Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Pizza farm

(Photo credits: Midwest Living}

I'm already looking forward to the weekend.  My siblings and I (and Juliet) are going to a pizza farm in Wisconsin.  It's about a 2 hour drive and the final destination is this idyllic farm that serves wood-fire pizza. 

I will definitely be taking a gazillion photos.  I can't wait!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Another great weekend

The weekend was great, and way too short as usual. I started off by leaving work around 1pm on Friday (LOVE summer hours/half day Fridays)and meeting Erik for his company picnic at a park.

Saturday morning included a big breakfast (Erik made most of it) and playing with Juliet (can you even believe the thighs on this girl?!). Then I went shopping for a bit with my sister and spent the rest of the day at home. Sunday morning started off with brunch at my parent's house.  We had a big fruit salad, including these yummy cherries, eggs, bacon, coffee cake and baked oatmeal.   Check out this great baked oatmeal with blueberries and bananas recipe from Skinny Taste blog.

Katie and Juliet enjoyed the weather on the deck while they waited for breakfast to be ready. Doesn't my baby girl look so big in this picture??? I LOVE this photo. Erik picked up Juliet and sat her on his shoulder so she could watch the ceiling fan (for some reason, she finds fans fascinating). She laughed and laughed and laughed, it was so damn cute.  Two of my favorite people in the entire world, looking as happy as can be.  So awesome.

Juliet was actually super smiley and talkative all weekend.  I love how animated she has become lately.  Erik went golfing with buddies on Sunday afternoon so Libby, Juliet and I hung out in my backyard and sipped on a glass of wine (milk for J). 

All in all, a pretty great weekend.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Juliet: 4 months

Little miss Juliet turned 4 months last Saturday. 4 beautiful months.

Month 4 brought a lot of milestones including:
  • Juliet's first laugh (this is one of the best sounds in the entire world)
  • She began blowing bubbles with her lips (grandma Connie taught her this)
  • She rolled over! Daddy saw this and I was in the kitchen baking muffins.  I ran to them and we tried to get her to do it again but she just stared at us like, what's the big deal?  And it hasn't happened again since. 
Juliet smiles all the time now, especially in the mornings.  This makes leaving her to go to work particularly hard because all I want to do is stay with her and play all day!  But...being back at work has definitely gotten easier in the past couple weeks.  I've been back for a month already.  Though it's gotten easier, it will never be easy.  I'll always miss her when I'm away during the day.  But I know Juliet loves being with grandma all day and I see her learning and growing a lot with my mom. 

Being a working mom is hard, I feel pretty tired almost all the time.  But it's a kind of tired that I'm used to by now.  The tiredness gives me a shorter fuse than I normally have though and I've totally snapped at Erik more than once since being back to work (sorry honey).  Things like traffic and construction are enough to make me feel like I could totally lose it.  Like I said...I have a shorter fuse.  Hopefully this corrects itself over time. 

Juliet is now in 6 month clothes.  She is growing so big!  Her thighs have a bunch of rolls and that double chin of hers is still going strong.  And those cheeks?  Oh my goodness I love those chubby cheeks. 

Juliet gets easily distracted now because she is interested in everything so even during breastfeeding, she'll break away and look around, talk and smile. 

We go in for her 4 month appointment next week and I am dreading the shots!  But I am looking forward to seeing how much Juliet weighs now (I'm guessing around 15 pounds) and to see how long she is.  I feel like her growth from month 2 to month 4 has just been tremendous and sometimes I come home from work, scoop her up in my arms and wonder, did you grow bigger today? 

Like everyone says, each stage, each month gets better and better.  I toggle between wanting her to stay my sweet little baby forever to being excited to see what's next with her.  It's such a fun adventure. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

A fun, food-filled weekend

Last weekend was yet another fun, food-filled frenzy that went by way too fast. I live for the weekends more than I ever have before. For 2 whole days I don't have to let Juliet out of my sight. We balance the days with time spent at home snuggling, going for walks and just relaxing with getting out and about and hanging with friends and family.

