Friday, November 21, 2014

Minestrone Soup & Cornbread Recipe

I have two delicious recipes for you today.  The soup will be added to my winter soup rotation.  It is probably the best minestrone soup I've ever had.  I love all the veggies in it and couldn't get enough!  The cornbread recipe is super easy and turned out delicious.  Both of the recipes can be found from here.

7 Vegetable Minestrone Soup (via crockpot)


1 medium yellow onion
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 medium yellow squash, chopped
2 medium zucchini, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh oregano, chopped 
1 - 15.25 oz. can whole kernel sweet white corn, drained
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
4 cups chicken broth
1 - 15.5 oz. can Great Northern beans, rinsed & drained
1 package Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing
2 teaspoons hot sauce

1 cup uncooked ditalini pasta
1 - 6 oz. bag of fresh baby spinach
Salt & Pepper to taste
Shredded Parmesan Cheese for topping

1. Saute vegetables over medium-high heat with some oil until tender
2. Salt and pepper veggies
3. Put veggies and the rest of ingredients in a crock pot (except pasta, spinach, and cheese)
4. Cook on low for 4-6 hours
5. 20 minutes before you are ready to eat, put pasta in the crock pot to cook
6. When ready, turn off crock pot and put in the spinach and salt & pepper
7. Pour into bowl and top with shredded parmesan cheese

The Best Cornbread | Cooking Classy


2 packages Jiffy cornbread mix
3 eggs beaten
1 8 oz sour cream
1 stick of butter
1 14 oz can creamed corn
1. Melt butter in 9x12 dish at 350 degrees
2. Mix other ingredients and pour in pan
3. Bake 30-40 minutes 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

celebrating a FIRST birthday

On November 2nd we celebrated Charlotte's first birthday.  It was so nice to have her party on her birthday.  Luckily, Derek got off of work and we were surrounded by friends and family to help birthday-girl party!

As all moms know, planning around nap times is essential in order to avoid melt downs during the party.  We thought a 3:30 party would be great with Charlie's schedule.  However, I was at a loss of what to do with the food.  After doing some searching on Pinterest, I came across a "popcorn bar."  I thought it would be perfect!

I was going to do a general fall theme but then the idea of a "Charlotte's Web" party sounded too perfect.  I had to do it before she was old enough to tell me that it was too cheesy ;)  I worked with Courtney to help come up with the invitation.  I sent her some inspiration which is essentially a rustic theme with a touch of Charlotte's Web.  Well, she blew me away her ideas!  I also had her design the popcorn bar signs and details.  Highly, highly, highly (!) recommend her.

Anyway, let's get to some pictures!

The favors were a used copy of Charlotte's Web.  The detail on the outside can be used as a bookmark.

These are the seasonings for the popcorn bar.

The chalkboard sign I created for our chalkboard...took me forever!  However, I have a template so let me know if anybody needs one :)

I did a collage of her smash cake photos done by the talented Jax

Popcorn Bar

Thanks to Anne for suggesting a cookbook for vegan cupcakes...they were so delicious and a huge hit at the party!

Mix-ins for the popcorn

This was Charlie's "look" all day, ha!  She was quite overwhelmed by all the people.

Charlie hanging out with all the guests including one her size...little Hendrik 

I could not stop smiling after the was just so wonderful to have so many friends and family at our house celebrating our daughter's first birthday.  It's one thing when you have people supporting you, but it is completely another when they are there for your child.  We loved every second and could not thank everybody enough.

As far as our little girl, she's grown up so fast.  Remember this tiny thing?

We are so thankful that she is our daughter and couldn't have asked for anything more.  Happy birthday sweet girl :)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Vegas Recap!

Finally getting to our Vegas recap.  Derek and I gave ourselves a nice just-us-vacation a couple of weeks ago.  We traveled a ton before Charlotte, and one of our promises to each other was to keep traveling (with and without Charlie-girl) after having children.  We thought Vegas would be a great quick trip because we hadn't been in a couple of years.  Even though we got 0! rest while we were there, we had such a great time.  We didn't stop for 4 days...but sadly I forgot a camera (I know!).  iPhone pictures will have to do for this recap.

