Please ignore any and all typos. I am writing this in bed on my iDevice. So after my last blog post about how well things were going was apparently a bad idea and was in fact tempting fate. Because Charlotte outdid herself last night. She woke up at 7:30 after I put her to bed at 7:00 and she pretty much screamed unhappily until about 6:30 this morning. It is now noon thirty. She is still asleep after Daddy made mama a very sustaining breakfast.
I really wish I knew what caused these evening disturbances. Last night she was so loud she actually woke up her brother, who usually sleeps so deeply bombs could go off and he would sleep through.
It’s kinda funny how one goes through the stages of grief when going though traumatic instances such as this. First denial,”No! She’s not going to do this forever. Surely she will settle down after the next feeding/ diaper change/ burping.” You hope each time you complete one of these tasks that it will be the magical act of care that will return your baby back to the happy, sleepy baby you know and love, but it doesn’t happen.
Next comes intense concern. Surely something must be wrong for your baby to cry for so long for no visible reason. One time we even took her to the emergency room. That was the second night in a row she pulled one of these crying fits. She of course fell deeply asleep once we arrived and the very nice emergency room doctor diagnosed her with, wait for it,
diaper rash. Sure she screams all night long because she has diaper rash. *eye roll.*
Despair and depression is a long period of grief, the most painful and protracted stage for the griever (during which the person gradually comes to terms with the reality of the loss of an entire night’s sleep. “I am going to be a terrible mother tomorrow. Alton is going to watch 8 hours of TV and he’s never going to get into a good college. Plus, I am never going to sleep or get over this cold EVER. Then there is the intense feeling of helplessness that you can’t figure out how to help your baby. That part full on sucks.
Then finally around five in the morning or so one reaches acceptance. We accept that this “is a season…” And that in a few short weeks we will look back on this time and laugh, and even someday consider having another baby.
Yeah I don’t know about you, but I am no where ready to laugh about this yet. I have spent a lot of time in prayer over this. Prayer for her, prayer for Alton, and prayer that I don’t commit a felony. Lol. But seriously, it is hard to have grace at three AM when you haven’t slept for what feels like days. I don’t like who I become when this situation happens so please pray for grace and wisdom for me.
Charlotte stubbornly insists on aging on me… Sarcasm aside she starting to resemble more of a tiny human rather than a vampire. She is starting to get on a fantastic daytime schedule all on her own and she is into 0-3 months clothes now, although she can still wear non-pajama new born sized clothes. If only she would get the memo that three AM is for sleeping, not a party on mama’s lap.
It’s funny how different she is from her brother. She’s a fantastic napper and so dainty. She only started 1/2 a pound behind her brother’s birth weight, but she is remaining small and dainty longer. Yesterday someone asked me if she was a preemie. (Um no.)
She is holding up her head now and holding up her torso when I hold her.
Since the number one item on my wish list arrived on November 15th, I have had a dearth of the holiday spirit. It’s not that I don’t care, I think it’s honestly just that I am so overwhelmed by new motherhood again, that I just shut down on the thought of anything else that remotely requires effort. So we are taking baby steps to appease the five year old… he has an explosive amount of holiday spirit. Maybe I could borrow some of his?
Friday found the fancy hot chocolate kits on sale at Starbucks. So I bought one with my little elf in mind, and sure enough he ADORED it.
He especially loved the little peppermint stir sticks which melted in the hot chocolate. Which we made with Almond milk. It was delightful for the record.
We drank it whilst we watched the Disney version of A Christmas Carol… I was not impressed with the movie and didn’t feel at all badly that I feel asleep repeatedly due to my post partum sleep deprivation.
We planned to get the tree on Saturday and spend the whole of the day decorating, but Friday night was a VERY difficult night with Charlotte and by dinner time at five, Travis and I were both so tired that we couldn’t even keep our eyes open. So we told Alton we would get the tree today. He was disappointed, but didn’t fuss too much.
So Sunday afternoon we made our annual pilgrimage to Lowes and picked our tree.
The man who did the fresh cut on our tree was awesome. He was this older man who looked like a clean shaven Santa, and he told Alton that you could tell how old your Christmas tree was by counting the rings.
So we counted the rings and we think our tree is about 13 years old.
We got home and “the other Grahams” came over with dinner and to see the baby. They stayed for a while, and I realized we needed an extension cord to light the tree. So I ran back to Lowes while Travis watched the kids. Lottie woke up and needed tending, so when I came home wit the extension cord, I found this:
A five year old who was trimming the tree unattended. I love that all the ornaments are right at his height.
I convinced him that the tree would look better if we lit it first, so he begrudgingly took off the ornaments he’d put on.
Alton loves to use my camera. So he took picture of the family while Daddy hung the lights.
Charlotte refused to go back to bed, so I held her while the boys made merry.
