Monday, August 24, 2009

Winning is Fun

I like to enter contests, and I like it even more when I win. I like to say that I never win anything, but that's very much not true. Earlier this year I won a copy of Tea & Crumpets from Chronicle Books. I haven't made any of the recipes in it yet, but I do like looking it over. I day dream of the crumpets, scones, and tea sandwiches it describes.

Just recently I won a giveaway through The Cradle Crush from MD Moms. My shipment arrived today. They sent an assortment of Baby Silk products: a bottle of their Hair and Body Wash, Daily Skin Protection, and Sunscreen Towelettes (both a 15 pack as well as 3 single wrap towels).
I have fairly sensitive skin, so I'm testing the lotion on myself first. If I don't have a reaction to it after a couple of days of use then we'll see how Max does with it. We haven't needed to use any lotion on him, so this is more for fun than for any dermatological reason.

I like the fact that the soap and lotion come in pump bottles. We have a gazillion bottles of Aveno baby wash and lotion courtesy of baby showers and Jeff's mom, but they are all squeeze bottles. It's easier to get soap one handed if you have a pump. Of course the big question is, what will Max think? He's enjoyed his baths and shampoos with the Aveno product. Will he notice or care that this soap is different? My money is on him not caring, but we will see.

Movie Noms

For a food theme Sean picked Ireland vs Belgium. For my part I made Guinness cupcakes again, but used the icing from the cake recipe. The cake icing has less sugar in it, and a little more cream cheese flavor. Jeff made ice cream with Belgian ales, one a double and the other a triple.

I used mini cupcake pans, and so I ended up bringing a lot of cupcakes. I packed them into a bamboo steamer just to be able to get them all over to the Larson residence.Jeff made 3 quarts of ice cream all told, and it was a big hit. Tasty cold treats tend to go over pretty big in 100 degree weather. The cupcakes also went over pretty well, but I cheated. I put them out on the table in front of everyone as we watched In Bruges. Hard to resist little bite sized cupcakes when they are right in front of you. I should know, I think I may have eaten a dozen all on my own.

Another fun movie night! I think we'd all seen the movie already, but it's so good that we enjoyed seeing again. Max was fairly well behaved for a little guy; Jeff and I were able to stay through the entire movie. We took turns walking off to calm him or feed him as needed, but he hung in there like a champ and I don't think he disrupted the movie too much for everyone else.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Island Cakes

Normally when I make pancakes "from scratch" I use a mix. From scratch means that I didn't pull them out of a freezer box or something. This morning though I really scratched them out. I mentioned that I had a coupon for free yogurt, the catch was that I had to buy a bag of granola. Now the granola was on sale so we went ahead and did it. Perusing the flavors revealed a Hawaiian mix (with ginger toasted macadamia, coconut, and pineapple) that sounded tasty to both of us, so I grabbed a bag. Since I didn't purchase any plain vanilla yogurt I was trying to think what else I could do with the granola. I decided that I wanted to turn it into tasty tasty pancakes, since I am all about pancakes lately. In the end I think these only merit one tasty, there is room for improvement. (see the end of the post for the recipe I used today)

My complaints today are: The batter was too thick and resulted in a very dense cake, not light and fluffy like I get with my store bought mix. The granola was not prominent enough, and the pancake in general lacked flavor. The bit of texture from the nuts and oats was quite good though. The pineapple did not stand out, but might be more noticeable with the increase in granola. Also, I need a topping of some sort with my pancakes, but these didn't taste right with maple syrup.

The next time I think I would reduce the amount of flour, maybe to 3/4 cup, and increase the amount of granola to 3/4 cup. The amount of milk may have to be adjusted to get a better consistency but I couldn't say without mixing it up first. The mix does need to be a hair thinner though, this one did not pour so much as glop onto the pan. I bet a dash of vanilla would help the general cake flavor as well.

