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Fall Dips – Caramel Apple and Pumpkin Dip

During the fall, I love to incorporate anything apple or pumpkin into my life. Honestly…ANYTHING…I have apple blossom hand soap at my kitchen sink, my pumpkin pie candle burns every night after the kids are asleep – its kind of ridiculous. I knew that I wanted to share my favorite fall dips featuring….Apple and Pumpkin flavors!  The timing worked out perfectly, because I brought this dish to a friend’s house last night. A couple of people there were asking for the recipe, so, why not make it easy and share it with everyone. I like to have easy recipes ready to go for the fall, because I find that we are invited to a lot of gatherings between Halloween, Thanksgiving, and football Sundays.  These two fall dips have quickly gone to the top of my list as “must makes” as they are a hit with all age groups and of course, super easy to make.  I like to make both dips together for the perfect fall flavors combo. As you can see in the picture - I serve both dips with nilla wafers, and apples.

Fall Dips

Pumpkin Dip

I originally received this recipe after my Sister-In-Law made this for our annual fall barbecue and had everyone there asking for the recipe! Honestly, people have RSVP-ed, and in the same email, asked if the pumpkin dip would be there. It is THAT good.

Pumpkin Dip
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 12-15
 

Ingredients
  • 1 (8 ounce) package of cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups of confectioners sugar
  • 1 15 ounce can of pumpkin
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice

Instructions
  1. Blend the cream cheese and confectioners sugar until smooth; I usually use my stand mixer – it ensures everything is blended well.
  2. Blend in pumpkin, and then the cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice. Ah yes, the perfect spices of the season.
  3. Chill for at least 1 hour.

 

Caramel Apple Dip

This dip I found on Cooks.Com forever ago, and it has been in my “favorites” folder ever since – yes..this was even before Pinterest! I like to think of this as the non-messy way of getting the caramel apple taste.

Caramel Apple Dip
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 8-10
 

Ingredients
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions
  1. Mix sugars together first, to ensure that they are well blended.
  2. Place your softened cream cheese with the sugars. Again, I use the stand mixer – it is just easier!
  3. Add vanilla and blend all ingredients together.

Anne - September 24, 2013 - 9:55 am

Love these recipes! What a delightful file box I am getting!

Baby Girl’s Month One Recap

Whew! We have made it through month one as being parents of three. I am going to be honest – if you asked me pre-baby if I could have confidently made that statement,I would have been doubtful.  Things are definitely crazy, but becoming more manageable everyday. Most importantly, our little girl is healthy and mostly content. She is also pretty darn adorable…here is my favorite picture from her newborn photo shoot:

 

Baby Girl

Some teeny tiny issues occurred over the last month like some bleeding from her belly button which was quickly resolved, or a big sister who chose to be a dog when she didn’t feel like she was getting enough attention ( check out the post Lucy the Dog for more on that fun!). They were small hiccups though, so I am considering us very very lucky.  This time around we did not have one of those magic babies who sleeps through the night at one month – so this lady is still getting up 1-2 times a night. We have gotten some 6-7 hour stretches though, which have been quite amazing when they hit!

While I feel like we know what we are doing this time, and my first time mother worries are non-existent, the challenges are more around things like – we have to be at school by 9 (10 minutes away)- the baby decides she wants to eat at 8:00…and not stop for about 40 minutes, putting a bit of stress on getting everyone out the door on time! There is also the frustration that things can go from perfection to $hit show in a manner of seconds. Dinner can be prepped, all kids are content, I am able to start the relaxing task of folding laundry….and then the baby has an “out of diaper”, decides she needs to eat because she is absolutely starving, son decides he is hungry and needs dinner now , and my middle daughter decides that this is the perfect moment to go on the potty even though we have tried unsuccessfully to encourage her to do so for a week and the doorbell or phone will ring, and I look/sound like a crazed lady. No planning or prep can take away those moments either, I have tried to accept.

All in all, we are making it through ok, and my kids are always loving on their sister, and I am feeling blessed.

 

One of my readers who is expecting her first child asked me to share my favorite baby things. I feel like this time around, I have a some very simple needs – I also have really everything from my first son, so if there is something better out there, my wallet and I don’t need to know:)

Here is my top 5 List of the baby must haves this time around:

 

Baby Feed App
1.  Baby Feed App - With my son, I had a breastfeeding “spot” where I had a notebook where I tracked all the baby’s feedings, diapers, etc. This time, I feed the baby in the car, the floor of the playroom, at a friend’s house (but still not in public, because I just have never been able to…) – I track the times on my phone, because I rarely remember the times. let alone how things are going over multiple days!

 

 

2.  The snap n go – this remains to be my everywhere stroller while the baby is still in the car seat. I have the Bob which I use for fast paced walks, but the snap n go is always in my car, and I love that it doesn’t take up a ton of room in my always full car!