Alton took this one, and I know it’s blurry, but I like it anyway.
Alton was so funny while he was trying to take pictures of the tree. He apparently listens to me when I shoot, and he kept muttering, “Too much light, I need better light.” As he tried to capture the tree at it’s best side. He kept wandering through the house shutting doors and turning off lights to try to get a good picture. I just thought it was hysterical that my five year old was trying to capture the correct lighting for his tree.
This was one of his “Too much light.” efforts.
After I put Charlotte to bed we busted out the tripod and got down to business.
I just love bokeh… I am a bit of a nerd about it in fact….
Finally!!! This is the final result of Alton’s efforts. After a couple of moments on Pinterest I found the manual settings for the camera to make the Christmas tree sparkle… Alton was quite proud of his photo. This evening we will trim the tree. I will let you know how that goes.
One of my favorite things about the food extravaganza that is Thanksgiving is the left overs. I have been know to cook an extra turkey just to be sure of a bountiful supply of them. The annual Friday leftover sandwich is something both Trav and I look forward too every year, so I thought I would share my recipe.
Turkey, Spinach and Cranberry Panini
You will need:
Sliced Challah bread (Pumpkin is even better for the record) 2 slices per sandwich
About 4 oz of sliced turkey per person
Washed and dried spinach leaves
herbed goat cheese (If you can do dairy, brie would be PERFECTION)
mustard, mayo and butter as needed/desired
Start by buttering or oiling the outside of the challah slices
Then on the inside spread your cheese, your turkey and spinach, and then spread cranberry sauce on the inside of the remaining piece of bread. If you want mustard or mayo, put that on before your cranberry sauce.
Then grill in your grill pan, utilizing the panini press that you bought on a whim at the last Pampered Chef party you went to. Make sure you pan isn’t too hot, because you want the insides to heat before your bread blackens to inedibleness.
The last time I made these, my husband swore they didn’t even need mustard. As he is a serial over-condimenter, I took this as high praise.
Do you have any sworn leftover makeovers?
It is less than six week’s until Little Miss Graham’s arrival and I couldn’t be more excited! It hit me last night how suddenly VERY close we are to her arrival and I started to freak a little. I have been ABUNDANTLY blessed by friends with clothes and gear, and we have been able to buy a bunch of the things we need ourselves as well, but every day I remember that there are somethings we need for her that we just don’t have yet.
I still need to get a monitor… we had one for Alton and I lent it to a friend. It was not returned. Plus, I know from experience, that I can’t hear Alton crying at night across the house, so I most likely won’t hear her either without a little help from technology. We also need a full sized car seat and a swing, the car seat can wait until after Christmas. The swing can not. But I did find the one we used with Alton on Amazon, so I will be purchasing that off of our registry at Amazon soon. Other things we need? Socks and a bath tub. Random right? With everything we’ve been given and all of the cute little ensembles that I’ve gotten for her, I have sorta neglected to buy her socks. Bad mama! The bath tub we had for Alton was great, but we gave it and most of our newborn baby gear to missionary friends when they unexpectedly adopted twin babies.
Anyway, since we are on a tight budget, I have been trying to accumulate the last few things we need with many gift cards and coupons as we can. Every little bit helps. So imagine how excited I was when I got an email a couple of weeks ago from Babies R Us offering me 20% off of ANY purchase of $99.00 or more. Whoot! Score! I checked the ALWAYS included list of exclusions and the brand and make of car seat I wanted wasn’t listed. Yay! I should have been able to save $40 off of the price of the car seat! So I went to my registry list and put the car seat in my online cart.
Hmm, that’s funny, the discount is showing up.
(Have you ever wanted to jiggle your computer a little to make something behave? I so wanted to do that right then.)
Okay, so I emailed customer service to ask what the deal is. Two full days later, I finally get a response that is so not worth the time I spent emailing them that I hit delete in disgust and shook my pregnant (and not swollen!) fist at the monitor and vowed to not buy from them again.
I have heard that Amazon has AWESOME customer service. So I thought, why not give them a call and see what they can do? Not only can you request a customer service phone call, but they have an option where you give them your phone number online and then a LIVE PERSON WHO SPEAKS ENGLISH calls you! No phone tree!!!! No dialing one for new orders. No dialing two for existing orders. It’s the little things people!
Anyway I digressed in my excitement.
So a very nice man from Amazon called me five minutes after I requested a call, and I explained the Babies R Us debacle. I told him that I would rather buy from Amazon, but that the $40 savings was significant to my family. The very nice man put me on hold for a minute. I sat there thinking, “There is no way they are going to do anything…. they don’t need to.” We he came back a couple of minutes later and said, “Thanks for your call, I am sorry we can’t give you the full forty dollars off, but we can offer you $25 off and free shipping.”
So I used the $25 off they offered me and $20 worth of Amazon gift cards I earned through Swagbucks and saved $45 off of the seat we wanted.