On Saturday we went to a BBQ at Libby and Biffer's. In true Libby form, there was no shortage of great food. On Father's Day, Erik, Juliet and I hung out in the morning, had a nice breakfast and then Erik opened up presents from Juliet and I. Then we spent some time at my parent's house grilling out with my family. My dad is not only a wonderful father but also a great grandpa to Juliet. We had a lot of food including fruit salad, roasted veggies, chicken wings, New York strip steaks, burgers and chicken brats. Oh yeah, and cheesecake for dessert. This little gal is actually quite smiley but whenver I whip the camera out she gets very serious looking and just stares straight into the lens. I've caught a few smiles here and there on camera but not many!

Do you think I ate enough last weekend? Yeah...I'm back on Weight Watchers after a 4 week hiatus. I was doing really good from about 5 weeks post partum until when I went back to work. The stress of that sent me into an eating spree that lasted, well...pretty much until Sunday evening. Now, I'm determined to get back on track. I still have quite a few pre-pregnancy jeans that don't fit right yet. Even if the weight is all off, things are still a little different in certain areas and so, we go on Weight Watchers. And working out would help too, now if only I could find the time and motivation for that.

I hope you enjoyed your weekend as well!  Happy Father's Day to all the wonderful daddy's out there.  

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day



Happy Father's Day to my honey, who has been such a wonderful daddy since the moment Juliet was born. 

We love you!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Lunch with the BFF

A couple weeks before I went back to work, my best friend Kristin and I met for a walk around Lake Nokomis in Minneapolis and then lunch on the patio at Al Vento.

It was a perfect day, weather-wise and pretty much everything else. It was the clearest blue sky and about 75 degrees.

Juliet was a happy girl in her stroller and Kristin brought her cute, scraggle-muffin dog Olive (for the walk but not to lunch).
I ordered a glass of wine at lunch and Kristin had a strawberry Italian soda. She is 17 weeks pregnant!!!!! Kristin and her husband find out if the baby is a girl or boy in two weeks and a couple days. I can't wait! We ordered the bruschetta sampler to start off. I can't remember exactly what I ordered but it was good (on the right). Hmmm, maybe it was buccatini with a tomato sauce and pancetta or something like that.  Yum.  Kristin had a lemon cream sauce gnocchi and enjoyed it. {Taken with Instagram on my iPhone}

It was days like this, well and every other day, on my maternity leave that made me not want to return to work. I equally loved staying at home all day, nuggled up on the couch with my little honey-girl, but we also had a lot of fun getting out and about and spending time with friends.

It's been 4 weeks since I went back to work and it has gotten easier, just like everyone said it would.  The first 2-3 weeks were HARD.  Like cry everyday and try to figure out how I can stay at home and/or work part-time hard.  But really I just missed her.  The work aspect wasn't bad at all.  I like my job.  I really do.  But I had no idea how difficult being away from Juliet was going to be.  It was just such a change...going from being with her every minute to being away from her up to 10 hours a day.  It's still not easy and I think about her all the time when I'm at the office. 

But I know now I can do the working mom thing.  It just means driving way too fast to get home to see my sweet pea and not letting her leave my arms until she is sleeping, and even then sometimes she's in bed with me all night.   I really make the weekends count with her, too.  We go to baby yoga, play all day with daddy, go for walks, hang out at home.  If I leave to go somewhere, so far I've brought her with me, but I know I need to figure out her routine and naps so I make sure she gets enough sleep and is well-rested.  But she's always a happy girl and I think she just likes being with momma, so I bring her with me so we're together. 

Being at work has been easier also because my mom watches Juliet everyday and she is absolutely amazing with her.  They have lots of fun together and I love that she gets lots of love and one-on-one attention all day.  I feel very lucky to have this option of having my mom watch her all summer. 

I'm looking forward to the weekend, to hang with my sweetie and Erik.  We have some very exciting things planned including breakfast with friends, a BBQ at Libby and Biffers and some fun father's day activities, of course. 

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Monday, June 11, 2012

A lovely Saturday

On Saturday I went to the St. Paul Farmers' Market and brunch with my sister, Juliet and Libby.  The market is just getting good, with beautiful flowers and veggies. We sauntered up and down the market for about an hour.  Libby nearly bought something from every single vendor there! My sweetie came with and was sleeping almost the whole time at the market, until the very end when she woke up.  Libby and I took a quick break from the market for an iced latte.  We also spied a pure maple syrup vendor, I didn't buy any but definitely will on one of the next trips.  This amazing strawberry basil salad had pure maple syrup as one of the ingredients.  Libby and I bought a bunch of parsnips to share.  I'm not sure what I'm going to do with them, any suggestions? My sleepy girlie.  Can you believe those cheeks? 

