About Me

Hi! My name is Lexy Briest. I am a teacher, artist, wife, and best of all mom to Delilah Poppy. This blog is meant to document what I love and discover along the way of becoming a mommy, which to me is a never ending journey. Hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Cuddle Love

There is nothing quite like the cuddles of your baby in your arms.  In the first months of her life, that is all we did outside of feedings, diaper changes and sleeping.  Those cuddle moments are precious, and everyone warns you how one day they won't want to cuddle. But before that future tragic strikes, I am relishing in having Delilah leave her toy to rush over into my arms, often on her own accord but occasionally when I ask, "Mama, Love?" with outreached arms.  

We have a nightly routine that has been the same since she was 3 months old: we get changed for the night, lotioned up and hair brushed while daddy prepares her room for slumber and selects three books. Then Delilah sits in Bryan's lap while I read. The past few weeks Delilah has taken to stacking the books in her lap and browsing through them on her own for a few minutes when I am done reading. Tonight was the first night that, when finished her book hoarding, she climbed out of Bryan's lap and laid down across me for a body hug. She looked up at me with her piercing blue eyes and snuggled me tighter. My heart just melted.  

A few months ago Bryan and I felt like we were drawing sticks for who was going to put her to bed because it was such a long affair of rocking and feeding. Now, we skip the rocking chair, carry her to her crib, singing one round of our nightly song (which we use to sing for 5-10 minutes!!) and lay her down on her back, placing her extra paci in one hand and her lovey in the other. She looks up and says something through her paci-plugged mouth in gibberish that I am pretty sure is "I love you, too" and we leave the room. It truly is magical! I have been looking forward to these sort of reciprocated and random cuddles as well as the easy bed time since my head came out of its hormone induced cloud at 2 weeks post-natal. 

And though I am happy she is tucked in her crib for the night, I still miss holding her cuteness and will stalk photos and videos of her on my phone for the rest of the night. 


Sunday, April 6, 2014

Finding the Time

I often think about things I want to write, to remember, to be able to share with Delilah when she is older. Finding the time to do so is incredibly hard.  All moms know this. And I use to feel bad about not blogging. But now I feel zero guilt. I am a working mom. I am a wife. And I am creating memories by spending the time not blogging with my beautiful daughter.

Speaking of, Delilah has settled into the most amazing sleeping pattern. She sleeps 6-6:30pm-6:30-7am (except for this morning when she woke up at 7:45!). This has led to me being able to take the time to take care of me and also to be a wife to my husband. I have recently been eating a mostly clean diet with regular meal planning and going to the gym. I have attained my pre-pregnancy weight and with that gained my confidence back. I feel like myself both physically and emotionally. I feel more able to live in the moment when I am playing and holding my daughter because I know I have other things in order for later: I cook on certain nights after she goes to sleep for a few days at a time; I plan ahead when I will go to the gym so my husband will pick up Delilah from daycare; I split household chores with my husband which we do during her naps on the weekends and when she is a sleep in the evenings.

I am very lucky to have a husband who shares these tasks with me (he was taught well by his parents:) ). I am very lucky to have a wonderful woman that helps us raise our daughter while we are at work. And I am blessed with an extraordinary daughter to which I dedicate this blog to so that she may one day see what her life was like when she was so young.

Friday, January 10, 2014

A Case of Formula

When my daughter decided to wean around 4 1/2 months I had to jump into high gear way before I thought I would need to find out what formula would be a right fit for us. I already knew that she would be getting something organic. I have read too much about GMO's, reproductive/hormone disruptive ingredients found in generic, non-organic foods and their effects on behavior.

However, I am also aware that not all organic labels are equal. For example, arsenic is a common chemical found in the natural world, including our food,  but that doesn't mean you want to feed it to anyone! A lot of organic foods have rice or apple in it, two foods which often contain higher levels of arsenic. There are other naturally occurring harmful chemicals in other foods as well, organic or not.

With this knowledge I went forth to conquer the realm of formula and came across this lovely article which helped me make my decision: http://foodbabe.com/2013/05/28/how-to-find-the-safest-organic-infant-formula/. One other deciding factor: a miss Delilah Poppy's taste approval. It took her a month to fully wean so we tried a few different kinds in those early weeks. I finally settled on Baby's Only Organic Dairy Formula by Nature's Way. Based on what I read about how they choose their ingredients, and that fact that their DHA Formula comes from eggs, not Fish Oil (which contains mercury), I feel comfortable giving Delilah this necessary item.

We get it ordered by the case from VitaCost but I have also bought it singly at Wegman's, My Organic Market, and Common Market. I have yet to see it available in the other superstores and grocery stores in my area.

As I said earlier, I did not plan on having formula in our house for a very long time, if ever: I thought  wanted hoped she would breastfeed till I had to wean her. That said, we are very happy with this formula.


