the friday post – vol. 4

Happy Friday, friends! This week was a short one for us. Last night we drove over to Bradenton on the gulf side to visit friends from college for the weekend. Their baby is two months older than Charlie, so we had a meeting of the babies this morning when they both got up. It’s been such a fun weekend to look forward to, and I love thinking about raising these boys at the same time. Two months is such a big difference when they’re this little! Next year no one will even be able to tell who is older. Little friends from bump to birth! Mike has a few meetings over here today which is the real reason for our visit. We’re heading home on Saturday, so we’ll still have time to do all those weekend essentials on Sunday before the week begins again.

This week flew by. Valentine’s Day came and went with a bang. I swear it seems like Valentine’s Day is a bigger deal than Christmas at my elementary school. So many cupcakes, chocolate and talk of crushes and notes of friendship passed between boys and girls. There was even a plot for a fifth grade boy and girl to hold hands in gym class, but those plans were intercepted before they happened, thank goodness! We made a pasta bake at home on Tuesday paired it with a little glass of wine, Samoas, and the newest episode of The Bachelor. Call me simple, but nothing could beat that in my book.

Charlie’s started blowing raspberries like crazy this week. He’s like a constantly running open faucet now. He goes through a couple outfits a day now from being soaked through with saliva. In rolling news – When we lay him on his back on the ground now, he almost immediately flips to his tummy but hasn’t quite figured out how to get back to his back. When he gets tired he just puts his head down and sucks on his hand.

There’s a new girl at daycare this week who is a week younger than Charlie. The daycare ladies are so funny about it. They’ve made up this whole story about Charlie and Lucia being boyfriend and girlfriend. One lady told me when I picked him up yesterday that Charlie was trying to hold Lucia’s hand, but she wasn’t interested and that the day before that she was trying to hold his hand but he wasn’t interested. Hilarious. I told them Charlie’s not allowed to have a girlfriend until he’s 18.

I’m sitting here holding my napping baby on a comfortable couch with a mug of coffee next to me feeling so grateful today for this life. I’ve been holding Charlie a little bit tighter every day after the terrible school shooting this week. The high school is about thirty minutes from our house so it has hit way too close to home. I have so many fears and what- if questions swirling around my head, especially working at a school and as a mother. I can’t even imagine what those families and kids are going through and am praying so hard that these fears can somehow be eased over the next few years. I don’t have any solutions, just the feeling that enough is enough. I just want to leave you with this quote from Mother Theresa, “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.”

On that note, I’m going to enjoy the heck out of my long weekend with my family and friends. Counting my blessings over and over after this week of both love and the worse kind of hate. I hope you enjoy your weekend too!

happy love day!

We don’t usually celebrate Valentine’s day with much other than a kiss and an acknowledgement that we love each other which is more than enough for me. But Mike got me red tulips this weekend as an early valentine which have been giving me warm and fuzzies all week. I love roses, but tulips are so cheery with their lanky stems and long, full leaves.

My policy with flowers is always that more rooms filled are better than filling one vase very full. I scatter single blooms or a couple in small jars around the whole house. One next to the bed, one on the mantle, a few on the table, a couple on the coffee table, and maybe one standing on a windowsill. Seeing them in every room in the house makes my heart happy. Love you, forever valentine.  You’re sweeter than chocolate. 🙂

a funny thing we do…

On Sunday nights, we have a funny tradition. We don’t have cable, just an old school antennae that gets us some random channels, Fox (and NBC if you have them angled juuuuuuust right). When 8pm rolls around, we turn on Columbo. Yes, Columbo. The old school detective. We used to put it on for lack of any better options, but I’ve grown to look forward to our weekly Columbo episode. Have you ever seen it? They always show the crime at the beginning so you know who did it. They always think they’ve committed the perfect untraceable crime. But Columbo always solves it! Every episode he brings up Mrs. Columbo (who we’ve never actually met in an episode) which makes us laugh. What do you watch on Sunday nights? Do you have any funny little weekend traditions?

Can’t believe tomorrow is Monday already. We had such a fun weekend which I’ll share photos of tomorrow. Going to be looking forward to the next one all week. ☺️

the friday post – vol. 3

Well friends, we made it back to Friday again. And for us, pizza night. Our pizza has already been devoured, the baby is in bed and the olympics are on. Mike has been so sick this week (strep) which truly never happens, so we’re rejoicing this weekend because his health is on the mend. Nothing like a sickness to show you how much your partner really is your partner in all things. Doing life is just so much better with him.

This week was honestly kind of a blur. Did anything even happen?? Now that we’re at the end I feel like I don’t have anything noteworthy to share. Charlie did roll from his back to his belly for us last weekend and lots more through the week which is so fun. I think he also pooped or spit up on every single item of clothing he owns. So much laundry!

