Dafney Harper

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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Bakin' Friends - December Edition

It's the last day of 2013 and while many of you are writing about your reflections of the year and writing out your New Year's resolutions, I'm over here thinking about the amazing cookies I received for the December edition of BAKIN' FRIENDS!  This month, the secret ingredient was Cardamom.  It's not a spice I often see used, but it's one that reminds of the Holiday's!

Seriously, I can't even begin to say enough things about how wonderful these cookies were.  Quite possibly one of my new favorite cookies and definitely one I'll be throwing into my cookie rotation ;)

This month's goodies came to me from Anne over at Bakin' Friends!  She's super sweet and SUPER talented!!  She sent me some Cardamom Orange Sugar Cookies and my gosh, we're they tasty, not to mention, beautifully deocrated!  I think between my hubby, parents and me, we had half of these eaten the day I received them! 

Thank you so much, Anne for the delicious treats!!

Cardamom Orange Sugar Cookies
by Laureen King from ArtandtheKitchen

1 1/2 cups softened butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 vanilla bean, opened and seeds scraped out
2 egg + 1 egg yolk
1 1/2 tsp. orange zest
3 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. salt

Sift together flour, salt and cardamom.  Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar together until fluffy {about 5 minutes}.  Add vanilla bean and orange zest and mix well.  Add eggs and combine well.  Slowly add the flour a bit at a time.

Separate dough into 2 separate pieces.  Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes.*  When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375 and line cookie sheets with parchment paper.  On floured work surface, roll disk out to 1/8 to 1/4 inch thickness.  Cut out with cookie cutter shape of your choice and transfer to baking sheet.

Bake 8-10 minutes (just until edges start to brown).  Cool completely and decorate with Royal Icing.  Makes approximately 3 dozen cookies (depending on cookie cutter shape).

*I always roll out my dough to 1/4 thickness between 2 sheets of wax paper then chill it on cookie sheets instead of how the recipe reads.  Once chilled, you can go ahead and cute out your shapes; there's no need to do in on a floured surface.  I had to add about 3/4 to 1 cup more flour to the recipe because the dough was way too loose to roll out.


Interested in joining?

Check out my "{Bakin' Friends}" tab at the top of my blog and/or email me, Leah at leahmarie.mackenzie@gmail.com for details!  

If you want to join for January, you need to email me leahmarie.mackenzie@gmail.com by JANUARY 4th with Bakin Friends in the subject line and containing the following info.:
First/Last name
Email address
Blog Name/URL {if applicable}

Hope everyone enjoys the LAST day in 2013!  Stay safe!


Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas 2013

It’s hard to believe the craziness of the Holiday’s are almost over.  Though I’m not much of a winter-kinda-gal, I do love the feel that the week of Christmas time brings!  This year was especially fun since Dafney was able to interact and sort of get what all comes with Christmas (& yes, I understand that Christmas is more than receiving gifts)!  We spent Christmas with my parents, sister & brother-in-law.  Since we’re still living with my parents, we didn’t have to go anywhere Christmas Day. 

Christmas Eve was fairly low key.  Hubby had to work – so Dafney, my Mom and I spent some time in the kitchen making & decorating cookies for Santa!  

This was the first year that Dafney was able to help us with cookie decorating…and let me tell you, she LOVED it!  Some of the cookies were, shall I say, a bit on the sugar-y side, but they tasted great none-the-less! 

Dafney’s definition of decorating might have been a bit different than mine, but she got the job done and she only used about 4 bottles of sprinkles to make 5 cookie sheets of cookies!

Thankfully Santa really enjoys a lot of sugar & sprinkles on His cookies...and so does a certain little girl ;)

Christmas Eve we had some steak sandwiches and played A Deer in the Headlights!  It's a really fun, no-brainer type game!  We also let Dafney open a few of her gifts from us since we knew she would be completely over-loaded on Christmas Day with gifts.  She's become a pro at opening presents!

On Christmas Day, we took Dafney downstairs to see what Santa brought her.  She kept saying "no Santa, no toys".  But, when she saw what Santa brought, I think she forgot how "scary" Santa was :)

After my sister & brother-in-law got to my parents house, we handed out gifts and opened them!  It was so much fun to watch Dafney open her gifts.  She had so many that she stopped about 3/4 of the way through...

