Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Age: 5 Months
Weight: 15 lbs 2 oz
Height: 25.75 inches long
Firsts: Cereal!
Events: 1st Halloween
Travel: None
Foods: Rice & Oatmeal cereal. Also tried squash and sweet potatoes.
Favorite Toys: Taggie Blanket & Froggie
Favorite Thing to Do: Popping her binkie in and out of her mouth.
Sitting Up: Has much better balance, but still needs a little support.
Rolling Over: Yes, from back to tummy and now tummy to back.
Crawling: Nope, but kicks her legs like crazy.
Walking: Nope
Smiling: Yes and more laughing.
Talking: Cooing and making lots of her own noises!
If talking, what words: No
Sleeping Through the Night: Waking up to eat once around 5-ish!

I CAN'T BELIEVE SHE'S ALREADY 5 MONTHS!!! She's getting so big, but it is so amazing to watch her grow!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


This year I wanted to do something special for Mike at Christmas. Since we've been married we've both worked 40+ hour weeks and felt like we didn't have much time to do little things. Now that I'm home with our Little Miss, I have more time available. I've read some ideas for couples to do for Christmas and decided to do the 12 Days of Christmas for my babe. I came up with all 12 ideas based on what Mike would enjoy.
May this inspire you to do something special for your love too. 
1. Box of Andes Mints - One of Mike's FAVORITES during Christmas. He always finds a couple boxes in his stocking.
2. Baby Handprints - I wanted to incorporate something of Kensington in here for him. After all she is our biggest blessing!
3. Date Nights - Living with my parents requires dates nights for us.
4. New Songs - We love downloading new songs from iTunes and Mikes has been buying up quite a few recently to make some crazy good playlists for us.
5. Hours of Gaming - Mike loves his video games, but rarely get to play so I think he'll like this little add in.
6. Cold Beers - do I really need to elaborate?
7. Back Massages - Stressful jobs call for relaxation! This is perfect for our Friday Night Movie Nights and date nights to come.
8. Packets of cocoa - Mike's favorite are Swiss Hot Chocolate with Mocha, great to make at work.
9. Homemade Cookies - I will be making peanut butter cookies with kisses in the middle.
10. (Ten) Dollar Gift card - to Starbucks of course!
11. Love Quotes - Mike has kept a journal full of his favorite quotes since we were in high school. 
12. Kisses - Hershey Kisses and some real ones too!


I will be blowing up everyone's feed with posts this week, so please be prepared. We're starting this post with a Cuteness Alert!!! Kensi is making so many more noises now, but she's starting to mimic some of our noises too. My favorite so far is 'mmmmm'. She makes it so stinkin' cute! We had Little Bear on tv the other day and they made a pie, and what did Kensi do when they asked if it was good?..."mmmmm". Oh. My. Goodness. My. Heart. Melted!!!!

But speaking of "mmmmm", there are so many things to be "mmmmming" about especially during the Christmas season. We are huge bakers during this time and package up our goodies as gifts every year. I love having the FoodNetwork on during the day and devour all their awesome holiday recipes. We also bake some family recipes each year too. Some are old and some are new, but today we're sharing with you.

Hot cocoa is a definite must in our house. I think it would be divine to have a Hot Cocoa bar, so cute! You can fix it up with homemade hot cocoa mix (our recipe follows), marshmallows, cinnamon & candy-cane sticks, whipped cream, chocolate chips and red & green sprinkles. One our favorites is to mix coffee and hot cocoa together. (We love coffee and totally had a decked out coffee bar at our wedding and it was a huge hit!)

I like having pictures to go with all my recipes, but I haven't made all these goodies yet. However, once I do I will update this post with the pictures for you.

Cinnamon-Hazelnut Hot Cocoa

8 quart pkg. dry milk – (25.6-oz)
10-ounce Hazelnut Coffeemate  powdered non dairy coffee creamer  
(If the creamer is greater than 10-ounce use it all)
1 pound can instant chocolate drink mix  -Nestle (NESQUICK)
1 cup powdered sugar
1 Tblsp. + 1 tsp. Cinnamon (Pnezeys Vietnamese Cinnamon) 

Mix all ingredients into a bowl. To serve add 3-4 tablespoons of the mix to your water. You may need to add a little more depending on the size of your mug.

