it's beginning to look a lot like christmas: a giveaway!

{Comments have now been CLOSED and winners will be announced soon!}

When I envisioned sitting at the computer to write this post, I figured it would be at home, after George's bedtime, comfy in my pj's on the couch or at our kitchen table.  Little did I know, Mother Nature had other plans and decided to throw winter and thoughts of Christmas our way far sooner than usual. Meaning SNOW. On October 29th. In metro-New York. This was the scene in our house yesterday as the snow fell hard outside our window:
George, with nose pressed against this window exclaiming, "Snow!"  Yes buddy, snow.

So it is fitting that tonight, as I sit on a recliner at a relative's house (we are without power indefinitely due to said snow, but that's another story), my thoughts are turned to our 2011 Christmas cards..and yours! 

For the past three years, I have ordered our holiday cards from Shutterfly.com.  I use their photo printing services regularly and also love their cardstock stationery, so ordering for the holidays was a natural extension. This year, the early snow has me considering our card design much earlier than normal...and wondering if I'll be able to get a good shot sans snow! Here are a few of my favorites designs right now, all so different and a lot of appeal to all. This first design is so much fun and appropriate to all we have experienced this past year and are expecting for next...
This is a bit more classic, allowing for both a family shot and a single portrait of George...
And, a beautiful traditional design...
I'm not sure how I'll decide until I get the photos underway but, am confident I'll find a design that fits our family this year.  Our Christmas cards paired with custom thank you notes will add the perfect personal touch to our holiday.

So, where do YOUR cards come in?  Shutterfly is generously giving away 25 of their beautiful holiday cards to three, yes, three of my readers.  I'm so grateful and thrilled, and hope you are as well. 

Here's how you can win your very own set of 2011 holiday cards:

1) Leave me comment on this post telling me that you'd like to win a set of cards and your favorite part of the holiday season

That's all.  No catch, no running around linking up posts.  Just a simple givaway from Shutterfly and me, to you, just in time for the holidays.  Pass it along to your friends and good luck :)  Winner will be announced on Thursday, November 3rd.

Standard disclaimer: Shutterfly contacted me to offer this giveaway and I am receiving compensation in the form of our holiday cards.  I only blog about companies that I have worked with in the past and where I am happy with the products and/or services I have received.


dirt and noise and joy...oh BOY!!!

Becoming a boymom to G has been one of the greatest joys of my life.  From holding his tiny, squishy, newborn self to wrangling the super active toddler of today, I have cherished every moment.  And, I have learned so much in these past 21 months.  Being a boymom means:
  • Embracing dirt.  The dirt will find it's way into pant cuffs, under fingernails, in their hair and scattered all over the floors.  There will be lots and lots of dirt.  Boymoms: arm yourself with a fully charged dust buster at all times.
  • Noise.  There are very few quiet moments in a home where a young boy resides.  Even in solitary play there are grunts, howls, beeping things, shouts of "vroom, vroom", "choo-choo" and (beware this one), "uh-oh!"  Boys are noisy creatures by nature.  Your ears will adjust, I promise.
  • Things that go. Anything that can be turned into a vehicle or projectile object (a.k.a. anything not nailed down) will move, fly, be pushed or slid across floors.  Boys like things that move.  Chances are, if it is stationary, it will quickly fall by the wayside.
  • Being adored. When people first heard we were having a boy, I was told time and again that "Boys love their Mama."  How true it is.  Boys will love you with a leg hugging, finger-crushing hand holding, sloppy kissed, burrow into your neck and heart adoration. This, above all others, is my very favorite part of this job.  No number on a paycheck could ever compare to the love of my little guy.
Learning and embracing all things boy has been a joy and, coincidentally, has prepared me well for the next step in my journey of mommyhood...

Meeting another noisy, dirt-loving, squishy and sweet little boy in February 2012!
{20 week portrait}

We are already in love and so excited to welcome this little one into our family.


meal plan monday

A few months back, when I had signed up for E-Mealz menus, I had all good intentions of posting my weekly meal plan. That temporarily fell by the wayside but, I'm going to start it up today. This week's menu is a result of a well stocked freezer and pantry. Buying a few extras of pantry items and meats (to freeze) when on sale occasionally yields a light grocery shopping week. Easier on the wallet and on my time = win/win!

Monday: Creamy Baked Ziti
Thursday: Beef and Broccoli Stir-fry
Friday: Honey Mustard Bacon Chicken
Saturday: Pierogies and Smoked Sausage
Sunday: Apple Braised Pork Chops

Tuesday and Wednesday we eat dinner at my in-law's. My mother in law generously cooks for all of us the days she cares for George while I'm working.

What's on your menu this week?


recipe: pumpkin chip cookies

Happy first Monday of October! Fall weather has finally arrived in our corner of New York with cooler temps, leaves just starting to show some color and a full calendar of autumn events. This is my favorite season for so many reasons, among which is the ability to turn the oven back on, welcoming the resulting warmth in our home. And, naturally, all things baked with pumpkin and apples. The crisp weather inspires me to try new recipes and treat family and friends to long-standing favorites.

Yesterday morning was spent apple picking and playing in the pumpkin patch at a local orchard with my two guys. You would have thought we had brought G to Disneyland for the excitement on his face upon seeing the thousands of apples within his reach! I'll be reliving the joy of that hour exploring the orchard in my memory for years to come.
When we returned home, after scoring a bag of honeycrisp apples and a bounty of difficult to find 15 ounce cans of pure packed pumpkin, it was time to bake. I'd always liked the idea of a pumpkin cookie but had never found a recipe that peaked my interest until I came across this one on allrecipes.com - the measurements ensuring a large batch (who wants to bake cookies with only a 2 dozen yield?) and a subtle pumpkin flavor. The reviews were excellent and more than delivered. The result was a moist, cake-like cookie with a hint of pumpkin, just the right amount of spice and, naturally, chocolate. The batch yielded a staggering 7 dozen so, be prepared to share, bake for a party or to freeze some for a later date.
Pumpkin Chip Cookies
Yield: 7 dozen

1.5 c butter, softened
2 c packed brown sugar
1 c granulated sugar
1 (15 oz) can pure packed pumpkin
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 c all purpose flour
2 c quick oats
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp salt
2 c (or more) chocolate chips (I used milk and white chips)

1. Pre-heat oven to 350.

2. In a mixer, cream together butter and sugars until fluffy. Beat in pumpkin, egg and vanilla (will be a light, fluffy mousse-like consistency). In a separate bowl, combine flour, oats, baking soda, spices and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture until combined. Fold in chocolate chips.

3. Drop by tablespoonful 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned. Allow to cool for 3 minutes before transferring to wire racks.

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