before and after: my grandma's club chair.

My grandma was a card shark. My favorite thing about her house was her card table and tiny club chairs, where we spent so many hours visiting over food, grade school projects and Wheel of Fortune. This was no fold-out card table. This was an elegantly detailed and ornate footed table that could be raised and lowered, but it usually sat in its card-playing position, low to the ground, with its four small club chairs, perfectly sized for grandchildren. And card games.

It was the center of her living space, and the anchor for so many shared memories.

My mom, aunt, cousin and I each got one of the four club chairs, and for years, I've been dreaming about what to do with mine. It has been patiently awaiting its rescue in my brother's garage, and about a month ago, I decided there would be no better place for it than in the babe's nursette.

With the help of my sweet, genius designer friend Emily of GEORGE Interior Design, it got a face lift in the form of a white cotton/linen slipcover, piped in a textured cotton oatmeal. Yum.
This slipcovered Savannah Armchair from PB served as inspiration. Since I don't have a tiny ottoman, I may eventually have one made, or try to find something perfectly proportioned to accompany my new little chair. The best part about it... whenever I want to be reminded of my grandma's green chair, I just lift up its skirt and there it is. And, of course, I can always throw it in the wash. Bonus!
Oh, and a little sneak peak: the orange kidney bean pillow matches the babe's crib bumper, made by Rocky Top Design. It's all coming together! More on the way.


building for the babe (ish).

There was a time in my life when I loathed IKEA. Haven't we all been there? Before I bought into it's simplistic way-of-design, I was frustrated by... the store's layout, the DIY for every. single. item... the self check-out. I didn't even like the cafe.
Who was that person? After years of window shopping, I am officially an IKEA fan. I understand the ins and outs of the store, appreciate the DIY factor and actually enter the store through the cafe, just so I can pick up a soda and candy (or maybe a soft serve) to keep me company while I browse.

Picking up from a post long, long ago (srsly... January?), we finally purchased and assembled two Expedit cubes, which, side-by-side, will serve as the babe's changing table and storage - for her and for some office-type stuff. For months, I searched for an alternative, but I kept coming back to this shelving system, because it afforded us storage that we could customize, change and use in other spaces for years to come.

I read instructions and was the co-pilot; Eddie assembled. Not too much effort for a Sunday afternoon.
Since everything IKEA involves assembly, we also put together a few storage baskets and boxes to fill the cubbies. Stuffing them with goodies is on this week's list.

More on the room this week; come back for a before-and-after chair!


bloume in MB.

I finally stopped into Manhattan Beach's newest baby store, that is not-so-new. Bloume Baby opened online in 2008, and recently opened it's first retail location in downtown Manhattan Beach. The concept is simple: to offer stylish, healthy, eco-friendly baby products to keep babes and their surroundings pure.

I first learned about the shop from Paper & Ink, and with a little extra time, I finally had a chance to do some window shopping. Here's what I'm loving...
From left-to-right: Arabian Rocking Horse; Animal Alphabet Poster (can order framed or unframed); Organic Yoga Pose Set (available in Child Pose and Cat Pose).
From left-to-right: Prague Gypsy Clutch (see tote bag to be wow'd); Handmade Organic Crochet Rabbit;  Pocket Pouch of Magnetic Blocks.

Bloume's website is fantastic, but the shop in MB is worth a stop-in. It's a little piece of baby bliss.


9 mos. in: can't-live-withouts.

Let's keep it real: the whole feet swelling thing is so very, very real as d-day approaches. It's not even heat-related, at this point. It's just... there. Everyday. And, I absolutely cannot live without these Havianas flip flips, from Ann Taylor Loft.

They were a mother's day gift from my mother-in-law, and my smart husband advised her to buy up from my normal size. And they are a life saver because sadly, most of my flip flops are too small or too tight. Including my favorites in the entire universe.

They were cute enough to wear in and out of the office (with my ballet flats under my desk on standby) and around town, and not feel... well, frankly, like a balloon.

I also cannot live without Multi Grain Cheerios. Must eat within 5-10 minutes of eyes opening in the morning. It's such a must that it's a bit of a house emergency if we are running low on milk. And, while we're on the subject, I cannot live without milk, either.