Peppermint Marshmallows
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar (powdered sugar)
1/3 cup cornstarch
2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1-1/3 cups granulated white sugar
2/3 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup crushed candy canes or mint candies
1/8 teaspoon salt

In a small bowl, sift together powdered sugar and cornstarch. Line a 13x9x2 inch baking pan with nonstick foil. Coat with nonstick cooking spray. Sift 2 Tablespoons of the sugar cornstarch mixture into pan, tilting to coat sides. Leave an excess in the pan. 
Place 2/3 cup water in a large bowl. Sprinkle with gelatin. Let soften 5 minutes.
In a medium heavy bottomed saucepan, heat sugar, corn syrup, candy cane pieces and salt over medium heat about 7 minutes until sugar and candy are dissolved, stirring occasionally. Strain into bowl with gelatin.
Beat on high speed with an electric mixture until light and fluffy, 10-15 minutes. Spread into prepared pan and smooth top. Dust with 2 Tablespoons of the sugar-cornstarch mixture. Let set at room temperature for 2 hours.
Lift marshmallow from pan using foil. With a wet knife, cut into 6 squares. Spread remaining sugar-corstarch mixture onto a baking sheet. Invert marshmallow block onto sheet; cut each square in 9 pieces. Toss marshmallows in sugar-corstarch mixture, and set on a pan to set an additional hour. Store, loosely covered, at room temperature.

*We don't recommend putting these peppermint mallows into your Cinnamon-Hazelnut hot cocoa...too many flavors going on. Try these in regular cocoa.

In July we baked Gingerbread cookies with a recipe we found online with a slight taste of orange. It was delicious!

Gingerbread Cookies
1 cup butter, softened
1-1/2 cups white sugar
1 egg
1-1/2 Tablespoons orange zest
2 Tablespoons dark corn syrup
3 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt

Cream the butter and the sugar together. Add the egg and mix well. Mix in the orange zest and dark corn syrup. Add the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, finer, ground cloves and salt; mix until well combined. Chill dough for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease the cookie sheets or I like to use parchment paper. Lightly flour a surface and roll out dough to 1/4 inch thick. Cut into shapes using cookie cutters.

**We use a gingerbread man cutter, if you flip the cookies upside down for decorating, you have reindeer with the feet as the antlers and the head as the nose!

Place cookies about 1 inch apart on cookie sheets.
Bake for 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until cookies are firm and lightly toasted on edges. I always check my cookies at the 7 minutes mark because every oven is different. If you want your cookies a little chewy & softer take them out around the 7-9 min. mark. If you prefer crispy cookies bake them a little longer.

We love sugar cookies too. My favorite recipe calls for Coconut extract. If this isn't in there, it is nowhere near as good, I promise you'll love it. Our favorite recipe came from a magazine article in 1986.

Sugar Cookies
3-1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 (8oz) package cream cheese, softened
2 cups sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon coconut flavoring (sometimes I add a little bit more)

In a medium bowl stir together flour and baking powder. Set aside.
In a large mixer bowl beat butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar, beat until fluffy. Add egg, vanilla, almond extract, and coconut flavoring. Beat well. Gradually add flour mixture to creamed mixture, beating well after each addition.
Divide dough into thirds (about 2 cups each). Wrap in plastic wrap and chill overnight.
To make cutout cookies, roll chilled dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/8 inch thick. Place on ungreased cookie sheet (I like using parchment paper still) and bake at 375 degree F for 6 to 8 minutes or until very light brown around edges.
Remove and cool on a wire rack. They're ready for decorating!

Sunday, November 25, 2012


Every other year we spend Thanksgiving with my sister & her family and friends in California. So far we haven't spent more than one year in the same place which makes it pretty fun. We all chip in and rent a house on the beach usually around the Los Angeles area and spend an entire week full of sand, sun & fun. 

This was Kensi's first plane ride and I hope she is always as easy as she was on this trip. The only hiccup we had was dealing with ridiculous women in the restroom who seemed to think the diaper changing area was strictly for makeup applying and hair curling...yes hair curling...who does this? I encountered this twice on the way to California. Once in the Las Vegas airport and then again at LAX. To top it off.....they looked at me as if I was the crazy one for needing to change Kensi's diaper on the changing table! Heaven forbid!
With that chaos behind us, Kensi did develop a little cold with a runny nose towards the end of the week, but luckily a little Children's Tylenol and some Little Nose's saline have helped tremendously.

