Baby Iasielo’s Nursery

When we first found out we were pregnant in early July 2017, we decided not to find out the gender of baby Iasielo.  To this day, we love the excitement of not knowing….even though we’ve had to wait a bit longer than expected ;)   I get the question, “how do you design your nursery and pick out clothes without knowing the sex of the baby?” alllll the time.    Honestly, it hasn’t been an issue at all because I love neutrals anyways and always knew I didn’t want a nursery with pinks or blues necessarily.  So when it came time to start compiling inspiration for my own nursery, I looked no further than the gender neutral baby nursery boards on Pinterest.  I went back and forth between a ton of designs but knew I wanted to throw in some travel inspiration, incorporate some animal prints from our safari and keep with the white and natural wood theme.  

Our nursery used to be our office and spare bedroom….and because we’re losing that space, we honestly aren’t sure how long we’ll stay in this condo.  With both of us working from home, a designated office space is kind of crucial.  With that said, we wanted to stay pretty neutral, paint the walls a simple off-white, swap out the old carpet and finally install hardwood floors and install black out blinds….for resale purposes eventually.  After that was done, I started designing boards and collecting inspiration for what I wanted to do on Pinterest.  With my busy work schedule every fall, Chris being out of town for work often and the holidays, we didn’t even get start on ordering furniture or anything else until mid January.  

Chris found this awesome mid- century modern (ish) dresser at Land of Nod outlet one day and sent me photos and I was sold.  I knew I wanted to swap out the outdated, silver hardware on the drawers and get some neutral knobs, but otherwise it was perfect!  Once we had that piece and I knew I liked it in the space, we started ordering the other furniture.  I fell in love with the Babyletto cribs and recliner because of their modern and simple designs.  Babyletto furniture is sold at Buy Buy Baby, Babyletto website, Land of Nod and Amazon, but we ended up purchasing the crib through Buy Buy Baby with our 10% off completion discount with our registry.  We waited until we got that coupon in the mail to buy our crib and our Uppa Baby Vista Stroller because neither brands accepted coupons unless it was the completion coupon.  Totally worth it to wait with those two big purchases!   The first crib we ordered was the Babyletto Hudson crib but we ended up returning it because the wood was a totally different color than I thought it was going to be.  My saint of a husband had to put it together, take it apart and then haul it back to Buy Buy Baby.  The only reason I’m alive right now is because I’m carrying his baby…….   ;)  

Finding natural wood shelves and frames to match the crib was quite the challenge.  Everything was darker wood or white or grey.  Eventually, I found some pieces I loved at Land of Nod on their website before they closed all of their stores. (I believe they’re launching a small, new section at all Crate and Barrel stores that’s designated to “Crate and Barrel Kids”, so we won’t loose them completely).   I have some more frames that I haven’t hung yet and some others throughout the nursery that I am waiting to fill with photos of our new family.  Let’s be honest, this kid will be photo’d an obscene amount by his mama…..  

I actually found this “oh the places you will go” world map artwork on etsy really early on and waited to print it until I figured out the rest of the room.  My only regret is not making this bigger.  I adore it and can’t wait to teach baby all about the different continents and animals in each one.   I am a geography geek and I grew up learning all about maps and directions and countries from my dad and I can’t wait to pass that on to baby!   The ” You is Kind. You is Smart.  You is Important.” artwork is another favorite thing.  I always loved that line from the movie, “The Help” and love that it’s now in my kid’s nursery waiting for them to learn it!  :)

The mama and baby elephant photo was taken by me on our safari in South Africa.  It was the most picture perfect moment when mama guided her baby down the pathway away from our safari jeep.  I was a photographer in heaven and was so excited to use it in our nursery.  This was originally going to be printed huge above our crib but we opted for something a little ” out of the box” instead……… 

The IKEA bookshelves were another fun Pinterest find.  They are IKEA’s $3.99 spice racks for the kitchen.  No joke.  Similar ones for actual books were over $30 a piece at other stores…….so this was another huge save.  I kept them all as bookshelves except for one, which I wanted to flip upside down to make into a little shoe shelf and hanging rack.  We can’t keep all of those adorable clothes and shoes cooped up in the closet now can we??!!   ;) 

This Giraffe wall decal was our biggest risk.  I knew I wanted a giraffe somewhere but wasn’t sure how to get one of my own safari photographs blown up this big because I didnt have one close-up enough.  I had oodles of close ups of lions and leopards but I didn’t think a giant lion above my kid’s crib was the most serene thing to wake up to everyday……. :)  Lucky for me, my friend and fellow photog Brittany Bekas is a bit safari and travel obsessed like me and just got back from her second safari where she took some amazing close up shots of giraffes!  She graciously offered her photo to me and I had it turned into a sticker wall decal.  It was pretty cheap and although it printed a bit more “contrasty” than the original awesome photo, I’m pretty happy we did this.  

