Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Hannah's Unique Drawing

Hannah has been very interested in drawing lately.

Scraps of envelopes and ball point pens keep 
disappearing from counter tops and purses.

Straight lines and circles are not-so-meticulously practiced 
over and over on the front and back of art paper.

Every flat surface makes an excellent art table for her.

I love watching her little hand hovering over the scattered pencils,
just trying to figure out the best color to use next.

But the drawing she created last night was, by far, the most unique one yet.

As she sat the paper on the ground we became confused, 
As she carefully positioned the pencil we became intrigued, and
As she drew a picture - using multiple colors - with her feet
we were...  impressed?  confused?  beguiled? 
Hopeful that she would become a famous and highly coveted toe artist?

It's amazing to watch their minds work.
Exploring, experimenting, and creating.

Hannah definitely puts her own unique twist on things.
And we wouldn't have it any other way.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Diet Day #2 - Coworker Sabotage Attempt

I'm fairly happy with how things went yesterday.
I find I snack a lot more on work days than on the weekend.
Probably the boredom of a long day at a desk, 
as well as the schedule I maintain - 
whereas on the weekends I'm so busy playing with Hannah and cleaning that I rarely plan my meals.

Today was tough.
There was a staff meeting - for our staff of 15 people.
And to bribe 15 people to show up apparently we need THREE dozen donuts, a dozen jumbo cookies, another dozen donutty things, and a pudding cake ring.
ugh.  No wonder I've gained about a million pounds since working here.

Photographic proof of everything that remained AFTER the meeting.
Which means that originally there was even more than this.
For 15 people.  
{insert witty yet tactful comment about starving 
kids in Asia and stupid American consumers}
No?  yeah, I couldn't think of one either...

6am - Breakfast.
  • Small smoothie
    • Frozen raspberries, frozen pineapple tidbits, plain yogurt, and ice with a splash of whole milk to thin.  Awful.  The raspberry seeds, the texture - everything was off.  I sipped it from 6am to 10am as I wasn't very hungry but I was trying to resist all the donuts in front of me during a long staff meeting.
10am - Snack.
  • 3/4 cup of Cottage Cheese
  • 1 Cutie orange 
12pm - Lunch.
  • Leftover Salad from Dinner
    • Greens with lots of orange bell pepper.  Chris made this for dinner, but we didn't eat it as I had WAY too much salad yesterday.  :)
  • Lentil Soup
    • This is from Trader Joes.  It comes in a plastic tupperware-type container with 2.5 Cups of soup.  I ate about half the container after I finished the salad and was stuffed.
3pm - Snack.
  • More soup
5:30pm - Snack.
  • Celery & Hummus
    • Chris suggested this and I thought he was nuts.  Turns out - not that bad.
6:30pm - Dinner.
  • Salsa, Cilantro, Lime slow cooker Chicken
    • Shredded and then served on lettuce leaves with a little shredded cheese on top.
    8:30pm - Dessert.
    • Sugar Free Jello Pudding
      • Caramel Mousse cup thing-a-ma-bobber.  It hit the spot but tasted more like butterscotch than caramel.  HEY!  don't pick on me.  I resisted donuts all day long.  Give me a fricken cup of pudding, okay?

    Thursday, February 23, 2012

    Bake Club - Cardamom Crescents

    Note: I know I've been posting diet blogs this week, but we had our monthly Bake Club on Monday night, so I wanted to share the recipe we prepared.  The plus side - they weren't even that good, so I still have ~4 sitting on my counter from the 6 that I brought home.   
    That should speaks volumes.  However - I DO like this cookie at Christmas.  It just feels weird to eat them in February.

    Recipe from, But I rewrote the direction section to better explain the steps.

