Steph's Pick | Orzo Salad with Dried Fruit & Pecans

Jul 29, 2011

This past spring I was at a Ladies Luncheon at our church and was served this DELICIOUS salad. Thankfully I knew exactly who to ask (thanks Susan B!) to get the recipe.

We've made it multiple times since and just love it. It's the perfect side salad to so many Summer meals.... BBQ's, Wraps/Sandwiches, etc...

yum, Yum, YUM!!


Orzo Salad with Dried Fruit & Pecans

1 lb orzo

1 apple, chopped (leave skin on)

1 bunch scallions, chopped

1 cup toasted and chopped pecans

1/2 cup dried cranberries

3/4 cups chopped celery

8 oz goat cheese (or feta if you like stronger cheeses)

Pomegranate Dressing (see below recipe)

1. Cook Pasta according to the directions on the box. Don't overcook. Spread it out on a cookie sheet and let it cool down.

2. In a large bowl mix the orzo with the other ingredients along with a fair amount of dressing. Toss the salad and taste for salt and pepper.

Pomegranate Vinaigrette

1/4 cup pomegranate syrup or molasses

2 Tbs red wine vinegar

1 Tbs Dijon Mustard

1-2 Tbs honey

Salt and pepper

3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Whisk together everything but olive oil. Slowly add in olive oil until emulsified.

**Local Peeps: Aj's has Pomegranate syrup. The Whole Foods by Walmart in Scottsdale has the pomegranate molasses (the one on Mayo Blvd doesn't).


Steph's Pick | a Milk & Cookies Birthday Party

Jul 22, 2011

Did you hear that our little Nora turned TWO last week?!! So crazy to think that it was 2 years ago that we welcomed Nora Marie into the world. Which of course called for a party! ;)

As you know...parties are my thing. I honestly love planning any kind of party. So naturally I couldn't help planning a super fun party for friends and family to celebrate Nora's 2nd Birthday.

Here's a quick recap of the party:

The Theme :: Milk & Cookies!

Food :: Milk & Cookies of course. We had 7 different kinds of cookies. Some homemade and others were store bought. We also had 3 different kinds of milk - Skim, 2% and Chocolate Milk for the kiddo's (and kids at heart).

Guest List :: Lots of little friends (and their parents).

Activities :: Eating yummy sweets and playing in the baby pool and sprinklers in the backyard - two of Nora's most favorite activities.

The Attire :: Matching sister outfits from Nana of course ;)

Thanks Kevin, Joy, Reagan and Elliot for hosting Nora's Party for us! We're so thankful for such great friends who are willing to open their home for such an occasion.

And of course a HUGE thank you to everyone who attended!


elsie :: two months

Jul 20, 2011

We took lil' Elsie in for her 2 month checkup today and here are her stats :)

Weight: 10 lbs, 1 oz (25%)
Height: 23 in (75%)

Don't you just want to eat her all up?!! She's just the sweetest little baby and we're so thankful to have her as a part of our family.


our little flower girl

Jul 18, 2011

Some of you may remember back in January when I was petitioning your help with a "How to Prepare my 2 year old to be a Flower Girl" Mommy SOS post. Thanks for all of your help - I loved all of your comments and suggestions.

Now I wish I could say that we were uber-prepared and started working with Nora in January but we didn't. If we were totally honest - we started a week before Lexa's Wedding(if that). Mostly our practice/preparation included a green tin bucket with some fake petals in it. We tried our best to encourage Nora to walk from one end of our living room to the other while dropping flowers in between. RIGHT!! She's 2 people. :) She was just going to do whatever her little heart desired.

On Friday we headed to the Royal Palms for the rehearsal. Just thinking about Friday makes me smile and get all worked up at the same time. Without going into too much detail let's just say Nora spent the entire hour of the rehearsal running laps around the wedding ceremony room. When it was time for her to practice walking down the aisle Alan would simply "unleash" (not really - but you get the point) her and we'd pray that she'd head in the right direction. Both times she practiced she never walked or even ran down the aisle. We were in BIG trouble!

