Christmas Cookie Frosting Tradition

It’s December 17, and I have yet to bake a Christmas cookie. Whaaat?!?! As someone with a giant sweet tooth, that is so very wrong. Normally I do a cookie exchange with two teacher friends I met during my semester long stint at a high school in Janesville, but that didn’t happen this year. Also, Brody’s office has been a sugar bomb lately, and the last thing he wants to come home to are cookies. Or does he…?

Growing up, my grandparents (my mom’s folks) would come over before Christmas every year to help my sister and I frost sugar cookies. My mom would make the dough, cut them out, and bake them (and maybe we helped?), while Laura and I got to do the fun stuff with Grandma and Grandpa.

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Sweet rollers, huh?

*Random fact: My grandma’s name is Shirley, but my grandpa calls her Kate. It’s more of a “pet” name, but I’ve never heard him call her by her real name.

Even when my sister and I were in college, we’d find time to continue this tradition.

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There’d be frosting made from milk, butter and powdered sugar of all different colors, sprinkles, and red hot candies. My grandpa would show us his “Indian trick” where he’d swirl two different colors of frosting on one cookie. We’d end up with snowmen, Santa Clauses, Christmas trees, boots, stars, and angels all in various colors.

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Of course the tradition of it made this so special. I hope to continue this with our kids, whether they frost cookies with Brody and I, their grandparents, or aunts and uncles. But, I’d say the other special part of making cookies was eating them. My mom’s sugar cookies are incredible. She sent me a text picture of her recipe, and you lucky people are going to see it now, in all of its buttery glory.

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Can’t you see the love and happiness in the worn and torn edges?

This afternoon while Finley napped, I made the dough.

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My plan was to make a half batch, but I accidentally forgot to halve the sugar, so in went two more sticks of butter. Because we have plans this afternoon post-nap, I didn’t make any of the cookies. I think I’ll bake and frost some tomorrow to bring to a kids’ holiday party through my weekly play group. Maybe this weekend, Finley, Brody and I can all frost cookies together.

A Day in the Life [12-11-14]

What better way to fill you in on my life than a this-is-what-I-did-in-day-if-you-care-at-all post. Oh, and it never shows up in what we did today, but I’m pregnant and due June 4! Finley will have a little brother or sister who is almost two years younger than her.

5:50am: Finley is awake but it’s too early for everyone.

5:55am: I’ve successfully soothed her back to sleep.

6:20am: Now she’s awake for real.

6:25am: Diaper change

6:30am: Sesame Street in Mom and Dad’s bed

7:00am: Breakfast with The Today Show playing in the background

7:30am: Bake pumpkin muffins

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7:40am: Finley watches the rest of the Sesame Street episode.

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8:00am: Diaper change

8:05am: Play time with breaks to sample the muffins

9:30am: Drop off at gym’s daycare

9:35am: Kickboxing class for Mama

10:25am: Shower…alone with no toddler trying to open my hairspray or use Qtips

10:35am: Pick up Finley from daycare

11:00am: Home and diaper change

11:10am: Lunch

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11:35am: Play with Mom’s wallet and attempt to eat coins

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11:45am: Read books in Finley’s room

12:00pm: Diaper change

12:10am: Sing “Twinkle Twinkle” and put Finley in her crib

12:20pm: Finley is asleep.

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12:25pm: Make Starbucks hot chocolate

12:45pm: Address Christmas cards in the basement

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1:20pm: Work on this post

2:00pm: Odds and ends: make guac (avocados were on their last legs), fold laundry, brush teeth (whoops, hadn’t done that yet today), pick up a little, etc.

2:30pm: Relax on the couch, meal plan, and make grocery list

2:55pm: Finley is awake – quite a nap!

3:00pm: She has a kids Chobani tube and we watch Mickey’s Christmas Carol. *Normally we only watch an hour or less of tv a day (typically Sesame Street), but I saw this recorded and wanted to see it too.

