Family

Breathing Room

August 2, 2018


Two weeks ago we put the finishing touches on our backyard patio. Our back yard has been, for lack of a better word, a hot hot mess for the last three years. The highlight was last summer when our already gross and muggy backyard got in-ground wasps that prevented us from going outside for a couple weeks. Yes, I said hot mess didn’t I? We dug it all up and put in a huge backyard patio this summer. Now that our girls are getting a bit more independent and our backyard is put back together, this has been the first season we have really been able to enjoy large chunks of time outside the way I’ve always imagined we would when we first purchased our house.

I snapped a picture of myself, sitting on our outdoor couch and READING A BOOK while my girls played in the playhouse because I wanted – no needed – to document that this day had come. I’ve waited 15 months for our girls to be able to truly play together like this and it’s finally happening. Sure, I’m breaking up fights and squabbles and re-distributing toys every five minutes but there are true, uninterrupted pockets of time that the girls are enjoying the benefit of a sibling relationship and I can catch a minute or two for myself in the course of the day.

The last couple months I fee as if we have finally entered into a new, easier, more enjoyable stage with the girls. Prior to that, I felt like we were in a really difficult stage because Collins wasn’t walking well yet, but was into all the things, crawling everywhere, frustrated she couldn’t walk like Ainsley. I felt as if we continued to try doing fun things only to leave the park or the zoo or the outing totally frustrated by the fact that in theory we were supposed to be having fun but I was feeling frustrated more than anything. And, as with every stage with kids, I reminded myself that if you’re feeling stuck in a not particularly fun stage, just hang around long enough and that, too, will change in the blink of an eye.

The last 15 months have been absolutely crazy with two girls, a rapidly growing business, social and personal commitments and more. I’ll be the first to admit that I probably pushed myself too hard this last year. Thinking back to those days with a two-week-old baby in the Rock and Play next to me while I worked in my office? Well, I don’t regret that one bit, but I also look back and can practically remember how TIRED I felt for months on end. About six months into life with two kids we started to find a rhythm that was more enjoyable and manageable than it had been before; we started to see the sun shining a little more with the flexibility and adaptability that a slightly older baby and older toddler provide.

But it wasn’t until a couple weeks ago that I really felt my body take a big sigh of relief, letting go of tension and exhaustion that I didn’t even know I was carrying with me. As I watched my girls play and giggle in that playhouse, as I let the sun shine on my face and relax while they played, I realized how very tiring the first year with two was for me and how much happier I am to be in this stage right now with these two little girls.

Now that Collins is 15 months old I’ve gotten a good handful of questions about whether/if we plan to have more kids. And I always give the same answer: We hope to some day, but for now I’m just enjoying this stage, this phase, where life feels easier, and more manageable and I have a little bit more breathing room to soak up this stage we are in.

Madison

Family, Fashion, Food & Recipes

Espresso and Cream Behind the Scenes // The Newsletter!

July 25, 2018

At the beginning of the year I had a LONG bucket list of items that I wanted to complete. Half way (over half way) through the year I’m afraid to say that I have a lot of work left to do in order to check those items off said list, but I’m working on it. One of the things that is LONG overdue for the blog is creating an e-newsletter to share behind-the-scenes content for you all. Basically, if you’re a reader of E&C and like the content that goes up on the site, then you’ll find the newsletter to be even better.

I’ve been trying to do a better job of meal planning and prepping each week, and, spoiler alert, it’s been SAVING my life over the last month. Maybe that sounds dramatic, but it’s true. The dinnertime hour had become SO stressful for our family (okay, for me) and doing a little weekly meal plan, some simple prep for the week on Sundays, and the amount of stress it’s saved me at dinnertime has been unreal.

Let me be clear, I am NOT cooking from a recipe each night of the week. In fact, I’m hardly ever cooking from a recipe. I’ve just been sketching out general plans with easy-to-make proteins, vegetables and some sort of whole grain/carb to round out the meal. While our meals aren’t fancy on any given week, it’s been so great to have a healthy and balanced meal planned out and shopped for, with a few things prepared in advance to toss on the plate.