 At the end of our block was this very imaginative playground shaped like a pirate ship. The kids loved it to say the least. 
Mike trying out C's rip-stick (?) for the first time. No worries---he didn't fall :)

Kensi tried out a swing and really enjoyed it. 

We drove up to Santa Barbara to do a little shopping. It was the first time we had been there and the downtown is beautiful. I found one of my favorite paper stores, Paper Source, and picked up a few items. I would visit this store every time we were in the Bethesda area in Maryland. Seriously one of MY FAVORITE STORES! It literally has everything paper which I love....another addiction. Seriously, anything paper, fabric, mini and everything in-between sucks me in.

We spent as much of our time as we could on the beach. The boys built their sandcastles as us girls soaked up some rays. 
Kensi's first time seeing the beach. It put her to sleep after about 15 mins.... real life sound machine!

This year while at our beach we spotted dolphins and seals. Kensi absolutely loved wiggling her little toes in the sand! I swear each holiday out-does the last....I thought baby toes and pumpkins were adorable, but toes in sand for Thanksgiving out-did that and I'm betting toes and Christmas twinkle lights will beat that too.
Love her little turkey butt!

We made a Thanksgiving feast as usual with Turkey, Crunchy Beans, Sausage Stuffing, Garlic Mashed Potatoes and of course Pie. We had 4 pies: Apple, Pumpkin, Coffee Oreo, and delish!
She tried mashed potatoes for the first time too, then of course crashed out afterwards.

Mike took our nephews out at midnight for a little Black Friday shopping. We do this every year together, but Kensi's little cold held me back. We did go Friday morning together, it wouldn't be the same if it wasn't Black Friday morning with a little coffee....our tradition. 
Our gorgeous view from the back of the house.

Since we were in California we couldn't spend the day picking out our Christmas tree and decorating. Instead we played with the kiddos and settled in to watch Elf and Arthur Christmas as a full group of 15. 
Kensington was loved so much by her cousins and our friends. It was rare if she didn't have someone to play with her.

Kensi's first time meeting her cousins.

Now that we're back home we spent today getting our tree, plus a mini one for Kensi's room, and pulling out our decorations. Stay tuned for a post all about our decorating!
We hope all of you in the States had a great Thanksgiving and to everyone else....Season's Greetings! 

Thursday, November 15, 2012


I've always been very excited to decorate our children's rooms for the holidays and since we now have our first, I get to finally decorate her room...I couldn't be more thrilled about this!
I like to consider myself a pretty crafty person, but I also like to take A LOT of time on my projects, hence the nursery, our bedroom, our last get the picture. But now that Kensi's nursery is waiting for one final item to arrive, I've been collecting little things here and there to Christmasize (new word maybe) her room.
I won't be putting up any of her decorations until after we get back from our Thanksgiving trip, but here's some of my ideas for her room.

I love all the many different color combinations for Christmas. Blue, Green & White; All White; Red & Green; Red & Gold; Pink, Purple & Green....the options are endless! I also love multi-colored lights because it's so nostalgic. Our tree has red and white lights, but only because the multi-colored lights did not have purple in them and I just couldn't buy them without purple 4 years ago! Luckily now they make them with purple, so I'm sure we'll be replacing our tree lights once we have our own place again.

Please share some of your Christmas decor ideas---we'd love to hear all about them!


I have two nephews who are head over heels in love with woodland creatures and have been since they were born. It all stemmed from their parents who have a unique love for opossums and they even use it as a nickname for each other. It's actually very cute. 
But oddly enough woodland creatures are becoming very popular with everyone today and showing up everywhere. Here are a few of our love items for baby. An item or two may even be wrapped up for Kensington under our tree this year. 

