Our Family Photos // Summer 2017

I’ve had a vision to go back to our wedding venue to take family photos with the kids for a while now and this weekend we finally made it happen! The photos were done by our friend Vic Garcia who also took the photos from Elodie’s first birthday, which are truly some of my favorite pictures we have of our family. I’m so glad he got to capture us now with sweet baby James here too. I couldn’t recommend him enough — he is incredibly talented and seriously awesome with kids. He had James giggling up a storm and Elodie showing off for him! I am so thrilled with the way our photos turned out and I already know they will be treasured for years and years to come.

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9 Diaper Bag Backpacks for the Modern Mama

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One thing that saves my sanity on my daily adventures with Elodie and James is my diaper bag backpack. I had a Petunia Picklebottom diaper bag I absolutely loved before James came along, but after he was born I realized a backpack would be so much more comfortable and easier to carry around. Any opportunity to keep my hands free, especially with two kids, is a huge win. Carrying around a backpack has proven to be so easy, I now wonder why I ever carried anything but a backpack! I’ve rounded up nine amazing diaper bag backpacks, including the one I carry around daily, which is less than $50!

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{Photos © Liz Denfeld Photography}

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2017 Denfeld Summer Bucket List

Summer has finally arrived in Portland! After the second worst winter in our city’s history, I am so ready for a summer full of sun and fun! Last week Corey and I put together a little summer bucket list to help motivate us to do all the things we always say we want to do… But somehow never get around to. Maybe if they’re written down and documented we’ll actually do more of them?! Here’s hoping! I’d love to hear what you’ve got on your bucket list this summer — especially fun activities for one and three-year-olds!

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+Take a day trip to Cannon Beach
+Go strawberry or blueberry picking
+Go wine tasting in the Willamette Valley
+Walk the west hills and/or go on a hike
+Teach Elodie how to swim (in grandma & grandpa’s pool!)
+Take a day trip to Hood River
+Try three new (to us) restaurants (any Portlanders have recommendations?!)
+Make popsicles
+Go to an Oregon Zoo concert
+Host a backyard barbecue (we actually checked this off this last weekend!)
+Make s’mores
+Take the kids to our wedding venue – David Hill Winery – for a picnic
+Go on a kids-free overnighter (maybe for our 7th wedding anniversary?!)

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don’t you just die for my niece’s bright blue eyes?!

{Photos © Liz Denfeld Photography}

Nine Books You & Your Toddler Will Both Love

Screen Shot 2017-06-19 at 1.51.32 PM.pngI have a confession. I hide my daughter’s books. Not all of them, of course… Just the ones I find annoying, way too long or just plain strange. Please tell me I’m not the only one who does this? It’s getting a little harder now that she’s three and she has a crazy good memory, but I’ll still try the ‘ol hide the book trick if I really have to. So from one parent to another, here’s a list of some legitimately awesome books you and your toddler will both love equally.

One: Gaston // It’s no surprise I love this book, since we have a Frenchie/Boston mix ourselves. But this has become one of Elodie’s favorites. The illustrations are so cute I want to frame them and the story is so sweet!

Two & Three: Ada Twist, Scientist and Rosie Revere Engineer // I’m grouping these two books together because they are by the same author/illustrator and both share the same concept —  these books are …”the perfect tool to remind both young girls and women that they have the intelligence and perseverance to achieve their dreams.” Does it get much better than that? Love the message, love the stories and love the illustrations — win all around in our book (pun intended hehe)

Four: Knuffle Bunny // This book was gifted to me before Elodie was born by a very dear friend who lives in the Netherlands. Knuffel means hug in dutch, so she couldn’t resist this book and I’m so glad she gave it to us. It’s an adorable story of a dad and his daughter who go run and errand when the baby’s adored bunny gets left behind. Elodie now loves asking Corey if he’ll take her on an errand – adorbs!

Five: Mix It Up // I don’t know how we went so long without an Herve Tullet book in our house, but this was gifted to us by Corey’s aunt (who happens to be a talented calligrapher) and I was obsessed from the very first time we “read” it. This is a really fun interactive and creative book that teaches kids about colors and mixing colors. Elodie now sits and reads this one to herself all the time. I love that it’s educational while being fun! Now I’m on a mission to get a few more Tullet books in this house!

