Love Wins

The reaction in our country to this election is absolutely heartbreaking. I’ve thought long and hard about whether or not to write a post about it. I’m not about to share my political thoughts, because no one needs to know and I don’t believe in shoving my opinion down peoples’ throats. But what I DO feel called to do is remind everyone that we’re all on the same team here. It’s not me against you. Speaking down and placing blame is the exact hateful behavior that we’re condemning. So, in this moment, I want to love everyone. I want to have open conversations with people who have opposing viewpoints (and I’ve had some incredible ones in the past few days). I want to do nice things for people because it makes me feel good inside. So, whatever you believe in, we can all agree that we need more love in this world! So, go out there and do something nice for someone. Love someone who has a different view than you! I promise you’ll feel better inside. And isn’t THAT what we want to teach our kids? That love wins??

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Things I learned From My Broker Class

As you may or may not know, Stew and I own a vacation rental business. To make a long story short, in order to function, we need to have a “Broker In Charge”. Ours moved to CA and didn’t want to continue as our broker. So I had to go to a 2 week class to get my broker in charge license so our sweet little biz could keep running! While in my class, I learned a few things…

  1. I love our business! I love that we have personal relationships with all of our clients and guests. I love making it possible for guests to have the vacation of their dreams and to protect our clients’ investment properties!
  2. I LOVE working from home. I get the best of both worlds. I get the joy of watching my children grow up before my eyes and being a part of their day-to-day, yet preserving my identity as a professional. I talked to a lot of the other realtors in my class and we share this sentiment. I don’t take a single second for granted. I am blessed for sure!
  3. I have a new respect for parents who work out of the house. I was on the road by 7:30 am (sat in traffic) and home by 6pm (after sitting in traffic) and got to see my family for about an hour before sending them to bed. I know that’s the norm, and it is hard!
  4. I am so thankful for this crew of mine. I am blessed far more than I will ever deserve!

 

 

 

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Halloween

What a blur! This week has been so busy with my super fun broker class that I’ve had to sit through (more on that later). I’m finally parked at my computer catching up on life. I’m definitely overdue for posting about Halloween. But, better late than never!

This was, by far, the best Halloween yet (I know I say that every year). Gracie was old enough to dress up (dream come true), and Turner was so excited about trick-or-treating! Every year we have the same tradition. We throw on a pot of chili, invite my mom, stepdad, and a few friends, and make a night of it!

Our neighborhood sent out an email that we would have a parade on Saturday starting at 4 with a firetruck and all! The parade would go to the neighborhood pavilion where there would be snacks and pizza. So I told everyone to be at our house by 3:30 so we would be ready. We got dressed up after nap time anxiously awaiting the blaring sirens! Stew dressed in his usual “Dr Watson” outfit. I was a Greek goddess (realistically it was all I could throw together in my last minute decision to dress up), Gracie was a ballerina, and Turner was supposed to be Lightning McQueen but found his Batman costume from 2 years ago (that was way to small) and insisted on wearing that.

Turns out the firetruck had a real emergency they had to tend to, so we waited for about 45 minutes until we decided to give up and walk to the pavilion. Luckily, one of our neighbors had a jump castle set up in their front yard. That kept the kiddos from being too devastated.

We got to the pavilion to find a million kids running amok, pizza completely gone, and more mosquitoes than I could handle. Needless to say, that didn’t last too long. We made some small talk for a bit and headed back to the house. We decompressed, ate some chili, put Gracie to bed, and geared up for round two! My mom and stepdad hung back to give out candy while we took the kids trick-or-treating. We only hit a few houses, which was fine by me and fun enough for the kids! They thought it was the best thing since sliced bread! The best part is, I’ve been using Turner’s candy as leverage for good behavior. No time-outs, you get a piece of candy! I know, I’m the meanest mom ever. But it works!

Happy Halloween!

