Sunday, April 29, 2012

Juliet's newborn photos

Posting Juliet's newborn photos is long overdue. She was just 11 days old when these were taken and now she's 10 weeks!  She has changed so much but there are sweet things these photos captured that I still see in my little girl now, like the funny/cute side smile she makes and the way she always holds her hand up to her face.

I do regret one thing about this day, though.  Because it was 11 days postpartum, I was feeling less than great about myself.  I wasn't excited about being photographed.  I was still in maternity jeans and overall felt frumpy.  So I didn't prioritze getting photos of my little girl and I.  There are a few, but I wish I had more.  I LOVE the ones of Erik and her and I'm really happy we have those.  I also adore the one of the three of us above.  And of course, I am super happy with all the ones of the little Juliet, looking so cute and tiny and sweet.

Photo credits to Gruman Photography.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Buffalo grilled cheese sandwich (gluten-free)

Did you know that April is National Grilled Cheese month?  Yeah, I didn't either until Udi's Gluten Free Foods contacted me to create a unique grilled cheese recipe.  They partnered with Horizon Organic to provide select food bloggers product to create and showcase their recipes to celebrate grilled cheese this month. 

If you've followed my blog for a while you know that I have an obsession with buffalo sauce.  So why not create a grilled cheese with that tangy flavor; vegetarian and gluten-free?  After all, buffalo sauce tastes great on a lot of things other than just chicken wings.  I had my friend Libby over to taste test the sandwich (since I am attempting to be dairy free right now).  Libby loved the sandwich and thought it tasted awesome.  She said you don't miss having meat on the sandwich because it's so full of flavor.  I took a bite and agreed, it was delish.  I especially love how the celery adds a crunchiness and great texture. 

Buffalo grilled cheese

Ingredients

2 slices gluten-free bread (I used Udi's White Sandwich Bread)
1 slice Horizon Organic Provolone cheese
1-2 tablespoons thinly sliced celery
4 slices tomato (I used a roma)
1-2 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese
1 tablespoon buffalo sauce (I used Franks Red Hot Buffalo)
1-2 tablespoons butter, softened

Preparation

Warm a skillet on medium heat.  Butter the bread.  Spread buffalo sauce on the inside of both slices of bread.  Add the slice of provolone, celery, tomato and blue cheese crumbles to a slice of bread.  Top with other slice and place on warm skillet.  Cook until the bread is lightly browned and cheese begins to melt.  Flip and brown other side of bread. 

Optional: serve with side of blue cheese dressing.

Disclosure: Udi's and Horizon Organic provided products for this post, all the opinions and recipe are my own.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Healthy shrimp linguini

This meal was a last minute, "what the hell should I make for dinner" creation. And it turned out great; easy and delicious.  And pretty healthy, too.

My non-Weight Watcher and former dairy-eating self would have added heavy cream and parmesan to this recipe, but I really enjoyed it without either. I'm still trying to omit dairy from my diet...I realized that after I ate frozen yogurt on Sunday Juliet turned into a total fuss bucket the entire next day (this has happened 3 times now).  So it looks like no more fro-yo for me.  Or cheese.  Boo.  But it's worth it for my girlie. 

Shrimp linguini

Ingredients

6-7 oz. whole wheat linguini (about half the box)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes
1 cup frozen peas
1 tablespoon  parsley
15-20 raw jumbo shrimp
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preparation

Cook noodles according to package directions.  Heat the olive oil in a pan with the red pepper flakes and garlic for about a minute.  Add the shrimp and cook until pink, about 4-5 minutes.  Add diced tomatoes, peas, parsley and bring to a gentle simmer for about 2 minutes.  Add the noodles and toss to combine.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Soup Sunday

Erik came up with the idea to start having "Soup Sundays" at my parent's house. Growing up, he would spend Sundays with his grandparents and his grandmother would always have a big pot of soup on the stove. I thought it was a really sweet tradition to begin for our family so yesterday was our first soup Sunday. We made a huge kettle-full of Erik's favorite, knoephla soup. If you have no idea what that is click here and read a post I wrote on knoephla soup last year. Let's just say it's a North Dakota staple. Erik got up early with me and made the homemade dumplings.

Almost the entire family was present for our first soup Sunday, we were missing Drew (my sister's husband) and aunt Chris.

