Baby Bibs

Back in November, my niece had a baby shower, and just about two weeks ago, she finally had her sweet baby!  It’s crazy to know I am a great aunt (i’m only 32!), but I am beyond excited for her, and can’t wait until February when we will be visiting her and her family.  So today’s post is part of her shower gift:  bibs!  You will need:

  • 2 types of fabric
  • Coordinating thread
  • A sewing machine
  • Fusible web (optional)

Check out all the directions here, or my pin on my Crafts as Gifts board.

Baby Bibs

Review

At first I wasn’t sure about the size of the bibs when I printed out the template.  It just seemed so small.  And, I was going to make it smaller once I considered the seam allowances that would be used.  Though many of my friends have children, ever since I moved it has been a while since I’ve been around a baby.  I took it up with my husband; he’s a nurse and sees more babies than I do.  We decided the best course of action was to actually make a bib and see what we thought when it was done.  So I whipped up a bib and we agreed-this actually is appropriate for a young baby!

As for the project itself, it was super simple.  The directions were straightforward, and I never ran across anything that I didn’t understand.  I used lightweight fleece for my bibs and found that I could get several bibs from one piece of fabric.  I also decided to add a little extra touch to mine to make them a little more unique, so I used the fusible webbing to add the accent details to the front of each bib.

I wasn’t able to attend the shower (it involved a plane ride), but by all accounts, my niece liked my gift.  Her little boy is still a bit young to actually use the bibs, but I can ‘t wait to see the pictures once he is ready!

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Christmas Eve Traditions

Every Christmas eve my family opens one gift, and that gift is always pajamas.  Once we have all changed into out Christmas pjs, we all settle in for a night of movies and hot chocolate.  This is one of our few family traditions, and it is perfect because it combines all my favorite things:  staying in my pajamas, movie nights, and delicious hot beverages.  Maybe if we added a little pizza, that would make the night complete.  (Though I can’t complain too much, one of our other traditions is handmade ravioli which we will eat from Christmas to New Years.)

Do you have any holiday traditions?  What are your favorites?

December Birchbox

My first month with Birchbox was a real hit.  I loved several products in that box, and had plans to purchase some of them.  I’ve had my December box for around two weeks now, and have had a chance to try out all of these products multiple times, and I’m ready to review, so let’s get to it!

Dec BBox

  1. Lait-Creme Concentre (Full size: $16-28):  In my last Birchbox, I also got a moisturizer, and commented that I was looking for a moisturizer I would love.  I liked last month’s but was eager to try another for comparison’s sake.  So when I saw this, I was excited to test it out.  Unfortunately, I didn’t really love this one.  According to the card in the box, this is a make-up artist favorite, and is supposed to not only moisture, but also prep the skin for foundation.  I found it to feel a bit greasy and heavy on my face.  I own, but rarely use foundation, so that part wasn’t a huge selling point for me anyway.  On the rare occasions when I do wear foundation, I actually own a primer and have no problem applying that before the foundation.  So, this is a no-go for me, but I’m glad I got it because it helps me determine if that first box’s moisturizer is right for me.  (Right now I’m leaning toward yes.)
  2. Laura Mercier Loose Setting Powder and Mini Fan Brush (Full size:  $37):  I’m not huge into makeup, but it was something I was interested in learning more about, and this is a great way for me to test products and find what works for me.  I liked that this came with the brush so I could have a chance to apply the product correctly without having to purchase the brush.  I tried this powder on several different occasions, and I just didn’t see much of a result.  Maybe I didn’t put enough on?  I tried it both with and without foundation to see if it was something that I could use on my no make-up days to give me a more “finished” look, but that didn’t seem to be the case.  They also sent a tinted moisturizer to try out with the powder, and I wasn’t overly impressed with that either.  Sadly, this is another no for me.
  3. Whish Shave Crave-Acai Grapefruit (Full size:  $20):  What’s interesting about this shave cream is that it really is a cream.  It doesn’t lather up at all.  I actually kind of liked that because it felt like it was “sticking” to my skin and not washing away before I could actually shave.  I have used this every time I shave for the past two weeks (along with a new razor), and my underarms feel much softer and smoother than they did previously.  My legs certainly need more moisture than a shave cream can provide, but they also felt smooth once I was done shaving.  The scent is fresh but subtle which is nice.  I feel like sometimes all the bath products have too any different scents that don’t all work well together, but this one won’t add to that problem.  For me the issue is the price.  $20 seems like a lot for a shave cream.
  4. Vasanti Cosmetics Kajal Extreme Intense Eye Pencil in Rose Gold (Full Size:  $18):  This was the sample I picked for my box.  I was torn between two options, but decided an eye liner was something I would use more often than the other product I was thinking about.  I was excited to try out the rose gold because that color seems very “in” right now.  I was impressed by how easily this pencil went on.  I actually found myself thinking I hadn’t pressed hard enough, when in actuality I had.  This pencil is super creamy and simple to apply.  I think this product works best for me under my eye to add a little lightness in that inner corner.  It didn’t stand out much when I applied it on the upper lid, as it was so similar to my skin tone.  I think that I just might not have the best eye shadows to make this pencil really stand out.  I would certainly consider purchasing an eye pencil from this line because it is high quality and easy to apply.
  5. Beauty Protector Protect &Oil (Full size:  25.95):  I wasn’t sure about this product since I have thick, curly hair, and a lot of products don’t seem to work for my hair type unless they are specifically for my hair type.  However, I decided to give it the benefit of the doubt.  I used this in place of my normal styling products to see what it did on its own.  The first thing I noticed was the smell.  I loved it!  I’m a sucker for a good smell on a hair product.  My normal styling product has been a staple partially because of the scent.  This oil had a luxurious scent.  Whenever I put it in my hair I felt like I was treating it to something nice.  I tried to stick with the 1-3 drop directions, but I feel like I was closer to 5 drops.  It was great!  My hair felt soft, and my curls seemed to be defined and not frizzy.  According to my card, this helps defend against UV rays and heat (important in my new location), as well as against breakage (which is a problem with my hair).  I think that when my current product runs out, I will replace it with this.  I am already spending a similar amount on what I use now, and this should be able to work well for less product each use.

