Wednesday, August 31, 2011

44 weeks

Here is what is going on with Noah this week according to;

Words and wordlike sounds are now spilling out of your baby, and he's able to use them meaningfully. As his brain continues to develop, so does his ability to reason and speak.  Encourage his interest in language and his understanding of two-way communication by being an avid listener and responding to his sounds. To polish his memory skills, play games like patty-cake and peek-a-boo.  At this age, your baby can probably imitate word sounds and inflections. He may be able to follow simple one-step directions, such as "Please bring me the ball" or "Pick up the spoon." Help him learn by separating multistep commands into easy-to-follow single steps, reinforcing them with gestures.  Remember to cherish this brief but remarkable period when your baby's communication skills are emerging: They're perhaps his most important skill!

Noah is doing great.  He is such a happy, fun little guy.  He has been listening very well for the last week when Jeremy and I tell him "no, no".  He has also for the most part avoided all of the items in our home that he knows he's not supposed to touch.  It's great to see him being more obedient.  His couple day bratty phase from last week seems to have passed, at least for now, and he has been super sweet and fun.  He really loves music, dancing, reading books, and being outside.  He also loves a fun game of peek a boo.

I think that I'm done making purees, and although Noah isn't eating the same things as us now, he is eating almost entirely finger foods that he can feed himself.  I do still spoon feed him apple sauce and yogurt every few days, but for the most part he is feeding himself chunks of egg, tofu, cheese, fruit, veggies, cheerios, and toast.

He is definitely making more sounds, and trying to imitate the sounds that we make.  I've heard him say pretty good versions of bye-bye, book, and hello.  He waves all of the time, at everyone he sees.  He loves people watching and interacting with others when we run our errands.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Quick t shirt update

I love Hanes mens white v necks.  They are comfy, cheap, and can be easily layered.  I own a bunch of them.  In efforts to make one a little more fun than the normal plain white t shirt I used some embroidery thread to do some decorative stitching along the hemmed edges.  I'll probably end up doing another one in another color, maybe with stitching along the arm hole seams and neckline next time.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Potatoes Au Gratin

I made this potatoes au gratin recipe from Pioneer Woman (love her!).  I did make several changes, I eliminated all of the butter, used fat-free half and half instead of the heavy cream and the milk, I added 1 tsp of dried rosemary, and I doubled the cooking time without the lid.  These were ok, but not as good as I'd hoped for.  However, with the butter and the heavy cream I'm sure they would be wonderful.  Next time I might incorporate a little of the butter in the dish to add a little more flavor.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Christmas Yarn Wreath

I know it's a little early for Christmas crafting, but I've had these supplies on hand for a while and wanted a fun, quick craft to do.  All of the supplies I got from yard sales, so I think it was less than $1 total to make this.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Bottle Cap Magnets

I barely feel like I can call this crafting, because all that I did was use a glue gun to attach bottle caps to a magnet.  It's a fun way to display a collection of bottle caps.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

43 weeks

(check out those top teeth, he looks like such a big boy now)

Here is what is going on with Noah this week according to;

Your baby may now assert herself among her siblings and begin to engage in parallel play — contentedly playing alongside (but not with) another baby. Informal baby playdates can be a great way to encourage your little one to develop social skills. Just remember that babies this age are still too young to understand the idea of making friends.  Think of these playdates as helping your baby build a foundation for learning how to interact with others. And she may get new play ideas from these first buddies. A bonus: You'll have some help and support from the other babies' parents.

Your baby now understands simple instructions, though she may purposely choose to ignore you when you say "no." (To help the word carry a little more weight, use it sparingly, for setting important limits.)  Even though your baby may not always remember tomorrow what you've said today, it's not too soon to set certain boundaries and start teaching her some important distinctions, like right from wrong and safe from unsafe.  Use your best judgment as a guideline. You're not being mean if you don't let her devour a second cupcake, for example — you're setting a healthy limit. If she pulls the cat's tail, move her hand, look her in the eye, and say, "No, that hurts the cat." Then guide your baby's hand to pet the animal gently.  Her desire to explore is stronger than her desire to listen to your warnings, so it's up to you to protect and teach her. What seems to be defiance is just her natural curiosity to see how the world works.

Noah has 6 teeth now.  His hair is getting more and more curly as it continues to get longer, and the New Orleans humidity probably plays a role in that as well.  I'm trying to start feeding him mostly finger foods that he can feed himself, and working him off of the purees.  He's been doing great, and is eating chunks of tofu, fruits, vegetables, and Cheerios.  It takes a lot longer, and is a lot more messy, but has been fun for all of us so far.  He doesn't get the concept of swallowing before he shoves more food in his mouth though, and just keeps stuffing more and more in his mouth and sloshing it around.  So as of now we're keeping an eye on how much he has in there and limiting how much is on his tray until he has actually swallowed what is in his mouth.

