It Makes a Village Block Set

Upon first seeing the Grimms' It Makes a Village Blocks, I was struck by their beautifully brilliant colors and fantastic shapes.  These intriguing blocks look inspired by nature and organic in form, which makes them unique among block sets.  Because the blocks are carefully crafted and hand-sanded, we look forward to them lasting throughout the years.

The first time Avery laid her hands on the blocks, she built a race track for what turned out to be an epic flying car race.  We look forward to building, imagining and creating with this amazing set of blocks again and again.

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Post by Michelle Sterling of Avery and Augustine

You can see her work and read about her two young children's first forays in cooking, art and everything in between at Avery and Augustine.

Snickerdoodle Apple Mini-Muffins

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Whenever I serve these Snickerdoodle Apple Muffins they are a hit. Everyone from kids to adults loves them—the sweet cinnamon taste with a hint of apple is pure perfection. They’re best when eaten fresh out of the oven after they’ve cooled just enough to touch. We dip the tops in additional butter and cinnamon sugar—and the result is pure bliss in a tiny, bite-sized muffin.

Growing up these muffins were my absolute favorite. I don’t remember having them for breakfast in the morning as much as I remember having them when my Mom would make breakfast foods for dinner. I don’t know what it is about breakfast for dinner—but I love it, especially when it involves these Snickerdoodle Apple Muffins.

INGREDIENTS:
2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup milk
1 egg
1-2 peeled and diced Granny Smith apples

TOPPING:
1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon cinnamon, mixed together

TO MAKE:
Mix flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in a large bowl. Add melted butter, milk and egg. Stir together until mixed but still lumpy. Fold in diced apples.

Spray mini muffin tin with nonstick spray or use liners. Scoop batter into tins about 1/2-3/4 full. Bake at 425 degrees for 9-11 minutes. Do not over bake.

Let muffins cool just long enough to handle. Dip muffin tops in melted butter then in cinnamon-sugar combo. Serve immediately.

Reposted with permission by Aimée Lowry & Bettijo B. Hirschi from PagingSupermom.com

Who’s That Noddie? Volume 3

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We are back with another fun installment of Who’s That Noddie? This time we are talking with Renee Bihler who is our Business Sales Specialist. Renee is beyond awesome in this role, because this lady is always smiling and ready to make new friends! (Pretty sure if we knew her in 5th grade…we would want to share a BFF necklace with her.) Building business-to-business relationships in our company is so important to us, and Renee is the perfect person to make this happen. 

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Why do you love your job?

 I love that this position allows me to build and maintain relationships. Not only with my business-to-business contacts, but also with everyone here at Corporate, and even out in Naperville. I really enjoy interacting with such diverse customers as well as all the various departments within the company and beyond.

What would you do if you won a MILLION dollars?

If I won a million dollars, I would buy a house, pay off my parent’s house, and take a trip someplace I might not be able to go otherwise, like the Seychelles, Africa or Fiji.

What’s your favorite Nod memory?

Taking home the prized Sweaty Award for last year’s holiday sweater contest!

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What’s something unique or surprising about you?

In 2011, I blindly joined a “dance” group with 20 strangers. There were two requirements for joining: No knowledge of anyone in the group and no prior dance experience. We practiced twice a week with a choreographer and at the end of 3 months, we performed in front of 750 people at the Park West. It was one of the scariest yet most rewarding experiences I have ever had.

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What do you love most about working for The Land of Nod?

I love that I can come to work feeling empowered to do what’s best for the customer. I also love how The Land of Nod treats their employees. It is great working for a company that values their employees and makes coming to work fun.  

How is your role impactful to the company?

I believe that the relationships I establish and continue to foster have a great impact on the company. Typically, Business Sales customers purchase in bulk and for multiple locations, oftentimes in places where our products might not be showcased or known about. I think of my role as being one that helps to introduce our brand all over the U.S. and beyond. 

What's your favorite Nod product?

At the moment it’s a toss-up between the You Say Coffee, I Say Play Table and the Circulation Chest.  Both are extremely attractive and versatile pieces for any home.

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Spaghetti & Meatballs

At Nod, we believe your home should be a celebration of family. We'll be featuring our Managing Director, Michelle, at home celebrating her own family with recipes, crafts and décor created by our friend Sweet Paul

Spaghetti & Meatballs is not a common dish in Norway where I grew up.  However, I've fallen in love with the dish since I moved to America.  I think it's the perfect meal for a birthday gathering and is always best served family style. Throw caution to the wind and let the kids eat with their hands if they find the long pasta too difficult to wrangle with a fork….just be sure to have plenty of napkins on-hand!

Dinner

You will need:

2 pounds fresh tomatoes or 1 can (28 oz) of diced tomatoes

1 tbsp tomato paste

1 medium onion 1 glove garlic, minced

1 tbsp cane sugar

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

salt, pepper

10 leaves fresh basil

olive oil

for the meatballs:

1⁄2 pound ground beef

1⁄2 pound ground pork

1 dry bun

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 small onion, minced

1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

salt, pepper

lemon juice, to taste

olive oil

1.Heat oil in a medium pan. Add the onions and stir until it gets soft. 2.Now add the garlic and once it begins to colour lightly and fills the kitchen with aromatic scent stir in the tomatos with their juices and tomato paste. 3.Season the sauce with salt, freshly ground pepper, sugar and balsamic vinegar. 4.Reduce heat and leave to simmer gently, uncovered, stirring often for 30 minutes until the sauce reduces and thickens slightly. 5.Stir in the basil leaves and taste. 6.For the meatballs: In the meanwhile soak the bun in water until its completely soft, squeeze dry and break into pieces. 7.Heat oil in a pan, add the onions and stir until golden. 8.Now combine the ground meat, the bread, the eggs, onions and the parsley in a bowl. 9.Season with salt, pepper and some squirts of lemon. 10. Roll the mixture into small balls and set aside on a plate. 11. Heat the oil in a pan over medium high heat. 12. Fry meatballs slowly until golden brown, but not cooked through completely. 13. Let drain on paper towels and add into your hot tomato sauce. 14. Cook pasta 15 minutes before serving until al dente and serve with tomato sauce and meatballs.

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By Paul Lowe:

When it comes to making simple crafts or elegant meals, Paul Lowe is the man to call. His blog, Sweet Paul has now spun into a successful magazine, providing tons of useful design tips.