3/29/13

Happy Birthday, Avery

Two years ago today, our family grew by two feet.
Well, not quite - more like 21 inches.  And 7 lbs, 8 oz of pure sweetness and calm.

And then you grew up, and learned this little word "no" and life is still sweet, but not exactly calm.

We celebrated your first birthday {here}
And apologized for being a second-time mom {here}
Wrote about the labor of love {here}
And again, apologized for being amazing parents {here}

Within the last year, we have created so many memories - some good and some good memories, but maybe not so great at the time (like being forced to sit with Santa.)

Avery uses the computer (and Apple products in general) better than most adults.

Running her is best.

She can throw tantrums like a pro.

No one makes her smile and laugh like her big sister.

No. One.

Christmas was cool.
Santa was NOT.

Sunnies are still her favorite accessory.

We had lots of opportunity in Turks & Caicos to rock said sunnies.

Party on, you little red-headed gal.

The lips.  The blue eyes.
My baby.


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3/28/13

random thoughts

I am so sorry to my fans that I missed yesterday's So What Wednesday.  This past week has been nuts (in a super good way - I had two large orders come in for my hair accessories) and the blog got put on the back burner.

But even thought I may not have a link party to share this with, I have all of you.
And I still got lots to say :)
And you're gonna sit there, read it and like it.


***

I've seen that "Dad's Letter to Vicotria's Secret" on Facebook a lot these days.
I, too, do not want to subject my daughters to becoming a sexually-exploited object, however I will never ask a store to instill these values in my kids.
Don't be afraid to parent.  And don't be afraid to answer tough questions.
Kid:  Mom, can I have these sexy undies?
Mom:  No.  They're not appropriate. 

Guess that wasn't so tough after all.

I'm also tempted to go a step further and grossly embarrass my kids.
Kid:  Mom, can I have these sexy undies?
Mom:  Oh yes, I think we should share them! Your dad would totally love these on me, don't you think?!


***


I took the girls to the Children's Museum last week and it made me hate 99% of other people's children.  Man, there are a lot of jerky kids with oblivious parents (or caretakers.)  Maybe I'm too high strung on my kids having manners and taking turns, but I'm good with that.


***


On second thought, maybe I do yell too much.  I'll call for Liv, and Avery will parrot:  Ee-ya Brown, come here!  I think I may be using her full name too much these days.


***


I saw an Explorer driving down the road.  It's license plate said "Dora."
I almost rammed into it just so the plate might need to be replaced.


***


I can totally appreciate the need for blocking out "brand names" of products on TV shows, but I am really over the large decal on the back of Mac computers.  We all know what that is.
And furthermore, the ringtones on iPhones on TV - fake.  Plus, stop swiping your gloved finger to answer a call; it doesn't work!!!  Who's editing these shows?!


***


By the end of April, the girls will be in bunk beds.  I may regret moving Avery into a bed so soon, but my parents offered and the PBK furniture sale is happening now.  It's really a gift for Liv's birthday (5 months too soon.)  That means there will be a redo of their room and a big reveal when it's all done!






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3/25/13

Ham & Peas Mac & Cheese

I am not a Mac & Cheese snob, but any means.  I have more boxes of the neon orange kind in my pantry than I'd care to admit.  But when this month's CHEESE issue of The Food Network magazine arrived in my mailbox, you can imagine my joy when the "50 Recipes" were all about Mac & Cheese.

I let Liv pick the first one.  No shocker she picked one that had a vegetable in it.  I hope this craving of hers lasts into the teenage years.

Adapted from {this}

The cheese base only sounds intimidating, it's really not.  I promise, you know I'd tell you the truth!
You'll need:

  • 8 oz elbow macaroni (or other small pasta)
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp mustard powder
  • pinch of cayenne (or ground red pepper)
  • 1 12-oz can of evaporated milk
  • 1 1/2 c shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 c diced processed cheese (like Velveeta)
  • 1 c frozen peas
  • 1 c diced cooked ham
Cook the pasta as directed on package.  Reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid (this will help thicken the sauce)  Add in the frozen peas for the last 3 minutes of boiling time.  Once noodles are drained, toss in chopped ham and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a small sauce pan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Whisk in the flour, mustard powder and cayenne.  Watch the heat, you don't want this to burn, but you want to cook the mix for a few minutes to get the heavy "flour" flavor cooked out - you don't want the sauce to taste chalky.

Whisk in the evaporated milk and simmer, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes.  Gently stir in cheeses and mix until everything is all melty and wonderful.  Add your reserved cooking water.  Cool slightly to thicken.  Add the sauce a little at a time to your noodles until they're covered to your desired level.  This batch left me with about 3/4 c leftover, but that's just my taste.


Take that Kraft.
Still love you.



