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Thanks to Other Moms for Advice and Wisdom

I couldn’t let Thanksgiving go by without musing a little about what I am thankful this year.

We are wrapping up our second year in business, though it seems like much longer than that! Lots of lessons learned and customers served, both direct and through stores across this country and in a few others. Great  reviews by multi-tasking Mommies who are thankful for a little Bottle Snugglers help in their sometimes frantic days and nights. Opportunities lining up for next year to perhaps distribute internationally and join some larger retail outlets.

These are all certainly things to celebrate and be grateful for. But on the top of my Thanksgiving list are my family (which we hope to grow in the coming year) and the opportunity to provide assistance, stress relief and advice to so many Moms each month. I am proud to be among this group of self-sufficient and determined women who really do make the world go round and who offer me as much or more as I do them. Thank you for fulfilling this part of my life!

I hope that we will continue to draw upon each other for guidance and wisdom and do away with judgment of one another’s life choices. This type of Mom-to-Mom support is a positive trend and one that we all deserve to benefit from.  I hope you are able to skip the holiday stress, and have a warm, loving Thanksgiving, however you celebrate it!

Happy Thanksgiving 2010 from Bottle Snugglers!

Guest Post: Thanksgiving Recipes from Inspired2cook.com

The following is a guest post from a great little blog called Inspired2cook. Andrea has so many recipes and great ideas to pull from that I asked her to submit a couple in time for this Thursday’s feast. Happy Thanksgiving!

Hello! My name is Andrea and I’m a stay-at-home mom and author of Inspired2cook, a blog filled with recipes and cooking tips. When I’m entertaining, I try to do as much as possible ahead of time, especially during the holidays. Hopefully these recipes will inspire you to get in the kitchen and try something new. To see photos of them and find more great recipes, visit me at http://www.inspired2cook.com/

 Roasted Carrots and Parsnips with Fresh Herbs
-recipe from The New Thanksgiving Table by Diane Morgan

These orange and ivory root vegetables, flecked with fresh herbs, complement turkey and are a colorful addition to the holiday table. Look for medium-sized, well-shaped parsnips that are firm. Avoid ones that are limp or spotted. Store them wrapped in paper towels inside a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Serves 8 to 10.

7 medium parsnips (about 2 1/2 pounds), peeled, trimmed, and cut into 3-inch-by-1/2-inch sticks
1 1/2 pounds tender carrots, peeled, trimmed, and cut into 3-inch-by-1/2-inch sticks
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

In a large roasting pan or 9-by-13-inch baking dish, toss the parsnips and carrots with the olive oil, dill, parsley, pepper, and salt. Roast, stirring once or twice, for about 45 minutes until the vegetables are tender when pierced with a knife and lightly caramelized in spots. Serve immediately, or cover and keep warm for up to 1 hour before serving.

Do Ahead: The roasted vegetables can be made up to 1 day in advance. Refrigerate, covered, and bring to room temperature 2 hours before reheating.

 Old-Fashioned Soft Pumpkin Cookies
-recipe from verybestbaking.com

These moist, cake-like cookies are delicious, easy to make and a perfect treat for holiday gatherings. For a little more flavor, I used 1 cup of white sugar and 1/2 cup brown sugar (instead of all white sugar). I baked the first batch plain then added dried cranberries and chopped pecans to the rest of the batter. Both versions are delicious!

Makes 36 cookies.

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
1 cup LIBBY’S® 100% Pure Pumpkin
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Glaze (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease baking sheets.

Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in medium bowl. Beat sugar and butter in large mixer bowl until well blended. Beat in pumpkin, egg and vanilla extract until smooth. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto prepared baking sheets.

Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until edges are firm. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. Drizzle Glaze over cookies.

For Glaze: Combine 2 cups sifted powdered sugar, 3 tablespoons milk, 1 tablespoon melted butter and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract in small bowl until smooth.

Variations: Add 1/2 cup chopped nuts to the recipe.

