Feb 26, 2015

Soft Snickerdoodles {recipe}

My stomach is growling just thinking about (and looking at the pictures of) these snickerdoodles. If you know me, then you know chocolate isn't typically my first choice when it comes to something sweet. But something with cinnamon and sugar? Sign me right up! Which is why my stomach is growling and I'm on the verge of drooling for these cookies! Thank you, Andrea, for sharing this recipe with us!

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I'm Andrea from A Modern Hippie. I'm a military wife who blogs about real/whole foods, living as naturally as possible, and our struggle with infertility. I also have a little Etsy store, A Modern Hippie Boutique, where I sell homemade spices, laundry soap, wreaths, and more!


Soft snickerdoodles are something I have tried to create for years and finally succeeded! My grandpa loved making snickerdoodles but he also could never create one that stayed soft. It is something we used to talk about often by comparing notes, chatting about new recipes, discussing what did/did not work, and more.

I always think of my grandpa when I make snickerdoodles. We had many discussions about the cookie and made them together often!

I have this adorable picture of us from when I was little sitting on my counter in the kitchen. it makes me smile, and makes miss him every time I look at it! We are definitely talking about important things while he was whipping up something.


I was so excited when I finally figured out a recipe that stayed soft days after baking them. I have to admit, these cookies do not stay around for long in my house. They are usually gone within a couple of days!


Ingredients:
1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 3/4 cups flour
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3 TBSP sugar
3 tsp cinnamon

Directions:
1. Preheat ove to 350° F
2. Mix butter, 1 1/2 cups sugar, and eggs until combined in stand mixer or by hand
3. Combine flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl
4. Blend dry ingredients into butter mixture
5. Chill dough and ungreased cookie sheets for about 10-15 minutes in the fridge
6. Meanwhile, mix 3 TBSP sugar and 3 tsp cinnamon in a small bowl
7. Using a cookie scoop, make about 1 inch balls of dough and roll in cinnamon + sugar mixture
8. Place on chilled ungreased cookie sheet
9. Bake 10-12 minutes
10. Remove cookies from pan and place on cooling rack
These will stay soft for days, but good luck keeping them around that long! I love eating snickerdoodles with my morning coffee.
I encourage you to go make these cookies for someone special in your life. It will put a smile on their face!
What is your favorite cookie to bake? 
 Do you have any special memories of cooking or baking with your grandparents?


Feb 24, 2015

How To Exercise With Your Baby

Do you have real life friends who are also bloggers? I'm lucky to know a few, and this post is from one of them! Meghan and I went to high school together and ended up at the same college, too. We parted ways there, but remained friends. Then, the power of social media brought us back together. Her posts are inspirational and are actual things new moms can do! I can't wait to use some of her tips to help kick this baby weight to the curb! Take it away, Meghan! 

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Hello! I'm Meghan and I blog over at HabitMom. I am a mom of two kids, a 2.5-year-old daughter and my most recent addition, my son, who was born this past November. I have always led an active lifestyle but I really fell in love with fitness during my first pregnancy a few years ago.

Becoming pregnant inspired me to really examine my diet and exercise and make them a priority while growing this little girl inside me. While pregnant with my daughter I worked out probably five times a week and still gained 42lbs during my pregnancy. My midwifes were puzzled because I ate well and clearly exercised all the time. I was tested for EVERYTHING due to my rapid weight gain and as it turns out we just breed big babies. She was born via emergency C-Section weighing in at 10lbs 10oz and 22.5 inches. I lost the baby weight fairly quickly and credit my recovery to my active pregnancy. I began strength training to get stronger because a 10lb baby only gets heavier each month so I needed the extra muscle to keep up!

Before we got pregnant with my son, I was in the best shape I have ever been in and loved my results from weight lifting. Upon getting pregnant last year with my son, I took the same active approach. I gained the same amount of weight and due to his size (9.02lbs & 22 inches) he was born via C-Section as well. I had a fantastic recovery and I firmly believe that staying healthy and working out throughout those ten months of pregnancy helped me recover that much quicker and easier.

With a toddler at home, I really needed a quick recovery so my hard work paid off! I've taken the time to heal and rest and now that I am clear to exercise again I am blogging all about my journey as I get back in shape post baby! I like to share my workouts, healthy recipes, and stories about our family because life can be outright funny lately!

May 2012 & December 2013
Getting back in shape after having a baby is a desire most of us have, but where to start and when to find the time? As a mom, we are already exhausted from a new baby and throw in some siblings and a husband (that can count as an extra child most days) and we are left with little to no time for ourselves.

Many people have told me, "Oh you were thin before so you are just lucky you lost the baby weight so quick." Well, actually no luck here—just hard work.

For me, the journey to getting my post baby body back started before I got pregnant. I put in the time before I got pregnant by staying active and while pregnant I kept that momentum going to help my body shed the pounds once the baby got here. So, I've been working hard for over a year to get where I am today.

So whether you start laying the groundwork prepregnancy, start moving while pregnant, or workout post pregnancy, we all start somewhere and we all have to work hard to get to be where we want.

