renee nicole says

hi! i'm renee.

blogger, wine enthusiast, amateur photographer, long distance runner, book reader, music appreciator.

chicago born and raised.

my husband and i welcomed our baby girl to the world in february.

here you'll find some things i like.
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i love janie & jack and polo for babies just as much as the next former prep (miami of ohio grad here, folks) yet i can’t resist these adorable tees for annabelle lately: 

peek / threelittlenumbers / slyfox threads / quinn + fox / zara / coup

our whole little family has been sick this week (and last week, but who’s counting). we snuck out to the park on tuesday afternoon to let jason sleep. still a bit chilly, but great to be outside for a bit, especially now that this one is walking all over the place like a big kid (tear). 

between the illnesses, the amount of work i’ve been doing from home and the cold weather, we’ve had way too much tv time happening around here. i know it’s circumstantial and the elmo videos will stop as soon as it’s nice out again, but i’m totally beating myself up about it. how many times is too many times for a one year old to watch Frozen? (but seriously, i love that movie.) 

now… anyone have a cold remedy for a kiddo with a runny nose, cough and fever? 

my latest mini-style jam: peek kids 

if we buy spring clothes, spring has to come eventually… right? either way, annabelle will look cute when spring does decide to arrive. 

hoodie $38 / t-shirt $28 / jeans $35.99 on sale / jacket $58

thirteen (and a half) months and if i only knew what she was thinking… 

been a while, eh? 

  • we celebrated jason’s 32nd birthday this past weekend at parson’s. if you like fried chicken and fish and negroni cocktails slushies, this place is for you. it’s tiny but we waited and easily fit 10 people at one of their communal tables. we shut the place down and the service was great. 
  • the weekend prior we braved the cold with all you other fools to watch the hawks beat the pens at soldier field. i surprised jason with tickets for his birthday and subsequently won the best-wife-ever award, even though the weather was horrendous. but hey, made for a good story! afterward we went to the bar down the block and played quarters with the bartender. best date night we’ve had in a while. 
  • life with a one year old is different than life with a not-yet one year old. for instance, tantrums. yesterday she threw the fit of a lifetime because i moved a blanket that i mistakenly thought was in her way. she decided she hated that blanket so much that she threw herself on the ground face first and screamed and kicked and basically went postal. so cute. 
  • i’ve been meal planning, grocery shopping once a week and sticking to a $100/week grocery budget. i’ve also been using coupons! did you know the coupons they give you at the store are often for something that you bought that day? and will probably buy again? if you save that coupon and bring it back they will give you a discount. it’s a MIRACLE, i tell you. the other day i saved $35 off my bill so i bought more wine. another miracle. 
  • speaking of meal planning, this brown sugar balsamic glazed pork is one the best dishes i’ve made recently. 
  • work is kicking my ass lately. i typically work 1 full day and 2 half days a week, but lately that has turned into 1 full day, 2 half days and all other days where i try to work from home in my spare time while my child masters opening every door and cabinet without a lock. this is by far the busiest time of year for us and i do appreciate the extra cash, but i’m looking forward to part time being part time again. 
  • now here’s a picture of my sweet baby as a reward for making it to the bottom of this awfully wordy post: 

i used to be an avid reader. if the book was good, i’d finish it in two days max. things have changed… in 2013, i read 3 books total. sad. 

i’m going to attempt to finish both of these in the next month for my respective book clubs. 

have you read them? what did you think? 

Most people do not listen
with the intent
to understand;

they listen
with the intent
to reply.

Stephen Covey 

important distinction.

(via population-e)

girls weekend: success. 

truthful card for my valentine. our sixth! 

every year, my favorite ladies and i get together for an annual girls weekend. we choose a different city (typically chicago, nyc, boston or DC) and gather for a few days of food, wine and girl talk. 

last year we delayed the weekend which usually happens over presidents day because i had just given birth (no big deal) but we still made it happen during the summer. 

this year we’re back on track and that means girls weekend beings TOMORROW in new york city! this is our 7th annual - we haven’t missed a year yet. 

i feel equal parts excited-anxious. excited because, girls weekend obviously. but this is my first time overnight away from the munchkin. 

she’ll be fine, of course. she’ll be with her grandmas and her dad. maybe i’m the one who won’t be fine? the girls have promised to distract me with adult beverages and i am 100% on board with that plan. 

now if only the weather will cooperate… 

all the cliches are true, this year has truly flown by. like yesterday, i can still recall those intense emotions i felt while waiting for annabelle to arrive, then while holding her in my arms for the first time. 

as they say, the days are long but the years are short. the sleepless nights, the nap refusals, the inconsolable crying while jason and i looked at each other confused and helpless, i remember wishing that time to pass quickly so we could move on to the next stage. now, i find myself willing time to slow down. (like i said, the cliches of parenthood are real).

now, its rarely hard and mostly fun. the stages of infancy are behind us and annabelle’s personality is shining through. i want to remember this moment in time, exactly who my daughter is a year after she came into this world. 

annabelle dylan, at one year

…you love to dance, sing, make music and jam out.

