Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Back to School!

Liam started the fall session of Mother's Day Out today! He'll be going on Wed & Fri and Jack will go on Fri. 

It's hard to believe how much he's gown up since the first day of school last year! I tried to get Liam to sit and take pics in the same spots we did last year, but he kept saying, "Don't want to!" and trying to run away. I still managed to get a few shots.

{a bumped head & a happier moment}

My cousin Mary Allison recently ordered a smocked bishop dress from Zulily, but they accidentally sent her the jon-jon instead. When she contacted them, they told her to just keep the jon-jon and they'd send the dress... it just happened to be in Liam's size so she passed it on to us. They both wore them to school today. (They're in the same class!)

 (No little sister? No problem! Just borrow a cousin.)

We made some Back-to-School Teacher Gifts to bribe thank his new teachers!

Personalized Apple Tumblers (printable vinyl!) filled with Starbucks Via Iced Coffee Packs.

And the gift tags:

Looking forward to Jack's first day on Friday-- he'll be in the classroom that Liam was in last year with one of the same teachers!  More pictures to come of his first day! 

I'll also post pics of our family beach trip once I finish sorting through the several thousand shots we took. (Nope, not kidding. My dad & I love our cameras.)

Friday, August 10, 2012

Caramel Apple Cookies

I'm not a baker. 

I like to make cute cake pops and I make a mean sour cream banana nut coffee cake, but my pretty apple green Kitchenaid mixer often goes months without being used. Every once in a while, I'll see a recipe that makes me want to pretend, just for the day, that I'm awesome at baking. And every once in a while, the results are pure perfection.

I love fall recipes. Apples, cinnamon, caramel... and don't even get me started on pumpkin. I was thumbing through the latest (September 2012) issue of Parents magazine, when I saw a recipe for Caramel Apple Cookies. I HAD to try them. I already had almost everything I needed, so I picked up the last few ingredients and when the boys went down for a nap, I started mixing & measuring & chopping & baking.

Oh. My. Goodness. 

These are the most moist, sweet, delicious cookies EVER. They're like a caramel apple, apple cobbler and a cinnamon sugar cookie all-in-one. When you take a yummy bite and you taste a piece of green apple, it's like you've hit the jackpot. Really, I've died and gone to heaven.

Here's the recipe:

2 stick of salted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup graham-cracker crumbs
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 small apple, peeled, cored & finely chopped (3/4 cup)
1 cup vanilla caramels
3 Tbsp. whipping cream

1) Preheat oven to 350. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. In a bowl, beat butter on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Beat in sugars until fluffy. Then, add eggs & vanilla.

2) In a medium bowl, stir together flour, crumbs, baking powder, salt & cinnamon. Add to butter mixture and beat until combined. Stir in apple.

3) Shape dough into 1 1/4 inch balls. Arrange balls 2 inches apart on cookie sheets. Bake for 12 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Remove and let cool on wire racks.

4) In a bowl, mix caramels and cream. Microwave on high for 30 to 60 seconds or until nearly melted, stirring once. Stir until smooth. Drizzle over cookies; serve when hardened.


Thursday, August 9, 2012


When I was a little girl, I'd spend a week each summer with my grandparents here in Birmingham. We lived in Nashville and it always felt like such an adventure to leave my parents behind and spend all week tagging along with my grandmother to playdates with my cousins, her job at a mother's day out program (where Liam goes to school now!) and trips to the zoo. There were two things that my grandma always let me have during those visits: happy meals & lipstick. It became our tradition & she always made me feel beautiful, strolling around the zoo at eight years old with hot pink lipstick on.

I've mentioned here before how unbelievably lucky I am, that my parents live in town and keep the boys several days a week when I work, when I have appointments, or when I just need some time to myself. My boys are lucky too, that they are growing up with grandparents who love them so much & are so involved in their lives.

Just as we have our routine at home, the guys have their routine at "Marmi & Poppy's House." On Tuesday and Thursday mornings, I meet my parents in a Starbucks parking lot close to work & we do the "trade off." There's an office park down the streets with several man-made lakes that are full of geese.

It's become a tradition for them to look for the "ducks" each morning & occasionally, my parents will bring some old bread so that Liam can get out of the car & see them up close. A few weeks ago, my parents were keeping the boys for a few hours on an off day so that I could run some errands without the little ones slowing me down.

I had my camera in the car, so when they mentioned they were going to "feed the ducks" I decided to tag along and take some pictures.

I thought that Liam would be terrified when they came closer, but he was intrigued.

They smelled the bread and swarmed around him!

He couldn't have been more proud of himself, feeding these geese.

 And he had a great time with Marmi & Poppy.

I love that my parents have started their own traditions with my boys-- ones that they'll look back on when they are older be thankful for! I love the memories they're making.

P.S. Because they were matchy-matchy that day, a pic of the boys together!

(Not the best pic of them, but I'm convinced it's impossible to catch them both smiling at the same time. I surrender.)

Sunday, August 5, 2012

...And He's Off! (The Sequel)

He's been rocking back & forth on his hands and knees for months...
But today, Jack crawled!

Now, we're really in trouble.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

What I Made Wednesday: Babies in Buckets

Yep, more party stuff!

I had a 10 gallon galvanized bucket along with some Very Hungry Caterpillar fabric (that I bought years ago & haven't done anything with) & I decided to cover the bucket in the fabric, so that I could use it as a centerpiece for Liam's party. (So easy-- make a template from a roll of wrapping paper by tracing the bucket, trace template onto your fabric, cut, brush some mod podge onto the bucket and adhere the fabric, then brush a coat of mod podge over the top of the fabric to seal it. I like to line up my top rim perfectly, but make my fabric hang off the bottom edge a little-- then, when the mod podge is dry, go around the bottom rim with an x-acto knife to trim off the excess. Tada!) Likely, it'll be filled with drinks in the center of the table with balloons coming out of the middle-- haven't decided yet.

Then, I decided to get started on the boys' shirts for L's party. I bought an embroidery design of the Very Hungry Caterpillar and wanted to test it out on Jack's shirt before tackling Liam's. (Liam's will have a large 2 in the same fabric as the bucket, with the caterpillar crawling across the bottom along with his name.) I do a lot of applique and monogramming, but nothing with stitching this dense. Overall, the shirt is wearable, but do you see how the fabric puckers a bit around the design? Yeah, it's not supposed to do that. It's tough to add so many stitches to a tiny thin onesie and have it come out perfect. I'll probably give it another shot with a different stabilizer-- just because I'm so anal that imperfections like that kill me. But if it's not any better the next time, then Jack, enjoy your party shirt, puckers & all!

Here's another shot:

That baby? Yeah, he's one of the best things I've made. :)

I’m sharing my idea on The Celebration Shoppe’s What I Made Wednesday link party!