Welcome July

Near the beginning of each month we like to pause and take a look at what’s going on in the world around us, with a particular focus on animal activity, farmers’ fields, and environmental holidays. *You can find our archive of previous welcomes here (a few months are missing from the archive, we’re bowing our heads in shame).*

Sarah wasn’t lying when she mentioned that July’s her favorite month. And mine too, for all of the same reasons!

In my mind, July is everything summer. It’s cannon balls in swimming pools, muggy nights filled with the sounds of cicadas and the glow of lightning bugs. It’s tomato and mayo sandwiches for lunch, followed by California burgers and corn on the cob (fresh from the garden!) for dinner.

Those are the memories seared into my brain, and I’m hoping to create some of the same for the boys. And on that front I think we’re off to a great start. Right now the boys are coated in sand, sunscreen, and lake water. If that’s not July, then I don’t know what is.

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Our Top Sun & Water Essentials for Toddlers

I’m so excited for summer with the boys. They are 2 and 4 years old, and I can already tell that this is going to be a really active summer for us. From the moment they wake up until they pass out, we’re riding bikes, playing in the baby pool on the back porch, and going for hikes in the woods. All that time outside in the sun requires good gear, and a dip or two in the water to cool off. So, below we’re sharing our favorite sun and water gear, because the two go together like peanut butter and jelly (obviously).
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Midsummer Magic

It’s the middle of summer, food is at its freshest, and the livin’ is easy, or at least it should be.

There’s nothing we love more at this time of year than the intense flavors and colors of fresh fruits, and there’s no easier way to enjoy them than to just throw them in whatever you’re making. Need some ideas? That’s why we’re here.

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Last week I put some fresh raspberries and cherries in my mojito – smashing them up just a bit in the bottom of the glass before adding the rest of the ingredients.

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Serve cubed watermelon with mint for a refreshing treat on a hot day. If you like that combo, you’ll love our watermelon mojitos!

And if your garden’s still overflowing with mint, make some aqua frescas.

Add fresh figs and blueberries to your mocktails (or cocktails!).

Throw watermelon and blueberries in your smoothies with a tea-based twist.

What about watermelon in your gazpacho?!

Any ripe berry would go well in these yogurt-based popsicles. These lemon pops are another refreshing option.

Yesterday Alex asked to bake a cake (nothing makes my heart melt faster than his request to do something in the kitchen!). He wanted a cake with “a blue middle and red paint on the frosting”. I let him add some food coloring to our batter, but then transformed his idea for red paint into a splattering of berries and their juices across the top. This is a basic yellow cake with our favorite coconut milk buttercream (scroll down).

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Summer, and particularly July, is such a special time of year for us, and nothing tastes more like summer than perfectly ripe fruit; it’s pure midsummer magic. If you can get your hands on some, especially if you have the chance to get out there and pick berries, do two things : 1. eat as much as you can while picking, and 2. do something creative and special with the leftovers. You won’t regret it! xo

 

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Tea for Two

Just popping in to share some of our favorite tea accessories with you. Most are perfect for a pair of tea drinkin’ fools. XO

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If your valentine loves tea, start by simply buying them their favorite blend (or the luxury blend that’s a splurge) and give it to them in a beautiful storage tin.

We love this electric kettle for our tea, coffee, and hot chocolate needs. There are a variety of cute designs out there, but if you know a tea aficionado, get them one with temperature control.

Thinking about flowers for Valentine’s Day? This poppy drink cover puts a smile on Katie’s face every time she uses it.

These Numi organic blossoming tea sets with a glass steeper pot make the sweetest gift too.

For someone who loves lose-leaf tea, an infuser is always useful. Win them over with this pixelated heart infuser.

Valentine’s Day = chocolate + tea. AMIRITE? We’re excited about these matcha dark chocolate bars from a company that’s working hard to produce chocolate with high ethical and environmental standards.

Can’t find a tea-flavored chocolate bar in your market? Try infusing their cup of hot cocoa with tea.

