Monday, June 29, 2015

Strawberry Shortcake

There are a few things that seem to shout "summer", and one of those is strawberry shortcake. This is one of the simplest desserts to throw together, and you probably have all of the ingredients for the cream biscuits on hand. Pick up some fresh strawberries, and you have the perfect summer dessert. I also firmly believe in eating leftover strawberry shortcake for breakfast, so that's an added bonus.

Strawberry Shortcake
2 cups flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups heavy cream, plus additional for brushing
strawberries, washed, hulled, and sliced
whipped cream

Place sliced strawberries in a medium bowl and sprinkle with sugar to taste. Stir together to coat strawberries, and let sit, covered, while biscuits are baking.

Put a rack in middle of oven and heat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly butter a baking sheet.

Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl. Add cream and stir just until a dough forms. Gather dough into a ball and gently knead 6 times on a lightly floured surface.

Pat dough into a 10-inch round (1/2 inch thick). Cut out as many rounds as possible with lightly floured cutter and invert rounds onto buttered baking sheet. Gather scraps, pat out dough, and cut out more rounds in same manner, for a total of 8 rounds.

Brush tops of rounds with cream and bake until pale golden, 15-20 minutes. Transfer biscuits to a rack to cool.

Split biscuits with a fork and arrange on plates. Spoon strawberries over the biscuits and top with whipped cream.

source: recipe from The Gourmet Cookbook

Friday, June 26, 2015

NoGii High-Protein Bars

Caleb has a really high metabolism, and as such he snacks between meals. When we go on trips I always pack a few snacks for the car, and at the office he has a "snack drawer" that I stock for him, typically filled with granola bars, mini Snickers, and protein bars. He prefers having protein bars on hand, since they fill him up and are easy to eat on the go when he has a busy day at work. Lately he's been enjoying NoGii protein bars and paleo bars.

NoGii's protein bars are certified gluten-free and non-GMO protein bars. These bars do not contain any trans fat, hydrogenated oils, or high fructose corn syrup. They are also made with sustainably sourced ingredients. Caleb really likes that the bars are not overly sweet, like so many other protein bars are. His favorite flavors are the Chocolate Coconut, Rocky Road, and Cookies and Cream. The super protein bars are packed with even more protein, and Caleb can definitely tell a difference between the super bars and the high protein bars. We even packed a couple of these bars for Caleb to snack on while I was in labor! He needed to keep his energy up while I was in labor all day, and he didn't have time to sit down and grab a meal.

These bars are perfect if you're looking for a protein-filled snack made with high quality ingredients. You can buy NoGii bars and protein powders online here or locate a store near you here.

Disclaimer: I received this product for free from the sponsor of the Moms Meet program, May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms Meet blogger, I agree to use this product and post my opinion on my blog. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of May Media Group LLC or the manufacturer of this product.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

How to (cheaply) print your Instagram pictures

I don't know about you, but more and more I am reaching for my phone to take pictures rather than my DSLR. Grabbing my iPhone is just so handy! Oftentimes this means I have pictures on Instagram that I love and want to print out. I've looked into different printing options and thought I'd share what I've found:

Artifact Uprising offers 25 prints for $21.99, plus $7.99 for shipping - coming out to $1.20/print

Prinstagram offers 24 prints for $12, plus $7 for shipping - coming out to $0.80/print

Sticky9 offers 27 prints for $16.99, with free shipping - coming out to $0.63/print

Foxgram offers a minimum of 10 prints for $4.50, with $2.99 shipping - coming out to $0.75/print, or if you spend $25, the shipping is free - coming out to $0.45/print

Surprisingly what I've found is that Walgreens offers prints for $0.39/print, that you can pick up in a store and pay no shipping! I have been really pleased with the print quality from Walgreen's, and I'm happily sending all of my Instagram images there for printing!

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. Just sharing a helpful tidbit! 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Milton Milkshake

You've probably never heard of a Milton milkshake, because as far as I know they only exist in my tiny hometown that I (affectionately) refer to as Lynchvegas. There's a local coffeeshop that has been around as long as I can remember that makes this delicious coffee milkshake. It's typical for me to crave this milkshake on any random day, but during my pregnancy the craving was so strong I had to do something about it. I played around with the ingredients, and below is what I consider to be an almost perfect replica of the real thing.

