31 May 2013

7 Quick Takes: 16 months

Every month since my baby was 2 months old, I have attempted to take her picture in the glider with her elephant (as seen here). This is getting increasingly difficult now at 16 months, as you can see. Enjoy an all-photo 7QT.

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Finally, a winner.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

22 May 2013

5 Favorites

I hadn't been to a zoo since I was 8 months pregnant, and that zoo was not very good and made me sad for some of the animals (namely, the monkeys). When we were moving here to Fort Wayne, everyone and their mothers said that we had to go to the zoo! It's fabulous, they said. Your kid, no matter how young, will love it!

So we went! Sure enough, we loved it. Kangaroos and giraffes were favorites. We'll definitely be coming back. (I bought a membership! I even tacked on an "add-a-guest" option, so if you come visit me, I'll take ya there!)
Zoo buddy babies

Eating this for breakfast
A scrambled egg on top of a toasted English whole wheat English muffin, alongside a smoothie made with random fruit, spinach, yogurt, and applesauce.
I'm not a morning person, and my usual breakfast of cereal and milk reflects that. I just need something super-quick that requires zero effort because I'm usually in zombie-mommy mode. However, I always find myself really hungry around 10am and usually start scrambling through the pantry for unhealthy crap around then. But I'm taking this Child Nutrition and Cooking and our assignment last week was to make a balanced breakfast with protein, grain, and at least one fruit or vegetable. I had this, and it sustained me well until lunch. (The picky toddler loves the smoothie, too, so right now it's one of the only ways I can get her to eat green veggies. Sigh.) My new goal is to make this at least once a week for breakfast. I did it again yesterday, so I'm on track! I think I might freeze the smoothie as popsicles and then thaw them down back into smoothies in the morning--is that a decent idea? (I have no desire for a popsicle at 7am, sorry.)

Speaking of food, I love the show The Chew on ABC. If we're hanging around the house on a weekday at 1pm, I turn it on. My favorite host is Daphne, who I had never heard of before the show! She's Dr. Oz's daughter, if you're curious. She also has a new book out called Relish, and I had it on hold at the library for the last month and it's finally my turn. Lots of delicious (and healthy) recipes and general Daphne Oz-someness. (Get it?)

It's no secret that we're on the hunt for our first house. Although we now have a realtor and pre-approval for a mortgage and all the jazz, we started our house hunt on the trulia website. It has a lot of great searchable features (I narrowed it down to school system + price + age of house + other picky stuff), and we found a few open houses to look at on our first day out through it. I now just have it email me when houses that meet my criteria get listed. Which is like, every day. I guess we're not as picky as it sounds. We do have our first meeting with our actual realtor on Thursday, in case you were wondering.

Lindt Chocolate Cremosi Assortment
I won these from a blog giveway (thanks to The Young Retiree!), and they are so good! There are 3 types in the bag, and I love them all. I got B to try one and he just popped it in his mouth like a piece of popcorn. I asked him what flavor it was, and he was all, "I dunno, chocolate..." Oh, I got so mad at him! I told him he wasn't respecting the chocolate and that he can't have any more of them. This would be a great gift for someone who respects the chocolate--check out the whole collection here at The Young Retiree's shop.

20 May 2013

Chicken Biscuit Roll-ups

I have been making this dish for a few years now and have found similar recipes on Pinterest, but they all over-complicate it and either over-do it or under-do it. Those like to add random types of cheese in places where you don't need it or make it too dry so that nobody wants to eat it.

So let's get on with it and do it right. Here is the finished product, so you don't waste your time on something that's not vegan, not gluten-free, not paleo, not even all that healthy. It's comfort food, y'all, so get over it.

Chicken Biscuit Roll-ups
Yield: 4 servings

1 can crescent rolls
1 lb. chicken (1 or 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts will work)
4 oz. (half package) of cream cheese
1 can cream of chicken soup
½ cup milk

1. Boil the chicken breasts until they are cooked. Preheat the oven to 375° or whatever it says on the back of the crescent roll package.

