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  1. Thursday, September 29, 2011

    Gearing Up for Baby Giveaway: Matthew Kate Kids’ Clothes

    This giveaway is now closed – thank you!

    First off, before you think I’m Wonder Woman or something, I’m not. I wrote this post days before Owen was born, knowing I would be out of it this week. Since I am in baby lala land right now, I have another cute Gearing Up for Baby giveaway for you!

    A good friend of mine from years ago (before either of us had kids!) has started a super cute company and I’m happy to share it with you today! Her company Matthew Kate sells clothes for kids that mark their birthday milestones. Jessica sent my girls each “3 Years” and “6 Years” t-shirts last year and they LOVE them. She also sent me the “Oh What a Year!” baby boy shirt set that I can’t wait to use. Might have to do something like this with our little guy using the shirts!

    Matthew Kate is giving away a baby set to one of you lucky people and the winner can choose either Boy or Girl! If you have a baby, you’ll love it…and if you don’t, this makes a GREAT baby gift! Same drill as always…just leave a comment on this post. Please post comments by Midnight PT on Monday, October 3. Winner will be announced on Tuesday, October 4.

    Good luck!

  2. Tuesday, September 27, 2011

    Owen is here!

    Just wanted to put a quick post up and let you know that Baby Boy Maynard has arrived! AND he has a name…Owen!

    I was scheduled for an induction, but ended up going into labor on my own a few hours earlier. Unfortunately there were some complications and we ended up having a very fast emergency c-section, but both Owen and I are doing very well now and we go home tomorrow!

    Thank you ALL for your baby name ideas, well wishes and support! Off to snuggle with my son…

  3. Dillon Rogers Jewelry Giveaway Winner

    Time to announce the winner of the Dillon Rogers jewelry giveaway!

    Amy Thomas, who said, “Such a great idea! Love it ! One my daughters is just starting to write cursive and she would LOVE to write her name!”

    Congratulations, Amy! You are going to LOVE whatever you end up spending your $125 on…I bet your daughter’s newfound handwriting skills will look beautiful around your neck! Thanks again to Dillon Rogers!

  4. Sunday, September 25, 2011

    Week 244 Menu

    Yes, I’m still here. But we are going to the hospital today…on my birthday! Yup, baby boy will most likely have the same birthday as me. Pretty fun! Wish us luck today!

    This week I am not planning a menu. I figure having a baby is a good excuse, right? So, I’m giving myself a break! I’m not even posting a photo today. Take that, Blog.

    BUT…you are not off the hook so easily! Please post your menus…please please please! I’m counting on all of you to step up while I slack off!

    Don’t forget to enter the Dillon Rogers giveaway if you haven’t already.

    And if you have cookie recipes that you like (or love!) that are vegan, gluten-free, egg-free, etc, please be sure to comment on Friday’s Call for Recipes post!

    Adios, amigos. I’m off to have a baby! Happy Birthday to Me!

  5. Friday, September 23, 2011

    Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip Cookies…and an ‘Equal Opportunity Cookie’ Call for Recipes

    Sorry I disappeared. No baby. Just Cate and her broken arm. She had surgery on Tuesday and is doing very well…today was her first day back at school, where she was welcomed by applause and many interested friends who were very happy to see her. Between her doctor’s appointments and mine this week, I’m plum worn out! The baby should be coming this weekend, so stay tuned for an announcement!

    All this nuttiness had me craving baked goods. I had seen a recipe for cream cheese chocolate chip cookies on Pinterest recently and decided to give them a whirl last night. When I sat down and read the recipe, I realized it was an adapted recipe by a mom who’s son has an egg allergy. The cream cheese was serving as an egg substitute in the recipe. I can eat eggs, so I was just going to throw an egg in there, but I decided to be courageous and give it a try.

    I dug around the web, found a few similar recipes and ended up going with this recipe from a blog called Art of Dessert. The verdict? The flavor is great, but it took some tweaking to get the texture right. I cooked the first batch right after making the dough. Combine that with not cooking them quite long enough at 325 degrees and they were super flat and sort of gooey. After letting the dough sit in the fridge overnight, things improved greatly. I highly recommend cooking the cookies after the dough has been refrigerated at least overnight. I also cooked them longer and at a higher temperature. The shape and texture came out much better. Once I got it figured out, the cookies were fab! Definitely a great eggless chocolate chip cookie recipe!

    Yes, these two cookies came from the same dough! Left: Unrefrigerated dough, not cooked long enough. Right: Refrigerated dough, cooked at the right time and temperature. 

    In the spirit of ‘Equal Opportunity Cookies’ everywhere, I thought it would be fun to do a special Call for Recipes today. The theme? Cookies for people with special food considerations! Please share your best vegan, gluten-free, eggless and/or allergy-friendly cookie recipes!

    Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip Cookies...and an 'Equal Opportunity Cookie' Call for Recipes
    Recipe type: Dessert
    • 1 cup butter or margarine, at room temperature
    • ¾ cup sugar
    • ¾ cup brown sugar
    • 8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla
    • 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
    1. Directions (rewritten a bit by Jane):
    2. Preheat oven to 375ºF (Jane note: my batch that came out was cooked at 350 degrees in a convection oven).
    3. Cream together butter and sugars in a mixer – beat until light and fluffy. Add cream cheese and vanilla – mix well. Sift together flour, baking soda and salt then gradually blend dry mixture into butter mixture. Stir in chocolate chips.
    4. Drop heaping tablespoons (Jane note: I used my medium scoop, which is 2 Tablespoons) onto ungreased cookie sheets (Jane note: I cooked mine on my Silpat) about 2 inches apart. Bake at 375ºF for 9 to 11 minutes, or until golden brown (Jane note: I cooked mine at 350 degrees F in a convection oven for about 10 minutes).

  6. Tuesday, September 20, 2011

    Gearing Up for Baby Giveaway: Dillon Rogers Jewelry

    This giveaway is now closed. Thank you!

    I am SUPER excited about today’s giveaway. Really, really excited. Which is good, since Cate broke her arm last night and has to go under anesthesia today for a procedure to re-align the bone…so, I’m actually not feeling super excited about much right now and really hoping Baby Boy stays in for a few more days! Send happy, healthy vibes our way today! Back to the fun stuff…

    Some of you may remember back in the day I received my most favorite necklace ever from Dillon Rogers (which will soon be updated with a third disc with a yet-to-be-determined boy name!). We held a giveaway and one lucky person walked away with a necklace of her own (she was equally as ecstatic about it as I was). Dillon Rogers recently contacted me about a new product that I think just might end up being my new favorite necklace. They were generous enough to send me one and agreed to another giveaway. Woo-hoo!

    So, this is the new product: “My Child’s Signature” leather necklaces. How cute are these? Seriously! All you do is send in a photo or scan of your child’s handwriting and they imprint it on the leather. My girls are just as enamored with the necklace as I am. When I wear it, they both look at it constantly (and Cate is always putting her name in front of Anna’s, which is funny).

    This is how I’m wearing mine…both tags on one silver chain.

    Giveaway time! One of you lucky people will receive a $125 gift certificate to Dillon Rogers! You can spend it on one of these adorable signature leather necklaces, or anything else you like! (As much as I love my new necklace, the silver disc necklace will always be my fave!) To enter, simply leave a comment on this post by Midnight PT on Tuesday, September 27. Winner will be announced on Wednesday, 9/28. Good luck! And big thank you to Dillon Rogers for such a fun giveaway!

  7. Sunday, September 18, 2011

    Week 243 Menu

    Well…today’s my due date. And this baby is still cooking. And he still doesn’t have a name. So, nothing much new around here! (P.S. People started sharing name ideas with their menus…and, yes, name suggestions are welcome! We need all the help we can get!)

    My dad arrived yesterday. Such a relief – if I go into labor in the middle of the night, we have someone here to take care of the girls. Phew! Last night he helped me cut up some melon. As he was cutting he said, “So, do I get a mention on the blog now?” So, here’s his big shout out. Good job, Dad.

    Here is my total non-menu menu for the week. I’m just hoping that one of these days has hospital food on the menu!

    Rachel Sandwiches

    – Frozen pizza

    – Rubio’s


    – The girls have a pizza party, adults fend for themselves

    – Eat out

    – Grandma’s in town! Maybe she’ll rustle something up…or maybe we’ll just eat out again. 😉

    For real. We NEED your menus now. I am no inspiration whatsoever. Please share what you’ve got cooking for the week!

  8. Friday, September 16, 2011

    Gearing Up for Baby: Maxi Cosi Car Seat & Stroller

    I have another car seat and stroller review for you, and it’s another product that broke me out of the Babies-R-Us-store-wandering rut. Maxi Cosi was generous enough to provide me with their Mico infant car seat and their Mila stroller (which works with the car seat) to try out and let you know what I think. This system is on the affordable side of the spectrum, which I think most of us greatly appreciate, and I’m excited to share it with you!

    First impressions – things I’m liking a lot:

    • The system looks cool and there are good color choices. I know, looks aren’t everything, but I do appreciate it when a company realizes that just because a kid might like Winnie the Pooh doesn’t meant the parents are going to want to make a Pooh statement everywhere they go!

