Sunday, July 29, 2012

BBQ Club: a fajita feast

My friends and I have a summer BBQ Club, which basically just means we alternate hosting BBQs once a month from May through September. July was our month and we decided to grill fajitas. 

On the menu:

Chips and guacamole
Watermelon
Steak and chicken fajitas
Mexican rice
Ice cream sandwiches I enjoyed a few Coronas.  My fave beer. I found a great marinade for steak fajitas and used it for chicken as well (recipe at the bottom of this post). In addition to the ice cream sandwich I also had a Michelob Ultra Light Cider for dessert.  The cider was sent to me to try and I really enjoyed it.  It wasn't too sweet or heavy, great for a summer evening.

We used flank steak and chicken breasts.  The recipe below is for each 1 lb. of meat.  We grilled the meat and wrapped onions and peppers in foil with a bit of olive oil, cumin, salt and pepper and grilled those as well.

Steak and chicken fajita marinade (recipe via Simply Recipes)

Ingredients

Juice of 1 lime
2 Tablespoons of olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 fresh JalapeƱo pepper, seeded, ribs removed, finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, including stems

Preparation

Mix all marinade ingredients. Coat the steak and chicken with the marinade and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Juliet's 3 months photo session

I've been meaning to post Juliet's 3 month photos for a while now, they were taken over two months ago! I couldn't love these photos more, taken by Wing Ta of Canary Grey Photography (she also took my maternity and nursery photos).

I originally planned on only having Juliet's newborn, 6 month and 1 year photos taken, but when she approached 3 months I marveled at how different she looked than even just a few months earlier (check out her newborn photos here). 

I don't spend a lot of money on clothes, toys or baby gear. We were fortunate enough to receive so many gifts when Juliet arrived and from our baby shower. But I do spend money on professional photos.  They are important to me and always will be.  I will never regret spending money on these photos. 

Erik could only be home during the photos for about 20 minutes, and then he had to go back to work.  So the majority of photos were taken of just Juliet and Juliet and I.  I really wanted some sweet mommy/baby photos and I sort of used my maternity leave as inspiration for the shoot.  Just my sweet baby girl and me, in a perma-snuggle for 3 months straight.  I wanted that captured in photos and I think Wing was able to do just that. 

These photos show Juliet's silly facial expressions, her funny thin hair that stood straight up those first few months, how she doesn't like to smile for the camera and my enormous love for her.  She was also super sleepy during the session and fell asleep in the middle of it!  

I cherish these photos with all my heart. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Real party: Svea 's pretty safari first birthday

My friend Melanie threw a wonderful first birthday party for her sweet little girl, Svea.  The theme was "baby safari" with pretty pink and yellow details throughout.

Now that I have a baby of my own, I find 1st birthday parties to be very special and a teeny bit sad.  These little babies are growing up!  And it goes so fast.   The party welcomed guests with a pretty sign and pink balloons.  I love the peanuts inside the vase with the suckers.  And of course, no dessert table is complete without sparkly rock candy.  The bright-eyed birthday girl, Svea.  Svea's big sister, Anya.  My friends Mel and Justin make really cute little girls. 

Does that drink dispenser look familiar?  Mel borrowed it from me to make this yummy raspberry lemonade. Pretty vanilla cupcakes with raspberry frosting. Melanie and her sweet one year old girl. I love this bunting Mel made with a photo for each month of Svea's life. The drink table. Mel kept the food simple but it was great.  Deli sandwiches, potato salad, chips, fruit salad and pasta salad.  Everyone had plenty to eat and it was delish. It was a hot day so it was great to have shade from a tent.  This is the tent Erik and I use for all our events and it sure has gotten a lot of mileage over the past few years.  Best $70 dollars I ever spent. The tables were decorated with mason jars filled with baby's breath, buckets filled with peanuts and animal crackers.  Big sister Anya getting ready to eat dessert.  Close-up of the dessert table. Lunds/Byerlys in Minnesota offers free smash cakes if you show your child's birth certificate.  Again, before I had a baby, I used to be pretty uninterested in the "cake in face" part of the party.  Now?  It's my favorite.  It's the cutest thing seeing a baby eat sugar/cake for the first time.  Some babies are tentative and some go for it.  Svea definitely dug right in. Nothing beats cake and ice cream.
 
