Dec 30, 2009
hoping your christmas was full of laughter & love…that you were surrrounded by friends & family & all the loveliest gifts that don’t cost a thing…and that your belly is as full as your heart…merry (belated) christmas…xoxo
Dec 23, 2009
Dec 21, 2009
Dec 18, 2009
I don't know if you're anything like me, but every year I'm racking my brain to come up with a creative gift for my coworkers and neighbors. Although, I plan to blog in the coming months about some of the other gifts I've given in past years, this year I made them Peanut Butter and Chocolate Biscotti (thanks Jess for the idea!). I found these great glass containers at Hobby Lobby (which I figured they could use again - rather than some sort of holiday tin) and made the biscotti to fit the containers.
See below for the recipe...
10 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick plus 2 tablespoons)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
3 large eggs
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup smooth natural peanut butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups dry roasted peanuts
1 1/4 cups chopped dark chocolate or chocolate chunks (about 6 ounces)
Position racks evenly in the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Melt the butter over medium heat, swirling the pan occasionally. Continue to cook until the butter browns and gets a nutty aroma, about 5 minutes. Let cool slightly.
Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl.
Beat the eggs in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until light and pale yellow, about 2 minutes. Gradually add the sugar while beating. Then slowly add the butter and vanilla until evenly mixed, about 30 seconds more. Add the peanut butter and mix until combined.
While mixing slowly, add the dry ingredients to the wet, in 2 additions, mixing just until absorbed. Fold in the peanuts and chocolate pieces.
Divide the dough evenly into thirds, and put each portion in the center of a baking sheet. Shape the dough with slightly wet hands into logs about 2-inches wide and 15 inches long. Bake until set and brown around the edges, about 25 to 30 minutes. (For even baking take care to rotate the pans-- top to bottom and front to back--about half way though.) Cool logs on the baking sheets for about 10 minutes.
Lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees F. Carefully transfer the logs to a cutting board. Cut logs crosswise, with a long serrated knife at about a 45 degree angle, into 1/2-inch thick cookies. Place cookies cut side down on the baking sheets. Bake until crisp, about 8 minutes. Flip the cookies over and bake until golden brown, about 8 minutes more. Cool biscotti on the baking sheets. Serve.
Recipe from foodnetwork.com
Dec 17, 2009
Dec 14, 2009
Dec 12, 2009
With the exception of naps throughout the day - there really isn't a quiet moment in our home anymore. Wonder where this chatty cathy got her vocal personality???!
Dec 10, 2009
Oh Dark Chocolate Covered Peppermint Joe Joe's - where have you been all of my life???!!!! My dear friend and mentor, Laurie gave me a package of these heavenly treats at the beginning of the holiday season. I've since gone through that gift package and traveled to Trader Joe's to pick up two more packages. :) These things are so delicious.
Imagine two Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies with peppermint frosting in the middle and then dipped in dark chocolate and topped with crushed peppermint candies. These little things are to die for. (and are part of the reason I have yet to shed all of my baby weight!)
If you are lucky enough to live in an area where there are Trader Joe's - do pick up a package of these. You won't be disappointed. And for all of my readers who aren't fortunate enough to have a TJ's nearby - I can always send you a package :) Or you can dream of them as you drift to sleep.... (sorry!!!!)
Dec 8, 2009
But yesterday the rain came...and came...and came. It was a cold, rainy and dreary day here. But you know what? Nora LOVED it!!! She had the most amazing day. It was as if she knew it was raining outside. Nora took extra long naps, fell asleep in the car (a first!!!), fell asleep in her swing and just seemed to have a much more relaxed demeanor. It was incredible. Despite a quick run to Target - we stayed in all day. Snuggled next to the fire and enjoyed Nora's first rainy day. So contrary to the song - our wish is that the rain WON'T go away :) (unforunately sunny skys are the forecast today)
Dec 6, 2009
Now with the Christmas tree up, stockings hung and cooler weather in the air, I can really say - It's beginning to look at a lot like Christmas!
Dec 4, 2009
Alright - I'll be the first to admit that at this age, Nora doesn't actually want much of anything. :) So maybe these things are still more Steph's Picks. Regardless, without further ado...
1. Baby Bjorn Organic Active Carrier - we are actually borrowing one of these right now from a friend and Nora loves it! We're thinking that if our next kids like it even a fraction as much as she does, we'll probably want our own in the future.
2. Coat/Sweatshirt - this one is specifically from BabyGap. Nora and I are scheduled to fly to Iowa in early January and we'll certainly need warm clothes!
3. BlaBla Baby Doll Celeste - Believe it or not, Nora doesn't have a doll yet. I just love these.
4. Crocheted Buckle Hat - I love hats on Nora. One of my favorite Etsy sellers is Two Seaside Babes. Check out her store for a wide selection of super cute hats.
