life lately

We’ve had a busy past few weeks. I have a feeling though, that this is just how life is going to be now. So maybe we’ve had a normal past few weeks. Whatever.

I’ve been making tons of baby food, trying out new recipes in my new dutch oven, trying to keep up with housework, permanently doing laundry, enjoying the warmer weather (and by warmer I mean over 40 degrees), hosting and attending dinner parties, attending other events and even going on a couple dates. So it’s been all good, but it’s been all tired. I mean I’m all tired. What day is it? I swear I just can’t go like I used to.

Here’s some iPhone snaps of recent days.

Paddington Bear for Baby Gap head to toe (on Simona). That stuff is dangerous.

She can feed herself, kind of, which makes things convenient for Joseph.

We celebrated our anniversary last month. My mom was kind enough to watch Simona overnight and we stayed in the city. I also got this fabulous print of the date from Ashley Barlow.

Her first time on the swing. She didn’t really seem to care.

We frequent this diner for brunch on weekends. Best pancakes ever.

A new hat from a friend.

Simona has a thing for jackets, I guess. Like her mom.

A Sunday walk.

reading list

I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately. It’s amazing how a good book can make real life fade into the background. The Divergent series has caused me to get behind on all sorts of work and hangout time with my little family. I’d put Simona down for a nap and pick up the Kindle, telling myself I’d just read a little bit but accidentally sitting there until she woke up (usually just 45 minutes later, but still).

I also tend to be in the middle of like a bunch of books at the same time. I don’t know why I can’t just finish one and then start the next one. Attention problems…but that’s another story for another time, maybe, if I remember to do it without getting distracted by another topic.

That being said, here is what I’m currently reading:

1. The Divergent Series
I decided to read this because my husband had, and he thought I’d like it, and the movie was coming out in a week so I didn’t know if I’d finish it in time. I tend to not whip through books like he can. But I sure whipped through these. As I mentioned, it was a real time suck. It was not a problem to finish the first book, Divergent, before the movie came out, and I’ve finished Insurgent, the second one, since. I haven’t started on Allegiant, the third one, but I’m looking forward to it. They are quick, exciting reads. (I was slightly disappointed in the movie though.)

2. French Kids Eat Everything
Since starting Simona on solids, I’ve been thinking a lot about how to introduce a variety of foods to her and not have her only used to eating bland, unseasoned purees all the time. Yes, she needs to get used to the fruits and vegetables, but after that, I want her palate to experience a lot of flavors in hopes of reducing pickiness later on. I’ve only started this book, but she seems to have some good rules.

3. The Paris Wife
I started this a bit ago, and I like it, but for some reason it’s taking me longer to get through. It’s about Ernest Hemingway and his wife Hadley, and their life back in the 1920s. It’s a fascinating read, especially if you’re into that era and sort of thing.

4. Notes from a Blue Bike
I picked this one up because I’m really into the concept she addresses: living slowly and intentionally in this chaotic world. Americans tends to rush everywhere, and do everything quickly, and constantly multi-task (myself included, especially since Simona). I love the idea of enjoying one thing at a time, and focusing on the life and people in front of you instead of a screen. It’s a really hard thing to practice though.

5. Girl at the End of the World
Just finished this last week, and it’s one of those that’s hard to put down…for me, especially, because I have a personal connection to her story. I grew up in a ‘branch’ of the same fundamentalist Christian group that she did. I was much more removed from it than she was, and was only 17 when it all broke up, but I found the stories she told both familiar and shocking. I wasn’t aware of everything that went on, and as I read her honest personal account, I found myself angry, tearful, amused, shocked, pensive…basically all the emotions. That’s telling of a good book, no?
What are you reading?

pinterest in real life – arugula steak salad

Here we are again. I may have missed a week…or two…

I’ve been eating a lot of sweets lately, or more accurately, I’ve been eating a lot lately. Of everything. It’s bad. I didn’t really do much cooking or grocery shopping for the past couple weeks and that has led to a lot of takeout and things like Chipotle and Portillo’s. There’s only so much convincing I can do to myself to believe that a hot dog has enough servings of vegetables on it or a burrito bowl somehow constitutes a salad. I haven’t gone so far as counting fries as a vegetable yet…but maybe I’m heading down that road.