...she did however, LOVE the train set she received from my parents!!  CHO CHO

And we even were able to get a family photo...

I was comparing this year's family photo with the past 2 years and I just can't believe how much Dafney has grown.  You can barely see her in our first Christmas photo!

Hope you all had a very Merry Christmas and were able to spend it with loved ones & friends!  Here's to a wonderful 2014!


Friday, December 27, 2013

a Minnie birthday

I have been a bit of a slacker on posting about Dafney’s 2nd birthday.  Maybe it’s because I was quickly trying to throw together plan her party.  Or, perhaps it was because I was getting caught up in the Holiday frenzy.  Most likely, though, it was because I was in complete denial that my daughter was turning TWO.  How in the world did this happen?  It seems like just yesterday we brought all 5 pounds 8 ounces of her home.  It’s crazy how the time has gone by…in the blink of an eye she started running, singing her ABC’s and counting {in Spanish, none-the-less}.  Even though she’s hit that toddler stage, I still look at her as my little baby. 

Because we’re in between houses, we decided to throw her a small family birthday party at my parent’s house.  We sent the invites out a tiny bit late {my motto: better late than never} and only a few of our family members could make the party.  Not a big deal though…it was nice and low key and all about this little Minnie princess!

Her actual birthday was on Friday the 13th.  She had a great day at daycare!  Her teachers & friends made her a birthday crown, sang to her and made her the center of attention…a perfect way to spend your 2nd birthday!  

When we got home, we had her open her gifts.  She knew exactly what to do with those presents and tore right into them.  We gave her a bathtub baby, a carseat for her babies & socks.  She LOVED playing with her baby carseat…isn’t she just the cutest little “mommy”?! 

Afterwards, we had a special pasta dinner.  My daughter takes after me and loves, loves, loves pasta!  It was her request so we made it happen.  We finished off the meal with some cupcakes and singing!  She enjoyed the frosting.  A LOT.

Saturday was her birthday party and it was Minnie Mouse themed – her absolute favorite!  We gave her a special Minnie outfit to wear and decorated the “clubhouse” with special Minnie decorations – complete with Minnie Mouse plates, napkins & CAKE!  Though I made the cake, I cheated and used a Minnie Mouse mold; I did; however, decorate the cake myself.  Not half bad for my 1st attempt.

After having some pizza {her 2nd favorite food} and cake, we opened more gifts.  She loved opening all of her presents and had even more fun playing with them.  By that time, she was ready for a nap {and so was I}…

It was a perfect way to spend her birthday! 

She continues to amaze us every day and I am so excited to see what new/fun things she learns this year!  

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you all a very {belated} Merry Christmas!!


Friday, December 13, 2013


Happy Friday the 13th...or, more importantly to ME, happy birthday to my sweet, little girl Dafney!

Where does the time go?  I am having a really hard time believing that my little girl is already two years old.  Seriously...make it stop! I may have shed a few tears this morning over the fact that my baby is no longer a BABY.  I can remember the day she was born like it was yesterday!  It literally feels like we were just in the Hospital staring in awe at our beautiful little girl!

She has changed so much in the past 2 years and amazes us daily with new words, new tricks and all the funny things she does & says!  Dafney has been more than a blessing to me and I have enjoyed every single second with her.  YES, even those long, sleepless nights, those completely disgusting diaper changes and all of those temper-tantrums!  

2 Year Dr. Appointment Stats:

Height - 34 inches {68th percentile}
Weight - 21.6 pounds {not quite on the charts for weight...she's a peanut}
All in all, the Dr. was happy with her height/weight and as well as her verbal & physical skills.  We're beyond thankful AND blessed to have a healthy little girl!