 

 

3.  Summer Infant SwaddleMe Blankets – I have always sworn by these blankets, and they are not failing me now! In the middle of the night, who wants to worry about swaddling a baby? Really, at any time, I can barely do it. Life is made so easy by velcro in the right spots. My mom loves these as well, and sometimes you just need to count on someone else to put the baby to bed.
  4. The Medela Pump in Style has lasted me through multiple children as well, and it is already well in use this time. I am pumping to allow others to give the baby bottles, and also to start stocking up my freezer supply. This pump has been the best for me, and everyone I have recommended it to has done well with it as well.

 

5. A Full Freezer – Not surprising, right? But, I don’t want to deal with picking food up, delivery people, large grocery shopping trips, or meal prep. My prep in this area, pre-baby, quite simply, has been amazing. I am always thanking the Dana of the past for delicious breakfast, lunches, and dinners:) So check out the Freezer Friday series on here…and cook up as many meals as your freezer will hold.

One last thing, which I am adding to the list because it is incredibly important, and I am finally understanding this time around…

The ability to say YES to help – this has always been very very hard for me…I had the kids, I shouldn’t need help to raise them…right? Um no…I have realized this time, that there are a lot of people who are offering help who mean it. I am also not a failure of a mother if I say yes to someone taking the kids to play while I take a nap, or saying yes to someone making a meal for our family. I have been grateful to have quite a bit of help this time, and it really has made some days a lot easier!

 

All in all, I would say it was a pretty successful first month!!

Would any other momma’s out there have some essential gear to recommend for the early months?

Kelly - September 16, 2013 - 7:29 am

I agree with these essentials, but also would add the Rock and Play sleeper. We didn’t have this with our first, but with this one it has been a lifesaver. He slept in this overnight for the first couple of weeks.

http://m.toysrus.com/skava/static/product.html?type=TRU_product_us&url=%2Fproduct%2Findex.jsp%3FproductId%3D12413334&domain=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.toysrus.com

Jen - September 16, 2013 - 7:56 am

I cracked up at the “thanking the Dana of the past” comment!!! :)
You’re doing an awesome job as expected, my friend. Your kids are so lucky to call you their Mom.

admin - September 16, 2013 - 8:43 am

I have heard so much about this product, and love that it is endorsed by an mmb reader! The price point looks really good too. hmmm…maybe i will have to check this one out!!!

admin - September 16, 2013 - 8:46 am

=)

i have a fantastic mommy-mentor to thank for so many ideas and of course, being a great voice of reason!

admin - September 16, 2013 - 8:50 am

Received this comment from a reader via email, which will hopefully be helpful:

I was surfing FB this morning during breakfast. I saw your post. If you want to let your readers know the Affordable Care Act now covers breast pumps. Just tell them to call their insurance company to see how it is covered (each co could manage it differently). Basically, I had to order mine through a medical supply company, they got the “prescription” from my OB and within 30 days of my due date they shipped me a Medela pump on style. For FREE.

I’ll be spending the money we saved soon …. By getting another freezer for our garage so I can store my supply!

Angie - September 16, 2013 - 8:57 am

I enjoy reading about your experiences! I have a 3 year old any newest will be a month tomorrow. In less than a week of coming home from the hospital we packed up our house into storage units and moved in with my parents as our new house was completed and we have been sitting and waiting on the bank for the last week to close. My 3yo has done remarkably well considering all of the changes… We’ll see how things go when we are finally in our own space and no longer have nana and papa to give us special attention.

We will also begin potty training… Any tips on this as he just turned 3 and still has little interest?!?!

admin - September 16, 2013 - 9:44 pm

Oh Angie – WOW! I am so impressed with all that you are handling – I am quite sure that would have put me over the edge!!!

Potty training – oh no, I am so NOT good with that. It is the most challenging time as a parent, and I am completely dreading it with my daughter. Nothing is more challenging to me than knowing when someone else has to go to the bathroom :(

I did write a post on it…maybe it will help, but, unfortunately, it might just give you a laugh? :)

http://www.masteringmommybrain.com/potty-training-and-mommy-brain/

Bonnie - September 17, 2013 - 12:01 pm

Congratulations! It seems like just yesterday we were sitting at a coffee shop in Fairfield, doesn’t it?

I especially love the full freezer tip! What a nice thing for relatives to do for a new mom! Stock her freezer with home made dinners and give her a night off. (HA!)

