8.26.2013

staying at home | our routine

As many of you know, I am a stay-at-home momma to Olivia. This truly is my dream job.
(Well, being a mom in general is my dream job. I think I’ve wanted to be a momma since I could walk and talk and probably even before I knew what being a momma entailed.)
Tonight I thought I’d write a post on my routine with Olivia & a few details of being a stay-at-home mom.
First off, Olivia is a dream baby. Seriously, she makes it easy for me to be her mom. I told Dustin that if all our babies were this easy, I would have 10. Well, at least 6. While I never really get a “day off,” so to speak (once you become a mom, you don’t ever stop), every day I spend with my little love is just wonderful. Being a stay at home mom (& a mom in general) is most definitely work worth doing. I still get tired and some days I just want to stay in bed until the late afternoon hours, but as soon as I get out of bed, I tip toe into Via’s nursery and peek on her laying quietly in her bassinet. In the past week, I’ve caught her smiling in her sleep when I’ve snuck in. I don’t know if she knows I’m there or if she is just having sweet dreams; either way, it’s a win.
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My husband Dustin is working full-time, which is what allows me to stay at home (thanks, love). I work part-time at an incredibly fun giftshop (with even more incredible people!) called Patina. There are several locations but I work at the one in NE Mpls and it is bomb. On top of that, I have been applying for part-time RN positions with a few leads & interviews here and there. I think its important to stay busy and put my energy into activities outside our home, although nothing beats being a wife & a mom.
Here is a little snapshot into our daily routine:
Between 8am & 9am – I wake up. A quick peek on Via & a hot shower.
Between 9am & 10am – Olivia wakes up. I give her lots of kisses; she gives me lots of smiles.
She starts her morning with some time in the swing – Olivia loves to look at the birds spinning around and listen to some music. After 10-15 minutes of that (& while I enjoy my breakfast), it’s time for Olivia to eat.
After her morning feeding comes play time, around 11am. We play with toys, play on the playmat, snuggle in bed, look out the window (because its WAY too hot to actually go outside), read books, snuggle some more, and practice a little crawling. I’ve recently started putting her in her jump-a-roo (similar to an exersaucer) and she loves it! In addition to music, ours makes the sounds of elephants and lions and she seems to really get a kick out of that.
Between Noon & 12:30 – Time for lunch.
Olivia is usually hungry by 12:30pm (if not earlier), so she eats and then I try to keep her up for 15-20 more minutes before her afternoon nap. That “keeping her up” time either involves more playtime or an afternoon bath (depending on our schedule).
By 1pm, she is ready for a nap. She usually naps from 1:15-4pm, depending on how tired she is & how busy we’ve been that day.
Once she’s up from her nap, Dustin is home from work & ready to play with her! This is my time to clean a bit, prep dinner, do some reading, hit the gym, take a nap myself, or play with them! If the weather is nice, we’ll take an afternoon walk – either with the stroller or the ergo. Olivia loves to lay in the bassinet of her stroller so she can stretch and wiggle. She LOVES to wiggle.
By 6pm, the little lady is hungry again. Time for another feeding.
Afterward, she either takes a short snooze (30-45 minutes) or plays on her playmat. We eat dinner and then one of us usually cuddles and holds her while the other does dishes, packs a lunch, pays bills, etc.
8pm – bathtime. My favorite time of the day. I get to pamper my little lady and put her in cute pajamas.
9pm – bedtime bottle. Usually Dustin gives her bedtime bottle to her and then reads or sings to her.
Between 9:30 and 10pm – we kiss her goodnight & miss her until morning.
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I never thought I would miss my baby so much when she sleeps, but I do. I am able to get so much done during her naps (which is a huge blessing), but some mornings I feel like I’m waiting for her to wake up so we can play. She is my little bringer of joy (which is what her middle name means..more on that later).
Some days we take walks in the morning, most days we visit Grandma Bea, some afternoons my Mom babysits so Dustin and I can do something fun together, and some nights I go to work and Dustin gets to hang with the little babe. But for the most part, we’ve established a great routine.
Typically 5 feedings a day:
10am, 12:30pm, 4pm, 6pm, 9pm
Two naps: 1-4pm & 7-7:30pm

A bath either in the early afternoon or before bed.
Bedtime @ 10pm.  
(Playtime all day long.)
There are many benefits to being a stay at home mom, and I feel mighty privileged. I know so many moms who – for many different reasons – can’t stay at home full time. Every day I thank God for the life He has given me for this season. I don’t ever want to miss a moment with Olivia because every minute that passes she is growing one moment older. But being away from her for a few hours at work or at the gym also has its benefits, in that I get time to myself to restore my mind and/or body, and then coming home to her is even more fun because I’ve missed her dearly.
To all you readers out there that are expecting now or hoping to have babies in the future – it rocks. Being a momma (especially staying at home) is the best job in the world. And like me, you’ll probably miss them when they sleep.
XO
p.s. our bedroom is filled with the most amazing scent right now…illume’swoodfire candle is burning. If you don’t have one, go get one (we just got them back in at patina).
Just perfect for welcoming fall.