Fast forward to Wednesday of this week. I got an email from Babies R Us Promising FREE SHIPPING on EVERYTHING!* *Standard shipping only to lower 48 states, street addresses, up to $20 value. Excludes video game consoles/handhelds and hardware, gift cards and Buyer Protection Plan.
Excellent! I have a couple of gift cards from my shower and the rewards coupon I got from previous Babies R Us purchases. I can do the free shipping thing and use up the money I have to get a couple of things I still need for the baby.
Except, when I go to their site and put a few things in my cart, it charged me for shipping!!! NO WHERE in the email did it say that the free shipping was dependent on a certain dollar amount. It only mentions that they won’t ship to Alaska or Hawaii, or give me free shipping on video games systems or gift cards. I assure you, we were not buying her a video game.
How are they still in business? Seriously, this bait and switch and non-disclosed exclusions should be against the law if it isn’t already. I feel like they are preying on highly hormonal expectant parents that aren’t watching closely when they order things for their impending bundles.
So I am now done. I am going to complete the rest of my baby buying needs at Amazon and Buy, Buy Baby when it opens here in Torrance soon. I am going to TRY very hard not to shop at Toys R Us anymore either. That will take some effort, but my sense of justice has been affronted and I am done. Anyone want to buy some Babies R Us Gift cards?
One of the yummiest appetizers / side dishes ever for me is bruschetta. I seriously ADORE it. There’s just something about the fresh basil and tomatoes with the little accompanying garlic that just makes my heart sing. I realize that there are about 100 million recipes for this dish and no offense to Giada De Laurentiis, but I think mine is pretty darned awesome. And speaking of Giada. I love her food and I have many of her recipes, but I have to say this. Giada, we GET that you are authentically Italian. So if you could please for the love of dear goodness stop over pronouncing the names of Italian words and foods we would all love you a little more.
Okay now that that’s out of the way, here we go!
Easy Fresh Bruschetta by Jen Graham
You will need:
4 Roma or other firm fleshed tomatoes (homegrown or organic are best… but use what you can)
a small bunch of FRESH basil (at least 12 large leaves, more if you love fresh basil)
1-3 cloves of garlic, (crushed and use as much garlic as you like)
Salt and pepper to taste
a splash of olive oil
One baguette (country of origin your choice of course… Italian being the preferred for authenticity’s sake, but there does seem to be a prevalence of French baguette’s on the market)
Step one: wash and dry your produce. You don’t have to get the leaves perfectly dry, but at least blot convincingly between a couple of paper towels.
Step 2. Prepare to Chiffonade your basil
To chiffonade something means to cut it into ribbons… and let’s be honest, I like saying it because it sounds fancy. Stack your leaves in a tidy stack and then roll it up into a cigar like shape.
Step 3. Slice your basil
Just like it sounds. Now you can be done with your basil now if you don’t mind long ribbons of it in your Bruschetta, and I don’t but my dear husband does, so that brings us to step 4.
Step 4. Pivot and slice again
So instead of long ribbons of basil, we now have little pieces of basil.
Step 5. Slice your tomatoes
Cut each tomato into a least 6 pieces… more like 8 for easier scooping later
Step 6. Pivot and chop the tomatoes
Step 7. Begin the marriage of flavors!
GENTLY mix the chiffonaded (is that even a word?) basil, tomatoes, salt, pepper, crushed garlic and splash of olive oil in a nice glass bowl. Then seriously, let it sit there for at least a good half hour if you can stand it. The salt and pepper bring all sorts of loveliness out of the tomatoes, and I like the throw a bit of olive oil and the garlic in there because I don’t want to rub olive oil and crushed garlic over EVERY piece of the sliced baguette. (Which is how it is traditionally done and as you know, I am a little bit of a rebel at times.)
Step 8. Prepare the Bread
Slice your whole baguette into nice little one inch-ish pieces. Cut them on the diagonal a little bit so that you can maximize the area that you can fill with bruschetta-y goodness.
Step 9. Toast your baguette slices in the oven on their side. If you toast them in the upright position like this, both sides crisp up nicely, and there’s no pesky having to flip them during baking time. Which for the record is about 5-10 minutes in the oven at 350.
Step 10. Enjoy!
Now, you can just top the toasted baguette slices with the bruchetta topping, or you can do what I do, and first spread the baguette with a nice soft cheese, then top with the heavenliness. I am a big fan of the garlic and herb flavored goat cheese from Trader Joe’s. That stuff is awesome!
If you attempt this or are even just intrigued by this, leave a comment and say so. Have a great day!
With the baby coming soon, I have been trying to make up a few recipes that are quick, easy, and nutritious. I have also been trying to make foods that I can make in bulk, so that I can freeze separate portions and reheat later with ease. (Or if I am being honest, food that my husband can reheat for us.) One of the few menu items that guarantees no dinner time squabbles at our house is Taco Night. This taco salad fulfills all of those stringent requirements with ease.
