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C A S O N | welcome to miami

Last week I shared with you the photo booth highlights from our trip to Miami. Check them out here! (I randomly look at them several times a week but I understand if you don’t want to.) Let’s be real though, that wasn’t much help for any of you actually planning or thinking of planning a trip to Miami. Believe it or not, we actually DID leave our hotel room. For those of you ready to party in the city where the heat is on, here are my eat, play, and stay recommendations!

[ STAY ]

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Fontainebleau | There are a million hotels in Miami but it’s all about location, location, location. We wanted to be in the center of the Miami scene so we chose the iconic Fontainebleau in the heart of the action. You honestly didn’t need to leave the property at all! They had great restaurants and nightlife right on the property. Because there were 5 of us, we splurged on a junior suite in the main Chateau tower. Our views were INCREDIBLE! We could see the ocean, the main pool, and all the way down to Miami beach. Warning: The hotel is Vegas-style huge. If we were in any other tower I think there would have been a lot of walking. In the Chateau building we were literally an elevator ride down to the lobby, nightclub, and restaurants.

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[ PLAY ]

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It was the 4th of July weekend and we had amazing weather so of course our days were spent lounging by the pool. We rented a cabana and it was SO worth it! Pool chairs are a hot commodity and if you sleep in past 8am, you’re out of luck. With a cabana, we had a space reserved just for us whether we woke up bright and early or stumbled out there around noon. (Mum’s the word on which one describes us.)  Y’all, we felt so VIP. If anybody even so much as put a toe in our cabana they were immediately approached and told “If you are not with this party you need to leave.” (OMG. We died. And loved it.) With a cabana you get a small refrigerator stocked with fresh fruit, soft drinks, and water. We had to put the flat-screen TV to use so Holly enjoyed watching the World Cup!

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The staff regularly came around with surprises like popsicles, chilled towels, and baby mango smoothies. Add in the awesome music playing and it was more like a swanky club than a hotel pool. We didn’t hate it.

Y’all know we love to dance so we hit the club scene at night. I’ll be honest though – tons of house music. If this isn’t your thing, I hear most of the clubs have a hip-hop night so do your research before you go. We ended up at LIV (at the Fontainebleau) on Thursday, Mansion on Friday, and Cameo on Saturday. We only went to Cameo because we saw an airplane banner advertising that Soulja Boy was going to be there. It was different…. BUT when you’re with 5 of your besties and the drinks are flowing, honestly anything is fun!

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[ EAT ]

We did our research before our trip and loved every restaurant we picked! By accident we chose 3 different tapas restaurants but didn’t go wrong with any of them.

Yardbird | If you’re from Atlanta, think JCT kitchen. We ordered Mama’s Chicken Biscuits, the Big Ol’ Cheddar Waffle, Macaroni & Cheese, Deviled Eggs, and Shrimp N’ Grits. Y’all. SO GOOD. The award-winning restaurant also delivered a trendy southern atmosphere and quirky cocktails. Try the Blackberry Bourbon Lemonade or Strawberry Balsamic Daquiri! Check out the full menu here.

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The Bazaar | Honestly this place was just downright swanky. The menu was a mix of traditional Spanish tapas as well as a “Miami meets the World” section that included ceviche and Singapore street foods. I think we ordered one of everything on the menu, including 2 pitchers of their incredible sangria but every single bite was to die for. Some of our favorite dishes included the Mediterranean Mussles, Patatas Bravas, Sauteed Shrimp, and Not Your Everyday Caprese. This was definitely my favorite restaurant! If The Bazaar is any inclination of what other Chef José Andrés dining experiences are like then I can’t get to his other restaurants fast enough. Check out the entire menu here.

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Michael Mina 74 | This restaurant was located in the lobby of the Fontainebleau so we loved the location. Again, more creative and inventive small plates that did not disappoint. MM74 included fun American tapas like Lobster Corn Dogs, Maine Lobster Pot Pie, Garlic Duck Fat Fries, and Buttermilk Fried Chicken. The resident DJ kept the atmosphere energetic and although we didn’t partake, the seafood cart looked very tempting!

