Eva’s 1st Birthday

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On February 2nd, our baby girl turned one year old. To celebrate, we had a birthday party for her in our home.

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When planning, we started with picking some animal shapes for sugar cookies, and that informed the rest of the design. The fawn was used in our invitations, and the finished cookies were used for favors (as we did for another party) and cake decoration.

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We made this tree stump shaped Brown Derby cake, which is filled with grapefruit and has cream cheese frosting. When I saw the recipe, I knew it would be perfect since grapefruits are in season, and we had served Brown Derby cocktails at our wedding. We painted the outside of the cake to look like a birch tree, and frosted the top in concentric circles for tree rings.

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We had initially planned for an outdoor party, but unfortunately there was a rain storm on the day of the event, so we had to quickly adapt and host it indoors. We still wanted to maintain a welcoming and intimate atmosphere, so we placed tea lights and lanterns throughout the house to light the space.

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This past year went by incredibly fast, yet it’s hard to remember what life was like before we had her. We’re so grateful for our supportive community of friends and family who helped us celebrate her first year – both in person and in spirit. We look forward to many more birthdays with our perfect girl.

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Amtrak to Philadelphia

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Whenever we visit the Northeast, we try to explore someplace new. We’ve taken the train to New York before, but this time we decided to go a bit farther to Philadelphia.

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Eva is already a seasoned traveler, having been on cross-country flights and road trips. Now she can add inter-city rail to her list of adventures.

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Taking the train is certainly the most comfortable way to travel, and there is so much to see along Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor.

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There is an abundance of Georgian Colonial and Federal architecture, giving a similar feel to that of Boston.

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We were not able to tour the interior of Independence Hall, but Eva was able to get up close to the Liberty Bell.

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William Penn’s statue, standing high atop city hall, guided our way through the rain.

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Our favorite of the historic sites was Elfreth’s Alley, our nation’s oldest residential street. It was very tastefully decorated for the season.

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We walked through several blocks of the Old City, admiring the weathered brick and cast-iron

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Its not all Georgian colonial, though. We found some beautiful deco towers around Center City.

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Just off the busy streets are quaint little alleys of row houses, like these in Washington Square West.

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It’s always a pleasure to visit new places, and these trips are made extra sweet bringing Eva to explore with us.


2018 Holiday Cards

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For Eva’s first Christmas, we knew we wanted our holiday cards to include her in some way. After brainstorming a few ideas, we decided to make illustrated cards featuring all three of us. Each of the elements were sketched separately with colored pencil, and then combined digitally to be printed. The overall design is simple, but was very fun to put together.

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Happy Holidays from the Dastolis!


Master Bedroom

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The final room in our home to be completed during our long process of remodeling was our master bedroom. Like our living room, this was a space that we kept working on gradually since we bought our home, and we just recently put the finishing touches on it. This is a fairly large room that was probably extended at some point in the past, so it felt right to split it into two sections: the bedroom, and a space to serve as a study.

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Dividing the two spaces is a remaining ceiling beam from the structural work that was done long ago, which serves as a visual transition between the two sides. We painted the beam and stenciled it in a similar way to our hallway alcove, which gave it more purpose than the plain white paint it had before.

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The biggest element that needed to be built for this room was a wardrobe that stretched across the entire wall. For this, we went to Martin Cabinet Designs, who had done work in many of the other rooms in the house. Previously, that entire wall was just completely blank, and the room only had a very small closet for storage. The team at Martin Cabinet Designs also added diamond window grilles to the large windows flanking the fireplace, which are present both inside and outside of the house.

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Years ago, we had set up our bed and his and hers end tables. The sconces over each of them were also installed early on, but we found new shades and embellished them with some ribbon and lace to fit in with the bedspread.

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We’ve always talked about getting a steamer trunk, and here we found the opportunity to place one at the foot of our bed.

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The existing wooden mantel over the fireplace didn’t work well with our furniture, so we replaced it with a ready built piece that we stained to fit the color palette.

