Day Trip to Cannon Beach

Corey’s taking a little staycation this week so we decided to kick it off with a bang and take a day trip to Cannon Beach (and check one off the Denfeld Summer Bucket List!). Temperatures in Portland were supposed to get near 90, so we thought it would be the perfect day to beat the heat and head to cooler temps along the coast.

I was so impressed with how well the kids did being off their schedules and with the hour and a half car ride. I know that doesn’t sound like a lot, but our kids seriously hate the car. Any drive lasting longer than 25 minutes and one or both start melting down (mostly James). They each napped a little on the way there and back and the rest of the time Elodie colored and James snacked on Cheerios (haha!).

I reached out for Cannon Beach recommendation on Instagram before we left Portland and I got lots of great ones! We ended up grabbing lunch at Pelican Brew Pub and a quick pint at Public Coast. We started the beach day at Tolovana Park and then stopped off along Hemlock and Center Streets and walked down to Haystack Rock. Of all the (many) times I’ve visited Cannon, this was the closest I’d ever gotten to Haystack Rock! It was such a beautiful day (albeit really windy). The kids were seriously in heaven and all their smiles and delighted squeals made me so glad we decided to make the day trip!

If you find yourself in Cannon Beach, here are a few other spots you should check out: Sea Level Bakery for pastries and good coffee (if you’re a coffee snob like us!), Bill’s Tavern for fish & chips or Pizza a Feta for a delicious slice!

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{Photos © Liz Denfeld Photography}

What To Wear For Family Photos

This weekend, we finally had our family photos taken! We ended up going with a variation of Option 1 here and I think it turned out really well! I ended up deciding I didn’t want my dress to be the focal point of the pictures, which is why I went with the more neutral dress for me (even though I am obsessed with that floral maxi and wish I had an excuse to buy it!!).

I had a couple questions on Instagram about how I pick our outfits for family photos and having been on both sides of the camera, I thought I’d post some of my best advice along with some examples. I know that picking outfits for the whole family can be stressful and intimidating, but it really doesn’t have to be! I find that a little planning ahead goes a long way so you’re not standing in your closet the night before having a freak out (not that I’ve ever been there or done that 😉

Start with your location/setting and work backwards for a color scheme: Are you going to be taking photos in a really vibrant, colorful place? Will you be in your home that is mostly neutrals? What colors will complement or clash with the colors in the environment where you’ll be taking photos? Do you typically like lots of bright pops of color in your photos, or do you prefer neutrals? What will your photos be used for — to be framed in your home? For a holiday card? These are all questions you can ponder to help you start thinking of a color scheme for your family’s outfits. You can take inspiration from your location to decide on a color palette/scheme, or equally as important, decide what colors to avoid. Speaking of color schemes…

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Decide on a color scheme before you start deciding on clothing items. Once you’ve taken inspiration from your location on what sorts of colors you want to wear, you can use a color palette to round out the rest. A quick search on Pinterest for anything from “family photo color scheme” to “neutral color palette” to “blush color palette for clothes” can give you tons of inspiration and direction.

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photos by kati dimoff

Coordinate don’t matchCoordinating and matching are different. Matching means you’re all wearing a white top and blue jeans or you’re all wearing the exact same pattern. Coordinating means the color scheme you’re all wearing works together and your patterns aren’t clashing. A good way to know if your looks coordinate is by imagining that all colors and patterns are being worn on one person (got this tip from the lovely Jane Johnson) — if you wouldn’t wear the prints together or the colors together in one outfit, then they probably don’t coordinate well.

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Make sure you’re comfortable and you’re not wearing anything too “fussy”. If you aren’t comfortable, or you’re wearing something that only looks good from certain angles, or tucked in just so, it’s going to show in the photos. And if you’re wrangling your kids for most of the shoot, chances are your outfit isn’t going to stay perfectly in place. Choose pieces where this won’t be a problem.

