Friday, April 18

My Baby Boy is Turning ONE!

In a few weeks, we will be the parents of a 1 year old.  Holy cow.  I can't believe a year has flown by.  Lots has changed since his birth and we are loving every minute.  I may not have been to a movie theater or fancy dinner in a year but I have been to loads of library story-times! 

We moved to a new state in December, have made some great new friends, and have been having fun discovering glorious Colorado.  Springtime couldn't come soon enough, but now we are loving the warm weather!  

Arlo took his first step a few days after he turned 9 months.  By 10 months he was getting into everything and walking all over the house.  At 11 months, he likes to try to run.  We are still mastering speed on two feet, but it's fun to chase him all over now.

We have been hiking, gone to baseball games, climbed the stairs up and down at Red Rocks, and made lots of new friends.  He loves being outside and meeting new people.

His favorite things to eat are Wheaties and clementines.  He loves bright colored foods and anything he can hold onto.  Dill pickles, strawberries, and apple cores are a big hit.  Anything that goes on a spoon is a little tricky as he insists on feeding himself...

Every new object is something to touch and play with.  A few of his favorite toys: a long shoe horn, curtain rods, and empty boxes.  He loves cars, balls, and his red barn.  Easy to please.

We are so happy to have a baby that is so good natured and easy going.  He really is a great kid.  He loves hiking in his backpack carrier, going grocery shopping/flirting with all the ladies, and going anywhere new.  I never worry that he will fuss and we will have to leave, he nurses on the go, and naps anywhere.  We are a little spoiled!  I love it.  (Hopefully that didn't just jinx it!)

One of my favorite things about having a baby is watching him grow.  He has made our little family feel complete and has made my husband into a great father.  Arlo lights up when "dad" comes home from work and loves wrestling and rough housing with him.  I feel like a lucky lady to have a husband that is such a natural at being a dad.

BIG LOVE and Birthday Wishes to my almost 1 year old.  I hope the next year brings as many fun filled days for you!  

We took these photos a few days ago at our local baseball field.  It was the first time he was barefoot outside and he was in heaven.  Grass, dirt, and baseball chalk.

Sunday, March 2

Hammond's Candy Factory

We are always looking for fun, free things to do on cold days in Denver and I started looking at free tours you could take.  I love candy, chocolate, caramel, you name it.  So I was super excited to find that Hammond's Candy Factory in Denver gives free tours for the public.  They mostly make hard candies, but they also do chocolate, marshmallows, and caramels, etc.  All made by hand.  Pretty cool and also kind of crazy.  

My grandma and aunt were in town so we decided to go check it out.  

I enjoyed seeing the candy making on such a large scale by hand.  Those are the huge copper pots that they cook the sugar in.  They have a round bottom and they use lots of corn syrup to prevent crystallization.  When the sugar is the right temperature they pour it onto cooling tables and then add color.

Once it is cool enough to handle, they pull it on a machine.  Then roll it into a log.  This picture shows it being wrapped in a candy striped jacket.  They were making candy canes.  Completely by hand.

Arlo can't believe it either.  Crazy hot and hard work.  While I enjoyed seeing it all done by hand, I had to wonder if some of the boxing and packaging couldn't be done by machine...  What a boring job!

These are their marshmallow eggs.  Some have caramel.  All wrapped by hand.  This lady wraps eggs in foil all day long.  Meditative?  Or a little mind numbing.  They are all wrapped individually and they make a ton!

At the end of the tour they have their retail shop.  We had fun picking out a few goodies.  I got a few chocolate bars and some fun pink ribbon candy for my nieces.  Their ribbon candy is really pretty and I remember loving it as a kid.  If you are in Denver and are looking for a fun tour for kids or candy lovers: this is it.  It is located off I-25 and 58th st.  Easy to get to, plenty of parking, and free for everyone.  

Thursday, February 20

Life in the Rockies

Mid December we moved from wicked hot Tucson to the beautiful Colorado Rockies.  Life has been a bit of a whirlwind the past few months.  We are finally getting into a routine and feeling like we live here.  Here is a little recap of our past few months in our new city.

