Thursday, July 31, 2014

outfit of the day(bird): number nine

tank~ Urban Outfitters
skirt~ hand-me-down from Megan
shoes~ Target
necklace~ Petit Oiseau

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, then you may already know that Jim and I celebrated our ninth wedding anniversary last Wednesday. To mark the occasion, we decided to take a weekend getaway to Wisconsin Dells. If you are from the Midwest, you most likely know about the Dells. It's considered "The Water Park Capital of the World". It is this crazy little tourist destination in the middle of Wisconsin with a water park on every corner and all sorts of other crazy activities and fun to be had. Jim's parents kindly watched our kids so we could enjoy a couple days of alone time with each other. And boy, did we ever! We went horseback riding, zip-lining (I have a crippling fear of heights and this was terrifying, but SO MUCH FUN! Also, did I mention terrifying?), got a couples massage, spent an afternoon playing arcade games like 12-year old kids, slept in late (7:30 a.m. is late, right?), went swimming in the lake, ate at some really great restaurants, drank some evening champagne and daytime margaritas, and killed zombies. Yes, you read that right. Happy nine years, babe! Let's go kill some zombies! Jim, my anything and everything zombie-obsessed husband, dragged me into this place where they give you laser tag guns and send you into this dark maze of rooms where REAL PEOPLE dressed as zombies try to attack you and you have to shoot them or get bit. (No, they don't actually bite. It's based on how close they get to you). I thought zip-lining was scary, but this seriously frightened the living daylights out of me. Jim said he has never heard anyone scream so loud as I did during our time in the maze. But, in the end, I ended up killing more zombies and getting less bites than Jim. I am pretty sure Jim was slightly disappointed, extremely surprised, but also very proud. It's a strange thing to have your husband be proud of, but I'll take it! So, happy nine years, Jim! The year of the zombie.

xoxo, nora bird

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

bird.i.y: peppermint and honey daytime toner

Do you include toner in your skincare routine? I am a fairly recent convert. A few months ago, I decided it was time, and I began to research anti-aging skincare and products. I have started using rosewater as a toner on my face at night and I love it. It has many benefits, including anti-aging properties, and I love it for nighttime because it calms my skin and helps ease stress and anxiety. I recently decided to add toner to my daytime regimen, as well. I knew I wanted something natural and, preferably, something I could make myself. I did a bit of research and decided I'd really like to make something with peppermint essential oil. Peppermint oil is excellent at hydrating dull skin, improves oily skin conditions (so it's great for all skin types!), and can help prevent breakouts. I also find it cooling and awakening, so it's perfect for daytime. I made an extremely simple toner with peppermint oil, honey, apple cider vinegar, and water. That's it! Honey and apple cider vinegar also have amazing skin benefits. Honey exfoliates, improves circulation, and minimizes lines and wrinkles while apple cider vinegar softens skin, restores the skin's natural pH balance, and helps reduce redness. So, basically, three amazing, natural ingredients in one toner. And it is so easy to make. Yay!

1 tablespoon honey (Use raw and local if you can! This is going on your skin, so you want high quality stuff.)
1 cup water + 1/3 cup warm water
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
5 drops peppermint essential oil

Start by mixing the honey with the warm water until it dissolves. Once it is dissolved, stir in the rest of the water, the vinegar, and the essential oil. That's it! Then just bottle it up. I used a couple old toner bottles I had lying around (reduce, reuse, recycle!). I just cleaned them out, took off the labels, and made my very own, super awesome and creative label.

I should probably go into the label designing business, am I right???

The toner should last for several months, stored in a cool, dark place. To use the toner, just apply daily to a clean, dry face with a cotton ball.
Just in case you needed a visual.

Here I am in all my makeup-free glory! Eek! I just recently started using this toner but, if anyone is interested, I will happily share a side-by-side comparison photo in a few weeks. Just let me know in the comments!

xoxo, nora bird

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

outfit of the day(bird): sweet dreams

dress ~ TJ Maxx
shoes ~ Target
necklace ~ Forever 21
sunglasses ~ thrifted

At least once a week, I have a story about Chris' weird sleeping habits. Most of them involve him accidentally hurting me while we both are sleeping. He will elbow me in the face, squeeze my leg really hard, or knee me in the gut, always frantically waking me up. These are all accidental, he would never purposely hurt me. But he is such a deep sleeper and moves around a lot, and I tend to be sleeping in the warpath of his dreams.

