Tuesday, December 10, 2013

I Can Sing!

I discovered this weekend that Lydia likes to sing along with the lullaby that this house toy plays. I finally got it on video.
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Monday, November 18, 2013

Birthday Partying

Lydia turned 15 months old on Saturday, and somehow I never posted about her birthday party. I remember selecting all the photos I wanted to use in my post. I'm just not sure how I failed to write about it. Well, I do know, but I won't go into it.

The theme was Peter Rabbit. 

We had ham and Swiss, chicken salad, and pimento cheese sandwiches, a veggie tray with hummus and ranch dip, carrot-shaped cheese logs, pretzels, breadsticks, and fruit with fruit dip. I tried to pick things that were kid-friendly.

The cheese carrots were definitely a hit, and so easy!

But the highlight of any birthday party spread is the cake! 

I made homemade carrot cupcakes with lemon cream cheese frosting and homemade chocolate cupcakes with chocolate buttercream frosting. The carrot cake recipe is from Come On In, the Junior League of Jackson's cookbook. I have made other carrot cake recipes, but none of them top that one. It is the same recipe I use for my Easter bunny cake

The cupcake toppers on the carrot cake cupcakes were the inspiration for the entire party. Chip bought them for me years ago. When we were making birthday party plans, I just knew I had to use them. 

The chocolate cupcake recipe is Magnolia Bakery's. I got the tiny fondant veggies on Etsy and made the flower pot seed markers from junk I got at Dollar Tree and some clothespins. 

Ok, enough about the food! What about the baby?

She was a sweetie. And she loves chocolate buttercream. She didn't eat much cake. Mostly just chocolate frosting. But oh did she love that chocolate frosting. 

The guests ate. We opened gifts, Lydia and I. She sat on my lap and watched mama. I liked that. 

The kiddos played with drums and the piano and later some foam shapes that stick to the window with a little water. 

Before my brother and his crew left, we all loaded on a blanket in the front yard and took a few pictures of the kids and of our families.

It was such a wonderful day. I loved having family and friends over to share the event with us. It was the perfect way to celebrate Lydia's first year. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

TV Shows?

At book club the other night, we didn't discuss the book (ha), but we did have a long discussion about TV shows! It was fun! I don't watch much TV. Mostly because channels don't really play the kind of shows I like to watch. I can't do dramas. Especially not dramas about addicts, prison, mental illness, zombies, murder, or anything like that. Maybe it has something to do with my life being very dramatic between 1997 and 2007. Ask me one day why, and I'll tell you all about it. I think I get a bit of PTSD when I watch people making bad decisions and then watch their lives fall apart because of those bad decisions. It makes me nervous and unsettled, and then I want to cry because WHY IS LIFE SO HARD? So... I don't watch dramas.

What I really like are cooking and food shows, especially British people on food-themed shows. Here are some of my favorites.

Jamie at Home
Jamie Oliver's house is my dream home. Settled in the English countryside, he's got a beautiful kitchen garden, and another garden in the rolling hills. He cooks in five or six different locations around his home - his regular kitchen, his professional kitchen, his outdoor oven, fire pit, and spit, and sometimes inside or outside on a portable gas stove. Its ridiculous and lovely at the same time. I really like his passion for the food and for cooking, but I really watch the show for the beauty of the sets.

The F Word
The best thing about The F Word isn't Gordon Ramsay. Don't get me wrong, I do like him in this show. My favorite part of The F Word is Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Janet Street-Porter. Their segments are so interesting. I also like how each season Gordon and his family (his children are adorable) raise an animal for food in the backyard - turkeys, pigs, and lambs.

The next two shows never even came on TV in the states. I had to find them on YouTube.

River Cottage
I started watching this because of Hugh. You've heard of food porn? River Cottage is garden porn.

Victorian Farm
Three academics move to a small farm in the English countryside and try to get by using only mid-19th century equipment, clothes, and technology. Fascinating!

So, if you like vegetable gardening, cooking, England, or all of the above, these shows are for you!

I haven't found anything on TV that comes close to matching how great these shows are. The Little Paris Kitchen with Rachel Khoo on the Cooking channel is okay. Anyone out there have any recommendations for me?

