Monday, October 24, 2011

Playgroup and Pumpkins

This week our Playgroup decided to meet at a Pumpkin Patch.

We had so much fun! The kids loved trying to eat playing on the giant haystack and in the box full of corn kernels! I can't wait to go back this weekend with Connor and my husband and actually pick out our pumpkins. :)

When we got home Connor enjoyed a dill pickle and then took a nap. What a life!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Book Club Munchies

As I've mentioned previously I just joined a book club. It was my month to choose the book and I chose The Midwife's Confession by Diane Chamberlain. Since it was my book choice, I was also responsible for bringing a snack to our meeting. I really couldn't make up my mind on whether I wanted to bring finger foods or sweets, so I decided on both. I'm sticking with my staples, spinach dip and ham rolls. They're always a huge hit whenever I make them. I also decided to make Halloween themed (I just LOVE a theme) cupcakes and one of my new favorites, Chex Muddy Buddies.

Spinach Dip

  • 10 oz frozen spinach - chopped
  • 1 package Knorr Leek Soup
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • salt & pepper
Note: For larger parties (more than 15 people) I double the batch.

Start by defrosting your spinach. If I forget to defrost it I don't have time to let it defrost, I put it in a colander and run hot water over it for a couple of minutes. Then run cool water over it, squeeze out the water and put spinach in a mixing bowl.

Add 1 cup mayonnaise, 1 cup sour cream, leek soup and a dash of salt and pepper. Mix well. I find using a fork instead of a spoon to mix it works the best to separate the spinach.

Cover and let it set up in the refrigerator for at least 4-6 hours for best results. I like to make it the night before and then add a little mayonnaise the next day if needed.

I always serve it with sourdough bread.


*I've had quite of few people tell me I make it wrong. They say I'm supposed to use vegetable soup. I use my Mom's recipe and she's been making it this way for years. She said the recipe used to be on the back of the Leek Soup package and has just recently been changed and put on the back of the Vegetable Soup package. I've had it both ways and HANDS DOWN prefer it with Leek Soup. My spinach dip is always the first thing to run out at parties so other must agree. :)

Ham Rolls

  • 1 lb Cooked Ham - sliced
  • Dill Pickles
  • Cream Cheese
  • Paper towels
Note: For larger parties (more than 15 people) I double the batch.

Before you do anything, take your cream cheese out of the refrigerator for about an hour or so and let it soften. This is a MUST or it won't spread easy and you will rip your ham.

You'll need to dry each piece of ham individually. If it's wet (I buy the kind with water added) it makes spreading the cream cheese a problem. Slice pickles in quarters.

Spread cream cheese on each end of the ham. Some people spread the cream cheese on the entire piece of ham. I don't because you end up ripping your ham and it tastes just the same either way, not to mention it's much easier just spreading it on the ends.

Place a pickle (or two if 1 isn't long enough) on one end of the ham. Then roll.
Cut in half. 


Arrange on a platter and enjoy!

Chex Muddy Buddies (this recipe is on the back of the Chex cereal box)

  • 9 cups Rice Chex cereal (you can use any version, Rice Chex, Corn Chex, etc.)
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar 

Note: I forgot to buy Vanilla so I didn't add it this time. Oops.

Microwave chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter uncovered on High 1 minute; stir. Microwave about 30 seconds longer or until mixture can be stirred smooth. Pour mixture over cereal, stirring until evenly coated. Pour into 2-gallon resealable food-storage plastic bag. Stir in vanilla.

Add powdered sugar. Seal bag; shake until well coated. Spread on waxed paper to cool. Store in airtight container in refrigerator.  


Halloween Cupcakes

  • 1 box cake mix and all the ingredients it calls for (I used white cake because it's my fave)
  • White frosting (I used whipped vanilla)
  • Black cake icing
  • Zip lock bags
  • Cake frosting tips
  • Food coloring
  • Halloween Theme baking cups
Bake your cupcakes following the directions on the back of the box. Let them cool completely before frosting them.

I decided I wanted to make green monster-ish cupcakes (since I need to practice for Connor's 1st Birthday) and pumpkin cupcakes. I was originally going to also do white ghosts but scrapped the idea when they did NOT turn out cute. So I did cute BOO's instead. Hey you gotta improvise right!?

I used food coloring to get the desired color although no matter how many drops I added I could NOT get the color any darker than what you see.

For the monster-ish cupcakes I wanted a fury look. So I used a star cake frosting tip. I cut a small hole in the corner of the zip lock bag, put the tip in and then spooned some green frosting into the bad. Homemade piping bag!