This recipe doubles and triples nicely with a large saute pan, so if you have the pan size and inclination, please do so.
You Will Need:
One Pound of Ground Turkey or Beef
One Can of Black Beans (or beans of your choice)
1/2 cup of Chopped Onions
1 Package of Taco Seasoning
Sour Cream (optional)
Start by browning the ground meat in a large saute pan. When half way done, add the chopped onions. When meat has browned (or no longer has pink), add the can of beans and the contents of the taco seasoning packet, and let simmer until the taco seasoning packet has dissolved into the meat.
Serve in individual bowls over salad greens, and garnish with tortilla chips and normal taco garnishments. If you are feeling fancy and want to add more oomph to your taco salad, serve with my recipe for Veggie Lime Spanish Rice. This rice recipe freezes and reheats beautifully. For our little family of three, the recipe makes enough for 2-3 servings. So what I do is portion it into freezer bags and then reheat when we have taco night.
If you want to make the taco salad mix for more than one serving, just double or triple the recipe accordingly. This reheats beautifully, and makes a great different meal instead of the normal roasted chicken or pasta if you need to take someone a meal.
Made with loads of sugar pumpkin and a blend of five spices that define the scents of fall, this egg bread will not last the time it takes to order it. Bring the flavors of fall to your favorite home made panini or raise your home made french toast to new heights. This bread will delight you and yours.
So it’s been since February since I updated this blog. Wow. That is a long time and so much has happened!
Alton is finally getting something he has asked his parents for three years… A sibling.
More specifically, a little sister!
This pregnancy has been a roller coaster. I spent my entire first trimester in a state of bed rest and extreme nausea. But despite several threats otherwise, God has been faithful, and my little warrior princess will be born later this fall. She is an answer to so many prayers and I am humbled and so blessed that God chose to bless us with another precious life to raise.
Alton started Kindergarten a couple of weeks ago.
I did not weep. I welled up quite a bit when we walked into his classroom, but I remained strong. He LOVES school and I am praying that he maintains a life long love of learning.
We also have waded into our first bout of organized sports. I am now officially a soccer mom!
We have practice one a week and a game each Saturday. So far it’s been a lot of fun and Alton is learning so quickly!
My friends Jessica, Kathryn and Liz through me the most gorgeous baby shower EVER.
Jessica is pregnant too, and is due one month before I am. It is so fun to go through this together with her and my sister too.
Speaking of my sister, she had a baby boy!
He is the most scrumdiddlyumptious thing since Alton was born….
Anyway, I am going to try to get back into the swing of blogging again. I miss it and I can’t wait to share all sorts of nibbly yummy recipes with you.
September 17th,2012 Family Life
I don’t know if you know this, but I cater a bit. One of my clients asked if I could make cupcakes for a dessert function, and at first I was going to say no and then I remembered that long ago Maggie gave me a wonderful mini-cupcake pan that I have never ever used since she gave it to me almost 10 years ago. Thank you Maggie.
I have always loved cupcakes. They are so portable, and somehow you don’t feel as guilty eating a mini cupcake as you do eating a real piece of cake. Plus, you know that if I am making them that they are made using only the best and freshest ingredients available. I would never sell anything that I wouldn’t serve my family. (In moderation of course.)
We have two versions available right now, and if you want a different combination than what I offer, please ask and I am sure I can accommodate.
First we have my personal favorite, French Vanilla Cupcakes with Fresh Strawberry Buttercream
These are little bites of heaven wrapped in a cupcake wrapper. Butter, vanilla, and what is that?
Yes, it’s fresh strawberry buttercream. Made from real, fresh, and in season strawberries.
Made from scratch and frosted by hand, these cupcakes are to die for. They are sold in either batch of 50 mini cupcakes or about 2 dozen full size. Cupcake wrapper can be customized to match your event. How cute would these be for a bridal shower or baby shower?
The strawberry buttercream is also awesome on the Dark Chocolate Cupcakes…. just so you know.
Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream
These are little bites of heaven wrapped in a cupcake wrapper. Notes of chocolate, real butter and yes, real vanilla make this cupcake something to sing about. These are Trav’s favorite. I now not allowed to buy frosting anymore. The homemade butter cream is just too good. Sweet; but not too sweet, it has a creamy, buttery goodness that compliments the vanilla nicely.
Last but certainly not least,
Sinful Caramel Brownies
Personal trainer to work them off not included. Made with dark chocolate, chocolate chips, gooey, flowing caramel and topped with a decadent cover of powdered sugar, these are brownies you won’t forget.
You will receive one 8x8ish sized pan of unblemished brownie perfection. Suggested servings per pan is 16 brownies. You know, in case you want to share.