July 30, 2012

The Shark Navigator Upright Bagless Vacuum Cleaner

With 2 dogs, 2 cats, 2 adults, and a toddler living in a 2 bedroom condo, we need a wicked good vacuum. Nothing is more frustrating than watching pet hair blow away from your vacuum when you are trying to clean. Can anyone else relate? After reading several on-line reviews we decided to purchase the Shark Navigator Upright Bagless Vacuum Cleaner. This is hands down one of the best purchasing decisions we have ever made. The lightweight Shark Navigator is phenomenal at sucking up pet hair and because it's bagless it's super easy to clean! It has a mode for bare floors and another for carpets, and includes a pet hair power brush for removing hair from your furniture. You don't have to spend several hundreds of dollars to get this rock star vacuum, the Shark Navigator is competitively priced at $149.99. Recently two other couples have purchased this vacuum based on our personal recommendation and they have also been thrilled with the Shark's performance. Visit my online GNG shopping cart (page 2) to purchase the best solution for pet hair removal.

July 27, 2012

Thyme-Roasted Sweet Potatoes

I was first introduced to this roasted sweet potato recipe while nannying for a family in Bethesda, MD. The mom is a fabulous cook and has a great collection of recipes. This as well as the sauteed swiss chard with currants and pine nuts are two tasty recipes that she found on Epicurious.

Vegetables are a hard sell to my husband, Scott, and his brother, Andrew, but these are two of their favorites. If they'll eat them any guy will!

July 25, 2012

Morgie Turns 2

Last weekend we celebrated our son Morgan's second birthday with a safari themed party. With some help from Adega, Pinterest, Amazon, and Party City we had quite an impressive spread. Thank you to all of our friends and neighbors that came out to celebrate, your presence was his greatest present.

Why a safari theme? This year we became FONZ members and have gone to the National Zoo at least once a week this summer. The FONZ membership is awesome because parking is free (it normally costs $22 to park for the day, so it quickly pays for itself), you are supporting the animals and the zoo program, and the kids get free animal crackers during each visit. Another reason for the theme, Morgan is learning Spanish and I found a fantastic supplemental video series that features Little Pim the Panda. He instantaneously fell in love with Little Pim. The Little Pim series offers several language options so I recommend it to anyone who wants to expose their kids to multiple languages. Now on to the party! 

Let's start with the food. I usually....ok always... pride myself on making everything for our parties, but for this one Scott convinced me to take a break and outsource some of the production. I ordered a few delicious selections from Adega. If you live in Silver Spring, MD I highly recommend visiting this restaurant, especially on Saturday or Sunday for their wine and dine special. 1 appetizer, 2 entrees, and 1 select bottle of wine for $40! Last year I organized a surprise party for Scott after he was offered the position of Director of Undergraduate Studies for the University for Maryland's Psychology Department. The food was phenomenal and the customer service was excellent, especially from one of their on-site managers Ilecia, so I chose to use them again for this event. Here is a link to Adega's catering menu.

While perusing Pinterest for safari ideas, I came across a few impressive artistic culinary creations that I wanted to try to replicate. Pictured below is my work inspired from the following blogs. The first was panda cupcakes from Bakerella.

Next I found a few examples of how to carve a turtle out of a watermelon from Class Brain and The Cutest Blog on the Block.

Due to having the party in our condo, I wanted to find a couple of items that would entertain a bunch of toddlers in a small space, and that Morgan could use in the future. I purchased a safari tent and water station on Amazon... both were a huge hit with the kids!

For desserts we had the panda cupcakes and these pretzel cookies. I had ordered a birthday cake from Cold Stone Creamery, but we had so much food that we didn't even get to it until the next day.

May all his wishes come true!

July 24, 2012

The Go Crib

Introducing the GoCrib. A lightweight, rugged, inflatable crib that fits in a backpack. As soon as I saw the video I wanted to buy this crib though my husband Scott was skeptical that an inflatable could be as sturdy as this one claimed to be. But it has indeed proven to be a must have travel product. Whether you are staying in a hotel for a night, going on an international beach vacation, hanging at a neighbor's pool party, watching a soccer game, or need extra sleep space during a playdate, the GoCrib is an easy solution. Watch this video to see it in action.

Last March we brought the GoCrib on our trip to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic while staying at the all-inclusive Ocean Blue and Sand Resort. As you can see, instead of having to take Morgan to our room for a nap, we were all able to relax on the beach instead.

I have been wanting to write a blog post on the GoCrib because we have been extremely happy with it, but after a year and a half of use our crib had developed a small leak. I could not in good conscience recommend this product until I found out how the company resolved product malfunctions. I must say that the Guava Family's customer service is phenomenal. I emailed the company and on the same day I received a personal response from the creator of the crib, Scott Crumrine, asking me to give him a call in the morning. I explained the leak to Scott and appreciated his honesty that although it rarely happens they have received a few reports (out of thousands sold each year) that a crib had a leak. Scott's solution to the problem was to ship us a new GoCrib and I could mail ours back in the new box with the return shipping included so his team could try to figure out where the leak was coming from. Customer service can't get any better than that. 

Forget the traditional pack and play, GNG highly recommends the lighter, more compact, and sleek looking GoCrib.

July 20, 2012

Pretzel Cookies with Chocolate and Peanut Butter Chips

This Pretzel Cookie Recipe is a GNG Pinterest Pick from Sugar Cooking. If you love sweet and salty combos you have to try this recipe.

A couple of weeks ago, a few of us girls got together to hang out with our friend Nichole who was nursing a broken leg after getting hit by an SUV while jogging through our neighborhood. I made a batch of these cookies for our girls' night and they were a big hit (no pun intended). Nichole actually ate hers before eating the main course, a delicious spread Amelia brought from the Lebanese Taverna.

GNG tip: You can make cookie dough in advance, form into a log, wrap in wax paper, and refrigerate until ready to bake. Slice as many cookies as needed. This allows you to have fresh cookies for several days rather than baking all at once and having them go stale. If you are bringing a hostess gift, bake half the recipe, form the rest into a log and wrap with a decorative bow and baking directions.

July 15, 2012

Aunt Peg's Wicked Good Arnold Palmer

This iced tea is a Griffin family favorite that originated from our Grammie Jackie and my mom (aunt Peg) and aunt Vick are now best known for making. As mentioned in my quiche post, I have many fond childhood memories of sitting outside on our deck, sipping on a glass of this thirst quenching summertime classic. Grammie Jackie used to use 9 tea bags in her recipe but my mom uses 13 because it's her and my dad's lucky number (aww!!! I just learned that story of her adaptation tonight).

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July 7, 2012

Pea Soup

I love pea soup! A hearty soup that is full of nutrients and freezes well. While staying at my mother-in-law's this past winter, I substituted the original spice packet (included in the bag of peas) for 2 Sazon azafran packets to add a little Latin flair. Delicioso!

A little historical side note about the bowl pictured. If you look closely you can see Scott's name on the front. In 1992, Scott's family visited friends in Quimper, France. Following a local tradition, each child in the household had one of these bowls with their name on it to drink their morning hot chocolate. So Alicia, Scott's mom, bought a customized bowl, Quimper Ware, as a souvenir for each of her boys to take home.

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