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I knew that having a baby would change things. Big time. I knew I wouldn’t have much time for my little hobbies. I knew that sewing, kitchen experiments, and pleasure reading would be pushed aside in favor of laundry, diapers, and picking up messes. I knew that writing would have to be put on hold as well, but I was secretly hoping I’d be a little better at carving out little bits of time here and there so I could indulge in my blog. Mostly because it’s fun. Sort of therapeutic for me, really. That may be an odd reason to blog, but, hey, it’s the truth!

Anyway, just wanted to let you know I’m still alive and kickin’! I’m actually starting to get more sleep… A has just started sleeping through the night at 15 months. ūüôā Although, last night there was a regression. We’re blaming it on his first set of molars. He’s a terrible teether. And slow at it to boot!

But, I’ve gotta say, even with all the sleeplessness, crying, and flat-out screams, he is so worth it! I have several friends who have just had their first baby or are close to their due date, and it makes me a bit nostalgic. The following expresses what I feel every time I think of our little buddy.

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I took this picture a few nights ago during one of his rare quiet moments. He was looking through his books and puzzles. I just gazed at him in wonder and thought about how blessed my friends will be with their own little ones.

Since I’ve had my little guy, I’ve had several friends ask me how I do this or that. How do I make his food? How did I decide about what kind of diapers? What games do you play with him? I figured since my current life leaves my crafting and decorating tendencies in the dust, I would adjust my focus and write about what I’m learning now: How to be mom. Maybe answer a few of the questions I’ve been asked, and voice my opinions. I know I will never learn it all, and I know there are many out there who are better at this game than I am, but I figure maybe I can help one or two other parents out there. And in the mean time, I’ll get in a bit of therapeutic writing! ūüôā

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Quick and healthy pancakes

I’ve been doing a bit more experimenting in the kitchen lately.  Mostly easy side dishes and things that require little prep work and minimal attention while cooking.

As all you fellow working moms know, once you get home at the “end” of the day, it’s like you step into an alternate reality, and in that alternate reality, the day has just begun!  But, you’re still running on energy left over from the first reality…
(Not to say that stay-at-home moms don’t get exhausted – I know you do, too! I’m just sharing from my current position.)

Anyway, back to my main thought.  Easy, quick food.  Well, if you like bananas, this is a winner!  I saw this idea floating around the web for a little while, but did not give it a try until recently.  Ready for the ingredient list?  It’s a doozey!

1 large, ripe banana

1 egg

That’s it.  Two ingredients. And it makes about 4 medium pancakes. Now, you can always add extras like I did.  Like chocolate chips, or strawberries, blueberries, or nuts… you get he picture.  I did blueberries and chocolate chips.

Anyway, you basically just mix up the banana and egg really well. I mashed the banana and then used a whisk to combine it with the egg. Then proceed to cook like any other pancake!  (Just in case you’ve never made pancakes: Pour some batter onto a medium-hot skillet, and when little bubbles start to pop on the top of the pancake, flip it over and cook for just a little while longer so both sides are a nice, golden-brown.)

I was expecting something heavy and not-pancake-y in the least, but these actually were not too different in texture from a normal pancake.  They are definitely more moist, and obviously, taste of banana, which is different. ūüôā  But not bad, if you like banana!

And they look absolutely delicious, don’t you agree?

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I highly reccomend having a side of bacon or sausage with these, so it counter-balances the sweetness of the pancakes.

If you try it, please let me know what your opinion is!