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Around the room are some odds and ends that we picked up at stores or flea markets over the years, but we also have some pieces that come from James’ grandparents’ old house, such as these foreign language dictionaries.

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James loves having maps and atlases around the house, and he has specifically been wanting a globe from the 1950s for a while. We were able to find a place to put this one on the desk. From the best that he can tell, it is dated between 1958-1960.

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It has been a long journey getting the interior of the house to feel just right for us. Over the course of the next few years, there will undoubtedly be more changes, but at this point, we can finally say that we live in the space that we envisioned three years ago when we first walked in to our new home.


Baby Shower Succulent Cupcakes

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I recently hosted a little baby shower for one of my closest friends, and made some succulent cupcakes to go with the overall succulent theme. I’ve seen some gorgeous versions online, and mine are far from their level of artistry, but I had a lot of fun playing around with the different piping tips and am pleased with the final results.

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I started off by mixing a few colors, two shades of green for the main bodies of the plant shapes, and two shades of pink for smaller accents.

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I then striped one of the bags with the darker fuchsia, and filled the rest of the bag with the darker green color to create a two toned pattern when piping. I used this color combination, as well as plain green to pipe a few different plant shapes, playing around with the technique as I went.

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For the lighter green frosting, I piped a basic cactus shape, then used white for the prickly parts, and the lighter pink to make tiny flowers on top. Once I had made a decent amount of plants I placed them all on a baking sheet and froze them for a couple of hours to allow for easier transportation onto the cupcakes.

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With the leftover frosting, I then decided to mix in a bit more color to the fuchsia and to the green to create two more tones to be used for smaller accents. With those and the light pink I piped some basic leaves and flowers straight onto the cupcakes to fill in some empty spaces.


First trips to Disney Parks

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Disney Parks are so important to our family, so of course we have been very excited to take Eva to enjoy them with us. Though she is still small, she has done wonderfully in the parks, and they truly make it easy for parents to bring babies along. Her first trip to Disneyland was when she was just shy of three months old, and we have already returned a few times. Last week, we took her to her first trip to the Walt Disney World Resort, and naturally we are already planning the next one. Here are some photos from Eva’s first experiences with the magic of Disney.

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Of course on her very first trip, we made sure to introduce her to her new friend, Mickey Mouse.

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Another important first was her first photo in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle.

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James can park his pram at his favorite structure in all of Disneyland. This former food and merchandise location has now been transformed into stroller parking.

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Looking back at these memories, it’s crazy to see how tiny she was on that first trip.

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Eva has been inside a number of attractions, including It’s a Small World.

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Here she is by the Mad Tea Party, dressed for the occasion.

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Another attraction that she has boarded is the Disneyland Railroad.

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On our trip to Florida, we stayed at the Ranchos at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort.

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I remember when I first saw Spaceship Earth, and instantly fell in love with it. Being there with her for her first time was truly memorable.

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James was so excited to bring her on a trek through the Morocco Pavilion.

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Eva has now dined in a number of counter and table service restaurants on Disney property, such as the Columbia Harbour House which is one of our favorites at the Magic Kingdom.

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We explored some of our favorite spots in Animal Kingdom together.

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Some of the best moments in Disney parks are the spontaneous ones. We found ourselves alone in a section of Liberty Square with Mary Poppins, and Eva had a close up look at one of Mary’s famous accessories.

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I can’t remember the first time that we thought about bringing a theoretical future child to Disney Parks with us, but it was definitely very early on in our relationship. Now that she is here, all of our trips are extra special.


San Diego

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For Eva’s first road trip, we decided to drive down to San Diego for a slightly different Southern California experience than she is accustomed to. We had visited a number of times over the past few years, and we were eager to see some old favorites, as well as have some new adventures.

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Our first stop was Balboa Park, where we were very excited to bring Eva to the California Tower, a definitive example of one of our favorite styles: Spanish Colonial Revival.

