Friday, April 17, 2015

five for friday

Linking up today, in the name of quick and dirty posting...


Ug, bathing suit season is upon us.  I'll be super honest here... I'm not looking great naked these days.  I almost want to say I felt better about my body last summer, but perhaps that was simply due to the very low post-partum bar; newborns give you a big ol' pass, for sure.  Currently, I get a decent amount of exercise, but I'm still eating as if I were nursing a dozen times a day, and, SPOILER ALERT, that is no longer the case.  I do know my midsection clings to about 10-15 pounds until I've completely weaned, but that doesn't explain the other extra weight.  Long-sob-story-short, BOO SWIMSUITS.  

Except for this Modcloth swimsuit.*  1,269 positive reviews can't be wrong -- this sucker is something short of a miracle.  The fabric is thick {and somewhat "rougher" than usual, I suppose due to the polyester} but is super supportive and comfortable on.  There will be no fretting over nip-slips in this number, but, at the same time, it's quite far removed from Sad Mom Suit Territory.  I took the recommendation of ordering a size or two up {I just did one}, and I'm very glad I did.  Perhaps if I enjoy enough wine this evening, I'll add my photo to the ratings section; I absolutely love it when I can see snapshots of real people in clothes before I purchase online!

*link is affiliate || items purchased at full price with my own dolla-dolla-bills. 


I am currently contemplating a juice cleanse {SEE ABOVE}. 

ALL THE EYEROLLS, right?!  I know.  Given my past history with disordered eating, I am hyper-skeptical of "quick fixes" and diet gimmicks, both from an effectiveness standpoint and from the personally-good-for-my-mental-health angle.  However, I do feel like I could benefit from a little "shock to the system" action to reframe my current eating habits and act as a jumping off point for a bit of a lifestyle change.   I am already a huge Snap Kitchen fan, and I've read a decent number of independent reviews of their Clean Start cleanse.  The general consensus is the juices taste pretty great and provide enough calories and fat to ensure you don't starve / commit hanger-induced-homicide.  It does seem that most of the reviewers only cleansed for one day... Anyone out there done a longer version?  I'm thiking 3-5 days.  I'd love to hear general experiences, but would REALLY love to hear any specific experiences with SK's Clean Start.  


I tried to enrich B's Texan childhood with an impromptu bluebonnet photo sesh.  It went slightly better than L's first time in the wildflowers. Sorry kids; best get used to this particular Springtime Forced Fun activity, as I'll be making y'all dodge fire ants and sticker burs and bees in the name of Tradition until you remove yourselves from the family gravy train.  


Conversations with L; 4/16/2015

E: L, you're my #1 girl!
E: "Number one" means you're the best!  Don't you want to be the best?


Have you seen the Trainwreck trailer?  Have you watched it 64 times like I have?  If your answer to either of those questions is "nay," you have some catching up to do. 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Dinos & Donuts {Brady's 1st Birthday Party}

How many cake-smeared-on-the-face photos is too many for a first birthday party post?  

Maybe like 16ish?  

Excellent!  Because I have a mere fifteen carefully culled messy frosting snapshots for your enjoyment!  If that prospect doesn't absolutely thrill you {you monster}, there's two baked donut recipes for your patience after the pictorial sugar smorgasbord. 

We celebrated B's first year {his golden birthday!} the Saturday before Easter with a brunch in Austin.  Try as I might, a clever April Fools' theme for my 4/1 bambino did not materialize, so "Dinos & Donuts" it was... because I love alliteration and decor I can find laying around in our toy boxes. 

We served assorted quiches from Costco, mixed berry fruit salad, Smitten Kitchen's spinach and cheese strata {which apparently I did not photograph but will forever be the shining star on my brunch menu -- I had 4 requests for the recipe!}, mimosas, coffee, and two types of cake donuts.

We kept the decorations easy-peasy -- old school balloons and crepe paper, the Official H Family Birthday Banner, plastic dinosaur figurines {most we already had / the bigger guys I found for $1 a piece at Walmart}, and these adorable felt donuts {that are now the all-stars of the play kitchen}.  I did make the balloon wreath {something else I hope to use many, many times in years to come} {DIY instructions here, if you're so inclined -- it's the easiest craft ever} and the monthly photo banner {which I am slightly obsessed with and will hang in B's room until he's old enough to deem it uncool}. 

