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July: Some good, some bad. First: the bad.

I didn’t feel right posting some recipes (not that I have any) before sharing the events of July with all of you, especially since so many of you are good friends and family.

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As many of you know, Evie lost her paternal grandmother , Maureen, on July 15th. She had been diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2012 and after a long fight, she finally joined our Father in heaven. We were able to celebrate her life on July 21st, surrounded by family and friends who came from near and far to support the family and show their appreciation for Maureen and her role in their lives. It was really beautiful to look around and see the many lives that she had touched. To be honest though, she would have been embarrassed that so many people had interrupted their lives to attend her funeral because humility was one of her most apparent virtues, one that Ryan has inherited 100%.

Evie's Baptism Weekend

Evie’s Baptism Weekend

Only a few days earlier, doctors had informed the family that Maureen likely only had a few weeks left. We had already booked tickets to VA to see her earlier that week, but the news made the trip that much more urgent. What weighed most heavily on me was the realization that it would likely be Evie’s last chance to see her grandmother, and I couldn’t even explain that to her. I couldn’t tell her to be on her best behavior or to give Grandma an extra big hug. I couldn’t tell her anything, which I guess in a way is a blessing, mostly because it is a reminder of the innocence of a child, and how envious I was of that. Not having to face the tough moments in life and just living blissfully in ignorance because you’re 1 and you don’t know any better.

Evie's First Christmas

Evie’s First Christmas

Maureen did her best to rally during our visit. She was moving about, paying bills, visiting with friends who stopped by to see her, and even joined us at the table for dinner, although she was no longer interested in eating at that point. ┬áI did do my best to tell her what I think I would want to hear if I was in her shoes. That we would take care of Dennis, her husband/Ryan’s father, and Darius, her grandson whom she and Dennis brought into their home to care for years ago. He is now 7. She didn’t say anything when I told her that. She looked me in the eyes and nodded, but I understood that I had just addressed a major fear of hers and hopefully, put that fear to rest as much as I could.

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I do wish I had told her something else, though. I don’t remember the context of the conversation, but she mentioned to me that she was scared of what lied ahead for her. I wanted to tell her that an incredible place was waiting for her. A place where she would be the happiest she had ever been, and the most peaceful she had ever been. She would be able to drink wine again, to see her parents, to see her friends, and most importantly to meet our Lord. But I didn’t say that. I don’t know why, but in a way, I wondered if it would help. What did I know? I was another human who had never done this before, so while I could express my faith as much as possible, when you are face to face with death, I can only imagine that you may have doubts and wonder “Wait…am I really going to heaven? Should I have done something differently?” Luckily, Maureen was a devout Catholic, and there is no doubt in my mind about where she is right now. And that is exactly what the priest spoke about during her funeral, which I was so thankful for. Those were the words that I needed to hear that day.

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And so I lived a moment I will never forget. Saying goodbye to Maureen the Sunday before she died as Evie and I headed back to the airport to return home. I busied myself a few minutes beforehand making sure the suitcases were packed, that I had enough snacks for Evie in my carry-on, located my ID, all the while cursing time for flying by. But there was no stopping it, nothing I could do, and we had to say goodbye. So I gave her an extra long hug, and as much as I tried not to cry in order to be strong for her, I couldn’t help it. I cried for Evie also, that she would not get to know this amazing woman, although I was thankful that they had met. That Maureen got to meet her granddaughter. But I knew that would be the last time I saw her, and I tried to take in as much as possible- her waving to us from the front porch as we pulled away.

And it was the last time.

She died two days later. But I got to tell her on behalf of Evie and myself, “We love you, too.”

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Honey Bourbon Glazed Carrots + Evie is 11 months!

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Hi everyone!

I can hardly believe my own title- my baby is 11 months old. That’s one month less than a YEAR. That means that one year ago, I was hot and pregnant, decorating a nursery, doing baby laundry for a baby I had not met yet, and longing for a glass of wine. I think about the following saying over and over again, especially now that I have heard it more than once: the days are long and the years are short– how true that is!