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photos by olivia strohm

Try to avoid large-scale prints. Or, if you choose a large-scale print know that the eye will go there first when looking at photos. Perhaps choose a more neutral palette for the print so it isn’t too overwhelming. Smaller prints will blend in more and are typically a little easier to coordinate with.

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Don’t feel like you need to be super dressed up. You want the photos to be a true reflection of you at this moment in your life. If you rarely dress up and you’re more comfortable in a t-shirt in jeans, there are still ways to make that look cute for family photos! Going casual can actually be quite cute!

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photos by olivia strohm

I hope this was helpful! If you have any more questions – feel free to ask in the comments, I’d love to help!

 

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 // two // three // four // five // six // seven // eight // nine

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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Best Portland Restaurants

IMG_7302 2Okay, so this title might not be entirely true. A better title might be “Best Portland Restaurants According to Liz & Corey Denfeld”, but that’s just what I love about the Portland restaurant scene. There are so many amazzzzzing restaurants, the list of favorites you get from one person to the next will be totally different. Not because we disagree on what is great, but because there is just truly such an abundance of ridiculously good food in this city.

The restaurants on this list are not places we’ve tried once or twice. These are our go-to absolute favorites. They’re the ones we keep going back to again and again – for the food, the ambiance, the service and everything in-between. So if you or a friend or family member are visiting the Portland, OR area soon and are looking for some awesome spots to stuff your faces, you’ve come to the right place 😉

Brunch:
Olympia Provisions: While I’m putting Olympia Provisions in the brunch category, it is also open for lunch and dinner. To be honest, it is one of the rare restaurants I would gladly go to for any meal, but brunch is what really hits the spot for us here. Even though “brunch” and “charcuterie” might not seem like the most likely pair, you’d be remiss not to try one of Olympia Provision’s Spanish boards. I’m not even a big meat eater and I am practically fighting Corey for the last pieces of salami every time. The classic Benedict, lemon ricotta pancakes and biscuits and sausage gravy are also winners.

Mother’s Bistro*: Oh, Mother’s. An oldy but goodie. A Portland tradition. If you get here much past opening just expect to wait… But know that it is so. worth.it. I also need to get a little bossy and tell you that you must order the Wild Salmon Hash. Just trust me, okay? You will NOT regret it. I don’t even bother trying anything else anymore because nothing can beat it. It’s one of those meals I would daydream about when we lived in Amsterdam and brunch was hard to come by.

Tasty ‘n Sons*/Tasty ‘n Alder*: Either of these restaurants are exactly what they promise: TASTY. No, seriously. Of the hundreds of times we’ve been (okay, that might be an exaggeration..) I can hardly think of a time I’ve ever ordered something that didn’t make me say “oh wowwww… but seriously wow wow wow”. Brunch and dinner are equally good here. It’s a toss up to pick which is better! The menu is ever-changing, but there are some staples that we can whole-heartedly recommend: Potatoes Bravas, Radicchio salad, Auntie Paula’s French Toast, Fried Egg & Cheddar Biscuit and the fries.

Interurban: One thing to note about Interurban is that they are just as much known for their cocktails as their food — perhaps more so. So if there’s ever a spot to justify a boozy brunch, this is it. I’m also borderline obsessed with their Salted Caramel French Toast. How can you not be? If you’re visiting with kids, you should note they don’t have high chairs — so bring your own or be prepared to have your littles sitting on your lap!

Grain & Gristle: If you’re looking for a restaurant that’s a little off the beaten path and a brunch spot with amazing food, but without a crazy wait, then Grain & Gristle is your spot. We used to live pretty close-by and it is open early, so it became a go-to for us (after an early morning wake-up with Elodie we’d all pile in the car and come here for many cups of delicious hot coffee). Their menu is always changing, but every time we visit their pastry of the day is out-of-this-world good.

