Welcome 2014!!

I can’t believe it’s going to be 2014!! Where does the time go? I can barely remember this year. So much has happened, and Turner has grown by leaps and bounds. It was fun to reminisce!
He witnessed his very first Emily Bowl, graduated to the big boy bath, and had his first trip to Dewees Island.



He learned to eat his vegetables, became the nap champion, and learned to crawl!


This summer, we rocked the beach and the pool every chance we could!


No holiday went UN-celebrated!

He got some teeth, learned to stand, and even worked on some sweet moves!
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And, when the weather started cooling down, we bundled up!

We celebrated Turner’s first birthday, Thanksgiving, and Christmas!


A LOT has happened in a year. I’m not sad to see 2013 go. I definitely love the memories that we made! But, I welcome 2014 with open arms! I welcome the successes, the growth, the trials, and the endless possibilities! Happy New Year to you!!!

Christmas…finally

I’m FINALLY getting around to posting our Christmas photos. It’s been a busy few days! Christmas was just as good as I imagined it would be. Last year, Turner was only 5 weeks old, so he wasn’t very much fun. He was fun to look at, but that’s about it!

We were super excited to wake up together on Christmas morning. It’s such a magical experience with children! I feel like it will only get better as the years go on too!

We started our day as we normally do, coffee and sippy cup in bed. Then, we went downstairs to open presents!


Turner was probably more excited about the tissue paper. But WE were excited, that’s for sure! The gift of the day had to be Turner’s Wagon from Grammy and Grampy (Stew’s parents). Turner was intrigued by the giant box.

We assembled it right in the living room. Turner even helped!


We spent most of the day in our jammies, listening to Christmas music and lounging. We did manage to squeeze in a trip in the wagon. Turner was absolutely obsessed. He cried every time Stew stopped pulling!

After Turner’s nap, we headed to Gigi and Paw Paw’s house for more Christmas fun.


After opening MORE presents, we had a delicious meal. Turner was so happy! He was partying hard and making everyone laugh hysterically at the dinner table.

What an awesome day. It was one for the books. It was everything I hoped Christmas with a toddler would be like! I love Christmas even MORE, if that’s possible! I hope you had a magical Christmas too!

Happy Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve is one of my favorite days. It may excite me even more than Christmas! Once Christmas Day comes, the magic is almost over!! Christmas Eve is like a Friday night. The weekend has just arrived and there is so much possibility! 

Today, we crammed in as many holiday festivities as possible! We started with a fun breakfast of strawberry filled crepes and grits. After breakfast, we had some play time, mainly involving Dora singing her little heart out on the Touchpad.


We played our Christmas music all day, had the Christmas lights on ALL DAY, and even did a little shopping. We went out to lunch and took a stroll around our favorite shopping center. I get almost panicky. I NEED to see all of the Christmas decorations one last time!!

After Turner’s nap, we packed up and headed to Nanny and Pops’s (my grandparents) house for an early dinner. But not without a family picture and a few kisses!


Nanny really outdid herself! She had a delicious Italian (of course) meal ready for us. We were starving and ready to eat! Turner, on the other hand, lasted about 2 hours and then started crapping out. He wouldn’t eat his dinner and was a sweaty, grumpy mess (more teeth coming in?!). So, we did what any parents would do, and stripped him down. Problem solved, for about 20 minutes.


Poor guy was exhausted. Don’t ask me why, he took two naps today! I’ll blame it on teething. We said our goodbyes and headed home. Turner conked out immediately. 

Now, here we are. Baby is tucked, the tree is lit, and it’s time to watch our final Christmas movie of the season! Still soaking up every drop of this day. Have the most wonderful Christmas!!

Last Minute Gift Idea

It’s hard to believe it’s Christmas Eve Eve already! We have been busy busy! Tomorrow we are going to my grandparents’ house, and Wednesday we will go to my mom and stepdad’s house.

Our family doesn’t really do big presents. We either do a secret santa, or a little homemade gift. So I put together a few gift jars for my family and thought I’d share! I used my Breakfast Cookie recipe, because I had everything on hand. I feel like everyone is done eating cookies and unhealthy things by the time Christmas rolls around, so I’d rather give them a little “healthy” cookie option!

