eight months

Our little lady is just over eight months old.

She loves:

Anything she can shake, shake, shake.
Banging on anything.
Buttons and snaps.
Shiny things.
Teething biscuits.
Other kids.
Saying "da da da da da da da da".

We love:


Hoping you all are enjoying a holiday season as full of joy as ours has been.


holiday cheer: christmas sugar cookies

I'm not the only person who has fond memories of baking Christmas cookies with my family. My mom would let me and my siblings help roll out the dough, pick whatever shapes we wanted from our vast selection of cookie cutters, and of course, we each got to decorate our fair share of cookies after they were baked.

What I think of as my mom's recipe is actually my paternal grandmother's recipe and, I have to tell you, it's the best one out there. The cookies are chewy and the orange zest and extracts lend just enough citrus to make them taste light and fresh. They're also just slightly salty but the icing we use balances that out perfectly.

Do yourself a favor and make a batch of these cookies before your family gets together this week. They will thank you.

Christmas Sugar Cookies

1/2 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp. grated orange rind
1/4 tsp. lemon extract
1/4 tsp. orange extract
1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder

Cream together shortening and sugar. Add beaten egg, orange rind, lemon and orange extracts. Add dry ingredients and beat until smooth. Chill until firm. 

Place dough on lightly floured board or between parchment or waxed paper and roll thin with a rolling pin. Cut with cutters.  Place cut cookies on greased cookie sheet and bake at 325 degrees for about 12 minutes.  Repeat with remaining dough until all is formed into darling sugar cookies to be.

To decorate: 

Mix 1 tablespoon milk with food coloring. Add powdered sugar by the tablespoon until mixture is  thick. Use this to hold on colored sugar, cinnamon red hots, chocolate ants, etc.

Year in and out I look forward to making these cookies and I can't wait until Elia is old enough to help decorate them with me. Let's hope her cookie decorating skills don't peak at age six like mine did.

Happy baking everyone!  

What is your favorite holiday baking recipe or memory? 


holiday cheer: baby's first christmas

We are getting very excited for Christmas around here.  The day after Thanksgiving, Elia found the perfect tree for us.

We've also met one of Santa's reindeer.

And even the big guy himself.

It's so much fun to expose Elia to so many of our favorite holiday traditions.

With only a few weeks until Christmas, I thought I'd do a quick gift roundup for all of the little ones left on your shopping list. I'm a fan of classic toys with minimal lights and sounds so that Elia can spend more time figuring out how the toy works and growing that little brain of hers instead of encouraging an environment of constant entertainment.  Here are some of my favorite holiday-themed gifts for babes:

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1. Melissa & Doug Slice & Bake Christmas Cookie Play Set

I think every child has memories of baking and decorating cookies growing up and it's certainly one of my favorite traditions.  This wooden cookie play set will allow your kids to practice their baking skills all through the holiday season.

2. Maileg Rudolph Reindeer

This sweet stuffed reindeer is such a darling toy and perfect for snuggling up with on cozy Christmas evenings.

3. Hohner Kids Handy Jingle Bell

Elia loves shaking or banging on just about anything that will make noise right now. I looked everywhere for a baby-friendly jingle bell and I finally came across this gem. At only $3.25 plus free shipping, this is the perfect stocking stuffer for a baby!

4. Olivia Helps with Christmas

There is something about this little pig that I find downright charming. We only have one other Olivia book but as Elia becomes more interested in books, I hope Olivia becomes a favorite and can't wait to read this with her every December.

5. Santa Sack

We believe in keeping Christmas gifting pretty low-key so I don't anticipate every needing a whole sack to fill with Elia's gifts. This Santa Sack is so cute though that I could see buying it to hold seasonal kid's items.  I'm sure any kid would get a kick out of opening this bag every year as the holidays approach.

6. BabyLit: A Christmas Carol

If you haven't seen these books before, check them out now. BabyLit takes classic novels and makes them baby friendly by focusing on counting, colors, etc. I love the idea of exposing kids to literature young and The Christmas Carol is such a favorite - I just love this!

7. Uncle Goose Merry Christmas Blocks

I've been a huge fan of Uncle Goose blocks since I discovered them a few years ago. They have everything from classic blocks to foreign language blocks (Arabic, Spanish, Dutch, Chinese, Swedish, French and more!) and even hieroglyphic and Braille blocks. Beyond this, they are made right here in Grand Rapids so by buying them and from the area, you'd be shopping local, which is a huge plus.

8. Manny & Simon Reindeer and Sleigh Wooden Push Toy

There is something beautiful about the simplicity of push toys and this sleigh and reindeer set is just gorgeous. I love the smooth, clean lines and I think that between the wheels and antlers, this would keep E busy for hours.

Now you've seen some of my holiday favorites for babies, what are some of your favorite toys and gifts for the babies in your life?