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!

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.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Jewish Penicillin for the sick baby.......and mom

As many parents know, when your child is sick you will try anything to make them feel better. It is helpful to realize that their sickness will have to run its course and encouraging to think that their sicknesses now will help them fight future infections later by strengthening their immune system (thanks Aunt Rachie for your medical insight!). Let 's be honest: no one thinks these things during those stressful crying and fussing sessions that seem to never end.

Even after I have put Delilah to bed I find myself worrying about her breathing and is she okay? It is just as stressful as when she was awake, and there is no more wine in this house! Or cookies. Or Once Upon A Time to watch.  So instead let me reminisce about my day of cooking.

I set out at 7:50 am to pick up supplies to make Jewish Penicillin aka Chicken Soup. The kind with the bones and skin. The real stuff. There is something about the fat from the chicken and probably the marrow in the bones that makes you feel better. Not to mention all the health benefits from the vitamins and minerals released by the fresh vegetables and herbs that make the broth taste so good. I finish mine off with a squeeze of fresh lemon and chopped dill. The lemon and herbs are a go-to homeopathic ingredient, having many health benefits. Again, it also just taste darn good.

Chicken Soup with Lemon
(all ingredients are organic as this was for my infant daughter. If that is unattainable splurge on the chicken as it is the main component)
1 whole free range chicken or chicken parts that include the bone and skin
2 stalks celery
2-3 carrots (I used red and yellow locally grown)
1 medium turnip
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
a few springs dill and/or parsley, plus more for garnish
5-6 whole peppercorns
salt to taste
1 lemon

Combine all ingredients except the lemon in a large stock pot. Cover with water till it is 1 inch above the chicken. Bring to a boil. Let simmer for at least 2 hours, more if possible, skimming the surface for impurities. Resist skimming the fat. There shouldn't be that much as there is no added oils and a free range, organic chicken has better quality fat. Take the chicken out on a cutting board and take off the meat. Scoop vegetables out and decide what to keep. Chop the larger pieces into bite size chunks. Strain the stock. Add the lemon juice.

For baby, I kept some of the broth separate. I also pureed a small amount of the chicken and vegetables with some broth.

I think the best part of making this soup is the whole family benefits from the immune boost. As I finish writing this I recall how my own throat has been hurting for the past hour and how I will most likely experience cold symptoms when I wake up. Then Bryan will get them. Hopefully ingesting this soup will make the cold less intense and take less time to get over. Time to get a bowl..........and I only checked the monitor twice!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Hello

It's been how long?! I often think about what I want to write on this blog, usually on my drive to work (when my brain is functioning the best). Then it mysteriously gets forgotten by the time the traffic lights become part of my drive and the teacher in me takes over.

Rather than try and make up posts about things I wanted to say weeks ago I am just going to start from this point on and accept the fact that as a mom my time management is not always rainbows and butterflies.

You know who is sunshine and daffodils?  Delilah! She is so amazing and full of life. And thankfully sleeping through the night 12 hours on average. It has been a tough journey, especially today when her first big cold and possible first tooth cutting collided in a cacophony of cries, snot bubbles and drool. However, when it was time to eat, she was a champ!



She dined on baby spinach and roasted pear puree with Parmesan, apple-cranberry sauce and some chevre cheese for lunch. For dinner she had sweet potato chunks, broccoli mash with lemon and a yam-coconut milk puree with a dash of cinnamon. I am so proud of my adventurous eater!

In other worthy Delilah news, she has added the word "Hello" to her growing vocabulary which currently includes "Mama," "Dada," "Baba " (for bottle), and a breathy sounding "Delilah" (hey, that's a lot of syllables!)

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Purees aren't just for Babies

Now that I have the hang of using our Beaba BabyCook to make Delilah's baby food, I am finding more ways to use it for the whole family. I have this fanciful notion that one day, when Delilah eats regular foods, we will all eat the same things. I don't want to be a family where the kids eat "kid meals" and adults eat the adult meal. So now I am thinking up ways to use the same ingredients for both her food and ours until the time comes when she will eat the same textures as we do.

Last week I decided to make a batch of sweet potato pancakes with the remaining sweet potatoes from Delilah's first adventure with solids. I was craving something sweet but harvest-y and wanted an easy breakfast ready to go for the week. I used the same recipe below this week using pureed pumpkin instead of sweet potato with the leftover pumpkin puree I made.

I adapted a recipe from Tyler Florence for Sweet Potato Pancakes. I honestly make mine all different sizes so there is no precise number of pancakes, but it makes a lot. I added chocolate chips to the second half of the batch. Blueberries would be great too!

2 cup flour (I used gluten free all purpose but am considering creating my own out of a few different flours)
1/4 cup sugar ( I used less because my flour mix has sugar in it)
2 tsps Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
Pinch of salt
3 eggs
2 cups Almond Milk
2 Tbsp organic unsalted butter, melted
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups organic sweet potato pureeor pumpkin puree (Steam a peeled and diced sweet potato, puree with some of the steaming liquid, as needed.  For pumpkin, cut a well washed pie pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds and stringy mush, and place cut side down in a baking dish filled with an inch or two of water. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 40-50 minutes till the flesh is tender and the skin is soft when pushed. Scoop out the flesh and puree with some of the steaming liquid, as needed).
Coconut oil, Grapeseed Oil or Vegetable Oil
Chocolate chips or blueberries (optional)
Maple Syrup and Fresh Ricotta (optional)

Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Beat the eggs with the almond milk. Combine the milk mixture with the butter and vanilla. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the wet, mixing until just combined. Fold in the Puree. Heat on High a Large skillet or griddle. Grease with oil. Pour ladle fulls of the batter- add chocolate chips or blueberries to each one if using. After 2-3 minutes, when the bubbles stop forming, flip the pancake and cook 1-2 more minutes. Repeat in batches, greasing as necessary.

I enjoyed mine all week with a dollop of ricotta cheese and drizzle of maple syrup. You can cool the pancakes and freeze, reheating as you need them.



Monday, September 2, 2013

Adventures in Solids

Delilah has been staring me down as I eat or drink for at least a month. It is safe to say she is more than just curious but rather interested in the concept of putting things in your mouth then having them disappear to some magical place called the tummy. I originally thought we would start her on solids when she turned six months. She is 5 1/2, so it isn't that far from what I expected. As she has completely stopped breastfeeding as of September 1st, it seemed like a good idea to introduce solid food.