We’ve been toying this week with the idea of transitioning to the crib soon. We’re thinking about putting him to bed in the crib and then when he wakes up to eat, (usually around 1-2am) I can feed him and move him into the bassinet for the rest of the night. Might as well give it a shot to see how it goes! Winging it here.

I tried a new pizza dough recipe tonight that I probably wouldn’t do again. I’ve been using this Epicurious recipe for a couple years now which I love. It comes together in a food processor which makes it so easy and fast. But sad story – our food processor broke this past week in an unfortunate stove incident. For a few years before that I used Bobby Flay’s recipe which was good, but was a little bit chewier than we like. I’m on the hunt for a new recipe until we get a new food processor. Anyone have a good one?

We made it just under our $25 goal for groceries last week. I’ll share details in a couple weeks! First week was easy because we already had most of our pantry staples. This week may be harder as we need a few more things. Especially snacks!

We finished The Killing this week and will probably be glued to the Olympics as long as they’re on. I love figure skating and Mike’s favorite is short track speed skating. We’ll watch any of it though. We’re watching the opening ceremonies right now, although I have to say it’s probably the worst part of the Olympics. Just me?

It’s supposed to be in the 80s all weekend here, so we’re making tomorrow a vacation day. Hitting the beach, grilling out, drinks on the back porch, and putting off all our chores until Sunday. Whatever your plans are this weekend, I hope you kick your feet up and enjoy! xx, em

a recipe: caramel corn with a kick

b2a843d7-e759-403d-993a-eb065b1ad7f6Nights these days are ruled by routine. Doing the same thing every night makes Charlie a happy baby, and it makes me feel like a more put together human. Every night this week, after Charlie is all snug in his bassinet with his sweet breaths going in and out as even as a metronome, I make my way to the kitchen to do my final nightly ritual of bottle washing, getting bottles ready for the next day, putting together my own lunch, snacks, and filling the coffee for the morning. But first, before all these very necessary duties, I unscrew the giant jar of this caramel corn sitting on the counter for a sweet victory snack. Victory because we’ve made it through another day. And you guys. This caramel corn. It seriously does have a kick! It’s so unbelievably good. It’s like a sigh of relaxation at the end of a long day. I still have things to do, but my most important task is slumbering like an angel in the next room.

c11842ea-9e1b-4402-871c-a7aca17b3ef5Mike snatched a great big taste test of this caramel corn when it was freshly coated, still warm and malleable from the melted caramel and he almost died. I kid you not. Both of us are lovers of spice, but the cayenne in this may knock your socks off if you’re not careful. The rest of the batch was pretty tame having just a bit of warmth at the back end, so he must have gotten a little non-mixed in cayenne bite. That’s what happens when you sneak a bite before it’s ready. I only die of happiness every time I take a bite. I discovered this Smitten Kitchen recipe when Deb shared it on her Instagram the other day. She can do no wrong in my book. I want to make every single thing that comes out of her kitchen. I’ve never been disappointed by yet, but I don’t know how anything that involves sugar and butter can be a bad thing.

98a11843-a5c9-4db1-8192-2f5de35a4e1aI haven’t been keeping myself to only nightly nibbles of this stuff. It turns out that half a cup of kernels makes a lot of popcorn. I put bits in little jars to take to school as a bright snack at my very unglamorous desk. I put Mike’s in a large jar to have for the whole week at his more glamorous desk. He has the self control to make it last all week. I need portion control. Also, anything in tiny jars just makes me happy to eat. All about the eating experience here.

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**A note about the cayenne: just leave it out if you’re not sure about some warmth! I used only 1/4 teaspoon which really isn’t much.

Here’s what you’ll need: From Smitten Kitchen’s archives.

  • vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more if you like spice!)
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon salt

Here’s what to do:

Lightly coat two large, heatproof rubber spatulas and two large baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray or a thin slick of oil.

In a large pot with a lid, coat the bottom of the pot with a thin layer of oil over medium-high heat. Add the popcorn kernels, cover and keep the saucepan moving until all of the kernels have popped.

In a small bowl, whisk together the baking soda and cayenne pepper.

Have the two large baking sheets ready. In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, butter, salt and 1/2 cup water. Cook over high heat until the mixture becomes a light golden-yellow caramel, 10 to 14 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the baking-soda mixture if using (the mixture will really bubble up).

Quickly pour the caramel mixture over the popcorn. Use your spatulas to toss the caramel and popcorn together (Deb says as if you were tossing a salad) until the popcorn is coated.

Spread the popcorn onto the baking sheets and quickly separate them into small pieces while still warm if you can. Cool to room temperature, about 15 minutes. Once cool, store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

the friday post – vol. 2

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I did a bad thing this morning. I spilled coffee all over the floor this morning as I was running out the door to school, and I didn’t even clean it up. I left it on the ground for Mike to deal with. EEK! The whole week has been a little like that. It all passed in kind of a blur between sickness, business at work, and just general day to day chaos. We had this gigantic to-do at school on Thursday that required the library (and the entire school) to be both beautifully decorated and spotlessly clean. It went off without a hitch, thank goodness, so I feel like today was a little sigh of relief to end the week on.