That said, I've had two C-Sections and I prefer to take it extremely slow the first few months to let my body heal properly before jumping into any extreme workouts. I really think the first 6-8 weeks are meant for us women to focus on the baby and resting when we can. Those first two months are such a fog with adjusting to the lack of sleep, finding time to eat, and transitioning into this new life with a new baby. Our bodies took 10 months to stretch out and make a baby so its very unreal to think we will slim down and shape up in just a few months.

In my case, I lose the weight fairly quickly but I'm left with flab and mama pooch belly that all needs tightening. So I still have work to do! I spent the first two months NOT worried about working out and just focused on my diet and catching a nap when both kids happen to nap at the same time. By diet I mean making sure I ate lots of healthy food (thank you freezer meals and mom's home cooking) and eating plenty of food daily to keep up with my milk supply and give me natural energy since caffeine was not a part of my daily intake. We did lots of family walks but kept it easy and fun.

Family Walks: How I spent the first 6 weeks

Now that my baby is 2 months old I have started to map out my workouts for the next few months. I started back slow and easy with exercises that focus on strengthening my core from the inside out. It's so important to strengthen your transverse abdominis first before any other core workout. You can read more about what the heck those muscles are and how to work them here.

Until this baby is on a more predictable schedule like his older sister it's hard to dedicate the same time each day to do a workout. I have decided to incorporate him into my workouts these first few weeks. That way I can remain flexible and get a workout in anytime and feel accomplished for doing something!

These are effective no matter what type of birth you had and great to start with no matter what fitness level, just as long as your doctor says you are good to go! I'm just getting started with the postpartum Mommy & Me exercises so follow along for the fun on the blog or on Instagram @habit_mom if you want!

Here are two exercises I really enjoy doing with my baby lately:

1. PLANKS:  

These can be done over the baby on your toes or modified on your knees. They can be done on your hands to begin with and if that is to easy, move to doing it on your forearms. You won't even feel the burn while you are busy looking down at that sweet baby. Planking on your forearms is also a GREAT transverse abdominis engaging exercise!



2. SQUATS: 

I find myself doing these while putting my little guy to sleep. He is a mover and a shaker so he prefers mama to hold him and move non stop in order for him to fall asleep. I figure why not get some lower body exercise while getting him to snooze. So these can totally be done in your PJ's, jeans, or really anytime!


Do you have any mommy and me exercises you like to do along with your little one? Share them in the comments below! 

Feb 20, 2015

Five Years Ago

Five years ago, I slipped on a white dress





I donned "bride" panties...


And was all cinched up.





I wore a garter;

I had pretty pink shoes (that I never saw again after that night);


I wore a necklace made of pearls the shade of blush;




And I wore my late grandma's broach as my "something blue." 
 
And you? You looked dashing in your Air Force Mess Dress. So, so dashing. 


That day, five years ago today, I walked down the aisle listening to Pachebel's Canon in D with my Papa on my arm.


I saw you at the front of the chapel with tears in your eyes, and I couldn't wait to be your wife.



We stood there, and in front of our family and friends


we exchanged rings, and vowed to love each other. Forever.


We said, "I do," you kissed me, and just like that, we became husband and wife.





And here we are, five years later. We've grown from a couple to a family of four; we've seen the world and have put thousands of miles under our belts, we survived living in another country (and have the wine to help us survive several more years here); and we've seen each other through amazing times and rough times.

As I sit here and type this, there's a baby on my arm/lap/boob, I'm still wearing my maternity yoga pants, I have major baggage under my eyes from a lack of sleep, and my hair is a tangled hot mess. You currently have a Sophia the First sticker stuck to the back of you shirt, you've sported a hot pink hair bow in you hair in the last 24 hours, and you make it your mission to make our first born laugh uncontrollably. Your compassion, helpfulness, and eagerness to be a good husband and father does not go unnoticed.

Dinner tonight won't be just the two of us out celebrating somewhere at a fancy restaurant; instead we're blessed that someone from your work is bringing over a meal for us so we can focus on our family in these early days with a newborn. My high heels will continue collecting dust in the closet, and I don't foresee a time in the near future when I'll have a need to wear makeup (or get out of these yoga pants). And you know what? I'm totally okay with that.

This is our life, and I love it.


I think it's sometimes silly when people say that their wedding day was the best day of their life, because there are so many moments after that day that can rival with such a fancy shin dig. But you know what? In retrospect, that was one of the best days of my life, because it's the day we started our family. 

*All photos courtesy of Kim Jackson Photography




Feb 18, 2015

3 Parenting Tricks for Tantrum-Making Toddlers

Today's post is brought to you from Vanessa! She lives on little sleep and a lot of coffee—and maybe some beer, too—as she juggles her life with her pilot husband, three young kids, giant dog, full-time job and full-time blog. You can find her writing about everything from faith to beer to family -- and maybe bacon, too -- at Bible, Beer and Babies
I love this post, so no more chatting....take it away, Vanessa! 

