Saturday, March 26, 2011

Guess What?

Here's a hint.

Hint Two.

Elyse likes this game. She's wants you to figure it out!

OK - this clue should do it!

Kind of hard to tell, I know. But, yep, there's a little tooth popping through! We've been hearing for months that she's teething. Every time she is fussy, tries to suck on someone's finger, etc. people are quick to say, "I think she's teething!" However, so far - nothing.

This morning, I steamed and roasted her some veggies (green beans, peas and sweet potatoes). I had just finished pureeing the potatoes and brought her in a taste while Bill was changing her diaper. I had a little glob on my finger and thought, "Wait a minute, what was that?" I felt it again and said, "Oh, I think I might cry!" Bill immediately said, "Oh, is it a tooth?!" I didn't cry, but definitely was touched and excited. It is so fun to experience each and every milestone with our little person.

As you can see, I tried to get a decent shot of it, but it isn't too easy. First of all, it is just barely poking through. Really, you can feel it better than you can see it. And who knows it may move down again before it officially pops through. But, nonetheless people - a tooth is on our horizon. Pretty exciting stuff in our household!

Monday, March 21, 2011

I Love Breakfast

The gadgets they have today for babies. They make this pacifier type toy attached to a mesh bag that you can fill with fruit for baby to safely suck on. We tried it out this morning and I filled it with frozen raspberries. I put this ugly cape thing on her I found at Ikea as a joke for Evelyn. She kept teasing that they needed to make capes like you use at the hair salon for babies. They came in a 2-pk, so we kept one for ourselves. Today, it sounded like a good option for trying berries for the first time. Functional - yes. Cute for pictures - no. However, it is hard for this little girl NOT to be cute, so I don't think you'll be disappointed..

Here are some shots from breakfast.

 Berries were still frozen at this point.

 They're thawing out!

And moving on to cereal!

Here she is in action. Happy baby!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Best Cheese Ball

I held an open house here as a meet-and-greet for women in my neighborhood last weekend. I tried three new recipes - all found on PW's Tasty Kitchen. This one was very good and I will definitely make it again!


Sweet and Savory Cheese Ball

8 ounce pkg Cream Cheese (use Neufchatel, but FF would work too)
¼ cups Sour Cream (I used light)
1 cup Finely Shredded Cheddar Cheese
¼ cups Shredded Parmesan Cheese
¼ cups Finely Chopped Onion
½ teaspoons Teaspoon Garlic Powder
1 pinch Cayenne Powder
1 teaspoon Lemon Juice
¼ teaspoons Freshly Ground Black Pepper
⅓ cups Dried Cranberries, Optional (but best part!)
½ cups Toasted Pecans, Chopped

1) Place all ingredients except pecans in a large bowl. Beat with a mixer on medium-low speed until well combined.

2) Scrape the mixture onto a piece of plastic wrap. Cover with the plastic wrap and shape into a ball. Put the cheese ball on a plate and place in the refrigerator to harden, about 30 minutes – 1 hour.

3) Roll the cheese ball in the chopped pecans and place on a serving plate. Serve with crackers.

Best if allowed to sit for at least one hour in the refrigerator to allow the flavors to blend. When ready to serve, it is also recommended to remove from refrigerator for 15-20 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Not Sure Who is Happier

PS: Check out those chubby legs tucked into Libby's neck (top right photo). These two, I tell ya...

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Happy Half Birthday, Baby!

Want to know how to make "monthiversary" onesies yourself? Here's my how-to.

My dear daughter, Elyse -

Six whole months! Where has the time gone? I was telling you today that you've been with us for half a year. Daddy quickly corrected me - it has been much longer than that since you were in my belly for over nine months before we got to see your sweet face. He's right.

You just had your check-up and you're just over 27 inches long and 17.25 pounds now and at the 47th percentile for height and weight. You got shots again and it didn't go so well (for all three of us). You weren't feeling well last night, but were back to your ol' self today.

You're doing amazing and we somehow find ways each and every day to love you more and more. Here's a little of what you've been up to.

