Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from Blakely and Santa!!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Cupcakes Galore

Tis the season for sweets, sweets, and more sweets! I've been baking like crazy lately and want to post all the great recipes I have found. First up.... cupcakes!! I'll post more wonderful recipes later.

Since last week was the last week of school before Christmas break, we had a little holiday party at school. I got this wild idea to make cupcakes for all my students....all 105 of them! However, I miscounted and accidentally made 140 cupcakes. Oh well, it was certainly fun trying new recipes and the kids loved the cupcakes. In fact, their exact words were "Man Mrs. Stidham, these cupcakes are off the chain!" I love my kids!!
I made vanilla and chocolate cupcakes filled with marshmallow peppermint cream and topped with cream cheese frosting. YUM!

Vanilla Cupcakes (Sprinkles recipe)
Servings: Makes 1 dozen cupcakes
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour , sifted
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. coarse salt
  • 1/2 cup whole milk , room temperature
  • 1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter , room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg , room temperature
  • 2 large egg whites , room temperature
1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners; set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

3. In a small bowl, mix together milk and extracts; set aside.

4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy. Gradually add sugar and continue to beat until well combined and fluffy. Reduce the mixer speed to medium and slowly add egg and egg whites until just blended.

5. With the mixer on low, slowly add half the flour mixture; mix until just blended. Add the milk mixture; mix until just blended. Slowly add remaining flour mixture, scraping down sides of the bowl with a spatula, as necessary, until just blended.

6. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. Transfer muffin tin to oven and bake until tops are just dry to the touch, 22 to 25 minutes. Transfer muffin tin to a wire rack and let cupcakes cool completely in tin before icing.
Cream Cheese Icing
  • 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2-4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar (depending on how sweet you like it)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. In a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter until creamy. Mix in the vanilla, then gradually stir in the confectioners' sugar. Store in the refrigerator after use. 

Marshmallow Peppermint Cream Filling
  • 1½ cups marshmallow cream
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into small pieces
  • ¼ - ½ teaspoon (start with a ¼ teaspoon first, taste, if you want a stronger mint taste add the extra) organic peppermint extract
  1. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment on medium-high speed beat together the marshmallow fluff and butter until smooth.
  2. Add the peppermint extract and beat until combined.
  3. Cover with plastic wrap, and chill until slightly firm, 20-25 minutes, before using.
  4. Scoop out the center of the cupcakes and use a piping bag to fill them with the cream.

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes 


Makes 24 standard-size cupcakes
  • 1¾ cups plain (all-purpose) flour, sifted
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa, sifted
  • 1¼ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1¼ teaspoons baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1¾ cup caster (superfine granules) sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • ¾ cup sour cream, room temperature
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup whole milk
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.  Line 2 standard muffin tin pans with paper liners, set aside.
  2. Using a fine mesh sieve, sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and kosher salt into a medium-sized bowl.  Whisk together until well combined, set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium-high speed, beat together the butter and sugar until well combined, scraping sides and bottom of bowl as needed.
  4. Reduce to low-medium speed and add the eggs one-at-a-time, and beat until well combined after each addition, scraping sides and bottom of bowl as needed.
  5. Add the sour cream and vanilla and continue to beat on low-medium speed until combined, scraping sides of bottom of bowl as needed.
  6. Reduce speed to low, add the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with the milk, and mixing until just incorporated after each.
  7. Divide batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups, filling each 3/4 full.
  8. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centres comes out clean, about 18-20 minutes.
  9. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool for a few minutes.  Remove cupcakes from tins and return to wire racks to cool completely.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours!!

Blakely and her cousin Lexie Kate.

Monday, November 07, 2011

5 Months Old!

Five months old is such a fun age!! Blakely is doing so many new things and I definitely think this is my favorite age so far! 
We got the go ahead from the doctor to start giving her rice cereal this month and she absolutely loves it! Of course she makes a huge mess when she eats and more of it gets on her than in her mouth.