Six: Little Kids First Big Book of Animals // Elodie is a huge animal lover (birds included), so I wanted to find her a book that was appropriate for her age and could teach her more  about some of her favorite animals and also learn about some new ones. This book delivers on both accounts! She loves learning about lions, zebras, giraffes, penguins and polar bears and has been known to recite some of her favorite facts to Corey and me (did you know there are 17 species of penguins and zebras sleep standing up?).

Seven: The Bear and the Piano // Most of our favorite books have been gifted to us. I think this means I’m pretty lousy at picking good ones myself! I just think this is a really cute story about a bear who learns to play the piano and gets “discovered”, makes it to the big city and then returns to his friends in the forest. The illustrations are also beautiful, which is such a bonus!

Eight: The Night Gardener // I think Amazon does a better job of explaining this story and why I love it than I ever could… “In the spirit of Goodnight Moon and The Curious Garden comes a stunning debut picture book filled with whimsy and creativity from brothers Terry and Eric Fan.” This is a beautiful book that lights up the imagination, an easy favorite for both Elodie and me.

Nine: Last Stop on Market Street // This is a new book in our rotation and I truly couldn’t love it more. Elodie is really starting to notice the world and people around her and this book has helped introduce the concepts of volunteering, thankfulness, urban life and more. It’s a story about a young boy, CJ, and his grandmother who take a bus ride after church to volunteer at a soup kitchen. It’s about the sights and sounds they experience on their journey. Such a wonderful book with lasting lessons to take away from it.

We are always on the hunt for new books around our house — what are a few of your favorites?

 

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Family Photos // Outfits

We are having family photos taken next week for the first time in over a year! I love getting professional photos taken as much as we can, and I can’t remember the last time we waited an entire year between shoots (well, since we got pregnant with Elodie)! The kids are so little and grow so fast and I love the opportunity to gets photos of us as a whole family.

I’m still undecided on the location (definitely outdoors), but I have been thinking a lot about what I want the fam to wear. Now, have I ever put a mood board together for family photos before? No. But now that I have a blog and a place to share these things, I figured WHY NOT. Putting these together was maybe a little too fun for me! I like both options for different reasons and there is one I am way more heavily leaning toward at this point… But I want to hear what you think before I make the final decision. So tell me, do you like option one or option two better?

Screen Shot 2017-06-15 at 7.17.17 PMdress // baby boy shirt // baby boy pants // toddler dress // men’s shirt // men’s jeans

Screen Shot 2017-06-15 at 7.23.42 PMdress // baby boy shirt // baby boy pants // toddler dress // men’s shirt // men’s jeans

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The Morning Routine That Saves My Sanity

Rangeley-5There’s no pretty way to put it, I’m just not a morning person. I find myself walking around all day saying “I’m sooooo tiredddd” and then come evening time, I have a ton of energy and could stay up until 1AM. Unfortunately, that schedule doesn’t work well with young kids… Especially a certain one-year-old who has been known to wake up at 5AM.

On top of the fact that mornings aren’t really my jam, I’m also an introverted extrovert, which basically means that I recharge alone. When you stay home with two kids three and under (who are on opposite nap schedules), alone time is hard to come by, but I’ve found a morning routine that helps set me up for a great day and has me feeling ready to take on the responsibilities of stay-at-home-momhood.

So here’s how our morning goes. James is always the first one up — he gets up between 5:30 and 6:30. Corey gets up early, showers and gets mostly ready for the day before James is awake. He always unloads the dishwasher, takes out the trash and starts a pot of coffee. Around 6:30, he comes and wakes me up with a hot cup of coffee in hand. I know, he is a good, good man. He knows coffee is my love language 😉

From 6:30 – 7:30 I have my quiet time. My intention is always to use this time to get ready for the day, so after taking 5-10 minutes to drag myself out of bed I’ll usually take my cup of coffee into our bathroom, turn on a podcast and do my makeup.

