lorelei // reaching

Those developmental milestones everyone always talks about really are as exciting as they say when it's your child. LBell has grabbed the bird with the wooden ring before, but it was more of a reflex than anything with too much intention. Look at her going after that owl! She totally knows what she's doing. Love watching her learn!

lorelei // TWO months!

fav "mom's one line a day" excerpts from Lorelei's 2nd month:

november 8:  Lorelei started smiling at me today.  BEST. DAY. EVER.
november 12:  Daddy's been teaching L to smack her lips - she's such a quick learner!
november 26:  Lorelei and I made our first batch of cookies together today. My left arm is tired from holding her & it was a little messy doing it all one-handed!

LBell @ two months:
  • 10.0 lbs, 22 inches at my 2-month checkup.
  • Still in newborn clothes!
  • Found my fingers!  Love snacking on them.
  • Starting to 'talk', especially in the mornings just after I wake up.
  • Love to keep mom & dad guessing - 'routine' is not in my vocabulary!
  • We go out a lot more than you'd think, especially since I love to sleep in my carseat.
  • I love lights!

mama @ two months:
  • Started back at work half-time, mostly from home. We had such an easy go of it, I was itching to get back into the game. (Original plan was a full 12 weeks, then returning full-time.)
  • Getting better at my water intake. The trick for me is to always have a water bottle handy.
  • Just can't believe how much I love this little one. Everyone says it, but you just can't imagine until it happens to you.
  • I pass judgment less and less. Again, you just don't know until you become a parent.
  • Why don't I have my pre-baby body back already?!? (Yes, I know this is irrational.)
  • At about 6 weeks I was ready to be pregnant again. That has since passed. But it still lingers. That should tell you a lot about how laid back and easy-going Lorelei is.
  • I can't wait to see this girl grow and her personality develop.
  • Stop growing so fast!  Where did my newborn go?

See more of our daily shenanigans on my instagram feed!

lavender hot chocolate pudding

I created, made, and photographed this recipe about a year ago.  This post has been sitting in my drafts since then.  I can't remember the recipe.  All I can tell you is that it is a rich, dark chocolate pudding infused with lavender.  Think it'll taste like soap?  I was skeptical, too, but this is so good.  I prefer lavender desserts that include chocolate.  Anything vanilla-lavender, lavender-honey, etc. - does taste a bit like soap to me.

Want to try your chocolate pudding infused with lavender?  It's easy.  Use your favorite chocolate pudding recipe (or even a box mix) and infuse the milk it calls for with lavender.  Add about a tablespoon of lavender to the milk and heat it just to scalding, strain through fine mesh to remove the lavender, then use the milk as directed in your recipe.

Voila!  Enjoy this spin on chocolate pudding.

lorelei // ONE month!

fav "mom's one line a day" excerpts:

october 10:  headed home from the hospital already!  full glass of prosecco and sushi for me to celebrate!
october 31:  dj lo-lei hit the streets with all the other laners - blaring techno music!  our costume kicked a$$ and we set one heck of a precedent for future halloweens.

LBell @ one month:

  • started her sleeping in her crib after one night in bed with us
  • winds up in our bed after her last early morning feeding
  • loves her swing
  • could take or leave the paci
  • farts like it's her business and seems to have great comic timing
  • dressed up as a dj for halloween
  • bathing by candlelight in our kitchen sink has become a nightly ritual
  • clocked her first stint of 7 hours sleep
  • first smile at the tail end of this month - best. moment. ever.

mama @ one month:

  • finally enjoying b-feeding and not wincing every time
  • feeling 100%
  • craving sweets like crazy - must. have. cookies.
  • target with starbucks is my new favorite
  • having a hard time keeping my water intake up
  • getting out of the house often
  • first night out with dad for our best friends' wedding reception (we missed the wedding in NC as it was a few days after L was born - i cried that night as the pictures started rolling in via instagram)
  • i also cried at their wedding reception here - i feel so different.  i'm a mom.  it really hit me as we walked up the stairs to the loud, bustling party.  i was overwhelmed.  plus, i was wearing a dumb dress from 5 years ago because that was the only one that fit me.
  • thinking of my return to work and wondering how i'm going to do it all

introducing lorelei

It's been about a year since I've posted anything here.  If you've followed me and are wondering why, check out my revised About page.

38 weeks

day one

just a few hours old

 day two

finally home

contemplating the world at day three

 first manicure from daddy

 roadtrip to see meredith and have newborn pics taken

 photoshoot preview, first family photo (we totally failed at taking pics at the hospital)


diapers.com - a new mom's savior. free overnight shipping.

 mom's photoshoot

can't stop staring

It's a girl!  Lorelei came into the world fast and furious on Tuesday, October 9th, 2012 at 2:25am, weighing 7 lbs 12 oz, and measuring 19 inches long.  I had been convinced I was carrying a boy, but daddy was right on this one.

