1. Dominic turned 14 months old on Monday! He seems to have grown in leaps and bounds over the last few days… trying to say many more words and he’s actually started going up to Joseph, holding his arms out, and hugging him, which honestly is about the most heart melting things I’ve ever seen and I still haven’t been quick enough to get a picture of it. Dominic has also started taking Joseph by the arm and leading him around the house, which Joseph finds hysterical. Those two are just the best.
2. This was, however, a long week at our house, and that might actually be the understatement of the century. Joseph came down with croup on Saturday evening and while he had it once earlier this year, I feel like this bout was a million times worse. We had four straight nights of very little and interrupted sleep (for all of us), and Dominic decided that this was a good week to start waking up at 5:45am routinely 😭 Luckily, a quick round of meds from the pediatrician and a solid night of sleep had Joseph almost as good as new by yesterday, but boy, we were all kind of zombies this week!
3. We’d like to get a set of low bookshelves for Dominic’s room to go underneath his windows and I’d love any recommendations if you have them! Because of the way his room is configured with spacing between the windows, closet, etc. there is literally nowhere for a traditional bookshelf to fit right now with a rocker in there (we spent an entire afternoon rearranging furniture to make it work, and it was a big fail). We have a couple floating shelves for the wall, but would like something low so he can access books, stuffed animals, etc. as well.
4. I’m doing it… I’m taking the Insta Pot plunge! Now, important question… I originally had the 9-in-1 model in my cart, but then I saw they came out a new 10-in-1 that includes a quick release. Since I’ve never used a pressure cooker, I don’t know how big of a deal that is, but right now those are sold out… so my question is should I wait to get that one, or roll with the 9-in-1??
5. OMG “The Struggle of Being an Older Sibling” video with two Golden Retrievers is hysterical, adorable, and 100000% reminded me of Duke and Einstein when Duke was a little pup. Love.
6. My husband found this advent calendar on Etsy (it’s from this store, but they look to be sold out right now) and I am in total love with it. It is backlit and it’s just gorgeous. We never had a true advent calendar growing up, but I do remember some cut out of a Santa face and everyday you glued a cotton ball to the beard until it was totally full. I feel like it came from Pizza Hut? Haha. NOW! I need ideas on what to put in those little boxes!
7. Ina Garten’s 10 Best Recipes for Winter >> Totally making that devil’s food cake!
8. I feel like this pregnancy has totally messed with my taste buds… I made peppermint bark last week, which I make and love every single year, and the dark chocolate just tasted awful (same chocolate as I always buy, nothing different). It didn’t make me nauseous or anything, but I just did NOT like it. However, give me a piece of good milk chocolate right now and I’m in heaven. Crazy.
9. On a semi-related note… one of the kind of crazy things my grandma used to always eat was half of a pita, split open and toasted, then slathered in peanut butter and jelly. It didn’t take long for her to turn me on to it when I was younger, being a total pb&j fiend, but I haven’t eaten that in years and years. Earlier this week I passed the display of pita bread at the grocery store and picked up a package. I’ve had it every day this week (with Sunbutter in place of the peanut butter), and it has been total and complete comfort food for me. The pita is super thin and crisp after toasting, and it’s just SO GOOD.
10. TGIF! I hope you have a cozy weekend!
Hey Michelle, I’ve seen this pin on Pinterest (https://www.pinterest.com/pin/533465518341316980/) that shows using an Ikea spice rack as a “shelf” to hold books in kids’ rooms. It seems easy and affordable, and it wouldn’t need to be super permanent. Hope that helps!! :)
I have a 7 in 1 Duo and I just bought the Ultra 10 in 1 as soon as I saw it and I love love love it. AND, it’s so pretty. ; )
Pottery Barn used to carry very nice low bookcases. Each of my daughters had one in their bedrooms, under their windows.
They still have them, both a one shelf and a two shelf bookcase:
Love toasted pita! When I was in college, I used to make grilled cheese with it (so good). With each of my pregnancies, my tastebuds when crazy, some things were so off-putting to me, my sense of smell was so sensitive, and I craved starchy foods with each child.
In regards to your looking for a low book shelf, we used this Ikea shelf turned horizontally for my mom’s tv room. https://m.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/art/80275887/
Hope this helps!
For bookcases, take a look at Wayfair.com. They have hundreds of bookcases. Narrow your search down to two shelves to find ones that fit under windows.
We love the IKEA Kallax book shelves. They are very sturdy and can be attached to your walls. Huge variety of sizes.