He is getting a lot better about listening to us when we say "no no", but he has developed a little bit of a bratty attitude this week and most of the time that we say "no no" he stops what he's doing, but he screeches at us in frustration.  So we are definitely glad that he is obeying most of the time, but now we need to work on the attitude of yelling at us.  It also seems pretty clear that he knows what he can and can't touch, because when he goes to touch items that we tell him "no no" for he stops and looks at us before he touches them, kinda like he's wondering if he's going to get away with it.  He is definitely testing and learning his boundaries right now.

Noah is really enjoying music now and will start bouncing and "dancing" when he hears something he likes.  As far as we can tell his favorite is 90's rock, especially anything with lots of electric guitar.  He is also getting more and more into books, and will happily sit on my lap while I read to him.  Sometimes he'll even laugh at, or point to the pictures.  He especially loves textures books with furry and scratchy surfaces to rub.


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Potatoes Lyonnaise

To round out our French feast with friends I made Emmeril's Potatoes Lyonnaise.  The only changes that I made were to reduce the butter by half (I didn't miss it, and next time I'd reduce it to 1/4 of a stick), and to top it with some cheese as Julia Childs does in her version.  These turned out great, just showcasing the simple flavors of the butter, cheese, onions, and garlic.  Who says French food has to be hard?

Friday, August 19, 2011



I made this for a French feast that we had with friends.  It's based on the authentic French stew, but as usual I altered it a bit to make it a lot more lean.  Most traditional cassoulets would have include pork, pork sausage, or duck, but I used chicken and chicken sausage to save calories.  Serve with some warm crusty bread.

-1 lb great northern beans, soaked overnight
-6 cups water
-2 cups chicken broth (or white wine would be more authentic)
-2 Tbsp tomato paste
-1 onion, diced
-4 carrots, diced
-4 stalks celery, diced
-6 cloves garlic, minced
-2 bay leaves
-1 tsp dried rosemary
-1 tsp dried oregano
-1 tsp dried thyme
-1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
-2 tsp salt
-1 tsp pepper
-1 (15 oz) can diced or stewed tomatoes
-1 lb chicken, cooked and shredded
-1 lb chicken sausage, cooked and sliced

In large pot, saute onion, carrots, and celery for 5 minutes, over medium heat.  Add garlic, continue to saute 1 minute.  Add broth, water, soaked and rinsed beans, tomato paste, bay leaves, rosemary, oregano, thyme, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until beans are tender (about 1 hour).  Stir in tomatoes, chicken, and sausage.  Pour stew into a baking dish and bake at 350 for 1 hour (or I put it in the slow cooker on low for 2-3 hours).  Garnish the top with fresh parsley, serve, and enjoy.

Homemade Cards

I threw together a few quick handmade cards to send to a friend with the magnets that I made yesterday.  These were fun, simple, and easy, as most of my craft projects tend to be these days.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Glass Marble Magnets

It has been a while since I've done much crafting, so I've been working on a few quick projects this week.  I've had the supplies for these marble magnets on hand for years, and whipped them up quickly for a friend who I owed a handmade gift to.  It's hard to photograph the magnets, and I wasn't feeling very patient to play around with the lighting, but each magnet has a different colored scrapbook paper backing over the magnet, and a letter of the alphabet on top of that.  I'm hoping that my friend's kids have lots of fun playing with these magnets and spelling out little messages on the fridge.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

42 weeks

Here is what is going on with Noah this week according to;

Only a few weeks shy of his first birthday, your baby's no longer a helpless infant who can't do anything without you. He still needs plenty of care and support, but his growing independence — evident in his solo standing, stooping, and squatting — is becoming apparent.  Your baby may walk while gripping your hand, and he'll hold out his arm or leg to help you dress him. At mealtimes, he may be able to grip a cup and drink from it independently (though some children may not do this for a few more months) and hand-feed himself an entire meal.  Once your baby's able to drink from a cup by himself, you may need to start ducking, because he's just as likely to toss it when he's finished as to put it down gently.
Your baby will also purposely drop objects for someone, probably you, to pick up. If you get tired of this dropping game, take away the object for a few minutes and try to distract your baby with something just as enticing, such as a fun game of peek-a-boo.

