Friday, July 27, 2012

Recipes, Sewing, Crafting, and More!

So I've decided to expand my blog a little and start sharing some of my recipe creations, some of my favorite recipes, as well as sewing and crafting projects here and there. I love to cook, bake, sew, craft, paint, etc, so why not? Especially since I am gluten-free and now dairy & nut-free due to Connor's sensitivities and I know how hard it was when I first started these changes to find recipes and figure out what to eat. Now I'm at the point where I can adjust recipes I love to meet my current dietary restrictions and I want to share them for those who might be restricted in their diets too. Plus I know several friends and family members who ask me for my recipes so this will be a good place to share some. I will still be updating here and there about things going on in my life and with my sweet little boy, so no worries if you enjoy those posts. I hope you enjoy the recipes and projects as much as I do!

High Need Baby

I had never heard this term before having Connor. Some thought maybe he was a little colicky when he was younger but I discovered he was, in fact, just a high need baby (well and is sensitive to dairy so I cut that out which lessened his fussiness). Some may use the term "fussy baby" but I usually just tell people that he's high maintenance like his mother. Once I understood this, I was able to make adjustments and things are getting better.

Dr. Sears describes 12 features of a high need baby: intense, hyperactive, draining, feeds frequently, demanding, awakens frequently, unsatisfied, unpredictable, super sensitive, can't be put down,  not a self-soother, and separation sensitive. Connor fits most of these. Yes it's often draining, especially with Ken deployed, and sometimes I worry I might get burned out. I am truly thankful for my friends and family who have been there to give me little breaks here and there. Not that I feel the need to get away, but just to have my arms free temporarily to get a few things done that I can't do while holding a baby. In fact, I get a little anxious when I'm away from Connor and all I can think about is getting back to him. I'm sure this is an instinct thing, we're not designed to leave our babies behind as this would have certainly spelled danger long ago. Though some mommas and babies can get used to the temporary separations and still be happy as this is no longer a danger today's modern world. I'm just speaking for how I feel and how Connor acts. I'm also very thankful for my Ergo; he's happy being held close to me and I can do a few things around the house. If he happens to get hungry, no problem, we are pretty good at nursing in the Ergo and have nursed many times in public or around others and no one can tell he's nursing with the hood up. This carrier has seriously been a life-saver! Now that he's starting to become mobile, he doesn't want to be held all the time as much as when he was littler, but he still wants to be held a lot. When he's down on the floor playing, he's getting a little better at playing by himself for short periods of time (maybe 10-15 minutes if I'm lucky) but would usually rather I play with him or help him practice his walking and chasing the dogs around the house.

High need babies, like Connor, just need more of everything and are persistent when asking for these things. I find that on days when I'm not too busy trying to get something done and I respond quickly to his fussing, he actually fusses less and is much happier. I'm trying to find a balance so that I can get things done that I need to do as well as meeting Connor's needs. We're getting better at this but I know we'll always have room for improvement. It's only me right now and one person can only do so much. I would love if I had someone to come play with him for just an hour a day and it would free me up to be able to do a few things... like cleaning the bathrooms. These rooms suffer the most as I can't clean them with Connor in the Ergo or sling or even with him playing in the room because I don't want him breathing in the chemicals (even the earth-friendly ones). But I know that this won't last forever, and eventually he'll be able to play by himself long enough for me to clean the bathrooms, or finish a sewing project, or whatever else I need to do that day. So for now, we get by and I don't stress about the things I can't get done or the backyard that looks awful because I can't get out there to weed it. It will look better next year. Right now, Connor needs me and I know that meeting his needs shows him that he can trust me and that is so important right now.

