Six Months of Motherhood {A Baby Update} | @stephmwise

Firstly, thank you all for being so kind and understanding about my little blogging hiatus last week. It was much-needed and super restorative and relaxing. We went to my parents’ house in the Chicago suburbs, ate a lot of yummy home-cooked food from my mama and grandmother (and of course, all the Halloween candy) and I got to meet my bestie’s most adorable new puppy, George Washington, named as such because the shelter said he had confidence issues (a.k.a., a fear of squirrels).

It was also good for my soul to get extra snuggle time in with this little one who is, quite unbelievably, SIX months old already. For Avery, six months old looks like a lot of army crawling all over the house (towards anything and everything that is not a toy, of course… we are in serious need of babyproofing ’round these parts), laughing at our funny faces and her reflection in the mirror, lots of talking — or blowing raspberries or squealing or SCREECHING, ahem — a particular affinity for crawling toward our cat Percy and grabbing his tail while squealing (he’s such a good sport about the fact that she pulls out small tufts of his fur every.single.time.) and the early stages of cuddling ← FAVORITE.

Six Months of Motherhood {A Baby Update} | @stephmwise

For me, having a six month old looks like more sleep (do you hear the choir of angels singing?): Avery goes down for bed around 6:45 p.m. and wakes up between 4 and 5 a.m. for a feeding, then goes right back to sleep until 7:30 or 8 a.m. so I cannot complain one iota. It also looks like a little more confidence for me in so many departments: Knowing how to listen to Avery and what her cries mean, anticipating her needs, nursing in (slightly more) public places, going to the grocery store/Target without fear that she’s going to have a conniption fit in Aisle 5 and taking in all the cuddling time I can get, because my girl is already one independent little lady. Oh, and wine. I let myself drink some wine every now and then and it is glorious.

Six Months of Motherhood {A Baby Update} | @stephmwise

The memories of our difficult first few months together cloud over more and more every day with each giggle, smile and reach with those chubby little arms asking for me to hold her. Watching her spunky, headstrong, hilarious and sweet personality develop is just the best. And every night as I am about to put her to bed and she’s cuddled and cozy in my arms, I fall deeper in love with her, never thinking it’s even possible to do so.

Read more


Bourbon Maple Peanut Butter Cup Milkshake | @stephmwise

Two dessert recipe posts in a row with bourbon in them? UM YES/IS THIS EVEN A QUESTION.

But let me tell you why (as if I need an excuse). Because today is a very special day: the day when we celebrate the upcoming arrival of the one and only Jessica of How Sweet Eats‘ adorable baby (yes, I already know he or she will be adorable. It’s a sixth sense) with a big ol’ virtual baby shower. And what better way to celebrate the queen of all things trashed up-meaning-oh-so-delicious foods than with the classiest (trashiest?) of trashed-up cocktails — that is to say, this mother of a boozy milkshake. WITH BOURBON.

Oh, and maple syrup and peanut butter and peanut butter cups and chocolate ice cream and I’m dead.

Read more


Butternut-Pumpkin Spice Sheet Cake with Bourbon-Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting | @stephmwise

Be still my pumpkin and bourbon and cake-loving heart.

This sheet cake, you guys. Can I tell you something about it? It’s pretty tasty. And I think you should make it for your Halloween-ing weekend.

I actually made this cake a few weeks ago for my friend Lauren of Keep It Sweet Desserts, who just had an adorable baby boy named Liam whose cheeks I want to squish through the computer screen. Sadly, I couldn’t literally share this cake with her as we live a few hundred miles from each other (which is so unfortunate, considering all of the dessert yums that girl makes that I would happily take from her if we were neighbors). Instead, I gave it to my husband to share with his co-workers and apparently they loved it, said the three crumbs that came home with him later that day.

Read more


Pumpkin Seeds, Three Ways | @stephmwise

I feel a little ridiculous talking with you about how to roast pumpkin seeds, but here we are.

Oh hai. How are you. Let’s talk pumpkin seeds.

I’ve been snacking on these things since the dawn of time, a.k.a. since my mom has been making them for us kids after we carve(d) pumpkins for Halloween. They are the second best thing to come out of a pumpkin this time of year, in my opinion — the first is pumpkin pie forever and ever, obvi. Though pumpkin cheesecake is darn good, too. And pumpkin pancakes. Ooooh, and my new-found love, pumpkin mac and cheese.

Pumpkin Seeds, Three Ways | @stephmwise

BUT ANYWAY. Pumpkin seeds, y’all — they’re so versatile. That’s why I’ve got three yummy ways to make them and eat them for you! One involves sea salt and olive oil. The other involves sea salt, olive oil and Old Bay seasoning. The third involves no sea salt, no olive oil, but yes sprinkles. Sprinkles! It’s practically a party up in here.

Read more


Apple Cinnamon Streusel Pull-Apart Bread | @stephmwise

(This giveaway is closed.)

It’s a big day, you guys.

Not only am I sharing a recipe with you that is, quite honestly, the best thing I’ve baked all season, it’s also the day I get to share with you the awesome partnership between Red Star Yeast and Stop Hunger Now and their joint campaign to bake the world a better place.

Oh, AND there is a giveaway at the end. AND it’s Friday. Let’s dance the Carlton for all o’ that.

Sometimes I think the food that I make doesn’t really matter or make a difference. I mean, yes, there is nothing I love more than to provide a meal to my family and to anyone who comes over — it’s what I love most about food, really, that it brings people together in a joyful and intentional way. But at the end of the day, I don’t feel like my enchiladas are going to save the world, just my hangry-ness.

That’s why Red Star Yeast and Stop Hunger Now are coming together to raise awareness of their mission: To end hunger in our lifetime by providing food and life-saving aid to the world’s most vulnerable and by creating a global commitment to mobilize the necessary resources. Did you know that 842 million people in the world do not have enough to eat, and that every day, more than 25,000 people die abroad of hunger and hunger-related causes? It is why Stop Hunger Now aims to provide nutritional, filling meals worldwide. In 2013, roughly 125,000 volunteers worldwide packaged more than 42 million meals for recipients in 30 countries. Also in 2013, Stop Hunger Now sent more than $9 million worth of donated goods — including antibiotics, birthing kits, water filters, school desks, projectors, fabric and solar lights — to countries in need.

In 2014, they — and we — want to make those numbers even bigger. And it can happen starting with the food we make in our homes.

Read more


Iowa CornQuest Recap | @stephmwise

Sooooo remember that time I told you I went to Iowa to hang out in the cornfields with nine other bloggers and learn all about the corn industry in Iowa?

OK, maybe I just told you about the cornfields part. Now I shall tell you the rest.

A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege to attend the Iowa CornQuest tour in Des Moines for a few days to experience all that Iowa has to offer, from its corn and livestock production to its generous, passionate people. Having lived and worked as a reporter in Iowa City for a couple of years, I was able to catch a small glimpse of this side of the state then, but nothing like what I experienced in these three days.

Read more