…you say mama, dada, uh-uh-uh (for no), and uh-oh.

…you take a few cautious steps but quickly think better and resume your speedy crawl on hands and knees across the room. 

…you like to dive from one end of the bathtub to the other, screaming at the top of your lungs and splashing us as much as possible. 

…you save most of your kisses for Abby. she’s your favorite.

…you are defiant and strongwilled. you know exactly what you want and where you’re going, and beware to anyone who gets in your way. 

…your scrunch-faced smile will brighten anyone’s day, especially strangers. sometimes you’ll look right at someone and give them the biggest grin, as if you’re saying hello to an old friend. 

…you have started to prefer daddy over mommy when he’s home, which melts both of their hearts (and mommy doesn’t mind the break).

…you can EAT, anything and everything. we are regularly shocked at the size and variety of your meals. currently your favorites include peas, pizza and all kinds of berries. 

…with that being said, you now require a spoon at all times during your meal, and you’re even somewhat proficient at using it. kudos to that, little one!

…you are not shy and love to be the center of attention. if a crowd gathers, you’re happy to put on an impromptu performance (dancing, yelling and such).

…your eyes are gray and your hair is starting to curl. we can’t bear to cut it just yet. 

…you don’t enjoy being held too often, but love to snuggle with a bottle of milk at the end of the day. 

…you sleep with two loveys, a pink lamb and a giraffe. i should wash them more often but they smell so strongly of your little baby scent that i don’t. 

…your newest trick is pointing, one tiny finger showing us all the different discoveries you make throughout the day. 

…you have no idea how much we love you! to the moon and back, kiddo.

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Annabelle’s First Birthday Party: MUSIC! 

I’ve mentioned how much this kid loves music and dancing, and it is no joke. She will dance any and every time she hears music. Of course while brainstorming a theme for her first birthday, music was the obvious choice! 

As you can see, I went a little nuts with the DIY and decor. Actually with the whole thing. But it was fun! And since everyone asks, yes I would do it again. :) 

The details…

We had the party in the upstair’s party room in Jason’s grandfather’s highrise building. It’s a big open room that has a kitchen, so it’s perfect for large gatherings. It was from 12-3pm on a Sunday (between her naps) and we had just about 50 people.

Decor

I had Lauren Haddox Designs create a personalized party package of printables, which included an invitation, pennant banner, favor tags, napkin rings, water bottle wraps, menu cards, door signs and 2, 3, 5 and 8 inch circles. I printed them all on cardstock and cut them out. 

I took photos on the 6th of every month, so I made a monthly Photo Banner, similar to this

I followed this tutorial for the Tulle Pom Poms (hanging from the ceiling over the dessert table). 

The streamer wall is great for creating a big look on a low budget - just tape streamers near the ceiling, twist, then tape near the floor. Repeat.

For table centerpieces, I bought white flowers from the grocery store and put the printed circles on a craft stick. Voila - cheap and easy! 

The made the Chalkboard Birthday Sign just by looking at examples on pinterest. I bought a black foamcore board and a set of metallic markers. I used pencil to outline first! I love how it turned out. 

Food

My mom and I made all the food, excluding her fantastic cake. We served: 

  • Mini buffalo chicken sliders
  • Mini BBQ pulled pork sliders
  • Mac n’ Cheese
  • Rainbow Fruit Skewers
  • Kale & Cranberry salad
  • Tortellini Salad with Salami and Mozzarella
  • Veggies & Hummus
  • Cheese & Charcuterie

Our cake was made by our friend Natalie who own Sweet Fairy Desserts. It was a 2-tier orange almond pound cake alternated with chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting. We also served funfetti cookies, chocolate chip cookies and brownies. 

Since the party was from 12-3pm, we had some beer, an champagne punch and raspberry lemonade for the kids, as well as water and sodas. 

Small Details… 

We had about 8 or 9 kids there, so I made favors for the littles. They included a neon maraca, mini cymbal, swizzle stick rock candy, pop rocks and these star-shaped kids sunglasses. I also put out more maracas and adult sized sunglasses on all the tables. 

Because we had quite a few crawlers and toddlers attend, I brought a few blankets from home and some of Annabelle’s toys to create a play area for the kiddos. I’m so glad I did - it was great to have place to keep them entertained.

In lieu of gifts, we collected toys, instruments and art supplies to donate to Lurie Children’s Hospital. We collected so much! We are so grateful to our friends and family who contributed. 

Ok, full disclosure, it was a lot of work - but it was also a lot of fun! Our kiddo is never one to shy away from attention, so she loved having all her favorite people gather to celebrate her special day.