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Throughout the park you can find a gorgeous array of structures that were built for the 1915-16 Panama-California Exposition. Many are original, but some are more recent reconstructions.

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As we strolled around, we encountered several courtyards and gardens to keep cool in the summer sun.

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Another famous Balboa Park attraction is the San Diego Zoo. This was Eva’s first experience seeing animals other than kitties and puppies.

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My most exciting find at the zoo was this fluffy red panda, which I personally find infinitely cuter than giant pandas.

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We stayed at the Gaslamp Plaza Suites in the preserved Watts-Robinson Building. This was actually our second time staying that the hotel, the rooftop view having lured us back.

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Originally called Horton’s Addition, the district now called the Gaslamp Quarter lets you walk back in time through the San Diego of the late 19th century.

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On our second day in San Diego, we took Eva to her first baseball game, with the Padres hosting the Mariners. The Padres were wearing their pinstriped 1990s throwback uniforms, and Eva was dressed in a jersey and baseball cap fitting for the occasion.

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Perhaps some day we’ll take the train from Los Angeles into this elegant station rather than driving. We love how the tile at the Santa Fe Depot harmonizes with the architecture of Balboa Park.

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Ships from the United States Pacific Fleet are visible all throughout San Diego Bay.

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Though it was a fairly short vacation, we still managed to get a lot done and were plenty exhausted by the time we returned home. It’s exciting to see how well Eva managed on this trip, and we’re looking forward to discovering new cities with baby in the future.

 


Roasted Cauliflower with Tahini Sauce

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With a small baby occupying most of our free time, we’ve been relying on simple dishes that don’t require much time in the kitchen, and are good to eat at any temperature. It’s easy to make a whole meal out of a few vegetable based side dishes, and one of my favorites has become this roasted cauliflower dish with tahini sauce. Adding pistachios for crunch, and dry figs for sweetness make this side dish more interesting without having to do much prep work.

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Ingredients: 2 heads of cauliflower, 2 Tbsp olive oil, 1/4 cup pistachios, 3 whole dry figs, 1/4 cup tahini, juice of 1 lemon, 2 minced garlic cloves, large sprig of dill ripped up into smaller pieces, 1/2 tsp sumac, salt and pepper to taste.

Instructions: Pre-heat oven to 375F. Cut up the cauliflower heads into small florets and spread on a baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil and add salt and pepper to taste. Roast in oven for about 30 minutes, the cauliflower should start to brown on the edges, but not so much that it gets mushy.

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While the cauliflower is roasting, make the sauce by mixing tahini, lemon juice, and garlic in a small bowl. Season with salt and add a little bit of water to thin it out.

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Place the cauliflower on a serving dish, and drizzle with sauce. Chop the dry figs into small pieces and scatter on top, along with pistachios. Finish by topping with a few small sprigs of dill and sumac. Enjoy as a side to a main course, or on its own for a light meal.


Handmade Baby Bibs

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Over the past few months I’ve been working on a few bibs for Eva. Now that she has started to eat solid foods and teethe, she can really start to make good use of them. Though we have a few store bought bibs that we use to feed her daily, I liked the idea of designing and sewing a few of my own to coordinate with outfits, and when we’re on a family outing.

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I decided to make two with embroidery, and two without. The first embroidered one I made was this simple flowers design. I love that the green and dusty rose colors go with a few dresses she owns, and the flowers are simple enough to easily combine with other patterns.

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For the second embroidered bib, I did a larger and more involved design with this stegosaurus surrounded by plants.  James drew the pattern onto the fabric first, and then I embroidered using three floss colors to give it some dimension.

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With the next two, I selected fabrics that would compliment each other, and make it easy to flip over, essentially creating two-in-one designs. I embellished them with ribbon and trim to give them some complexity.

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Though the bib wearing phase is relatively short, I’m so glad I put in the time to make this little collection.