Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Helloooooo Third Trimester!

Yesterday marked the 28th week for little baby H and I.  I can't believe that I've been pregnant for more than half a year! Craziness, I tell you.

While there have been some ups and downs during our journey, this whole process (for the most part) has been amazing.  He really is an active little bugger - constantly moving around and making sure he lets his momma know that he is there!  My stomach has definitely been wigglin' and jigglin' all over the place lately.  Last week I was in a meeting at work and actually had people sitting across from me stop the meeting and mention my stomach moving around like crazy.  This belly and those movements cannot be masked these days.

While I have been keeping that majority of my weekly pictures and stats to close friends and family, I thought I would share some tidbits about the pregnancy since hitting this milestone has been kinda a big deal in our life lately!

Here are my current stats (and a few belly shots too!):
 
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28 weeks
Note to self:  Stay away from stripes and pulling my hair back!
Also - ignore the big bags under my eyes.  Hard to conceal these days.

How far along? 28 weeks and 1 day

Total weight gain: 17 pounds - although at 4'10" I feel like I've gained at least half my body weight already.  Been working hard at following the 80/20 rule.  I have my nutritionist's motto running through my head, "no eating for two, healthier eating for one!" SO crazy that little baby H really only needs just over 400 extra calories a day for the last trimester.

Maternity clothes? All maternity pants and some maternity tops.  Just got a few new things during the Thanksgiving holiday sales - SO necessary.

Stretch marks? Not yet and hopefully not ever!  Gotta love the 100% Shea butter!

Sleep:  My husband kindly refers to my side of the bed as the "pillow fortress." Been sleeping great once I got rid of that awful useless expensive maternity pillow.  Just goes to show you don't have to buy into all this special maternity product hoopla.  Makes a great little cocoon for Henry dog to snuggle in during the day though.  He likes it! Normal body pillows have worked the best for me.

Best moment this week: Picking out a vintage dresser to be refinished and painted for the nursery and also receiving a sweet "just because" gift from my hubby for doing a great job growing baby.  Moments like the last one don't happen too often, so when they do it's perfect and makes my heart melt.  He has such a good heart (and good patience too!).

Miss anything? Prosciutto sandwiches and tuna whenever I want instead of just a tiny bit here and there.  For never being much of a drinker, I've really wanted a glass of champagne (with a strawberry - of course).

Movement: See story above.  I have a feeling that he is working hard at perfecting his Gangnam style after having to listen to it for weeks due to his dad's current dance obsession.

Food Cravings: Jelly doughnuts and cinnamon rolls.  Sweets have consumed my thoughts all day for pretty much the last two weeks.  Did I mention that I was never really a jelly doughnut fan before?  Also, before this pregnancy - I'd happily take potato chips over a brownie any day.  Guess this baby is gonna take after his daddy - sweeeeeeet-a-holic!

Anything making you queasy or sick: Not really that interested in red meat lately.

Gender: Boy oh boy.

Labor signs: Experienced my first braxton hicks contractions the other night.  Creepy!

Symptoms: Crazy heartburn/reflux almost every day.  Back pain that comes and goes.  I've also been getting some leg cramps in the wee hours of the morning.  But otherwise, there are times that I forget I'm pregnant!

Belly Button in or out?  Still an innie but getting flatter and flatter by the day.

Wedding rings on or off? On and still a little jiggle room. So happy that I can still wear them.

Happy or Moody most of the time:  Happy for the most part but have had some really emotional moments lately.

Looking forward to:  A special Christmas date with Henry and Carl at the end of the week, Our friend's annual holiday gathering on Saturday, finalizing a date for my maternity shots (since our last session got rained out) and finishing our baby registry!

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28 weeks + 1 day
I feel like I live in yoga pants and tank tops at home.

So there you have it!  We are starting to nest and looking forward to little baby H's arrival in a little less than 12 weeks!!  Such a amazing journey and an even sweeter blessing.  We can't wait to meet him.

I hope you are all having a fabulous week.  Now that my sweet tooth has arrived, hopefully I'll be back to posting some new holiday treats in the days/weeks to come!
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Thursday, December 6, 2012

Gender Reveal Recap and Lucky Winner

Truth be told - two weeks ago, I had this entire post finished.  It was late at night - I was stressed out with a bazillion things on my mind.  Carl had tried to entice me to put down the computer and watch Home Alone with him - a movie date (LOVE that movie)!  I told him that I just had to finish this post.  15 minutes later he fell asleep (some date!) and shortly thereafter, I went to click publish and then my computer did some weird wacky thing and then last thing I knew that post was wiped clean.  I mean not a single freakin' word left.  There was no way to recover what was lost.  It had taken me 2+ solid weeks to get this post done working alongside the chaos that is my life right now.  In the flash of a second - it was gone and I was really sad.  Heck, I am still sad but I guess today I've decided to make lemonade out of lemons and surge on.

