Bop It

PW and I had a very limited idea of what the hell we were doing when we registered for all our baby gear. I, the shopper with a black belt, was totally overwhelmed by the process and spent most of our first trip with my feet up in the floor model gliders. Thankfully, we did pretty well ending up with only  a few things we didn’t really need.

One of those items was a Boppy Pillow…or so I thought. This little “U” shaped, stuffed thing is supposed to help support your baby while you breast feed. I am apparently not the Boppy standard size as I would have needed 3 of them stacked up to help me out. But I did find it useful when Bay was learning to sit up. We would sit on the floor and try to get her to stay upright with the support of the soft pillow around her.

Normally, as soon as we are done with something, it gets washed and goes straight to a storage bin in the garage. But for some reason this damn pillow escaped my organized wrath and B spotted it at the top of the closet shelf. She asked if she could have it and then insisted she sleep with it. She didn’t have a pillow at all, is out of SIDS range and has enough stuffed animals to choke a horse in her crib any way, what could it hurt? It turns out that she loves it. She sleeps like a badger – flailing around and rolling all over the place. So the Boppy works great as it pretty much surrounds her. She looks so comfy, I’ve been tempted to snap a picture. But because I haven’t totally lost my mind, I don’t risk waking her up with the camera beep.

Easy Christmas Decorations

Holy cats. This Christmas has been screaming towards us like a Mack truck. I feel like we’ve been scrambling from the get go to catch up / get ahead of this holiday. When we were putting up decorations, I realized one of my favorite things is one of the simplest. It’s  a trifle dish full or ornaments surrounded by a fresh, live wreath. And this past weekend, I found a banner that cascades out of the middle that really is the icing on the cake – er, trifle. And really, it’s so something that Kristin Thomson at www.oneprettyplace.com could whip up lickety split.

Ali Hearts Coffee

I love making mini Christmas trees. They are so fun to dream up,  to create and so fun to give as gifts. Peter’s mom and dad are both UofA grads as well so their tree is a UofA theme with all four of our graduation pictures as ornaments. My mom has one with an ornament for each of the kid’s family’s. I have aspirations to make one for Bay with a picture from each Christmas, but I haven’t found the right inspiration yet. But I did find inspiration with some coffee…

My sister, Ali, has always been a lover of Starbucks. She even worked there for a short stint in high school. I knew she had been collecting the mini ornaments they sell at the holidays so I asked her to bring all that she had and compiled them all into a tree.

I usually pick up a box of three, mini, prelit trees from Michaels in the after Christmas sale. So I had the perfect little 14 inch tree for the project. I tied on the ornaments, glued on some bells, tied on pretty ribbon and found the perfect espresso cup as the topper. I also found a mini tree skirt at Target – perfect!

Lettuce Eat

Remember this post about the lettuce table that PW built for me? Well it’s back and better than ever! Bay and I planted seeds about 5 weeks ago and they are growing like weeds. I think we are some fertilizer and a week away from eating like rabbits for every meal. The best part is that Bay is totally persuaded to eat because she grew it!

 

 

Pasta Fagioli

I am so fortunate to have become good friends with the other two room moms from Baylor’s class. They are incredibly funny, smart and freakishly talented multi taskers. And they like wine so we were a match made in heaven.

We sipped and snacked on Monday night at Postinos. I’m embarrassed to say that it was my first time there (look, I like to ride my bike and I live where I can do that to like 15 great restaurants, why go where I have to drive?!). We all ordered a cup of the Pasta Fagioli with sausage and it was awesome. I googled around and found a great recipe. It’s soup, but very hearty and great for a meal.

My  variations are that I used fresh herbs because I had them, hot Italian sausage (Safeway meat counter), kidney instead of cannaleni beans and I added 3 tablespoons of butter to the final mix, just to give it a little more flavor. I loved this recipe because it was a chop-and-dump-into-pot variety which is my favorite. Be sure to add the Parmigiano on top, it really pulls it all together.