Guest Post: Preserve Your Memories by Organizing

This is a guest post by organization expert Angela Harris. Her company, Angela Harris Design, Inc. helps clients to create order in public and private spaces and to preserve their stories through beautiful photo albumn products.

Q:  What’s the key to preserving your memories?

HINT:  The same thing that makes everything (from your closets + meal planning, to your home + calendar) work beautifully

A:  ORDER!

One of the most common ways to capture our story is through photographs.  And one of the most common complaints I hear from clients is, “What do I do with these (visual AND virtual!) piles of photos?”

I’m passionate about preserving your story AND being the author of it. But as a mom of two young children, I know how difficult this can be. While running my album design company, and (oftentimes, more challenging) household, order became my lifesaver. So much so that helping others organize is now a big part of what my I do! Before my Photo Organizing 101, here’s what I’ve learned about order:

 1. My mantra:  surround yourself with what you love.  Our lives are often filled with excess.  Order is about having a vision (knowing, keeping, adding what you DO love) and streamlining (taking out what you DON’T).

 2. Each of us defines order differently – and each needs a personalized approach.

 3. Being more organized is a process. It doesn’t happen overnight, but if you work on it little by little, you will begin to feel that “shift” from chaos to control. 

 4.  Building systems – and keeping them as simple as possible – is vital to maintaining order.

 5. Evaluate and tweak when necessary.

 6. If you are overwhelmed, want quicker results, or simply need another viewpoint, enlist the help of a trusted friend or professional organizer. 

 7. LET GO of perfection.

 8.  Infusing order into life brings tremendous benefits:  less stress, more control … positively impacting our attitude, health, loved ones … and translating into one thing we DO need in excess:  PEACE.

 Using the same basic steps I use when organizing a client’s home or workspace, here’s how to turn your good intentions of photo organization into a reality. 

#1. DEFINE VISION
First, gather all photos. Now visualize:  What’s your ideal outcome for this project? 

WHAT story you wish to tell
HOW you’ll organize
WHO you’ll involve 
WHEN you can commit
WHERE you’ll do it

#2.  PURGE + SORT
Decide what to toss while sorting the rest.

#3. FIND HOME
Now, decide what you’ll use to tell your story:  album (digitally downloaded, traditional photo, scrapbook), frames, containers – or some of each.

#4. CREATE SYSTEM
Systems are vital to maintaining order. Simplify what you can!

Purge
Organize (categories/subcategories)  
Label (individual photos or groups)
Share (on-line or gift)
Protect (back it up!)

 And if it’s NOT easy (or completely UNenjoyable)…

#5.  EVALUATE + TWEAK
Change what’s not working.

 … which happens to be what I’m in the process of doing! I’ll post my progress updates (including tips/product suggestions).  And would LOVE for you to share YOUR ideas with me! Join me at: http://angelaharrisdesign.wordpress.com/.

Have fun telling your story… and make it a good one while you’re at it!

Cupcakes Help Welcome Fall Weather

I don’t know about your kids, but my 4-year-old is a fanatic for cupcakes. Not cookies. Not cake. It has to be cupcakes, and the icing is the most important part. He has been known to eat the top of the cupcake and hand the icing-free bottom half back to me.

He definitely gets his sweet tooth from me. Luckily for him, I love to bake and experiment with different icing tips, colors, decorations and cake recipes. One of my latest victories was when I was out of Ener-G egg replacer (Max is allergic to eggs), and I used a combination of canned pumpkin and applesauce (1/4 cup for each egg). The cake was so moist, and I loved knowing that the extra nutrients from the fruits were in there. Stealth nutrition is just fine with me.

I was surfing the Web to find some new ideas for cupcake decorating, and I had to share this link. http://thecupcakerecipes.com/ They have SO many ideas that I will be busy for a while! Fall is my favorite season, so I am looking forward to baking some Pumpkin Patch cupcakes. Who cares that Halloween was last week?

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