Hugs to you and the new baby!
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Jenny - September 19, 2013 - 8:01 am

Dana, you must have the happiest kids on the block! what a great mom you are! All of your kids are so adorable! I could just picture you with a feeding baby, a hungry son and a barking sister, telephone in one had and answering the door with a foot! LOL you poor thing! <3
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J Timothy Quirk - September 21, 2013 - 6:45 pm

Wow I remember those days! I loved the “perfection to …well show”…:) I had those days too except we never started at perfection, somewhere far lower down that ladder before we hit the show!

Chelle {Everyday Polish} - September 21, 2013 - 7:56 pm

She’s absolutely beautiful! And this list is helpful as I head into baby shower season!
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Jennifer - September 24, 2013 - 9:16 pm

Most precious little baby!!! For swaddling, we really liked the “Woombies”…one zip and the babies were snug as little bugs!

admin - September 27, 2013 - 1:24 pm

Oh yes, I have heard great things about the Woombies! I will have to check them out

VTech Cora the Smart Cub Review and Giveaway

Disclosure: I received the VTech product, information, and the additional gift pack for an MMB reader have been provided by VTech

 

<br />       Cora The Smart Cub - Pink<br />

I have searched for one of the interactive stuffed animals for my daughter. After visiting her friend’s house, she was completely obsessed with a singing stuffed animal, and started bringing each of her stuffed toys to me, and asking me to make the little guys sing. Ah, to be 2 1/2 again and think that mommy has the magic to make that happen, right?!?  I was excited to hear about the new toy from VTech- Cora the Smart Cub. Not only does Cora play songs, but after a quick set up online (super intuitive for mom and dad!) she will tell stories (including your child’s name and favorite things!), play nap time/bedtime music, and Cora’s internal clock allows her to interact during your child’s regular routine.  Seriously – this gal has an internal clock…how cool is that? Even more cool though is that she will turn off on her own if your child is not using her, so she does not scare the daylights out of parents at random times. This factor is VERY important to me with all toys. Clearly she really is Cora the Smart Cub.

The ages which Cora is supposed to be for are 6 months through 3 years old. I am going to be honest – my son is interested when my 2 1/2-year-old is playing with her, and I think that the new baby will be loving her up pretty soon as well (especially the music part!). She is super cute as well – pink, cuddly, with a heart that lights up, and icons on her which are easy to follow.  I also was impressed that she is only $19.99

 

We are loving Cora in our house – and with today’s giveaway, you can enter to win one too:) Fill out the rafflecopter entry below!

If you are interesting in purchasing – you can visit the VTech Website or Amazon.

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Jennifer Marie - September 14, 2013 - 4:44 pm

I like that it can be personalized with your child’s name.

amy williams - September 15, 2013 - 12:08 pm

I am excited to see such a cute toy that can teach our children something and not be on a game or the tv.

Lauren - September 15, 2013 - 8:22 pm

I love interactive toys and this sounds like a great one! I love how you can program it to say your child’s name, read stories or say some of your child’s favorite things.

D SCHMIDT - September 15, 2013 - 8:46 pm

My son would be most excited about the fact she tells stories.

Bonnie - September 15, 2013 - 10:43 pm

I think it’s great that she’s all pink and cuddly – but do you know if they have a blue version for boys?
Bonnie recently posted…The Big Book Club Presents “Frighteningly Delicious” – A Fall Halloween ProgramMy Profile

admin - September 16, 2013 - 6:53 am

GREAT point Bonnie – thanks so much! Yes, VTech does have a boy version, Cody the Smart Cub. He can be found through this link: http://www.vtechkids.com/product/detail/13316/Cody_The_Smart_Cub

This giveaway is just for Cora though!

Vanessa - September 16, 2013 - 12:29 pm

I like that it can be programmed for my kids. :)

Rochel S - September 16, 2013 - 1:28 pm

Love how educational it is and how cute and colorful it is! My daughter would LOVE it!

Colleen - September 16, 2013 - 11:37 pm

It is amazing how far toys have evolved since we were younger. This reminds me of the new and improved Teddy Ruxpin that was the must have toy of the 80′s! I love everything about it and would buy it without a doubt!
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Dawn - September 17, 2013 - 12:15 am

Im excited because I can pick my own songs and stories to download.

Jenny - September 19, 2013 - 7:34 am

This is so cute Dana! it reminds me of when I was a kid and had Teddy ruxpin. Except this is wayyyyy more advanced, and a heck of a lot cuter! Best of luck to everyone!! :)
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Jess - September 19, 2013 - 3:31 pm

I’m glad she turns off – after a few creepy Furbys, I’m a bit wary of talking toys. :)
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Rebecca Parsons - September 19, 2013 - 7:06 pm

I love that she can tell stories, how adorable is that!

Kim - September 19, 2013 - 8:34 pm

I love that it is an educational toy that kids will love.

kim burnett - September 19, 2013 - 10:26 pm

like that it can be personalized with your child’s – See more

Shannon F - September 19, 2013 - 10:57 pm

I love that its educational and personalized. I have a daughter with a “unique” name so I love that I can personalize it for her!