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Well that’s our weekend in a nutshell. (At least the stuff we’re willing to share!) I’m missing this posh little hot spot already. Have a great weekend!

[ images via Fontainebleau, Yardbird, The Bazaar, and Michael Mina 74 ]

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A U D G E | get nauti’

A couple of weeks ago, my bestie (Stephanie aka Chedda) and I rallied up our girl squad, packed our bags, and headed down to Florida for our dear friend/former college roommate Ailya’s bachelorette party… and MAN. IT WAS AWESOME. One thing I love about Perdido Key is that it’s kind of off the tourist-y grid, but still close enough where you can get in on the action if you want to. It’s between Pensacola, FL and Gulf Shores, AL – so it’s literally the last beach in the pan-handle before you hit Alabama. We tied everything together with our theme for the weekend, which was “Get NAUTI”… here are a few of the little things we pulled together to make our girl feel special!

GetNAUTI_gift bag_01Since everyone had to travel to get down there, we wanted to make sure they felt right at home and comfortable when they arrived. Everyone had a goodie bag waiting for them on their bed along with an itinerary for the weekend.

GetNAUTI_gift bag 2We didn’t want everything to be so planned there wasn’t any down time, but we also wanted there to be a flow for the weekend and for everyone to feel like they were “in the know”. If you’re planning a bachelorette party, especially one with different friend groups all mixing together, this makes things so much smoother for everyone! The goodie bags had personalized cups with everyone’s name on it, an eos lip balm, a snack bar, a personalized THEMED T-SHIRT (obvi), and a captain’s hat. Our fearless captain rocked a navy blue cap while the rest of the crew donned our white ones… gotta keep the ranks clearly marked!

GetNAUTI_bachelorette sailboat charterWe chartered a sailboat to take us out for a cruise, and it was beeeeeyootiful! We packed up some Publix subs and snacks and went out for an afternoon cruise. It was so relaxing, we all just sat around munching, sipping, and chatting while soaking up the sun… my kind of trip!

GetNAUTI_bachelorette scavenger huntWe whipped together a little scavenger hunt for our group to work on collectively… and of course. You can’t forget the most important part.

GetNAUTI_bachelorette scavenger hunt 2You’ve gotta have your designated hashtag for the weekend. Never leave home without one.GetNAUTI_bachelorette sashWe also made a little sash for her to wear out for our nightly adventuring. A bride can’t go galavanting around unrecognized for the royalty that she is, right?!

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We headed into Pensacola that night for dinner at The Fish House, and afterwards went into the Seville Quarter for the rest of our nightly shenanigans. This place has everything. There’s a dueling piano bar (my fave!), a billiard hall, an area with live music, and a dance club, and all of this is in one little complex – talk about hitting the jackpot!

I’d say overall the weekend was a success. We all made it out alive, there was only ONE concussion (which is an accomplishment in my book!), and Ailya was officially bacheloretted. If that’s even a word. We love her SO much and I can’t WAIT to start partying down come wedding time! Let’s DO this!

Planning a bachelorette party any time soon? Tell us about it! We love hearing new ideas!

#BACHlife4EVER

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J O A N N A | brunch meetings are the best meetings

DSC_0128 (600x402)I’m always looking for a good excuse to brunch. So, when the girl’s at YCSWU recently got together for a blog meeting I decided to whip up a little something and made a lovely little bloggers date out of it. Plus, we were also celebrating our first meeting since Case and Kat quit their day jobs to pursue their dreams and grow their business full-time, check out the details here!