8.20.2013

carrot cake

Okay, so carrot cake in & of itself isn’t a “meal,” usually. But considering it has gluten free flour (grains), carrots (vegetable), pineapple & applesauce (fruit), walnuts (omega-3s), cream cheese & butter (dairy)…and coconut (fats)…it pretty much covers all food groups, right?
(let’s just pretend it does & leave it at that)
my hubby's favorite carrot cake
 
This recipe is so easy. Especially for how delicious it is.
It’s a “1-2-3” recipe, and the frosting is a breeze (& truly divine).
cake ingredients
“one”
1 1/4 c unsweetened applesauce
2 c sugar
                                                    
3 eggs
“two”
2 c flour
                                                      
1 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 tsp baking powder                         
1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon
“three”
2 c grated carrots                                
1 c coconut

1 c chopped nuts (optional)
                 
1 tsp vanilla

1 cup Dole crushed pineapple in juice (not drained!)
cream cheese frosting
1/2 c butter (softened)                
8 oz cream cheese (softened)
1 tsp vanilla                                               
1 lb powdered sugar (approx. 3.5-4 cups)
Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Combine #1 ingredients. Add #2 ingredients. Stir in #3 ingredients.

3. Pour into two 8 or 9-inch pans.
            Note: I traced the pan onto parchment paper and then had perfect circles to line the pans with and the cake came out without any problem!

4. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cakes cool completely (I moved mine to a cooling rack after 10 minutes out of the oven)
For the frosting:
5. Beat the butter and cream cheese until nice and fluffy. Add in the vanilla and powdered sugar and beat until smooth.
6. Invert the cake onto a cake plate or stand. Apply a generous dollop of frosting and spread…Gently place the second cake on top and continue frosting. Garnish with nuts of your choice and/or coconut or leave plain & simple!
Happy Monday.

8.17.2013

homemade nutter butters

well to start this weekend off right, some girlfriends & I decided to get together and do some baking. We did this a few weeks ago and discovered how delicious a thai quinoa salad & nutella donuts can be. Well, we were feeling ambitious this week and thought we would try our hand at homemade nutter butters (gluten free of course). The little babe slept the whole time we were busy in the kitchen, despite the clanging pots and pans. 
yep, she’s perfect.
& she’s asleep on me while I type this entry, holding onto my arms & snuggling my neck.
(P.S. being a momma is the best)
All you need to know is that if these little gems are up on the blog, they made the cut (AND got Dustin’s rating of 4.5/5, which is pretty darn good considering he’s not a “peanut butter cookie” kinda guy)
homemade nutter butters (gluten free)
Foreword: this recipe contains 4 sticks of butter. Alarming, I know. But this recipe makes approximately 194020 cookes. Okay…so not that many, but we had 4 plates full and more on pans and cooling racks. That being said, we agreed upon a few things for the next time we venture into nutter-butter land: 
1.     Cut the recipe in half (unless you have a million neighbors to share these with) 
2.     Modify the frosting – decrease the powdered sugar to 2.5-3 cups (instead of 4 cups) and amp up the crunchy peanut butter to 1.5-2 cups (instead of 1 cup).
3.     Make them smaller than you think you should, because they expand a lot! The recipe says to roll them into 1-inch balls, but we did that and they were huge, so we rolled them much smaller for our second (& 3, & 4, & 5, & 6) batch.
4.     Don’t overcrowd the pans, they expand & you want them to have their space! 
5.     Even without modifying it, the frosting is so good it could be eaten off a spoon, or a graham cracker, or a piece of chocolate, or on icecream….okay, you get the idea. 
Ingredients for Cookies:
    1 cup butter (2 sticks), room temperature
    1 cup creamy peanut butter
    1 cup granulated sugar
    1 cup light brown sugar, packed
    2 eggs
    2 tsp vanilla
    2 1/2 cups flour (William’s Sonoma Cup4Cup)
    1 tsp baking soda
    1 tsp baking powder
    Approx 1/2 cup extra sugar for rolling
Ingredients for Filling:
    1 cup butter (2 sticks), room temperature
    1 cup crunchy peanut butter, room temperature
    4 cups powdered sugar
    2-3 tablespoons milk
 Instructions
1.    In electric mixer, beat butter, peanut butter, and sugars until light and fluffy, about 30 seconds on medium-high speed. Lower mixer to medium and add eggs and vanilla continuing to mix until combined. Turn mixer to low and add in flour, baking soda and baking powder. Mix until combined. Refrigerate dough for 1 hour. Preheat oven to 375°
2.   Form chilled dough first into 1-inch balls and then form into a log shape. Roll the log-shaped dough in extra granulated sugar and place on baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Using a fork press down on cookie creating a criss-cross pattern. Pinch the center to create the peanut shape.
3.   Bake for 6-8 minutes until edges are lightly golden. Cool on baking sheet 2-3 minutes and then transfer to wire rack to continue cooling.
4.   For the Filling:
a.    In a large bowl beat butter and peanut butter together until smooth. Slowly add in your powdered sugar and turn mixer speed up to medium and beat until filling is smooth. Add your milk, one tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached.
b.    Spread a heaping tablespoon of filling onto the bottom of one of the peanut butter cookies and then top with another cookie to create a sandwich.
Happy weekend to all. We’ll be enjoying ours with grilled chicken caesar salads, fresh sweet peaches, a movie or two & of course, hanging with our favorite little tot.
XOXO

