Thursday, November 20, 2014

Nutty Grain & Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Cherries

What's been shakin' around here... Let's see...

It's been cold.  Did you know it's been cold?  We all remain skeptical of the cold.  I don't know how you folks up North do it...sunscreen and water bottles and sunhats and extensive knowledge of indoor play spaces I can do.  If it's 104 for the 16th day in a row and there are two cranky kids to entertain, I'm your gal.  But bundling those same two meatloaves up when the windchill is 17 degrees is an ass-whip, man. The baby doesn't even have shoes! {Because, yaknow, Texas!} And all of L's leggings and sweaters that I totally thought could power through another winter are capri pants and crop tops, respectively.  I'd say we've spent this first cold snap in legit Goof Troop Mode.  

We are getting Top Marks for funny hats and fleece and be-earred hoodies, though. 

I enjoyed a very cold, very fun, and very blurry evening out with friends last Sunday.  We had dinner at Cook Hall at the W {yum!} and saw The Black Keys {very different from The Black Eyed Peas, if you were wondering... there was a little, um, confusion as to who was on the marquee by one party who shall remain nameless.  thankfully, she wasn't too upset by the absence of Fergie-Ferg}. 

Great concert... made even better by great friends, the guy in front of us who randomly shared his popcorn wealth, and an excellent cover of Never Met a Girl Like You Before.  Good stuff. 

I had the brilliant idea to make clove oranges last week. I was carrying around some sort of false and misplaced nostalgia which convinced me this little project would be a fabulous mother-daughter craft.  Well apparently I've been suffering from a rare type of highly specific DIY dementia, as making clove oranges is (a) not at all toddler-friendly and (b) THE WORST EVER.  But because I'd gone to three separate stores hunting for whole cloves and we're not apt to eat big oranges, I finished those little finger-shredding fuckers myself and allowed them to dry in the fridge, where E claimed they scared the pants off him every time he went to grab a snack. Personally, I think the fact we have four jars of jalapenos taking up prime refrigerator real estate is scarier than any aromatic fruit decor, but what do I know. 

The pint-sized hellraisers are insanely glorious to the nostrils so I suppose all was not for naught. And now that my bathrooms are guest-ready {up to snuff - or sniff! - one might say} {har-har}, I can get serious about my Thanksgiving menu.  A family friend is bringing her sweet potatoes, but this recipe would surely be gracing my table otherwise.  A seriously delicious twist on a traditional holiday staple, this is a hit for celebrations great and small {I celebrated not selling my pre-threenager to the circus with it just last Tuesday!}.  It's a really excellent vegetarian / vegan offering to boot! 

Nutty Grain & Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Cherries
inspired by With Style & Grace

- 1/2 cup quinoa
- 1/2 cup farro {I used Trader Joe's 10 minute farro -- you need one that will cook in 10-15 minutes}
- 1.5 cups chicken or veggie stock
- 3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
- 1/2 red onion, sliced thinly 
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 heaping tsp. cumin
- 1/2 cup dried sour cherries
- 1/2 cup toasted pecan bits 
- 1/2 T sea salt

In a medium saucepan, add quinoa, farro, and stock.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for around 15 minutes, until all liquid is absorbed.  Remove from heat and allow to sit, covered, for 5 minutes.  Fluff with a fork, then pour into salad bowl. 

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss sweet potato, onion, and garlic together with a small glug of EVOO.  Cover a baking sheet with foil, spritz with EVOO, and spread potato mixture evenly {in a single layer} over sheet.  Roast for 20-25 minutes until soft, giving everything a flip with a spatula halfway through. 

Combine potatoes, cherries, pecans, and cumin in the salad bowl with the quinoa and farro.  Drizzle with about 1/2 T of EVOO and sprinkle with sea salt.  Toss to combine and serve warm. 

Serves 4-5, so you might double it if you're hosting a large holiday!

Monday, November 10, 2014

bits and bobs

After the excitement and ginormous sugar crash that was Halloween, we were due for a low-key weekend.  My mother-in-law powered through a marathon surgery on Friday {13 hours... she's battled three kinds of cancer over the last 6 years - not something I mention often as it's not my story to tell, but she/we are always appreciative of healing thoughts and juju and prayers, if you're the type who has a few extra to spare}, so E spent a good chunk of Saturday and Sunday in the ICU {no kiddo visitors allowed yet}.  We did carve out some family QT, though...

We took advantage of the glorious weather and hit up the park.  B loved watching the big kids play soccer and lacrosse.  He was less enthused with the baby swing.  I made the exact same face when we decided to sup at El Phoenix afterwards {it was one of the only feasible options near the hospital} -- I do not understand born and bred Dallasites' loyalty to that place; I think their food tastes like sweat socks.  But!  Margaritas! 

We played Early Birds on Sunday to beat the church / hungover hipster crowd at Dream Cafe.  We brunched here nearly every single weekend when I was pregnant with L and brought her with us quite often as an only child, but I think we've only taken the complete foursome once or twice.  A couple of Sky Waffles in 7+ months really is unacceptable.  Sister geeked out over the Mickey Mouse pancake, and we celebrated a very big milestone for B... Baby's First Bacon.  I failed to photograph his reaction, but, as expected, he's big on the pig. 

Sunday afternoon was our buddy Nora's 3rd birthday party.  It was another seriously gorgeous day for a park celebration.  L was a big fan of the flower-in-a-cone activity, the swings, and the cookie cake.  She passed on the potato sack races {sad times}. 

Sunday evenings are for grocery shopping and salad bar feasting al fresco.  Navigating the market with two is a tad trickier now that B prefers to sit in the basket {crazy kid doesn't like facing out in the Beco but now does this contortionist back bend move while facing in}.  Praise Baby Cheesus for in-store wine-by-the-glass. 