    2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
    1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, divided
    1 cup pecans
    1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
    1 tablespoon vanilla extract

    • Arrange racks in lower and upper thirds of oven; 
    • preheat to 350°F. 
    • Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
    Prepare 3 Bowls of Different Ingredients:
    • Mix Dry Ingredients: Whisk first 4 ingredients in a medium bowl. 
    • Prepare Nut Mixture: Combine 1/2 cup sugar and pecans in a food processor; pulse until coarse meal forms. 
    • Cream Butter: Using an electric mixer, beat butter and vanilla in a medium bowl until creamy, 2–3 minutes. 
    Form Dough in the Mixer bowl:
    • Add nut mixture; beat to blend. 
    • Add dry ingredients; blend well (dough will be moist but still crumbly). 
    • Transfer to a work surface; knead to form a ball, about 4 turns.
    Shape the Cookies:
    • Measure 1 rounded tablespoon of dough; form into a ball, then roll into a 1 1/2"-long log. 
    • Gently bend into a crescent shape, pinching ends to taper (cookies may crack slightly). 
    • Repeat with remaining dough, spacing about 1" apart on prepared sheets.
    Baking Tips:
    • Rotating sheets halfway through baking, until bottoms are golden, 
    • Average bake time is 12–15 minutes, but watch them closely through the stove window.
    • Sift remaining 1 cup powdered sugar into a shallow wide bowl. 
    • Working in batches of about 8 cookies each, roll warm cookies gently in powdered sugar to coat.
      • If you put hot cookies in the powdered sugar, it will melt.  
    • Transfer to a wire rack to let cool. 
    • Roll or dust cooled cookies with powdered sugar. 
    Making these for an event?  
    They can be made 5 days ahead, just store them 
    in an airtight container at room temperature.

    Diet Day #1 - Snacks Galore

    From the previous week of test driving the diet, I know that without the 'carbs' I'm used to - breads, pastas, rice - I'm constantly starving.  While some of that is possibly true, I also think a lot of it is mental, as I'm literally missing these foods and how satisfying they are.

    In order not to cheat and eat the bagel/slice of toast/bowl of rice I might be craving, I'm telling myself that it is okay to snack more this week since I'm officially ON the diet.  Hence, don't judge.  I'd rather eat 500 calories of nuts, fruit and vegetables than eat 500 calories worth of bagel.  While they're both 500 calories, the effect they have on my body is significantly different.

    6am - Breakfast.

    • Iced coffee with skim milk.  
      • still trying to get used to the missing flavored creamer, and I might eventually break down and buy a sugar-free creamer.
    • Small smoothie
      • Frozen strawberries, frozen pineapple tidbits, plain yogurt (significantly less sugar than even the vanilla lowfat yogurt so I think it's okay in limited quantites) and ice with a splash of OJ to thin.  Not bad, needs tweaking.
    8am - Snack.
    • 3/4 cup of Cottage Cheese
    • 1 Cutie orange 
    10am - Snack.
    • 1 package of Cashews
      • Trader Joe's sells packages of individually portioned nuts.  The Cashews are salted, but they're delish! I pack is about 200 calories and 6 grams of protein.
    12pm - Lunch.
    • Chicken & Vegetable Soup
      • This was an accidental cheat as I wasn't aware that it had barley and carrots in it.  But still, not a horrible entree choice overall.  
    • Leftover Salad from Dinner
      • Greens, chopped walnuts, cranberries, and feta cheese with just a little vinaigrette dressing.
    3pm - Snack.
    • More salad - Just your plain everyday side salad with a few slices of grilled chicken and a little cheese.  My local grocery store carries them in the deli section.
    5:30pm - Snack.
    • 1 Medium apple - sliced
      • The salad(s) actually did a great job of filling me uup all afternoon, but didn't take the edge off of the sugar cravings - but an apple did!  I presliced it that morning and stored it in an airtight ziplock snack sized bag.  It hadn't turned brown yet!  Score.
    6:30pm - Dinner.
    • 4oz Fish
      • I have no idea how Chris prepared this, but it was fabulously seasoned and baked perfectly.  He's an amazing cook...
    • Quinoa & Spinach
      • Chris combineds prepared quinoa (cooked int he rice cooker most likely) with frozen shredded spinach and some spices.  Hannah loves it - We love it - and the spinach is a great addition.
    8:30pm - Dessert.
    • I split an apple with Hannah.
      • She LOVES apples and often takes two bites for every 1 that you can sneak in.  :)

    Wednesday, February 22, 2012

    Welcome to Lent & My TTC Diet

    Last year for Lent I started doing daily vlogs.  They were random in topic and style and people seemed to really like it.  I find myself a little scattered right now and I'm in the middle of trying to conceive so daily random vlogs just aren't in the cards this year.

