Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Mesothelioma Awareness Day (September 26)

This Thursday, September 26th, is Mesothelioma Awareness Day. I'm going to be honest, I didn't know much about this type of cancer until I received a message from a woman named Heather. Her story touched my heart.

Heather is a wife, mother, and a mesothelioma survivor. When her daughter was 3 ½ months old - a few weeks younger than my Bryson is now - Heather was diagnosed with this rare and deadly cancer, and given 15 months to live. Despite her grim prognosis, she knew that she needed to beat the odds for her newborn daughter, Lily. It’s been 7 years now and she is using her story to pay it forward by inspiring others.

In honor of upcoming Mesothelioma Awareness Day, she is using her personal story to help raise awareness of this little known cancer, and to provide a sense of hope for others facing life's difficult challenges. Her goal is to have 7,200 social media shares (a special number!), and I'm hoping you will help!

Please check out her story here, and consider sharing on your social network or blog! 

Toddler Activities: 25 Months Old

One of the challenges of being a stay at home mom is finding activities for your little one to keep them entertained throughout the day. These are a few of our current favorite activities:

Color a Puzzle: This is a project that even your smallest artist can enjoy! Tape six or seven jumbo craft sticks together on a piece of paper, and let your little one color on it with markers.

When they're done, remove the tape, mix up the sticks, and let them try putting the picture back together!

Sandpaper Art: This is another great no-mess creative activity! Cut some fuzzy yarn into a variety of lengths, and let your little one arrange the yarn on a sheet of 40-grit sandpaper to "draw" a picture. (I'm sure a number of sandpaper grits would work - we just had 40-grit on hand at our house.) You can remove the yarn, and replace it as many times as you want. For an older child, you can also draw shapes or letters on the sandpaper with crayon and let your child trace them with yarn.

And, of course...

Read: Reading is one of the best activities you can do with your child at any age!

A few of Emma's current favorites are: 

We did an activity with one of our books, Duck Sock Hop. After reading the book, we donned our craziest socks, found a sock hop radio station on Pandora, and had a sock hop of our own! Emma had a blast!

My 3 good things for today are:

  1. We have beautiful fall weather outside!
  2. Bryson got to go swinging for first time. He loved it!
  3. Burritos and garden salsa for dinner! (it's the little things...)

Friday, September 13, 2013

A Family Date: Cooking Together

Okay, so you may not consider this a date, but cooking together is a great activity to do as a family. Cooking time is bonding time and really does bring families together! It's also a great way to teach early math, reading, and chemistry to youngsters. Not only do kids who cook tend to eat more fruits and vegetables, but cooking gives kids a basic and important life skill. We let Emma crack eggs (with supervision) and she is great at mixing and helping measure ingredients!

We love apple picking each year, and this year was no exception! We ended up with bags of apples, and after making applesauce, apple pie, and apple crisp, I was looking for a few new recipes to try.

The two recipes below were delicious and fairly simple to make.

Applesauce Cake with Caramel Glaze

2 cups flour
1-1.2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper, finely ground
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground allspice
2 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1-1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce (I used homemade)
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla

Caramel Glaze
4 Tbsp butter, cut into chunks
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup icing sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Butter and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan. Sift together flour, baking soda, salt, pepper and spices. Set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs with both sugars until light. Mix in applesauce, oil and vanilla until smooth.
  3. Fold in dry ingredients, do not over-mix. Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake about 45 minutes. 
  4. Cook cake for 10 minutes and turn out on to plate to let cool completely.
  5. For glaze, put butter, brown sugar, cream and salt in a saucepan. Bring to full rolling boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil for 1 minute and then remove from heat. Let cool for 2 minutes.
  6. Gradually whisk in the icing sugar until you have a thick, pourable consistency. Pour over cake, and let set before serving cake – if you have the willpower!


Iced Oatmeal Banana Applesauce Cookies

2 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup unsweetened applesauce (I used homemade)
1 1/2  cups old-fashioned oats
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp allspice
1/2 cup raisins

1 3/4 cup powdered sugar
4-5 tablespoons pure maple syrup
3 tablespoons milk


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine mashed bananas and sugars. Mix on low speed until combined.  Add applesauce, and mix until well blended, 2-3 minutes. Mix in oats, flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices.  Mix in raisins. 
  2. Using a 1 1/2-inch ice cream scoop, drop dough onto prepared baking sheets, 2 inches apart.  I lined my baking sheets with parchment paper. Place baking sheet in freezer for 5 minutes. 
  3. Bake cookies until golden and set, 13-15 minutes. Let cool on sheets 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack, and let cool completely.
  4. Whisk powdered sugar, syrup, and three tablespoons milk until smooth. Drizzle over cookies, let set.

My 3 good things for today are:

  1. Apples!
  2. Apple cookies!
  3. Apple cake!

What is your favorite apple recipe?