Monday, January 31, 2011

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A Little Birthday Chatter, Part 2

Birthday plans are going. Kind of. A birthday party involves a lot less planning than a wedding, baby shower, and baptism. I thought I would be overwhelmed with planning and the reality is that I am underwhelmed. I'll have plenty to do next week (!!!!!!!!) but there isn't really anything I can do this week to make next week any better. As far as I can tell things are coming together nicely. There will be a dessert table and I'm going to be doing a lot of baking for that. There will be sandwiches and lots of appetizers/finger foods. There will be a bounce house and cotton candy machine. There will NOT be dinosaurs (sorry Josie!) and there will not be a mommy meltdown that day (fingers crossed). I'm still working on Cati's outfit for the day and I know I want her to be dressed casually. Is it sad that I have decided on my outfit but not hers?

Anyway, the party is coming along. I haven't shared any updates with you so I thought I would share the invitation I went with. I absolutely love it and I can't thank Louisa of FLIPAWOO Designs enough. I was thisclose to purchasing another invitation when I stumbled upon this one. This invitation had, in my eyes, the perfect balance of vintage and girly.

Cati Bday Invite2

The colors are perfect and match the colors I'm using throughout the party. I nearly flipped for joy when I saw the printed invitation and I almost cried when I put them in the mail because I realized there was no turning back.

Catarina will be one in 14 days and her party is in 12 days. Please help me make it through the next two weeks!

For more on FLIPAWOO Designs visit the blog and Etsy shop.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

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Styling C: 01.27.11 to 01.30.11

Thursday, 01.27.11
The Look: Winter Casual
The Outfit: Gap white star top, Old Navy jeans, Jazzy Toes socks

Friday, 01.28.11
The Look: Winter Preppy
The Outfit: Greendog Kids ivory top, Janie & Jack teal bunny sweater, 
Grap brown jeans, Old Navy brown socks

Saturday, 01.29.11
The Look: Sweet & Chic
The Outfit: The Children's Place white top, Crochet dress made by my friend Lauren, 
Old Navy blue jeans and khaki socks

Sunday, 01.30.11
The Look: Little Lady
The Outfit: The Children's Place pink top, Crazy8 brown dress, 
Old Navy ivory tights
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This Week in Mommyhood

Cati is becoming such a big girl. It really struck me this week as my baby girl is mastering modeling (mimicking). I was cleaning the bathroom one day and wiping things down with a paper towel and Cati grabbed a paper towel and started wiping down the surface as well. Then another day we were at the park and Cati was playing with the mulch. I grabbed the mulch and dropped it in front of her and she did the same right back! I was so happy and impressed.
Cati is getting so well at comprehending my requests. If she's playing with something and I say "can mommy see that?" she will give me whatever is in her hand. Likewise, if she's playing with something she doesn't quite understand or she finds something on the floor she calls my attention by going "ahh" (kind of like her saying "huh?") and then she gives me the item. The funniest word, however, is "dormir" (sleep). At the end of the day if I say "a dormir" she knows to go to her room for bedtime. During the day when I say it she cries because she doesn't want to go down for a nap. It's so cute!
Cati has been saying mama and dada for a while but she's not really consistent with who she says it to. She'll say mama when she is crying, complaining or upset, and she says dada every other time. The one word she is consistent with is "agua." She says it just like we do (!!!) whenever she wants something to drink. Before she would say "gua" but now she actually says "agua." The sound of her voice feels so differently when she's saying something I know to be a word versus when she's best babbling.
Cati totally gets peek-a-boo! If I ask "where's the baby?" she covers her face with either her hands or her towel or clothes then she removes her hands and reveals a face that's expecting me to say "peek-a-boo I see you!" The giggles that ensue are the BEST.
As a stay-at-home mom the hardest thing for me is figuring out what to do with Cati on a day-to-day basis that is free. I think our problem is partially solved! We go to the library on a weekly basis but it's usually to pick up books I have put on hold so I don't go into the children's area. This week I wanted to look through the children's books and I discovered that they made over the children's area and now it has a ton of great toys and activities for the kids. All the toys are tactile and auditory and they make me wish we had more room at home so I could buy her the exact same toys. We easily spent an hour at the library playing.
Milk switch is going so well. Cati now drinks cow's milk with her cereal in the morning and her first bottle of the day is all cow's milk.  Her appetite has also seemed to have return and she is eating more solids. I'm assuming this return of appetite means there are no new teeth on the horizon. That's fine with me because I think she looks breathtakingly adorable with her two little teeth.
Music class went so well this week. Alex got to go and I somehow suckered him into doing the dancing circle activity. It was so funny to see how awkward he was especially since he was the only dad participating in that activity. Just like last week, Cati understood what she had to do with the instruments but she just wasn't interested. I don't blame her either seeing as the other babies are a million times more interesting than wooden sticks. The teacher called Cati a social butterfly because of how obsessed she was with following the other kids around the class, petting them and trying to give them kisses. I love how Cati is so gentle and undemanding of other babies. As Alex said later that day she treats other babies like she treats Perla.
Cati's birthday is in 15 days and her party is in 13 days. I can't believe we are so close!

