Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Ladybug Picnic!

We had Natalie's 1st Birthday on Saturday.  It was a Ladybug Picnic theme filled with terra cotta pots, fake grass, pom poms, topiaries, picnic food, sweets galore, a chocolate fountain, friends and family...and most importantly...our little ladybug!

My MIL created Natalie's tutu, hair clip, and little ladybug shoes.  Adorable, yes?
I didn't take too many pictures the day of the event.  Instead of having 12 month pictures taken, I decided to have our photographer come to Natalie's party and do them there.  So I'm going to wait until I get those back to share major party details.  

I will share the details of the sweets table, as I took a few pics of it before the guests arrived.  My baby sis was so gracious to help me out with this.  Between the two of us, we created all of the food ourselves.  An undertaking for sure, but I think it was just perfect.

 Ladybug Pretzels/Chocolate Covered Marshmallows

 Natalie's Smash Cake

 Oreo Truffles

Can't wait to share the rest will you!  It was a great time!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Yummiest Chicken Cordon Bleu...Eva!

I'm about to admit to you that I watch PBS. 

And not for Sesame Street or something else legitimate.

My husband and I are a wee bit obsessed with these two cooking shows...America's Test Kitchen and Cook's Country.  

Have you seen them?  They make some really interesting, yummy recipes.  And they explain things like the chemistry behind why you should use one cut of meat over the other.  And charts that show where exactly the meat is coming from.  Charts!  And step by step instructions and tips on how and why a recipe works.

It's really a novel of a concept compared to something you would find on Food Network.  Now I love me some Food Network, but these shows actually test dozens upon dozens of recipes before they come up with the best one.  And I believe them.

Last night I made their Chicken Cordon Bleu.  It was to die for!  It had a Ritz cracker crust (delicious!) along with yummy slices of ham and Swiss cheese which combined to make a fantastic flavor.  And it could not have been easier.

Now I'm not much for stuffing chicken breasts.  You usually have to flatten them out with a meat mallet and then roll them up.  Which in my experience usually creates more of a mess than a masterpiece.  But these, these little bundles are genius!  All you have to do it a cut a slit in the chicken and insert the rolled up pieces of ham/cheese and you're done.  Easy peasy! 

I must share!

Serves 4


25 Ritz crackers
4 slices of hearty white bread (I used Italian)
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
8 thin slices deli ham 
2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2 lbs. total)
3 large eggs
2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 cup all purpose flour


1.  Make Crumbs:  Adjust oven racks to lowest and middle positions and heat oven to 450 degrees.  Pulse crackers and bread in a food processor until coarsely ground.  Drizzle in butter; pulse to incorporate.  Bake crumbs on rimmed baking sheet on middle rack, stirring occasionally, until light brown, 3-5 minuets.  Transfer to shallow dish.

2.  Stuff Chicken:  Top each ham slice with 1/4 cup cheese and roll tightly; set aside.  Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.  Cut pocket in thickest part of chicken and stuff each breast with 2 ham-and-cheese rolls.  Transfer chicken to plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 20 minutes.  (Apparently this is so the chicken time to seal up a bit on itself.  This helps keep the ham and cheese inside the chicken and not oozing out on your baking sheet when you bake it)

3.  Coat and Bake:  Beat eggs and mustard in a second shallow dish.  Place flour in third shallow dish.  One at a time, coat stuffed chicken lightly with flour, dip into egg mixture, and dredge in crumbs, pressing to adhere.  Transfer chicken to a clean baking sheet.  Bake on lowest rack until bottom of chicken is golden brown, about 10 minutes, and then move baking sheet to middle rack and reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees.  Bake until golden brown and chicken registers 160 degrees, 20-25 minutes.  Transfer to cutting board, tent with foil, and let rest 5 minutes.  Serve.

Y'all.  Make this.  Trust me.  Delicious!

I will say that the amount of flour/Ritz mixture I threw away was crazy.  It doesn't use nearly as much as it calls for.  I know it's easier to coat with more mixture there...but I think next time I would make 1/2 of what it calls for.  It hurt my hear to throw away that many Ritz crackers.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

One Year!

Sweet girl, you are a whole year old!  My little baby is now a toddler and I just can't believe it.  You are growing and changing so quickly it's hard to keep up!  