I got us both dressed one day and we ended up matching. SO not on purpose. I promise, honey, I won't be THAT Mom. But, admittedly I did have Dad take our picture.


Going to work is still not my favorite when it comes to saying goodbye to you in the morning, but guess what? I get to come home to this super cute face that's all excited to see me. Nothing better.

Even though everything is going into your mouth these days, your doctor confirmed it yesterday. Still not teething.

You are into EVERYTHING now. You're still not mobile, but it is close. And everything in your reach is fair game.

You LOVE your Daddy. You light up when you see him. And, he thinks you're pretty cool too.

You love playing together.

You do this thing now when you get really excited you rock your head (and sometimes your booty) from side to side. Funny girl!

We enjoy our special times in the evenings before you go to bed. We have special chats. Just us girls.

Precious girl.

When you are ready to be picked up. You are READY!

Your first meal (rice cereal) was fun. A big, huge mess. You loved it!

Did I mention it was the huge mess? Yeah, I've learned not to follow the directions and make it less thin. Much less of a mess. However, you were pretty stinkin' cute.

We went to a birthday party last weekend for one of your cousins. You had some fun time with cousin, Chelsey. She LOVES you!

You love sitting like a big girl in your high chair with your sippy cup!

You loved seeing your cousin, Colton. You guys loved grabbing onto each other!

You get baths a whole lot more often now that you are eating solid foods. You LOVE this time of day!

Chomping on your tootsies and your rubber duckie - good times.

Your new hat. Can you say adorable?

Your monthly photo shoot involved a very active baby. You kept Mama on her toes for sure!

Speaking of toes...

I think I'll just take a rest right here...

Getting a little sleepy.

I got in front of the camera with you so we could get a few shots together.

Loving on my girl.

Babe, you are absolutely more than we ever prayed, dreamed and wished for you. You are a delight each and every day. You make your Mama and Daddy so very proud of you. We absolutely love you to pieces. Thanks for making the last six months the best of our lives. We love our little family!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

My Favorite Chocolate Cake - to Make AND Eat!

DARK CHOCOLATE LAYER CAKE WITH CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAM FROSTING

This is often my go-to cake when I'm asked to bring a dessert - especially on birthdays. When my father-in-law requested that I make something chocolatey for my mother-in-law's upcoming birthday - I knew this was exactly what I would make. This is a healthier version of traditional chocolate cake and a recipe from Devin Alexander's Most Decadent Diet Ever. I normally don't even like chocolate cake and Bill doesn't like cake at all, but both of us enjoy this. It has a moist texture and doesn't skimp on frosting either. Sometimes I tell people the secret behind it and sometimes I don't. Note, I didn't say it was "healthy cake" or "diet". It is still cake. You still should only eat one piece, but you can definitely enjoy it with a lot less guilt!

PS: Did you remember that I met Devin and had her sign my cookbook? Yes, I'm a nerd!

Ingredients:
Butter-flavored cooking spray
1 1/2 cups whole-grain oat flour*
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon very finely ground espresso beans
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
1 teaspoon white vinegar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 large egg whites
2 cups dark or light brown sugar (not packed)
1 cup fat-free, artificially sweetened vanilla yogurt (Note: Most yogurt is served in 6 oz cups, so you will often need two)
Raspberry Preserves (Optional)**

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly mist two nine-inch nonstick cake pans with cooking spray. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, espresso, and salt in a medium mixing bowl.

Use a sturdy whisk (or an electric mixer, but be careful not to overmix) to mix the buttermilk, vinegar, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl until well combined. Whisk in the egg whites, brown sugar, and yogurt and continue mixing until blended. Gradually stir in the dry ingredients until just smooth. Divide the batter evenly among the pans. Bake for 16 to 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry (a few crumbs are okay).

Cool the cakes side by side on a wire cooling rack in the pans for ten minutes. Then, carefully flip the cakes onto the rack. If the cakes stick to the sides of the pans, gently run a butter knife around the rims of the pans to loosen them. Meanwhile, prepare the Chocolate Buttercream Frosting (recipe below).