Our wonderful neighbors gave us their Beaba BabyCook and I whipped up some sweet potatoes a la puree for the little piggy. It is super easy to use and as we are only introducing as many types of vegetables as we can, it is a little boring (literally water and the cut vegetable steamed). Once Delilah has had each veggie for 4 days each, I will start to introduce flavors with the vegetables in the form of herbs and spices. I want her to try everything in its most natural form first.


Here are some shots from our first time eating solids- she really enjoyed it!! She ate all of her serving the second time!
Start with Scrubbed Organic Yams

Chopped Sweet Potatoes 
I think it would be wonderful to fry these sweet potato skins with some sage leaves or rosemary stalks and use as a garnish

Baby Approved!

Though not necessarily in order, depends on the grocery store selection, this is what I plan on serving before bringing in the fruits and proteins:

Avocado (mashed)
Leeks (steamed with potato)
zucchini (steamed with potato)
winter squashes (steamed with potato if needed)
chard (steamed with potato)
green beans (steamed with potato)
broccoli (steamed with potato)
Brussel sprouts (boiled)
cauliflower (steamed with potato)
endive (steamed with potato and pureed with clean water, not the steaming liquid which will be bitter)
celery root (steamed with potato)
peas (steamed with potato)
carrots (steamed with potato and pureed with clean water because of nitrates)
asparagus tips (steamed with potato and pureed with clean water, not steaming liquid which will be bitter)
eggplant (steamed with potato)
turnips (steamed with potato if needed)
baby bok choy (steamed with potato)
pea shoots and microgreens, sorrel all steamed with potato



Monday, August 26, 2013

Mommy Juice

Before becoming a mommy I had this amazing idea that I would be able to breastfeed my daughter till she no longer needed my mommy juice. I told people that I would breastfeed if I could and if not, no worries. But I secretly thought I would only breastfeed because it's not that hard, right? Wrong. It was super hard, especially with a 5 week preemie, a disabled husband (he is better now) and a daughter who nursed every 2 hours till she turned 4 months old!  After Delilah turned 4 months she nursed every 2 1/2-3 hours depending on what time of day it was. Then at 4 1/2 months she squirmed away during a mid day nursing session. She continued to do so after 5 minutes on each side for the next few days. At that point I caved and handed her to my husband to feed her formula after she had about 10 minutes of breastmilk - this is the same child that would nurse 50 minutes or more only a week before.

Within a week my baby dropped nursing during the day and only nursed when she woke up, went to bed and in the middle of the night. It just so happened that I went back to work that week.. This past week she dropped her bedtime and morning nursing. She is still nursing in the middle of the night for about 20 minutes before getting a bottle. She has been waking later and later to eat, this morning at 4:45. Soon she will drop that middle of the night feed and I won't have any nursing time with her.

It is bittersweet because I won't have that special time together that only she and I can have while breastfeeding, but now she will have more time eating with other people which is good for her food education. It is bittersweet because I can't say I exclusively breastfeed her, but now I have a little more freedom to go out for longer periods of time without feeling like I am going to burst out of my shirt and I am not a slave to the pump. I don't feel as guilty when I am not the one feeding her.

The best part is that I get my own "mommy juice." I had a nice hot cup of caffeinated heaven this morning and a delicious, long awaited glass(es) of vino this weekend :) And I have more time to cook. Not that much time, as I am still a mommy and working full time. So this weekend I made the best Sloppy Joe out of leftovers from the fridge and pantry. It was so good, I am getting hungry right now!

Mama Lexy's Sloppy Josephine

1 lb any ground meat or meat substitute
1/2 jar leftover pasta sauce (I had leftover dandelion tomato sauce)
a few tablespoons of chili sauce, to taste ( I make my own/ it was leftover from my BBQ rib marinade)
1/2 a red onion, chopped small
1/4 cup brown sugar

burger buns
provolone cheese

After browning the meat in a pan (use oil or spray), add all the ingredients till combined and heated through.
Put a slice of provolone on each side of the bun. Top one side with the meat mixture and cover with the other bun half. The cheese will melt from the meats heat.

This is the first time I made sloppy joe's;  I don't know why it took so long.  It was actually not thought out, hence the leftovers. I originally planned for hamburgers on the grill when I made my weekly menu, but we are out of gas. Not a lot of ingredients and so tasty!


Monday, August 19, 2013

The art of quick cooking

     Having a baby who is reaching new milestones each day and working full-time leaves very little time for anything else- especially one of my favorite pastimes- food! I have had to menu plan so that I can get some cooking done on the weekends and figure out how to cook healthful, flavorful meals in a jiffy during the workweek.
One of my new specialties is my Coconut Chicken. You can substitute many of these ingredients for whatever you have on hand, but here is what I use:

     This is a one pot dish so I use a heavy frying pan with 2" or higher sides that can also go in the oven.  A small dutch oven would work if you don't have that kind of a pan. I pan fry a bunch of organic boneless skinless chicken thighs in coconut oil till they are browned on both sides. Remove the thighs and set aside. Next, saute a small chopped onion with a good chunk of minced ginger for about 4 minutes, till translucent and fragrant (I break off a 2-3" piece at the grocery store and use the back of a spoon to rub the skin off before mincing). Add a can of light coconut milk and fill that can with low sodium organic chicken broth (you are looking for 3 cups of total liquid). When that comes to a boil, add 1 1/2 cups brown basmati rice. After the liquid is reduced by about half (no more than 5 minutes), put the chicken thighs on top of the rice, sprinkle the whole dish with reduced fat, unsweetened shredded coconut and pop in the oven at 350 for about 20 minutes. When it comes out of the oven I squeeze a lime over it and sprinkle chopped cilantro.

     I keep forgetting, but I have been meaning to add peas to the dish before it goes in the oven. You could switch out vegetable broth for the chicken broth, chicken breasts or tenders for the thighs (but the thighs withstand the long cooking duration on the stove and in the oven best), sweetened shredded coconut (might taste too dessert-like) and any herb for the cilantro. I also started out using Extra Virgin Olive Oil and then grapeseed oil. Both are great, but I bought coconut oil so now that's  what I use. It's super easy and I am going to turn the leftovers into fried rice tomorrow with the leftover BBQ pork ribs and corn on the cob I made tonight!

Happy Eating!!