Favorite Words & Phrases:
~I did it~Daffy funny~come here mama~good girl mama~where's mama/daddy/grandma/papa/auntie/hannah-bell~I don't like it~I don't want it~I'm cold~jump~I'm a teapot~I want juicy~more dancing~mama hold you~

Dafney loves to sing: ABC {and she knows the whole song}~Itsy Bitsy Spider~I'm a little teapot~Row Row~Twinkle Twinkle Little Star~Jingle Bells~

Current Wardrobe Stats:
Shirts - 18-24 month
Pants - 12 month {for the length she needs 18 month pants, but the waist is still at the 12 month size}
Shoes - about a 5.5; small feet like her mama!
Jacket - 18 month

We had a fabulous time celebrating her birthday and I promise to post all about her {Minnie Mouse} birthday party soon!

Until then...have a great day!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Oatmeal Ginger-Cardamom Cookies

Happy Thursday, Friends!  If it's been a week like mine, then this sweet treat should definitely brighten your day!  I made these delicious cookies last night and they made the house smell AMAZING!  They were chewy, delicious cookies!

 These would make the perfect Holiday treat for your friends, family, neighbors, co-workers...seriously, they are amazing!

They have the perfect balance of cinnamon, ginger & cardamom and the oats are a fun twist to the standard "ginger cookie"!

2 1/2 cups flour
2 cups oats (not quick cooking)
2 tsp. baking soda
4 tsp. ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp. cardamom
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups butter (3 sticks) softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup molasses
3/4 cup sugar for coating cookies

Heat oven to 350.  In a medium bowl, mix: flour, oats, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cardamom and salt.

In a large bowl, beat softened butter and sugar until well mixed. Beat in eggs and molasses until combined.

Place 3/4 cup sugar in a small bowl.  Using about 1/4 cup dough per cookie, roll each into a ball and completely cover in sugar.  Place onto a lined cookie sheet.

Bake for 14-16 minutes or until lightly browned and puffy!

Let cool and enjoy!

Happy Thursday!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Bakin Friends

Hi Friends,

Happy day after Thanksgiving!  Hope you all had a fabulous day with family & friends!  

It's that time again...Bakin' Friends reveal day!  This month I was paired with Marcia and the secret ingredient was NUTMEG.  Nothing screams Thanksgiving/November/Fall like nutmeg!  Anyway, Marcia made me an amazing a pumpkin cake...and it was amazing!  It was slightly sweet and pumpkin-y and full of delicious-ness!  Here is the recipe:

  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 2/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 15-ounce can pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 3 1/3 cups Flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans, optional
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips, optional
  • coarse white sugar for sprinkling on top, optional
1) Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease two 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" loaf pans (if you're making the plain version of the bread); two 9" x 5" loaf pans (if you're adding chocolate chips and nuts); or one of each, if you're making one plain loaf, and one loaf with chips and nuts.
2) In a large bowl, beat together the oil, sugar, eggs, pumpkin, and water.
3) Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and vanilla, stirring to combine.
4) Mix in the chips and nuts, if you're using them. To make one loaf with chips/nuts, one loaf without, divide the batter in half. Leave one half plain, and add 3/4 cup chips and 1/2 cup nuts to the other half.
5) Spoon the batter into the prepared pans. Sprinkle the tops of the loaves with coarse sparkling sugar, if desired.
6) Bake the bread for 60 to 80 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean; and that same tester inserted about 1/2" into the top of the loaf doesn't encounter any totally unbaked batter.
7) Remove the bread from the oven, and cool it on a rack. When it's completely cool, wrap it well in plastic wrap, and store it overnight before serving.
It was seriously delicious and will be finding it's way into my baking rotation...thank-you so much Marcia!
If you're interested in signing up for Bakin' Friends, let me know! Send me an email to leahmarie{dot}mackenzie{at}gmail{dot}com
Please use Bakin Friends in your subject line and include your full name, email address, blog name & URL (if applicable).  For all the details, check out my {Bakin Friends} tab at the top of my blog.
Happy Baking!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Bakin' Friends lives on!

Hi Friends!  I have a fun little announcement today...a fellow blogger friend, Steph over at Steph's Bite by Bite started a fun program, Bakin' Friends, a little over a year ago.  It's basically a penpal program, except you don't have to write a letter in your best "penmanship", instead you send baked goods.  Seriously, who doesn't love getting baked treats in the mail?  

Anyway, Steph recently stated that she was going to have to disband the program unless someone wanted to take over the admin. portion.  Wait, you mean no more baked goods delivered right to my doorstep?  The HORROR!  I knew that I really, really, really, wanted to keep this group going, so I jumped at the chance to organize the group!  