Upgrade- It was nice to arrive at the Bellagio hotel and receive an upgrade.  We loved our view of the fountains.  I have to say, this was our favorite hotel to stay at in Vegas.  Perfect location

Giada- We decided to try out Giada's new restaurant at the also new boutique hotel in Vegas, The Cromwell.  Our thought was the food was great but over priced.  It was fine dining pricing for non fine dining food.

Beer Pong- We went to O'Sheas on the daily to play beer pong.  The best place ever to play in Vegas.  We absolutely love it here.  It is a hidden gem in Vegas and has great prices on drinks.  I cannot forget to add that I was amazing all week and beat Derek every time.

CraftSteak- We are obsessed with Top Chef and couldn't wait to try Tom Colicchio's restaurant.  We had great service, great food, and great wine pairings.  Overall, a great steakhouse.  However, there was nothing that made it any better than the local steakhouses.  I don't think we would ever go back, but it was a good experience.

Oyster Bar- We enjoyed fresh oysters at an oyster bar.  I got mine served up with pico on top and I have to say they were absolutely delicious.

Bathroom Selfie- This was the only selfie taken the entire trip.  We left here to go see Mystere...which I LOVED!

Ka- Speaking of Cirque du Soleil, we also saw Ka.  I think this was my least favorite Cirque but not because it was bad.  It just wasn't enough "Cirque" for me...if that makes sense.  The stage was amazing because there really is no stage.  We had front row seats and we were looking literally everywhere because the stage is all around you.  Great show and performance.

Piano Bar- This is another regular place for us all thanks to my brother and his wife.  They took us here last time.  Such a great hidden place.

Margarita Flight- Margaritaville is also one of our favorites.  Instead of getting a huge yard-high margarita, we settled for a flight.

New Shoes- The fun thing about Vegas is anything goes.  It was so much fun to get dressed up every single night.  I snagged these booties at last year's Nordstrom sale and have been wanting to wear them forever.  Unfortunately we went and listened to a DJ later that night....wearing them all night and then dancing at a night club leads to really sore feet.  But at least they are great looking ;)

Celebrity Run-In- Anybody watch The Sing Off?  Well, the greatest a cappella group, Pentatonix, was randomly also at the Shania Twain concert.  We were walking out at the same time that a couple of the members were and I stopped them.  We got to talking and I was like, "by any chance are you in Pentatonix?"  Anyway, I had to get a picture with them!

Shania- Lastly, we saw Shania.  When I heard that Shania was in Vegas a while ago, I KNEW I had to see her.  I thought we would miss her (she is done this month!) but thankful we caught her 7th to last show.  She did not disappoint and it was so much to sing all her songs the whole night.

Whew!  That's about all according to the pictures I have.  So much fun to spend some one-on-one time with Derek.  We were missing our little girl x1000 and could not wait to get home to her.  Oh ya, and our refrigerator decided to quit while we were gone there's that.  BUT all worth it for a little vacay.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Charlotte- 12 Months!

12 month clothing all around.  Still in size 3 diapers

This was an exciting month in not a good way...we had an allergist appointment where Charlotte had the skin test for many allergies.  We found out she is allergic to most nuts (especially cashews) and seeds, and of course eggs.

Also, we had a scare the other day.  All of the sudden out of nowhere, Charlie couldn't walk.  She was having the hardest time putting any weight on her left leg and would therefore collapse when trying to walk.  After her first x-rays (7!), we found out there was no broken or fractured bones.  The pediatrician said it must be related to a soft tissue sprain/strain.  Luckily after 24 hours she was able to put weight on her leg again and was walking around.  Whew....turning 1 is hard work ;)

Other than that, we feel extremely fortunate that our little girl is super healthy.  She has gotten her flu shot so we are ready for the winter.  We know that first cold/sickness is bound to happen!


Nothing too new here besides we are gearing up to get rid of the last bottle and formula next month (a big YAY!!!).  We have noticed that Charlie is naturally drinking less milk and concentrating more on regular food.  It is so much fun to take her out to eat and have her eat whatever we order.  Such a big girl!

We have had an interesting change this month with the naps.  The second nap is really hit or miss as far as length.  Sometimes she will go to sleep right away and sleep her normal 1 1/2 hours and other times, she will only sleep 30-45 minutes.  This is definitely a sign that she is starting to transition to one nap.  Once we feel like she wants nothing more to do with that afternoon nap, we will start with the one nap in the afternoon.