My talented friend Cayden designed the invites for us, and we had them printed via VistaPrint.  It was a labor of love from someone who's been an integral part of my Dallas "village" since before B was born, and I am so, so pleased with how they turned out.

And the entry table photo collage -- I suppose we can call it a First Birthday Tradition now as we did the same thing for L. People seemed to get a kick out of looking through these, and many of our guests grabbed a few of their favorites on their way out -- kinda fun as it's so rare to share hard copies of photos these days.

These two crazy kittens had an absolute ball as the only big kids in attendance! I think they got out every tiny toy at my parents' house, including all the pieces to multiple board games.  When we asked them if they'd intended to play said games, they simply replied "no, we just wanted to make a mess!" Ha!

Enough details... CAKE!  I mean... DONUTS!

I love the above photo so much.  L's face!  She was kinda bummed this year to realize other people have birthdays -- even pestersome little brothers! 

This child knew exactly what to do with cake.  Talk about zero time and crumbs wasted! 

Taking a pause before finishing up those final bites. 


Now that the photographic excess is out of the way, let me share two delectable baked donut recipes with you.  Homemade donuts were a first for me, but I had tons of fun making them. I highly recommend the Wilton Nonstick Donut Pan if you're in the market for such a contraption.  It's cheap, but it is legitimately nonstick and bakes very evenly.  I chinsed out and only purchased one -- do yourself a favor and pony up for two.  And don't waste your time on the mini donut pans unless you have the patience of a saint. 

Baked Cinnamon Donuts with Chocolate Glaze
donuts adapted from Ina Garten; glaze adapted from Joy the Baker

- baking spray or misto of olive oil
- 2 c all purpose flour
- 1.5 c sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
- 1.25 c whole milk
- 2 T unsalted butter, melted
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract

For the Glaze
- 1.5 c powdered sugar
- 4 T unsweetened cocoa powder
- pinch of salt
- 3-4 T of milk
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- sprinkles

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray your donut pans with baking spray or olive oil.

In a large bowl, sift together dry ingredients. Sifting is a bitch and I hate it but it's necessary: do it.  Set aside.  In a small bowl, whisk together wet ingredients.  Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients until just combined.  I wouldn't use an electric or stand mixer for this as too much mixing = a rubbery donut {or so Ina tells me}.

Spoon batter into pans, filling each about three-quarters of the way full. Bake for about 17 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan on a baking rack for 5 minutes, then tap donuts out on wax paper.  Cool completely before glazing.

While the donuts cool, make the glaze. In a medium bowl, whisk together powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and salt,  If your powdered sugar is stubbornly lumpy, sift away.  Add 2 T of milk and then the vanilla. Whisk to combine.  Add 1-2 more T of milk to create a thick but still pourable glaze.

Once donuts cool completely {I made mine the night before and stored them in an airtight tin, separated by layers of wax paper, then made the glaze the morning of the party}, dip top-side-down into the glaze and then again into a plate covered in sprinkles.  Allow to set for 20-30 minutes before serving.

* makes about 15 donuts

Blueberry Brown Butter Donuts with Drizzled Glaze
adapted from Joy the Baker

- 2 c all-purpose flour
- 1.5 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 2/3 c sugar
- 4 T butter
- 2 large eggs
- 1 c buttermilk
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 pint blueberries

For the glaze
- 1 c powdered sugar
- 2-4 T milk
- sprinkles

Preheat oven to 350 and spray yo' pans.

In a large bowl, sift together dry ingredients and set aside.

In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt butter.  Continue to cook butter until it begins to brown and smell nutty.  Remove from heat and immediately transfer to a ramekin.

In a small bowl, whisk together the remainder of the wet ingredients {except for blueberries}. Whisk brown butter {including little brown bits} into the wet ingredients.  Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until just combined {remember: no rubbery donuts!}.  Gently fold in blueberries.

Spoon batter into pans and fill three-quarters of the way full.  Bake 8-10 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan on a baking rack for 5 minutes, then tap donuts out on wax paper.  Cool completely before glazing.

