Saturday, July 13, 2013

All Work and No Play :-(

I've been quite a busy little bee lately and haven't had time to post anything :-(

I just came back yesterday afternoon from 3 days in Santa Barbara for a team-building trip and it was pretty awesome (even if the few pictures I took on my iPhone aren't the greatest).

Not so awesome: jumping on a red-eye tonight to head to a conference in Indianapolis, followed by another (different) team meeting in Chicago. I'll be gone for 4 days, but I'm hoping to have a chance to write a post or two while I'm flying. 

I can tell you that I've been working on something pretty awesome for Little M's bday. Part of the reason I haven't had a chance to post is that this is a pretty involved project and it has taken days to dry, color, layer etc. Since I've used what free time I do have to make this, I haven't had any smaller projects to post about. 

I can't wait for this travel to end so I can get back to my normal life (and crafting)!! Going to miss Big M and Little M this week :-(

Monday, July 8, 2013

Googaro July Subscription Box Review

Today we received our July Googaro subscription box for a 12 month girl and WOW am I impressed!! For the second month in a row, Googaro has really knocked it out of the park!

Based on last month's box, I was pretty much stalking the mailman today. And for good reason, it turns out!

I couldn't even wait for Little M to wake up and open it with me! Bad mommy!

Here's the content card (which is actually missing an item...mistake or awesome surprise?? Either way I'm happy!!):

Here's what all the items looked like:

First up is something I TOTALLY needed but was doing without - a portable diaper pouch by Ah goo baby. LOVE this!! The pattern is super cute and mod, and the pouch itself is really nice. I often throw a diaper or two in my purse for quick trips out - now they wont get all junked up inside my bag of mysteries!  This bag is generously sized (yet definitely small enough for my bag) - I bet I could even fit a small wipes bag in along with 2 or 3 diapers.

Googaro doesn't give prices on its info card, so I'm using amazon to estimate value. It looks like these diaper pouches run around $10.00.

Next is a toy that I would have been really excited to have - the Slide and Seek Safari from Melissa & Doug....except that we just received one from Stork Stack last week. I can tell you that Little M likes this toy I'm sure it will make a good gift for another friend!

The value of this toy is $5.99.

I really love BabyGanics products - I use their all purpose cleaner on Little M's high chair tray every single day (x3 at least). I've never used their Fabric & Nursery Freshener, but it smells very fresh! I don't typically use room or fabric sprays but I'm going to give this one a shot.

It looks like this retails on amazon for $4.50 for this size bottle.

We love this Baby Books CD from Child's Play! I put it on in the car tonight and Little M was dancing around to the music. Each of the songs is played in a few different ways - spoken, sung, etc.  I'll definitely keep this in rotation in the car.

I can't find a value for this online I'm going to guess $7? Sorry Child's Play if I really underestimated the value!!

Last month we were introduced to SugarBooger via Googaro - and I was super thrilled to get something else from them. We got a Good Lunch Snack Bag Set with THREE, count 'em, 3 different bags! Amazing! Sorry I didn't take a picture of the individual bags, but I linked to the set above for you to check it out. One bag was like a clear quart sized ziplock baggie, but sturdier and reusable, with a sliding zip lock on top. I've already filled it with Little M's fave snack, Cheerios, and it's a new staple in my diaper bag. The other two bags are fabric (washable in the washing machine!) with a wipe-clean style liner. One is big enough to hold a sandwich, the other is about half that size to hold a snack :)

This retails for around $11.00 on amazon.

Last we have our surprise (mistake?) item! Who doesn't love a bonus? Sorry the picture is sideways, but this is one of Little M's fave purees from Happy Baby. She's not really into eating purees these days, but when she's in the mood I'm sure she'll gobble it right up! 

I know from personal buying experience these run around $1.50 each. 

So all in all, this was a great box!! If you're interested in signing up, comment below with your email address or fill out the form on the right and I'll send you a referral link - we'll both get a $10 credit that way!

Total Value (totally estimating here, esp. because of the CD): $39.99
I paid: $28.88 (using a coupon code)

I can't wait for next month!!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

July Stork Stack Subscription Box Review

Look what the stork brought this morning!!