I made mimosas with my own little spin; add cranberry juice and blueberries (in addition to champagne and orange juice) and BAM… an extra bit of flavor and deliciousness.DSC_0103 (600x346)DSC_0111 (600x401)DSC_0118 (600x351)I also made cinnamon bites, a recipe I found on the oh-so-cute blog, Six Sisters’ Stuff. I though they sounded great as a dish for a wedding or baby shower so I wanted to try them out on my girlfriends to see if they would pass the taste test… aaaaand they did, so yummy! I decided that the bites would be even more savory with icing (duh), so I made a cream cheese icing using a recipe that I found here and it hit the spot! (We may or may not have dipped our strawberries in it too.)DSC_0158 (600x402)We had a great time discussing the future and all the fun ideas and plans we have! Ollie was particularly excited…He also wanted me to remind you guys to be sure and enter our When It Rains Paper Co. giveaway going on NOW! You can find out how to enter on our Instagram, @sitwithusblog!DSC_0141 (402x600)Have a happy hump day!

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K A T | summer sweater love

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Summer sweaters are my jam. They’re light weight and airy which make them perfect for summer nights, airplanes, movie theaters, and all those other times when it might be slightly chilly. But let’s be real, it’s August in Georgia so you can’t have too many clothes on or you’ll pass out of heat exhaustion.

I stumbled across Milk & Honey Boutique about a month ago and fell head over heals in love with one of their summer sweaters. It’s chic and understated in the front and then you turn around and BAM you see a pop of neon pink and you instantly know that you must own that sweater! Or at least that’s how it happened for me… Now, for the best news you’ve heard all day (I’m about to become your new best friend) this neon ladder sweater is currently on sale for $10! I paired my sweater with some Old Navy boyfriend cuffed denim shorts which are also on sale for $10! I just dressed you for $20. You’re welcome. Everyone needs to stop what they are doing and order this outfit right away then we can all run into each other at the movie theatre in the same sweater and laugh at the odds of that happening! Or we don’t have to acknowledge it, whatever you prefer…

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Sweater: Milk & Honey Boutique | Shorts: Old Navy | Assorted neon bracelets: Madewell, similar here | Sunglasses: Rayban

Just looking at these pictures makes me miss the beach. This sweater would be perfect for anyone who has one more trip squeezed in this summer! Happy Tuesday!

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C A S O N | when it rains paper co. launch + giveaway!

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As promised, Kat and I have some big life updates. They have been in the making for quite some time and I’m thrilled that our hard work has finally paid off. Shall I just rip off the Band-Aid? Kat and I quit our day jobs! For 3 years, we’ve been working full-time during the day and full-time at night. Kat tells the story of creating our Etsy shop here, but the story didn’t end there.

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About a year into creating our Etsy shop, we quickly realized it could be a full-time job but it was far from being a full-time job for 2 people. So we made a pact that neither of us would quit our jobs until both of us could. It was the only path that seemed fair for both of us. With this in mind, we knew everything would get much worse before it got better. This meant finding time to grow our business while maintaining our day jobs. I won’t lie to you – there were plenty of tears, plenty of arguments, and plenty of 20+ hour days. For those of you who think we are crazy millennials, let me assure you this decision wasn’t taken lightly. We struggled to come to this conclusion after months and I mean MONTHS of prayer. Would our family be supportive? Would we be able to pay our bills? Was I crazy for leaving my cushy corporate job? I probably went over what this meant for our budget 50 times. I come from a family of successful teachers, lawyers, and doctors so we were terrified of taking this leap of faith. We both knew we would always regret it if we didn’t see where we could take our business if we focused on it full-time.

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In the end, a peace came over me that only He could provide. It’s been a little over a month since reporting to my 9 to 5 and I have no regrets! I have a hustle spirit that just wasn’t there before. I’m excited to get up in the morning, talk with my customers and create personalized goods for their weddings, birthdays, and other milestones. Kat said it before and I’ll say it again – hard work truly pays off! What are you waiting for? Go after your dreams people! It’s the most thrilling, exhilarating, and rewarding feeling!