So yes, I have a fussy, high needs, high maintenance baby, who still wakes up a lot at night, nurses often throughout the day, and wants to be held and be with me most of the time....but I love him and wouldn't trade him for the world! 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

S'mores Brownies

I came across this recipe on years ago and never got around to trying it... I had saved it to my recipe box and forgot about it. Then once I discovered Pinterest, I went back to all those recipes I had saved and pinned them so now I have them all in one place and will remember where to look for new recipes I want to try! (Can you tell I love Pinterest?) Well, now that I am gluten-free and also need to by dairy-free and nut-free for a while, I needed to modify the recipe accordingly and here is what I did:


6 tbsp vegan buttery sticks, melted (I used earth balance)
1 1/2 cups crushed gluten-free graham cracker crumbs (I used kinnikinnik s'moreables)
2 tbsp sugar
pinch salt

Gluten-free brownie mix (I used Betty Crocker's but I also like the Gluten Free Pantry one)
ingredients called for in the brownie mix - substitute coconut oil for the butter most of the mixes call for

4 cups larges marshmallows


Preheat the oven to 325F. Spray an 8x8 baking dish/pan (I used glass) with canola oil and line with parchment paper.

CRUST: Use some of the melted buttery sticks to lightly coat the parchment paper and then mixed the rest of it with the crumbs, sugar and salt in a medium bowl. Press the crumb mixture evenly over the bottom of the pan. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes.

BROWNIE: While the crust is baking, make the brownies according to the package directions (substituting coconut oil for the butter). Poor over crust and bake according to package directions.

TOPPING: When brownies are done, take them out of the oven and move the top rack to about 6 inches from the broiler and set the broiler to low (I put my custom broiler at the 350F). Layer the marshmallows across the top and toast under the broiler until golden, about 2 minutes. (Keep your eye on them the whole time don't walk away!) Cool on a rack.

Now I let mine cool in the pan and cut them the next day but it was a bit of a pain. I oiled a knife to cut through the marshmallows and then cut through the brownie and crust, re-oiling the knife often. Everything else was pretty easy! The original recipes has you lining the pan with foil but that has never worked well for me... the parchment paper worked out well. 

*This recipe was adapted from (link to the actual recipe can be found in the first paragraph of this blog post).

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Cucumber-Avocado Chicken Salad Miniwiches


These lovely little appetizers were inspired by two things I saw on Pinterest. One pin was just a picture of cute little cucumber sandwiches but there were no instruction on the link saying what they put on it. The other pin was chicken salad made with avocado instead of mayo and there was a recipe but I didn't bother looking at it and just winged it! They turned out so well and everyone raved about them at the Scentsy party where I served these. Without further ado, here's the recipe:

Cucumber-Avocado Chicken Salad Miniwiches

roma or plum tomatoes
romaine lettuce
avocado chicken salad (recipe below)

Directions: Using a mandolin or very sharp knife, thinly slice the cucumbers and tomatoes. Tear lettuce into small pieces to fit on the cucumbers.
Assemble miniwiches: place a scoop of chicken salad atop a slice of cucumber, then lettuce, then tomato, and finally another slice of cucumber. I used a small ice-cream scoop to measure out the chicken salad evenly onto each miniwich.

Avacado Chicken Salad

1 large can of chicken, drained
1 avocado, mashed
lime juice
garlic powder
salt and pepper

Mix ingredients together in a bowl. Unfortunately I didn't measure (as I often don't when creating a new recipe on a whim) so you'll need to add the juice and spices to your taste. My approximates are probably 1/4 tsp garlic powder, 1-2 tsp dried cilantro, sprinkling of salt and pepper, and about a tbsp of lime juice. It would probably taste even better with fresh chicken and cilantro but I didn't have time for that this time so this is how I made it :).

That's it... pretty easy and super yummy! If you don't like avocado, you could substitute your favorite chicken salad recipe or even use tuna salad instead. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Happy 1/2 Birthday Connor!

Time has gone by so fast! It's true when they say that kids grow up fast. My sweet baby boy is six month old already! His stats from his 6 month well-check are: 17 lbs 13 oz (still 50th percentile) and 28.25 in long (95th percentile)! His doctor says he is doing great!

6 months!

It seems like so much has happened this last month. Connor went from a slightly wobbly sit at 5 months, to a solid sit just a week later and now fusses until I offer him my hands, he grabs my fingers, pulls himself to a stand, and starts walking around the house (at first I had to help propel him forward or he would just rock back and forth in one spot like a sumo wrestler but he started forward motion on his own the other day). He absolutely loves it and squeals with delight, especially when the dogs are inside walking with him. I thought I had more time before I have to start chasing him around,  but looks like I may only have a couple more months. Crazy! Ken was an early walker though so it looks like Connor is going to follow in his footsteps (literally, lol). I know he needs to crawl first so I try to work on that with him when he'll let me and he is starting to sort of climb over his laugh & learn table (without the legs) and leans forward from a sit and gets almost on all fours before dropping to his tummy. He just hasn't figured out how to move from there and just kicks his feet.