I bought a bunch of rhubarb and made these amazing cinnamon rhubarb muffins on Sunday afternoon.  After the market we went to Salut in St. Paul and sat on their pretty patio.  I ordered a grapefruit sparkler, and could have drank about 5 more of these.  Brunch was a roasted turkey quiche with cheddar, tomatoes and carmelized onions. It came with a mini croissant and creamy hashbrowns. Juliet was a very sleepy brunch companion and slept through the whole thing. After brunch we strolled up and down Grand Ave and then headed home because someone was very hungry.

It was a perfect Saturday morning.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Shrimp caprese pasta

This meal took 20 minutes to make.  Any meal that takes less than 30 minutes and tastes great gets added to the roster of weekday meals in our household.  It was a big winner.

This was a partial pantry party meal because we were trying to get rid of half empty boxes of pasta in our cupboard as well as shrimp in the freezer.  I purchased my first package of fresh basil at the Minneapolis Farmer's Market, a couple extra ingredients at the grocery store and we were good to go. 

Like any caprese, this dish tasted like summer.  When heirloom tomatoes are in season in a couple months you can substitute those for the grape tomatoes.. 

Erik was a huge fan of this meal and gave lots of compliments.  This was one of the first actual real meals I've made since returning to work (we've had lots of sandwiches, frozen pizzas and other convenience meals the past couple weeks).  I just need to focus on quick meals that are still somewhat healthy and taste great and there is no reason why we can't cook every evening, right?  We'll see...

Shrimp caprese pasta

Ingredients

Half a box of whole wheat pasta shells
3/4 to 1 cup packed fresh basil
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
15-20 raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 garlic cloves, minced
20 small balls fresh mozzarella
20 grape or cherry tomatoes

Preparation

In a food processor, combine the basil, parmesan and 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil and process into pesto consistency.  Set aside. 

Boil noodles according to package instructions.  Drain and set aside. 

In a large frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil on medium heat.  Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about a minute.  Add the shrimp and cook about 2 minutes on each side, until the shrimp are pink.  Turn off the heat.

To the frying pan, add the pasta, pesto and tomatoes and stir well until pesto fully coats all the noodles.  Divide among plates or bowls and top with balls of mozzarella. 

Makes about 6 servings

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Feeling the love

Happy Thursday! I wanted to write a quick follow-up to yesterday's post...and then I promise we'll move on (I have a fabulous shrimp caprese pasta recipe I am sharing tomorrow!).

First, I just want to say, in all honesty, that my intention for posting that email wasn't so that the writer would be criticized.  I wanted to provide transparency for where my blog was heading, and believed that there probably were a lot of readers out there wondering the same thing as the writer of the email.  Was the email a tad snarky...yeah maybe.  But I honestly don't believe that she was trying to be outright rude.

What it really came down to though, is timing.  I opened that email at a moment when I was feeling particularly vulnerable.  So it stung.  Because I was already feeling like the working thing was hard, and I was missing Juliet, and then the email came and I thought, "wow, I suck at my blog, too".  And so I responded and posted it all on my blog, and well, you guys know the rest.

With that all said, THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart, for your overwhelming support in your comments and emails from that post. I received so many emails, in addition to 40 comments that truly lifted me up. You guys inspired me and stirred something inside that said, you can do this.  I'm not quite sure what this is...but I think I just realized that yes, I can still be successful as a working mom, and Juliet isn't going to forget about me, and I can still have a blog as an outlet for creativity and my passion and love for food, parties, and my baby girl.

So thank you again.  And again.  And a million times again.  I can't tell you how much it means to me that you guys backed me on this.  Thank you for caring about me, as a person, and not just the parties/food I write about on my blog.  Thank you for wanting to read about Juliet and my new role as a momma.  I appreciate it more than you know.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Keeping it real

I received an email from a reader yesterday and I wanted to address her concern in a post. I assume that because I have received this email, it's likely that some of my other readers are wondering the same thing. And so here it is.