Friday, June 28, 2013

One Step at a Time

For anyone not keeping track, Delilah is now 3 1/2 months old (What?)! I am aware that our summer as a whole family together is going to end in a month and a half. I am aware that there will be lots of changes to routines because of vacations, work, daycare, the fact that a baby changes every stinking day. I am aware that I am not in control of much of this. And I am coming to terms with that.

I am not the kind of person to just let things happen. Many would describe me as a type "A". I have pretty much planned much of my life up to this point. I knew what courses I wanted to take in college before starting. I knew when I wanted to get engaged, be married, have a house, have a child. I knew what I wanted to do professionally and planned the steps to get there. Every summer I plan out what lessons I want to teach and art projects I want to do with my students. Having a child washes that all out the window with one fell swoop. 

Last night Bryan and I decided we should put Delilah to sleep in her real crib. In her own room. By herself. Without me. I've been thinking about it for many weeks now. I thought I was mentally prepared. I didn't think it was going to be hard on me. I thought it would be hard on her. I kept coming up with excuses to put it off: She will be scared, she will not smell us (yes, I said "us" as in Bryan too, so it wasn't just for my sake), she will start wakening again in the middle of the night. 

Guess what? I nursed her, Bryan swaddled her and placed her down in the crib. She turned her head, eyes closed and pursed her cute bow lips already asleep. We both did a victory dance before returning to our room where we guess how many seconds or minutes it will be till she stirs and cries out. Nothing. As we lay down, I feel this sudden rush of emotion similar to when I went back to work the first day and Delilah went to daycare. It was awful. I confessed to Bryan that I am sad, scared and worried that she is all alone. Worst of all I had a terrible nightmare about me falling asleep while changing her, and woke up in my dream  with her undressed, diaper half on and crying because she was so cold. 

The only upside to the dream is that I was more than willing to jump out of bed to go soothe her. As expected she woke twice in the night, once at 12:30 and again at 4am, needing to be rocked back to sleep. I came in many more times between to put the paci back in her mouth as she stirred. Both things I haven't had to do in a few weeks when she was sleeping though the night in our room. Whether or not she really needed the paci replaced doesn't matter. It was I who needed to do it. 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Taking Care of Mom

I'm not sure if it is the season, the thrill of the school year ending or that the "fourth" trimester is now over. I am feeling more like my pre-mama self in regards to one of my favorite pastimes: Food! Eating it, cooking it, savoring it, looking at it, picking it out from barrels and shelves in the store, studying it, and planning around it.

It all started about two weeks into Delilah sleeping through the night. I woke up more refreshed, less tired during the day and hungry for cleaner, fresher food. This is a big deal as we went from friends and family bringing meals in Delilah's first month, to eating from the freezer section and mostly convenience foods and gradually working my way up to cooking two meals a week.

This week I spent a lot of time thinking about how I will start to introduce solids to Delilah and what I want her relationship with food to become. Delilah is only 3 months, and I don't plan on starting solids till at least 5 -6 months, but I am the type of person to obsess early. I am really into how French babies eat, and in turn, adults. I am encouraged by the lower rates of obesity and childhood behavior issues in France. A lot of that has to do with their Food Education. As a lover of food, I want to give my child the best experience possible.

So, I have been reading books, blogs and websites about the ways of French eating. My new favorite is French Foodie Baby. I have started to adapt my style of eating to the more structured yet nutritious and mindful ways of the French (4 course meals with a vegetable starter, main meal, salad and cheese course and dessert).  Sounds like a lot, but eaten in small portions and over a longer period of time is better for your health. Slow food is good food. In this case I am referring to how long it takes to eat rather than cook.  I am excited, too, to have meals with Delilah like this, teaching her to enjoy her food and really observe the sight, textures and smells.

I figure the best way to start her food education is by me eating a variety of foods and magically, through breastmilk, she will be introduced before the real food hits her mouth (or cheek as she will likely not get it in her mouth right away!).

So far this week we have had: Herbed Quinoa with Goat Cheese and Lemon Tilapia, Mango Chicken and Vegetables, Leek and Chive mini Quiches, Grilled Angus patties with grilled red potatoes, and Stuffed Rainbow Peppers with Turkey Sausage. In the next few days we will be having Risotto style Quinoa with Sauteed Wild Mushrooms and Summer Squash, Lamb and mint meatballs, and a Lentil Salad.
You see, taking care of mommy's nutrition in turn takes care of mommy's happiness and therefore, everyone is happy, including daddy!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Three Month Shuffle

We all survived the first three months and I feel like awards need to be awarded!! Seriously, so many things have happened in such a short amount of time. Speaking of time, it has a brand new meaning to me. How many minutes does it take to pump, how many hours since she ate last, how long has she been napping? But also I can't believe what a completely different baby Delilah is from when she was born, one month, two months and even last week! Within the last month alone she has smiled, learned how to stick out her tongue and respond to others sticking out theirs, grab at anything and everything within reach including our shirts, her toys, my hair and tragically the nipple. She coos loudly in her angel fairy princess voice when she spots dad  or mom and even herself in the mirror. Even though she was a preemie and hitting the charts at 5/4/3 percent for weight/height/head circumference at her two month check-up, she is now in size 2 diapers and 3-6 month clothes. Her legs and arms  have plumped up so deliciously that I can't not squeeze and poke them at every opportunity!  Amazingly she has been sleeping through the night for a week, going 8 hours before waking at 6am to eat for 15 minutes then snoozing an hour more before eating the rest of her breakfast. I'm so in  awe of her and how she grows. And I now know that those incredibly difficult early weeks when you bring baby home are just that-  the early weeks. Now is when the fun begins.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Going Back

This just in: the season's newest trends are spit-up, unbrushed hair, dark circles and bags under eyes, and a baby attached to your boob.  (Let's not speak of the mysterious poop stains that appear on everything and anything).

We had finally graduated from nursing every two hours to three hours during the day and one four hour shift of sleep at night when poor Delilah got her first cold with a fever.  This meant nursing every hour during the day with the occasional two hour shifts appearing in the night. I didn't feel the misery of being a milk factory like I did in the early weeks of her life when we nursed that often. This time I felt so bad that she felt so miserable that I couldn't wait to nurse her, knowing that my breast-milk and cuddles were the best medicine. As a side-note to new mommies: with this much fluid intake, there are a lot more diapers to change!!! Luckily, this only lasted a day in a half. Now we are just on snot removal duty.