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When I became a mom over 5 years ago, I knew what kind of parent I wanted to be. I would do elaborate crafts and spend hours outside. I would limit television time - if allowing it at all. I would use positive, reward-based discipline, and I would never ever scream or raise my voice.

Are you laughing as hard as I am right now?

The past five years and our three young children have taught me a great deal about this crazy job of parenting. I'm no expert, but if I know anything for certain, it's that kids change. Things will go smoothly, everything is awesome, and then BAM! Something shifts. Usually without warning. What once worked, now fails. And this is why the biggest advice I have for fellow parents—aside from "go with the flow"—is you must must must... MUST... have a fully stocked arsenal of parental tricks.

From tantrums, to boundary-pushing, to finicky eating, and to bedtime stalling, having a multitude of ideas for responding to our toddlers can be the difference between slight frustration and losing our ever-living mind. 

Today though, I'm talking tantrums specifically, because these are like nails on a chalkboard for me. My husband may be jealous of my uncanny ability to tune out the screaming and fussing, but sadly it doesn't always work. My instinct—I hate to admit—is to scream back at them. Yeah, I'm sure we ALL know how well that helps. It doesn't.

So what do you do? When every bone in your body just wants to throw your own mommy-sized tantrum, how do you respond to cut the screams, quell the fusses, and stop the tantrums mid-stream?

Toddlers

1. It's Hard to Cry When You're Laughing

My kids have a tendency to get lost in their tantrums, making any words from us parents useless. No matter how sweet we coo or how stern we reprimand, we cannot break through some of their meltdowns. But where a talk from mom fails, a burst of laughter succeeds. Kids—my kids especially—struggle to keep crying or screaming when they're too busy laughing. Whatever it takes to get them to laugh, I try.

I tickle. I blow raspberries. I make silly faces. I do all of the above at the same time.... as best I can.

Usually they're so overtaken in a fit of giggles, they've forgotten why they were upset in the first place—leaving us both laughing, smiling and ready to move on with life.

Now, this isn't always possible. I mean, I could do this in the middle of church, but the giggling would be just as distracting (perhaps more so) than the fussing.

2. Time In, Not Out

When a raucous laugh-fest isn't exactly appropriate—say, during your pastor's sermon, your best friend's wedding, or your grandmother's funeral—this quieter option may fare better. Yes, it involves actually getting up and leaving the scene of the fit, which is sometimes difficult and possibly embarrassing. Though after so many kids, I've found you get over that and simply own the mommy badge of honor as you walk out, flinging the kicking/screaming/thrashing/flailing kiddo under your arm or over your shoulder, careful not to take out any innocent bystander in the process.

This removal from the situation isn't to give them a time out, though. It's not a punishment for their misbehavior, but a chance to get both of you to an environment where there are no witnesses you can think clearly, listen to each other, talk, and agree on a resolution.

Yes, the older the kid, the easier this is, but don't for a second let the incoherent babbling of your young toddler fool you into thinking they can't understand your clear words. They can and do. More than you think!

So, sit in a place where there are few distractions, forcing them to focus on you. Get on their level, eye-to-eye. And then... Talk plainly, clearly, and matter-of-factly. Our most oft-used phrases are "this is unacceptable" and "do you understand?". The former makes it clear their behavior (whether that's an action that led to the tantrum or the tantrum itself) won't be tolerated and the latter forces them to acknowledge what we've said—and even a two year old can nod.

But tantrums don't always happen in convenient locations.....Wait, what? There's something more inconvenient than a screaming kid at a wake? Yeah there is. Try.... the car.

3. Play 20 Questions

The car has to be one of the most awful places for kids to get fussy. Whether it's because they're hungry, thirsty, their sister looked at them wrong, they've dropped their toy/lost their sock/spilled water on their lap, sheesh, you get the idea... whatever the issue, they're screaming and you're driving. And no, you can't always pull over every time a kid cries.

Turning up the radio sounds like a great option, until you discover it just makes them scream louder. Simply ignoring them is a tactic I use often, because, well, there's not much else you can do with a baby, and sometimes I'm just too tired at the end of a long work day to do much else.

But... the car tantrum is the perfect opportunity for a game of 20 questions. Okay, so not exactly like the popular road-trip game, but whatever, the name was catchy so I'm using it here. All you do? Ask questions. These can range from boring questions like "What did you eat for lunch today?" to bribery questions like "Do you want to watch a movie when we get home?" to silly questions like "Do you have an elephant on your head?"

It sounds crazy and ridiculous, but who cares? It works. You're trying to get a kid to stop yelling at you and start talking to you or laughing with you... or just accept the bit of bribery you've dangled in front of them.

Will these work for your kids? I offer no guarantees. Heck, I don't even expect these to work all the time with my own kids. Because kids change and our strategies for responding to them may have to change as well. But hopefully you now have a few more tricks up your sleeve and tools on your supermom utility belt.

Hmmm. I wonder if kids would throw tantrums in the Batmobile... that may be a question to ask my five year old.