What We’ve Been Up To

A Perfect Cayman Islands Itinerary

A few weeks ago, in August, I spent the most beautiful week alone in the Caribbean. It was a truly dreamy little escape from life, after which I returned home safe and sound while hurricane after hurricane decimated many of the gorgeous nearby islands, leaving people without electricity, shelter, or even water. The Cayman Islands… Read more »

Girls Getaway, October, Travel, Travel Adventure

Oh! Possum! How Thou Hast Changed Me in Death and in Life

Two score and 18 weeks ago we loaded up a wagon with all of our worldly goods and migrated over the great hills of Hollywood to live henceforth in the land known as “The Valley.” We waved goodbye to poke restaurants to which we could walk, and streets that received weekly cleanings, and sighed hello… Read more »

Pets

5 Ways to Win the Back-To-School Snacking Game

Special thanks to CLIF Kid & POPSUGAR for being a sponsor and providing Zbar Filled products for us to try. All opinions, ideas and content are my own.            While I’m pretty proud of my summer parenting, i.e. less gaming and videos, more biking and fort building, I let my healthy… Read more »

Sponsored Post

Our Favorite Kid Stuff in 2017 (so far)

It feels like Back-To-School has meant more time for at-home play this year. We still have a packed schedule of sports and other activities but the time that we do spend at the house has been filled with new craft projects, building projects, and imaginative play. I had started a list of cool stuff that people had… Read more »

Baby + Kid

A Perfect Cayman Islands Itinerary

A few weeks ago, in August, I spent the most beautiful week alone in the Caribbean. It was a truly dreamy little escape from life, after which I returned home safe and sound while hurricane after hurricane decimated many of the gorgeous nearby islands, leaving people without electricity, shelter, or even water. The Cayman Islands were shielded from the brunt of the devastation, and in typical Caymanian fashion sent their resources to help. The Cayman Islands are absolutely beautiful, I had a chance to visit two of the three and I’d like to tell you about my trip, and hopefully inspire you to visit this beautiful country. They say #CaymanKind, and they mean that the people of the islands are welcoming; I found this to be very true.

I started my trip flying through Miami to Grand Cayman, where I rented a car. I forgot that they drive on the left! Oops! But the streets are designed with travelers in mind – most of the right turns are roundabouts which makes it easy to just follow the car in front of you. Which is what I did, and checked into the stunning new Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa, which gets 12 out of ten stars from me. It’s truly luxurious and on a beautiful slice of perfect white sand along Seven Mile Beach. Seven Mile Beach

When I woke up and saw the view from my room I was in awe. The Kimpton also had a great selection of in-room amenities (your own yoga mat! a salon quality blow dryer! free bottled water!) and a whole host of included activities like stand-up paddle boarding and snorkeling equipment. Kimpton Seafire Resort & Spa Even the walkways were gorgeous. Kimpton Seafire

On my first morning I headed over to the Atlantis Submarine to take in the reef and the amazing sea life. We took a ferry out to the sub, Atlantis Submarine Grand Cayman where we boarded the sub and went 100 feet underwater! I enjoyed the Atlantis Submarine when Scarlet and I were in Oahu, but this one was even more stunning. The reef is not bleached, which was so lovely to see, and we even got to spy some turtles! The light underwater omits any red from entering and I don’t have the photography skills to capture the beauty, but here’s the sub surfacing. Atlantis Submarine Grand Cayman

After that I wandered around George Town, bought some flip flops and admired the jewelry, before having an amazing fresh seafood lunch at Guy Harvey’s Grill. The sushi was perfection. Guy Harvey's Grill Sushi

That evening I did what everyone should do in Grand Cayman – watched the gorgeous sunset over Seven Mile Beach. I did mine with a coffee-based cocktail and some Mexican fusion cuisine at Coccoloba, where I also met some friendly locals and just had an all around great time.Seven Mile Beach Sunset

The next morning I had to have the quintessential Caymanian experience of swimming with wild sting rays at Stingray City. Stingray City is a sand bar in the middle of the ocean where sting rays gently swim around you and even give you hugs. Sting Ray City Grand Cayman

I got a kiss from one, which means seven years of good luck! We got there early, so it was deserted. Sting Ray City

It quickly fills up with visitors, so I really recommend the tour company I used, Red Sail Sports, for getting us there before the crowd. Sting Ray City

Once back at my resort, I headed straight for the spa, where I had an amazing massage on a bed of quartz crystals! I’d never heard of this before, it was wonderful. The spa itself was stunning, and all guests can visit it and use the hot tub even without booking an appointment, so don’t skip it. Kimpton Seafire Spa

After this I headed over to the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands. This museum is small and I think many visitors miss it – you should not! It is a stunning collection of works by Caymanian artists, and it walks you through progression of styles and artworks over the years as the island has grown and changed. It is a beautiful insight into the spirit of the country.

