Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Small Business Spotlight: The Vintage Honey Shop

Oooooh y'all. The blog was way overdue for a little love. We spent the entire month of January sick and a good chunk of February recovering. Don't you love how life just smacks you in the face like that sometimes?
BUT. I'm back and I am ridiculously excited about the mama owned, small business I'm sharing with you today! Allow me to introduce you to The Vintage Honey Shop.


Started by two best friends in 2011, The Vintage Honey Shop specializes in an incredible range of nursing and teething necklaces, with choices varying from fabric teething and nursing necklaces, teething ring necklaces, silicone teething jewelry and...how rad is this? Dad necklaces.


{image courtesy of The Vintage Honey Shop}

I discovered The Vintage Honey Shop last year on Instagram and was instantly hooked. Their choices of bright, cheery fabrics and materials, and a love for their customers drew me right in (part of the joy of shopping small truly is how much small businesses LOVE their customers!). And then one day last year, they made me melt. The ladies released a limited edition teething necklace called Virginia. A white fabric necklace with delicate purple flowers all over it, I instantly had to have it. Why? Because my grandmother's name was Virginia. And she was as lovely and beautiful as the print of this fabric. It's a necklace I will quite honestly treasure forever.



My favorite Vintage Honey Shop item is their fabric teething and nursing necklace. Each necklace is handmade in Nashville, TN using soft, durable cotton and organic wood beads, and they feature a soft, satin ribbon tie. Beyond the functionality of the necklace (I reaaaaaaaaaaalllllllyyyyyyy love these for babywearing in particular! Jackson likes to hold a necklace when I wear him...this saves the chain on the little gold charm I wear every day!) I find them to be super stylish. The VHS ladies have a knack for picking really gorgeous fabrics and I find the design of the fabric covered beads to be really on trend and pretty classic. In all honesty, I will continue to wear my teething necklaces long after we need them!


Bonus? THEY'RE WASHABLE. Contain yourself. I know, this is very exciting! Hand wash in warm water with your fave soap or detergent and air dry. Tip: I actually wash mine with Palmolive Bottle and Toy soap because it's specially formulated for cleaning up breastmilk and formula...and works equally well on spit up and drool.

I recently had the opportunity to check out another one of the Vintage Honey Shop's gorgeous patterns and, well, it's LOVE. They are changing inventory constantly so keep an eye on their, website, Instagram and Facebook for updates!

OH. AND FOR MY FELLOW TULA MAMAS...they mayyyyyyy have a necklace or two that matches your carrier. You're welcome. CAW CAW!
{image courtesy of The Vintage Honey Shop}

The ladies at The Vintage Honey Shop have been gracious enough to offer a discount code to you all so that you can check out their products and fall in love for yourself. Just enter code: VHSHARE at checkout for 15% off of your order!







Monday, January 4, 2016

Post-Holiday Baking...Amy's Backlava!

So our holidays got a little bit busier than I had anticipated, so there were a few holiday cookie posts that feel through the cracks. They were too good not to share though, so this week you'll be getting two new holiday (or anytime!) baking recipes to enjoy! Today's post is from Amy, one of my July 2010 Knotties. I am honored that she is sharing her Grammie's recipe for backlava today! Hello, yummmmmm.


Hi everyone! I’m Amy. I’m a Stay at Home Mom/Step-Mom to The Drew Crew, Clayton (12), Amelia (11), Brennan (9), Abbigaile (2), and Adam/A.J. (9 months).

Baking is something that I really enjoy, so when Val asked for volunteers for a holiday cookie post, I knew that I wanted to participate and exactly what I should share. I started baking at a very young age, being taught by my Mom and Grammie and I’m happy to say I’m continuing the trend by teaching my girls very early as well. When I was younger I spent a lot of time at my Grammie’s house which meant learning lots of her recipes (some that my mom doesn’t even know how to make). Every holiday meant certain special treats like cheesecake, chocolates and Grammie’s favorite Christmas Baklava, which is what I will be sharing with you today.

Baklava is a labor of love. The ingredients are very simple and it’s not a difficult process, it just takes a long to put together. The cinnamon and nuts smells like the perfect Christmas combonation and it takes me right back to being 9 years old in Grammie’s kitchen as she walked me through the process step by step.

Every year for the 15 years I had with my Grammie, we went to her house for Christmas Eve dinner. I always spent some time with her in the days leading up to Christmas Eve and helped her cook and bake in preparation to have all of us there for dinner. I can remember when it was time to make the Baklava, she made sure I was super careful not to rip the Phyllo dough and to not burn the butter on the stove. The thing I remember the most though, and that was the most clearly in my mind 13 years after she passed away while I was making the Baklava for this post, was her telling me “Make sure you butter every inch of that dough!” “Am, use MORE BUTTER!!!”.

