Monday, December 24, 2012

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Happy Merry

Picture 2

PS don't forget about the giveaway!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

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Protein Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

I'm trying to combine the two things that I love to do for myself: fitness and baking. Now that I'm trying to be more fit and live a healthier life, I'm constantly on the search for recipes that taste good and sneak in extra goodness for the body. I guess this is a natural follow-up to the lactation-friendly recipes I used to make that loaded up on the flaxseed and Brewer's yeast. This particular recipe is great because it has protein and it actually tastes really good. So good in fact, that Alex didn't even realize there was protein in the cookies and Cati loved eating the cookies. I made my cookies thin and crispy because that's how the majority of people in my household like them, but if you want a denser cookie, you can simply add more oats. Next time I make these cookies I will be adding whole wheat flour just so I can get even more goodness in them.

Protein Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Source: Slightly adapted from Dashing Dish

2 cups oats
1/4 cup protein powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
6 tbs unsalted butter, softened 

3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup  semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Place 1/2 of the oats (1 cup) in a food processor, and grind until oats are ground into a flour. Combine with the rest of the oats, protein powder, baking soda, and salt. 

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the egg and beat for a minute. Add the vanilla and mix for another minute.

Mix in the dry ingredients just until combined.  Stir in the chocolate chips. 

Scoop out teaspoon-sized balls of cookie dough. Place on the cookie sheet, about 3 inches apart (these cookies spread quite a bit). Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven and allow to cool. 

PS don't forget about the giveaway!
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Holiday Giveaway: Sew Sweet Peanut Boutique

Do you remember this adorable romper Elina wore for one of her portrait sessions?

It was made by my very talented and sweet friend Jamie of Sew Sweet Peanut Boutique. In the spirit of the holidays and because I think we all need a little dose of happiness, I will be giving away an item from Jamie's shop (up to $35). Jamie is great to work with and she has fabrics in every color and design you could possibly want. This is just a sample from her shop:

The giveaway will end the 25th at 8pm eastern time and a winner will be chosen using Here are the rules for the giveaway:
  1. Visit Sew Sweet Peanut Boutique and leave a comment letting me know what you would like from the shop. 
  2. One entry per person.
  3. US entrants only.
  4. Ends 8pm eastern time on Tuesday, December 25th, 2012. 
  5. Winner will be announced that very night. 
  6. The winner must contact me at to coordinate the order.
Good luck everyone!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

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Pumpkin Pancakes

I have become a big fan of pumpkin. Aside from pumpkin pie, everything I have made with pumpkin I have really liked. Maybe it's just that my taste buds have changed and I can appreciate the flavor of pumpkin more. I have a few favorite pancake recipes and this one is my favorite pumpkin pancake recipe. Every time I eat it I feel like I'm eating a little bit of the fall season. Let's just say I am glad I have a pantry full of pumpkin puree cans so I can keep eating these pancakes whenever I want.

Pumpkin Pancakes
Source: How To: Simplify
Serves 3-4

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup milk
6 tablespoons pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 egg

Stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, salt, nutmeg and cloves in a medium bowl.

Whisk together the milk, pumpkin, butter and egg in a separate bowl. Fold this mixture into the dry ingredients.

Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Pour 1/4 cup batter for each pancake and cook approximately 3 minutes per side. Serve with butter and maple syrup.

Monday, December 17, 2012

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Elina: Ten Months

Dear Elina,

Happy ten months sweet girl. I think I am finally over the shock of how old you are becoming. All the other months have felt so bittersweet to me as I’ve seen my baby grow and grow with no regard to how small I want her to stay. Maybe I have just accepted that you will keep on growing and that the only way to stop time or go back in time is through the memories that have been planted in my heart. Or maybe it’s just that I am starting to get excited about the milestone that will be your first birthday. Perhaps it’s the excitement of planning a party to celebrate the beauty that is you and your first year of life, which has me looking forward instead of backward. Either way, today I am living in the moment of today, with one foot ready to step off the past, the other foot ready to step in the future, and my heart firmly in the present.

This past month has been the month of movement. There have been so many falls and bumps and, again, I am amazed at the fearlessness and perseverance of a child learning how to stand and walk. You are one fast crawler and are becoming a fast climber. You hate being restrained in any way (car rides have become so much fun!) and you love trying to climb up the many stairs in our house. Being mobile means you have learned new ways to get attention and I will admit that I love when you crawl over to me, pull yourself up using my jeans, and make your dinosaur noises so that I will look at you and pick you up.

This has been the month where we are really starting to see the relationship deepen between you and your sister. Cati makes you laugh like no one else. Her concern for you is so touching and the way you follow her around is so sweet. Sharing is an issue, but this is just another thing you two will have to learn how to manage. I just hope that you always love each other and enjoy one another’s company as you do now.

I call you Elina-bug, but the more appropriate name is Elina-saurus because you sound like a dinosaur with all your hissing and gurgling noises. One day Cati even said you sounded like you swallowed a crocodile. You do, however, have more sounds in your language and this month is when you started making the dada and mama sounds. You haven’t said your first word yet, but with all the movements you are making you are more focused on learning how to walk rather than learning how to talk. I’m almost expecting your first word to be something like “yogurt” because of all the yogurt you eat! As for eating, you are still a great eater. You drink four-5oz bottles a day and you will eat almost anything I put in front of you. The only thing you don’t seem to be too crazy about are fruits; it’s as if every fruit is too bitter or sour for you with the faces you make and how quickly you spit them out.

This month you got two new teeth and, at ten months old, you have seven teeth. Teething is the only time you are ever a “cranky” baby and, luckily for you, you don’t teeth for two long.

