pinterest in real life – coconut hot chocolate

Let us continue on in this journey.

This week I couldn’t wait to try out this coconut hot chocolate because I had been eyeing/drooling about it for some time. It is fairly easy to make and it comes from one of my favorite bloggers so I don’t know what my holdup was. I mean just look at it.

Cutting to the chase, this stuff was so so rich. And coming from me, that means a lot. I can handle a fair amount of decadence, but I couldn’t even finish a small mug of this! It is very thick, so much so that I thinned mine with some milk. But it is delicious.

The thing is, I saved the leftovers in the fridge, and the next day it was like a pudding. And by jove I liked it better this way! I just enjoyed it plain with a spoon and actually preferred it to drinking it. I keep going back to the fridge and sneaking spoonfuls. You could probably add the whipped cream and coconut flakes to this new ‘pudding’ and have a pretty rad dessert.

Verdict: Unsure
I’m really waffling on this one. The ‘pudding’ of this is so dang good. But there are so many other desserts out there to make and I can’t decide if this should be part of the rotation. If you’re a fan of coconut though, definitely worth a shot. I just prefer it as not a beverage.

image is from original recipe post

playtime

Have you ever watched a baby play?

Simona (provided she’s in a good mood) can play with one toy for like 20-30 minutes. She stares at it, chews on it, shakes it, finds the tag (she’s obsessed with tags) and sucks on it. Some of her favorite toys are the simplest things, like a polka-dot burp cloth or an empty wrapper. In fact, sometimes when I’m moving her to the next activity, I feel bad because I worry I’ll transfer my poor attention span to her when she was perfectly happy where she was.

The other day as I changed her diaper and she played with her little Pooh bear, I looked at her to see her grinning at the thing with a smile bigger than I think I’ve ever smiled about anything. She shrieked in delight as she moved him to her mouth to suck on his eyes. Poor Pooh.

But it’s so amazing to me that we’re born like that, finding so much joy in the simplest things. Simona doesn’t need to be facebooking while she eats lunch and watches TV and paints her nails. Where did this hyper-multi-tasking come in? It makes me sad that I have a hard time doing one thing at a time, and really focusing on it.

The simplest things in life are truly the best things. A home-cooked meal with good friends, a long walk on a summer evening, a good book and a cup of tea…these are the things that really enrich us. As much as social media “scratches an itch”, it’s like this compulsion that doesn’t usually make us feel better anyway, but it’s hard to stop.

I want to take a lesson from the babies of the world: focus on one thing at a time, and truly enjoy that thing. Be present in the moment and don’t worry about what everyone else is doing. Obsess over the tag on your little blue elephant toy or stare out the window at nothing. Just don’t pee your pants.


two green drinks

I’ve had the pleasure of trying two new beverages this week. See below.

The alo APPEAL was an impulse purchase at Jewel, and it’s such a unique drink. It actually has little chunks of aloe in it, which was a little weird to get used to (I’m not one to usually order the tapioca balls in my bubble tea, for example), but once I did get used to drinking and chewing at the same time, it was good. The taste is nice and refreshing, and feels healthy. Pretty low in calories (120 for the bottle, but 60 per serving) too. The only thing is you have to drink it in small sips or else you’ll get a whole mouthful of aloe.

The evolution FRESH was bought at Starbucks. It’s probably only like my new favorite drink (I’m imagining that sentence being said in Kip’s voice). My husband likes it too and that is saying a whole lot because he doesn’t really like green juice unless it was made right in front of him, and even then he’s a little jumpy about it. He said it’s probably his favorite green juice he’s had. What I like about it (besides the taste and the fact that it’s just plain good for you) is that it is straight juice, no added sugars. The sugar content is like 10g per serving, 20g for the bottle. Also the whole bottle is 100 calories. I wish I could order a case of this. They also sell these at Whole Foods.

motivational monday

Yesterday was kind of a blah day.

(And you thought this was motivational monday…)

We were all tired, one of us was jet-lagged, the other one kind of depressed, and the smallest one a tad bit grumpy (still cute though). A frustrating trip to get breakfast and some snippy words about a work project were the icing on the cake at my pity party, and I was left feeling disconnected from my husband and questioning my decisions as a mother.