Milton Milkshake
4 oz brewed coffee, chilled
3-4 scoops vanilla ice cream
1 Tbsp hazelnut coffee syrup (I used Torani) 
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, plus more for garnish
whipped cream

Combine the coffee, ice cream, hazelnut syrup, and cinnamon in a blender. Blend until well combined. Pour into a glass and top with whipped cream and additional cinnamon.

Friday, June 19, 2015

DIY Birthday Cards

When I have the time, I really enjoy making cards to mail to people. I am not the craftiest, so my cards tend to be pretty simple. With just a few basic craft supplies, you can make some bright and cheerful birthday cards. I made these cards to send to our nieces and nephews (nine currently, with three on the way!) throughout the year. It's easier for me to know I have a good supply of birthday cards on hand, so that when the time comes I'm not stuck sending a card out late!

What you'll need:

What you'll do:

Using fun patterned or brightly colored paper, cut out shapes for the ice cream cone, balloon, party hat, and popsicle layers.

Glue the shapes to the front of the cards. Add baker's twine to the ballon for string and colorful poms to make the ice cream and the party hat topper. Cut through both sides of the card for the popsicle, making sure that there's still enough of an edge to keep the card intact. Glue a craft stick to the back of the popsicle card.

And there you have it! Very simple, colorful birthday cards that even kids can make!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

BBQ Chicken Cobb Salad

We love having salads for dinner. In my mind it's a quick and easy meal to fix, but it's also filling and fresh. Caleb will only eat salads that have lots of things in them, so this salad is right up his alley. I am not a fan of the traditional Cobb salad, but only because I don't like bleu cheese. This BBQ Chicken version of the Cobb is more my style, and it's extra filling with the protein from the egg, chicken, and black beans. It's perfect for a summer dinner!

BBQ Chicken Cobb Salad
2 cups cooked, diced chicken
favorite barbecue sauce, to taste
2 cups mixed salad greens
6 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
3 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 ripe avocado, cubed (or guacamole)
1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15 oz) can yellow corn, drained
1 cup grated cheddar and/or Monterey jack cheese
favorite ranch and/or honey mustard dressing, to taste
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Toss the chicken with enough barbecue sauce to coat. Season with salt and pepper. (Chicken mixture can be heated under the broiler if you want it warm.)

Pile the lettuce into a shallow serving bowl. Arrange the chicken, bacon, eggs, tomato, avocado, beans, corn, and cheese in thin rows over the letter. Serve with sides of ranch dressing, honey mustard, and barbecue sauce. Makes 2 large or 4 small servings.

source: recipe from the kitchn

Monday, June 15, 2015

On Pregnancy: The Things People Say

One of the things that never ceased to amaze me during my pregnancy was what people (somehow) felt comfortable saying to me. I had childless people tell me how labor and delivery was going to be, other moms tell me what my pregnancy was going to be like, and more people that I can count comment on my growing belly, my swollen feet, my diet, etc etc. It was super annoying and a lot of times downright rude, and I just had to force myself to brush it off and even laugh. The most irritating thing was that people thought they had a right to comment on my body, just because I was pregnant. I do not go up to fat people and tell them they should diet; I do not comment on how other people's clothes do or do not fit them well; I do not bring up the subject of another person's body shape/type every. single. time. I see them. Let's not do that to pregnant women, either! If you feel the urge to say something to a pregnant woman (especially one with whom you are not close), please think before you speak! And say something kind, like what an exciting time for you! or you are glowing! or you look wonderful! In the mean time, here are a few of the things people said to me over the past 9 months, for your reading pleasure :)

[after announcing at work that I was pregnant]
Female co-worker: Oh! So that's why you've been eating so much lately!

[at Thanksgiving dinner]
My 5 year-old niece: Are you getting your baby from China?
Me: No...

Female co-worker: I knew you were having a girl! Do you want to know how I knew?
Me: How?
Co-worker: Because your face has gotten VERY round.

Lady at church: Congratulations! When are you due?
Me: Thank you! June 13.
Lady: I usually am hesitant to say anything this early on, but you're just so skinny everywhere else!