Irving Street Kitchen: In the heart of the Pearl District with impressive decor, this is one of our favorite places to dine with the kids. It’s big, loud and has great food and drinks. I’m partial to the Moroccan Slow Poached Eggs or Smoked Soft Scrambled Egg Nachos while Corey is all about the Crispy Fried Chicken Sandwich.

Besaw’s*: Of all the restaurants on this list, this one might win for the most times we’ve ever eaten here. Especially since they moved locations a year or so ago, we’ve been frequenting this Portland favorite even more. As with many of the restaurants on this list, if you don’t get here really early, you should be prepared to wait. But no worries, their sister restaurants right next door – The Solo Club – is the perfect spot to grab a coffee or latte and a snack while you wait. I’m usually loyal to the Farmer’s Hash or the Belgian Waffle with lemon curd and dark chocolate depending on if I’m in a sweet or savory mood.

Harlow: If you’re vegan and/or gluten-free Harlow will become a new favorite for you. We used to frequent this gem a lot when we lived on the east side, but it is definitely worth your while to stop in if you find yourself on Hawthorne. Their Walnut Flapjacks and Chipotle Chili Bowl are superrr yummy (any bowl, really!). This is also a really great place to take kids as it is really loud and always full of families!

Coffee/Tea/Quick Bite:

Lovejoy Bakers: I recently took some out-of-town friends to Lovejoy Bakers for coffee and a quick bite and knew that I am a super-fan when one of them needed the code to get in the bathroom and I could give it to them. So I guess you could say I’m a big fan of this place. Their iced vanilla lattes are one of my favorites and I can’t stop in without getting either the B.E.L.T sandwich or their classic egg and fontina on homemade ciabatta roll. The icing on top is that the space is super cute and full of gorgeous natural light and they have Adirondack chairs lined up outside if you can stay awhile and enjoy some great people watching.

Commissary: At first glance this may seem just like any other cool Portland coffee shop – it’s small and cozy, with very instagrammable decor and you can tell the baristas know what they’re doing. But the best kept secret is Commissary’s food is equally as incredible as their coffee. They serve the best scones I’ve ever had and their “Lights” egg sandwich on house-made biscuits (that can be dressed up with arugula, bacon, sausage, jalapeño jam and much more) are to-die-for. This is a Denfeld family favorite for sure!

Tea Bar: My absolute favorite place for an iced vanilla matcha latte. Each location is super minimal and bright with tons of natural light! They also have matcha soft serve at their Division location, which I have yet to try, but I really want to!

Heart: Heart has an Eastside and westside location. We mostly frequent the Westside location, which is right across the street from Tasty ‘n Alder (see brunch restaurants). They serve fantastic espresso drinks, and if you’re willing to pay upwards of $7 for a latte, you should try their house-made nut milk. It’s a decadent treat!

Stumptown: If you’re even remotely interested in Portland and Portland’s coffee scene, you’ll be very familiar with Stumptown. It is our household’s coffee of choice – we buy fresh beans every week or so to enjoy at home, but anytime I’m near one of their cafe locations I stop in for my coffee drink of choice: a vanilla latte.

Barista: The people at Barista take coffee seriously. Very seriously. And while this might seem intimidating or pretentious to some, to a coffee snob like me I appreciate the heck out of it. It’s one of the few places that will lure me in even in the afternoon for a decaf latte, because they are that good (I typically think decaf coffee is blasphemous).

Donuts
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Pipp’s Original Doughnuts: There’s a great debate in Portland about which donut spot is the best in the city. For us it is a very close tie between Pipp’s and Blue Star, but if forced to choose, Pipp’s all the way. How can you possibly compete with hot, fresh, made-to-order mini doughnuts?! I can’t say enough about how absolutely delicious and one-of-a-kind they are.

