Wednesday, June 29, 2011

NH State Cookie (according to ME!): White Mountain Chocolate Chip Maple Snickerdoodle

(Don't these look sooo yummy!?!?!)

Better Homes and Gardens contacted me and said, "Hey, we will give you a free cookie sheet if you make a cookie to represent NH in a national contest."

Ummm, ok. Considering I own 2 cookie sheets (and I use the term "own" loosely since 1 was left here by a friend 2 years ago when she so kindly made me a meal when Acadia was born.) And the other is really not a cookie sheet per se... but a pizza pan.

So, yeah, I took the bait of said cookie sheet and polled my Facebook friends for recipe ideas and came up with this sweet concoction:

White Mountain Chocolate Chip Maple Snickerdoodles

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
5 tablespoons real maple syrup
1 egg
1/2 cup white chocolate chips

1/2 cup white sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon.

Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and 1 cup of white sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and maple syrup. Gradually blend in the dry ingredients until just mixed. Slowly mix in chocolate chips.

In a small dish, mix together the remaining 1/2 cup white sugar and the cinnamon.

Use cookie dough baller to make 1 inch balls and drop them into the sugar/cinnamon mixture.

Place 2" apart on cookie sheet.
Bake 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven.


ANd now. the most important part... I am a very competitive person and I REALLY want to win this competition... so please, PLEASE vote for ME!!!! (Even if you are not from NH- mine is still the best cookie, hands down!)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Say hello to my little friend... summer.

Today begins our summer. Yesterday was Ariana's last day of school... so today I have 3 children to entertain all day... every day! Yikes.

What are we going to do?

• First off, I signed Ariana up for Borders Double Dog Dare Challenge to keep her reading all summer.
• We have vacation starting with a trip to Acadia... 4th of July fireworks from the top of Cadillac Mountain will be AMAZING!
• We have to make it over to Hampton before June 29 to see the sand castle competition.
• There will be festivals, parades, free bowling, concerts... and more.

What are we not doing?

• Cooking inside the house. If you have been wondering where my "What's on The Menu" posts are... they are on hiatus until fall since the menu would read, 'Hamburgers, hot dogs, salad, corn on the cob... etc' every day of the week. I stocked my freezer with the summer essentials and we will pretty much grill every day from here until September.

Sorry, sort of a rambling post... my mind is all a mess with all of these kids running around.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

AMAZING, Unique New Hampshire Photographer

If you all remember, I actually packed up my whole family and traveled from NH to Rhode Island last year to have our family photos done. Why the heck did I travel to Rhode Island to have a family photo shoot? Well, I have looked in NH for YEARS for a photographer to fit my family's style to no avail. And the amazing Lisa (who is actually a Canadian photog) was exactly what I wanted, so I would absolutely travel to see her while she happened to be in New England. (And I am so glad I did because her shots were simply perfect.)

Sadly, when her schedule brings her back to New England again this year, it is just not in the stars for us to meet up with her (we will be on vacation far, far away.)

As very sad as I was to miss Lisa... I think karma looked upon me and sent me Rachel. Rachel (of Rachel Halsey Photography) contacted me to see if we could work out a way for her to advertise on my blog. But, as my readers know, I am not a fan of advertising (except for my own Etsy shop, of course!) as it just feels tacky for me to push stuff on the people are are kind enough to visit me every day. Kind of like if you walked into my house and I pushed a pair of shoes at your face and said, "HERE. BUY THESE."


I opened her website and immediately fell in love when I saw her photos of this gorgeous couple.... Ahhhh! She has exactly the tone and style of photography that I adore. How have I missed her until now??? I mean, a truly talented photographer right on the seacoast of NH??? {This is not her, but a photo of some other gorgeous photographer she captured.}

And she captures children exactly how I like it... naturally:
Can you tell I am just slightly excited to get our photos done with her???

Although, her and I have not worked out any advertising agreements yet, I did see that she has a giveaway going on for a free photo shoot and I just had to share it with you. If you live in southern Maine, northern Mass. or New Hampshire, I would seriously suggest entering her giveaway and then bookmarking her site because she is clearly going to be the go-to photographer for young families in our area.

