Monday, April 30, 2012

The State of Things

I feel like I've been losing a lot of my day to day happenings on the blog here, in favor of recipes and trips and crafts and whatnot. And while they're all well and good (and traffic driving), the thing I love most about my blog is keeping track of the little stuff. So here's what's been going on lately...
                John has started a new job! Although it's with the same company, it's in a different branch. So now instead of commuting to Delaware every day, he's heading over the bridge into Jersey. He's pretty pumped about it, which means I'm pumped about it. Plus, word on the street is that he'll get to work from home at least one day a week so that's kinda cool. But I'm pretty sure him working from home doesn't mean 'watch Gabe while I run to Target by myself', right? That's probably a no-no?

John is also taking me away this weekend to a top-secret location to celebrate (sans babe)Mother's Day...last year. See, not sure if you can tell from my post (omg tiny Gabe!) about it, but I wasn't too thrilled with how things turned out last year, on my first official Mother's Day. I had a major pity party for myself and the only guests were my raging hormones. I let John know exactly how I felt, not having any elaborate plans made for me, when in my opinion, I try to go above and beyond for everyone else. It was a rough day.  So being the smart husband he is, the very next day he turned around and made plans for this year. Needless to say, I can't wait!!!


I've been busy lately, mostly making lists of lists. I've got a few Bottle Pop events in the next few months, plus you know I've already started on Gabe's 2nd birthday party. The theme is chosen, invites have been designed and now the fun part, scouring etsy for fun accessories. Before that though, I'm doing a (hopefully) gorgeous Mother's Day brunch for my mom and fiiiinally getting an amazing photoshoot together.

I've also been spending two mornings a week doing physical therapy for my herniated disk. And you know what guys? It's worked freakin worders. For the past six weeks, I've had pretty much zero pain. Going from debilitating, hunched over back pain to completely normal in under three months is kinda amazing to me. I owe it all to my therapist, Mark, from Penn Therapy. I go in, I lie around on a heating pad for awhile, I get a massage, then do my stretches then hit the gym. What's sad is that this is my alone time and I loooove it. I'm so so happy that things seem normal again. I had a huge smile on my face this weekend, walking from the parking lot into Macys and around the store not having a second of pain. Three months ago, something that simple would have been almost impossible. So yay therapy!

Then there's Gabe. Who has Fred Flintstone feet. See, I took him into the kiddie shoe store to pick out some new kicks. The girl working there, ever so helpfully, told me that the shoes I had him in were basically binding his feet like girls in China or whereever. The rounded toe of his sneakers was forming his foot on a curve, when his square-like foot needs a square-like shoe. The things they don't tell you in parenting class. The shoe looked and felt like it fit fine but here I am, deforming my kid's feet. I believe there's an award for that sort of thing, called Mother of the Year? Luckily, he's expected to grow a bit more in his lifetime, so if I get him in the right shoes for his quarry-lovin' feet, he should be good to go soon. So I sucked up my vanity for his shoes (fun bright blue roundy-toe Sauconys) and bought him the shoes that would fit his feet properly. Luckily they're not fug.

So yeah, that's what we've been doing. Riveting, isn't it?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Little Girl Duds

Gabe has a little friend. Who's a girl. Not a girlfriend...because I think that's weird when you act like little kids have boyfriends and girlfriends. But that's just me. So yeah, just a friend.


Well she had a birthday right recently so I was excited to go pick out a girly gift. Here's the thing, this lil lady already has a sweet vintage-y style that doesn't come off the racks at Gymboree. So I turned to Etsy for something one of a kind. I found Sewing Dreams and Notions and fell in love with the adorable pillowcase-style dresses. The mix of patterns totes won me over.

So after a quick poll on my Facebook page, I decided to go with this lil number. One of my FB friends even pointed out that the tree pattern was a Christmas print, but luckily you couldn't tell, so I went with it!


The owner Heather was on the ball and got this dress shipped out to me right away. We wrapped it up and presented it to the birthday girl, who refers to Gabe as buddy. A few days later, we spotted birthday girl on Facebook rocking her new dress, which fit perfectly and looked just freaking precious. She apparently was also letting people know that "buddy gave it to her". Oh kids and their cuteness.

Look at some of the other little dresses Heather has for sale...and ON sale too!



Heather was nice enough to offer me a little discount for giving her a blog shout-out. But clearly her work speaks for itself. If you've got a little girl to clothe, she needs one of these pillowcase dresses, doesn't she?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Nobody Bakes a Cake as Tasty as a Tastykake


Ok so I'm sure this sort of thing is frowned upon in the blog world but meh to that. I'm going to post the contents of a guest post that I did over a year ago at Domestic Adventure. Why would I do such a thing? Well, it's a bangin recipe and I want to not only have it readily available on my own blog, but I want to remind you to make it. It's a little gem called a Peanut Butter TandyKake aka KandyKake (no one knows why it's changed).