Saturday was the wedding. Upon arrival we had the task of getting Nora into her dress. Let me tell you - that was a chore... to say the least. Most little girls LOVE dressing up and acting like a princess. Not Nora. After finally getting the dress on her she spent the next 30+ minutes trying to rip it off. She did successfully destroy the beautiful peony (Nora = +1) that was on the front of her dress but thankfully after an hour passed she actually forgot about the dress and stopped yanking on it. Mom and Dad = +1.

The shoes were another story. There is no convincing our sweet little Nora that she is going to wear anything but her Havaiana flip flops. We decided the dress was a battle we were going to pick but the shoes... not so much. Nora = +1.

After finally getting Nora ready, it was time for the ceremony to start. We both said a little prayer that Nora would at least show her face in the room. Thankfully Nora actually did better than we ever could have imagined. She walked down the aisle, holding the basket, smiled and shouted "Flowers" at the end of the aisle. She did AWESOME! And of course everyone thought she was sooo cute. Mom and Dad = +1.

Here's a picture of Nora and the beautiful bride, Lexa.
And of course the flower girl with her mama.

So all in all it was a great night. Both girls made it until nearly 10 pm (yes - I know - that's a pretty late night for a 2 year old) and we were so happy to be able to celebrate with Lexa & Andre.

Congrats to the new Mr. and Mrs. Andre Cotan!!!


Steph's Pick | A Birthday Blessings Book

Jul 15, 2011

In the spirit of extending birthday celebrations as long as possible (which I'm a strong advocate of doing) I wanted to highlight one of the things I started last year that I just LOVE.

A Birthday Blessing Book.

Last year as we were approaching Nora's birthday I was thinking a lot about how important it is as a parent to give our children our blessing. I was reading The Blessing by Gary Smalley and John Trent and was really encouraged to find practical ways that I could give Nora the gift of our blessing.

Although there are plenty of ways to do this, one of the things I decided to do was start a Birthday Blessing Book - Nora's Birthday Blessings (shown above and below).

It's simply a small notebook that I keep in a safe place throughout the year. On Nora's birthday every year I pull out this little book and write a prayer of blessing as a way to document our prayers for sweet little Ms. Nora.

I specifically chose a bible verse that I use to pray over her throughout the year. A yearly theme verse. (If you're looking for a quick and easy reference for how to pray for your children check out FamilyLife's Lifting My Children Through Prayer Card)

Nora's theme verse for this next year is:
"Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord."
- Romans 12:11

I thought this was a perfect verse for Nora as this past year has been a year of ZEAL! (To read a little more about this check out my recent post on Scottsdale Moms Blog - Rejoicing in your Spirited Toddler). Now our prayer is that this spirit/zeal would turn into true spiritual fervor that would show itself in GREAT service to the Lord.

Although we pray for our kids on a daily basis (well - let's be honest - we WANT to pray for our kids on a daily basis but we're not perfect), I thought a Birthday Blessings Book would be a great way to document some of those specific prayers.

Note: I have no idea when I'll end up giving these books to our children - more than likely it won't be for a number of years. Because you never really stop giving your children your blessing - even when they are grown and have their own families.


happy {2nd} birthday nora!

Jul 13, 2011

It honestly seems like July 13, 2009 was just the other day. Now two years later, we stop to thank God for the sweet gift He has given us in Ms. Nora Marie.

Although her birthday party is scheduled for this coming Sunday (party details to come next week - promise!) we wanted to give a little bloggy love to our sweet little Nora on her actual birthday.

Here's what our day looked like....

We got up nice and early for her 2 year Dr. well check appointment. I know, I know... what kind of mom schedules a Dr. appointment on her birthday??! I won't do it again as I'm pretty sure Nora knew what was coming as this is what she looked like all morning prior to the appointment.

No smiles for the camera from this 2 year old!

Next we got a chance to spend some time with Reagan, Joy and Elliot. Playdates with the Cherrick's are a weekly to-do as the girls just love spending time together (and well, the mama's need some social time too).

After naps we took Nora (and Elsie) to Yogurtology. You may remember how much she loved her first visit to this frozen yogurt shop. You can see pics of that trip here.

Well things haven't changed much as it was nearly impossible to get a picture that didn't involve a wide open mouth and spoon. Case in point...