Female co-worker: Are those new jeans?
Me: No. 
Co-worker: Oh wow! You're still fitting into your old jeans?
Me: Oh, no. These are maternity jeans.
Co-worker: Oh I was going to say - you'd be doing pretty good if you were still wearing your old jeans!
Me: Actually, I do think I'm doing pretty good. [I'm 20 weeks pregnant, thankyouverymuch, and I don't think I should still be wearing pre-pregnancy skinny jeans.]

My other 5 year-old niece: Aunt Sherri, have you ever had a baby before?
Me: No! This is my first baby! You would know if I had another baby.
My 6 year-old niece: But are you going to even know how to take care of it?

[at my 24-week appointment]
Doctor: Your weight gain is a little excessive. 
Me: [silence]

Stranger in the ladies' restroom at church: Oh wow, you are coming along!
Me: Yes, I'm 32 weeks!
Stranger: And you're sure it's not twins?
Me: Yep, I'm sure.

[at my 32-week appointment]
Doctor: Have we discussed your weight gain before? 
Me: Yes.

Client at the office: When are you due? Tomorrow?
Me: Six weeks.

And then there was the sweet young mom behind me in line at Target, two days before I delivered, who said, "I know you probably feel terrible right now, but you look so cute!" Please be one of those kind souls and make a pregnant lady's day :) 

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Copycat Levain Bakery Chocolate Chip Cookies

I believe you can never try too many chocolate chip cookie recipes (as evidenced here). I most recently tried this recipe, a copycat recipe of the famous Levain Bakery chocolate chip cookies. This recipe makes some big cookies, but my book club still didn't have a problem polishing off most of the batch. These tend to be a little bit cakey as far as chocolate chip cookies go, which is not normally how I like my cookies, but these had just the right balance of cakey and chewy.

Copycat Levain Bakery Chocolate Chip Cookies
3 cups + 2 Tbsp flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
3/4 cup + 4 tsp light or dark brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs, cold
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups chocolate chips

Line a large baking sheet with a silicon mat or parchment paper. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until it comes together in one lump, about 1 minute. Add in the sugars and beat for another 1-2 minutes, or until the sugar dissolves into the butter. Lower the speed to medium-low, and mix in the eggs and vanilla and beat until mixed (the batter will be lumpy). Gradually add in the flour mixture, beating until a little flour remains. Fold in the chocolate chips with a rubber spatula.

Divide the dough into 12 even pieces. Shape the dough roughly into a ball, but do not roll it. Place on the prepared baking sheet, spacing 2 inches apart. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes but up to 12 hours before baking.

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Bake cookies for 18-22 minutes, until light golden brown. When in doubt, take your cookies out early. The cookies will continue to cook as they cool. Cool on a wire rack, then serve.

source: recipe from broma bakery, originally from cookie madness

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Welcome to the world, little girl

I am so thrilled to introduce our precious little girl Madeleine Ruth. She was born Friday, June 5 at 7:17 PM, weighing 7 lbs 7 oz and 20 1/2 inches long. We could not be more in love with her!

Friday, June 5, 2015

House Tour: Nursery

I'm so excited to share pictures of the nursery today! This was by far my favorite room to decorate in our house. Mostly because it meant getting ready for our little girl! Click through to see more pictures...

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

On Pregnancy: The Books I'm Reading

The market is over-saturated with books to read while pregnant, which makes it difficult to narrow it down to what you really want to read. I am a big reader, so it's no surprise that I enjoyed reading books on pregnancy and parenting. I thought I would share what I've been reading, for those that find browsing on Amazon a bit overwhelming. 

1 // Getting Ready to Get Pregnant // I read this when we were thinking about trying to get pregnant (duh). I actually ended up reading the book twice, once when I thought I might be ready (I wasn't) and then again when I actually was ready. The whole premise of the book is to begin taking care of your body before pregnancy even begins, which I totally agree with. There were helpful chapters on nutrition and stress relief, as well as preparing your home and environment to be healthy and clean. I thought it was worth reading, remembering that you can do your best to be healthy and prepare your body for pregnancy, but it doesn't guarantee a healthy baby or pregnancy.

