Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Me and Madeline - My Etsy shop and a giveaway

It's been a long time in the works, so I'm very excited to officially announcing the Grand Opening of my Etsy shop, Me and Madeline.

(And yes, I think I just gave away Peanut's name!)

An idea hatched several months ago that I mulled over for some time and then just decided to make it happen. My shop is a work in progress. But if you head over there right now, you'll find lots of warm fall hats, some girly headbands and even a few items for little boys and men.

I've spent many hours developing unique patterns for each of my items and I'm so happy with the result. In fact, I'm loving my flower beanie hats so much, it's actually getting me excited about cold weather! I think you'll agree that my sweet Madeline and my patient sisters and niece do a great job modeling my creations!

Starting today through the entire month of October, I'll be offering FREE shipping on all orders! Check the shop announcements on the front page for more details. I'm also excited to offer special packaging on all my orders. They arrive on your doorstep ready for gift-giving! Click here for more photos.

I've also started a new blog specifically for my Etsy shop, but it will also be where I release my inner crafty side. I'll be sharing fun tutorials for projects that I've worked on and also keep you updated when I release a new item to the shop or run a special. I hope you'll check it out. This blog will still be here, of course!

In celebration of this new venture, of course I'm hosting a giveaway! I would love to custom make something for you or your little one! Just head over to the new shop and leave me a comment letting me know what item you'd love to have.

TWO of my readers will receive a $20 credit in the shop.

For extra entries, please feel free to leave an additional comment for each of the following that you chose to do:

1. Follow the "Me and Madeline" blog.
2. Follow "Me and Madeline" on Twitter.
3. Tweet this giveaway (can be done once daily).

I'll randomly select two winners on October 11th and announce the winner on Monday, October 12th.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Shopping in my kitchen

I woke up this morning fully intending on making a grocery run today.

As the morning wore on, the idea of loading up my cranky toddler in the car and entering the inner circle of hell (otherwise known as Wal-Mart), looked less and less appealing.

So I grabbed a notepad and decided I was going to see how many meals I could come up with using just the items I already had in my pantry, fridge and freezer.

When I reached seven decent dinners, I stopped and concluded that I absolutely did NOT need to go shopping this week. The cupboards that looked so bare were full of things that could be put together to for nice home-cooked meals. As a bonus, I now have a menu for the week and I've already pulled out the crock-pot and threw some frozen meat in the fridge to thaw. I'm halfway there!

By the way, this is a great way to make your grocery list! It's easy to see what items you need when you start assembling meals on paper.

Here's the meals I came up using just what I already had on hand:

Baked Ziti
Baked Potatoes with sour cream, cheese and bacon
Black beans, stewed tomatoes and brown rice
Roasted chicken, rice and green beans
Chicken soup w/rice (can't let that carcass go to waste!)
Chicken quesedillas with grilled peppers and onions
Veggie omelet
Stuffed Peppers (sans ground beef)

I'm embarrassed that I even thought I needed to go shopping! I even found a nice steak in the freezer I forgot I had. We have enough oatmeal and cereal to get us through a week of breakfast and leftovers will do nicely for lunches. It took me 15 minutes to go shopping in my kitchen and I did it all while Peanut ate breakfast. Can't beat that!

I'm curious what meals YOU might come up with if you took stock of the food in your kitchen! Want to play along? Leave me a comment with the meals you found hiding in your cupboards. Or blog about it and link up here. I'll throw up a MckLinky, just for fun!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Peanut picks pumpkins

A couple days ago, Peanut and I (along with Peanut's sweet cousin) visited Pop-Pop and Mom-Mom's garden. We've been blessed with an abundance of all kinds of fresh vegetables all summer from this gigantic "family" garden that Justin's grandparents have kept. Peanut wasn't crazy about the pumpkins -or more specifically, the vines that she kept tripping over - but she had a blast playing in the dirt with her cousin, watching the cows, feeding the mules and other shenanigans that can only be done at Pop-Pop's house.