Ladies and Gents, I am alive! Hassled, a bit stressed, sleep-deprived, and just plain exhausted. Even bordering on delirious perhaps, but definitely alive!
And to prove it, I am going to share a new baked oatmeal recipe that I found and love! I found it on Pinterest, of course (After all, where else would someone like me find these things nowadays!). The original link is here:

http://alwaysamrsforeverakidd.blogspot.com/2012/01/gluten-free-baked-oatmeal-casserole.html

But, as usual, I did a little bit of tweaking… not a lot, but enough that I thought I would share my own version:

3 cups old-fashioned oats
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup almond slices
1 cup strawberries (cut into small pieces)
1/4 cup mini dark chocolate chips
2-1/4 cups milk
1 large egg
1/3 cup applesauce (I used unsweetened, but you could use sweetened if you like)
1-1/4 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 banana, cut into 1/2-inch slices

I combined the oats, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, chocolate chips, and half of the almonds and strawberries in a medium bowl. I mixed well using a spatula, and then divided the mixture between two smaller, glass casserole dishes. I wanted to freeze half of it, or I would have done one, 9×12 dish. (Remember to use butter or non-stick spray on the dish first!)

Then, I used the same bowl to combine the milk, egg, applesauce, and vanilla. I whisked it together well, and ended up with a bit of foam on top… not sure if that was good or bad, but it ended up tasting ok in the end, so maybe it doesn’t matter either way?
I poured the liquid mixture over the oats, and then arranged the banana and remaining almonds and strawberries on top. I baked it at 375 for about 45-50 minutes. (Until the oats were golden-brown on top and no longer gooey.)

It was delicious!

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I’m thinking I’d like to make this for dessert one time and serve warm with vanilla ice cream!

Priorities

Such a grown-up word. Priorities. As you can see, my priorities the past few months have not centered around blogging! ¬†Not because I don’t want to – oh, believe me, that is not the case! ¬†I simply have decided that this blog will not come before my true priorities. ¬†And so, it has had to take a back burner so to speak. ¬†“Real” life is more important!

I must say, though, that these past few months may not have been the most productive in creative type activities, but I have been doing a lot of reading and research on lots of different things – both crafty/creative stuff and otherwise. ¬†I feel like my brain is on over-load, trying to keep up with all the ideas swirling around in there! ¬†I’ve got several projects in mind that I am hoping to tackle soon. ¬†Now, “soon” is a very fluid concept right now… for all I know, that could mean two weeks or six months! ¬†Ha!

One of those projects will be window treatments for our living room. ¬†I’ve had the same thing up for several years… since before I was married actually. ¬†Yeah, I’m feeling something different is in order.

I’m also hoping to do some major purging in our guest room and closet. ¬†It has turned into a catch-all, and is driving me crazy! ¬†It is going to be quite a project, and I’m not sure exactly where to start, but something has to be done!

So, there you have it. ¬†I’m absent, but still alive and kicking! Hope you all have had a lovely summer and beginning of fall. I am SO ready for fall to get here. But Florida doesn’t really believe in fall… or at least doesn’t give it a shot until about mid November. Bah, humbug! ¬†For those of you who live in areas with actual seasons, please enjoy autumn for me!

California rolls

When it comes to¬†sushi’s extended¬†family, California Rolls are my comfort zone.¬†The real stuff – the stuff with raw fish – is way, way off the beaten bath of my comfort zone. ¬†I’ll eat lots of things, but raw meat of any kind is just disgusting! ¬† OK, so now that you know how I feel about raw meat, we can move on. ūüôā

Sometimes I pick up a pack of California Rolls at Publix. J and I both like them, but a few weeks ago it dawned on me that I could totally make them myself! ¬†I had half of the ingredients in the house anyway, so why not?! ¬†It was sort of an¬†impulsive decision, but I’m glad I went for it. Here is what you’ll need:

Sticky rice (suhi rice is the best for this)

Rice vinegar

Nori (dried seaweed sheets)

Ingredients for the center (crab, sesame seeds, avocado, cream cheese, cucumber, etc.  Basically whatever you prefer)

Small bowl of water

Sharp knife (to cut the roll)

Rolling mat (optional, but it sure makes it easier!)