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As you can see from the pictures, Evie is a pretty happy kid. In a few pictures, I am playing “peek-a-boo” with her, in others, I am dangling a toy. But there are a few where she is just randomly cracking herself up which apparently, results in her sticking her tongue out: takes after me, I guess. (I’m famous for laughing at my own dumb jokes, but not sticking my tongue out. She gets that from her dad!)

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First Father's Day!

First Father’s Day!

Someone asked me the other day what my “routine” is. As I reflect on the past year, I don’t really have much of a routine. It has evolved along with Evie and her development. Six months ago, she was napping multiple times a day, required 6 feedings, and didn’t really enjoy sitting around the table at lunch. Now, she is much more pleasant to take into public, out to restaurants, on walks, and she enjoys the pool, the dog park, the zoo, and playing with her buddies. I can cook again, and Evie entertains herself with tupperware, and pulling up on the fridge, her high chair, etc. Her meals also take 45 minutes, so I tend to do some cooking while she eats her finger foods. It has been so nice!

Playing "Peek a boo!"

Playing “Peek a boo!”

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So on to the recipe. I have made these carrots a few times now, and they are so easy and delicious. You buy pretty carrots with the carrot tops still attached, don’t peel the carrots to add to the “rustic” look, and drown them in a honey bourbon butter sauce with shallots. I think it’s still healthy, but I’m not totally sure. It’s delicious, easy, and looks beautiful in my opinion. I hope you try it! Thanks for indulging me as I gab about the babe. ­čśë

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Honey Bourbon Glazed Carrots (recipe adapted from Southern Living)

  • 2 pounds┬ábaby carrots with tops
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 1┬áshallot, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp ┬ábourbon (I used Jack Daniels)
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp water
  • 1/2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste

First, cut the tops off the carrots, leaving about an inch of the greenery. Meanwhile, heat the oven and a roasting pan to 500F. Melt the olive oil and 1 Tbsp butter in the roasting pan, toss in the carrots with salt and pepper and roast for about 10 minutes. Then, melt remaining butter, and saute the shallot. Add honey, bourbon and water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until liquid is reduced. Drizzle over the roasted carrots before serving and sprinkle with fresh time and additional salt and pepper.

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Lentil Salad with a Dijon Vinaigrette + Baby Cold

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Hi friends!

This week, Evie has been keeping me on my toes with a little baby cold. It breaks my heart to hear her little cough and ┬áto see her constantly rubbing at her runny nose. Nothing I can do besides pamper her with her grape-scented nose wipes. And the best part is that her reflux is kicking in with her coughing fits which resulted in 3 outfit changes for both of us before 9am today. Motherhood: always a reminder that my needs are now second to the “associate’s” needs and never a dull moment. At least her cold does not phase her mood-wise. She had a blast messing around with Leo yesterday and continues her crawling olympics around the first floor, picking up every single piece of debris along the way and attempting to taste it. *stressful*

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Luckily, I made myself some food for the week on Monday while Ryan was home and could spend some QT with Evie. One of the salads I made is this cold lentil salad that I have served as a side with some chicken or on top of some greens for lunch. An easy, one utensil, meal that is healthy, doesn’t involve taking out and putting back 15 ingredients from the fridge (like I do when sandwich-making!), and adding some variety to my otherwise sweet potato and avocado diet. Even Evie can have a few bites with her dinner! Always a plus.

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Adapted from Ina Garten’s Recipe. Hope you like it!

Lentil Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette:

1/2 lb lentils

3/4 cup chopped carrots

1/2 cup cooked peas

1 leek, washed and chopped

1 clove garlic, diced

Vinaigrette:

3 tsp dijon mustard

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

salt/pepper

 

Wash the lentils and boil for 15-20 minutes until they have reached their desired “doneness”. Meanwhile, saute carrot and leek for 8-10 minutes until soft. Add the garlic for the last 2-3 minutes. Combine Lentils, carrots, leeks, peas and garlic and dress with vinaigrette. Serve warm or chill and serve later. Enjoy!

 

 

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On Being a Mom

My mom with me, circa 1983.

My mom with me, circa 1983.