These past few months have been the best yet!  She is the happiest little girl.  We seldom have whining, crying, or fussiness.  Although the only way to communicate right now is with some noise, but we usually know exactly what she wants so we can stop it pretty quick.

Baby Gear
Any and all books (she will bring us books all day long to read...but she only hangs around for a few seconds of us reading it to her before she walks away), stuffed animals (especially her puppy), blocks, and any toy that you have to take out and put back in

Music (LOVES music!), dancing, playing outside, walking/running, bath time

Being in the stroller for extended periods, not having her puppy when sleeping

There were so many fun new things happening this month!  Charlie started following instructions.  For example, we would tell her to go get something and she would bring it to us.  Also, she started giving hugs.  We would ask for a hug and she would run over and hug us.  It may be the sweetest thing yet.  An exciting thing happened on her first birthday, she had her first kiss (seriously laughing out loud thinking about it).  Paxton, a neighbor about 3 years older, was over for the party and they ended up hugging when he was leaving.  Well, Charlotte laid a kiss right on him and then starting running after him when he was walking away.  I guess she wanted more :)

Charlotte is at a standstill with 4 teeth.  We are loving the nice little break of teething.  As with everything, we know to enjoy this time because it will change soon!

Other Thoughts
Charlie, we cannot believe you are ONE!!!  This past month has been the best and most fun.  You are such a rotten little girl and your Dad and I eat up every second we are with you.  You are starting to throw your head back and laugh which makes us laugh uncontrollably.  You are also starting to become so independent.  When you are walking, I'll go to grab your hand and you'll pull your tiny arm away because of course, you can do it yourself.  You also know "no" and what you are not supposed to do.  If you are doing something you know is a "no," you will shake your head and say no EVEN THOUGH you still do it.  If you find something you know you aren't supposed to have, you will pick it up and run away from us when we are trying to get it back.  At the same time though, you are the sweetest and becoming so cuddly.  You will bring us things (shoes, cell phone, pieces of paper, etc.) because you know they are ours.  Sometimes you will just come up on the couch and just hang out with us for lengthy periods of time just because you love being around us.  We love your affection!  You crack us up and at the same time, fill us with love.  We are looking forward to what the next year will bring!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Chicken Pot Pie Recipe

I love chicken pot pie!  Like, a lot.  Derek on the other hand...he could leave it.  But, it is still a staple in our house because let's face it, I do the cooking. 

We have tried lots of pot pie recipes and I feel like I have perfected it.  However, adding the lattice crust elevates this recipe to a new level!  The original recipe can be found here.

4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup onion, chopped
1/4 cup celery, chopped
1/4 cup carrot, chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon "Better Than Bullion" chicken base
2 cups chicken, cooked and chopped
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme plus more for garnish if desired
1-2 sheet frozen puff pastry
More butter for brushing on top

-Allow puff pastry to thaw at room temperature and then gently unfold

  1. -In a large pot, melt butter over medium high heat
  1. -Add onion, celery, carrot, and salt and sauté until onions are translucent and vegetables start to get tender
  1. -Sprinkle flour over vegetables and cook for 1-2 minutes
  1. -Gradually whisk in milk, heavy cream and and Better Than Bullion, and bring to a slow boil
  1. -Simmer gently over medium heat until sauce begins to thicken (5 minutes)
  1. -Turn heat to low, and add chicken, peas and thyme
  1. -Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  1. -Pour chicken mixture into a 9 x 13 baking dish
  1. -Cut puff pastry into strips that will fit horizontal and length equal to the baking dish
  1. -Lay puff pastry strips over chicken mixture, weaving it together to form a lattice pattern (I used this tutorial)
  1. -Using a pastry brush, brush butter onto the top of the puff pastry
  1. -Bake for 40-45 minutes until the puff pastry is a deep golden brown color
  1. -Cool for 5 minutes before serving

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

On Being a Peanut Butter Mom

Around 7 months we found out Charlie was allergic to eggs.  Our nanny had given her a tiny (size of a dime) piece of scrambled egg (with our permission of course) and she had an allergic reaction.  She started out itching like crazy, then her face became swollen with hives.  The hives and rash continued down her arms and hands.  When I got the call at work, I sped home as fast I could because we didn't have any benadryl at home.  I was praying the whole way home that our nanny wouldn't call me saying she had to take her to the ER because her airway was becoming obstructed or something like that.  Luckily, the situation wasn't worse and everything seemed fine after an hour or so.

