Monday, September 30, 2013

{Recap} Texas State Fair + A Little Football

Our little family has been on the road a lot recently. It's making my laundry schedule way out of whack, but I can't say that I don't like it. Who doesn't love a weekend away? Long drives have been nice for Michael and I to relax and delve into deep conversations we otherwise wouldn't have the time for. Also, our driving music has been pretty awesome, too.

This past weekend we made the trek to the Texas State Fair in Dallas to watch a little football, and let's be honest, ride the gigantic Ferris wheel. Have I mentioned before how crazy M is for Alma Mater football? Like, he won't miss a game. That being said, when I realized there was a larger-than-life Ferris wheel at the fairgrounds I knew we HAD to be there. I hadn't ridden a Ferris wheel, or been to the fair, in years. Years. Since elementary school. So it was pretty much a done deal that we were going.

We got to Dallas late Friday night and ate incredibly delicious and authentic Tex Mex. Michael's family joined us the next day and we walked downtown Dallas for a few blocks, caught a shuttle to the fair, and spent the rest of the day riding the Ferris wheel, munching corn dogs & caramel apples, exploring a fun house, and watching a tiny amount of football. Unfortunately, there were two game delays due to lightening, and it rained the entire time we were at the game. M and I ended up taking Maylin home early and missing most of the game. We met the group out for burgers later that evening.

 My favorite part of the weekend may have been riding the giant Ferris wheel with my man. I felt just like Ryan and Marissa on the O.C. Okay, maybe not just like, because our seat was enclosed with mesh and the ocean wasn't crashing in the background a la Newport Beach. But it was pretty close!

We watched the sun peek over the buildings downtown and stayed in bed a little longer than usual on a Sunday morning, drinking coffee {him} and hot tea {me}. While I love being at our church on Sunday mornings, sometimes it's nice to lay in when you're on a little vacay. It makes the weekend feel extra special, you know?

This baby girl was super tired Sunday morning, so we made an early day of it and drove back home. Maylin was an absolute trooper this weekend. She was barely fussy and went with the flow. I wish understood the concept of a treat, because she deserves a good one after this weekend.

How was your weekend? Anything special? Just waking up to a little cooler weather this time of year makes the weekend special for me. :)

Happy Monday!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

{Recap} A Late Afternoon Picnic

Michael's parents have a little plot of land several miles north of town. Yesterday afternoon he drove out to work on a few things for the upcoming hunting season, and we went with him. The weather has been so nice here lately; the temperature has been less than 95 degrees and it's not even October yet! Which is pretty much the most we can ask for in our part of the country. There was no way I was staying indoors.

I packed up a few toys for Maylin, a book for me, her afternoon snack of green peas and applesauce, and threw a blanket into my tote. It was so nice to sit outside for a while. It's really been too hot here this summer to do much outside, so Maylin was loving "discovering" things like grass, dirt, and all the nature noises around us.

Then we ate a little afternoon snack. It was her first time to try a green vegetable. I started her with green peas, and she loved them. Of course, there really hasn't been any food she hasn't liked so far.

I love it when she leans in with that little tongue sticking out! All I have to do is say, "More?" And she is almost attacking me trying to get at the food.

Happy baby.

Pretty scenery.

Gorgeous September sky.

A good way to end an afternoon in the sun...with a nap. I can't get over those eyelashes. I hope you're able to step outside this season, even if it's only for an hour or so. Having an impromptu picnic was the perfect excuse for us.

{My Little Projects} DIY Autumn Banner

I was at the dollar store the other day buying ice trays to freeze Maylin's baby food when I ran across this package of felt leaf cut outs. I was impressed with the brightness of their color and the thickness of the felt. They were marketed as "table scatters," but in my minds eye I saw them threaded along a string and hanging somewhere in my house. 20 leaves to a package at $1? I snatched two.

When I got home I rummaged around my craft box {which is actually very sad as I am not a habitual crafter} and came up with a spool of jute rope. Bingo! I pulled out my hot glue gun and got to work. Here's what I did.

  • 20 felt leaf shapes
  • jute rope {length to your choosing}
  • hot glue gun
  • scissors

Look how gorgeous those colors are! I couldn't help snap a picture once I had them all laid out.