Blue Star: Three words: Classic. Brioche. Recipe. Okay, I really only care about one of those words: brioche. That basically means these donuts are the bomb. Blue Star is known for their inventive, seasonal flavors — like Blackberry & Habanero Jam w/ Peanut Butter Powder, Maple Bacon, Matcha Latte and Orange Olive Oil. The consistency of these donuts is so good and while the flavors can seem intimidating at first, they taste uncomplicated and flat out delicious.

Dessert:
Papa Haydn: For us, this is the only real dessert spot worth visiting. If you’re looking for delectable cakes the size of your head, a giant rhubarb crisp served piping hot with melting ice cream on top or the best baked Alaska you’ve ever tried, then you can’t miss a stop at Paps Haydn. (I am really impartial to the Georgian Peanut Butter Mousse Torte… but I’d recommend sharing, the portion is extremely large and the cake is very rich!)

Salt & Straw*: Another Portland favorite where you’ll find a line wrapped around the corner nearly any day or time. A little known secret is if you’re willing to skip the experience of tasting all the different flavors, you can skip the line and go straight to the cold case, pick up a pint and a couple waffle cones and head on your merry way! It’s the only way to go for us — we always grab the Sea Salt with Caramel Ribbons.

Ruby Jewel Scoops: If ice cream sandwiches are your jam, then Ruby Jewel is your place. You can pick your cookie and ice cream, get it dipped in sprinkles or chocolate (or both!) and it is sure to be the best ice cream sandwich you’ve ever had. Trust me.

Cacao: Maybe you’re visiting Portland during the winter, and it’s cold and rainy and the last thing that sounds good is a scoop of ice cream. In that case, popping into Cacao for a cup of drinking chocolate is definitely the way to go. But be warned, after a stop into their shop you might not be able to enjoy grocery store chocolate ever again.

Dinner:

Navarre: So hard to choose a favorite date night restaurant in Portland, but Navarre is very, very high up on our list. It’s a small restaurant with an ever-changing menu. Food is meant to be shared and they work with a CSA, so all the items on their menu are based on what is delivered that week. I can’t say enough about the romantic ambiance, the extensive wine list and the wonderful food. If you run into a wait for dinner you can pop next door to Angel Face — a really amazing bar (with awesome interior design).

Laurelhurst Market: A great spot for meat lovers especially, but I don’t eat beef or pork and still really enjoy my meals here. The ambiance is fantastic and they mix up great cocktails. It’s lively and the food is delicious every time!

Olympia Provisions: See my note from brunch — you can’t go wrong with any meal here! Both locations are stunning, on the smaller size, which I love for the vibe.

Lovely’s Fifty-Fifty*: Our absolute favorite place in Portland for pizza — especially when they have truffle pizzas on the menu, but they are all so incredible. The combinations may sound strange/unique, but these pizza chefs know what they are doing, they are all melt-in-your-mouth goooood. Then you can top your dinner off with house-made ice cream. Yes please! Very family friendly!

Ataula: Fun fact: We visited more cities in Spain than any other country when we lived abroad. Needless to say, we are huge fans of Spanish food and Ataula was the first place we tried in the States that had food that came close to the real thing straight from Barcelona. I’m going to be bossy and tell you what you can’t leave without tasting: Pa Amb Tomaquet, Tortilla de Patatas, Nuestras Bravas***(MUST) and one of their paellas (I’ve never been disappointed but if I had to choose a favorite it would be the Paella Ataula).

Le Pigeon: We love sitting at the bar and watching the talented chefs at work. Top notch food, great ambiance. Reminds me of being in an amazing restaurant in Europe. It’s always bustling in there and smells divine. Definitely need reservations for this one!

Piazza Italia: Best authentic italian in the city hands down — the decor is no frills, like what you’d find in Italy down a cobblestone path behind an unassuming door. In the heart of the Pearl District – never disappoints!

Bamboo Sushi: Just go here. Please. You think you’ve had good sushi, but you don’t know great sushi until you go to Bamboo. It’s the WORLD’S first certified sustainable sushi restaurant, which should give you an idea of the quality of the fish, meat and produce they use. You can’t leave without trying the Green Machine roll (with crab!) and they surprisingly have one of the best burgers in the city (wagyu beef).