We were in and out of the hospital in less than 48 hours, spending only about an hour and a half there before she was born.  I had an all natural birth - no drugs or interventions at all - and wouldn't do it any other way.

We're looking forward to watching this girl grow and come into her own!

egg nog macarons + cookie swap

I had my first macaron about a month ago at Kate Spade's opening party here in KC, and it blew me away.  Macarons are not the dry, airy, meringue-looking cookie they appear to be.

After that experience, I became obsessed with scribbling ideas for fun flavor combinations on any piece of paper I could find.  Egg nog is hardly a new concept, but I have a few up my sleeve that I can't wait to show you now that I've gotten my feet wet and started to understand what makes these little guys tick.

For some reason, I thought that the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap would be a great excuse to make macarons.

Because that makes sense.  Especially when you set out to make them the day before they're due to be shipped.

No pressure.

After reading everything I could on the internet about macarons, I set out to make 3 dozen with pal Carrie who came over for moral support and to try her hand at these delicacies as well.

We learned a lot in the kitchen that day.  And, thankfully, they grew feet and were edible!

For the record, my family's Russian Teacakes were my backup plan.  I did at least have a backup plan.

If you'd like to participate in future food blogger cookie swaps, you can sign up to receive more information when the time comes.

Egg Nog Macarons (Gluten-Free)
Yield: 1 dozen
Adapted from Tartelette

For the shells: 
90 grams aged egg whites
25 grams granulated sugar
200 grams powdered sugar
110 grams almond flour or almonds (slivered, blanched, sliced, whatever you like)

Prepare the macarons:

  1. Place the powdered sugar and almonds in a food processor and give them a good pulse until the nuts are finely ground.  Sift through a fine mesh sieve to remove any large pieces of almond.  Return large chunks to food processor and sift again if remnants are greater than 1 tablespoon.  If less than 1 tablespoon of large pieces remain, discard them.
  2. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites to a foam (think bubble bath foam), gradually add the sugar until you obtain a glossy meringue (think shaving cream). Do not overbeat your meringue or it will be too dry. (To test if meringue has been beaten enough, tip bowl upside down.  If the meringue stays in place, it has been whipped enough.)
  3. Add the almond mixture to the meringue  Give it a quick fold to break some of the air and then slow down and fold the mass carefully until you obtain a batter that falls back on itself after counting to 10. The whole process should not take more than 50 strokes. (Test a small amount on a plate: if the tops flattens on its own you are good to go. If there is a small beak, give the batter a couple of turns.)
  4. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain round tip  with the batter and pipe small rounds (1.5 inches in diameter) onto parchment paper or silicone mat lined baking sheets. Tap the cookie sheet firmly on the counter 3 or 4 times to alleviate air bubbles.  
  5. Let the macarons sit out for 30 minutes to an hour to harden their shells a bit. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 280F. When the macarons are dull and appear to have formed a skin, bake for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on their size.  
  6. To test for doneness: choose a macaron to sacrifice and carefully attempt to pull up the edges.  If the macaron pulls away from the parchment easily, it is done.  If it sticks, return to the oven for a minute or two.
  7. Let cool. If you have trouble removing the shells, pour a couple of drops of water under the parchment paper while the sheet is still a bit warm and the macarons will lift up more easily do to the moisture. Don't let them sit too long or they will become soggy. Once baked and if you are not using them right away, store them in an airtight container out of the fridge for a couple of days or in the freezer.

For the Egg Nog Swiss-Meringue Buttercream:
1/2 cup (100gr) sugar
2 large egg whites
1 1/2 sticks (180gr)(6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons egg nog1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

  1. Put the sugar and egg whites in a large heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and whisk constantly, keeping the mixture over the heat, until it feels hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. The sugar should be dissolved, and the mixture will look like marshmallow cream. 
  2. Pour the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat the meringue on medium speed until it cools and forms a thick shiny meringue, about 5 minutes. 
  3. Switch to the paddle attachment and add the butter, one tablespoon at a time, beating until smooth. Once all the butter is in, beat in the buttercream on medium-high speed until it is thick and very smooth, 6-10 minutes.
  4. Remove bowl from the stand mixer and fold in egg nog, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Adjust spices accordingly.  If it doesn't seem quite like egg nog, odds are you need to add more nutmeg.
  5. Pair shells of similar size and pipe buttercream onto one, then carefully press together to complete the macaron.  
  6. Macarons are best 24 hours after they are finished.  I couldn't wait that long, but I did notice a difference after 24 hours had passed - they really did get better with age.  Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

orange-scented russian teacakes + foodiecrush

There's a new magazine in town!  Have you seen it?  It's published by the lovely Heidi of foodiecrush.  She publishes regular blog posts in addition to this scrumptious online magazine.