Friday, January 28, 2011

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Eat Your Heart Out Bennigan's

Baked Potato Soup
Do you remember Bennigan's? There used to be a few locations here in Miami and all but one have closed down. We used to have one fairly close to us in Boston and that one closed down unexpectedly. I remember walking by it one day and seeing it open and lively and then walking by it the following night and seeing it closed and boarded up. I remember the drinks being good and the desserts scandalous, but the one thing I really miss is their baked potato soup. I was in the mood for this soup and came across this recipe that made me relive the satisfaction I used to get from that Bennigan's soup. Because I was giving some of the soup to Cati, my soup wasn't as chunky but it was still perfection. The pictures do not do this soup justice, so you are just going to have to try it for yourself.
 Baked Potato Soup

Edit: I completely forgot I wanted to dedicate this post to our 15.5 year old poodle, Perla. Branny Boils Over is having a Charity Souper Bowl and for every entry she receives she'll donate $1 to the ASPCA. Here the most recent picture of Perla being tormented by the littlest human:

Baked Potato Soup
Source: Sherry Haupt on

6 slices bacon
1/3 cup margarine
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3-1/2 cups milk
2 large baked potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 green onions, chopped (I omitted)
1/2 cup and 2 tablespoons shredded Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium heat until browned. Drain, crumble, and set aside.

In a stock pot or Dutch oven, melt the margarine over medium heat. Whisk in flour until smooth. Gradually stir in milk, whisking constantly until thickened. Stir in potatoes and onions. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently.

Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Mix in bacon, cheese, sour cream, salt, and pepper. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, until cheese is melted.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

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Little Earthquakes

Life is made up of moments. Moments that excite, enrage, and shock. Moments that take your breath away for reasons both good and bad. Moments that make you feel the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. Moments full of happy tears and sad tears. Moments to remember and moments you wish you could forget.

We are all walking universes. We each have a world that revolves around us. I don't mean this in the sense that the world must stop at our request, I mean it in the sense that we are all a part of a system. In us lies relationships and connections to others. Most of the times those connections are seamless, but every now and then, those connections crash against each other.

This past week my own little universe has collided into the universe of others in ways that make moments feel like earthquakes: pieces of knowledge of coming together in a way that causes a friction so intense everything is shaken; the memory of when it all happened completely changing the landscape of your mind. I have been rocked to my core, shaken up, and turned upside down. How do you move forward without looking back? How do you incorporate the new mental creases and dents? How do you forget?

The year has gotten to the most interesting start. Here's hoping the rest of 2011 is full of moments that make your heart flutter and your smile radiate so brightly the sun becomes envious.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

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Styling C: 01.24.11 to 01.26.11

Monday, 01.24.11
The Look: Little Miss Sunshine
The Outfit: Junk Food "Little Miss Sunshine" onesie, Gap red jeans

Tuesday, 01.25.11
The Look: Rainy Day Comfort
The Outfit: First Impressions white star onesie, Gap pink capri pants, Stride Rite shoes

Wednesday, 01.26.11
The Look: Casual Baby
The Outfit: United Colors of Benetton white rose top, Riders blue jeans