The process is actually a lot easier than I expected.¬†¬†It is important¬†to let the rice cool completely before doing anything with it.¬† I have a Japanese rice cooker, but you can just make the rice in a pot.¬†¬†I used sushi rice, but it might work ok with another kind of rice as long as it’s really sticky.¬† I would advise you to consult an expert, though.¬† Do not rely on my un-founded suggestion! ūüôā

 

Once it is cool, you cut in the rice vinegar with a spatula.  By cutting it in, you avoid mashing the rice. (I made my own rice vinegar by just adding a pinch of sugar to Apple Cider Vinegar. Might not be exactly the same, but it is close enough for our non-foodie taste buds.)

[Note: When it comes to rolling the sushi, I have a little bamboo mat thingy that works wonderfully.  My Japanese friend gave me mine, but I think you can find them in some grocery stores.  I slide it inside a large zip-lock bag before using it.  It makes clean-up so much easier!]

Spread the rice in a thin layer on the rough side of the nori (seaweed).¬† It will take a little work because the rice is all sticky, but try¬†not to¬†squash your rice into mush.¬† You can make it thick if you prefer it that way, but the thicker the layer, the fatter the roll will be and the harder (potentially) it can be to cut.¬† Leave about an inch of plain nori at the “top”.

Now, you add whatever ingredients you prefer across the “bottom”.¬† In this case I just used imitation crab, avocado, and sesame seeds.¬† I like them with a little bit of thinly sliced cucumber, but I discovered my cucumber wasn’t very good when I made this batch of sushi, so I left it out.¬† Cream cheese is also a nice filler if you like it.

Once you have all your ingredients lined up at the bottom end of the nori, start rolling it tightly from the bottom end toward the top.¬† Take your time, and make sure it sticks together well or you’ll end up with a mess!

Once you have rolled it all the way to the¬†end¬†of the rice, dip your finger in a bit of water and run your finger across the nori.¬† This will make it sticky and allow you to “seal” the roll.

All set!  Now, just cut it up into sections and let it chill in the fridge for a few hours!

One tip for cutting: get your knife wet at least once every two cuts.  It will keep the knife from sticking to the rice and smooshing your nice little roll.

If you’re making them to eat later, a nice way to package it is to line a container with lettuce leaves and place the rolls in there.¬† Not only does it look nice, but it also keeps the rolls from sticking to the container.

Happy Friday!  I am so thankful for the weekend!

I haven’t showed off the last few things I did in little A’s room.¬† I didn’t get a chance to finish it all before he made his grand entrance, and since then, blog time has not exactly been plentiful.¬† For very good, wonderful¬†reasons!

This is the wall above his crib.  You can read how I did the letters here.

The walls I covered in fabric since we aren’t supposed to paint. You can¬†read about¬†that process here.

And then there is the crib.  Here I showed you how I touched up some scratches on it.

We were storing a bookshelf for a friend, and at the last minute they decided they didn’t want it any more.¬† So, even though there isn’t a lot of room for it, it had to live somewhere. I decided to use it as a place to display pictures, store books, and toys, etc.¬†¬†At the top I have some figurines.

Don’t you love how we stuck to a specific theme?¬† Ha!¬†¬†The room is sort of half Toy¬†Story, half Super-Heroes, with just a splash off StarWars¬†thrown in here and there.¬† Definitely all BOY!¬† And I love it!

At the bottom of the bookcase are some cloth bins to use as toy storage.  I found the bins at the dollar store, belive it or not!

They are definitely not the highest quality, but they work just fine, and they were the prefect size!

I made the curtains and valance.  I showed you how that came about here and here.

Sorry for the bad picture…

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These are the walls above the changing table and the rocker.

I used wall decals (from Target) and frames (from Family Dollar) to put together the Toy Story frames.  I removed the backing to the frames as well as the glass, and then spray painted the frames navy blue.  (The cheap, Walmart brand spray paint) Then I stuck the decals onto the glass and that was that!