The downside of us reaching the two month mark is that I have to go back to work in two weeks, for two weeks. A month ago I was looking forward to not being a milk-factory all day and having real conversations with adults and my amazing students. Now I am dreading it! Delilah just got fun, cooing and smiling during her waking hours. Watching her explore the world around her with delight and excitement warms your heart. Nursing her is not so difficult and as time consuming anymore but rather an enjoyable bonding time for the both of us. I fear not having enough milk pumped for her growing 9 lb-frame. What if she goes through a growth spurt and I am not breastfeeding her during the day for my body to know to make more milk? What about all the lovely noises and facial expressions I will miss. And the cuddling. I can't imagine what other moms go through who have to go back to work sooner or for longer. I am lucky that I will have the summer off to spend with my snugly munchkin before going back to work for good. I am also lucky that she has been sleeping for 2 1/2 hours and hasn't eaten in 3 1/2!!!!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Smile at the end of the Tunnel

Everyone says having a baby is the most rewarding experience you will ever have. This is true, but not in the first few weeks! Those first weeks at home are incredibly difficult and the only type of reward you will see are in the form of diaper deposits and the homemade meals other people bring you. If I am being completely honest, the first two weeks are easier than the next four. Those first two weeks you have visitors coming to help, outpouring of love from your Facebook friends, and a very sleepy newborn. You are also running on adrenaline because you just pushed out this amazing creature that snoozes so lovingly in your arms! Fast forward to week three when every two hour feedings turn into one hour feedings when baby starts cluster feeding, their vocal cords are all warmed up to pitch a fit at the slightest dampness in their diaper, and the ready-made meals/any contact with the outside world slows to a halt  Worst of all are the sleepless nights and days that get to you and a lifetime (I'm told) of exhaustion rules your world.

Don't worry mommy's-to-be: there is a light at the end of this diaper filled tunnel! Sometime around two months your baby will smile at you as a social response. This happened for me a couple days ago as baby approached her 8-week mark. I've seen her smile, mostly when her eyes are closed during sleep or eating, but not for an extended period of time (I.E. more than 5 seconds). This week she looked me straight in the eye and held eye contact for several minutes cooing and ah-hing while showing off her pearly gums:) She let me take off her pants and onesie without kvetching because we were talking and singing and bopping- you know, the stuff you see in TV commercials.

The light at the end of my tunnel lit up on full blast last night: after her 4:30 am feeding, I got her in the bassinet for all of three seconds before her eyes popped open and her cry started. Then, in the midst of an open mouth shrill, her eyes locked with mine and the noise immediately stopped to be replaced with a bright smile that reaches all the way up to her eyes. Even though I was exhausted and wanted more than anything for her to take the paci and close her eyes to sleep, I found myself renewed with a wave of love and amazement: this child not only responds to my smell (remember, I am the milk factory) and my voice (cute when dad is holding her and I say something from across the room causing her to turn in my direction), but now she is just as excited to see my face as I am to see hers! I scooped her right up and we spent the next few minutes staring and smiling at each other. Just in time for Mother's Day.  That's why she arrived so early, right?

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Pillow Wars

So nursing a preemie is hard enough. In the beginning a preemie's jaw muscles are very weak and as they are so sleepy, they have to be nudged to stay awake long enough to feed. After a few weeks, they get the hang of it, and even though my daughter is 5 weeks old, she is now the size of a typical newborn (i.e. small!).

Some sort of pillow to prop her up to me is necessary. I have two of the commercially marketed nursing pillows: the Boppy and My Breastfriend.

Boppy with Monkey Slipcover

My Brestfriend with Sunburst cover




While I own the Boppy with the monkey cover, I have a different cover than the Sunburst pictured above on the Brestfriend. However, this picture shows the two raised bumps better. On the right and left side of the top of the pillow are raised bumps that help position baby's head while nursing. I also use a pillow that came with the sofa.
It took awhile to figure out how to use these pillows best. The way models hold baby on the Boppy (directly in front of your belly) just wasn't working for me.  A neighbor told me about turning the Boppy so it hugs you around your side. This way, the baby's head rests on one end and your arm on the other. Genius! I was so ready to toss this pillow in the back of the closet. I figured out the Brestfriend on my own- it didn't take anything special other than using it. When I first received it, I stripped the cover off to wash and saw the disgusting foam that it is made of. Definitely not a material that is on my non-toxic list. So I did toss this one in the closet. (Okay, it never made it to the closet.  It stayed in a pile in the guest room). But before I found out how to use the Boppy, I tried the Brestfriend out of desperation when my regular bedroom pillow wasn't cutting it. Those little bumps are amazing! I was able to have her nurse and keep a hand free to hold onto a book, my water glass, rub my neck. This made up for the gross foam that I knew was underneath the cute cover. Plus, I had this sitting in the guest room for a few months, so some of those toxins had to have aired out by now.
As soon as we get into a groove with one of the pillows, that pillow stops "working" so I would switch.  I have found that depending on the baby's mood, the surface I am sitting on, and the position of the moon (seriously, I don't know why) these pillows don't always cut it. This is extremely annoying, especially in the middle of the night and when she is fussy during nursing. Up until now I nurse on the sofa during the day and in our bed during night. This has led to a lot of extra tension and strain in my neck and back as well as hip pain from sitting  criss-cross.

What I need is a rocking chair! Since my darling daughter arrived 5 weeks early, we hadn't settled on a nursing chair. It took until she was a month old for me to find and purchase one. Well, I found lots but they were all out of our price range. Last week, while rocking chair hunting online, I found one that I have been looking at for months for a whole lot less!
Sleepytime Rocking Chair in Taupe
This chair is made by Nurseryworks which is owned by Million Dollar Baby (MDB) (parent company of our Hudson crib which is made by Babyletto).  This chair is made in America and made with less toxic materials. This chair retails for $499. However, Walmart has some deal with MDB because they have a line called Baby Mod, which are the same products by Nurserworks and Babyletto under that name. So, last week I decided to check out Walmart's rocking chairs online. Lo and behold, here was my dream chair, entitled Baby Mod Rocker for the set price of $299!!! I waited a whole three hours till Bryan came home to order it. It came a week later (in a Nurseryworks box :0) and needs to be assembled. It is going to go in our bedroom for now because that's where Delilah sleeps and I enjoy a painless middle-of-the-night nursing session just as much as the next mom.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Sleep When the Baby Sleeps

You hear it from veteran moms all the time: Sleep when the baby sleeps. Easier said than done.
I heard it. I told everyone including myself that I would do it, no problem. This was before my husband injured himself, had emergency surgery, and is now in a cast with crutches = can't pick up the baby, bring me anything, change her, or get anything for himself. That means I have to do the laundry, the dishes, the meals, the cleaning (okay, I don't do too much cleaning/ my house is dirty), the nursing, the pumping, the all around baby care, and occasionally I take a shower. So, when the baby sleeps, that is my chance to actually eat something. It doesn't help when she is cluster feeding every one to two hours. Or decides that she can't sleep at night, but must keep soiling her diaper and eat, eat, eat.