 New Milestones
  • She rolled over for the first time yesterday!
  • We still swaddle her at night but we are trying to break her of that habit so she won't become dependent on it. She is starting to love to sleep on her side.
  •  At her appointment last week, she weighed 14 pounds even. 
  • She is grabbing at toys and today, reached for me for the first time!
  • She loves talking and is a non-stop babbler. I really think her report cards are going to say "Excessive talker" when she gets to school. :)
  •  She LOVES playing with her cousin Lexie Kate! And as you can tell, Lexie just loves kissing and hugging on her Blakely.
  • It is so funny to watch her play in her bouncer. She can just barely touch her feet to the ground so she leans to the left so that one foot touches and then starts jumping with her one foot. Kevin calls her his little Riverdancer.
  •  For Halloween, Blakely went as a baby duck! It was the cutest thing ever. We didn't get to go the Fall Festival at Kevin's church because of rain, but we enjoyed visiting his parents and grandparents so they could see her cute costume!
  •  Lexie Kate was a baby daisy. She loved hugging all over Blakely and couldn't keep her hands off her!

Blakely, you are my precious angel girl! You are the light and joy of mommy and daddy's world!

Sunday, October 09, 2011

4 Months!!

My baby girl was 4 months old last week and I love her more every day! Life could not be sweeter!
She is starting to get more control over her body and I know it won't be long before she is sitting up on her own.

This past month I have seen her reach a few milestones. I heard her really laugh for the first time last weekend.  We went to Greenville to see my dad who was there for a wedding and my brother Jon was holding her. He kept making fart noises and all of a sudden, she let out this huge belly laugh. It totally melted my heart!

She is also starting to hold her bottle on her own, which is such a help to mommy. She doesn't do it for long, but I'm sure it won't be long before she holds it for most of her feeding.

She loves to hold onto toys and anything that dangles in front of her. She absolutely loves her play mat and she'll lay on it and just swat and grab and whatever is hanging above her.

One thing I'm not crazy about her doing lately is that she has started waking up in the middle of the night. Ever since the beginning of August, she has been sleeping on average 8-10 hours a night. However last week, she woke up at 3:00am and has been doing it ever since. Most people I have talked to seem to think she might be starting to cut teeth and have assured me that this phase will probably not last long. It's not really the waking up that I don't enjoy as much as the fact that she doesn't go back to bed very easily. In fact, some nights the only way she will go back to sleep is if I put her in the bed with me and Kevin. I definitely do not want to make a habit of this, but sometimes I am so completely exhausted that I will do whatever necessary to get her to go back to sleep. OK confession, I'm not crazy about her sleeping with us (mainly because I know it's not the safest thing in the world with her still being so little) but I do LOVE having her so close and snuggling with her for a few hours before I go to work. 
She is getting so much personality and is really starting to be fun. I'm loving every milestone that she reaches and although I love watching her grow, I am already starting to feel that it is going too fast. She is definitely my sweet little girl and every moment with her reminds me of how precious life is.
"Oh Lexie Kate, you are so funny!!"
These two little girls are so precious to me! I can't wait to see how much fun they have growing up together.

Friday, September 23, 2011

What I've Learned

Being a mother has completely changed my life in so many ways. Here's just a few of those ways.

1.Waking up at 6:30am now seems like a luxury.

2. A day full of stress can instantly be cured with 2 minutes of cuddling with my girl.

3. I'm so proud of my body and am probably less self conscious now than I was 25 pounds ago.

4. I can no longer watch scary movies where people are tortured or killed. Although they are characters and not real people, it makes me cringe thinking that stuff like that can happen to other people's children. And watching the news....forget about it.

5. I now understand the necessity of sometimes having to breastfeed in public. (I've only done this once but I now realize that you can't always time the feedings and when your child is hungry and you don't have a bottle, you do what's best for your child).

6. One last kiss is never enough.

7. I never knew watching another human being sleep could be so therapeutic.

8. Never leave home without an extra outfit (for you and baby). I should have learned my lesson after this incident but I obviously didn't and had to borrow a shirt from my mother-in-law last week after Blakely pooped all over me right before I had to be at work.

9. Making her wait until she's 35 to start dating is not unreasonable. And I guarantee that Kevin will at least have a gun visible when the first guy comes to pick her up (if not in his hands).

