Friday, November 21, 2014

Baby Prep: Nursery Tour + Paperramma Review

This is probably not breaking news to people who know me pretty well, but I'm gonna put it out there anyway: I'm a pretty particular person. {Read: Nitpicky.}

I'm a perfectionist by nature and that translates to lots of parts of my life: Organization, work-style, surroundings, etc. Sometimes being so picky causes things to take a little longer than it would for others -- like picking out nail polish colors when I get a pedicure and deciding on a color scheme for a room.

I'm learning to let go of this because I know that babies aren't all about perfection and order, so I need to get over it. But when it came down to putting together the baby's nursery, I knew I wanted something that I'd feel happy in since I'll inevitably be spending many early mornings and late nights hanging around in there.

The main issues I had with nursery planning could be categorized by three main factors: budget, space and a lack of interest for anything that looks remotely babyish.

Some people are all into themes and cutesy little things that scream "newborn", and I can understand why teeny tiny soft things can definitely bring about the warm fuzzies. But I prefer a more classic style that can easily translate to life after diapers, so it was a challenge looking for things that towed that line. These were some of the looks I had pinned when the planning first began:

Swoon. {From Eat.Sleep.Decorate.}
masculine looking baby boy nursery
Found on Pinterest.
I started out with bedding because I figured that would be a good jumping off point as far as colors and styles. I found this "Make a Splash" crib bedding set from Land of Nod and thought that the colors were great and the whales gave a playful touch without overdoing the whole animal thing. With that picked out, I was able to go from there with the rest of the d├ęcor.

New School Crib Bedding (Make a Splash)  | The Land of Nod

We live in a rental -- a three story, 2 bed 2.5 bath townhome -- so I knew there wouldn't be any wall painting to do because we didn't want to have to worry about painting it back in the future. So, picking out cute art was a must.

Enter Paperramma. Upon first glance, I immediately loved the look of their modern, fresh prints that had all the whimsy you want in a nursery with a custom twist.

I browsed their stuff and fell in love with the idea of creating a custom,"interactive" map to put over Cole's crib, but wasn't sure if I could pull off buying all the wall art I wanted and still stay within budget.  Lo and behold, I found out that they were working with bloggers and offering custom creations for those who wanted to review their Paperramma experience. How perfect! It was meant to be.

After getting accepted to work with Paperramma, they immediately started the customization process asking me things like the baby's name, date of birth, color scheme and any other special things that might be important to the design. This is where I immediately started to freak out. Because this is usually the part where I can't make up my mind, or can't express exactly what I'm looking for.

So... I emailed them with as many details as possible. I sent a picture of the bedding and asked if they could coordinate the colors {they could}, and if they could add a custom quote instead of the date of birth at the bottom {they did}. I basically mashed together two of their custom map ideas to create one perfect map to match what I had in mind.

The two maps I used for inspiration.
My custom map!
With just ONE try, they were able to capture exactly what I imagined. That never happens! Color me impressed.

I'm so excited about the fact that we can add pins to show Cole's future travels. Gotta start planning some trips soon! I'm also going to eventually add a wooden frame around the border -- that's a DIY project for when things get a bit more settled. I'm thinking a distressed gray outer frame... anyone want to come over and build it for me?!

We had a few more frames to fill over Cole's changing table, so I purchased one more print from Paperramma -- a print that holds a lot of meaning to our little family. For years, "Three Little Birds" has been our song whenever times are tough so, as soon as I saw this adorable print, I knew we had to include it in the decor.

The rest of the artwork we {will} have on the walls I made myself with PicMonkey using inspiration from other quotes I had seen during my pinning sprees. I simply created them and will have them printed and hung them in these nice frames that I purchased during Michael's BOGO sales. I repurposed an old frame I've had since college and turned it into a little clipboard frame for mementos and pictures with a quick coat of paint and some metal clips. Done and done... and on the cheap, too!

Classic white furniture {just a crib, a glider and a dresser for which I purchased a removable changing table top} and a bold striped rug easily completed the look I was going for -- clean, boyish and modern.

Side note: One of my favorite parts of Cole's room is actually his closet. I love storage and organization. I bought this piece from Walmart and it works perfectly for all the little odds and ends that need a home but that I don't necessarily want out in plain view. I now want to redo my entire closet so it's as tidy as his!

So. Much. Clothes.
There are still little things here and there that I'd like to tweak and add to, but I'm so happy with how Cole's space turned out -- and even happier that I came across Paperramma and had the amazing opportunity to work with them!

Looking for custom prints of your own? Paperramma is offering The Kitchen Prep readers $5 off any order of $50 or more! Simply type in the coupon code TKPREPBLOG14 at checkout.

