Friday, December 31, 2010

Because an Infant Needs Tonka Trunks

and Batman Toys and a Nerf sword/battle axe combo immediately upon exiting utero. At least that is what my husband told me when he went a little nuts with the scanner on the Target registry. Really honey? This is your idea of finishing a registry and taking the pressure off of me? 89 items, 30 of which are toys for boys over 3yo.

Uh huh. Maybe I don't know anything about boys and he in his all of his infinite wisdom and experience with his nephews and being a boy himself is on to something here, but I'm not seeing it. How are Tonka trucks and a 23 different bottles plus one pack of nipples supposed to give our son the perfect start in life?

My poor Matthew will have milk and toys. What more does a boy need right?

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Sweet Potato Casserole

This is a recipe that I've been meaning to post since Thanksgiving. It's one of those simple things that everyone has a take on but is always included at Holiday meals. Unless you are me, and your baby just happens to get on a Sweet Potato Casserole kick and demand it of you every other week until your husband wants to throw it at you every time it shows up on the dinner table.

I can honestly say we have eaten Thanksgiving dinner several times since then, including yesterday (which is after Christmas). Sweet Potatoes are a super food though, so I have regulated the guilt to the back of my mind, though I could probably attribute a few of these 20 lbs I've gained in the 27 weeks of pregnancy to sweet potato casserole.

Sweet Potato Casserole
4 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 cup drained crushed pineapple (or more if you like it)
1 cup light packed brown sugar
1 tbs cinnamon
4 tbs butter (optional really but I'm from the south, we like butter with everything)
Large or Small Marshmellows (your choice and I vary it depending on what I happen to have on hand).

Boil sweet potatoes in salted water until tender. Process through a Potato Ricer or mash until smooth. Place all ingredients in a casserole dish, mix well and top with Marshmellows. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes or until Top is browned but not burnt.

Because I'm a masochist at heart

I decided to torture myself further after the Registration failure and epic crying jag last night. My husband has laughed at me and officially taken over the Registration process. He came home to a sobbing/hiccuping melted down me curled on the sofa last night. Not one of my better pregnancy moments I can tell you.

So today, determined to be a better mother than yesterday indicated, I decided to accomplish something for my child's future.

I now have a list of classes, dates offered and fees required at the hospital including: beginner parents, Infant/child CPR certification and Breastfeeding. I will be going over those with my husband this weekend and making a decision on what/when to take them.

We are also pre-registered at the hospital as of today.

I still need to find a pediatrician but that is for another day I think. I have enough of a brain overload after dealing with the hospital and looking into 4 different daycare providers/facilities.

I am waiting to hear back about the In-home lady that was referred to me by a close friend. She has three children of her own, two of which are in school and she's looking for a child to keep during the day to bring in some money. She has kept other people's children and does a lot of short term day care/ babysitting for her church members but is looking for a full time child for extra income. She only lives about 2 miles from my house so that's a plus but I haven't met with her yet.

Daycare 1: Was hit by THE TORNADO last year and has been completely rebuilt and upgraded. The CLEANEST of all the facilities it offers new everything, passcoded door to get into the building as well as a computerized passcoded system to check your child in and out. They do provide formula and food but if you want specifics (which we will be doing breast milk if all goes well) you bring them in. They are not opposed to cloth diapering and just ask that you provide a pail for soiled items and empty it daily when you pick up the child. (YAY!) I met with the teachers and got to watch her interact with the babies which were all super content, clean and happy. In that whole place there wasn't a fussy baby anywhere and I dropped in unannounced so I know they didn't drug them for show..LOL. They just finished moving some children up to a new room and emptied their infant waiting list so I would be the first person on the waiting list and there are a few kids scheduled to move up in age around the time I am needing care. Clean and sanitize Everyday. The registration fee is $55.00 and will hold my spot for 6 months. Weekly fee is $139.00 and i have to pay even if my child won't be there for vacation etc to hold my spot. 2 miles from our house.

Daycare 2: Homestyle Atmosphere in a remodeled old home, older equipment, not as clean. More relaxed environment but they do not provide anything, no pass codes or security system. While I was there, friends of the teacher just came right in and picked up one of the kids to play with. Was not impressed with the facility though the owner was super nice and caring and definately worked hard at a friendly atmosphere. $150.00 per month with a $35.00 registration fee. No discounts for weeks you will be on vacation and not using have to pay full amount to hold your spot. This one is definately out of the running. I was just not comfortable with the lay out and lack of security. 3 miles from our house but in the normal direction both of us take for work (though I can go a different route to go by Daycare 1).