Bollywood Theater: Loud, fun, crowded. A great spot to grab dinner with friends, especially if you go to their Division location during the summer months and can enjoy their large patio.  They specialize in Indian “Street Food” — my favorite dish is the Goan Style Shrimp.

Por Que No: I hate to admit that Portland has a serious shortage of really good Mexican food. Por Que No is without question the best in the city — and they have the lines out the door to prove it. Trust me when I tell you to have the Brian’s Bowl and don’t miss one of their Agua Fresca Margaritas. I am typically not a margarita fan because they usually taste too sweet with fake mix to me, but these are fresh and strong and sooooo good.

Stammtisch: Do you like German food? We do, but delicious and authentic German is not exactly the easiest to come by. Especially not in a spot that is this cozy and stocked with an amazing German beer list. We know it’s good because our friend from Berlin joins us for dinner here — if it has his stamp of approval, it certainly has ours. I can’t stand to order anything but the Maultaschen, it is so rich and flavorful.

Tasty ‘n Alder*: See brunch section — you’ll be sorry if you don’t go to one of the Tastys while you’re in Portland.

Toro Bravo*: Oh, Toro Bravo, how I love thee. I do not, however, love the long wait that is almost guaranteed, but your food is so, so worth it. Another favorite spot for date night, even better for a group of friends. Food is meant to be shared and everything is so flavorful, rich and delish. They also serve up a mean cocktail!

DOC : This place is special. It’s a quaint 20-seat restaurant, with the tiny kitchen at the front of the restaurant. That’s right, you can see the entire kitchen, the chefs at work, everything, right in front of you. It’s more of a special occasion place, at least for us. Reservations are a must!

Nostrana: If I had to pick a favorite food, I’d probably saying anything cooked in a wood fired oven. Ha! But seriously, you can hardly ever go wrong that way. Nostrana is well-known for their thin, wood-fired pizza (I daydream about the Funghi Verde Pizza) and famous for their Insalata Nostrana — made with radicchio, parmigiana, rosemary-sage croutons (!!!) and a Caesar style dressing. Yummmm.

Drinks:
Expatriate: I’m putting Expatriate in the drinks section, but their food is also amazing, so you could easily grab a snack and drink here before grabbing a bite somewhere else in the neighborhood (we love Yakuza, right across the street).

Angel Face: Amazing interior design with stunning hand-painted “wallpaper”. This is the kind of cocktail bar you go to and just tell the bartender what strikes your fancy (i.e. vodka & citrus, bourbon drinks, etc) and they’ll whip something up for you!

Interurban: Equally delicious food here, but also known for their craft cocktails. Great outdoor patio, too!

Multnomah Whiskey Library*: This place is really well-known among locals and tourists alike, and they have the wait to prove it. We’ve never waited or been quotes less than two hours, so your best bet is to check-in and leave your name then head somewhere in the neighborhood for dinner and come here for a night cap (we’d recommend Tasty ‘n Alder, Bamboo Sushi, Grassa, Lardo or Shalom Y’All).

Clyde Common: A great spot for dinner, too. But you can also grab a great cocktail and head next door to the Ace hotel and lounge in their lobby area – by the infamous “HOTEL” sign. Very instagrammable 😉

St. Jack: One of our favorite places to sit at the bar and eat and drink for date night. A French restaurant with amazing mussels and frites and tasty cocktails and an extensive wine list!

Wine Bars/Urban Wineries
Cooper’s Hall: Gorgeous, open space, great for big groups. The food, in our opinion, is mediocre, but this would be a great place to drink lots of delicious wine with friends! Best to check their schedule ahead of time as they do often get rented out for private events like weddings and such.