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3:30pm: Finley eats peanut butter granola with milk, and I have crackers and cheese.

4:00pm: Walk the dogs – Finley cries for the last half of it while I try to keep her happy by singing “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and the ABCs.

4:30pm: Home and diaper change

4:40pm: Play and wait for Dad to come home (plus another diaper change at some point)

5:25pm: Brody is home, and I watch while he entertains Finley.

6:10pm: Dinner – we all fend for ourselves.

6:40pm: Finley gets a bath.

6:55pm: Brody and I read Finley holiday books.

7:10pm: Lights out for our little one

7:15pm: Couch, pineapple, tv (Blackhawks are playing), Facebook, blogs, Instagram, text with my sister, and this post

8:45pm: Get ready for bed

9:00pm: Lights out for the adults

Friday Five

1. I made Against All Grain’s paleo honey biscuits this afternoon. When I made them a month ago, they had great flavor but were still a little mushy. In the comments, Danielle said to avoid Bob’s Redmill’s almond flour, and I actually found a different and cheaper brand at my grocery store. I also baked them for 16 minutes. They’re cooling on my stovetop, and we’ll see how long I can hold off on sampling them.

2. Two “big” changes in the world of raising the babe: 1) I have stopped tracking everything Finley does on the baby app. It’s slightly embarrassing that I held on to this habit for so long. It was unnecessary for me to be recording every diaper change and bath. After the look I got from a friend this week when I told her I was still tracking all this, I knew it was time to let go. It feels good. The only issue is I forget what side to start nursing on. 2) Last night I didn’t dream feed Finley. She eats dinner at 6pm, and then I nurse her at 6:45pm. She hasn’t really been taking in much for the dream feeds recently, and she also wakes up when I pull her out of bed (although she does fall back asleep while nursing and/or when I put her back in her crib). Finley slept through the night like nothing had changed. I had a little leakage on the left side but no discomfort.

3. Yesterday Finley and I spent seven hours at a friend’s house working the garage sale. There were eight families (us included) who contributed. They’ve developed quite the system: color coded stickers and sheets and three and a half hour shifts (everyone was asked to work two). Baby and kids’ clothes seemed to do the best, and I had none of that to offer. My contributions included men and women’s clothes and household stuff. My guess is I make $50.

4. It’s been raining here all week, and while it’s great to see green grass, I am ready for sun and warm temperatures. Plus I have some yard work to do, and the rain makes that unappealing.

5. Brody and I are going to run the Madison Mini half marathon in August! We haven’t signed up yet, but he’s agreed. I showed him Hal Higeon’s novice 1 training plan, and I think we’ll both loosely follow it. We’ll do our long weekend run together with Finley. If by chance she’s not a fan of being in the stroller for that long, we may have to get creative with it: Brody runs five miles, we run five miles together with Finley, and then I run five miles. Now let’s hope we don’t have a scorcher of a summer – running in heat and humidity stinks. *Yes, I realize I slightly contradicted myself in 4 and 5.

Happy Friday!

Friday Facts [11-1-13]

1. We switched our dental insurance (we were on mine) and needed to find a new dentist office. I love our new place but do not love the new insurance. Two cavities = $240!!!! Apparently they only cover a certain kind of cavity fill that most dental offices do not even OFFER! What the heck? Ridiculous. I’ve never been a regular flosser, but that bill has become the kind of incentive I need to keep up this healthy habit.

2. Brody and I have a date night planned for Saturday night! My mom is coming to visit this weekend and suggested we go out while she babysits Finley. On the agenda: dinner at Umami or Alchemy (or some place in the Willy St. area) and the UW men’s hockey game.

3. Finley and I went to Brody’s office for a little trick or treating. She wasn’t into the head piece of her costume but otherwise held it together while being shown off.
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This was after she took the penguin costume off.
All of the new faces were likely very stimulating, and with it being nap time when we left, she passed out in the car on the way home.