See, the Tastykake Baking Co. was (until recently, they were bought by a GA company) a Philadelphia company that makes the most delicious treats around.  If you grew up here, you grew up with Tastykake Butterscotch Krimpets, Cherry Pies or Cream Filled Coffee Cakes in your lunchbox. And even as an adult, they’re popular snacks for any time of day. They are famous round these parts because they’re simply darn good.  One of their most popular snacks is the Peanut Butter KandyKake.  A dense white cake, topped with peanut butter and covered in chocolate…it can do no wrong.  So when a former co-worker shared her recipe with me years ago for duplicating the famous snack, I was sold.  And now you can get a little taste of Philly…without all the greasy cheesesteak guilt.

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs,
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons melted butter
  • 1 bag milk chocolate chips
  • 1 small jar of creamy peanut butter

Directions

1.       Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter & flour a 11 x 13 dish.  In a small saucepan, bring milk and butter to a boil. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
2.       In a large bowl, hand-mix together the eggs, flour, sugar, baking powder, vanilla and salt until combined.
3.       Pour the milk & butter mix into the large bowl and stir until smooth.
4.       Pour cake mix into floured dish and bake for 25 – 27 minutes.   Test it with a toothpick to make sure the cake is done.  If the toothpick comes out clean, immediately spread the peanut butter onto the cake.  Spread until smooth then place cake into the refrigerator until peanut butter is hard.
5.       Melt chocolate using a double boiler or by microwave and spread on top of hardened peanut butter.  Once smooth, place the cake back into the refrigerator until the chocolate is hard.
6.       Remove cake 30 to 40 minutes before serving to let topping thaw a bit.  If you try to cut it while it’s cold and hard, the chocolate will crack. Still delicious, just not as pretty.  So once it is thawed, cut into pieces. Or take it into the corner with a fork and go to town.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Twenty Months Down

Egg hunting is seeeewious business.

Dear Gabe,

You turned 20 months this week. It just hit me this week that you've been around here for almost two years. That is sorta crazy. Speaking of crazy, that bout sums up life with you lately. I know we're entering another phase of life which will simultaneously make my heart burst with happiness and make me want to rip my ears off. I know this because it happens on a daily basis. In the past month...

- You have become quite the stuntman. There is no couch or bathtub shelf too high to attempt to scamper up. Your first ever bruise shows evidence of such tomfoolery.

- You talk up a storm, but mostly at home. You're no show-off. Some of your favorite conversations go like this. Gabe: "Cars Mama Dada Gigi Dada Cars Gigi Mama Ma Dada" Mama: "Mmm Hmmm".

- You have said a ton of new words this month for reals though. And the repeating has started which methinks will become an issue soon. You know, due to your mama's truck driver mouth.

- You have put the lockdown on your tummy. That wide variety of food you'd eat? Yeah not anymore. We've been on a strict nugget/macaroni/strawberry diet. I might have to go back to the pouches if this keeps up, not that you'd mind. You do love a pouch.

- You have learned the freedom of removing your clothes. It started one day when I went in to get you from your nap. You stood there, big smile plastered on your face, holding your pants out to me. I understand bud, pants suck. Let's both wear less of them.

- You became obsessed with motorcycles. The couple across the street ride them every day and as soon as you hear them roaring, you are at the window chanting "cycle cycle cycle". Better get the fascination over with now because as long as I'm around, that'll never happen.

- You became a pain in the ass to diaper. I believe the Huggies commercials call your kind the "Rolling Pin". Add in some loud crying and it sure does make for a fun time. How boutcha knock that off, eh?

- You have stared up at me with those big blue eyes and made me turn to your daddy and say "Seriously, how'd he get sooooo cute?"  at least like, a billion times.

We love you bud. Even if you decide to randomly wake up for the day at 3:30. Yep, we still love you then. But let's not make that a habit again, aight?

Love,
Mama


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

You Did Me Right, Chicaga

Well dudes, Chi-town was everything I hoped it would be. That is 1) It's got tons of super fanny pack wearing opportunities in terms of tourist spots 2) There's more famous heart-attackable Chicago food than there is Philly food and 3) Kim and Emily were there. And were being awesome.
We breezed into town (Em from Denver and Kim from elsewhere, IL) and found our hotel, while chatting as if some of us hadn't just met a few minutes earlier. But honestly, I kind of expected that to happen. While I had already met, hung out with and loved Kim, I was pretty positive I was going to fall in blog love with Emily. She really is my mountain-living counterpart. SO anyway, first thing we had to do was find lunch. We were pointed to Portillo's for some good Chicago eats...like hot dogs and Italian Beef. The weirdos I dined with ordered burgers but I went with the beef. It was heeeeeeavenly. Yep, heavenly beef.
Afterwards, we headed up to the Magnificent Mile where we hit up Crate and Barrell and Room and Board. During this walk I realized two things 1) Chicago is freaking beautiful. Look at the tulips. They were EVERYWHERE. Brava Chicago, bra-va. Oh and 2) Chicagoans like to smoke cigs. Everywhere we went, we walked past a cloud of smoke. I'm not too annoyed by it, I was just surprised.  As a former smoker, I had thought we were all banned to Siberia by now. So yeah, beef, smokes and tulips.