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

How I Cooked It: Mustard Greens

My weekly CSA box from Yokna Bottoms Farms has contained mustard greens the past three weeks. At least I think they are mustard greens. They definitely aren't collards, but I guess they could be turnip greens. Point being, I really don't know what they are, which is why I had a hard time finding ways to use them.

As always, Susan Voisin over at the Fat Free Vegan Kitchen had a good recipe for me to try: Balsamic-Glazed Chickpeas and Mustard Greens

Photo credit: FatFreeVegan.com

I made a few adjustments to the recipe, so here is my version.

Mustard Greens with Glazed White Beans

2 large bunches mustard greens
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 15 oz can of Great Northern beans
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
2 tsp oyster sauce


  1. Remove stems from greens, tear leaves into bite-sized pieces, and soak leaves is a large bowl of cool water to remove grit. Agitate the leaves a bit, and the grit will settle to the bottom. Remove leaves from water by grabbing them and placing in a colander. Do not pour out the greens & water! The grit should stay in the bottom of the bowl. 
  2. In a deep saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add onions. Saute the onion until translucent, then add garlic and red pepper flakes. Saute for a minute more. Add mustard greens and 1/4 cup water and cover for 5 minutes to allow the greens to wilt to a bright green (do not overcook). 
  3. Remove greens and onions from the pan with a slotted spoon, allowing liquid to drain into the pan, and place greens in a bowl. 
  4. To the remaining liquid in the pan, add balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, and oyster sauce. Add beans. Cook, stirring occasionally, over medium-high heat until the liquid is almost gone and the beans have a nice glaze over them. 
  5. To serve, spoon the greens onto serving plates and top with glazed beans. Top with remaining glaze.
I had it for lunch today over brown basmati rice - it was really yummy! I'd say that 2 bunches of greens cooks down to about 2 servings. Not nearly as much as I thought it would be. Stemming and washing greens is a ton of work for not a lot of reward because you get so little food from a TON of greens. I will say though that the greens from the farm were really clean to begin with, so I didn't have to be super vigilant about soaking and rinsing them. 

Next up I need a recipe for all the green bell peppers I had in this week's box. I am not a fan of green bell peppers, so I may make up freezer mirepoix like I did with the last batch... perfect for quick weekday soup making.

Monday, October 07, 2013

Our Views

I don't think I'll ever get tired of these beautiful views we see from the park. The weekend just isn't a weekend without at least one stroll around the neighborhood and through the park. This weekend was no exception. We got in a long walk on Saturday and a short one on Sunday. Sunday's walk required a sweater since the weather turned cooler which made me very happy!

Sunday night as Chip and I ate dinner I glanced outside and saw the most beautiful sunset. I stood up, picked up Lydia from the pack-n-play, and scurried down the front walk to our front yard. Chip followed me, and I know he thought I was a little nutty. With Lydia in my arms I pointed at the view and said "sky", "sunset", "blue", "pink", "pretty", magnificent, lovely, amazing! She pointed and laughed, and we spun backwards and forwards in the cool autumn air.

Moments like that make life so full! It's October! My favorite month! And it is cool outside and leaves are slowly falling now (falling more quickly soon). I can sit with a cup of hot tea while it rains and wear sweaters when it is sunny. So happy.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Today's Project: V

Working on Alicia's Daisychain Sampler.

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Pillow Fort

I woke this morning to Chip, Lydia, and the stuffed toys playing in a pillow fort that dad made.

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Thursday, September 05, 2013

One Year Old

I don't know how the time has gotten away from me. I'm writing this, Lydia's one year post, three weeks late! So much has happened this month. Lydia had her first cold on July 18th, crawled on July 22nd, clapped on July 31st, and started transitioning to just one nap on August 8th. She's really growing up!

bedtime baby

always smiling
"dance like a monkey and laugh, laugh, laugh"

We haven't changed Lydia's feeding schedule at all, but we are giving her mostly finger foods now for lunch and dinner. She's tried catfish, chicken, mac & cheese, green beans, purple hull peas, and crackers. Maybe a few more foods. There isn't much she doesn't like. Her favorites are still cantaloupe and blueberries. For breakfast she still usually has baby food purees mixed with cereal. I'm continuing to feed her cereal because it is vitamin fortified, and I want to make sure she is getting a balanced diet. We also try to do 1/2 milliliter of poly-vi-sol vitamins in her afternoon bottle when we remember. At meal time we've mostly transitioned to a sippy cup instead of a bottle. She seems to drink out of either pretty well with little fuss.