This is what I did:

  • I made a wax paper funnel to pour the ingredients into mason jars.
  • Layer 3/4 cup oats on the bottom
  • Then add 1/2 tsp baking soda and 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • Sprinkle 1 Tbsp chia seeds
  • Add 1/4 cup craisins and 2 Tbsp chocolate chips
  • Top with 1/2 cup almond meal
  • Print labels for the front.
  •  Write the directions on little cards and tie them to the jars with red yarn.

Here are my directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350F
  • Pour cookie mix into the bowl of a standing mixer.
  • Add 1 mashed banana, 1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce, 1 Tbsp maple syrup, 1 heaping Tbsp peanut butter.
  • Mix until combined
  • Line baking sheet with parchment paper
  • Use large ice cream scoop to place 6 mounds on parchment paper
  • Press gently to flatten
  • Bake for 12 minutes or until edges are firm and start to brown

These are the perfect way to show someone you care without spending a lot of money! Merry almost Christmas!

Cookie Baking Day — Gingerbread Cookies

Every year my mom, grandmother, and I get together to make Christmas cookies. Last year, Turner was only a few weeks old. So he was either sleeping or in the Bjorn while we baked cookies. This year was a lot more fun! Turner was very excited to go to Gigi’s house!

Turner had a blast. He had all of his cooking utensils on the floor so he could work on his own baking project!

Maybe I’ll let him eat some cookies next year! But, for this year, it was just his healthy snacks. He still loved them!


We made a bunch of different kinds of cookies. We made my great grandmother’s Italian Prune Cookies (they’re delicious, I promise!), pecan tassies, thumbprints, reindeer cookies (at least we tried, but apparently our “mini” pretzels were mammoth sized compared to the ones she used! We tried breaking them, but it turned into a hot mess), and Gingerbread Cookies (recipe below).



We had so much fun baking together, as usual! Turner had fun getting his hands on everything he could find and trying to pull the cookies off the table! And we had fun spending time together!


And, as promised, here is the most DELICIOUS gingerbread cookie recipe ever! It makes a few million, so you might want to cut it in half. Or, you could always freeze half of the dough! Merry Christmas cookie baking!!

Gingerbread Cookies

5 to 5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground cloves
1/2 cup Vegetable Shortening
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup Grandma’s Molasses
2 eggs beaten

Preheat oven to 350F. Whisk flour, baking soda, salt, and spices together in a medium bowl. Melt shortening and butter in a large saucepan over low heat until just melted, not hot. Turn off the heat and let cool slightly. Add, in order, sugar, molasses, eggs. Mix well.

Pour the liquid ingredients into the bowl of a standing mixer. Turn the mixer on low, and slowly add in 4 cups of the dry ingredients. Mix until combined, using a spatula to scrape down the sides from time to time.

Turn the dough onto a floured surface. Knead in remaining dry ingredients by hand. Add a little more flour, if necessary, to make dough firm. Remember, you can always add flour, but you can’t take it away! Separate into four sections and wrap each in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 3 hours. Dough will keep in the fridge for up to 3 weeks. Take dough out 3 hours before using so it becomes soft.

Work with 1/4 of the dough at a time. Roll it out, on a floured surface, to about 1/8 inch thick. Cut into whatever gingerbread shapes you like! We did stockings, reindeer, and gingerbread men. Place cookies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Baking time depends on the size and thickness of the cookies. The thicker they are, the chewier they will be (my preference). The thinner they are, the crispier they will be. You can tell they’re finished because they will be puffed up in the center and crisp around the edges. That being said, check them at 8 minutes. Depending on their size, they could be done anywhere between 8 and 12 minutes.

Supper Club – Standing Rib Roast

We have our supper club once a month. Stew and I always look forward to it. Four couples together to eat and just hang out! We all love to decorate and entertain, so it’s always a great time! This month, Stew and I hosted. The theme was Silver and Gold. I wanted it to be cozy, yet have all the sparkle of the season! I found a sheer gold sequins fabric at JoAnn Fabrics, which was perfect (and cheap) to lay on top of my white table cloth. For my place mats, I used silver & gold glitter scrapbook paper!! It was nice and thick, so it worked perfectly. I used silver glitter painted pinecones and tied everyone’s names to them with silver string. I used a silver metallic sharpie to write their names. And, of course, white candles and baby’s breath to brighten it up. Here is my table-scape.