Serve your sweet their tea (or infused cocoa) on these beautiful marble coasters or this marble tray.

How about something for their apartment? A simple tea print for the wall? Or you can go for the absurd 

There are so many great mugs out there, we had to do a little round-up:

  • Have a Star Wars sweetheart? Why not tell them “yoda one for me“?
  • Katie’s one for understated love. You too? Get a “Meh” mug.
  • And she’s totally over hearing that moms love their kids “to the moon and back” (sorry if you’re one of them!). So this mug made her chuckle.
  • If you want to get all the adults chuckling, pick up this Animates mug.
  • Or if you want to keep it PG and stylish, grab a Haand cloudware mug.

Tea on the go is our favorite. How nice is it to open a steaming jar in the middle of a meeting or class? Pick up some biodegradable Tea filter bags, fill up your ball jar and throw an American made Holdster leather jar holder on it and you’re good to go.

 

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Merry Christmas Everyone!

Somehow it’s turned into a busy week around here, but some people have more on their to-do lists than others. I mean, Calder’s laughing at us because he hasn’t even started his Christmas shopping yet! How does he do it?

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Boulder got hit with a big snowstorm today and I was totally unprepared. I should have bought that molasses yesterday so we could be making ginger cookies today. Or ran to the craft store so I could put together some other little gifts. Instead, we’re just playing with play dough and eating leftover tortellini. #lifeishard

So, while the boys nap I’m working on a plan for the next few days.

  • We’ll make those ginger cookies.
  • I want to make some of this English toffee (scroll down).
  • I’m waiting for our Christmas cards to come and hoping to pop those in the mail.
  • We don’t include a letter with our cards, but Plum Organic’s holiday letter template has me cracking up. Ours is above. You just answer a few quick questions and the letter is made for you.
  • I just burned some Palo Santo because it makes the fire in our gas fireplace seem a bit more real and rustic.
  • I’m almost done with Luc’s stocking and then I want to start new winter hats for Alex and Luc. While working on this year’s design, I came across Tricksy and think it could be really helpful for future colorwork projects.
  • I’m now in the last-minute personalized gift stage of my shopping, so I’m spending quite a bit of time here and here. How about you?
  • Yesterday I reserved tickets for our first Christmas ride on the Georgetown Loop RR. Santa’s going to be there! I asked Alex what he’ll say when he sees Santa. “I’ll say ‘ho ho ho’ back to him.” Fair enough…. and yesterday he was going around saying “Merry Christmas Everyone!” to everyone. <3

And that’s our snow day, a whole lot of scheming going on over here.

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Pumpkin Links

Pumpkin is our ingredient of the season. We’re a big fan of pumpkin desserts (cookies, and popsicles, anyone?), but we also like our pumpkin in the form of brews and stew too!

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I’ve been stumbling across a lot of great pumpkin links and wanted to share my favorites.

I can’t wait for some cooler weather to make some pumpkin chili… and then we’ll counteract the hot with some pumpkin butterscotch sundaes!

I love (love, love!) this cast iron pumpkin pot, but think I have to host at least a few more Thanksgivings before I’ve earned it.

And this pumpkin loaf pan is pretty cute too. I think cooking with Alex is encouraging my lust after all sorts of cute bakeware.

And since we’re blaming things on kids, I love browsing the Oriental Trading catalogs. Seeing things like these pumpkin erasers bring back all of the best memories of being a kid!

Why was the jack-o-lantern afraid to cross the road? It had no guts! More pumpkin jokes here. We were trying to teach Alex a few jokes last night, but I think he’s still a little young (meanwhile Calder and I were cracking up!).

What about you? Have any pumpkins caught your eye lately?

 Image from the Library of Congress archives.
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Weekend Recipe Roundup

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Hey there! A few friends are visiting this weekend and I found myself looking up old favorites in the archives of Live Seasoned.  I thought I’d share my picks with you 🙂

Best snack EVER. Today we made a vegan version with coconut oil, nutritional yeast (instead of parmesan) and garlic.