4. You know how I was all frustrated with Finley’s naps? Well as I type this, she’s been asleep for 52 minutes. She transitioned into a second sleep cycle! Edited to add: She slept for 90 minutes – wahoo!

5. I’ve got four almost too ripe bananas that I’m planning on baking with, and I’m thinking banana pumpkin bread. The zucchini pumpkin bread I made last week turned out so well, but I think the banana may be even better.

6. How is it already November? I was thinking yesterday what I’d likely be doing if I was teaching. The newness of the year would’ve worn off, Homecoming would be past, and we’d be looking forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks. I would also have developed good relationships with my classes, be enjoying B lunch with my coworkers, and spent many hours brainstorming and problem solving with close friends/English teachers. I do miss these aspects of my former career, but as I’ve said, I love what I’m doing now too.

7. Yesterday I picked up a pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks (sorry Brody) on my way to Mother Baby Hour. I’m not sure if they’re offered anymore with October being done, but even if they are, I think it’ll have been my last one of the year. I did find one pumpkin-flavored food I do not like: these. I brought them to girls weekend, and everyone agreed they were super funky. They had a strange, sour after taste. So disappointing.

8. We bought FLOR carpets squares for the family room. I love the color and graphic pattern.
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Brody’s also going to make a new coffee table (the crate one that’s all over the interweb). The one we have right now has a glass tabletop and isn’t very kid-friendly. Although Finley isn’t mobile yet, it’ll happen soon. Plus, the kid I’m watching part time is walking. Being able to wheel the coffee table (yup, he’s putting wheels on it – so smart!) over to the side will provide a good space to play.

9. Frankie has a vet appointment next week. He now has two wellness appointments a year because at eight years old, he’s considered a senior dog.
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He’s such a sweet dog (notice his front paw over Brody’s leg), but he has the worst breath ever.

10. On Monday night, Brody and I went to see The Head and the Heart play at the Orpheum. They were incredible! The female vocalist blew the roof off the place during “Rivers and Roads.”

I made it to ten – success! Have a wonderful weekend!

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Meals of the Week [9/16 – 9/22]

Now that I’m staying home full time and we don’t have my income, we’re trying to be smarter with money. One way we can do that is with meal planning and avoid falling into the takeout trap from places like Chipotle, Panera, or Salvatore’s.

Brody and I did our weekly trip to Woodman’s (at probably the worst time ever) yesterday, and I am very excited for our meals this week.

Burgers on the Grill
Brody makes a mean burger, and I don’t see us grilling much anymore with fall approaching. He puts lots of spices, Worcestershire sauce, and other lovelies to doctor up the ground chuck. Nestled between a toasted kaiser roll with lettuce, tomato, mayo, and ketchup, it’ll be a farewell to summer meal. On the side, we’ll probably have Bush’s baked beans.

Enchiladas
Tacos are a staple at our house, so it’s nice to mix it up with something a little different. I use ground beef (from Jacobson Brothers), cheddar cheese, and red enchilada sauce. I keep it simple.

Chicken Florentine Pasta
While Brody and Finley slept yesterday morning, I caught an episode of The Pioneer Woman featuring 16 minute meals. While I’m sure what takes her 16 minutes will take me 32, I was intrigued by this pasta recipe. Plus I’d get to use up all of the tomatoes from my plant.

Beef with Snow Peas
This was another 16 minute meal by Ree, and I knew Brody would be on board with this one. It uses flank steak, which I have never used in a stir fry. We don’t get any beef products from Woodman’s, so I’ll have to swing by Costco this week to pick up the two-packs they have of flank steak.