The recliner was a gift from my parents and we absolutely love it.  It’s an electric recliner that goes back almost to 180 degrees, swivels, rocks and has a phone charging port for when I run my phone battery dry during all of those feedings. :)  I can see many a nights rocking in this recliner…..

The rug was another hard find.  I originally wanted a simple, off-white fluffy bear skin rug but after compiling the rest of the nursery, I thought we probably needed some color in there.  I fell in love with this rug when I found it on overstock.  It was modern, gender neutral, the perfect size and matched the colors in the world map decor perfectly!   It’ll easily grow with the kid into their other rooms or can be used in a play room or new nursery some day.  

These unfinished wood hexagon shelves I found at Target for $6.99 a piece in their art section (um…score!) instead of buying the original ones I found on etsy for $39 a piece.  I still might play around with these a bit (take out the backs or paint the sides…) but for now, they work.  

I have some sheer drapes that are going up over the black out blinds but other than that, we’re pretty much done!  Now we just need the baby to come to make the room complete!  Any day now……  :-)

Crib:  Babyletto Lolly in white and Natural 

Dresser:  Land of Nod/Crate and Barrel Kids

Hardware:  Home Depot

Shelves above dresser:  Land of Nod/Crate and Barrel Kids

Elephant and Giraffe on Shelves:  Target

Wooden Camera: Etsy/Little Miss Woodwork

Frames:  Land of Nod/Crate and Barrel Kids

“You is Kind” and World Map Artwork:  Both Etsy

Elephant Print:  Personal Photography from Africa

Giraffe Toy Bin:  Pottery Barn Kids

Diaper Changing Pad:  Keekaroo Peanut Changer

Crib Sheets:  NEST organic fitted crib sheet in Ecru

Giraffe Decal :  Photography by Brittany Bekas and decal by Sweetums Signature

Hexagon shelves:  Target 

Hexagon Shelf Decor:  World Market, Target, HomeGoods

Recliner:  Babyletto Kiwi Electric Glider in White Linen

Nightstand:  Ikea 

Nightstand Elephant:  Woodwork from Chiang Mai Thailand

Rug:  Overstock

Bookshelves:  Ikea 

Hamper:  Pottery Barn Kids

Frames:  Land of Nod/Crate and Barrel Kids

 

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Mom’s Spiced Holiday Cider


You know how certain smells and tastes remind you of certain things?  Well, Mom’s Spiced Holiday Cider reminds me of Christmas.  In fact, I’m convinced that if my mom ever decided not to make it for our annual Christmas Eve party, that I would throw a toddler tantrum.   If you’re reading this, Mom….don’t even try that….it wouldn’t be pretty.    It’s just so tasty and so comforting for a nice warm holiday party inside.  Ok, maybe the comforting part comes from the handle of Captain Morgan we properly place next to the crockpot…… but you get where I’m going with this.  Cold Holiday Season.  Hot Christmas beverage brewing.  BAM.  You’re officially everyone’s favorite person for having made this.   You’re welcome.   

For whatever reason, my mom has always called this “Wassle” (am I even spelling this right)?.  I think that’s just what it was called when someone gave her the recipe years and years ago.  You can call this Wassle too if that strikes your fancy or even just Holiday Cider.  Heck, you can call it whatever the hell you want as long as you make it and enjoy it.  this drink is so perfect for holiday parties because it’s made in a crockpot and serves about 15-20 people for each batch.  So all you have to do is make it in the crockpot about an hour or so before guests arrive, let it heat up and blend in the crockpot and TADA!  Hot Holiday beverage for everyone to enjoy.    This year, I am particularly excited about this drink because it’s nonalcoholic and that’s kind of the trend I’ve been going for during this pregnancy ;)    I’m going to break world records for the amount of “wassle” I consume this year.  

As I mentioned, we serve a spiced rum next to the crockpot for people to pour in as they wish.  We usually buy a handle of Captain Morgan but you can try a different rum or bourbon with it.  This way it’s perfect for all ages.  