As far as toppings my first instinct is to get some coconut syrup. We had this in Hawaii and I love it. It would be a match with the coconut shavings in the granola. Another possibility would be a fruit topping, maybe mango? Mango would compliment them well, but I'm not sure about how to go about a mango topping.

I definitely want to try this again, so I'm including all my notes here. Hopefully next time I'll get all the way to tasty tasty.

My base starting point was The Fanny Farmer Cookbook, griddlecake recipe. I added the granola mix and increased the amount of milk because the batter was way too thick.

3/4 - 1 cups of milk
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 egg
1 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup Udi's Hawaiian granola (chop large pieces of macadamia & pineapple before adding to batter)

Beat milk, butter & egg lightly in mixing bowl. Mix flour, baking powder, sugar & salt and add all at once to the first mixture, stir just enough to combine. Add granola mix, stiring in gently, do not over mix.

Using 1/4 cup scoop drop mix onto medium heat non-stick skillet. Cook about 1 1/2 minutes per side, until lightly browned. (My mix was so thick that I did not see much bubbling like I normally would with a pancake. Instead when they were ready to turn the cake would start to get taller.)

I got a yield of 9 (3 1/2 inch) pancakes.

Friday, August 21, 2009

This is Going to Sound Bad

Babies are boring. I've spent almost 2 months now with an infant, and I feel like I can say that with authority. I speculated before Max was born that he wouldn't be all that exciting at first, but until you do it you don't really know. Maybe this makes me sound terrible, but I know I'm not the only one who's thought it.
Peaceful yes, exciting... not so much.

The worst part about how boring babies are, is that for the most part the only times that they aren't boring are really terrible. When they are wailing and thrashing their limbs about it isn't boring at all, but it certainly isn't fun either.

The first few weeks were the worst, because he spent hardly any time awake. I almost felt like I was swaddling him too much and not encouraging him to be awake. Sometimes it seemed like all he wanted to do was eat and sleep. Like all his awake time was miserable for him and my efforts to soothe him by feeding, changing, cuddling, were only to help him get back to sleep. I worried I was a bad mom for not trying to keep him awake longer.
He doesn't know he can't read.

Now that Max is able to spend some time awake I'm much more secure with my decisions to let him sleep as much as he wants. If he's awake and happy then we play. He likes his activity gym, we can cuddle up on the couch, or lay on the bed listening to music, and sometimes we read. When he's not happy we troubleshoot: food, diaper, burping, and if all else fails then a little cuddling usually sends him off to dream land. Okay sometimes it takes a LOT of cuddling, but you know what I mean.

Still, these awake times are definitely getting to be more fun, and we still have so far to go. Just yesterday we were playing on the floor and I finally got proof that Max really does smile. I missed the best ones that happened when Bullet sniffed him on the nose, but I was able to grab this with my iPhone.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Emmi Muesli

With my Central Market coupon I got free yogurt. It was Emmi "Swiss Premium" lowfat yogurt, and because the coupon was 5 days old they only had 2 flavors left*. I tried the Muesli flavor, and it was interesting.

The first thing that struck me was gratitude that the yogurt had muesli in it, and not just a flavor of muesli. The second was that the flavor seemed familiar. After musing on it for a bit I've come to the conclusion that it reminds me of apple Hi-Chew candy. It's not that surprising since the candy is yogurt and this yogurt has apple in it.

Back to the yogurt, it has all sorts of stuff in it. Apple, pear, oats, nuts, including some rather nice pieces of hazelnut, and 1 huge raisin. It was pleasant, but too sweet for me. It's sweet in a fruity way, but still really sweet. If you like to add all sorts of stuff (like muesli) to your yogurt, then this is one stop shopping for you. Everything is already there and in a nice proportion to save you a step.

I would get it again for free for sure, I've definitely done worse. I might even try it again once in a while for kicks depending on how much it costs.