I know it probably seems petty or down right ridiculous that I'd be this excited about organizing this group, but I am.  {deal with it}! I'm excited to see this group grow {hopefully} and to continue "meeting" new people!  

Want in on all the delicious details?
this is where you nod your head and take action!

At the top of my blog where all the "headings" are, you may notice a new one named Bakin' Friends...click on it and you'll find all the details {& more} there!  I hope you decide to join...it really is a fun group with a lot of delicious baked goods!

With that, I hope everyone is having a fabulous start to their Thanksgiving!  Enjoy!

Monday, November 25, 2013

#Elf4Health: Day 1

Happy Monday blogg-y friends!  And maybe more importantly, "HAPPY 1st DAY OF #ELF4HEALTH"!  What is #Elf4Health?  Well, have a seat and let me tell you all about :)

What is #Elf4Health?
#Elf4Health is this great program that Lindsay over at The Lean Green Bean and Elle over at Nutritionella started.  Over 800 people have joined - which is totally mind-blowing to me!  The prgram is 4 weeks and each week there are daily challenges + amazing prizes!  Each person is paired up and they are each other's "ELF" for 2 weeks {you switch partners half way through}.  

What does it mean to be an #Elf?
Your "elf" is the person that will provide you with inspiration for the daily challenges, recipe ideas, new workouts and to help you be an all around HEALTHIER YOU.  Doesn't that sound like FUN!?!

Did you say "prizes"?
Sure did :)  Lindsay & Elle are on the lookout for Best Elf {2 winners} and Overall challenge winner...as if becoming a healthier you wasn't incentive enough!  Check out their websites to see a list of all the Sponsors!

Since today was day 1, I was beyond excited to send {& receive} an email from my Elf!  Can you believe that she also lives in MN?  After receiving her email, it became pretty apparent that we have a lot of similar lifestyles.  I am excited to continue to learn more from her as well as share my inspiration & other fun things with her!  

Today's Challenge?
Meatless Monday!  That's right, forego the meat and substitute it with veggies, fish, pasta...get creative!  I will share what my elf makes as well as what I cook up!  

...also I have some really exciting news coming at you in the next few days!  

With that, I hope everyone is having a fabulous start to the BIG Thanksgiving Holiday!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

our first official family vacation!

This past week, we took the first of many family vacations!  The days leading up to our trip were a teeny-tiny bit STRESSFUL {to put it midly}.  Not only was this our first family vacation, but it was Dafney's first plane ride.  We talked about plane's and how fun they are in the days leading up to our departure.  

We flew out of the smaller airport in our city.  As we were walking to our gate, we spotted a little play area for kiddos.  SCORE!  We let Dafney run around until the very last possible second.  We were thinking/hoping that she would be super tired and pass out on the plane...she had other plans.

When we got on the plane, we had the row with 2 seats {Dafney sat on our lap}, but the row behind us only had one lady and she was kind enough to switch rows with us, so we could have 3 seats.  Bless her!  To have that extra room was so nice!  Dafney was able to sprawl out a bit more & we all had a little extra leg room {lets face it, plane's are not the roomies of places}.  

The majority of the trip Dafney was really good.  She sat pretty good & played with her toys & books and even watched a little bit of her Minnie Mouse DVD.  However, just before we started our descent, she got really fussy.  She wanted to lay on the ground, but she couldn't.  Her diaper was REALLY full {it may or may not have been leaking a bit...} and she was overly tired.  Needless to say, she screamed for a good 25 minutes...and I do mean SCREAMED.  

We had numerous people looking back at us and we even received a few eye rolls & "shut that kid up" looks.  It was horrible.  I stressed and literally almost cried.  I felt bad for my child because she was obviously uncomfortable and at the time, I felt bad for the other passengers.  But, the more I thought about it, the less I felt bad for them.  I mean, what was I supposed to do?  It's completely impossible to reason with an almost 2 year old.  I quickly got over the glaring stares & eye rolls and just worried about my daughter. Once we landed, she was just fine.  And, I was thankful we made it safely.