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As excited as I was to share that with you, I’m even more exited to announce the launch of the When it Rains Paper Co. website! While Etsy is still our primary money-maker, we knew the first step in growing our business was to establish our own e-commerce site. If we ever wanted to reach out to retailers about carrying our products, we needed our very own platform that we could control. We can tell our story, show off our brand, and expand our products in a way that we can’t do on Etsy. Nobody can create the look and feel we want better than us. So ladies and gents, I present to you When it Rains Paper Co! Take a look around, read the When it Rains Paper story, and let us know what you think! This was a bigger undertaking than we thought it would be so keep checking back. We are constantly adding new products!

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To celebrate this exciting news, we are giving away a $100 When it Rains Paper gift card! Instagram is the only way to enter so be sure you are following @sitwithusblog!

[ THE RULES ] 1. Must follow @sitwithusblog 2. Must follow @whenitrainspaper 3. Repost the image below (you can also repost the image from @sitwithusblog Instagram) 4. Use hashtag #WIRpapergiveaway to enter. Winner will be chosen and announced September 3rd!

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Thank you for following along on our journey! Happy Monday!

[ photos by Audra Starr Photography! ]

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A U D G E | hodgepodge de la audgepodge

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Today, I’m following in DJ Kitty’s tracks SPINNING ON THE 1′S AND 2′S YEAH YEAH YEEEEEAH! (*read in your mega-announcer voice*). I’ve always loved music and for the most part my taste is preeeeetty all over the place. Today, I’ve brewed up a collection of some of my fave inspiring and motivational jams just for you! I’m bringing together the old and the new, and even throwing in a few local artists (you KNOW we’re all about that). So kick back, crank up your tunes, and feel inspired… and maybe even pick up a new favorite or two!

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  1. Bloodlines (feat. J.R.)

    Alex Faith

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  3. Pins and Needles

    MuteMath

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  5. Doxology (Remix)

    Page CXVI

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  7. Imagine (feat. Dre Muray, Alex Faith, Christon Gray & Swoope)

    W.L.A.K.

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  9. You CanT Stop Me

    Andy Mineo

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  11. Petition

    Sandra McCracken

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  13. Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing

    Sufjan Stevens

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  15. Doubting Thomas

    Nickel Creek

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  17. Awake My Soul

    Mumford & Sons

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  19. Kiss Your Feet

    John Mark McMillan

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  21. Slow Your Breath Down

    Future of Forestry

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  23. Out of Order

    Fiction Family

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  25. Smash Lies

    Matisyahu

Happy weekend y’all! Do something awesome.

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J O A N N A | end of summer sales

Don’t hate me for saying this BUT… summer is almost over. I know, I know. I’m a real jerk for saying it, BUT somebody’s got to. Before you know it we will be drinking pumpkin spiced lattes and wearing big, comfy scarves… see that doesn’t sound so bad, does it? BUT, I’m already planning for next summer… what? It’s good to always think ahead! Around August every year I start browsing the sale racks at my favorite stores looking for some end of summer steals. Without fail I end up with a cute dress, pair of shorts, and maybe even some great sandals for an amazing price. I may only have a chance to wear them once or twice (or not at all) but, next summer it will feel like new!

Here’s what I got my eye on so far…

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1| Kate Spade clutch$128 $44

2 | Coconuts Wondered Flat Sandal$99 $39.94

3 | Anthropologie Necklace  - $68 $39.95

4 | Asos Polka Dot Cami - $29 $19.35

5 | J. Crew striped short$69.50 $29.99

Now, the really, REALLY, good sales will start popping up closer to September but what kind of friend would I be if I didn’t give you the heads up ahead of time? Keep your eyes open ladies, go straight to the sale racks and grab some goods. It might seem silly, but next summer you’ll be thanking me when you’ve got some new duds without having to pay full price. Do me proud!

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K A T | on my radar

As usual life is flying by. My days are turning into weeks and my weeks are turning into months. Here’s a peak at all the crazy things occupying my time!

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1 | Girl Boss by Sophia Amoruso-  I’ve been dying to read this book. I feel like it would be the perfect motivation for where I’m at in life.

2 | I absolutely adore my monogrammed baseball hat from this Etsy shop! Cason gave it to me for my birthday and I can’t stop wearing it.