Lemonade all the way. This lemongrass tea is exceptional too!

We love making these honey and brie crackers as a party snack.

Remember this meal? I grill up those pork skewers all the time.

Quick pickles and spinach dip are my new summer party staples.

I picked up a mixed six pack of Carolina beers and a sixer of Saranac Prism White Ale tonight.

I’ll probably make an adapted batch of these scones tomorrow for my gluten-free, vegan friend.

Oooo and some of these creamy avocado popsicles or maybe these toasted coconut ones.

Hope you all have a relaxing weekend! I’m out!

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Katie’s Pregnancy Favorites

If all goes well, we’ll be adding another little guy to the fam this spring! Of course we’re super excited, and we thought it would be fun to do a series of posts on pregnancy and baby-related products and tips that worked for me. Maybe they’ll work for you too?

First up, I wanted to share some of the products or tricks that I found useful while pregnant with A. Max, and that have proved helpful this time around too. I’ve made it a point of trying to be low maintenance when it comes to pregnancy and baby-related items, but even with a minimalist attitude, there are still some things that are worth the purchase. Below are my essentials along with some of the tips & tricks that made it easier to buy less maternity-specific stuff. To go to the product pages, you can click the numbered links below each collage or the links provided within the post’s text.

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Prenatal vitamins.

Ugg. I hate taking them every day, but am serious about doing it before, during, and after a pregnancy. Luckily I’ve found the brands that work well for me and minimize some of the negatives associated with other vitamins. I really like this multivitamin. It doesn’t have as strong as a smell as other vitamins, I never get an upset stomach with it, and generally felt healthy (although I never took another vitamin, so I don’t have a good counter example there). I also took a DHA supplement. DHA is one of the omega-3 fatty acids that’s important for brain development. Taking a prenatal DHA supplement is helpful because you won’t get as high of a dose of DHA if you take a basic omega-3 supplement. Also, while this supplement is made from fish oil, I’ve never had any issues with a fishy smell or aftertaste. I didn’t take a calcium supplement with Alex – I just tried to get plenty through my diet, but this time around I found Calcet’s lemon creamy bites, and no I’m hooked! I use them as a healthy treat when I need just a little something sweet, and I like them so much more than the other calcium chews that I took years ago but got tired of. The only thing I don’t like about these is that each chew is individually wrapped in a plastic shell – not that great for the environment, but it seems to be the key to their fresh, creamy texture. So I’ll probably be done with these after this pregnancy or this box… but I had to mention them, because if you need a calcium supplement, these are outstanding.

Clothes

When it comes to clothes, I’m fortunate in a number of ways. First, I’m pregnant during the exact same time of year, so I’m able to use all of those maternity clothes again.  Second, I mainly work from home, and while last time I had to go in to a job, I really only saw people a couple of days a week. So, many days yoga pants and long stretchy t-shirts or tanks were enough to cover my belly and keep me comfortable. I found that many of the dresses I already owned (I love ones from Title Nine with a touch of spandex, like this) were stretchy enough to fit over my growing belly for at least the first 6-7 months of my pregnancy. I was also lucky that sweater dresses came back into fashion – so I picked up a few of the boxier ones, some tights, and my favorite boots to get me through the rest of my pregnancy – this was an especially great outfit for days I had to teach.  Once my stomach got too large for my pre-pregnancy pants, I bought four pair of maternity pants and a few shirts to go with them – that’s it!

But, even so, there are a couple of specific items that are worth sharing. This maternity tank from Target is so comfortable, and I love how long it is. Late in pregnancy, it was hard for long non-maternity tanks to stretch around my stomach, but this tank does without trouble. I still have the only one I bought, and am thinking it’s time to add a second one to my closet – they are a perfect first layer under any shirt.