*I got one of each for curiosity's sake. The other flavor is pink grapefruit and I'm a little scared. At least now that I've had this sweet muesli I have hope that the pink grapefruit will also be sweet, and not some scary sour bomb.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Zombie Baby


Jeff finally caught a pic of Max sleeping with his arms sticking out. He also likes to wave them in the air, like perhaps he just don't care.

I Still Knit

Thankfully I knit fairly quickly, because I have very little knitting time allotted to me right now. I fit in a round or two where I can. I'm really surprised at the progress I've managed to make considering this sporadic "schedule".

I'm working on my socks that were Round 4 of Sock Madness this year. The first of the pair only needs a heel (and I might rip out the cuff to make it a little looser) so I'm currently working to get the second to the same place. Obviously I fell out of the competition on these. In a group where pairs of socks are completed in hours you can't spend months on a single one.I picked up the second sock on August 1st and have managed to complete the first diamond and over half of the second in these 2 and a half weeks. I feel my knitting mojo coming back to me. I'm finding patterns that I want to knit, and knit for real not just imagine that if I did knit they would be fun. I'm going to try and contain myself for a while longer though. I have a lot (like 4 or more) of socks in progress right now, and I already have yarn and a pattern for a scarf that I want to do. Then there's all the fiber that I have to work on spinning into yarn, and coming up with something playful to knit out of it.

First things first, these socks are the closest to done, so I'll keep working on them and see if I can finish this month. I'm hoping the red yarn holds out long enough to finish the cuff on the second sock. They're probably going to end up with purple heels but I'd rather not have purple cuffs too.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

More Yogurt

I think I need to review some food products that aren't yogurt, but for now what you get is more yogurt. Sorry, but I don't eat much prepared food that I think is worth a mention. I do try some pretty strange yogurt though.

The last flavor adventure I took was Brown Cow's Chocolate yogurt. I would classify this under "special". Basically it was chocolate pudding under a tart vanilla yogurt. When you mix them together the pudding doesn't blend entirely so you're left with little pockets of pudding that burst into chocolate flavor (not unlike Jello brand pudding) in the midst of yogurt bites.

The yogurt part was good, and the pudding part was good, and I ate the entire portion. However I don't think I want to eat it a second time. I think I prefer to keep my pudding and yogurt in separate bowls.

Other Brown Cow flavors that I've tried and really like are vanilla, blueberry, and cherry vanilla. I like the fruit that they put in them (well you know the flavors that have fruit). The only other flavor that I've tried so far is raspberry and I didn't enjoy it. There are too many seeds, and it just gives it a bit too much texture. I don't like gritty yogurt.

Just a heads up here, I have 3 other strange (to me) flavors of yogurt waiting in the fridge. So you'll probably be hearing more from me on the subject, especially since one of them is "seasonal".

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Nursery

The nursery in our home is the room that we've taken the longest to get ready. We didn't put a rush on it at first because Max was going to be the last one to move in. Then we didn't rush it because we knew he'd be sleeping in our room for a few months anyway. Then we couldn't rush it because he'd been born and the only thing that got rushed were meals, getting bottles ready, and where on earth is a clean diaper?!?

For reference here is a photo of the nursery when we first moved in. Like the rest of the house it was painted exclusively in chalky KB White. Also like the rest of the house, it was empty. For a brief while it looked like a storage shed, as I piled various boxes of baby clothes and toys with no rhyme or reason.Then Jeff spent hours painting the room from top to bottom. With 3 shades of blue feathered together it already looked way cooler than it started. Next we added the crib, a green rug, red dresser, some storage tubs and lots of toys.We still have more decorating plans, but it already looks great. I'm very excited to have this room put together. I'm also enjoying using a proper changing table. The height is much better than changing him in the Pack N Play.

Max has taken a couple of naps in his room, and he seems to really like it. He sleeps pretty soundly as long as no one opens the door to take a peek at him. Of course, I say that but he's taking a nap in the living room right now while I write this post and watch NCIS on the tv. So maybe he just sleeps well when he sleeps well, and the nursery is having a streak of good luck.