Anyway - For those of you who didn't hear already:

Little Baby Hartford is a...

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BOY!

Carl and I are beyond thrilled and happy. Carl so desperately wanted a boy and I really wanted that for him. He never asks for much, so I was hoping his wish would come true. Truth is, we are lucky and blessed and really would have been happy with either as long as they are healthy.   The day we found out was really exciting and I would be lying if I said we didn't shed any tears ;)  The toughest part was keeping it a secret for almost six weeks.  I only slipped once! and the person must have not noticed because they were on team Pink!

...and now it's official - I will finally be outnumbered in my house.. by humans!  Although Henry love bug is pretty much a human anyway.

As for the big party -

Our gender reveal party was a wonderful day.  We had our closest and dearest friends and family present and it was an all around fantastic day. 

The menu was Italian and consisted of:
  • Baked ziti
  • Roasted sausage, potatoes, peppers and onions
  • Homemade marinara sauce
  • Bruschetta
  • Strombolli
  • Pizza bites
  • Homemade Garlic Knots (A Carl specialty)
  • Italian meats, cheese and crackers
  • Assorted olives
  • Vanilla and double fudge cupcakes
  • Pumpkin whoopie pies
  • and my MIL's chocolate whoopie pies
I'm sure I'm probably missing a few other things in there - but that was the basic gist of it.

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I really wanted to face plant myself into this delicious italian meat platter.  MY WEAKNESS!  Carl has been informed that I want NEED a proscuitto sandwich T minus 30 minutes after I give birth!

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What will little baby Hartford bee?  A baby He or a baby She?!  I loved making these cute little behive cupcakes.  I also loved eating them... especially the chocolate ones.

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The guests were encouraged to wear their color of choice and it was really fun to see people show up wearing blue and/or pink.  Team boy was definitely winning the numbers contest but where team pink lacked in numbers, they made up in style!  I mean - little girls in pink fluffy dresses?! SWOON!

Here were the teams:

Team Blue (plus a few really cute team pink triplets and Juliet!):

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Team Pink:

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As far as the actual reveal went, we had everyone count down from ten and then released a balloon for the gender that was not correct.  We were then left holding the gender of our sweet little babe.

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Team Blue (minus a few) celebrates the victory:

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I also had a little contest going on here on the blog.  Remember this post!?

Well the opposite happened on the blog.  Team pink far outnumbered team blue.  Carl and I loved reading all of the comments that people left.  It was so exciting especially because we just wanted to shout it from the rooftops instead of keeping mum for so long.

The individuals that correctly voted boy were:

1 - Aireen Arellano
2 - Diana J.
3 - Carrie Hartford Fedders
4 - Diana Cardella
5 - Meg Trimarchi
6 - Charlotte
7 - Jimbo
8 - Cupcake Kelly

All the correct entries were entered into a little raffle to win a $10 gift certificate to Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks (winner's choice).

And the lucky winner is....

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Congratulations, Charlotte!!  Please e-mail me at bakingitonmyown@gmail.com and let me know your preference of gift card.

Thank you, again, to all who voted.

Happy Thursday.  Just remember - tomorrow is Friday.  Yipeey!
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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookie Crunch Bars

Today is a special day - my step-dad's birthday!  Steve is a wonderful guy and I am very lucky to be able to call him my dad.  It's a complicated story to explain how he came into my life, but - although we share no blood relation, he has and always will be my dad.  He has been there for me through thick and thin and stood by me in the tough times when others didn't.  My life has forever been changed because of him and Carl, Henry & I (little baby H too) love him dearly.

I'm sure it will come as no surprise to you that some of my fondest memories growing up with Steve involve food.  He has a sweet tooth like no other and I know I can always count on him for a taste of anything I make.  We have a lot of the same food similarities but one that I was never 100% sold on was butterscotch.  While I do enjoy a little bit every now and then, it's never been my top choice.  Steve, on the other hand, LOVES butterscotch.


Since his special birthday is today and I wanted to send him something that he loves - I decided to create a new recipe just for him.  As I was cutting these bars up and melting my caramel for the drizzle, the rebel inside of me snatched up some crumbs and I was blown away! These bars are delicious and so decadent.  The butterscotch just throws them over the top. I am seriously questioning why the heck my taste buds have fooled me for so long.