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

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TWD: Swirly Chocolatey Sour Cream Bundt

Swirly Chocolatey Sour Cream Bundt
I took the lazy route with this bundt cake. I quartered the cake recipe, omitted the orange zest, and didn't do the swirl. Instead my swirl was made of chocolate ganache. The cake had such a great buttery, vanilla flavor and the chocolate gave the cake an indulgent and luxurious feel.
Swirly Chocolatey Sour Cream Bundt
Thanks to Jennifer of Cooking for Comfort for making this week's selection. Make sure to head over to her blog for the recipe and don't forget to give some love to the other TWD bakers.

Monday, January 24, 2011

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Styling C: 01.20.11 to 01.23.11

Thursday, 01.20.11
The Look: Short & Sassy
The Outfit: Gymboree white top, Circo yellow striped shorts

Friday, 01.21.11
The Look: Miami Casual
The Outfit: Gap brown and white striped onesie and jeans

Saturday, 01.22.11
The Look: Poodle & Pink
The Outfit: Osh Kosh teal poodle "I was born this cute" onesie, Old Navy pink pants and socks

Sunday, 01.23.11
The Look: Stylish in Winter
The Outfit: Gap white linen peasant top and pink fleece pants

Sunday, January 23, 2011

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This Week in Mommyhood

Cati's second tooth finally broke through! It must have been an incredibly painful process because I felt like this tooth affected her more than the first tooth. She didn't eat anything other than her milk for days. Or rather, she would eat one spoonful of solids at every meal and decide it was too much work to continue eating. The only things she was actually willing to eat were cold things like jell-o and string cheese. The little tooth is adorable!
I started giving Cati cow's milk this week. Somewhere along the line I miscalculated how much milk I had in the freezer for her and, as a result, I only have enough frozen milk to get her to 11.5 months versus 12 months. I figured it would be a good thing to start giving her cow's milk little by little to help stretch out the breast milk and to start getting her used to drinking that instead. So far her response has been positive and she eats her cereal with no problem. Giving Cati milk excites me for all the new things she's going to be able to taste once she hits the one year mark, like chocolate cupcakes!
Cati started music class this week and it was an interesting experience. They gave her a bag of wooden instruments and she was interested in them for all of two minutes. As soon as the class started and she had to actually use the instruments, she was over them. Cati is at the stage where she wants to walk around and has to be in constant motion. One of the activities was having Cati face me while I pointed out her facial features and every time I positioned her in front of me, she would wiggle and squirm until I let her turn around. She was also really interested in the other kids which was great considering she doesn't really interact much with kids her own age (or kids at all). My favorite part of the class was at the end when the instructor played a song on the piano: Cati moved to the middle of the room and actually started dancing. I nearly died of cuteness overload.
Emotions are developing at such an amazing pace. I remember when I used to tell Cati "no" and she would ignore me or when I would remove her from someplace I didn't want her to be and she was easily distracted with something else. Now if I tell her "no" she cries as if I have hurt her feelings and if I move her away and try to distract her she gets pissed and throws a fit. It's amazing to see such a range of emotions in a human so young.
Ahh, walking. I remember when parents would tell me life got busier once the baby started walking. They were not kidding. Life is a million times busier now that Cati is walking really well. She rarely crawls anymore and like I said earlier, she needs to be in constant motion. If I'm in one room she will walk to the other. Then she laughs when I chase after her like it's the best game on the planet. She also likes to play the "let's throw everything on the ground, watch mommy pick it up, and then throw it again" game. Drives me nuts! Although when she does things like bringing me her favorite book (the touch-and-feel one she sits on), the back-and-forth doesn't seem bad at all.
Cati will be one in 22 days and for the first time in her whole life I feel like I didn't get enough pictures of her this week.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

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Chicken & Biscuits

CF Chicken & Biscuits
Before Alex went back to vacation he requested that I make him chicken & biscuits a la Cheesecake Factory. He had to explain to me exactly what he wanted because the only chicken & biscuits I knew of was just that: chicken and biscuits. What he wanted was mashed potatoes topped with a chicken breast topped with biscuits and all covered in gravy. I tried my best to give him exactly what he wanted, with my little twists here and there. The end result wasn't exactly what he wanted (no mushrooms, sorry!) but it was in the same general food category he was craving, which was comfort food.
CF Chicken & Biscuits