During the day she permits me to put her in her swing for a short while or on the floor for tummy time. These activities don't typically last long, as she gets a whiff of me walking by and remembers that I am the milk factory and she could go for some of that right now. And, as a 3 week old whose lungs are now in full swing, she has figured out that the wailing she produces gets results. I remember nostalgically how her excuse for a cry in her first two weeks of life was so cute and squeaky. Now the only time I hear that cute squeak is if she is sleeping and having dreams about wanting more milk (I assume that is what she dreams about).

So, lesson to all mothers-to-be and new mommy's: Do not let your husband do anything remotely athletic or beyond normal cleaning around the house before and after the arrival of your new baby. And, try to sleep when the baby sleeps but don't expect too much. Baby is sleeping right now, and I chose to write here instead of taking a shower in fear she might wake up from the noise. After last nights wake-a-thon, she needs sleep just as much as I do!  Time to conquer my fear and not be quite so smelly.

Friday, April 5, 2013

A Labor of Love

For anyone who knows me, they have heard me preach how baby Briest will arrive earlier than her April 17th due date. This belief was met by a variety of reactions such as "No, first babies come late" and multiple eye rolls. Well, Delilah Poppy Briest had her own agenda and was born on Thursday, March 14th, 5 weeks early!

On Tuesday, I had my 34 week appointment. Baby's heartbeat sounded great, my blood pressure excellent, and the doctor showed us where she was laying (head down low, butt sticking out on my right side and limbs curled to my left). Up until this point I had been having mild braxton hicks, mostly when I was at work standing too much and not drinking enough water. They were not painful, only a little crampy. Wednesday, I checked myself out in the mirror and thought to myself, "Wow, my face is swollen! This must be because I am starting my ninth month." But it was really just the beginning of the end.

Around 7:30 that night, my water broke. I wasn't even sure it had, I only had a little drip. I also had no idea I had been in labor that day, mistaking the faint contractions for braxton hicks. I barely felt them, even on the way to the hospital. After calling my doctor, who told me to go to the hospital just to be on the safe side (because it was so early), Bryan and I packed a bag and made our way to Sinai Hospital in Baltimore. Yes, we packed a bag, because that was on the to-do list for the weekend. Also on that list, interviewing the pediatrician on Friday. Yea, right.

When we got to the hospital after 9pm, the triage was full so they took us to a Labor and Delivery room to be examined by the resident OB. Normally, you go to triage first and only if you are admitted do you go to L and D.  Apparently lots of babies wanted to be born that day because they were jam packed with moms to be. After putting baby and I on monitors the OB came in to do the "q-tip" test which if it turns blue, it means your membrane ruptured (I.E. water broke). Finding out I was only 35 weeks with no complications all pregnancy, the OB casually told us about the test with an air of "this is not going to be blue." Well, it came out Prussian Blue- like darkest of dark blue. Her eyes were wide with shock before saying, "You are staying. You are going to have a baby tonight or tomorrow."  At this point I was also 3 cm dilated, which is when hospitals will normally admit you.

Because my water broke, they had to give me pitocin to bring the contractions on. The danger in your water breaking and letting contractions happen on their own is the risk of infection as the mucus plug is no longer protecting the baby from the outside world. Not to mention that the amniotic fluid was lower due to the breakage.

This was all fine and well until the baby's heart rate was plummeting during contractions in the early hours of Thursday.   This happened a few times, which caused the nurse to come and shift my body around till the baby settled. The last time it happened was around 7 in the morning. A team of people came swarming in the room. Up until now, only one or two people would be in to check on me. There was talk of a C-section and orders for prepping the OR were given. Paperwork was pushed in front of me. If the baby's heart rate did not get steady, we were going for an emergency C-section. Bryan was given directions and clothes for the OR. I was currently 6 cm and crying. Not because I didn't want a C-section. I wanted whatever was best for the baby and I wanted her to be okay. In my head I was screaming, well let's get her out then! My OB said it was all ready to go, but lets just watch her for a few minutes after taking me off pitocin to see if she would recover before going into major surgery. So they left and monitored us from their computer. I actually dozed for a half hour. An hour after this madness, I paged the nurse because I felt so much pressure. The resident OB came in to check me. Low and behold, I had gone from 6 cm to 10 cm in one hour, and baby was at +1.

I was allowed to push, but with restrictions. Because of her struggling heart rate, I was to push on some contractions, not all. They watched the monitors carefully to assess when it was okay for her. This meant 2 hours from when I started till she was born. Sounds like a lot, but it was only some of the time I was actually pushing. The NICU was in the room when she was born as she was a preemie  I think Delilah shocked everyone. Her AGPAR score was a 9 (out of 10) and she was checked over to be fine. I got to hold her before they swept her off to the nursery while I recovered.

The best part of having Delilah at 35 weeks is that I didn't have time to get worried about what labor would be like. I wasn't expecting her to come till closer to 37 or 38 weeks. I thought I had at least another week before I would work up a sweat about L and D.

Delilah is now 3 weeks old, eating all the time, and a pro at tummy time. Now, if she would only sleep a little longer in between nursing sessions.....


Thursday, March 7, 2013

Lullaby Earth



From the generosity of my wonderful school who threw a beautiful baby shower, I was gifted enough gift cards to purchase my dream crib mattress! Crib Mattresses come in all price ranges with various labels and promises of safety. I believe they are generally all safe in regards to being firm and fitting the crib, both important for SIDS and the general health of baby. However, what they are made out of is another story.

Often crib mattresses claim they are "Green" or "Eco" because they contain a small percent of organic cotton or material from plants or soy inside. The key word is small. Worse, they are treated with chemical additives because it is cheaper.  On the outside, these types of mattresses are wrapped in a plastic vinyl material that emits toxic chemicals harmful to a growing baby. As a baby spends most of its first year sleeping, this is a big deal. Not to mention, we got a crib that will convert to a toddler bed, so this mattress will last our little girl a few years!