Pictured above is Juliet and her cousin Chloe.  Chloe just turned 6 months yesterday so the girls are 4 months apart.  After soup I insisted that we stop at Yo-Joes, a frozen yogurt place. We walked to burn off some of the soup (um...maybe we burned off one dumpling...maybe) and besides, even though fro-yo is low-fat or non-fat, I add enough toppings to totally make up for it. Doesn't Erik look cute pushing the stroller? Yummy!

I have exactly 4 more weeks of maternity left. I plan to savor each moment at home with my girl. We don't have many plans this week, I hope it's nice out so we can take lots of walks. It's it's rainy we'll just hang out and cuddle up on the couch. All day. Doesn't that sound awesome?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Juliet: 2 months!

Juliet turned 2 months on Monday. She is growing so big, so fast. I packed away all her newborn clothes about a week and a half ago, marveling that those teeny tiny onesies were way too big in the beginning.

Juliet had her 2 month check-up this week, with the dreaded shots, that actually turned out to be not that bad.  Granted, I cringed and wanted to cry when the needles poked her, but I nursed her immediately and she calmed down right away. She was fine the rest of the day, just a bit sleepy.  Juliet now weighs close to 11 pounds (a couple days after her birthday she was down to 5 lbs. 8 oz, so this is major weight gain, and I am thrilled).  She eats and eats and eats and eats.  It's her favorite thing in the entire world.  Breastfeeding has been tremendously bonding for us and I am at the point where I really love it.  The 3am and 5am feedings aren't awesome, by any means, but somehow I manage to feel pretty rested in the mornings.

Juliet has hit a few milestones in the past few weeks.  She smiles, not often, but when she does it's that much more special.  She coos and gurgles and makes the sweetest sounds.  We're still working on head and neck strength but that will come in time.  She was a month early, after all. 

Question for other mommas out there.  I planned on having more professional photos taken at 6 months and 1 year (I also had newborn photos taken).  I heard that it's common to have photos taken at 3 months, 6 months, 9 months and a year.  Did you get photos taken that often? On the one hand, I totally get it...babies change so fast and I would love to document it all.  But on the other hand, that can get super expensive.  What did you do? 

These past couple months with my baby girl have been amazing.  I wasn't one of those mommas whose heart exploded immediately when she was born.  I loved her, yes of course I did.  But it took days, weeks even before that love grew into what it is now.  I've fallen more in love with her over time.  And now that love is HUGE heart-pounding love.  Oh my, I love her so much.  She is so sweet, so cuddly, so curious and I am desperate to be sure I take in every second I have with her over the next month before I go back to work. 
Happy 2 months, sweetie!  You've made me one happy momma.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Berry almond smoothie

I've been craving Jamba Juice type fruit smooties lately but instead of driving 10 minutes and spending $6 I decided to whip something up at home. I had a few essential ingredients and went from there. 

The smoothie was refreshing and yummy.  I was hoping its sweetness would suffice for the rest of the day.  Unfortunately, I still ate girl scout cookies and part of a chocolate bunny that was in Juliet's Easter basket.  Oops.
Berry almond smoothie

Ingredients

3/4 cup vanilla almond milk (unsweetened)
1 cup berries (I used strawberries and blackberries)
1 teaspoon honey

Pour all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into a glass and enjoy! Makes one serving.

*If I had kale or spinach I would have added a handful of that as well.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Juliet's nursery

Today Juliet is 2 months old and I thought it was fitting to finally post all the details of her nursery.  This room is my absolute favorite space in our home.  Every detail I dreamed for this nursery somehow came together so perfectly.  With my little girlie here, the nursery contains her sweet smell, little baby coos, and recently, her smiles.  We snuggle together everyday on the glider/chair and she grasps my hair in her chubby hands as she breastfeeds.  How could it not be my favorite space in our home, actually, in the entire world?

A while ago, I posted my nursery inspiration board and wrote the following:

"Ever since I found out my hubby and I are having a baby girl, I have been dreaming of her nursery. I am such a girly-girl, thanks to my mom, who decorated my room growing up with pink heart wallpaper and a ruffly, pink canopy bed. And so it's no surprise that my lil' babe will have a room full of frills and lots of pink. I picture a calm, soft room and I imagine rocking her in a comfy chair close to the window as I watch the Minnesota winter turn into spring."

