Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Sleeping Like a Baby...?

The saying goes...they are sleeping like a baby. If sleeping like a baby means waking up every hour and crying or fidgeting until someone puts you back to sleep then no thank you! And, I think we need to redefine that saying because that is what my baby does...or did up until recently.

my books...I have not read Babywise yet,
but I have heard good things about it.
What I do when I need to figure something out, I read about it.  In fact, it's a joke amongst people that know me that I usually start with "I read that..." because I tend to read and read until the issue at hand makes sense. So what did I do to figure out this particular situation? I read about it. However, before I began my journey through books and articles about infant sleeping, my hubby and I tried the "letting them cry it out" method (he was much more strong in this area than I was or ever could be).  I quickly decided after a few nights of this that letting my baby cry into the night with no reponse was definitely not going to work for us.  Don't get me wrong...I do think that it works for some parents and babies, just as not my baby or for myself.

I have read several articles and a few books on this infant sleeping idea, it seemed that despite doing everything "right" my baby boy was just not a good sleeper.  Determined to find an answer and get some sleep, I turned to a book entitled The No-Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley.  Her philosophy on sleeping lined up with mine (actually hers probably helped me to find my own philosophy). She explains how brief awakenings are the culprits waking babies up at night and usually babies are not able to fall back asleep on their own.  Even as adults we have these brief awakenings...when you turn in your sleep, fix your pillow, nudge your partner, etc.  We can just fall back to sleep without having someone to soothe us.  Pantley's idea is to gently wean babies off of soothing from a parent by lessening the time spent rocking the baby to sleep.  She also has other ideas that have the more gentle (and quiet) approach to helping the baby and parent get a good night's sleep.  Instead of boring you with the details...I will skip straight to the good news...

Baby B slept 7 straight hours a few nights ago (granted we had an extremely long day with short naps)!!! You read that right...we went from up every hour to 7 straight hours! And since then we have had nights with 4 hour and 5 hour stretches (which is considered a full night's sleep for a baby his age)! Now, I don't know if the credit should be given to the strategies in Pantley's no-cry book or if my baby boy is just growing up but I do think we are turning a corner and starting to head in the right direction.

However, what I do know - from experience and its also mentioned in Pantley's book - that any type of success is more of a dance rather than a straight road.  Two steps forward, one step back and a possible few sideways steps. 

Now, I know I said before that I would post a few things about my cooking skills with actual meals. While I have been practicing and even had a few successes, I included another scone recipe with this one.  I did that because well, let's face it...I look forward to that morning cup of coffee (as you could imagine since I was running on little sleep) and what goes with coffee? A yummy scone. A yummy, pumpkin scone at that. I got this recipe from another mom-blog.  I hope you try it, especially since October is just a few days away.

Pumpkin Scones
2 cups flour (I used whole wheat pastry flour)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp ground ginger (I did not have ginger, so I didn't use any and they came out just fine!)
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter
1/3 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup pumpkin (if canned, be sure there are no spices or sugar added)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Mix together flour, sugar, spices, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.  Cut butter into small pieces and cut into flour.  Mixture should look like coarse crumbs.  In a separate bowl mix together the pumpkin, buttermilk and vanilla.  Add to flour mixture and mix until the dough comes together (don't overmix).
Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead gently 3-4 times, and then shape/pat dough into a circle about 1 1/2 inches thick.  Slice in half, and then cut each half into 3 equal pie-shaped wedges.  Brush with egg glaze (1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp milk), and sprinkle with Turbinado sugar. 
Bake on a cookie sheet for @ 375° for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Makes 6 scones.
Optional:  Add white chocolate chips and/or chopped pecans. I used pecans and oh my goodness...good option!

The scone recipe also came with a sweeter pumpkin butter for those with a sweet tooth (like my hubby).
Pumpkin Spice Butter
1/4 cup (half a stick) butter, softened
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp allspice
Combine all and mix till creamy. 

Even though the weather still feels like summer...