10. I have WAY more patience now as a teacher than I did before. When my 6th graders are acting crazy and I want to raise my voice, I remember that each one of them is someone's child. I always want Blakely's teachers to speak to her with kind words and with a patient attitude.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

3 Months Old!!

My my, how time flies! My girl is 3 months old today. She is becoming more and more alert everyday and is getting to be a lot of fun now. She still sleeps a good bit of the time, especially in the car, but is beginning to interact and talk (coo) a lot now. She loves it when I sing to her and we have long conversations everyday after I get off work. Sometimes I tell her how beautiful she is, sometimes I let her tell me about her day with Nana, and other times we talk about what she might like to be when she grows up. Of course the conversation is usually one sided but I love talking to her and hearing her coo back to me. I just make up in my mind what she might be saying!
To celebrate her 3 month birthday, my mom (Grammy) came to visit and they had a wonderful time together. Grammy hasn't seen her since she was 2 weeks old so of course they had a lot to catch up on.
Yesterday, we went to the beach and Blakely got to put her toes in the sand for the first time. It was really hot so we only stayed for about 40 minutes but it was nice to at least visit for a little while and of course see Blakely in her bathing suit.

We got creative with her shade. But hey, whatever works!

Tomorrow we have to say good-bye to Grammy as she heads back to South Dakota but we're already counting down the days until Christmas. It's difficult to live so far apart from each other but it makes the times that we're together so special and memorable.

Can't get enough of mommy's kisses!
Three month highlights
  • She is a champ at sleeping. On a good night, she'll go 9 hours. The least she ever sleeps is 7 1/2 hours. 
  • She had major tummy troubles but we finally got her on some medicine. She is definitely a much happier baby now!
  • She smiles and coos a lot now! It's so much fun watching and hearing her find her voice.
    • She loves playing on her mat and swatting at toys that dangle. She doesn't grasp them yet but loves touching them and observing all the colors.
    • She loves being outside and the warm air instantly soothes her when she gets fussy. Sometimes when she's really cranky, I'll set her in her car seat and put it on the front porch while I sit with her. She'll usually drift right off to sleep or at least get really peaceful. I can then bring her back inside and get some things done at home.
    I love you so much my sweet angel!! Happy 3 months old!

    Thursday, September 01, 2011

    Thirty-One Gifts Online Kick-Off Party

    I am so excited to announce that I have decided to start selling Thirty-One Gifts. I absolutely LOVE their products and am so excited to share this business with others. I went to my first Thirty-One party last fall and normally don't buy a lot of products at home shows for businesses like this. However, within the first moments of looking at the catalog, I wanted to buy everything in it. Everything was so cute and very reasonably priced.

    For anyone who is unfamiliar with their products, they have all sorts of wonderful bags, purses, lunch totes, stationary, and other great items to help you organize your life and look cute doing it!! Their products are so reasonably priced and they are constantly running monthly specials so you can get the products at an even lower rate.

    Thirty-One Gifts make wonderful presents for Christmas, birthdays, and baby showers. The best part is, you can personalize many of the products so they make really unique gifts for the people you love or even yourself.
    As I kick-off this business, I'm having an online party where people can look at the products and shop online. 

    1. Go to
    2. Click on My Events.
    3. Go to Lori's Thirty-One Kickoff Party and click Shop Now.

    All the products come in various patterns so to see the different options, click View Our Catalog at the top of the page. Then go to pages 46-47 to see the patterns. It is a little fuzzy so you can also click through the online catalog to see the patterns on the products.

    You can shop anytime between now and Friday, September 16. If you have any questions, please contact me at

    Monday, August 22, 2011

    Fun with Cousins

    Blakely's cousins Brooke and Harrison love helping out with Blakely and Lexie Kate. They go over every day to help my mother-in-law take care of the babies. They are a wonderful help and Blakely loves spending time with them!

    I love it when Pop talks to me!
    Blakely and cousin Lexie Kate
    "OK buddy, here's the plan."
    "Now you watch me and I'll show you what to do."
    Such precious girls!!

    Friday, August 19, 2011

    A Good Night's Sleep

    Whoever invented the Swaddle Me is a genius!! Someone gave it to me at one of my baby showers but I couldn't figure out how to use it.  However, Blakely has been very fussy lately and a book I've been reading suggested swaddling fussy babies. So I figured it out and ever since she has been sleeping on average 8-9 hours every night!
    It does make me feel a little like I'm confining my daughter to a straight jacket. But hey, who am I to complain if she likes it? Whatever makes her happy!

    On another note, she is getting so strong. She needs to slow down the growing just a little bit. :)