I felt better after a nap and after we reconnected over Portillos for dinner, and as Joseph retired early for the night, I stumbled upon this article that was just perfect. It starts by suggesting that you have more bad days than good ones. Sounds encouraging, right? It really is. Take a look! If we never had bad days, could we fully appreciate the good ones?

a birth story – part 2

If you haven’t yet, I suggest reading part 1 first. (P.S. The wedding was the 24th, I had said it was the 26th.)

That night after the wedding, I felt my first mild contractions. They weren’t bad and were pretty far apart, but I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy about feeling pain. I didn’t even wake my husband, cause I didn’t want to keep him up if this wasn’t the real thing. And sure enough, come Sunday morning, they had stopped. Joseph and I decided to head home that morning though, just in case, rather than hanging out for the day with family in Madison. As we drove South on the expressway, I once again tried to will contractions to happen. I’ve discovered that doesn’t work.

We hung out together all day Sunday, just the two of us relaxing and trying to not think too much about the pressure we felt to have that baby before 8PM on Monday.* We were still up around midnight (normal for us at the time) when I felt more contractions. This time stronger, and closer together. Joseph whipped out the stopwatch (or smartphone, whatever) and began the timing. We took a walk outside, excited through the pain. I was having contractions of about a minute each, five minutes apart, for an hour when we called the doctor. That’s when they say you should call (the 5/1/1 rule), but I didn’t think it was that bad yet.

When the doctor found out the situation he told Joseph to take me in right away. What? Already? I had wanted to labor mostly at home, but…doctor’s orders. So we grabbed our bag and went, calling Joseph’s sister and my mom (our chosen labor helpers) as we whirled away.

As I sat in triage (where they measure you and ask you a bunch of personal questions), Joseph’s sister came and marveled at the fact that I was still talking and even smiling sometimes, as every time she’d been in that room she wasn’t able to answer any questions. I started to think, ‘hey, maybe I’m gonna be one of those lucky ladies who breezes through labor!’ That’s when they told me I was only like 2 centimeters dilated or something ridiculous like that, and they couldn’t admit me yet. I could either hang out around there or go home. I chose home.

We got home around 3AM and I had a few more contractions along with a snack and we decided to try to get some sleep. That was a silly idea because literally as I crawled into bed my water broke.

Again we made the calls, but this time I was able to labor at home for a few hours with the help of Joseph’s sister (what a champ). I ended up going to the hospital around 7AM when it got pretty bad. Since I had already gone to triage earlier that morning, I got to skip it and was whisked away to a room. That was nice, because at this point I could see how Joseph’s sister hadn’t been able to talk during her time in triage. I could also see that I was not going to be one of those aforementioned lucky ladies.**

I labored at the hospital for 6 hours (for a total of 13) before our sweet girl was born. It was kind of crazy how fast the time went even though it was so painful. You’d think it would go slow, but I think since my contractions were pretty close together the whole time I didn’t have much of a chance to clock-watch. Another crazy thing is that it’s hard to remember what the pain was even like and how terrible it must have been. I remember saying, right after she was born, “No wonder women forget labor pain. You’d have to in order to ever want to do that again.” But now it’s all getting foggy. I do remember yelling out a couple times and worrying about scaring or disturbing other mommies down the hall.***

I pushed for an hour (I didn’t have one of those movie-perfect two push deliveries) before she came. And then it was over, and the doctor was holding her and announcing, “It’s a boy!” Seriously, he said that. We were all shocked because they had told us girl the whole time. The shock lasted about 2 seconds before he corrected himself. “No, it’s a girl!” We’re still not sure if he was messing with us or if the cord was hanging just so.***

There she was, a perfect little bundle, and it was the most surreal thing. She was dark-haired and quiet. I couldn’t believe that the little human the doctor was holding had been in my tummy that whole time. It’s hard to explain. My first thoughts were relief and disbelief and my second ones were something about fingers and toes. But she was here, and beautiful.

Simona Myla was born at 1PM on August 26th, exactly 7 hours before I was supposed to be induced.**** And she waited until after the wedding, from which she had a window of 48 hours to make her appearance on her own. So I got to be at, and fully appreciate, my brother’s wedding. I had thought I wanted her out before then so I could bring her, but now I see that I would have been very preoccupied and tired, had I even made it there at all. (My expectations about what having a newborn was like were very skewed, but that’s another story for another time.) The timing really could not have been better. God’s plan is always perfect and always better than what we can dream up, and I remind myself of this story when I’m doubting or worrying or all caught up the way that I think things should go. I’m very thankful. The end (or the beginning).