Even though these bars probably won't make it to Steve-o until tomorrow (darn snail mail) - I couldn't hold back sharing this recipe any longer.  Also, I'm pretty sure if I pushed this post off one more day - I wouldn't have anything left to photograph!  yes, trust me - that are that. good.


Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookie Crunch Bars

Makes 15-20 good sized cookie bars

2 sticks butter or margarine, softened
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 and 1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 heaping cups of quick or old fashioned oats, uncooked
3/4 cup butterscotch chips
1 and 1/2 cups caramel bits (1 cup for caramel drizzle and 1/2 cup to stir into cookie mixture)
1 cup of rice cereal
1 tablespoon heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.   Spray a 9 x13" baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

Beat butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar together with mixer.  Add vanilla and eggs; beat well.  In a separate bowl - combine flour, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice and salt.  Add dry mixture into wet mixture and stir until combined.  Add oats, butterscotch chips  and caramel bits.  Once combined, gently add in rice cereal - stir and press into pan.

Bake for 30 minutes.  Cool on wire rack.  When completely cool, cut into bars and place evenly spaced on a wire rack.  Place wax paper under wire rack to catch caramel drizzle.

Heat the remaining cup of caramel bits with the tablespoon of heavy cream over medium-high heat.  Continuously stir until mixture is thin and runny.  Using a spoon, gently drizzle the caramel over cookie bars.  Let sit to set.  Enjoy!

Click here for a printable version of this recipe.  



Happy Birthday, Steve-o - I hope you enjoy your birthday treats. We love you and can't wait to see you soon!! xoxo
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Thank you to all of you who have submitted your comments/votes on the gender for little baby H.  I am loving hearing everyone's guesses - so keep them coming!  I have decided that the prize will be a gift card to either Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts - winners choice.

PS:  For those of you who have commented as unknown or anonymous, I have not published those comments.  If you'd like to be entered into this little contest - please make sure your name is either in the name field or the comment field.  I just want to make sure I know who to contact in case you are the big winner!


If you haven't voted - what are you waiting for!?  Click HERE to vote. 

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Lastly,  Today I am blogging over at CafeMom about my quest to find a good work/life balance.  Click HERE to go check it out!

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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Family Pictures 2012

A little over a month ago, Carl and I got some family pictures done with Henry in the Boston Public Garden.  It's hard to believe that we have not had any formal family photos done with Henry for the past four+ years that he has been on this earth.  Now that our little family is soon to expand to four - we wanted the capture a few photos with our fur baby.

Morgan - the genius behind the blog xoxome - just formally started her own photography business and she generously offered to do these pictures free of charge during the month of September.  Not only is she a beautiful person on the outside - she is just as gorgeous on the inside.  She was a DELIGHT to work with and really made us feel at ease [we both hate getting photos taken].  I was absolutely smitten when I got these pictures and saw her work come to life.  She really is ONE. TALENTED. GAL. 

I cannot express in words how wonderful these pictures came out, so I'm just going to let you see for yourself!  All I can say is that she captured EXACTLY what I wanted her too - the love that Carl and I have for Henry.  Add the fact that little baby H was four months growing in my belly for these shots and my heart just might explode.  I have been blessed by the good Lord and I know I am definitely a lucky lady.  I am so grateful to Morgan for allowing me to have these gorgeous photos to look back on for years to come.
















and because I just couldn't help myself...


This last one will MOST DEFINITELY be featured in little baby H's nursery.  My heart be still. xoxo.

If you live in the Boston area (or even outside the Boston area) - go check out Morgan Lee Photography.  She specializes in a variety of photography and is also available for travel.  You can check out her website here, her blog here and her Facebook page here.

Thank you so so much again to Morgan - you are the best! I can't wait for my maternity shoot in December!
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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Baby He or Baby She (and a weekend re-cap too!)

Today is a BIG day my friends!  We just found out that our sweet little baby is a ________ !!!


Cruel to keep that exciting news from you, I know - I'm sorry.  We are having a cute little gender reveal party in a little less than a month for our friends and family and just have to keep our lips sealed until then.  You know I will be back here in November sharing lots of pictures and... of course the BIG news!  We are so so so happy!

This past weekend was busy but very productive.  I had my last dress fitting for one of my best friend's wedding this coming weekend and we got to get a little tour of my father-in-law's place of employment.  He works in a paper mill as a head engineer and has been working countless hours and 7 day work weeks for the past few months and his hard work (on his latest project) is finally starting to pay off.  He is one of the smartest people I know and it was great to see him get to show off all of his hard work.  In true Hartford fashion - the one picture I got of Carl and his dad, their eyes were closed. I decided to spare you guys that picture (it is goofy though!) - gotta love those sensitive blue eyes! (I secretly hope our baby has my dark hair and Carl's gorgeous blue eyes!)  