Grammie’s Christmas Baklava

Ingredients

1 cup water

1 cup sugar

10 whole cloves

Boil the water, sugar & cloves for about 5 minutes to make a simple syrup. Turn off heat and set aside to cool. LEAVE the cloves in while it cools.

2 cups chopped walnuts

¾ cup white sugar

¼ cup cinnamon

In a food processor, mix nuts, sugar and cinnamon until the nuts are finely chopped. This is your filling.

1-2 packages phyllo dough, thawed (I say 1-2 because there are different sizes and the boxes have between 17-21 sheets per box)

3 sticks butter, melted (you may find you want to melt a 4th stick to get through the final layers)

Large cookie sheet or Jelly roll pan

Start by laying down your first layer of phyllo dough on your cookie sheet/jelly roll pan. Using a pastry brush, brush dough with melted butter, making sure to get it all the way to the edges and covering every inch of the dough (Listen for my Grammiewhispering to you, “ YOU NEED MORE BUTTER!”).

Repeat this process several times (I did 5 sheets of phyllo dough per layer and think it could have used a few more in there. My suggestion is 6 or 7 sheets of phyllo dough per layer), then sprinkle 1/3 of the nut mixture on top and spread to the edges.

Layer several more sheets of phyllo dough on top of the nut mixture; making sure to brush every single layer with plenty of butter. Repeat this process 2 more times. After you get the last layer of dough on top, you’ll need to cut the Baklava into diamond shapes. (Grammie used to use a wooden yard stick she always had on hand for sewing projects, I used the sides of the Phyllo dough boxes and it worked out great).

** You can see that I trimmed the edges of the phyllo dough to the edges of the pan. Your need to do this will depend on the size of your pan and size of your phyllosheets**

Bake the Baklava at 350* for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown. Remove the cloves from the sugar syrup and immediately pour it evenly over the entire pan. Cool it in the fridge until ready to serve.

Enjoy the nutty, cinnamon, Christmasy treat!

I hope you enjoy sharing this Christmas Baklava with your family as much as my Grammie did.

I unfortunately don’t have any photos of me and my Grammiebaking together but I do have these Christmas photos. One is of her and her Christmas Tree, which wasn’t complete without a crazy amount of tinsel, and one of my parents and me in front of her tree (I’m wearing one of the many dresses she made for me).

Friday, January 1, 2016

Hello, 2016

2015 was a year that pretty literally kicked my ass. It was a year of having my husband in and out almost every month (gone for schools, trainings, you name it...Army life.). A year of adjusting to two kids and a lot less sleep. A year of battling breastfeeding challenges, Post Partum Depression and Anxiety, and a year of some of my closest friends moving far away (again, Army life. Whomp whomp).

It was also a year of learning that I am more capable than I often think I am. A year of finding strength in myself when I felt I had nothing left. A year of making new friends and a year of learning that sometimes you just have to sit back, let life happen, and ride along with it. Because the bad stuff will eventually be replaced by lots of good stuff.

But now, here we are, 2016. A fresh start, a better outlook and a more positive attitude. Over the past few months I've found myself coming out of my PPD/PPA "funk"...I'm managing it well and feeling much better. I've gotten a break from hubby's in-and-out year and had him home for the holidays. And I've surrounded myself with friends who have made me realize the absolute importance of better self-care. And so, this year, I've got resolutions going...

1) Joining a gym and focusing on my own health

Oh that's right. I'm about to join the masses of people who vow to "get healthier in the new year". This is easily my biggest personal goal of the year. And while it's easy to start out strong, falling off the health and fitness wagon isn't an option for me. Why? Because I have some kick ass friends who know the importance of this goal for me and who aren't going to let me fail. I've got dreams of a better, healthier me and I'm setting myself up to succeed in that. Because I'm important, and I need to let my children see the importance in taking care of yourself and loving yourself. And a little time alone at the gym with my headphones on does actually sound delightful...even if vegetables don't...

2) Using our date night jar more often

Couch dates are nice and all, but hubby and I have had such a crazy 2015 that kindling our marriage has sort of taken a backseat. I mean honestly, our last real no-kids-just-us date was six months ago. Six. So I'm making s vow to make better use out of our date night jar so that we can focus on us as a married couple, not just mommy and daddy. The date night jar is nice, too, because it gives us a variety of options ranging from free to full on dinner and a movie, so we don't have to break the bank to have quality married time...but we can if we really want to :)

3) The 52 week money challenge and the holiday gift card challenge

I'm sure you've all seen it on social media...the 52 week money challenge has you put money in an envelope each week and the amount correlates to whichever week of the year it is (so this week you'd do $1, next week $2). Derek and I have decided to double the amount, so technically our envelope gets money from each of us. We plan to put our cash in the envelope each Friday, starting today, and by the end of the year we will have $2100 to deposit, use for a trip, or buy wine...whichever.