Chicken & Biscuits
Source: Adapted from Kristi's Cooking Blog
Serves 3-4

1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1.5 tsp minced garlic
2 chicken breasts, halved
1/2 bag (4oz) vegetable medley
1/4 cup flour
1 cup condensed chicken broth undiluted (I used a cup of water and 2 tsp chicken bouillon)
1/2 cup dark beer (I used a brown ale)
1/2 cup whipping cream

1 1/4 cups sifted flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp granulated sugar
2 tbsp melted butter
3/4 cup warm milk

Mashed Potatoes
Your favorite homemade mashed potatoes

Grease a casserole dish with either oil or cooking spray. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil and butter over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until translucent, about two minutes. Add chicken breasts and cook until juices run clear. Transfer to casserole dish.

Reduce heat to medium. Add vegetables and cook until softened. Sprinkle flour over vegetables, stir well and cook for 1 minute. Add chicken broth, beer, and cream and stir until thickened. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour mixture over chicken.

In a bowl, combine the dry ingredients for the dumplings. Add butter and milk and stir just until moistened. Drop dumpling dough, by spoonfuls, onto chicken mixture. Place in oven and cook until a toothpick inserted in center of dumplings comes out clean, about 30-35 minutes.

Meanwhile, make your favorite homemade mashed potatoes.

Serve chicken and dumplings on a bed of mashed potatoes, ladling extra sauce on top.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

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Definitely Not a Call Girl

I recently got hooked on Showtime's Secret Diary of a Call Girl. So hooked, in fact, that I went on to read the book (based on the blog) that was the basis for the show, Belle de Jour: Diary of an Unlikely Call Girl (US version). The book was ok. A little more risqué than the show and I can see why the book created such a stir when it was first published, but if I would have read the book before finding out about the show I don't think I would have seen the show because I found the real Belle slightly obnoxious and arrogant. After I read the book I did some research and found out Belle had revealed her identity to preempt anyone else from doing so. This got me thinking about anonymity, how well you can protect the identities of others, and how much of someone else's story you can (or should) disclose.

My blog was started three years ago (happy late birthday blog!) and when I first started it I thought it would be a place to record all our eating adventures. Then I got into baking and really came into my own in the kitchen. Then I got pregnant and the blog became a more personal space for me. I debated putting up any pictures of Cati and updates on her growth because there's never a shortage of people with ill intentions and I didn't want someone else taking her pictures and passing her off as their own. I still debate with myself over how much of her I share on the blog (weekly letters, monthly letters, millions of pictures, and videos) but at the end of the day I realize that I do all that more for myself than anyone else because I do not want to forget all the things I found so special. There is so much I have already forgotten and Cati is only eleven months old. Being able to come to the blog and click on the "baby" category helps ease the pain of fading memories. One day this will change, I'm sure. The older Cati gets the more she'll understand her presence on the blog and when she asks me to stop sharing so much of her life I will comply. The blog will just go under another transformation and it will turn into something that's different and yet the same.

But what about others? Cati's little life is out there and my motherhood life is out there but I try to keep others off the blog. Every now and then I slip up and I feel horrible and guilty and I swear to be more strict with the content. I try to be conscious about what I post and who I mention because I know people don't feel comfortable with having any kind of internet presence. Thus, why I don't talk about Alex much in detail even though he plays a huge role in my life and I could probably dedicate a whole blog to him and all the ways he makes me smile (or drives me crazy).

So how do you draw the line? What's personal and what's too-personal? How much of the "real you" should come into the persona you create on the blog? Was the Belle behind the book and blog an exaggeration because it was a pseudonym? Did N and the three As agree to be written about? Did they agree with what she had to say about them? How did they feel once her identity was revealed? Have we entered a new era of "too much information'?
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The Cake Slice: Graham Cracker Chocolate Chip Snacking Cake

Graham Cracker Snacking Cake
This was such a fun cake to make this month for The Cake Slice. The cake has a long name but it's basically a s'mores cake and a very good one at that. I followed the recipe to a T except for the frosting. I got lazy and just threw marshmallows on the cake toward the end of the cake's baking time. I got great feedback on the cake because it's not quite what you'd expect; it's a lot denser and you can actually taste the graham cracker.