Banana Muffins
I’ll probably be the only one who eats these, and they will be great for breakfasts. I’ve been into muffins lately instead of toast: sweet potato muffins, zucchini muffins, and now banana muffins. My plans were to make pumpkin muffins (those will happen late next week), but Woodman’s had bags of overly ripe bananas for 99 cents, and I knew I had a banana muffin recipe in my binder that I had never tried. These aren’t super healthy, but it’s also not like eating dessert for breakfast. Just to make sure they were okay, I tested one. Yup, they’re okay. Actually, pretty perfect: chewy outside and soft inside. I did omit the nuts because I spread copious amounts of peanut butter on them anyways.

Questions:
Do you like grocery shopping and meal planning?
What are you making this week that you’re excited about?

Non-Baby Topics (No Lie…Not Even One Picture)

Let’s chat about something other than sleep, breastmilk, and all other baby-related topics.

First up, TV! Now that I’m home full-time, I’ve been watching more TV (should I be ashamed?), or at least having it on in the background. Brody and I also continue to watch our shows at night.

My daytime TV starts with The Today Show. I was embarrassingly excited when they announced that Carson Daly is joining the team!!!!
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I always defend Carson when Brody pokes fun of him on The Voice and thought he was fantastic when he was a guest host for The Today Show a month ago.

I also regularly watch What Not To Wear and The Chew, both of which I DVR. Sometimes I’ll see an episode of Long Island Medium or The Dr. Oz Show.

At night, Brody and I have a handful of shows we’re into. This section demands a list:

1) Have you seen The Newsroom? If not, you have to watch it.
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It’s in its second season and is SO well done. The writer and producer, Aaron Sorkin, also created Sports Night and The West Wing. The show gives a (fictional) behind the scenes look at producing a nightly news program. The characters are well-developed, and the plot is just smart.

2) Sons of Anarchy started up again, and we watched the first episode the other night. I forgot how violent that show is: anal rape, torture porn, drowning in a tub of urine. Oy! And I’m sure all of the S.O.A. and Fifty Shades of Grey fans out there heard that Charlie Hunnam will be Christian Grey in the film version of the very popular trilogy (which I never read).
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3) The Food Truck Road Race is another one we keep up with. Quite a 180 from S.O.A., right? Tyler Florence hosts this show, and I’m guessing the title gives away the premise.

4) Brody started watched Revolution on Netflix on his own, and I got sucked in a couple weekends ago about ten episodes into the first season. We enjoyed Lost, and this is by the same writer, JJ Abrams. It’s a slightly futuristic setting in which the “lights went out.” No power, no electricity…well, sort of. This is the perfect lazy weekend show.

Second non-baby discussion point, FOOD!

Last weekend, Brody was gone, and a kind friend brought over soup for me. One less meal to figure out? Awesome! The soup (with kale, ground turkey, and carrots) was delicious, and with the cooler temps, I’m ready to start making more comfort foods. I found the recipe my friend used (link above) and made myself a batch. Instead of rice, I added some potatoes that were on their last legs. It was the perfect quick and healthy lunch for me last week.

I was craving something sweet (no surprise) I found this protein powder peanut butter cookies. They were what you’d expect from a healthy cookie, but I actually prefer this protein powder cookie dough. Brody came home, saw the cookies thinking they were “real”, and got excited. I quickly intercepted his reaching hand – he would’ve spit the cookie out and given me that “I can’t believe you eat this” look. Because I’m an awesome wife, I made “real” cookies for him this morning…with peanut butter, and butter, and sugar. Smitten Kitchen has the best cookie recipes, so I followed hers. Peanut butter cookies for the win! I broke my rule (more of a guideline) of not eating chocolate before noon and had two. Then I had two after lunch. I’ll probably have more before the day is done.

