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Maria Makes Muffins is the musings of a granola eating, tree hugging, modern mom.

I am a Minneapolis-based stay at home mom who has lost over 57 pounds (and counting) by eating clean, weight lifting, HIIT and yoga.

Join me as I feed my family one muffin at a time!

Questions or comments? Email me at maria (at) mariamakesmuffins (dot) com

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After posting on Facebook that I was trying Stitch Fix for the first time I got a lot of questions about my experience. So, I thought that the amount of interest warranted a post about my experience after receiving my first Fix earlier this week.

I have always loved fashion. Growing up I played dress up all of the time. As a teenager and college student I spent way too much time (and money) shopping. However, after quitting my job and becoming a stay at home mom I find myself more often than not lounging around the house in my Lulu’s or C9′s rather than the latest fashions. I still enjoy doing my hair and make up and going out on dates with Allan or having girls’ nights. I do try to dress up and wear outfits to playdates, bible study and MOPS; however this is my usual at home attire.

 

I find it increasingly annoying to go to the mall with the boys because A) we have better things to do B) I’ve become pretty cheap and C) shopping for clothes at Target is just easier. So, the thought of receiving a box of beautiful designer clothes within my budget really spoke to me!

Before I show the goods I received, here is a little run down on how Stitch Fix works.

Stitch Fix is a personal styling service. When you sign up for your account you fill out a questionnaire detailing your sizing, measurements and style preferences. It was fun to fill out and included lots of outfit lay downs similar to those you see on Pinterest. After filling out the questionnaire, you can schedule your first “Fix”.

When I ordered mine the wait time was approximately to weeks to receive my first box. However, I just ordered my next box and the wait time is closer to 5 weeks out. This wasn’t that big of a deal, as I didn’t have an event or vacation in the near future where I needed a new outfit. When you order your box you pay a $20 styling fee, which is then applied to your account as a credit on any items that you decide to keep. However, if you send everything back, you still pay the styling fee. But if you keep the everything in your Fix you receive a 25% discount.

Included in each Fix is a handy dandy styling guide that shows you how to wear each of the items and a personalized note from my very own stylist, Kayla!

You have a couple days to try everything on in the comfort of your home and then send back the items in a pre-paid USPS envelope that you can stick in your mailbox. Easy as that!

Want to see what was in my Fix?

The first item I tried on was this super soft Selfridge Cowl Neck Long Sleeve Top from 41Hawthorn. I really liked the color, fit and price ($48), but felt that the fabric was too sheer and delicate to wear around my boys. I know that they would snag or stain this shirt within minutes of being around me, so this is going back. But it sure is pretty.

(Striking my best model pose with L photo bombing through the fireplace – yep that guy has mad skills)

Also shown in several of these pics are a pair of Kensie Jeans Johnny Regular Length Skinny Jeans, which I love! They are a tiny bit tight in the waist and a tad bit long, but fit my strong legs well. They are very stretchy and soft, so I know that by the end of a full day of wear the waist will fit like a dream. I have been on the hunt for a second pair of live-in skinny jeans and these perfectly fit the bill. At $88 they are a little more than I usually pay for a pair of jeans at Banana Republic, but I really like them, so they are a keeper.

 

I had really high hopes for this Daniel Rainn Kerra Crew Neck Lace Blouse when I pulled it out of my box. I have been loving all of the lace tops made popular on style blogs and Pinterest, so I really wanted to love this. However, it was too big and boxy. So, it’s going back. Maybe my next Fix will include a similar top in a smaller size.

I really wasn’t sure what to think about this 41Hawthorn Holly Chevron Arrow Print Infinity Scarf. The pattern was really pretty and I liked the colors; however, didn’t like the way that it hung, plus it just felt too busy. I am a big fan of pattern and color, but this just was not working for me. So, it went back in the bag.

The final item I tried on was this simple 41Hawthorn Kasey Stripe Hem Fit & Flare Dress. I really liked the simplicity of the dress along with the cut. I could easily wear this to church on Easter Sunday or a Friday night date with Allan. So, at $68, this dress was a steal.

