Steph's Pick | Gymboree Bubbles

Jun 29, 2011

Did you know that Gymboree has the most amazingly super bubbles?!

I had no idea... until recently!

When compared to regular market bubbles, they burst every other competitor's bubble. While regular bubbles quickly fall to the ground and pop upon immediate contact with anything, Gymboree bubbles magically float suspended in the air.

Case in point - we live on the second floor of a condo complex. We blow bubbles out on our patio (yes - even in the 110+ degree heat). Since getting the Gymboree Bubble Ooodles there have been numerous times that after 10+ minutes of blowing bubbles we hear one of our neighbors yell out something to the effects of "It's a Bubble Wonderland out here!" The bubbles just don't pop. No joke. It's amazing.

They are a perfect summer activity for your own kiddo's and a perfect gift idea for any kids in your life. At $5/set they might be a little more expensive than the average bubbles BUT they are still affordable and oh so much better.


elsie's announcement

Jun 28, 2011

Photos: Kimberly Bee
Design: Me!


How to "Host" a Baby Shower by Mail

Jun 26, 2011

One of life's happiest occasions is a baby shower! But what if she lives in ________ (and you don't)? You can still celebrate by instilling the spirit of a shower into a thoughtful care package -- a shower (by mail).

This is exactly what I just finished planning for my dear friend Jess. And let me tell you - it was soooo much fun!

You see Jess and her hubby, Nate, live in California (aka: too far away from me if you ask me). So when I first heard they were expecting a baby in August my wheels started turning about how I could host a shower for Jess. You know how much I love throwing a shower?

But reality sank in fast ...I had forgotten (oops!)...I was also expecting a baby BEFORE Jess. There was just no way I would be able to make the trip to CA to host an in-person shower for her. Grr... I was totally bummed. But Dr. Google pulled through again. I started researching baby-shower-at-a-distance ideas and decided on a Baby Shower by Mail!

Let me tell you ladies... it was perfect! The ladies who participated loved it. I loved it. And most importantly Jess loved it.

So for those of you interested in knowing how to host a Baby Shower by Mail - here's my step by step guide to doing just that!


How to "Host" a Baby Shower by Mail

1) Start a Facebook Event.
Isn't Facebook wonderful?! When planning this event I knew there was no way I wanted to manage it all via email - so a Facebook event it was. Here are the things to include in the "More Info" portion of the event:

- Note if it's a surprise or not.

- Date that gifts need to be mailed to you by.

- Mailing address for gifts.

- Wrapping specifics. (I'll discuss this more below)

- Note for guests to keep in mind that all gifts will be mailed together so it's important they buy smaller gifts (if at all possible).

- Registry info.

- Invite guests to invite additional guests who might also be interested in participating. Hey - no one is FB friends with everyone, right?!

- Ask guests to RSVP via the FB Event so you know who to expect gifts from.

2) Collect Gifts.
As gifts came in I kept all of them in one place and was sure to make a note of who sent what. That way it wasn't too overwhelming when it came time to put everything together.

3) Receipt Envelope -
I wanted to be sure Jess had all of her gift receipts in one place so as the gifts came in I started a receipt envelope which I included in the Baby Shower package that was sent to Jess.

4) Wrap and Package up Gifts.
I decided I wanted the package to look uniform (and cute of course) so I asked all of the "attendees" to not worry about wrapping the gifts as I would wrap them all once they arrived. I chose a couple different colors of wrapping paper and spent an evening (or two) wrapping all of the gifts that came in. I then packaged them in a large box and prepared the box for shipping.

5) Include a few fun/random items.
I decided it wasn't a shower w/o some sort of sweet baked good. Now shipping a cake or cake pops is nearly impossible so I wrapped up a cake mix and frosting. Include your own fun random items in your shipment. The expecting mother will really appreciate the extra touches.

6) Ship it.


And that's it!! It's easy-peasy and a great way to really bless the expecting parents.

Thanks so much to all of you ladies who participated in Jess's shower - she LOVED it.

And this post just wouldn't be complete without a picture of the guest of honor after receiving her Surprise shipment :)


Steph's Pick | Mr. Clean Magic Erasers

Jun 24, 2011

If you've yet to hear (and try) Mr. Clean's Magic Erasers I honestly feel sorry for you. Here are two reasons...

The first reason... I'm sorry I haven't highlighted them on our blog yet. I honestly was STUNNED when I went back through our "Steph's Pick" archives and didn't find these fabulous cleaning gems. To think that I could have helped your cleaning efforts all of these years and didn't.... ugh... it gives me a knot in my stomach (wink, wink).

And the second reason...I guess I just figure everyone has heard about them. So if you haven't - then you really have been missing out. I'll just assume your hubby is the only one who does the cleaning (oh wouldn't that be nice).

So why are they so great? These little erasers really are MAGIC. No marketing ploy here.

Case in point. We just bought Nora a new little table for all of her coloring efforts. Although we color with Crayola Color Wonder Markers a majority of the time, a crayon still comes out a time or two.

