Christmas · Holidays · Recipes · Tips and Tricks

Let’s Get Ready for Thanksgiving!

Attention holiday shoppers — it’s almost Christmas! We just have to get through that binge-eating traffic nightmare and then it’s on to unmitigated holiday cheer!

Well, that’s how I feel about Thanksgiving anyway.

I’m basically on Christmas countdown as soon as Halloween night is over every year, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like my share of Turkey Day food and festivities. Each year, my claim to fame is this Ginger-Orange Cranberry Sauce, which is so easy to make and really pushes your side dish game to another level. You can scale the “kick” up or down depending on your family’s taste, and it doubles (or halves) very well too.  cranberry sauce

What’s even better than having this Thanksgiving Day? The fact that you can make a really satisfying warm dip out of the leftovers for lounging and snacking all weekend! The dip doubles as a sandwich spread, too, so make sure you pick up some cream cheese and red pepper jelly to make it while you’re doing your other grocery shopping!

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I spend the day after Thanksgiving in pajamas, designing and ordering our Christmas card on Minted and photo gifts for the family on Shutterfly and Mixbook, noshing on leftovers and filling my virtual shopping bags with deals for Cyber Monday. This year, I’ve got some major purchasing to do at the Apple Store, American Girl  website and Ikea kids section, and I assume there will be a few irresistible items for myself at Nordstrom, Lands’ End and Old Navy, too.

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Here’s a sneak peek of our holiday card photos, courtesy of TDM Photography, our go-to photographer for family photos. I’m so thrilled with how they turned out, and I can’t wait to get my hands dirty designing the perfect card for friends and family this week! I love Minted for their unique designs, their support of independent artists, and the fact that they let you keep an online address book of all your contacts, and will address your holiday cards for FREE, in a style that matches your card design. How easy is that, working mamas??

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Mixbook has become my preferred design site for creating beautiful, high-quality photo books. Their pages and bindings are top notch, the photo resolution is consistently high and the colors true, and the materials stand up to lots of handling without warping or fading. This Cyber Monday, enjoy 55% off!

Christmas · Holidays · minted · shutterfly

My most popular Fall posts

With Thanksgiving behind us and Christmas and Hanukkah coming right around the corner, I thought I’d do a quick post highlighting both my go-to holiday recipes, as well as a roundup of my most popular Fall recipes. Some of them might surprise you! Before I dive in, though, here are a few photos from our Thanksgiving in New Bedford. It was a lovely day with grandparents and cousins, and we were so fortunate to have warm weather, too. Because it was so nice out, Georgia and I went to visit Zoo Lights in Stoneham the next day. I highly recommend it if you’re Boston local!

And here are my top winter holiday recipes.

This year, we are actually making turkey again for Christmas, because my brother gets one free from his company! So, while we’ve done ham in the past, this time around we are trying a new menu. I’m also planning to make swedish meatballs with lingonberry sauce, and my mom, my brother, and his girlfriend are going to bring lots of sides. They are always such a huge help!

I finally got my holiday cards ordered from Minted this week, and I can’t wait to start sending them off to friends and family! It’s one of my favorite parts of the Christmas season. If you’ve been waiting to make yours, today is the day — their Cyber Monday 20% off deal ends at Noon Pacific Time! Shutterfly and TinyPrints also have great deals (up top 50% off!) going on right now.

Here is a low-res sneak peak of our card:

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photographs // TDM Photography

My most popular Fall recipes

So I always knew that my Brown Sugar Kielbasa recipe for the slow cooker was a hit on Superbowl Sunday, but apparently you all like making it every game day, because it’s been my most popular post — by a margin of at least 500 views — every single DAY this year! I guess you really can’t go wrong with this one, and I make it all the time myself. So I’m right there with you all!

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Next up: My step by step guide to making pumpkin bread from scratch, using fresh pumpkin puree. Talk about an oldie but goodie! I don’t really have time anymore for a labor of love like that one, from cutting, roasting and scooping fresh pumpkin, to toasting the seeds and making pumpkin bread on TOP of it all, much less in one afternoon. But it sure did turn out amazing.

This next one is tried and true: Shepherd’s Pie with Corn. It looks like the “corn” is the critical ingredient everyone’s interested in, if Google Analytics are to be believed. That combo of fresh and creamed corn really does make the dish in my opinion! Check it out for yourself. I made two of these last weekend because we had so many potatoes left over from Thanksgiving!

Here’s another one that surprises me with its popularity because it’s nothing ground-breaking, and yet I understand its appeal. This doesn’t require any time-consuming cheese grating (or, for that matter, purchasing of any unusual cheese varieties) and it turns out a family-friendly, filling, warm dinner that’s guaranteed to leave you with lots of leftovers. It’s from a book designed for novice cooks, and that’s because it is very foolproof. If you haven’t yet, give these Baked Egg Noodles with Cheese a try.

Another popular post, I assume because it’s great for both watching the game and having a party (as well as for appetizers on Thanksgiving or Christmas!) is this Vegan Spinach-Artichoke Dip. The dairy in the full-fat version is just too rich for me, so I’ve relied on this healthier and more climate-friendly version for a while now. I realize that sounded preachy! But I think small swaps matter when trying to decrease your carbon footprint and eat better, and eliminating some meat and dairy is one of the most impactful things you can do.

There are a couple other trends that I get a kick out of every fall. The first: there’s always an uptick in the number of visits to my smoothie recipes, as well as this Kale Salad with Avocado and Lemon, right after Thanksgiving. People are also clicking through and buying my most-recommended smoothie container from Amazon, and I think these all point to people wanting to eat a little bit healthier right after an indulgent holiday! I’ve had a lot of salad this week myself.