A big thank you to my friends at Paperramma for creating the finishing touches for the baby's room! I'm sure I'll be making some more purchases in the future for more custom adorableness. :)

{Note: I had the baby! I wrote most of this post before he arrived, so there's not much about him in it -- except, of course, that last picture! I'll be sharing more about our new lives as parents soon!}

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Spiced Cider Braised Pork Tenderloin | Sponsored Post: Fiji Water - Perfection Takes Time

Think of some of your favorite dishes to eat and make around the holidays. The ones that warm your soul and bring feelings of nostalgia welling up from deep inside. You know the ones I'm talking about.

Grandma's homemade pies. Mom's slow-cooked roast. Your family's famous Sunday "gravy". 

Many of these dishes have one thing in common: They take time to make. That's why they're so special! Because you don't have time to whip them up on a daily basis. They may only make an appearance once a year, and therefore, they earn a special place of honor when they do show up at the dinner table.

I know many of us have fallen into the "30 Minute Meals" mentality because, well... life. Most of us don't have the luxury of being able to start a slow-cooked dinner at 10 a.m., which is a shame because who doesn't love the thought of coming home to something that's been baking, roasting or simmering all day long?

Sure, shortcuts can still produce some pretty delicious meals, but the truth is simple: Perfection Takes Time.

The best things in life often do. 

Fiji Water knows all about how perfection is a process not to be rushed. Starting as rains falling over the Fijian rain forest, Fiji Water makes its way from the clouds down through layers of ancient volcanic rock. Along the way, it gathers minerals and electrolytes that give the water it's distinct, smooth taste. Finally, it gathers in a protected artesian aquifer where it sits until it is bottled at the source.

Now, doesn't that make Cider Braised Pork Tenderloin sound like a cinch? ;)

In honor of life's slow and wonderful processes, I came up with this seasonal recipe that takes a little time but is so worth the effort.

Pork tenderloin is seasoned, seared and braised, nestled among onions, apples and fragrant sage in this slow-cooked meal. It's both simple and succulent. Because the meat cooks for several hours, it becomes fork-tender and absorbs all the amazing flavors that surround it as it simmers away. 

Your house will smell like fall, and your taste buds will rejoice when they taste the product of patience -- pure perfection.

Get this and other "Perfection Takes Time" recipes on

Disclosure: Compensation for this post was provided by Fiji Water via Honest Cooking. As always, the opinions here are all my own!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Roasted Red Pepper Dip | VSL #3 Probiotics

Disclosure: This is a product-provided, sponsored conversation that contains affiliate links. All opinions, text and experiences are my own. VSL#3 is a medical food and must be used under medical supervision.

Even though I talk about food incessantly around here, I rarely ever discuss how our bodies are affected by what we put in them. I mean, I assume you know that even though I share tons of treat recipes, I definitely fuel up with nutritious foods on the daily... mostly so I can justify those treats! So, today I'm taking a second to discuss just one tiny fraction of the wide world of healthy and nutrition: the benefits of probiotics.

Thanks to the fact that my husband is in a natural health field {chiropractic}, I learned about the perks of taking a good probiotic years ago. I kind of go around recommending them to people like they are magic pills; they're sort of awesome.

Probiotics are a mysterious thing to many, even though I think yogurt commercials and health-related media figures like Dr. Oz have done a good job of getting the buzzword out there for the masses. But even though you might have heard of probiotics, you might still have questions about how they're helpful.

So, what exactly are probiotics? Scientifically speaking, they are "a viable mono or mixed culture of bacteria which, when applied to animal or man, beneficially affects the host by improving the properties of the indigenous flora." (Havenaar and Huis in Veld, 1992.)

Um, say what?

Don't let all that fancy terminology confuse you. In short, probiotics are happy bacteria that help boost the natural, good bacteria that occur in your body. That can be confusing because we often think of bacteria as a bad thing. But not all bacteria need to be eliminated! It is because of bacteria that we are able to stay healthy and have a balanced ecosystem in our guts, as icky as that sounds.

Sometimes because of lifestyle, eating habits, illness and genetics, our body's ecosystems get thrown off kilter and we can overgrow certain types of bacteria that make us feel sick or cause unwanted symptoms. That's when supplements and friendly bacteria boosters can really come in handy!

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is one of those troubling disorders that lots of folks struggle with. Basically, IBS is a condition of the large intestine that can cause all kinds of very pesky stomach discomfort. There are certain triggers that can cause IBS to flare up like eating certain foods, stress and hormonal changes. The good news is IBS can be managed by making good dietary choices and -- that's right -- taking our allies, probiotics!

Except, here's the thing: Not all probiotics are made equal. Just like other products out there on the market, some probiotics are better quality or more complete than others.

VSL #3 is a great example of a high-potency probiotic that's worth taking. It's so potent, in fact, that it's considered a "medical food" {10 times more potent than your average probiotic!} meaning that you'll have to pick them up in the pharmacy section of your local drug store. No prescription is required, but they do need to be maintained at cool temps to keep those "good bugs" alive and active, so your pharmacist will have them refrigerated.