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3/22/13

Cutlery with Personality

I'm really excited to share the Pick Your Plum deal for today.  Adorable stamps and biodegradable wooden cutlery.  I can't help but picture these bundled together with cute baker's twine for summer BBQs and baby showers.

Granted maybe I'm just thinking about summery, light things because there is a foot of snow on the ground outside my window and the high today will be about 30 degrees.  This is spring???



Pick a stamp and maybe some spoons:
Modern Chevron Stamp - $3.99
Classic Houndstooth Stamp - $3.99
Fancy Quatrefoil Stamp - $3.99
Stunning Stripes Stamp - $3.99
Set of 18 pcs of Beautiful Wooden Flatware (6 spoons, 6 knives, 6 forks) - $3.99
One of Each (One of each of the 4 pattern stamps and a set of wooden flatware) - $19.95

Happy shopping - click {here} to get this deal before it's gone!!

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Raise 'Em Like a Preachers' Daughter

I'll never turn down a reality show.  I'll give just about anything on TV a fair shake, so this Lifetime show is no different.  It's interesting for me to watch because:

A)  I am married to a preachers kid (Nate's mother is an Episcopal priest)
B)  I am raising two daughters.

What's interesting and raw about this show is that the parents are really no different than any other.  Sure, their job title is different.  Their peers hold them to a higher standard.  However, in all reality, they are just people raising kids with the tools and love that they can muster.  And let's be honest, make up along the way.  Being a preacher does not grant you some secret parent guidebook (obviously - one of the girls is a teen mom!)  You may have a guide in God, but really... you're just kinda guessing with the faith that you're doing it right.

Spoiler alert:  So is everyone else.

I get why the producers went with preachers for parents.  They can be easily perceived as "hard ass dads (or moms as the case may be)."  But I remember what my dad was like.  Grilling the kid at the door - do you have any earrings, what does your dad do for a living?

Who remembers the scene in Bad Boys 2 when Will Smith and Martin Lawrence answer the door with shotguns and an attitude?


I know the way Nate would like to be that way.  He's too white and we don't have guns in the house.

As parents, we only want to be protective because we don't want our kids to get hurt.  If my girls would never hear a mean word or feel a broken heart - thrown caution to the wind ladies!  Have fun!  But that is not reality.
You can relate, some of the best cries you've ever had are over a sad, hurt soul.  Sure - you may have been 14 and the love-note sentiment was not returned, but the pain is the same, regardless of the age isn't experience.

Thankfully, we survive.
We endure.
We embrace.
We learn, grown and strengthen.

I don't want my girls to live a pure and good life solely because of their faith or God or because I said so.  I've had enough arguments with them to know "because I said so," is not a good enough of a reason to get them to do anything!
I want them to value themselves, in any relationship, whether it be romantic or platonic.
I want them to value themselves enough to walk away.
I want them to value themselves enough to bounce back.





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3/20/13

So What Wednesday

I feel like the past week flew by!  With St. Patrick's Day WEEKEND coming and going in a flash, I can't believe we're already back here on our favorite Wednesday topic.  And having Easter less than 2 weeks away.  Probably should dig out the girls' Easter baskets and see if I have any terrible plastic grass leftover from last year.

Check out Shannon and the other ladies too while you're at it this week!

So What Wednesday


So What...

  • I secretly (or not so much anymore) hate all the creative Easter craft/food/whatever bloggers.  My kids just want candy.  They don't care how it's delivered - am I alone here??
  • I made the girls Nutella sandwiches for dinner so Nate and I could enjoy a PF Changs frozen meal for 2 all to ourselves.  Complete with spring rolls.
  • I {very selfishly} plan play dates around when I can go to yoga with my favorite instructor.
  • We're considering getting HBO back simply to watch Game of Thrones (season premier on 3/31!)
  • After reading all three of Gillian Flynn's books, I feel like I need to lay in a pool of Nicholas Sparks, covered with a blanket of Jodi Picoult while Enya plays in the background.  Awesome books, amazing writing - crazy, dark, creepy shit.
  • I watch Smash and wish I would have stayed in theater.  And then, as I write this, and I shovel creamy dip into my mouth with ruffle chips, I realize I'd need more than my dramatic sensibility to survive on the stage.
  • My fingertips are throbbing after tying 240 hair ties for Lili Salon Spa to sell!  Happy to make the sacrifice - this is so exciting!  {get yours here}
  • I'm really excited to see one of my college roommates on Saturday for a Stella & Dot trunk show.  Haven't seen her since graduation (aside from Facebook!)  It's been way too long!
  • I love celebrity gossip as much as the next gal, but could seriously care less that Tiger and Lindsay are Facebook official.  Barf.
  • I have a back log of episodes of Preachers Daughters and LA Shrinks that I can't wait to watch one of these naptimes!  Anyone watched them?  Worth my time?
How's your week going?  I'd love to hear about them!