2. Shred chicken breasts. (I have heard that stand mixers are good for this, but small kitchen and lack of counter space means no stand mixer for me. 2 forks and/or your hands also works.)

3. Mix cream cheese with shredded chicken. This is easier if it's softened, which can be done in the microwave in about 10 seconds or so. You may not use all the cream cheese, and that's okay. (I suppose you could opt out of the cream cheese entirely, but then it wouldn't be as comforting as comfort food should be. So don't do it.)
Steps 1 through 3. Easy peasy chicken-shredded cream cheesy.
4. Place a spoonful of the chicken mixture in each crescent roll laid out on a baking sheet (greased or parchment-papered if that's your thing).

5. Roll up the roll. Pull the point and the opposite side toward each other, and then pull the flaps around to make sort of a ball.

6. Put roll-ups in the oven for as long as called for on the crescent roll package (usually about 10-11 minutes). Take out when golden brown.

7. While roll-ups are cooking, mix the cream of chicken soup with ½ cup of milk. Heat over stove or in microwave, stirring occasionally, until well-mixed and heated thoroughly.

8. When roll-ups are done, serve over rice and top with your soup gravy. 2 roll-ups is a good portion per person. Yum yum!

15 May 2013

Reasons for Distraction

I have a lot of things on my mind, so this is just a brain dump and a life update. A lot of ish has happened in my life since the last time I really let you in to this mess, so brace yourselves.

The first thing was that a high school classmate of mine who I was pretty good friends with my senior year passed away. We had gone our separate ways in the past ten years, but we kept up on Facebook and I at least knew a little about some of his recent health issues. His death sorta punched me in the gut. I kept looking at my own kid thinking that his parents never thought they would be burying their child on his 29th birthday.

But then. Then I wanted to see what this friend has written in my yearbook, and while I was looking for that, I chanced upon his senior 'ad,' where parents and siblings wrote him happy thoughts and wishes upon graduation. It was through that I learned he was a 'miracle baby' and had almost died when he was born. I guess these things just don't come up between two healthy seventeen-year-olds attending the Homecoming dance together. That ad changed my whole perspective. His parents instead were probably celebrating that they got 29 years with this miracle and got to watch him be a normal kid and hit all of those milestones that may have never happened. Although I am sure they are still grieving as well. Life (and death) is complicated. I've now started getting more annoyed at people who whine about gray hair or wrinkles or other parts of the aging process. Because all of that minor stuff still beats the alternative.

As for the rest of my time, I had mentioned doing Screen-Free Week in a modified way. Well, we did it, although I probably wouldn't call it a success by any means. We did head outside a lot more, and I didn't have any screens on while Cora was awake.

I had picked Tuesday to be my completely screen-free day. As Tuesday chugged along, I was getting so much accomplished I began thinking, "Hey I should do this more often!"  I decided to give bread-baking a try and spent all morning mixing, kneading, rolling, and letting this thing rise twice. When I opened the oven to check the bread I had spent the greater part of my morning on, my newly-walking daughter came out of nowhere, and she put her two open palms flat against the open oven door.

Parenting fail. Kitchen safety fail. Fail fail fail. That whole afternoon is now a blur of tears, wailing, and calling the pediatrician in a panic. I now know which local hospital has a burn center at it and can give you exact directions on which hallway to take. My child had to wear a sock over her bandaged hand for a week, and the other (better) hand was slathered in aloe and re-wrapped after every meal. (Just call me Dr. Mom. Sigh.) She has mostly recovered now, but the hands still haven't fully healed if you look at them. Luckily, she's been (mostly) her same high-spirited self though.

To make matters worse, that bread I made wasn't even very good. However, Cora seemed to like it. (Is that the opposite of biting the hand that feeds you? Feeding from the hand that bit you?) I think I'll stick to buying honey wheat bread from now on. Seriously.