Kim had found us a nice place to stay, the Holiday Inn in the Chicago Sun Times building, overlooking um, a river? A canal? I'm not sure what we decided but either way, the area was awesome looking.
That night, a life dream came true. We saw a show at The Second City. And it was phenomenal. A mix between sketch comedy and improv, they had us cracking up throughout the whole show. And it was kinda cool to know that any member of the cast could get famous on SNL, ya know? So since John took me to see SNL years ago and I caught Kids in the Hall way back, my comedy bucket list has been accomplished.
My Chi-town bucket list also included a visit to any of Rick Bayless' restaurants. Well except for the airport taco stands he runs, that wouldn't count. His spots are notoriously hard to get into but we showed up to brunch nice and early and were able to get in no problem. While the restaurant was nice, it didn't seem overboard or ostentatious like you might exect from a celeb chef. But then again, Rick Bayless seems pretty laid back so that's probably it.
I'm no food blogger so all I do is slap a 1960's filter on my food pics and call it a day. But this food deserves so much more. It was insanely good.

Once again, we walked off the pounds by trucking it all over town. We had a mission to see the Bean. And we did it. It was pretty insane looking in person.

Then we headed off to Navy Pier, which was much smaller than I thought it would be. Which normally is a good thing, since you can check out every inch of it. But notsomuch a good thing when the place is overrun by fug cheerleader stage moms and their pre-pubescent daughters wearing tiny spandex booty shorts and glittery blue eyeshadow.

So we played "When will she get pregnant"? Did I mention we're horrible people?

Ok, so after stepping off the set of a future TLC show, we got on the Sea Dog, a boat boasting an "architecture tour". Hmmm. I'd probably call it a Chicago water tour more than an architecture tour but I don't remember because my brain pretty much froze. Once we left the dock, the already cool temperature dropped about 20 degrees. Add that to a speed boat ride with an awkward tour guide and we wanted to throw ourselves overboard just to end the torture.


So apparently I talk a big game on the ol blog here. A big drinking game. I was told this by Emily, upon meeting her for the first time ever in Chicago. Since I was gettin my Chicaga on this past weekend with two pregnant ladies, she fully expected me to booze enough for the three of us. It was almost like...a challenge? So when we finally sat down long enough for a meal, I tried to drink as much wine as I possibly could.

But it's hard to get drunk when you're piling 16 lbs of carbs into your belly. Enter deep dish pizza. I think we were at Gaetano's? I have no idea. It was across the street from the Sears Tower. It was bangin though. And the restaurant staff was really nice.


Another good idea? Don't drink a bottle of wine and eat deep dish, then head up to the 1400th floor of the Sears/Willis(Whatchu talkin' bout) and think it's a good time. Especially when you and your fellow old ladies get caught up in a group of 15 teenage bus tours. Needless to say, I didn't step out onto the plastic/glass/saran wrap ledge that you can see through. The other girls were less careful with their lives. Still, it's a pretty good view from the wuss spot.

The next day we had to head home. Although it was nice to finally travel without a hangover, I was sad to leave my buddies. We just think the same exact way and it's nice to know that you can say assholish things (mostly me) and know that they won't look at you crazy, ya know? So thanks for letting me say assholish things, Kim and Em. You're good gals.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Flashback Friday/Flashforward Friday

Last year, I met Kim.


Today, we both meet Emily.


I'll be gallivanting in Chicago this weekend with some of my fave blog girls from way back. I don't know why, but I can't get enough of you bloggies. I'm making it my own personal mission to hang out with each and every one of you. Sometimes on more than one occasion. So if you're having a blog meet-up, I'll be there. In the meantime, I'll be touristing my ass all over the Windy City. See you guys next week! Daaaaaa Bears.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Always Crafty Workshop Recap!

Oh man, where do I start? The beginning? Ok, I'll start there. A group of awesome ladies came to my house for the Always Crafty Workshop. Some I knew, some I met for the first time. All fantastic. Let me just say that I've got so much respect for you guys that come to these blog meet-ups, not knowing a soul. That takes some guts and I appreciate it a TON. I really do. So anyway, this little crew gathered to get up close and personal with the hot glue guns. In my humble opinion, it turned out awesome. Everything from the decor to the set-up to the crafts to the lemonade bar to the trip to terrain at the end of it. All awesome.

