Sunday, December 2, 2012

Healthy Christmas Cookie Recipe Roundup

I woke up this morning and realized it's already Christmas Cookie Season again!

I better get a move on! Especially since I'm less than a month from my due date with Baby Girl #2!! I have my usual favorites from childhood, but I just can't bring myself to make those refined-sugar/flour cookies for myself, friends, and family this year. 

So I set out to find some "healthified" Christmas cookies that are festive, taste great, and that I would feel good about eating and sharing.

This is a long list, and I don't plan on making them all, but I thought I'd share my roundup of the recipes I'm considering trying out. I will let you know what I make and how they turned out!

Gluten Free Chocolate Butter Cookies

Cut Out Grain-Free Gluten-Free Sugar Cookies

Almond Flour Cut Out Cookies

Grain Free Snickerdoodles

chocolate peppermint sandwich cookies

Pecan Maple Breakfast Cookies

Chocolate Almond Macaroon Cookies

Wedded Bliss Soft Ginger Cookies

20100929IMG 3606 thumb   Wedded Bliss Soft Ginger Cookies

Auntie Angie's Soft Peanut Butter Cookies

20101126IMG 3500 thumb   Auntie Angie’s Soft Peanut Butter Cookies

Detox Blonde Macaroons

Strawberry Walnut Thumbprint Cookies

No Bake Peppermint Patty Bars

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Big Girl Room Inspriation: Pink and Blue

Now that I'm more than halfway through my second pregnancy, I'm starting to get antsy to move my First Born over to her big girl room so we can put Baby Girl #2 in the nursery. I've been a little sad for months thinking of her moving out of her crib, but I'm so excited about this new phase too.

Especially the decorating part! (It's better to focus on than how big my first baby is getting!)

I've been scouring the internet for the past few months already to figure out what I wanted to do in the new room for a "Big Girl", and think I'm finally at the point of finalizing some decisions.

I was originally thinking I would do light pink, dark pink, gray and white. I really want to do something that will be cute now, but that she won't outgrow in a few years either. I was looking for some pink bedding when I came across this duvet cover at pottery barn kids:

I typically don't like blue in my decorating (Or any color for that matter. Love my neutrals), so was a little surprised I was so drawn to this. If there's one thing I've finally learned in decorating though, its to go with my gut reaction of what I really love instead of what I "should do". So I changed directions a bit and found some other pink and blue room inspiration.

First of all, I saw THIS at justagirlblog and was totally sold and really excited about the pink and blue.
blue pink room

This picture also helped me solve the problem of wall color (blue) and curtain color (pink). I wasn't sure if the blue walls would be too much, but love it.

I also love this room from pottery barn kids. I debated between this duvet cover and the other for awhile, but just didn't like this quite as much. Still love the blue walls with the blue bedding and pink curtains. But I especially love the painted pink furniture and bringing in a few green accents too.

I think I'm going to go with these tiered ruffle curtains from pottery barn kids. I've had my eye on them for awhile now and am a little in love.

Tiered Ruffle Sheer 44 x 84", Pink

I really want to have a few personlized touches in the room. I remember always loving personalized stuff myself growing up.

Savannah Floral Standard Sham, Blue
Savannah Decorative Sham, Blue

And I think I'm going to go with this eyelet bed skirt, also from pottery barn kids:

I like that it kind of has that same romantic country feel of the duvet cover.

I really wanted sheets with a cute print, but love the light pink gingham.

Gingham Sheet Set, Twin, Pink

I am normally pretty frugal about a lot of things, clothes for example, but I have all the pottery barn Penelope crib bedding and curtains in the nursery now, and there's just no comparison with the quality of the cheaper options in bedding and curtains. I've learned from experience that if I just settled on something because it's a cheap version of what I really want, I end up replacing it quickly..therefore spending more than if I had just gotten what I love in the first place.

Some other inspiration from around the Internet:

I definitely want to do some dark pink accents like in this nursery.

Love the color of the walls in this room and the pink floral accents with the blue.

And kind of love the white tree wall decals on the blue walls. I found this one on etsy that I like.
Bird Tree Wall Decal for Baby Nursery - 0068

Gonna miss this room though:

So many wonderful, amazing memories in there.

We'll keep most of the things the same, but I want to change it up a little for #2 to have her own space and for it to feel a little different for me.

This is a little embarrassing, but here's where we're act with the room right now. Yeah. Yikes!