8.13.2013

wedge salad + strawberry rhubarb crisp

the little babe slept from 11pm last night-9am today. crazy how time has flown, it seems like just yesterday she was just a few days old & I was getting up at 2am to breastfeed. and then 4am. and then 6am.
I slept in today and couldn’t believe the numbers on the clock when I rolled out of bed and Via was still snoozing. After my morning with Olivia, I cozied her up in the carseat and hit the road. I was blessed to enjoy lunch with one of my dear friends and nursing mentors at Big Bowl. And Big Bowl = amazing gf chicken pad thai, so naturally it was a great day. On top of that, I was able to spend a solid hour at the gym after Dustin got home and there are seriously few things that feel better than sweating head to toe.
On Mondays I decided I would be sharing some of my favorite recipes, so here goes. Two of our favorites this summer have been wedge salads & strawberry-rhubarb crisp.
Truth be told, I had never made either before this summer.
On a whim, I decided to try wedge salads after having eaten them many times in restaurants. And because the strawberries this summer were so incredible, how could we not make a crisp?
Here’s to two easy, delicious, and beautiful summer dishes!
WEDGE SALAD
 Crisp, crunchy lettuce, rich blue cheese dressing & salty bacon…really, how could you go wrong? 
INGREDIENTS
1 head of iceberg (or romaine) lettuce, cut into 2-4 wedges
            *Note: We’ve used both iceberg and romaine; iceberg is more traditional but romaine has more nutritional benefits; cut lettuce based on how many people you are serving
Your favorite blue cheese dressing
Blue cheese crumbles
2-3 tomatoes
Your favorite bacon
*Note: We use Trader Joe’s Fully Cooked Uncured Apple Smoked Bacon; no nitrates or nitrites
Black pepper to taste
DIRECTIONS
After cutting wedges of lettuce, place wedges on plates and drizzle with blue cheese dressing; chop tomatoes and place either on top or on the side of wedges; crumble blue cheese over the top. Crisp up bacon in a frying pan; once cooled, chop finely and sprinkle over top. Finish with some black ground pepper to your preference.
GLUTEN FREE STRAWBERRY-RHUBARB CRISP
Bringing together the tart, unique flavor of rhubarb with the sweetest and juiciest strawberries of the season, this crisp is sure to hit the spot with a scoop of vanilla icecream on a summer night.
INGREDIENTS
3 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. lemon zest
3 cups sliced fresh strawberries
     (*Note: I purchase my fresh strawberries from Pine Tree Apple Orchard)
4 cups thinly sliced & diced rhubarb
Topping:
1 cup good gluten-free flour
   (*Note: I use Cup4Cup from William’s Sonoma)
1 cup packed brown sugar
½ cup salted butter
   (*I kept the butter cold until I was about to cut it, to create a nice crumb texture)
¾ cup gluten-free rolled oats
   (*Note: I use GF oats from Trader Joe’s and increased it to 1 cup of oats by my hubby’s request and it was delish)
DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat oven to 375°. Spray a glass or ceramic 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray or coat lightly with butter.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar and cornstarch.
3. Add the lemon zest, sliced strawberries and rhubarb and stir together with a spatula until fruit is all coated with sugar mixture.
4. Spread the fruit mixture into the 9×13 baking dish.
5. Cut the cold butter into cubes. Measure the flour, brown sugar and oats into a food processor: pulse together the flour, brown sugar and butter until butter is in pea-sized pieces and then add oats until just mixed.
6. Crumble oat mixture on top of the fruit mixture. Bake 45 minutes in a 375° oven, or until lightly browned and crisp.
Happy Monday!

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