Category Archives: Family

New Year’s Resolution: Declutter

“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”      ~William Morris

The beginning of a new year brings new resolutions. For some reason, mine almost always deal with eliminating clutter in our house. I am not a hoarder type, however I do find myself always holding onto things “just in case” I might need them in the future. With this being my one major roadblock, I needed to create a solution that would allow me to get rid of things, without sending me into a “what if” panic attack. This is especially true when I think about creating extra space in my closet.

Therefore, I am using a new decluttering method that will help me to get rid of things, but still allow me to hold onto them in the event that I regret tossing it.

The steps are simple:

1. Grab a garbage bag and head over to your closet (or toy room, or office, or living room…)

2. Fill up your bag with items that you no longer use or wear on a regular basis

3. Close up the bag and mark it with a tag reading “Bedroom 2011” or “Toy Room 2011”

4. Stash the bag in your attic or basement where it will be out of sight.  Chances are you will forget you ever put that bag in the attic, however in the event that you regret getting rid of something, you can sneak into your attic and remove the item from the bag.  Just remember to tie it back up tight!

5. Next year, at this time, when 2012 rolls around dig out the 2011 bag.  Do NOT open the bag, simply toss it into your car and take it directly to your local GoodWill or Salvation Army.  They key here is not to look in the bag.  If you haven’t needed it in a year, chances are you don’t need it at all.  Peeking inside will only get you thinking, oh “I might want to hold onto this, just in case.”

Repeat this cycle every year and your clutter will slowly start to disappear.

I have finally reached a point in my life where I realized I cannot hold onto every single meaningful artifact in my life and save it for myself, my children, my future grandchildren…etc.  In fact, the more I hold onto, the less special it becomes.  I would rather have a few really meaningful items than bins full of things I didn’t have the heart to get rid of.

I read this quote once by someone named Stephanie on an organization board and it resonated with me:

“Present Me is tired of holding onto future Me’s crap. Future Me will just have to deal with it.”

Sorry, future me, your stuff just got sent to Goodwill.

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Creating a Mom Cave

I have always referred to our basement as the man cave. It is a place where my husband goes when he needs a break, to hang out with his buddies or to watch a game.  I recently heard the term “mom cave” and I was instantly intrigued. What is a mom cave? I want one!

Turns out a mom cave is a relatively new trend giving women, not just moms, a place to regroup, get organized or even (gasp) relax.  It is essentially a prettier version of your typical home office.  While women have been designing spaces for themselves for many years, Elaine Griffin, one of the Top 100 Designers named by House Beautiful, gave it a catchy name and reinvented the concept. Mom caves can come in many shapes and sizes and it turns out creating one can be quite easy. They can be a transformed extra bedroom that never gets used, a little nook hidden under your stairs or simply the far corner of your bedroom.

Here is some inspiration for creating a space in your home that is just for you.

Photo courtesy of centsational girl

Photo courtesy of Three Men and a Lady

Photo courtesy of Young House Love

Photo courtesy of HomeGoods

Photo courtesy of The Life Styled

Photo courtesy of The Container Store

I have this very awkward wall at the end of my upstairs hallway that is too big to leave bare, but too small to turn into a room.  I am starting to think it is the perfect spot for my mom cave.

Step 1:  Find the perfect wall color.  Have any suggestions for paint colors that your currently loving?

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Filed under Decorate, Family

Campfire Birthday Party

campfire birthday partyMy sweet little girl turned 2 last week!  She has recently fallen in love with messy, gooey smores, so we decided to throw her a campfire birthday party.

campfire birthday invitationThe adorable red invitations were created by fellow HAP blogger, Stef and set the tone for the fun, outdoor party. The invitations can be ordered here in her Etsy shop, Morning Star Designs.

kids birthday party bug juice

Guests were served “bug Juice” in mini canteens adorned with name tags.

We snacked on all of Isla’s favorite foods!  Jagged cut wood signs painted with black paint were used as food tags.

owl birthday tshirt

The birthday girl wore an adorable personalized pink and red raglan tee created by Jamie at Sweet 3 leaf prints.

S'more cupcakesInstead of cake, we treated ourselves to smore cupcakes: devils food cake topped with marshmallow butter cream and topped with Hershey squares and mini graham crackers.

