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These are what the name implies.  They come together very quickly, use ingredients I’m sure you have on hand, and are a nice crowd pleaser.  I only do cut out decorated sugar cookies four times a year at most.  They are just too much work and too much cleaning up to do regularly.

These cookies, however, are perfect for a treat for the family.  Cutouts cannot be served only to family, as it is a complete waste of effort.  You won’t feel martyred if you serve these up to your kids and husband and no one admires your hard work. Roll them in a seasonally colored sugar if you want to go crazy.

They use half butter and half shortening.  You could use just butter if you want, but the Crisco keeps them softer and milder tasting.  I have done them with just shortening, but the recipe is best as is.

Soft and Simple Sugar Cookies

-1/2 cup butter, softened

-1/2 cup shortening such as Crisco

-1 cup granulated sugar

-1 egg

-1 teaspoon vanilla

-2 1/4 cups AP flour

-1/2 teaspoon baking powder

-1/2 teaspoon baking soda

coarse/ colored sugar for rolling

  1. Preheat oven to 350.  Cream fats and sugar in stand mixer for about 3 minutes, until creamy and fluffy.  Add egg and vanilla.
  2. Combine dry ingredients.  On low speed, add slowly to butter mixture until combined.
  3. Roll in to tablespoon sized balls, roll in sparkling sugar, and place on parchment lined baking sheets.  Gently flatten with a glass.  They will spread a little.
  4. Bake 13 minutes, or until set.  Makes about 30-36 cookies.

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Soft and Simple Sugar Cookies


We have at least five weeks to go before baby’s arrival, but it feels good to start getting ready.  The nursery is painted a slightly more… vibrant… yellow than I expected.  It is still soft, though, and I will tone down the overall room by adding blues, greens, and whites.  The color is “Lilting Lily” by Sherwin William’s HGTV Home Collection at Lowe’s.  I had wanted a very, very pale yellow, but it is growing on me.

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Some sweet Bambi swaddling blankets my mom bought me.  They are supposedly for baby girls, but look unisex enough to me.  I guess there is quite a bit of pink, and flowers.  We are both expecting that this baby will be a girl, and I’m sure even a baby boy won’t mind.

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To keep busy, we have been baking, as usual.  A very yummy banana cake, Barefoot Contessa’s recipe called Old Fashioned Banana Cake.  It was sweet enough without the icing, but the icing was good too.  We ate it for breakfast and then discovered in the book it is listed as a dessert.  DSC01015.jpg

Our seedlings are coming up quite nicely.  We had to invest in a new grow light, the Ferry Morse brand carried at Lowe’s.  The plants are doing much better.  I think they also like their new spot on top of the dryer.  Tomatoes will be ready for a slightly bigger home on Friday, and then some cosmos, dill, and cilantro will take their spots.  A little late on the herbs, oh well.  I am starting to wonder how I plan on getting everything into the ground in a few weeks seeing as how I am so big I can barely pick up a pen that has fallen on the floor.

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Thinking of starting bees, but reading this book makes it seem very unappealing.  All about pests, diseases, extracting honey with weird tools.  Seems like a lot of work for something I don’t really consume a lot of.  We love white sugar around here.

I wanted to end with a recipe for my favorite pregnancy lunch.  I eat it all the time now.  I guess it is somewhat healthy?  It is certainly easy, and cheap, and delicious.  This makes enough filling for probably three good sized lunches, so keep the seasoned rice and beans for leftovers.  This is not something anyone else in my family will eat (whatever), so I get a few meals out of it.

Tex-Mex Grilled Burritos

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-2 cups cooked white rice

-2 tablespoons cilantro

-juice of a lime

-teaspoon each of garlic salt, cumin, and chili powder

-can of black beans, rinsed and drained

-shredded Mexican cheese

-sour cream

-burrito sized tortilla

  1. Mix all but last three ingredients in a large bowl.  If the rice is cold, reheat everything in the microwave for a minute of so.
  2. Cover your tortilla with cheese, then add a few dollops of sour cream.  Put the rice mixture in the center, and fold up into a burrito.  Spray the seam with a little cooking spray to help seal it.
  3. Grill on the stovetop until crispy.  Start seam side down to avoid a mess.

Waiting and Eating


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I have finally come out of my post vacation depression.  Part of the problem, I am guessing, is that I turned out to have severe anemia caused by this pregnancy.  My hematocrit was 23.6, which is extremely low.  Normal is between 36 and 48.  Pregnancy dilutes your blood so going down to 33 is generally acceptable.  Below 30, surgery and delivery become a little risky without a transfusion beforehand as there is always some blood loss.  23 is very bad.