Someone housed an entire carton of raspberries before we even made it through the produce section.  I hope she likes public school, because those $6 appetizers are really eating through her college fund.  That girl sure does keep us in stitches, though... At one point during dinner on the patio, she suddenly put her fork down, climbed off her chair, and said "I just have to dance now!" That's the spirit! 

Gearing up for a chilly week... Grumpy Bear says Stay Warm! 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Brady Back Ribs: Months 4-7

My poor, neglected second child... I think I owe you a little update... 

Man, a lot has happened in four months {"no kidding, MOTHER, over half my lifetime"}!  You've grown, you've traveled, you've mobilized, you've tried all sorts of new foods... You are no longer a lumpy {ADORABLE} little meatloaf!  

We'll start with the growing... You're a big guy; no surprises there.  You consistently measure in the 95th+ percentile for height and you're wearing 12 month clothes {with a decent amount of 18 month thrown in there as well}.  At your 6 month check up, your weight percentile had dropped to 75th, but I'm guessing it might be back up now that you are routinely packing away the solids.  At best guess, you are currently just under 30 inches tall {time for a big boy car seat!} and weigh around 20 or 21 pounds. 

You've been making the rounds over the summer and throughout fall.  You've traveled home from Jackson Hole, to Austin {twice; once on a plane}, to Waco {multiple times}, and flown to Atlanta for Auntie Lyndsey's wedding.  You are an excellent car companion, but you don't care for snoozing on planes, making air travel somewhat of a mixed bag.  You happily take changes in your routine in stride {likely because your routine varies so much throughout the week anyhow}, so you're an awesome little traveler overall -- always looking for a new friend to charm or sight to see! 

Your sleep over the last 4 months morphed from awesome to horrible to "pretty alright," as your dad would say.  We bid adieu to the RNP {RIP} at 5 months, and it was a sad, sad day for us all.  We kept you in our room in the PNP instead of moving you up to your own room since we knew the adjoining bathroom would soon be super dusty and paint-fume-y with our house renovations.  The RNP to PNP transition was rough; you definitely missed being cocooned all night long!  Because you were rolling like a madman, we also did away with the swaddle.  And - oh goodie - your two bottom teeth showed up right around this time as well and you decided your pacifier was no longer your best buddy.  Plus: general sleep regression.  Basically loads of developmental changes mixed in there with the big environmental one that led to two months of working through different sleep challenges -- getting you down for bedtime in under an hour {or sometimes two} being the most maddening, followed quickly by naps and a major uptick in nighttime wake-ups.  

This is around the time with your sister where we resorted to Ferber / stepped-soothing after trying every other trick in the book.  We've definitely let you do some fussing, but real sleep training hasn't become necessary.  We're just sort of riding out your rough patches, and, thus far, you've sorted it all out yourself with a little time. Naps can still be iffy {although you will always fall asleep in the car or the stroller if we're in a pinch}, and nighttime wake-ups still vary {sometimes you're up 3 or 4 times; sometimes you sleep through the night... usually it's one and done, though}, but I'd say you're well rested more often than not. 

{Side-Note: We actually moved you to your crib just this past week after your 7 month "birthday," and you really seem to love it - SOB.  I think you were feeling cramped in the PNP, and the crib mattress is likely a lot more comfy.  If our schedule allows, you'll take two naps a day up there with no complaint, and your nighttime sleep has also been fabulous upstairs.  It makes me sad not to have you right next to me at night, but I think we were keeping each other from getting our best sleep, so, ultimately, it's a really, really great thing to have you in your own space!  Yay Brady!}

If you're a good sleeper, then you're a GREAT eater!  You love, love, love eating real food, and get frustrated with us if we don't get your meals to you as quickly as you'd like.  I've mentioned this briefly, but you weren't the biggest initial fan of Baby Led Weaning as self-feeding = slow feeding; you'd like that banana in your mouth IMMEDIATELY, please.  After about a month of us feeding you small bites of food on a fork or spoon, you are starting to get the hang of picking things up and you will excitedly grab at whatever we're serving you.  You usually eat solids twice a day, around 9 am and 5 pm.  Your favorite foods are pear, banana, sweet potato, avocado, egg, black beans, apple sauce, and meat {turkey, chicken, white fish}. You do eat some purees when we're in a pinch, and you really enjoy the Pear & Ginger, Pumpkin & Sage, and Basil Green Veggies from the Oh Baby brand. You were not overly impressed by raspberries, and you flat out disliked a random Happy Baby pouch that was basically an entire turkey dinner pureed into one {I don't blame you; that was my bad, bud}.

You still nurse 5-8 times per day {5-6 during the day, the rest depending on when/if you wake up at night}.  You're super efficient and not a big comfort nurser unless it's time for sleep {huge departure from your sister's personality, there}.  You also really dig bottles.  If you got them more regularly, you'd likely prefer them to the true source.  I have a feeling you will self-wean quickly around the year mark, but we shall see!

B, you really are just such a delight! So easy going and happy {so long as you're rested}. For a newborn who always appeared so incredibly serious, you are the smiliest, sweetest little boy!  You love being with your sister {even though she often beats up on you}, strolling, being outside, scooting all over the place, riding in the grocery cart, feeling different textures, crinkling the wipes container, and banging on things {percussion instruments are your favorite toys}.  You don't babble much yet, but you giggle constantly and it's my favorite sound! 

Parents say this about new babies all the time, but I can barely remember our lives without you with us -- or rather, life is just so much sweeter now that you're around!  

We just love your face off, Brady!