Dafney Harper

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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...

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

life is good!

Even though the ever-so-dreaded *snow* is supposed to start falling any second now, today has been a good day!

My day started with breakfast {as it normally does}, but today I was able to have breakfast in our neighborhood coffee shop WITH my hubby!  I enjoyed a Latte and the tastiest cherry pastry in town!

Afterwards, we went to the house for our electrical walk through. Hard to believe we're already to that point...we went through each room to ensure we had the electrical outlets, switches, lights & TV/internet cables where we wanted.  It has been so much fun seeing the progress the "guys" are making each week.  So far this week, they have shingled the roof AND put in our windows...

It's really starting to come together and look like a real house!  In fact, we even have a bathtub inside the house :)

It was a lot of fun to see all the people actually working on the house...it's good to know that they are "real" people and not little house elves that work on the house each day :)

And, we even have a sidewalk & stairs in the front of the house...progress, people, progress!

And to top off the day, I got back pictures from when we finally had some family pictures taken!  My friend was kind enough to take pictures for us and she did an amazing job!  We received 120+ pictures...{don't worry, I'm not planning to post ALL 120+ pictures on this blog} & here are a couple of my favorite!

Happy Tuesday ♥

Friday, November 1, 2013

Halloween + Bakin' Friends {a picture-less post...say WHAT?}

Happy {day after} Halloween!  It's hard to believe that Halloween has already come & gone.  Time seems to flying by faster & faster every day.  This year, Halloween seemed extra special to me.  No, it wasn't Dafney's first Halloween, but it was the first Halloween where she actually went out trick-or-treating!  It was so fun to see her sweet {duck} face light up when those sweet treats were handed to her.  

We were lucky enough to celebrate Halloween a couple times this month!  Last weekend, we took Dafney to the local Middle School for some trick-or-treating FUN!  They had games, treats, bouncy houses & even a Haunted House.  The games were a bit tough for a {nearly} 2 year old, but she definitely scored some treats!  And, she even humored us & went through the Haunted House with us.  I was worried I would traumatize her forever, but it was just scary enough for a child & it only took us about a minute to walk through.  Hooray!

Then we celebrated with some of our friends & their adorable kiddos!  All the kids enjoyed themselves as did the adults :)  

Last night, instead of heading out into the dark, cold night, we decided to take Dafney to one of the local Malls to do her trick-or-treating!  She had so much fun and looked so cute ;)  Her favorite part of the day might have been when we gave her a fun-size bag of M&M's to enjoy.  Halloween + sweets = one energetic kid!

Speaking of treats...I participated in STEPH'S Bakin' Friends again this month!  I really enjoy meeting other bloggers {& non-bloggers} as well as being able to spend some quality time in the kitchen! This month our secret ingredient was CANDY CORN.  A perfect ingredient for some Halloween baking!  I received treats from Catherine this month!  She sent some delicious white chocolate-candy corn cookies {amazing} and some candy-corn covered popcorn.  Seriously popcorn is one of my favorite snacks and then to have it smothered in candy corn...whoa, beyond amazing!  The treats were totally amazing, so THANK-YOU Catherine!

If you're interested, stop over at Steph's blog {believe me, you'll be happy you did} for all the baking details!

Happy Friday!