For dinner I did the most interesting thing – a flavor tour of the town of Camana Bay. This town is a sort of development, with apartments and retail stores, but it is also feels really special. It’s full of amazing restaurants, and with the flavor tour you get to visit a new one for each course, starting with wine and ending with desert. It was a fun way to meet new people and have some great conversations. The evening here was charming too, as kids played in the fountain. Camana Bay

I slept like a baby after that giant meal, then woke up early to head back to the airport for a quick flight to Cayman Brac on Cayman Airways. The little plane has the best logo (a pirate turtle?).Cayman Brac

Cayman Brac is stunning. Most of the south side of the island is a limestone bluff, with a few beaches scattered here and there. I stayed at one of my favorite resorts to date, Le Soleil d’Or. This boutique resort has just a few rooms, a beach club, and an on-site farm. The grounds are stunning, Le Soleil D'Or Le Soleil D'Or Le Soleil D'Or but the highlight of a stay here is the true farm to table dining. What you eat is grown on the bluff above the hotel, strategically planted into the limestone – it’s a site to behold. I toured the farm with the head farmer and tasted all of the fresh fruits and veggies before settling in for the most amazing fish dinner I think I’ve ever had. It was local fish roasted en papillote with a slew of vegetables, I savored every morsel. Le Soleil D'Or 5 copy Le Soleil D'Or Le Soleil D'or Le Soleil D'Or My favorite moments at Le Soleil d’Or were definitely relaxing at the beach club, Le Soleil D'or 10 copy where I finally finished The Goldfinch and enjoyed a farm-to-beach cocktail. Le Soleil D'Or Cocktail

I also took a tour of the small island, where I got to experience the amazing views from the bottom of the bluff, Cayman Brac Bluff and from the top. Cayman Brac Cayman Brac

We saw some local wildlife Cayman Brac and hiked up to the caves, where residents have hidden during hurricanes (and also hang out during teenage parties, I was told). Cayman Brac Cave Cayman Brac cave

The view of the North Shore, where most locals live, from outside the caves was lovely. Cayman Brac

After my magnificent 24 hour sojourn to Cayman Brac, I flew back to Grand Cayman and did a little more stand up paddle boarding, before a gourmet dinner at Avecita. If you enjoy molecular gastronomy or just trying new and interesting things, this shouldn’t be missed.

I met up with a friend I met online for drinks at Calico Jacks, a super fun party bar on the beach next to the Kimpton. It’s so fun to meet people in person after you’ve met online!  Captain jacks

Another sunset over Seven Mile Beach was the perfect end cap to a beautiful week. Kimpton Seafire Sunset

I recommend you all put the Cayman Islands on your must-visit list. I am looking forward to going back with my family, hopefully this winter!

by

Pretty Prudent Trend: Modern Witchcraft

Modern Witchcraft Inspiration Let’s go ahead and embody all of the power pictured above, right now. All of these ladies and their crystal balls are my idea of a perfect Halloween season – mysterious, beautiful, and just a little bit menacing.

We had the pleasure of receiving a copy of Practical Magic: A Beginner’s Guide to Crystals, Horoscopes, Psychics, and Spells, which sparked us to channel our inner spirits and delve into a witchy state of mind. Here’s what’s inspiring us for the season. Modern Witchcraft

We just want this Horned God embroidery hoop hung over our crystal ball, this art is from Kjersti Faret (find much more cat-inspired black magic at that site).

No spiritual journey would be complete without a set of healing crystal wands.

We need some loose leaf assam tea, so we can read our tea tea leaves with help from this illustration by Jade Walsh.