Overall, I was impressed with my Fix and decided to sign up for a monthly box. It can be very difficult to find the time and energy to take the boys with me to the mall to shop, so I appreciate having someone else do the leg work for me and being able to simply try on the items at home, at my own convenience, and simply walk the items I don’t like down to the mailbox.

Please note that this is NOT a sponsored post, Stitch Fix has no clue that I have a blog and I was not compensated in any way to share my experience with you. I simply wrote this post because I have received a lot of questions about my experience. Also, this post does contain affiliate links and if you order a Fix I will receive a small credit. If I accumulate enough credits I will see if I can do a Stitch Fix credit giveaway! Thanks for your support and helping to keep this blog up and running.

As I sit here on a snowy, beginning of winter day perusing the beautiful family photos we had taken in early November, I am thankful that we planned ahead. Trying to wrangle two small children in front of a misshapen Christmas tree armed with a tripod, self-timer and lighting kit seems like an accident waiting to happen. Allan’s cousin, Sean Sullivan, did an amazing job taking our family photos and I am so excited to share them with our family and friends in our annual Christmas photo card.

When I was contacted by Minted I knew that it would be a wonderful partnership opportunity. I had heard of them by way of friends and other bloggers, but have never used their services. The Christmas cards we received last year that were printed by Minted were beautifully crafted and memorable. Upon entering their site I was immediately greeted by a wide assortment of gorgeous Christmas cards to choose from. Look at that gold foil!

I loved the Find It Fast feature which gave me the ability to upload my family photos and preview each card with our photo in place of the stock family photos. I was immediately able to tell if a layout would work with my chosen photo instead of having to go through the effort of placing my photo into the card myself.

 

 

 

 

 

It can be daunting sorting through hundreds of layouts, so I really liked that upon mouseover I was able to favorite/heart, pin to Pinterest or have a quick look at the card. This made sifting through the layouts easy.

When I finally decided which card I liked most I was able to really personalize it to match our taste. I could add fancy edging and rounded corners, choose upgraded papers (like 100% recycled paper) and add patterns or photos to the back of the card.

Once you decided on the layout and personalizations you would like, most cards can be delivered in two different ways:

Express Service, which is similar to other photo card sites, where you receive an immediate digital preview of your card options. This enables you to quickly get your order processing and includes a $10 credit.

If you’re more Type A, like me, then you can choose to receive a Full Service Proof prior to printing. A Minted designer will provide you with a digital proof, just like we used to receive in the advertising biz prior to printing. This way you can see every detail of your card and ensure that it is juuuuust right.


If you order Christmas cards by Thursday, December 5th use coupon code HOLLY to receive 15% off $150+ or 10% off a $100+. Also, for a limited time Minted will address all of your envelopes for FREE!!! That in and of itself is an amazing offer saving you time and many a hand cramp.

 

 

Please note that this post was sponsored by Minted. However, as always, all opinions are my own.

When L began eating solids back in March we loosely followed the Baby-Led Weaning approach. I was surprised at how well he did feeding himself cute pieces of super soft foods. So, honestly we haven’t had a huge need for homemade baby food purees, like we did when M was a baby. I am really loving the ease of simply feeding L a bit of what we are eating or leftovers from another meal, like sweet potatoes.

L’s favorite foods are sweet potato, grapes (quartered), banana (which he calls “beneh”), oatmeal, eggs, all berries, stone fruits (nectarines, peaches, plums, cherries), sautéed greens (kale, spinach, collards, swiss chard), zucchini, carrot apple zucchini muffins and gluten-free toast spread with coconut oil. He’s started eating around avocado (which he used to love) and will spit out foods when he sees something else on his tray that he would prefer to eat.

When we first started solids, I spent one afternoon making my own homemade smoothie packs for easy grab and go meals when we’re running out the door, grandma’s house, going out to eat or for those nights when the meal that I’ve prepared isn’t exactly baby friendly and we are short on leftovers. I loosely based my recipes on this post. We’ve since run out of that big batch of pouches and it’s time to restock my freezer!

To quickly thaw frozen smoothies simply run them under warm water and gently break up the icy clumps. If you place the baby food in the fridge overnight it should be thawed by mid-morning. Please do not microwave baby’s food to warm/thaw. You can create hot spots and will run the risk of burning your baby’s mouth. Also, I would highly recommend that everyone attempt to wean themselves from the microwave, it’s not good for you or your health.