Southeast Wine Collective: A small urban winery with indoor and outdoor seating, great food and fun wine flights. Cute spot for a date night or good for a girls night out!

Muse: Tiny wine bar right off NW 23rd. Amazing selection of wines from all over the world, and the owners are awesome — super personable, not snooty in the least bit. Love this spot for a pre-dinner glass of vino!

My Everyday Makeup

I’ve been getting a lot of questions on my Instagram asking about what makeup I use (which I find extremely flattering since I really feel like I know nothing about makeup!), so I thought I’d give an update on the makeup I’m using these days.

Maybe it’s just me, but sometimes I feel like my face just gets used to certain makeup and it stops being as effective. Maybe it’s just in my head, maybe I just get bored with makeup easily, or most likely, as I age and am extremely tired thanks to two kids I’m always wondering why I look so haggard and think trying some new makeup might be my miracle cure 😉 After lots of trial and error, I’ve really come to love the products in my makeup bag right now. I’ve already covered three of the products in this beauty post, so I’ll copy and paste what I had to say over here, too.MakeupFinals (2 of 2)

So, here’s the roundup. I’ve listed everything out in the order in which I put it on my face. Hope that helps!

Laura Mercier Mineral Pressed Powder: I’ve had people comment on how “flawless” my skin looks — well, as much as I hate to admit that it’s not my skin, I have to give credit to this mineral powder from Laura Mercier. It provides amazing coverage while not being cakey and it’s also luminous so it gives your skin great dimension. I love it!

IT Cosmetics Sunshine In a Compact Vitality Anti-Aging Matte Bronzer: This is one product in my makeup bag that I definitely love and have bought several times to replace, but I’m not obsessed with. I am sure there are other great bronzers out there that would work really well. I like this one because it doesn’t have a lot of orange or red tones in it and works well for giving a contouring type effect!

IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Undereye Concealer:  Listen up tired mamas, you NEED this concealer. This is another one I heard about from miss Lauren and I am so glad I gave it a try. This concealer hides the fact that I have an infant and toddler at home and don’t get nearly as much sleep as I would like. My sister (a total beauty junkie who also has her own infant and toddler at home) ended up buying this too after noticing that I never looked tired even though she knew that I most definitely was 🙂

Physicians Formula Shimmer Strips: I was, and still am, a huge fan of Bobbi Brown’s Shimmer Bricks, but my older sister uses the Physicians Formula version and recommended it, so I’ve been using that instead for the past year or so. I use it both to give my cheekbones a bit of shine as well as use it as eyeshadow when I am out of my regular Mac Woodwinked shadow (which I currently am!). Love!

IT Cosmetics Superhero Mascara: I used to be a strictly drugstore mascara gal, until I found the IT Cosmetics Superhero Maskcare (thanks to Lauren McBride!). This stuff is so good — it lengthens and thickens and makes my lashes almost look fake! I’m hooked.

Christian Dior Eyeliner Pencil: I’ve used this eyeliner since I was 14 and I just can’t quit it — it goes on super smooth, doesn’t smudge and lasts throughout the day.

Billion Dollar Brows Universal Brow Pencil: I know everyone is all about the Glossier Boy Brow right now, and I’ve given that a try and it wasn’t my jam, but this stuff has been for a couple years now. It’s honestly foolproof, which I need because I am not an expert when it comes to brows and filling them in. I never got complimented on my eyebrows until I started using this. Now it happens all the time!

Bobbi Brown Blush in the color Peony: I used to be a strictly bronzer girl and didn’t feel I had any need for blush. Boy was I wrong! This Bobby Brown blush in the color peony is the perfect shade of pink to give your cheeks that flush pink color that brightens up your entire face without looking too pink. I now consider this blush my secret weapon to my makeup and my face definitely doesn’t feel “done” without it.