Daycare 3: A well established facility that also provides afterschool care. It is on the older side and you can tell some things (carpet, paint) are worn but still has an essence of cleanliness. 4 star facility. Registration fee of $55.00 with a short waiting list. They were confident they would have a spot for me by the time I need it as they have kids moving up to a new room soon. Weekly Fee of $151.00. They do offer a discount if you will have your child out for a full week (for vacation etc). You only pay 1/3 of the weekly fee to hold your spot so that's nice. They do have a passcode to get into the door but nothing for checking your child in and out other than a teacher's sheet in the classroom. So some security. They are also not opposed to cloth diapering though they have not had anyone request that. They do not provide foods or cereals until toddler age. 4-5 miles from the house but on my normal route to work (half way between my home and work) and only a mile out of the way from DH's work route. They encourage parents to drop by and breastfeed during lunchtime. The main teacher for the infant room was like someone's grandma and the infants seemed very content and she was on the ball. One of the infants was a happy little boy with blue eyes and blonde hair who kept trying to hand me a block and grin at me. I wanted to smooch his little face but did good about keeping my hands off! LOL

All three facilities provide some type of daily sheet with changes, feeding, etc. information. The standard ratio is 5:1 apparently as all facilities claimed that. Until I hear from the In-home lady (and maybe even after) I am leaning toward Daycare 1 because of the ambience, security and overall feeling I got from there. All of them claimed Infant CPR training and state certifications for all their teachers. I'm going to go over the info with DH tonight and we will probably go back and visit Facility 1 and 3 if he wants to compare. I am not opposed to 3 if he prefers it because of location (since he wants to pick little man up every day) and because they have the discounted spot holder fees for weeks we have off (like me this week!) though I'm not sure if it would really save us that much money if any since its $11.00 higher per week then facility 1. There are other options a little further out/out of the way that we can look into but we were trying to stay as close to home/driving route as possible to increase time WITH him, reduce time away from him and in a car. All facilities will work with our schedules so no problem there.

UGH, decisions decisions! On one hand, I'm a little more comfortable now that I have visited with the idea of daycare and leaving my child somewhere but on the other it breaks my heart that I even have to make this decision right now before he is even here! I haven't even held him in my arms and i'm looking at these women who will cuddle him every day in my absence and I want to hate them for that but instead I'm searching their faces for love and compassion so I know they will care for my son.

I feel accomplished for having done all this and i feel like I have made great strides toward providing for my son but it sucks having to do all this "technical" planning when I just want to enjoy feeling him wiggle and dream of his sweet face. For now, I think I will enjoy my decaf Starbucks and relax. It was a fairly busy but productive morning!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Universal Truths: Target Registrations Suck and I'm a bad mother

I have attempted to Register four times at both Babies R' Us and then today Target because I've been told to register at two places. Babies R' Us is overwhelming. My biggest problem? Diapers. I haven't a clue. I have recommendations for cloth diapers but BRU doesn't carry them. I literally almost cry in the diaper area every time because I don't know what to register for but I need something to cover my baby's cute little powdered bottom.

So after a 45 minutes nightmare of dealing with crappy computers and broken scanners at Target I scanned a few different sizes and brands of diapers and said done. I'm just going to have to buy the cloth diapers I guess. In the baby section, EVERYTHING was on clearance and it won't let you scan the clearance items or any item with only a few left (limited availability). Well in the four shelf selection, that pretty much encompassed EVERYTHING. So when I was almost in tears, I called it a day with a grand whopping total of 21 items on my registry. There's no point in even telling anyone about it which means I've got to go and add things to the BRU one or my kid won't have any socks or diapers.

I avoided the bottle wall at both stores so we are praying my boobs work. At this point, I'm over the whole registry thing. It's not fun, its not sweet, its not exciting. It's a lesson in frustration and annoyance to the point I'd rather just buy everything as I need it. So I'll just hope my boobs are functional and someone gets me the car seat so I can bring my naked little boy home and figure the rest out later. Seriously. OVER IT.

I do not understand why I can't seem to be able to make a decision to save my life. My husband has pretty much had to hold my hand picking bedding, names, registering for things because I can't decide on anything. It's a big deal and I don't want to scar my child for life by giving him an ugly pacifier (rolls eyes at myself).

