Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Last Day of Fall

I figured since today was the last day of fall (well, I guess officially December 19 or something is, but nobody wants to think about fall after November) that I'd better do one last fallish post.

Here are our pumpkins with the thickest rinds EVER--it took me like 2 hours to hack that tree into the pumpkin enough so that light just barely shone through. It was super fun though! We had a big pumpkin carving party with tons of dessert and apple cider. We had this party a week before Halloween, and it was so warm out that 4 days later the pumpkins were completely rotten.

One of our friends left his pumpkin with us, and it lasted a bit better because it was carved all the way through so I guess it could breathe better. So we tried to salvage it for the trick-or-treaters, but Ellis was periodically wiping the seeping goop off the front porch table! :)

And then a first for this fall was a wreath! Nothing fancy, just some simple leaves and berries, but it was fun to actually do something! Plus honestly I like things simple and not over-embellished.

Originally I wanted to do a berry wreath, but all the berry sprigs I found were shaped weird, so I decided to try the leaves. I saw some nice berry stems at A.C. Moore the other day, so I'm hoping to do a berry wreath for Christmas--right now we've got Christmas inside the house and fall outside still. Oh, well, one thing at a time. :)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Christmassy Pine Cones

Our collection of Christmas decorations is pretty small and pitiful. For whatever reason, it didn't seem to matter last year--I was gone at work all day most days, and then we were out of the house by the middle of December until the new year. So it just didn't seem worth the money. This year we still don't have money to invest in Christmas trimmings, but since I'm around the house all the time, I'm feeling the need to make things at least just a little festive.

The courtyard area outside our apartment is teeming with pine cones, so I've been amassing a collection. Every time we go out for a walk, I grab pretty ones and throw them in the stroller. I've got a good number now, so I went searching for some cute ideas of what to do with them!

Here are some of my favorites!

{via Real Simple}

Nice simple centerpiece--man, I wish I knew where my trifle bow was! (Mom, is it at y'all's house, haha?)

{via The Spotted Fox}
Includes tutorial!

{via Twig and Thistle}
Includes tutorial!

Two awesome garlands! I'm thinking of either doing the first one, but with berries instead of pom poms; or the second one with a string of berries above it.

Next up: a slew of inspiration from Country Living!

{via Country Living}

My talented crafty neighbor made one of these--so pretty! I especially love that this one is white (my favorite color!)

{via Country Living}

One of my goals this year is to actually wrap presents with instead of just handing my family members stuff or stuffing gifts into bags. (Don't get me wrong--I have nothing against bags and tissue--I'm just curious to see what it feels like to actually cut and tape and even use ribbon)

{via Country Living}

LOVE this! I'm a huge fan of white, red, and robin's egg blue as Christmas colors.

And if you're wanting to spend a lot of time with a glue gun...

{via Country Living}

Hope you enjoy these ideas as much as I did! Can't wait to try some of them out! And then when my new camera comes in, get some pics of our apartment dressed for Christmas! Happy advent season!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Grown Up Thanksgiving

This is Ellis' and my first Thanksgiving as "grown ups." As in the first time I've had to actually help in the planning and organization of the holiday. I've made part of the meal at home with my family, but now I see that it's not the cooking that is the work--it's the planning of the cooking. And the shopping. And actually, mostly the thing that feels grown up is the paying for the shopping. It's totally different to make macaroni pie when your mom buys all the cheese than when you buy all the cheese. ;)

We did an early Thanksgiving in DC with my aunt Tammi this last weekend (which was AWESOME and I will put up pics), and now we are going to do Thanksgiving Day with some friends from law school tomorrow. We are really missing our families out West, but it's kind of exciting to be doing Thanksgiving as adults for the first time!

Another thing that's different this year is instead of the typical sweet potato casserole, I'm gonna be making my aunt's amazing Squash Souffle recipe!

{image via Taste of Home}

Tammi made it on Sunday and it was delicious, and I thought it would be a fun twist on the usual menu. Maybe everyone else knows all about squash souffle on Thanksgiving already, but to me it was new and exciting! (Also, it circumvents any marshmallow v. brown sugar and pecan debates- which is good because Ellis loves marshmallows--all the time with everything, and I don't like marshmallows with anything at any time.)