At Charlie's 9 month appointment, the pediatrician suggested we get her blood drawn to confirm the egg allergy.  After going through this and receiving the confirmation, we made an appointment with a pediatric allergist.

The allergist suggested doing some other testing, because you know, odds are she is allergic to something else he said.  We tested for nuts, seeds, soy, and the flu vaccination.

As you can see, Charlie is also allergic to nuts (especially cashews).  Yes, I'm now a peanut butter mom.  You know the ones that ask if peanut butter is in every single thing...or the ones that prohibit their child from eating anything baked at another home just in case there was cross contamination with nuts.  The allergist said she will most likely grow out of the egg allergy (and can probably eat pasta, baked goods, etc.) and has a 20 percent change of growing out of the peanut allergy.  So here's to positive thinking! 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Charlotte- 11 Months!

Charlotte is wearing mostly 9 and 12 month clothes.  Most 9 months are getting a little snug.  We are in 12 month in pjs and wearing size 3 diapers.

Unfortunately we found out for sure this month that Charlotte has an egg allergy.  We went to Children's hospital to have her blood drawn.  She did fairly well considering.  I had to hold down her arm and I'm pretty sure I was way more tense and nervous than Charlotte was.  We have an allergist appointment next month to tell us the extent of the allergy.  Fingers crossed for this appointment!

Same foods and schedule here.  We are still doing 2 bottles (morning and night) with 7 ounces of formula.  Then we do 2 snack times with puffs, yogurt melts, cheese, popsicle, or teething wafers.  For the 3 meal times, we do whatever fruit or veggie we have..  Your favorites this month included fish, asparagus, avocado, and hummus.  Charlotte still prefers her veggies over the fruits.

Same schedule here as well.  2 naps that range 1 1/2-2 hours at 9:00am and 1:00pm.  We put you down to sleep no later than 7:15pm.  We get you up at 7:30am.

This was your best month as far as crying and whining-ness goes.  Maybe that has something to do with no teeth coming through this month.  Whatever the case was, we thoroughly enjoyed it!  Charlotte is starting to really try and communicate with her wants. 

Baby Gear
LeapFrog Animal Adventure Learning Table, Melissa & Doug Grocery Cans, really anything not baby related...(pots and pans, remote controls, keys, cell phones, etc.)

Stuffed animals, walking, her puppy to nap/sleep with, making animal sounds, being around other kids, music, being outside, being tipped upside-down

Being in the stroller for long periods (wants to get out and walk), dropping her puppy out of the crib, things taken away from her

Walking!  At exactly 10 months, Charlotte started walking everywhere and said goodbye to crawling.  For about 3 weeks, she was doing the zombie walk.  For the most part, she hasn't injured herself and is pretty good about falling on her butt when she becomes off-balanced.  Her first scrape happened while walking down a driveway and falling forward.  Just a small scrape but Derek freaked out about it...insisting her hair follicles would now be messed up and her hair wouldn't grow correctly.  Good thing everything is just fine ;)

Other Thoughts
Charlie, this was your most fun month yet!  You were so great this month and became extremely independent.  You go into your playroom alone and will play.  You are not as concerned with where we are anymore.  We had so much taking you everywhere this month.  We took you to your first music class.  You took off from us the second we put you down.  You loved interacting with all the kids.  We also took you to the pumpkin patch and the park where you proceeded to play in the leaves for 30 minutes!  You definitely seem like a daredevil because you are always throwing your head back to be tipped upside down.  You absolutely loved the big slides your daddy took you down and would giggle so much in the anticipation of going down the slide.  You are changing and growing up so fast these days.  Ever since you started walking, you have become more and more of a little girl instead of a baby.  I cannot believe I'll be planning your 1st birthday party this coming month.  These 11 months have been the fastest of my life!  We are looking forward to what the next month will bring!