Before Pregnancy, I was a decisive person who was in control and had all the ideas organized and planned in my head. I could argue a stop sign to turning green and never gave in till I had a task done. I'm not sure what happened between that girl and the girl I am now who is conquered by a department store scan gun and reduced to a weeping sobbing mess who crawls home to my husband. Completely not me and I don't like this person or Target anymore.

So if you come to my baby shower, buy me useful things that you know I will need because I haven't a clue and my pathetic registry can not be trusted. kthanks.

2010 Best Recipe Round-up

I think it has become tradition among food bloggers to re-visit their favorite recipes through the year at the close of the year. It's a place to start fresh just like every human does. You get to see how much you have grown, what you have accomplished and get ideas for what is to come in the New Year.

My qualifications for choosing recipes this year are simple: what did I love that I made over and over again. What recipe became a staple in my house. With those in mind, I reviewed all the recipes I posted over the year and there were some that stood out clearly.

2010 Garden Gourmet's Best Recipe Round-up

Southern Fried Chicken
The easy fool-proof way to get great Fried chicken like Grandma used to make!

Orange Chocolate Chip Scones An amazing flavor combination in the perfect sweet breakfast concoction on the planet.

Vegetable Pot Pie
Excellent for late summer and early fall or to clean out the cellar in spring. Hardy root vegetables make this a filling meal. It's a comfort food classic waiting to happen!

Spinach Lasagna This is probably my most requested dish at family dinner's now since I served it up during Easter. A great way to use up prolific spinach from the garden and get plenty of iron in the diet!

Buttermilk Cupcakes with Chocolate Icing Easy cupcakes that require little effort and ingredients are usually on hand for quick fixes for last minute birthday get togethers, impromptu girl's night etc.

Ina's Coleslaw A hearty twist to a simple coleslaw this version can be eaten alone or piled high on your favorite summer burger or dog. Much more colorful then the tired classic.

If you haven't done so already, definately add these great recipes to your collection. I promise you won't be dissappointed! I hope your year was as full of good food, family and joy as mine has turned out to be. May our New Year be just as adventurous and full of great flavor and family.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Saint Renee BabyFoot Necklace Giveaway

2010 was a very hard year in many ways. 2009 was harder. I entered 2010 a very bitter person in an emotionally hard place and then experienced some very scary physical issues as well. If you are new here and just dropping by, welcome. A little about me: I have been TTC with PCOS for almost 4 years (February will be 4 years). In 2009 we succeeded with the help of Clomid and Metformin and Charting with a dash of Preconceive thrown in only to lose our babe at the end of the First Tri. I am an IF warrior and Miscarriage Survivor.

Early this year, in one of my darkest moments, I was visited by a Saint. Okay, she's really my cousin (and when we were teenagers I would be hard pressed to say she was anywhere close to a Saint *wink*). My sweet cousin knows exactly what I've been through having survived all of the above herself. She has since adopted two beautiful boys and is currently fostering another little boy and a girl. Bless her sweet soul she has FOUR under FOUR in her house. A Saint I tell you.

She brought me a necklace that she makes for those who are struggling with Infertility and/or Loss. A simple necklace made from Oyster Shells and Baby Foot shells(thin delicate shells with a baby's foot imprint in the center) that she finds on long walks on the NC Coast with her sons. She assembles them and delivers them to those in need to wear for hope and promise and remembrance. The gift touched me greatly and I have treasured this necklace this year, keeping it around my neck and remembering her words, her hugs and her courage.

She has been kind enough to make one for you. To share with others a gift that has helped so many close by. I think now is the perfect time to do this giveaway. At the end of the year, when it can be hard to face another year struggling with IF and Loss but holding out that hope for something better to come your way. I was there last year and this year I have the joy of looking forward to meeting my son and spending the rest of the year with him. I hope the new year brings good things to all of you.

So let's keep this simple. Just leave me a comment for an entry. If you would like an extra entry feel free to follow thgardengourmet (notice it is just th not the)on twitter and leave a comment with your twitter name. I will use a random picker to pick the winner and announce it with a request for your email both here and on twitter this coming weekend. I hope you (or someone you know that you give it to) will find great promise, strength and hope in this necklace. (Your choice of the grey or the black). If you do not win, but would like to order one, please let me know and I will be happy to put you in contact with "Saint' Renee.

I am wishing you and yours a New Year full of Hope and Promise and may all your dreams be realized in 2011.