We visited the Botanic Gardens over the holidays.

Celebrated our babe's 1st Christmas.

Went to a Mammoth Lacrosse game.

We have seen lots of snow!

Experimented with baking at high altitudes...

Drove two full 7 hour days from Tucson to Denver with THIS guy.

Found a few new favorite dishes to cook at home (recipes to come!)

Went to the crazy Casa Bonita.

And learned how to bundle up! Looking forward to discovering more fun things to do in our new city in the mountains.

Thursday, November 7

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread Recipe

It's officially cold out in Tucson.  Let me be clear, that means it is below 70.  Something about the wickedly hot summers makes anything below 70 seem like freezing.  I'm not complaining.  This cold weather has inspired me to do some cold weather baking.  Hence, chocolate chip pumpkin bread.

My mom got this recipe from a friend in 1985.  I have been eating this for as long as I can remember and I used to love eating it from the freezer.  When I make it now, I like to pop it in the freezer and eat it the next day.  Weird, I know, but food habits are the hardest to break.  

This recipe makes about 8 small loaves or 2 large ones.  I like to make a few mini loaves with my mini loaf pan and a few medium ones.  That way I can freeze them and pull a small one out in the morning for breakfast without deciding to eat 10 servings at once.

You will probably enjoy eating it fresh out of the oven.  The chocolate chips are still gooey and extra chocolaty when warm.

This recipe is really quick and you only need a few basic ingredients.  It would be a great holiday gift or treat for your co-workers.

If you have a few hours, this bread can be mixed up in less than 10 minutes, baked in 30 minutes to 1 1/2 hours, and eaten in less than 2 hours.  Not bad for a loaf of YUM.

yield: 8 small loaves or 2 large loaves

3 cups sugar
3 cups flour
2 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
1/2 t. baking powder
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. allspice
16 oz. can of pumpkin
1 cup oil
4 eggs
2/3 cup water
1 pkg. mini chocolate chips

1. Mix all dry ingredients together in a large bowl

2. Mix all wet ingredients together in a different bowl.

3. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix until just combined, fold in chocolate chips.

4. Bake at 325 F for 30-40 min. for small loaves and 45 min. to 1 1/2 hours for large loaves, depending on the size of the pan.

5. Bake until toothpick comes out clean.  


Thursday, October 24

S'mores Cookie Recipe

Holy Moly.  These cookies are good.  Chewy, sweet, decadent marshmallowy : YUM.

I have been jonesing for s'mores for a few months, pinterest is full of s'mores cookies, s'mores cupcakes, s'mores fudge, s'mores s'mores s'mores!  Every time I see a recipe, I am like, I am making that tomorrow.  Then I forget.

Last night I wanted to make some cookies for my husband, so I searched for a new chocolate chip cookie to try.  I found a recipe and in the middle of making them, THIS wonderful cookie came to life.

I give you, delicious wonderful S'MORES cookies.  Easy, peasy, YUM!  Plus, you can make half the batch chocolate chip cookies and the other half s'mores.

Do those 3 cookies touching count as one because they are oozing together??  I say YES.  I love how the marshmallows get scorched in the oven and pull apart stringy and gooey.  These are best enjoyed right out of the oven.  Although they are extra soft the next day from the gooey marshmallows too.

A few bites for breakfast, a few bites for lunch.

Here is the recipe I used.  I found this chocolate chip cookie recipe and just altered it a bit for a slight twist.

yield: about 30 cookies
{adapted from savorysweetlife recipe}

 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 cups chocolate chips
1/4 - 1/2 cup mini marshmallows

1. Cream butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until light and fluffy.  

2. Add eggs one at a time with vanilla and mix to combine, beat 2 minutes until fluffy again.

3. Add flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder and mix until combined.

4. Add chocolate chips and marshmallows and mix until combined.

5. Bake 11-12 minutes at 360 F or until edges are browned and cookies look done.  They will continue to brown a little while they cool on the cookie sheet.