{All photos contained in this post are courtesy of Rachel and belong to her (and by that I mean I stole them off her blog without her permission... I hope she doesn't mind!)}

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Best Droid Photo App Yet!

Since getting my Droid, I have been jealous of the cool photo apps for the iPhone. None of the Droid apps seem to measure up to the funky post processing effects of the Instagram or Hipstamatic (and the like.). I have tried FX Camera, picplz, PicSay Pro, Retro Camera, Vignette... to name a few. All of them had a few features that I liked... but I could not find the whole package...

...until now!

MagicHour is my new favorite app. After I took my first picture and I fell in love. (No idea what the water drops are for... but LOVE the tone of the photo.)

There is a free version... but I sprang for the full $1.99 so I could get the 1024 px resolution. It comes with 40 base filters and you can download countless more from the free market. You can also create your own filter... although I have not gotten that far yet.

MagicHour has a really simple interface, it saves at a better resolution than most photo apps, it has seemingly endless possibilities for editing and I love that you can take photos right from the app or import photos from your gallery taken directly from the phone camera.

Here is a sampling of some of the filters applied to a simple photo of Annika in the leaves: {click to enlarge}

...and another set with a cute couple of kids... {click to enlarge}

Expect lots of camera phone pics now!!!

Monday, June 13, 2011

9 Baby Items They Say You Need (But You Don't!)

My wonderful friend, Isolde, is having her first baby! And with that comes... shopping! Lots of shopping to outfit your house for a new human. Isolde lives in a small abode like I do, so I thought I might do her a favor and tell her what NOT to waste her money and space on. If you have any additional suggestions for her, she'd love to hear them...

1. Changing Table
Especially in a small space. You can take a changing pad that comes with every diaper bag and... voila, a portable changing table. You can change a baby on any floor available, get amazing exercise every time you have to get up and down and cut out a whole ridiculous piece of furniture. I did have one 10 years ago with Ariana (because she was our first baby and we just HAD to have everything) but we never once used it, so we smartened up with the next 2 babies.

2. High chair (the full-sized type, at least)
Again, we had one with Ariana and all I remember is constantly moving it around as it always seemed to be in the way. A better bet is a portable high chair that attaches right to the table or to a chair. (We used the same portable chair booster with both Annika and Acadia. It was so convenient in a small house, plus we could pack it up to go to friends houses or the grandparents.)

3. If you a using disposable diapers- a diaper pail.
Gross. Just gross. If you are like most American families, you take your trash out once or twice a day... which is much preferred over a can of human waste that gathers over days and, no matter what they say, it still smells.

4. Baby wipes warmer.

'Nuff said.

5. Shoes.
I know those itty bitty Converse are adorable, but... useless. If you have a winter baby, they will be in all footed clothing which you don't need shoes for. And, if you have a summer baby, they will be content hanging out in onesies and not much else. Until they are at least ready to crawl, there is absolutely no use in shoes on a baby. Stock up on extra cute socks (which they will promptly take off anyhow) and call it good.

6. Any of the current (yet
ridiculous) trends.
Such as the pee pee tee pee or the Thudguard. Silly. Just silly.

7. Multiple items that serve same purpose.
For instance, you do not need a huge baby swing and a bouncy seat. We opted for just the bouncy seat for Acadia. Again, I remember 10 years ago with Ariana, constantly having this baby swing in our way and having to move it around our living room all the time. Additionally, some babies hate swings and it will be a complete waste of money and space. I find a bouncy seat sufficient for the first few weeks, it's easy to move around (as in you can grab it with one hand, baby in the other and put it in the bathroom so you can sneak in a quick shower.)

Look for other multipurpose items as well. We had a Kelty hiking pack that converted into a stroller, which was just perfect. It did not have all the bells and whistles of the fancy strollers, but since I carried Acadia in a sling most times, we rarely used it as a stroller. But, if you are a walker/hiker- the hiking pack is a necessity.