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3/19/13

Honey Soy Tilapia

Our home loves seafood - even the girls.  Tilapia is a dinner that Olivia requests at least once a week.  This is a super simple marinade that you can whip up and after 20 minutes in the fridge and another 15 or so, have a great tasting dinner on the table.

Sure beats frozen fish sticks!


The marinade covers about 2-3 medium sized fillets:

  • 3 Tbsp honey
  • 3 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
Whisk everything together.  Place filets in a shallow dish and cover with marinade.  Keep in the fridge for at least 20 minutes, turning half-way.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Bake in a shallow dish or baking sheet for 15-20 minutes, until the fish flakes easily.

Told you.
Super easy.

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3/18/13

No More GFC!

So I know this isn't new news to anyone, but Google Friend Connect is the main way a lot of you fabulous followers read my blog every day!

I wanted to make sure you all knew that I am also on Bloglovin'.  It's a great place where you can get the same newsfeed for all your favorites, as well as browse for new blogs too!

Make sure that you follow me!  Just click the Bloglovin' image below!

Follow on Bloglovin


You can also get my daily posts right to your inbox my signing up for the RSS Feed on my left sidebar.
And Facebook.
And Twitter.
And Instagram.
Or I can give you my cell number too if you wanted to chat ever!


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3/15/13

Shaving Cream Art

Ready to get messy?  Well, not really, but kinda.

I have no idea HOW this works, but I promise that it does.  The affect you get is so cool, I was probably more excited about this than the kids were!  I spent the morning with my own kiddos, plus nephew Rory (age 2) and niece Peyton (4 months)  This was the perfect art project.  They got to get a little messy with the shaving cream, got to pick their favorite colors to mix, and I did the rest of the heavy lifting.


You'll want to gather up:

  • White, foam shaving cream (I didn't try the gel kind, but something tells me it wouldn't work the same)
  • Acrylic paint
  • Cardstock or construction paper (something thicker than standard office paper)
  • Shallow container for foam/paint (I used a cookie sheet)
  • Paintbrush, toothpick or straw (something to use to swirl paint and foam together)
  • Scraper (squeegee, credit card, etc)
  • Newspaper or paper towels

Smear a decent layer of shaving cream onto your cookie sheet.  Try to make it even, but it won't be perfect.  You're making kid art, not frosting a cake, don't stress about it.  I would keep the size closer to the size of your paper, just so you get all of the selected colors on the page.  This would also depend on how demanding your artist is (Liv cared a lot more than Peyton.)


Squirt out paint onto the foam in whatever design you want.  Doesn't really matter, you're going to marble and swirl it all together in a minute.


Using the end of a paint brush or straw, start drawing lines to marble the paint together.


See, doesn't that look SO COOL?  It gets better.


Lay your paper down and press firmly into the cream.  You don't want to drown it, but you want to make sure that you get paint on most of the paper.  Let it sit for a few seconds (we made a game of counting to 10 in silly voices.)  Gently peel up the paper and lay flat on a covered surface (here's where the newspaper or paper towels come in to play.)


You'll have something that looks like this.  Leave it sit for a few minutes before scraping off the foam in long even strokes.


You'll be left with a really cool marbled effect.  You can cut shapes, make cards, draw over them once the paint has completely dried.  

Seriously, so easy and so cool.  If anyone knows the science behind how this works, I'd love to hear it!!  For now, I'm going with magic.  It's just magic.

3/13/13

So What Wednesday

Ugh, this snow and wet weather.  The rain is a sign of spring, but as my tan fades, I can't help but complain that warmer days aren't coming fast enough!

You know the drill...
Hooking up with my girl Shannon (who I'm also a sponsor for this month and can't wait to be a part of her 2,000 follower giveaway soon!)

So What Wednesday


This week, I'm also saying SO WHAT...

  • Can't decide if I'm happy or sad at how many Peanut Bacon Cookies I ate in the past week.
  • I'm not a "love my husband" bragger - but Saturday, I went to work for a few hours and came home to a vacuumed, picked-up home!  Huge relief for me!
  • Speaking of, I've never wanted to key a car as badly as the one that parked next to me at Target with a "I {heart} My Husband" bumper sticker.  Shouldn't that be implied?  Lame.
  • I silently judge those in yoga who take up two "parking spots" with their mat in class.  Move over a little, make room for everyone, will ya?
  • I cannot wait to watch tonight's episode of Survivor to watch that weird little man freak out on everyone.  Crazy TV! 
  • We FINALLY picked a date for Avery's birthday party (which is now about 2 weeks away)  Pinterest, don't fail me now!
  • I haven't been super diligent on cleaning Liv's newly pierced ears.  They appear to be staying healthy when I do end up cleaning them, so I'm taking that as a good sign!
  • Had an impromptu date night on Sunday and the girls spent the night at my folks.  We went to see Oz the Great and Powerful.  Meh.  Good to see in the theater.  There better be more movies to connect this end to Dorothy's start.
  • Still having vacation withdrawals.  I want to have something, ANYTHING, else planned to look forward to!
  • We stayed up way too late on Sunday night watching the Justin Timberlake SNL from last week.  I love him.  I want to be his friend.