 

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Sleep Deprivation

Ok so I haven’t been sleep deprived in a while. But I have several friends with newborns that are feeling the exhaustion. I am a big believer that sleep, or lack of sleep rather, affects us so much more than we realize! Casper (they have a really unique mattress design and you can read more about their approach to sleep here) has been sharing their tips for getting a better sleep with everyone. When I read this, not only did it resonate with me, but with how our children sleep too! So here are some tips:

  1. Establish a nighttime routine: I started this around 5 weeks with our kids. It’s kinda hard to start too early because they’re still mixed up with their timing and they eat so often! We would do a bath to signal that it was time to relax, swaddle them, and give them a bottle in their room with lights out. We’d put them in their crib, sleepy but awake, so they would learn to self-sooth. More on our sleep training process here)

2. Satisfy hunger: a lot of times babies are simply hungry! But it’s a bit harder to tell how much a baby eats if you’re a nursing mom. I would start pumping as early as possible so I could always give our kids a bottle before bed. In the beginning, before I knew better, Turner would fall asleep while nursing and I assumed he was full. WRONG. He would wake up shortly after, screaming for food! Concentrate on giving Baby a full feeding before bed. And if you can’t pump, keep baby awake long enough to ensure a full feeding.

3. Temperature must be right: If Baby is too hot or too cold, obviously she won’t sleep! In the winter I use this fleece sleep sack, and in the warmer months I use this cotton sleep sack. Now that Gracie’s a little older, we just do her Aden & Anais sleep sack.

4. Sound Machine: This is a lifesaver! We’ve used this sound machine for both kids. Turner still uses his! The great thing about it is, not only does it help them sleep more soundly, but it helps to cover up any noise we might make after they’re in bed. Stew and I actually sleep with a fan and bring one everywhere we go because I can’t sleep without background noise. It would make sense that it’s the same for our little ones!

These were super helpful to me. I hope they are for you too! It made me re-think my own nighttime routine. I’ve always been so focused on my kids’ sleep that I often overlook my own “wind down time”. Let me know which of these you use for yourselves or your kids!

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Pumpkin Carving Party

This is our fifth  (or sixth?) annual pumpkin carving party! It’s become quite the tradition in our house. We have it down to a science at this point. The necessities are a spooky menu, a tarp to carve pumpkins on, and friends!

The years leading up to this have been pretty chill. Turner was young so he would just sort of hang out with a friend or two. This year, now that he’s a little older, it was a full on kid fest! We had at least 30 people here and adults were just about out-numbered by kids! It was insane and oh-so-fun! 

I have our menu with pictures below:

Haunted Punch:
(OJ, cranberry juice, scull and cross bone ice cubes, and syringes filled with a raspberry puree). HERE is my inspiration for this drink. You could easily add alcohol. I had a mixer on hand in case anyone was feeling frisky!

Desserts:

Witches Fingers (recipe HERE) and Muddy Buddy (recipe HERE)

Spooky Snacks:
Snake Stromboli, Spiderweb Dip (refried beans on bottom layer, salsa next, cheese, guacamole, and Greek yogurt as the spiderweb), Mummy Dogs

And now for the fun part! We roll out a non-slip plastic tarp (from Lowes) so we could all cut pumpkins and not worry about making a mess. At the end of the night we roll up the tarp and chuck it!

We had a great time! The main difference between this year and the previous years is that we were all cleaned up by 8, yet it felt like midnight! Next up is trick-or-treating with these cuties! Happy (almost) Halloween!

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The Pumpkin Patch

This has been the busiest week of my life! Preparing for a hurricane and then recovering from it has been crazy. Not only did we have to prepare our own home but we boarded up the rental homes we manage on Dewees Island! Then 48 hours after the storm hit we had every home back up and running to host guests for a wedding on the island! IN.SANE. I’ve had approximately 5 minutes in the past week where my phone hasn’t rung or a text hasn’t come through with some problem that needed to be solved. It was stressful to say the least! But I’ve recovered and I never want to let work and stress get in the way of my much needed family time! It’s the only thing that keeps me sane!

Saturday morning we went to the pumpkin patch to get ready for Halloween with our good friends (and Turner’s future wife)! It was glorious!

I LOVE Halloween. I love the weather, the decorations, the food, and the festivities! This year, the pumpkin patch was easier than last. Last year Turner was so excited that he ran every which way and it was really hard to keep tabs on him. Gracie was a newborn, so I wore her in the wrap, which was fine, but not nearly as fun as her smiling face this year!

