My Favorite Seasonal Flavor

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It’s pretty obvious that a lot of people are in on the pumpkin spice craze, but that was some thing that just never caught on for me [and having morning sickness with Sophie for the first time during the fall, didn’t help my aversion to pumpkin spice]. Some people are advocating for apple cider, but my favorite, seasonal combo would have to be orange and cranberry.

I know, you maybe don’t think of that as a classic combination, but the obsession started with orange cranberry scones that Trader Joe’s used to sell, and them moved on from there. Currently, Panera has these DIVINE orange cranberry muffins, with just the perfect amount of crystallized sugar on top.

So, keep your eye out for my favorite fall/winter flavor combo, because even though it can be tough to find, the little treats you do, are so worth it!

Gender Reveal: Beau or Bow?

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I was so excited for this party and everything went perfectly! As you know from my Chic Gender Reveal post, I really wanted to avoid pastel pinks and blue’s for this party. We mostly invited adults, and I wanted it to feel more like a regular party than a baby shower. Of course, I kept the theme playful with fun prints like stripes and polkadots, and there are token pink and blue decorations.

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The hardest [but most fun] part of the party was leading every one to believe that we also didn’t know the gender. We had intended to find out at the actual party with every one else, but upon talking to a few people we had a change of heart and decided to peek at the gender a few days before the party. My husband was grateful, as he is a more shy and private person, and wasn’t initially excited about having his first reaction to the gender on display at the party. While I thought it’d be fun to be just as surprised as every one else, a friend of mine who had just had her reveal party said that even though she thought she didn’t care about the baby’s gender, deep down she was expecting it to be a girl and when the cut the cake to see it was blue inside, she burst into tears in front of all her guests. I really didn’t want my hormonal water works to be forever recorded on video either, so that sealed the deal for us wanting to find out in private before the party.

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We had our guests vote and then represent their vote with either a bow/mustache straw or a sticker. We drew winners from the winning pot and it was really a blast!

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I had to work extra hard on this cake to make sure there was no pink peeking through, but I also had to try and convince everyone that the cake came from a bakery if I wanted them to think that J and I were clueless about the gender still. When people asked where the cake from, I sneakily said, “It’s a secret!” and joked that I didn’t anyone calling up the bakery to try and find out the gender! Right before we cut the cake I said, “Ok, do you REALLY want to know where this cake came from? I MADE IT!” Most were surprised that we had kept a poker face all afternoon about not knowing the gender, while a few people shouted “I KNEW IT!”

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Overall the party was so much fun. We thought it might be awkward mingling our friends with family, but everyone bonded over either how chilly the weather was, the gender of the baby, how good the food was, or Ohio State football. I really can’t imagine the party having been any better, and I am so thankful we got to share the experience with some of our favorite people!

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We can’t wait to welcome a new little girl into our home! Now it’s time for me to dig out all of Sugar Plum’s old clothes from the basement!

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Peace Valley Apple Orchard

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Some of you may have seen our adorable family photos from the apple orchard up on facebook, but I saved some of them specifically for this blog post. That’s right, EXCLUSIVE adorable photos, right here. Now, up until last year, I had only really dabbled in photography and blogging. It wasn’t until our last trip to the apple orchard that I decided I had enough skill, time, and dedication to commit to this as a hobby, Our latest trip out to Peace Valley only reaffirmed that I love food, photography, and my babies, and have an indefinite amount to say about all three.

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The weather in Ohio is actually pretty nice this time of year. We occasionally get some rain and blustery days, but for the most part the sun is out and its warm without being humid [a huge relief for people in this area]. It was supposed to be cloudy yesterday and a bit “chilly” but it turned out to be sunny for most of the afternoon and warm, with just the faintest breeze.

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These orchard are a good 45 minute drive away from us. I thought our little town was “rural” when I first arrived some 5 years ago, but was I so wrong. We have things like a kroger and Walmart! Out in the boonies, where the farms and orchards are, you’re lucky if they have a Dollar General and you can expect to see a decent amount of Amish.

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OK, by “decent amount” I really mean you might see a horse and buggy, but hey – I’m guessing that’s more than you’d typically see in your hometown. Rural though it is, the drive is actually quite nice. Twists and turns through the Ohio valley, with the leave just beginning to change, was the perfect way for us to kick off fall.

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Since the orchards are among farms, there is a cute country store on the property that sells seasonal produce as well as jams, salsas, and preserves made locally. We ended our little adventure with warm apple dumplings served a la mode. YUM. Even though it’s a bit of a drive “just for apples,” I still like that our trip to the orchards has become a little tradition.