While the donuts cool, you know the drill... make that glaze.  Whisk powdered sugar together with 2 T milk.  Add 1-2 more tablespoons of milk until glaze drips easily off a spoon.  Drizzle glaze over cooled donuts and then sprinkle with, um, sprinkles. Allow to set for 20-30 minutes before serving.

*makes about 15 donuts

And a big ol' thank you to all those who celebrated with us & supported us through B's first year!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Day in the Life: April 10, 2015

It's time again for a quarterly "day in the life" post...which means another 3 months have passed in half a blink.  The Spring 2015 snapshot finds us all on the other side of birthdays: the baby is a toddler; the toddler is a threenager; E is now in his, what I believe to be, "mid-thirties;" and I have wiry old-lady half-ear-curls.  It's all madness! Madness I say! 

Thanks to Julia, our fearless new host in this documentary endeavor!  There's still time to get your DITL post in for the link-up {I believe the cut-off date to email your post is the 16th?} if you so desire. 

Spring 2015: Friday, April 10th

Kate is 32
E is 33
L is 3
B is 1

12:01 am - I hadn't yet decided to record this season's DITL, but I stayed up texting with a friend and reading my Kindle until a bit past midnight. I figured I'd read a few pages and then pass out quickly, as is my custom, but I ended up getting really into my book - The First Bad Man - which I'd previously been pretty "meh" / "wtf" about.  I discovered it via some sort of "15 Female Writers You Must Read in 2015" type listicle, and, while I did enjoy the writing overall {I've since finished}, I'm having a hard time envisioning myself recommending it to many people.  I suppose if you can get past some really, really unsexy sex stuff {or perhaps it's sexy to you, NO JUDGMENT... but, um, ew} and a Lolita-esque sub-plot {a very minor one, but was almost a bit too pedophilic for me}, you might also enjoy it for the quirky {that's putting it nicely} main character and original narrative. ANYHOODLE, point being: I was reading the damn book when Thursday became Friday. 

6:20 am - I wake up and check the monitor.  Both kiddos are still asleep.  I briefly debate getting up and either jogging {and by "jogging," I mean walking really briskly} or getting a head start on prepping for today's zoo trip. HAHAHA NOPE. I check IG and Facebook.  I decide to do DitL today. Read my email and chuckle at one sent by my friend A at 5:16 am that simply says "Bastards" in the subject line; it links to an article about these horrible tent caterpillars that invade Texas every year when the oak pollen is at it's zenith of terribleness.  They travel in hoards up your trees and build these disgusting cottony-web-balls and will drop into your hair on their silky threads.  They've even been causing power outages in the area.  Seriously, it's like something out of Revelations.  I shared my recipe for caterpillar genocide {eucalyptus oil in a spray bottle} at nursery school pick-up the other day, and I suppose A thought of me while perusing entomology articles in the much-too-early hours of the morning -- my friends are the best.  I notice my battery is about to poop out on me so I plug my phone in and promptly forget about taking photos with it for the next 2.5 hours.  Oops. 

I read for a little bit while E goes to get B around 7:20 am.  L is still asleep which is excellent as she woke up a bunch last night {nothing that warranted checking on her, but still lots of interrupted sleep}.  I hear something about a baby snake while he is changing B's diaper in the office and assume he is joking.  Super funny!  HA JOKES ON ME, there is most definitely a baby snake {a little shorter than a shoelace but a bit thicker} right outside our bedroom door in the entryway.  It's solid brownish-gray so I don't have to recite my red-yellow / red-black rhyme; it's just a little garden snake.  I'm not particularly skittish around snakes unless they are in the water {AND THEN THEY ARE FUCKING TERRIFYING}, but, yaknow, I still don't want them side-winding around my foyer so I removed the little dude to the front lawn with some salad tongs.  A plague of insects and a serpent... shit is getting straight-up BIBLICAL up in here before I've even had a cup of coffee. 

