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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tasty Thursday: Walnut Jam Birds' Nests

Forget about your chocolate chip cookies, kids. This has to be my all time favorite cookie recipe! They're called Birds' Nests, but aren't the kind with coconut and all that. Nice and simple ingredients topped with delicious raspberry jam. Mmmm

Make these and be happy.

2 c. sifted all purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. butter, softened
1/2 c. brown sugar, firmly packed
2 egg yolks
1 tsp. vanilla
2 egg whites, slightly beaten
2 c. finely chopped walnuts
raspberry jam

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Sift flower and salt together. Beat butter, sugar, egg yolks, and vanilla in a bowl until light and fluffy. Work in sifted ingredients and mix until smooth. Pinch off small pieces of dough and roll gently between the palms of your hands to form balls approximately 1" in diameter. Dip balls in egg white and then into chopped nuts. Place about 2" apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Flatten cookies slightly with the palm of your hand and make an indentation in each center with your thumb. Bake 12 - 15 minutes, until golden brown. As they are cooling, push down any indented centers that flattened out during baking. When cool, fill indents with raspberry jam.

Makes about 3 1/2 dozen.

Check out more yummy recipe ideas and more over at The How To Mommy's Tasty Thursday recipe swap blog hop!    ---------->

Wordy Wednesday: C is a Little Tea Pot

It may be the opposite of Wordless Wednesday, but its too funny not to share.

I've been teaching C "I'm a Little Tea Pot" because it has easy hand motions and its short - one year old attention span short. He's still working on the hand movements, but has pretty much mastered his favorite part - diving face first into the couch. Such a boy.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

So Long Thanksgiving, Hello Christmas!

I've said it before and I'll say it again. Christmas time is one of my very favorite times of the year. I love the decorations, family, friends, wrapping and giving presents, and even the indescribable way Christmas smells. My favorite part is the traditions. My family never had a lot of traditions growing up, but when it came to Christmas there were plenty.

The best tradition? One day in very early December, we'd go to school and when we came home the entire house was decorated. Fake snow and ornaments on the front windows, tree up, Christmas pillows on the couch, and even a Santa Claus shower curtain in the bathroom. It was like magic! We'd decorate the tree all together that night and, much to our dismay, my Dad would make us kids sing the Chipmunk's Christmas song. My Dad would put up the Santa and reindeer ornament last and my Mom would put on tinsel. My Mom would make huge batches of zucchini bread to give away as gifts and on Christmas morning my Dad was on video camera and toy opening duty.

Now that I'm married with a child I can't help but be excited for the traditions that we'll have! We decorated our tree last night and while C spent most of the time trying to eat the ornaments, it was a lot of fun.

Now to finish up some decorating, shopping, wrapping, tackle my to craft list, and find my Mom's zucchini bread recipe - then we'll be set for the season!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

52 Weeks of Pinterest: Week 8

Its beginning to look a lot like Christmas! I've started my long list of holiday crafts with a few things I've wanted to make for J and our home. A bit of "us" art, if you will. We don't have much hung up in our apartment in general, but most of the things we do have are pictures of C - not a whole lot of us stuff. We are working on getting more frames and artwork hung up, ya know, like a real adult house, but its a work in progress. This will definitely help. If anyone out there is an interior decorator and happens to work for free, call me. We'll chat.

First, I framed the key to our first home together back in Virginia. They were completely gutting and renovating the apartment after we left that year and in the confusion we ended up with one of the keys. I love it - its just a tiny little 2.5" x 4" frame from Michael's with a bit of scrap paper backing, hot glue, and green paint for the key. I think it cost me $3 total and will be such a nice reminder of our first home.

Another neat project I wanted to recreate was the number art seen around the Pinterest world. Its J's birthday, my birthday, our dating anniversary, our wedding anniversary, and C's birthday. I used Photoshop to create the numbers and distress them a little, then printed it on card stock to frame. There is a tiny red heart in our wedding date that I cut out of paper after I printed the image. A simple 8 x 10 frame and some matting made it. Another inexpensive piece of art - it cost $4 for the frame and matting at Michael's.

Yes, the frame has our birth years, but this is the interwebs and I'm paranoid.

If you would like me to put your dates into the template and email you a JPEG of the file to print on your own, let me know!