This invigorates me for so many reasons. For one, I’m alone, which is how I recharge. Two, I listen to podcasts that either teach me something (This American Life / TED Radio Hour), inspire me (How I Built This), make me feel like I’m not alone in the trenches of motherhood (Coffee + Crumbs and The Longest Shortest Time) and make me think and feel (Dear Sugar).  I go into the day having spent at least a small amount of time feeding my brain with something other than toddler talk and baby care. I also love having this time because as soon as I have my makeup on I feel more awake and ready for whatever our day’s activity might be. And if I don’t get ready during this time, it’s inevitably harder for me to get us all out of the house for the day because somehow I need to get myself ready along with two stubborn kids (love them! ha!).

The best part of this whole routine is that it’s really a win-win for the whole family. When we were both working

the mornings were the worst. We were always scrambling to get the whole family out the door on time to jobs and daycare. It was stressful for everyone. Now Corey has an hour of true quality time with the kids, which he absolutely loves, and they obviously love it too! Our evenings are still a bit of a hustle with dinnertime and bedtime, but the mornings are slow and wonderful for all of us.

I know this routine definitely can’t work for everyone — I’m really lucky Corey works a pretty standard 8-5 schedule most days and doesn’t travel much. It took some time for me to figure out this was what I needed, but once I realized it I was really upfront and honest with Corey about what I needed to be set up for a good day at home. I think a lot of times it’s easy to think your partner can read your mind or will know what you need to make you happy, but I always find it’s best to over-communicate and be really explicit with your needs. He’s been so great about giving me this space in the morning and it has made a world of a difference in how I approach the day!

What’s your morning routine? Do you love it? Does it need a change? I’d love to hear!

10 Awesome Father’s Day Gifts You Can Get on Amazon Prime

You know that saying “It’s the thought that counts”? Well, I’m pretty sure that saying was made for me. I think about getting amazing gifts for people for their birthdays, baby showers, weddings, etc… But the follow through isn’t as amazing. Somehow life gets in the way and despite my best intentions, I’m left scrambling with empty hands day-of. I also don’t believe that saying for one second. Because if Father’s Day comes rolling around this Sunday and you don’t have a present for daddy, well, I don’t think your thoughts are getting you anywhere.

So for all of you fellow well-intentioned wives and daughters out there who really want to get your husband or dad a super awesome gift or two, but have about five days and counting to do so… I’ve got your back. I’ve rounded up ten (awesome!!!) gifts you can get with free two-day shipping if you’re an Amazon Prime member. And if you’re not an Amazon Prime member, well I really need to understand how you do life without Amazing Prime?! And you can sign up here. Happy shopping!

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One: The Carry on Old Fashioned Cocktail Kit: This genius little kit provides everything you need to craft two delicious old fashioned cocktails mid-flight- you just need to add the booze. Perfect for your next adults-only vacation, or let’s be honest, especially perfect for trying to get through a flight with your children 😉

Two: JBL Clip 2 Waterproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker (Black): This thing looks so awesome and has incredible reviews! It’s a small but mighty speaker your guy can clip onto his golf bag, backpack, or anywhere else! It’s also waterproof, provides 8 hours of playtime (streamed wirelessly through bluetooth or it can also be plugged in to your smartphone or tablet). A really cool feature is if another one of his friends has one they can connect the two together to create amplified sound. 

Three: Seneca Faceted Crystal Tumblers by Viski: I dare you to find a cooler crystal tumbler, perfect for your whiskey or scotch drinking hubby or dad. And I would have no problem displaying these on our bar cart. Win!

Four: Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Instant Film Camera (Brown): We’ve had our instax camera almost seven years (we used it for the guest book at our wedding), and I love breaking it out for special occasions like birthday parties. Funny story, I used our instax camera to make Corey a homemade card for his first  Father’s Day. It was a photo of Henry sitting right next Elodie and of course he still has it! This little guy is way more advanced than the one we have and it’s making me want to upgrade!

Five: Enamel Carbiner Flask by Foster and Rye: Campsite ready flask for-the-win! This one hooks onto a backpack or belt loop (or diaper bag? haha).

Six: Belk Soft Wood iPhone Case: I got Corey a wood iPhone case for his birthday years ago and it’s still perfectly intact. This one gets great reviews and for $13 you really can’t go wrong! It comes in five different wood color options!

