Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Bluegrass girl?

We took Miss H to the local bluegrass festival on Saturday to hear our friend's band play and bask in some sunshine (that's Hazel's pal Josie in the Facebook header!). At first she wasn't so sure...

Then she fell asleep for a long spell. (Hi Eleanor!)

But when she woke up, she realized bluegrass was pretty cool.

We agree, baby girl... we agree. I see more music festivals in our future!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Hugs for breakfast

It's cold and rainy here today, a little unsettling after two weeks of pure, unadulterated spring. I'm nursing coffee at my desk right now wishing I was at home, with raindrops tinkering down on the windows, some lowkey music playing, working on something warm and fuzzy in the kitchen. My vote right now would be banana pancakes, something we've been making a lot lately on lazy weekend mornings. Hard to go wrong with this recipe - it's perfect every time. (Heart pancake molds not required, but definitely add to the meal's overall hug factor.)

Banana Pancakes
Recipe adapted from Williams-Sonoma
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 small, very ripe banana, peeled
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup roughly chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
Maple syrup for serving 
  1. Cut the butter into 3 equal pieces. Put 2 of the butter pieces in a small saucepan over medium heat and stir until melted. Set aside to cool.

  2. Get out two mixing bowls. In one, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Mix with a fork until well blended.

  3. Put the banana in a small bowl. Mash with a fork until almost smooth. Add the milk, eggs and vanilla and stir with the fork until well blended. Pour the banana mixture and the melted butter into the flour mixture. Mix gently until the batter is just blended. The batter should still be a little bit lumpy. Add in your chopped nuts, if using.

  4. Put a griddle over medium heat until hot. To test if the griddle is hot enough, flick a drop of water onto it - it should dance quickly and evaporate. Put half of the remaining butter onto the griddle and spread it with a spatula. Drop the batter by 1/4 cupfuls onto the griddle, spacing them about 3 inches apart. (Or just fill your adorable pancake molds.)

  5. Cook until a few holes form on top of each pancake and the underside is golden brown, about 2 minutes. Carefully slide the spatula under each pancake and turn it over. Cook until the bottom is golden brown and the top is puffed, 1 to 2 minutes more. Using the spatula, transfer the pancakes to a serving plate.

  6. Repeat with the remaining batter. Serve the pancakes while still hot with maple syrup and sliced bananas (if you choose). Makes twelve 4-inch pancakes.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Baby H Update

Time is marching on over here. Here's Miss H at four and five months.

She's a mellow babe with an easy smile, 75% weight and 80% height. At her four-month checkup the doc spotted three teeth coming in early. None have poked out yet, but they're all still completely visible through her gums. I think we're getting close, though, because they're bothering her more and more.

H is quite pleased with herself now that she can roll over - she's a side-sleeper like her mama. She's also a huge thumb-sucker. Forget pacis, this girl is all about her thumbs. She loves her feet these days and watches in wonder when we chew food. We plan to let her start experimenting with food herself next month, and I think she's going to dig it.

H isn't sleeping steadily through the night anymore, now that she's rolling. She tends to get stuck in a weird position in the early morning and cry until we reposition her or (if she's hungry), just take her into our bed for the next couple of hours. We're working it out.

She's become a big fan of her animal crew, and they're pretty cool with her, too. Eleanor can always make her laugh or smile, and Switters is beyond patient when she grabs his fur and tugs. Fanny will allow a few pats but nothing more. All of them will park outside her door if she's crying or lie underneath the crib. Adorable.

We're breaking out the 6-12 Months clothes, too. H has a long torso and tends to graduate from one-piece items early because the snaps no longer reach. "Diaper-toe" is a common complaint around here. I think she has her dad's body and coloring and my smile and eye shape. So much fun watching this little gal grow.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Dinners these days

I think it's fair to say that T and I have not always been the most structured people. In our personal lives, we are absolutely go-with-the-flow and mellow. And while we love to cook, we've never been good at meal-planning. Dinner conversations would often go like this: "What do you feel like eating tonight?" "I don't know... what do you feel like eating tonight?" "I don't know... want to take Eleanor to the park and think about it later?" Being happy-go-lucky is great and all, but eating at 9 every night isn't really sustainable with a kiddo in tow.