I need to quit.

So yesterday I finally got to the store and we had this arugula steak salad for dinner. It felt a little healthier than what I’ve been having, and it was a nice low carb meal. The steak I got though…I don’t think it was the best. (What’s up with that, Whole Foods?) It seemed a little tough and chewy, and I didn’t overcook it. I don’t know if I did something else wrong, but for me, it wasn’t awesome. My husband ate it though, even though he agreed about it’s toughness.

The salad itself though, was great. I loved the caramelized pears and pecans, and naturally the gorgonzola took it over the top. Very yummy.

The verdict: Saved.
I’ll keep this one around, and hope for a better steak next time.

Recipe and photo found here

the early months / napping

It was a rough first few months.

The ever-growing dark circles under my eyes could’ve told you that though. No amount of concealer could hide the lost hours of sleep and countless crying spells. I even have a really good concealer…at least according to the lady at Ulta. I wonder if she has kids. I wonder if I had mentioned motherhood if she would have said, “Oh, we have something for that,” and led me to a secret back room with Magic Makeup for Moms. Made by elves.

Anyway, it was a trying time, in many ways. I had(have) a good baby though. A beautiful, healthy, happy girl with a strong taste for short naps. She’s 7 months old now, and still, the majority of her naps are 45 minutes long. That’s how it’s always been. I think she may be starting to grow out of it now. We’ll see. We’ll hope and we’ll see.

I fought it for a long time. I tried everything I could think of to make her naps longer. Was she up too long? Put her down earlier. Up too short? Keep her up longer. Not stimulated enough? Take her on walks, dance for her, make her lift weights.

I read so much about it that I finally just gave up reading about it. It’s too tiring. You can find anything you want to find out if you look it up on the internets. You’ll find arguments from both camps on any subject and you can basically just pick what you want to do anyway.

The other thing about researching everything is that every baby is different. You can find a bunch of info, but no other baby is your baby. So your baby isn’t doing x, y and z yet? That’s okay. Nobody else can tell you exactly what works for him or her. Parenting is so much trial and error. You figure out what you can and can’t do, and you survive. There will always be babies and parents that are doing “better” in your eyes, and there will always be someone with a more difficult situation than yours.

So I just accepted the short naps. It took months, but I accepted them. That’s just Simona’s way. And I can’t necessarily change it. But I can change my outlook.

So I learned to become a fierce multi-tasker. Silver lining, people. Those 45 minutes sure fly by though, when you’re trying to do laundry/respond to emails/clean up the kitchen/take a shower/watch Price is Right.

I’m also learning that these times take patience. A baby is not a machine, as my husband likes to remind me. You can do everything ‘right’ and your baby still doesn’t respond as you’d hoped. Babies are constantly changing and growing and adapting. Just when you think you figured something out they change again. This is both frustrating and beautiful. You wouldn’t want your baby to always remain a baby (or would you?). So if you’re in a rough patch, just keep going. It will pass. Your baby will learn and grow, and you will too, in the process. That’s the bonus. Or maybe…that’s the purpose.

spring pastels

It doesn’t feel like spring around here. Yesterday we woke up to a dusting of snow and a high in the 20s. I had been refusing to wear a winter jacket but I was forced to put one on for a windy walk around the block with Simona.

I keep desperately checking my weather app and finally it’s showing some consistent 40-degree weather with a couple days in the 50s. This winter has been cruel, to say the very least, if those temps seem warm. At the end of March.

But I’m gonna keep eating berries, wearing shorts, and looking at pretty pictures in hopes that I can will spring to be here.

images: one two three four five six

wall hangings

I am not one of those people that gets their decorating and painting done right away. I wish I were, but we moved in seven years ago and my kitchen is still the ugly yellow that is was when we got here and awkward spaces remain on walls where I haven’t gotten around to hanging anything up.

It took having a baby just last year to actually paint over the seafoam green walls in our guest room (complete with a painted cloud ceiling, a ‘grassy’ wall, and a bear/moose border). So yeah, safe to say I’m not a go-getter when it comes to those things. Sorry to all our prior guests who had to sleep in that wild room.