Chelle {Everyday Polish} - September 21, 2013 - 7:40 pm

This would make a great gift as well! Great to start winning for the holidays!
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Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Roasted Red Pepper SauceSauces are one of the easiest things to make, freeze, and reheat. Let’s be honest though – how many times can you have tomato sauce? Today’s Roasted Red Pepper Sauce is a great variation, and I found that it tastes very similar to a Vodka sauce…but the difference is I can make this one successfully:) I have made the Roasted Red Pepper Sauce with both sausage and chicken, and it is delicious both ways. If I make with sausage, I will brown it, and include it with the frozen sauce, chicken, I will make the day of serving.

 

 

 

Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
Author: 
Recipe type: entrée
 

Ingredients
  • 4 large red peppers, cut into chunks
  • 1 28 ounce can whole tomatoes (do not drain)
  • 1 T. Fresh rosemary and sage, chopped
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 4 oz tomato paste
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • ½ cup Romano cheese, grated

Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to broil
  2. In a large casserole pan, mix together tomatoes, red peppers, rosemary, sage, and olive oil. Pour balsamic vinegar over tomato mixture.
  3. Put the mixture in the oven, and broil for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
  4. Remove the mixture from the oven, and place in a blender, adding the tomato paste. (I use my Vitamix blender)
  5. Place pasta sauce in a skillet, and add the cheeses – cooking over medium heat until cheese is melted.
  6. Cool completely, and then freeze.
  7. To reheat – thaw the sauce, warm it in a saucepan, and serve with your favorite pasta, with sausage or chicken!

Lin - September 13, 2013 - 8:40 am

looks awesome!

View of a Wedding

I know I have a love/hate relationship with Pinterest. It has made me realize that my house is a poorly decorated mess, I don’t have a mantle display which changes with the seasons, and my outfits rarely have matching jewelry, shoes, purses, and hair accessory (really – who does their hair perfectly ALL the time?!). I was talking to a friend who is getting married recently about all this, and her comment to me was “you have no idea what Pinterest has done to weddings.” Oh my, I can’t even IMAGINE! I remember when I was planning my wedding six years ago, I was overwhelmed…today, I would be totally screwed.

In July, attended the wedding of one of my husband’s close friends. One of those weddings you knew you were going to be attending years ago, because the couple seemed to fit together so well. The wedding was filled with so many perfect details, you couldn’t help but feel like the bride just shared her heart with us so much on that day. Being massively pregnant and completely sober (which is a slightly rare occurrence for me at a wedding), I feel like I got to enjoy all of her details. I was kind of obsessed with everything at the wedding and freakishly was walking around the reception before people arrived, snapping pictures. Why not, right? I thought it would be fun to step out of mom-land today and celebrate weddings instead. I am so grateful that the bride let me share her day, and hope she enjoys looking at some of the pictures again (this is a small excerpt of my album of over 100 pics – told you…freak).  Here are some of my favorite details from the day:

 

View of a Wedding

Really – who doesn’t love adorable dogs?Add in a tie and leashes that match the wedding decor, and everyone was in love with these little guys:)

Wedding Welcome Keys

LOVED this idea to have old keys with everyone’s name and table assignment – perfect way to welcome people! 

Picket Fence Wedding

The couple hung pictures of their family member’s weddings on a picket fence – such a great way to display pictures. If you saw my recent post about my daughter’s room redo – you know I love using those picket fences!

Moose Head Wedding

Okay, so they didn’t bring in the Moose head, but check out the initials hanging from the Moose? I loved how they put that big old guy to work during the wedding. 

Bison Range

The centerpieces for the tables were so unique, and so so pretty when they were lit up. I loved how the couple “named” the tables as well. Hubby and I did a similar idea as well….we picked places which were meaningful to us from our relationship (maybe our wedding could have survived Pinterest??)

Bison Coaster

This was one of my favorite pieces from the wedding…and luckily it was a favor, so I now have two in my house! The groom (yes, only the groom could do this…) – cut up pieces of branches with a chainsaw into coaster size pieces…he then took an iron brand, put it in the fire, and branded each of the coasters with a bison and the word love. Yes…you read that right…chainsaws, iron brands..all capped with a little love. These were absolutely awesome though! 

Have you been to any weddings lately that have had amazing details? Anything from your own wedding to share?

Alison Baker - September 12, 2013 - 4:21 pm

The most unique thing we did was buy a guestbook that we added polaroid pictures (two of my really good friends were in charge of taking the pics.) We have all the messages thatvour guests wrote along with a pic. From the wedding for each guest. Now people are doing this with photo. Booths and adding a photo. Strip by their messsges.