Melanie did an awesome job with Svea's first birthday party.  It was such a special day for her little one.  Thanks for letting me share!

Vendors:

Birthday cake/smash cake: Lunds/Byerly's
Cupcakes: Sweets Bakeshop
Banner: Totful memories on Etsy

Friday, July 20, 2012

Best part of my day

{Photo taken on my iPhone with instagram}

This little one is the best part of my day, everyday. Along with my hubby, of course. Unfortunately, like everything else in my life, the hubs definitely gets less attention than he used to.  He joked with me that the priority order in our household goes like this: Juliet, then technology, then the kitty and then him.  He was joking of course but it does have some truth to it.  I really wish I could learn to turn off technology every once in a while.

Work went from normal to crazy this week. It's really hard finding balance (aka I have none).

I get about an hour (if I'm lucky) with Juliet in the evenings and it is not enough. Not even close.

But it's Friday. The rest of the weekend you will find Erik and I with a chubby little girl in our arms every. single. second.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Chicken souvlaki

{Photo taken on my iPhone with instagram}

I am pretty impressed with myself these days when I manage to get a homemade dinner on the table. A year ago? It happened a few times a week. Now, maybe once, twice if we're lucky. Meals now are usually leftovers and new recipes must take 30 minutes or less.

I still enjoy cooking. But we try to put Juliet to bed before we eat dinner, to maximize our evening time with her, so sometimes we don't even start making dinner until 8pm. That's pretty late. So I was thrilled when I decided to try this chicken souvlaki recipe from Real Simple and it was quick, easy and both Erik and I loved it. I thought of my mom when I ate this meal because she loves chicken gyros. I'll have to make it for her sometime.

Chicken souvlaki (recipe via Real Simple)

Ingredients

4 pieces flat bread or pitas
2 tomatoes, cut into wedges
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
3/4 cup crumbled Feta
1/4 cup kalamata olives, pitted
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into pieces
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 small cucumber, diced
1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh dill

Directions

1. Heat oven to 200° F. Wrap the bread in foil and place in oven.
2. In a medium bowl, combine the tomatoes, onion, Feta, and olives.
3. In a large bowl, combine the oregano, thyme, pepper, 1 ½ teaspoons of the vinegar, and the lemon juice. Slowly add 4 tablespoons of the oil, whisking constantly until incorporated.
4. Pour 2 ½ tablespoons of the vinaigrette over the tomato mixture, toss, and set aside. Add the chicken to the remaining vinaigrette, toss, and set aside.
5. Heat the remaining oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Transfer the chicken (without the liquid) to the skillet and heat, turning occasionally, until cooked through, about 5 minutes.
6. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the yogurt, cucumber, dill, and the remaining vinegar. Spread the bread with the yogurt sauce and top with chicken and tomato salad. Fold in half, if desired.

The only modifications I made included using cherry tomatoes instead of regular and seasoning the cucumber/yogurt sauce with salt. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Juliet: 5 months

Juliet turns 5 months today. We took these photos on Sunday after her baptism. It was a busy weekend!  I love her pretty dress, a gift from her aunt Chris (and godmother).  Juliet is such a funny girl.  Every time the camera comes out she just stares, not smiling, just looking kinda goofy.  But still so damn cute.  I love her silly expressions!