Tuesday, October 22

Soft Pretzel Bites

I am obsessed with snacks.  Sweet snacks, savory snacks, other people's snacks.  I can't keep my hands off snacks.  It is a compulsion that leads to early morning baking.  Behold: soft pretzel bites.

These babies are quick and easy.  Mix the dough at 6 am, take a shower, get dressed, roll them and bake them by 7:15, and you have pretzels for breakfast snack at 7:30 am.  Not too bad.  I like them plain with mustard or hummus.  Feeling indulgent?  Roll them in butter and cinnamon sugar.

I made a batch big enough to save some for later.  I freeze these in single serving bags for a quick fix for my snacking habit.

All you need is yeast, flour, a little vegetable oil, water, salt, baking soda, sugar, and a hungry belly.

I had this little pile for my first snack of the day.  All buttery and rolled in cinnamon and sugar.

You could roll them in garlic butter, dip them in your favorite party dip, or whip up some queso.

On the sweet side: scoop up some nutella, peanut butter, or honey.  

Want the recipe?  Of course you do.

yield: makes about 10 servings 

4 tsp. active dry yeast
1 tsp. white sugar
1 1/4 cups warm water (110 degrees F)
5 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil

1/2 cup baking soda
4 cups hot water

butter for brushing on top

1. In a small bowl, combine yeast, 1 tsp. sugar, and warm water and allow to bloom about 10 minutes while you measure the other ingredients.

2. In a large bowl, mix together flour, 1/2 cup sugar, and salt.  Make a well in the center, and the oil and yeast mixture.  Mix and form into a dough.  If the mixture is dry, add a tsp or two of water, if it is too wet, add a little flour.  Knead the dough until smooth, about 7 or 8 minutes.  Lightly oil or spray bowl, place dough in it, and cover with plastic wrap.  Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

3. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  In a large bowl dissolve baking soda in hot water.  

4. When risen, take dough and divide into about 10 pieces.  Keep the pieces you aren't working with covered.  Roll each ball into a log and cut into bite sized pieces.  Dip them into the bowl of water and baking soda and line up on a sheet pan.

5.  Bake in preheated oven for 8 minutes, until browned.  

6. Brush with melted butter when they come out and top with salt or cinnamon sugar.  (or leave them plain, freeze them, and top them later.)  

These pretzel bites microwave well after being frozen and are the perfect snack for any time of day.

Saturday, October 19

Omaha Zoo

A few weeks ago we visited my in-laws in Omaha and went to the fantastic zoo there.  I wasn't sure if a 5 month old baby would really enjoy it, but he loved it.  I think his favorite part was the aquarium.  All the bright contrasting colors and lights held his attention.

These jellyfish were so pretty and really caught his eye.

We had a great time together checking out the huge aquarium.

My husband held him in front of a tank with sharks in it and this one kept coming by.  YIKES! 

Here my husband and babe are in front of the penguins. 

Totally worn out after a fun day of zoo animals!  Now we are back to Arizona and warmer weather again.  

Wednesday, September 25

Baby Play Date and Cupcakes

Before the baby was born, we took a class on birth and babies.  We met a few other couples in the class that were all having boys, the biggest gap between babies being a month.  Last weekend we all got together to have a baby play date.  FUN!

Here is a shot of all the babies lined up on the couch.  The one on the far left is 4 months, the next one is 5 months, our babe is 4 months 2 weeks, and the one on the far right is 4 months 3 weeks.  They are all pretty big kids.  Loving this shot of the four of them.

It was fun to see them all checking each other out.  Plus it made me feel a little better about the constant drool and shoving things in his mouth.  Totally normal.

I made some cupcakes for the occasion.  The frosting was a last minute choice of colors.  For some reason I was digging lime green.  Huh.  Probably could have gone with something a little more appetizing, but when you have a baby yelling for you to hurry up, this is what you get.  They were vanilla cupcakes filled with a coconut pineapple cream cheese filling and topped with cream cheese icing and coconut flakes. 

It was a good day for babies and food.  Fun fun fun.

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