Since we were home on Sunday, I was able to cook a delicious meal.  It was a chilly day outside and therefore perfect to turn on the oven and cook up some comfort food.  I have been craving meatloaf - so that is what I made. We also had some homemade Paula Deen mac+cheese (one of my favorite recipes) and delicious apple crisp.  It was delightful and I was happy.

Speaking of delightful and happy.... this is how Henry spent 95% of his long weekend. 


I also gave my closest an overhaul and started getting the upstairs ready to transition our office/2nd spare bedroom into our little babe's nursery.  I can't wait to shop and get moving on my baby registry!  And speaking of moving - late last week I started to feel little baby moving around... it is THE. BEST. FEELING.  I am in love.  Here is a picture taken this morning.  Yesterday, I hit 19 weeks. 


Do you think little baby Hartford will bee (hint hint at our little party "theme") a baby HE or a baby SHE?  Leave your guess in the comment section below and you'll be entered to win a little gift if you are correct.  That's right - I'll pick a name from those who have guessed correctly and that person will win a prize.  If you are having trouble commenting, e-mail me at bakingitonmyown@gmail.com and I'll help you.  NOTE: those entries that come through without a name or anonymous will not be entered into this drawing.  Drawing ends on November 10th - Good luck!

...and last but definitely not least - Don't forget to check out my post over at CafeMom .  Today I'm talking about deciding to find out the gender of our little one!
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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Birthday, Breakfast, Baby and a Bump!

Happy Tuesday!!

I hope your week if off to a great start.  We had a wonderful weekend in New Hampshire where the foliage was absolutely breathtaking.  It is definitely peak season up there and it was so gorgeous. Ahhh New England in the fall - LOVE!

It was wonderful spending time with some friends and really special spending time with Carl's Grandmother.  She is just the sweetest lady.  She turned 89 in June and she rarely has an opportunity to get out anymore so we took her out for breakfast and we all had a blast.  Lots of laughter and great conversation - it was a special treat in more ways than one.

Last night we had dinner with my sister and her husband for my brother-in-law's 31st birthday! We got to feast on some delicious Italian cuisine and our tummy's were all very happy.  I'm really blessed to have such a great brother-in-law.  Henry loves him and I know our sweet little baby is going to be SO lucky to have a great uncle like him.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY, TIM!

Speaking of yesterday - Baby and I hit the 18 week mark!  Carl is just finishing up the last minute touches on our refurbished bump magnetic chalkboard so stay tuned for a 19 week picture alongside the board next week.  In the meantime, I snapped a not so great picture of the bump for you all this morning.  Pardon my sleepy face.  My tummy sure is growing!

 And last but not least: Today I am blogging over at CafeMom about baby advice and incorporating the below little munchkin into the mix.  Please stop over and check it out.  I'd love to hear any advice you are all willing to share!

Have a great day!
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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Apple Treats and Baby Bumps

Happy Tuesday!

Today I am blogging over at CafeMom about sharing the big [baby] news with our family as well as my quest to find the perfect maternity clothesGo check it out!

In other news:

A little over two weeks ago - the sweet little baby growing inside my tummy was approximately the size of an apple.  In true cheesy fashion - Carl, Henry and I celebrated this occasion by going on our annual apple picking adventure! SO smahhhht I tell you!  It was, of course, the perfect opportunity for me to get my first bump shot for our little one's baby book.


The weather was gorgeous and we really had a wonderful time.  I made sure that I ate an extra apple cider doughnut for myself and the little one... I didn't want them to feel left out of our family tradition this year!  I also thought I was not going to be able to have my cup of fresh cider until I walked in the door and saw a huge sign saying that all of their cider was pasteurized.  I almost cried tears of joy.  After indulging in our treats, purchasing a few pumpkins and colorful mums - we lugged our half bushel of Macintosh and Cortlands home and got to making some of our favorite apple treats.

I just HAD to share my favorite apple recipe of all with my favorite people of all - YOU! yes you! If I can give you any advice about the recipe below it would be to stop whatever you are doing and get making this recipe RIGHT. NOW.  You (and your tummy) will be glad you did!