 

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Hi everyone! I thought I would end my first official Mother’s day with a public reflection on life as a mom so far. Granted, I’m only about 10 months in, but what a 10 months it has been!

First, it is not lost on me that becoming a mother is truly a miracle. It is not a “right” as a female. It is one miraculous coincidence after another that enabled me to not only become pregnant, but to then bring a healthy baby into the world. I know that I am one of the lucky ones, and I am thankful for that every day.

Second, motherhood has been filled with high highs and low lows. Words cannot describe (mostly because anyone not related to said child probably doesn’t care) the feeling when your baby smiles for the first time, laughs for the first time, tastes a food she doesn’t like, starts to notice the dog, crawls…you get the picture. You get to re-experience the world through a child’s eyes, and I am reminded of yes, how cool all of these things are that I take for granted. But don’t think I have forgotten the nights of incessant crying, the days of painful baby constipation (you really do become an expert in poop), the fear that she might be sick, the moments she falls and hits her head on the wood floor- the emotional stress is unlike any job I have ever had or any stress I have ever experienced. The feeling of love for that little human is so great that you do it, but sometimes you also speed out of the driveway 2 minutes after the babysitter arrives before you waste another precious moment of adults only time!

Next, bringing a child into the world is a physical feat, but not just for the months of pregnancy or the days in the hospital following delivery: for the next six months if you ask me and more. Hormones are evil, and they were everywhere. Throw lack of sleep, no time to exercise and loss of appetite on there due to stress and probably a touch of postpartum depression, and you have an interesting combination. I don’t think I had mentally prepared for how long it would take my body to recalibrate, and poor hub definitely missed that memo. He knows now ­čśë

All in all, it has been a wonderful 10 months. The amount of information I have learned about infants, motherhood, and womanhood is more than I have probably learned in the past 5 years combined. I have been made aware of how selfish my life was before, but how lovely it also is to have a constant purpose babbling to herself in the backseat of the car while you drive. I love the fact that motherhood has forced me to slow down, to take it in, and to just enjoy (even on the days that warrant an extra large glass of wine). And it is crazy to think that you never become an “expert”. As soon as you have mastered one phase, the babies are on to the next, and God forbid the second child is nothing like the first and everything you learned is out the window and you’re back to square one.

Finally, I wanted to tell you this story about my mama that in my opinion, perfectly captured what it means to be a mom. She called to tell me she had received the flowers I sent her on Friday (yes, Friday: it was cheaper to ship early delivery). I told her that a card was in the mail, and the following conversation ensued:

Mom: “Mich! You didn’t have to do all that”.

Me: ┬á“Are you kidding? After my experience so far as a mom, I should have sent you a plane ticket to Hawaii!”

Mom: “Well, the most important thing is that you are a good mom to Evie.”

And there she went again, just as selfless as ever. Love that.

Such a ham!

Such a ham!

What is happening in that little brain here?

What is happening in that little brain here?

 

This is what happens when you leave her alone with her dad for a few minutes.

This is what happens when you leave her alone with her dad for a few minutes.

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I lost my muse + Evie lately

Hey everyone,

Long time, no talk. I know. I have no excuse, really. Ryan has even had the month of April off, which means I should have had even MORE time to test out some delicious recipes and share them. But I didn’t. I don’t know what I did, to be honest. When I did get in the kitchen, there weren’t too many noteworthy recipes happening, so if you have some ideas for me, bring ’em. I need to shake it up a bit over here. Damn you, Zifty, for delivering take-out to my door.

But be honest. You just wanted to see pics of Evie anyways since I think most of my readers are related to me and don’t speak English, so I’ll just get to it.

We have had a BUSY month.

First, I’ll take you back to our impromptu trip to NYC. The good: ate GREAT food and way too much of it, checked a Michelin Star restaurant or two off the list (Momofuku), and of course saw great friends. The bad: sharing hotel rooms with Evie is no longer an option unless I don’t plan on sleeping. And the best part was the journey home which involved me and Evie alone in a cab which then got a flat tire on the way to the airport. Fortunately, we made it there, caught our flight, and no later than one hour after walking in the door was I struck with the 24 hour stomach flu. Thank goodness Evie didn’t catch it!

