My Week(291) in iPhone Photos

May 30th, 2016

Oh, today isn’t Sunday? I have no idea. I’m at the beach and all I can keep track of is “can I eat another piece of cake right now?” When I started looking through my photos for the week I got confused that the first part of the week was in some strange, boring, non-professionally decorated place that didn’t have constant cake. I don’t want to go back there.

Sunday:

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Watermelon on the porch = summer

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Shirtless naps = summer

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Happy, peaceful children = almost never

Monday:

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IT’S THE FINAL COUNTDOOOOOOOWN

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Skeptical baby is skeptical

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Taking pictures like mommy

Tuesday:

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Important vacation prep

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I suppose cleaning is also important

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This is Linc’s favorite game: Face-Smash Selfie

Wednesday:

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Sunrise in the car – we’d already been driving for 3 hours

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In and out and in and out

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Bedtime stories with Mormor

Thursday:

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Absolutely worth the 2 days of driving

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Basically a private beach

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There are NINE decorative pillows on this bed

Friday:

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There’s pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew…

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There was also shrimp in the low country boil I made for dinner

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Oh ok, that’s perfect

Saturday:

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A very french baby breakfast

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Would you like some bait with your frozen pie?

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That’s a virgin Pina Colada in a shot glass

Now I’m going to go work on the second thousand pictures I’ve taken so far (not an exaggeration). The first thousand have been edited so I’ll have a ridiculous photo post up probably tonight. If I can get out of the pool long enough.

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Mixed Berry Cake With Lemon Whipped Cream Icing

May 25th, 2016

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A Cake Off you say? Don’t mind if I do.

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When it comes to Team Cake vs Team Pie, I am Team Why Can’t I Have Both? There’s no such thing as too much dessert. When I was looking for inspiration for a cake to submit for this contest, I searched Pinterest for cake and might have ended up eating half a box of cookies because it made me so hungry. This is why I am not a food blogger.

Half way through mixing the batter I realized I needed 3 9-inch cake pans but all I had in my cabinet was 1 9-inch cake pan and 2 8-inch cake pans. I thought really hard about how to make that work before giving up and sending my husband to the store to get the right pans. Be smarter than me and make sure you have the cake pans you need BEFORE you’ve already separated all the eggs and have the mixer going. This recipe has kind of a lot of steps, but I promise it’s worth it for the results: moist but light cake with an amazing flavor and super light frosting with exactly the right amount of sweet.

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Mixed Berry Cake With Lemon Whipped Cream Icing
Adapted from A Latte Food

Cake
    • 4 eggs, separated
    • 3/4 cup butter, softened
    • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
    • 1 1/2 cups sugar
    • 2 1/2 cups flour all purpose flour
    • 2 Tbsp cornstarch
    • 1 Tbsp baking powder
    • 3/4 tsp salt
    • 1 cup milk
    • 1/3 cup greek yogurt
    • 1 Tbsp lemon juice, fresh
    • 2 tsp vanilla extract
Berry Puree
    • 2 cups mixed berries (I used raspberries, blackberries, strawberries and blueberries)
    • 3/4 cup sugar
Lemon Whipped Cream
    • 1 pint heavy whipping cream
    • 1 8 oz cream cheese
    • 2 Tbsp lemon zest (about the zest of 2 large lemons)
    • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
    • 1 tsp lemon juice
Extra berries & mint to decorate
Preheat the oven to 350 and spray your cake pans with non-stick spray.
Make the berry puree first: throw all the berries (hull strawberries first) and the sugar in a food processor or blender on high until it’s well mixed. You can strain it if you hate seeds but they don’t bother me. Set aside.
Next the cake: separate your eggs and set aside. In your mixer, whip the butter for a minute or two until it’s fluffy. Add the vegetable oil and mix for another minute. Gradually add in sugar and eggs until everything is well combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl when needed.
Mix your dry ingredients in a separate bowl (flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt), then mix your wet ingredients in another bowl (milk, lemon juice, vanilla extract, and greek yogurt). Alternate adding wet and dry ingredients to your mixer until just combined. Whip your reserved egg whites until they form stiff peaks, then fold them into the batter, gently but completely. Divide your batter as evenly as you can into the three prepared cake pans.
Add about 1/3 cup of berry puree to each pan, using a knife to swirl it around. The kids really loved this part, so it’s a good time for helpers. Be sure to reserve any leftover puree to drizzle on your plate or spoon over the cake when you serve it.
Bake for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Mine was perfect at exactly 25 minutes.
For the frosting: whip the heavy cream on high for a few minutes until it starts to thicken. Add in the lemon zest and vanilla. Slowly add the powdered sugar (add too fast and it will end up all over your kitchen) and then the cream cheese. Beat until the frosting is light and fluffy.
Once your cake is done and cooled, put the bottom layer on a plate or cake stand. Top with about a cup of frosting, spreading it all the way to the edge. Repeat for all three layers, with extra frosting for the top. Use a large knife or spatula to spread any frosting that leaked out from between the layers evenly around the sides. You can fully frost them if you want but the golden cake showing through is so pretty I left mine sparse.
Decorate the top with extra berries and mint leaves to make it extra fancy and really impress all your guests. It’s a big cake and serves about 15, as long as no one cuts a piece that’s 1/4th of the cake. Which I totally did when we had leftovers the next day. Be sure to store it in the fridge if you’re keeping it overnight.
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If you think this looks delicious and want to make it – or just add it to your aspirational dessert Pinterest board (doesn’t everyone have one of those??) – you can pin the graphic below! This is a Cake Off and I’m in it to win it, despite not being a food blogger.
Mixed Berry Cake With Lemon Whipped Cream Icing YUM!