Don't be fooled. Just buy bread at the store and save yourself a trip to the  burn center.
There were some other screwballs that got thrown at me that week, like some fraudulent charges on our credit card, losing the title to my car, and the beginnings of toddler picky eating habits (and the related meltdowns). I feel like someone's out to get me. But I ain't gonna let him in.

So on a happier note from all of that, my attentions last week were diverted by house-hunting online and my husband's 30th birthday celebration. I made the best-tasting cake I've ever made (homemade triple layer devil's food with a dark chocolate frosting --both from America's Test Kitchen cookbook), and an enchilada feast that got taken over to Grandma's for a celebration dinner.

I have also been running again and signed up for a Color Me Rad 5K in August. B doesn't understand why people pay to run when I can just go outside and run a 5K right now. (But but but I want to get blasted with colors!)

In other health-related news, I have been taking a free online course called Child Nutrition and Cooking through coursera.org, and so far, so good. Very minimal time involved, and it's pushing me to cook new things and add more vegetables into our meals. Sometimes this gal just needs a syllabus and assessments (grades) to get on track. I'm such a nerd.
Ratatouille I made for my first class assignment

09 May 2013

Momma, Mops, Mopster, Mom

I've had a handful of names for my own mom that has changed over the years. I generally call her "Mops" now. And as I have settled into motherhood myself, my child doesn't exactly say my name a lot (yet). She went through a 3-month-long hiatus of not even babbling "mamamama" and instead resorting to "dada" for almost any word she recognized. But yesterday, "mamama" came back. Just in time.

B will be gone for his Reserve commitment this weekend, so there won't be any sleeping in or breakfast in bed or flowers waiting for me. But that's okay. I bought myself a chocolate orange that was on sale at the Dollar Tree and plan to indulge. Cora will get to see her grandmother and great grandmother and entertain them with her antics.

This post is actually way too calm and sweet for the type of mom I actually am.

We are goofballs. We like to sing loudly, do flips, and make funny faces.

I wonder where that came from?

I think I know.

Linking up with Theme Thursday at Clan Donaldson

01 May 2013

5 Favorites (May Day Edition)

What are you favorites?

1. Project Runway

I love this show. I have only watched about 3 seasons of it, but I loved this season's winner and her collection. (The finale was last week, so I'm not going full spoiler here.) To make up for lost time, I found the previous seasons at the library and have made my way through Season 1. I'll start Season 2 soon. Make it work!

2. My Vera Bradley Lisa B purse in Carnaby

I got this at the outlet sale, and I was looking for a downsize from a diaper bag, but something that could fit a lot in it. This easily fits a pack of wipes, a diaper or two, my wallet, some toys, a board book, and other stuff. I feel like it is the perfect size! It doesn't swallow me whole, and I think it's pretty stylish. (Vera Bradley is well-loved in this town, since the company is based here.) I also love the print and the lining print! It makes me happy.

Oh, and it zips so I don't have crap falling out of it all the time.
I wore it in my WIWS post. What do you think?

3. Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!

B got me into listening to NPR about a year ago, which has been (mostly) a good thing. But I love a good quiz and some humor, so this show caught my attention. It keeps me both informed and laughing. I usually stream it later in the week while making lunch. Go take a listen, and maybe you'll get hooked.

4. Crayola Color Wonder

My mom got little Cora the set of markers and a blank book of the Color Wonder paper at Easter. These are so great for babies learning how to hold pens and scribble! It really is mess-free. Cora was happily scribbling away yesterday, making "art." (I'm okay with kids making messes, but sometimes I'd rather not take 10 minutes to clean up a mess from an activity she was only interested in for 5 minutes. Maybe it's just me, though.)

5. Because I Said So! by Ken Jennings

I just finished this book by Jeopardy! champ Ken Jennings the other day. I'll let the subtitle explain what it's all about: The Truth Behind the Myths, Tales, and Warnings Every Generation Passes Down to Its Kids. This is a fun and quick read. Any of you trivia junkies out there will probably like it.