Check them out… target makes similar ones but they are not as sturdy!
Love your blog and watching your family grow!!!
Hi Michelle, LOVED the ‘older brother’ video!
Dominic– ADORABLEUJAH!! :-)
Instant Pot: Honestly I don’t think you should get caught up in the number of function buttons it has. It is a pressure cooker and high pressure is “high” and low pressure is “low”. I have had my IP for several years, use it all the time for many different things and wind up using the manual setting most of the time, BUT I live at a high altitude and have to adjust cooking times anyway. The buttons are maybe a convenience (or for marketing) and maybe to give you a starting reference for cooking time. There is a learning curve and it does take practice. That being said, I would put more weight considering a larger 8 qt size for your family. You will be able to cook a larger amount of food. I believe they all come with a quick release for it is also a safety feature and for cooking foods not under pressure. Just my 2 cents… Wishing you and your family a wonderful holiday and give Duke a kiss from me!
I totally agree with Jan. I didn’t know there was even a 9-in-1! Then I saw that it included egg maker and I have 2 7-in-1s and make eggs in mind even though it doesn’t have this button.
I’m on the fence about an instant pot so can’t wait to hear your thoughts on it and read the recipes you share since you are one of my go to bloggers when looking for recipes and cooking/baking inspiration!
About the Advent Calendar…….. When my kids were young I kept a small tree with lights on it in the kitchen. Every day they would take turns taking a small wooden ornament from the little box and placing it on the tree. They would get so excited to see what ornament would be put on that day. Every year I would add a few ornaments that were different from the previous years. This continued until my children were teenagers.
So love your blog. It’s my fave, and the only one that I read regularly. So funny about your Grandma eating pita bread with peanut butter and jelly. That is a new, yummy go to snack that I discovered in this last year–almost too yummy. I was heating up fresh pita bread one night and I decided to slather some peanut butter on there—omg—soooooooooo yummy. The peanut butter gets all gooey, and warm with the contrast of that pita with a nice chew texture–oh so good. I discovered that adding a drizzle of honey made it even more decadent. I have not tried it with jelly before–but think that is going to be on my short list of things to do lol. Can’t wait to try it. Gotta love our Grandmas–I sure do. My Grandma was a love in my life…miss her so much.
I have made Ina Garten’s, ‘Weeknight Bolognese’ for years and it is no joke! Seriously the best pasta I have ever made!
It is so flavorful….I did change it up a bit by adding 1/2 pork sausage, 1/2 beef. I also reduce the amount of salt.
Use a good quality wine. You will not be disappointed. (:
I bought a 9-1 Instapot and so far I love it!
Pregnancy does weird things to your taste buds for sure. I remember the smell of lasagne was stomach churning.
Have a wonderful weekend.
Re the Ina Garten Recipes. I am a huge fan and have all her books, and also have tried some of the recipes listed. The roasted lemon chicken is one of the best things I have ever ever eaten. Sensational flavors , and pretty easy to make. I also made the swordfish and shrimp curry and it was just OK to me. Not fabulous, , and expensive to make. Another dynamite recipe of hers (not listed in the article) is the roasted vegetable paella. It’s in her latest book “Cooking for Jeffrey.”
Dominic is adorable! Some books my son absently loved were Looking For a Moose, voices must be included for the sound effects LOL, Dinosaurumpus, Giraffes Can’t Dance, The Giant Jam Sandwich, There are Rock in My Socks Said the Ox to the Fox, My first 100 animals – we went through 2 copies, Three Little Fish and the Big Bad Shark, Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See and that whole line of books, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Ten little caterpillars, Ten Little Race Cars Counting Book it makes sounds at the end, 10 Little Ladybugs counting book, Dinosaur Stomp and he would stomp his little feet it was hilarious! Goodnight Moon, I love you Stinky Face, Dragons Love Tacos – maybe more for Joseph, The Rainbow Fish – we went through 2 of these, Little Green Frog. That’s all I can think of that he loved right now. I still have Looking For a Moose memorized. LOL! Since he was 2, he wanted to be an entomologist so we had lots of bug books and animal books, he still wants to be that at 12.
I have wondered about the Insta Pot. Your Advent Calendar is really cute. I have a 254 count mini muffin tin that I drilled holes in the top and put cute ribbon on, and a friend helped me make cute scrapbook type covers for each cup with the number and I put a little toy or chocolate in each cup. My son loves it especially the chocolate.