Hopefully things will be looking much different after this weekend! I will keep you posted. Can't wait to see how it all comes together!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Free Halloween Cupcake Toppers and Party Printables

I'm really excited we were able to round up some friends to come over for Halloween this year! Every year after Trick-or-Treating is done, I'm always ready to hang out with friends and party, but most people usually have other things going on. Not this year! My two year old has a couple of her friends coming over and I cannot wait to see them dressed up and Trick-or-Treating.  
I'm keeping the food simple and making the family tradition of a crock pot full of Chili with all the fixin's, some Corn Chowder with Chilies, pumpkin bread (from the Trader Joe's mix..soo good) with homemade Sugar Free Slow cooker Apple Butter (so easy and SO good), maybe some homemade jalapeno bacon popcorn (my current pregnancy obsession!).
And, of course, cupcakes...mostly because I want to put out a display of cupcake with these adorable toppers:
I've been looking for a recipe for healthy cupcakes, so this is a perfect chance to try these Chocolate Cupcakes (Dairy-free, Gluten-free, Refined Sugar-free) with Yam Frosting (Update:  . If I get super ambitious I'd like to try these Grain-Free Pumpkin Cupcakes from Nourishing Meals. I will let you know how they turn out!

(Update: The Chocolate Cupcakes turned out really good chilled in the fridge (weren't that great straight out of the oven still warm). I don't know if they are my perfect healthy cupcake yet..but I'm so happy to be able to give them to my 2 year old as a super snack. I used raw cacao powder (sooo good!) instead of the cocoa powder, which is full of antioxidants, fiber, iron, and protein (Healthy chocolate! Too good to be true!). The coconut flour is a great source of protein, and the coconut oil is a healthy fat source. I get all my weird ingredients like that (and a ton of other things) at Vitacost.)

And, even more exciting, you can find the links to 65 other free Halloween printables HERE.
Here are some of my favorites:



Happy Halloween everybody!!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Hurricane Preparation Tips

Greetings from Hurricane Sandy Central. And I mean that literally. Every projected path but one has it headed directly at us!

Hanging out on the pile of outdoor cushions brought in from outside during storm prep!

I thought last night was supposed to be bad, but now it looks like today and tonight will be the worst. Last night and this morning it's just been raining from pretty heavy to light or not at all. Right now it doesn't even seem like a bad thunderstorm, except for the occassional wind gust that makes you go "Oohh..that's got a little power behind it. Clearly this storm means business." There is a tiny bit of flooding in the streets right now, but that pretty much happens with any heavy rain storm around here.

We learned some great lessons about how to prepare for a big storm hit and power outages from the massive storm this Summer. It seems like a lot of the prep tips out there are for major emergency, worst case scenarios. I thought I'd share some basic tips for being comfortable at home in case of a power outage and being prepared for a major storm like this:

-Get cash! This wouldn't have occurred to me if we hadn't dealt with it after the storm this past Summer. If stores don't have power or internet for taking credit cards, most were still open and taking cash.

-Get Gas! After the major outages this Summer, all of the gas stations in the area ran out of gas very quickly. I realized that if we had to evacuate, we may not have had enough gas to get us out of the area! Really scary thought.

-This might just be a sketchy Jersey thing (sorry Jersey!), but during the last storm people were freaking out and actually stealing gas out of neighbors cars sitting in their driveway! Can you believe that!?! So we cleared out my spot in the garage that was accumulating strollers and junk to lock my car up inside.

-I also realized with the last storm that I wouldn't have known how to open the garage door to get my car out if the power was out. I probably could have figured it out, but I feel better after my husband showed me exactly how to open the garage door and then lock it manually.

-Get all the basics you would need together in one spot. I have all the flashlights, batteries, candles, and other misc. emergency items together on the dining room table. No fun hunting around for all those things in the dark when you really need them.

-We already had flashlights, but I went out and got some additional lantern type lights to set up stationary in the rooms. This was something I wish I had with the last outage, when I realized that flashlights are really just most useful for walking around. Obviously candles would work well too, but the thought of have a bunch of them going with my two year old running around made me nervous. Still have some set aside though and at least one in each room to light if needed.

-I didn't do any major stocking up, seeing that we could probably last off all the food in the pantry for months! But do take stock of things you wouldn't want to be without for long term. I noticed we were almost out of dog food, so made a special trip for that. I also made sure we had enough disposable diapers and wipes, since we usually use cloth diapers.