This is kind of food related: a commercial was shot at my house on Wednesday. Like a legit commercial that will air on TV (only on the east coast, though). How did this come to be? A neighbor of mine knows the woman who was responsible for finding locations for breakfast sausage company’s commercial. My neighbor suggested my house since they were looking for a kitchen space with a breakfast bar. Out of a handful of houses, mine was one of three selected! A crew of thirty some people arrived at 7:30am and occupied the entire first floor of my house. Lots of cars and an RV lined the streets around my house, camera and lighting equipment was set up inside and outside, and there was a food buffet outside…cause that’s when you know it’s the real deal.
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They left at 8:00pm (after doing a very good job of cleaning my house) and handed over a nice check. Plus, they left a package of breakfast sausage in the freezer for us! It was a very cool and unique experience.

Third and final topic, exercise. I’m kind of back on that horse; this past week I went to kickboxing on Tuesday, Zumba on Wednesday, and ran three miles on Friday. My body feels good, but I can definitely tell something is different with my knees. They ache when I crouch down and stand up, even if I hadn’t recently worked out. Also, I don’t notice it’s any worse after running. Pregnancy can affect ligaments, and I’m guessing that’s what is going on. I also need new shoes. It could be that.

I didn’t even mention “she who will not be named” once. Bet you didn’t think I could do it? It was hard.

Questions:
What show(s) are you into?
What’s the best thing you’ve made recently?
What’s been your go-to way to exercise recently?

Lately: Cooking and Baking

Good Tuesday morning!

Ever since Finley was born, I have been less than stellar at planning and making dinners. Here are my excuses:

1) It’s hard because her nap schedule is unpredictable – sometimes she sleeps an hour and sometimes it’s three. Often times she’s awake or going down right when I’d need to be making dinner.

2) Turning on the oven when it’s 80+ degrees out is no fun.

3) Many of my go-to meals aren’t summer-y enough.

I’m starting to get better, though, which is funny because all of the above three excuses still apply. I do enjoy cooking and baking, so I’ve started become better at using my free time in the morning (i.e. not just watching The Today Show and reading blogs while she sleeps).

What have I been making?

Banana-Oatmeal Bread
Last week Wednesday, I had a bunch of overripe bananas just screaming at me to be used. Of course I turned to my favorite banana bread recipe. I doubled the recipe, as one loaf was going to fellow blogger and mama of adorable Bennett, Nicole. All was going well until I pulled the two loaves out of the oven and realized…I never added the OATMEAL (obviously hilarious as it is banana-OATMEAL bread) or milk. Leaving out those two ingredients kind of canceled each other out because it still tasted good (just a little drier). On Monday morning during one of Finley’s naps, I used the last three ripe bananas and correctly made a loaf. Said loaf was brought to Nicole’s yesterday.

Spinach Lasagna Rolls
After coming home with a baby, I was so thankful for the generosity of my friends who brought food for meals (and this may have been why I slacked in the kitchen for so many weeks!). We had enchiladas (thanks Mel!), egg muffins (amazing stuff Jena!), lasagna from Gino’s, bags of Target trail mix, etc. I was able to pay it forward to Nicole and Jena this week. I emailed each mama, giving them a bunch of meal and dessert options. Besides the banana-oatmeal bread, Nicole chose Skinnytaste’s Spinach Lasagna Rolls. I first heard about these from Bridget, as this is her go-to meal to bring to her friends with new babies. They were very easy to make, and I followed the recipe almost exactly. Changes I made: I used regular ricotta instead of fat free and added chopped tomatoes and a few spices to the sauce. I’ve never made these before, so I hope they tasted okay!

Pineapple Cashew Fried Rice
Jena requested this meal, and I was psyched to make it again. At the last Wine and Recipe, it was a hit. Although it is a little time consuming with multiple steps, it is so worth it. I love the use of coconut oil and milk – it gives the dish great flavor. Even my husband who HATES coconut loved the serving I left for him. He was actually upset I didn’t leave him a larger portion – ha! Anyways, I also cooked up a couple chicken breasts for some protein for Jena, but it would also be delicious with edamame or shrimp.