Haha! 24 count tin. Also, all those books can be found on Amazon. Also, more for Joseph, Zack’s Alligator would be really fun. The alligator is a keychain and when he gets it wet, it grows into an actual alligator. It’s a great book!
Definitely get one with quick release. As Erika mentioned, sometimes you need to add ingredients during cooking and quick release is convenient for that.
Please do not put bookshelves or anything else that yor child can climb on beneath your windows, especially if they open. There are horrible accidents every year involving children climbing onto things and pushing on windows,, intentionally or otherwise, and they end up falling through the window often with tragic consequences.
Ha! Your Pita bread comment reminded me of my Dad who used to occasionally make his own flat breads and then slather them with peanut butter and our “home-grown” honey–broiled with crispy edges! (He was a Beekeeper as a hobby). It was our after school snack quite a bit growing up and every now & then, I indulge in that deliciousness! Thanks for stirring up that good memory!
Buy a small tabletop tree and decorate with lights. Next, buy mini ornaments to put in your advent calendar boxes. Make sure the ornament for the last night is a star! The kids can take turns putting an ornament on each night. My kids are 13, 17 and 20 now, and we still do it! We might miss a night or two now that they are older – the little kid excitement over Christmas is gone – :( but they still insist on getting the tree and ornaments out every year. They each have favorite ornaments that they call dibs on now – puppy, guitar, ballet slippers, gingerbread man, etc. So many memories! It’s so much more meaningful that a bunch of cheap trinkets that will get lost, broken or clutter up your house.
Two things – 1) for a short bookcase, maybe try IKEA? This one for example? We have the taller one of it and lay it on it’s side under our TV in the basement. You can also buy square “baskets” that just slide into the squares and can act like a small toy chest even for the stuffed animals.
2) as for the instant pot, I would go with the much cheaper 9-1 – this is THE one everyone is really using. It has a quick release feature on it too. I think the only difference between the two models (besides the price!) is the newer one has fancier electronics. But honestly you don’t need them. You can tell by the number of reviews (24,000!) the 9-1 is the one to get. You’ll love it! There are many Facebook groups to join to get recipes and ideas (and help).
This window seat bookshelf looks adorable.
I bought those cube shelving units at Target for my son’s bedroom. I did bolt them to the wall, since he was little. They had primary colored cubes so I used those. He stores books and small toys and stuffed animals in them. He learned quickly which color was for which item, so I could say, “Put your book in the green bin.” I have seen even nicer ones at Pottery Barn that can be used as a bench, but I didn’t want my little one climbing in front of a window.
We grew up with Advent calendars and my mom would keep little candies or Hershey’s kisses in them.
I thought I was the only person in earth who made the toasted pita bread with peanut butter and jam – a great comfort food. You made my day!
B/4 you buy, check out the pots on HSN.com and QVC.com – I bought each of my girls one (when on sale) 7 years ago and they are still using them. I have gone thru 2 already. I love using them – they are quick and the food tastes wonderful. I have made mac and cheese, scalloped potatoes plus anything I can think of. I cook my ribs in the pot and take them out and put in oven to brown……talk about fall off the bone. You can watch video’s on the site. I can put a small frozen roast in the pot for 90 minutes and it just falls apart and the taste is so much better than cooking in the oven. They aren’t like the old time pressure cookers – I do use that for canning, but you can also use the new ones. Please check it out, both qvc and hsn have cookers made by chef’s and the nice thing, people write in and ask for upgrades and the chef’s actually do the upgrades which is really nice. My kids aren’t even 40 years old and they wouldn’t give these back. My oldest daughter cooks chicken breasts on Sunday so she has enough to make salads or whatever during the week. She works crazy long hours and her husband just warms them up. Love your blog and you do tell the best stories about the kids and dog. Thanks for sharing!
Michelle, my husband and I have 3 instant pots and use ALL of them. My favorite one though is the Ultra 10 in 1 which allows us to sous vide. I have provided the link. It is more expensive, but seriously we use it every day. We are actually going to sous vide a prime rib roast for Christmas. Can’t wait to see what you do with yours.
I recommend a pressure cooker with a quick release. It is good to have if you want to add things to the cooker partway through such as pasta or quick cooking veggies like peas. The quick release will allow you to open the pot right away, add your items and then close it back up to finish cooking.