Seven: Foster and Rye Insulated Canvas Cooler Adventure Backpack: Whether he’s on his way to a tailgate or a family picnic, this backpack makes it easy to transport his beverage of choice along for the adventure. It also has a front pocket perfect for his phone, keys and other essentials. And unlike most cooler bags, this backpack looks super cool!

Eight: Whiskey Ice Rock Stones: Made from 100% soapstone with no fillers, these whiskey rocks are reusable and dishwasher safe. Corey hates when his bourbon gets watered down from his ice, so lately he’s been drinking his neat. I think these would be the perfect solution to keep his bourbon cold and strong!

Nine: Jacobsen Salty Caramels: Jacobsen Salt is a local company here in Oregon, so you can find these delicious salted caramels in a lot of our higher end grocery stores and they are goooood. Corey is a huge fan of salted caramels, so this would be the perfect Father’s Day treat for him!

Ten: Woodford Reserve Aromatic Bitters: Perhaps you’ve gathered by now that Corey’s liquor of choice is bourbon and his cocktail of choice is an Old Fashioned. Aromatic bitters to make that perfect Old Fashioned coming right up!

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Five Go-To Meals in the Denfeld House

Maybe there are people out there who love meal planning… I don’t happen to be one of them. With two young kids running around, by the end of the day I honestly wish someone could just feed our family through an IV and call it good.

Because that’s not possible, and because I love hearing what other family’s go-to meals are, I thought I’d do a round-up of some awesome recipes that we’ve had in our dinner rotation (and that our kids inhale, too!) for years. I would LOVE any new recipe ideas from you, so if you have any you love and want to pass along, leave them in the comments!

Braised Coconut Spinach & Chickpeas with Lemon
I realize this one doesn’t sound super kid-friendly, but Elodie and James both enthusiastically eat it all up. I usually double the chickpeas, because both the kids love them so much, and throw this over some frozen quinoa from Trader Joe’s. This also happens to be vegan and gluten-free, in case you have dietary restrictions in your house!

Slow-Cooker Mozarella Stuffed Meatballs
This might be one of my favorite recipes everrrr. First off, I’m obsessed with my slow-cooker. Second, is there anything more comforting and delicious than a big bowl of spaghetti and meatballs? Mmmm. I don’t eat beef, so I sub in organic mild Italian chicken sausage and hot Italian chicken sausage (so it’s medium spicy and the kids will still eat it). This makes TONS of leftovers, too, which is great for lunches for the week (and somehow I never get sick of eating it!).Image may contain: foodBroccolini, Chicken Sausage, and Orzo Skillet
I’m so glad one pan/pot meals are a thing right now, because that is definitely something I can get behind whole-heartedly. We make this super easy and quick meal once a week. The ingredients are simple, healthy, cheap and this meal comes together super quickly. A win all around!
Seriously, The Best Healthy Turkey Chili
That is the actual name of this recipe — “Seriously, The Best Healthy Turkey Chili” — and, well, it really is!! The whole fam gobbles this up and there’s always tons leftover. My secret tip, thanks to my sister, is to double the meat. Soooo yum! Incredible, perfectly spiced healthy turkey chili made with lean ground turkey, kidney beans and corn. This version is simply the BEST!Soy Glazed Salmon + Crack Broccoli + Rice
I’m going to get to the salmon in a second… We need to talk about this Crack Broccoli. It really is like crack. I am a sucker for practically any roasted vegetable, but when you add in toasted almonds, garlic, lemon juice and pecorino cheese… I mean…. YESSSS… You have to try this one — and again, the kids really eat their brocolli this way!

For the salmon, I mix my own marinade – it’s really easy: soy sauce, sesame oil, fresh ginger if I have it, if not I use ginger powder, a splash of white wine (you can leave this out if you don’t have any around), and a touch of honey (leave out if you have babies under one eating!). I don’t have measurements because I just eyeball everything and add more of whatever it needs to taste. I pour this over the salmon and let it marinate for 15-30 minutes, then cook the salmon in the oven for 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees. Voila! Crack Brocoli. Roasted broccoli with toasted almonds, lemon, red pepper flakes, and pecorino. This side dish is so addicting!

So there you have it! These are five dishes we eat at least a couple times a month. What are your go-to dinners?!