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{Photos © Liz Denfeld Photography}

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}

10 Tips for Surviving the Fourth Trimester

WilliamDay3 (5 of 20)My little sister gave birth to her first baby last week (!!!) and it is taking me back to those magical, hard, painful, beautiful first weeks and months of parenthood. Giving birth to your first baby is such an indescribable experience. It is most certainly full of heart-bursting moments and happy tears, but it’s also really, really hard. Parenthood is a whole new world — feeding, (not) sleep, swaddling, burping, soothing … it’s new territory and it can be tough to navigate. A couple years ago I wrote a guest post on my friend Lydia’s blog with my personal tips for surviving the fourth trimester and I thought now would be the perfect time to re-share it as my sister embarks on this journey of motherhood.

I’d love to hear if you agree with any of these tips and if you have any of your own to add to the list!

  1. It’s true what they say – you won’t be sleeping much those first few weeks. My advice is to forget the concept of “morning” and “night”. Just think of time as continuous, and then you won’t be as depressed when you’re going to bed (aka taking a 3 hour nap) at 7PM and up nursing at 3AM (instead of getting home from the bars…). This too shall pass.
  2. Shower and “get ready” every day (okay, most days). This will make you feel human and a whole lot happier.
  3. Take it easy for the first few weeks. There’s a lot of pressure for new mothers to be up and at ‘em not long after giving birth. Don’t give in to those pressures! Seriously. Lay in bed, cuddle your baby, RELAX. There will be plenty of time for getting out and about after the first month. Let people dote on you, bring you food, clean your house…
  4. Speaking of food. Don’t let anyone in your house without bringing a meal with them. Seriously.
  5. Before baby is born, go out to Trader Joe’s or New Seasons and stock up on your favorite snacks. Anything you can eat with one hand that isn’t just total junk. You’ll be so glad to have these healthy snacks around once dad goes back to work and you’re doing everything one-handed.
  6. Okay, this tip is going to sound a bit extravagant, but for me it was vital to my survival. Invest in a good coffee machine. For us, it was the Nespresso Vertuoline. Being able to whip myself up a latte whenever I wanted was not only necessary, but felt indulgent, too. I looked forward to it every morning (noon, and night…).
  7. Let your partner help. This wasn’t a big issue for me, but maybe it’s because I heard this piece of advice several times before Elodie was born. Let them change diapers, burp the baby, rock them to sleep, bathe them… The list goes on. It’s tough for some moms to let go and let their significant others do it their way, but your sanity depends on it. You can’t (and shouldn’t) do it all!
  8. Be kind to yourself. Of course I knew I wouldn’t be back in my pre-pregnancy jeans a week after E was born, but I will say that it was a lot harder for me to accept my post-partum body than I thought it would be. Things are squishy for a while, and it takes a bit for everything to move back into its place. Your clothes will fit different and that can make you feel weird (and maybe a little desperate). Just be patient and forgiving with yourself. It doesn’t happen overnight, but things will go back to normal!
  9. You really don’t realize just how fast an hour or two goes by until you have a newborn baby and they’re eating that often. You can easily come to the end of a day and feel like you’ve done nothing but feed your baby! That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but for me it was really important to find time at least once a day to do something for myself – take a bath, sit in a quiet room alone and read a few pages of a book or magazine, shop online, eat a cookie, whatever.
  10. Forget all the “rules” — the first three months (also known as the 4th Trimester) are all about survival mode. Hold your baby for every nap if you need (or want!) to, nurse him or her to sleep, give them a pacifier day one (or day two, like us). As a first time parent you are bombarded with advice and rules and you’re constantly questioning if you’re doing everything “right”. I’m here to tell you there is no right way to parent. Every baby is different, every situation is different. Trust your instincts (they will be there – you will hear them loud and clear) and don’t worry about anyone or anything else.

Most of all, just try to enjoy the tough but magical first weeks with your little one. I thought people were totally nuts when they looked at my two-week-old and said they missed the sleepless nights and newborn cries. Now I get it. It really is such a short period of time that passes quickly. Before you know it your little one will be eight months old, crawling all over the place, laughing and smiling! Life will be different, but it will be so very sweet.