Mom's Spiced Holiday Cider
Yields 15
An easy and delicious crockpot recipe for spiced holiday cider!
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Ingredients
  1. 1 gallon of Apple Cider (not apple juice)
  2. 1 HALF gallon of cranberry juice
  3. 1/4 tsp of ground All Spice
  4. 1 small jar/container of WHOLE cloves (not crushed or powdered)
  5. Cinnamon sticks (about 8)
  6. 6 oranges
  7. 1 or 2 crockpots
  8. ** These ingredients above make 2 small crockpots of cider, but I usually only have room for one portion at a time, so the directions below tell you how much you need for 1 PORTION at a time. I re-use and keep the oranges and cinnamon sticks in the pot for both batches but add the extra cider, cranberry and all spice for the second batch. If you have a larger crockpot, you can probably fit both portions into one or use two crockpots, but then you would need to use double the oranges !
Instructions
  1. In a crockpot, add 1/2 of the gallon of apple cider, followed by 1/2 of the bottle of cranberry juice. Add 1/4 tsp of All Spice and about 4-5 cinnamon sticks to the pot and stir.
  2. Cut the ends off of the oranges on both sides and then push about 10 whole cloves into each orange, scattered throughout the orange. (see photo above)
  3. Heat in crockpot until flavors blend and heated through, about an hour or so on high. You can leave it on warm while guests are enjoying it at the party.
Notes
  1. Unfortunately, cinnamon sticks and cloves are expensive, but luckily you only need to buy a small amount. I promise they make a difference in this recipe though!
Meghan Leigh | Photography and Lifestyle | Hinsdale and the greater Chicago area http://meghan-leigh.com/

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Prosciutto Crostini’s with Goat Cheese and Fig Jam


I saw a quote the other day that literally felt like it was made for me.  It read, ” it’s almost time for me to switch from my regular anxiety to my festive holiday anxiety”.  I mean…..could this be any more true right about now?  Although the holidays are a season I look forward to every year (and for good reason), they never fail to unleash a different kind of stress and anxiety and busy-ness.  I wish I could stop and smell the Christmas trees every once in a while over the holidays, but reality is, the decorating still needs to be done, the family and friends’ parties still need to be attended, the shopping and wrapping needs to get done and the food still needs to be cooked.  One day we will have robots for these things and we will be complaining about not being able to do it anymore (le sigh).    Anyways, back to the food still needing to be cooked.  I’ve realized I haven’t posted appetizers much on the blog and I think the holiday season is the perfect time to start.  Almost everyone needs a new appetizer idea this time of the year, amiright?  I’ve got you covered.  Enter these Prosciutto Crostini’s with Goat Cheese and Fig Jam.  Otherwise known as…..your new go-to appetizer recipe.  

I can’t tell you how often people ask me how to make these.  To be honest, I threw this together one year because I liked making paninis with fig jam and prosciutto.  See recipe for that goodness here.   I added this herbed goat cheese that is a personal favorite cheese of mine (it also goes well with soooo many other things) and voila!……the prosciutto crostini’s with goat cheese and fig jam were born.   What a beautiful birth it was too.  The fig jam is insanely delicious with the prosciutto and the creaminess of the goat cheese pairs perfectly with the crunchy crostinis.  They’re not quite small enough for a one-biter but they’re easy enough to eat at a party and not look like a complete oaf eating them.  They also look so much more difficult and fancy than they actually are.   Everyone wants that, right?   And the colors?!!  it’s like they were made for Christmas!  

Proscuitto Crostini's with Goat Cheese and Fig Jam
Yields 20
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Ingredients
  1. 1 Italian Baguette
  2. 4 oz package of herbed goat cheese ( found in the fancy cheese section...this herbed version is THE best!!)
  3. 9 oz jar of fig jam ( I use Divina brand- found in the fancy cheese section)
  4. 10 thin slices of prosciutto (you can go to the deli and have them slice them thin for you or buy the thin pre-packaged slices too- deli is usually cheaper)
  5. Olive oil
  6. Fresh basil leaves, julienned
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Slice your baguette into 1 inch slices (see photo in post). Place them on a baking sheet and brush with olive oil. Toast for 7-8 minutes.
  3. Spread the baked crostinis with the goat cheese, followed a small dollop of the fig jam (you will have extra fig jam leftover).
  4. Pull apart pieces of the prosciutto until you have pieces that are around 2 inches x 4-5 inches long. Roll the prosciutto and place on top of the fig jam. (see photos in post).
  5. Roll the basil leaves and then make thin slices on the short side, julienne-style. Place the thin basil strips on top of the crostini
  6. Arrange on a festive platter or cheese board etc and enjoy!
Notes
  1. This flavored herbed goat cheese is Sooooo good and I find that it pairs better with the recipe than just regular goat cheese. If you cannot find this brand or another herbed goat cheese similar to garlic and herb, etc etc, you can always use regular goat cheese also.
  2. This only makes about 20 crostinis, so for a large party, I would double this recipe. You will NOT need to buy double the fig jam or basil but you will need an extra baguette, goat cheese and prosciutto slices.
Meghan Leigh | Photography and Lifestyle | Hinsdale and the greater Chicago area http://meghan-leigh.com/