My current favorite dress has been described as “witchy” by my husband. I’m not taking it off. It’s the Riller and Fount Caftan Maxi, I got it at Shopbop. The short version is available on Amazon.

I wore it while I cleansed my house with sage smudge sticks. Pick some up on amazon Amazon or learn how to DIY your own smudge sticks at YouGrowGirl.

A Palmistry Hand with instructional booklet is the perfect thing to study to surprise your friends with your fortune-telling abilities.

Though it’s always more interactive and fun to read their tarot cards. Go with the traditional Rider Tarot Deck , or this more beautifully packaged version: The Illuminated Tarot: 53 Cards for Divination & Gameplay.

Gather your gals and throw a girls’ night watching Practical Magic, Hocus Pocus, or The Witches of Eastwick. We see your future, and it looks fun.

by

How to Paint A Pumpkin: Watercolor Tutorial

IMG_3570 (1)

Here is a beginner watercolor tutorial for painting pumpkins. Some people associate watercolor painting with the butterflies and flowers of spring and summer but I love to paint in autumn. You can see some of my recent fall-inspired apple and floral paintings on Instagram, plus how to paint the baby pumpkins in the image below, I just posted an Instagram video.  I always love to see the art that you create from my painting tutorials. Please send us your pics or tag us.

IMG_3585 (1)

(more…)

by

Easiest Instant Pot Apple Compote Recipe

Instant Pot Apple Compote Recipe Oh my goodness, I love apples and cinnamon and the season is upon us. Here’s a fun and easy recipe (1 minute cook time!) to use up your apple-picking scores. As you know we are very into our Instant Pot recipes lately, so I tried out a few apple-cinnamon compote combos and this one is my very favorite, and also the easiest! I like it on my steel-cut oatmeal in the morning, but it also works on ice cream or in a hand pie. Yum!

Get my easy recipe for Instant Pot Apple Compote after the jump… (more…)

by

Oh! Possum! How Thou Hast Changed Me in Death and in Life

1-opossum-paul-cannonTwo score and 18 weeks ago we loaded up a wagon with all of our worldly goods and migrated over the great hills of Hollywood to live henceforth in the land known as “The Valley.” We waved goodbye to poke restaurants to which we could walk, and streets that received weekly cleanings, and sighed hello to the warm prevailing winds of change, and also of burning smoke from a land almost constantly on fire.

Just a few short moons after arriving at our new homestead, we encountered the previously unknown-to-us beast known as the opossum. He and his brethren murdered our flock of hens, drowned in an errant empty pot, and came to untimely ends falling out of trees into our trashcan. But one of these loathsome creatures met its fate in a way that has stuck with me, and stuck to the ground, for quite some time.

I shall say that the possum is an animal that I do not appreciate. I do not appreciate his black, beady eyes; nor his pale, dirty, carrot-like tail that looks as though it was just plucked from the depths of the soil; nor his long fingers, which outstretch from entirely too human-like hands to grab trash and consume it as though it was a glorious roman feast. I do not appreciate you, fair possum! I shall rejoice when you dispatch forthwith from my homeland never to return again!

But, dear creature, you have lived, and you have loved, and you have tried so hard to establish a home for yourself and your children in this industrial wasteland of human excess. I acknowledge your dedication, I applaud your tenacity, I never hoped for your suffering. I truly never meant for you to meet this fate.

For whence you tried to cross the freeway off-ramp, perhaps to get slightly closer to the riches of cheese that awaited you in the Taco Bell parking lot, your struggle ended abruptly and I’m quite sure, painfully. The sight of your bloodied corpse from the window of my carriage did not bring me joy, sir. It did not bring me joy.

When I saw your desecrated body there upon the road again the next day, I was truly disgusted, though not with you or your kind. Disgusted by the sight of your entrails, and by the fact that you remained there for lo now 24 hours, uncared for. Un-buried. Un-dead in a sense. It brought me sadness. It caused me to reflect upon your struggle, and really all of our struggles. Who am I to judge you, god’s creature? Are we not the same? Are we all not engaged in a great struggle to survive and also sometimes to get to Taco Bell?