When the cakes are completely cool, place one cake, flat side down, on a platter. Spread 3/4 cup frosting over the top of the cake. Top it with the second cake, flat side down. Spread the remaining frosting evenly over the top and sides of the cake. Slice the cake into 14 equal wedges. Serve immediately, or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to three days.

* I make my own oat flour by putting oatmeal in the food processor and pulsing until powdery.
** Once, I made this adding a generous amount of raspberry preserves to the middle layer (in addition to the chocolate buttercream. It was divine!!

CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAM FROSTING

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons light butter (stick, not tub), room temperature
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons light cream cheese, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
2 3/4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons fat-free milk

Add the butter, cream cheese, vanilla, and salt to a large mixing bowl. Beat on high speed until smooth. Add half of the powdered sugar. Beat on low speed until well combined. Beat in the remaining powdered sugar and the cocoa powder until combined. Add the milk and beat on high speed until fluffy. Tightly cover the bowl of frosting with plastic wrap until the cakes are cooled (do not refrigerate it before frosting the cake).

MAKES ONE TWO-LAYER CAKE; 14 SERVINGS
Each slice has: 294 calories, 6 g protein, 59 g carbohydrates, 6 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 11 mg cholesterol, 4 g fiber, 384 mg sodium
You save: 261 calories, 27 g fat, 17 g saturated fat
Traditional serving: 555 calories, 7 g protein, 65 g carbohydrates, 33 g fat, 20 g saturated fat, 124 mg cholesterol, 4 g fiber, 199 mg sodium

Monday, March 7, 2011

Zucchini - Nom, Nom!


For those who don't know me, I'm a rule follower. So when the books and our doctors advise, "Wait until six months to start solids" even though I know most start their babies earlier, we waited. There are a variety of reasons it is advisable to wait until six months:
  1. Baby's intestines need to mature.
  2. Young babies have a tongue-thrust reflex.
  3. Baby needs to be able to sit up.
  4. Baby's swallowing mechanism is immature.
  5. Young infants are not equipped to chew.
  6. Older babies like to imitate caregivers.
  7. Makes it easier to detect food allergies.
Elyse is six months on the 12th of this month, but 24 weeks a week ago, so we split the difference and started solids last Friday. Elyse was definitely ready! She was all about eating and seemed to enjoy every part of it! We have done rice cereal every day and today we tried her first veggie. I steamed her some zucchini and pureed it this morning.

My brother-in-law, Robert, got me a couple of great cookbooks on making baby food. I am going to try to make Elyse food each week to eat at home, but will likely send purchased baby food with her on days she is with her Grandmas. Right now though, I can only imagine when trying new foods that the real stuff just has to taste better than something from a jar. We'll see how it goes!

It was really easy to make this puree. I just chopped up two organic zucchinis and put them in a steamer above an inch of boiling water.


Nine minutes later the zucchini was tender and ready for the food processor.


I poured the puree into these cute and ecologically friendly Wean Green baby food jars. I loved the colors, I liked that we could use them for other things once she is done with baby food and... I had a coupon!


Ok, here is Elyse eating her first vegetable. First few bites... not so sure about this.



Then, we started to like it:



PS: I used my camera this time instead of the Flip video. Amazingly better quality!

PSS: After I took these videos I took her into the doctor. I could hear her wheezing as she ate her food. Looks like she just has a mild virus, but we're to watch her and make sure it doesn't get worse!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Elyse in Action - Part Three

Last vid of the week of my favorite baby girl. This one is my favorite - and I saved the best for last. She has been a talker since early on and she just loves when she discovers new sounds. Here is her newly discovered ROAR! Don't be scared. It is just a baby. Five and a half months old.

video

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Elyse in Action - Part Two

More video footage of our favorite small person. She's absolutely fascinated with the animals. Here she is going crazy for Wilson who is sitting on the ottoman in front of her (and in front of the camera). Five and a half months old.

One more coming...

video

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