Ingredients

    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 1 onions, chopped
    • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
    • 1 carrots, peeled & chopped
    • 1 stalk celery, chopped
    • 1 lb sweet Italian sausage links or 1 lb hot Italian sausage, casing removed and crumbled ( can use turkey sausage)
    • 2 teaspoons dry oregano
    • 1 tablespoon dry basil
    • 1 -2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, to taste
    • 1 1/2 cups canned chopped tomatoes with juice
    • 3 -4 cups vegetable stock or 3 -4 cups chicken stock
    • 1 can progresso cannellini beans
    • 1 cup ditalini or 1 cup small shell pasta
    • 2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
    • parmesan cheese

Directions

  1. Heat olive oil in a large heavy pot over medium high heat.
  2. Cook onion in oil 2 minutes.
  3. Stir in garlic, celery and carrots and cook for 3 minutes.
  4. Add and brown crumbled sausage.
  5. Add basil, oregano and red pepper.
  6. Toss to coat.
  7. Stir in tomatoes and stock.
  8. Bring to a boil.
  9. Reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes.
  10. If necessary, add an additional cup of stock or water and stir in beans and tiny pasta.
  11. Simmer for 6- 8 minutes or until pasta is tender.
  12. Stir in parsley and serve hot with grated Parmesan cheese.

Recipe credit from:http://www.food.com/recipe/pasta-e-fagioli-italian-soup-with-italian-sausage-38088

Cookies Gone Wrong

Yesterday afternoon, Bay and I put on some Christmas music, lit a cinnamon candle and fired up the oven to make some Christmas cookies.  B was thrilled to play in the left over dough, flour and sprinkles while the cookies cooked. It was a lovely afternoon.

That is until two cookies escaped the baking sheet and dropped into the oven where they broke into a million pieces. Crap. I decided to just close the door and let it cool before I attempted to clean them up. Until the kitchen began to fill with smoke.

“Why not let it self clean??” I thought. So I put on the self clean setting and returned to icing the trees. Until I noticed that it appeared we had a yule log in our kitchen…yup the cookies had ignited in the oven. I quickly turned off the oven and stepped back trying to decide what to do next – get the extinguisher? Call 911? As I contemplated, the fire quickly went out. Bay casually looked over from her sprinkling duties and said “Mommy, there’s a fire in the oven”. Yes, yes there is kiddo.

Despite our house smelling like a camp fire, all is well. The oven cooled and is no worse for the wear (I think). I cleaned out the chunks of cookie and it is now happily self-cleaning (I think). The windows are open, the fans are going and there are holiday scented candles burning so hopefully by this afternoon there will be no evidence of our almost fiasco.

When my cousin Will arrived last night to watch UofA and eat us out of house and home (I was prepared with 3 lbs of tacos) I told him what had happened. He responded “what’s with you guys and fire??” – referring to the grill fire of 2009. It’s nice to have family who cares about you.

On the bright side, the cookies were delicious! Chef Mini Wand does it again!

The Chef hard at work.

Check out that post nap hair.

Much like shoes, you just can’t have too many sprinkles.

Give a Little – Or a Lot

When Baylor was a baby, I sat crying while watching  a story on the news about families in need. They described a mom asking for help when she did not have enough formula left to feed her starving 3 month old.

I couldn’t help but think about Baylor. When she needed a bottle in the middle of the night, I was annoyed having to get out of my warm bed and make a bottle. I couldn’t get the thought out of my head – what if I didn’t have formula? And what if I didn’t have the money to buy more? What if my sweet little girl was hungry and I knew there was nothing I could give her to fill her belly. It crushed me.

This is one of the reasons I love The Crisis Nursery. It is an amazing organization that provides relief to families that are stuck in the middle – families that have more income that what qualifies them for aid, but too little to really survive. And to families who are victims of violence.  They provide food, a warm bed, toys, counseling and other aid for parents, kids and families.

It’s important all year to give to amazing organizations like this – but it’s especially important around the holidays so that these special kiddos get the Christmas they deserve. When you look at their wish list, they need baby wipes before they need toys. Socks and underwear. Shoes and soap. That’s where the donations go first so they need extra to be able to give toys and gifts to the kids as well.