So here is her recipe!

Tammi's Thanksgiving Squash Souffle

1 package frozen squash (12 oz, I think)
1 stick butter

Cook, in a saucepan over medium heat for approx. 20 minutes
(make sure the butter coats the pan so the squash doesn't burn and stick)

add 1/2 cup sugar, stir with whisk
add 1/2 cup flour, stir with whisk
add 3 eggs, 1 at a time, stir with whisk
add 2 cups milk, stir with whisk
dash of nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Cook at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Let sit for several hours. Reheat at 350 for 20 mins.

Maybe I should've waited till I actually made it to post the recipe, but even if mine turns out awful, my aunt's is amazing, so it's still a great recipe! Enjoy! Happy Thanksgiving!

11/28--Edited to Add: Super easy, and turned out yummy! Give it a try! :)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

More Scotland Adventures

This is such an incredible trip, I thought I'd savor it as long as possible by being super slow in posting about it! That's the same excuse I use for sending late birthday cards and late wedding gifts, and may I say late thank-you notes. Cause it's so exciting to get an unexpected gift in June when your birthday is in March and you are no longer getting birthday attention!

Pretty much the absolute highlight of the trip was our trek up through the Highlands to the Isle of Skye. Also pretty much the highlight of our LIVES. It was just one amazing view after another, not to mention that nothing makes the heart grow fonder like 3 days being shut in the car with 2 babies. Just kidding--the babies were great the whole time in the car. We discovered the magic trick to keeping Brody happy was keeping the window open. So it may have been freezing, but the white noise put him right to sleep. And the trick to Soren was digestive biscuits. Lots and lots of yummy digestive biscuits.

Day one of our trip within a trip, we hit Sterling, where we were warmly welcomed by William Wallace. (and omg, I seriously was not even trying to alliterate there)

Here is the gorgeous castle!

There were beautiful flowers all over the place

And fun cannons for Soren to clamber on

And AMAZING views!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Already Old Together

One of the craziest things about marriage is seeing how you rub off on each other. It's not always in the ways you expect or hope--like we were both hoping that Ellis's punctuality would rub off on me. But instead my lateness has dragged us both down so that, much to Ellis' chagrin, people that know us now mistaken identify the Littlejohn lateness as an Eifert trait.

But it works both ways, because Ellis always tells people that he was born an old man--he loves staying home every night and going to bed at 10. Whereas I've always been the girl that was going places with people every day and every night and if I was in bed by 10, my parents knew I was sick. But now, just like my old man husband, my favorite way to spend an evening is hanging out on the couch with these guys.

What more exciting weekend plans could you ask for than spending it relaxing with your two favorite people? Maybe that makes me an old fogey at heart like my hubby. But in that case, maybe Ellis had it right all along and being old is F.U.N!

Annndd...my son never wears pants. We never wore shoes as kids (what kids do?), but I think Brody is taking it to the next level. Some days he doesn't even wear a shirt. Just a diaper. But what's cuter than a baby's chubby tummy in a diaper? Especially a cute cloth diaper--they're totally outfits on their own! ;)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Cute PJs

Gap has some pretty adorable pajamas right now, including these bee ones, which of course I want for Brody.

Growing up, one of our Christmas traditions was getting new PJs and a book every Christmas Eve. Then we would take a cheesy picture of all of us kids in our new PJs and then we would scamper off to bed to read our new book while we waited for Christmas morning to come! I loved that tradition, and Ellis and I want to pass it on and make that a tradition for our kids too! Can't wait till Brody's old enough to enjoy it!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Sarah's Bathroom

While I've been sick, I have been furiously trying to finish the knitted throw I'm making for Brad and Rachel for Christmas. I know--I never am panicked about Christmas presents over a month before Christmas. But actually I have only 2 weeks to finish this since they will be in the US for the next couple weeks and then after that back to Scotland! So I'm hoping to send it to them while they're in the US to save (a LOT) on postage!