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3/12/13

Please, No Brats


We live in a modest home with modest things. 

However, even as I write that, I realize the “modest” things we have may be considered extraordinary to some.  We have a TV in the toy room for crying out loud (not to mention 3 others in the home, and one in the garage.)  The fact we have an entire room in our house dedicated to toys may even be on the “high” end for some.  We’re not featured on Cribs and even other “modest” friends of ours have bigger and better, but I write this all down to voice a concern that is bubbling up inside of me.

I don’t want to raise brats.
I don’t want my girls to come to expect everything that they want.  Heavens knows we NEVER get everything we want.  It’s part of the human experience.

Kids need to know they can earn and achieve things.
Kids need to know they can bounce back from failure and disappointment.
Kids need to know they can land softly with failure and feel love no matter the outcome.

I hate watching my girls cry, even if it’s over the lack of a second pack of fruit snacks.  I hate it because A.  It’s loud and obnoxious and B.  Because I can fix it so easily.  Just give them another one.  Just give them what they want. 

No.
If I’ve said no, that’s the answer.
Even if “at Grandma’s house we…”
No.
Mom and Dad make the rules, no matter where you are, they must be followed. 

As Liv gets ready for Kindergarten, she needs to know and respect that authority, not only from Nate and me, but from teachers too.  She can’t just get to because she wants to.

Avery scares me even more.
She’s my baby.  I want to keep her a baby, but she’s almost two (and boy, those terrible twos are coming hard and fast.)  She gets to play the little sister and poor Liv has to let her.  Avery has a very hard time with the word NO.
I realize she’s only 2.  Time will come for us to be stronger in our enforcement.
But again, I’m scared to death that we’ll fall into a pattern of “next year, she’s just too little, it’s not so bad yet,” and I’ll end up watching a tape of myself being yelled at by Dr. Phil saying “What were you thinking!?”

So my parenting prayer as of yet is:
Please Lord, let my girls be happy and strong.  Help me be a good, calm mother to them.  Please, please, please don’t let them grow up to be assholes.
Amen.


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3/11/13

Peanut Butter Bacon Cookies

I wish there was a story behind these little treats (though they didn't end up very small because I apparently rolled SUPER large dough balls!)  It really came from my want for something salty and sweet - perfect combination.  A little Pinterest research and a once over on what I had on hand and I combined a few recipes into this one.


The ingredients you'll need are:
* 8 slices of bacon, crisped and roughly chopped
* 1 c creamy peanut butter
* 1 c sugar (plus more to "dust your fork")
* 1 egg
* 1 tsp baking soda
* 2 tsp maple syrup
* 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
* 1/2 c roughly chopped peanuts

Preheat oven to 350 degree; makes about 16-18 cookies

Cream together the peanut butter and sugar, much like you would butter and sugar for a "normal" cookie recipe.  You want to let it mix for 2-3 minutes and let the batter base get as light and fluffy as you can (considering it's sticky peanut butter you're dealing with!)

Add in the egg, baking soda, syrup and nutmeg and mix until well incorporated.  Gently fold in the peanuts and bacon.  Mustn't forget the bacon.  Oh, and I should note, if you're not a huge "crunchy peanut butter fan" you could probably skip the extra peanuts.  They do add a crunch to these chewy cookies, but certainly are not critical to it's flavor or overall enjoyment.  The bacon however.  Mustn't forget the bacon.


Scoop out generous tablespoon sized balls and roll evenly in clean hands.  Don't make my mistake and overload your cookie sheet.  I assumed they wouldn't spread much when cooking, but I was wrong.  I ended up with mostly square cookies once I preformed spatula surgery to separate all my twins, but it didn't matter.  The only sacrifice are the lovely foodie pictures we bloggers go for.  No one in my house seemed to notice, let alone care about the end shape.


Using a fork, press each ball down in the classic PB cookie fashion.  The dough is sticky, so this is where the extra sugar comes in hand to dip your fork into between presses.


Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes.  Let cool slightly on the pan before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.  I made 16 at 10 AM.  By the time Nate got home there were significantly LESS than 16 remaining.

Sorry babe.  Your girls love bacon, what can I say?


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