All my Love,

Christmas Snow 2010

Here in North Carolina, it is a very rare occurrence to get a White Christmas. We sing along to Bing Crosby every year with little hope that it will come true. 2010 set a record though, not only did we get snow on Christmas but we got the most accumulation on record for Christmas Snow surpassing the previous record set in 1947.

Here's a glimpse of Our Snowy Christmas Home for 2010! I hope you enjoy it as much as we have!

Christmas Snow 2010

Here in North Carolina, it is a very rare occurrence to get a White Christmas. We sing along to Bing Crosby every year with little hope that it will come true. 2010 set a record though, not only did we get snow on Christmas but we got the most accumulation on record for Christmas Snow surpassing the previous record set in 1947.

Here's a glimpse of Our Snowy Christmas Home for 2010! I hope you enjoy it as much as we have!

Lemon Sugar Cookie Bars

I whipped up one last cookie concoction for Christmas at the last minute that turned out to be my favorite cookie treat. If it's possible I think this is even easier then cookies. I put a twist on it as I am all about anything and everything lemon at the moment (how's that for a pregnancy craving?).

Lemon Sugar Cookie Bars
1 cup Butter (softened)
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp lemon extract
5 cups self-rising flour

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, with mixer on. Add vanilla and lemon and mix well. Add flour in a little at a time (at least in thirds). Spread on a greased baking sheet (I used a 13 x 9 casserole dish and they were a little thick).

Bake at 375 for 15-25 minutes depending on thickness. Make sure they are light golden brown and a knife comes out clean from the center. Cool completely before frosting.

Lemon Buttercream Frosting
2 sticks unsalted, butter, softened
2 tsp lemon extract
pinch of salt
5 cups of powdered sugar
3 tbs milk

Cream butter and lemon extract. Add salt. Slowly add powdered sugar. Do not add more until what you have added is completely incorporated. Add milk 1 tbs at a time for creaminess. (I added a little before I was finished incorporating all the sugar).

Frost Cookies, sprinkle with festive sanding sugar and cut into bars!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Letter to my son

Dear Matthew,
It's Christmas night and I'm snuggled on the sofa in pajamas with the lights glowing from the Christmas tree thinking of you. I'm actually a little surprised you are not moving more after that last sugar cookie bar I ate but its been a busy day for you too. Today was an amazing day. It was actually a white Christmas which is very rare in North Carolina. We weren't able to stay at Grandma's as long as we normally would because the roads were getting bad and we had a long drive home. Luckily we were able to use Daddy's four wheel drive on the last leg of the journey when things got a tad slippery so you never knew a moment of discomfort that a ditch plus seatbelt might have brought to you but I am VERY Glad we are home and snuggly and safe.

Grandma (or as she wants to be called NANNA) and your Auntie were very excited to feel you move and kick today. I'm sorry they kept pressing on you and aggravated you but thank you for obliging them. It was a very sweet Christmas present.

You would not believe the amount of things we got for you today from the family. You have some great toys and items waiting for your arrival. Daddy and I need to work really hard on your room over the next few weeks so we can have a place to put all this stuff but for now I'm enjoying looking at it piled under the tree and thinking what next Christmas will bring to you. Excitement and bows and papers and boxes because I have no delusions that you will be more interested in that then anything Santa may bring for you!

The endless possibilities and joy are such an amazing thing to think about tonight. I can't wait to see Christmas through your eyes and watch you grow but don't grow too fast okay? Don't grow up on me. For now, you are all mine to hold and love but soon I have to share you with Daddy more and let you grow and explore. While I can't wait for all that, I don't want everything to happen too fast. The greatest present I have this year is feeling you and knowing you are happy and healthy in there. Even as I type this, you are moving and getting comfy and it brings such peace to my life.

Next year, I will be rocking you to sleep under the glow of Christmas lights. Placing you in a warm crib on a peaceful night and reflecting on what an amazing year it was. In years to come, I can see you falling asleep amidst your toys under the tree with dogs curled around you as your daddy gently picks you up and totes you to your room to tuck you in. Such wonderful images to treasure as I think of you tonight. Daddy and I love you with all our hearts and are so happy this year all because of you. You are our true present today, knowing you are with us and we will be meeting you soon. I could not have asked for a better gift and so you have your name. Matthew which means Gift from God and honors Daddy's best friend who is in Heaven. You are truly our gift baby boy and I hope we can gift to you an amazing life full of opportunity, hope and love. Be well sweetheart.

