Friday, March 6, 2015

Fox: 2 Months

Two months old, already?  How is this happening!  I remember people telling me that they could hardly remember not having a child after a few weeks, and I am starting to feel the same way.  I certainly remember our lives before this little dude joined our family, but I hardly remember not knowing him, not loving him, and not constantly thinking about him.  Here are a few fun things about Fox currently:

1.  He started smiling about 2 weeks ago, and now sometimes he will catch me unawares by staring up into my face and giving me a big grin.  My heart melts every time.  It is adorable.

2.  He hates tummy time. So very much.  He loves being held on your chest while you are sitting up so he can look out the window or at pictures on the wall, and his head is really strong, but he is very against being laid down on his stomach.  A few days ago, I laid him down on the floor to give hims some practice time and he lifted arms, legs and head and balanced on his stomach while screaming.  If it hadn't been so sad, it would have been kind of funny.  I don't think he was amused, however.

3.  He has grown out of almost all his newborn clothes.  I am still hanging onto a few last items that sort of fit, but we are officially onto the 0-3 month old clothes.  There is something fun about pulling out a whole new set of clothes, but I am a little sad to put away all the tiny clothes that he wore the first few weeks of his life.

4.  He has these adorable little fur trimmed mittens that he has been wearing a lot the last two weeks or so, because it got cold again, and he is obsessed with sucking on the left one.  I don't think it always has to do with him being hungry, because sometimes he has just eaten, I think he just likes it.

Happy Friday!

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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Homemade Graham Crackers

Are you in need of a fun and easy project to do with your little ones for these last lousy days of winter (unless you live in some terrible place that snows until May; if you are, I am sorry)?  Then you have come to the right place today!!!  Right after Fox was born we went to the library and I checked out Make the Bread, Buy the Butter: a terrifically fun read by Jennifer Reese.  It is an interesting, insightful and remarkably comprehensive read about things you should make at home vs. things you should buy at the store, based on taste, hassle and cost.  Certain things are just worth buying, while others require only a small amount of hassle for a far superior product.
I kept bookmarking recipes as I went along, interested to try some of her variations (I did try out the yogurt recipe, and had moderate success; it was super runny, but it tasted pretty good), and one of the recipes that struck my fancy was for homemade graham crackers.  I don't typically eat graham crackers much, but I do think they taste pretty good (especially the chocolate kind dipped in milk), and I was curious what they would taste like out of my oven.  They were delicious.  So delicious, in fact, that I have made them 3 or 4 times since.  And for the most recent batch, I decided to cut them out into fun shapes!  Such a fun, inside activity, and oh-so terribly delicious!  They are a great treat for the cold, wet days that we have been experiencing lately.  Perfect with kids, and great for adults.  It's a nice cookie that isn't too sweet.

Honey Graham Crackers:
from Make the Bread, Buy the Butter
(a few of the measurements are a little weird because I halved it.  This recipe makes about 25 cookies)

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/8 cup whole-wheat flour (I have also used all-purpose here with good results)
1/8 cup wheat germ
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cinnamon
8 Tbs butter (or 1 stick), softened
1/8 cup brown sugar
1/8 cup white sugar
1/8 cup honey

In medium mixing bowl add flours, wheat germ, salt baking soda and cinnamon and whisk to combine.  In a stand mixer or another medium sized bowl, add butter, sugars and honey and combine until fluffy.  Slowly add 1/2 of the flour mixture into the sugar/butter mixture and combine.  Once they are decently mixed, add the second 1/2 of the flour mixture and mix until a soft lump of dough is formed.  Refrigerate dough in plastic wrap for 30 minutes.  Preheat the oven to 350°.  Divide dough into two sections.  Roll out the first section of dough on a lightly floured surface until it is about 1/8" thick.  Cut dough into rectangles, circles or other objects with cookie cutters or a knife and place on a silicone mat or parchment paper lined cookie sheet. If you would like you can sprinkle cinnamon and sugar on the cookies for an extra festive touch! Cook in a preheated oven for 10-12 minutes or until the edges begin to brown.  Do not over bake!  Enjoy and try not to eat the whole pan...!  Happy Baking!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Simple Berry Breakfast Shake

For years, I wouldn't eat berries.  At all.  I hated the crunchy seeds and didn't think they tasted good (probably because they were not as sweet as skittles).  I remember my mom telling me that she used to be a berry-hater too until she got married, and then she grew up and learned to like them.  Now I can feel grown-up too, because about a year ago, I started eating berries and *gasp* I actually like them! Now about twice a week, Adam and I make a fruit shake to split, and it is a fresh and healthy way to start the morning (or with dinner)!  Plus, it is a gorgeous shake and it compliments a bowl of cereal or oatmeal very well! 

Simple Breakfast Shake (serves 2):
1 1/2 cup frozen berries (I use a raspberry/blackberry/blueberry blend and sometimes add frozen strawberries)
1/8 cup of frozen orange juice concentrate or 1 smallish peeled orange
3 - 4 cups of milk or almond milk (start with 3 cups and then add as needed until it is smooth enough to blend easily and is fairly liquid)

Pour your frozen berries into the blender.  Scoop the orange juice concentrate onto the berries.  Pour the milk over the berries and orange juice concentrate.  Turn on blender and mix.  Add more milk if the mixture is too thick.  Pour into a glass and enjoy!