Want some motivation to actually DO some of those neat projects you pin? Its never too late! Join the 52 Weeks of Pinterest challenge at Dutch Being Me!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Y3W: So Much Thanks!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Its been a fun few days of family, friends, yummy food, shopping, and of course left overs. Mmmm left overs. I've eaten mashed potatoes for every meal today and am proud to admit it. I've also been in my pajamas all day and haven't showered yet. That I'm a little less proud of.

Anyway. We had a wonderful joint Thanksgiving dinner between our family and the K's. Lots of food and fellowship for sure!
We had a wonderful spread of turkey, all the classic sides, and desserts (including my yum-tastic apple pie). We split up the menu and got together in one of the large rec rooms on campus.

Of course C enjoyed himself thoroughly. In fact, think he ate more than J did. Granted, J wasn't feeling very well, but still - C ate a lot. And no, he didn't eat the whole turkey leg. It made for a funny picture though, right?

Mashed potato facial, anyone? I had the privilege of sitting next to him and spent the entire meal dodging his mush covered hands as he tried to grab my sweater. I know he was just trying to share, which is commendable and adorable, but ew.

It took several baby wipes, but he eventually got cleaned up and spent the rest of the evening playing with B's trucks. For a 1 year old and a 2 year old, they play so nicely together! I can't wait for the summer - these two are going to be running circles around this campus. Oy.

After dinner and a bit of a rest, J and I went to Target around 9:30pm to stand with the masses and attempt to get their 46" $300 TV deal. Riiiiight. I knew deep down that we weren't going to get this TV, but that's alright. What I really had my heart set on was the $49 Shark Steam Mop. Oooooh steam I needed a steam mop.

When we realized the hoard had gotten all the TVs, I made a B line for the housewares - the mop was mine and I love it! My kitchen floor is so flipping clean. Before and after pictures later. Yes, I took before and after pictures of my kitchen floor.

We were in and out of Target in about 30 minutes (after 2 1/2 hours waiting to get in). The other bazillion people behind us in line? Most of them were still waiting outside, wrapped around the store. When I went back this afternoon to check a few more things out, someone said they didn't get everyone into the store until around 4am. Yowza.

While I was gone, J and his Mom made dangerously delicious cookies that I may or may not have eaten most of already. They even included C in the fun and had him shake up sugar and food coloring to make sugar cookie decorations. Super cute.

Now we have lots of family around, Thanksgiving left overs, most of our Christmas shopping done, delicious cookies, and our tree up. This is my absolute favorite time of the year!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Maslow's Hierarchy of Thankfulness

With Thanksgiving only a few days away, its impossible to not run through the laundry list of things I have to be thankful for. Its easy to spend the other 51 weeks of the year milling along and forget to stop and think - really think - about what you have and should not take for granted.

I've got a psychology background, so lets do this Maslow's Hierarchy style. 

I am thankful for each day. Yes, I'm not a morning person and this town tends to be rather rainy in the mornings, but you can't argue with the ability to jump out of bed and go about your life. I am thankful that I never have to wonder how I will get my next meal, how I'll stay warm, or where I'll sleep tonight. I'm thankful that we are all healthy and happy. These are things most likely to be taken for granted for sure.

I am thankful that J and I are gainfully employed, have benefits that cover our family, and a retirement plan to protect our future. We have a safe and secure home to protect us and people watching over us both of this plane and beyond.

I am thankful for the people in my life. I was blessed with siblings to grow up with and parents to teach me. I am now blessed with the most wonderful husband and son for which anyone could possibly ask. I am surrounded by friends who lift my spirit and let me vent and ask stupid questions. Daily. The love and support I receive from everyone around me is irreplaceable.

I am thankful for the courage, confidence, and pure will I have discovered in myself over the course of the last year. Being a mother has brought out pieces of me that I didn't even know existed. Who knew the tiniest of people could have the biggest impact.

I am thankful for all that has happened in my life to make me who I am. I am thankful for the little excerpts of my Mother that I see in my day to day being. I am thankful for the continued education I was privileged to receive. I am thankful for my creativity, positivity, and empathy.

Happy (early) Thanksgiving, everyone! <3

Sunday, November 20, 2011

52 Weeks of Pinterest: Weeks 6 & 7

Apparently, I am doing this Pinterest challenge thing in two week chunks. Whatev. My latest Pinterest inspired projects have been holiday related pieces of awesomeness. If you don't know, I absolutely love holiday everything. October to December is my time to shine!

