Weekend Update: Happy Father's Day!

June 18, 2018

We had a packed weekend which is always fun, but makes the arrival of Monday morning all the more surprising. Hello gigantic coffee!

Saturday morning we planned to head to Blake's Orchard and Cider Mill in Armada for u-Pick strawberries, but ended up getting rained out. We're hoping that the pickings are still decent in a couple weeks so that we can try again before the season is over. Berry picking is one of my favorite summer activities with the kids. It gets them so curious about how things grow, excited to make something from what they gather with their own hands and anything that gets us all out enjoying nature is a huge win in my book. I love baking, but I haven't landed on a recipe to try with this year's haul. Please leave any suggestions that you have in the comments! The nice thing about fresh strawberries is that they are just as easy to enjoy dipped in a little dark chocolate ganache or topped with some fresh whipped cream (or even just cleaned up and on their own)! These are some pictures from last year at the patch. I would definitely recommend Blake's to anyone in the Metro Detroit area for u-Pick, their annual Lavender Festival or any of their Fall activities. One of our favorite places to be sure!

With the rain delay, we just took the kids to the mall for a little fun, a large coffee and a change of scenery (and some window shopping, naturally). The weather cleared up in the afternoon, so we decided to live on the edge and take the squad out to dinner after naps at Sagebrush Cantina for some of our favorite Mexican food. Just trust me when I say that we don't often take four children out to restaurants (for the consideration of other patrons), so when we do we are sure to plan ahead (dinner at 4:30? Sure!) and pick the "right" location. One with enough space and one with enough noise to help mask potential meltdowns. We stopped at the park on the way to dinner and ended up turning a day with ruined plans into one filled with some fun memories.

To beat the heat, I wore a classic accessory in my new favorite way. Bonus- this bandana comes in a pack of two at Target for $3.99. Hello! There are so many fun ways to style this trend- you can wear in your hair, tied around your neck in a few different variations or around the handle of your handbag for a seasonal update. Ladies, I always look in the Men's section for items like this because 10/10 they are going to mark these up in our section!

Sunday morning, we headed over to my in-laws for a little Father's Day brunch to celebrate my sweet husband, father-in-law and brother-in-law. I helped the kids make Kyle some special pieces of artwork to give him on Sunday and they were so proud of how their masterpieces turned out. For dinner, I surprised Kyle with one of his favorites: marinated flank steak with chimichurri sauce and a side of grilled street corn. Delicious! Every year, Father's Day gets a little sweeter as the kids get more and more involved in helping with the celebration and I couldn't be luckier to have Kyle as my rock and the father of our big old crew.

I wore this easy kimono and body-con dress combo to brunch. The kimono is chiffon, so it's a hot weather day essential if you still want to wear a layering piece. Hope you had a great weekend and here's to a productive week ahead!

Motherhood Musings: Little Reminders

June 04, 2018

Over the weekend we had a little adventure at the zoo and checked out the Dinosaur exhibit. You read that right! Dinosauria comes to the Detroit Zoo every few years and they have these animatronic dinosaurs staged throughout a little forest setting and to be honest, they do a great job! We took the whole gang through and it was a total blast.

Jack obviously loved it since he’s into animals of all types right now- extinct and otherwise. Violet, always the skeptic, was a little nervous. Even once we explained how things worked, she tiptoed through the exhibit with an air of caution that she usually reserves for new textures on her bare feet. The real magic, however, was watching our 1 ½ year old, Henry, as he held my hand and walked the path of the exhibit stopping to observe each creature with as much delight as if he were within arms’ reach of living, breathing exotic animals. He giggled when the machines moved their larger than life heads, squirted water toward him and roared through the mist in the little makeshift rainforest.

It got me thinking, what would the world be like if we looked at things with the wonder our little people do? What if we spent a little more time with our eyes up and wide instead of zoned out with exhaustion by the end of the day? The person in line in front of us at the coffee shop could be a great conversationalist instead of just someone in our way as we head to work. A weeknight at home could become a memorable date night in if we look for opportunities to surprise one another. For an extinct species, those dinosaurs provided a relevant reminder. Oh, we’re here to teach them, but sometimes the lessons I learn from my little ones are priceless.

Wish List: Summer is Here!

June 03, 2018

Summer is here and as the sweet days get longer and the sunshine brighter, I’m so excited to have a chance to get my crew out of the house to enjoy our yard and explore our new city! Buying our home in the late fall and having a rough winter meant we didn’t get to enjoy the perks of being homeowners in an outdoorsy area- that is until now! It’s that time of year for sunscreen, sparkling rose, s’mores and shopping for breezy summer fashions, of course!