Your Mama

Friday, December 24, 2010

Holiday Cookie Roundup 2010

This past week I have been baking away. This holiday I focused purely on cookies which tailored my baking and reduced stress. It's not too late to whip up one of these fast and easy recipes tonight for Santa's visit or in the morning to give as gifts or take along to family events. Wishing you a Very Merry Christmas from my Cookie Filled Home to yours!

Neiman Marcus Cookies

Peppermint Bark Cookies

White Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookies

Ginger Cookies

S'mores Cookies

Merry Christmas-An Amazing Gift

The stockings are hung, the gifts are wrapped, the cookies are baked. Movies have been watched, visits to friends have been made. Tonight the lights on my tree are bright and peaceful. The white lights accenting my porch are welcoming and warm on a cold Christmas Eve and Santa is on his way from South America to the East Coast according to Fox 8.

But the one thing I think of tonight is the baby nestled warm and comfy in my belly with gently movements and I can't get enough of looking at one ornament in particular on my tree. This year, this Christmas, we are expecting a true bundle of joy. 2011 will bring us the most amazing gift so I'm not that sad to see christmas and 2010 say goodbye.

This year, I have a reminder of what the future holds, center stage on my tree custom made by the fabulous Elizabeth Bonura. Liz has a shop at Etsy and I am in love with this artistically beautiful ornament. Worth EVERY penny and an amazing way to celebrate our future this holiday season.

So tonight, this christmas eve, I am wishing you and your families the best of everything tomorrow and in the New Year.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

My Bark is better than my Bite.

I love Peppermint Bark but I’m in the cookie mode this year for treats. So I decided to take a basic cookie recipe and add the elements of Peppermint Bark to it. I’m pretty pleased at how they turned out though I think I may play with this recipe a little bit more to get it PERFECT. Note: be careful removing from tray. Despite the butter and shortening and lightly greasing tray, they wanted to stick on the bottom a little bit.

Peppermint Bark Cookies
½ cup shortening
1 stick of butter
1 cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 tsp Peppermint Extract
2 eggs
2 cups of self-rising flour (if using AP add 1 tsp Baking Soda, 1 ½ tsp Salt)
1 cup Chocolate Chips
1 cup White Chocolate chips
1 cup crushed peppermint candy canes (8-10)

Cream together shortening, butter, brown sugar, and peppermint extract. Add eggs one at a time. Add in flour until smooth. Stir in chocolate chips, white chocolate and peppermint candy.

Using a cookie scoop, drop dough on lightly greased cookie sheets. Bake for 10 minutes in a preheated 350 degree oven.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

White Chocolate Chip Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

Long name, simple cookie. Seriously. After making cookies for hours a day after working all day and running errands, I’m just not inventive enough to come up with a different name though. ::shrugs:: Like the Oatmeal Butterscotch cookies, this is your basic simple Oatmeal cookie recipe with simple variations. I love the texture and color the dried cranberry’s give this cookie. Very festive and makes you feel just a little less sinful eating these. It’s a serving of fruit right?

1 ½ cups Self Rising Flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 sticks butter, softened
¾ cup sugar
¾ cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 ½ cups dried cranberries

Combine flour and cinnamon in a small bowl and set aside. Cream butter, sugar and brown sugar until smooth. Add vanilla. Add eggs one at a time. Gradually add in flour mixture. Once smooth add in oats, cranberries and white chocolate chips.

Using a cookie scoop drop dough onto lightly greased cookie sheets. Bake 12 minutes in a 350 degree oven cooling cookies on pan for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

Everyone needs a little Scotch at Christmas time for sanity...

Butterscotch that is! These were a delightful little cookie that is about the easy thing to put together on the planet. With a KA Mixer and a blindfold you can still make these cookies and have them perfectly delicious. Very light in flavor, nice texture and simply sweet.

Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookies

1 ½ cups self-rising flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 sticks butter, softened
¾ cup sugar
¾ cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups old-fashioned oats
1 package butterscotch chips

In a bowl, combine flour and cinnamon and set aside. Cream butter, sugar, brown sugar together until smooth. Add vanilla. Add eggs one at a time. Gradually stir in flour mixture. Add Oats and butterscotch chips blending until just mixed together.

Using a cookie scoop drop rounds onto a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake for 12 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Let cool on pan 2-3 minutes and then transfer to wire racks.


Week 26- For REALZ?

Total weight gain: Sigh...19 lbs. I'm completely and thoroughly disgusted with myself.