Make sure to head over to The Cake Slice blogroll so you can read how the other bakers reacted to this cake.
Graham Cracker Snacking Cake

January’s Cake: Graham Cracker Chocolate Chip Snacking Cake
(Recipe from Cake Keeper Cakes by Lauren Chattman)

For the Cake
8 whole graham crackers, finely ground (about 1 cup) *
¼ cup unbleached all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
6 tbsp (¾ stick) butter, softened
¼ cup sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ cup milk
½ cup semisweet chocolate chips

For the Frosting
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
½ cup confectioners sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
½ cup marshmallow fluff *

Method – Cake
Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease an 8inch square baking pan and dust it with flour, knocking out any extra. Combine the graham cracker crumbs, flour, baking powder and salt in a medium mixing bowl.
Combine the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl and cream with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. With the mixer on low speed, add the egg, egg yolk and vanilla. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and then beat until smooth.

With the mixer on low speed, add a third of the flour mixture, then half of the milk, stirring until combined. Repeat with the remaining flour and milk, ending with the flour. Stir in the chocolate chips.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. Invert it onto a wire rack, and then turn it right side up to cool completely.

Method – Frosting
Place the butter in a medium mixing bowl and beat until creamy. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the sugar, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Stir in the vanilla and the marshmallow fluff and beat until smooth. Use immediately or cover the bowl with plastic wrap and keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Cut the cake into squares and serve each one with a dollop of frosting on top. (Bring the frosting back to room temperature first if it has been stored in the fridge). Store any uneaten cake in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

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Styling C: 01.17.11 to 01.19.11

Monday, 01.17.11
The Look: Casual Baby
The Outfit: Gap pink star onesie, Old Navy blue and pink striped shorts

Tuesday, 01.18.11
The Look: Poodle Chic
The Outfit: Janie & Jack pink poodle top and white poodle leggings

Wednesday, 01.19.11
The Look: Casual Baby
The Outfit: Cherokee white long-sleeve top, First Impressions pink floral pants

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

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Birthday DIY: Crepe Paper Letters

Cati's birthday party is in 24 days and I'm still figuring things out. The only things set in stone still are date, time, and location. There's no turning back on that seeing as the invitations were put in the mail today. I didn't go with either of the invitations I shared with you in the Birthday Chatter post but I'm going to wait to share which one I did go with until I know that those invited have received their invitation. Let's just see it was a good compromise and more of what I like when it comes to invitations.

One of the other DIY projects I worked on when I made the DIY Ballerina Wreath was the letters for the name banner. Inspired by this name banner sold by Miette Shop

I set out to make my own in the aqua, pink, and white colors of Cati's party. I used this video on How to Make Crepe Paper Flower Rosette as a guide. I cut out a circle (cardstock) in the size I wanted each letter to be and started with the white crepe paper, then I did the pink and aqua. Instead of tape (as shown in the video) I used double sided photo corners to hold down the pleats on the circle and in between pleats. I found this beautiful aqua paper at Michael's and printed the letters out on it and then cut the circles out.


I'm still deciding on how to put the banner together but I plan on it being hung over the dessert table. The project took me about three hours from start to finish and I made eight letters in total. Total cost was about $6.50.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

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Styling C: 01.13.11 to 01.16.11

Thursday, 01.13.11
The Look: Casual Baby
The Outfit: The Children's Place yellow smiley face top, Crazy8 light blue jeans

Friday, 01.14.11
The Look: Polka Dot Cutie
The Outfit: Carter's gray polka dot dress, Gap pink leggings

Saturday, 01.15.11
The Look: Girly in Plaid
The Outfit: Target white headband, Carter's white onesie and blue plaid dress

Sunday, 01.16.11
The Look: Pink and Plaid Casual
The Outfit: The Children's Place pink top, Gymboree plaid pink and yellow pants