And 6 months later:

 

*Looking back on it, maybe we should have spent all day sleeping, but how were we to know that our we had already had our last night of good sleep for quite a long, long time?

**While I wasn’t one of the rare women who breeze through labor with hardly a whimper, I feel very fortunate to have the labor story I did. I am not in any way complaining about how it happened, because I know that some women experience much worse and that mine was fairly average.

***Yeah, even in labor I’m a people pleaser.

****He is an excellent doctor. Really. No lie.

*****I know that not all induced labors are really that bad, and that there are women who have had good experiences with it. Unfortunately though, the stories that you hear, or at least the ones that stick with you, tend to be the negative ones.

a birth story- part 1

It was a warm summer night and we were on a walk. I loved our night walks, we’d often walk the mile to the main street in town and get ice cream or dinner. This walk was different though. I didn’t feel as relaxed as I normally did, couldn’t fully enjoy it because I was trying so hard to conjure up a contraction.

I was overdue, by a week. We had been trying every labor-inducing technique in the book (save for castor oil, which sounded disgusting) for a couple weeks at least. I wasn’t really uncomfortable, and wouldn’t have minded my belated baby except for the fact that my brother was getting married in less than a week and I needed to get that baby out by then. I couldn’t bear the idea of missing his wedding, which by the way was 2.5 hours away in Madison, where we had planned to stay for a few nights with all of the family.

I was due on the 11th of August and his wedding was the 24th. Plenty of time to get the baby out and come to the wedding, we thought. But as the days went by and nary a contraction (not even Braxton-Hicks) came to pass, I started to get a little anxious. I think we all did, except for Simona, who was perfectly happy where she was. (And God, who knew exactly what He was doing.) My doctor said we should schedule induction, so we scheduled for August 26th at 8PM.

By the time Tuesday the 20th came and went, we all started praying the opposite of what we’d been praying up until that point: that the baby would stay in until after the wedding. We got the okay from my doctor to go up to Madison, he assured us that if contractions started there, we’d have plenty of time to get back in time if we left right away. Most women have pretty long labors with their first child, he told us. (Super.) But we were happy to have his approval and so on Thursday I sat in the passenger seat as my husband drove North on the expressway. I had a stomachache, but that wasn’t going to stop us from going, and it also wasn’t stopping me from eating a big chocolate chip cookie as I talked to my sister on the phone about my pains.

Fast forward through the favor-making, family-bonding, girls-shopping-trip hours before the wedding (all so fun) and I had made it Saturday with my belly. I sat there for the beautiful wedding, not without tears, and marveled that I could be there to fully enjoy it. Once we got to the reception, I gave the okay to the baby that she could come out now. But she decided to stay in that night as I got down with my (big) bad self on the dance floor and had a general blast celebrating.


photobooth at the wedding

After the reception, I made sure the baby had gotten the message about coming out now. I really wanted her to arrive before my scheduled induction on the 26th. I’d heard terrible stories about induced labor, involving drugs and C-sections and many many hours. It has to happen sometimes, and I’m grateful for modern medicine, but it just wasn’t what I wanted. And now the clock was ticking. I had two days until then.

 

Stay tuned for part 2 coming soon!

pinterest in real life – coconut nutmeg pudding and towel recharge

Ah, Pinterest. It somehow has the dual ability to be a time suck and an inspiration to do more. We pin and pin for hours with lofty dreams of the perfect baby shower, the cutest snack for the kiddos, and a kitchen filled with the smell of your perfect banana bread-stuffed cookie-brownie baking in the oven.

But how often do we actually take action on these pins? I have over a thousand pins and I know I won’t ever get to all of them. But I can at least start! I decided that I want to try at least one pinned item a week, whether it’s a baked good or a home improvement idea or a workout or a craft.

I know that not everything will turn out perfectly (there’s a whole blog dedicated to this – here’s one of my favorites), but I’ll share the good, the bad and the ugly. Here goes!

This week I tried this coconut nutmeg pudding. It looks so pretty and delicious, and since my husband is out of town and this is not his jam but it is totally my jam, I decided to give it a go.