7:40 am - B gets a banana, handful of strawberries, a power grains waffle, and kefir for breakfast; he houses it all per usual.  E goes to get L who promptly wants to change into the outfit she picked out for today and then eats a squeeze-pouch kefir.  She then proceeds to claim she is not at all hungry for a solid breakfast.  This is a newish but becoming-very-regular {obnoxious} occurrence - I try and threaten "no snacks until you eat breakfast" on the regular, but she sticks to her guns until we're out of the house away from the perfectly tasty breakfast foods and then begs for the snacks she knows I'll provide {principles don't stand a chance in the face of a hangry three year old}.  Oh well, this one isn't big enough a deal to become my new Waterloo.  There is lots of toilet action this morning and there is a slight meltdown over reward treats {without too much TMI-ing, let me just say this: Mama ain't no fool when it comes to repeated "deer pellets" produced every 5 minutes in order to obtain multiple jelly beans -- nice try, kid}.  In between the whining and the wiping, I pack our lunches {AND SNACKS} for the zoo and E plays with the munchkins. 

8 am - E gets in the shower.  I realize it's pretty chilly outside so I go upstairs and grab leggings for L and a long-sleeved onesie / pants for B.  I make L's bed even though it will get unmade the minute we get home from the zoo for naptime.  An unmade bed makes me twitchy.  E leaves for work and we all wave bye-bye and watch him drive away.  I get dressed; L and I talk about "layering" and "max-scare-uh."  Another quick fit after I attempt to put a hair clip in L's hair that Piggie apparently wants to wear on her ear; yep, this child did not get a great night's sleep!  I ask L about breakfast again; she declines.  I remember my phone on the charger and see a friend has texted me for advice on transitioning her baby to one nap per day. During this conversation, B attempts to raid the liquor cabinet and then pulls wet toilet paper L used to blow her nose out of the toilet.  So glad people trust me for parenting tips; I'm obviously a shining example!  E calls me to note the man who regularly protests solo outside the women's clinic on Routh is at it again -- ug, that guy needs a new hobby.  More coffee for me.  We play in the office while I type up these notes and text my friend A {different that early-morning-caterpillar-email A} who we are meeting at the zoo.  I get B dressed and pack up. 

9:30 am - We are not technically supposed to meet the P Family at the zoo until 10:30, but I figure we can leave early, grab a Starbucks, and check out a few of the exhibits close to entrance while we wait. I inquire one final time as to a legit breakfast for L... Nope, "I am not! hungry!" I load up the car and buckle B into his seat.  L now climbs into her seat all by herself {or else}.  As I'm waiting for her to clamor in, I note it's even cooler than I thought and grab her gray and yellow hoodie from my trunk.  Heated discussion about the merits of the yellow and gray hoodie over the pink and purple one she really prefers {it's cotton instead of fleece! it has a monkey on the zipper! and, most importantly, it's right here instead of inside and up the stairs!}.  I wrestle the hoodie on her, buckle her in, and get her set up with some Wee Sing on her music player {best find ever; no one paid me to say that, although I wish they would}.  It is recycle and trash day, and I am newly annoyed by the fact that someone took our recycle bin last week.  It's the same size as the huge, cumbersome wheely trashcans and the requisite top was ripped off long ago so I'm assuming it was the City acting under some sort of bullshit compliance code and not an environmentally-conscious petty thief. Regardless: I'D LIKE MY BIN BACK. 

9:38 am - Hit up the new Sbux right by our house.  The drive-thru line snakes behind the building and it's difficult to see just how long it is before you're in the thick of it... and trapped on both sides.  The queue is particularly insane today, and we wait 15 very perturbed minutes for a triple grande nonfat hazelnut latte {and they end up forgetting the hazelnut... FWPs to the max, y'all} and a reduced-fat turkey bacon breakfast sammy.  Oh well, I guess we'll be right on time to the zoo instead of early {FORESHADOWING}. I chat with my mom for a second while we wait... and attempt a dual car seat mirror selfie {featuring my old-lady ear curls!}.  I hand B a rice cake when he starts fussing, and of course L wants one, too...because now she is "so, so hungry, mommy."  We make our way to I-30 and then I-35; happy to see that traffic is moving swiftly! 