I always knew that we wouldn't be able to afford a naturepedic crib mattress. Starting at $260, it was just too steep a price for our small teacher salaries. I toyed with the idea, that I would use gift cards and pay the difference, or ask a bunch of people to go in on that one gift as a shower present. In fact, if I didn't find the Lullaby Earth Crib Mattress, I probably would have paid the difference after gift cards. Lullaby Earth is actually made by Naturepedic. The only difference is the inside is made with cotton, not organic cotton like the true Naturepedic varieties.  And as the exterior of the mattress is what baby actually sleeps on and touches, the inside being made with 100% cotton is good enough. 

Here is a little information from the Lulllaby Earth website about what the mattress is made out of: 
Even in very small amounts, chemicals can have a negative effect on a baby's development. The Lullaby Earth baby crib mattress was designed to be free from harmful chemicals and allergens. Unlike most crib mattresses, Lullaby Earth mattresses are completely free of polyurethane foam (including "soybean" foam blends), vinyl/PVC, polyurethane coated nylon or damask, PFC water-resistant treatments, antibacterial biocides and the various chemicals associated with these materials. Fire protection is achieved with hydrated silica, a harmless natural mineral. 
Tested for Chemical Emissions
The Lullaby Earth crib mattress has been tested by independent third-party laboratories and certified according to the GREENGUARD® Children & Schools Certification Program. Lullaby Earth has also achieved GREENGUARD "Select" Certification, meeting an even more stringent standard 
GREENGUARD SELECT

If I hadn't gotten enough giftcards and wasn't able to spend the money on this mattress, I would try and find a mattress without vinyl on the outside (so probably it would not be waterproof) from amazon or babiesrus (good luck). Hopefully it wouldn't be filled with polyurethane.  I would buy it as early as I could, let it "air out" and cover it in a naturepedic mattress cover which is around $60. This is a good option because that pad comes closest to baby.

It is comforting to know that the materials in the Lullaby Earth are safe for baby. A Bonus: it is made in the USA!! And finally, upon opening my brand new crib mattress, it does not smell (and this is coming from a pregnant woman)! 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Final Countdown....

I am convinced that the reason we have pregnancy brain/ mom brain is so that we can't remember how awful the third trimester is. Pregnancy brain is really just mom brain in training. Because if I can remember the physical aliments of right now, I am not sure I would rush off to do it again. Of course, ask me in a few months, a year, or five years. But I want to get this out there before my brain sneakily hides this information from me!

Last week I had my first trip to the hospital, at 32 weeks, which is way too early for this bambino to come out and play. I started having contractions after a day of cramps that got worse, spreading from my lower abdomen into my thighs and my lower back. A call to the doctor, and I was sent to the hospital to rule out pre-term labor.

Now, I know I have been preaching how I want this baby to come earlier than her due date, but I didn't mean that early!!! And yes, I want all these leg cramps, bathroom trips, unending hunger pains and heartburn adventures to end. But now that I had that little taste of what if she is coming NOW, I feel like nothing is really ready!!!! She can't come because look at the pile of clothes that have to be washed. The floor boards have to be wiped. Fix that darn sink! Get that table out of my house. Hang (and purchase) those curtains. Write your sub plans and clean your classroom for the nice lady who is coming to be you for three months (thank you nice lady!). OH, and finish your homework for the three classes you took, knowing full well you would be in your third trimester.

The drive to the hospital took us 50 minutes, including getting gas. Not bad. Trying to navigate through a crowded parking lot while having to release your bladder after that long of a trip- really bad. I could hear myself being nasty with Bryan even though it was not his fault all the parking spots were full. At least I noted to myself that I was doing it, and that I should try not to. So once I was out of the car and waddling to the entrance, I calmly pointed out the route for Labor and Delivery and how he would need to proceed there in the future (you know, the part six feet away from the door with loads of parking spaces!)

The registration process took almost an hour, even though my doctor called ahead.  The lady registering us did ask if I was okay enough to do it, though. It is nice to know that if I was really far into labor they would rush us and take care of the business later.  By the time we were put into a room and I changed into the lovely hospital gown (really, they call it a gown. Why?) my uterus stopped contracting. The cramping stopped a little while later. The nurse told us that the rooms there were special, causing contractions to stop all the time.

I had two monitors put on my belly, one for the now non-existent contractions and one to listen to the baby's heartbeat, which was perfect. My blood pressure was great, no fever, urine test showed I had plenty of water. And after an hour of this, an exam revealed my cervix is still closed and there are no infections down there. Go home.

All in all, I am glad and relieved we went to the hospital. I know she is okay, that I am okay, that I have cramps that are normal, and that I will be having a baby girl sometime soon. Who by the way, is possibly going to be an Olympian based on her non stop ricochets off my uterus walls, all the time. I don't think she sleeps. 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Nursery Diaries: Part Three

It's official. This baby room is the best room in the house. It is the only space that has been redone floor to ceiling. I love these brand new Pergo floors! They were the best we could afford and I feel good about having them in the baby's room.  Bryan did such a great job putting them in! 


Now all that is left to do is to retouch some of the painting, install the window treatments, set up the crib and dresser, and bring baby home:)
I already got a head start on her wardrobe:


Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Second Trimester Rocks

Before becoming pregnant and even through the first and second trimester I just didn't get why every person I spoke to, magazine or article I read glorified the second trimester. And then I entered my third trimester and my eyes are now WIDE open. Oh My BNSGHTHSTHGVCD!!!! The woes, the pains, and I am still 11 weeks to due date! (10 weeks, 2 days...but whose counting?)

My first trimester is sort of a blur. I was really lucky not to have morning sickness. I had a few hormone induced pimples and mood swings, and I was tired. I remember thinking if this is how tired I am, how would I ever be able to be pregnant again while raising my first child? But, honey, I didn't know what tired is.

So I thought it can't get worse. It got worse. But not before it got better. When I was in my second trimester I didn't realize I wasn't so tired. The first and second trimester  you have so many exciting things: passing countless blood tests, ultrasounds at 8, 13, and 20 weeks, milestones- first visible bump (the one that is actually baby, not just bloating), first flutterings and then full on bladder punch (the first time is cute, really). My uterus moved up so I didn't have to use the bathroom all the time. I slept through the night, mostly. No more pimples, thicker hair, glowing skin. A cute, perfect sized bump. And when you enter the second trimester you are ready to share the wonderful news with everyone, so you are always being congratulated and asked how you feel.