The more the nursery came together the more I just wanted it to be simply be a light, airy, pretty space that was fairly minimalistic.  With Juliet here I strive to keep the space as clean and clutter-free as possible, a chore that is nearly impossible with so much baby gear, clothes, diapers, etc.  But I take a few minutes each morning to clear away the clutter so that when the two of us are in there together I am focusing only on her and not on a messy nursery. 

I am so grateful to Wing Ta of Canary Grey Photography for capturing these beautiful photos of the nursery. 

Source details, Etsy vendors and costs are all detailed at the bottom of this post.

I found inspiration all over the web and kept track through Pinterest.  The crib is a very affordable and popular style that I saw all over baby blogs.  Those three simple shelves add so much to the small space on the wall.
Many moms opt to simply put a changing pad on top of their dresser but I love having a separate changing table.  It gives added storage, which is a must-have.





I love wall of frames and worked on this configuration for hours.  I would arrange them on the floor, take photos with my phone and text my friends asking, "which one is best"?  I'm very happy with how it turned out.  Those photos are of Erik and I as babies and are now replaced with Juliet's newborn photos (which I'll be posting soon!).  Do I always have fresh pink roses on Juliet's dresser?  Um, no!
Erik made an exact replica of wallpaper in frames from a photo I showed him on my Pinterest board.  He worked dilligently on these, making sure there wasn't a single bubble in the wallpaper and that the white trim (that became the frame) was perfectly cut.  I love these so much.
Finding out you are having a baby girl is dangerous when you work so close to a Baby Gap.  The pink one was Juliet's Easter dress and she just wore the white one yesterday!  It's nice that they serve multiple purposes (decorative and clothing) because she will soon grow out of them.

Our budget for Juliet's nursery was $1,500.  We did a good job of sticking within the budget thanks to a detailed excel spread sheet I used to keep a tally of every single thing we purchased, down to the $5 dollar wood glue for the framed wallpaper art.  It helped that there were a few items that we were given at baby showers (changing table pad, mattress, etc) that may have pushed us a bit over the budget if we had to pay for them. 

There are so many budget-friendly options out there to create a beautiful nursery, whether your budget is similar to mine, or even a lot less.  Don't forget about Etsy.  Best resource ever.  And after I got over the fact that Juliet wouldn't have Pottery Barn or Restoration Hardware furniture I really enjoyed finding the best deals out there and challenging myself to use items/fabric/frames we already owned, or finding items that were gently used. 

I've included a detailed list of sources below.  Whenever possible, there is a direct link to the product.  If I haven't listed something in that you are interested in, please leave a comment and I'll make sure to get back to you. 

Sources and cost (cost includes shipping where applicable):

Crib and Changing Table: Jenny Lind style, found for the best price at Walmart, but it is sold at many places including Target, Babies R Us, Amazon, etc.  ($260)
Curtains and rod: Shabby Chic by Target, ($60)
White shelves: Target ($20)
Changing pad cover: Shabby Chic by Target, ($20)
White floral decorative pillow: Target ($20)
Lamp shade and base: baby shower gift from Babies R Us
Pink storage baskets: Walmart ($35)
Floral Framed Wallpaper Art: made by Erik ($100)
Bunting: made by Jenna ($0, used existing materials)
Framed J: purchased mirror from a friend ($40), "J" was a baby shower gift from Babies R Us
Rose Petal Wall Hooks: Anthropologie ($30)
Dresser and Nightstand: Purchased used from a friend ($200).  If you are looking for the same dresser it is sold at Target
Milk bottles: local antique store ($7)
Chandelier: Home Depot ($89)
Glider: Target ($375)
Crib Bedding: Shabby Chic by Target ($99)
“I have always known it was you” Print: MursBlanc on Etsy ($25)
“Oh How I Love Thee” Print: the big harumph on Etsy, ($23)
"Love, Love, Love" Print: quaillanepress on Etsy  ($13)
Shakespeare "True Hope" Print: amytripple on Etsy ($33)
White Frames: Ikea ($40)
Dresses: Baby Gap
Baby "fur" boots: beccaboocrafts on Etsy ($14)
Cream vintage-looking frames with fabric: Marshalls (already owned)
Mirror (above dresser): Marshalls ($40)
Paint: Sherwin Williams, color Softer Tan #6141 (painted previously during a remodeling project)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Strawberry, banana and honey overnight steel cut oats

Overnight oatmeal makes breakfast super fast and easy. That type of breakfast is a necessity with a newborn.  The first couple weeks of maternity leave I either skipped breakfast altogether or didn't eat until noon.  Now I'm making an effort to eat something healthy right when we get up so I start the day off right and have plenty of energy.   