-Speaking of cloth diapers...this probably doesn't apply to anyone but me...but the last major power outage struck unexpectedly with no time to prepare, so one of my biggest concerns was not being able to wash the load of dirty cloth diapers in the washing machine! Luckily we were only without power for a day. But this time around I made sure to wash all her diapers a few days ago and switch to disposables until the storm passes.

-My husband just called with a good tip. Turn down your freezer and refridgerator as low as they go before outages. For the last outage, the first thing we did was go out for bags of ice to stick in the fridge and freezer.

-Think about anything you'd really like to do that you couldn't do without electricity. I vacuumed the whole house the other day and have been keeping on top of any laundry and running the dishwasher.

-Have disposable plates, cups, napkins, and utensils ready to go.

-We have the basement all set up to go with a bed for us, Elizabeth's pack-n-play, and bedding. We didn't sleep there last night, but it was nice to know it was all ready to go in case we needed to move down there. I also stocked it up with some water, food, diapers, and flashlights, just in case we were to get stuck down there, God forbid.

-This is something that I wasn't expecting with the last outage...completely losing internet and cell phone service! The iphones were especially bad. Our basic Verizon phones worked a little. I just assumed the internet and phones would still work, even if the electricity went out. Just be prepared for that. Have an atlas in your car or print out some maps (remember those?? :) of the area and possible evacuation routes. I also wrote down important numbers and put them in my wallet, since I don't really have any memorized anymore. Make sure cell phones are still fully charged though.

-Have an emergency plan. I already have my car packed up with things we would need in case of an evacuation or wouldn't want to lose in the house. Clothes for a few days, expensive electronics, the hard drive with all of our family pictures on it, dog food, diapers and wipes, important documents in a plastic bag, etc. I feel so much more relaxed knowing I could just grab Elizabeth and go at any moment.

-I have a list of things I need to do in case we have to leave, just so I don't even have to think about it. Turn off water line and hot water heater (have someone show you how ahead of time if you don't know how). Lock house. The few extra things to grab. Just nice to know I don't even have to stop and think about what to do.

So there you have it. Hopefully you feel better knowing we are so well prepared. Surprisingly, I'm really not scared or worried about anything at all, since we are so well prepared. It's actually been kind of fun an exciting so far. Famous last words, I know! :)

When Hurrican Irene hit last Summer (what's up with all these hurricanes slamming Jersey?? I thought we were supposed to be safe this far North!) I took stock of what's important and realized I was okay with losing everything in the house, as long as my family was safe. I don't think I would have been before that. It's really freeing to not feel tied down to any of your material goods.

And with the power outages this past Summer, it was really fun to focus on what you DO have and can use, and what's nice to have but not really necessary. I'm grateful we have a gas stove, grill, and hot water heater, so we will be able to use all of those still if we lose electricity. I'm grateful for a pantry full of food. For a nice basement for shelter. For great neighbors we can count on for help.

If something happens to the house (our biggest concern is a fairly large tree in the backyard), our first plan is to go to the neighbors. If they are in bad shape too, Brian gave me his pass to get on his military base where we can go stay in the bunker he's at right now.

We have a good plan and are well prepared, so just waiting it out and praying for everyone's safety. It's actually not even raining or very windy right now. The calm before the storm, I suppose. Elizabeth is watching TV in the basement, where we'll probably spend most of the day, and I'm finishing folding some laundry and wrapping up breakfast. I will keep everyone updated on how things are going the best I can. Stay safe everyone!!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Simple Blueberry Cream Biscuits Recipe

So long Blueberry Muffins!

Brittany found this recipe in a magazine for Blueberry Cream Biscuits and made them for Easter morning this past year. They were SO good.

It's such a simple recipe, it's something I easily would have passed by.

But I'm SO glad she didn't. They are one of my new favorite treats. I'll take these over blueberry muffins any day now. Plus they are so simple and take just a few minutes to throw together. I stick any extras in the freezer and pop them in the microwave for a few seconds if I need a little snack with my tea or to have something nice to serve if a friend stops by. 

I'll definitely be making these for years to come!

Blueberry Cream Biscuits

2 cups All-Purpose Flour
2 t Baking Powder
2 T Sugar
1/2 t Salt
1/4 t nutmeg
1 cup Blueberries
1 1/2 cups Whipping Cream

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Stir dry ingredients together. Toss in blueberries with the flour mixture. Stir in cream just until moist. Move dough to a floured surface and fold over a few times. Place on parchment lined or greased cookie sheet. Form dough to a 7-8 in. square about 1 inch think. Optional: Sprinkle with a little sugar before baking. Back 17-20 min.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Tribute to Our Mom

Our Mom shaped us into who we are today, so I didn't think it was fitting to have a blog written by my sisters and I without including this tribute we wrote and read at her memorial service in June. 