Aaaand, here is the lovely changing table. Thrilling, I know.  But, I wanted to show the baskets I found Рperfect fit and great for the diapers and all that extra stuff .

Also, that white pad on top of the table is actually supposed to go in the crib to keep the sheets from getting all drooly, but I use it on here. ¬†So much easier to pull that off and wash it than change the actual pad cover. ¬†ūüôā ¬†Plus, I can stick it in any load of laundry without¬†worrying about the terry cloth stuff getting fuzz on the rest of the load. It dries faster too. ūüôā

I had a heavy glass jar that I’m using to store the ever-elusive pacifiers.¬† It seems to be helping so far at least!

This lamp was from Target (a baby shower registry gift – yay!) and so is the clock.¬† J actually found the clock and I was thrilled with it! Isn’t it the cutest? Oh, and those white stars on the lamp are glow-in-the-dark.¬† Sweet!

The best thing about this room was the fact that I spent very little money on it.  All of the furniture was either given to us or we already had, and most of the rest was either a shower gift or bought with gift cards!  Whoop-whoop!

So, there you have it, the finished (for now) room.¬† You know how it goes.¬†¬†I think¬†I’m done until¬†some random, “brilliant” idea enters my head¬†and off I go again!

At least now I have other concerns that keep me from spending too much time tearing apart the house.¬† ūüôā

Hope you enjoyed the tour!

Baked oatmeal

I’ve had quite a few people ask me for the recipe for the baked oatmeal I mentioned in my post about make-ahead breakfasts. I found a recipe online someplace, (Pinterest, maybe? ¬†I really don’t know.) and tweaked it to suit my tastes. It’s pretty easy, and one batch makes roughly 16-18 “muffins” (depending on how much you like to fill each cup). I like that it makes so much since I can make one batch and it will last me about two weeks even though I normally eat at least two at a time.

2 eggs

1-1/2 cups applesauce

1 mashed banana

5 cups old fashioned oats

2-3/4 cups milk

1/4 cup oat bran

3 teaspoons sugar

1 Tbsp ground cinnamon

3 tsp baking powder

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp salt

Plus any add-ins/toppings of your choice (a few ideas: chocolate chips, raisins, chopped apples, blueberries, nuts, granola)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl mix together the eggs, applesauce, banana, vanilla, and sugar.

Next, add the oats, salt, baking powder, cinnamon and oat bran. Mix everything together really well; lastly, add the milk and combine.

You can use cupcake liners or spray the muffin tin with cooking spray.  I use cooking spray if I am going to freeze them Рsaves a little mess and frustration when you thaw/reheat them.

Now, I like to make several different “flavors” at once, so, before pouring the oat mixture into the muffin tin, I scoop out some into a smaller bowl and mix it with one of my add-ins. ¬† Then I pour that smaller bowl of mixture evenly into 5-6 of the muffin cups. ¬†I repeat the process with a different add-in until I use up all the batter. ¬†Keep in mind that if you add something like nuts or granola, you may want to sprinkle them on the top instead of mixing it into the oatmeal. ¬†Totally up to you. ¬†So far my favorite add-ins have been blueberries and chocolate chips. ¬†Although, I do like to make some with just a little brown sugar sprinkled on the top. ¬†Mmmm…

They all smell delicious by the way.

My least favorite were the strawberry ones. ¬†But only because the strawberries don’t hold up well after baking, freezing, and re-heating. ¬†They look funky too. ¬†But, they taste ok, so if you’re set strawberry, go for it!

Once they’re done and have cooled to room temperature, I wrap each individual muffin with plastic wrap, (foil would work too, but I find it rather bulky) I use a sharpie to mark the plastic wrap so I know which flavor it is. I just use the first letter of the add-in. For example: R – raisins / B – blueberries / S – strawberry / C – choc chip. You get the idea. ūüôā¬† Then place them all in a large zip-lock bag in the freezer.

Enjoy!  And if you come up with any brilliant ideas for add-ins, please let me know!

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