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Next, Evie got baptized! YAY!! Fabulous family reunion in Atlanta with the BEST weather ever.

Not too happy with the priest after pouring cold water on her head.

Not too happy with the priest after pouring cold water on her head.

The proud Godparents!

The proud Godparents!

Coleman Grandparents

Coleman Grandparents

Murphy Grandparents

Murphy Grandparents

Family Photo

Family Photo

Wearing the baptismal gown that I used as a baby.

Wearing the baptismal gown that I used as a baby.

Then, we celebrated Easter in Atlanta and spent the week enjoying friends and fun outings.

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Playdate- all kids looked pleasant!

Playdate- all kids looked pleasant!

One of her new favorite things: standing in her crib and looking cute.

One of her new favorite things: standing in her crib and looking cute.

Us girls making Dad take photos of us.

Us girls making Dad take photos of us.

Less happy group photo of the kiddos, but hilarious.

Less happy group photo of the kiddos, but hilarious.

Finally, we took a trip. It was originally planned for AZ/UT, but after our overly eventful trip with Evie to NYC, I asked myself “Why are we taking a baby to AZ/UT?”, so we did an East Coast tour instead, stopping to see families, had a 2 night sans baby getaway in our beloved Charlottesville complete with friends, food and wine tasting, topped off by a few nights in the western NC mountains.

Evie's friend, Ellery, who lives in Charlottesville, and whom she still has yet to meet!

Evie’s friend, Ellery, who lives in Charlottesville, and whom she still has yet to meet!

Having fun with dad! Oblivious of the gorgeous few of the Blue Ridge behind her.

Having fun with dad! Oblivious of the gorgeous view of the Blue Ridge behind her.

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A little blurry, but too bad.

Blueberries + Beets face.

Blueberries + Beets face.

Happy hour, baby style.

Happy hour, baby style.

Why are we always pointing this camera at her?

Plotting how she will get her hands on the camera, and then eat it.

See ya soon! And don’t forget- give me some ideas, people!

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We’re back!: Dubai and Delhi

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Hi everyone! Ryan and I returned a few days ago from an amazing week of travel primarily to Delhi with a quick stop in Dubai along the way. This was a major accomplishment of a trip for me for the following admittedly lame reasons: 1) I have a fear of flying- not because I think we’re going to crash, but because I’m claustrophobic. Being stuck in a tube in the air for 14-16 hours: AHHH! I can’t think about it. 2) I am not an adventurous eater. 3) Had to leave the babe for a week. She was definitely in good hands, but still- not easy.

The purpose of our travels was a “work” trip for Ryan and I was invited along. Thankfully, all of the logistics were very well taken care of and all we had to do was show up. I was especially appreciative of that benefit since we were traveling to a completely unfamiliar part of the world.

First stop: Dubai.

Dubai is really an incredible city. The oldest building dates back to 1977, so to think that a city has essentially been built up/created over the past 40-ish years is truly amazing. The architecture is very contemporary, the design of the city is well planned (although they still had some traffic jams, don’t worry), and in 10 years, it will look completely different.

A few highlights:

Burj Al Arab: A luxury hotel designed to look like a sailboat. We did not have the chance to go inside, but enjoyed taking some pics from ┬áthe Palm Islands and Jumeirah beach outside the hotel. If you look carefully, you can see a disc protruding from the top of the hotel: that’s a tennis court!

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Burj Khalifa: the tallest building in the world. As Ryan pointed out, just look at the buildings next to it which are still 30-40 story buildings. They are miniature!

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Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque: an unbelievable mosque located outside Abu Dhabi, about 1 hour drive from Dubai.

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Palm Islands: these are man-made islands housing mostly hotels. Our driver told us that the land was for lease only because they expect the islands to sink in the next 80 years. Who knows….Meanwhile, they are building another set known as “The World”. It literally will look like a map of the world.

The Atlantis Hotel located on the "Palm".

The Atlantis Hotel located on the “Palm”.