As I mentioned, I bought a few maternity shirts, mainly for work days to go with the pants I picked up. I didn’t know it at the time, but there are whole lines of nursing shirts with ruched fabric around the torso – making them perfect for a growing stomach during pregnancy and a slowly shrinking one afterwards. Buy these, especially if you want to try nursing, rather than buying a maternity-only shirt (I found that the BOOB brand really held up well to the wear and tear that is nursing and carrying a little guy).

Books & Other Info

We are just over halfway through this pregnancy, and it was around this time with Little A that I was ready to start learning about labor, labor support, and breastfeeding. Along with taking a labor class, there were a few books that I found really useful.

  • The Big Book of Birth – this book is packed with useful information, so at times it can seem a bit dense, but I really loved the straightforward and concise writing. She covers basic biology of labor as well as types of medical interventions and natural methods for easing discomfort and dealing with different problems that may arise during birth. Calder didn’t read the whole book, but I marked some sections that I thought would be particularly useful for him to read before our delivery, and I think it was helpful to both of us.
  • Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth – This book focuses more on natural childbirth and methods for finding comfort and support through it. I have to admit that I didn’t read this one cover to cover like I did the Big Book of Birth, but I did find it extremely useful, and Ina May’s an expert if ever there was one.
  • The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers – Before I had Alex, it seems like I often heard about how hard or tricky breastfeeding could be, but I knew I wanted to do it. Knowing that I didn’t want to find myself with a newborn in my hands and unsure of what to do next, I decided to read and learn about the process before having the baby. I found both Jack Newman’s book and his website to be extremely helpful for covering the basics of breastfeeding and providing many useful images and videos of successful and unsuccessful breastfeeding – so I was able to get a sense of what I should look for and red flags for when things weren’t working.

In addition to these books, Calder and I took a seven-week prenatal and labor class together. Our class covered everything from the baby’s development in utero, to the biology of labor, support for labor, types of medical interventions, caring for a newborn, etc. It was so amazing, and really helps you to work through all of that material, especially when you’re working and are so tired that you would rather crash on the couch than read a book. We had the option of taking that class or shortened version of the class over the course of a weekend. I highly recommend spreading your course out over a few weeks – there’s so much information to learn, and you may find that questions develop only after you’ve had days/weeks to think about something from class – there’s no way you and your labor partner would get as much out of a weekend course (but, if that’s all you have time for, it’s better than nothing!).

General Beauty Products

In general, I use very few beauty products, but when I do, I try to stay as chemical-free as possible. One place where that’s hard to do is with nail polish. I would skip it altogether (and that’s what I did with my first pregnancy), but this time around, my nails are really suffering from the dry air. When they are dry, they crack, peel, and just become a general mess. A coat of polish along with daily applications of cuticle oil really helps to keep them healthy. So, this time around I tried Spa Ritual’s 5-free polishes, and really (really) love them. I use them with a base and top coat, and have found that they can go at least 5 days without chipping (less if I’m really doing a lot of mess work with my hands).

Another product that I’ve been devoted to throughout both pregnancies is Burt’s Bees Momma Bee Body Oil. I slather it on my belly after every shower throughout the whole pregnancy and for a few weeks postpartum (about 3 times per week). I was really lucky to end up with no stretch marks last time around. We’ll see what happens this time!

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Staying Healthy

When you’re pregnant, you hear over and over again that it’s important to get plenty of exercise and stay hydrated. Staying hydrated is even more important for me this time around since we’re in a dryer climate.

Honestly, after months of drinking water, tea, and chocolate milk, I start to go crazy for anything else to drink (we’re not big juice drinkers, just as a rare treat). I found a few tricks to help me stay hydrated. I’ll treat myself to cartons of coconut water – you get an electrolyte bonus! Trader Joes’ brand is always a good price, but I’ll take any brand that’s on sale. I also mix up my drinking vessels. The first time around I picked up one of those cold cups with a straw, and found that just switching between my drink bottle and that would have me drinking more. I also found the cup easier to drink out of while breastfeeding and rocking a newborn (rather than having to tilt my head back to use the drink bottle).

