Friday, June 29, 2012

Beach Day

Ever since I was a little girl my family has been taking trips to the Jenner area to enjoy the sand and sun, though the latter is sometimes in short supply on the northern california coast. I've been wanting to share this with Claire and have been waiting for a nice warm day to introduce her to the Pacific. I'm not sure that she got much out of the experience at this age, and the weather didn't cooperate 100% (really windy day). Still, it was great to take that first step in passing on adventures to my little girl. 

 I was a little nervous about taking Claire because the beach can present a lot of problems for a baby. I had to consider things like too much sun, too much wind, too cold, and bordom. To combat the first possible problem, I bought this for Baby off of amazon:

Its basically a little pup tent that ensured Baby didn't get a sun burn while Kim and I enjoyed the beach. While it was pretty easy to put up and take down, it can't secure to the ground in any way. We ended up setting a few of our bags in it to keep it anchored against the wind. It's a three foot square so there was still plenty of room for Miss Claire. I think this little tent will get a lot of use in the future for things like BBQ's and park trips.

This trip was the first time I sucessfully got Baby to wear a hat and be happy about it. I'm going to be so sad when she outgrows this little fishy outfit.

Baby taking in the ocean.

After we got settled at the beach (and after I made a dash back to the car because we realized we'd left the pacifier there), the first thing Claire wanted to do was eat, and then she pretty quickly decided that her hour long nap in the car wasn't enough.

Its only been pretty recent that I've started to be able to distinguish between Baby's different cries. The I'm tired cry is definitly the easiest for me to pick out now. I was a little sad at first that Claire needed a nap right away, but then I realized that I had a golden opportunity to just lay in the warm sand and relax. So that's exactly what this momma did.

We did take Claire down to the water which happened to be wonderfully calm while we were there, but after sticking our own toes in it, we quickly decided it was too cold to dangle little Baby toes in.  I think next time we'll go with the Russian River. A little warmer, but still just as wet.

I definitely want to fit in a couple more water related activities with Claire this summer. In a few weeks she'll be old enough to go to baby swim lessons at the local aquatic center, and maybe splash in the river later this season!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Lemon Bundt Cake with Boozy Berries

Hello friends, I know what you're all thinking. Why oh why do you have to look at so many adorable baby posts when what you really want is a tasty recipe or garden post. Well fear now more, today I have a fun summer recipe for you that also happens to involve alcohol. You're welcome.

I have been neglecting my strawberry patch this year. I'm pretty sure many a good berry has been eaten by birds or withered in the sun because I haven't gotten to it in time. While that thought makes me sad, it is simply the reality right now while I learn how to be a mom and a garderner and a housewife and an individual and a...well you get the idea. All in all I'm pretty pleased with the amount I have been able to get done in the garden so far, and I was very excited to notice a decent little crop of berries just as a friend was coming to stay the night. I was able to whip up this cake and berry combo quickly and it made a great dessert to cap off a lovely summer day. The boozy berries were inspired by this post from David Lebovitz and the cake from this Southern Living recipe.

I used butter to grease my pan and did not dust it with flour. This resulted in an awesomely crip outside of the cake.

I think these boozy berries would also be good over a lemon pound cake, but apparently pound cake requires an unholy number of eggs so I switched to bundt cake instead. I started the berries soaking early in the afternoon so they'd be good and marinated and their juices would leach out. The cake took all of ten minutes to whip together and then I let it bake while we ate our dinner. Does anyone else have a favorite summer go to dessert?

Lemon Bundt Cake with Boozy Berries
Cake ingredients
1 cup salted butter at room temp.
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup lemon juice
zest of 1 lemon
5 eggs
3 cups all- purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2/3 cup almond milk (or regular milk)

Fruit topping ingredients
2 cups strawberries, cleaned and cut into bite size pieces*
1 soup spoon of sugar
semi-sweet white wine such as sauvignon blanc

1) Place strawberries in a bowl, top with sugar and let sit for 15 minutes or so. Then add enough wine to completely cover them. Let them soak in the fridge until ready to serve, preferably three or four hours.

2) Preheat oven to 350.

3) In a large bowl cream sugar and butter together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, add lemon juice and zest and blend until well combined.

4) Beat in eggs one at a time, make sure each egg is fully incorporated before adding the next.

5) In a separate bowl mix the flour and baking powder. Add to the wet batter in three batches alternating with the almond milk. Start and end with the dry ingredients.

6) Pour batter into a greased 12 cup bundt cake pan. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until it starts to pull away from the sides of the pan and and springs back when poaked. Let cool for five minutes and then invert on a cooling rack or plate.

7) Serve slices of cake covered with with boozy berries. The cake is dense but not overly moist so you'll definitely want to pour a generous amount of the berry liquid over it as well. The cake will hold up to getting wet.

* This was enough berries for three people. Adjust according to how many you're feeding. The cake itself could easily feed 7-8 depending on how big you slice it. I would not plan on making more berries than you need for that day.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Doggie Kisses

I know people have really mixed feelings about babies and dogs. I am of the school of thought that as long as the play is supervised then they can be buddies. Both Jeff and I always had animals running around when we were little, and we wanted Claire to have that growing up too. I firmly believe that peaceful cohabitation between kids and animals is 50% training the animal and 50% training the kid. This is why we got Prince when I was seven months pregnant. I think most people thought we were crazy, and we probably were, but we wanted her to grow up with her pup. Granted, I didn't imagine we'd be getting her a seventy pound pup with an eye for chewing up irrigation lines, but things often don't go 100% according to plan.