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My Favorite Thanksgiving Side Dishes

Welp, it’s that time of year again.  The time to start mentally preparing yourself for the extra holiday weight you’re going to gain because of the yummy food you’re going to consume.  Well, let me just tell you….I have never ever been this excited for the holidays before.  You know why?  Because I’m 24 weeks pregnant and maternity pants are elastic.  That’s right……I’m eating for two and have expandable pants.  Best thing ever by the way.   Have you ever seen that Thanksgiving episode of Friends where Joey forces himself to eat the entire turkey himself and shows up wearing Phoebe’s old maternity pants?  Well, may I suggest we all be a little bit more “Joey” this year?  Come prepared with stretchy pants and eat all the turkey and stuffing and veggie goodness your little heart desires.   Whether you’re  asked to bring a side dish to a party or hosting yourself, I went ahead and went through a bunch of recipes and picked my favorite Thanksgiving side dishes that I think would be perfect for you.   Links to each one included below.  Happy eating!!!

 

 Glazed Carrots with Ginger – – – – Recipe HERE

 Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta – – – – Recipe HERE

 Garlic and Parmesan Crostinis – – – – Recipe HERE

 Mixed Greens Salad with Goat Cheese and Marinated Onions – – – –  Recipe HERE

 Parmesan and Rosemary Smashed Potatoes – – – – Recipe HERE

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Parmesan Rosemary Smashed Potatoes


Two words…..FOUR INGREDIENTS.  That’s all it takes to make these mouth watering and crispy Parmesan Rosemary Smashed Potatoes.  And aside from the potatoes, you might already have the rest in your pantry/fridge anyways!  These are so easy and so tasty- you literally boil, smash and bake!  I feel like there should be a song or jingle that goes with that…..but lucky for you, I can only type on this blog and not sing.  :)   

If you’re a potato person but are always looking for easier and tastier ways to cook them…. look no further.  You’ll never look at another potato the same again.  Trust me.  

I was looking for an easy alternative to make potatoes and found this technique in one of Ina Garten’s cookbooks.  She’s a food god so I figured this had to work, right?  I used a few different ingredients than she did but that’s the best part.  There are so many different ingredients to use for this recipe, as long as you keep the same technique!

Parmesan Rosemary Smashed Potatoes
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. 1 pound mixed small Yukon Gold and red new potatoes, scrubbed
  2. Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  3. 3 tablespoons olive oil
  4. 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  5. Rosemary, dried or fresh
  6. Green onion, diced
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Place potatoes and 1 tablespoon of salt in a large saucepan and add water to cover the potatoes.
  3. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, then simmer for 17 to 20 minutes, until the potatoes are cooked and tender when pierced with a skewer. Drain the potatoes and place on a sheet pan/cookie sheet.
  4. With a potato masher or metal measuring cup, press each potato until it is about 1/2 inch thick, being careful not the smash them too much so they break apart.
  5. Drizzle the potatoes with the olive oil, salt, and pepper and sprinkle with rosemary.
  6. Roast the potatoes for 25 to 30 minutes, turning once, until the skins have become nicely browned. If they are too hard to turn without falling apart, just move them around a bit on the sheet and watch them carefully so they don't burn.
  7. Sprinkle potatoes with the Parmesan cheese and a bit more rosemary and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, until the cheese melts.
  8. Top with a pinch of sea salt at the end and serve hot.
Notes
  1. Make a double batch! Great as leftovers! Heat back up in a skillet and eat as a breakfast, lunch or dinner side!
Meghan Leigh | Photography and Lifestyle | Hinsdale and the greater Chicago area http://meghan-leigh.com/

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