Memorial Day weekend was a blast for us. We got a chance to visit with friends and family, do some grilling outside (the best way to eat during Michigan summers) and take our babes to the lake. There’s nothing better than fresh air and sandy toes in the summertime! We have our annual trip to Lake Charlevoix with friends coming up in a few weeks and I’m on the hunt for a cute swimsuit to take with me. I love that there are so many stylish one pieces out there right now since chasing after 4 kids makes the string bikini situation less than desirable. I've had this one in my cart for awhile and think it's a great option. I also love the Vanilla Beach brand from Target...they have fewer offerings this year, but I snagged a couple two pieces last year. The quality is great and the scalloped designs look exactly like Marysia swim, but for a fraction of the price! I also think that having this float or this one on hand will make naptime cocktails even more divine.

As for other summer activities, we re-upped our membership to the Detroit Zoo and have already spent a handful of Saturday mornings there with the kids. Since we never know when a mutiny will be on our hands, the zoo is the perfect activity. We can spend as much or as little time there as needed and see just one or a handful of exhibits. For activities like these I look for comfort and I’m dying for a pair of paper bag waist shorts like these to keep me cute and comfy while we stroll around in the heat. For Violet, I don’t know if I can say no to a matching with Mommy moment. Old Navy is doing the best mini and me line and I’m here for it. I think I’ll be stocking up on a few looks that coordinate for the two of us.

Kyle and I are hoping to put in a small fire pit for post-bedtime s’mores and sips. For nights that things get a little chilly, I am thinking that this pink cardigan has my name written all over it. Plus it doubles up as a great option to throw on when running quick evening errands.

As for just some other fun pieces to freshen up my summer looks, this tank from Madewell caught my attention. The rainbow trend is on fire, but not one that I was into for myself since I'm a neutrals girl at heart. This one with its muted tones however, did catch my eye. I think it’s a must! And these slides and these from Target are calling my name. Such cute options to throw on with a denim dress or a cotton tank dress and call the look complete.

What's on your summer shopping list this year?

Celebrate: Last Year's Cars Birthday Bash

May 15, 2018

We’re starting to get ideas together for our oldest babe’s 4th birthday party in mid-June. 4th birthday?! How is this possible?!

This year Jack is about all things SEA CREATURES. At this point, I honestly feel like I’m 20,000 leagues under the sea on a daily basis and I can name more deep sea creatures than I would have guessed possible if you asked me at age 25. You can check out the “Celebrate” board on my Pinterest page (@sweetlouiseandco) to see some ideas I’m kicking around for the bash. But for now, I wanted to start with a little trip down memory lane to showcase how we’ve celebrated over the past few years.

Last Summer, Jack turned 3 and was into Disney’s Cars in a major way (sidenote, it took becoming a momma to understand how fast and hard toddlers hold onto their obsession of the moment. Like me with the wedge sneaker trend in 2013). It was perfect timing because Cars 3 was released in theaters last summer too! Kyle and I took the opportunity to take Jack to his first movie. It was such a fun memory to make, just the three of us, and one that he still talks about. He was so excited for his own little bucket of popcorn and getting his picture taken with his hero, Lightening McQueen, outside of the theater.

When it came to his celebration afterwards I knew it needed to be Cars themed, but wanted to go with something other than the racecar party motif. I took inspiration from the series and went with a retro diner/Route 66 theme instead- a nod to Radiator Springs if you’re a Disney fan! I love that the color palette was a little softer, but still boyish and there was a fun desert vibe perfect for Summer. It made food selection a breeze too. Sliders, french fries, classic cola and root beer floats made up a fun, yet simple menu.

I truly love making birthday cakes for my babies (hopefully it’s something special for them to look back on as they grow up, too!) and this one was no exception. A sprinkle cake with classic vanilla buttercream and simple toppers was perfect for my best little buddy’s big day. Looking forward to sharing some other ideas as we barrel toward age 4!

Celebrate: Mint Juleps for Derby Day

May 05, 2018

It’s Derby Day! And I couldn’t be more excited! Ok, so I don’t have an actual vested interest in the Kentucky Derby, but every year my husband and I make it a point to tune in to this exciting event in sports and make a few good spirited bets with each other. This year the kids are getting in on the fun too. We helped each of them pick a horse (all our picks are posted on the fridge) and if anyone wins, they will get to pick a special prize on our next trip to the store.