We are also going to offset our Christmas shopping costs by buying one gift card each month. We did all of our shopping at Amazon and Target this year, so each month we are going to buy either a $25 Target card or a $25 Amazon card and set them aside for next year's Christmas shopping. Technically you could just set the money aside, but for us I think this works better and will help majorly offset the usual big bank account hit next December.

And finally, 4) Stepping out of my comfort zone!!

This is going to be a year of saying "yes" to things for me. A year of trying new things and pushing my limits. Whether that is eating new foods, wearing an outfit I normally wouldn't or trying an activity I wouldn't usually do...this is a year of doing it all. Yes!!!

Cheers to 2016, my friends. May it be a great one.

 

 

 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

12 Days of Cookies: Diane's Snowball Cookies

After a brief hiatus due to a massively busy week last week, cookie posts are back! Today I'm featuring another July 2010 Knottie, Diane, and her recipe for Snowball cookies! Enjoy!

 

I’ll be honest. I love to cook, but baking is a different story. I don’t know if it’s my small kitchen, the big mess I leave behind, or the or the memories of baking with my then boyfriend (now husband) years ago which earned him an unfortunate nickname, but it’s just not my favorite thing to do.

But once a year, I take out the pastel pink Kitchen Aid mixer and get baking. The result is a crumbly and not-too-sweet cookie that has become my Christmas cookie go-to. It doesn’t matter if you call them snowballs, Russian tea cakes, or Mexican wedding cakes, these shortbread cookies are a holiday classic!

Tip: Pecans are by far my favorite nut, but they can be a little pricey. Feel free to substitute finely chopped almonds which are a bit more budget friendly and just as tasty.

ingredients.

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

1/4 cup confectioner's sugar

2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup finely chopped pecans*

1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar, for dusting cookies

*Mince pecans quickly by pulsing in a food processor with knife blade attached.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a large bowl, beat butter and 1/4 cup confectioner's sugar with a mixer on medium speed until creamy. Beat in vanilla until blended. Stir flour and finely chopped pecans together in a medium bowl. Reduce mixer speed to low and gradually beat in flour/pecan mixture just until blended. Roll dough into small balls (about 1 inch thick) or shape by rounded measuring teaspoons into balls. Place balls on ungreased large cookie sheet. Bake at 325 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes or until bottoms are slightly browned and cookies are light golden. Remove from oven and transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool. Place 1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar in a pie pan. Roll cookies when nearly cool in sugar to coat. Roll again once or twice when cookies are completely cool. Makes 2 to 3 dozen cookies, depending on the size of the balls.

Recipe from https://community.kmart.com/Articles/holiday-cookies-and-vintage-cookie-recipe

 

Friday, December 4, 2015

12 Days of Cookies: Kayla's Dairy Free Eggnog Cookies

How appropriate that today is National Cookie Day, right?!? We are on Day 4 of my 12 Days of Cookies Series and today I'm featuring another one of my Knotties, Kayla, who also write the blog The KNN Life. She's bringing y'all a dairy free cookie, too! Enjoy :)

 

I have always been curious about Eggnog and never really tried it, so a few years ago I decided I needed to see what the fuss was about. And I hated it. So I had all this leftover eggnog and no clue what to do with it! Here's what I did!

Dairy Free Eggnog Cookies:

1 1/4 cups white sugar

2 tbs brown sugar

3/4 cup Smart Balance

1/2 cup Almond milk eggnog

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 eggs

1 teaspoon nutmeg

2 1/4 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 tbs apple sauce


Eggnog Glaze:

1 ½ cup powdered sugar

4 tablespoons Almond milk eggnog




Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 300°F (150°C)

2. Combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg.

3. Cream sugar and Smart Balance until light

4. Add eggnog, vanilla, and egg yolks; beat at medium speed with mixer until smooth.

5. Add flour mixture and beat at low speed until just combined

7. Spoon onto un-greased cookie sheets or parchment paper (or wax).

8. Sprinkle lightly with nutmeg.

9. Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until the edges barely start to brown.