When in a fortnight your body still remained un-interred upon the barren off-ramp of the road known as the 170, I became concerned. Concerned for my city, uncaring to clean your surely diseased corpse from this intersection of human experience, this great crossroads of lives? I considered donning the costume of the gravedigger, lifting you with gloved hand into a strong sack and laying you to rest in a peaceful bin, but alas the danger was too great. I feared I would meet your same fate. So I did nothing. My child gazed upon you in wonder that you were no longer bloody, and had grown rather flat. What message was I sending her? Is life worthless? Is there any meaning in anything? Do we have no responsibilities? Don’t we owe even our filthy vermin enemies some dignity, some overarching kindness?

I posted a notice about you in the town square, hoping the criers would take up your cause! But the townspeople on nextdoor.com saw you as a symbol of everything wrong with our outpost; of disassociation from public services, a lack of caring, a sense of doom about the future. I removed myself from the town square before the hysteria grew too great. And still, you remained, growing flatter and grayer and sadder as the tides changed, the moons grew and shrank, even as the sun shaded over and eclipsed your memory. You slowly turned to dust, dear opossum, as we all must eventually.

Upon the fine morning of yester, I rose like any other morning and proceeded to dispatch my child to her place of education so as she could continue her studies in hopes of rising herself to a world not littered with the desiccated corpses of opossums. It hath been 12 moons now that we have seeked out and found your body with our eyes, it has become a light post to us, a signal that we are almost home, a fine point on the end of our daily voyage through the hills and desert to our family’s land.

But alas, yesterday you were not there! Our signposts have broken, our north star hath dimmed! What change! What monumental shift in the fabric of space and time! Let it be here known that upon Monday, the 18th of September, the year of our lord Two Thousand and Seventeen, you, dear opossum, valued friend, confidant of our deepest fears, gateway to the afterlife, were street-swept from the median and risen to the heavens, where you shall live out your days as a hero in our hearts!

My soul feels wiped clean! A new season is upon us! A new hope arises! From ashes we come, and to ashes you have returned. May you rise from them ever stronger! Godspeed, dear possum! Godspeed.

The image of the adorable possum is by Paul Canon, and can be purchased in print form here: Fine Art America.

by

Instant Pot Chicken Broth + Chicken Noodle Soup

2017-09-06 16.01.57 After a 5 days of my girls both requesting a can of chicken noodle soup in a thermos for lunch (bleech) I decided to try a homemade version in my electric pressure cooker. It is amazing! I’ve made a batch once a week ever since and I’ve even started eating it for breakfast. We are all addicted! With the help of an instant pot, chicken broth from scratch doesn’t have to be an all day affair.  2017-09-06 15.53.52

Read on for my Chicken Noodle Soup recipe… (more…)

by

5 Ways to Win the Back-To-School Snacking Game

Special thanks to CLIF Kid & POPSUGAR for being a sponsor and providing Zbar Filled products for us to try. All opinions, ideas and content are my own.IMG_3169            While I’m pretty proud of my summer parenting, i.e. less gaming and videos, more biking and fort building, I let my healthy snack game slide a bit. It felt freeing to roll out of the house with three kids and not a care in the world (or cracker in my purse) but then I had to drop some $$ on a sno-cone or a fast food bite whenever anyone got parched or felt the ol’ hunger pains. Alas, all good-ish things must come to an end so I’m here to share a few of my new-school-year-resolutions. It’s time to focus more on the food that I put in these precious little baby birds of mine (who are shockingly starting 1st, 3rd, and 5th grade this year, what?)

IMG_3172Let’s talk about nourishing their busy little bodies and brains with nutritious snacks. I’ve never claimed to be a parenting expert, I’m winging it just like you, but I do have a few tricks that I use to give the little ones a full tummy and an alert mind as they roll between school pick-up, drama, soccer, scouts, and whatever else happens to be on our agenda. Maybe these are all common sense… or maybe they are crazy enough to work?!? Nah, they are all super easy ways to help kids stay happy and satisfied between the school bell and the dinner bell. (Now I want to buy a dinner bell.) (more…)

by

Our Favorite Kid Stuff in 2017 (so far)

quinn

It feels like Back-To-School has meant more time for at-home play this year. We still have a packed schedule of sports and other activities but the time that we do spend at the house has been filled with new craft projects, building projects, and imaginative play. I had started a list of cool stuff that people had sent for us to review along with fun items that we had found on our own, so I thought I would share it here just in case you are looking for the perfect birthday gift for a 6, 8, or 10 year old. I’ll warn you that our list is LEGO, Harry Potter, and “fashion design” heavy. These kids know what they like. Have your kids been obsessed with anything new lately? Please let us know what they are loving right now!

gordon

Don’t laugh! The only things that matter in Gordon’s life right now are all things Harry Potter and LEGOS, oh and crystals. Does anyone know why a 6-yr-old may have recently become obsessed with crystals?