Along with maintaining a healthy diet, VSL #3 can improve the symptoms {like gas and bloating} that come with IBS. You know what else makes for happy tummies? Delicious food.

It's pretty awesome that registered dieticians like Patty Catsos now have cookbooks, blogs and recipes galore that are IBS-friendly. Whether you're cooking for family members who struggle with these disorders or bringing a dish to a party, it's nice to have tasty options to please taste buds and keep bellies happy.

This Roasted Red Pepper Dip is a great option to share with family and friends, whether or not they have dietary struggles. The recipe is quick and easy to throw together and has a variety of uses! We liked it as a dip, but it also works as a salad dressing and even a quick pasta sauce to toss together for a quick, simple meal.

What are some of your favorite IBS-friendly recipes? You can find some more at

Check out VSL #3 on Facebook & make sure to enter their GastroNomical Giveaway!

Roasted Red Pepper Dip

Created by Patsy Catsos, RD for VSL#3®

1 cup roasted red peppers, jarred or home-roasted
1 tablespoon garlic-infused extra virgin olive oil
1 pound lactose-free cottage cheese
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
⅛ teaspoon white pepper
⅛ teaspoon Tabasco sauce (optional)

1. Place all ingredients in a food processor bowl or blender. Process or blend until smooth and creamy.

2. Serve chilled, with tortilla chips or fresh vegetables.

VSL#3® products must be refrigerated to maintain potency and is available at your local pharmacy. Look for VSL#3® in the probiotic aisle of your local drug store and bring the card to the pharmacist as it is kept behind the pharmacy counter in the refrigerator. ​

This is a product-provided, sponsored conversation that contains affiliate links. All opinions, text and experiences are my own. VSL#3 is a medical food and must be used under medical supervision.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Spiced Cider Jelly Candies | Bake Craft Sew 2014 + Blendtec Giveaway!

Can you believe it's that time of year again? Because I sure can't. It's time to start thinking about stocking stuffers and Christmas cookies and braving the malls once again -- the holidays are just about here!

I've obviously been preoccupied with preparing for my own special delivery this year, but that doesn't mean that I haven't had time to make some DIY treats for giving. {I actually have loaves of Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Pecan Bread packaged up and frozen for labor and delivery nurse thank you gifts once the baby decides to join us. Good thinkin' ahead, right??} Those are actually my favorite kind.

The lovely ladies running Bake Craft Sew are in full swing sharing 30 days of homemade, handmade and lovingly made gifts that you can whip up to give to friends, family and even complete strangers if that's your thing.

Last year, I shared my Creamy Eggnog Dip that is SO easy to make and looks oh-so-inviting when it's packaged up all pretty in a little jar with some embellishments.

This year, I'm sharing a recipe for these {again, easy-to-make!} Spiced Cider Jelly Candies. They look super fancy but really don't take much more work than boiling a few ingredients together and letting them set!

Head over to Leigh Anne's blog, Your Homebased Mom, for the recipe. Before you head over, make sure to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below... it's for a Stainless Steel Designer BlendTec Blender worth $650!!! Now THAT's a gift you may want to keep. ;)

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Thursday, November 6, 2014

Crispy Potato & Parsnip Hash with Stonyfield Yogurt + DreamFarm

Disclosure: I am honored to be a member of the Stonyfield Clean Plate Club. I received product or coupons for writing this post, but all opinions are my own.

It amazes me that there are still relatively common foods that I haven't tried. Some just don't make it onto my radar and others puzzle me enough that I pick them up at the grocery store and think, "What in the world would I do with this?"

Parsnips are one such food.

During my Trader Joe's rounds last week I found that the parsnips {which happened to be particularly inexpensive} suddenly looked too intriguing to leave out of my basket. So they came home with me and we got acquainted.

Have you ever tried a parsnip? It's a root vegetable that looks a lot like a carrot with a pale complexion. Like maybe carrot's SPF-conscious cousins.

Knowing nothing about parsnips and how to prepare them -- but figuring that they couldn't be too different from other root veggies -- I decided to give them a go in a Crispy Potato and Parsnip Hash and see how they'd turn out.

I peeled them, chopped them and threw them into this cool little contraption that was sent to me to try: the Dreamfarm Vebo.

 It's a silicone basket where VEggies {and whatnot} can be BOiled, steamed and strained all in one convenient place. It was pretty nifty! {Although I have to tell you, you could get some serious steam burns if you're not careful pulling the basket out of the boiling water. Just a heads up.}

Despite the fact that I am not a big fan of carrots {I've tried so very hard to like the over the years, but I just can't do it!}, I really enjoyed the parsnips! It could have something to do with the fact that the way I prepared them gave them just the right amount of golden crispness on the outside and tender creaminess on the inside. The flavor was slightly sweet but not too strong and went perfectly with the Dutch yellow baby potatoes and onions that I roasted along with them.

