Friday, June 28, 2013

Links! Philly Edition

First, some Friday music!

Artists : Lumineers
Song: Ho Hey

Now small selection of the new-to-us eateries in Philly::

I was introduced to the Lil' Pop Shop by a friend with kids. It's all popsicles, all the time, and the flavors are fantastic! I got a lemon, blueberry, buttermilk pop.

We had dinner at Tinto. The plates and hard cider left me wanting more, more, more... but I ended the dinner out on the sidewalk nursing and rocking a tired Alex.

We met up with Kris and Ryan for lunch at Panini's after our long walk through the city. This was one of those places where we ate before, but didn't realize it until we showed up again {both times it looked like a good choice when we were looking online, and it didn't disappoint!}.

Want some Greek food? Or a fresh fish made to order? Go to Zesty's!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Walking Philly

Long summer weekends in Philly put a smile on my face.

This one was that much more special because Alex got to meet his grandpa Frank for the first time (Little A's bucket list: meet all four grandparents, check!). 

This weekend was also different than other Philly trips in that we walked almost everywhere! We walked the 20+ blocks from our hotel in center city to the sites in old city, meandering through city hall and a few parks along the way. 

City hall, designed by the grandpa of Calder's namesake::

Once we were in old city, Alex was hungry, so we sat down on a bench for a snack. After the snack, it was time for the Little A show ~ he smiles, and talks, and keeps us entertained with the stories of all he has seen and heard. I'm soaking this in, knowing that in only a few short years, I'll be lucky if he tells me anything about how his day went!

Then, while his pops and grandpops did some work, Alex and I took a stroll around West Philly, visiting our favorite campus along the way.

Before that walk, I set up shop in the van and did a touch of work from the best mobile office a working mom could have! I was working, but I was also sitting there thinking about how amazing technology is that we can work online (without a line!) from almost anywhere.

Of course, all of that walking was fueled by long naps in the park, espressos at our favorite joint, and plenty of meals outside... And Chia Sarah will appreciate that both Alex and I were pooped on by the birds! 

I don't know if he could fully appreciate it, but Alex saw his first firetruck, and construction site!

And that, that was our weekend of walking around the city. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Garden Update

This week we added some succulents and the water plants to the deck... It's never too early to start teaching little A about habitats {desert and water this week}.

The succulents were a spontaneous move ~ I wanted something that could handle a water stressed environment and BAM these were at the entrance to the grocery store. I've had flowers and basil in this planter in the past, but they were always wilting because it dries out so easily {I have the grass planter lined with plastic, but it still dries so fast}. I have joined the succulent craze.

And the water garden has been installed, tucked in behind our pots of nasturtiums and sweet potato vines, just like last year. I can't get over how well this combination flourishes in this corner of the deck.

In the water garden, I stuck with the water lettuce and fairy moss because they were so successful last year, and I added hornwort. It's an underwater oxygenating plant, which I'm hoping will help to create a more hospitable environment for the goldfish {I think they suffered last year from a lack of oxygen}.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Baby :: Tips and Tricks to Remember

We didn't set up a nursery or request a lot of gadgets and gizmos in preparation for little Alex, because we knew that {generally} new babies do just fine with lots of food, diapers, and loving. BUT, there were a few things that I found to be helpful and worth remembering for future babies or when friends have babies.

Books :

Our prep involved a lot of reading. The books above were my go-to resources. I loved the Big Book of Birth for its straight forward discussion of the biology of birth, natural strategies for coping with pain and discomfort, and a balanced discussion of medical strategies and interventions that may arise under a variety of circumstances. Our labor course instructor and C both found The Big Book a bit dense and found themselves reading some pages a few times, so consider yourself warned if you would prefer a more watered down discussion. Ina May's book is also a great guide to the biology of birth and comfort techniques.

I was excited to breastfeed and in preparation for that, I picked up Dr. Newman's Ultimate Breastfeeding Book. I found that many of the illustrative photos in the book weren't helpful because they lacked action {every latch whether good or bad looked the same in some of the photos}, but I watched many of the videos posted on his website {I think you can find them on YouTube too} and they made everything clear!

While I found this book to be a bit wordy, The Happiest Baby on the Block is a great review of the key soothing techniques for newborns. I also liked its discussion of baby care methods from other cultures.

And finally, The 90 Minute Sleep Program was an interesting read and seems to be right in line with Alex's sleep rhythms.

