The Great Debate: Birthday Gift Bags

I know it has been a few months since my last debate post, but I decided to bring them back because they are fun.



Being one of the few couples in our group of friends with kids, we haven’t gone to a lot of kids birthday parties…yet. Between the ones we have gone too, and the ones I have seen on blogs and pinterest, there is one thing that stands out as being very different from the kids parties of my childhood. The gift bag.

I like to use Pinterest as a jumping point for B’s birthday parties. I don’t have the time to DIY or the money to throw these elaborate themed birthday parties. A delicious cake, food, and a monogrammed birthday shirt are about as far as my abilities take me. I still look in case I come across something that I might be able to handle, but usually that’s not the case.

 Almost, every time we leave a birthday party now, B is given a gift bag with a few toys, maybe some crayons, something that cost somewhere between $5 and $15 when all is said and done. If you have even 10 kids, that can be a huge expense.

When I was a kid, I brought someone a gift to their party and that was that. The family provided the food, cake, entertainment and the friends brought the gifts. That’s what has happened with all of B’s parties as well.

Did I miss something, do we need to provide the kids that attend our children’s parties with a gift bag? If so, when does it stop? I have a hard time with this. I don’t think we need to provide these kids that attend with anything extra but I also don’t want to be that grouchy mom…

So here is where you weigh in, what do you think of this gift bag trend? Do you love it? Hate it? Or participate in it?

I'm with B...just give me the cake


WIAW: Pinterest Wins!

As anyone in a relationship or marriage knows planning holidays in order to spend time with all family and friends can be very…trying to say the least. Nick and I were spending Christmas with his family and in order to have a special celebration with my parents and sister, I planned a dinner at our house the weekend before Christmas.

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I think we need a train around our Christmas tree…

Menu planning can be a bit tricky though, my sister’s boyfriend has two allergies: all nuts and poultry. The poultry one means that your usual Christmas dinner ideas (chicken or turkey) or using any sort of chicken stock is out of the question. For me that was actually a good thing, I’ve never cooked a chicken or turkey by myself and I didn’t want to have to do it for the first time for 12 people or for a holiday.

I went with my family’s standard holiday favorite: Meatloaf. I used grass-fed beef and doubled this recipe. It is very east to make and the meat was still nice and juicy, I love the flavor that the glaze adds, but you could easily leave it off.

I ended up going with a couple of carb-filled sides. All of these ideas I had pinned to my pinterest boards for a while, and I needed to try them. This was the perfect place.

The first was a new-to-me risotto. I tried an asparagus and spring pea risotto last Easter. I decided to try one that was a bit more hearty for Christmas. I went with Kerstin’s French Onion Risotto. I doubled the recipe and I used swiss cheese instead fontina, mostly because the cost of the fontina was way more than I was willing to spend. This dish was a lot of the guests favorite side dish of the night. I liked it, but it was heavy for a risotto, and that coupled with a few other heavy dishes didn’t make it my favorite, but I would make it again!

The second was this lighter buffalo chicken mac & cheese. Obviously, I did not use chicken, I used ground pork, because the flavor profiles are most similar to chicken and because we already had plenty of ground beef with the meatloaf. I doubled this recipe and it turned out wonderfully, again it was a heavier dish, but I loved it and I wish I had some right now!

The third recipe is the creamy corn pudding with crispy onions and herbs. Ever since my date with Caitlin at Agave Grill I have been wanting to try my hand at making a type of corn pudding. This dish surpassed all of my expectations and I can’t wait to make it again. I left the herbs off the top, mostly because I forgot, but to me it didn’t make a difference. The pudding had that sweet and savory taste I was looking for without being overly heavy.

I also had a large salad and roasted brussel sprouts on the side… we needed some green up in here.

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For dessert we had the classic christmas cookie (at least in my house), the snickerdoodle, and I tried my hand at Baked by Rachel’s mini cookies & cream cheesecakes. The flavor was on point, but for some reason they didn’t bake up like Rachel’s did. All that matters is that they tasted good!

Make sure that you check out all the other great food recipes and ideas on Jenn’s blog for WIAW!

I apologize for the lack of pictures, it was my first time hosting & cooking 90% of the food (thanks mom for making sure the risotto made it from the recipe to the table) and I was a bit crazy and running late so pictures just didn’t happen. I hope you try some of these recipes, I fully endorse them all!

What are your favorite successful recipes from Pinterest?

Pin It Party #2

Before we get to anything today, I just want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart for all of your heartfelt comments, emails, texts, phone calls and messages on yesterday’s post. They mean so much to my family and I.



Lindsay is once again hosting a PIN IT PARTY, I joined in on the fun for the second one and I can’t wait to join the second. A pin it party is where we write a post with five posts (of our own) that we’d love to see pinned on pinterest. Then link up on Lindsay’s blog and see some other posts!

Without further ado, here are my 5 posts:

Designer Whey Chocolate PB & Jelly Protein Smoothie


I still think this is my favorite smoothie!

Sweet Potato Bread

The best picture I ever got, sorry! I guess I will just have to make it again.

The best picture I ever got, sorry! I guess I will just have to make it again.


Joy the Baker’s Perfect Cup of Hot Chocolate

The perfect cup.

The perfect cup.

Flour’s Oatmeal Maple Scone


I’ve never made the glaze, but it is still wonderful!

Almond Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies

Not pretty, but very tasty.

Not pretty, but very tasty.

Did any of these recipes strike your fancy? I can’t wait to see what you all linked up!