As soon as I hit the third trimester, the wave of exhaustion hit me like a bus going 60 mph. I read and heard about swelling in your feet and legs. Wow, who knew your legs could look so much like logs? They can. (Solution so far: bought ankle socks so as not to cut off circulation, or at least not see the line left from my socks where the width of my leg is really suppose to be). Also, what is up with the return of pimples from the first trimester? Oh and the return of really weird dreams, insomnia wakings at 2 am, countless trips to the bathroom- all day and night, and this hunger- I need food all the time, right now, and in 20 minutes. What about that "mom brain?"  And to cap it all off, incredibly itchy skin everywhere and places I didn't know could itch. Did I mention I am tired all the time, like this morning I woke up at 1:30 am.

What's worst then all that you might ask?  The level of stress I didn't experience before. In the first trimester you are just focused on the baby being okay, that you don't miscarry or anything terrible comes up from your blood tests. The second trimester you are mostly relieved (though still a little worried because a baby can miscarry even then) and still feel like you have time to get everything ready. Enter the third trimester, and suddenly, the baby is coming, really soon. You have no time. Bryan, get the floor done, put the crib together, buy this, yell at your husband for no real reason, get your paperwork in, HURRY UP!!!!!!

But you know what? No matter how tired I am, stressed out,  how itchy and red from scratching, or extremely hungry, every time my amazing baby girl nudges, kicks, or shakes her booty causing my stomach to jump, stretch, and appear like there is an alien ready to come out through the skin, I get immediately calm and happy. A smile stretches over my face and I can't help but love her more. I even giggle a little because it is just so darn cute when I go to lay down and she wants to practice her reflexes on my organs and ribs. Seriously, I am giggling as I go to bed. And even when I wake up in the middle night and feel her stir, I am so happy she is there. That pretty much excuses everything else- although it doesn't help with my sleepiness. Thankfully I work with kids, and they are forgiving people. They don't mind if I yawn, sit down for a minute, and possibly stare at them for a few seconds without saying anything. You know, because I forgot what I was going to say.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

My DHA journey to being a better mommy and making a brainier baby

This week on my pregnancy app (brought to me by Whattoexpect.com) there was a blurb about the DHA found in lean protein rich fish. I already know: protein, protein, PROTEIN!!!!!!! Apparently having a constant supply of these omega-3s aren't just benefiting baby's fast growing brain. They also decrease mommy's chance of postpartum depression as Omega-3s improve your memory and mood. Well all right, bring it on! Luckily, I do not have an aversion to fish like I do to meat. I also enjoy eggs and walnuts which are rich in these omega-3s.  So, I decided on a nice cut of fish that looked good in the store and decided I would figure out the rest when I got home. (It was a work night and I didn't have the brain power to think of recipes and ingredients then and there). So here is what I came up with with whatever I had on hand. (Please note, I didn't measure anything so these are just guesstimates).


Maple and Clementine Glazed Snapper
2 fillets of wild caught snapper
3 cloves of garlic
zest and juice of one clementine
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil 
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
1 clementine segmented 
1 lb steamed broccoli
salt and pepper

Heat one tablespoon of the oil in a saucepan over medium. To that add the garlic and zest, releasing their fragrance and oils for 1 minute. Then add the maple syrup, soy sauce, and juice of one clementine. Turn off the heat and set aside. 
Season the fish with salt and pepper, then drizzle the remaining tablespoon of oil over the fish. Spread over the fillet with your fingers to coat evenly. ( I used a nonstick grill pan, so the oil is really optional unless you are using something that is not nonstick).
Heat a grill pan over medium-high and place the fish in the pan, skin side down. Cover the fish with a piece of foil loosely so that it steams. After 4-5 minutes, flip the fish and cover with foil for another 2-3 minutes, or until it starts to flake.
Split the reserved glaze in half, placing some in a small bowl. Leave the rest in the saucepan and add the steamed broccoli and clementine segments to the pan, coating them with the sauce. 
Flip the fish once more so that they are skin side down. Using a basting brush, brush the reserved glaze over the tops of the fish. Return the foil so that the glaze gets sticky, about one minute. The fish is ready when it flakes when grazed with a fork. 

I served this with honey cornbread (made with almond milk) because Bryan and I had a lot of rice last week. You can serve it with polenta or rice instead. 

This really worked out for me as my main craving is natural sweetness, like that of fruit. I also love Chinese food, but try not to eat it out because of the high fat, sodium and all over greasiness. This glaze/sauce taste like a fresher, healthier version of the orange sauce used for Chinese orange chicken. So if you like that, you will like this! 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Nursery Diaries: Part 2

Once we found out we were having a girl, I was so ready to start thinking about her room! I had already been looking at bedding from land of nod, dwellstudio, potterybarnkids, and restoration hardware. I wanted something organic and modern. We found out she was a she the day before Thanksgiving at our appointment on our way to New York to spend the holiday with Bryan's family. It just so happened that Dwellstudio just released a new pattern and of course were having their After Thanksgiving Sale! With only a little back and forth between Bryan, my mom and me, I decided on the Meadow Powder Blue Crib Bedding by Dwellstudio.
We opted not to get the bumper, as they are a SIDS risk. Instead, we got the crib skirt and sheet pictured above, as well as a sheet that has the same pattern as the skirt, the matching changing pad cover, and the play blanket which will be plush enough for tummy time. I also purchased the bib and burb set so that I would have something small to fit in my purse to match paint colors and decor with.  

Though this bedding is not labeled organic, Dwellstudio has reassuring information on their website: 
"All DwellStudio products are made of the highest quality cotton and linen available. DwellStudio prints are all low-impact fiber-reactive dyes. They contain no heavy metals or other known toxic substances, are AZO free and formaldehyde free, and meet all criteria for eco-friendly pigments. 
All of our products are formaldehyde-free and have NOT been treated with or contaminated by the following chemicals or agents during any part of the manufacturing process:
As for the crib, we certainly did not want to dish out $1000 for the Mid-Century Modern Crib pictured above (also by Dwellstudio). I did want something more modern and had been eyeing both the white cribs at Ikea and the Hudson Crib by Babyletto. We received some early baby gifts during Christmas and were able to purchase the Hudson crib with that money. 
One of the reasons we like this crib is for its modern appeal. It also has four mattress heights, while the Ikea Cribs only had two. The Babyletto Hudson crib also has a metal mattress support while the Ikea cribs have a fiberboard mattress support. The Hudson is made out of 100% solid New Zealand Pine from Sustainable Forests and the Ikea cribs are made mostly of solid beech. The crib we choose is made with a non- toxic finish that is lead and phthalate safe as well as JPMA certified while the Ikea cribs have tinted clear amino resin lacquer and acrylic lacquer. Both cribs allow for one side to be removed to create a toddler bed, but the babyletto crib comes with a toddler rail. Honestly, if we didn't have money from gifts, we would have bought the Ikea crib. But I like the stats and features of the Hudson crib better and am glad we purchased it! 
As soon as the floors are complete Bryan will be able to assemble the crib :) 





Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Nursery Diaries: Part 1

My original intention of creating this blog was to be able to document the process of putting the baby's nursery together. I searched and searched but cannot find the photo of what this room looked like when we bought the house. I have a sinking feeling that it is on Bryan's computer which decided to die over the summer. I will just have to start with the image I took after the room was primed and the carpet was removed.  But let me try to describe to you what the room looked like before. We named it the "murder" room ( I know, terrible!) because it was painted a dark crimson. The previous owners painted right over a border that lined the wall touching the ceiling, right over the chair rail, and did so with drips and rough spots on the walls. Not to mention getting the lovely paint color on the ceiling and on the already stained carpet below. So when it came time to prime the room, we had to do some serious sanding first. The result was a bright and more angel-like space:

Mind you, this is just primer on the walls. The ceiling has not been touched and I have paint samples up on the wall in this photo. Luckily, the sub floor was in tip top shape. 

After living with the samples for a week (which I painted in more areas in the room) to observe them at different times of day, we picked out one that we felt went best with the bedding (to come in another post).  Actually, the people at home depot who made our samples forgot to give us back the sample chip that has the name of the color, so we had to do some guessing work and went with what we thought was the sample chip. We went with Cool Cream by Behr. We took this to Lowes to have our paint made because we like the Valspar line. We got their Ultra series which is Zero VOC and low odor. It is a paint plus primer, but these walls were so thirsty, the added primer helped by using only two coats of paint. We only did one coat of primer previously because the walls sucked it up, even though the room is only around 10' x 10'. 


You see, this paint color can look warm with a peachy glow in certain types of sunlight or it can look cool with a blue tone depending on the light. 

We had left over white paint that we used in the hall bathroom for the trim and door, so we just used that for the baby's room trim, doors and ceiling. And volia! You can even see a glimpse of the wood floors Bryan is installing as I post! 

While Bryan is doing all this hard work, baby and I are rewarding ourselves with Coconut Sorbet!




Sunday, January 6, 2013

Pregnancy Food

Since becoming pregnant, I have had quite the meat aversion. As a meat lover, this came as quite a shock. Not to mention the disappointment for my husband, Bryan. Though we both love food, I take care of the shopping and cooking while he takes care of the cleaning- I don't want him to cook and he doesn't want me to clean. We are good at what we do.

After my first trimester I was finally able to enjoy cooking and eating again. Certainly I am concerned with nutrition and eating right to nourish my growing baby, so I had to get creative in the kitchen to make up for the nutrients I was missing from my meat proteins. This isn't as important as the dancing baby in my belly, but I wanted my husband to enjoy his food too:)

This recipe hits all the marks, making Mommy and Daddy's palette happy. While I was reconstituting the porcini mushrooms, Bryan walked through the kitchen and exclaimed, "Are you making bacon? It smells so good!" No, of course I am not making bacon (hello, nitrates and overbearing levels of salt- another food aversion I have had this pregnancy!) It was the earthiness of the porcini's that emits this wonderful aroma. Their texture is "meaty" enough that he didn't miss the meat, either.  Finally, the best part of this meal: because it smelled so delicious, Bryan kept coming in and even offered to stir, which as a pregnant lady, standing for 20 minutes to stir and ladle hot broth can be a pain in the everything!


Lexy's Mushroom Risotto
.5 oz dried Porcini Mushrooms
4 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 tbsp Grapeseed oil (you can use any kind), plus a teaspoon
1/2 lb any fresh mushrooms (I used shiitake), sliced 
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tbsps unsalted butter
2 shallots, chopped
1 cup arborio rice 
*1/2 cup brandy (this is optional- I added it to give a warm flavor- you can try any liquor or wine- the alcohol burns off)
1 cup reserved liquid from reconstituting the porcini mushrooms
1/4 cup Mascarpone cheese
1/4 (or more to taste) Parmesan cheese
1 lb asparagus
salt and pepper

First you have to reconstitute the porcini mushrooms. Boil 1 cup of water and pour over the porcini's in a small bowl. Let sit 30 minutes.
Bring the broth to a boil in a small saucepan. Keep on low. 
In a large and shallow saucepan, heat 1 tbsp of grapeseed oil on medium. Add the sliced fresh mushrooms, cook 3-5 minutes. Squeeze the porcini's of their liquid (keep the reconstituting liquid reserved!) and add to the pan with the other mushrooms, cook 1 minute. Add the garlic, cook one minute, and remove from pan. Set aside. 
Add the reserved porcini liquid to the pan with the broth. 
Raise the heat to medium-high. To the pan, add one tbsp of the butter and the chopped shallots. Cook about 5 minutes till they are translucent. Add the rice. You want each grain to be coated and glossy from the butter before adding your liquids. 
Add your brandy. Scrape the bottom of the pan to get the bits leftover from the mushrooms off the bottom of the pan. The heat will burn the alcohol off and the rice will absorb the flavor left from the brandy. When the brandy has been absorbed, add one ladle full of the warm broth to the pan. Stir the rice constantly until the liquid is absorbed. Repeat this step for 20-22 minutes, until all the liquid has been absorbed or the rice taste creamy and a little Al dente. (I had about a ladle in a half leftover, but it really depends on how the rice is absorbing the liquid). If you run out of broth but the rice isn't as creamy or soft as you like, you can use warm water. 
Turn the heat off. Stir in the last tablespoon of butter, the Mascarpone, Parmesan, and the mushrooms back to the pan. Season with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, cut or break off the tough ends of the asparagus. Drizzle the teaspoon or so of grapeseed oil on the asparagus and season with salt and pepper. Heat a grill pan on medium high and grill the asparagus about 5 minutes, turning once halfway through. Alternatively, roast the asparagus on a baking sheet in a 350 degree oven. 
Plate the risotto, topped with asparagus and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese. 
Enjoy!!!!