No Bake Peanut Butter S’mores
So I am mildly obsessed with Jessica’s blog; her food is amazing, she has beautiful pictures, and she is freaking hilarious. I found this one while going through all of her dessert recipes and immediately added it to the sweet options for the mamas. Jena picked it, and I got to baking. However, as the title states, there’s no baking involved. This accommodates my #2 reason nicely. The simplicity and decadence of this recipe drew me in. OMG people! Make these now, please. Jena was kind enough to cut out a square for me when I dropped them off. I was happy because I had really wanted to try them but would’ve felt ridiculous dropping off a pan of dessert with a square missing. “Hi, I’m Angie, and I have no self control when it comes to chocolate.” They should stay refrigerated, though, especially if it’s warm and/or humid because they will get a little too soft.

Avocado Basil Garlic Pasta
I’ve made this before and blogged about it, but I really think it’s such a fantastic summer meal. While Finley was napping this morning, I assembled this meal for tonight. Everything screams summer: bacon (perfect for using leftovers from BLTs…if that’s a problem you have), tomatoes, basil, and avocados. The warm pasta over the avocado creates a thin sauce, and the lemon adds a brightness. Plus, don’t the food judges on shows like Chopped always talk about acid in a dish? I am forever appreciative to Nicole from Wine and Recipe for sharing this dish with the gang last summer.

Tuna Salad
During Finley’s second nap of the morning (do you see a pattern here?), I made Brody’s mom’s tuna salad. For a guy who hates hard boiled eggs and the smell of drained tuna, it amazes me how he’ll gobble this up. But hey, I am not complaining because I love it too. The mystery ingredients are the relish and pickled watermelon rind. I’ve also blogged about this before, so click on the title if you want the recipe to go my earlier post.

I’ve been bad about taking food pictures. For whatever reason, all I want to do is take pictures of Finley – ha! Like this one…

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Finley taking up the whole shopping cart at a grocery store in northern Wisconsin

And this one…
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Finley being an escape artist and getting that hand out of her swaddle sack

And just one more.
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Finley sleeping in my arms after getting her two month shots

Maybe, if you want to see what these recipes look like, you should make them because then you get to eat them too. It’s a win-win!

Happy eating!

Views of a Memorial Day Weekend

It’s Monday but it feels like Sunday. I love that. This week is going to fly by!!!

I attempted to take more (random) photos than normal this weekend, and I somewhat succeeded.

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Brody used his Phish mug from Bridget for the first time Saturday morning. People have told Brody that with a baby, coffee is going to become a regular drink for him. He was practicing.

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I have been loving Corn Chex lately. Dry or with 1% Sassy Cow milk, and it hits the spot. I never have cereal for breakfast, though – only as a snack.

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I took the advice of Liz and made some muffins for easy breakfasts once Baby arrives. I’ve had this recipe for sweet potato muffins forever and finally made them. They are delicious!

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I am at 37 weeks and 5 days in this picture and getting ready for a Memorial Day BBQ at our friends’ house. I was semi-patriotic with a red tank under a white shirt.

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Brody rode his new bike to the BBQ (15 miles in 50 minutes – impressive!). I drove and was responsible for choosing Brody’s beer for the day; I bought Capitol’s new IPA, Bell’s Oberon, and O’Douls red amber (for me).

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There was lots of good food at the BBQ; I had a cheeseburger, taco dip, lots and lots of fruit, and a cupcake. I brought screwdriver cupcakes (meant to be a bundt cake but worked great as cupcakes), a recipe from a Wine and Recipe night, and people loved them.

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On Monday, we all woke up to cold, rainy weather. While Brody and I were happy to have the weather match our level of ambition, the dogs were not thrilled. Lots of pouting going on around here.

Enjoy the last few hours of your three-day weekend!

