this week he rediscovered how handsome he is and had a fun time giving himself kisses in the mirror.  And, woah, does someone need his bangs trimmed or what?!

Other silly things we do together these days are...fake sneezes, finding our belly button, and singing "eieio!"  Don't hold me to it, but this might be my favorite age.

(more of edwin's baby kisses found here & here!)


in my kitchen: morning glory muffins

These are my favorite muffins.  I first had them at a popular family diner, and they prompted me to immediately hunt down the recipe, which I found in the King Arthur Whole Grain Flour Baking Cookbook.  I made them all the time when I was on maternity leave last year.  They are that perfect balance between hearty, wholesome, and sweet, which is exactly what a new mama needs.  I can't believe I've gone almost a whole year without making them.  This time around they are perfect for little hands.

I must have been in a hurry when I made this batch because I totally forgot the raisins.  Still delicious.  Also realized as I was taking photos that I totally stole this muffin tin from my mom.  I'm sorry mom.  And, thank you.

(recipe found here and here)

  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 2 cups King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour or Premium Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups peeled and grated carrots
  • 1 large tart apple, peeled, cored, and grated (or leave the peel on; your choice)
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut, sweetened or unsweetened
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/3 cup sunflower seeds or wheat germ, optional
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup orange juice

1) Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a 12-cup muffin tin, or line it with papers and spray the insides of the papers.
2) In a small bowl, cover the raisins with hot water, and set them aside to soak while you assemble the rest of the recipe.
3) In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, spices, and salt.
4) Stir in the carrots, apple, coconut, nuts, and sunflower seeds or wheat germ.
5) In a separate bowl, beat together the eggs, oil, vanilla, and orange juice.
6) Add to the flour mixture, and stir until evenly moistened.
7) Drain the raisins and stir them in.
8) Divide the batter among the wells of the prepared pan (they'll be full almost to the top; that's OK).
9) Bake the muffins for 25 to 28 minutes, until they're nicely domed and a cake tester inserted in the center of one of the inner muffins comes out clean.
10) Remove from the oven, let cool for 5 minutes in their pan on a rack, then turn out of pans to finish cooling. Wrap any leftovers airtight, and store at room temperature for several days; freeze for longer storage.
Yield: 12 muffins.

(note: this recipe takes substitutions beautifully - swap out nuts, fruits, spices, or even lighten them up with applesauce instead of oil.  I used whole wheat pastry flour, natural cane sugar, and freshly grated coconut.)


refresh...a diy basket makeover

A few weeks ago I did a quick basket makeover.  Nothing fancy or complicated - I just took a basket I had lying around that wasn't really being used, removed the handle, gave it a couple of quick coats of spray paint, and ta da! a new and improved basket to hold towels in our guest room.  I love projects like this that yield instant gratification and make something old feel new again.  Now I can't help but scour the thrift stores for discarded baskets that are full of potential.  Wouldn't making some of these dip dye baskets be a super fun summer project?  I'd love to experiment with colors and maybe make some fabric liners or leather handles to soften them up a bit...oh the possibilities!

I hope you have a relaxing and creative weekend...

I'll be spring cleaning like crazy, breaking in my new running shoes, making these veggie burgers, and packing for my spring break trip in 10 days!  I can't wait. 


in my kitchen...toddler friendly veggies & grains

So Edwin has always been a really good eater.  A champion at nursing, loved all baby purees, and mastered finger foods at 10 months.  But recently things have changed...or are always changing, really, and we've entered a bit of a fussy eating stage.  This recipe sort of developed out of that stage and the desperation and frustration I felt one night while looking around my kitchen after a few fussy & very messy meals.  I don't know why I hadn't thought of it earlier...breakfast pancakes have always been a huge hit and a few weeks ago I perfectly crafted a buckwheat/oatmeal blend just for him.  But this is a different sort of pancake - more for lunch or dinner or snack or whenever you need a healthy, easy, and non-messy meal to offer your one-year old.  Obviously there are a lot of variations you can take on this depending on what you have on hand, and that is what I love about it.  Sometimes I want to eat something that isn't really very "kid" friendly (like rice & beans, or carrot soup, or salad, or chocolate cake!;)  But, with this you can take whatever grain or veggie you have ready, add a few spices, maybe slather it in hummus and you are good to go.  A recipe every rookie parent should have in his/her back pocket.  mama - 1, fussy eater - 0!

Toddler Friendly Veggie & Grain Pancakes
(this is an Indian inspired version, but the sky is the limit with spices and variations!)

  • 1 egg
  • 3 T of cooked brown rice & lentils (or grain/bean of choice)
  • 1 T steamed kale (or steamed veggie or green of choice)
  • pinch of salt
  • dash of tumeric & cumin (or spice of choice)

I pureed all of the ingredients in my baby bullet (blender or food processor would also work.)  Preheat a non stick skillet over medium heat and spray with olive oil spray.  Drop batter into 3, 2-3" circles.  Cook for 2 minutes, flip, repeat, and remove when golden brown.

Edwin is really into "dipping things" right now, so any sort of tahini/hummus/cheese would be work great with these and be fun for little kid fingers  This week I'm going to try a broccoli and goat cheese combo.  Lucky little kid, that's for sure!


refresh: a trip to the greenhouse

I don't know about you, but this winter is starting to feel a little loooong.  We've all been sick, the sidewalks are icy, and last week the engine blew out on our car...it's just been one of those winters.  The other day in order to perk up and help cure our "stir crazies" we took a trip to the greenhouse to warm up and dream about spring...

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