I have the 6 quart 9 in 1 Instant Pot and I love it. I have had it about a year and there isn’t one thing I have made in it that I haven’t loved. I don’t know what the difference is between the 10 in 1 versus the one I have, mine has a quick release. I found this comparison helpful. I don’t know if I would wait for the 10 in 1. https://instantpot.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Instant-Pot-Product-Comparison.pdf
Agreed!!! There’s not much difference. I have 4 of the InstantPots (3, 6 (times 2) & 8 quarts)…quick release is on all of them!!! Any version you get will be awesome for most any recipe you plan to cook. Just purchase what you can afford and enjoy the bliss of becoming a “InstantPot head” from there!!!
I think you should try the pressure cooker. I would like to get one as well. I have 2 conventional pressure cookers and love them! My Mama and Grandmother both used theirs all the time when I was growing up. They are so fast! I’m newly retired this year ( teacher for 25 years) and they were a lifesaver when I came in the door when it was already supper time! I could get something cooked and on the table in 30 minutes.
I feel for you with this taste thing! It really is funny how our tastes differ with each pregnancy. I really enjoy your blog, and hope you have a wonderful holiday season with your sweet family!
I took the Instant Pot plunge about a month ago. I bought (Amazon) the Ultra 10 in 1 and I’m ready to buy another after Christmas!! The Ultra has a Sous Vide setting that I’m really excited to try!! If you haven’t heard of it look up on YouTube. For an EXCELLENT source for IP how to’s and recipes, search for Flo Lum on YouTube. Had some WONDERFUL things to share. I’ve made yogurt 4 times already – can’t keep it on hand it goes so fast!! I use whole milk (just bc it’s less processed). You buy a small container of store yogurt for your first batch (need a live yogurt culture) but from then on you hold back either 2 T or 1/4 cup depending on half or whole gallon. It’s THE BEST yogurt and you sweeten and flavor by adding what YOU want. Steaming veggies is a breeze, rice is wonderful, made bone broth, both pressure cooked and slow cooked Italian Beef (slow cook preferred). Oh.My.Word!! You will NOT be disappointed. I have the IP brand. Just not enough hours in the day to try all the things I’d like to!!
Your son is absolutely adorable!!!!! Thanks for all the yummy recipes that you post!!!! Merry Christmas to you and your family!!!!
BTW: Instant Pot is great. Most tender meat and the speed with which the food cooks is deliriously wonderful. I just recently got one and have been enjoying getting different meals out of the pot…it does so much. Looking for a cookbook now that I think will have tasty recipes in it. Got any ideas?
The cookbook by Instant Pot available at Costco right now is awesome. Amazon has it too: https://www.amazon.com/Instant-Pot-Miracle-Everyday-Must-Have/dp/1328851052/ref=sr_1_13?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1512751484&sr=1-13&keywords=instant+pot+cookbook
We have made several recipes from it and all turned out great. Homemade Greek yogurt is a weekly happening at our house now! I am making the savory cheesecake recipe for Christmas Eve…you make it in a 6″ springform pan IN the Instant Pot! Can’t wait! There is also an iPhone app by them that is free. I like ‘This Old Gal’ and ‘Dad Cooks Dinner’ sites too.
Instant pot is super! Love – love- love mine… there are some super Facebook Instant pot groups that have super information…. some have a lot of complainers…. I guess that is true with anything… one FYI there is a HUGE debate over Insta Pot vs. Instant Pot some get downright hateful of the “Insta” … makes me giggle a little. Gotta believe some people just need something to complain about or as a sweet friend of mine used to say they “need to get more cattle”. Love watching your “babies’ grow up now that mine are grown.
America’s Test Kitchen has a cookbook that I’ve used often.
Re: Advent Calendar.
We made one for all the days of December and in each box we put in an activity we could do as a family. For example: Make cookies and decorate them, make up cookie packages and take to the neighbors, go caroling in the neighborhood, find a Christmas tree, next day decorate the tree, have hot chocolate with marshmallows, go to a movie, go Christmas shopping, wrap presents, make popcorn and watch a movie, invite some friends over for chili, make a snowman in the yard, have a snowball fight, have the kids send Christmas cards to their friends, make home made dough ornaments and paint them, etc. Just a few of the examples we planned for the kids and us parents. And, each day had a different flavored and type of candy in the box for each of the three children.
The Golden Retriever video is hilarious! Everyone who has added a puppy to the family can appreciate watching it. Thanks for sharing! Also, I’ve had an Insta Pot sitting in my basement for 4 years and I’m terrified to use it (flashbacks to mom’s pressure cooker rocking away on the stove–yikes!) so I’m looking forward to reading about your adventures with it!