No campfire birthday party would be complete without a smore buffet!  My favorite combination?  Peanut butter cup smore on chocolate graham crackers with marshmallow fluff.

A red bandana banner created by Andrea at Where the Green Grass Grows hung above the food table.

S'more birthday party favorsAs party favors, guests were asked to take a “smore for later.”  The cellophane bags were tied with jute and a tag also created by Stef.

campfire party favorsAll the kids left with bandana knapsacks filled with treats and small toys.

happy trails bandana birthday favors

Happy birthday Miss Isla!

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Filed under Birthday, Entertain, Family

Pink and Brown Ladybug Party

My niece, Isabelle, just turned one and my sister threw her the most adorable birthday party.  It was a pink and brown ladybug party and she thought of every detail!

The house was decorated with pots of planted grass that were adorned with pink ladybugs!

Flying ladybugs hung from the lights thoughout the house.

Pink and brown were the colors of the day!  The napkins were wrapped in pink and brown and tied with coordinating ribbon.

Guests snacked on “bug bites” which were PBJ’s and cream cheese with strawberry jelly sandwiches shaped to look like ladybugs.

All food had adorable tags that were created with pink paper and a ladybug stamp.

Guests sipped on pink ladybug lemonade from brown cups that had a pink ladybug stickers created by Ladybug Labels.

No ladybug party would be complete without ladybug cupcakes!

The birthday girl had a special outfit too!  A pink tutu and headband made by Sweetie Pie Tutus with a ladybug shirt created by Sticheroos.

As favors, guests were given tins filled with pink and brown M&M’s and topped with an adorable ladybug tag also created by Ladybug Labels.

Everyone, especially Miss Isabelle, enjoyed a wonderful party!

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Filed under Birthday, Entertain, Family

33 Ways to Go Green Today

Earth Day 2010Happy Earth Day!  We’ve compiled a slew of easy ways to be more eco-conscious this year, along with our favorite tips and products to help you do it. Don’t be overwhelmed by the long list – a lot of the ideas are very doable with a little extra effort.  Bonus: many of these simple switches are budget-friendly too!

Also, don’t forget to check out more tips from our readers in the giveaway comments from Monday’s post and leave your own comment as an entry to win.  We’re thrilled to hear that a lot of you are pretty green already and we’ll be picking one lucky green winner tomorrow.

Ways to Be Eco-Friendly

33 Ways to Go Green Today
1. Switch to reusable bags and stash one in your purse or car. (our faves: Envirosax…find your style here)
2. Make your own baby food.
3. Use biodegradable pet poo bags.
4. Start a compost pile.
5. Join a CSA.
6. Support your local farmer’s market.
7. Switch to eco-friendly cleaning products or make your own!
8. Consider a hybrid car.
9. Walk or bike more .
10. Turn the lights off or switch to energy star bulbs.
11.Start switching to organic produce.  Start by spending just $10 a week on organic.
12. Plant a garden. Don’t have a yard? Try a windowsill herb garden!
13. Switch to chemical-free/organic bath & beauty products (our faves: Alba Sea Plus Renewal Cream, Burt’s Bees Deep Pore Scrub, Method hand soaps)
14. Recycle! Toss a bin in your kitchen or pantry to make it easier.
15. Use fans instead of air conditioning.
16. Know a hunter/fisherman? Live with one? Eat and share sustainably-caught fish or grass-fed, organic meat (bet you never thought about sportsman that way!).
17. Use cloth diapers.
18. Redo that room using low VOC paints.
19. Eat at least 1 meatless meal per week. (try this pizza)
20. Discontinue unnecessary mail such as bills that you pay online or spam.
21. Use rechargeable batteries.
22. Replace paper napkins with a stack of cheap cloth napkins & dishrags. Buy enough for your family for at least a week.
23. Buy in bulk to reduce packaging waste.
24. Turn off appliances like TVs & computers when you’re not using them.
25. Plan your meals so you don’t waste food!
26. Create a rain barrel in your yard for watering your garden.
27. Carpool or take public transportation.
28. Switch to energy star rated appliances. (bonus: you’ll get a tax credit!)
29. Donate gently used items to Goodwill, consignment shops or other charitable organizations.
30. Hang your laundry outside to dry.
31. Use a man-powered lawn mower.
32. Fill up your own water bottle instead of buying bottled water.
33. Skip the to-go coffee cup and buy a reusable travel mug. (bonus: most places will give you a discount for using one)

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Filed under Cook, Fab Finds, Family, Garden

Homemade Baby Food

When my daughter started eating solids, I made her a promise.  I would not feed her any baby food that I would not also eat myself.  After opening and tasting 2 jars, I realized we had a problem.  The consistency and the flavor the jarred baby food was just all wrong to me.  So, I decided to make my her baby food myself.