On the sleeping front, we had a rough patch at the end of July, but at the beginning of August Lydia slept through the night (from 7/8 pm to 6/7 am) for a record 13 nights in a row! I'm so, so thankful to have a baby that sleeps well. Some nights she does wake up but she'll generally go back to sleep on her own or with help from mom or dad being held or rocked. On those nights where it is the middle of the night, I've been rocking for half an hour, and she still will not sleep, I do take her to the guest bed, and we sleep together. I get some rest which makes me a better mom, and she gets some snuggle time with mom. A win-win I think. We don't do it often, and she generally sleeps so well that I know I'm not spoiling her or creating bad sleep habits. I'm just spending time with my child, and I love it.

Most days Lydia does still take a late morning nap and a late afternoon nap, but every once in a while she takes an early afternoon nap, and that's it. I guess she's starting to transition to one nap a day. I'm not strict about napping at a specific time. I watch her sleepy cues and put her to sleep when she's beginning to act tired. This seems to work for us.

Lydia is still in 9 month pajamas but will be outgrowing most of them very soon. She's still in size 3 diapers.

My child loves toys! We have this little house that has 4 "rooms": 1) a front porch with a doorbell she can ring and a front door she can open, 2) a bedroom with a light switch to turn on and off, 3) a bathroom with a bathtub handle to turn and duck that quacks, and 4) a kitchen with a refrigerator door she can open. Lydia has a fun time just opening a closing the fridge and the front door, and sometimes pressing the doorbell or duck. She hasn't figured out the light switch yet.
playing with her house at Nana's
Right around her birthday I got really emotional, which I am sure most moms do. This year has been difficult. Little sleep. A ton of work. Very little time to myself. A huge change from my former self. But having a child has brought so much joy to our lives. We laugh so much more. We dance, sing songs, and make silly noises. It sounds boring, but its wonderful.

I feel so blessed to have a healthy, happy child. Happy birthday, my sweet baby! Mommy loves you dearly.

UPDATE: I forgot the most important part! Lydia weighted 14 lbs 10 oz at her weight check on August 15th. She's gained 12 lbs since her birthday.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

I've Got Rhythm

Lydia and I like to listen to music while we play. She often picks up one of her drums or maracas and plays along!

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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

I Can Spin!

My baby turned one on Friday. I'll post a longer update soon, but I had to share this video of her in her activity walker (thanks Ginger!) This girl has got it going on!

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Friday, August 09, 2013

I Can Crawl

It's happened. Lydia is mobile. I've been meaning to post this video for weeks now. Daddy put some balls on the floor, then Lydia took off for them.
She's still a little wobbly with her crawl, and she isn't into everything (yet). She mainly combines rolling, lunging, and crawling to get to the toy she wants. I'm sure it won't be long before we have to put up baby gates.

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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

How I Cooked It: Summer Squash and Tomatoes

Yellow squash and ripe red tomatoes just scream SUMMER! When you have an abundance of both, make this for supper.

Summer Squash and Tomato Tart

I clipped this recipe from Food and Wine years ago, and I have idea why I haven't made it until now. It's so good!

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Saturday, July 27, 2013

I Can Play the Piano

Well, she can bang on it at least.

YouTube Video

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Friday, July 26, 2013

11 Months Old

Our girl
I took these pics on July 13th. Our new favorite thing is to bring the activity center outside on the deck in the late afternoon on Saturday and hang out. A couple of beers or glasses of wine for mom and dad. Lydia likes being outside, and Walle gets extremely jealous. I'm learning how to work my camera in manual mode. The photos above are proof that I might be getting the hang of it. Usually the sun behind the photograph's subject is a recipe for disaster. I definitely have not "figured it out" yet, but I'm getting closer.