After spending a packed day in Dubai we headed to the airport for our 11pm flight to Delhi. *Note, this means that I am about to go on night 3 of no sleep….*

The Delhi airport is extremely impressive. Very pristine, calm, organized and open. Then, I set foot outside the door and the chaos and bustle of the city was apparent: even at 4am! We headed to our hotel and spent the day resting for the adventures in the week ahead.

Tuesday, we ventured to the Taj Mahal for the day. We took a 3.5 hr train ride to Agra which was one of the more eye-opening experiences of the trip. All along the way, we passed through impoverished areas full of make-shift huts covered in tarp and piles and piles of trash. I expected to eventually get to a more “rural” and deserted part of the country, but every bit of it had people to watch. I had been prepared to see the poverty and poor living conditions, but I was not prepared for the piles of trash that I would find throughout the week not only in the poor areas but also, throughout the city. I was also not prepared for the number of men I would observe relieving themselves (#1 and #2) along the path to Agra AND in the city. I’ve definitely seen men peeing in corners before, but it was usually at 2am, near a bar, when I was 22. It is also amazing that after 1 day, it was no longer shocking.

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This woman is carrying cow dung which will be formed into patties, dried, and used for fuel to heat their homes.

This woman is carrying cow dung which will be formed into patties, dried, and used for fuel to heat their homes.

While the trip was a long one, seeing the Taj Mahal met every expectation. I had prepared myself for it to be less than what I had imagined: either surrounded by ugly buildings or crowded with people trying to sell you things (they were there, but outside the Taj Mahal). It is truly pristine- the glistening white marble looked newly polished. It stands out with the clear blue sky behind it and the perfectly manicured lawns and gardens surrounding it. It is also perfectly symmetrical! I could have spent hours there. What a magical experience.

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The next day, we toured New Delhi. We got to see the Parliament buildings, the India Gate, the house where Gandhi spent his last 144 days prior to being assasinated in his own gardens, and Humayun’s tomb (inspired the building of the Taj Mahal). As we drove around town, it was interesting to see the remains of the British influence when it was in power and how Delhi has evolved since then. I’m not sure if the lines dividing lanes were leftover from British rule or not (that’s a joke..), but they are definitely ignored for the most part with people driving all over the place whenever they want. Don’t worry though, they constantly honk to let you know they are there, even though that’s obvious because not once did I experience driving without cars on every side of our bus. It was a symphony of horns every time we stepped anywhere near a road.

Gandhi's Bedroom

Gandhi’s Bedroom

 

India Gate

India Gate

 

Humayun's Tomb

Humayun’s Tomb

 

Thursday, we toured Old Delhi. It was truly an experience for the senses. The chaotic sounds of traffic between the honking, motorcycles, and cars. The sights consisted of a mixture of people, vehicles, rickshaws, cows, dust, shops, and incredible architecture. And the smells: that spice market- oh my goodness!! They attempted to warn us about the red pepper, but it literally burned the nose and throat to the point where I did my best to discretely cover my face with my jacket. Meanwhile, I loved seeing the beautiful colors: the spices, robes in the mosque, inside the Sikh Temple. Here are a few highlight photos.

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 Overall, what an incredible culture to experience. My narrow and limited perspective of India reminded me of the colors and flavors of their culture, the wealth and the poverty, the new and the old, the architecture, the religion.  So thankful that we had the chance to do this trip together and what was surely stepping outside of the comfort of my daily routine.

Now- where is my recipe you wonder? Well, as much as I enjoyed the food in India, I discovered that my natural distaste for spicy food might be my digestive system’s way of telling me that apparently, it doesn’t do spicy food. Five days of extremely excruciating heartburn later, I am enjoying some bland cooking along with lots of raw fruits and veggies! See ya next week with something more “adventurous”.

Fountain show outside the Burj Khalifa.

Fountain show outside the Burj Khalifa.

Aquarium located INSIDE the mall.

Aquarium located INSIDE the mall.

View from the Burj Khalifa

View from the Burj Khalifa

Taken from the tower outside a mosque in New Delhi.

Taken from the tower outside a mosque in Old Delhi.