    HOWEVER - before you freak out, 
    there IS something I'm doing that might be worth a daily BLOG.

    Christina - SubfertileFrugalista on YouTube - has encouraged me to go on a PCOS friendly diet  during this injectable cycle, and frankly I'm so desperate to get my body to respond to the fertility medicine that I've finally accepted her challenge.

    The Rules
    1. Avoid all simple sugars such as candy, sodas, cakes, pies, ice cream, etc. 
    {These are almost pure forms of glucose.}
    2. Avoid vegetables that are grown underground - like carrots
    3. Avoid corn, bananas, and foods enriched with maltodextrins or corn syrup.
    4. Avoid wheat, rice, rye, barley, and oats.
    5. Eat a minimum of 3 servings each of above-ground vegetables and fruits daily.
    6. Eat at least 6 ounces of protein every day.
    7. Cheese and Legumes are fine to eat.
    8. Don’t count calories - Just eat regularly.

    I've been slowly trying to get used to eating this way over the past week so that it's not a shock to my system.  First impression - I think it's doable.

    Last night was my last blatant cheat for a while - Pizza Night - and even that wasn't so bad.
    I had a huge salad first:  Great selection of greens, chopped walnuts, dried cranberries, crumbled feta cheese, and I went really easy on the dressing.  Only after I finished my salad did I eat ONE slice of pizza.   But I could have easily substituted the pizza for a chicken breast and been equally as satisfied with the meal.

    I'm going to post my daily food log and discuss where I went wrong, accidental cheats, and any moments of clarity I run into along the way.

    While weight loss would be a great side effect of this diet, I really just want to stabilize my insulin levels by avoiding carbs.  Either way I'll weigh in on Monday mornings and post any change along with Sunday's food log.

    Feel free to post any questions you may have about the diet, and I'll try to answer them as quickly as possible.

    Let me know if YOU'RE considering starting the diet and especially if you're posting menu ideas.  The more inspiration the better.

    Have Hope!

    Valentine's Roses

    With all the hubbub of Valentine's Day - 
    working all day, 
    meeting up for dinner in Portland, 
    I never really got to appreciate the beautiful flower arrangement that Chris gave me.

    Even the next morning the house was too dark to really take it all in.
    But Wednesday night, after dinner and while I was playing with Hannah,
    I saw them out of the corner of my eye and, for the first time,
    I took a good look at them.

    They're Beautiful!

    Not only did Chris pick out the roses and tulips himself,
    but he also unearthed the vase from who knows where in the garage,
    cut all the stems perfectly to length, and arranged them all himself.

    Frankly, I was speechless.

    And now, a week later, they are wilted and droopy and
    threatening to drop tulip petals all over my stairs,
    but I admit that I'll be sad to see them go!  

    I think a fabulous arrangement of flowers 
    is better than receiving chocolate.

    Okay, well, maybe that's going overboard...

    Thursday, February 16, 2012

    Let Her Eat Cake

    Valentine's dinner was a huge barbecue feast at Famous Dave's 
    - if you haven't eaten there, you should.  
    The All American Feast is amazing and feeds 
    4 adults and 1 Hannah with lots of left overs -
    But we -somehow- managed to save room for dessert. 

    Chris bought an amazingly decadent chocolate cake from a 
    local bakery and it was a big hit - especially with our little girl.

    The pictures say it all, but first a few Hannah stats:
    5 days shy of 17 months
    24m/2T clothing and 6.5 shoe
    'no, no no' is quickly becoming her favorite response
    Loves her baby dolls and building towers with blocks

    Now on with the photos:
    She looks like such a big girl in this photo!

    Two bites of chocolate cake served as her special Valentines Day treat.  
    She's getting SO big SO quickly.

    Le sigh.

    Wednesday, February 15, 2012

    Valentine's Day Treats

    My coworkers - and now Christopher's coworkers - 
    expect periodic homemade treats.  
    While I love baking, I'm also busy and the thought of sifting flour 
    while Hannah's preparing to have a meltdown does not sound appealing.  

