Steph's Pick - Viva Towels

May 28, 2010

Alrighty ladies (and gents - if there are any of you even reading this blog) - my aunt introduced me to Viva Towels probably about 10 years ago now and I have yet to buy another brand of paper towels since. Really - they are THAT amazing!

Now I know what some of you are thinking..."Viva Towels are some of the most expensive paper towels!" And you're right. They certainly are not the cheapest. So it might be hard for some of you to want to spend more money on something you'll throw away after one use. But hear me out...

Why do I like them? Well, they are more cloth-like (aka super-duper soft), more durable and extremely convenient for everything from scrubbing the kitchen to washing your hands and face. And if I were to be totally honest, they are some of the only non-design paper towels I've found. You know me - I like simple clean-lines. Nothing crazy.

So that's it...this may not be the most exciting Steph's Pick in the world... but it makes my home just a little bit nicer to live in.

Looking for something a little more exciting than paper towels? Check out this video I posted on Scottsdale Moms Blog earlier this week.


Wine Country Getaway

May 26, 2010

A GETAWAY!!! Yes, yes, indeed! Just remembering our recent getaway makes me grin ear-to-ear.

The month of May has brought a lot to celebrate in our home. Our 27th Birthday's, Alan's graduation and our upcoming 5th anniversary were great reason to get out of AZ and leave Nora at home with Gma and Gpa T (thanks again!). Because we'd never been to Wine Country we thought that would be PERFECT!

Luckily my dear friend, Jess, and her hubby Nate live in The Bay Area so we were able to spend Day 1 with them along the coast. Aren't they soooo cute :)

And on Day 2 we were off to Napa. First Stop - Frog's Leap Winery - where we had a little of this...

and relaxed a bit on their FABULOUS patio...really it was soooo awesome...

We then proceeded to get lunch at Dean and Deluca's and rushed to Del Dotto for a Barrel Tasting Tour in their gorgeous caves (so fun!).

Day 3 - Sonoma - started out at the Fremont Diner. Ladies (and gents) - this is one of the cutest places I've ever been to. If you're planning a trip to Wine Country any time soon please stop here. You'll love it! It's right on the way from Napa to Sonoma but easy to miss - so keep your eyes peeled.

After our awesome breakfast we checked out a couple different wineries - two of which were Arrowood Vineyard and Chateau St. Jean.

We finished our last day with a few more wineries (yes - we know). One of which was the Benziger Winery which was suggested to us at another winery and said to be the best tour in Sonoma. That it was! The folks at Benziger were very informative. They are a Biodynamic Winery which pretty much means they are as green as wineries can get. They use no chemicals in the farming of their grapes and reuse pretty much everything. It's very interesting.

So that's it. Getting away really can do great things for the soul. So long Napa and Sonoma.... till next time.



May 24, 2010

Have you noticed someone's been missing (well - kind of) for the past two years? I have! Alan has been working full-time and going to school part-time and we can now say HE'S DONE!!! Alan graduated from the W.P Carey School of Business with his Masters in Business Administration. Woot woot!!!

Although I can't promise he'll be coming back to the blogging world anytime soon (although everyone seemed to like his Alan's Two Cents ;)) - he is planning on being home much more often. Nora and I are VERY happy about that.

Here's a few pics to document this big occasion...

Way to go Alan! We're so proud of you!


Steph's Pick -

May 21, 2010

By now ya'll know that I'm a photo-nut. Thankfully I have a cute little subject to photograph and with each passing day more things to capture. It's just so fun.

Because of this I'm always looking for new ways to use Nora's photos. You may remember this Steph's Pick on is an awesome option for my yearly photo books but I wanted a way to share some of our photos with family and friends. Enter LOVE IT!

Postcard Builder is my new found web-bestie. They print, address and mail. That's right - after submitting and approving my artwork I don't have anything else to do! It's perfect for a busy-mom. I've used them for a handful of projects including the three items below (Christmas Thank You's, Valentine's Day and Mothers Day) and have even used them to send out invitations.

Postcard Builder really is an awesome resource. Keep them in mind for any future mailings you may have!


my birthday in photos

May 19, 2010

Oh my!!! Wow! I've stepped away from the blogging world for more than a week (that's quite a long time for me). Sorry 'bout that. As you'll see, we've been very busy around our home. Between birthday celebrations, graduation celebrations (yipee!) and travels, we've been doing everything BUT spending time on the computer.