When it comes to exercise, having Ca$h the dog was such a big motivator. When he’s with us, I’m his main walking companion – so that meant that I went out on long (30 minutes to an hour+) walks with him twice a day. I did that all the way until the end of my first pregnancy and I know that it really helped me to stay in shape and stay a healthy weight. This time around we don’t have the pooch with us (he’s with Sarah!), but I’m making sure to get plenty of play time in with Alex, and it seems to be working :-).

In addition to the dog walks and Alex adventures, I liked to take some time to do some good, deep, yoga stretching. I tried out a few prenatal yoga classes, and they were great, but I also found it really hard to fit them into my schedule. After a bit of searching, I came across Yoga Download and was an immediate fan. There are a number of ways to access their classes, but I purchased a couple of prenatal yoga classes and downloaded them onto my laptop. It was nice to have access to them at any time and without having to worry about an internet connection. I’ve since purchases some regular (not prenatal) classes and have used them whenever I need a yoga boost – while I would love to go to a studio, practicing at home has become my new norm since Alex arrived.

Finally, there’s one other simple thing that I’ve done during both pregnancies to help myself eat right. Whenever I make a big pot of soup or stew, I put a quart jar of it in the freezer. So far I have about six jars in the freezer this time. This takes zero thought or planning, just fill the jar, label it, and freeze. They are so useful towards the end of pregnancy and during the first few months with a newborn when you’re too tired or busy to cook.

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Wow, I know that was a wordy post, but I’m hoping some other expectant moms may find this helpful… or if you know a momma-to-be, you may get some useful gift ideas from this post. A case of coconut water with a big bow around it never hurt anyone!

Did I miss anything that you found essential? I would love to hear what you found essential.

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Katie’s Fall Favorites

Hey! We put up this post with little information, but does it need much?

It was a cool and rainy day in Boulder, the kind of day that makes you think of your coziest fall outfit. Mine includes my well-worn loved Aurora Middle English shoes and those Gap Skinny jeans that really do fit so well, even on a girl who never really thought of her soccer legs as skinny. I also love a good scarf, especially one from a business with a good cause. Speaking of good causes, I love to support an artist with good style and quality wares, my Bookhou bag is one of those purchases, and in this dry weather, I always toss in some rich hand cream. Have you started dressing for fall? What are your favorites?

Complete list of links below. LIVESEASONED_fall14_favorites

a  1 . 2 . 3 . 4  and a  5 . 6 . 7 . 8

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In Season: April Fools

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April Fool’s day is next week! We like to keep things light hearted and fun ~ an “out of order” sign on the bathroom mirror or a pile of fake puke that fooled everyone when Charlie the cat still lived with us (it’s not as convincing now that she’s spending her time taking cat naps at the beach house). We gathered a few links that will leave you laughing and hopefully inspire a bit of fun when Tuesday rolls around.

This takes a bit of planning, but it’s such a cute prank!

Here’s a list of some seriously easy, yet creative pranks to play.  Lots of these are office appropriate, how funny is #38 and #34?! Some of these are enough to drive a person crazy – #26 and #16.  Save #12 for any day of the year, it’s shocking and harmless and makes me fall over laughing every time.

Watch this extremely elaborate beer-in-the-pipes prank.

We can’t wait until Alex is a few years older to surprise him at dinner and then again for dessert!

If you need a little laugh on the daily, check out The Onion, a satirical news source. The Onion’s comedy writers were featured on This American Life way back when too. Give it a listen to get a feel for their creative process.

Remember that old MTV show High School Stories: Scandals, Pranks and Controversies? It has a surprisingly high rating on IMDb.

Here’s the full story of Jimmy Kimmel’s Sochi Wolf prank.

Remember to be wary of pranks played by corporations next week! Here’s a roundup of last year’s.

Have a great weekend!

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