Get Craftin'

1. Choose the pattern you want for your leaves. There were more large red leaves than small yellow and green, so I chose to alternate red every other color.

2. Turn the leaves face down in the appropriate pattern. This makes it much easier and quicker when working with the hot glue.

 3. Place a small dot of hot glue on the tip of each leaf and quickly press the jute rope into the hot glue. After I glued all my leaves, I went back and "sealed" the jute to the leaf by putting another dot of glue over the jute rope in the same spot.

4. Lay flat to dry.

5. And hang!!

I'm really pleased with how this felt banner turned out, and it matches my Autumn theme in my living room perfectly. I'd say that was a dollar well spent.

Monday, September 23, 2013

{Baby Food Diaries} Oatmeal

I broke down and decided to start Maylin on solids last week. I began with oatmeal because my pediatrician recommended it over rice cereal. She said oats have greater nutritional value than rice cereal, which the body processes as sugar, and they are heart healthy. Seems like a win-win to me. 

To make the oatmeal, I ground the oats in my food processor until they were a powder, then cooked them in simmering water. They turned out a little lumpier than I expected. I thought by grinding them into powder the oats would be fine and smooth after they'd been cooked. Uh. Not really so. The oats ended up plumping back up during the simmer. I went ahead and tried feed them to Maylin, but you can tell by her reaction to the first bite that she wasn't a fan of the lumpy texture!!

While our first attempt at eating oatmeal was good for a laugh for Michael and me, it was a fail at getting any of the food down Maylin's throat. She absolutely refused to swallow any of it!

So, attempt number two consisted of adding breast milk to the oats to make them soupier. Also, the added milk brought a familiar taste to them. These went down better, but still not ideal.

After a week of trial and error, I finally landed on a method that works for us. The goal is to get the oatmeal as texturally fine as possible, so that it looks like the picture below. Oatmeal and breast milk soup, if you will.

Baby Oats

  • 1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup water
  • 2-3 oz breast milk
Get Cookin'
  1. Put water in a small sauce pan and let come to a simmer.
  2. Grind the oats in a food processor until they are a fine powder.
  3. Once water is simmering, add powdered oats to water. Stir continuously so they don't stick to the pan.
  4. Remove oats from heat once oats are plump.ed and desired consistency is reached. I usually let mine simmer until they have absorbed a lot of the water, but still have a runny consistency rather than a thick, lumpy consistency.
  5. Place oats in food processor with breast milk. Puree until the oats are thin and runny, with no lumps.
  6. Serve at room temp.
This recipe makes oats that lasts us approximately 3-4 days eating 1-2 oz servings each morning.
Maylin now eats oats every morning as a solid breakfast after her wake feeding. She loves them this way!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

{In My Kitchen} Charbroiled Avocado with Warm Red Onion & Tomato Salsa

Tonight, after an afternoon of Fall decorating and football, Michael and I were in the mood for a warm snack while we watched Sunday night football. {We like football in this house.}I'd bought a bag of avocados to use for baby food, but they were starting to get too ripe and I wanted to use them before they went bad. I love guacamole as a finger food, but it seems more like a summer dish to me. And after getting out pumpkins, hanging a Fall wreath, and lighting a spicy candle, I was craving a more Autumn-ish snack.

Enter the broiled avocado. Simple. Easy. Whole food. Delicious. Seasoned with a little salt and pepp, placed under the broiler, topped with warm diced tomatoes and red onions, and served with crunchy blue corn chips. The cold weather version of guacamole. Also, it's just one more way to savor September. :)
Here's how easy it is.

Charbroiled Avocado with Warm Red Onion & Tomato Salsa
  • 2 avocados, halved and pitted
  • 1 vine ripened tomato, sliced
  • 1 sliced ring of red onion, separated
  • salt and pepper
Get Cookin'
  1. Turn broiler on high. Wait for oven to heat, about 5 minutes.
  2. On a baking sheet, lay out avocado halves, tomato slices, and the separated rings of onion.
  3. Season avocado and tomato with salt and pepper to taste. {I'm always a little heavy on the pepper.}
  4. Place baking sheet under broiler for approximately 8 minutes, checking every minute after 5 minutes to ensure food isn't burning. To get a good charred taste, wait until avocado flesh is browning and bubbling. Tomatoes and onion rings should be soft.
  5. Remove from heat. Dice onion and tomato.
  6. Fill the well of each avocado half with a spoonful of the tomato and onion salsa. Serve warm with chips.
That's all there is to it! If you're going to a football party and want to spice up regular ole guac, make sure you give this recipe a try! You could even empty the flesh of the avocado from the skin into a bowl, mix in the tomatoes and onion, and serve in a bowl for easy dipping if you're serving a crowd. It'll still be warm with that charbroiled taste.