10:20 am -- The zoo exit is absolutely packed.  I figure there must be an accident and decide to take the next exit and loop back around on the other side of the highway...but that exit is totally jammed, too.  I notice B is snoozing.  10:32 am - Still sitting at the exit; haven't moved more than 10 feet and the entrance to the zoo is still good half or three-quarters mile away.  I text A who is also sitting somewhere in this morass.  I call the zoo to make sure we haven't missed a free day or some other big event.  The lady assures me "there's nothing special going on - maybe a couple of field trips." Hmmmmmmmm.  B wakes up; I figure he got maybe a 15 or 20 minute cat nap which is good -- we'll be able to stay later at the zoo since we'll definitely be arriving late.  It is 11:00 am by the time we park, and I've committed vehicular manslaughter in my head at least half a dozen times against highway line-cutters.  We get one of the last 20 parking spaces in the whole place.  I ask a parking attendant what the heck is going on... THREE THOUSAND school children are enjoying the zoo today.  {"a couple of field trips," eh?}  I mention perhaps that's something they might want to put on their website, and he replies "well, we didn't really know."  Uh, okay. That makes sense.  Good business practices, Dallas Zoo! 

11:15 am -- $35 and 1.75 hours later, we are finally in the damn zoo.  It looks like Disney World on Spring Break, aka: My Worst Nightmare Other Than Space and Deep Sea Trenches and Water Snakes.  We find the P Family at the bird show and immediately coordinate a bathroom break.  3 adults to 4 kids is a really good zoo trip ratio, it turns out.  The small fries eat a quick lunch in the kids' area before setting out for the hardcore animal viewing.  

J was a super good sport and took L and R into the bird feeding exhibit. Non-venomous snakes I can handle; birds that land on me I cannot.  Around this time, our tree trimmers called to say they were swinging by around 1:30.  I made the executive decision peruse the zoo way longer than initially planned due to our augmented arrival time and the fact that the kidlets have a snowball's chance in hell of sleeping through chainsaws right outside their windows.  Naptime is sacred, but I'm actually glad I was basically forced into a ton of flexibility this day. 
After the birds and the monkeys and the koalas, we check out the new dinosaur exhibit.  We skip the train {much to the outrage of our eldest girls}, but I think we actually got to see all the dinos better on foot.  

Turns out some of those guys are spitters.  {But NO FACESHOTS, GUYZ, okay?!} {#sorrynotsorry I'm 12}. 

Around 1:00 pm, we split from out buddies; L wants to see all the African animals and the Ps decide to stick around to see the dino show instead.  We truck it on over to the Giants of the Savannah sections to make eyes at the elephants and giraffes and big cats.  {I should note that cougar was actually in the Texas animals section; poor collage organization on my part!} 

L is very interested in the giraffes {and one of the mamas gave birth that very evening!}, but both my little buddies are pretty worn out at this point.  We decide  the cheetah will be our last stop... and B pretty much thinks being up close and personal is the best thing ever.  

I'm pretty sure they have A Moment.  Perhaps a cheetah is B's Patronus. Or perhaps B looks like a huge, tasty Dorito through cheetah-eyes. 

After the cheetah/B mindmeld, we trek back to the car.  We are all packed up and buckled in at 2:04 pm and make it home {without anyone succumbing to an unwanted car nap!} at 2:20.  I am happy to see the tree guys made quick work and are finished with the noisy portion of the trimming. A diaper change for B and a pull-up for L.  I tuck L into her bed with Piggie and her ya-yas, then briefly nurse B before he starts wiggling to be put down.  2:45 pm - I find leftover pasta salad and green bean almondine and mix the two together for my lunch. I am starving as I failed to pack anything for my lunch, thinking that morning I'd have my breakfast sandwich and then we'd be home around one. L is "reading" My No No No Day at the top of her lungs {she has the entire book memorized; it's pretty impressive / hysterical} and I go upstairs to tell her to pipe down a bit.  She falls asleep shortly thereafter. 