I always get super excited when one of these subscription boxes gets dropped off on our doorstep. Stork Stack's theme for July is "Ready, Set, Summer!" and I think they did a pretty good job with the theme. Here's a peek at what the information card looks like:

Let's go through the items!

First up is a Baby UPF 50+ Reversible Sun Hat from Baby Banz. This hat is designed really well - Little M hates having hat straps tied around her - this one has an adjustable velcro closure that avoids straps altogether. Sweet! The only issue here is that this basically will match nothing in Little M's's super masculine and frankly I will probably have to give it away to a lucky friend because it's just too boyish for our taste. Pretty unfortunate :(

The hat is valued at $19.00 per Stork Stack, but it looks like you can purchase it anywhere from $11-15 on amazon. I'm going to put a value of $12 on it based on that.

Next is a Melissa & Doug Slide & Seek Safari toy. We love this company! They make really cute toys for all different ages, and I bet Little M will absolutely love playing with this!

Stork Stack valued this at $5.99 (and actually amazon has it priced at $7.99, but offers the SS quoted price. 

These next treats look super tasty! Bitsy's Brainfood is a new brand for us to try out and I'm excited to do so - these look like something Little M will love to munch on. Zucchini is one of her fave veggies, and she's really into the snack cookies (who isn't?!?). I can't wait for her to wake up from her nap to taste one!

Stork Stack has valued these at $2.50, and that seems to be the going price.

Then we have 5 samples of Supergoop! Everyday Face and Body Lotion. I actually really love sample sized moisturizers...I personally have really dry skin, and little packets like this are perfect for my wallet. I will probably use these on me and not Little M :) Of course I wish it were a full-sized bottle, but I'll take what I can get!

Stork Stack values 6oz of this at $19...but I think that was a mistake. 1.5oz on the Supergoop! site is $15. Since the sample is only 0.5oz, that makes these samples worth about $5.00.

And last, we have a Grow it! book from Child's Play International. In the past, I've felt like the board books from this publisher are a little flimsy - they just feel kind of cheap. This book has a much better feel to it, although it contains real (somewhat thick) pages....that could mean disaster from my little paper ripping monster, but we shall see!  I'll read it to Little M later today - we love new books!

Stork Stack values this at $5.99, but amazon sells it for $5.39.

All in all, this was a pretty great box. I wish that my biggest-value item was gender appropriate (and since their customer service is great - I'm going to reach out to see if they can do something about that! ***update about 12 hours later - heard from their team already! Super fast and super friendly, and I think they are sending a different item instead! Now that's great service and one of the reasons I love this company!!!***), but overall we have a few new brands to try and some things I think Little M will really like.

I paid $21.75 for this box, and the total value (using the amazon prices) was $30.88 - not too bad!

I highly recommend that you check out Stork Stack! Every month, they send you a box filled with the highest-quality products for your baby AND you. You're going to love it! Enjoy $10 off of a membership with this unique referral code: 438BBC41  (and I'll get $10 off too!)

Friday, July 5, 2013

Ridiculously Delicious Peach Pie

We have a peach tree that is overflowing with peaches...I recently picked about 50 of them (they're pretty small), and there are probably 200 more to go. Seriously.

So of course I thought to myself, "What can you do with an abundance of peaches?"

Make peach pie!!

And so I did:

I felt like a pretty bad blogger...I didn't take any pictures while I was making it! But that's because I pretty much followed this recipe from the Food Network exactly. I highly recommend you do the same! It was AMAZING.  I say was, because it was consumed within in 2 days of baking it. Whoops!

Here are some tips I picked up along the way (from cooking shows and whatnot) that I think contributed to this being awesome:

  • Make sure all your ingredients are really cold when you are making the dough.
  • Let some of the excess fruit juice run out of the mixture before you dump it in your pie - you don't want it to be too wet.
  • Don't over-mix the dough - you want it to be uniform but not overworked.
  • When you are rolling out the dough, if you can't get it into a perfect circle because pieces are cracking off it, cut some of the excess, flip it upside down over a cracked part or hole, and then roll over it. It should blend it really well. If you don't flip it, it won't blend well.
  • Making the lattice like I did: I didn't do a traditional basket weave. I figured that was chancing it for my first pie. Roll the dough into a circle, then cut 1" strips. I actually used a ruler to mark out the inches (and a pizza slicer to cut them). Then, pick up every other strip and lay it across the top of your pie. You should be left with a striped circle of dough and a striped pie- take those strips and lay them at a 90 degree angle to the original strips.
  • Roll the dough out on parchment paper, but before you do, draw the circle on the reverse side of the paper with a marker. You'll be able to see it through the paper so you know how big your dough needs to be.
  • Place a baking sheet on the rack below your pie to catch any drips of juices that boil out so your oven stays clean.
 Happy baking!!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Patriotic Cake Pops!