10. While cookies are in the oven, make the eggnog glaze by whisking together the powdered sugar with 4 T eggnog. (less if you want stiffer glaze)

11. Glaze your cookies warm or cooled and top with cinnamon

12. Enjoy!

About Kayla:

I'm a Stay At Home Mommy to the coolest little boy ever. I'm also a book lover and a Harry Potter and Disney obsessed sports nerd. I love to cook and bake and attempt to make crafts. For all things random, check out The KNN Life at theknnlife.com or on Instagram theknnlife

 

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Ellen's Molasses Cookies

Today's cookie recipe is brought to you by my friend, and fellow Knottie, Ellen! Throughout this series you'll be seeing several Knottie cookie recipes. My July 2010 Knotties are all friends who had a wedding date in July 2010. We connected via theknot.com and throughout the years, we've kept in touch almost daily and my Knotties are just the most incredible group of women! I am pleased to feature some of their recipes here :)

This is a Christmas favorite in the Andrews family. We bake a lot, and are not at a loss for desserts around the holidays. Out of everything that is in my mom’s house, her molasses cookies rarely last until Christmas- unless my mom hides them (and it’s not like we are kids… we are all in our 40s & 50s!) I’m not sure of the recipe origin, possibly from my grandma & my great-aunt, who baked for various restaurants in Cleveland, Ohio in the 20s & 30s. I remember making these with my best friends and my aunts as a child (and my BFF burning her hand on the cookie sheet) and looking forward to them whenever I go "home" for Christmas now.

 

Recipe- this is a double recipe.

1 ½ cups shortening/Crisco

2 cups sugar

½ cup dark molasses

2 eggs

4 t baking soda

4 cups flour

1 t cloves

1 t ginger

1 t salt

2 t cinnamon



1. Melt the shortening over low heat and let it cool.

2. Use the cooling time to gather all the other ingredients.

3. Using a mixer, beat the sugar, molasses, eggs and shortening well.

4. Mix dry ingredients together and then add to the wet mixture.

5. Mix well!

6. Chill the dough for at least an hour, preferably 3-4 or longer.

7. When ready to bake, pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

8. Roll dough into 1-inch balls

9. Coat the balls with sugar by rolling them in a bowl of sugar.

10. Place on cookie sheet and slightly flatten the ball with the bottom of a glass.

11. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes (8 if you like softer cookies, 10 if you like crispier cookies).

My recipe says you need to grease the cookie sheet… but depending on your cookie sheet, you may not need to.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

12 Days of Cookies: Italian Wedding Cookies by Rachel

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you may remember Rachel as she's guest posted for me before. She is one of my oldest friends (she's literally known me since the day I was born) and one of the raddest chicks I know. I'm super excited that today she's sharing her recipe for Italian wedding cookies! She comes from a super traditional Philadelphia Italian family and I love her (and her fam) to bits for it. Enjoy!

My favorite part of Christmas might be these Italian Wedding cookies. Okay, maybe my favorite part is that Christmas is now my daughters birthday, but, cookies....

I've never seen these at an actual Italian wedding- go figure- but they are a holiday staple for us.

Growing up, they never made it past the rolling in powdered sugar, we just ate them hot out of the oven. So. good luck with that.

And I know what you're thinking, there's going to be so many of them, I'll just sneak this one from the plate... No one will miss it. You're wrong- powdered sugar is the glitter of the baking world- it'll sell you out every time.

Enjoy!!


Italian Wedding Cookies


Ingredients

1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, room temp
3/4 cup powered sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 and 1/2 cups ground almonds ( do it like Nonna would and buy unsalted, roasted whole almonds and pulse those puppies up in a chopper- it's better that way)
5 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon almond extract
3 cups all purpose flour
Lots of extra powdered sugar for rolling

Preparation
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Add butter to a large bowl and whip until soft and smooth. Slowly add in the powdered sugar and salt. Beat everything with a hand mixer until light and fluffy.


Add in your almond and vanilla extracts along with your ground almonds. Give those a stir until they are blended. Gradually add in your flour- your batter will be sort of sticky- it's all good!


On an ungreased cookie sheet (because 1 1/2 cups of butter!) roll your dough into balls- whatever size you like, but they should be popable! Place them on the cookie sheet, with a little room in between because they will spread a little. Bake about 15 minutes, or until just a little tanned! You don't want them brown.


Let them cool to the touch then roll in as much powdered sugar as your little heart desires!

And I'll just leave this here.. Because, real life, and a little girl with all the fuss. Baking, babywearing and a mombun.

About Rachel:

I'm a 30 year old mama to an almost three year old little man and an 11 month princess. I married my first love and high school sweetheart. We are entrepreneur/sort of restauranteur/Cold Stone franchisee's who are starting an all French Fry food spot in Philadelphia, PA.