For the pumpkin and BOO cupcakes I just frosted normally with a knife and used the black icing to decorate. I did use some of the green frosting with the star tip to put some green on the pumpkins. :) 

They didn't turn out quite as good as I hoped but the girls promised they were cute! (They got a little banged up on the drive over)

Connor hung out with me the entire time I made all these goodies. He was my Official Taste Tester, even though he only got to taste some Chex cereal before I added all the chocolaty-peanut buttery-goodness. But he still loved it. 

I hope you use some of these recipes for your future parties/book club meetings/family days. Enjoy!

***Most of these pictures were taken with my Iphone must remember to charge my Canon so please excuse the poor quality. The picture of each recipe finished IS taken with a Canon Rebel T2i thanks to Ashley :)***

Friday, October 21, 2011

Milestone Alert!

Connor turned 10 months old on the 14th of this month. He started pulling himself up using the couch at 9 months old September 22nd to be exact. We quickly ran out and bought him a walker...

Not the reaction I was hoping for. He loves to play with the toys on the front but has no interest in trying to use it as a walker. We stand him up and show him how to hold on and he just leans over the handle to try and get to the toys and then sits down.

But yesterday (10/20/11) was the day! We stood him behind the walker encouraging him to grab it and he did it! He actually walked all the way across the living room all by himself. Here is a small clip...

Maybe he will be walking by his 1st birthday after all. :)

Monday, October 17, 2011


Connor and I just joined a playgroup put together by my friend Ashley. She also asked me to help her organize and plan our weekly playgroups. 

Today was our first group and we decided since it's 85 degrees in the middle of October, we would meet at our local park. Although, I feel like calling it a "park" is a bit of an understatement. This park has 2 small lakes, walking trails, a carousel, a train for kids, an old western town, a couple different play structures, a swimming hole at the lake, etc etc etc. With our babies being under 2 years old and most under 1, we stuck to blankets on the grass. A few of the older babies, well toddlers really, played at the play structure.

There is something so relaxing about hanging out with a bunch of mom's who are going through or have been through what you're going through. LOTS of advice. Needless to say I had a great afternoon and so did Connor.

Ashley and I were the last to leave, but before we headed home we decided to take Connor and her daughter over to the baby swings. They had a blast!!! And we of course used it as an opportunity to take 117 a few pictures.

Next week we're meeting at the pumpkin patch! I already can't wait for those pictures!

***For those who are wondering I take most of my pictures with the Canon Rebel T2i which I love love love. Even if I only know how to use the basic functions.  If I'm in a hurry then I just use my IPhone 4.***

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Water Baby

Connor has shown a love of water from an early age. Being a stay-at-home Mom, I am constantly looking for things for Connor and I to do, you can easily go crazy staying in the house all day.

We of course started going to our local Mommy & Me group at Kaiser which meets once a week (we still go) as soon as I felt Connor was old enough. He was a preemie so we didn't start going until he was a month old. When a mother would introduce herself and say her baby was only EIGHT days old I couldn't help but gasp I was shocked, I was so accustomed to keeping Connor home and away from people and germs. But I promise no judgment, just shock and maybe some jealousy that I was cooped up for so long.

So when Connor was 6 months old (the required age) we joined the Mommy & Me swim class at the YMCA. He was a natural from the start! The swim instructor said some babies are just born swimmers. And let me tell you... Connor is without a doubt one of those babies. He was holding his breath and going under water, with no fear, at our first session. The other moms would ask me what my secret was as their children clung to them for dear life and I said I had no idea!

Bath time is one of Connor's FAVORITE times. Which I am sure is true of a lot of other babies his age. I can't believe in 60 days I will have to start calling him a toddler!

Just for fun here are the products we use...

First I pour a small amount of Johnson's bedtime bath into the water, then after a lot of splashing and tons of water on the floor I wash him using Johnson's head-to-toe baby wash. After his bath I use Johnson's bedtime bath lotion.

I've had a lot of mom's tell me they can't use Johnson's products because their babies have sensitive skin. But if your baby is like Connor and does not have sensitive skin then I would recommend these. They are great and the bedtime line smells so good. People always tell me how good he smells. :)

In his jammies and ready for bed, one tired boy! That is the goal of bath time right?

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Donating for a cause

I know I've mentioned that I have amazing friends and family and today was a perfect example of just how special they are.

For about the last 6 months one of my best friends Jayme had been saying she wanted to cut her hair, she'd been growing it for 4 YEARS! Right about the time she decided she wanted to cut it she heard about an event being held in our area called 'The Sonoma County Hair Harvest' sponsored by Froggy 92.9 (my favorite country music station!) benefiting Locks of Love and the American Cancer Society.