Happy first day of Fall!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

{Baby Food Diaries} The Beginning

This week I started feeding Maylin baby food. This is a big step for me because she has been exclusively breastfed since birth {minus a couple weeks that we supplemented formula to increase her weight}. I waited longer than the customary age of 4 months to start feeding her cereals or solids partly due to the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and partly because I wasn't ready to relinquish a piece of our breastfeeding relationship. However, when Maylin started showing signs that she was ready for solid food {even though I wasn't, and even though she's still not quite 6 months} I decided to begin our journey into solids a wee bit early.

By the way, here are a few general "signs" that your baby is ready to start eating cereal/ solid food. This was something I was always a little confused about because people would make comments like,

"Oh, don't worry. Your baby will tell you when she's ready to eat solids."

"You'll know when your baby wants to eat real food."

"Just watch your baby. She'll give you signs."

What. Like, what signs? My baby doesn't talk, how will she "tell me" she's ready to eat food?? And no, I've never had a baby before, so I won't just "know" when she's ready!

So, I finally did some research to find hard core evidence regarding when your baby should start eating cereal/solid food. Granted, this may not be the case for every baby. Always consult your pediatrician first.

According to The Wholesome Baby Food Guide by Maggie Meade (here and here), there are 6 "signs" that your baby is ready to eat solid food:

  1. Has Baby lost the tongue thrust reflex? {when tongue automatically protrudes if anything is brought to/in the mouth}
  2. Has Baby developed the ability to signal that she is full? {turning head away, pursing lips}
  3. Is Baby ready to sit up and hold her head up unassisted? {to prevent choking}
  4. Has Baby's birth weight doubled?
  5. Has Baby shown interest in your food?*
  6. Is Baby frequently waking in the middle of the night when a consistent sleeping pattern has been established?
* This sign is less reliable, as babies tend to become interested in everything around the age of 4 months, and will bring objects to the mouth regardless of whether they are food or not.

Thank You!! Now there are some signs that I can see in my baby and know that she is ready for more.

Since I am staying home with Maylin, I decided long ago that I would attempt to make her baby food {you know, with all the free time I have} rather than buy the little jars. This way, she can eat organically, her food can be without preservatives, I can control the ingredients, and it should save our family money. We received a Baby Bullet as a gift from Michael's parents before Maylin was born, and it's been upstairs in the closet waiting to be brought out.

Today, I brought it out.

Hopefully, making homemade baby food really will be as easy as Baby Bullet and Wholesome Baby Food Guide say it is. I guess we'll find out!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

{In My Kitchen} Apple-Oat Muffins with Crumb Topping

Y'all. These muffins. These muffins may be the best thing I've baked in, like, a year.

The crazy thing is, I came upon this recipe by chance when I was digging through my recipe box last night for last minute supper ideas. I'm still trying to get my feet back under me from being gone for a whole week, and I haven't made it to the grocery store yet. I know you're thinking, "Muffins for supper?" But it was about the only thing I had the ingredients to make! Real life.

