Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Homemaking Party: Ballet Bags and Old-Fashioned Chocolate Walnut Wreath Cookies

Welcome to the Homemaking Party!

Mom was helping me come up with some ideas for holiday baking and told me about these Wreath Cookies that my great-grandma used to make. They're super easy and taste awesome! You can find the recipe below, but first...

Check out the adorable ballet bag I bought for Avalon from Heather Rogers Designs on Etsy*. What first got me excited about this bag was that I could personalize it with her name, and even choose her hair and skin color! Besides that, at only $20, I figured it was a good investment to keep her ballet things organized.

Once I received it, I realized what a great investment it really was! First off, the bag is way bigger than I was expecting. The measurements are, 14"W x 18"H x 2"D, which is plenty big enough for her to use into her teen years. I'm also impressed by the quality of the canvas bag. The design is dyed into the fabric, rather than ironed on, for a much better quality product.

Heather has over 2,500 items to choose from in her Etsy shop---lots of bags, mugs, phone covers, and clothing items to choose from---all personalized. You can find tons of gifts in Heather's shop and, best of all, you'll be supporting a home-based business to boot! Check out Heather Rogers Designs and tell her you saw her here! (I've always wanted to say something commercial-ly like that!)

Now, as promised, a yummy recipe!

Grammy Annabelle's Wreath Cookies
1 c. butter
1/2 c. brown sugar
2 eggs, separated
2 c. flour
2 c. chopped nuts
7 oz. sweetened condensed milk
1 c. chocolate chips

Cream sugar and butter. Blend in egg yolks. Add flour and mix well, then form into small balls. Beat egg whites in a separate bowl until frothy. Dip dough balls in egg whites and then roll in nuts. Set them on a cookie sheet and press down the center of each cookie. Bake at 350º for 10-12 minutes, then remove from oven and immediately press down center again. Cool completely. For filling, melt milk and chocolate and stir until smooth. Spoon into cookie centers and let cool until hardened. 

Now it's time for the Homemaking Party---I can't wait to see what you've got to share! 

*I was given a discount on my purchase in exchange for this review. Review was solicited by me because I LOVE this bag! All opinions are honest and are my own.

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Monday, November 17, 2014

RSV Prevention and World Prematurity Day #MC #RSVAwareness #PreemieProtection #sponsored

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for MedImmune. I received  a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

Today is World Prematurity Day and what better way to honor families who have experienced the birth of a premature baby than to discuss RSV Prevention. Up to 1/3 of parents are unaware of the risks and symptoms of RSV and often brush them off as a simple cold. However, when you're dealing with an infant, especially a premature one, any illness should be taken seriously.

When Lynzie was about 22 months old, she contracted RSV. Her symptoms included blue color around her mouth, as well as a raspy cough and gasping for breath. As young parents with no experience recognizing the symptoms of a sick baby, we held off taking her to the doctor much longer than we should have. We'd dealt with sickness like this ourselves as adults and knew we eventually recovered fine. It didn't occur to us how this sickness could be much more serious in a baby or toddler.

When my husband noticed her "falling asleep" on the couch, I realized she was actually passing out. We raced her to the emergency room, me singing, You Are My Sunshine, all the way just to keep myself from panicking. Her oxygen saturation was very low and she was immediately put into an oxygen tent where she spent three days. 

We were blessed to have a baby who recovered, yet not all children do. Up to 200 infants die each year from RSV.

Respiratory Syncytial Virus effects nearly all babies by the time they're two years old. It usually causes mild or moderate cold-like symptoms, but in some babies, symptoms become severe and cause a dangerous infection.

Premature babies, those born before 37 weeks, are at a higher risk for severe symptoms since they usually have underdeveloped lungs and immune systems. RSV season usually runs November-March and accounts for about 125,000 hospitalizations each year.

Here are some things to look for in your infant:

*Persistent coughing/wheezing
*Bluish color around lips, mouth, fingernails (indicates lack of oxygen)
*Rapid, difficult, gasping breaths
*Fever (over 100.4º in infants 3 mo. and younger)

How can you prevent RSV? Here are some crucial steps:

*Understand risk factors to see if your baby is at an increased risk.
*Never let anyone smoke around your baby.
*Wash your hands and require others to do the same before handling your baby.
*Keep toys, clothes, and blankets clean.
*Avoid crowds or other young children during RSV season.

For more information, contact your child's doctor or visit

Friday, November 14, 2014

Chocolate Orange Swirl Bread

I made this delicious bread for the kids' breakfast a couple days ago and it was a huge hit! I substituted clementines for the oranges, since that's what I had on hand, and made up the remaining amount with lemon juice. It was still great! Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Chocolate Orange Swirl Bread
(makes 2 loaves)

1 c. softened butter
2 c. sugar
4 eggs
2 lg. oranges
4 c. flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 TB. unsweetened cocoa
2 TB. milk

Mix butter, sugar, and eggs until well combined. Grate the peels from both the oranges to measure at least 2 TB. zest. Juice both oranges to equal approximately 1 c. of juice. If you don't get quite enough, you can add milk or water to make up the difference. Mix zest and juice into butter mixture. Mix flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl, then stir into wet mixture until just combined. Pour all but 1 c. of mixture into 2 pans. Add cocoa and milk to the remaining mixture and whisk until well combined. Divide between the two pans, pouring down the middle of each. Use a knife to swirl the mixture around a bit. Bake at 325º for 1 hour.