8. Diaper bags.
Yet again, we got a specialized diaper bag with Ariana... but Colby hated to take her out carrying a 'purse' and it was just another extraneous item that went from our house to a landfill (well, maybe Goodwill first.) Just use an existing backpack that you have for goodness sake. It makes way more sense. If I was going for a walk downtown with Acadia strapped to my front and needed 2 hands to hold the other 2 girls' hands... I would not have a free hand to be toting a baby bag. A back pack works perfectly and dad won't mind carrying it as well. And, when baby is grown, you are not left with a useless Winnie the Pooh themed piece of trash.

9. Specialized items.
Those towels with the built-in hood (which does not actually fit babies head.) 'Swaddling' blankets. (Seriously, any blanket wrapped correctly on the baby is a swaddling blanket.) Burp clothes/ recieving blankets/cloth diapers (when used as burp clothes.) Pick one of these items. I had a stack of small receiving blankets which covered all bases for this. I did not get seperate burp clothes as you just grab a receiving blanket that is sitting around and throw it over your shoulder. Or the same thing if you are cloth diapering... just throw a clean diaper over your shoulder- no need for 'burp' cloths.

There are probably a ton more useless baby items I am forgetting, but these are the ones that jumped out at me from my ten years of motherhood thus far.

Mommy and Me Monday: Cuddle Time

Thank goodness for friends with cameras... or I may not exist in my own photo albums.

This was at our Memorial Day cookout when Acadia needed a bit of cuddling after she got out of the pool. I have been really absorbing every moment of cuddling I can get from each daughter recently. The second one of them proposes, "Can you cuddle me, Mommy?" I immediately drop what I am doing and say, "Absolutely"... I just never know when they will tire of me or it simply won't be cool to snuggle with Mommy anymore.

"Breathe. Let go. And remind yourself that this very moment is the only one you know you have for sure." -Oprah Winfrey

Hosted by Krystyn at Really, Are You Serious?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sunday Citar: Coloring outside the lines.

"My childhood smells like a box of Crayola crayons." ~Jessi Lane Adams

When you first open a fresh box of crayons... does it flood you with memories?

Coloring... crayons... what a definition of childhood. No matter how dirt poor we were, we always had crayons. Even if you don't have a coloring book, you can always find a scrap of paper to draw a rainbow on. You can color inside the lines... you can let your abstract emotions fly... you can create a masterpiece from a box of 8... or relish in the magnificence of a box of 120... with names like Purple Mountain's Majesty or Wild Blue Yonder.

"Poured a cup of hot sepia coffee in a wisteria flowered mug, dandelion sunshine spilling through the periwinkle sky." ~Terri Guillemets

Please visit Tabitha at Fresh Mommy for more wonderful citar.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

My Father: Gary Gilpatrick, Rest in Peace

I said goodbye to my biological father last Wednesday morning as I sat next to him and watched him take his last breath. It was absolutely the hardest thing I have ever done.

My relationship with my father was emotionally distant, to say the least. I only met him when I was 18 as my mother sheltered me from him for my entire youth. In the last 17 years, I have made an effort to form a bond with him and let him get close to my children. My favorite memory of him is when he sat with Annika in his lap and read her books.
It was such a tender moment with him, one that I had never experienced myself. I have not yet decided if the distant relationship is making this easier or harder with the 'what-ifs' and regrets.

My father led a life with a cigarette in one hand and a beer in the other... which is ultimately what killed him. It is what it is and it is what seemed to make him happy.

My father had an intriguing stint in the Air Force which took him from Spain to Paris He was a very handsome airman and his years in the military seem to be portrayed in his photos as his happiest.

He treasured his time with his 3 daughters and six grandchildren... but that time was just too short.

Please, please do not procrastinate. Do not say, "I will call/go see/ write to... mom/dad/sister/auntie/grampy... tomorrow/next week/ next month..."

I know that your dishes/lawn/hair/computer... really need tending to... But the moments you put off spending with the ones you love can never be relived. We all have limited time on this earth. And, in the end, all that really matters are the ones that you love. Be that friends or family or lovers, you need to make time for them. Time every day.

I had taken this weekend off to go celebrate an early Father's Day with my father (which would have been the first time I has seen him in months) and now I know it is too late. I hope he forgives me and is at peace wherever he may be.