If you have some extra – or even if you don’t – consider giving to a great charity this season to make someone’s Christmas brighter. Monetary donations or of items are great ways to help – I think it’s never too young to start. Bay and I did a clean out of her toys and we talked about how we were going to give them to kids who really needed them. At first, she was hesitant to let go. But after a few minutes she was lovingly kissing a few toys good-bye and placing them in a bag saying “you’re going to someone who really needs you!”.

We are all so fortunate to have what we have so lets spread it around.

Here are some of my favorites:

The Crisis Nursery: http://www.crisisnurseryphx.org/index.htm

Circle the City: http://circlethecity.org/

Pets on Wheels: http://www.petsonwheelsscottsdale.org

Tree Hunting

Peter finally convinced me this year to go up North and cut down a Christmas tree. I have always been opposed because his plans involved me sitting in the back seat with a squirmy, crying  kiddo while getting motion sick for 5 hours while he sipped hot chocolate, sang along to Christmas songs and drove his oh-so-precious truck.

He agreed to move the location to a much more reasonable destination and went the first day permits were available to ensure that we got the right area. The plan was that we would drive up just north of Payson, get our tree, eat a picnic brunch and head back while the munchkin napped. When I told our friends Beth and Grant of our plans, the wanted to join. So now we would have a party for our Griswold style tree hunting. We were certain it would be a disaster, but hopefully a hilarious disaster.

Sadly, Mother Nature had other plans. She decided to dump 2 feet of snow on the usually dry area the day before our trip. After looking at the web cams and the road conditions, we decided it wasn’t safe to risk an accident or getting stuck. So we opted for church, breakfast and tree hunting at a lot with our friends.

PW and I each can’t remember the last time we had a real tree. We have an awesome, pre-lit version that is so easy we just always go with that. But the live version is pretty great – we bought from a local nursery and the thing might as well have been cut down by us it’s so fresh! Here are the highlights:

Getting her in place.

Uncle Grant ATTACK!!!

Aunt Beth 🙂

Straightening it out…again. It only fell over twice.

Ta da!! I was trying to get tricky with my camera to get lots of light, but it didn’t quite pan out…

Who is that teenie, tiny lady?!

Old School

From the time I was little, I remember Mame had this on her dresser.

I’ve actually done a good job of making a photo ornament for each year. I love looking at all of them!

I HEART ZAPPOS!

Yesterday I had one of the greatest customer service experiences of my entire life.  Seriously, it’s the stuff legends are made of.

I ordered a pair of Christmas shoes for Bay about a week ago. I love Zappos free shipping both ways policy (I hate paying to ship back a return) and I am now in love with their “video view”. You know when you’re looking at something on-line and you can’t quite tell if it’s the right color or if it would look right on? Enter video view. It’s a quick 20 second video of an employee holding, squishing, twisting and pointing out the assets of a shoe. I was set on a pair until I watched the video and saw the color wasn’t quiet true to the picture. LOVE.

Naturally I was super excited to open the Zappos box when it came yesterday – but when I did, I realized it was the wrong shoes. I checked the receipt to confirm that I didn’t have an aneurism while shopping and saw that they had clearly shipped me the wrong shoe. Right size, wrong color and style. No biggie, I’ve returned with them before so I knew it wouldn’t be a huge deal. I called up customer service and with in 45 seconds was connected to a person (LOVE). I explained the problem and read off all the number for my order and on the box. The man said he would get it fixed in no time and would I mind holding.

When he came back, he apologized profusely and told me that the shoes I wanted were no longer available in B’s size. Before I could relay my disappointment, he had already launched into a compensation shpeel – Zappos was going to refund my money for the wrong shoes but they insisted that I keep the wrong shoes since they were the right size AND they were going to give me a $25 coupon to purchase a new, different pair. Huh? I asked him to run through it again so I was sure I got the point – I got my money back. And a free pair of shoes. And a nearly free pair of the shoes I actually wanted?? LOVE.

When B woke from her nap, I tried on the new free shoes and realized that she really could get away with a half-size bigger. So I used my coupon and ordered her up the pair I wanted in a half-size bigger for a total of $8.99! Amazing!

She’ll be looking so fancy in her new, nearly free shoes! Shop Zappos. Shop them often and tell your friends!