Sunday, December 8, 2013

Relaxation through Risotto

 There is something so relaxing about making risotto. Risotto has a meditative quality to it. There is structure involved in preparing and cutting your accompanying ingredients. In stirring and ladling the stock, watching it be absorbed and repeating the process. It is a quiet process, with a saucepan of simmering stock on a back burner, the slow hiss of vegetables being sauteed in luxurious olive oil and a pad of organic butter.

The key to good great risotto is exceptional ingredients. There aren't that many so it is worth it to be choosy. After that, you can combine it with anything on hand. I had a few select ingredients tucked away in the freezer from a recent Trader Joe's adventure calling my name.

I recommend making a risotto earlier in the day- a weekend for most of us. It does take about 30 minutes if you are a speedster and can be done after work. But if you want to reveal in its glory and enjoy the process give yourself 45 minutes of stress free "me time." The payoff is this lusciously rich yet light dish that tickles your taste-buds and soothes your mind, body and soul. I'm on cloud 9 just thinking about having it over 19 hours ago. The most difficult part is not eating it all. I can't wait to puree it for Delilah and watch her eyes roll back in her head at the flavor profiles. Enjoy!

Late Autumn Risotto                                        

Basic Risotto:
10 sage leaves, stems discarded
1 sprig rosemary
1 qt good quality low sodium vegetable stock
Olive oil
3 tbsp organic unsalted butter
1/2 a onion, chopped
1 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup semi-dry or dry white wine (that you would enjoy drinking)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Autumn Topping:
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 a onion, chopped
1 lb sliced mushrooms (cremini and shitakie)
1/2 cup sliced leek, white and light green only                          
10-12 frozen artichoke hearts, thawed
roasted brussel sprouts, optional                                            

salt and pepper


Heat 1 tbsp olive oil and 1/2 tbsp butter in a large, heavy skillet on medium-high. Fry the sage leaves and rosemary sprig, 2-3 minutes per side, then remove and drain on paper towel. Add 1/4 of the onion to the pan till fragrant, 2-3 minutes. Add the mushrooms to sautee till tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste then remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. If needed, add more oil or butter before sauteing leeks and artichokes till lightly browned. Season with salt and pepper then remove from the pan and set aside.

Meanwhile, simmer the stock in a saucepan on medium-low. If needed, pour a glug of the wine to deglaze the pan and remove burnt bits. Heat 1 tbsp each of olive oil and butter. Saute the remaining onion 2-3 minutes before adding the garlic, 1-2 minutes more. Add the rice to the pan to toast the grains till fragrant, 1 minute. Add the wine, stirring as the rice absorbs the liquid. Once the wine has been absorbed, add one ladle  of stock, stirring until it has been absorbed, about 2 minutes. Then repeat, adding stock one ladle at a time, stirring until the rice has absorbed it, about 2 minutes each time before repeating. Make sure to stay nearby to stir almost constantly.  This process takes about 20 minutes for the rice to become tender and release its starches. You may have a ladle of stock leftover or you may need to add water at the end if you run out of the stock- it depends on the rice. Once the rice has absorbed as much liquid as it will, turn the heat off and add 1 tbsp more of butter and the Parmesan cheese.  Spoon the risotto into your bowl. Top with sauteed vegetables. Lay a sage leaf or two on top and break up with fork when ready to eat. And then savor it! For some extra protein you can add sauteed cannellini beans or crisp pancetta.




Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Ammunition

 

I started out making baby food combinations based on recipes I found from favorite chefs, blogs and websites. Some of my favorites are Tyler FlorenceFrench Foodie BabyWholesomeBaby and Weelicious. Now that I have been at it for a few months I have started developing my own recipes. 

It appeared that I was running low on my freezer supply so I gathered leftover ingredients from the past two weeks of holiday recipes to create a flavorful, fresh and seasonal Delilah approved puree. This recipe would be a delicious accompaniment to a poultry dish, as well!

Carrot-Cranberry Apricot Puree with Citrus

3 medium Organic Carrots, chopped into 1" pieces
 (I used a combination of Red and Yellow locally grown beauties)
1/2 cup cranberries
5 dried apricots
1/2 water
zest of one clementine (or 1/2 of an orange. Grapefruit zest would be great, too!)

In a medium saucepan combine all the ingredients except the zest. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and cover until carrots are tender, apricots have plumped up and cranberries have burst, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat and puree using an immersion blender or transfer to a blender. Once pureed fold in zest. Divide portions. Enjoy!

She didn't give me a chance to snap a photo while she was eating, she scarfed this down so fast! She had a sweet potato-coconut milk with cinnamon puree by Weelicious along side this burgundy delicacy as well as goat cheese. I will definitely be using these photos and this blog as ammo for when she is older and claims she doesn't like such and such foods!