The other night, however, was one of the best yet. I happened to be awake, and he was in one of his deep slumbers. He cuddled up close to me, and very romantically started kissing the inner part of my elbow, as if it were my face. About two minutes passed, and he continued to slowly and very quietly kiss my arm is if it were his favorite thing in the world. Of course the whole time I was silently laughing, trying desperately to reach my phone so I could record it. Unfortunately I couldn't get to it, and he claims if I have no photographic proof, then it didn't really happen. But trust me, it did. And it was amazing.

megan bird

Monday, July 28, 2014

inspiration monday: day to night parties

the inspiration
Lily Collins
megan bird

skirt ~ Forever 21
shirt ~ Target
vest, shoes ~ thrifted
necklace ~ Kohls
bracelets ~ thrifted, gift from Eva

nora bird

dress~ Target
vest~ vintage, thirtfed
tee~ Old Navy
shoes~ Pink&Pepper, DSW

Our neighbors had a birthday party for their son on Saturday. They borrowed a giant inflatable water slide from a friend, and the kids had an absolute blast sliding down it the whole day. We left, went school clothes shopping (gasp), and came home to a text from our neighbor reading, "come over for happy hour, the slide is still up".

So we packed up the kids, made some guac to share, and threw a few beers in the cooler and went back...only to end up on the water slide ourselves (in our skivvies) at midnight while the kids dozed watching movies. It was a successful day with good friends and neighbors!
megan bird

Friday, July 25, 2014

bird seed: basil walnut pesto

I love pesto. Luckily for me, we got a ton of basil in our CSA box last week and I used most of it to make a big batch of pesto. Traditionally, pesto is made with pine nuts, but I almost never have those on hand. My favorite alternative is to use walnuts, which I always keep stocked in the pantry.

2 cups fresh basil leaves
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup parmesan
1/3 cup walnuts
salt and pepper to taste
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

I used my Vitamix blender to make this, but a food processor with a steel blade would work just as well.

Place the walnuts and garlic in the blender or food processor and process until coarsely chopped. Add in the basil, salt, and pepper and blend until you have a paste-like mixture. While the blender or processor is still running, slowly add in the olive oil. Once the pesto is thoroughly blended, add the parmesan and process for about one more minute. Use immediately or store in an airtight container in the fridge for about one week.

This made enough pesto for a few meals. I made a pasta, of course, with some sauteed summer squash, tomatoes, and cannellini beans and a few heaping tablespoons of the pesto. The next morning, I made scrambled eggs with a big dollop of pesto and some goat cheese (my personal favorite). For lunch one day, I mixed up the pesto with a bit of mayo and made a delicious sandwich spread. There are so many options and this is such a simple recipe, perfect for any summertime meal! I hope you enjoy!

xoxo, nora bird

Thursday, July 24, 2014

outfit of the day(bird): fairy dust

 entire outfit ~ thrifted

Chris and I have each taken one day per week to work from home the last few weeks in order to hang with the kids. Last Tuesday, Chris was with them, and when I got home from work, I noticed that both kids had little bits of silver glitter on their faces. I asked them why, and Eva told me they were playing fairy. I didn't follow-up with any questions at the time, assuming they had a good time playing outside with the glitter.
Two days later, I was the one working from home. I needed to get something from the family room in the basement, so I walked downstairs and nearly had a heart attack. I called the kids down and asked them what had happened down there.
Eva: "Well mama, I told you, we were playing fairy!"
Me: "How do you play fairy?"
Eva: "You pour glitter in your hand, and then blow it Henry's face."
The basement carpet, blankets, chairs, and spare bed were covered in silver glitter. Covered. Still this week, I find at least one silver glitter dot somewhere on my body every single day.
When dad works from home, the kids play fairy. When mom works from home, the kids vacuum.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

bird.i.y.: succulent window box planter

Nora and I go back and forth each week, joking about how easy our DIYs are. I like to think that at the very least, they provide some sort of inspiration, either in the form of, "oooh, I want to make that!" or, "oooh, if the birds can make that, so can I!" Having said that, please let me introduce the "how to plant a bunch of succulents in a window box" DIY. You're welcome.
I needed something to cover the ugly stones we use to hold down our patio unbrella. They are ugly, but without them, the umbrella is useless. I bought this old window box at an estate sale for $1, and previously had some cute potted flowers in it. There were two problems with that: 1. The flowers died, and 2. spiders made their way between the pots and spun what might be the most intricate web throughout the whole planter box. On a side note, I also housed a glass gnome in the box, and for a few days, I thought his foot was a dead toad. I meant to make this succulent planter a lot sooner, but I wouldn't go near the thing on account of the dead toad/gnome foot. Once Chris informed me that it was not, in fact, a dead toad, I got to work on the succulents.
Do I even need to type instructions? Probably not, but I will. What you will need is a window box, sand and dirt, and as many succulents as you want to squeeze in the box. Remember that succulents like to be crowded, so while I didn't buy a ton, you can always pack a few more in if you want.
Fill the bottom third of the planter with sand – this will act as good drainage for the succulents. They are a drought plant, so poor drainage will kill them pretty quickly, especially if you have been getting as much rain as we have lately! For the top two-thirds, I used a mixture of more sand and the dirt from the succulents (plus maybe a little more dirt from my yard). In total, I'd say the mixture of sand to dirt was 3 to 1.

Then simply add the succulents in a cute manner. I tried mine out a few ways before I decided on this arrangement.

I would like to add more, but I wanted to make sure they all lived before I spent more money. (Spoiler alert, they did!)