Thanks to Miss H, we've started finally growing up getting real about meal-planning. Our weeks are now a combination of simple go-to dishes, pre-assembled, ready-to-cook meals like scratchDC (looooove them!) or Blue Apron, and maybe one night of takeout or delivery, all planned in advance. Progress!

More than ever, if we're cooking dinner during the week, it's gotta be simple. Cut to Tuesday night, when T said he was stopping by Eastern Market on the way home to take care of dinner. We hadn't made a plan together, so I figured he'd be hitting up the pasta counter (our favorite haunt) or grabbing  a rotisserie chicken. Instead he walks in with some gorgeous tuna steaks and this recipe in hand. Dinner was served in thirty-five minutes, but the main course only took half of that. It was so good that yesterday after work I bought more tuna and we made the whole thing all over again.

Incredibly easy. Incredibly delicious. Tastes like the weekend but perfect for a work night. What more do you need?

Pan-Seared Tuna with Avocado, Soy, Ginger, and Lime
Adapted from Tyler Florence

2 big handfuls fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
1/2 jalapeno, sliced
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, grated
2 limes, juiced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
Pinch sugar
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 (6-ounce) block sushi-quality tuna
1 ripe avocado, halved, peeled, pitted, and sliced

In a mixing bowl, combine the cilantro, jalapeno, ginger, garlic, lime juice, soy sauce, sugar, salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Stir the ingredients together until well incorporated.

Place a skillet over medium-high heat and coat with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season the tuna generously with salt and pepper. Lay the tuna in the hot oil and sear for 1 minute on each side to form a slight crust. Pour 1/2 of the cilantro mixture into the pan to coat the fish. Serve the seared tuna with the sliced avocado and the remaining cilantro sauce drizzled over the whole plate.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Cherry Blossoms, and goodness

It's High Cotton over here these days. I have a fridge full of milk and am working on a freezer stash. Hazel's dealing with teething but still being the snugliest, funniest, happiest babe she can be. Vacation is inching ever closer. I'm fitting into my old clothes almost consistently. We spent a happy family Easter in NC. Work is rewarding. And finally, it's that time of year again... our cherry blossoms are blooming.

I can't even express how happy these puffy blooms make me every day. Cut to mornings when I'm taking Eleanor out or afternoons when I get home from work. That's me out in the yard with my camera, goofily snapping away at the flowers. Just. Gorgeous.

Semi-serious semi-philosophical question: Are cherry blossoms more gorgeous than they might otherwise be, just because they're so fleeting? (Cue dreamy wonder-sigh...)


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

No-bake "energy" "bites"

Lately I've been obsessed with these no-bake energy bites that my college pal posted on Facebook. The source appears to be… Pinterest, with several bloggers offering up different versions. Highly scientific sourcing. So in this post I'll just source the closest post to what I've been making, and their photo. There is no photo of my own because the first two times I made these I forgot to take one, and the last time I made a batch I got pretty classy with it and simply ate gobs out of the bowl with a spoon for two days. Not exactly photogenic that way.

Bottom line: I really dig these. They're the exact level of sweetness I seem to crave these days (did I mention that my pregnancy sweet tooth is still around?), can almost qualify as health food if I pretend not to know better, and feature everyone's favorite milk buddy, oats. (Although in an example of why research is maddening, they also feature ground flaxseed, which appear in lactation cookie recipes but also in warnings about what not to eat while breastfeeding.)

If you can't win, at least don't lose hungry? Something like that.

No-Bake Energy Bites

1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup ground flaxseed
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/3 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla extract

Mix and form into balls. Enjoy playing with your food. Ingest.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Friday I'm in Love

Oh my WORD it's been ages since a Friday I'm in Love post! This Friday is especially fun, because it's my birthday! After years of weekday birthdays, I'm so happy to be celebrating on a Friday night this year. Last year I was newly pregnant and wanted nothing more than to cuddle on the couch. This year, though, there's a lot to toast with my favorite guy. (Mostly, you know, my favorite girl.) Anyway, on to my picks for the week!