Maternity & Nursing Clothes :

I didn't really need maternity clothes until the fall, so fortunately, I only had to buy them for one weather season {as opposed to needing them for changing seasons}. I bought four pairs of pants, and five shirts and then supplemented with my regular clothes. Many of my dresses and t-shirts fit just fine over my growing belly. BUT after little A was born and I started nursing, I had to buy nursing shirts {if I wanted to make nursing in public easier}. There are some great nursing shirts out there that let you be discrete while the little one eats, AND some of them are designed to be combination nursing/maternity shirts {like this one and this one that I'm wearing above}. I wish I had thought ahead and bought some of these during the pregnancy rather than buying maternity-specific shirts.

Bottle Tops :

If you're pumping while nursing, the one thing you have to do is keep track of your milk, what day it was pump/how long it's been in the fridge. The lids above have saved us. They are the perfect solution to having to have an elaborate system to keep track of which bottle is older {there were serious discussions about how groceries load their milk coolers} and/or having to remove labels. You just turn the outer dial and lock it to the day and general time that the milk was put in the fridge.

Healing Care :

In reading about birth, I came across many mentions of the amazing pads with built in ice packs that you get in the hospital {and everyone who mentions them doesn't hesitate to tell you to pack a few in your take-home bag}. People also talk about using Tucks witch hazel pads to aid in the healing process {and don't forget your Sitz baths ~ they really help!}. Anyhoo, I did take a few of the big pads home, but I also made a few of my own that combined the best of cooling with the soothing powers of aloe of witch hazel. Making these is simple : buy large pads, add a thin layer of aloe gel followed by a teaspoon or so of alcohol-free witch hazel. Wrap the pads in foil and put them in the freezer. Apply when necessary!

Skin Care :

The three products pictured above were all I needed to help my body stretch during the pregnancy and heal afterwards. I loved the Burt's Bees belly oil. I applied it after every shower while my belly was growing, and I'm still using it now as everything tightens back up, and I'm happy to report that I'm stretch-mark free {at least on my belly!}. I took some of the witch hazel and put it in a spray bottle - I sprayed this on after showers while I was still healing and when I didn't want to use one of the larger frozen pads. And finally, fortunately I haven't had many problems with dry skin on my nipples, but Nik gave the Earth Mama Nipple Butter to me and I've found it really helpful to apply before and after showering to act as a protective barrier against the drying power of the hot water and soaps.

Traveling with Baby :

Our traveling has not skipped a beat since little A arrived, and I realized that a few packs of Baggu's large zipper bags are perfect for keeping all of those little clothes organized. In the bag on the left, I have a Baggu that is always stocked with a few diapers and wipes - this sack can be tossed into whatever bag we're using at the moment for quick trips around town. The duffel was packed for our two week road trip along the east coast, I have 5 sacks for: 1. PJs, 2. outfits, 3. socks and hats, 4. sweaters, and 5. diapers. I also included one empty sack that was used for dirty clothes. This system worked perfectly on that trip!

Oh, and you didn't think I forgot about Ca$h, did you? He's right where he always is: just out of frame, poking his head in there to make sure everything is up to snuff.

Friday, June 14, 2013


This bachelorette party looks perfect to me : staying in the backyard and drinking a variety of cocktails {cocktail moment anyone?}... I might have to plan an end-of-summer cocktail party for the back yard!

~ At the party we'll serve these popsicles!

~ I love the homes featured on this blog.

~ I bought one of these custom address stamps, and it's just perfect!

~ I like Molly Wizenberg's writing. Nikki bought me her book, A Homemade Life, a couple of Christmases ago, and I read right through it {perhaps it helps that Molly is just as much of a Bruce fan as I am}. You can get a sample of her writing and recipes on her blog, Orangette. The other day she wrote about introducing foods to her young daughter :

"I’ve read many different takes on the subject of feeding young children, and so far, what seems to work best for our family is to not worry too much about it. I hope we can sustain that feeling. We’ll try to make food that is reasonably good for us, and to create moments to sit down and eat that food as a family, and I trust that June’s body will know what it needs and when it needs it."

I love it when I come across words that explain something I would have stumbled over trying to say. This is how C and I have treated everything with little Alex so far. No specific schedules or rules, just letting biology lead the way and trying "not to worry too much about it" : he lets us know when he's hungry or tired, and we respond. I hope we can keep it up as he grows!

*Credit for the Alex photo goes to Calder; he did everything from dressing him in shades to taking the shot! 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Garden!