Don't limit yourself to owls and foxes, there are super cute hedgehogs (my favorite right now!), raccoons, moose, mice, bunnies & even turtles. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


I have been contemplating opening an Etsy shop all year and I FINALLY got enough guts to do it! Cute.Cravings is officially open I am over the moon excited about this and hope all of you get a chance to take a look and maybe even snag an item or two! 
Kensi will definitely be snatching up one of the super soft pink fox blankets for winter.
There will be many more items to come as soon as we get back from our trip for Thanksgiving. 
Happy shopping!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012



The wait is officially OVER! We are over the hump of Halloween and moving straight into Thanksgiving and then the Merry & Bright :)

We are beyond blessed and have so many different things to be thankful for, but at the top of our list? Is this beautiful little munchkin! She is just a few days shy of 5 months and it's hilarious to see her little personality shine through more and more each day.

We are so thankful to be given a baby this year. We honestly can't imagine what our lives would be like without her. Every morning when she wakes up she gives us this gorgeous little smile and sparkly blue eyes.

I have been hustling around our house and working on my products to finally open my Etsy shop! I can hardly goal is to have it up and ready by Thanksgiving....just a couple short weeks away!
My shop will feature baby, bedding & bows for now. I am sketching up more designs to bring to all of you so very very soon.

And to make it even more hectic around here, I'm starting to pack and get us redy for our week long Thanksgiving trip to Calilfornia. Whew! Could we cram anymore into two weeks????
I do really enjoy Thanksgiving, but I have always been a little envious of everyone else around the world that start their joyous Christmas celebrations a few weeks earlier than us here in the states. However, I did marry one spectacular guy who supports all my Christmas craziness and year long tributes to the season.

First Peppermint White Mocha of the season!

 I have always LOVED decorating the house and this year will be even more fun because I have an extra room....KENSI'S ROOM!!! She will have her own mini tree and twinkle lights. Plus Kensi's mini chalkboard is getting made over for Christmas! Here's something I doodled yesterday to get some idea as to what I wanted to do.
FYI...Kensi's chalkboard is a white frame and chalkboard paper....all from Michaels!

I am set and ready to start all my baking! I always ship baked goods to friends and family around the country :) And not to mention Hubby and I are working on posts for favorite stocking stuffers, holiday recipes, Christmas traditions, packing a great Christmas care package, our latest obsessions & yes yes Kensi's completed nursery. 

I came across a very fun photo challenge for the month of December and Christmas. I challenge all of you to this and hope you share some of your photos with us. I will be posting our photos on Instagram and you are welcome to follow us at rmbraden09.

Off to work, work, and oh yeah.....WORK!

Monday, November 5, 2012


I love chalkboards and all they have to offer, I mean come on why did I love pretending to play teacher all those years? Ok, seriously they are ADORABLE and there is SO much you can do with them! I'm not a chalkboard expert by any means....just another person that loves to doodle and make it cute while doing it.
Since chalkboards are BOOMING and most likely will conintue to grow why not use some of the amazing ideas for decor inspiration?

I just found these on Pinterest within the last few days...
Pinned Image
Paper Crave

Pinned Image

My oldest sister made adorable framed chalkboards for my baby shower in July (again Pinterest inspired). I kept one and use for Kensi's pictures each month.

She bought chalkboard paper from Michaels and simple white frames.

Cut your paper to fit the frame and you're done.

It's really that simple.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

HaPpY hAlLoWeEn!!!

Sushi Roll

Come little children, I'll take thee away
Into a land of enchantment
Come little children, the times come to play
Here in my garden of magic.

{Vala's Pumpkin Patch}

Twist the bones and bend the back.
Itch-it-a-cop-it-a, Mel-a-ka-mys-tic-a.
Trim him of his baby fat.
Itch-it-a-cop-it-a, Mel-a-ka-mys-tic-a.
Just. Like. This!

On All Hallows Eve, when the moon is round, 
a virgin will summon us from under the ground.
Ohh! Ohh! We shall be back!
And the lives of all the children shall be mine!

 {Photo Shoot}

Oh, come on. It's just a bunch of hocus pocus!

{Ghoulish hAlLoWeEn Menu}

Bloody Sangria Cocktail

GuacaMOLDY Dip

Shredded Zombies

Graveyard Dessert

Sisters, All Hallow's Eve has become a night of frolic, where children wear costumes and run amok!

We hope you all had a festive and spooky happy Halloween!
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