And while I knit I watch things (or, when I'm being holy, listen to sermons--LOVE Mark Driscoll's sermons!). And somehow I have morphed from thinking my mom was weird and boring to watch HGTV when she was at the gym, to HGTV being the only thing I watch. One of my favorite design shows is Sarah's House, a show about a designer renovating an old country farmhouse.

This afternoon she did her main bathroom, and I was completely in love.

Favorite part: the window. I love that there is a window (as opposed to our cubicle cave bathroom) and I love the gorgeous curtains and how they look with the incredible old tub.

I also love the tile on the floor. Wish I could find a close-up pic for you because it was to die for. Well, just squint as hard as you can at the spot on the lower left-hand corner. Even that is gorgeous. :)

LONG Nerdy Cloth Diaper Post

A very late Round 2 post to follow up my "Round One" one over a month ago.

We've been at the cloth diapering for almost 2 months now--it will be our two month clothiversary in exactly one week! So far we have LOVED it--it really doesn't seem like any extra work at all. It takes a little bit to get in the groove, but now both Ellis and I can change a cloth just about as quick as a disposable. The thing that takes the longest is making the decision as to what kind of diaper to put him in next. Do I slap on a prefold and Thirsties, a Best Bottom, or a Bum Genius 3.0? Although honestly, I normally just grab from which pile seems most abundant because I like to keep the piles as even as possible. ;)

Anyway, cloth diapers. My current stash consists of:
--2 Flip one-size diaper covers and 6 stay-dry inserts
--2 Best Bottom one-size diaper covers and 6 stay-dry inserts
--1 Thirsties cover, Sz. M
--1 Bummis cover (the Super Whisper Wrap), Sz. M
--3 BumGenius 3.0 pocket diapers (one-size)
----A BUNCH of prefolds (small, medium, and large)

The other thing I have--which maybe I mention this before--but it's worth mentioning 20 times because it is FANTASTIC!! But it is this diaper sprayer!

A nice and big pic so you can see just how fabulous this is! And you can even see the little illustration of how it attaches to the toilet. Anyway, this is $45 new at the Cotton Babies website, which would be totally worth it. We got ours for $30 off Craigslist. (Don't worry--it had never been opened. I guess a used toilet accessory would be kinda gross...) This is what makes cloth diapering so easy for us. It would still be easy, but the sprayer means no washing out in the toilet, which is really nice! It also cleans the diapers off faster and more thoroughly, so less stains!

Ok, real quick reviews of the diapers:

The Flip:

This was Brody's very first diaper, so I totally have a soft spot for them. Both the Flip and the Best Bottom diapers are hybrid diapers, or All-in-Twos. They have an insert that you just plop inside the cover and then when they're dirty, you just change the insert and reuse the cover. Usually what I do is switch the cover out each time and let it air out just to keep it fresh, but then I can use it at the next change. If there's a major poo that gets on the leg "gussets" (it actually doesn't have gussets--I just don't know what to call them) , and you don't have the diaper sprayer, you'll have to wash the cover. But if you have the diaper sprayer, just spray it off and let it dry! Another reason I love!

Anyway, the Flip insert is one-size, which is nice because once you have it, you have it, and you don't have to worry about ordering the next size. Also makes it cheaper. :) However, it does mean that it can be kinda chunky on a little baby, but not too bad.

The Flip is cut wider through the crotch than the Best Bottom, which makes it a little bulkier, but makes it nice and versatile! When I don't use a pocket diaper at night, double-stuffing a Flip cover (prefold and Best Bottom insert is my fav combo) is my favorite nighttime option. I love just being able to put any sort of insert in the cover and anything fits! P.S. I think they're the cutest. :)

Best Bottom:

Like I mentioned earlier, these are very similar to the Flip.

A few key differences.

1) The inserts snap in to the cover. LOVE this. Makes it easy to prep the diaper beforehand to make for a quick change OR to make it easy for someone who's not familiar with cloth diapering.

2) The inserts are sized. The disadvantage is that you have to buy more than one set of inserts, but the advantage is that they're trimmer! Also, these inserts are contoured, which I LOVE LOVE LOVE.

3) The covers have leg gussets. I haven't really noticed that gussets make a difference with regard to leaking, but they make these much easier to just wipe out and reuse after a blowout than the Flip.