1 Corinthians 13:13 says: And now these three remain; faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love. I've heard this scripture many times before, and it's such a simple line, but it has never had more meaning to me than now. Faith and hope have certainly helped carry us through these last few weeks...but The greatest of these is love.. and when I think about my mom, all I see is love.
When I look back at our time together I don't see those silly disagreements and all those things you think are a big deal at the time. None of those things matters now. Now all that matters is love, and she was so loved and she loved her girls so much. There was never a time she wasn't there for her girls, little like when we had a nightmare and she would hold us and sing to us until we feel asleep. And as we got older how she would always stop in the middle of what she was doing when we said we need to talk or even when we didn't say it and she just knew and would say "Lets have some tea" and we would sit and talk as long as we needed and everything always felt lighter after talking with her.
If I ask you to think of our mom right now, I bet one of the first things that comes to mind is her cooking. One of her favorite ways to spread love was through food. And she was a natural. She was always coming up with new dishes and when we would rave about how good a dish was she would say “well enjoy it, because you’ll never have it again!” because mom didn’t follow recipes, she cooked from her heart.
We will never forget when we were kids,and our parents would come home late from a dinner out, mom always made sure to bring home leftovers for us. I would hear the front door open and I would sit up in my bed and wait for my mom to walk into my room with a box of leftovers and a fork. And she would sit on the edge of my bed and watch me with a smile on her face as I devoured the leftovers. Mom loved bringing food home for us, or “feeding her birdies” as she would call it. As much as she loved food, she loved sharing it with everyone more.
Every beautiful sunny summer morning we will think of her. When we walk on the beach collecting seashells, we will think of her. The spring time will be full of her spirit. We will see the beauty in the little things in life, as she taught us, and smile, knowing she will always be there to enjoy it with us.
We will cherish these memories of Mom forever. But the greatest impact she will leave on this earth, is how she touched and changed so many lives, by simply being herself. She truly lived an extraordinary, ordinary life. She showed us that just by being true to yourself, you can leave a huge impact on this world. She had such a quiet strength and faith about her. From when she was first diagnosed, until the end, so was so courageous and her faith and trust in God was beyond amazing.
I remember being a little scared to talk to her the first time after she was diagnosed with cancer. Afraid that for the first time in my life, I’d have to be the strong one to carry her through. But not our Mom. When I called, she goes, “Hey Babe!” just as she always did, as if nothing had changed. Because, at the core of Mom’s faith, nothing had
She went on to tell me, so genuinely excited, about a new recipe she had just made, and how they had gone out for some great smoothies and a beautiful walk in the park that day. She was just raving about how wonderful Dad had been, catering to her every need and never leaving her side, to the point where she joked, laughing, “man! I can’t get a minute to myself!” But clearly she was loving every minute of it. She sounded so happy and so positive, and I knew she wasn’t just putting on an act to make me feel better. She told me she felt so blessed, because she felt so strongly that God was going to use this for the greater good. And we know she was right… usual.
Her story has already touched so many lives and encouraged so many. It was her strength through all of this that has kept us strong, she not only had more than enough strength for herself, but enough for her whole family, and all of you as well.

One of the last things she said to me, and I think it’s a message for all of us, she said, “It’s going to be okay.” And I knew she meant it. Those words will continue to carry me through and I pray they will for you all as well.

We could tell you stories all day long about how wonderful she was, but what we will carry with us the most is that she REALLY knew how love, selfless, genuine love. It was just who she was. We can't think of one negative quality she had. She was perfect. She was the perfect mother, and we couldn't be more proud to be her daughters.

Friday, September 14, 2012

A Perfect Start...

I had to take a moment to share with you my most wonderful morning. It's the kind of morning that is so beautiful and the weather is so incredibly perfect, that you could just cry! There is a light, cool fall breeze blowing, the sun is shining crisp in the sky, and even the hummingbirds and butterflies in my yard seem a little extra happy today. I was so enjoying the butterflies joyful floating around my flowers that I couldn't help but get up and join them. I snapped a few quick shots that I thought you might enjoy as much as I did.

Can you spot the butterflies??

A morning like this leaves me feeling like all is right with the world.