6. Super Baby Foods - As I've said before, I'm planning on making our own baby food. I've heard this is an excellent resource.
Dec 2, 2009
We were fortunate enough to be able to get out of the Valley for a little retreat up north this past weekend. A handful of our small group was able to join us just outside of Payson. Although Nora was very sad all weekend (long days and longer nights) we still were able to enjoy ourselves. We played games, ate/cooked yummy food, read by the fire and took walks around Forest Lakes (many walks - Nora seemed to be the happiest when walking). It was such a blessing to get away from home and relax with dear friends.
Nov 26, 2009
So - I'll be honest. I've really only used my Beaba Babycook maker once (tonight to be exact); however, I've been in love with the idea of using it since I received it as a gift at one of my baby showers. Why is it so special? Well - it's steams and blends!!! (and it's pretty cute too!) I'll be sure to keep you updated on how things go with this new kitchen appliance.
So if you're in the market for what appears to be a great baby food maker - check out the Beaba Babycook. I know you can buy it at Williams and Sonoma and Buy Buy Baby (a baby store owned by Bed, Bath and Beyond so you can use those 20% off coupons).
However - if you're looking for a less expensive option, a friend of mine uses a Magic Bullet and loves it. Just an idea :)
Nov 24, 2009
I thought I'd post an updated family picture too - maybe not the best as Alan and I both look exhausted (which is expected) and Nora is looking off in the distance. Regardless - here's to imperfect people saved by grace and less than perfect pictures :)
Next up - pictures of Nora with the grandparents. Stay tuned :)
Nov 21, 2009
Take a sniff of this bottle next time you're in the fragrance aisle. You just might also fall in love with it! And if not, don't bother telling me b/c then I'd be afraid to wear it around you and it's my only perfume. :)
Nov 14, 2009
Nov 13, 2009
Refrigerated Pie Crust (or see below pie crust recipe)
6 cups thinly sliced cooking apples (2 pounds – Jonathan apples are the best)
1 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. all purpose flour
1 Tbsp. corn starch
1 tsp. cinnamon
Dash of ground nutmeg
1 Tbsp. butter
Combine ingredients. Put one crust in 9” pie tin and fill with ingredients. Adjust top crust and roll under bottom crust along edge. Flute edge. Cut slits in the top crust. Mist crust with water and sprinkle with sugar then mist again until sugar is wet.
Bake at 375 for 30 min. Reduce heat to 330 and bake until crust is golden brown.
¼ cup Crisco
¼ cup butter…softened slightly
1 ¼ cup flour
¼ tsp salt
¼ cup water
Blend flour and salt. Add Crisco and butter and blend with pastry blender until mixture feels velvety. Add water all at once and stir quickly with fork until it forms into a ball. Roll out on pastry cloth, using plenty of flour. Roll out only once.
Nov 6, 2009
I'm thinking it's about time for another Steph's Goodreads update. What do you think?
1. The Help - by Kathryn Stockett - I was encouraged to read this a couple months back but was still trying to figure out time to read with an infant. Boy am I glad I started this book - set during the civil rights movement in Jackson, Mississippi, this is an incredibly optimistic and uplifting novel.
Nov 5, 2009
For all of your photoshop-lovers - I found a great video tutorial on making the eyes "pop" in photos. Check it out at Becoming Mom's blog.
Nov 4, 2009
I have the greatest friends! Joy, one of our dear friends, watches Nora for us while we're both at work on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Although it's only for a few hours I can't image what her home is like with two little ones. Her daughter, Reagan, was born just 6 weeks after Nora. Can you imagine? Two under 4 months! Some might think she's crazy, but she tells me she actually likes the challenge (I'm still hoping that isn't just to make me feel better about leaving Nora with her). The other week she took some pictures of these two together with their bibs and has since been referring to them as "The Bib Club" ever since. Are they not just the cutest??!!! Some might be wondering why these two little ones are wearing bibs already :) Well - I can't speak for Reagan, but as I've mentioned in previous posts, Nora is a Master Drooler. We're hoping that means she's teething early??? We'll have to see. I'll keep you posted.
Oct 31, 2009
Oct 30, 2009
1 18.5-ounce box yellow cake mix (plus the ingredients called for in the package directions)
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
2 8-ounce bars cream cheese, at room temperature
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
24 pieces candy corn
Heat oven to 350° F. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners. Prepare the cake mix as directed but with the following change: Add the pumpkin pie spice and substitute the can of pumpkin puree for the water called for in the package directions.
Divide the batter among the prepared muffin tins and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean, 18 to 22 minutes. Let cool.
Meanwhile, using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar until creamy. Spread on the cupcakes and top each with a piece of candy corn.
For another great Fall Treat check out my Butterscotch Pumpkin Bundt Cake - it's incredible.
