Sugarlaws: Living Sweetly.

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best of 2014!

January 2nd, 2015 · No Comments

2014-Final

What a year this one has been!

I’m charging head-on into 2015, but before I do, I wanted to take a minute to reflect on all the wonderful moments from this past year.  So, if you’re new to this blog or you missed a few posts here and there, I’ve pulled together some of my favorites from the last 12 months. 

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Baby

This marked the birth of our son, which turned my life upside down in the happiest, most wonderful (and yet totally overwhelming) way possible.  I think my favorite post of the year was on my decision to give up the idea of being a “perfect” parent and to focus on enjoying time with our son.  This is something I still struggle with nearly every day, but realizing it has made our lives so much happier and better.  If you’re going to read one post I wrote in 2014, head over there.

In other news…

I briefly turned into Godzilla at the sound of our baby crying… and wound up breaking our freezer.

The best advice I received as a new parent: Just Wait A Week.

Our baby broke a $500 jar of Vaseline.  Oops. 

I shared Baby Bear’s birth story, the most incredible night of my life.  And I surprised myself by dreading those newborn weeks so much, and then finding out that I actually liked them

We had an epic meltdown in the grocery store

I wrote letters to our son at one, two, three, four and five months… and then somehow completely forgot to keep going.  Baby Brain, people.  It’s a real thing.  I’m hoping to revive these in 2015!  (And, if you want to get all technical about it, I technically wrote two letters to him at one month old… with no recollection of the first when I wrote the second.  I blame the two combined hours of sleep I was getting per night at that point.)

I wrote about our decision to vaccinate, and why it shouldn’t be a decision at all.  Please inform yourselves about the facts on this incredibly important issue, for the safety of your child and others. 

I wrote about our struggles with breastfeeding and the solution that worked for us, as well as two posts on nursing mom style tips (here and here).  I wrote about the products you actually need as a new mom (hint: it’s not a wardrobe of pint-size newborn clothes)!

I wrote about why parental leave isn’t just a women’s issue — engaged dads make for happier families, and paternity leave is important too.

And finally, I wrote about life as a working mom, and the challenges I’m juggling with balancing my career and our family. 

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Style

Baby bump posts took up the first four months of the year!  I had so much fun styling my growing belly!  At the time, I felt huge and totally self-conscious, but now I look at those pictures with so much joy.  This pink ASOS dress and this LOFT top were my favorites of the whole pregnancy.  And this festival-inspired dress at sunset continues to be one of my favorite photos of the year. 

I wore head-to-toe leopard print at eight months pregnant.  And full-on sequins.  Because, hey, why not?

Post-partum dressing was a big challenge, but I did my best!  A great tropical-themed outfit here, and our puppy Rambo had a cameo over here.  I did a number of fun collaborations, and this dressbarn style was a big favorite, as was this White House Black Market summer style.  I waited nine months to wear this Mara Hoffman dress, which is basically the most perfect thing ever. 

I styled an outfit for our imaginary life in California, the one we almost lived.  And I shared my top five tips for dressing stylishly while pregnant

And last but not least, I was featured in the July issue of Glamour magazine!  Thanks again to my wonderful readers for pointing this out to me — without you guys, I never would have known!

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Recipes

Our crockpot was the workhorse of 2014 — life with a baby inevitably makes the slow cooker into your most valued possession.  They’re great for creating healthy, easy, low-stress meals that won’t burn when you leave the kitchen eleven million times while preparing dinner.  I loved our Southwestern Chicken Stew and BBQ Chicken for easy weeknight staples. 

I also focused more on breakfasts than ever before, and made egg dishes with quinoa and avocado toasts that were delicious and super healthy, and blueberry sour cream pound cake that wasn’t so healthy but was really delicious. 

And finally, you guys know me.  There were some dessert creations this year, obviously.  Three-Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies that were surprisingly awesome, as were my No-Bake Peanut Butter Bars

And finally, a two-ingredient cocktail that can’t be beat: Kahlua and Chocolate Ice Cream.  Yes.  I went there.  And it was glorious. 

(Caramel Sandwich Cookies weren’t the worst thing in the world, either.)

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Pregnancy

I shared our “ttc” (internet slang for “trying to conceive”) story, and ups and downs of finding out that I needed surgery almost immediately after we started trying to have a baby.  For silly superstitious reasons, I didn’t feel comfortable posting this until after our son had safely arrived, but so many families struggle with infertility, I think it’s important that we share these stories openly and honestly.  So I did. 

My biggest, most epic pregnancy meltdown: The story of the ceiling fan.  (Or: Why Pinterest and Pregnancy Hormones Don’t Mix.)

I wrote about my nervousness with all the ways that our life was about to change, the same way I felt about leaving New York when we moved to Texas

I tried to remember to enjoy being pregnant, and not just focusing on when the baby would finally get here.  (It’s tough, at the end, let me tell you.)

I confronted the terrifying reality that new parents have no idea what they’re doing.  And that I’d probably do just fine anyways

I ate an entire chocolate cake by myself

And on that note, I wrote about pregnancy weight gain.  I spent way too much time freaking out at the numbers on the scale at the beginning of my pregnancy, when I gained way over the “recommended” amount… which was, ultimately, exactly what my body and our son needed. 

And finally, despite the many, many posts about pregnancy, I wrote about the fact that there are so many wonderful ways to create a family.  Sure, pregnancy is one, but what binds a family together isn’t genetics: it’s love. 

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Life

In October, we left the baby behind for a pretty amazing trip to Mexico.  I slept for, like, fourteen hours a day.  And it was basically the best week of my life. 

I made over our breakfast nook and created the most gorgeous nursery in turquoise and whiteMy IKEA dresser hack went viral on Pinterest, and well deservedly so.  At under $400 for all the supplies, it simply can’t be beat. 