The illustrated editions of Sorcerer’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets were a magical introduction to the book series for my son Gordon who, gasp, had seen all of the movies first. I know, I know. We are really looking forward to Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: The Illustrated Edition which comes out in October. We already have a copy reserved.

On our summer vacation, we stopped at my sister’s house for a few days of horse back riding and eating giant slices of pizza. One morning included a few rounds of the Clue Harry Potter Board Game. I’ve always loved CLUE but playing a Harry Potter version just pushed it over the edge. We have one of these on our Christmas list.

These Harry Potter Paper Flyers have been great as Gordon is learning to follow written instructions. It’s a beautiful Klutz book filled with Harry Potter themed paper flyers to punch out, cut and fold. The illustrations are amazing and there is a ton of bonus content to read and enjoy. Highly recommend!

Folks stop us on the street to comment on Gordon’s Harry T-Shirt. The graphic designer in me loves the simple, iconic image.

The LEGO Creator 3-in-1 sets are some of our favorites. While it’s cool to display a LEGO set once complete, and even cooler to take it apart to make something from your own imagination, how perfect is it that you can use the instructions to build three total different things, like this Robot/Dog/Bird LEGO Creator Robo Explorer set.

claretoys

Moving on to my big girl Clare who is now solidly a tween. This basically means that you never know what you’re gonna get when you wake up in the morning. Exciting! She is dabbling in some big girl stuff but is also discovering that she now likes some toys that she has never been interested in before, like Barbies, what?

The Nokia Go is the perfect first step tracker. It’s simple to use, under $50, and doesn’t provide the distractions of a smart watch. It comes in a bunch of pretty colors and is also a basic watch.

We all joined in the rock painting craze this summer but Clare was really inspired by seeing beautiful examples in books like Art on the Rocks. It was fun for her to follow instructions and bring her artwork to a new technical level.

A love of creating doll fashions from single socks and scrap fabric has led to a love of Barbie Dolls. She recently spent a birthday gift card on this gorgeous The Look Barbie in a Sweater Dress. She seems to be the perfect doll for an older Barbie-lover.

This girl also loves Harry Potter and has a weird bet with her cousin that she will wear crazy socks every day this school year. I can’t wait to surprise her with their set of Harry Potter Houses Knee Socks. She also wears them to soccer!

Is your girl begging you for some color in her hair? We aren’t ready for permanent hues but we love to let her add some chalk to her goldie locks. These from Hair Flairs are some of our favs.

quinn

And now for my sweet crafty 8-year-old Quinn. We have been finding the coolest crafty kits for her to do alone or with a little help from her mama.

Have you seethe new snow resort LEGO Friends sets? Our favorite is the LEGO Friends Snow Resort Chalet but they are all adorable and as much fun to play with as they are to put together. I love all of the thoughtful details included in this set. Both of the girls went crazy over all of the cuteness.

D.I.Y. Dollhouse is a lavishly illustrated guide for budding architects, builders, and designers, showing then how to build and furnish their own eco-friendly dollhouse! This sounds like the perfect book to inspire creative, cozy winter projects at home.

We have outgrown hair bows but these Hair flower clips look great in a cluster or alone. Get a whole rainbow of colors for under $20.

Given the girls new found love of sewing clothes for their dolls, these Fashion Designers Kits By Seedling which come in 2 versions; Inspired by New York and Inspired By Audrey Fashion. The kits come with everything you need to design and create beautiful fashion designs. The sets are beautifully put together and make a fantastic gift for any crafty kiddo.

This Robotime DIY Dollhouse greenhouse kit is a good project for a parent and kid to do together. The tiny details are wonderful and I can’t wait to surprise Quinn with one of these this holiday season. It will be really fun to have some quality time creating this little magical wonderland.

by