So, this pudding is not very sweet. I don’t know if it’s because I didn’t use full fat coconut milk or not, but I ended up adding honey to make it sweeter. You should know I have a pretty sick sweet tooth, but nonetheless I thought it needed it. And perhaps I let the pudding cook too long so it was too thick to strain, but by the time I strained it, I had one serving. ONE. (It’s supposed to make four.) It was fine because it hadn’t turned out how I’d hoped anyway, and I almost just decided it was a lost cause. But after it cooled off a bit and I added the toasted coconut on top, it really wasn’t bad at all. It says serve warm but I enjoyed it…a little less than warm. Not chilled, but almost like room temp. I polished off my one serving, to my surprise. The flavor of the nutmeg was nice and the honey gave it the right amount of sweet. If you try it, perhaps use full fat coconut milk. And perhaps don’t cook it as long, and perhaps add honey.

Verdict: Not saved.
A little more trouble than it was worth for me, since my results were the way they were.*

*This is to say nothing about the quality of the recipe. There are many variables that could have made my result the way it was, and the original pudding does look wonderful. I’m just sharing my imperfect personal experience.

I also tried this:

I don’t know that it made my towels particularly more fresh or fluffy. Kinda hard to tell. They were nice and absorbent but my towels usually are. I guess it’s nice to skip detergent and go with a more natural cleaning method.

Verdict: (probably) not saved.
If the next time I wash my towels with regular detergent I notice that they don’t seem as great as they did this time, I will let you know. Otherwise, it’s easier for me to just use detergent. I like to use my baking soda and vinegar for other things and this requires a fair amount of both.

images are not mine, they are from the original posts (pudding)

trader joe’s favorites – episode 1

Do you frequent Trader Joe’s like I frequent Trader Joe’s? It’s my #1 shopping spot now. This happened largely due to their ready-made meals that we practically lived on for awhile after I had Simona. I was not one of those people who had freezer meals made in advance before she was born, and I was (am?) also not one of those people who found the energy to cook a meal after a day of napping and eating (on Simona’s part). (Why does that take so much energy from mom?) We had the help of friends and family for some meals, but when that died down and I was on my own, Trader Joe’s came to the rescue.

Anyway, I digress.

Mr. Trader Joe is so solid for a ton of things – he keeps it fresh and interesting and pretty cheap. There’s always something new to try (which I try to do every trip), but there are quite a number of things I buy on the regular. See below for installment #1 of my favorites and stay tuned for more!

1. Minty Mallows – I don’t know if these are seasonal, but I’ve been buying them for a couple months. They are so tasty and refreshing. I’m sure they would be excellent in a cup of hot chocolate, but I’ve never gotten around to doing that because I eat them all up first.

2 & 3. Greek Style Chicken and Tzatziki Sauce – This chicken dinner (found in the refrigerated section) is really good on it’s own, but the tzatziki really amps up the awesome factor on this dish. We also add some extra crumbled feta and a couple squeezes of lemon juice. Okay so I guess we kind of doctor this one up. Like I said, it will be tasty alone, but it will be really tasty with those extras. Great meal.

4. French Vanilla Ice Cream – A staple. It’s rich and creamy and not airy like some other big brands. A nice substitute for Haagen-Dazs. I’m not saying it’s as good, but it’s pretty darn close and you get more for your money too.

5. Mushroom and Black Truffle Pizza – I am a non-truffle lover (I know I know), and I really enjoy this pizza. So I don’t really know if I need to say anything else about it.

6. Lacey’s Cookies in Milk Chocolate Macadamia - I am also not a big huge fan of macadamia nuts and these are awesome. It’s not like you’re eating whole nuts, they must be crushed in the caramel-y cookie part. And then there’s chocolate sandwiched in-between those wafer-thin cookies. Anyway, it tastes like toffee and chocolate and heaven.

7. Sparkling Raspberry Lime Spring Water – This is a great way to make drinking water a little extra special, and a nice halfway between water and soda. It has no sugar or calories and the flavor is really good. All the variations of this water (lime, lemon, etc) are good, but I think the raspberry lime is my most favorite. As you can see by the half-drunk bottle up there.

 

What are your favorites? What can’t I miss?