I can't believe my girl will be a year old soon. Just three more weeks now. I don't know if it is having her or just getting older in general, but time is flying. Since we don't travel like we used to on the weekends, the weekends kind of run together. Before I know it another month has passed. I do miss traveling. The pre-baby me would have been outta here in Chicago or New Orleans this weekend. Work has been busy, and I need a baby-free vacation. Unfortunately that likely won't happen in the near future. Hopefully by year's end Chip and I will break free for a bit. We still haven't spent a night away from her together since she came home from the hospital. One or the other of us has always been with her.

And that's not to say that Lydia is misbehaving or being difficult or anything like that. She is generally a perfect angel. But like most babies, our baby likes routines. Wake up, change diaper, bottle, play, breakfast, nap, wake up, change diaper, get dressed, play, lunch, play, change diaper, bottle, nap, wake up, change diaper, play, dinner, play, bath, pajamas, story time, bottle, bedtime. Sleep and repeat. Whew. It's exhausting.

So what's new this month? So much! In addition to her sitting up on her own, Lydia is THIS CLOSE to crawling. She's has added two new words: cat and duck. Along with mamma, daddy, and hey, she's up to five words. We're working on ball and dog next, but so far she hasn't said those. She has a Hello Kitty stuffed animal, and Chip calls it her Hey Cat toy since she can't say hello or kitty yet. Lydia has eight teeth now. Four on the top and four on the bottom.

Her feeding schedule hasn't changed at all since last month. We still spoon feed her baby food most meals, and offer her finger foods also. Her favorite finger foods are cantaloupe, blueberries, and butter beans. Sometimes she refuses to be spoon fed and wants to feed herself, so we've offered her cubed boiled potatoes, bread, pasta, kiwi, cubed steamed sweet potatoes, fruit popsicles made with pureed cantaloupe, blueberries, and yogurt. Probably a few more things I can't remember. I have got to do better with offering her finger foods, but it is so damn messy. She gets half of what we give her in her hair, ears, nose, chair, or on her clothes.

Lydia is still a pretty good sleeper most nights. Some nights she is good with being held and rocked to sleep and is out like a light in 10 minutes. Some nights she wants to squirm, so we put her to bed awake. On those nights she sometimes whines, sometimes cries, and sometimes plays quietly then falls right to sleep. When Lydia wakes up in the middle of the night, generally she'll put herself back to sleep. One or two nights a week she'll get really worked up and crying, so one of us will have to go in there and fix what's wrong - diaper change or runny/stuffy nose or whatever.

Lydia has outgrown all her 6 month pajamas and is in 9 month pajamas. She's graduated to size 3 diapers. Another milestone is that we had to lower the crib mattress. I knew it was time when she woke up from her morning nap and tried to do this:

Pulling up on the crib
She hasn't tried that trick since we lowered the mattress. She is pulling up on us and on an ottoman that we have in our bedroom. Her other favorite games to play are to pull all of her books off of the low shelf of her changing table and to take toys out of her toy basket. Her favorite toy these days is her princess hand puppet that I like to call Princess Kate.

My favorite mom moment this month was sitting on the deck at the Nantahala Outdoor Center (aka Slow Joe's, Pourover Pub, Big Wesser BBQ & Brews, or WHATEVER they are calling it this year...), a soft rain falling, listening to the water, sleeping baby in my arms taking her afternoon nap. Gotta love that.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Vacation 2013

Our mountain getaway

The sunny deck

View of the lake from the deck
The family room
Playing with Lydia
Happy baby
Bumbo makeshift high chair

Family photo

Fun on the pontoon boat
Lydia and Nana
Lydia, Nana, and Grandpa
Nantahala River
Lydia and Chip at the NOC

Vacation was incredible! There's nothing in the world like river time. Unplugged time. Family time.

We rented a lake house on Nantahala Lake this year. We really enjoyed staying on the lake last year, and decided to give it another try. It is wonderful to wake up to fog on the water. To drink morning coffee on the deck and watch the sun rise over the mountains. In the evening, sunset paddles on the lake with a cold beer are the best.

Nantahala Lake is really quiet and secluded. No cell service. No internet. We really got to wind down and spend time together. We cooked out every night. We took a day trip to Asheville one day. Lydia was an angel. We forgot her bottle and had to buy her a sippy cup when we got there. She did fine.

We took duckys down the river on Tuesday and a raft on Thursday. Big fun on both trips. We didn't make it to the fire tower this year. Maybe next year.

All in all it went way too fast.