And, of course, we can’t forget the chalkboards! Winter Wonderland and Silver and Gold are now available on Etsy as digital prints!

Then, the most important part of the night, THE FOOD! For the main course, I chose a standing rib roast (recipe below). I came across this delicious recipe in Southern Living Magazine. Here is the original recipe. I made a few changes and it came out absolutely delicious!


In addition to the roast, I made buttermilk biscuits and roasted brussels sprouts. Annie brought a cheese platter as an appetizer, Kirsten brought a spiked hot cider (vanilla vodka to spike it) and Missy brought homemade chocolate truffles. It was a feast fit for a king! The perfect holiday meal spent with great friends.

Standing Rib Roast with Red Wine Gravy
Serves 8-10

Roast
1 (7-lb.) 4-bone prime rib roast, chine bone removed
1/3 cup Dijon mustard
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons olive oil
7 teaspoons kosher salt
2 1/4 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
Digital Thermometer

Red Wine Gravy
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 red onion, minced
2 Tbsp flour
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 1/2 cup beef broth
pinch of salt

Preparation
1. Prepare Roast: Let roast stand at room temperature 1 hour.

2. Preheat oven to 450°. Whisk together mustard and next 3 ingredients; reserve 1 Tbsp. mixture. Rub remaining mixture over roast; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place roast on a lightly greased rack in a roasting pan.

3. Bake at 450° on lower oven rack 45 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°; bake 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until a meat thermometer inserted into thickest portion registers 120° to 130° (medium-rare) or 130° to 135° (medium). Don’t trust a timer. ALWAYS use a meat thermometer. Let stand 30 minutes; transfer roast to a serving platter.

4. Meanwhile, prepare the gravy: Melt butter in pan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally and moving pan as necessary to prevent hot spots. Add onion; sauté 3 to 4 minutes or until tender. Whisk in flour. Cook, constantly whisking, for about 1 minute. Whisk in wine; cook, whisking constantly, 2 minutes. Stir in broth; reduce heat to medium, and simmer, stirring constantly, 5 minutes. Stir in reserved 1 Tbsp. mustard mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste. Slice roast, and serve with gravy.

Note from Southern Living:
Ask your butcher: Have the chine bone removed. A thin bone that runs perpendicular to the rib bones, it will get in the way of slicing once the meat is roasted and has rested.

Roast like a pro: Start roasting at 450° for 45 minutes to form the caramelized crust. Then reduce the temperature and finish cooking to keep the inside pink and juicy.

The right temp: 125° for prime rib lovers. Remember: The internal temp on large roasts like this will continue to rise as the roast rests.

Food Prep

This was a weekend of major food prep! This is a “chemo week“, so I like to get as much done in advance as possible. We have Supper Club (Standing Rib Roast Recipe to come!) tonight, so yesterday was the big “prep day”.

The first few chemo treatments, Stew was sick for a solid 4 days, so I didn’t worry too much about food. It was mainly chicken soup and saltines all week. But since he started his acupuncture and chinese herbs, he is a hungry beast (yay)! Now I actually have to plan meals for the week! On top of that, Turner is eating me out of house and home! This kid could eat NON-STOP!!!

Needless to say, I have to have healthy snacks on hand for him AND Stew (and me, of course)! So This was what I made yesterday:


Banana Raspberry Muffins (My changes: No sugar. Half whole wheat pastry flour and half spelt flour)
Pumpkin Muffins (My changes: No sugar, no frosting, honey could be replaced with maple syrup)
Zuchinni Tots (My changes: quadrupled recipe to freeze them, used LARGE muffin cups, and added a large shredded turnip to the mix)

This morning, I made breakfast burritos to freeze so we have a quick and healthy breakfast when we’re on the go! Here is my recipe.