Games of Thrones, in your teenage dreams
Man I love reminiscing about disaffected teen angst. Man I love Game of Thrones. This brilliantly illustrated mashup, then, is my kind of thing for days.

Still Hating Walmart, all these years later....
Sometimes I feel like I've spent an eternity hating Walmart. I've written more research papers, blog posts, zoning codes, and 140-character missives against the company than I can remember. So this stuff is old news. Yet conveyed simply and graphically in this video, the message has never been as strong.

Vance Joy's "Riptide"
This song hasn't left my head for a month.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Ready to take on the world.

Much love to everyone who commiserated with me after my milk mantra this week - you really helped me ride out a dry spell. My luck changed today: 27 minutes just got me 8.3 ounces - huge improvement. Patience and perseverance is the name of the game over here!

This morning we had our cherry blossom photo shoot at the Tidal Basin, and I can't wait for the results. Naturally, our eternally smiling baby decided she wasn't interested in smiling for our awesome photographer Amanda. Isn't that always the way?! I'm hoping we got at least one happy expression in there, because we sure did work for it! After the outdoor shoot we went back to our house for some nursery photos. I've only taken casual Instagram shots of H's nursery, so I can't wait to show the details here in full! Her room makes me so happy.

Speaking of fun, it really doesn't get more fun than this, does it? I think it's the cutest thing in the world. The world that H can now conquer.

The best.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Milk mantra

Right now it's past midnight and I'm sitting alone downstairs pumping because I'm in a dry spell. I hate these. Everything's going fine and dandy for weeks and then omgwillibeabletofeedmybaby happens. H is a beast of an eater - 25 ounces just while I'm at work?! - and I so want to be able to keep up with her. So I'm working in late-night pumps and dawn pumps until my body sorts itself out. In the meantime I smell like maple syrup due to all the fenugreek, which makes me even hungrier than I already (always!) am.

Hazel's such a big eater that I find myself only barely staying ahead of her. It's a delicate balance to be sure, sometimes veering dangerously close to the edge. Some days I have one extra bottle in the fridge when I get home from work. Often there's nothing left over, and we have only what I pumped that day. There is no freezer stash. And no Plan B. And so when my body decides it's temporarily only going to work for the baby and not her mechanical equivalent, I have to go into overdrive. I can't not do everything I can to get her what she needs, even though her needs appear to be a tad on the extreme side. The pleasure she gets from eating probably comes from me anyway. So here I am, filling a quiet house with the loudest machine ever as the clock ticks.

I wonder if she'll ever know what this is like. The crazy balance of moving my computer and papers two or three times a day at work to set up in a different room, muting conference calls over my incessant whirring, having all of my colleagues know my pumping schedule? It's weird. But it also just feels like life, like the realities of women in the workplace, and there's a part of making people get over their weirdness about it that I really enjoy.

H is so awesome, though. She's my girl. Her grin just melts me. She's teething already, and having a tough time the last few days as a result. She's also rolling like mad and moving so much at night that she'll wake herself up, stuck in a crazy position. So between the extra pumping and middle-of-the-night wakeups to rescue an upside down baby, it's a tired house. That grin, though! Worth it.

This week we're attempting our first real family photos. I meant to do newborn photos, but I got cheap and time just sort of flew by. She's so much more fun now anyway, so I'm excited that we'll be capturing her at this age. My Wednesday morning work calendar proudly says "PTO - Cherry Blossom Photos." Part of me thinks my colleagues assume this is a euphemism for a strange pumping ritual and don't want to ask questions. I'm excited, though. And since I'm always calculating events as being good or bad for the supply, Cherry Blossom Photos are a WIN. Bonus hours of feeding her myself. Birthday dinner date on Friday with a babysitter at home: bad for the supply. And so it goes. One day at a time, though, that's the milk mantra around here.

Speaking of that most precious liquid, I'm now 30 minutes into this pump with 4.5 ounces on the books. Not great. But every bit counts. And tomorrow is another day.

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