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Amara's New Play Table

apollina baker

Amara's little table makes me so very happy.  The $20 Ikea Latt table just begs for a makeover and it's got hacks for days.  This awesome Latt Hacker had the genius idea of inlaying a lovely design from Paper Source and gave awesome instructions on how to do it.  I also used the great instructions from another cool DIYer for the seat cushions.

For the makeover I needed...

  • CUSHIONS  
    • 1 inch foam from Joanne Fabrics.  Don't buy green if you're using light fabric!  I made that mistake and the green showed right through the white fabric.  I cut up one of Brad's white tee shirts to layer over the foam before I covered them.  Sorry honey.
    • Fabric of your choice.  I used 1/2 a yard of white, fluffy fabric, also from Joanne's.
    • Staple gun, Joanne's. 
    • Spray adhesive.  Joanne's.
  • TABLE
    • Grey wood stain
    • High gloss protective finish.  If there is a spray version, I would definitely use that instead of painting it on like I did. 
    • Gold spray paint (lightly sprayed the tops of the screws)
    • Acrylic sheet/plexiglass at .08 thickness, 18 x 24 inches.  I think Lowes may cut it to the exact dimensions you will need - 23 3/8" by 17 3/8" - if so, that is absolutely the way to go.  Major pain otherwise.  Home Depot wouldn't cut it so I had to saw it using a plexiglass cutter.  And when I say "I", I mean Brad.  Thanks honey.
    • I bought this beautiful ombre paper from Paper Source.  It's reversible; the other side would work for a boy;)

DIRECTIONS...

  • CUSHIONS:  Cut the foam so that it fits within the inside corners of the seat.  Adhere the foam to the seat.  Cut enough fabric so that you'll have a couple inches hangover.  Pull taunt, fold over, staple gun it.  Cut off excess.  Since I used a fluffy fabric, I cut the fluff off of the area where I would need to slide the seat into the slot of the chair frame.  I assembled the chair around the seat cushion.  Got a nice snug fit.  I was so stinking proud of myself!  I thought making a seat cushion was way out of my DIY league but it was SO EASY.  And fun even.  Did the seat cushions and painted the whole set in one nap time!  (Amara is taking roughly 2 hour naps at the moment).

DIRECTIONS...

  • TABLE:  Paint/stain the UN-assembled set.  I used a grey stain and used only one coat.  I am too impatient to wait to apply a second coat.  Plus, I liked the way it looked.  The next day (during nap) I applied a protective finish, high gloss.  I painted it on but would have used a spray if I knew there was one available.  The directions said to paint it on, buff it off, paint it on, buff it off, paint it on.  I couldn't do all of that.  Because I didn't want to.  So, I used one coat and left it like that.  For the table top, Brad sawed the plexiglass to the proper dimensions (23 3/8 by 17 3/8").  I wasn't a fan of the silver hardware so I punched the screws through some leftover foam and gave the tops of them a light coat of gold spray paint.  After the table was assembled, Brad measured and painfully sawed the plexiglass to fit.  There are notches at each corner than need to be cut out as well.  Then, I placed that cut plexiglass on top of the pretty paper and used an X-acto knife to cut the paper to shape.  You can see me doing that in that picture up there.  Oh wait, that's Brad again.
    • One thing I haven't done yet but will absolutely do, is to seal the edges on the inlayed plexiglass.  If Amara spills water (which she will), it will totally seep into the table top and ruin the paper.  So, until I buy a sealant, no drinking or watercoloring on the table; pretend tea only.

And voila!  I LOVE her little table.  It is so cute and she loves it.  At $20 (plus $10 for shipping), it was easy to spend money to customize it.  It takes a little time but I enjoy (half-assing) a little project now and then;) 

Sorry about my fuzzy phone pics (boo hoo), was one of those atypical rainy days in Austin.  

She's getting too big

apollina baker

She speaks in three word sentences now and tells me that she loves me.  I have a very, very hard time not sleeping on the floor next to her crib while holding her hand through the crib bars.  We are wrapped around each other's finger and attached at the chest.  At least once a day I am overwhelmed by how much I love her.  Tears come so easily now that I'm a Mom.  It's like they're always right there waiting behind my eyes - nothing but JOY.  And tomorrow is another wonderful, long day.  No idea what we are going to do, I gotta come up with something.

Hello 2015

apollina baker

austin post card

And hello to all of you!  Any of you?  Still out there?  I haven't written a blog post since June!  Well, defensively speaking, I've written several posts since then but I haven't completed or posted them.  So... what's been going on for the last 6 months???

Sixteen teeth, a ton of new words, a few colds, a couple sleepless nights, nine trips by plane, lots of new friends, probably a million tacos, eight visitors, some boo-boos, a bunch of crazy adventures, about five thousand giggles and as many kisses as I could fit in.  2014 was our first full year in Austin and, gotta say, we love it.  We traveled a bunch but we always enjoyed coming home.  We have made such great friends here and there is always something super cool to do.  We're still renting a house for the moment but are on the hunt for a place of our own.  Texas Hill Country is looking pretty nice.