Happy Fall, everyone! :)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Helping a Mama Bear

After having a baby, a woman realizes how strong she really is.  There are so many situations where the mama bear inside comes out growling...those are the moments when a woman understands her strength.  Despite those moments, there are still certain things that this mama bear does not attempt to do.  One of those things is working on my car. If I had it my would just run. No maintenance. No gasoline. None of it...just run.  That's where steps into help this mama bear. helps those in all areas with a search engine to find an auto shop in your area.  For example, my friend moving could also find San Diego auto repair wthout having to drive all over the area - she coud use the online help.  Those with a Ford F-150 can find what they need on the website as well.  Since all I know to do is to follow the lights that appear on my dashboard, is an easy guide with keys such as check engine light and other directions that I can follow. 

Everyone has their area of weakness, mine happens to be in cars.  So, for this mama bear...a website with information about cars, directions to auto repair shops and other such things is extremely helpful.

[brought to you by your friends at]

Decorating for that First-Born

When having your first baby, it is easy to get carried away with all the firsts that are happening...first baby kicks, first baby shower and first time decorating a nursery.  There are so many firsts that come along with the territory of having a baby including on deciding how to make your nursery as cute as the baby. My hubby and I decided to find out what the gender of our baby was so that we could decorate our nursery accordingly.  It was our last element of control before the baby arrived! What we didn't know about was this website called has everything a first-time parent would need, including knick-knacks for around the house.  What is helpful is that everything is in one place so there is no need to drive around town while toting your baby along into ten different stores. is a one-stop shop for all those purchases that we first-time parents make!

They even have children's bedding and furniture for decorating that nursery! Since I only have one baby, I'm not sure if with the next one decorating a nursery is still fun or if it becomes more of a chore - I would like to think that even the second (third, fourth) time around, it is still exciting to be putting up baby stuff! Regardless of how you feel about decorating, makes it fairly easy to decorate that baby room since all the bedding comes in one package! They have a set for boy or girl...or neutral if you stay traditional and not find out the gender of your baby! We ended up with a boy and decided to have an airplane decor (like I said, before we knew about this website) but I do think the farm crib bedding would be very cute for a little boy! They also have lavendar crib bedding and black crib bedding (which is my favorite, with a splash of color such as pink or yellow) for those families with girls. These bedding sets are more expensive than other stores but when making this purchase, one must keep in mind that all the pieces are included so you do not have buy them separately. 

Other firsts include joyous moments of rolling over, steps taken and words spoken AND those not so joyous sleepless nights, days spent trying to make that baby happy and hours spent on the floor entertaining said baby.  These firsts may prompt a parent to want to take a shopping trip or two for a short getaway.  When that need arises but one cannot fulfill it, is a great place to find virtually anything all from the comfort of your home!  

And when that first born becomes an older brother or sister... also has some top of the line stroller systems such as the Graco duoglide double stroller - perfect for the first family trip to Disneyland!

carousel designs bedding set
carousel designs bedding set
a few of my favs!

 [brought to you by your friends at]

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

In Honor of Fall

Okay, I definitely need to get better at this blogging business.  With a baby at home, keeping up with the housework, practicing my cooking skills and catching the ever-important zzz's - I have slacked on my promise to myself of blogging.  But in honor of the wonderful fall-like weather we have been having, I decided it was time for a new recipe post (I will eventually post without including a recipe but I figure it gives readers an added plus - even if it is just my mom reading, hi mom!) So, in honor of fall I have included a recipe that will no doubt remind you of the holiday season that is fast approaching.
Let me start with the fact that I love the fall and winter seasons.  I love them! Some of my favorite things happen during fall and get togethers, fall fashions, I get to see good friends and eat even better food, and shopping...oh the shopping! My mom and I always contribute our share to Black Friday.  It's a tradition in the making that on Thanksgiving night we look at the ads and map out a game plan for shopping the next day.  Then there's Christmas - full of traditions...even down to what we eat, including my grandmother's pies which I have taken over making (a family recipe that will not be given out over this blog).