Baby Stuff, Baking, and Time with Friends

First of all, THANK YOU to everyone who shared some words of wisdom with me and answered my questions. I took much of your advice:
-Huggies sensitive wipes (448 count) were purchased.
-I picked out three nursing tanks from Target: two of these (same ones Liz likes) and one of these.
-We bought two more crib sheets; they were only $9.99, and since the bed converts to a toddler’s, I’m sure they’ll get used eventually.
-More disposable diapers (Pampers Swaddlers most likely) are needed. It sounds like the poops early on are so nasty, we won’t want to deal with cleaning the cloth diaper inserts.
-I may freeze some meals, or maybe double up on some recipes I make in these next few weeks that freeze well. I also want to bake a couple dozen healthy muffins for breakfast.

I had a very lovely weekend and did a decent job taking photos. Weekend recap starting…now.

Brody’s coworkers had a little get-together on Friday night to celebrate our upcoming bundle of joy. It was super low-key and basically a good reason to have everyone hang out, eat good food, and drink.
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Kids were welcome, so obviously O-Dub (aka Owen, who is 6.5 months!) attended the soirĂ©e. He is such a happy, chill baby – plus he apparently likes the Blackhawks and Brody.

After grading for a couple hours Saturday morning, Brody and I took the dogs to the park. For how nice it was (besides the humidity), it was a quiet walk. The pups were stinky after two days at daycare this week, three trips to the dog park, and just general dog scent. They both got baths and a brushing, and now we have clean, soft puppies.

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Moose’s hair/fur doesn’t dry well; Brody gave the hair dryer a shot. Moose was kind of into it, but it would’ve taken at least twenty minutes to dry him completely.

Saturday afternoon included some intense nesting (hanging of baby clothes, putting away of blankets and odds and ends, and acquiring of more baby clothes), grocery shopping, dropping off of cardboard boxes at the dump (they were taking over the garage), and some baking.

The large vat of strawberries from Costco stares at me every time I open the fridge, and as much as I love them, the acidity gets to me. I headed to Smitten Kitchen for some meal planning and found this recipe.

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Considering I have never made biscuits before and don’t really know what it means to overwork dough, I was quite impressed with myself. They are the best the day off, and rather than eat all eleven myself, I gave two to a neighbor (who gave me the baby clothes) and two to the couple we met for dinner later that night.

Speaking of dinner, our jam-packed day ended with a casual evening out at Ale Asylum with our friends Andrew and Melissa. I ordered the spicy black bean burger, and it was so good. The chipotle mayo played a key role in the burger’s success. We luckily landed a table outside and stayed until 9:30pm chatting. Brody and I recognize it may be a little bit more difficult to see our friends and enjoy dinners out in a few weeks, so we’re taking advantage of these opportunities now.

My interest in baking and strawberries continued into Sunday when I made waffles topped with strawberries (duh), unsweetened coconut, and real maple syrup.

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I made one for Brody too, but he ran five miles outside and was a sweaty mess when he got done as it was (and still is) very humid. The smell of baked dough wasn’t very appealing – it looks like breakfast is already made for me tomorrow!

While browsing Smitten Kitchen’s blog, I had also found this vegetable-heavy recipe. Many of her recipes are more involved (ingredient and skill-wise) than I typically go for. However, I can handle chopping veggies. To be honest, I find cutting up fruit and veggies very relaxing. Meat? That’s another story.

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To appease my husband, I omitted the kalamata olives and will add them to my own servings. Isn’t it so pretty? It’s going to taste delicious next to chicken sausages on the grill. Also, you may notice there is feta cheese in this salad. It is made from pasteurized milk, so I feel safe consuming this soft cheese.

Now I sit here with Brody, on our back patio, with our feet up, waiting for the chicken sausages to be put on the grill.
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Not a bad way to end a great weekend.

Adventures in Wine & Recipe

In a one week span (a couple of weeks ago), I was lucky enough to hang out with this fun group of women TWICE! Considering we normally all get together only once a month, this was a treat.

Our first adventure was a 30th birthday outing for Mel in Milwaukee. We all decided we do not utilize this city nearly enough with how close it is to Madison/Sun Prairie.