View of New Delhi

View of Delhi

 

Henna

Henna

Gold ATM

Gold ATMSunset over Dubai

 

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Flying with a baby

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So, you twisted my arm. I am by no means an expert whatsoever, but I guess the fact that Evie has a few skymiles under her belt at this point makes me a survivor and therefore, qualified to share what little I DO know about air travel with an infant.

First of all, I thought this post was really helpful when I traveled alone with Evie, so I’ll let it speak for itself:┬áHow to Fly Alone with an Infant

Beyond that, I’ll share a few tips that had been shared with me and proved to be quite helpful, traveling alone OR with the hub!

1) Strategically choose your departure time: We all know that will ultimately not be in your control when it comes to air travel, but hey- at least you tried. I do not enjoy the 10am flight (especially alone) because it just makes for a really hectic early morning. Getting Evie up, fed, dressed, getting all the last minute supplies packed up, locking up the house, dropping off the dog, parking the car, not to mention rush hour. Yeah…the noon flight was much better.

2) Get an infant carrier. I love using the Baby k’tan because Evie likes it (most important!) and also, it’s easy to pack. I have an Ergo as well, but it is just much bulkier so I don’t prefer it when I’m already taking the entire house + the kitchen sink in my suitcase. You can walk through security with the baby in the carrier which makes for a much calmer baby and one less thing to unpack/repack.

3) Wear comfy slip on shoes: this is no time to be fashionable people. If you’re getting through security alone, you do not need to spend time/valuable back strength pulling on boots or tying shoes.

4) Your carry-on days are over. Be prepared to check luggage. If you are concerned about the cost over time, consider an airline credit card- they often let you check for free! Rather than bringing along diapers/wipes/formula, get Amazon to send you a supply to your destination. And if bringing your pump, use that as your diaper bag. The less luggage, the better!

5) Bring a light blanket! You can use it to cover yourself on the flight. That way if baby gets any bright ideas with which to pass the time, at least your outfit is spared! I also love to use this while we wait to board. Spread it out on the floor and let the baby get some wiggle time in before they’re confined in your arms for a few hours. Finally, I don’t bring my hooter hider and just use the blanket to cover up if breastfeeding mid-flight.

6) Changing a baby on the plane when there is no changing table: the options aren’t great. It’s the toilet seat or your lap. This is another time when the lap blanket might come in handy!

7) Feed during departure and landing, and throw your feeding schedule out the window. Supposedly feeding the baby during pressure changes will help their ears pop and result in a happier baby. However, when Evie is starving and screaming while passengers load the plane, I have chosen to feed her then and bypass the take-off meal for the well-being of those around me. And she was fine. Ultimately, you don’t want to subject other passengers to a screaming baby in order to keep to your schedule!

8) Get a car seat bag: if you are bringing your car seat and checking it curb side, it will get covered in dirt and filth during the journey under the plane. I know that if you’re flying Delta, you can buy a bag at check-in for $5 (or just look really sad and pathetic and they might give you one for free- what we did). You can also buy them online if you’re a frequent flyer.

9) A few other items you might want to invest in if you’re traveling:

Bath sponge: You can purchase it at your destination and since it’s so cheap, you don’t need to feel bad if it doesn’t make it’s way back home.

Formula dispenser: saves you the space and hassle of measuring out powder formula.

Hanna Andersson pj’s: very cute, easy to get on/off for quick airplane bathroom changes, and comfy travel outfit for baby.

Infant Airplane Seat: I haven’t used this, but it looks awesome- especially if you have a long flight with a small baby.

10) Make sure you bring:

– plenty of supplies for the journey (diapers/formula). Again, if your flight gets delayed/cancelled, you don’t want to run out of these!

– meds/thermometer for baby

– noise machine app on your phone ( don’t pack your noise machine! I know it’s tempting!)

Please comment if you have more tips!!! xoxo

 

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Breakfast Casserole + Evie’s First Christmas

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Hey everyone!

Phew- we survived the holidays. Never before have I felt like my goal going into Christmas/New Year’s would be to survive, but this year, it definitely was….and I did…but not by much!