We headed to get our luggage and met my Father-In-Law who so graciously picked us up!  Then we hopped in the car and headed to their house.  A certain someone fell asleep about 3 minutes after getting in the car...

On our way to the house, we stopped to pick up some pizza's for dinner {it was 8pm and we were HUNGRY}!  I was a little nervous to see how Dafney would adjust to the new surroundings, but she totally amazed me.  She called Kyle's parent's "Grandma" & "Grandpa" from the get-go {thanks to Skype} and made herself right at home at their house!  

The first night of sleep was a little rough.  We put her down around 10:30pm EST and she slept until 4:45am.  So, we got up and she watched TV & ran around like a crazy woman until 6:30am when she FINALLY fell back asleep in my arms :)  She ended up sleeping until a bit after 9.  The only reason she woke up is because she rolled off the couch...oops!

My Mother-In-Law took Thursday off, so we spent the morning lounging and then took advantage of the sunny-warm(er) weather and headed to the nearby park.  Let me just say, their park put our parks to shame.  They had 4 different jungle gym's.  3 of them were perfect for Dafney and the 4th was perfect for Kyle & I :)  I tested out the slide {which Kyle thinks was 3 stories high} to see if it was "Dafney safe", let's just say, it was NOT.  I flew down it...at HIGH speeds...okay, that might be a bit over-dramatic!

I think Dafney's favorite part of the park was their giant sandbox. Seriously, what kid doesn't love them some sand?

And we even got to take a picture of her in big ole' pile of leaves!

After the park, we made a quick trip to Target and then headed home for lunch & naps!  That evening, Kyle & his Dad picked up a chicken dinner at a local restaurant and we rounded out the evening with some Thursday Night Football!  And, to make it even better, Dafney slept almost 12 straight hours...it was a MUCH needed night of sleep for everyone!

Friday, Kyle's Dad had taken off of work.  Our original plan was to head to the Atlanta Aquarium, but it's quite the drive and major moola to get in {close to $115 for 3 adults & 1 child}.  So, we changed our game plan and headed to a place called Monkey Joe's. It's a place for kiddo's, complete with bounce houses, cars and other fun toys!  

After, we went to lunch & then to one of my favorite places ever...CRATE & BARREL!  My hubby joked that Crate & Barrel is my Monkey Joe's :)  Then we headed home for a nap, dinner & some lounging!

Saturday we took a mini-trip and headed to the Atlanta Outlet Mall. Naturally, Dafney is the only one that got anything fun there: 2 pair of shoes, a toy from the Disney store & a pair of fleece lined jeans! We spent most of the day there, so by the time we left, it was time for dinner, so we stopped at the store & grabbed some stuff to grill. A perfect last night dinner!

Saturday morning we had to leave by 10am to get to the airport on time.  My Mother-In-Law & I sat in the back with Dafney on the ride there and did everything in our power to keep Dafney awake...we totally succeeded!

We got on the plane early, thinking Dafney would fall asleep as we figured she was tired {the little sinker was up at 5:45am}.  She fussed for a short while and then fell asleep in between my Hubby & me and stayed asleep until we pulled up to our gate.  It was awesome!  

All in all it was a really great & much needed vacation!  I think we all enjoyed ourselves and most importantly, the in-law's were able to spend some special time with Dafney!

My tips for flying with a Toddler:

1.  Fly at a time when your child naps or tends to be more tired/quite.  Seriously, timing is EVERYTHING!

2.  Try to sit in your own row and if possible in the last row(s).  I only say this because it's louder in the back from the engine's and will drowned out some of the screaming, crying, laughing, talking your child may do while in the air!

3.  Bring plenty of snacks & drinks for your child.  The last thing you want is to run out of food/beverages while you're 4654664158 miles up in the air.

4.  Purposely wake your child up early & keep them awake until you get on the plane.  I know, never wake a sleeping baby/child, but trust me, you'll want your kid to be super tired by the time you get on the plane.

5.  Lastly {and quite possibly most importantly} - don't feel bad if your kid is the one that is screaming on the plane.  It happens.  The other passengers might not like it, but too bad.  Just worry about taking care of your child & making them as comfortable as possible!

Until next time...