The kids ran around, jumped on the jump castle, fed the animals, got extremely dirty (my OCD self died inside a little bit) and, of course, picked pumpkins.

Fall is my favorite time of year. We have so many fun things planned in the coming weeks! But for now it’s time for a mental break while Gracie naps and Turner is at school. Windows are open, AC is turned off, and coffee is poured! Happy Monday to you!

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Beef Bone Broth

Fall is here and this means the kids are going back to school. Like every school year, they usually bring home all the germs that makes the entire family sick. This year I’m prepared! You’ve probably heard how chicken soup is great for the common cold and flu, but have you heard of “beef bone broth”? I actually heard about this from a friend of mine who was going through a detox with her husband who has very sensitive digestion so it’s not foreign to me.

In case you didn’t know, the main difference between bone broth and normal stock that you buy from a grocery store is that the animal bones are simmered in water for a very long time. With this long cooking process, all the proteins from the bones are broken down into a gelatin. This gelatin contains many nutrients and amino acids which helps improve your immune system and gut health. Plus, as it gets cold, nothing feels better than sipping on a hot steaming cup of bone broth (think regular ol’ beef broth but on steroids).

The only problem is that bone broth takes 12-24 hours to make. I do prefer making my own broth, but sometimes if I’m short on time, I use Kettle & Fire’s pre-made beef bone broth. They use high quality ingredients, grass-fed bones, and they’re also non-frozen & shelf stable. You can check them out on their website and if you use the promo code “WATSON15” you’ll get 15% off your first order! I also have a wonderful recipe if you want to try it for yourself! Below is a video that is super helpful as well.

Organic Beef Bone Broth
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Ingredients
  1. 3-4 lbs of mixed beef bones (oxtail, knuckles, neckbones and/or short ribs)
  2. 2 medium carrots (coarsely chopped)
  3. 3 celery stalks (coarsely chopped)
  4. 2 medium onions (coarsely chopped)
  5. 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  6. 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  7. 1 bay leaf
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Place bones in a single layer on a sheet or roasting pan.
  3. Drizzle with olive oil to evenly coat.
  4. Roast for 30 minutes, then, flip each bone over and roast for an additional 30 minutes.
  5. Chop the vegetables while the bones are roasted and put them with the bones, bay leaf and cider vinegar in a large crock pot or soup pot.
  6. Cover completely with water and bring to a high simmer. Once you have a high simmer, reduce the heat to low and let simmer for 12-24 hours.
  7. Throughout simmering, add water as needed to keep all the ingredients submerged.
  8. Once the broth has reached a dark rich brown color, remove from heat. Discard the bones, vegetables and bay leaf and strain through a cheesecloth.
  9. Cool the pot to room temperature. Once at room temperature pour into jars and let cool in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
  10. When you are ready to serve, skim the condensed fat off the top of the broth and heat to the desired temperature.
Notes
  1. Just like with all recipes, you want to use high quality ingredients. That’s why I recommend to only use grass-fed beef bones to make the most of the nutritional benefits. Also, don’t skip the roasting step, this gives the broth that rich complex flavor. Make a big batch and keep some on hand, it is the perfect cure all broth!
Little Baby Watson http://littlebabywatson.com/

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Hurricane Matthew and NJ Visit

It’s amazing how things fall into place isn’t it? We had a trip to NJ planned to see my dad who we haven’t seen in two years! Before we left we saw this monster hurricane below Haiti. But in our line of work we need to be aware of potential storms heading our way! So we had our plan to board up the rental homes in place before we left. And it’s a good thing we did, because it came right for us! I’m still waiting to hear the status but last I checked it wasn’t as devastating as the weather channel was saying.

Although I was constantly checking my phone for weather updates and experiencing a low level of anxiety at all times, we’ve enjoyed our time here! We stayed with my dad and hit all of our favorite spots! The most exciting being our day trip to Princeton. This is something my dad and I have been doing since I was a kid. Each time we go, there’s a new life event to talk about (moving, college, marriage, babies, etc) and our group continues to grow!

We were all pooped at the end of the day!

While in NJ, we went to our favorite restaurants, saw great friends, and spent time with our families. It was wonderful from start to finish! Turner and my dad were BFFs. They are quite a pair!