I love events like this (any reason to celebrate!) and since this is the first year in 4 years that I’m not pregnant in the month of May, I am NOT letting the chance to sip on a mint julep pass me by. We are mixing up two versions of the derby staple- a classic Mint Julep for Kyle and a Strawberry Mint Julep for me. Both versions start with the same easy steps. Here’s how it’s done:

We made a quick simple syrup bringing ½ cup of sugar and ½ cup of water to a boil after which we reduced to a simmer for about 3 minutes (until all the sugar is dissolved). Let this mixture cool completely before using. You only need about 2 tsp. of the simple syrup for each cocktail, but you can store the rest in the refrigerator for future use!

Strawberry Mint Julep:
-2 tsp. simple syrup
-crushed ice
-a handful of mint leaves
-about 3 large strawberries, quartered
-one 1 ½ oz. shot of your favorite bourbon (or a little more if you’re feeling lucky!)

Place the simple syrup in a glass. For this version, you’ll muddle the strawberries with the simple syrup until the strawberries look pureed. Throw in your mint leaves (6-8 should do the trick) and muddle again. Add the bourbon. Fill the glass about halfway with crushed ice and stir to combine. Garnish with a few more strawberries and a sprig of mint, sip and enjoy!

Classic Mint Julep:
-2 tsp. simple syrup
-crushed ice
-a handful of mint leaves
-one 1 ½ oz. shot of your favorite bourbon

Place the simple syrup in a glass. Throw in your mint leaves and muddle gently. Add the bourbon. Fill the glass about halfway with crushed ice and stir to combine. You could also throw everything into a shaker to make this version even quicker. Garnish with a mint sprig and serve.

These are such a fun and festive hot weather drink that turn the day into a little special occasion. I love the pretty and feminine twist the strawberries add to this cocktail too. So tell me, have you ever gone to the Kentucky Derby? How are you celebrating this year? Let me know in the comments below!

Motherhood Musings: Embracing A New Season

May 04, 2018

May 2018 marks my third official month as a Momma of 4 kids under the age of four years old and my fifth official month as a stay-a-home Mom. What’s funny is that I think it’s safe to say most people reading this would think the first part of that statement is crazier, but for me that isn’t the case. I joked with my husband since November that staying home was going to be a harder transition for me than bringing our fourth baby into the mix. And when Max was born all angelic and smiling and easy, he proved it to be true! Becoming a stay-at-home Mom was a huge shift for me.

The reason had so much to do with how working and providing for my family had become an intrinsic part of who I was; I felt like it was one of the biggest parts of my identity. When we started talking about the idea of me staying home once baby #4 was here (it just made a lot more sense financially than childcare for 4 children) I was surprised by the level of guilt I started feeling. Not even guilt about me being the one to stay with the kids. My husband and I weighed all options and he was just as supportive of the idea of staying home himself and me being the one to continue working. We operate as a good team, turns out. I was feeling guilty about the idea of walking away from a career that was going well for me. And walking away in a time where women are making such great strides toward equality in the workplace, where our voices are starting to be heard amongst a lot of other noise out there. I was more afraid of losing a piece of my identity than thinking about all that I could gain.

I really started weighing the pros and cons in this highly personal decision. I was using my degree in a career that I (mostly) loved. One that provided me the opportunity to grow personally and professionally, let me be creative on a daily basis and included lots of travel. That was all great...until it wasn’t. Once we started our family, some of the shine faded from my job. I couldn’t shake the sinking feeling that while I was working someone else was raising my kids. I was gaining success because the hours were getting longer and the travel more regular, but somehow my babies didn’t stop growing while I was checking e-mails and checking into hotels.

I still hesitated. I was more worried that there was a chance that I might not actually like staying home (just as much as staying home is frowned upon in some circles, being honest about the fact that you LIKE working is frowned upon in others. You can’t please everyone!). I was afraid I might not be good at it. Or that I might not feel like myself anymore if I was “Just Mom.” That was hard to admit to myself.

Once I took the risk, like so many other things in life, it was clear that TAKING the risk was the hardest part. The payoff was almost instant. I didn’t feel less like myself and I didn’t miss work nearly as much as I thought I would. Most days I realize I've never felt more connected to my family. Some days I spend a lot of time reminding myself the theme from PJ Masks WILL eventually get out of my head and that the potty training years will come to an end like all things. It’s easier than I thought to pause and think about what I’ve gained and how grateful I am that we are in a position that my new normal is possible.