I'd recommend taking a peek when you have plenty of time and a full stomach.

Once you get to page 46, you might see a familiar face.

Yep, that's me!  I'm sharing my family's traditional holiday cookie.

My grandmother found the original recipe in a Betty Crocker cookbook circa 1950.  The recipe is notorious for being loved by men, and it was actually created by one - an executive from New York City that made them for Christmas one year and submitted the recipe to the magazine.

My mother made them last summer, on request, to send to my father and brother while they were thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail (all 2,178 miles!), and my bother gave himself a stomachache from eating too many at once.

I made these back in August to meet the submission deadline, and it made me wonder why I don't just make these year-round!  It was so fun to evoke the memories and emotions of the holidays during the summer months.

I threw in some orange to give these bad boys some extra zest - perfection.

Make these this holiday season, and feel free to call them snowballs.  Makes more sense to me, too.

Orange-Scented Russian Teacakes
Makes 16-20
Adapted from Betty Crocker

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
Zest of one orange, plus more for garnish if desired
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
3/4 cup finely chopped pecans 
1/4 teaspoon salt
Powdered sugar for dusting

1.  Beat butter, sugar, orange zest, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or using a hand mixer until light and fluffy.
2.  Reduce speed to low, add salt, then gradually add flour and pecans until the dough comes together.
3.  Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour.
4.  Preheat oven to 400ºF.
5.  Shape dough into smooth 2-inch balls and place on an un-greased cookie sheet, or one lined with parchment.  Dough balls can be placed as close as 2 inches apart as the cookies will not change much in size during the baking process.
6.  Bake the cookies 8-12 minutes.  Cookies are done once they turn golden on the bottom, but are not yet brown on the tops or sides.
7.  Immediately remove to a cooling rack and roll in powdered sugar to coat, then return to cooling rack.
8.  Let the cookies cool completely, then roll in powdered sugar once more.

Note:  orange zest may be added to the powdered sugar the cookies are rolled in as an addition to, or in replacement of the zest garnish.  These cookies ship well to out-of-town relatives - our family counts on my mother sending them every year.

chicken pot pie 3 ways

You can do this.

And you know you want to.

Rotisserie chicken and frozen puff pastry take chicken pot pie from Sunday supper to everyday meal.

And the comfort food factor?  Off the charts.

You can take this recipe and make it into traditional pot pie, or even a turnover.



Orrrrrr you can make these adorable little bite-sized appetizers.

Chicken pot pie poppers.  Once you pop, you can't stop.

Am I right?


  • olive oil
  • 4-5 carrots, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 cup pearl onions, halved if large
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 whole cooked rotisserie chicken, skin and bones removed, cut into 1 inch dice
  • 1 1/2 cups peas
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • puff pastry sheets and/or cups
  • egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 T water)
  1. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium high heat.  Add carrots, both onions, garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper.  Sauté until carrots soften and onions are translucent, 5-8 minutes.
  2. Add the butter.  Once melted, sprinkle in the flour and stir to combine.  Keep stirring occasionally, cooking the flour 1-2 minutes.
  3. Gradually add the chicken stock while stirring, then the milk, continuously stirring until fully incorporated. 
  4. Turn heat down and let simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes.
  5. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  6. Add chicken, peas, and parsley to the filling, stirring to incorporate.
  7. For pot pies: ladle warm filling into an oven-safe ramekin or bowl (for individuals) or a casserole dish.  Using your vessel(s) as a guide, cut your sheet of puff pastry to fit 1/2 inch wider than the rim.  Pinch to seal, using egg wash on the underside of the overhanging edge to act as glue if needed.  Cut a slit to vent and brush tops with egg wash and place on a baking sheet (if making individuals) and bake until tops are a dark golden brown, 15-20 minutes.
  8. For turnovers:  cut one sheet of puff pastry into 4 squares, spoon 2-3 tablespoons of filling into the center of each.  Brush the perimeter with egg wash.  Fold one corner over to the opposite corner and use the tines of a fork to seal the edges.  Cut a slit in the top of each to vent.  Carefully place onto a baking sheet and bake until dark golden brown, about 12 minutes.
  9. For appetizers:  use Pepperidge Farm puff pastry cups and bake according to instructions on box.  Spoon in filling and garnish with small sprig of parsley.  To make your own cups, lightly roll two sheets of puff pastry together and cut into small circles.  Brush with egg wash and bake for 6-8 minutes, until the tops are brown.  Let cool a minute or two, then use a sharp knife to cut a core out of each one.  Fill and serve immediately.

holiday cards from minted

Since I don't have your address, here's your holiday card from me:

The Stallion and I hope you have a merry holiday season and a bright new year.  Thank you for reading, emailing, tweeting, facebooking, commenting, and supporting us day-in and day-out.  We love you.