Yesterday for example. I was busy doing something (probably feeding Elsie). I knew Nora was up to no good when I hadn't heard from her in 5+ minutes. My suspicions were correct when I came into her room to find her white (yes - we bought a white coloring table - it looks so much better from a design perspective) coloring table covered in Nora's version of Van Gough's "Night" painting. After my miniature mom panic I thought I'd give my little Mr. Clean Eraser a try... just to see if it would display it's magical abilities once again in or home. Well - sure enough. With little to no elbow grease I cleaned up Nora's table in 10 seconds flat and felt so good I gave myself a little pat on the back. For what? For remembering the secret power of the Magic Eraser of course! :)

And these Magic Erasers aren't just for cleaning up coloring tables, but for virtually anything you can think to clean.... tables, chairs, walls, doors, sinks, shoes. You name it. It's really pretty amazing. I have no idea how they do it... but they did... and I'm thankful!

You're welcome ;)


Nana meets Elsie

Jun 21, 2011

If you spent a full day with Nora recently it's safe to assume that you'd hear the following words spoken a number of times: Mommy, Daddy, Barney, Reagan, Caillou, Nana, Bubbles, Papa and Ma.

Nora never ceases to amaze me with how many times she can say one word over and over (and over) again.

Today her word of choice is Nana.

You see, Nana spent the past week with us. Nora and her spent countless hours reading books, coloring and playing all sorts of fun games. (Aka Nana helped Mommy soooo much)
And of course she helped snuggle lil' Elsie too.

Nora was SUPER lucky one afternoon when Nana suggested it was time Nora try Yogurtology for the very first time. And boy did she LOVE it :) We honestly couldn't get a picture that didn't look exactly like this (hence the family pic in this post- hehe).

Here's a little glimpse into how much she enjoyed her time:

And a family pic at Yogurtology of course.

Thanks Nana for all of the extra lovin' you gave to our girls (and us) this past week! I'm honestly wondering what we'll do without you.


Elsie | One Month

Jun 19, 2011

Our sweet Elsie turned ONE MONTH old today! Can you believe it?! We certainly can't!

It really is amazing how fast time has flown. Between all of the extra kisses we're giving and hours of lost sleep, I feel like we've stepped into a time machine and can't seem to slow down these precious days with our girls.

Before calling it a night, here are a few of my One Month thoughts:

- Elsie's stats are as follows: 8 pounds, 8 ounces. 21.5 inches.
- She LOVES her Miracle Blanket. So much so that we're going to go out and buy a second one simply b/c I don't have enough time to wash the one she has.
- She dislikes her car seat (major bummer). Not sure why I have two girlies who strongly dislike their car seat. I'm starting to think it's God's sly way of teaching me patience. :)
- Nora is adjusting as well as a 2 year old can adjust to being de-throned by a little 7 lb baby. Although she is still our little princess, the adjustment to sharing our attention has been hard on Nora. Thankfully each day it gets easier and easier.
- Elsie spends a large portion of her days in the Baby Bjorn or Moby Wrap. It's just the only way this mama can be hands free with a highly energetic toddler.
- Elsie's tummy is a sad situation. i.e. she's pretty gassy and constipated. Needless to say I'm learning how to eat dairy-free and we're praying it helps with her digestive system. Thanks Jordan for all of the great tips.
- For those interested in comparing our two little girls: Click HERE for Nora's One Month info.
- Interested in how we chose the name Elsie? We'll save that for another post ;)

Love you Elsie Grace! We're so thankful for you.


Steph's Pick | Crayola Color Wonder

Jun 17, 2011

Please allow me to introduce you to my new BFF...for serious!

The Flies Blend Reader - Meet Crayola Color Wonder.
Crayola Color Wonder - Meet The Flies Blend Reader.

You see Nora has become very interested in coloring over the past couple months. Great - I know. I'm sure it's a developmental milestone of some sort. But there's a problem with this new found hobby - It can be MESSY. Although I'm learning to be ok with the mess that Nora makes (thanks to Darcy K's encouragement in this recent FM Blog post), I certainly am not going to shun a mess-free toy. :)

Insert Crayola Color Wonder. Thank you to the working mom who is employed by Crayola and suggested the Color Wonder Markers and Coloring Pads (that has to be how this came about, right?). Nora loves to color with them and watch them magically appear and I LOVE them even more b/c they only appear on Color Wonder Coloring Pads (that means not on skin, furniture, TVs or most importantly- walls).

At first I was less than eager to try them out just thinking they were a marketing ploy as they are more expensive then your average coloring book and crayons BUT take it from this mom - they are well worth it!

If you have young children I would totally suggest that you try Crayola Color Wonder markers and coloring pads! Your house will thank me... I have no doubt.


our little gymnast

Jun 15, 2011

I thought a Nora video was long overdue.

Here's her new favorite activity...doesn't she run like she's going to mount a gymnastic vault?! :)


Steph's Pick | My Goodreads

Jun 10, 2011

Where has time gone? I can't believe the last time I did a "Steph's Goodreads" post was back in November of 2009?!!! For those interested, click here to read that post.

