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Baking With The Little One

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I’m pretty surprised how quickly we got here. Barely three years and he’s finally ready to take on a little baking responsibility. This fall we really enjoyed making these “Animal Cookies” from the Betty Crocker Cookie Book and leading up to the holidays, we made some ginger bread cookies. He thought that was a blast!

Gingerbread Cookie recipe we used.

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CHRISTMAS BATS!!!!!!

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GINGERBREAD MEN

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Have a Happy New Year!

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Apple-Ginger Cocktail and Mocktail

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During the chilly months of autumn and winter, I sometimes like to entertain with a warm “apple pie” cocktail. It involves warm unfiltered apple cider flavored with mulling spices, spiced rum, and a topping of maple sweetened whipped cream.

But as delicious as that all is, in LA it’s sometimes nice to have a festive autumn dink that can cool me down. Here’s one for those warm fall and winter days.

Apple-Ginger Cocktail:

1 part Bourbon

2 parts Unfiltered apple cider

2 parts ginger beer

Pour all ingredients over ice and/or frozen fruit and stir to combine.

 

Apple-Ginger Mocktail:

1 part Unfiltered apple cider

1 part ginger beer

Pour all ingredients over ice and/or frozen fruit and stir to combine.

 

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Easy Hat and Booties: Nesting

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The first summer after completing my bachelors degree, I decided I should utilize the summer months to learn a new craft. So, I picked up a book and taught myself to knit. At first I was feeling pretty ambitious. During those first couple years I not only made your typical quick and easy scarves, but I made a hand bag, socks, and even a big chunky sweater with some fancy details.  After a while, I found knitting to be time consuming, relatively expensive, and in my case risky (that big chunky sweater shed and wasn’t especially flattering).  Since then, I’ve taken a more hesitant approach to choosing my knitting projects.

With baby on the way, I DEFINITELY wanted to make something. I can’t imagine there is a mother in the world with the ability to crochet, knit, or sew who doesn’t feel compelled to make something for baby while she has a bun in the oven.

Being aware of my current lack of knitting ambition, my tendency to leave knitting projects unfinished, and my unwillingness to spend a significant amount of money on fancy baby yarn, I set out to find quick and easy cute baby knits.

This is what I went with….

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And here are the links

Hat: http://sorellaandcompany.files.wordpress.com/2009/08/rib-knit-baby-hat5.pdf

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Booties: http://www.smallfriendly.com/small-friendly/2014/05/bitty-baby-booties-.html

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Buttons: http://m.pandahall.com/p-849682-wooden-buttons-2-hole-beer.html

The buttons traveled from pretty far away. I may have spent more money on shipping than on the actual buttons. If you find cute buttons locally, go with those. For some reason I really had my heart set on wooden bear buttons like the ones I saw used on the pattern for the hat. Ironically, I didn’t put buttons on the hat. AFTER ALL THAT!!!

 

By the way, if you only have time for one project, the hat is definitely the more practical choice.

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HAPPY KNITTING!!!

 

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Simple(ish) Fall Party

 

Fall_appetizers-8702It has been brought to my attention that having children will change your life. Especially your sleep habits and your social life. That being said…..I can’t help but think it may be a long while before I can expect to host a demanding social gathering, or get my schedule to compliment and coincide with some of our single and (pre-children) coupled friends.

So…… A small and simple, early evening, Fall social with some neighbors who we hadn’t seen in a while seemed in order.

Fall_appetizers-8607I’m proud to say I only made 4 things! Unless you count dessert. Then it would be 6. And if you count drinks then 7. However, my husband is in charge of making drinks. Drinks are no extra work for me. So, I don’t think drinks count. But, we can mention them.

On to the FOOD!!!!!

We had these Sausage hand pies with a roasted red pepper sour cream sauce

Fall_appetizers-8609The best part about these pies is that I made them an entire week in advance. I froze them unbaked and the day of the party I simply put an egg wash over them and baked them for 30-35 minutes. So easy, a very pregnant lady could do it.

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A warm cheesy artichoke dip that only requires 4 ingredients (most of which come in jars or cans). A couple hours before guests were to arrive, I mixed the ingredients and placed them into two small gratin dishes and then into the refrigerator. I baked one of the dishes just before guests arrived and the other I saved until later in the evening. I did the same with the hand pies. I only baked half of them for the start of the party.

Fall_appetizers-8613Smashed potatoes. Because everyone seems to love potatoes in every and any form. Not to mention….you can boil and smash your potatoes ahead of time and bake when needed.

Fall_appetizers-8615This beautiful fall salad that I found on Pinterest. The weather is still hot in LA (80s and 90s this week), so I roasted the veggies in the early morning before the day got too hot and then set them aside for the evening.  Making my job much easier as the party neared.

Fall_appetizers-8614These pumpkin crisps and goat cheese from Trader Joe’s.  No work on my part! Other than opening the packaging.

Because I decided to prepare everything in two batches, one batch for the start of the party and one for later in the evening, I was able to fit the pies, the artichoke dip and potatoes all in the oven at once. I just pulled things out and plated them as they finished baking. It was great. So easy.

Oh! and can I mention I took a nap! About two hours before the party I took a short cat nap!!!! I’ve never been able to take a pre-party nap before.

Let’s toast to that!

Fall_appetizers-8685We had an Apple-Ginger  Mocktail/ Cocktail. I only had the pleasure of trying the mocktail version, but I heard positive things about the cocktail which included bourbon.

 

We had 2 desserts! Dessert #1 was apple crisp with maple ice cream.

Fall_appetizers-8695 In the morning, before roasting the veggies for the salad, I baked a simple apple crisp.  The Thursday before the party I made a maple ice cream to compliment it. I know that homemade ice cream can often get rather hard when frozen for more than a couple hours. But, I find that ice creams sweetened with syrup and/ or caramel, rather than granulated sugar, seem to keep a bit softer. So, I didn’t have to worry about taking my ice cream out ten minutes before serving or anything like that. Yippy!

For dessert #2, my lovely husband got me a beautiful birthday cake. I’m sad to say I didn’t get any good photos of it. But, that didn’t keep me from thoroughly enjoying it. Thank you!!!!

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If you start preparing ahead of time, your home-made mini parties can really come together with limited stress. Easy enough so that you can even take a cat nap before your guests arrive.

 

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