And lastly, Nora was lucky to have lots of gifts to open up today from various friends and family.

One of the specific gifts was a perfect close to our ice-cream filled day.

Have I ever told you how much I LOVE Melissa and Doug toys? They truly are our favorite toys and the ice cream set Nora received from her Aunt Sara, Uncle Kyle, Aunt Abby and Uncle Nick (oh and her cousins too) was just perfect for Ms. Sweet Tooth herself.

Nora Marie - you truly are a joy to know and love. We're so thankful for your spunk and spirit. You've flipped our lives inside out and all about BUT we wouldn't want it any other way.

We love all that you are and everything that you will be! Blessings to you on this day.

Happy 2nd Birthday!

love - mommy & daddy


A Co-Ed Baby Shower for Greg & Amy

Jul 11, 2011

I love planning/hosting parties. You all know that. And there is nothing better than being able to celebrate the upcoming arrival of a baby with a baby shower for our dear friends, Greg & Amy B.

The minute we found out Greg & Amy were expecting their very first bundle of joy (a boy!) I knew we had to plan an awesome party. So that's exactly what we did!

Amy requested a Co-Ed Baby Shower - which I thought was PERFECT! Laura and I immeditaly went to work on planning all of the details for the shower. Food, decor, invitations... there were all sorts of things that needed to be decided.

So here's what we came up with...

The Theme: We decided on a teal and orange "theme". Mostly because we thought it was fun, co-ed appropriate and boy-ish (for the soon-to-come little boy).

Here are a few pics showing the decorations and yummy drinks. Not to worry guys... there were plenty of non teal or orange beer too. ;)

Sidenote - Have you had these flavored San Pallegrino's? They are delicious! Especially the orange. I actually got a 24 pack at Costco although I've seen them at the grocery store in 6 packs as well. I'd totally recommend them.

Ok...random thought up...

The Food: The best part (in my opinion) - we decided that we'd do a "Make-Your-Own-Pizza" Night. We call Greg the "Pizza-Master" because it is sooo good at making pizza's (that's what previously working at Domino's will do for you). I wish we had more pictures but this was sooo fun. So many fun toppings were available for each attendee to use when making his/her own pizza.

For those with the grocery store Basha's at your disposal, we've found that we LOVE their pizza dough. Just walk right on up to the pizza counter and ask for a dough ball. At roughly $2 they are an awesome way to make yummy pizza in your own home.

And of course we couldn't not take a group picture (minus Alan, Ms Elsie and I - insert sad face)...

Greg & Amy - we couldn't be happier for you two! You will be such incredible parents. Can't wait to meet the little guy here in the next month.


Steph's Pick | The Flag Page {Adult & Kid Versions}

Jul 9, 2011

I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm a total sucker for personality assessments. What's not to love about finding out more about YOU?!

I can remember very specifically the first personality assessment I ever took - The Myers-Briggs (in high school - junior year maybe?). I remember after determining I was an ENFJ - extrovert, intuitive, feeling, judgement - I couldn't help but be thrilled to have some way to better define me.

I realize it's a little narcissistic. But in all honesty, even though you may think you know how you operate - inside and out - there's always something new that can be discovered by taking one of the many personality assessments that are out there.

And these assessments have done wonders for our marriage. For those of you who know Alan and I - we couldn't be more different. We're polar opposites in so many ways - which is only a HUGE blessing. I wouldn't want to marry anyone else. Which is why assessments are so helpful in helping us better understand one another.

One of the specific tests we've taken that we've found to be very helpful is The Flag Page. It's super easy, short and the results are almost scary (in a good way). I remember after printing off my Flag Page and reading through the 6 pages that described my motivations, my talents and my soft/hard tendencies I couldn't believe how accurate it was.

Since taking it we've had several of our friends who have also taken it (and loved it). It's an easy (and cheap) way to help encourage your family relationships and friendships.

And there's more (I realize I totally sound like an info-mercial ... not my intention...sorry)...
The Flag Page isn't only for you but is now available for your kids. So fun, huh?!