So first up - my 27th birthday celebration! My celebrating started early (well - Thurs night). My hubby sent me to an awesome Create Better Images Photography Workshop for my gift. How cool is that?! Here's a shot I took of a couple other ladies at the workshop. Thanks Kimberly and Jennifer for hosting such a great event!
And I awoke on my birthday to one of the best gifts of all...

Luckily this little doll and her momma met us for a much needed "cold one"... (see video HERE)

And despite my photography classes the night before I managed to take a very blurry picture of my parents with our little peanut at Wildflower Bread Company... (sorry mom)

It wouldn't be a birthday celebration without Happy Hour at Trader Vic's with a couple dear friends and family members...

While at Trader Vic's I had to get one of these (or maybe two:))...

To finish off an awesome birthday we stopped at Sprinkles for some scrumptious cupcakes....slurp...I could go for another one of those now....pretty please with a cherry on top...

That was my day. It was fantastic as all get out. I'm so thankful for the loved one's who made it so special. Till next year....


a mother's day recap

May 10, 2010

o all of my wonderful mommy readers, thank you for making being a mom so much more fun... Thank you for all of the advice, encouragement and virtual shoulders to cry on.

This Mother's Day was so special as it was my 1st Mother's Day as a Mom! Alan and Nora pampered me far more than they should have and made yesterday so special (and relaxing!). I felt so loved and honored all day long.

First on a more thoughtful note - throughout the day I was reminded of how great the task of being a mother is. I love how Sally Clarkson says it in her book, The Mission of Motherhood:

"The mission of motherhood is the same now as it always was: to nurture, protect, and instruct children, to create a home environment that enables them to develop a heart for God and His purposes, and to send them out into the world prepared to live both fully and meaningfully."

Thanks Nealy for this quote :)

And how about a few pictures to recap the day? First we headed to this place... LOVE it!

And spent an hour or so looking at this view :)

Then filling my tummy with this goodness (remember this post - we go here often)...

And finally my favorite little girl (and man) joined me at the pool...

{Love to Alan & Nora for making Mother's Day soooo special}


{happy mother's day}

May 8, 2010


Steph's Pick - Apple & Raspberry Crisp

May 7, 2010

If I HAD to choose a fruity dessert over a chocolate one - this would be what I'd choose! I saw this in Everyday Food Magazine (a great gift) and made it a couple weeks back for the first time. We LOVED it!!!

Unsalted butter, for baking dish
2 1/2 - 3 pounds sweet, firm apples, such as Gala or Braeburn, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch dice
12 ounces raspberries (frozen - no need to dethaw)
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon grated orange zest, plus 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice

6 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
2/3 cup all purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
2/3 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt

1.Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.
2.In a large bowl, combine apples, cranberries, sugar, flour, vanilla, and orange zest and juice.
3.In a large bowl, combine all crisp ingredients. Using an electric mixer, beat on low until coarse crumbs form.
4. Transfer to baking dish and sprinkle with topping.
5.Bake until topping is browned and juices are thick and bubbling around edges, 55 to 60 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes before serving.

steph's tip...
Small but Sweet. To make individual crisps, divide filling and topping among eight 8-ounch ramekins and reduce baking time to about 30 minutes.


happy easter - what?

May 5, 2010

Now I'd expect one to forgive me if this were baby #3 or #4.... but on baby #1???!!! Come on. Let's back up.

As those who've been reading AlanandSteph know, we were in San Antonio for Easter weekend. So needless to say, we didn't get Nora all dressed up for Easter (frankly - I didn't event think about it). Rather than going to church we were enjoying our small 1'x1' spaces on Southwest. But what kind of mom doesn't take Easter photos (even if a couple days late) of her first born in an Easter dress? THIS mom I guess.

So I finally got her dressed up earlier this week (thanks Gma and Gpa T for the cute dress) and took some photos. I figure in 5 years when I'm looking through her baby book I won't even remember that the pictures were taken a month later :) Yes - you read that right. I'm totally planning on putting these pictures under the Easter portion.

Here's to good intentions and pretty dresses...

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