  • This was a busy month!  You said your first word...wait for it..."dada."  Yeah.  You say it 24/7, even when I say, "Say Mama!"  You're sooooo funny little girl.
  •  You are growing the cutest little baby curls on the back of your head and I just adore them.  Your daddy says you need a haircut but I totally disagree!
  •  You celebrated your first Christmas and loved all of the attention!  You got some great walking toys and constantly want to be up walking around.  You even took your first steps when we got home from holiday traveling!  You haven't done it since though.  I think you're a little scared.  But your confidence will come soon sweet girl!
  •  You got your first fever this month and it was super sad.  You were whiny and lost your appetite but you still slept well.  Fortunately, it didn't last long.
  •  After what seemed like forever, you finally figured out how to use your sippy cup by yourself.  Your daddy and I think you've always known but were just too lazy to hold it up yourself.  But now you're a pro.  You get lots of practice with milk and smoothies (your new favorite!). 
  •  You've moved on to eating exclusively finger foods.  It's been a bit of a struggle but I think we're getting the hang of what you will and will not eat these days.  You can be quite the picky eater, little one.  But that's to be expected.  You have parents who eat practically zero veggies.
  •  This month we've dropped some nursing sessions and are down to just one...the evening.  It's been a bittersweet transition for Mommy but you don't seem to even notice.  I'm not quite sure when we'll give it up all together but I'm just going with the flow at the moment.
  •  I've been trying to teach you to wave and we practice in the mirror.  So now, you can do it but you only do it to yourself in the mirror!  Mommy screwed that one up big time.
  •  I did teach you something, though.  How to shake!  Whenever you're holding your rattle or keys I say, "shake, shake, shake" and you do it!  Score one for Mommy!
  •  We've started incorporating brushing your teeth into our routine at night.  You let me do it at first and I think it tickles you because you always laugh.  Then you get a try at it and do such a good job!
  •  Books are your very favorite toy these days!  You love to read to yourself and babble in the car.  It's pretty much the cutest thing ever.  And you love to turn the pages when I'm reading to you.

Natalie, this has been the best year of my life.  You have made my life complete and I love you with my whole heart.  Being a mom has been the greatest blessing and I am so thankful God has blessed me with you, my sweet daughter.  

Love you to the moon and back little girl,


Monday, January 16, 2012

The Birthday Girl and Her Special Day!

Yesterday my sweet baby girl turned one!  We started off the day with a few gifts from her Daddy and I.  She's super into books these days and since she loves to chew on them we've been playing a lot with bath books.  So I picked up a few at Target and she loves them.  She reads them to herself and it's pretty much the cutest thing ever.

See what I mean about the chewing?

Along with a small bead maze, we also got her this Laugh and Learn Puppy which seems really cute.  Hopefully she'll be more into it soon...but she liked playing with packaging more than the puppy yesterday. 

But my favorite gift we gave her was this little Chicago Bears skirt and football leggings!  Too bad they didn't even make the playoffs.  Oh well.  She can support her team in the off season.


We sang "Happy Birthday" to Natalie at breakfast with a blueberry pancake!

We had a pretty low key day just the three of us since her party is next weekend, but we did take her out to a special lunch at Moe's.  Girl chowed the heck down on some meat.  And she fed herself for the first time with a fork and was very pleased.

As an aside, I picked Moe's because it's pretty much my favorite thing when you walk in and everyone yells, "Welcome to Moe's!"  I know.  It's the little things.  I also love it because Matt loathes when the employees do that.  Makes it that much more enjoyable, you know?  Especially when I can spend the entire ride over yelling, "Welcome to Moe's!"  Unfortunately the B-squad was working and I didn't get welcomed at all.  Uber disappointed.


I have a toddler, not a baby and I'm a little blown away by how quickly this year has flown.  I feel like...she's under my care for 18 years and one of those years is already gone.  I know.  Dramatic much?  But seriously, fastest year ever.  
Looking forward to many, many more birthdays with Miss Natalie.  Oh I just love her!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Today My Sweet Baby Turns One

One year ago today...

At 3:0-freaking-2 in the morning...

We welcomed the most beautiful little girl into the world.

She stole our heart from the moment we saw her sweet little face.

And she went on to make it the most exciting, nerve racking, unbelievable year we've ever had.


Happy Birthday Natalie!  We are so proud to be your parents and forever grateful God has blessed us with you.  We love you more every single day.  


Mama and Dada

Thursday, January 12, 2012

11 month post...almost a month late. Almost!!

Well, since you turn one year old on Sunday, Mama figured she'd better hurry up and get your 11 month post done.  Sorry for the delay sweet girl.  It's much more fun to play with you than to write about it.  But I'll try to be better!

Some highlights from this month:

  • You have 6 teeth that have given you practically zero problems.  So thankful for that little one!
  • Mama's still squeezing you into size 3 diapers even though you are definitely in a size 4.  I need to finish the package!
  • Started cruising on the are super fast!  But you like to chew on the end tables and have left teeth marks on them.  Not cool little one.  Not cool.
  • Super into reading books...okay really just looking at them and chewing on them...but you love them nonetheless
  • Stood on your own for approximately 5 seconds!
  • We've dropped an afternoon nursing session leaving us with just 3 total a day
  • You had your first babysitter who even put you to bed and said you were great!  We love her.
  • You've discovered door stoppers and are obsessed with them.  I was okay with this until you took off the top and put it in your mouth.  No way sweet girl.  Gone.
  • Your daddy and I joke about your "path of destruction" you leave wherever you go.  He can always tell where you were when he gets home from work.  You're into everything you can get your hands on and put every miniscule thing on the floor into your mouth.  How you spot those specks of lint even the vacuum leaves I have no idea.
  • You spent Thanksgiving in Indy with your family and finally met Mook the dog.  Boy you loved him!  You laughed and laughed when he licked you and it was the cutest thing. 
  • Near the end of the month you saw Santa and were so nonchalant about the whole experience.  You just looked at him like, "What's up!?" and then continued to chew on Sophie.  Love it!

Clearly you're a fan of chewing.....

I love you so much sweet girl and it has been my joy to watch you grow these last 11 months.  I look forward to so many more celebrations of your achievements.  I cannot wait to see the little person you become.  

Love, Mama