One big thing that happened last summer (July) was Amara straight up quitting nursing.  We were nursing heavily and consistently 4 times a day - wake up/nap time/snack time/bed time.  It was the day after she turned 15 months old; I went to nurse her before nap and she turned her head away with a totally disgusted look on her face.  I offered again and she was adamantly opposed to the whole thing.  It was actually making her upset when I offered.  I tried again that night and again the next day.  She never nursed again.  I was heartbroken.  It was so weird!  She loved nursing, I loved nursing.  I was actually thinking of weaning at the time because 1)  I was nursing her to sleep and that's supposed to be a no-no (but who cares!  I wouldn't change a thing) and 2)  I was going on my first trip away from her in two weeks and didn't want to leave her high and dry.  But I couldn't do it, I couldn't start the weaning process.  So, she did it for me -  cold turkey.  It was a hard couple of weeks for both of us.  More for me than her though.  She was definitely confused by the whole thing and without nursing, there were a lot of gaps in our days; she also had to learn how to fall asleep without it.  I basically just cried.  For two weeks.  It really took me by surprise,  I mean, this was ultimately a really good thing.  She made the decision herself, I didn't have to wean her and my trip was now going to be so much easier for both of us.  But I was really sad and didn't know why, until I started researching a little bit.  I learned that the hormone change when you stop breastfeeding is actually more intense than when you deliver your baby - which can have a serious effect on women, i.e., postpartum depression.  The hormone change was especially intense because nursing ended so abruptly and so finally.  We both adjusted after a couple of weeks and found a new routine - I still miss nursing her sometimes though.  Then, it was time for me to go on my girl's weekend trip!  Which was another HUGE (and much more awesome) thing that happened this summer... 

meandoscar.jpg

I had the amazing opportunity to meet Mr. Oscar de la Renta and attend one of his incredibly beautiful runway shows in Lake Tahoe.  It was his Resort 2015 Collection and it was stunning.  This was my first fashion show and I was actually moved to tears by how ridiculously beautiful the show was.  What an honor to meet Mr. de la Renta and a privilege to witness his genuine, gleaming smile and his truly gorgeous gowns in person.

As for 2015, Brad and I are looking forward to another year of watching our little girl grow into the incredible, admirable and completely fascinating person she already is.  We want a million more kids!  For this year though, we're working on one.  Cheers & happy, happy new year!

amara eating ice cream.jpg
eating her ice cream.jpg

Pineapple Up On Top Cake

apollina baker

A little twist on the pineapple upside down cake - just throw the whole thing on top!  

Well, half of the whole thing... 

Pineapple Up on Top Cake:

  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cups whole buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup pineapple puree 
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • a whole pineapple, smallest one you can find 

Pineapple Buttercream Frosting:

  • 1/2 pound butter, softened
  • a couple tablespoons pineapple puree
  • 3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • Some lemon zest, to taste

Directions for Frosting:  Beat butter for a few minutes on medium speed, so it’s really fluffy and creamy. Add other ingredients to desired taste and consistency.

Directions for Cake:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and then butter and flour a 10-inch cake pan.  Throw the butter in the mixer and beat it at medium speed until creamy; gradually add the sugar.  Once fluffy, add eggs 1 at a time and beat well after each.   Mix in vanilla.

In another bowl, sift together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the flour mix into the egg/butter mix alternating with the buttermilk, starting and ending with the flour mix.

Pour the batter into the buttered and floured pan and bake until a wooden pick (I often use a chopstick b/c I can never find the toothpicks but toothpicks are definitely recommended) inserted in center comes out clean, about 45 to 50 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan for about 10 minutes then flip it onto a wire rack to cool completely.  Frost the cake and put it in the fridge to firm up a bit so the pineapple will sit on top and not sink into the icing. 

For the pineapple topper:  Get a small sized, good looking pineapple with a pretty stem (is that what the tops are called?) – often organic markets or whole food type stores will have smaller ones.  Hold it up to the cake to determine how much of the stem you'll need to cut out/off with a pair of kitchen scissors (or a sharp knife – be careful!).  Then you are going to cut the pineapple in half.  Make sure you are cutting so that the prettiest and most symmetrical side of the pineapple will be face up. After you half it you have to gut it - scrape out all of the “meat” and then soak up all the juice with a paper towel so juice doesn’t drip on the cake, you want a dry shell, as much as possible. Once the icing is solid, place the pineapple half on top of the cake and voilà! It's not the easiest to cut into but it looks pretty cool;)

Love this fun artwork and this sunny little girl...  Keep enjoying that summer of yours!


Summertime fun

apollina baker

Amara and I are in the water almost every day because it's so stinkin' hot in Texas!  I am resisting the urge to buy these amazing pool floats because we don't have a pool ourselves (the large and lovely swan probably wouldn't fit in Amara's baby pool) and I would look a little silly dragging my giant donut to the public swimming hole.  When I get this house and pool I will definitely be stocking up on giant swans.

I must be a Palm Beach girl at heart because I am always drawn to palm leaves, bright pink flamingos, pineapples and coral (my favorite color, along with gold).  I also have a mild obsession with mermaids which I project onto my daughter every opportunity I get. Mom perks:) 

Summer dressing is the best kind of dressing because you can be super fun and playful, like these Net-A-Porter's tropical selections...

A few items on my personal summer shopping list:  A flamingo swimsuit, palm leaf sandals, a mermaid phone case, this pineapple bag (more of a wish than a potential purchase), a fruit print head bowpalm playsuit and definitely this mother/baby girl mermaid print!

I hope you all are enjoying your summer so far!  We are doing our best at keeping busy...