I’m hoping to share more of our meal planning and prepping process along the way. I can’t promise it will be polished and pretty, but it will be useful, honest and hopefully make your life easier like it’s made mine! I’ll be share some beauty tips and tricks, recipes, and other behind-the-scenes content along the way as well.

You can sign up HERE.

Madison

Family, Food & Recipes

Grilling Pizza + Rosé Wine

July 23, 2018

This post is sponsored by Olema Wines. Well, they didn’t pay me to write the post, but they did send me some yummy wine in hopes that I would love it enough to talk about it and guess what? It was awesome, so I’m sharing it with you today! Thanks for supporting the brands that support Espresso and Cream! 

Summer has gone so quickly this year! Anyone else? I think it’s due in large part to the fact that we have been working on our patio project ALL summer long and this weekend we finally got it finished! I guess saying “finished” is a little misleading because now our yard looks like a hot mess filled with dirt and piles of rock and we haven’t even started the landscaping around the patio, but the actual patio is finished and I am SO proud of Joe for all the hard work he put into making this possible. He worked alongside a friend who had some landscaping experience and helped with the technical parts of the patio, but the amount of dirt-moving and manual labor that Joe put into this patio is crazy. It also helped us save a LOT of money doing so much work ourselves. A full patio project recap is now in the works, but in the meantime., I’m going to talk about pizza and wine, mmmkay?

We christened our new patio by having a few friends over for grilled pizza + wine and every time I make grilled pizzas for a group I’m reminded why we need to do so more often. We’ve been grilling pizzas for years, and while it’s a little more hands-on than, say, grilling meat, it’s definitely fun to do something different outside of the typical burgers + brats + chicken, etc on the grill. By the end of the summer, we are ready for something fresh. Sitting under our patio table umbrella, drinking some really great rosé wine from Olema Wines, and eating grilled pizza, salad, fresh green beans and mixed berries felt almost like we were transported somewhere much fancier than our house, minus the giant dirt piles and general disarray of our yard. Ha!

While I’m typically a red wine drinker, the hottest months of the summer really do make chilled white and rosé wine my go-to when entertaining. Actually, I tend to think a rosé on the drier side, like this 2017 Olema Rosé, really are the perfect wines to serve at a party since they tend to be crowd-pleasing and ultra refreshing. Plus, the price point ($16/bottle) is about what Joe and I tend to spend on a bottle of wine – bridging the gap between price consciousness and the quality that we expect when drinking wine. I’m not the most knowledgable wine drinker but I do know what I like! 🙂

I will say that I have *no* idea if rosé wine is a good pairing with grilled pizza from an expert’s perspective, but I thought the entire meal was delicious! So let’s talk a bit about grilling pizza, shall we?

A few tips I’ve learned to help make grilling pizzas better + easier + tastier:

  1. Make sure your grill is HOT. Like 450°F – 500°F hot and that your grill grates are clean. Sometimes I’ll get the grill really hot first and then give the grates one more cleaning with a grill brush to make sure they are super clean. Dirty grill grates will stick to the pizza dough and leave you with a mess.
  2. Put together a “toppings tray” ahead of time. We’re talking everything you need to top your pizzas, including olive oil + pastry brush, pizza sauce, cheese + fresh basil and whatever else you want to use for pizza toppings. Grilling pizza at a high temp on the grill goes FAST so you need to be ready to top the pizzas quickly.
  3. Don’t top the pizzas too heavily. The thin dough doesn’t need a lot of sauce and toppings. In fact, it’s better if you use a light hand when topping with sauce, cheese and toppings as to not overwhelm the dough.
  4. Be sure to stretch the dough thin enough. You want to stretch it out as thin as you comfortably can without ripping holes in the dough. The grill is HOT meaning you can’t leave the dough on too long before it burns. A little char is good, too much isn’t, so you want the dough thin enough that it cooks through before you need to remove the pizza from the grill.