Our summer has been crazy busy so far and I have had to break down and buy store bought organic smoothies pouches – we like the 4 pack “cases” by Plum Organics, which have thankfully been on sale at Target quite often . However, at close to $2 per pouch they are overpriced, heavy on fruit, light on veggies, lack caloric density and don’t offer healthy fats.

At almost 11 months old, L is eating 98% table food; however, we do supplement some lunches with pouches and I would prefer they be uber nutritious and filling. Also, M still enjoys smoothie packs as an occasional snack (his favorite is broccoli apple kale) and I’m sure we will do the same with L as he begins enjoying snacks, as well.

In addition to smoothie packs, we keep organic bananas, organic greens puffs and Little Ducks freeze dried organic fruit on hand for quick grab and go foods or for the boys to much on while I prep lunch or dinner.

Homemade baby food definitely saves money while offering superior nutrition. This is obvious by simply looking at the brilliant colors of homemade food vs. the brownish mush that comes out of a store bought smoothie. Store-bought ain’t got nothin’ on that!

Also when making homemade you can control the ingredients and ratio of veggies to fruit. No more additives like lemon juice and citric acid (which can be GMO). As your baby ages you can add less water during the blending process resulting in a thicker consistency and higher caloric density.

Plus, it’s fun to dote on your baby by spending some quality time making love in the kitchen just for him or her. :)

Click here for an easy to follow, step by step process to making a big batch of 60 four ounce smoothies. This should easily last 2 months with a new eater (5-7 months old) and one month for a baby who is starting to enjoy finger foods along with pureed foods (8+ months). Please do not be overwhelmed by the lengthy list of instructions, it is not difficult or overly time consuming to make your own baby food. I simply wanted to ensure that I seamlessly laid out the entire process for you so that your time in the kitchen would be efficient, fun and easy. Also, be sure to check out the tips and tricks at the bottom of the post for ways to save additional time and money.

Please remember to check with your baby’s doctor before starting solids, as there are several milestones your baby must hit before being ready to enjoy more than milk. 

Holy buckets, friends. Guess what happened today? Besides the craziness that lead me to send my husband a novel of a text message outlining the intense psychosis that is staying at home with a 10 month old boy, 3 year old boy and 10 year old cat and the emotional and physical trauma that can enfold all before nap time.

Phew! Ok, what was I talking about again? That’s right! Guess what happened today?!? I found the piece of paper with the recipe for my (soon-to-be) world famous gluten-free, dairy-free Rhubarb Raspberry Pie. And honestly, not a second too soon. Like we discussed last week, rhubarb season is coming to a close and so is raspberry season. So take your sloppy seconds and throw them together into this amazing pie that will honestly stun health nuts, omnivores, vegetarians and those who enjoy the SAD (standard american diet) equally.

One you dice the rhubarb, this pie, including the pie dough, comes together at a moment’s notice. The only hang up is that the pie dough behaves best when allowed to chill in the fridge or freezer for a bit. So, I suggest making the pie dough (or a few to be safe, as these do freeze well) first then moving on to the rhubarb raspberry filling.

Don’t be dismayed if the time for rhubarb has already come and gone in your neck of the woods and you didn’t think to pick up a few extra bushels to freeze. Peaches, nectarines, plums, blueberries and cherries would all make amazing substitutes in this recipe. Simply adjust the amount of sweetener to correspond to the ripeness of your fruit. Or simply run to the frozen section of your health food store and pick up a bag of pre-diced, frozen rhubarb.

I used to be very intimidated by making my own pie crust and so I avoided doing it most of my adult life, relying on store bought, frozen whole wheat and spelt crusts to house my homemade creations. However, once going gluten-free I was unsatisfied by the price and nutritional quality of the pre-made gluten-free pie crusts. So, I started experimenting with simple press-in crusts. However, not all pies work well with a hearty oat and nut filled crust. Some pies simply deserve a fancy, buttery, rolled crust. My secrets for making pie crust are to keep a sense of humor, remember that all errors can be fixed, imperfections add character, let the dough CHILL and always use a food processor equipped with a dough blade.