3 | La Mesa Del Sur-  Cason and I finally got around to trying out Zac Brown’s new mexican restaurant in Senoia and it did not disappoint! The gauc and margs were so divine that it’s a guarantee I’ll be coming back for more!

4 | I have a new geode obsession. A bad one. I want any and all jewelry that resembles it. I stumbled across the website, Statement Baubles and am dying for this cuff!

5 | Audge came over last week to do a When it Rains Paper Co.  photo shoot and we are dying over the results! Cason and I are officially launching our website REALLY soon!!  Get excited, you will read about it here first!

6 | iphone hacks-  Some of these blew my mind. Why have I owned an iPhone for years and am just now figuring this stuff out?!

7 | You’ve got to check out this Turn Down For What Fail video. I can’t stop watching it. I hope no one was hurt…but it’s FUNNY!

8 | Sicky Sunglasses-  Judge me all you want, I saw AshLee Frazier wear these sunglasses on Bachelor in Paradise last week and I have been obsessed with them ever since. Is it too soon to start a Christmas list?

9 | Zucchini Parmesan Fries- All of you know about my love for Dashing Dish. This recipe was recently added and I can’t wait to try it out!

Happy Wednesday!

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C A S O N | #casonsdirtythirty lookbook

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I turned 30 last month and I was kind of bummed about it. I actually don’t mind getting old. I’ve been looking forward to retirement since my freshman year of college. I think I was bummed about this milestone because I’m not where I thought I’d be at 30. If you had told me when I was 12 that at the age of 30 I wouldn’t be married, wouldn’t have kids, my dad would be in heaven, and I wouldn’t be doing the job I always dreamed about, I would have thought my life was over. OVER. But you know what? Screw that. My life is incredible and SO much better than what I thought I wanted. My life is so far off track than what I had planned for that I’m not even close to the tracks anymore. God has me off in some jungle with a machete clearing a path and making my own tracks. Sometimes I can’t see the path more than 2 feet in front of me but that’s okay. He’s taking me on a scenic route and I love it. All that to say, my 30th turned out to be pretty dang awesome thanks to my friends.

I don’t know how I got so lucky when God selected my friends, but they are REALLY amazing. Like, I don’t deserve them. These girls have turned into my extended family. They are my biggest supporters and make me laugh until I’m crying. I was truly overwhelmed with gratitude for these ladies on our trip to Miami. They went above and beyond to make me feel special and I’m astounded at everything they got away with!

Let me sum up what these ladies did… Kat was the queen of delegating and gave everyone an assignment. I was told Joanna couldn’t get on our flight and that she’d be on a later flight. LIE. This girl flew down to Miami 4 hours before we did and got to work! She took a completely separate suitcase solely for decorations. When she got there, Joanna took a cab to the nearest grocery store to have the balloons blown up!

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When we arrived, the hotel room was DECKED OUT. I’m talking balloons, confetti, all my favorite snacks and treats, “Welcome to Miami” coming through the speakers, and champagne on ice. (Rumor has it Joanna manipulated some guy named Juan to come help her hang the garland. She would!) Kat put her Etsy skills to work and had a custom garland and personalized cookies made!

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Did I mention they got t-shirts made?! All 5 of us had matching PJs every single night and it was awesome.

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Our resident photographer was assigned the photo booth. As if the 5 of us would be together for the weekend and not have a designated photo nook. Puh-lease. You may or may not have seen the Instagram explosion over 4th of July weekend. In case you missed it, here are the best of the best from our photo booth!

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Of course Holly was in charge of props. That is her specialty!

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What? You and your friends don’t do Olan Mills style photos?

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Check out this view!

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Don’t worry, I can share my weekend with the USA. We celebrated America too!

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The dress I had for my birthday night was kind of crazy. I found the French Connection dress on RueLaLa THREE YEARS ago and was saving it for a special occasion. I knew it was loud but I love a good sequin dress. These girls wanted me to stand out even more and secretly planned to wear black dresses on my birthday. Crazy kids. (Loved it!)