Ahhh, the garden. It is fun to tend our little flower garden and observe just how different one year is to the next. Blame it on the subtle variations in the weather. A warm, but cool, spring allows the hyacinths to flourish, while a quick and heavy thunderstorm will weigh down the peonies one night and knock their petals right off the next {same goes for the poor poppies}. Have a baby and lilac season comes and goes before you even notice! Go away during a rainy warm week, and your feeble lawnmower can't cut a path through the yard. Toss a few dried flowers into the bed one fall and with the right conditions you have more Queen Anne's Lace than you ever thought possible.

Between our little road trip and the spring thunderstorms, we only enjoyed one vase of peonies this year ::

But I'm jumping ahead, it was a killer year for the hyacinths in our yard {so much more stunning, fragrant, and long-lasting than past years}::

Going all the way back to hyacinth season, I have a backlog of yard photos to share. In previous years, I would have posted a few garden updates by now, instead this provides the perfect opportunity to post side-by-side updates of the flower beds as they've filled in.

The Mailbox Bed {April to the left and June to the right}::

This is where all of our lavender grows. I had so much success drying the lavender last year and making sachets that I'm excited to plan another project for this year's batch. After the daffodils and graph hyacinths in April's bed fade, they are replaced by lamb's ear, the blooming lavender, and asters come fall.

The Weeping Cherry Bed {April followed by June}::

The bed under the weeping cherry begins with daffodils in April, and then is quickly transformed into a lush bed of ferns, hostas, hardy geraniums, bleeding hearts, tiny pink poppies, and queen anne's lace.

The Lamppost Bed {April followed by June}::

This flowerbed is right in front of our porch. In April it's full of daffodils, tulips, and those fragrant hyacinths. May brings the poppies. Cone flowers and butterfly weed bloom in June, July and August, and the asters arrive after that. It was so sad to realize that the poppies were past their prime by the time we got home from our trip, but the pods and remaining petals were beautiful none the less ::

There's a border of trees between our property and our neighbor's. At the end of that border is a small space with flowers. I don't remember exactly what flowers were in the bed two years ago, definitely some little pink poppies, California poppies, and irises. Last year a few Queen Anne's Lace joined the bed, and it was those seeds that I scattered like crazy last fall. All of the green in the photo below? I can't wait for that explosion of lace to bloom!

The Sunny Side of the House {April to the left, June to the right}::

After the daffodils fade, these beds are bursting with a variety lilies, bee balm of cone flowers, black-eyed susans, and butterfly weed among others. Clemantis climb up and over the deck railing. Asters and autumn joy sedum arrive in the fall; although I've been neglectful when it comes to clearing out the taller flowers around the sedum, as a result we never get the lush blooms we should.
This bed continues right around to the back yard ::

Here it gets more shade and is full of bleeding hearts, herbaceous peonies, and a variety of lilies. directly across from the house are a couple of birch trees in a flower bed.

The Birch Beds {May to the left, June to the right}::

Following a the same trend, this bed is full of daffodils and tulips in early spring. I'm always surprised at our tulip luck considering the number of rabbits grazing in our yard {they like the tender tulip shoots}. I showed you a variety of tulips in this post two years ago, but realized that this year their show was even more brilliant ::

The Shade Bed {May to the left and June to the right}::

These beds are full of Lily of the Valley, Forget Me Nots, tree and herbaceous peonies, lilies, and others.

It's amazing to look at these photos and see just how quickly everything fills in each spring. In the three years that we've been in this house, I've watched many of these plants have multiplied in numbers, and I've realized that it's a blessing and a curse. A blessing because, obviously, it's keeping the beds full, a curse because I'm bad at thinning, and I've seen some of the less vigorous plants suffer. But worry not, I have a plan! The Saxis house needs a garden, and I'm hoping that we can successfully transplant a variety of our plants {ferns, bleeding hearts, black-eyed susans, bee balm, lily of the valley, etc.}. From what I understand, transplanting will be more successful if it's done in the spring or fall when they aren't in flower. I'm hoping to try my hand at transplanting this fall, looking for successful spring growth next year.

But for now I have my energy focused on filling our deck pots. The flowers are in, and I'm sticking with sweet potato vine and nasturtiums. This combination has worked well for us the past couple of years, producing lush growth that cascades over the sides of the pots::

We have mint in big pots on the deck {mojito season is right around the corner!}. More herbs will go in the flower box in the kitchen window, and I just placed my order for plants to refill our water garden.