Her email:

"I have been reading your blog for some time now and in the past have found many wonderful ideas for entertaining. While I congratulate you on your new baby, I have to wonder if the purpose of your blog still stands. Just a reminder that many of us who read your blog do so for its intended purpose, entertaining, not to view and keep up with your personal joys in new motherhood. My intention is not to diminish your joy in sharing but to prompt thought in where it is best to share your joy and whether the blog’s title is actual being served."

My response:

"I appreciate your email and feedback. This is something I've been thinking about since I had Juliet and in an ideal world, I would have a separate blog to capture memories and share stories about my baby girl, however, it just isn't feasible right now. In the future I may remove that content and place it on a new blog but that is all TBD.

What I don't think a lot of my readers realize is that I don't have a blog to make money. It's a hobby, plain and simple. My readers visit my blog because they enjoy the content and it's free, they don't pay for a subscription for access. I don't have big advertisers that pay me monthly or make commission off links from product recommendations. At best, I have small advertising that maybe covers my Starbucks habit on a monthly basis.

My point is, I don't have the pressure of paying advertisers or paying readers that would require me to focus only on specific genres for content creation. And that allows me freedom to write and post about anything I want. I realize that some readers may only be interested in the food/entertainment aspect of my blog but there are many other readers that are personally interested in personal/lifestyle type content that often includes subjects other than parties and food. I have always written about my life, with food and parties as the center, but now the center of my world is something different. I truly hope to be able to continue writing about recipes/food and parties but it will likely not be as frequent as before. With working full-time and having a baby, I just don't have the time I had before. I don't know how some of these other bloggers do it! I hope you continue visiting."

And there you have it. Right now, my life is all about baby/work/hubby and even my sweet kitty Kody has been needing more of my attention...so blogging comes later. I still love this blog and love the creative outlet it has provided me, the sweet and supportive readers I have connected with and a passion for food and parties that has grown from it.

I do think I'll get back to more frequent foodie/party posts in time.  So if you choose to be patient and continue visiting (and hey, maybe you may even like seeing posts of my baby girl), I thank you.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Juliet: 3 months

Juliet turned 3 months on May 16th.  My sweet girl changed so much from month 2 to month 3.  She went from being an itty bitty newborn to a chubby, wide-eyed baby.  Her neck strength grew daily and by month 3 she was able to hold her head up pretty well, with minimal assitance.  She started taking everything around her in with big, curious eyes.  Her arms and legs (that now have many rolls!) began to flail and move all the time in excitement.  Juliet also started smiling a lot in her third month, not just at random things like the wall, but at mommy and daddy.  She started cooing and making the sweetest sounds like she's trying to talk to us.

Juliet's hair began to thin a lot but the hair she still had got longer.  It has stuck straight up since she was about two and a half months and I love that so much. 

Juliet still loves breastfeeding more than anything and continued eating up to 12 times a day in month three.  Since I was still off work I didn't mind at all, as I love it as much as she does and never knew it could the amazing bonding experience it has been for us.  Juliet is a pretty good sleeper.  Juliet is still in our bedroom, sleeping in the rock n play and sometimes (well, a lot of the time) she bedshares with us.  I'm simply not ready to move her into her crib yet though I know it's something we need to do relatively soon (well, I don't really know if we need to or if I just keep hearing that we should).  I love her in our bedroom and Erik doesn't mind it either. 

In just a couple weeks Juliet will already be 4 months.  Oh god, they really do get big so fast, just like everyone says.  You can't imagine that your baby can literally change overnight.  Juliet is such a sweet baby.  She rarely cries and when fussy can always be comforted by breastfeeding.  She is our cuddly little love-girl.  She has many nicknames.  Erik calls her his little girlie, his girly burly, the burly, the burly one, little grumbles, monkey butt, stinky, etc.  I'm sure there are more.  I call her girlie, sweetie, my sweetness and Jules.  We like nicknames in our house.

Juliet and I had a wonderful last month of my maternity leave together. The weather couldn't have been better. We went for walks in the stroller and/or Moby daily. We hung out with my mom and niece Chloe every Tuesday. We slept in and snuggled on the couch a lot. Being back at work for the past two weeks has been hard.  I just miss her so much.  I worry about missing her grow and change when I'm at work.  Hopefully by her 4 month update I will have settled into the new routine and no longer so emotional about the transition back to work. Wish me luck!