Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread and Family Traditions

Creating traditions with my little family has got to be one of my favorite things about being a parent. My Mom was the master of tradition-making (and still is), and now as a Mom myself I find myself doing many of the same things we did together, with my boys.

I really feel that one of the coolest parts about being a parent is having the ability to shape your kids' childhood in a positive way, and create magical memories that they'll carry with them forever.  And when I think about little Charlie, who might not necessarily remember details from these first years, I remind myself that it's about the feeling in everything we do. There's just something in the air during the holidays and each year all of it- the mood, the emotion, the magic- all rolls into the next year until it's become something special, and that feeling is now what my kids will think of whenever they think of the holidays growing up. Pretty neat.

So this year Henry and I baked chocolate chip pumpkin loafs to drop off for neighbors, friends, and family. It's a fun tradition we started when he was a baby and we had just moved into the neighborhood. It's been so fun the past couple of years especially with Henry helping more and more, and this year he pretty much made all of the loaves with just a tiny bit of help from me. Yay, Henry!

There's just something so special about watching this little baby that rocked to sleep every night begin to do these big kid things. It's still surprising to me that this tiny person is not a baby anymore- here he is cracking eggs! Here he is, telling me how many loaves we need to make for x-amount of friends, and here he is, writing out the gift tags! Shocking. I shared this thought on Instagram the other day, wondering if I will always see the baby behind the boy, and later, the man. At 15, 25, 39...will I still see the baby face lingering somewhere in there? I think so. I hope so.

So on this day my suddenly big kid stirred and poured and baked. Charlie and I watched, I helped where it was needed, and the day flew by, in a haze of sugar and chocolate and the scent of fresh pumpkin. We packaged our bread up for delivery, another year and another tradition tucked away somewhere safe in my mind, with the hopes I'll always remember these special days with my babies.

Here's the recipe we used, from Sally's Baking Addiction- enjoy!

1 and 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light or dark brown sugar
1 and 1/2 cups pumpkin puree (canned or fresh)
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
1/4 cup orange juice
2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Grease your pan with coconut oil and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt together until combined. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, granulated sugar, and brown sugar together until combined. Whisk in the pumpkin, oil, and orange juice. Pour these wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and gently mix together using a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon. Fold in the chocolate chips. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 60 minutes or until a fork comes out clean.

Enjoy! And as you’re creating your own holiday traditions, Fisher Price (and I!) wants to hear your family’s story.  Over on Instagram, they’re announcing the The Fisher-Price™ Holiday Traditions Sweepstakes! To enter, follow @FisherPrice on Instagram, and then post an original photo that captures your favorite “Holiday Tradition” with the hashtag #FPTraditionsSweeps.  The sweeps runs from November 24 to December 21st- and see the official rules here.

*This post was sponsored by Fisher Price.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Big FOUR!

Can you guys believe I forgot to post a super sentimental, mushy post about my baby's birthday? Ah! It's been the busiest weekend though, from Henry's actual birthday to his birthday party, to our Friendsgiving. A total whirlwind that kind of feels it's just slowing down...but wait, there's Thanksgiving! So nope, craziness continues...but I really do feel like it's the best kind of craziness!

But FOUR. I don't even know what to say. It truly, truly feels like just yesterday this big boy was a tiny babe. And now he's fully a kid, a big brother, a wonderful son, and really coming into his own.

This year we wanted to keep it simple. The day before his big day he got to lead the "birthday circle" at school and Hank and I had a great time telling stories about him, passing around baby photos, and singing songs. On his actual birthday morning Hank and I took him to IHOP (his one request!) where he enjoyed a smiley face chocolate chip pancake followed by an ice cream sundae. Ha! He was in heaven. We spent the rest of the day hanging out, and ended the night with Bill's Pizza and frozen yogurt. Henry proclaimed that it was "the best birthday EVER!" so I think we did a-okay.