Juliet's 5th month brought a few milestones:

  • She learned to grab her toys and made the connection between her hands, objects and her mouth. 
  • She started sucking her thumb.
  • She learned how to fuss.  I'm not sure this is really considered a milestone but with this month came a different kind of cry....a cry that can be turned on and off in a second and be replaced with a smile as fast as can be.  
  • More rolling over, about 4 times total.  And guess how many times momma has witnessed this?  None!  Grandma and daddy are the only ones that have seen her rollover.  
  • Talking.  Ok, she doesn't really talk.  But she will squeal, laugh and make sounds for minutes as if she's holding a conversation with you.  Love this.
  • She has developed major curiosity.  She can barely breastfeed for longer than a minute or two before unlatching and looking from side to side, worried that she may have missed something.  
At Juliet's 4 month appointment her pediatrician said she could be started on solids now.  I don't know if we're quite ready yet but probably soon (so many resources say it's best to wait until 6 months but I also trust my pedi so we'll probably start in a couple weeks or so).  Erik and I are very excited about this and I plan to make her food homemade.  We'll see if I stick to that though because I know the pre-packaged organic foods are super convenient and babies love them. I think we'll try organic rice cereal first, just to get her used to the texture and then go to avocado and sweet potatoes.  

Juliet's baptism went great yesterday.  Erik's family was in town all weekend and we enjoyed spending time with them.  Juliet got loads of attention but took very few naps.  She did great during the church service but then wasn't too happy during brunch.  She was just overtired I think.  

It's almost been 2 months since I've been back to work and I think I'm finally back into the routine.  I don't feel as tired anymore (coffee helps!) and I no longer feel a huge pit in my stomach everyday when I'm not with Juliet.  I still miss her tons during the day and by Friday I am so ready for the weekend to be with her.  My mom continues to give Juliet the best care when I'm at work which has contributed to making this easier on me.  I am sort of dreading bringing her to daycare in September.

Juliet has been sleeping in her crib, in her nursery for almost a month.  Erik really pushed for us to transition her from co-sleeping/bedsharing and though I wasn't really ready yet, in the end it has been for the better.  She sleeps great in her crib and we all get more sleep as a result.  Juliet's bedtime is around 7:30-8ish and she sleeps until around 3-4am for her one feeding during the night.  I feed her in bed with me and sometimes she sleeps with me until it's time to get up.  That way, I still get plenty of snuggle time with her but the majority of the night she is sleeping in her crib. She is pretty good sleeper and I know how lucky we are.

Playing with Juliet is so much fun.  We sing, laugh, play with toys, dance and she loves the interaction.  I love seeing her change and learn new things everyday.  I adore her so much and cannot believe she is already 5 months!


Thursday, July 12, 2012

A picnic at the lake

Last Sunday my girlfriends and I met for a picnic on Lake Harriet in Minneapolis.  After the picnic we planned on listening to jazz in the bandshell. It was a nice day, a bit hot in the upper 80's. But it felt much better than the hot as hell weather we experienced a few days before.

Juliet joined us for the picnic and I thought it was the perfect meet-up with my friends plus my baby.  Juliet usually loves being outdoors. Not so much this day.  More on that later.    I brought fruit salad and caprese skewers to share. It had been a while since I made these little beauties. Emily made a yummy crab, corn salad and tomato salad. Shannon brought a spinach and asparagus quinoa salad and sangria.  Cheers! Natasha brought avocado and proscuitto sandwiches. We had an awesome spread. The gals and my silly girl enjoying our picnic. Someone has turned into a little thumb-sucker.  Pacifiers?  No way. Our picnic in Instagram.

The picnic was a lot of fun but a bit short-lived for Juliet and I.  About an hour and 15 minutes into it she got very fussy.  And then the fussiness turned into a bit of a breakdown. Well, maybe I'm being dramatic, she just cried, and loud and I was having a really difficult time soothing her.  Usually the boob works but she didn't want to be under the breastfeeding cover (I think it was too hot).  And overall she was just tired. 

So we had to leave a bit early.  But I guess in baby time she did pretty great to hang with us for over an hour.  Juliet very rarely cries like that, so I knew it was time to go.  I fed her in the car with the AC blasting and she fell asleep right away. 

I love summer picnics and being by the lakes in Minneapolis.  Though a bit short, it was a wonderful picnic and awesome to see my gals.