Maternity clothes? Pretty much and I still hate them this week. I'm squeezing into two of my pairs of jeans and being uncomfortable for as long as possible because I hate the maternity clothes more than the discomfort.

Sleep: not so great this week.

Best moment this week: Cookie Baking! My son likes cookies, my waist line does not ;)and getting the Nursery bedding in! YAY!

Gender: Definately a BOY!

Craving: Lemon

Movement: He has brought me to my knees this week with some very powerful and painful jabs. He can now move my hand up and down when resting it on my stomach. DH has yet to feel him though because when he puts his hands over there, the baby stops moving. Go figue.

Labor Signs: No.

Belly Button in or out? Still In

What I miss: Sleep, especially on my stomach.

What I am looking forward to: Relaxing over the holidays and my week long vacation.

Milestones: I passed the Glucose Test and got the Baby Bedding! I also sent out the guest list for the Babyshower to my hostesses at their request. SQUEE!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Love me Ginger, Love me True

I have never understood the fixation with Gingerbread or any of the gingery assortment of treats at the holidays though the smell is divine. However, I LOVE Ginger snaps. Since becoming pregnant, ginger cookies have become a favorite of mine. It helps with nausea, calms the stomach and has been my savior for a snack (except to my hips-my hips and ginger cookies do not jive). My little boy is probably going to be born with a fixation for all things Ginger and if he has red hair, it won’t surprise me a bit. LOL

I have been a little timid of making anything with Ginger though, but had to give these big soft cookies a try. The dough is beautiful, seriously. This creamy thick dough with the most amazing color. I could seriously paint my walls Ginger Cookie Dough. (Martha Stewart Paint needs to jump on that color). The smell is divine and they were so simple and came out perfect. Possibly one of my new favorite cookie recipes!

Soft Ginger Cookies
Slightly Adapted from

2 ¼ cups Self Rising Flour (If using AP add 1 tsp baking soda and ¼ tsp salt)
2 tsp ground ginger
¾ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground cloves
¾ cup butter, softened (1 ½ sticks)
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tbs water
¼ cup molasses (spray your measuring cup with Cooking Spray before filling with molasses and they will come right out)
2 tbs white sugar (or holiday colored sanding sugar)

In a medium bowl combine flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves. Set aside.

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in the egg and add water and molasses until creamy. Gradually add the dry ingredients and mix until blended and thick. Using a cookie scoop, scoop out dough and drop into remaining sugar (2 tbs or sanding sugar). Roll into balls coated in the sugar and place 2 inches apart onto greased cookie sheet.

Bake in 350 degree oven for 8-10 minutes. Allow cookies to cool slightly then finish cooling on wire rack.

May I have S'more Cookies Please?

I have recently come to appreciate the true value of a S’more. These perfect little tasty treats that are so simple in nature and a luscious bit of heaven on a Fall night sitting around a large fire. I have discovered a few new recipes to bring the taste of S’mores indoors in other sweet treats: cookies, blondies, brownies, icecream etc. Since I’m a Holiday Cookie Machine this year, I decided to give these little numbers a try. Note: DO NOT use a Williams Sonoma Stainless Steel Sheet to bake these on. DISASTER. A simple cookie sheet with sides works best. I would also recommend refridgerating the dough before baking and lightly greasing the cookie sheet. The good news is: even the cookie scraps peeled up from the WS sheet were tasty if less than pretty.

S’mores Cookies
1 ½ cups Self-Rising flour (if you use All purpose add 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp baking soda)
1 cup Graham Cracker crumbs
¼ tsp cinnamon
2 sticks butter, softened
¾ cup sugar
¾ cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
2 cups miniature chocolate chips (I used regular which was too much so definitely go for the mini)
1 ½ cups mini marshmallows
2 Hershey bars, chopped (freeze then use a large chef’s nice for clean cuts)

In a medium bowl combine flour, graham cracker crumbs and cinnamon and set aside. Cream butter and both sugars with vanilla until creamy. Add eggs on at a time while mixing. Slowly add in the flour mixture, beating until smooth. Stir in the chcocolate chips. (Refridgerate dough for an hour at this point).

Use a cookie scoop to drop onto cookie sheet. Bake for 8 minutes on 375. Add a few pieces of Hershey bar and 3-4 mini marshmallows onto each cookie (slightly pushing them into soft cookies. Return to oven to finish baking another 3-5 minutes. Cool on wire rack.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Complete Holiday/Baby randomness

Our Christmas shopping is almost done. I have One, maybe two, things to pick up for DH and groceries to buy but other than that, no more mall, big stores, mad dashes through the snow. The wrapping is almost complete.