We decided to see both families over Christmas this year which meant going to Virginia (Ryan’s family) and then California (my brother, so subsequently, my whole family went west). While it doesn’t sound all that daunting when you think about it, there is something about not being in your own house when you have a baby that becomes exhausting and stressful. I did not anticipate that, but looking back, I’m still glad we made our travels. And we are definitely never doing that again :)

First, we did our best to pack the things we needed. Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter if you are gone for 1 night or 2 weeks: you still need the same things. So 4 checked bags, 4 carry-ons, 2 gate checks + 1 cooler later, we were on our flights.

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While Evie clearly had no clue that it was Christmas, we still had fun dressing her up in her Christmas jammies.

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The day after Christmas, we flew from D.C. –> Atlanta –> San Francisco: 13 hours of total travel. For the most part, Evie was a champ, but in order to keep her that way, I did quite a bit of bouncing by the bathrooms as we crossed over the country. Fortunately, the flight attendants could not have been sweeter and the other passengers didn’t seem to mind that I was hovering over them as long as Evie was calm.

Evie loved her first trip to California. A few highlights:

The Ritz Carlton at Half Moon Bay. Fire pits and a beautiful view! Plus great beaches for beach jumping!

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Sausalito and Muir Woods:

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Monte Bello Open Space Preserve for some beautiful “hiking”:

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And now we are back, and I could not have been happier to sleep in my own bed, take a shower, and cook my own meals in the kitchen. We had a blast, but there’s nothing like home.

So, while I intended this recipe to be one that you could have whipped out to dazzle the family with on Christmas morning, that just didn’t happen. Instead, you can whip it out and dazzle the family this weekend instead. Shared with me by a sweet friend in Atlanta who is a far better cook than I will ever be! Super yummy, easy to make ahead, and we even had the leftovers for lunch the next day.

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Breakfast Casserole:┬á(adapted from Martha Stewart’s Ham and Cheese Strata)

1 loaf potato bread, chopped into cubes

10 eggs

2 1/2 cups 1% milk

1 Tbsp dijon mustard

3 cups cooked ham, cubed

8 oz shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 cup chopped scallions

1 Tbsp butter

salt/pepper to taste

 

First, grease a large baking dish with the butter. Fill the dish with half of the bread, ham, cheese and scallions. Layer with the remaining bread, ham, cheese and scallions. Beat the eggs, milk, and dijon together and pour over the bread/ham/cheese mixture. Ideally, let this soak overnight or at least for 1-2 hours before baking in the oven for 55min-1 hr at 350F. Enjoy!

 

 

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Parmesan Parsley Popcorn + Adventures in Babysitting

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First, don’t get me wrong, I am LOVING being a stay at home mom. But for the safety of my child and everyone else around me, every now and then, I need to escape. So apparently, that means I call a babysitter (I still don’t feel like I’m old enough to be the one calling babysitters!!) Easy, right? Wrong. Let me describe the past few days to you.

Day 1: I would like to go somewhere this weekend. Let me call a babysitter, and since it’s 2013, that really means, let me communicate with a babysitter via email or text message. I send an email to option A and wait patiently because I don’t know babysitter etiquette and whether or not I’m allowed to continue asking other people before she responds.

Day 2: Haven’t heard yet from Option A, who by the way I have carefully screened for education, reliability, experience, recommendations, etc. I begin to debate whether or not I should contact Option B. Then finally, I hear back. Option A is not available. Option B it is.

Day 3: Still waiting for Option B to respond. I realize that etiquette is going out the window because I can’t waste this precious time waiting. People are making plans for Saturday night as you read this. I am now considering a few people that may not have as much experience or a graduate degree, but that’s ok. Evie should be sleeping anyways. By the end of the day, a total of 5 people are not available to babysit. Time to start reaching out to babysitters my friends have used. And speaking of etiquette, is that allowed? Will we end up competing for the same sitters? Should I check to make sure they don’t need them before contacting them? I’ll deal with that later. Friend is out of town this weekend anyways.