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Kat, Joanna, Holly, and Audra – from the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU for the best weekend of my life. You made me feel so incredibly special! You mean so much to me and I love you more than you’ll ever know.

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Stay tuned next week for actual restaurant, hotel, and nightlife recommendations! You haven’t gotten rid of Miami yet!

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A U D G E | baby food basics

you're feeding me whatOllie is officially six months, so it’s about that time… the time where boy babies turn into man babies. When sweet little runny poops become more serious forces to be reckoned with. The time where he starts eating (::dundunDUN!::)… SOLIDS! This was such a fun time with Tacie. Sure, it was a little more inconvenient than going the jar food route, but I actually loved making her food for her! Not only did it make me feel a little better knowing exactly what was going into what she was eating, but I picked up a few new skills in the kitchen and ended up saving us a good bit of money. It was a win-win all around! Plus, they made me eat jarred baby food at one of my baby showers… that junk was NAZZZZTY. Don’t get me wrong… We definitely slipped some jar food in every now and then when I just couldn’t get around to it, and Buddy Fruits and Ella’s Kitchen pouches were a total life-saver when we were out and about. But the pro’s for making our own food definitely outweighed the con’s in this battle for us. Here’s what you’ll need to get started on this artisanal cuisine adventure…

the E Q U I P M E N T:

baby bullet baby care systemWe used the Magic Bullet Baby Bullet Baby Care System when we started, which was pretty fab. It came with most of the essentials, and since I was a rookie and kind of overwhelmed at first I really liked the idea of one-stop shopping.

Honestly though, if you wanted to skip purchasing additional baby items, you can totally use a good blender or a food processor. Let me stop here and emphasize GOOD blender though. Ours is terrible, I’ve learned through my experiences. And when babies get chunks before they’re ready, let me tell you… they get pretty brutal with their criticism towards the chef. I’ve heard some pretty rave reviews on this little bad boy, and I’m hoping one might magically appear in my kitchen one day… (*cough* CHRISTMAS PRESENT IDEA *cough*) WHAT?! Oh, right. Carry on.

frozen homemade baby food[Photo by Fat Girl Trapped In a Skinny Body ]

Also, if you make large batches of food or various items all at once it’s a good idea to have a few plastic ice cube trays around. Each cube is about a tablespoon of food I think, so you can pop them out, store them in freezer bags, and just thaw the portions as you need them.

You’ll definitely want something you can steam food in, which we went the cheap route and just bought a little steamer basket. That little puppy worked like a charm.

The Wholesome Baby Food GuideA good cookbook never hurts to have around either. It’s good for new inspirations and has suggestions for combinations you probably never would’ve come up with on your own. One of my favorites that we’re busting back out again is the Wholesome Baby Food Guide by Maggie Meade. Not only did it give guidelines for what foods are appropriate for each stage, but it really made cooking baby food so much less intimidating. There are also a handful of really great recipes for the whole family and how to adapt them for baby so you’re not cooking all day everyday… and shocker, they’re actually pretty delicious. There are a BAJILLION cookbooks and blogs out there, but this is just one I’ve come to love and hasn’t let me down yet.

So far we’ve tried avocados, bananas, sweet potatoes, rice cereal, and oatmeal. We’re off to a slow start since we’re abiding by the 4-Day Wait Rule, which basically just says to wait 4 days after introducing a new food so you can see how your baby reacts to the new food and know if any allergies or other signs of irritation pop up. This isn’t a must by any means, it’s just something that helps with my peace of mind while venturing into this whole new world. Most of the time we only make it three days anyway… there, I said it.

So all of this is just to give you a jumping off point… I hope it takes some of the pressure off and makes it a bit less intimidating! I’ll usually just pick a day and spend a couple of hours making food for the week and then be done with it. You can plan ahead as much or as little as you want/need. I’ll post a few of my fave recipes soon that can be for you AND baby… get ready for some fiiiine dinin’ y’all.

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