Mommy Fashion

*This post is actually from the dead of winter, but for those chilly, transitional days of spring, I’ve been wearing this dress out-and-about*

Let me just begin this post by saying we have 20 mph winds, making it feel like its 1 degree outside. So, lately I’ve been living in fleece lined leggings, nursing tanks, with big chunky sweaters layered on top. Now, for the occasions where I actually have to look presentable, I keep the leggings and tank, and switch out my over-sized sweater for a cute dress with nursing accessibility. My favorite is this lil number I picked up from ModCloth on Black Friday…

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It is super comfortable, cute, and surprisingly modest despite the plunging neckline…

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Also the nylon fabric and “wrap style” of this dress made nursing super easy.

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I highly recommend wrap dresses for any nursing mama who wishes to still look chic while taking care of her little one.

Now, for the shoes.

I just recently purchased these adorable North Face boots and here’s why…

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The fold-over feature allows me to utilize the extra fabric on super cold days while adding some style for the warmer days when I can have it rolled down [as pictured]. I’ve had wonderful experience with The North Face’s boots in the past. They have excellent traction and are light weight which is EXTREMELY important if you constantly have a little one in your arms. This will be the first time I have to try to walk on ice while carrying precious cargo; so while the price of these boots are on the higher end, its worth every penny to know I’m getting excellent traction, warm feet, and a chic look.

What are your winter, mommy fashion staples?

Spaghetti Squash Casserole

Since it’s still spring time here in the Ohio Valley, the weather can be a bit unpredictable. we have 80 degree afternoons that turn into rainy 65 degree evenings. I always love a warm casserole, but I especially love them on dreary evenings.┬áCasseroles are often heavy, requiring dense ingredients such as heavy cream, tons of shredded cheese, etc. During one desperate, cold evening, I stumbled upon this concept, a spaghetti squash casserole. Now, I’m not a big veggie-crazy person, and I had never tried spaghetti squash previous to attempting this recipe; but I’m glad I did! It’s surprisingly light, for a casserole, and it tastes the delicious while fulfilling the need for a hot meal! Its a little involved, but well worth the effort. It’s the perfect recipe for spring as it satisfies the comfort food craving during the colder weather, while remaining light, thanks to the summer squash.

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What you’ll need:
1 spaghetti squash
6 ounces of breakfast sausage
4 slices of bacon
1/4 large red onion
6 eggs
1 teaspoon season salt
1 teaspoon garlic
1 tablespoon of hot sauce
1 cup of shredded cheese [whatever your favorite is!]

I started by preheating my oven to 375. Cut your squash in half [length wise], spray with oil, and place face done on the backing sheet. Bake for 40 minutes.

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While you’re waiting for the squash, cook the sausage, onion, and bacon on the stove top [in that order]. Set meats aside in a separate bowl when finished.

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When the squash is finished, set aside to cool for a bit because you will need to pick it up with your hands later on and we don’t want any injuries! While you’re waiting on your squash again, mix your egg, seasoned salt, garlic, and hot sauce in a bowl and whisk!

Pick up your squash and rake the flesh into the frying pan you previously used to cook the meats. cook the squash in the frying pan for about ten minutes or so, until it becomes soft [sort of like pasta].

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When the squash is done cooking on the stove top, add it to the bowl with the meat and fold the meat into the squash mixture. Also fold in 1/2c. of your cheese at this time.

Pour the squash/meat/cheese mixture into a 9×11 pan. Sprinkle the rest of your cheese on top and back for another 45-55 minutes. this makes 6 decent sized servings, or 8 small ones.

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ENJOY.

Mommy Fashion

As a new mom, you aren’t left with highly fashionable choices. You want to be comfortable, you want clothes cheap enough that you don’t care what human-bodily-fluids may end up on them, they must also be functional for things like nursing and ┬ábending over. Oh, and also, you’d like them to be cute.

I’ve decided to start a segment on this blog documenting any functional outfit I may come up with, that also makes me feel beautiful.

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Living in Ohio means this area actually gets a legitimate fall time, complete with cold weather! The cold weather gives us momma’s a lot of cute options when it comes to accessorizing. You can wear a cute hat, cardis, boots, and of course, adorable, warm scarves! My mother-in-law got me those adorable moccasin boots [pictured above] for Christmas last year. It was breezy this morning so I knew I’d need leggings if I was going to wear my skirt.

Tops: Tops are especially difficult when you’re nursing. I have some amazing nursing tops, but today I opted for a nursing tank worn underneath a printed tee. The nursing tank allows for easy access [one-handed clips] and keeps my tummy covered when I go to lift the tee up for nursing. This is a pretty versatile option which allows you to still nurse in all your favorite pre-mommy tees!

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[carids and delicate lil necklaces help to complete the look.]

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Finally, try to do something with your hair and make up either before the baby wakes up, or right after a feeding when your child can be happy and content while you finish getting ready! I like to touch up just the top layer of my hair with a flat iron and smear on either some mascara or eyeliner [it has to be a pretty special occasion for me to wear both…]