Noah is continuing to improve his walking skills and is walking more often, and further distances.  He still crawls rather than walks about 60-70% of the time.  One day last week we had some friends over, and as they were leaving he waved his hand and said "buh-buh".  It was too cute!  He waves his hand at people a lot, but we haven't heard any additional attempts at bye-bye.  He has been exploring the "goo", and "ga" sounds more, as well as "wa".  His main sounds are still mama and dada though.  He's got several top teeth that have been making their way through lately.  He has his two center top teeth now, and the teeth on either side of those are starting to break through the skin also.  Within a few days he should have a total of 6 full teeth.  He's been handling all of the teeth cutting through super well, there was only one night that he didn't sleep through the night, and all I did that night was nurse him and put him back to bed, and he slept well.  He's still a very happy, easy going baby.  We walk (or jog) outside for about an hour a day and he loves it, he never seems to cry or fuss outside.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Tex Mex Egg Rolls

I made these Baked Southwestern Egg Rolls.  Unfortunately, they didn't turn out quite like I had hoped, probably because I used rice paper that I had on hand in place of the egg roll wrappers.  Despite the wrapper lacking crunch, and being overall mushy, I will say these were delicious, and Jeremy requested that I make them again (although next time I will try egg roll wrappers).  The filling would also be great for vegetarian enchiladas, it was really great.  I only made three changes; I added two cloves of minced garlic to the filling, used all cheddar cheese, and chopped up some sliced pickled jalapenos in place of the chiles.  I think some chopped cilantro would also be a great addition to the filling, but really it is plenty delicious as is.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Oriental Slaw Pasta Salad

Oriental Slaw Pasta Salad

I love this salad.  It's a great blend of my favorite flavors and textures.  You could leave out the noodles and call this a slaw.  You could use 1 bag of cole slaw mix instead of the shredded cabbage and carrots.  Sliced red pepper would also be great here, but I didn't have any on hand.  Two tablespoons of sesame seeds would also be a nice addition.

-1/2 head green cabbage, shredded
-1/2 head red cabbage, shredded
-5 carrots, shredded
-1 box whole wheat linguine, cooked al dente
-5 scallions, sliced
-fresh cilantro leaves
-2 c edamame, cooked
-1/2 cucumber, diced
-1 c peanuts

-juice of 1 lime
-1 inch chunk ginger
-1 clove garlic
-5 Tbsp olive oil
-8 Tbsp soy sauce
-3 Tbsp sesame oil
-1/3 c brown sugar
-1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
-3 Tbsp rice vinegar
-1 Tbsp peanut butter

Puree dressing ingredients in blender or food processor.  Toss with salad ingredients.  Chill 1-2 hours prior to serving.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Baked Beans

Baked Beans

I know that I've blogged at least two other recipes for baked beans over the years, but this is my current favorite.  It's a little more nutritional and out of the box than the other varieties that I've made.  Use any combination of beans that you desire, or all of one bean if you prefer.

-4 carrots, diced
-2 stalks celery, diced
-1 onion, diced
-1/2 green pepper, diced
-3 cloves garlic, minced
-3/4 c ketchup
-3/4 c tomato puree
-1/2 c brown sugar
-1/4 c cider vinegar
-1 Tbsp Worcestershire
1/2 tsp salt
-1/4 tsp pepper
-1/2 tsp garlic powder
-1/4 tsp cayenne
-dash hot sauce
-4 (15 oz) cans of beans, drained and rinsed (I used 1 each of black beans, garbanzo beans, navy beans, and kidney beans)

Saute carrot, celery, green pepper, and onion until tender (about 5 minutes).  Add garlic and saute 30 seconds.  Combine all ingredients in greased 9x13 dish.  Stir well.  Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.

41 weeks

Here is what is going on with Noah this week according to;

Your baby's fingers are becoming more agile. By using her pincer grasp — which lets her pick up small objects between her thumb and forefinger — she may be able to pick up a piece of cereal or other small object without having to rest her wrist on a solid surface. (Now that your baby has graduated to solid food, expect plenty of cereal underfoot!)  She's intrigued by tiny things and is still likely to taste-test them. This is fine as long as they're edible and not so small that she could choke on them.  A good rule of thumb is to avoid letting your baby have anything that won't dissolve in water, like a raw carrot or a whole grape. Cooked veggie pieces, cheese, and peeled and cut-up fruit are great foods for little fingers.