If you missed it, check out my must-have baby items here!

WilliamDay3 (2 of 20)

Deep Thoughts on Stay-at-Home-Motherhood

I’m coming up on six months since I quit my job to stay home with Elodie and James. Like so many important life moments, it feels both longer and shorter than that. I’ve done so much thinking and soul-searching these last six months trying to figure out how I really feel about this new title — Stay-At-Home-Mom. There are some days I love it. I wear it with pride. And then there are days I can’t shake the feeling of shame and disappointment. There have been more times than I care to admit that when someone asks what I “do” — I bashfully say “I’m just home with the kids”.

I’m going to tell you something I’ve never actually said out loud, and it’s a hard truth to admit to. When I was a working mom there was a small part of me that judged stay-at-home-moms. While I preached, and still do preach, that everyone is just doing the best they can for their families, and that looks different for everyone, I’d secretly say to myself, “But I could never stay at home. I don’t know how they do that. I couldn’t sacrifice my career, my time, my money, to be home.” There was this tiny sliver that sort of looked down on SAHMs. Like I was a little better because I had a career. I was going to work. I was doing something. I know these thoughts were a defense mechanism. I felt huge guilt leaving my children 8+ hours a day to go to work. But I also felt really proud of my career, of my worth-ethic, of my paycheck. I simultaneously loved and hated dropping my kids off at daycare, because I hated saying goodbye to them, but I also loved having some time for myself — to do something I was good at and earn a living.

I wish I could say that six months at home has resolved these conflicting feelings, but if I’m honest, it’s only amplified them. I see things from the “other” side. I secretly always knew staying home would be hard… But it’s so much harder than I could’ve imagined. It’s physically, emotionally and mentally draining. I feel an immense amount of pressure to be present, to make healthy meals, to keep the house clean, to keep the kids socialized, to teach the kids about everything from numbers, colors and letters to empathy, kindness and hard work.

When Corey and I both worked full-time outside of the home it truly felt like we were barely making it through each day. We weren’t enjoying life and parenthood Monday through Friday, we were just trying to survive it. I so badly wanted me staying home to fix that feeling. And while yes, having me home has alleviated much of the burden that fell on our shoulders as two working parents, most of that burden has just shifted from both of us to me. Now I’m the one who is home all day and can keep up on the laundry and the rest of the cleaning. I’m the one who’s home during rush hour so I’m the logical person to get dinner started, I’m the one who’s always available to take kids to doctors appointments, or be home for a repair man when our dryer breaks or our internet isn’t working. Corey has no expectations of me — he doesn’t walk in the door and expect happy kids, a clean house and dinner to be made, but I expect that of myself. And if he walks in and we have crying children, a messy house and no idea what’s for dinner, we’re just in the exact same spot we’d be at every night when we were both working.

It has taken time to work through our new normal. My morning routine honestly helps me so much, but there are still times I feel twinges of resentment that Corey’s life has seemingly gotten so much easier while mine feels a lot harder. But then I remember that I got to be home with our kids all day. I got to see James take his first steps, I got to read them books, take them to the park, bake cookies together, have dance parties, I got to be there to kiss there owies and snuggle them while we watched a movie. It doesn’t feel like all rainbows and sunshine on a day-to-day basis, but the exhaustion I feel at the end of the day is rewarding in a way being in the office never could be.

I know I’ll continue to ponder both working-mom-life and stay-at-home-mom-life. There will always be pros and cons for each. I imagine I’ll go back-and-forth between the two many times for many different reasons. For now I’m just grateful I’m getting the chance to see it all from another perspective, to really live it. And now more than ever I really do believe there is no perfect way, no better way — working, staying home, working from home, it’s all so freakin’ hard. And I have so much respect for every single mother out there, no matter what they do or where they do it.

 

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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