Day 4: Getting desperate. People are not responding. Those who are responding are not available. Where are all those people who told me they would babysit “Any time!!” when I was pregnant? I knew they were bluffing. I’m getting close to putting up an ad on Craigslist. That Babysitter’s Club deal was a good idea. Why can’t we have that? Oh yeah, we do. It’s called care.com. Not quite ready to start emailing total strangers, but I’m getting close!! Instead, I remain logged into my email and stare at it, waiting for the last few people I contacted to hopefully respond. And then…there it is. A small little miracle. There is an email in my inbox, and it’s not from J.Crew or Pottery Barn this time. She said Yes. SHE SAID YES. I HAVE A SITTER!! FREEDOM!! I pour myself a glass of wine to celebrate. And then I make this popcorn.

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Parmesan Parsley Popcorn: (inspired by my friend, Carli, who makes the best truffle oil and parmesan popcorn appetizer!)

1 bag microwave popcorn (no butter/salt added)

3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

1/4 cup good olive oil

2 Tbsp dried parsley

Lots of salt

 

Pop the popcorn. Good. Then while it is still warm, drizzle a little bit of the olive oil and parmesan over the popcorn and toss. Drizzle a little more oil and sprinkle a little more parmesan and toss. Finish off the olive oil and parmesan, and then sprinkle parsley and lots of salt over the popcorn, tossing and turning until it is nicely coated. The end.

Here are some photos for all of you Evie stalkers:

After a 45 minute crying session, victory is mine.

After a 45 minute crying session, victory is mine.

 

 

Walking in style.

Walking in style.

 

photo 1

 

photo 2

 

 

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Wild Rice and Kale Gratin + TGIF

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Hello friends! So I sat down to write this post earlier today, and good thing I didn’t because then I wouldn’t have been able to tell you about the REST of my day. Let’s just say that I had to tell myself at 10am “do not pour yourself a glass of wine…do not pour yourself a glass of wine.”

Oh sure, now she looks all happy.

Oh sure, now she looks all happy.

 

Evie just had herself a little case of the Mondays, so 3 hours of crying and refusing to eat + 872 laps around the first floor of my house + Dr’s appointment later, we concluded that she has reflux. Of COURSE as soon as we get to the Dr., she stops crying and decides to eat. I on the other hand decided that if she wasn’t going to cry, then I was, and I lost it instead. I’m sure the Dr.’s don’t spend all that much time making the mothers feel better, but they did today!

And then Evie pooped all over herself and the carseat. I’m talking between the shoulder blades distance here people.

So speaking of poop, I’ll now introduce this awesome recipe.

One of the food blogs I LOVE is Smitten Kitchen, so this week when I hosted a few friends for dinner, I decided to whip out her cookbook and find some inspiration. (Does reading a cookbook out loud to your child count as “reading to your child?” And while we’re on that topic, does reading “Vanity Fair” out loud count? Cause I did that too…)

This recipe is a delicious fall/winter side to serve with your meal. I think it counts as the vegetable too ­čśë And it is really easy to prep ahead of time so that when guests arrive, you just pop it in the oven and enjoy your glass of wine rather than fussing over the stove.

Meanwhile, I’m going to go lie down for 5 minutes before Princess Buttercup wakes up from her nap.

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Wild Rice and Kale Gratin (from Smitten Kitchen Cookbook)

3 cups cooked wild rice medley (I found mine at Whole Foods and followed the directions on the side of the bag)

1 bunch Kale, stems removed, chopped (about 4-5 cups Kale)

2 sweet onions, cut in half, and then thinly sliced

2 cups shredded Emmentaler cheese (you can sub swiss if you’d like)

1/2 cup chicken stock

1/2 cup bread crumbs

1 Tbsp butter

2 Tbsp olive oil

salt/pepper to taste

First, you need to caramelize the onions. Saute them in a pan with the butter/oil mixture for 10-15 minutes, stirring often to ensure that they don’t burn. Technically, they should cook longer than that, but ain’t nobody got time to cook onions for 30 minutes. If you do, go for it. Add the kale to the onions and cook until it has wilted. Combine the onion/kale mixture with the rice and 1.5 cups cheese. Spread the mixture into a baking dish and add 1/2 cup chicken broth. Top with remaining cheese and then finish with bread crumbs. Bake at 375F for 20-25 minutes and serve. Yummy!!!

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