I think for me I’m constantly learning that change can be good; it’s ok to be different than you were at age 16 or 25...because being ok with change means being ok with growth. I’m ok with letting my priorities change with a new season of life. I have a supportive partner who makes sure I find time to be more than “Just Mom.” Although many days right now, “Just Mom” is just fine with me.

Weeknight Meals: Loaded Sweet Potato

May 02, 2018

So, if you're anything like me, weeknight dinners are borderline lame. Between work, keeping 4 kids alive/happy and maintaining a house that is baseline respectable (aka I need to be able to just walk into the basement without sending up an S.O.S. to my 3 year old to pull me out of the laundry piles. Wait, how was my laundry like this before 4 kids too?), I just don't have it in me to pull out all the stops on a weeknight meal.

ENTER THE LOADED SWEET POTATO. What a gem. This thing packs all the nutrients my potato loving bootay NEEDS, but doesn't skimp on flavor (give me a meal without any flavor and I will just skip to the wine, thanks). It's quick to make and can easily be a meal for one or many depending on your needs. You can change up the toppings quite a bit based on what you have to use up in your fridge or pantry and this can be a vegan, vegetarian or meat lovers meal depending on what toppings you choose. Thanks for the versatility, you big, beautiful spud.

Personally, I'm into the Southwestern twist and we also usually have a couple vegetarian meals each week to keep things a little healthier, so that's what you'll see in the recipe listed below. I've been seeing Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos all over menus at my favorite restaurants, so I put a little spin on that for dinner tonight. You can steam the potatoes in the microwave or bake them in the oven if microwaves freak you out. You might prefer to cook the potatoes to just al dente because, if you're anything like me, you think that mushy sweet potatoes are best reserved for those in the 4-12 month old age range. It's like a choose your own adventure, but with dinner! Enjoy!

-Sweet Potatoes (1 per customer)
-Black Beans (you can soak your own if you have time; I just rinsed and drained one 15 oz. can)
-1/2 large White Onion (for this recipe, I like the onions raw to add texture that crunches, BUT you could also saute them with the black beans if raw onions aren't your thing)
-1/2 tsp. Cumin
-1/4 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
-1/4 tsp. Paprika
-1/2 tsp. Chili Powder
-Salt & Pepper (as needed, to taste)
-about 1/4 cup water or broth (I used chicken broth, veggie would be fine too)
-Queso Fresco (or Cotija or Queso Blanco)
-Fresh Lime (to garnish)
-Chopped Cilantro (to garnish)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Prick the washed potatoes all over with a fork and place them on a baking sheet. Bake for 45-60 minutes depending on how large the potatoes are. While the potatoes are in the oven, toss the black beans and all spices in a saute pan over medium heat making sure the beans are evenly coated in spice. Add enough water or broth to coat the beans and simmer for about 5 minutes until the mixture is heated through and the liquid is mostly absorbed. When the sweet potatoes are done, top with the black bean mixture, diced white onion, a sprinkle of queso fresco, chopped cilantro and a quick twist of fresh lime. Serve immediately. End the weeknight blues.

Thanks For Stopping By, I'm Glad You're Here!

April 30, 2018
Welcome to my new little corner of the Internet! I decided to take the leap and begin this journey when I recently became a stay-at-home-momma. We welcomed our fourth baby into the mix, purchased our first house and moved to a new city all within a matter of months this past fall. I know, I know, clearly this is a perfectly calm season in life to add something else to my plate. I wanted to find a way to preserve our memories as we stumble through adjusting to it all (and have something to hold over my kids' heads when they hit those moody teenage years and claim I never did anything fun with them). I'll use this space to document the things that feel special to me: recipes that we love, adventures that we take, my little ones as they grow right before my eyes and the trinkets and fashions that delight me. Whether you just stop by this once or choose to check in from time to time, it's good to have you. I also aim to have this become a soft place for you to land in a world full of crazy; somewhere you can come to bring a smile to your face or some inspiration to your days. I'll keep the fashion relatable, the food tasty and the worries, successes and failures authentic. Let me know who you are and why you're here in the comments below!
Photos by Kelly Sweet Photography

About Me

Hi, I'm Julie! I'm a former career gal turned stay-at-home momma working on raising our 4 babes in a home filled with humor and kindness. Join me here for our days of good eats, lots of coffee, laughter, projects in our first home and some messes along the way. This is my life, in style.

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