    So sometimes - most of the time - I use a box mix.
    ... at least for work treats.
    I've found that as long as the presentation is nice, they aren't picky.

    I started with a Betty Crocker Super Moist Butter Recipe Yellow cake mix.  
    (this just means you use butter instead of oil.  
    This doesn't really matter to me, it's just what I had 
    on hand after a big Betty Crocker sale stock up.)
    I prepared the recipe as directed, preheated the oven, and began separating out all my mini cupcake liners.

    TIP- The dollar store usually has 100 count packs of mini cupcake liners in holiday specific patterns.  While the quality isn't great, and a few of the liner tore while I was separating them, the 100 count was enough for 1 box of cake mix, and significantly cheaper than the store.

    My mom gave me two 24 count mini cupcake pans for Christmas, 
    and I made 6 dozen cupcakes - so 3 pans full.

    Not knowing that it would make SIX dozen, 
    I filled 2 dozen liners with white and then added the pink coloring, 
    so it wasn't half and half like I wanted.  Keep that in mind.

    This platter was for my coworkers.  
    I frosted them with Target brand cream cheese frosting 
    (I wanted to try it, and it wasn't that bad).  

    I emptied the container of frosting into my Kitchenaid mixer bowl with the whisk attachment.  I whipped the frosting with 1 tsp of vanilla flavoring, and then piped it on with a disposable Wilton icing bag (easy clean up was key with this project) and a Wilton round tip (#12 I think).

    I then added a pinch of pink sprinkles to each treat.  
    (sprinkles were bought for about $3 at a 
    TJ Maxx/Marshalls/Homegoods store.) 

    Chris brought a 2 dozen pan of mixed white/pink cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, and then a 2 dozen pan of pink cupcakes with cherry frosting (which I think is gross and tastes like cough syrup, but his coworkers always rave about it.  Weird.)

    I finished them with the same sprinkles, and just served them in the cupcake pan so they wouldn't tip over while he was driving.  
    Not fancy, but easier to handle.

    The cupcakes lasted 45 minutes in my office and 10 minutes in Christopher's.

    So to reiterate - 
    How to fancy up Boxed Cake Mix & Canned Frosting:
    • Add food coloring, flavoring, or citrus zest to cake mixes.
    • Whip frosting for a lighter consistency
      • Also, add coloring, flavoring, zest, or at least some vanilla.
    • Invest in a nice reusable icing bag or a box of disposable ones.
    • Buy a coupler and a few round tips -
      • #10, #11, #12 - are good for topping mini cupcakes.
      • #1A of #2A  - are good for normal/jumbo cupcakes.
      • #1 and #2 - are good for lettering on cakes or adding fine detail.
    • Find some sprinkling sugar. 
      • It's a great way to make your cupcakes look store bought - especially if you just add a small pinch.

    Surprisingly, the skimpyier you are on the frosting 
    (see how my frosting doesn't completely cover the cupcake top?) 
    and the sprinkles, the more expensive your cupcakes will look.

    I had 5 coworkers accuse me to re-plating store bought 
    cupcakes because they looked 'too good'.

    Turns out I'm just THAT good.

    Tuesday, February 14, 2012

    Bumbleride Winter Sale

    If you've been looking for an amazing stroller - Bumbleride comes highly recommended by numerous vloggers and bloggers.  While they are usually out of reach from a cost perspective, Bumbleride is currently having their big winter sale and select strollers are 25% off.

    Here's the 4 styles of strollers on sale, but visit the website for more information and what colors are available.

    2011 Bumbleride Queen B Limited
    Sale price: $399.99

    Bumbleride Flyer
    Sale price: $277.50

    2011 Bumbleride Flite
    Sale price: $187.50


    2010 Bumbleride Flite
    Sale price: $179.99


    Aren't they great looking strollers?
    {click the photos to learn more about the particular style, 
    but remember that there are other colors available, 
    so to see ALL the strollers on sale, click THIS LINK}
    I just wanted to give everyone a heads up that, during this sale, you might be able to snatch up a fabulous stroller at a fabulous price.

    This is not a sponsored post, and none of the links give me any kickbacks.
    It's just a heads up to a great sale opportunity.



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