Traditions are so much a part of the holidays and essentially a part of who I am.

Some of my baby's fall looks. oh the sweater vest! 
 For these reasons, my hubby decided to propose to me on Christmas day five years ago, making the holidays even more special for me.
 I'm so looking forward to this year's holidays since it will be the first time that my baby boy can experience all these traditions.  While he may not remember this special time in his life, you better believe my family and I will! And, he will have so many pictures to look back on and know how special he is.

His cutesy overalls...he is going to look TOO cute in these!

I mentioned the fall fashions as being a part of why I love this season.  My favorite item usually is a scarf! An outfit can never go wrong with a scarf thrown around it! However as much as I love the trendy looks during this season for grown ups, I recently discovered how adorable my baby looks in winter clothes. Oh my more reason to love fall and winter!

Let's face it...he looks cute in anything!
Now, I am fully aware that it is supposed to warm up over the weekend (I am not too thrilled about this since I am totally ready to wear a scarf), but in my house fall has begun and in honor of the cooler weather these next couple of days...I will be baking things to remind me that my favorite time of year is just around the corner. The first recipe is for Apple Scones (taken from the Rachael Ray website - a great place for yummy recipes) and I'm sure that something pumpkinny will soon come out of my kitchen, if only for the sweet smell of fall.

Apple Scones
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon half and half (I do not usually keep half and half in my fridge so I actually used whole milk and they came out fine)
1 large egg
1 1/2 cup flour (I, again, substituted whole wheat pastry flour for a heartier scone)
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick (4 ounces) butter, chilled and cut into small cubes
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 apple, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
and I added 2 teaspoons cinnamon (I tried the recipe without and it was a little dull, the cinnamon kicks it up a notch plus gives it the fall feeling I've been talking about)

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees (I actually had to do 400, for some reason my oven overcooked them at 450).  In a small bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup half and half and the egg.

2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Blend in the butter with your fingertips until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Add the oats and apple and toss.  Stir in the liquid mixture until the dough just forms a ball.
3. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface.  Pat into a 7 inch round; cut into 8 wedges.  Transfer to a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet (I did not have parchment paper so I simply greased it) and brush the tops with the remaining 1 tablespoon of half and half. I added some sugar on the tops as well for a sweeter taste. Bake until golden, about 20 minutes (for me it was 15 min.).  Transfer to a rack and cool.
4. Enjoy the scones with some coffee/tea and look forward to cooler weather! :)

Yum! :)

For my next post...

My cooking is definitely a work-in-progress, so I think I will post some pictures of my latest adventures in preparing actual meals (not just baked goods, although they are a favorite!).

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Knead It, Gotta Have It

If you are reading this and are not interested in bread making whatsoever, first of all - sorry and second - scroll to the bottom and take a look at my precious cooking partner!
My handsome hubby and I have made it a point this summer to visit our local farmer's market on Saturday mornings.  We have a lovely routine that consists of going to the market, getting some goodies and then coming home to our wonderful backyard to eat what we just purchased.  It's a relaxing way to enjoy the few days my hubby has off of work.  I encourage everyone to take a quick trip to the farmer's market to find the treasures they have there.

Now, I know that it may seem a little exagerated to say "treasures" are to be found at the farmer's market. And no, I am not being paid to promote it...I truly do think that the market has some great stuff to offer any family.  Do you have to take it into your backyard to enjoy the food purchased?  Of course not! In fact, I have taken it into my very own kitchen.