I work for a pretty awesome tech company (and we're hiring, FYI)....great people and culture, breakfast every day, lunch on Fridays, company sponsored happy hours and team events, the works. There are so many different groups to join that it would be hard NOT to find something that fits your personality and interests.

I joined Flour Power, natch. It's a weekly baking club of like-minded treat lovers split up into groups of 12. You bake one week, and you get treats the other 11 weeks. Pretty fab, right?

This week is my week, and I made Patriotic Cake Pops!

I can't start a cake pop post without paying homage to the queen herself - Bakerella. Love her. When she started blogging about cake pops, I think it was life-changing for me. The base of the recipe/instructions I'm using is hers....the decorating is all me :)

I'm going to break this post up into 2 parts - making pops and decorating them.

Here's what you'll need if you want to make these:

Cake Pop Base
Yellow Cake Mix
Vanilla Icing
Cookie sticks

White fondant
Star Cookie Cutter
Blue Edible pen
Red Candy Melts

Making the Base of the Pops

To get started, make a cake and then destroy it! Seriously, you need to destroy it. I used boxed mix here for two reasons: (a) because it's easier and I have like 30 seconds to myself every day, and (b) in my mind, there is no substituting the deliciousness of yellow cake mix from a box. It just can't be replicated.

I'm not going to to into detail about making boxed cake mix - the box does that for you. Just make one (any flavor will do):

And then destroy it (once it cools)!  Crumble the whole thing up.

Next you turn the cake crumbs into a paste by adding in about 2/3 a tub of frosting.

Time to get messy! Start rolling out the paste into golf ball sized balls and place them on a wax paper covered cookie sheet. Once you have them all rolled out, pop them in the fridge for several hours or the freezer for an hour to firm them up. 

Now we need to turn these pups into pops - insert one of the cookie sticks into the base of the ball and go about 1/2-2/3 of the way in. A tip from Bakerella - dip your cookie stick into the melted chocolate first, then insert the stick.

Decorating the Pops

Time to make them beautiful! This is the most fun part because you get to be creative. If you look back through my instagram pictures, you'll see I've made cherry pies, ears of corn, turkey drumsticks, cornucopias...the sky is the limit.

Melt your Candy Melts (I always use Wilton) in a small bowl (and melt a lot of them so it's easy to dip your pop). Dip your pop in at an angle and kind of twirl it around, then take it out and twirl/tap some more to let the excess chocolate run off. 

You'll need to find a place to hold your pops while you decorate them. I like florist foam bricks (that I cover in wrapping paper and later use to serve them too), but you can use a glass filled with rice or beans instead.

For my pops, I decided to make blue and white fondant stars to attach to the sides.  I made these a few days in advance to let them get a bit hard so they would be easy to attach.

To make these, roll out some white fondant (I used pre-packaged Wilton fondant here) on a powdered sugar covered sheet of parchment paper.

Start stamping out your stars - I made enough to put 2 on each pop (but in the end I only used one).

Let your stars dry on the counter for a few hours until they are pretty solid, then you can decorate them. I used a blue edible pen to draw a line around the edge of each one.

And about this far through it, I was like "why the hell did I decide to do this?!?"

Take a toothpick and dip it into your red melted chocolate. Dab a little on the cake pop, then attach your stars.

Happy 4th of July everyone! I hope you enjoy these delicious treats!

**PS - One of my colleagues asked how I find time to do this stuff....well this project was a 3-day affair. I wait until Little M goes to sleep, and try to do an hour or so of crafting and blogging at night. On Saturday morning I made the stars during one of Little M's naps, and I decorated them when she went to bed. On Sunday night I baked the cake and made the cake pop bases (and pre-wrote most of the blog post while the cake was in the oven). On Monday night, I decorated :)