Pin It! Party #1

Lindsay had this wonderful idea for a PIN IT PARTY, that alone sounds fun, where we write a post with five posts (of our own) that we’d love to see pinned on pinterest. Then link up on Lindsay’s blog and see some other posts!

Here are my 5

Flour’s Lemon Lust Bars


Hands down the best lemon bar I have ever had or made.

Bake it in a Cake’s  Ultimate Birthday Cupcake


This cupcake was labor intensive but the outcome was awesome and I loved everyone’s reaction.

Joy the Baker’s Cream Cheese Pound Cake


I am not a fan of traditional angel food cake or bundt cake and I love that this can replace those items for a summer strawberry short cake

Mocha Protein Smoothie


This smoothie is the perfect afternoon pick me up; cold, creamy and a little caffeine.

Gifts for runners under $100



This was originally a Christmas post, but with lots of new runners starting in the spring and summer months, I thought this would be a helpful list!

Did you link up with the Pin It Party? What’s your favorite post lately?


WIAW: Boston Organics and a New Dinner

For today’s What I Ate Wednesday, I have two things to share. The first is that Nick and I have started getting fresh fruit and veggies from a company called Boston Organics. It’s a company that delivers fresh and organic produce to your front door or office weekly or bi-weekly. It can be as a little as $24 per month.

It is actually pretty awesome. You can pick items you never want delivered, and the stuff you get is great!

A few examples:

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oranges, apple and kiwi
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red leaf lettuce and carrots
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Unpictured is the sweet potatoes and onions. We get the bi-weekly small box and it is perfect for the 3 of us. All you have to do is put out this bin on your delivery date and they fill it for you.

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They also included this handy magnet that tells you how to store everything.

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This program is great because you can change your box size, cancel the program completely or skip one delivery with just 48 hours notice. No binding contract. They definitely did not pay me for this, but I would recommend it if you are within the parameters of delivery!

With the fresh broccoli, I made a pinterest recipe, and will write a post about that later, but it wasn’t as great as I was hoping.

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Five Things Friday

Five Things Friday is back! I know you were all waiting with baited breath.

My mother-in-law always makes a fabulous spread for the Thanksgiving meal, but she would always buy pies. The proceeds went to the school band, so no big deal. Now that the hubs and I only go to Thanksgiving in one place I have started making dessert. 1. Because I love too 2. Because I enjoy when others love my food and 3. Because Thanksgiving is about sharing.

Five Desserts that I may make for Thanksgiving.

Input wanted.

1. Apple Cobbler. My hubs uncle has been harassing his wife because she has never made a true cobbler. Perhaps this is the year where I actually make one instead of saying I will? If you have a great recipe send it my way.

2. Red Velvet Cheesecake. Hands down my favorite dessert.

3. Pumpkin Pie or Pumpkin Cheesecake… or both?

4. Pecan Pie. I love Pecan Pie, I only eat it at Thanksgiving. Last year my sister and I made pecan pie bars. FAIL.

5. Apple Pie. The hubs loves my homemade pie, so I think this is a must have.

What are your favorite Thanksgiving desserts? What do you think I should make?

Carrot Cake Muffins

As part of my weekly pinterest challenge, I started it off with a baking project.

In honor of my dad’s birthday, I could’t think of a better reason to start.
{Happy Birthday Dad!}

I found this King Arthur Flour recipe on pinterest. Now I must admit, I don’t really care for carrot cake that much. In fact I hate it, really just because of the raisins.

I had asked my dad what kind of cake he wanted, he responded with carrot and red velvet. Red Velvet is my favorite too, but my sister picked that one because she too hates carrot cake. I stumbled upon this recipe and decided I must try it. I might even like it.

I started by greasing the cup liners. I then made the cream cheese filling and set it aside. Note – I did not use the flavoring they suggested in the recipe.

I then added the flour, sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and I didn’t have any ginger on hand, so I used nutmeg.

The recipe says to whisk the oil, water and eggs in a separate bowl then add to the dry mixture, but frankly it was late and I was tired, so I added those ingredients to the dry ones. I added the carrots last and whisked it until everything was mixed evenly.

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I used a tablespoon, and put 2 tablespoons in each cup, then 1 tablespoon of filling…

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Then I covered with one more tablespoon of batter.
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The muffins cooked for 20 minutes
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I let them cool before the husband and I cracked one open to try. We both actually liked them. They didn’t taste like traditional carrot cake, we actually both agreed that they tasted more like an apple spice cake.

The one thing I would probably change is to make more of the cream cheese filling, it didn’t seem like enough.

Unfortunately I don’t have any more pics of them. I was exhausted and forgot to take any at the party. Plus we skipped out early since it was past B’s bedtime and it was getting late.

Today’s Question: Do you like carrot cake? Would you make these muffings?

Pinterest and New Goals

I have joined the masses and became a member of the time-suck known as Pinterest. You can follow my boards if you so desire.

I’ll admit, it is fun, I found a recipe for Carrot Cake muffins that I am going to make for my Dad’s birthday. I hate carrot cake and the sound good even to me!

Since, I’ve been wasting so much time on Pinterest I’ve decided that i will find one recipe a week, whether it’s baking or cooking and I will blog about my success or failure when it came to that recipe.

I feel like I kind of have this stay at home mom thing down, maybe, and I can get back in the kitchen for some real cooking and baking.

Today’s Question: Do you use interest? What are some of your favorite recipes? (Maybe I’ll use them)