I really have an addiction to taking pictures of my daughter. As soon as she's old enough to figure it out, I'm sure she's going to find a way to accidentally break my camera. But for now, she's at my mercy and I'll continue to fill up computer space, CDs and flash drives with images of her sweet little 19 month old face.

Oh, and post them here of course.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Comfy Kangaroo Nursing Tank - Review and Giveaway!


Comment #3 is our winner!

If you read this post from a few weeks back, you already know that I think breastfeeding is very important.

And any product that helps promote breastfeeding is a great product in my book.

One of the things that I found very useful, especially in those first few months, was my trusty nursing tank. The only problem was, it began to show wear and stretch out after a couple of washes.

I was given the opportunity to review the Comfy Kangaroo nursing tank a couple months ago. I waited so long to post my review because I wanted to really put this tank to the test.

This is not your run-of-the-mill nursing tank. The bra is detachable - the tank comes with an extra pair of straps, so you can use the bra with other tanks, or use a different nursing bra with your tank. Talk about versatility! Another thing that I just love about this tank is the fabric. It's soft, breathable and not too heavy, but at the same time has held up to many washes. The length of the tank is also perfect. Not so long as to draw attention to your hips, but just long enough so you don't have to worry about your post-baby tummy playing peek-a-boo.

The coverage when you are nursing is second to none. The open bra allows the just the bare necessities to be exposed. Did I mention that the bra has built in pockets to hold nursing pads?

Because I believe that any review that I post should be completely honest, I do have to say that the support of the detachable bra was not the greatest. It was fine for around the house, but if I was layering this tank for a trip out, I'd swap the detachable bra for one of my own. If you're not quite as...*ahem*... blessed as me, the detachable bra would probably be plenty of support.

One more thing that I love about the Comfy Kangaroo is that it was created by two moms. I love supporting mommy businesses!

Buy one: At $24 a piece, these tanks are very affordable. Comfy Kangaroo regularly runs specials, so check back for great deals!

Win one: Comfy Kangaroo sent me a black tank in size Large to give away to one of my readers. Yay! If you'd like to win, head on over to their website and then leave me a comment telling me what your favorite feature is. This giveaway will end at midnight on September 30th and I'll announce the winner the next day on this post.

Happy entering!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Summer is fading

Summer is fading quickly. The days are shorter, the nights are cooler and there is a smell in the air that warns us that winter is right around the corner.

Every time I put a sweet little sundress on Peanut, I am reminded that this will be the last time she'll wear it. It'll be packed away to be worn by a future daughter, niece or cousin. But not by my not-so-little Peanut. She's growing and changing, just like the seasons.

And it makes me sad.

But it also makes me happy. I know that just around the corner is another season of growth and change for sweet Peanut. She will enter yet another stage that her Daddy and I will adore even more than the one she is in now.

"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven" Ecclesiastes 3:1

Friday, September 11, 2009

Coffee cake: A recipe and why you shouldn't eat it at 10pm

I adore coffee.

I love the taste, the smell, the way it makes you feel instantly happier as it hits your taste buds. And nose buds. Or whatever they're called.

I love coffee.

I'm about to share a recipe for a super easy coffee cake that is actually a coffee cake. It's also super unhealthy, so some of my readers may want to divert their eyes for this one.

I've been drooling over this cake for about a week, but since I didn't have all the ingredients, I just drooled on my keyboard and added the neccessary items to my shopping list. Because I will be making it. Oh yes, I will.

In the meantime, it occurred to me that I could just add some coffee to a regular old box mix and see what happened. Oh boy, what happened was pure deliciousness. Here we go!

Grab any cake box mix. I used a yellow cake, but just this very second I'm wondering how delicious this would be with a chocolate cake. If someone else tries that version, you MUST let me know. Okay, so grab a box mix and the stuff you need to go in it. Mine called for eggs, oil and water.