Last week to get into the holiday mood, I made Thanksgiving/Christmas place mats. While this wasn't something I saw on Pinterest, I came up with the idea while perusing the boards and I think that should count for something. I had all intentions of making place mats for Thanksgiving and Christmas, but in an effort to save time and money, I just made them reversible. Really, who looks at the other side of their place mat? Exactly. It made a great project for my serger and I love how they turned out.

To make the place mats, I cut out 14" x 19" rectangles and serged the pieces together. Originally, I was going to turn and top stitch them with my sewing machine, but really wanted to take my serger for a spin. I like the rough edge - makes them look kind of rustic. Or something.

I had about 4 yards of each fabric and it made ten place mats. This would make a super quick and easy housewarming/hostess gift!

This afternoon, we made salted dough ornaments to give as gifts. The dough was incredibly easy to make and held up really well under little hands and feet. We asked Charlie's friend Ben and his family to come over and make them with us and it was fun! Here is the recipe:

Salted Dough Ornaments
4 cups flour
1 cup salt
1 1/2 cups water

Knead dough for about 15 minutes and roll out to about 1/2" - 1/4" inch thick. We used the Wilton 101 Cookie Cutter set and just went nuts. Just that one batch of dough made about a dozen hand/foot prints and a bunch of Christmas trees, stars, letters, and other shapes. Don't forget to stamp a little hole for the ribbon hanger!

Put all of the shapes on lightly greased baking sheets and bake at 300 degrees for about 15 - 20 minutes depending on thickness. The dough will finish hardening as it cools.

We plan on using these as decorations, gifts, and gift tags. Overall, I highly recommend making these!

Want some motivation to actually DO some of those neat projects you pin? Its never too late! Join the 52 Weeks of Pinterest challenge at Dutch Being Me!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

I May or May Not Be a Germ-a-phobe

Up until very recently, C has been doing this army crawl thing to get around. He uses his elbows to drag himself and his feet to push him along. Now that he's on his hands and knees more I realized one super huge mega down side to thumb sucking.

::crawl, crawl, crawl.....sit up.....thumb in mouth::


He might as well be licking the floor. I immediately grabbed the Swiffer and mopped the floor. Then, I saw the myriad of chemicals in the Swiffer juice and wiped down the floor with water. Neurotic much? From what I can gather my options are 1) keep my floors clean or 2) chase him around with a pint sized bottle of Purell. Looks like #1 is our winner.

Between you and me, I don't care how clean the floor is. That's just gross.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Tickle, tickle!

We finally got C's new word on video. After a week of trying to decipher a new sound he was making, we realized that "tka tka tka" was him mimicking when I tickle him and say "tickle, tickle, tickle!"

Monday, November 14, 2011

Tis the Season...for the Endless Craft List

(I apologize for the random posting hiatus. Charlie was very sick last week with some mysterious virus and was spiking fevers left and right. Wednesday, he woke up at 5am with 105.1. Needless to say, it was a rough week. He's feeling much better now and we're all back to sleeping better. Thank goodness.)

Now onto the post.

Tis the season. The season for holiday craftiness and boy do I have a to do list. On the list for this holiday season:
  • Reversible Thanksgiving/Christmas place mats
  • Charlie Brown Thanksgiving bib for C
  • Our Christmas stockings (they are three years in the making and I WILL finish them this year if it kills me)
  •  Wet bags for daycare (not holiday related, but still need to get done soon)
  • C's iSpy blanket
  • Charlie Brown Christmas soft book for C
  • Christmas ornaments for grandparents and parents
  • Gifts for a secret Santa exchange I'm doing
  • Matching PJ pants for J and C (yes, I am that Mom/wife)
What's on your crafty list for the holidays?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: The Remote Control Caper

Just when you thought things on your coffee table were safe.....

 Victory is mine!

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Great Car Seat Debate

Now that C is one, I've been asked by several people when we plan on turning his car seat around to face forward in the car. The truth is that we have no plans to move his car seat any time soon.

For some reason, the whole car seat thing gets Moms all in a tizzy, so let me preface this post by saying this is my own opinion and the information I've gathered from our pediatrician and various online safety sites. I'm going to talk about what we plan on doing as a family and why. Chill. Moving on.