You flew on an airplane for the first time this past month and you were such a trooper. We spent six days away from home and, aside from hating the car seat, you went with all the changes. A trip away from home, whether it is to Texas or the grandparents’ house, is something that always makes me a little sad because you are doing certain things so much younger than I would have thought I would feel comfortable with because you have an older sister. I feel as if I am letting go a little faster with you.

Ten months have gone by my little one. Lots of letting go and seeing you grow and wanting the world to stop just so I can hold you just a little bit longer. While I curse Time at times, I also thank Time for not stop and propelling me forward. I know each future moment with you will be better than the moment now, but it’s hard to say goodbye to what was. It’s so easy to stay stuck in the what-was and what-is, but because of your sister I know that the what-will-be is worth this unstoppable movement forward.

I love you always and thank you for giving me these ten months with you. Being a mother has never felt so rewarding.

Love always,

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Austin Trip

We flew out to Austin December 6th. Following a stressful week at school, I was so excited about being able to take a break and visit some place new. It was just the girls and me on this trip and, if I knew then what I know now, I don't think I would have gone through with the trip.

The plan was to visit Austin in October with Alex but things got complicated and I was afraid I would be even more stressed out going on a trip like this in the middle of the semester so the trip was postponed to December. I don't know what I was thinking when I booked the trip, but the reality of having to entertain two mobile and short attention spanned children on a plane and be the only adult they feel comfortable with for close to a week, did not sink in. The weekend before the trip was when I became nervous. The morning of the trip I was an anxious mess. Timing was bad and there was no one available to take us to the airport. With the help of so many kind strangers, I managed to get two kids, a stroller, a big piece of luggage, a duffle bag, and four small bags checked in and on the flight to Austin.

When we got to the terminal I went into one of the stores with the girls and let Cati pick out something for Elina and herself. Elina got a blue stuffed teddy bear and Cati picked out a Crayola backpack full of crayons, markers, chalk, and paper. I will forever be thanking Cati for this choice because that backpack was all we needed on the flight to Austin. Well, that and lots of snacks. We had a row to ourselves (no one wanted to sit next to us!) so once the seatbelt sign went off, girls were free to crawl and walk around out little row. I tried to treat the three-hour flight like we were playing at home, just in a much more confined space.

My dad surprised us at the Austin airport and my sister drove us home. For six days, my sister had three car seats in the back of her car. We did as much as we could sanely do and my girls took turns being cranky whenever there was a car ride. We spent the last two days there just hanging out at the house because I could not bring myself to another car ride.

While there, we visited The Capital and walked around the downtown area. We visited Pioneer Farms and ate at The Salt Lick (delicious!!!). We ran Color Me Rad and had a girls night out. I got to cuddle with my niece and see how my girls interacted with their cousin.

It was so much fun but so exhausting. Getting the girls to sleep in a new environment is always fun and for the three of the nights I slept with Cati and the other three nights I slept in an inflatable bed in the girls' room. Elina woke up each morning crying like a banshee (she was the house's alarm clock). The girls wanted to be with no one other than me and my dad would joke around and call them my shadow. The last two days were particularly rough because that's when Elina started teething so she was even  clingier and, in general, my patience as the parent doing everything was running dangerously low.

I was nervous again the day of the flight back. Luckily, the flight back had more kids so I didn't feel as bad if my girls acted up. I had more help from strangers and was soon on my way home. When I spoke to Alex that day he asked if I missed him or if I just missed the help. The truth was, I missed both and I missed that feeling of being able to walk away knowing my daughters wouldn't cry out for me and that feeling of having someone else feel the responsibility of parenting this children as much as I do. I missed him having my back and I felt so lucky I got to come home to this amazing man my daughters felt so comfortable around.

The flight back was just as smooth as the flight to Austin. We didn't even need the Crayola backpack on the flight back because the girls were more entertained with playing with each other and eating snacks. The girls did, however, pass out as soon as we were in the car driving home.

What's funny or sad or ironic to me is how quickly we can step back into the old roles and routines of everyday life. I was happy to be home but within hours of being home I was already stepping back into the frazzled-ness that I feel characterizes me at the moment. Again, the trip was great and I am so happy we survived, but I think I will be waiting a long, long, long time before I travel by myself with the girls again.

And after all that has been said, here are pictures from our memorable trip to Austin, Texas:

Flying to Austin

At Home & Out and About


The Capital

Pioneer Farms
IMG_1589 IMG_1627

The Salt Lick

Flying Home

Again, it's feels so good to be home. I love my family and am so thankful for all the time I got to spend with them, but there's no place like home. I think even the girls were starting to miss home. I was afraid they would be thrown off, but even they have gone back to their roles and I can happily report that there has been no banshee crying here. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

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There is so much to update on but it all seems so far away, like something that happened last year where the details are fuzzy versus something that happened yesterday where the details are crisp. There is so much sadness and I wish I could reach out to all the families affected by the shootings yesterday in Connecticut and cry with them so they would know that even if I do not know their pain, I feel it. I have spent the past day staring at my girls, marveling in their beauty and innocence, and wondering how I can protect them and shelter them from all the bad in the world. I cannot begin to comprehend what it must feel like to know that you said goodbye and did not know it was the last goodbye you would say to one another. This safety we feel, in our schools, in malls, anywhere public, in moments like this, seems so false. My initial reaction was that I wanted to keep my girls home forever and never let them out of sight, but then I knew that, more than that, I did not want my girls to live in fear. I want them to cherish each day, to believe in the inherent goodness of people, and to believe in the power of love to unite and bridge gaps. There's no way to make sense of all the violence, no way to justify the lost lives, but we can face each day with the curiosity of a child instead of the jadedness of an adult. My heart goes out to all the families affected by this tragedy. Today I will hold my girls closer to my heart and thank God for giving me another day of not having to say goodbye forever.
Public Garden Rose