L to R Adrienne (of Oreo Truffle fame), Michelle, Mary, Moi, Gabe, Bethany, Lauren, Lizzie Beth and Kate. Missing: Katie (sorry pup, we remembered to take this after you left!), Karen (who had to bail) and Nellie (who's busy growing a babe. And living across the country).

Ok, let's get to the billion pictures. First up, the lemonade bar. It featured lemonade (duh) plus Iced Tea to make Arnold Palmers. And vodka to make Naughty Arnold Palmers. I threw in some mint to make it minty, some mason jars for glasses, a wonky handpainted burlap sign and of course, the adorable straws and drink stirrers from Miss Prissy Paige.




Each room of my main floor was set up with a different craft so things didn't get too crowded. I made sure to set out examples and instructions for each craft. But I also walked around giving really helpful tips.



It's kind of obvious that I was going with a yellow, gray and burlap theme so when lunch showed up in these adorable matching boxes, I was thaaaaa-rilled!

One of my favorite things to set up, with major help of Bethany of course, was the Welcome center! I had found this stainless steel monstrosity in my neighbor's trash last year and in no time at all, had John hauling it home. The hanging baskets made it perfect to hold the swag bags and shopping bags to take all the goods home.


Styling by Bethany, Boots by Gabe and Flowers sent by Nellie for the occasion.

One of my favorite things about having Bethany around beforehand is that she is a crafty enabler. If I'm thinking something in my head but dismiss it for being "overboard" or "too much", she's there to push me over the awesome edge. For months, I had planned and planned for this day, making lists and drawing diagrams of how things were going to be set up. And I was good with those plans. Then Bethany showed up and those plans just got amped. Things like lemon chair swags happened. I think the word you're looking for is...delightful.

Doily chandaliers also happen.

As do giant paper flowers made from Trader Joes bags. See, I knew not ever remembering my reusable bags would come in handy. Sue me, hippies.
Every room was filled with bright yellow forsythia, courtesy of my backyard.

Oh and the best color coordinating Always Crafty accessory?
Miss Nora. Showing up looking like she knew our color scheme! So thank you Nora, you really added that certain something we were lacking. And thank you Bethany for helping me make this thing look amazing.

So that's it. What do you guys think? I can totally see another one of these things happening again in the fall. New season, new theme, new color scheme. You in?

Oh and the winner of the terrain gift card pack has been announced here!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Easter Hangover

With all of the Always Crafty Workshop madness going on, Easter kinda snuck up on me. Of course, that doesn't mean I didn't pick up a little seersucker suit from Marshalls when I saw it 3 months ago. I sure did do that. I've been waiting forever to put Gabe in a seersucker suit. I just love them. And this didn't disappoint. I paired it with a light pink polo and some canvas skimmer shoes and he was a handsome little devil. Sure the suit was cheap and had ballooning pants that I actually had to hem but who cares, it had a crust of orange circus peanut goo across it by the end of the day. One and done outfit? You bet.




I can't handle the cuteness. For reals. He just makes the best faces.



After spending the morning with John's fam, we headed back home, where we set up an egg hunt for Gabe and his cousins. Gabe, well, dude was a natural. He scooped up every egg in sight and then some. He ran around the yard, suit in disarray, looking like a mini drunk businessman. Drunk on candy that his Gigi kept sneaking him. Then puking it up later. His first puke...documented here.





This is your brain on no nap and too many circus peanuts.




The best shot I could get of this motley crew. It actually reminds me of an album cover too, doesn't it?

After the epic egg hunt where not all of the hidden eggs turned up (par for the course for my mom, who wraps and hides Christmas presents, only to remember them on Christmas morning but not knowing where she stowed them), we headed inside for dinner. Now I was only told I was hosting Easter dinner two days ago and I've never done it before so I was at a loss as to what to do. So I rebelled. I was like, ham? Yeah, I'm not cooking a ham. Who even really likes a ham? You know what people do like? Ham and Cheese Sliders. So that's what we had. My mom brought the mac & cheese and asparagus. My brother brought the drinkies. And a bangin Easter dinner was had.


L to R Gabe's Easter Basket, Easter card from my brother, Tissue Paper Carrots and finally, the point of this picture, my tablesetting.

I didn't go crazy like I normally do with the tablescape action. I used a lot of leftovers from Always Crafty and spent like 3 minutes doing it. Still thought it looked cute. But you know what was even cuter? Gigi reading Peter Rabbit to Gabe and Lydia after dinner.


I know. I know.

More circus peanuts!

So that was Easter. Two thumbs up. Minus the puke part.



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