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We have zero plans for the weekend other than the normal things (grocery, cleaning, etc) which seems to be the common theme these days. Charlie’s cold is so much better. I had already made an appointment for him earlier this week, so I still swung by the doctor with him after school today to get checked out. They said that his cough is probably going to sound bad for a few days and to come in for a second check up next week. But basically. Just a standard baby cold here. Even though he’s better, we’re still probably going to lie low and hang out at home to get him lots of good naps and downtime. He just started rolling over at daycare, but not yet for us so *fingers crossed* we’ll get to see some rolls this weekend!

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Did you see that we’re going to do $25 a week for groceries for the month of February? I’m so nervous about it. I feel like Mike and I may have some conflicts on what is truly necessary on our grocery list every week (“But I need ice cream this week.”) It’ll be a fun challenge to try though. All I know is that after January’s low carb challenge, I’m so incredibly excited for real pizza tonight.

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I didn’t work out even once this week. I was so proud of myself last week, and this one? Zilch. We even got new tennis shoes last weekend. I’m obsessed with mine. But next week is another week and I’m hoping to get back on track. I made a deal with myself that once I drop another couple baby pounds I get new running shorts to go with the shoes. Mike keeps telling me I don’t need to lose anything which is sweet, butttttttt I’m still going to.

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I’ve seen more than a few recipes that I want to try lately. Not least this show-off of an onion tarte tatin. I find reading recipes so relaxing, especially on food blogs. People that love to cook are my kind of people, and I love the little stories of life that pepper the pictures of food before the recipe. This perspective of mid-winter the writer shared with the tarte tatin I thought was nice, “The holidays have passed; everything has slowed down; my inbox is the cleanest it will be all year; my Pinterest boards are full of new ideas; I’m spending lots of time in the kitchen…” I always think that after the magic of Christmas, the year seems to stretch bleakly on until Spring Break, but that sentence made me shift my perspective a little bit. Other drool worthy recipes lately here, here and here.

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What are you up to this weekend? Whatever your plans, I hope you kick up your feet, relax, and enjoy it! xx, em

monthly resolution: low carb january

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Mike and I decided to do a fun thing this year. Instead of making a few big, sweeping resolution for the year, we’re doing a different resolution or challenge each month. I love making resolutions at the beginning of each year, but my big plans (lose weight! drink more water! run a marathon!) are normally forgotten within weeks of making them. So I got Mike involved this year. He is the king of sticking to things, so I knew we’d be a success if we did it together. We have all of our resolutions planned for each month, but I wanted to share what we did for January and how it went…

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Enter Low Carb January! This one was so hard on me you guys. I love carbs. Breads, pasta, desserts, cereal, grains – the more the better. But listen, I had about ten pounds of baby weight to lose, and I was really hoping that this would get me a few pounds lighter by the end. It worked! Kind of. I mean, let’s be honest, the last couple lbs were most likely from the flu that swept through our house earlier this week. I still have about five more pounds to get back to pre-baby weight, but I’m feeling so good about my progress!

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We did have a few ground rules for ourselves and didn’t completely cut all carbs from our diet. I am nursing after all, and didn’t want to kill my milk supply by under-eating. So we kept oatmeal (my breakfast every morning), beans, quinoa and hashbrowns for weekend brunch on the menu.

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I’ll be honest, and Mike will tell you, I was pretty resentful of the whole thing by the end (mostly on Friday Pizza Night). We did a cleanse one year when we were in grad school, and I was such a BEAST by the end that I’m surprised Mike agreed to do low carb January. But we did it! Again – Mike is the king of sticking to things. Our normal cooking involves a lot of pasta, burgers, tacos at least once a week, and we religiously make pizza on Fridays. So many carbs. We had to make a lot of adjustments. A lot of meals in bowls (quinoa or cauliflower rice, protein, veggie, and sauce) and chicken with roasted vegetables and a side salad were involved. I also focused on making sure to have lots of fresh fruits and veggies on hand for snacks. One thing I can say with certainty, I could never cut carbs forever and I will never be tricked into thinking that quinoa crust or cauliflower crust is real pizza crust.

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I just wanted to share a few of our favorite low carb meals that we may carry over to carb-loving months to come, and just for memory-keeping’s sake. I went ahead and linked to recipes, but we tend to cook without recipes, so they are just examples, not the exact ones we used:

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And now, in February carbs are happily back in my life! Mike had a much easier time with this than I did. He said to me multiple times a week, “I mean, I don’t even need the {insert carb}. I could eat this for the rest of my life.” {Insert my groan and eye roll in response} I think February’s challenge is going to be the hardest one of the year – $25 a week on groceries. EEK! I’ll let you guys know how it goes!