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My Earliest Memory

Look guys! I drew you a picture! I wanted to literally illustrate today's story ;-) Let's rewind to Kindergarten with Jess. (circa what? 1992?) I'm approximately 5 and 1/2 years old and I'm about to form my earliest childhood memory... and it's equal parts humiliating and empowering. Ready? So even at a young age, I fancied myself QUITE the artist. We are assigned to the art easel station in groups of four. I can remember how each easel was set up, kind of in a square, so we were all painting together but we couldn't really see each other's work. Teacher says "Paint a Christmas tree!" and I'm all like "oh girl I am going to CRUSH this."  Problem is, I can't remember the shape I need to start with. I know there's a shape. I'm positive it's not a circle. But that's where my confidence ends. Is it a square or a triangle? Definitely a square. Or is it? Hmmmmm... Enter the inner dialog of a little girl who already knows there is a school rule about "no cheating"

Tips for Making Fancy Christmas Cookies with as Much Cheating as Possible. You’re Welcome

Okay so for a few years now I've been using this awesome recipe from America's Test Kitchen {affiliate link} to make cute little cutout cookies.  I make them mostly for Christmas, but I've also done them for pretty much every single other holiday as well... Easter, July 4th, birthdays, and Halloween. Oh and Valentine's Day too! It's a great recipe. And by popular demand here's my how-to! Including all the ways I've come up with to cheat, i.e. all my shortcuts that make it possible for me to find the time to do this here fancy cookie thing.   If I'm in the mood for sugar cookies, I use this recipe. But the cookie decorating tips to follow work great with my new favorite chewy gingerbread cookie recipe.   America's Test Kitchen Holiday Cookies: adapted by Jessica Aiduk   2 1/2 cups all purpose flour 3/4 cup superfine sugar 1/4 teaspoon salt 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces and softened 2

Family Photos | Dunbar Family + Baby Troy

The Dunbar Family and I had a really neat moment of star-alignment a couple weeks ago. Not only was the schedule free and the weather nice for a last-minute photo shoot, but it was the last weekend there were still leaves in Canfield Park! I'm always sad when the City does the Great Leaf Clean Up every fall ;-) But we got to sneak in our photos really quick that Sunday and it was extra special because it was Baby Troy's first family photo session with the crew!  And he was pretty much a pro,

Newborns at Home | Baby Ava

A week after Ava's amazing birth, I got to come back to her home and hang out with her family. It's my favorite type of photo shoot for babies.     Big Brother showed me all his favorite toys and he was such a good sport! Family photos can be super tough for a two-year-old, right? ;-)     I especially loved some of the photos we took in the bedroom where Ava was born.      When I do photos at home, I always love the flexibility we have to just sit and chat while the baby eats, or has a diaper change, or whatever the family needs. Kids can have snacks and adults can have coffee-breaks. I think it makes a big difference in the photos.  But more importantly than all that, I just think it's really important that Mom and Dad and siblings don't walk away feeling like it was a huge stressful ordeal. We want the photos but we don't want the stress, thanks!     It was a

Kids in the Kitchen | Scrambled Egg Soup

You're gonna love this soup recipe. Only two ingredients guys. Chicken stock and eggs. Wait, three ingredients... you gotta have a heaping hunk of patience with kiddos in the kitchen ;-) Oh crap you also need salt and pepper. So ignore my "two ingredient" comment. But whatever it's so easy even your littlest helpers can help big time!      Quick note on farm fresh eggs. I hard boil about a dozen a week (school lunches and quick protein snacks) and I found a trick. You do need to treat fresh eggs differently when you're trying to hard boil them because otherwise the shell will not peel right AT ALL. It sucks. So I follow my America's Test Kitchen {affiliate link} rule of bringing the water to boil, removing from the heat and covering for 10 minutes, then a 5 minute ice bath. BUT I now punch a tiny hole in the bottom of each egg first and am happy to report clean angst-free peeling!  Key is to just poke a hole through the shell without