So, have you ordered holiday cards yet?  I'm pretty darn excited about it because this is our first one.

If you haven't, I must share with you my absolute favorite place to order any sort of invitation, personalized stationary, customized card -


I'll tell you my favorite things about them:
  1. They're fast.
  2. They have impeccable customer service.
  3. You can customize any design online, before ordering, to see what it will look like.
  4. They provide designers with a platform to jumpstart a business.
  5. You can customize beyond your wildest dreams.  We sent them a color number for our wedding invitations and they took the design we liked and totally customized it to our wedding palette.  
They're rockstars.

And, as one of my friends, you can get $25 off your order.

And, as one of your friends, it'll give me $25 back if you order something.  Guess I'll have to use that for birth announcements.


love ya - happy holidays!

birthday cake batter cinnamon rolls

I always spend a lot of time thinking about how I can make birthdays special, and it gets tougher and tougher every year.  And, of course, I tend to spend a lot of that time thinking about the food.

Birthdays kick off with breakfast.  These sweet babies are infused with cake batter flavor and rainbow sprinkles throughout for a birthday spin on a breakfast favorite.

My last birthday was kinda one for the record books.

Okay, not kinda.

I was on the beach.  Enjoying champagne and passed appetizers.  Watching the sun go down.  Surrounded by closest family and friends.  Listening to a most dear toast from my barely still then-fiancé.

And then The Stallion's best friend pissed in a trash can not 50 feet from the party.

We blame it on the mama juana.

It's okay.  Not everything can be perfect.  Plus, it's pretty hilarious.

Had we not been in the Dominican Republic, me with only a few days remaining until I would be wearing my wedding dress, I would have definitely wished one of these decadent rolls for a birthday wakeup.

Birthday Cake Batter Cinnamon Rolls
Makes 1 dozen mega rolls, or 2 dozen regular rolls
Dough recipe adapted from Two Peas & Their Pod

For the dough:
2 pkg yeast, dissolved in 1 cup lukewarm water
6 T shortening
1 cup + 1 t sugar
3/4 cup yellow cake mix
7 cups unbleached all purpose flour or more as needed (it will take more)
2 cups hot water
2 eggs, beaten
1 T salt
For the filling:
Softened butter (approx. 2 sticks)
Brown sugar
Yellow Cake mix

Rainbow sprinkles

For the icing:
2 T butter, melted
1/2 cup Yellow Cake mix
1 t vanilla extract
Powdered Sugar

  1. Add yeast to cup of lukewarm water and sprinkle in the teaspoon of sugar. Set aside for about five minutes.
  2. Add shortening, cup of sugar, and salt to hot water in a large bowl or that of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Allow mixture to cool to lukewarm. 
  3. Add cake mix and 2 cups of flour and mix until smooth. 
  4. Add yeast and mix again until smooth.
  5. Add in beaten eggs.
  6. Stir in remainder of flour, a little at a time until no more can be mixed in. Remove the mixer attachment and knead by hand, adding flour until dough does not stick to the bowl (while I did not keep count of total flour used, it was about 3/4 of a 5 lb. bag). Remove from bowl and knead until dough feels satiny and looks smooth.  It shouldn't be sticking to your countertop at this point, and not need any more flour.
  7. Cover and let rise for at least 30 minutes. 
  8. Lightly knead and roll out into a long, rectangular shape.  The skinnier your rectangle, the smaller your rolls, as it will take less turns to roll up all of the dough.  The wider the rectangle, the bigger the rolls. 
  9. Spread with softened butter (I used my hands), then sprinkle generously with brown sugar, cake mix, cinnamon, and sprinkles. 
  10. To roll, start with the long end closest to you and roll away, keeping the dough rolled as tightly as possible.  Pinch along the end to seal.
  11. To cut into rolls, use dental floss as opposed to a knife.  Wrap the floss around the long roll, about 1.5 inches from the end, cross the ends at the top, and pull the ends away from each other until the floss cuts through the dough.
  12. Place on well greased pans, cover with a clean dish towel, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size (or overnight, wrapped with plastic wrap, in the refrigerator). 
  13. Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake until golden, about 5-7 more minutes, depending on size.
  14. While the rolls are baking, make the icing.  Whisk together all ingredients, adjusting milk and powdered sugar amounts to achieve desired consistency.
  15. Let cool before frosting to allow for a thick cover like those pictured, or frost while warm for a light glaze.

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