    • I love the fact that this stroller is quite compact, similar to the Maclaren that I love so much, but you can also use it with the infant car seat! And, once you’re done with the car seat, you can use this stroller up to 50 pounds. Great versatility, you get your money’s worth.
    • The brake system is super easy to use. I actually am really loving this feature. To brake, push the button on the back right wheel with your foot, to un-brake, push the button on the left wheel. (Works better than my Maclaren’s brake system by a long shot.)
    • When the stroller is folded, it can stand upright. I really like this feature a lot.

    • Large basket underneath for storage.
    • Folding and unfolding the stroller is easy, and you can either push the release in the back with your foot or pull a handle.
    • Car seat is lightweight, which is nice when lugging baby around, and there is side-impact protection.
    • Stroller comes with a rain shield.
    On first pass, here are the things I don’t love:
    • Easiest access to the storage is through the front of the stroller – would prefer if the access was from the back.
    • No tray by the handles to put stuff. There is a cup holder and a pocket in the canopy, so at least there’s something up top for keeping a few little items. No tray for the kids, either.
    • Typical small stroller wheels. I like my wheels bigger so I can go off-roading! 😉


    Jury’s still out:
    • You can’t adjust handle height, but the handles aren’t too short and you do not kick the wheels when strolling, so it may not be a big deal.
    • Canopies on the stroller and the car seat seem like they’re a decent size, but want to use them to see if they really do cover enough.
    After we use this with the baby a bit, we’ll let you know what we think, so stay tuned!

  9. Wednesday, September 14, 2011

    Gooey Cinnamon Biscuits

    Yesterday I happened to see this recipe for Gooey Cinnamon Biscuits on my friend Maria’s food blog. (Side note: Maria is just as pregnant as I am, but with her first baby…yea for Maria and Josh!) I pinned it so I would not forget to try the recipe later, then made a command decision that later would be now. I literally made them within hours of seeing the recipe!

    These Gooey Cinnamon Biscuits are just that…gooey, cinnamoney, biscuity goodness. We all enjoyed them for dessert last night, but they certainly are perfect for a breakfast or brunch treat. (In fact, I’m eating leftovers as I type this morning and, oh man, they are good.) This recipe is super easy and doesn’t take long to throw together.

    Warning: Gooey Cinnamon Biscuits are not healthy. But who’s keeping track?

    Also, the original recipe calls for cinnamon chips, which my lame-o grocery store doesn’t carry. But I was determined to give this recipe a try, so I modified it without the chips and everything came out great. But you can bet your bottom dollar I will be ordering some cinnamon chips from King Arthur and trying the recipe again sometime! (Hershey’s makes cinnamon chips as well and Maria found them at her local grocery store, so maybe you’ll be lucky like her!)

    Gooey Cinnamon Biscuits
    Adapted from Maria, who adapted it from The Kitchn
    Recipe type: Dessert
    • Ingredients needed for both versions:
    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 Tablespoon dark brown sugar, divided
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • 2 cups heavy cream, divided
    • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • Additional ingredients when using cinnamon chips:
    • ½ cup cinnamon chips, divided
    • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
    • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
    • Additional ingredients when NOT using cinnamon chips:
    • 3 Tablespoons cold butter, cut into tiny cubes
    • 2½ Tablespoons brown sugar, not packed but loose
    • 1 teaspoon cinnamon, divided into ¼ and ¾ teaspoons
    1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Lightly grease an 8 x 8-inch baking pan and set aside.
    2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, 1 Tablespoon brown sugar, baking powder, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, and salt. Pour in 1½ cups of the cream and mix just until combined. Dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface and pat into rectangle, about 16”³ x 8”³.
    3. Cut the rectangle into 8 equally-sized squares. Lay four of the squares in the prepared baking pan.
    4. CINNAMON CHIP DIRECTIONS: Sprinkle 2 Tablespoons of brown sugar, ½ teaspoon cinnamon, and ¼ cup of the cinnamon chips over the squares. Place the remaining biscuit dough squares on top. Top the biscuits with the remaining cinnamon chips.
    5. NON-CINNAMON CHIP DIRECTIONS: Evenly spread 2 Tablespoons of the cubed cold butter over the squares. Sprinkle with 1½ Tablespoons brown sugar and ¾ tsp cinnamon. Place 4 remaining biscuit squares on top. Spread evenly with the remainder of the butter (1 Tbsp.), brown sugar (1 Tbsp.) and cinnamon (3/4 tsp).
    6. Bake for 14 to 16 minutes (I baked for ~25 minutes before the biscuit was cooked through enough), or until the biscuits are slightly golden brown on the outside and just cooked through. Remove from the oven. Use a knife to spread and smear the hot cinnamon chips on top of the biscuits, if using.
    7. Whisk together the remaining ½ cup cream, confectioner’s sugar, and vanilla extract. Lightly drizzle the biscuits with glaze. Serve immediately. Cover any leftovers and be sure to zap them in the microwave for about 15-20 seconds before eating!
    Original recipe uses cinnamon chips. If you do not have any handy, I have provided an alternative method.