Classic Movies have been dug out to peruse through this week and the kitchen is ready for the onslaught of baking. I have friends to visit, cookie tins to put together, and Holiday Dinners to prepare for.

In the midst of this, I did manage to knock out putting my contacts into an Excel sheet and emailing it to my Baby shower co-hosts per their request. I can’t believe that is around the corner too. Then it hits me, as soon as Christmas is over (THIS WEEK), it will be a headlong sprint into preparing for baby’s arrival. There really isn’t that much time left in the scheme of things! I’m heading face first into THIRD TRIMESTER! If I was having trouble believing that, the extremely hard kicks, punches and painful shoves coming from my son would surely clue me in.

He’s getting so strong it’s hard to comprehend. Some of these jabs are quite powerful and painful and I wonder how I’m going to make it through two and a half more months (almost three!). I go from a dead sleep to fully awake clutching my stomach it can be so painful and powerful sometimes. It’s getting difficult for me to bend to keep my toenails trimmed and shave. When I do, I get out of breath and jabbed from the inside. My husband glares at me and tells me to “quit smooshing his kid.”

I love every minute of it but I can’t believe how fast the time is moving. It’s Christmas….and then I’m going to meet this little guy! ::pause for freak out::

Slight panic attack over. If you made it through this completely random post, have a holiday cookie…on me…really…I’ve eaten too many according to my scales.

Christmas Menu Week

This weekend was a flurry of motion and snow flakes. We were trying to get our Christmas shopping done as were a million other people in the midst of swirling snow which thankfully did not stick or cause any driving issues. This IS North Carolina though and if anything white falls from the sky people panic. The swarm the stores for bread and milk and lose all ability to drive. Add to that that during the holiday season the Southern charm and relaxed manners all but disappear, it was an interesting weekend to be out and about to say the least.

Even after a long day of shopping and present wrapping I managed to whip up a divine dinner of the most amazing steaks I’ve ever put in my mouth but that had to be the cut of the beef and nothing to do with me as I seasoned them with garlic, salt and pepper with a dash of Worcester and threw them in the grill pan. Nothing fancy but served up with baked potatoes and a large garden salad, I ate myself sick. (and the scales today prove it!)

So no baking for me but I did get the ingredients to do some this week. Here’s the baking plan and Menu for the week:

Baked Spaghetti
Chicken Biscuits
Steak Hoagies
Hamburger Meatloaf with Sweet Potato Casserole and Greenbean Casserole
Chicken Enchiladas and Beef Quesadillas (for Christmas Eve) with a cherry Cheesecake (the no bake kind-don’t ask-its HIS family tradition, not mine!)

Holiday Baking:
Neiman Marcus Cookies
S’mores Cookies
White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies
Maple Brown Sugar cookies
White Chocolate Cranberry Gluten Free Cheesecake with a Gingersnap crust
Chocolate Peppermint Layer Cake
Orange Cinnamon Cookies
Orange cinnamon Coffee Cake or Lemon Pound Cake (or both)

Pretty ambitious baking schedule. I don’t think it will all get done needless to say.


Friday, December 17, 2010



MY SON HAS CRIB BEDDING! OMG! He's not even here yet and he's already such a little boy I want to cry. It was all I could do to not blubber all over the bedding as I unpacked it but it made it so real. Now I get to pick paint colors! I adore the teal blue but I think its too dark. I'm thinking possibly doing half the wall in tan and half the wall in the avocado green with a chair rail or yellow stripe in the middle.

Decisions, decisions.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Holiday Open House 2010

The other day when I participated in the Holiday Home Tour, I was invited by Coastal Charm to participate in her Holiday Open House. Rather than bore you with the same old thing, I decided to focus on my kitchen/dining details including the treats I spent today baking. Even though I stayed home from work due to ice, I spent the day cleaning and baking and enjoying the holiday spirit. So welcome back to my home, and please take a cookie, my hips don't need them.