So my December box had some hits and misses.  Even though I didn’t like the moisturizer I was happy to try it to learn that it isn’t the moisturizer I am looking for.  I found a hair product that I like, and an eye liner that has some serious potential.  Not bad!  Can’t wait to see what January’s box brings me!

Butternut Squash Soup

I love soups.  I especially love autumn flavors, so when I saw the butternut squash soup in my Vitamix recipe book, I knew I was definitely going to make it.  For this recipe you will need:

  • Butternut Squash
  • Broth
  • Apple

Check out the recipe here.  (This link will open a PDF.)

Butternut Squash Soup

Review

The first thing that needed to be done was roasting the squash.  I was worried about this process because I had never roasted squash before.  However, I followed the directions given, and it was super simple.  I found that after the squash had cooked and cooled, it was best to peel the squash and then cut it up.  I was trying to just scoop it out with a spoon at first, but the peel and cut method was way more effective.

I was surprised by just how simple this entire recipe was.  All I had to do was cut everything up and throw it in the Vitamix. That’s it!  The taste was awesome.  It was flavorful, being both savory and just a little bit sweet.  I made half a batch the first time, and saved the remaining squash for later.  I should have made it all at once because the soup was gone almost as soon as I made it!

If you like squash soups, you should definitely give this one a try!

Peppermint Coffee Syrup and Latte

Obviously I love my coffee syrup and think it’s a great way to get into the seasonal spirit.  I’ve had some successes and some failures.  You can check out those syrups here, here, and here.  Since my gingerbread syrup was gone, it was time to jump into another favorite seasonal flavor:  peppermint!  For this recipe you will need:

  • Sugar
  • Water
  • Peppermint candies

You can check out the original recipe here, or my pin on my Drinks on Me board.

Peppermint Syrup

Review

I’ve used this set of recipes before with great success, so I felt good about this one.  It seemed so simple (as the others had been).  What I got, though, was a bit of a mess.

I knew to expect the pink color from the images on the original blog, but I didn’t expect the consistency I got.  It reminded me of the pink ooze from Ghostbusters 2.  I’m pretty sure that if it had been in a bathtub instead of a saucepan, it would have tried to eat me.

“No matter,” I thought.  “Just because it’s a thicker consistency doesn’t mean it can’t be delicious!”  So, I went about making my latte to try out my latest syrup.  I must say I was actually surprised that something so thick didn’t pack more flavor.  Over the next several days, I tried again and again thinking I had maybe made my latte wrong, but every time I had the same result.

So, sadly, this was a total bust for me.  I am open to the idea that I messed something up (even though I have successfully made other syrups and the process is super straightforward), and I am open to the idea that maybe it was the quality of my candy that was a problem, but I’m probably not going to be trying this one again.  What a shame.  Peppermint is an awesome winter flavor.

If you’ve tried this and had better luck with consistency and flavor, I’d love to hear where you think I went wrong.  I really wanted this to work, and I was sad when it didn’t.

Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies

Baking is one of my favorite things. Back when I lived in IN, I would bake a batch of something and take it in to work to share.  Here in AZ, I bake a lot less frequently because I don’t have coworkers to share with.  When I do bake, I tend to half the recipe so there’s not as much.  This recipe, though, looked too good to not make a full batch. For these cookies you will need:

  • Flour
  • Chocolate Chips
  • Sugar
  • Cream Cheese

Yes, that’s right-cream cheese!  Get the full recipe here, or check out my pin on my Just Desserts board.

soft chocolate chip cookies

Review

Even though it looked delicious, I was a little bit wary of this recipe because I’ve been burned before by recipes that claim to make “soft” cookies or “the best” cookies.  I really wanted these to work out, though, so I went for it and made the full batch instead of halving it.  (Also, my judgment might have been impaired by a serious cookie craving.)  So, I went to it, hoping for the best.

Turns out, I didn’t need to worry at all because these cookies are seriously amazing!  They absolutely make wonderfully soft cookies.  A full batch of cookies takes a while to eat around here, and days later they were still soft and delicious.  They practically melted in my mouth.  This recipe made me a believer-cream cheese CAN go in cookies, and it will rock your world!

My mom used to host a holiday cookie party every December.  The idea was that you come with dozens of one type of cookie (one dozen per participant), and go home with just as many cookies, but all different dozens.  Every year someone wouldn’t show up and there would be an extra dozen or two of a cookie and everyone would “fight” for the best ones.  This would definitely be one of those cookies everyone would fight over!

I absolutely will make these again when I am dying for a chocolate chip cookie.  If you’re looking for a cookie to make this holiday season, give this one a try!

Salmon Foil Packets

I’ve been trying to make sure fish is on our weekly menu at least once a week, but preferably twice.  I don’t have a lot of fish options here, so I buy a lot of frozen fillets and look for recipes that will help “jazz them up.”  I was excited when I cam across this recipe because it was fish and a side all in one.  You will need:

  • Salmon
  • Lemons
  • Asparagus
  • Butter
  • Foil

Check out the full recipe here, or my pin on my Yum board.

Salmon Foil Packets

Review

This recipe was amazingly easy.  I was worried about the asparagus, because I’ve read it can be difficult to cook.  “How well could just putting it in a foil packet work?” I asked myself.  Well, it turns out, very well!  The asparagus was cooked just right as was the salmon!

I love lemon on a lot of things, and lemon was a great flavor pairing with the fish and asparagus.  At first I was worried about how much lemon was required for the recipe, but, in the end, I had no issue with the final taste.

Everything about this was easy.  Prep time was around 10 minutes (it took longer for my oven to heat up), cooking was fast and efficient (though I was a little concerned that I couldn’t see the fish to see if it was done), and clean-up was simple with the foil packets.  Both my husband and I loved this recipe.  In fact, I’ve made it several times since we first tried it!  I definitely recommend this recipe!

Breakfast Stuffing

I love stuffing.  I love stuffing that is chunky and stuffing that is creamier.  I love stuffing that has meat.  I love stuffing that is vegetarian.  I love stuffing all year long.  So when I saw this breakfast themed stuffing, I knew I had to try it out!  For this recipe you will need:

  • Waffles
  • Sausage
  • Maple Syrup
  • Walnuts
  • Dried Cranberries

Check out the full recipe here, or see my pin on my Yum board.

breakfast stuffing

Review

I made my normal waffle recipe for this, but when I cut it up, I didn’t quite have 8 cups of waffles.  I was a little bit short.  I didn’t change any of my other quantities since I was so close.  This was probably a mistake.  I think I should have cut down the liquid.  I also should have probably cooked the waffles longer than I normally would to up the crunchiness of the whole dish.  That said, I LOVED this recipe!  Whole it was soggier than I would have liked, the flavors came together very well.

I think this recipe would be great for a morning when you have company over, as a surprising side to a meat main course, or as a meal all on its own.  In the future I will half the recipe since there are only two of us in my house, but I will absolutely be making this again!

Gingerbread Syrup and Latte

After how poorly my attempts at a pumpkin spice coffee syrup went, I was a little leery of other coffee syrup recipes.  I saw this recipe for gingerbread syrup, and was a little concerned that it didn’t have molasses in it. Could it really get a gingerbread taste without that?  Answer?  Yes!  You will need:

  • Sugar
  • Water
  • Cinnamon
  • Ginger
  • Vanilla

You will also need coffee and milk to make the latte.  Check out the full recipe (plus others!) here, or my pin on my Drinks on Me board.