3:00 pm - B is standing up in his crib screaming.  This is odd, but I figure it's because his schedule is all thrown off.  I decide to give him a bit to see if he'll calm down.  He is still really upset 15 minutes later so I go check out the situation... poop!  I change him, nurse him a bit more, then lay him back down.  B appears to be asleep by 3:45 pm {over two hours later than the very latest he usually take a nap}. I feel exhausted.  I fold laundry, talk to my mom, and make a "National Siblings Day" post on Facebook {who makes this shit up?}.  L starts rustling at 4 pm {a 45 minute nap? if that?}, but she is laying down and very still so I decide to let her rest as long as she's quiet. 

A little before 5, I go upstairs to get L, even though she is still laying quietly in her bed.  I figure she's exhausted but needs to get up so she can go back down for an earlier bedtime around 7.  We snuggle in her bed and read for a bit, then I hook her up with a squeeze kefir and some Peppa Pig.  B is still asleep.  I start dinner prep {blistered tomato and broccoli pizza}; L and I usually make dough together from scratch, but I don't think either of us are feeling up to the task this evening.  I call E and ask him to pick up dough and wine from Whole Foods on the way home.  

5:45 pm - B is still asleep.  I decide to wake him up if he goes until 6 -- poor guy is totally out of whack on the timing!  I start dinner for the youngsters... red bean and mozzarella quesadillas with fruit; I realize neither kid has eaten a vegetable today, oops. There is a truly epic shit-fit over the malfunctioning straw cap of the pink Life Factory water bottle.  Alternative choices of turquoise or orange cups are simply the worst ideas every conceived.  Also, quesadillas are "stinky-yucky."  Screen time is cut short due to attitude and the tantrum rages harder.  I fireman-carry L up to her room to sit until she can calm down as all my attempts at rational communication are big fat failures.  I get B out of his crib and bring him downstairs to eat his {yucky-stinky} supper.  As my wine is en route, I try to make a cool cocktail out of vodka, leftover birthday party juice, and soda.  It truly is "yucky-stinky" so down the drain it goes. 

6:15 pm - L emerges from her room.  She has calmed down but is majorly on the edge.  She eats some fruit but declines the quesadilla.  She doesn't seem to keen on bathtime, but I tell her she can wear her popsicle nightgown if she gets in the bath with zero complaint.  6:40 pm - E comes home {sans wine and dough... ahhhhh!} and does bathtime for all while I clean up. 

7:00 pm -- E reads two Fly Guy books to L and then takes B to get his PJs on while I read Blueberries for Sal. 

The boys come back in sporting pieces of an infant duck costume.  Hilarity ensures. 

There are some mother-daughter selfies...

...and B shows off his new climbing skillz in his quest for L's toothbrush. 

7:15 pm - E sings to L while I nurse B and put him in bed.  I thought it might be a later bedtime for him tonight given he only woke up from his nap a little over an hour ago, but he is rubbing his eyes and yawning.  He falls right to sleep.  I go in and snuggle with L and sing one song {I've Been Working on the Railroad} and tell her goodnight.  E heads to WF to grab the dough and wine.  I watch the very first episode of Greys ABC randomly aired on Thursday.  Look at Baby Bailey!  And Baby McDreamy!  The music on this show used to be so good -- I jam out to vintage Tegan & Sara and Rilo Kiley.  I have been watching this damn show for 11 years... this means I am both (a) committed to ridiculousness and (b) old. 

E returns home bearing gifts!  Wine is poured and pizza goes into the oven at 8:40 pm.  The adults will eat late tonight but we'll just pretend it was Euro-intentional.  

9:00 pm -- Pizza is sliced and we're all set up in the living room.  I wanted to start The Jinx tonight but E has a call with some colleagues in China at 9:30 so we settle for a couple episodes of Parenthood {which we've been re-watching} instead.  We are on Season 4 - the cancer season.  Kristina annoyed the shit out of me when I was watching in real time, but I am now a Kristina Fan. Not sure what the perspective switch is about there, but I'm glad to be rewatching this season knowing she powers through.  I think L wakes up and cries out once or twice, and E checks on her after his call.
11:00 pm -- I kiss E goodnight {he'll be up working for a while longer}, put my plate away, and get ready for bed.  I notice L is almost hanging off the bed on the monitor so I go upstairs and settle her back in the middle.  While I'm at it, I pull a Creeper Move and watch B while he snoozes.  Back downstairs, I read maybe 10 minutes before totally conking out.