But Momma, I want to walk!

I really try not to let him do the walking too much (all that bending over hurts my back and I don't want him over doing it) and discovered something to keep him entertained and happy... I had a box from a order that came recently and it's the perfect size for Connor to sit in. As a former box-loving kid, I knew this could easily become Connor's new race car. So what did I do? Sat him in the box and pushed him around the living room making car noises, and he loves it! Maybe not as much as walking, but it gets him moving and entertains him for a bit. I think I'm going to deck it out and make it look like a race car. I know he'll love having a wheel to grab :).

Connor in his "race car"

Earlier this month, Connor had his first trip to the Zoo. We went with our neighbor Jeannine and her son and had a great time. And let me just say that I am so thankful for my wonderful neighbors who have really helped a lot with Ken being gone, especially Jeannine who has watched Connor a few times, has us over for dinner and play dates to get us out of the house, and fed the cat when we were out of town. I am so thankful for such wonderful friends!

Look it's a giraffe!

We've hung out with Jessi (& Charlotte & Grady) a lot this month too (also an amazing friend who despite having 2 little ones, still helps me out when she can)...I'm really going to miss our time together when school starts back up!

Haha Grady! This is payback for when I was smaller and you tackled me!

So Connor has gotten more interactive with Liby...he really loves her. Sometimes when he's sitting on the floor playing and starts to fuss, she will sit down next to him and he will stop and reach out to her. She returns with kisses, even when he starts grabbing fistfuls of fur, lol. Zoe loves Connor too but I don't let her give kisses since she has picked up poop eating again :(. Tallulah just looks at him like "Really?" She will be on the run when he can walk on his own, I'm sure!

Hey Liby, do you mind if I pull on your face?

For the 4th (also Ken and my 8th anniversary), we took a last minute road trip to St. Pete to see family. My Aunt Becky & Uncle Jim and my Uncle Bob and a bunch of my cousins all live down there and my brother with his family, one of my sisters, and my mom were all flying in to visit so almost everyone from my mom's side of the family were going to be there. Connor did pretty well on the way there... I left at 4:30 am so he slept most of the way but I did stop a couple of times. Connor got to meet his cousins on my side and we spent a couple days with family. Connor swam in a pool and in the Gulf for the first time and did pretty well. I wasn't sure if he liked it but he didn't hate it. The only place he would nap while we were there was in the Ergo, probably feeling safer in a strange place attached to mommy. We got to see fireworks and Connor was actually awake for them and was mesmerized by them, he did much better than I thought he would! The drive home wasn't as good as the way there, he did sleep the first half and fussed most of the 2nd half with about 45 minutes of screaming on the last 1/4. He just wanted out of the car seat :(. Really hope he gets better at car rides as there's a lot more in our future with going to visit Ken when he's in port.

Connor playing with his cousins Morgan, Rylee & Tenley while we waited for fireworks

I was considering taking the swing down as Connor rarely sits in it anymore but thought I'd try it a few more times first before I took it apart. Turns out I just needed to up the speed a couple notches and Connor will fall asleep in it again! Woohoo! This beats Ergo naps when I can't get a lot done and he refuses to sleep in his crib. We're starting to get a little better with crib naps too.

Sleeping in the swing!

And after weeks of trying to work on it here and there, I finally finished Connor's cart cover and he got to ride in a shopping cart! We went to the commissary and he loved getting to look around at everything and play with a toy. I think he started to miss riding in the Ergo towards the end of our shopping trip. I'll still have to keep that with me for naps on the go and when he needs to eat. I love that I can nurse him in it and no one can tell :).

This is so much fun!

Now we're ready to start solids! On the menu tonight... oatmeal! Praying it doesn't stop him up.... let the fun poops begin! LOL