I had been having very bad dizzy spells and had mentioned them to my OB, who basically told me to stay hydrated and eat more.  (Answers like this always sound like they are just telling you to stop complaining.)  I very, very rarely complain about anything to my doctor (preferring to obsessively look things up online, then grin and bear it), so I was a bit peeved.

I was also having weird leg twitches and cramps in the middle of the night.  My main problem was just exhaustion and weakness.  I felt like I couldn’t do anything but lay down on the couch.  Walking up a flight of stairs was exhausting.  After going up to the girl’s room to lay out their clothes or put them to put I would sit on the floor and catch my breath for five minutes.  I was sleeping about nine hours at night and still falling asleep during my children’s rest times.  I do not find this relaxing, just depressing and awful.  It seems obvious writing it down that something was off, but of course every pregnant person is tired.

So when I got a call from the nurse practitioner I felt a little vindication. I  have started taking a liquid iron supplement called Floradix.  I ordered it from Amazon and I started it about two weeks ago.  It’s taken twice a day and has a sort of a sweet, metallic taste.  That sounds gross but it is not bad.  It is best to drink a glass of vitamin C rich fruit juice afterwards to help your body absorb the iron.

My weird leg twitches are MUCH better, but not totally gone.  Probably only one or two twitches as I am falling asleep, not constantly.  I can walk up hills and stairs again.  I also look super tan!  Maybe this is my normal skin color and I just haven’t seen it for years.

The best part is, I can do work around the house and when I am done I feel energized and productive, not exhausted and wanting to cry.

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Winter is enjoying a little late comeback.  But the sun is so strong and so many flowers are already out that I can see the end in sight.

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My sewing machine is back out, and the quilt WILL be finished by the end of the month!

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Princess Elena is very interested in it.

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I got this book out of the library for some craft ideas with the kids.  DSC00951.jpg

My sweet little peanuts made some newspaper paper-mache bowls for outdoor treasures.

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The long awaited first daffodils.  Everyone else’s house has tulips now.  But these daffodils are lovely.

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Found a nice sunny spot for this summer’s dahlias.  The most amazing cut flowers there ever were.

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And is there anything better than daylight savings time?  Sunshine at dinner.  Who could complain now?

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Anemia During Pregnancy


We just got back from a family trip to Disney World, which was very fun.  I loved it!  Matt was a little overwhelmed with the crowds.  But it was so nice to not cook dinner for a week, relax in pools, and watch the girls have fun.  I love Disney, and how well everything is themed, how meticulously the landscaping is done, just everything.

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The parks and our hotel were gorgeous!  It was the beginning of the Flower and Garden Week at Epcot, so there were character topiaries everywhere.

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Our hotel had a quiet pool near our room that we used most days, coming back after lunch at the parks for a swim break, then venturing back out to see fireworks or do rides when it was cooler and the lines weren’t so bad.  It also had a little water taxi that went to an outdoor shopping/ eating area.  We ate there twice.  IMG_5171.jpgIMG_5167.jpg

Maddie was VERY brave, and rode Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, and both girls rode a water rapid ride.  Big Thunder was not a success, but the others were.  (Anxiously waiting here, having been told by Daddy she could not get out of line.)

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Home now, I am having a hard time focusing on the upcoming baby and being home.  I want to be planning our next vacation, which is of course years away.  I’m not sure what is wrong with me, but I have anti-nesting.  The baby will be here in 11 weeks or sooner, and the nursery is not painted, I have no interest in the quilt or sampler I started, the crib is missing pieces and can’t be assembled yet, and I just want go away again.

But I am trying to get settled, arranging some outdoor treasures found by a small friend.

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And enjoying our changeable weather on its good days.

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Trying to focus on the garden, my favorite hobby.  At least Maddie has made her plan.

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We started tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant on Sunday.  Eggplant is new to us, since no one in the family eats it, but we are going to give it a try.  We also added cherry peppers in addition to the usual bells and jalapeños.  For tomatoes we did sungold, our favorites for snacking, and two big red slicers, Brandy Boy and Madame Marmande that we enjoyed last year.  In two weeks I will start some cutting flowers in flats.  Watermelon, sunflower, cucumber,  and pumpkins last.  I will get excited again about being home.

Back from Vacation and Settling In