We love this dish on Sunday mornings with breakfast fixins {read: topped with a runny egg and alongside a few strips of bacon}, or as a side dish with a big dollop of tart and creamy Stonyfield Greek Yogurt on top. You can mix some fresh chives into the yogurt for a little extra flavor, but it isn't even necessary.

Want a Vebo of your own? Enter to win one below! I'll be picking a winner at random next week. Good luck!

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Crispy Potato & Parsnip Hash with Stonyfield Yogurt Sauce 

1 pound Dutch yellow baby potatoes, cut into approximately 1 inch pieces
2 parsnips, peeled and cut into approximately 1 inch pieces
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Sea salt
Stonyfield Organic Plain Greek Yogurt
{Optional} Fresh or dried chives, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking pan with foil and drizzle with olive oil. Set aside.

2. Place cut potatoes and parsnips into the Vebo. Place the Vebo in a pot filled with water until just covering veggies. Add about a teaspoon of salt to water. Boil for about 10-12 minutes or until the vegetables are fork-tender.  {If you don't have a Vebo, you can certainly dump the veggies directly into a pot.}

3. Meanwhile, saute onions until just tender in a small pan and set aside.

4. Carefully remove Vebo from pot to drain or pour vegetables into a strainer in the sink. Spread vegetables out onto prepared baking pan and gently toss with oil. {You may want to drizzle a bit more on top.} Add onions to mixture and toss together.

4. Sprinkle with onion powder, garlic powder and salt.

5. Roast for 20-25 minutes or until they're golden brown on the outside, giving them a turn about half way through cooking time.

Serve with a dollop of Stonyfield Greek Yogurt and chives sprinkled on top.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Pumpkin Dutch Apple Pie with Speculoos Crumble

It's November! So, naturally... pie.

You know, when the holidays roll around there are a lot of hard decisions to make. Like how to decorate, and what to buy for family and friends... and most importantly, whether that little space you left for dessert calls for a slice of pumpkin pie or apple pie. No one should have to choose.

This pie is the best of both worlds and you are going to LOVE it.

It's an apple pie smothered in a custardy hug from pumpkin pie filling. It's almost embarrassing to interrupt them, they go so well together.

But you know what really takes this pie over the top?

Cookies. Speculoos, to be precise. Yep, those are the crisp, spiced cookies that Trader Joe's turns into their famous "Cookie Butter."

It just seemed like a logical thing to crush up some Speculoos and add them to the crumbly topping for this pie. The spicy warmth and crunch of the cookies complement the tart apples and creamy pumpkin filling like they were destined to cross paths... sort of like me and Rosner's Appliances!

I'm guest posting over on their blog today and sharing this incredible recipe and fun little story of how I found out we go way back, so make sure to stop by and show them some love! Get the recipe here!

Are you a pumpkin or apple pie person? Will you be trying this two-in-one combo?

Friday, October 31, 2014

Prep's Picks: Around the "Web" Halloween Round Up!

Admittedly, I'm not really a "Halloween person." I like a good costume party as much as the next gal and am totally on board with any reason to eat mini candy bars, but other than that... I'm just not that into it. Especially the gruesome, scary and macabre parts. {I'm pretty sure this explains why.}

Having a food blog has made me more aware of holidays that lend themselves to fun treats, so that's helped to get a little more into the spirit since I'm usually trying to come up with something relevant to share. This year, I made plans for all kinds of Halloweenie treats, but none of them came to fruition. Could be because I'm a little preoccupied with the pumpkin I'm hauling around in my belly.

I'm so glad that there are so many bloggers who dug deep for monster motivation and created some devilishly delightful treats. Today I'm sharing a few of my favorites from around the "web"! {Ha, see what I did there?}

Check out these chilling creations! Have a Happy Halloween!

Sinful Sweets

Milk chocolate monster cookies

- Milk Chocolate Butterscotch Monster Cookies from My Jewish Learning


- Meringue Bones with Raspberry Guts from A Sue Chef

Salted Caramel Apple Snickers Cake | @hbharvest

- Salted Caramel Apple Snickers Cake from Half Baked Harvest

Hauntingly Healthy Eats

Healthy Halloween Party Recipes

- Bewitching Carrot & Cabbage Salad from Sprouting Healthy Habits

- Raisin and Peanut Power Bar Pumpkins from Hungry Happenings

Vegan Black Bean Hummus - Halloween Style!

- Black Bean Hummus & Baked Halloween Chips from Paint and Tofu

Spellbinding Sips


- Spiced Pumpkin Punch from Domesticate Me

Halloween Eyeball Punch -

- Halloween Eyeball Punch from Olivia's Cuisine

- Boba Thai Thea Shooters from Thirsty for Tea