The Kids Flag Page is an interactive game for parents to do with their kids. Suggested for kids ages 4-15, it's a must have for all parents.

I personally cannot wait to do this with my girls once they get old enough. I think it will give such great insight into their how their little minds operate. :)

Plus I really believe in the ministry behind The Kids Flag Page. Sending some linky love to the Family Matters team.

Here's to learning more about you and your kiddo's.


a Baby & Bellini's Party

Jul 6, 2011

If you've been reading our blog for awhile it's probably obvious to you that we have a group of friends that LOVE to throw a good party. And we're at the stage of life when at least one of our closest friends is pregnant so we're always planning a baby celebration of some sort.

Well I was one of the first to be pregnant with a 2nd baby. A traditional baby shower wasn't necessary. Instead four of my dearest friends (thanks Laurie, Denise, Michelle & Brittany) decided to host a "Sip & See" of sorts. Only they didn't like the name "Sip & See" so they called it "Baby & Bellini's" (which I LOVED - so creative).

This was such a perfect way to celebrate Elsie's birth. Sweet company, delicious food and yummy drinks... oh, and a precious baby too ;)

I apologize in advance... I didn't take any photos (boo for me)... but here is what I do have...

The Evite...

The uber-cute Welcome Sign (made by Britt of course)...
And two of the pics I actually took of people :)

Thanks to all of the ladies who came to help celebrate little Elsie!!!


flies girls update

Jul 2, 2011

Seeings how it's been 2 months since the last Flies Girls Update I figured it was about time to give you a little peak into the lives of our two little peanuts.

Let's start with Ms. Nora...
  • Nora is approaching her 2nd Birthday! It seems like just the other day we were planning her 1st Birthday party. CRAZY?!
  • busy, Busy, BUSY!! This girl is busy. People say - well that's how 2 year olds are. Well - maybe. But you haven't met Ms. Nora. She takes the word "busy" to a whole new level. She'll run laps around any 2 year old (boy or girl) any day. I often tell people I feel like I have a 4 year old boy on my hands.
  • So busy is she that it earned her a trip to the ER this week (boo). Nora was playing so hard (and drinking so little) that she came down with a case of heat exhaustion and dehydration. Needless to say it was a bit scary for everyone involved but after getting some fluids in her via IV she felt much better. **Note: I will certainly be posting about this experience and the heat exhaustion/dehydration signs to look for in your children so stay tuned.
  • She still loves her friends Reagan. Yes... if you've missed it in other posts...Nora has two besties named Reagan.
  • Nora made her first appearance on live television this week. Check out SMB's ABC15 Interview by clicking here.
  • Nora loves her baby sister. So much so that she is always the first one to hear her cry after waking up for a nap. She'll run 100 miles an hour to wherever I'm at and let me know by saying "Baby sad!" Who needs a monitor when you have Nora?! ;)
  • Nora's new favorite activity: Flash cards. Yes... you read that right. This girl loves her flash cards. And some of you moms may be feeling all bad that you haven't thought to buy your children flash cards. Well let me ease your mama anxiety a bit. I honestly bought these solely to help distract Nora when I'm feeding Elsie - and it's worked like a charm! Some kids might be cool with coloring or reading for 30 minutes. My busy bee just doesn't want to sit still for longer than 1 minute. So flash cards to the rescue!!! I consider the purchasing of these to be one of my finer mommy-moments.
And how about Ms. Elsie...

  • 6 weeks old!!! I'm as stunned as you are. :)
  • Still having some tummy issues but we're on the road to recovery. I've been eating dairy-free for a couple weeks now and it has seemed to help a ton. She's also taking a probiotic so we're hoping that helps too.
  • Elsie rolls over all of the time. I thought it was a fluke the first time I laid her on her tummy and found her on her back. Nope! She pretty much performs this little stunt every time now. This girl is crazy.
  • She's sleeping pretty well at night. Usually goes one 5-6 hour stint and then the rest are always around 3 hours.
  • Starting to "coo" and smile more which of course makes this mama's heart melt.
And that's all for now! We're awaiting the arrival of Uncle Erik & Aunt Amy this morning from Iowa - it's sure to be a wonderful weekend! We can't wait!

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