Besides having better flavor, I quickly realized that making baby food also had other benefits.  It created much less waste than purchasing and throwing away all of those baby food jars, which made it an earth friendly option.  It also was significantly less expensive.  For example, one 2.5 oz jar of Gerber peas will cost about $.70 or $.28/oz.  I was able to purchase a small bag of frozen peas on sale for about $1.00 and from that bag made 20 ounces of baby food.  That’s only $.05/oz for home made pureed peas.  Making the peas instead of purchasing them was a $.23/oz savings!

I will admit, however, that as a new mom it wasn’t always easy to find time to make baby food.  One trick I found helpful was making it in bulk and freezing which made the task quite manageable.

How to make baby food
It is hard to give a specific recipe for making baby food because it is actually very simple.  The only trick is that every fruit and vegetable will have a different cook time.  Basically, you take fresh fruits and vegetables, steam or bake them, and then blend them into a puree.  Some will puree beautifully and others need a little bit of water to get them to a good consistency for baby.  I own a Beaba Cook, which steams and purees all in a few easy steps, however a sauce pan and a blender will give you the same result.

How to store baby food

After you have cooked and pureed your fruits and vegetables, you can take a regular old ice cube tray and pour the puree into the tray cubes.  Freeze for a couple hours and then remove the frozen baby food cubes and place them in resealable freezer storage bags.  Label them with the date and the type of puree.  I always used up the frozen baby food within a month to insure it stays fresh.  Each cube is roughly 1 oz of food.

When you are ready to use the food, just place some frozen cubes in a bowl and heat until room temperature of slightly warmed.  You can also let them thaw overnight in the refrigerator.

I also loved using 4 oz round gladware containers.  They were the perfect size and make taking food on the go very convenient.  And don’t worry all of you conscientious moms, gladware is now bpa free!

Get Creative

Who says baby food need to be boring?  Once you get the hang of making your own baby food, you can start to have a little fun with it.  Here were some of my daughter’s favorite flavors:

pureed peas with mint leaves
pureed baked apples with raisins
pureed sweet potatoes with a dash of cinnamon

Although it may take a little extra time, making your own baby food is a great choice if you are trying to be kinder to the earth. I creates significantly less waste, just think about all the glass jars you won’t be purchasing and throwing away.  And I bet your baby will enjoy the fresh flavors and vibrant colors!

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Filed under Cook, Family, Garden

There’s someone we’d like you to meet!

Lincoln James
6 lbs 3.5 oz and 19 inches long

Please say hello to the newest member of the Haute Apple Pie Family!

Baby Lincoln decided to surprise his mommy and daddy and arrive 3 weeks early!  Both Stef and Lincoln are doing great.

Congratulations Stef!!

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9 Ways to Eat Healthier in 2010

A new year means a new start – especially with food! To kick things off for 2010 we brought in our friend and nutrition expert, Ann Pierce, from Pierce Whole Nutrition. Ann switched careers to pursue her passion and a Masters in Nutrition Therapy. Her fabulous blog has tons of great nutrition tips and recipes.

A New Perspective on Eating Healthy and the Easiest Diet Ever
I read something on Kratomystic.com recently stating that over 50% of New Year’s resolutions involve losing weight. This may or may not be on your list for 2010, but even if it’s not, chances are you’ve tried at least one or two “fad” diets in the past few years: Atkins, South Beach, cabbage soup, etc. These diets may help with short-term weight loss, but they’re rarely sustainable. You’ll find yourself losing energy and muscle tone, your skin can become dry or blemished and you may even experience headaches, irritability or anxiety.

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions anymore. Maybe that’s why I still bite my nails, still don’t have my family finances in an organized spreadsheet and still eat a touch too much sugar. But I’m committed to a diet that increases my quality of life. It’s made me more innovative in the kitchen, my husband and I have avoided any type of flu or cold so far this winter and I have more energy.