Another trend I’ve noticed is a big jump in the number of people reading my posts on Beating Morning Sickness and tips for Prenatal Workouts. And no wonder! I found out I was pregnant with Georgia this time three years ago, and the morning sickness kicked in not long after. Everyone else who’s having a Summer 2016 baby is in that boat right now, so I guess it’s no surprise those posts do so well this time every year. If you are one of these people, don’t miss my post on buying maternity clothing and equipping your life for newborn gear without wasting money. (I’d hold off on jumping to the “tips on pumping” post until later, though, because I don’t want to be the one to drop the knowledge on you that breastfeeding can be super hard. Get through labor first).

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I’ll have more info soon about how to roast a turkey (based on my one and only experience doing so) as well as how I made a delicious gravy from the pan drippings. Looking for ideas for using up extra turkey, stuffing, cranberry and more? Check out this leftover turkey casserole and keep it handy for next year. I made it this year and it was really yummy!

Happy shopping and cooking everyone 🙂

XOXOXO

Baby & Toddler · Beauty & Fashion · Books · Holidays

My Christmas Wish List…

…has a definite postpartum, new mama theme to it! 

This year, I decided to finally make a Christmas list on Amazon, and in keeping with my new life philosophy, it’s what I would call carefully edited. Most of the items are designed to help me organize myself or get back into fighting shape after having this (beautiful) baby. Such as:

Chewbeads

These are designed to look like real jewelry, but they give teething babies something appropriate to put in their mouths, instead of your expensive diamond necklace (or your hair, which you should probably cut above shoulder length).

Workout DVDs for exercising at home

I’ve heard great things about both of these tapes from other new moms, and you know I loved Tracy Anderson: The Pregnancy Project.

A quesadilla maker for simple weeknight dinners

A novel, because some day I’d like to read for pleasure again

Jhumpa Lahiri is seriously one of my favorite authors. I’ve lost count how many times I’ve read her other books, especially Interpreter of Maladies, which made me love short stories again.

Two cookbooks that I think look awesome

Button-down pajamas for easy night nursing

JCrew, $95, 30% off with code PRESENTS

iPad Air

I know, I’m the last person on the planet to buy a tablet. (My Nook Simple Touch doesn’t count, but I do love it). I should never have tried this one at the Apple store…but Mark insisted! And now I can’t stop thinking about it! (PS what do you all think of Mark’s new website design? I’m still tweaking it, but that was one of the few non-baby things I got done during my maternity leave. That and selling a bunch of old furniture on Craigslist).

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I’m telling myself it’s to help me be more efficient with work and blogging.

Of course, what I really need this year is a LOT of new clothes.

My wardrobe wish list includes slimming & stretchy jeggings and leggings, long sweaters that won’t ride up on love handles, feminine blouses that can be tucked in to hide a post-preggo pooch, comfortable yet pretty cotton underwear, low boots that add a bit of height without making me unstable while carting around Georgia, and plenty of skirts and dresses for work, because (ahem) I still haven’t reunited with most of my pants yet. I’m employing the same sartorial tactics I used to conceal my morning sickness (read: diversion) to distract from my as-yet-undefined post-baby body. Where I once used scarves, earrings and patterned tights to draw attention away from my sickly pallor and bloated mid-section in early pregnancy, I’m now making sure that I look my best even when I feel like a whole different person by keeping my hair trimmed, getting my nails manicured, and having fun with the bold lip colors and chunky necklaces. Oh, and I’m buying lots of flats. Lots and lots…and lots…of flats.

I also decided to buy a couple of my favorite jeans in a size larger on consignment to save some money until I lost the baby weight, and I found TWO pairs in my size on the site ThredUp. Each pair was like 10 or 15 bucks, so for less than $20 including shipping I was able to replace two pairs of pre-pregnancy pants that cost $70 new at The Gap! You can also send things TO this site by pre-ordering a free “clean out” bag from them, and I plan to do this for the clothes that just don’t work for me post-baby.

But back to Christmas shopping.

Here are a few other fun finds from Etsy that I’d love to get for myself or someone else on my shopping list this year:

Good Fortune 14K yellow gold plate necklace by EmilyEJewelry
Mint Gold and Ocean Blue statement necklace by ShopNestled
Makeup organizer and docking station by CitizenGoodsCo
Purple chunky knit infinity scarf by DayDays

I actually made my mother-in-law a chunky cowl like that for Christmas two years ago. It’s a super easy pattern — maybe I’ll post about it in the future! I love making Christmas gifts. This year, I designed a few ornaments and photo books on Shutterfly, and I should really solicit them for a commission with all the mentions I’ve posted on here lately 🙂

How about you — what are you asking for, and giving, this holiday season?

Baby & Toddler · Beauty & Fashion · Pregnancy

Our Maternity Photos

Back in July, I convinced Mark to have some maternity portraits taken. Though he was hesitant at first, I think he’s glad I convinced him to do it. Now we have a record of this very special time in our life, and even better, we can show it to Georgia some day when she’s older!

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At the time, I was about to no longer fit in any of my shoes or jewelry, and I felt awkward and clumsy. Now, when I look at these photos, I think: “what shiny hair and clear skin!” and, “How well-RESTED we look!”

Yup, we told them the name for this shot -- they were sworn to secrecy!
Yup, we told them the name for this shot — they were sworn to secrecy! And my mom made these booties. How beautiful are they??

Click here to see the Shutterfly photo book I made of our shoot.

Special thanks to our friends Scott and Jena of Dengrove Studios in New York for providing our maternity shoot last July in the Boston Public Garden.