Chad and I had our five year anniversary, and I shared our very unprofessional (but totally wonderful) wedding video here.

And in September, we lost our beloved dog Calvin, who I still miss every day.

I shared some meditation tips for beginners – one of the biggest changes in 2014 was that I started meditating on a regular basis, and it has improved my outlook so dramatically.  If you haven’t given it a try, I definitely recommend it! 

I wrote about our new puppy Rambo, who eats poop.  We like him anyway. 

I had an incredible baby shower, and was so grateful to celebrate with our wonderful friends and family. 

I cancelled my trip to New York for Fashion Week because I was pregnant, and then promptly reconsidered.  I ended up going at seven months pregnant and had a total blast — my video diary was posted here

And I capped off the year by finally telling you guys about my disastrous Christmas dinner in 2013.  Oops!

What a year!  Just writing this has put a huge smile on my face.  It’s been a crazy, wild ride and a joy every single day.  Can’t wait to share 2015 with you guys, too. 

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Tags: baby · food · home · life · style

confession: my epic holiday fail

December 19th, 2014 · 5 Comments

So, last year, I faced the ultimate culinary challenge: a holiday meal for a dozen people. 

And you’d think that would be a huge success, right?  People do this all over the world, and it goes off without a hitch, so this Saveur-endorsed expert will have no trouble, right?  The girl who’s piped eclairs and rendered duck fat and baked cakes from scratch?

Sure, you would think so.

And you would be wrong.

Don’t those potatoes look so great?  Sure, they do.  They look terrific.

But my guests, the ones who were supposed to be eating them for Christmas dinner last year… what did they get?

Oh, sorry.  They got a bunch of burned potatoes.

And, you guys… I feel like I have some story to tell, but there’s no story here.

I was six months pregnant.  I didn’t have a crying baby to look after or a seven-month sleep deficit.

I just tried my best at a holiday dinner, and… well, I burned the potatoes.  In fact, I burned everything.  The details aren’t really important, so let me just say: it was inedible.  I spent all day cooking, and there was literally no edible food on our table.  We didn’t even save the leftovers — and, yes, there were plenty.  They went straight into the trash.

I felt awful.  I felt so badly about ruining Christmas dinner that I could hardly talk about it for months — Chad had to pretend, every time I brought it up, that really, it wasn’t so bad.  Sure, the potatoes were tossed into the garbage, but, even a holiday dinner sometimes goes awry; people understand.  No one starved.

And as our family was leaving (after I’d given them enough dessert and wine to ensure they weren’t still actively hungry, even if they weren’t quite full), my mother in law told me that the first time she’d cooked for her husband’s parents, she’d done the same thing.  She’d spent all day in the kitchen, planned a perfect menu, and then burned the whole thing.

And, you know what?  Someday I hope to tell this story to our son’s wife.  Some holiday, many decades from now, when I see her (and him! I’m raising a man who cooks, if it’s the last thing I do) take on the incredible effort of a holiday meal and see it go wrong, I’ll share this story.  I’ll tell them about that time, a few months before he came into this world, when I bit off more than I could chew and came up just a little bit short.

And I’ll tell them about how we all laughed about it the next year (while eating the store-bought backup dishes I’m ordering this time around). 

So, this year, turn on the Christmas lights.  Open a bottle of wine.  Play some great music and take a moment to focus on the faces of the people around your table.  Because life goes by really fast, and this year’s burned potatoes are next year’s funny story.  And a decade later, they’re a treasured memory of a time you tried and failed; a time you were just human and not superwoman. 

So go ahead.  Burn the heck out of those potatoes. 

Tags: food · holiday · life

the most gorgeous holiday tablescape

December 15th, 2014 · 1 Comment

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As you guys know, I love to entertain. 

Give me a free weekend with nothing on our agenda and I’ll figure out some excuse to have people over — sometimes with an hour or two of notice, sometimes with a month.  When I have the time, energy, and resources, there’s nothing I like more.

And I’ve learned something really important from many years of obsessive hostessing: your guests want to see you.  They’re not showing up to evaluate your home cooking or crafting as compared to Pinterest.  They want to hang out; they want to catch up.  They do not want you to be stuck in the kitchen whipping up homemade treats for them, all by yourself.

When we lived in New York, I learned this the hard way (sort of).  I invited a dozen or so friends over to our apartment, and just placed a tray of toasted baguette slices into our oven when the doorbell rang with the first guest.  Twenty minutes later, I had forgotten completely about those little toasts, and I was enjoying talking with a few friends when, suddenly, I smelled something… burning.

My homemade recipe was done-zo.  Or, more accurately, ha ha, it was toast.

And, you know what?  No one cared.

The party went on, I hung out with our friends, and the toasts were forgotten.  No one starved.

And from that, I learned my lesson.  The next time we invited friends over, I didn’t make everything from scratch.  I bought some beautiful items, laid them out in a pretty way, and everyone ooh-ed and aah-ed the same as they always did. 

I still love setting out the most beautiful dishes, and creating the prettiest table.  But lately — especially with a new baby, when my time is not just limited but essentially nonexistant — I’ve been embracing the beautiful things that are also easy

And on that note, let me introduce Shari’s Berries.  These beautiful little treats are stunningly gorgeous, and they’re literally the perfect thing to break out when you want to present a beautiful table with very minimal effort.

Also, they make chocolate-covered Oreos with Christmas decorations on them.  Are you sold yet?

I picked out some of my favorites for this post, but there are so many more beautiful options on their websites.  From handmade snowmen brownie pops to cake truffles in gift boxes with quirky little sayings, their website has everything you need to be the ultimate holiday hostess.

So sit back, relax, and don’t burn the toast. 

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Tags: food · holiday · sponsored