Freezer Breakfast Burritos:
Makes 5 burritos

5 tortillas
6 eggs
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
4 Applegate frozen turkey breakfast sausage links
1 cup Ore-Ida frozen potatoes, peppers and onions
2 Tbsp salsa, plus extra to top
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese, plus extra to top
1 Tbsp goat cheese

Heat 1 Tbsp vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet (I used cast iron) over medium heat. Cook potatoes and sausage according to package instructions (basically until softened and browned). Slice sausage into bite size pieces and return to pan. Whisk eggs, salt, and pepper up in a bowl. Add eggs, salsa, goat cheese, and cheddar to the pan. Let eggs set for about 1 minute. Use a rubber spatula to move eggs around the pan, about every minute, until they are cooked through.

Divide egg mixture into 5 even sections. Lay out one square of foil and lay tortilla on top. Spoon one section of filling onto the tortilla. Top with extra salsa and shredded cheese. Tuck the sides in and roll up (seam side down). Roll the foil up around it. Repeat with remaining tortillas and filling. Place tortillas in a large ziplock bag and freeze.

To re-heat in the morning: Remove foil, wrap burrito in paper towel, microwave, using the quick defrost button, for 90 seconds to 2 minutes. Time and setting will vary depending on your microwave! If you have more time, you can always keep the burrito in foil and warm in the oven.

Hope you have a wonderful week!

Merry Christmas Giveaway!!

I have great news!!! Since I love you all so much, and Christmas is right around the corner, I have a GIVEAWAY!!

There is a company who prints instagram photos called, Printstagram, who I am absolutely in love with! Not only are they such a fun group of people, but their products are amazing. Last Father’s Day, I ordered mini prints of Turner for Stew. I have also recently ordered the contact cards with pictures on the front and my blog url on the back. That way, when I’m talking to people about the blog, I can hand them a card! It’s less formal than a business card.

I’m so excited to do this giveaway! Not only do I 100% support this company, but it’s a way for me to give back to YOU for your love and support over the past two years!

I will announce the winner on December 13th. That is the last day to order from Printstagram if you want your product by Christmas, so start planning your order! I will contact the winner and provide a code for you to use at checkout.

P.s. to leave a comment, either click on the “comments” link below this post, or click on the post title so the reply box pops up. AND make sure you click on the “rafflecopter” to let it know which entry method(s) you chose. Email me if you have any questions! Happy Printstagramming!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks to everyone who entered! The winner has been generated by random.org. Congratulations Cara S! I look forward to running another giveaway after the holidays!

Tree Trimming Party

Every year, my mom and stepdad host a tree trimming party. I look forward to it every year. It really gets us in the Christmas mood! They get a beautiful tree, make some delicious food, and invite the family over to decorate the tree. I must admit, it’s a genius idea!

My mom had the house decorated beautifully and ready for our arrival. I decorated the chalkboard when I got there by compiling a few of my favorite pinterest chalkboard designs!



Once everyone arrived, we chowed down. It’s so funny to watch Turner. He is just one of the gang, eating and chatting it up!


And then, there was the decorating! Turner hung out with “the men” while the ladies trimmed the tree.

We had so much fun! We are even MORE excited for Christmas (if that’s possible). I know Turner is still young, but Stew and I are loving every second of this holiday season with him! So much more Christmas fun to come!

Christmas Tree Obsession

This morning was a very productive morning! Every weekend, I spend about an hour prepping baby food for the week. I’ll steam veggies for a puree, or make a batch of oatmeal, or cook up some pancakes to freeze. This morning I made my go-to baby pancakes and even had time to take pictures of them! I typed up the recipe to share with you. Here it is!

I had time to play around with my new Canon Macro Lens too! I’ve been wanting this for a looooong time! The photos I shot will explain my obsession. It’s incredible, and it’s pretty inexpensive as far as lenses go!

I captured some great shots of our little man in all his snuggly glory.

This holiday season is the best I’ve ever had! I’m absolutely in love with this munchkin. Everything is so exciting to Turner. He is absolutely obsessed with our tree! He left it alone for a while, and then rediscovered it last night. All he wants to do is pull the ornaments off and play with them. Morning, noon, or night…it doesn’t matter!



We got so much done this morning, that I think we can take it easy for the rest of the day! It’s the perfect rainy day for snuggling. Enjoy the rest of your Sunday!