By this week, your baby will probably be able to crawl well on her hands and knees, with her trunk parallel to the floor. (Many babies try to crawl before, but master the skill only now. Some babies bypass crawling altogether and go from scooting to standing.) She may even be able to crawl up stairs.  At this age, your baby can sit confidently and may even walk while holding onto furniture, possibly letting go momentarily and standing without support. She'll take steps when held in a walking position and may attempt to scoop up a toy while she's standing, too.  Those magical first steps toward independence — and lots more exercise for you! — are just around the corner, if they haven't arrived already. Most babies take their first steps sometime between 9 and 12 months and are walking well by the time they're 14 or 15 months old.

Crawling is still Noah's main form of getting around, but he gets more stable in his walking every few days.  Every few days he is able to take a few more steps, and his balance gets a little better.  He has been taking fairly long naps lately, 2 naps at about 2 hours each, plus 10.5 hours of sleep at night.  Since he is sleeping so much and so well, I think he must be ready to hit a growth spurt.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Coconut, Chocolate, Caramel Bars

I made these Coconut, Chocolate, Caramel Bars.  Delicious!!!!!  They taste like a Samoa Girl Scout cookie, which happens to be my favorite.  Quick, easy, and delicious (but not healthy at all... a girl has to have some treats, right?)!!!!!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Spinach Pesto

Spinach Pesto

This is my spin on normal pesto.  I reduced the oil and cheese, and substituted most of the basil with spinach to add a healthy twist.  Jeremy and I both loved this.  I will never buy prepared pesto, or use the traditional recipe again.  I think I could still possibly reduce the oil by a tablespoon or two to make this dish even lighter.

-2 c spinach
-1/2 c basil
-1/2 c walnuts
-1/4 c parmesan cheese
-3 cloves garlic
-1 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp pepper
-1 Tbsp lemon juice
-4 Tbsp olive oil

Puree all ingredients in food processor.  Allow pesto to sit in the fridge for at least an hour prior to using to let the flavors come together.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Summer Rolls

Vietnamese Summer Rolls

I wasn't completely happy with the way that these turned out.  Partially because I rolled them too big, and partially because there wasn't a ton of flavor in them.  Not quite sure what I would do differently though, maybe add extra herbs next time, or some shrimp.  Either way these were a nice, light meal, just not quite as delicious as I was hoping for.  I served them with the dipping sauce below, and also with leftover satay peanut sauce that I had.  The peanut sauce makes these because it adds so much flavor.

Dipping Sauce
-1/4 c rice vinegar
-2 Tbsp soy sauce
-1/4 c hot water
-2 Tbsp sugar
-juice of 1 lime
-1 clove garlic, minced
-1 tsp sriarcha sauce

Whisk together ingredients.  Chill at least 1-2 hours before serving.  Garnish with chopped scallions, cilantro, or shredded carrot.

Summer Rolls
-12 sheets rice paper
-cellophane noodles, prepared according to package directions
-shredded cabbage
-shredded carrots
-cucumber, cut into matchsticks
-avocado, sliced
-fresh cilantro, mint, and basil

Soak first piece of rice paper in water for 5 seconds.  Top with desired ingredients.  Roll up, cigar style.  Repeat with remaining rice paper.  Cover rolls with a damp cloth until serving.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Chicken Satay

Chicken Satay

This would traditionally be served as an appetizer at Oriental restaurants, but Jeremy and I enjoyed it as our main course.  It was a super delicious way to use our new grill (thanks Schultz's if you're reading this!).

-1 lb chicken, cut into strips
-1/2 cup coconut milk
-1/2 cup fat-free plain yogurt
-1 clove garlic
-1 inch piece ginger
-3 Tbsp soy sauce
-1 Tbsp curry powder
-1 Tbsp brown sugar
-1 tsp chili paste

 Whisk together all ingredients except chicken.  Allow chicken to marinate for 2-8 hours.

Peanut Dipping Sauce
-1 cup peanut butter
-1/2 cup hot water
-2 tsp chili paste
-1/4 cup soy sauce
-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
-1 clove garlic
-1 inch piece ginger
-2 Tbsp brown sugar
-juice of 2 limes

Combine all ingredients in blender and puree until smooth.

To serve: broil or grill chicken until cooked through.  Garnish with chopped peanuts and fresh cilantro if desired, and serve with peanut sauce for dipping.