So a year and a half later I'm back with another edition...

1. Her Mother's Hope & Her Daughter's Dream by Francine Rivers. When I found out one of my very favorite authors recently released a two part series I immediately requested it at our local library. I couldn't wait to get my hands on it. Thankfully the books didn't disappoint (as very few books of Francine's do) and I would HIGHLY recommend you read them as well. So good.

2. Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay. I actually picked this up at Target before heading to Iowa for my G-Gma's 100th birthday party. I'm generally not a person to buy books that haven't been personally recommended by a friend or family member. Well - Sarah's Key was an exception. And I'm soooo thankful I picked it up. This is a historical novel (which I always love) that brings to light a disturbing hidden aspect of French behavior towards the Jews during WW II.

3. Still Alice. by Lisa Genova. I loved everything about this fiction novel about a Harvard Professor that is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's at age 50. Genova is also a Neuroscientist and so she writes from years of experience to paint a very realistic picture of what an early onset Alzheimer's patient might go through personally and relationally. I'm also currently reading her most recent book Left Neglected and am also really enjoying it.

4. The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan. "The Middle Place", as Corrigan describes it, is that unique time in your life where you still heavily rely on your parents admonishment and direction BUT you also have a family of your own who obviously looks to you for those things as well. This book is an excellent novel about the special bond between a father and daughter.

5. The Athena Project by Brad Thor. For those of you who know my reading preferences, this suggestion won't seem odd. But those of you who don't - I'm a quirky reader. I obviously love me some standard "chic-flick" type books but I also love to pick up the occasional espionage/thrilled book. The Athena Project is just that! But what I loved the most about this espionage story is that the "hero's" are a group of undercover WOMEN operatives. LOVED it!

And that's it!! Happy Summer Reading!


Ma and Papa in AZ

Jun 5, 2011

After a week of doing this two kid thing on our own, it was time to call in the reinforcements :) AKA: have the grandparents come into town to help around the house and assist with the girls. I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm always up for an extra helping hand. And two sets of hands are even better!

"Ma" and "Papa" (names selected by Nora herself) flew in from Iowa last Monday and will be leaving in the morning (tear). Their help has been soooo wonderful. It's honestly hard to describe in words how valuable their time here as been to both Alan and me.

Maybe Nora can help give you an idea of how thrilled we were to have their help this week. I think this pic illustrates our thoughts perfectly :)

We spent the week getting out (as much a possible) and resting. Lots of resting. I figure I won't be doing much of that starting tomorrow so I wanted to be sure to take advantage of the extra hands while I had the opportunity.

Here's Ma lovin' up on Elsie-belsie :)

And despite Elsie's funny face in this picture, the girls really do love their Papa.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you Ma and Papa. You are such a blessing to us! We could never thank you enough for all of the kindness you've bestowed upon our little family this week.

Now I'm on my own! Ugh....wish me luck...I'll need it.


Steph's Pick | Ebelskivers

Jun 3, 2011

Photo Credit: Jordan Reasy

Yes, yes, yes... I fully realize that this is the first Steph's Pick since May 6th!! I know... I'm just as surprised. But what can I say? The reason(s)...more than likely a lack of ideas and this new little baby we are lovin' on now :)

Now to Steph's Pick -

By now most of you probably know that I'm in a Cooking Club. It's pretty much one of my most favorite things of this year.

Well this past week we met for our May meeting with a theme of "Favorite Brunch Recipe." I for one and am a HUGE lover of brunch. So much so that even though the meeting landed just 5 days after Elsie's birth I couldn't help but go! And I'm so happy I did because I there were some delicious recipes shared.

One of the recipes was for Ebelskivers - a Danish Pancake. Aka: the most delicious thing on the planet!

I'd never actually heard of Ebelskivers but when I saw Jordan bringing them in last Wednesday I knew I was in love. And you will love them too...promise.

Here's her recipe:

2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 eggs, separated
between 1.75 and 1.85 cups buttermilk
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted (plus extra for cooking)

1. Heat the Ebelskiver pan on med heat.
2. In a large bowl whisk the dry ingredients together. In a separate bowl whisk together the egg yolks, buttermilk and melted butter. In a third bowl beat the egg whites until they hold a 2 inch peak (do not over beat the whites).
3. Add the buttermilk mixture to the dry ingredients in a slow, steady stream while gently mixing with a rubber spatula (you should still have large patches of dry ingredients by the time you've finished mixing). Then fold in the egg whites very gently.
4. Place a small amount of butter into each of the pans hollows. Using a spoon, fill each hollow almost to the top with batter. If you're adding a filling, add it on top of each hollow filled with batter and add a little more batter to cover it.
5. When the edges are slightly dry and you see bubbles, use two wooden skewers to turn each Ebelskiver over to finish cooking. Remove Ebelskivers from the pan once they are set or a toothpick comes out clean. Roll in cinnamon & sugar. (See for other suggestions for filling & serving)


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