Speaking of protein, I discovered these heavenly bars that have been such a savior for the late afternoon hunger pang. It's the one thing I can eat that does not cause heartburn when in Down Dog. They are good, filling and packed with the really good stuff women need, like folic acid, calcium, iron, fiber and well, protein.

With all these good nutrients flowing through your body, hair grows. Thicker and faster. I've also read that when pregnant, hair doesn't fall out in massive quantities like you're used to (gone: clumps in the shower). Which, is great if you're like me and suffered from fine, thin hair for eternity. And this simple fact has caused a fundamental shift in the hair tie department: rubber bands with teeth.

Teeth? I did not know such a thing existed when it comes to rubber bands.

These bands from Goody are my new favorites. I highly recommend them to anyone searching for a reliable hair tie for just about any hair type. Great for the gym.

And, to close with something sweet... my daily treat is a little gold wrapper of butterscotch goodness. I kept a stash in my office that was shared with my coworkers, and they went fast. I also learned from our birthing coach that clear-ish, hard candy is also good in labor because you really can't eat anything once you get to the hospital, and when water and ice don't sound good - but the mouth is dry - some hard candy can do the trick. Note to self: pick up a labor-specific candy stash for the hospital bag.

Note to self: maybe pack a hospital bag before thinking about candy.


in transition.

Today is my last day in the office before a few months of maternity leave. I have been waiting and waiting for this day to arrive for so many reasons; to get a break and take a breath after many, many years doing something I love. It's also been a light at the end of the pregnancy road that has been shining, so far ahead in the distance for so long, signifying that the end is near and soon there will be a little person in my life.

All good things come with this day, but truthfully, I'm a little torn about it.
{approaching mile 10 :: the end of the road in beautiful Kauai}
As I type and listen to my faithful Pandora, songs trail on about moving on and letting go. And, of course, they are speaking directly to and through me, as I look around my 9-5 home that is such a part of my identity. I know I'll be back, and I know it's only temporary, but with all the nerves and anxiety that come with the joy of baby, I think my emotions have got the best of me. I'm stumbling over things moving on without me, and returning a different person in a few months.

Believe me - I have been waiting for a good break from work for years. It's not like this isn't welcome. It is. And, I'm leaving to have a baby, for goodness sake. How exciting, right? It's just, now that it's here, it's a little bittersweet. As almost all kinds of change are.

I'm still keeping up my yoga practice, and at the end of each class, our instructor takes us through a cooling down exercise called Savasana, or 'corpse pose,' to let all the muscles, bones and cells melt away, together in harmony, thanking the body for allowing us to practice. It's very therapeutic, and just before she sends us off into dream land, she says, "... and I'll see you on the other side."

I always feel better on the other side; it's a noticeable, wonderful and peaceful change that only comes after several transitional movements, intentional concentration, and deep, meaningful breathing. Which, is how I'm certain I'll feel once I have my baby. Getting there is such a profound experience and I suppose this transition period is all part of the process.

I highly recommend it.


jonathan adler for B&N.

Is this new? Am I late to the party here? On a Sunday trip to Barnes & Noble, I got sidetracked (really, though, an entire visit at B&N is an exercise in sidetracking in the best possible way, isn't it?) by the Jonathan Adler for Barnes & Noble display.

Specifically, I'm loving the laminated pouches that might be helpful amongst a giant bag o'diapers for the important, little stuff (for me): hand lotion, chapstick / gloss, eye drops, etc.

Some other fun finds:

From left-to-right: thank you notecards; laptop sleeveDachshund bookends; pear print letterpress notecards

Also, not from JA, but exclusive to B&N - their summer tote, which is a whole $12.95 when you purhcase two or more items. So hard to resist the anchor bag.


blue painter's tape.