40 weeks

Here is what is going on with Noah this week according to;

Your baby is just beginning to understand many simple words and phrases, so it's more important than ever to keep talking to him. Give your chatterbox a head start on good speech patterns by repeating his words back to him using adult language. If he asks for a "bah-bah," for example, gently reinforce the correct pronunciation by asking, "Do you want a bottle?" At this stage of the game, it's best to try to avoid the tendency to use baby talk — it's fun, but hearing the right words is better for your baby's development.  Though it may sometimes feel silly, having conversations with your baby is a great way to encourage his language skills. When he rattles off a sentence of gibberish, respond with "Oh, really? How interesting." He'll probably smile and keep chattering away.  Soon you may notice some words or gestures you actually understand, as well as other forms of communication, such as pointing and grunting. It's important to name the objects he points at — or point out objects of your own — to help him learn the names of things.  Give your baby a play-by-play description of what you're doing — whether you're dicing onions for dinner or folding the laundry. As you put him in his stroller, say, "There you go, into your blue stroller. Now, let's buckle you in and get you comfortable. Okay, we're off to the park."  You can also sing nursery rhymes, demonstrate actions that go with words (saying "bye-bye" and waving, for instance), and play games, such as ring-around-the-rosy, so he learns to identify key words and phrases.  He'll soon start to make the connections. Before long, he'll be clapping his hands together when you do and may begin to say "mama" when he's looking at Mom and "dada" when Dad comes into the room (though at this point he's still more likely to use the two words indiscriminately).

Noah says mama and dada all of the time, but we still don't think he knows it's us.  He is starting to clap his two hands together when we do, or even sometimes on his own when he's having a lot of fun. 

He took his first two steps at 9 months exactly, followed by a few more each day.  Now we've seen him do as many as 10 in a row, several times a day.  He is really enjoying learning to walk and being able to stand up.  He gets a huge grin and seems to be so proud of himself. 

He's eating about the same; 4 nursings a day, a good amount of water in a cup, 3 solid food meals (consisting of combinations of tofu, egg yolks, brown rice, oatmeal, and pureed veggies and fruits), and usually one or two snacks of Cheerios.  He tried some fontina and gouda cheese this week and seemed to like them both.  Cheese seems to be another finger food that he can feed himself well, he still isn't as good with chunks of fruits and vegetables on his own.  This week he learned to drink out of a regular glass also.  I gave him several sips of my water and he really seemed to enjoy the whole process.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Seaweed Salad

Seaweed Salad

I have always loved seaweed salad, but not the $5 price tag for the small bowl at most sushi restaurants.  I was quite pleased to find out that this is super easy and inexpensive to make at home.

-1 oz dried cut wakame seaweed
-3 Tbsp rice vinegar
-3 Tbsp soy sauce
-1 Tbsp sesame oil
-2 tsp sugar
-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
-1 Tbsp sesame seeds, toasted

Soak seaweed in water according to package directions (should be 5 minutes), drain.  Whisk together vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, red pepper flakes, and sesame seeds.  Chill 2 hours prior to serving.

Lemon Poppy Seed Pancakes

Lemon Poppy Seed Pancakes

I've been on a quest lately to try as many new and interesting pancake combinations as possible.  I really liked these.  They were good with syrup, but would also be great with a lemon glaze.  The butter extract is unnecessary, I just had it on hand and thought it was a great way to still get the flavor, but leave out the melted butter that most recipes call for.  All of the recipes that I found used vanilla extract in these, but I love the flavor of poppy seeds with almond extract, so execute according to your own taste.  I also used the lemon extract because I had it on hand, but extra lemon juice or lemon zest could be used instead.  Next time I think I'd throw in a tad more lemon juice or lemon extract for an extra zing.

-1 cup whole wheat flour
-1/2 cup all purpose flour
-3 Tbsp sugar
-1 Tbsp poppy seeds
-1 tsp baking powder
-1/2 tsp baking soda
-1/4 tsp salt
-1 cup skim milk
-1/4 cup plain, fat-free yogurt
-1 egg
-1 Tbsp lemon juice
-1 tsp almond extract
-1/2 tsp butter extract
-1/2 tsp lemon extract

Whisk together dry ingredients in medium bowl.  Stir together wet ingredients in a separate bowl.  Stir wet mixture into dry mixture.  Drop by 1/4 cup portions into a hot skillet, flip once bubbles form and cook an addition 1-2 minutes on the second side.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Roasted Chickpeas

Roasted Chickpeas

These are a great, inexpensive, healthy snack to satisfy junk food cravings.  They would be great served with beer, or to top a salad.  Next time I'm going to substitute curry powder for the cumin.

-2 cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
-3 Tbsp cumin
-2 Tbsp olive oil
-1/2 tsp salt
-1 tsp paprika
-1 tsp garlic powder
-1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Whisk together spices and oil.  Toss with chickpeas.  Bake at 400 for 25-35 minutes.  Cool and serve.