Before I had C, if you would have asked me about car seats, I would have told you that kids get turned around forward facing when their legs his the back of the seat. This is a very common misconception and one that can lead you to make a potentially scary decision. While most states have a MINIMUM age and weight requirement (1 year and 20lbs), the American Academy for Pediatrics, the Child Passenger Safety Organization, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and many other child health organizations agree that children should stay rear facing until they outgrow the weight limit of their convertible car seat. For many newer convertible seats, this is close to 40lbs. Twice the legal minimum.

Vintage Charlie gives his car seat two thumbs up!
"But if we are in a crash, won't my child break their legs?" The Child Passanger Safety Organization reported that not a single incident of broken legs or hips has resulted from a properly restrained child sitting rear facing during a crash. I was surprised to read that too. Regardless, a broken leg can be healed. A severed spinal cord or serious head trauma cannot. Plus, kids sit with their legs folded up anyway. Ever see a kid sitting on the floor playing with their legs straight out in front of them? Not really. If you're curious what a bigger kid looks like in a car seat, the CPS has a great gallery of children happily sitting in their rear facing seats - some of them four and five years old!

Then, there are the videos. If the experts don't convinced you, the videos will at least make you think twice. During a crash, the force exerted on a child sitting forward facing is tremendous. A child's head makes up around 25% of their entire body weight. In comparison, an adult's head is only about 6%. That's a lot of weight being thrown around. When rear facing, the child is pressed into the seat and rides out the crash without jerking around. Forward facing ends up looking like this. Yes, this is a properly restrained dummy in a tightened up car seat.

Forward Facing Crash Test

Rear Facing Crash Test

In the second video the child hardly moves. Its amazing. In the first, the child risks something called internal decapitation amongst other blunt force traumas.
Knowing this information and taking into consideration C's small stature it was a no brainer to keep him rear facing as long as possible. Would it make it easier to put him in and take him out? Maybe. Would it be easier to adjust the car seat straps? Probably. But a slight convenience for me is not worth risking my child's life. That's all there is.

C currently rides in style in his Graco My Ride 65 convertible car seat. It is rated for 5lbs to 40lbs rear facing and 20lbs to 65lbs. forward facing. He is currently 22lbs. and therefore has 18lbs to go. Taking into consideration the typical slow down in weight gain after 12 months, he'll probably still fit in it beyond 2 years old and that's fine by me!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

52 Weeks of Pinterest: Weeks 4 & 5

Last week I didn't get a chance to post my 52 Weeks of Pinterest challenge, but with C's birthday party going on, you bet I did something Pinterest related! I found a ton of inspiration for C's Very Hungry Caterpillar party from Pinterest, but one of my favorite ideas was serving "caterpillar food."

"On Monday, the caterpillar ate through one apple. On Tuesday, the caterpillar ate through two pears. On Wednesday, the caterpillar ate through three plums. On Thursday, the caterpillar ate through four oranges."

While we didn't serve the menu exactly, it did give us a lot of great ideas for appetizers and even the main course. After printing some adorable little signs from Rachel at Polka Dots and Puppies, the table was set.

Another fun addition I picked up from Rachel's blog was using a copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar book as a guest log for people to leave C birthday messages. What a wonderful keepsake from his first party!

For this week, I did two projects because I had a little bit more time. Imagine that! I made a magnetic make up board and a wedding invitation glass ornament.

I can't lie - that little ornament was way harder than it originally looked on Pinterest. At first, I put in all the pieces of paper, but it was very difficult to get them into position. After fighting with them for a while, I pulled them all back out using tweezers and filled it with some fake leaves. After that, it was much easier to slide the strips of invitation in between the leaves and the glass with some pattern to it. Sort of. Topped off with some ribbon, I really like the way it turned out.

The magnetic make up board was much easier. I used an old metal desk stand that I had actually found during campus move out a few years ago. I covered it with some pretty scrapbook paper and attached magnets to the make up compacts I use most. Some were too heavy for the small magnets, but that's alright. For my brushes, lipstick, and other odd shaped things, I found a neat magnetic locker organizer that just stuck itself to the board. Voila!

Its not too late! Join the 52 Weeks of Pinterest challenge at Dutch Being Me!  ------->