In the not-so-glam category, our weekends have involved a lot of blue painter's tape. Not so much for painting (although there's been a little of this and that), but for heavy duty organizing.
We are still a work in progress, and blue painter's tape has become my best friend. I have found all sorts of ways to use it, and yesterday, it was a label-making machine.
I highly recommend it because it's so non-permanent and never leaves sticky residue when removed. It's just so reliable, and, frankly, it's fun to write on with a Sharpie.
All this organization is a means for making space, and it feels so good, but it also feels never-ending. As more stuff goes down to the garage, we are bringing in more [fun] stuff to replace it.

Here's a quick update: days include lots of list making and list crossing. Eddie and my dad spent last weekend doing some much-needed touch-ups around the house and most exciting: the crib is up. We're patiently awaiting all the pieces to come together, and it would be nice if it all happened soon. As in the next week. They weren't kidding about the third trimester energy drain.


dreaming of: ranger cookies.

I'm still here, for the record. I have inspiration flying at me in all sorts of ways these days and I wish I was capturing it better. There are lots of little projects underway - some glam, but many not-so-glam, which have been keeping it real: we are closing in on the nine month marker and we still have a long to do list. I am starting to understand that it will just keep growing, and that's okay.

Among all this 'stuff' crowding the brain, I have had one constant craving: my mom's Ranger Cookies. I have visions of munching on them, in the hospital, right after the babe is born. 'Job well done, Alison! Have a cookie!'

Is that weird? Not really, if you've ever tasted her cookies.
You don't have to love oatmeal cookies to love these. They are the sweetest, slightly salty, moist-est and most tasty oatmeal-ish cookies ever. Even chocolate fans applaud these guys. I think it's the coconut that does the magic here, and every time I buy a bag, I try to find other fun ways to use it because I'm reminded how yummy it is. Maybe someday, when I get my baking legs back, I'll finally try The BC's famous cake.

Until then, promise me you'll try these. Soon. They are the perfect summer cookie. For a picnic. For a baseball game. For poolside. Or, you know, for just after the birth of your first child.

Ranger Cookies from my mom
Yield: about 4 dozen

1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 eggs, at room temperature
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups quick cooking oats
2 cups corn flakes
1/2 cup coconut
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together butter with the sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time.

Sift together the flower, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Gradually add flour mixture to creamed mixture in a few batches, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Scrap down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Add vanilla, oats, cereal, coconut and nuts. Mix until just blended.

Drop batter by rounded teaspoon or ice cream scoop onto cookie sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes.

PS: besides dipping in a cool glass of milk, my favorite way to enjoy Ranger Cookies (especially with company) is to sandwich vanilla bean ice cream between two cookies. The. Best. Treat. Ever.


a new toy.

My first big girl camera arrived over the weekend and I'm really excited. Lookey!
I have always owned Sony cameras. I will forever love my little, pink Cyber-shot, which, by trial-and-error, has taught me some very elementary things about photography. It's helped me get my feet wet, dabble with my creativity and attempt some blog-worthy photos. Some people have so-so experiences with Sony cameras, but not me. I highly recommend these little guys.

For some time now, I've been shopping big girl cameras; something semi-pro for beginners that you know, might be good, for say... photographing babies. Or food. Or party details. I researched a lot. I listened to the valued opinions of several of my favorite bloggers. In the past several months, one of my favorite photographers - a Canon devotee, nonetheless - recommended the Nikon D3100, and because he knows me, knows what I like and knows my lifestyle, I heeded his advice.

Plus, my dad's a Nikon guy. He's not a professional photographer, but he's pretty darn good for being self-taught, and he gave it two thumbs up.

Oh, and nice camera = nice camera bag, of course. My favorite VIP equipment-type bags are Crumplers. I've got a small camera bag and a laptop bag that function and look as good as they did five years ago, and I purchased this for my new Nikon (lime green lining!).

I got to play with it on Friday at Eddie's surprise birthday fiesta (scroll down to see pics), and I'm off to study the user's manual with great pleasure and anticipation for all the new things I've yet to learn. I'm still pinching myself.

PS: interested in some helpful photography info. from some of my favorite bloggers? Check out:
+ Making It Lovely (note: contemplating online photo 101 class discussed here) and just posted earlier this week: tips on photographing your home.
+ Laura Ferroni: Still Life With
+ Simply Recipes