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My Week(290) in iPhone Photos

May 22nd, 2016

I spent a lot of time doing fun me-things this week, like shooting photo sessions and getting my hair done. I even took a nap. It was like a mini-vacation before we go on REAL VACATION. I am very, very excited about real vacation.

Sunday:

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Helping to do some deep cleaning

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Helping to let the dog out

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Helping give loves

Monday:

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He is convinced he is getting away with something

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I LOVE my hair, and my hairdresser

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Evan LOVES our baby friends (even though she is almost 3 and not much of a baby)

Tuesday:

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Looking for the anteater

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That looks safe.

Wednesday:

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Lazy

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I think he is part mountain goat

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Or maybe he is just part SPIDERMAN

Thursday:

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Rocks!!!!

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Trees!!!!

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Peek a boo!

Friday:

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Listening to the fire trucks

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My hair matches my wrap

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Shopping assistant

Saturday:

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Just your regular pirate ship at the bookstore

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My children love these things

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New books = peace

I finally asked the elementary school when, exactly, the children get out for the summer and was pleasantly surprised it’s sooner rather than much, much later. I sent in our membership fee for the lake this week too, so pretty soon all of our life will be #lakelife and I will be a very happy, relaxed pregnant lady who can just float on a big tube and feed the children watermelon and chips.

Until then I’m going to just sit on the couch and feed the children watermelon and chips, but I will feel MUCH guiltier about it.

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I Checked CHET Out

May 18th, 2016

This post was sponsored on behalf of Connecticut Higher Education Trust (CHET). All opinions and photos are my own.

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Want to feel old? Think for a second about how many years it will be until your oldest kid goes to college. In my case, the answer is ELEVEN. ELEVEN YEARS. That is less time than I have been married, less time than it’s been since I graduated from college, and WAY less time than it’s been since I myself was 18 and headed off to college. Along with feeling really old, the thought of sending my kids to college fills me with fear and dread. Do you know what college costs? I don’t. I know the answer is somewhere between “a lot” and “an amount you will never be able to afford by the time it is your turn to pay for it”. The average cost for a 4-year private college in New England is more than $52,000. I have three (and a half) kids. This is the part where I usually throw my hands up and turn on HGTV and think relaxing thoughts about renovating my backyard to include a fire pit and a water feature. These tiny homework-doers can just stay small and live with me forever.

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But denial is not a good way to stop things from happening (see also: birth, child vomit, lactose intolerance) and these kids are getting older and smarter by the day. Making a plan is the only real option, so I finally sat down at my computer with my Important Papers file and looked at the Connecticut Higher Education Trust website.

Here are the quick facts about CHET:

    • The Connecticut Higher Education Trust (CHET) is Connecticut’s 529 college savings plan.
    • CHET works like a Roth Retirement account, your contributions grow tax-free along the way, and are tax-free when you use the money for college.
    • PLUS for CT taxpayers there is a CT state tax deduction on the contributions you make to CHET each year, up to $10K for joint filers and $5K for single filers.
    • Money saved with CHET can be used at accredited colleges or universities in the country as well as some abroad.
    • CHET funds can be used for wide variety of college costs, tuition, room & board, computer, any supplies required by the school, etc.
    • If you don’t use the savings (for example, if your child gets a scholarship) you can roll the money to another child.

And here’s how it actually worked out:

I went to the site and clicked on “Open an Account”. They asked for my social security number and info, then Evan’s social security numbers and info. I entered our banking information so I could make the required opening contribution (it’s only $25) directly, then chose which investments I wanted to put the money in.

This was the part where I normally get stressed and run away, because I am not a financial guru or investment specialist. I am a person who has definitely HEARD the word “index fund” before but can’t quite remember where. There is a ton of information about each option on the website and there are actual humans you can call and talk to if you want, but my eyes and brain quickly start blurring when I feel overwhelmed by the choices. I ended up reading some of the advice, showing the options to E, and then just picking something, because a fear of choosing the wrong option 11 years before he goes to college shouldn’t stop me from investing in Evan’s future. There was an option to set up reoccurring contributions with lots of flexibility, but you don’t HAVE to. It asked me to agree to the risks and terms, asked me to set up a username and password for managing my account, then I was done. Repeating the process for each of my other children took less than 2 minutes, since they were all under my same account and the info was saved.

After I set them all up, I sent my mom an email for each account with an easy link so she can make contributions herself, either online or by mail. You can send them to anyone in your address book on special occasions (birthdays, holidays, etc) or “just because”. I think she was probably ready to just set up the accounts on her own (you can do that! you don’t have to be the parent, so if you have grandkids or nieces or nephews who you think need a 529 absolutely look into it!) but now I am done and she can rest easy.

Right now, CHET is running a contest in honor of 5/29 day (May 29th). One winner will win a $1,529 contribution to their account and two runners up will win $529 contributions. Free money?? YES PLEASE. You can check it out and enter easily here.

ALSO. If you had a baby in the last year (or you happen to be having one soon), CHET has an amazing Baby Scholars program, where they will give you up to $250 for free just for putting money in your kid’s 529. It’s not a complicated, convoluting system either – you put money in, they add money. I am kicking myself SO HARD that I didn’t do that for Lincoln before it was too late.

I feel like that was a LOT of words to talk about something that seems really boring, but it’s one of those things that’s been on my to-do list literally for years and I am so glad I can finally cross it off. Give yourself an A+ in adulting today and check CHET out.

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May 18th, 2016

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