Perfect Grilled Pizza Dough
Serves: 4 personal pizzas
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup warm water
  • ½ teaspoon instant dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
Instructions
  1. Place warm water in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle with the yeast and allow the yeast to dissolve for a minute. Whisk together to combine. (Important Note: You should see some bubbles in the water, which means that the yeast is active, if you don't see any bubbles you may have old yeast or the water was too warm and it killed the yeast.)
  2. Add the salt and 2½ cups of the all-purpose flour to the water mixture and use a rubber spatula to combine. Transfer mixture to a lightly-floured surface and gradually kneed in the remaining ½ cup flour over the course of a couple minutes, adding a little at a time. The dough should be smooth and elastic, and just the tiniest bit sticky but not so sticky that it easily sticks to your hands. Add additional flour if necessary, a tiny bit at a time.
  3. Transfer dough to a lightly greased mixing bowl and cover with a towel. Allow to sit in a draft-free location to rise for 2 to 3 hours, until dough is doubled in size.
  4. Punch down dough and cut into four pieces. Form each piece into a round. Stretch each round into a thin disc (see note above in the tips) using extra flour if you need to prevent sticking.
  5. To Grill:
  6. Heat grill to the hottest it will go - around 450°F to 500°F. Once grill grates are good and hot, brush dough lightly with olive oil. Place the oiled side on grill grates. Cover and cook 2 to 3 minutes until dough is charred and bubbly. Brush uncooked side of dough with olive oil and flip. Quickly top with sauce, cheese and desired toppings. Cover and cook 2 to 4 minutes more until cheese is melted and dough is cooked through. Transfer to a cutting board and top with fresh basil, grated Parmesan cheese and crushed red pepper, if desired. Cut into strips to serve.

Madison

Fashion

N Sale Picks // My Favorites

July 18, 2018

Joe and I spent some time online last night watching Homeland (our new obsession) while I browsed the Norstrom Anniversary Sale. I don’t shop at Nordstrom enough to have their credit card, so I’m going to be waiting with everyone else to shop the sale on Friday! But you can browse online ahead of time and scope out your favorites so you are ready to pull the trigger bright and early on Friday morning. I’ve emailed myself all the links that I want to add to my cart when the sale opens to everyone later this week.

I’m only stocking up on what I think are going to be basics that will last me through the fall/winter and refresh my wardrobe. So here are the basics I’m loving on the sale for myself and for Joe!

For Me //
Franco Sarto Seville Booties (pictured above, top left)
Splendid Cadell Bootie (pictured above, bottom left)
Free People January Tee (getting a couple in neutral colors as wardrobe staples)
Spanx Faux Leather Leggings (maybe a tad out of my comfort zone, but I’m going for it!)
Tahari Lace Inset Fit and Flare Crepe Dress (not sure I have a use for this yet, but I’m thinking about buying it)
Spanx Seamless Bralette (small-chested gals can appreciate a great bralette)
Thread & Supply Pullover Sweater (idk. everyone seems to have one of these!)
Kenneth Cole Wool Blend Long Coat (I’m in the market for a new, longer dressy coat)

For Joe //
1901 Merick Derby (for a casual work shoe)
Andrew Marc Walton Chukka Sneaker (another casual shoe option)

Fashion

Safer Make Made Better // My New Favorites!

July 12, 2018

Hi friends! I’m SO excited about today because it’s a day I’ve had marked in my calendar for quite some time. A couple months ago in Minneapolis I got a sneak peek at some amazing new makeup that Beautycounter was planning to launch later in the summer and today is that day! Fifteen BEAUTIFUL, high-performing and long-wearing blushes, bronzers, highlighters and eye shadow palettes that are going to blow your mind. I know that sounds a little dramatic, but friends they are that good. I wouldn’t lie to you about this sort of stuff. Even a makeup minimalist like me can appreciate what the Beautycounter team has done with these safe cosmetics.

Want to see the products in action? I can’t guarantee I’m doing ANYTHING right in the video below, but I do know it works for me and makes getting ready in the morning simple, sweet, and straightforward. I think you’ll find that you will love them as much as I do! My favorites thus far? The Romantic Palette, Nectar Blush and Halo Highlighter!