While Claire has never been afraid of Prince, she didn't really start to acknowledge him until earlier this month. Now she smiles when he interacts with her and reaches out to touch him when he's close enough for her little arms to reach. Last night when we went to the dog park she seemed fascinated for the first time by all the other pups running around, and refused to nap as she normally does in her Ergo. She was way to busy watching all of Prince's friends run and jump and play.

I look forward to the many adventures I'm sure these two will have together as Claire grows up.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Eatin' Toes

As a person who generally hates feet, I have been most surprised by my love for nibbling on Baby's toes. They are so tiny and so cute. They beg to be eaten with big loud noises that make little Baby giggle and try to pull away.

Baby has been inspired for the last month to try and sample her own toes, but has been unable to reach. It started out with her just pulling her left leg up to her chest during diaper changes, and each time she'd manage to pull her foot a little higher until one day she caught sight of her toes and knew she needed to nom on them. It wasn't until this last weekend that she finally succeeded in her quest.

My dear baby, it is a brief period in our lives when we have both the ability and the desire to eat our own toes. Enjoy little one. Enjoy.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Baby's Role Models

Baby is constantly learning new skills by observing her family going about their daily business. I recently learned, however, that she is not just learning from her human family members, but the fury ones as well.

I was going through some photos our friend Ruby had taken and found these two little gems captured during one of baby's diaper changes.

The Prince dog showing her how its done.

The attentive pupil practicing her new trick.
I love that Claire's little expression is asking, "Am I doing this right?" Now I just need to hope she never sees some of the other stuff Prince gets up to.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Oh Where, Oh Where...

...have baby's poops gone?

I know I promised to keep it light on the poop stories, but something so wonderful has happened that I can't help but share. This last week, Claire has gone from pooping with almost every diaper change, to only pooping once or twice every 24-36 hours. Sweet bliss I tell you.

I'm not entirely sure what caused this change. Babies do tend to poop less as they get older, but this change was not gradual and also coincided with my getting serious about no diary. When I asked Claire's pediatrician why she thinks this change happened so suddenly, she just shrugged her shoulders (I have so much faith in her (italics = sarcastic voice)). Whatever the cause, I couldn't be happier. The only thing about cloth diapers that makes them harder than disposables is that you have to rinse out the poopy ones before throwing them in the diaper pale. When you are changing diapers about every hour and a half, not having to go through the rinsing step is a pretty big deal.

Oh, and here's a cute picture of baby just for grins.

up, up, and away!

Friday, June 1, 2012

A Clean Milkless Dessert

As many of you know from my constant complaining about it, I am currently not supposed to be eating any dairy. Not just straight milk and cheese, but any products that have milk in them. This can be a little tricky, because lots of processed products have a little in there somewhere.

For savory foods, this has generally just meant hold the cheese, but for desserts it has posed a bigger problem. It seems the majority of my favorite store bought treats have milk involved. Ice cream is obviously out, along with most brownies, puddings, cakes, etc. I am turning to making stuff from scratch now so that I can switch cows milk for almond milk, but this takes a decent chunk of time and forethought. I can't wait until a craving strikes me at 8:000 or 9:00 to get started.

The last couple of nights I have been thinking of some quick treats I can make last minute by turning to my trusty milk free dark chocolate bar from Trader Joes. One nice thing about Trader Joes products is that they list any common allergens their foods contain so I don't have to search the whole label looking for milk.

A few nights ago, after discovering that their gram crackers are milk free, I melted a little chocolate and spread a thin layer over one side of the gram cracker and then popped them into the freezer for a few minutes to harden up. Nom Nom.

Last night, I decided to get even more creative and made homemade peanut butter cups. Jeff said he thought they'd be better if I added a little powdered sugar to the peanut butter first. While I agree this would make them more like Reese Peanut Butter Cups, I liked that these only had two ingredients, only made a coffee cup and a spoon dirty and I think they qualify under the clean eating guidelines because they are dark chocolate. They are certainly rich enough without the sugar, but its up to you. Here is the "recipe."

Down and Dirty Peanut Butter Cups

10 squares of Trader Joes Pound Plus dark chocolate bar
3-4 Tablespoons all natural salted peanut butter

1) Place the chocolate in a coffee mug and microwave in 30 second bursts, stirring between heatings. It should only take three times to be completely melted.

2) Spread thin circles of chocolate onto a plate or cookie sheet covered in parchment paper. Mine were a bit bigger than 50 cent pieces, but you can make them as big or as small as you want your finished cup to be.

3) Drop a little dollop of peanut butter in the middle of the chocolate circle and then cover with another thin layer of chocolate.

4) Place Peanut Butter Cups in the fridge for about a half an hour to harden up and enjoy!

Keep your chocolate layers thin. By the time you add two layers of chocolate and a layer of peanut butter these things can be a bit much if you make them too thick. More is not always better.

This recipe makes six large peanut butter cups and I could only eat two before I'd had my sweets quota for the day.

You could also make these in a cupcake pan if you wanted a more cup like experience. I was in a hurry and was concerned they'd stick to the cupcake papers and make a mess. If you try it and are successful leave me a comment and let me know.