Apple Pie Coffee Cake
[Recipe modified from Taste of Home]

Serves 16-20

Apple Filling:
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
4 cups cored, peeled and sliced
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Cake:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup cold butter (2 sticks, unsalted)
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Topping:
1/4 cup brown sugar
2/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cold butter (unsalted)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (add more to taste)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray 9x13 glass pan with non-stick cooking spray - set aside.

In a saucepan - combine granulated sugar, cornstarch, apples and lemon juice.  Bring to a boil on Medium High heat and cook until mixture starts to thicken and apples start to soften - approximately 5-8 minutes (use judgement).  Stir constantly to avoid mixture from burning.  Remove from heat and add cinnamon.  Let mixture cool while combining the cake and topping.

In a large bowl - combine the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder and baking soda.  Chop cold butter into small portions and add to dry mixture.  Cut butter into mixture using a pastry blender. In another bowl - beat the eggs, buttermilk and vanilla; stir into butter crumb mixture just until moistened.  Spoon two-thirds of the batter into greased pan.  Top with apple mixture and remaining batter.

For topping - combine brown sugar, granulated sugar, flour and cinnamon in a small bowl.  Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly.  Sprinkle topping over batter.  Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.  The base of the cake should be golden brown. Cool on wire rack. Enjoy!


Click here for a printable version of this recipe.
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Saturday, September 22, 2012

Soup for You

The cooler weather has definitely started to creep it's way into our weekly forecast and I have to admit, I really don't mind! I LIVEEEE for this time of year - my absolute favorite favorite favorite season.  Carl and I have started a variety of fall traditions and they are some of the things that I look forward to year round.

What I also love about this time of year is the return of heartier meals and COMFORT FOOD - oh how I love you!  Apples, Pumpkins, Mac+Cheese, Squash, Beef Stew, Chicken and Dumplings, Pot Pie, Baked Chicken, Pot Roast, Grandma Hoffmeister's Famous Brisket, Soup galore - ahhhh the list goes on and on (and on)!

A few weeks ago, I got to thinking about this delicious beef and barley soup that our friends Ty and Mandy had made for us a few years ago.  She rendered the beef in some duck fat to start and it was absolutely divine.  So scrumptious that I am still thinking about it over 2 years later!

I love soup with barley in it but for some reason I have always been a little scared of attempting it myself.  I happen to see it on sale last week and decided to give it a go.  Here is the delicious result that I am sharing with you today and will be adding to our stockpile of go-to soups from now on.  I took a bit of a lighter approach and used some leftover chicken but I'm sure beef (or beef rendered in duck fat) would be just as tasty.

Enjoy!



Portobello Mushroom Soup with Barley and Chicken

Makes 6-8 servings

1/2 cup pearl barley
4 cups water
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
1 stalk celery, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
16oz sliced portobello mushrooms
5 cups low-sodium chicken broth/stock
1 tsp chicken base or 1 chicken bouillon cube
1 cup chopped chicken
1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1 heaping tsp fresh thyme (removed from stem)
2 tbsp lemon juice
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Combine barley and water in a large saucepan (soup pot) and bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce the heat and simmer for approximately 40 minutes.  Stir occasionally.

In a large skillet, heat butter and olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onions, celery, garlic, carrots and portobello mushrooms.  Saute for 10-12 minutes until translucent and soft.

Add chicken broth/stock, chicken base/bouillon, parsley, thyme and lemon juice to the large saucepan with barley.  Add the cooked vegetables and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.  Add chopped chicken and simmer for another 10 minutes.  Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.


Click here for a printable version of this recipe.

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PS:  Billie Hester - I am still waiting to hear from you regarding your winning prize from this post.  If I don't hear back from you in the next few days I will be picking a new winner!
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Monday, September 10, 2012

BIG News!

As I have previously mentioned, my waistline has certainly started to grow since the start of this blog.  Now, it is expanding for other reasons!


Carl and I are expecting a sweet little bundle of joy in very early March and we are beyond excited.

Expanding our family has been something we have dreamed about for many years and we are just so happy that the time has finally come! Of course we are a little anxious and overwhelmed but I think that comes along with the territory!

And as for our other little "baby" - Henry is going to be a fantastic big-brother - we just know it! 
I mean - come on - just look at this face!



Stay tuned for updates on the "baking" of this little baby bun as the weeks go on.  It sure is the sweetest recipe I know I'll ever create and I'm so excited to share it with all of you.

Now that food sounds appealing to me again and my stomach has decided to temporarily let it stay - I'll be back to sharing new recipes in the weeks to come!

Have some baby advice?  Know some fantastic products that are a MUST? I'd love to hear them!  We are all ears on this end!

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend!
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