On top of getting fruits and veggies from the market (the pluots are to die for, by the way), we just recently discovered a bread lady.  She has a whole variety of homemade breads ranging from sweet almond to spicy, jalapeno.  We have gotten a few of these loaves and oh my goodness are they good! However, these tasty treats are a little more pricy than the local grocery store.  So, with that in mind and my newly developed quest into becoming a fabulous homemaker, I decided to take on making my own bread.  With my hubby in full support and my little man watching from his bouncer, I have tried a couple different recipes and have a few more in mind that are on the list to try.  The two that have turned out the best were an Applesauce/Walnut bread and a Coconut bread.  While I lean more towards the sweeter breads, my hubby has made a request for plain ol' homemade wheat bread - good for sandwiches and yummy toast.
At the moment, I have a whole list of recipes to try that do not require a breadmaker (since I do not have one) but if this breakmaking turns out to be a success then I might just have to take the leap and purchase one. Who knows, maybe I will be the next bread lady out at the farmer's market! Then I would REALLY encourage you go there and buy my very own treasures!

Here are the recipes that were a success this last week.  Fair warning - these recipes are definitely not for those watching their carb intake (but who's really counting, anyway?)

Both recipes take about 15 min to prepare and (depending on your oven) about 50-60 min to cook.
Coconut Bread
1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups all-purpose flour (if you remember my previous post, I tend to substitute ingredients. Here I substituted whole wheat pastry flour)
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
3/4 cup flaked coconut
Additional sugar

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat in the egg and extracts. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with milk. Fold in coconut. Pour into a greased 9-in. x 5-in. x 3-in. loaf pan. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 350 degrees F for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack.

Applesauce/Walnut Bread:
1/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/4 cups applesauce
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (again, I substituted whole wheat pastry flour) 
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup raisins (I did not use any raisins and went heavy on the walnuts, it turned out very well!)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add the egg and applesauce; mix well. Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and cloves; gradually add to the creamed mixture just until combined. Fold in raisins and nuts. Pour into a greased 8-in. x 4-in. x 2-in. loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 60-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack.

The best part of baking? Looking over and seeing this little guy. (With his new toy...a Teethe and Read!)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Intentional Domestic Diva - Recipe Included

I have never been, what I would consider, domestic. I try to cook, but I dislike the cleaning up part so much that I don't cook that often - at least I haven't for the past four years that I have been married.

In my mind, a domestic diva would include making healthy and still yummy meals and desserts, cleaning the house (at least to look presentable on any given day) and of course the occasional pedicure to make sure that my feet look just as fabulous as my house looks and smells! :)

In order to become stay-at-home mom of the year (believe me, I know there is tough competition out there!), I need to be intentional about things.  I need to intentionally make a schedule for myself and I need to be open to new ideas - the latter much easier for me than the first.  I want my little man to think back on his home when he is a grown man and remember the simple things like the smell of yummy cookies baking or the fact that our home was always ready for visitors.  In order to have these memories instilled into my son's mind, I must be intentional about being a homemaker.  The Bible says that whatever you do, you must do for the Lord...since what I do now is homemaking, I will intentionally take pride in that and do these tasks for the Lord and for my family.

On a lighter note...
I have been working on the cooking aspect of this move into domestic diva-hood (I possibly just made that word up) and today's quest was "Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies".  Now, before I share with you this yummy recipe, I must share a bit of info about myself....I rarely follow the recipes as to how they are written.  I know that tried and true cooks have created these recipes for a reason, but I tend to substitute with what I have on hand or with what I think might taste better (keeping in mind that my credential is in teaching, certainly not in cooking). However, I had great success today with my substitutions. Here is the original recipe in case anyone wants to try it (I also included my version if you feel adventurous).

"Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies"
1/2 poung (2 sticks) margarine or butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour (here is where I started on my own cooking route with whole-wheat pastry flour for a healthier and heartier twist)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
3 cups Quaker Oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)
1 cup raisins (since my hubby is not a big fan of raisins, I substituted craisins which was a good call, if I do say so myself)

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Beat together margarine and sugars until creamy.
3. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well.
4. Add combined flour, baking soda, sinnamon and salt; mix well.
5. Stir in oats and raisins (or craisins); mix well.
6. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet.
7. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown.
8. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheet; remove to wire rack.
Makes about 4 dozen

A Work in Progress
The Finished Product

Oh! And the men that have inspired this domestic diva?