Oct 28, 2009
On another note (well kindof) - we've been wondering if we're supposed to dress up a nearly 4 month old infant for Halloween. I've been thinking no; however, now that I see these Hero BabyLegs I'm thinking a pair of these with a cute little super woman onesie might be worth it. We'll have to see...
Oct 23, 2009
Before Nora (BN), I had seen dozens of nursery pictures with cute little letters. Now I knew I wanted to do something with her name, but I had a hard time deciding what. Here's what I did....
Wood Letters (can be found at any craft supply store)
- Trace letters onto scrapbook paper and cut out (Note: be sure to cut paper a little smaller than traced letter so it adheres well to the letter)
- Brush a layer of Mod Podge on the back of the scrapbook paper and adhere to letter
- Brush a layer of Mod Podge on front of paper (after attaching it to the letter) to give it a nice glossy look
- That's it - super easy, huh?
** Note, you can also do this with many other things. I've Mod Podged paper to a cheap ($1) wooden frame at Michaels. Use your imagination.
Oct 16, 2009
As I've said multiple times, I'm always looking for inexpensive ways to redecorate our place. One of the Double-Duty things that I have done is use what are supposed to be door mats for wall decoration. The above photo is a perfect example. I found this rubber door mat in one of the clearance sections in Target for $3 and have used it in multiple places throughout our home. Right now it sits on our fireplace mantle. What I love most about it (not to mention that it was cheap) is that at first glance you don't even think that it looks like a door mat. Most friends have said they just assumed it was an art piece :)
Do any of you have other double duty decor ideas?
Oct 13, 2009
Oct 10, 2009
With Nora coming up on her three month birthday early next week, both Alan and I just can't believe how quickly the time has flown. Don't get me wrong - there have been very LONG days; however, as a whole the time has gone by so quickly. Although we don't have her stats for this month (those will come after her 4 month appointment) - I thought I'd highlight some of her happenings :)
Rolls from Back to Stomach
Recently found her tongue and loves to play with it
Drools a ton (hence the photo)
0-3 Month Clothes
Wears Size 1 Disposables (but mostly wears Bum Genius Cloth Diapers - one size fits all)
Still strongly dislikes her carseat
Smiles a lot
Loves to sit in the bumbo
Sleeps through the night (Yahoo!)
4 naps a day
Oct 8, 2009
Spinach Strawberry Salad
1 bag of romaine lettuce
1 bag of baby spinach
1 large container of sliced strawberries
1 1/2 cup (8-10 oz) toasted pecans
1 large package Monterey Jack Cheese
1/3 cup Raspberry Vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. Grey Poupon Mustard
1 tsp. Salt
1 1/2 Tbps. poppy seeds
1 cup olive oil
Whisk all dressing ingredients together except olive oil. Whisk olive oil in last and refrigerate.
Mix salad ingredients together and toss dressing in to taste.
**** On another note. Recently I've had a couple of readers/friends come "out of the woodwork" and tell me how much they enjoy our blog. Now here's the deal - I honestly think that I write these posts mostly for my own entertainment :) However, I realize there may actually be some people out there that enjoy the things I post about (even if you don't comment about it). So for those of you who regularly read The Flies Blend, I need your help! I'm curious what you like to read about..... recipes, crafts, Alan's Two Cents, Nora, product reviews, etc.???? So... I've created a poll on the sidebar (just to help me in coming up with more idea's). So vote now!
Oct 7, 2009
So here's a HUGE thank you for changing lots of diapers, cleaning up lots of drool (that's right - our sweet little daughter already drools like the best of them), singing lots of lullabys, swaddling Nora a dozen or so times, going on miles of walks and for simply loving on your granddaughter! Love you...
Oct 3, 2009
Cool crisp air.
Our first get away with Nora.
The Arrabelle Resort.
Scarves and Jackets.
A perfect retreat.
Try it in the fall - it's GORGEOUS!
Sep 25, 2009
Sep 24, 2009
Upon Nora's entrance into the world my entire life was flipped upside down in many ways. One of the major ways was the amount of sleep I was getting. Like many new mom's I was anxious to hear any advice about how I could get Nora to sleep through the night. One of the specific suggestions I took was to swaddle her from day 1. This worked great the first few weeks when she slept so much and so soundly. But the minute she got a mind of her own and started fighting with our swaddle jobs we knew we needed a better remedy. I tried a bunch of the swaddle's from Target and Babies "R" Us but none of them did the trick. She might sleep well one night but the next we'd awaken to her grunts and crys as she escaped the swaddle and was hitting herself in the head.
Enter Miracle Blanket. Some might remember when we ordered it. Call it a fluke or not - but the first day we used this thing our little princess slept from 10:00 pm (dream-feed) to 6:30 am. I couldn't believe it!! Alan awoke that morning and said (and I quote) "It really is a miracle!"
So here's to sleeping past 3 am and a $30 miracle!