The next morning was his birthday party- another exercise in keeping things simple. This year Henry chose the bowling alley which turned out to be SO much fun. It was truly my favorite birthday he's ever had, and all of the kids had the best time. It was the easiest, breeziest two hours. We arrived at 10am, they bowled until about 11, we did bowling alley pizza and Costco cake, bowled some more, and it was time to go. No decorations, no elaborate anything. Henry was so happy and it made me so happy that we were able to create such a fun and memorable time for him. I'm still glowing thinking about how much he was smiling the entire day.

So yes, four. It's unbelievable to me and so exciting to think of all that's ahead. I can't wait to see how much more this little guy will change in the next year...and if this year was any indication, we're in a for a wild, fun ride.

Happy 4th birthday, Henry!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Crafting Community // Come Craft With Us!

Now that Henry's older it's even more fun to craft and make things together. It's always been great, but now at this age he's bursting with so many ideas about how to do things, and I love that. Watching his creativity and interest in art flourish has been such a magical thing, and probably one of my most favorite parts of parenting.

This past weekend Henry and I (and Charlie too, in the Ergo) made placemats for the kids' Thanksgiving table. We had a great time with the Kimmel Kids stencils and as much as Henry enjoyed using them, I enjoyed looking at them- they're gorgeous. He traced the leaves and colored them in, then we wrote out each of the kids' names in the fall-themed colors. They turned out beautiful.

And in just a couple of weeks the whole family and I will be heading out to LA to attend the Crafting Community Handmade Holiday event, chock full of gorgeous crafts just like this, and so many more must-do and see parts of the event. Take a look here, and if you're in the area we would absolutely LOVE to meet you...and craft with you!

Happy almost-Thanksgiving!

*this post was brought to you by Crafting Community in conjunction with Ergobaby.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Weekend Links

 I took this in Flagstaff last weekend- one of my most favorite places!

First, if you have a moment please visit this Go Fund Me page, set up for expecting mama Tiffany. She became pregnant earlier this year and soon after found out she had liver cancer. This page has been created to help offset medical costs. I wanted to share this here, and if you're moved, please continue to spread the word. Thank you.

My friend John (who actually introduced Hank and me!) just launched his new website. Yay John!

The 10 best documentaries on Netflix.

Interesting article about how religion has become 'toxic' in the UK.

11 babies who look exactly like famous people.

If you're thinking about starting something- you are not late.

Pie crust tips!

If Dwight Schrute quotes were motivational posters...

Why every newborn you see if wrapped in the same baby blanket.

Here's what really goes on at Planned Parenthood everyday.

Wishlist: this necklace, this tee, and these sneakers.

Are you a Taylor Swift fan?

What the Cosby uproar says about how far we've come.

To make: homemade coconut milk shampoo.

Check these children's books out- they're taking after your favorite rap songs!

30 famous women on overcoming their insecurities.

Two of my most favorite blogs (and people!): one and two.

On not trying to have it all.

And finally, an interesting read: What You Are Probably Doing That Will Cost Your Daughter $1.4 Million.

Have a great weekend! xo

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Holiday Gift Guide...for Her!

Here's the second of my gift guides, and this time, it's all about the ladies! I included some things on the pricier side I wouldn't normally include in a round up because hey, it's the holidays, right? I feel like this is the time to get that one special thing you have your eye on! ;) To get some ideas that are all under $40, click here to see a few more round ups I've recently posted. Ironically, Hank and I don't exchange gifts, so these are all just things I would love to give to any gal in my life. Enjoy, and happy shopping. xoxo

1. Free People'Hybrid' Strappy Gold Leather Bootie
2. Flannel Cargo Workshirt in Buffalo Check
3. Rifle Paper Co. Notebooks
4. Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar
5. The Handmaid's Tale
6. Honeycomb Pom-Pom Hat
7. Lotta from Stockholm Swedish Clogs
8. Nike 'Air Pegasus 83' Sneaker
9. Beats Studio Over-Ear Headphones
10. Double Midi Ring
11. Sam Edelman 'Petty' Boots
12. White Time Sawyer- Rose Case
13. Birdling Dark Olive Overnighter
14. Woolrich John Rich & Bros. Buffalo Check Blanket
15. Leader Bag Julien Backpack
16. J. Crew Chateau Parka
17. Golden Crossing Necklace
18. Drybar Big Hair Don't Care Holiday Kit

*affiliate links were used in this post.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

On Not Believing in God.