2 // Great with Child // When I was first pregnant, I didn't want to read anything about the actual pregnancy. I didn't want to read statistics or see a list of everything that could possibly go wrong with me, the baby, or my pregnancy. So I picked up this book, which I remembered Joanna raved about on Cup of Jo. It's a book of letters written to a newly pregnant friend, so it includes sweet memories, honest feedback on mothering, etc. I really enjoyed reading it, and it made me focus on motherhood and the wonderful gift of pregnancy rather than worrying about things.

3 // Bringing Up Bébé // Everyone who has ever read anything about parenting has certainly heard of this book and all of the hype surrounding it. In looking back at my Amazon orders, I bought this book precisely three days after finding out I was pregnant(!), and I have to agree with all of the hype. I loved reading about parenting in another culture and was particularly struck by the chapters on sleeping, eating, and waiting. There were a lot of good principles that we plan on incorporating into our scheduling of the baby and parenting. Highly recommend!

4 // On Becoming Baby Wise // This book is somewhat controversial in the parenting world, but I really liked it. Both of my sisters scheduled all (seven!) of their babies, and their kids slept through the night at a very early age, had predictable schedules, and were generally happy babies. We are planning on doing a lot of the same things that my sisters did, and this book is a good source of information. If you like the idea of a schedule for your baby, my sister also broke down her method in a very helpful blogpost here.

5 // The Birth Book // When I was looking into hiring a doula, the one I interviewed highly recommended this book as preparation for a natural labor and delivery. We took a birthing class, so a lot of the information in the book I already had learned from the class. What I found the most helpful from this book, though, was the emphasis on not fearing labor, how to relax during labor, and the options for different laboring and birthing positions. If you are interested in learning about how to manage a natural birth, I would recommend checking this book out.

What books have you read on pregnancy, birth, or parenting?

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

On Judging a Book By Its Cover

I do this thing where I totally judge a book by its cover. And I do mean, I literally choose which books I'm going to read by how much I love the cover and/or the title. Don't get me wrong - I look over bestseller lists and read reviews when I'm in search of a new book to read, but if the cover doesn't strike my fancy, chances are I won't be inclined to pick it up.

I have to admit that a lot of times this works out great for me. I read a lot of books that I really, really love. But recently, this completely backfired. I agreed to read and review Elsa Schiaparelli, the biography of the Italian fashion designer. She and Coco Chanel were prominent fashion figures between the World Wars., and as such, were considered rivals. I read a fascinating biography on Chanel several years ago, and I was hoping this biography on Schiaparelli would be similar. I also really loved the cover of this book! It looked so fun and whimsical, and the pink definitely caught my eye.

But I could just not get into this book! It was so dry, and it read like a very dull history book. It is also really long, which makes it a daunting read when you're not even enjoying it. Rarely do I start a book and not finish it, but I could just not make myself continue. So, I've learned my lesson. Not all books with a catchy cover will prove to be a good read :)

Disclosure: I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review. Obviously this post is 100% my own opinion.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Banana Pudding Pie

I found out a few weeks ago that, to my surprise, Caleb had never tasted banana pudding until we moved to South Carolina! Now he loves the stuff, and I happily oblige to making it/eating it whenever we have the chance. Last summer I made banana pudding parfaits, which were a big hit with company. Most recently I made a banana pudding pie - still all of the critical components of banana pudding, but combined and poured into a pie crust. It was delicious, and I have to say a bit easier than layering banana pudding into a trifle dish or parfait dishes. A perfect Southern, summer dessert!

Banana Pudding Pie
1 9-inch pie crust, prepped, baked, and cooled
2 cups chopped Nilla wafers
2 bananas
1 (8 oz) tub Cool Whip, thawed and divided
1 1/2 cups milk
1 (5.1 oz) box instant vanilla pudding
juice from one lemon
caramel sauce for drizzling

Slice the bananas into thin slices and then toss with the lemon juice. This will prevent the bananas from turning brown as fast as they normally would.

Whisk together the milk and pudding mix. Fold in half of the Cool Whip. Mix in half of the Nilla wafers, and then the sliced bananas. Scrape into the cooled crust. Refrigerate for 10-15 minutes or until set.

Top with the remaining Cool Whip. Sprinkle with the remaining Nilla wafers and drizzle with the caramel sauce.

source: recipe from this gal cooks