The good fantastic thing about it is that I discovered a Fall recipe that I will make every year for the rest of my life. Yes. They are that good. Moist, warm, cinnamon-y goodness with soft apples throughout and a crumbly topping to boot. If you're looking for ways to savor September this recipe is definitely a must. Perfect for breakfast, brunch, after-school snack, evening coffee, dessert, or yes, even for supper. ;)

Apple Oat Muffins with Crumb Topping (adapted slightly from The Pampered Chef)


  • 1 3/4 cup whole wheat flour, divided
  • 1 1/4 cup quick rolled oats, divided
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar, divided
  • 2 tbsp flaxseed (perfect way to get that flaxseed in your diet!)
  • 7 tbsp organic butter, melted, divided
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup chopped apple* (about 1 medium, or 2 small apples)
  • 1 cup organic whole milk
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
Get Cookin'
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line muffin tin with paper liners or grease with butter.
  2. For crumb topping, combine 1/4 cup each of flour, oats, flaxseed, and brown sugar in a small mixing bowl. Add 3 tbsp melted butter. Mix well and set aside.
  3. Place remaining flour, oats, and brown sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Mix well.
  4. Stir in chopped apple.* Add milk, egg, and remaining butter. Mix until dry ingredients are moistened.
  5. Divide batter among muffin tin. Sprinkle crumb topping evenly over batter, pressing down gently.
  6. Bake 18-20 minutes, or until golden brown. 
*I didn't peel my apples and the muffins turned out completely fine. Apples were soft with no chewy skin. I'm sure it will be fine if you want to peel your apples just to be sure though. I was just short on time.

As I was typing this post I realized that these muffins would also be good with added walnuts or pecans, to give them just a little extra crunch. Or some raisins for extra sweetness. If you decide to try them, let me know! I'd love to read your comments!

Monday, September 16, 2013

{Baby Style} Maximizing Cost Per Wear

I love baby clothes. Like, really love them.

This is rather surprising to me because before I had a baby of my own I never gave baby clothes a second thought. At baby showers {before I was pregnant} everyone would ooh and ahh over all the sweet, tiny clothes, and I would kinda sit back sipping my punch and think, "What's the big deal? They're clothes."

Oh how differently I feel now.

Shopping for Maylin has become one of my favorite things to do. In fact, I rather like to think that I'm curating her wardrobe, one carefully selected piece at a time. When I shop, I first scour the entire store to see all my options. Then I go back and hand pick those items that are especially unique, or cute, or versatile, or that "look like Maylin." I really evaluate my purchases, thinking about what she already has in her closet, what spaces need to be filled, and what she can wear with each article. Then I purchase the clothing that make the final cut. Thank goodness baby clothes are {usually} less expensive than my clothes! This, of course, may or may not contribute to the amount of clothing I buy for her. ;)

It is not an exaggeration when I say Maylin owns more clothes than I do {ask my sister, she's seen the inside of my closet}. But even though she has so many clothing options, I still want her to get more than one wear out of her clothes. It makes me kind of sick to my stomach to think that she could only wear her clothes one time before they're outgrown. You see, I'm trying not to be overtaken by consumerism and materialism. It makes me feel a little better if she wears her clothes several times over. {It also gives me a chance to mix and match.} This led me to today's outfit.

This sweet little top Maylin's wearing is actually a newborn dress. That's right people. A newborn size dress turned five month old top. I paired it with printed striped leggings in a contrasting color to make the turquoise really pop. This particular dress/top has stretchy elastic around the neck and arm holes, which makes it super easy to slip over her larger-than-newborn head. Of course, Maylin is small for her age anyway, so this works quite well for us. I used the same trick here.

So, I encourage you, if you have small children and want to get the most cost per wear from their clothing, try out this easy idea and use a small dress for a cute top. Too bad it doesn't work that well for adult size clothing.

Oh, and don't let anyone tell you dressing a baby is like dressing a doll. It's better.

Way better.

Dress: Target
Leggings: Target
Headband: Carter's

Sunday, September 15, 2013

{Recap} Our Week at the Beach

I've been absent around here for the past week because we've been at the beach with my family enjoying one last summer vacation. It was just what we needed, 7 days to relax, soak up the sun rays, play in the waves, and watch the sun come up with steaming cups of coffee. M and I took a couple of early evening beach walks, Maylin learned that the sand wasn't really her favorite, and we ate some delicious seafood and burgers at local restaurants.  And of course, it was refreshing to have some quality family time with my parents, sister, and brother-in-law. One great thing about going to the beach in in mid-September is there are hardly any crowds, yet the sun and water is still warm. And most of the people there were my parents' age and older, which I secretly loved. I can do without the crazy college crowd. It was just lovely. Here are a few (okay, a whole lot of) snapshots of our trip.