I tried this recipe the other day after reading this post on the Kitchn.  Oatmeal preferences vary a lot from person to person so this worked for me but may need a bit of tweaking based on how you like yours.

Strawberry, banana and honey overnight steel cut oats

Ingredients

1 cup steel cut oatmeal
2 cups milk (I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk)
Handful of strawberries, sliced
1 banana, sliced
Honey, to taste

Preparation

Combine the oats and milk in a container with a cover. Stir well and keep in the fridge overnight.

In the morning, stir and put desired amount into a microwave safe bowl (this recipe makes a few servings). Microwave on high for 1-2 minutes, or until desired texture is achieved.

Top with strawberries, bananas and honey.

Note, when I removed the oats in the morning I was surprised with how much liquid was still in the oats. The oats were also still very chewy. I prefer them softer and warm, so I microwaved it. First for a minute, and that wasn't enough time, 2 minutes seemed just right (the oats were softer and the liquid was almost fully absorbed).

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Quinoa with black beans and corn

This was my dinner last night. Erik has been eating leftover ham for lunch and dinner for the past couple days. He's awesome with leftovers and doesn't mind eating the same thing over and over and over.  I've also been eating ham but unlike Erik I am totally hammed out (we made a 10 pound ham for Easter). I needed something healthy. This quinoa dish was exactly that.

Very easy. Very tasty. Very Weight Watcher friendly. Next time I'll add avocado but mine wasn't ripe yet. If I wasn't on Weight Watchers (and limiting my dairy intake) I would add cheese and sour cream.

This recipe makes a huge batch (4+ servings).

Quinoa with black beans and corn (recipe adapted from Archer Farms)

Ingredients

1 cup quinoa
1 1/2 cups water or chicken stock (I used chicken stock for added flavor)
1 15.5 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 15.5 oz can sweet corn, drained
1 red or green bell pepper, diced
2 roma tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
3 Tbsp. lime juice
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. ground cumin

Preparation

Rinse quinoa with water. Combine quinoa and 1 1/2 cups water or chicken stock in medium saucepan. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered for 10-15 minutes until liquid is absorbed and quinoa is tender. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine black beans, corn, bell pepper, tomatoes and cilantro. Stir in the cooked quinoa.

Combine lime juice, oil and cumin in a small bowl.  Toss with quinoa mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm or chilled.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Easter Sunday

The weekend was wonderful, ending with church, brunch and dyeing eggs at my parent's house. Juliet was very so pretty in her Easter dress and white cardigan. She was very sleepy and otherwise uninterested in her first Easter adventure though (as you'll see in later photos).

We usually spend Easter with Erik's family in North Dakota.  This year, with a 7 week old, we decided against making the 6-hour drive (Juliet is eating every 1-2 hours so that would have made for many stops and a LONG drive).  We definitely missed his family and especially the Easter egg hunt with the grand prize egg (with $50 in it!) and his mom's delicious cooking.

These cute photos were taken on Saturday. I giggled the entire time taking them and then again while I viewed the photos. Juliet is losing her hair on top of her head but no where else! Oh my...she'll be my little baldy-girl soon.

A somewhat blurry family photo on Easter. On a side note, I had an almost-meltdown Sunday morning because not a single one of my dresses fit. It's my chest that's the issue. It's gotten quite large. So I threw on a cotton, long dress and covered it with a cardigan. Not the cutest I've ever looked. I need to go shopping.

Erik and I were much more excited about Juliet's Easter basket than she was!

Juliet's wondering, is it naptime yet?


The Easter brunch menu included:

Mimosas
Fruit salad
A chicken sausage, veggie and cheddar quiche
Honey-glazed ham
Cheesy hashbrowns
Angel food cake with whipped cream and strawberries






We had fun dyeing Easter eggs.  Now Erik has hard boiled eggs for breakfast all week.
I hope you enjoyed your Easter weekend too!

It's chilly in MN this week so Juliet and I are going to hang out at home and have lots of tummy time on her play mat, read books, sing songs and snuggle. Sounds like a pretty great week to me! Six weeks left of maternity leave and I plan to make the most of each second of it.