I don’t know why it takes me so long. I guess it’s a matter of prioritization, but once I have some free moments I just end up baking something or sitting and doing not much of anything. I’d like to do better, but it might just be a matter of time.

I do keep my eye out for pretty things I might like to hang up someday, so here are some of my wants and inspirations:

For the kitchen. Found here.

Can’t afford these particular ones, but love the idea.

I die for anything by Katie Daisy, these are two faves though.

I’d love to hang a rug similar to this above our bed. That one is sold out, there are other similar ones though. Also expensive :( .

Because it really is. I want this reminder hanging up somewhere. (All the banners by Secret Holiday are pretty sweet.)

starting solids and big smiles

If you follow me on Instagram you’ve seen a few of these already…sorry. :)

The day she turned 6 months old. Can hardly believe it!

I was so excited about starting solids with her. Turns out she has kind of a love/hate relationship with it. She got suuuper excited sitting in her chair for the first time (picture on the bottom right), and sometimes likes her rice cereal. Sweet potatoes are touch and go, she hates bananas and avocado. She below for illustration of this.

Guess we’ll keep trying.

She’s started this thing where she smiles really really hard and scrunches up her nose and almost hyperventilates. It’s so cute and I almost captured it here.

She also does the scrunchy face for Pooh bear. Such a fun age this is!

baked apple french toast

On Saturdays of the past, we used to roll out of bed sometime after the sun was well on it’s way overhead, then laze on the couch watching golf or a TV movie until our hunger took over and required us to either go to breakfast or make pancakes if we didn’t feel like looking presentable.

Now on Saturdays, Joseph will get up early with Simona (like the champ he is) and then after he puts her down for her first nap, I stumble out of bed and he usually falls back into it for a nap. When we are both finally functioning, we scrounge up some breakfast. So it’s kind of the same as before, but also totally not.

This past Saturday I was fortunate enough to have a day-old baguette sitting on my counter, and leftover apple mixture from making these hand pies, so I mean pretty much the choice was made for me. I threw together baked french toast using this recipe as my guide but substituting the apples for the berries. I also added some brown sugar to the apples. And man it was good. Joseph ate the leftovers later that day before I could even pull a fork out. Just kidding, I always have a fork. Like Joey.

If you don’t happen to make the hand pies and don’t want to follow the recipe there for the apple mixture, you can just peel and dice an apple and mix it together with a couple pinches of cinnamon, a tablespoon or two of brown sugar, a couple teaspoons of flour, and a splash of lemon juice. Add the candied ginger if you like, it gives an interesting dimension. Otherwise, just follow the recipe for the mixed berry french toast.

pinterest in real life – lentil soup and hand pies

Still going with this…we’ll see how long it lasts!

This week I tried two recipes in the same meal. This lentil soup was up first: I’d been eyeing it repeatedly but thinking it looked too complicated. I’m not sure why. Maybe the words ‘brown butter’ had something to do with it. Anyway, it was pretty easy!

The soup was tasty, but thinner than I expected, I guess. I was anticipating a heartier soup. Maybe I did something wrong. Anyway, it was nice and spicy with an interesting dimension from the curry. We really enjoyed it with some toasty baguette.

Verdict: Saved.

For dessert I made these apple ginger hand pies. It was my first hand-pie-making experience, and it wasn’t a bad one. The dough didn’t give me fits, for a change. I always have trouble with pie dough. This one came together beautifully for me, so bonus already.

The pies themselves were good, but I kind of wanted an ooey-gooey-er filling. It mostly felt like just apples and the ginger. I’m thinking if I make these again I will adjust by adding some brown sugar to the apple mixture or something. I just wanted a little more decadence in there. However, these were great with some vanilla ice cream. Then it becomes a spoon pie, but who cares?

Our favorite part about these though? The crust! It was perrrfect. Flaky with just the right amount of crispy-crunch when you bit into it. If I don’t make this particular filling again, I will probably still use the dough recipe.

Verdict: Saved, if not just for the dough recipe.
Like I said, if I make these again, I will be adjusting the filling to my tastes.

images are not mine, they are from the original recipe posts (soup) (pies)