I feel like I have to put a disclaimer on this because inevitably someone will take what I say personally, or the wrong way. Below I share some thoughts about religion (my lack of actually) and nothing I say is meant to question your beliefs or you as a person. These are just my thoughts and my own experiences, and it's important to me that you know that I respect ALL of you, all of your beliefs, and your right to practice, or to not practice any religion you so choose. The beauty of this world is that we are all so different, and I love that this is a safe place for me to share pieces of my life. Thank you.


There have been times in my life where I so badly wished I could believe in god. Any god, really. Your god, the god my friends believe in. And believe me, I've tried. I grew up going to church and learning all about it, I looked up into those rafters and waited to hear a voice. I went to confessional and told the priest all about the things I did wrong, my 8-year-old imagination running wild, imagining God to be right behind that little door. If I opened it would I see him? If I did all my Hail Marys would he appear? But he didn't. And I understand that faith is about faith- in about believing that there is someone, something there...but for me that belief just never took root.

It's a gray area for me in a way though, because sometimes I think there has to be something, you know? Energies swirling around when we die, finding a new home in the ground, the trees, the blue blue sky. Maybe all of it gets put back into the atmosphere and becomes part of everything we are and do. Maybe. Hank on the other hand, believes that when we die, we die. There is no afterlife, no energy taking root in a new home, that it is just the end. And I can see that being the case, much more than I can see a perfect heaven that is designed from all of our hopes and dreams...but I just don't know.

I'm fascinated with religion though. Many of my friends are Christian and I always find it interesting to hear what they believe and why they do. I think it's amazing that they have that kind of faith and can just believe, be it Christianity or Buddhism or whatever else. I love learning about all of it, but in the same breath my thoughts go to all of the bad in the world and it doesn't make sense to me. It never will. I don't understand why children get sick and die, why horrible accidents happen and why wars and genocide and whatever other bad, terrible things I could name here take place. WHY. And so my mind can't grasp it, I can't believe that some old book written by old men could ever be the blueprint for how I'm supposed to live my life. I can't believe that we should ever tell anyone else who to marry or how to live, or make someone else feel bad for living outside of what we believe to be the "right" way to live.

There have been so many times in my life I wanted so badly to lean on something, to pray to someone. When my Grandma died I wished I knew where she went. But I didn't- I don't. I have no idea. And when all 19 of our firefighters died, and Andrew was just gone, it was shocking to me to hear people say there was a reason for it- it was God's plan. No. Nanny, Andrew, Kendall. I don't know where they are. I don't know if everything they did in their life determined some sort of afterlife. And I have no idea if I'll ever see them again. Honestly, I don't believe I ever will.

So what do I believe in? I believe in science. And I believe in doing the right thing and being kind. And I believe that there is a reason things happen and that the universe has a plan, at least sometimes. I believe that we get what we put out there, and at times I do think that karma must be real. I'm well aware I contradict myself and sometimes these beliefs don't make sense to me either. And maybe that's all this part of my life will ever be. Constantly questioning, not really knowing. And maybe at the very end of my life I'll find that there is something there, that all along it was right in front of me. Maybe I'll find out I was completely wrong but if you want to know the truth...I'm pretty sure we'll ALL be wrong.

I'll keep on this journey though, reading and thinking and questioning. I'll keep living this life as if it's all I've got, this here and now. I'll make decisions based on what I believe to be true and right, and love as hard as I can. And really, that's enough for me. If this one life is all I have I want to do it right and do it with love. Because at the end of the day that's what I believe in and focus everything on- love and love and love.

Thank you for reading my thoughts. <3

*read more about this topic on this blog here and here.
and more on this topic, not on this blog here and here.
(be sure to click that last link if you have a moment)

Blogging tips