Gingerbread Latte

Review

Like I said in the intro, I was hesitant to make this recipe, but I really wanted a holiday flavored coffee, so I decided to try this.  Boy am I happy I did!  The flavor was amazing!  This was exactly like a Starbucks gingerbread latte!  I made my husband try it (who usually is very picky about the syrups I make), and he agreed!  This was a definite winner!

I used this syrup every day for about a week and a half, but didn’t get through it.  The main downside is that if you don’t use it, you lose it.  I was thinking about a latte close to week two, but when I pulled out the syrup, it had started to do this strange caramel kind of thing that sort of weirded me out, and I decided to pitch it. I think it would have been better if I could have used it faster.

I think a quick, inexpensive gift would be to make some of this along with another holiday syrup flavor or two, put it in a small bottle, and tie a ribbon on it.  This would be great for a coworker or a friend that loves coffee.  I’d suggest peppermint (which I’m going to try out today!) and/or vanilla maple as great compliments to the gingerbread.  As a bonus, each recipe could easily cover several (I’m thinking 5ish) people, so it would be easy for the recipients to use it up before it went bad.  (Just make sure they know to store it in the refrigerator, and that some crystallization might occur.)

November Birchbox

My birthday was at the start of November, and my brother got me a Birchbox subscription. I got my first box about two weeks go, and I was so excited about the contents, I wanted to do a review and share with you!

Nov BBox

  1. Juice Beauty Stem Cellular Repair Moisturizer (Full size $65):  I’ve been looking for a moisturizer and asking all my friends on Facebook what they use and how they like it.  The weather here is much drier than I am used to, and I can definitely feel just how dry my skin is.  On top of that, I have just started to notice the fine lines that come with aging.  I’m not worried about getting old, but I do like the idea of a moisturizer that will keep my skin healthy like younger skin. I got about 5 days worth of applications out of this sample tube (with applications both morning and night), and I did feel like my skin was less dry and felt healthier.  However, I was using no moisturizer prior to this, so I don’t know if this is the right one for me, just that I should start using a moisturizer of some sort. I am hoping to get another moisturizer in another box so I can compare.
  2. Harvey Prince Ageless (Full size $55):  I’m not much of a perfume person.  When I was working in a school, I was encouraged to not wear perfumes since it could bother students with allergies.  Being asthmatic, sometimes even putting perfume on myself can cause problems, so it was all too easy to agree to step away from fragrances.  However, that doesn’t mean I never wear anything, but that I really only pull out a perfume bottle on special occasions.  I liked the smell of Ageless.  The card says that it is meant to leave you smelling youthful, and I would agree that this is a smell that is best suited for a 20-30 year old.  I can’t really imagine it on someone older, though I actually think that was the intention. The smell is a soft combination of grapefruit and sandalwood.  This little tester will probably last me over a year, so I will not be purchasing this any time soon.
  3. theBalm cosmetics Stainiac (Full size $17):  This product is a combination lip gloss and blush.  You can use it for either. When I saw the color in the tube, I thought to myself, “this is entirely too wild for me.” But, it turns out I was wrong.  The actual color is a lot more subtle than you think it will be. It’s still pink, but not obnoxiously so. I did try it on my cheeks as well as my lips, but I tend to be naturally fairly rosy, so it didn’t work well for me as a blush. I think this is nice for casual wear, but isn’t something for a more dressy occasion.  I’m not huge into make-up, but I have been thinking about adding some video content, and I should get into make-up if I am going to do that so you can see my features on video.
  4. suki Exfoliate Foaming Cleanser (Full size $32.95):  I loved this product!  I’m a huge fan of citrus smells, so right off I was excited.  The smell is totally invigorating first thing in the morning. The small sample lasted me approximately a week with twice a day use.  I was impressed that so little could go so far.  The exfoliant was rough, but not so coarse that it felt uncomfortable.  My face felt great after, and seemed to have a natural glow.  I am definitely purchasing this!
  5. Gilchrist & Soames Spa Therapy Body Wash (Full Size $15):  As you read earlier this week, soap and I have issues.  Body wash, in general, has been better for me than bar soap, so I was interested in how well this would work for me.  I honestly couldn’t tell a difference between this and the $3 body wash I usually buy. My skin felt like it normally does after using body wash, and the scent wasn’t something that thrilled me, though it wasn’t bad.  I’ve used the sample a few times (while I was on my perfect soap sampling quest), and I haven’t used it up, but I’m in no hurry to do so either.  I might throw it into my bag next time I travel, but this is not something I would purchase.

So that’s it!  My first box!  My next box should be shipping sometime in the middle of next week, and I can’t wait to see what’s in it!  Do you subscribe to Birchbox?  Do you like it?  Are there any products it has introduced you to that you love?