Locks of Love is a public non-profit organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children in the United States and Canada under age 21 suffering from long-term medical hair loss from any diagnosis.

The American Cancer Society supports cancer patients undergoing hair loss by providing free wigs through a variety of Wig Banks at American Cancer Society Offices and health care facilities.

So she patiently some days she almost grabbed the scissors and cut it herself because she couldn't take it anymore waited for October to roll around.

Today was the day!!!

It was a very special day to watch all these people donate their hair (we all know how woman are about their hair!) to two amazing organizations, my best friend being one of those people.

She donated 19 INCHES of hair, enough to make TWO wigs. AMAZING.
She is beautiful inside and out and I am so blessed that I can call her one of my best friends.

I must say though, our gorgeous children stole the show today!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Planning the 1st of many...

Well I can't believe it!!! It's time to start planning Connor's 1st Birthday Party!! Where did the year go? It seems as though from the second he was born life has been on fast-forward. It's been an amazing year, I can easily say the best year of my life.

I have planned a lot of parties but never a child's birthday party and never one as important and as close to my heart as this!

There are so many things to do!

  • Choose a theme (hands down the funnest part) - DONE! I wanted something very boy-ish but not baby-ish. Absolutely no Elmo, Bob The Builder etc. I decided to go with a cute monster theme. 

  •  Make a guest list - DONE! We're inviting everyone. Hey, you only have a 1st birthday party once right?! 

  • Find a location -  DONE! Thank you Auntie Carol for letting us use your beautiful home! It's the only house big enough for the gigantic guest list.
  • Pick a date - DONE! Because Connor was born 11 days before Christmas, I want his birthday to feel totally separate from Christmas, which makes picking a date tricky. I don't want his party too close to Christmas because I never want a Christmas tree at his party but I also don't want it too far from his actual birthday. So I decided we will always have his party the first Saturday in December. This year it falls on December 3rd. See ***EDIT*** at bottom.
  • Decide on a time - Can you say nap-time melt down?

  •  Choose a menu

  • Find a cake that goes with our "Monster theme" 

  • Find someone to make the cake - DONE! Thank you to my best friend Jayme, she is going to make Connor's smash cake! She does amazing work! Check it out...

  • Find decorations/invitations
  • Find Connor a birthday outfitDONE!

I feel like I'm forgetting something already but that's why I started planning early! The thought of his party makes me excited and sad all at the same time. I promise you...this Momma will shed some tears.  

PS. Would LOVE any suggestions/ideas.  

***EDIT*** For family and friends reading this please note the date of the party has been moved to Sunday 12/4. :) Invitations will go out in November.

Monday, October 3, 2011

I heart Sundays

When Connor was born, my family and close friends had to come to our house to spend time with him. (I was too overwhelmed to try and go out yet.) His doctor advised us that with it being cold & flu season we should limit his visitors and outings because preemie's can get sick much easier. I was also very strict with everyone washing their hands AND using hand sanitizer. Which now seems pointless because even with all the extra precautions he still contracted RSV when he was 7 weeks old and was hospitalized for 6 days. 

 When he was about 3 months old we decided to start going to my parents house every Sunday for dinner because I really really needed to get out of the house so they could spend time with Connor.

Sunday dinners quickly turned into an all-day thing. Dinner was just not enough time. We now go over there around 11:30-noon and stay until 6:30. Poor Mom now has to feed us TWO meals. ;)

It's always such a relaxing day... 

We hang out in the backyard...

sometimes we play Clue (we're very competitive)...

Keeping track of our wins.
  Connor swims in his baby pool... 

  we have extended family come and visit...


and the dogs run around driving us nuts, yes we bring our 7 year old Chihuahua and 1.5 year old Boxer, it is family day after all. :)

It's quickly become a tradition that we all seem to cherish. I hope to keep it going forever. When Connor is grown and has children of his own, I hope that he will want to spend Sundays hanging out at his Mom & Dad's house.
Connor is extremely blessed to have such an amazing Grandpa...

The most loving Grammie on the planet...  

The best Uncle Patrick...

and a bunch of others who love him dearly...



He doesn't understand it yet but he also has a very special guardian angel, his Grandma Nancy.

She lost her battle with lung cancer in 2004. It breaks my heart that he will never get the opportunity to know her, but I find comfort in knowing she is looking out for him. If she could be with us every Sunday I KNOW without a doubt she would.

I'm not sure if it's physically possible for anyone to love my son as much as I do but if it were, I know these people would.

So needless to say, I hold Sundays very close to my heart. I look forward to them all week long.