So here we are, safe and sound from Hurricane Matthew. We’re just waiting until the roads are clear until we start our 12 hour journey home!

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Bohemian Princess First Birthday Party (FREE PRINTABLES)

Well, that was fun. The funny thing about celebrating a one-year-old’s birthday, is that it’s unpredictable! I have been waiting for this day my whole life! The prep, decorations, food, and friends were incredible! But, Gracie was a hot mess. I think she cried almost the whole time.  Teething? Exhaustion? Too much commotion? All of the above? Poor thing. We ended up putting her down for a nap before the party was over. But at least some of us enjoyed it!

The theme was Bohemian Princess. I searched and searched on Pinterest for just the right theme that would fit my sweet little angel. I created printables (linked at the bottom of post) that were super cute. I made headbands for all the ladies out of ribbon, hot glue, and flowers. And I ordered a girly pink and gold banner for the gift table (similar HERE). I made a menu that lent itself to “bohemian” food labels. I had so much fun planning it. If only Gracie was as excited as I was!

The beautiful thing about my mother-in-law being an incredible photographer is that she captures every single moment. I was laughing as I scrolled through her photos. It was like re-living the party all over again…every last teardrop!

Here are some shots of my morning food prep…

And here is the finished product!

My mom made the cake. It was beautiful and delicious! It was a big hit! I made Gracie my usual “healthy birthday cupcake” (recipe here). I just can’t stand the thought of a little body ingesting that much sugar…call me crazy! Her reaction was one for the books. I swear it’s delicious! But she was either traumatized that she wasn’t getting the big pink cake or that she had chocolate icing covering her hands. Either way, it was a disaster.

At this point I’m tempted to write “end scene”. Gracie went down for her nap immediately following this meltdown. But the party went on. Turner and his friends ran around like crazy people and the adults mingled. It was quite enjoyable and stressful all at the same time. But that’s pretty much how life has felt since having kids 4 years ago, am I right?! Nevertheless, it was magical celebrating Gracie’s first year of life with people we love! Happy Birthday, Baby Girl!

FREE PRINTABLES HERE:

Boho Berry Punch

Painted Horse Popcorn

Small Food Labels (treats for the tribe, wild berries, rising sun sandwiches)

 

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Soft and Chewy Pumpkin Cookies

The countdown to fall is ON in the Watson household. I’m really fighting with everything I have to not decorate the house. My friend told me I at least have to wait until the end of September. I won’t lie though, I’ve been burning my favorite pumpkin candle for over a month now. And I’ve been baking tons of pumpkin flavored goodies. These cookies are among my favorite new fall treats. They’re incredible! I searched a few pumpkin cookie recipes on Pinterest and created a healthier spin on them so Turner and Gracie could eat them too. Now, I say healthy, but they have butter and flour. The healthy part comes with no sugar and replacing with maple syrup. They’re delicious! Fluffy, soft, and satisfying. They actually taste like a muffin top…but hopefully won’t give you one ;o) Happy almost fall!


Soft and Chewy Pumpkin Cookies
Yields 11
A healthy spin on this fall treat!
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup butter softened to room temp
  2. 1/4 cup maple syrup
  3. 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  4. 1 egg
  5. 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  6. 1 cup all-purpose flour
  7. 1 cup spelt flour*
  8. 1/2 tsp baking soda
  9. 1 tsp cinnamon
  10. 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  11. 1/4 tsp clove
  12. 1 cup oats
  13. 1 cup craisins
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. In a standing mixer beat the butter until light and fluffy.
  3. Pour in maple syrup and beat another few seconds until well combined.
  4. Add pumpkin puree and mix until combined
  5. Add vanilla and egg and mix until combined
  6. In a separate bowl whisk together flour, spices, baking soda and oats. Slowly pour into the mixer and mix until combined.
  7. Fold in craisins.
  8. Using a 1/4 cup ice cream scoop, place mounds of dough on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 15-17 minutes until set and cooked through the center. Let cool completely and store in an airtight container.
Notes
  1. *I used half spelt flour as an alternative to all white flour. You could easily use all-purpose flour if that's what you have!
Little Baby Watson http://littlebabywatson.com/

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