  10. Tuesday, September 13, 2011

    Gearing Up for Baby: Orbit Stroller Travel System G2

    Each time we get pregnant, at some point I realize we need an infant car seat and stroller. So I head to Babies R Us and end up feeling completely overwhelmed and frozen with indecision.When I was pregnant with Cate, almost all the car seats and travel systems were UGLY. (Remember the plaid phase?) So, I’ll admit, I pretty much selected our travel system based on looks. We ended up buying an Eddie Bauer Vector stroller (three-wheel style) and car seat. It was actually really easy to use – easy to fold the stroller, easy to snap the car seat in and out of both the car base and the stroller, and the large wheels made for easy strolling over all kinds of terrain. But the back wheels were so wide it drove me bonkers when I went to any stores. When Cate grew out of the system, I sold it and for almost the same amount I bought it for. (Note, they don’t make this system anymore.)

    For Anna, I bought a used Peg Perego system (it was practically new, great condition). I had a few friends who literally gushed over their Peg Perego car seats and strollers, so I thought I would love it. And I didn’t. AT ALL. In fact, the whole time we used it I was wishing I still had the old Eddie Bauer system. It was nearly impossible to snap the car seat into the stroller without a major struggle, it was not very easy snapping it into the base in the car, and folding and un-folding the stroller was a pain in the patootie. I didn’t even bother selling that one, I just gave it away.

    Enter pregnancy #3. With no car seat or stroller in sight, I was going to just get the Graco Metrolite or Chicco systems, keep things simple. But then I decided it would be fun to do a review or two on the blog and actually try out some strollers and car seats that I would want to use, based on research. Today I’m reviewing the Orbit Baby travel system, a high-end product that I am sooooo excited to have. Later this week I’ll review a travel system in a lower price-range and let you know how they compare.

    As I was editing DailyBuzz Moms one day, I came across this review of the Orbit travel system. I had never heard of Orbit and was immediately intrigued, especially when the title of the post included the words “life-changing.” I contacted Orbit and thankfully they decided to work with me. Yippee! They provided me with a Stroller Travel System G2 to review and use with our new baby. Orbit is based in the Bay Area, so I had the chance to meet them at their offices, where they gave me a tour of my new travel system.

    First impression – parents designed this system. There are so many little things that only a parent would have thought of that are incorporated into the design. To name a few:

    • Easy to fold and unfold the stroller base.

    • Soft carrier handle on the car seat…it is so much more comfortable to carry on your arm!
    • Paparazzi shield built into the canopy – no more trying to get a blanket to stay in the right spot when you want baby covered.
    • You don’t have to remove the straps from the car seat to remove the cover for washing. Love this feature.

    • You can rotate the car seat on the stroller base and the car base. This feature ROCKS. It’s handy when using the stroller to be able to choose which direction you want the baby to face, but it’s especially handy with taking the baby in and out of the car. You can click it in whatever way it lands and then rotate it to the proper position, or you can just leave the car seat in the car and turn it to face you to put the baby in. It’s pretty much genius.

    • Side impact protection on the car seat.
    • Babies can use this car seat up to 30 pounds, and, from what I can tell, there appears to be ample room for baby to still be comfortable up to that weight.
    • They used certified green materials.
    • The stroller base folds up compactly.
    • The front wheels can swivel or be locked straight.
    • Handle height on the stroller is adjustable.
    On first pass, here are the things that I don’t love:
    • When you fold the stroller, the handles hit the ground really easily. I think they’re going to get banged up pretty good, but at least the folding process is a snap.
    • The car seat is quite large. When placed in the center of the backseat of our Ford Taurus (yes, we drive a wicked-cool Ford Taurus), it stands very tall, making it hard for me to see the girls on the sides. There is still plenty of room for the girls, it’s just really tall, blocking visibility for me.
    One thing the jury is still out for me on:
    • The storage space under the stroller is removable, so you can pack it up in your house, carry it around, etc. I think I’m going to like this feature because I do believe it’s hard to stuff things under strollers in general. It’s really easy to remove the pod and put it back on the base. But I’m still wondering if it will really be easier. I’m just going to have to use it to see what I really think!
    Once we’ve used the system for a little while I’ll do a foll0w-up post to let you know how it goes! This system is on the expensive side but, like a luxury car, it really does have all the bells and whistles that make life easy and comfortable. I am super excited to use the system and will keep you posted on how we like it!
    Orbit provided me with their Stroller Travel System G2, but all opinions expressed in this post are my own.