There are 3 things you do differently for this cake.
1. Replace the water with a strong cup of coffee. I mean it.
2. Add a 1/3 of sour cream. Because sour cream makes everything better.
3. Add 1 tsp. of vanilla. Because vanilla also makes everything better.

Mix well.

Grease and flour you pan. I used a bundt pan, because I think it's more coffee cake-esque.

Spoon in and bake according to the box directions.

Whip up some icing. For coffee cake, especially one as moist as this one, I think thick icing is just overkill. Using softened butter, cream (or milk) and powdered sugar (oh! And a tablespoon of coffee and a dash of vanilla), whip up some glaze. Add more or less cream to reach your desired consistency.

Wait patiently for the cake to bake.


Drizzle your glaze and eat immediately. Or wait until it's cooled so you don't burn your tongue. It's totally up to you.

The coffee flavor is just strong enough to taste, but not strong enough to be overpowering.

Serve with coffee ice cream and a cup of coffee. Or don't. At least not at 10pm. Then you'll be up until 2am doing jumping jacks. Trust me.

P.S. The leftovers also make a very unhealthy, delicious breakfast. Just so you know.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Does this mean she's famous?

Remember when I asked for your help in chosing a picture to enter in the RDA photo contest?

You overwhelmingly chose the photo below. It was a good thing I had you all to help me, because it wasn't the one I was going to chose. But I let the majority rule and this is the one I submitted.

Well, it didn't finish in the top 3, but it made the calendar out of 161 entries! Not too shabby. You can check out my Peanut and all the other adorable fluffy buns by clicking here.

Thanks so much for your help! I'm just tickled pink!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Peanut and the chickens

Have I ever mentioned that our next door neighbors are 40,000 chickens? No? Hmmm, must have slipped my mind.

I'm not a big fan of chickens. Never have been. But in my neck of the woods, they are everywhere. Chickens farms around every corner. My father in law raises them and my husband helps him from time to time in the chicken houses.

Last Saturday he announced that he was taking Peanut with him to see the new flock of "bitties" that had just come in. Normally, I don't step foot in or around the houses. Putting it simply, they don't smell very good. But with small chicks, I knew the smell would be at a tolerable level and I didn't want to miss Peanut's reaction to the birds. So I grabbed my camera and a clothespin for my nose and tagged along.

I'm really glad I did.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Guacamole Salad

My sister made this salad at a get together we had the other night and it was delicious. This one is going in my recipe book for sure! It's adapted from this recipe, with some notable additions and subtractions.

Guacamole Salad

1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
green bell pepper, seeded and 1/2-inch diced
2 cups baby spinach
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup small diced red onion
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lime zest
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (2 limes)
1/4 cup good olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
2 ripe avocados, seeded, peeled, and 1/2-inch diced

Place the tomatoes, pepper, beans, onion, spinach and lime zest in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together lime juice, olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic and pour over the vegetables. Toss well. Add avocados and fold into salad carefully.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

What I'm up to...

Ever feel like you are being pulled in so many different directions that one of your limbs might just snap off? That's just scratching the surface of how I've been feeling lately. Between work, housework, parenting, paying bills and barely being home, I'm feeling just a wee bit maxed out. I have a couple giveaways, and handful of recipes and some thoughts and ideas that I'm dying to share with you all, but I've had a hard time finding the time or the energy to blog over the last week. I've also been working on a project that I'm very excited about (I'm hoping to be able to share it with you soon!), and although it's something I'm thoroughly enjoying, it's consuming lots of my "free" time.

While I attempt to find my head in this crazy whirlwind that is my life, I'll leave you with a few of my favorite images from our Missouri trip. Isn't she just scrumptious?

I could fill an entire post with the cute and funny things she's been saying and doing lately. And I probably will at some point. She makes me laugh every day - what on earth did I ever do without her?