When I went dairy-free and gluten-free my stand-by gluten-free crust needed some reworking, as the recipe called for both coconut oil and pastured organic butter. I was nervous that the dough wouldn’t roll or would be too gooey using all coconut oil, but to my surprise it actually worked! Honestly, the dough rolls a little funny, needing to be warmed and pressed with your hands and then gently rolled with a rolling pin. When you invert the crust onto the pie plate it will break into several pieces. However, the dough is easily worked and repaired into one pie crust.

Since I planned to bring my pies to family events around the Fourth of July, I opted to use the extra dough pieces from each crust to cut out star shapes using a cookie cutter. Feel free to use whatever shape floats your boat or skip it altogether – no one will be the wiser.

As you can see, the crust browns very nicely, meaning that you MUST use a pie shield. If you do not have a fancy schmancy pie shield (or three) you can make one using strips of foil neatly wrapped around the pie plate. Please do this prior to placing your pie in the oven and realizing half-way through the baking time that the crust is going to burn. Trust me, darling, no one wants burnt fingers.

Also, feel free to edge this pie in whichever way you would like. I really liked the forked edge technique in the pic above, but did flute a few pies with this crust, as well.

Also, please save yourself some time and make several pies at once. They freeze amazingly and simply need a day or so in the fridge to thaw. The quality of the pie does not suffer one bit.

 

Pie Crust, Gluten-Free Dairy-Free

by Maria Peters

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 10 min

 

Ingredients (One 12 inch pie)

  • 1 1/4 cups oat flour, gluten-free
  • 2/3 cup almond meal or flour
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 6 tbsp coconut oil, chilled
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp honey or maple syrup
  • 1 large organic egg

Instructions

Chill coconut butter until hardened.

Place oat flour, almond meal and sea salt into a food processor outfitted with the dough blade (all plastic). Pulse a few times to combine.

Cut coconut butter into small pieces and add to the food processor. Pulse until coarse crumbs form.

Whisk the egg and vinegar in a small dish until fluffy. Add to the processor with the honey. Pulse until a ball forms in the food processor. Test the dough to see if it rolls nicely between your thumb and forefinger. If it is too wet/sticky add additional oat flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. If is crumbles and is too dry, add 1 tbsp of cold water at a time until you can easily roll the dough into a log shape.

Form the dough into a ball and place on a sheet of plastic wrap. Press the dough into a large, flat circle (see pic in the linked post). Wrap with plastic and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 1 hour or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350*. Grease your pie plate with coconut oil.

Roll dough out onto parchment paper that has been liberally sprinkled with additional oat flour. You may need to warm up the dough with your hands to facilitate the rolling. Also, it helps to start the smoothing with the palms of your hands and then move onto using your rolling pin. Roll to fit your desired pie plate.

Invert the pie plate in the middle of the dough and quickly flip the dough + pie plate + parchment over so the pie plate is right side up and the parchment is on top. Gently peel away the parchment paper from the pie dough. The pie crust will break into several pieces. Don’t worry, this is easily fixable. Gently press the crust into your pie plate, using the warmth of your fingers and palms to heat up the folds and create one uniform pie crust. This is time consuming, but not difficult. Breathe deeply.

Trim the pie crust to fit the plate and edge as desired.

Pre-bake crust for 10 minutes before filling.

Serve with Rhubarb Raspberry Pie Filling.

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Rhubarb Raspberry Pie Filling

by Maria Peters

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 45-55 minutes

Keywords: bake birthday dessert spring summer toddler approved dairy-free gluten-free low-fat low-sugar soy-free vegetarian vegan July 4th spring summer

 

Ingredients (serves 8)

  • 4 cups rhubarb, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups raspberries
  • 1/4 cup raw organic honey or organic maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup arrowroot powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch sea salt

Instructions

Preheat oven to 375*.

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Taste test. You may need additional sweetener if your fruit is tart.

Add filling to your pre-baked Pie Crust (see my gluten-free, dairy-free pie crust recipe for a great option!).

Shield pie crust with foil or a fancy schmancy pie shield.

Bake at 375* 45-55 minutes until filling is bubbly, thickened and baked down.

Serve warm or at room temperature, preferably with coconut milk ice cream or coconut whipped cream.

This pie freezes amazingly, so make extras!

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