 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Timing

My daughter has never rolled over in her sleep, preferring to sleep on her back, even while she was crying or having a fit in her crib. She didn't move. "Sweet," I naively thought. Earlier this week she started pivoting in her sleep from the traditional vertical position to a horizontal, head and feet against the bars position. After a few nights of her horizontal pivot shift, and too many wakings to check the monitor that no limbs were stuck,  we decided it was time to lower Delilah's crib.

The same night that her crib was lowered she sat straight up in the middle of the night crying because she didn't know how to get back down. Really funny, the first time. Since then, she has started sleeping on her stomach half way through the night, pushing up on her arms in a cobra pose. I spent the first part of this week anally checking the monitor to make sure she was breathing, as this was the first time she slept on her stomach. I've gotten really good at analyzing the night vision on my video monitor. You'd think she could get herself rolled over like she does during the day, but I think that a different part of the brain is active at night and she hasn't figured that part out yet. So I am waking up throughout the night when she fusses to check the monitor and going in at least once to set her back on her back for sleep. I am looking forward to the night she figures it out and I get better sleep again. I am also aware that next she will learn how to pull herself up on the bars of the crib but not know how to get back down and this process will repeat itself. The beauty of parenthood.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Being Thankful

Today I am thankful for a wonderful husband whom I married three years ago today. We have a gorgeous daughter and beautiful home. We have happiness (most the time!) and generally great health. We are surrounded by amazing family and friends near and far. We are so grateful for all those relationships, some very old and some rather new.

I am also thankful for the delicious food that grows on our earth and roams on its bounty.  It can be rather depressing to think about how all our natural resources are swiftly declining, which includes all the yummy things I love to eat. This time of year is a good time to be mindful about what we eat. Make sure you enjoy it, that you aren't wasteful. I like to educated myself about where my food comes from and if it processed, how so. I want to be able to inform Delilah with this information so she can learn to make her own decisions about what she eats.

I took her to the grocery store last week and she went gaga over the beautiful colors and shapes (we spent a long time in the produce aisle). One fellow customer even asked what she was smiling about  (well she is almost always smiling)! It makes me proud that I have a happy, healthy baby girl who is excited about life and especially food. She had me worried Monday and Tuesday when she wasn't eating that much food, but if you had boogies clogging your nose, I guess you wouldn't want to eat much either. Luckily she is feeling better (mostly just crusties for those wanting to know) and is eating almost like her old self.

In honor of getting over colds, I took the bag of organic pink lady apples we got together from our grocery excursion and a few leftover red delicious and turned them into an apple pie and an apple galette. I just used the leftover dough and saved some apple filling to make the galette so that Bryan and I could taste it today and save the pie for Thanksgiving dessert tomorrow!
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Apple-Rosemary Pie
Crust:
2 cups flour (I used Gluten Free)
a dash of salt
2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cubed
8 oz cream cheese (I used greek yogurt style cream cheese for more protein and less fat!)

In a food processor combine dry ingredients. Add the butter and cream cheese. Pulse till a crumbly dough forms. Turn dough out onto a dusted surface. Divide into two. Flatten into a disk. Wrap in plastic if not using right away and put in fridge. (With a baby, sometimes you have to take breaks.)

Filling:
4 lbs or so of organic apples (more is better for tastings...), peeled and sliced (I used pink lady and red delicious)
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
dash of salt
a few swipes of a fresh nutmeg grated or 1/4 tsp of ground nutmeg spice
4 tbsp cornstarch (more if you are using more apples)
squeeze of fresh lemon juice (about half a juicy lemon)
1 spring rosemary, leaves removed and chopped, stem discarded

1 tbsp cold butter, cubed
1 egg white beaten with 1 tsp water

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine apples, sugar, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, and cornstarch in a large pot set on medium-high. Cover and cook 15-20 minutes, stirring once or twice to prevent burning. Uncover and simmer on low 5 minutes till liquid thickens. Take off heat, add lemon juice and rosemary. Let sit till cool, 20-30 minutes.  Roll out one disk of dough and place in pie pan, letting ends hang. Fill with most apple filling if also making galette or you just want some yummy apples to nosh on while you wait for the pie to bake. Cut the remaining disk of dough in half. Roll out one of the halves and cut strips to make the lattice on top of the pie. Fold hanging edges of crust over the top to form a strong edge. Brush the top of the pie with the egg white mixture for a glossy sheen. Dot top of pie with butter. Bake 1 hour. After half hour, I covered edges of pie with foil so they wouldn't burn. Let cool another hour. Wrap up and hide from view to avoid not having a dessert to bring to your Thanksgiving dinner.


For the Galette:

Roll out the remaining dough and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Place the remaining apples in the middle of the dough leaving a 2 inch border. Fold the edges over themselves to form a "crust." Dot with a few cubes of butter. Bake 35 minutes at 400 degrees. Let cool 20 minutes before devouring.