This recipe is SO flexible.  I don't really measure too much, just sort of dump stuff in the blender until it looks good (so scientific, I know...), but it is such a fresh and lovely shake and I love having this much fruit for breakfast.  It is a nice way to start the day!  

Friday, February 27, 2015

Adventure is out there! - Summer 2015

Happy Friday, friends!

Thank you so much for your very kind response and incredible support to my wanting to change my blog to a new focus!  Your kind comments touched me and made me incredibly excited and very hopeful about this change, and hope you will stick around!  

Apparently this is the year for change, because I actually have another exciting bit of news to share! As if having a baby and completely revamping my blog wasn't enough... 

Last week we took passport photos of Fox (these are the outtakes... taking a straight-on picture of a baby is tough, but isn't he cute!?)

It wasn't official until a few days ago when we finally got plane tickets, but Adam, Fox and I are going to live in the southeast of France for 6 weeks this summer!  Adam is helping out with a Study Abroad and decided to take Fox and me along!  Hooray!  Such an adventure for us!  We will spend a week in Paris and then 5 weeks in Lyon with weekend adventures to other places in France. We have been hoping for an opportunity to spend some time in France since we got married, and year after year (okay, only 3 years), it hasn't worked out.  We thought it wasn't going to work this time either, but in the end, things fell into place, and we leave at the end of May!  It is going to be quite the experience, and will definitely have its challenges with a baby and all, but we are SO excited to be going, and think it will be a life changing time for us!  I am also hoping to share lots of snapshots of our life in France.

I am curious how cooking will go while we are over there because the darling flat that we are renting is tiny and doesn't have an oven... Guess you guys will be seeing a lot of stove-top type dishes and salads.  I hope that is okay.  I mentioned to Adam that not having an oven means I won't be able to make bread while we are over there.  He said "Landen, we are going to the bread capitol of the world.  We can buy amazing bread while we are there."  Oooooh, right... Guess that solves that problem.

Has anyone ever been to Lyon?  I had heard of it, but didn't know anything about it until we found out we might get to go!  I am curious if loads of people have been and I haven't ever heard about it.  Last year when we went to Norway, suddenly people who had visited or were visiting popped up everywhere!

Here is what I know already:
1. Apparently it is the food capitol of France (at least traditionally).  Paris is up and coming currently, in the restaurant scene, I guess, which thrills me, because hopefully I will be able to try some tasty food!
2.  There is a super awesome park with a zoo scattered throughout it.
3.  There is the most charming-looking section of town that is considered "Old Lyon"
4.  I have become addicted to looking at Airbnb listings in Lyon.  This one is probably my favorite. (Also, looking at Airbnb a lot lately has really made me want to be a cleaner housekeeper with less stuff.  Spaces look so much bigger and lovelier when they don't have loads of junk tucked in every corner... Currently, I am definitely guilty of that)
5.  I read somewhere that many fewer people speak English in Lyon than in Paris, so I am definitely going to have to brush up on my French!
6.  There is this AMAZING looking market there called Les Halles de Lyon with just about everything you could want there.  I am super excited to check it out!

Please email me or comment with what you know about Lyon... if anything.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The best granola bars I've ever had

Right before Mr. Fox was born, I checked a gorgeous book out from the library called Feast.  It had lots of vegetarian recipes in it (depending on the week, we are about 80% vegetarian), and I found a granola bar recipe that looked quite good.  I didn't have all the ingredients that the author called for so I ended up modifying it quite a bit, and totally loved them.  I have tried a few different kinds of granola bars over the last few years, but always felt like they were way too sweet, or had loads of junk in them, and couldn't possibly be considered a healthy snack. These have peanut butter, maple syrup and honey as binder/sweeteners, so perhaps shouldn't be considered really healthy, but they do have lots of nuts, oats and natural sweeteners, so I feel pretty good about them.  Plus they are dang delicious!  We are lucky if a pan lasts 3 days in our house... Mostly because of me... 

Nutty Granola Bars:
adapted from Feast

3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup millet
1/2 cup raw unshelled sunflower seeds
3 Tbs raw unseasoned pepitas
1 Tbs sesame seeds
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup toasted chopped almonds
1 1/2 cups peanut butter (or other nut butter)
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla extract

In a mixing bowl, combine the oats, millet (don't leave this one out!  It is hard to find, but totally makes the granola bar!), sunflower seeds, pepitas, sesame seeds, cinnamon, salt, and almonds.  In a smaller bowl, combine the peanut butter, maple syrup, honey and vanilla extract until smooth (you may need to stick it in the microwave for 30 seconds or so to soften up the peanut butter).  Stir wet ingredients in with the dry until thoroughly combined.  Pour into a 9x13" pan that has been lined with tinfoil and sprayed with a nonstick spray and push mixture down with a rubber spatula to help the mixture stay together once you take it out of the pan (it can be kind of crumbly).  Bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes or until the edges turn golden brown.  Let cool for about 15 minutes then remove entire mixture on the tinfoil.  Let cool for another 30 or so minutes, then cut with a sharp knife into bars.  Or, crumble it up and eat it like granola with full fat plain yogurt.  You won't regret it.  Happy baking!

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