It’s surprisingly simple: Eat whole foods.


What are whole foods?
Whole foods are high-quality (organic and local whenever possible) poultry, lean meats and seafood; nuts and seeds, fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans and legumes, eggs and dairy, spices and herbs, and natural sweeteners (like honey, blackstrap molasses and real maple syrup). What is NOT whole foods is anything processed, such as fast food, most prepackaged baked goods; many salad dressings; white bread; prepackaged puddings, chips or candy.

Whole foods are packed with vitamins and minerals that are essential for your health. Those who eat a whole foods diet at least 90% of the time are more likely to have clear skin, shiny hair, smooth nails, brighter eyes, more mental alertness, lower body fat and more lean muscle. Their bodies are less likely to be acidic, which means things like cancer and other diseases are less likely to thrive. Immunity is increased so they get sick less frequently. They are happy and full of energy. Doesn’t this sound like a great way to start out the new year?!

9 Ways to Switch to a Whole Foods Diet:
1. Start with a kitchen cleanse: remove processed foods from your cabinets and go grocery shopping to stock up on whole foods.
2. Use honey as a sweetener in your coffee or tea.
3. When baking, try to replace sugar with maple syrup, honey or blackstrap molasses; replace white four with whole wheat flour.
4. Instead of buying white bread, buy fresh whole grain bread from your local bakery. Slice it yourself at home to make the loaf last longer.
5. Eat hard-boiled eggs for snacks in place of pretzels, chips or granola bars (and don’t skip the yoke – it’s where all the nutrition is!).
6. Instead of buying low-fat sugary yogurts, buy a tub of plain, all-natural yogurt. Add fresh, dried or frozen fruit; honey; nuts and seeds; or cinnamon to enhance the taste AND the nutrients (plus it saves you money!).
7. Make your own salad dressings by whisking together ingredients like olive oil, lemon juice, balsamic or red wine vinegar, ginger or garlic.
8. Commit to making your baby and toddler food at home. Prepare in bulk and freeze individual servings in ice cube trays. This will save you money and protect your child from the hidden “natural flavors” (this can mean MSG) found in jarred baby foods.
9. Prepare brown rice or quinoa in large quantities and freeze according to appropriate serving size (small bags if you’re an individual or cooking for two; larger bags if you have kids to feed).

Start Slow, It’s Ok!
Keep in mind: all of this takes time. Maybe you only make one or two changes this year and next year add a couple more. That’s great! Better to approach it slowly and stay committed than to attempt a lifestyle overhaul that is bound to fail. By sticking to this diet 90% of the time, you’ll see a difference in more things than just your weight: your looks, your mood, your energy, your happiness, your overall health will improve. Plus you can enjoy the occasional slice of pizza or cookie knowing that the majority of the time, you’re eating things that promote health and happiness.

Some other great sources of information are Body + Soul and Eating Well magazines and www.whfoods.com.

Thanks to Anne, Katie and Stef for inviting me over to HAP today. I have been a fan since Day 1 and am honored to be guest blogging! I only wish I lived closer so that I could hire them as my party planners and interior decorators!

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Filed under Cook, Family, Interviews

Holiday Traditions

I think one of the hardest things about getting married is trying to work out how to split the holidays.  My husband’s family lives in Illinois and we alternate every year where we spend Christmas.  Although it is hard to be away from my family every other year, I find that one of the best parts of this set up is adopting new holiday traditions.

My mother in law does an amazing job at Christmas time.  The decorations are beautiful, the food is to die for and there is always plenty of time spent around the fire.  But of all their traditions, I think my favorite is the present we all receive after Christmas Eve dinner.  Everyone is sent to their rooms to find gift bags sitting on their beds.  In these bags are Christmas Eve PJ’s!  The family spends the rest of the evening playing games and running around in their new get-ups.  Who doesn’t  love getting new PJ’s?  And it helps the kids even more excited for Christmas morning.  I know this is one traditions that I will adopt and pass down to my children.

What are some of your favorite holiday traditions?

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Filed under Family, Holidays

A Little Delay: Meet Lena!

My post is a little delayed today because we added a new member to the HAP family this weekend!  Meet Lena, our seven week old yellow labrador puppy.

yellow lab puppy

Lena

Coming up later:  A White & Gold Holiday Ladies Night!

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