4) The covers themselves are contoured, which is great for fit, but means you can pretty much ONLY stuff it with a contoured insert. Also you have to be careful about the inserts poking out the top of the cover--I like that the Flip has a little flap at the top to tuck them in.

Bum Genius 3.0

These are great too! It's like comparing apples and oranges though. You just stuff the inserts into a pocket of the diaper. Pretty similar to the All in 2 except that there's a layer of fabric over the insert as well. I love that the pockets can be "prepared" beforehand so I feel no guilt asking Ellis or anyone else to put him in one of these, haha.

This is my favorite nighttime option right now--to put in an insert and a doubler in a pocket. Works great and not near as bulky as a double-stuffed Flip.

The only thing I don't like quite as much as the All in 2's is that every time you change this one, it's done. You have to put the whole diaper in the pail. It's so nice laundry-wise to just throw the insert in the pail. But still really like these.

Prefolds and Thirsties and Bummis Covers

Honestly, I use these interchangeably with the Flip and Best Bottoms. I don't pin them or snap them or fold them in any fancy way whatsoever. I just fold them in thirds (as they are wont to go anyway :) ), fold down the top, and plop them in a cover. Super easy.

The smaller prefolds don't hold as much as the Flip/BB microfiber ones, and the larger prefolds hold a lot, but are pretty bulky too. But they are cheap and they feel so authentic and diaper-y and I love them.

As for the two covers, since they are not one-size, they are still a little big on Brody, so I've had a few leaks. But they're great covers--can't wait till he grows into them.

Hope that's helpful to people who are trying to wade through all the cloth diaper reviews and recommendations out there and who are feeling overwhelmed like I was.

Basically it helped me to realize that they all hold poop and pee and I would probably love whatever I got. There's no wrong diaper and no perfect diaper. But I love the All in Two system, because there is less laundry (and we only have a laundromat, so that was a huge factor) and it's so versatile and interchangeable. And it holds poop and pee.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Three Broaduses

A couple more pics from our fall break trip down to SC. I took a zillion more, so hopefully they'll make their way onto facebook one of these days. One of the things on my to-do list (but always coming in behind things like laundry, babysitting, and dinner) is to go through my photos and delete the bad ones and the duplicates. I read this awesome idea in Real Simple about this woman who burns every photo album on a CD, labels it, files it alphabetically, and then deletes it from her computer. She is my photo inspiration, and I'm hoping that she'll inspire me to at least partially implement her system!

Brody with his oldest living namesake, his great-grandad, Papa.

Broadus, Broadus, and Broadus! So far they've all had their own nicknames: Dick, Rick, and now Brody.

Maybe Baby Food

And because I've been at home all weekend, it's the perfect time to catch up a bit on this blog. :)

My amazing friend Shaye inspired me to make baby food this summer, so I gave it a try. So far I've just been doing this with fruits and veggies we had lying around (i.e. things that were about to go bad). We mostly plan on giving Brody blended up bits of whatever Ellis and I are eating (which is exactly what this is), but it will be great for times when we're out and about and don't have a blender. Also, it just seemed like a fun experiment.

Cooking it all up

In nice little baby-sized portions

Into the freezer!

I think I got such a thrill out of this because I am not naturally organized AT ALL, and have been working really hard since being married to become that way. And projects like this make me feel like I'm playing dress-up and being super organized like so many of my great mom friends!

We'll find out how edible this is in about 5 months or so!

Sick Weekend

Here's a view of my bedside table this weekend while I was fighting off the flu or something like it. Ellis had to be gone all day at the ADR competition he was coordinating, which was sad, but he made sure to leave me with a cup of tea, a Christmassy scented candle, and some flowers and a card he had gotten me. Thanks, baby, for giving me a great environment for sleeping away the bug.

And thanks, BRODY, for being a super easy baby who just ate and slept and played happily in between. Here's the little guy LOVING the swings earlier in the week.

He's normally super stoic, but he was smiling and laughing the whole time on the swings. He's kind of an adrenaline junkie--he only laughs when he thinks he may be in danger. The cutie pushing him is Londyn, one of the 2 year olds that I watch 3 mornings a week.
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