We met at Mel’s house on Saturday morning at 9am to kick off the weekend right: bloodies and mimosas (obv virgin mimosas for Jena and I). The drive to Milwaukee was fast, and we arrived at Lakefront Brewery for our tour (my second brewery tour as a pregnant person).

The tour was lots of fun – our guide had a great sense of humor, and with it being Mel’s birthday weekend, she wasn’t shy getting involved.

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At the end in the tasting room, you can exchange your plastic cup for a pint glass. I love drinking out of these, so I was happy to add another beer glass to our everyday use collection. Classy stuff around here.

It was way past lunchtime by the time we left Lakefront (hello extra drinking tokens from two pregnant ladies), so once arrived at The Wicked Hop, we ordered a bunch of more substantial appetizers to share. The bloodies were also meals within themselves – check out all of those goodies! The marinated mushrooms were the best.

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Cheers to Mel!

We were in the Third Ward, which has some cute shops and boutiques. We shopped for a few hours, and I found a bright neon orange and white stripped infinity scarf for $15. Almost everyone bought at least one thing – Laura actually walked away with an entire outfit from various shops.

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Post-shopping pic on the hotel stairs – Laura’s in the front with the dark hair and all the bags

After some eating, drinking, and gift-opening at the hotel, everyone got gussied up for a nice dinner (and I cannot remember the name of the restaurant now – pregnancy brain?). Three of the ladies weren’t spending the night, so they took off after dinner while the five of us – Mel, Jena, Emily, Nicole, and myself – went to The Oaks, a small but very club-like bar.
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One NA drink later, Jena and I called it a pregnant night and walked back to the hotel. The remaining three party animals hit up The Whiskey Bar and closed it down, not coming home until after 3am. Damn impressive ladies!

It was a super fun weekend, and spending so much time with a group of friends like that made me feel like I was in college again…just sober and/or not hungover.

Four days later, we were all reunited for a monthly Wine & Recipe night for our second adventure. Steph hosted and chose the theme “Caribbean/Tropical.” Very timely considering the crap weather we’ve been having.

I failed to take any pictures but I will share a few recipes, starting with mine.

Because I’m still on my “chicken-breasts-make-me-wanna-gag” thing, I felt compelled to go with a pork recipe. While I could’ve done an app or dessert, I really prefer bringing main dishes. I turned to a favorite recipe blog, Skinnytaste, and was not disappointed.

Slow Cooked Pork with Caribbean Salsa was a winner. Even Brody liked it!

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Photo from link above
I’m glad I re-read the recipe the day before because it does require you to marinate the pork for at least five hours before putting it in the slow cooker. As the picture shows, I also served mine over brown rice but as leftovers had it in a whole wheat tortilla. Last thing: I didn’t have the specific jerk seasoning Gina used but found a jerk seasoning at my local grocery store for $5.

Other all-stars from the night were Mel’s tropical quinoa salad and Amber’s coconut banana bread. While the the bread recipe is not the exact one she used, it’s pretty close, and I know to trust anything coming from America’s Test Kitchen.

The weather outside was not even close to tropical, but the fun eats and umbrellas in our water glasses made us forget about that. Too bad Steph couldn’t have brought a heat lamp into her dining room or passed around self-tanner.

Before the night ended, the three of us pregnant ladies took a photo because, interestingly enough, we all wore basically the same outfit. Actually Amber and I had on the exact same top from Target!

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When this was taken, Amber was 34 weeks (gender unknown), I was 31 (with a girl), and Jena was 25 (with a boy).

It was such a fun week being with these ladies, and it made me look forward to our monthly get together all the more.

Questions:
Do you have a regular get together? Book or dinner club? Scrapbooking or stamping group? Weekly runs with a group?
Thoughts on brewery tours? Best ones around you?
Of the recipes I shared, which one would you be most likely to make?