Holiday Open House 2010

The other day when I participated in the Holiday Home Tour, I was invited by Coastal Charm to participate in her Holiday Open House. Rather than bore you with the same old thing, I decided to focus on my kitchen/dining details including the treats I spent today baking. Even though I stayed home from work due to ice, I spent the day cleaning and baking and enjoying the holiday spirit. So welcome back to my home, and please take a cookie, my hips don't need them.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Week 25

Picture is super blurry...probably because we have no heat and I was shivering taking the pic since I had to take my coat off to show the tummy! LOL

Total weight gain: According to the Doctor last friday: 12 1/2. According to my scales today: 18 WTF? I almost passed out when I saw that number pop up. If it goes higher I think I'll just stop keeping up..mmkay?
Maternity clothes? Pretty much and I hate them with a passion but that's another ranting post for a different time.
Sleep: not so great this week.
Best moment this week: My son being VERY active yesterday, ALL DAY LONG.
Gender: Definately a BOY!
Craving: Lemon
Movement: Feeling movement every day and most of the night! Lots of thumps, bumps, flutters, and flips and a few painful jabs.
Labor Signs: No.
Belly Button in or out? Still In but getting...ummm smaller and more squished looking.
What I miss: Sleep, especially on my stomach.
What I am looking forward to: Finishing up Christmas shopping this weekend and hopefully DH getting the spare bedroom painted so we can move all the furniture in there and out of the nursery! (also our crib bedding should be in by tomorrow! SQUEE
Milestones: So far it seems I passed the Glucose TEST! and someone else felt the baby. The nurse was pressing down with the Dopplar and got a really good kick that she actually could FEEL! I can't wait till DH get's to feel him like that!

Cracker Barell's Hash Brown Casserole

This has always been one of my favorite dishes. Fortunately it is also one of the easiest in the world, no mess, no fuss, quick to prepare and great for Holidays, Breakfast, dinner, potlucks, etc. This dish is so versatile that it should be in EVERY person’s arsenal of emergency dishes.

2 lbs Frozen Hashbrowns
½ cup melted butter
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 pint sour cream
½ cup chopped onion
2 cups shredded cheddar
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 350. Spray 11 x 14 pan with cooking spray. Mix ingredients and bake 45 minutes until golden brown and bubbly on top.

Beef and Pasta Stew

This makes the most tender delicious steak stew EVER and is perfect for these unseasonably cold nights we’ve been having here in NC the past few weeks.

Beef and Pasta Stew

4 cups Beef Broth
1 cup water
2 cups chopped onion
3-4 pounds of quartered small red potatoes
2 large carrots coined
2 ½ lbs boneless round steak cut into ½ inch pieces
1 can diced tomatoes
3 tbs chopped garlic
1 cup fresh spinach
1 box frozen broccoli florets
1 cup uncooked ziti
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
½ cup grated parm

In large stock pot, combine first 8 ingredients. Cook on medium high for 1 ½ hours. Add remaining ingredients except Parmesan and continue to cook on medium high for 30 minutes. Top with cheese.

Pepper Broccoli Fettucine

1 (8 Ounce) carton of sour cream
1 tbs milk
1 tbs pepper
1 tbs butter
¼ cup finely diced/minced onion
2 tbs minced garlic
8 ounce box of linguine (cooked)
2tbs grated Parm.
1 box frozen chopped broccoli-thawed and boiled till heated through (optional)

Combine Sour Cream, milk and pepper in a bowl. Stir well.

Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic. Saute 3 minutes until tender. Remove from heat and add the sour cream mixture. Mix and toss with pasta and broccoli. Sprinkle with Parmesan and Serve Hot.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas Holiday Home Tour 2010

My time is a bit scrunched this year but at least my decorations are up and my house is Tour Friendly even if I'm posting at the last minute! I hope you enjoy a few glimpses of my Holiday Home!(and for those that follow both blogs, this is a duplicate post-sorry) Don't forget to jog over and look at all the amazing houses and decorations courtesy of TheNester!

Dining and Kitchen (My favorite rooms):

Entry Way:

Living Room Touches:

As you can tell by my header, I love everything Fairies (not cheesy little Tinkerbell Fairies but elegant ones. DH has been buying me fairies ornaments every year so I have a collection going on the tree:

I love Everything Santa at Christmas. I BELIEVE, do you?

I do not have pictures of our simple outdoor decorations. If it's not raining, snowy or crazy bitter wind, then it's dark. Thus no pics. The one decent afternoon we had, we did manage to get some pictures snapped for our Christmas cards, thanks to BETH! So here is one of the shots from that (not the one we used since DH had a bad expression which is over half the pics) but not the one we are using for our card. This one shows the most decorations and our beautiful dogs so I will end with a Merry Christmas from our Home to yours!