And here it is in all of it's DIY glory. Sure, it's easy, but I also kind of love it.

megan bird

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

outfit of the day(bird): crust whisperer

dress~ c/o texturable
shoes and head scarf~ Target

Jim and I have almost never seen Mimi eat a crust of any sort. Not a pizza crust, nor a sandwich crust, nor any other sort of crust that exists. Even hamburger buns, that basically have no crust, she will eat all but the edges. It's so strange and practically unexplainable. I don't usually eat pizza crusts, so we assume that is where this crust ban sprung from, but she is really not a picky eater otherwise, so it confuses us. We have tried many things to get her to eat her crusts, including telling her that the crusts are the healthiest part of the bread (she's very impressed and will almost always eat something when it's claimed to be healthy), but even that didn't work. It may not have helped that even Jim didn't believe that claim, which lead to some extensive research (AKA Googling) as to whether or not it was true (IT IS! Google said so!). Anyway, why am I telling you all of this? Well, last night we went out for pizza with Megan and Chris and Mimi ended up sitting next to Megan who somehow talked Mimi into eating all of her crusts. I am not sure exactly how it happened, but clearly Megan is a crust whisperer and she needs to teach me her secrets. For this reason and many many others, it is so wonderful to have sisters who have been moms for longer than me and have more experience and more tricks up their sleeves. I learn so much from each of them every day and I am so thankful and so lucky.

xoxo, nora bird

Monday, July 21, 2014

inspiration monday: amazing friend bracelet

the inspiration
Olivia Polerma
megan bird

shorts, blouse ~ thrifted
shoes ~ Kohls
sunglasses ~ Target
necklace ~ vintage, thrifted
bracelet ~ gift from Eva

nora bird

tank ~ H&M
shorts ~ Loft
shoes ~ Target
necklace ~ Etsy

Eva made a friend at Henry's soccer games this summer. Last week, she decided to wrap up a few of her favorite bracelets and write a card to bring to her new friend during one of Henry's games. She was so excited, and was so antsy to see her so she could give her the gift.

We got to the park and Eva saw her friend. She got a little shy and nervous, but eventually grabbed the gift bag and walked over to her. I didn't see what happened, as I was watching Henry's game, but a few moments later, Eva came back with the bag in her hand, and put it next to me. I asked what happened, and she said, "She didn't want it."

My heart broke a little. And then I opened the card she had written and it said, "You are an amazing friend", and as I read it, my heart broke a little more.

The good of it was that Eva was totally non-plussed and the two girls continued to play as if nothing had happened. Plus, the next morning as I was getting ready for work, I grabbed one of the bracelets and asked Eva if I could be her amazing friend. She agreed, and I got to keep the bracelet.

megan bird

Thursday, July 17, 2014

mama bird/bird seed: family traditions -- sushi sunday

I don't know why I love traditions so much. I think it's because the few we had in our family growing up stuck with me and are still some of my favorite childhood memories. I want to create the same kind of memories for my kids. 

I knew that as they got a bit older, I wanted to teach the kids how to cook. I loved watching my mom cook, and even if I didn't love everything she made when I was a kid, I love it all now, and she is by far the best cook that I know. I'd like for my kids to have the same appreciation for food as I did growing up. And in my eyes, part of that appreciation comes with knowing how to make it. I mixed this thought with my love for sushi, and we decided to make it a Sunday tradition. And so Sushi Sunday began.

Here's how we made our first round...

We went to United Noodle and bought everything we would need for probably the next 32 Sushi Sundays. Seriously, we have 30 pounds of sticky rice (not pictured). The basics for classic sushi that you will need are:

~ Nori
~ Sticky rice (plain white rice won't work)
~ Rice vinegar
~ Any vegetables of your choosing, sliced in long slices
~ Soy sauce
~ any protein you want (I used tofu and the kids and Chris used fake crab)
~ Sesame seeds
~ Sushi mats
~ saran wrap
~ Wasabi

Start with a dry Nori sheet. They tell you to soak them, but trust me on this, don't. They become a disgusting pile of mush if you do. We simply laid saran wrap over the sushi mat, the Nori over the saran wrap, and then brushed the Nori with a mixture of water and rice vinegar. This softens it up enough to roll them without cracking, but not enough to make them into Nori porridge (Norridge??).

The add enough rice to spread over 1/3 -- 1/2 of the Nori.

Hint: dip your fingers in the rice vinegar/water mixture so that the rice doesn't stick too much. The name sticky rice is not a lie.

Then add whatever veggies and protein on top of the rice to form a nice line. Try not to make it too thick, or it won't roll properly.

Start rolling the mat, pulling the saran wrap out as you go. You want to roll it very tight so it doesn't come apart when you cut it.

Looks appetizing, no?

Using a very sharp knife, slice the sushi roll into bite size pieces.

And enjoy!

The kids especially enjoyed them because they made them themselves. There's a great satisfaction in enjoying your own creations. They were so proud and so happy!

megan bird
We have also made Mexican sushi. Follow me on Instagram if you want to see what we make every Sunday!