Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving week: in photos. UPDATED!

Jeanne and Loki chillin' out in the crib, oh and Brobee too.

It is so hard to take pictures of these two at the same time.  Thus, I post several in a series.

This is how I really see them.  Instead of thinking of this picture as being out of focus, I prefer to see it as realistic.  The kids never stop moving.

The shirt Jeanne is wearing is the same shirt her father wore as a little boy.  Apparently he was a baby bad ass with the sleeves cut off.

Since Jeanne was having trouble 'holding still' for the photo, I though she would like to sit in mommy's lap.  Guess I was wrong.

"Oh gawd mama, let me GO"!

Every night, Jeanne and daddy make something new and fantastic with their blocks.  This is the best gift evah!  Thanks Memaw and Papaw!


More creations

Tabula rasa

Check out how big my tower is!

A modest Thanksgiving dinner, dangit, I forgot the beets!  Pumpkin pie (jar) for Loki.  He had the mashed potatoes too, he lurved them.

What did I do.  Two children?  *Very heavy sigh*

With some good cropping, this photo reminds me much of Grama's photo and Aunt Ginny's house.   You know, besides the kids pictures in the background

A special morning, breakfast in the living room and a movie.  We don't really watch movies.

She had a pretty great morning.

And a walk in the woods on Thanksgiving.  Quite, calm, cool, serene, awesome.

We walk on path that has the names of the trees labeled.  We touch the bark and compare the texture, the leaves and the height of the trees.  This one was 'super tall'.

That little sliver of blue on my back is Loki.  If you look closely you can see his hood pulled over his head.  He was napping.

She walked over a mile and a half, she earned some rest on Daddy's back.

I see you peeking at me.

(Shh, she's asleep).

Just kidding!

Daddy got lots of super hugs and kisses the Thanksgiving morning.  Must have been the great breakfast and all the freedom in the morning!

A little snuggle time after her nap with Mommy.   I'm lying down, that was a big treat in itself!

Thursday, November 24, 2011


 I am thankful that we are each healthy, and in our ability to find happiness everyday.

Thank you dear Husband for getting through this very tough year with me.

Jeanne, thank you for surprising me everyday.  You are such an intelligent, funny and amazing little girl.  I am proud of how you are handling your second year of life, I see it can be difficult.  Great job Jeanne!

Loki, thank you for getting out of the hospital when you did.  Your time there hurt all of us, yourself included and we needed a bit of time to repair the damage.  But, now dear son, now you are a bubbling, happy, baby boy and I love to hold you and watch your smile pop from your face.  You've done really well with your sister pushing you around, please forgive her, the second year of life seems tough.  You'll see soon enough.

Mom (Grandma Barb), thank you for all the times you've come over for lunch, thank you for playing with Jeanne and her dolls for hours each weekend.  Thank you moving here to be closer to all of us, it means a lot to all of us that you are such a part of our lives.

Memaw and Papaw, thank you for putting all those miles on your car for some intense playtime with your grandchildren.  They both love you so.

To my family up North, we miss you.  We are grateful for the times we are able to catch up via skype or facetime.  When I think of each of you, I think of food, can you guess who you are? 

Homemade pumpkin pie with whip cream, savory gravy, a great glass of wine, a bowl full of pistachios, a perfectly placed dinner table, an extra large serving of mashed potatoes, a glob of butter, a small piece of fruit only half eaten, cranberry sauce, and a plate of cheese and crackers.

I love food, and I love my family, both near and far.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Early Thanksgiving

We decided to have Thanksgiving dinner a day earlier since it would only be two adults eating, and I had already reserved our turkey breast.  This would give us another day to eat leftovers before Hubbers had to travel again.

The Turkey has been in my large crock pot since 6:30 and I thinks its done!  I only added some orange juice and some seasoning salt.  Reviews for crock pot turkey are amazing, so I'm really hoping they are all true.  My small crock pot has a pound of Snowcap beans from Rancho Gordo for us to eat for breakfast.  If you're not eating beans for breakfast, you don't know what your missing.  Jeanne ate an adult serving of garlicky Christmas Lima beans last night.  I'm telling you, these beans are the BOMB.

We will also have mashed potatoes, green beans, beets, homemade pumpkin bread and homemade rosemary rolls.  For dessert, we'll have pumpkin pie and raspberry ice cream.  Oh yum.

I misunderstood when my mother was flying North for Thanksgiving, and it seems she will be joining us for dinner tonight, so I get to have Thanksgiving with my mom. Yea!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Chocolate chip cookies (biscuits)

Chocolate chip cookies (biscuits)

I love chocolate as much as the next person, and I much prefer to have 4 or 5 cookies to dunk in my milk rather than 1 or 2 before the sugar overload starts to bother my teeth and the tons of butter coats my mouth. 

I modified the recipe from the back of the Ghirardelli bag when I baked cookies with my daughter today.  Half the sugar, more than 75% less fat and less cholesterol (I cut out 3/4 cup white sugar, more than a whole stick of butter and an egg),

These still taste great, I promise!  Note: Hubbers calls these biscuits instead of cookies.  I think the lower fat content allows the cookies to rise a bit.

2.25 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 stick butter (or 1 whole stick, I just used what I was left from an opened stick, it looked to be about 3/4 of a stick)
1 cup applesauce
3/4 packed brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract (only use 'real' or 'pure')
1 egg and 1/4 cup egg beaters (or 2 eggs)
8 oz Ghirardelli 60% chocolate chips (note: this is LESS than a whole bag)

Heat oven to 375F.  Stir flour with baking soda and salt and set aside.  Beat butter applesauce and brown sugar.  Add vanilla and eggs/beaters to wet mix. 

Gradually mix in dry ingredients then mix in chips.  Drop by tablespoon onto cookie sheet.  Bake for 9-11 minutes.

I ate (cough) 4 cookies right out of the oven.  This chocolate is awesome, and I like the taste of the cookie batter.  Hubbers and I agree that you could further reduce the chocolate some more.

Happy Baking!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Time for some photos right?

We were recently visited by the fabulous Memaw and Papaw.  Here are a few good shots of the awesome duo and the kids.  (Please email me any good images you have guys).  The first is a video of Loki and Daddy practicing the walk. Thank goodness, it looks like we have some time, not a lot, but some time before we have another walking babe in this house.

Eileen, so you recognize this hat?  Jeanne puts it on Loki just about everyday.

Eyes just peaking over the edge there, lets see how fast he grows.

He looks great in hats huh?


A random shot of my beautiful daughter.  My starshine.


And a gift for mom and family, HEIRLOOM BEANS from Rancho Gordo. Snowcap, Huetterite, Yellow eye, Rio Zape, Garbanzo and Good Mother Stallard.  A whole lote of yum!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Just a couple of pictures.

Too cute, holding hands during meals

Jeanne really likes to help Loki.

She knows she's not supposed to touch his head.  She's taking advantage of me holding the camera.

 And some videos to see my little man and big girl in action

Last week I went to see Yo Gabba Gabba love (for half price) with  friend of mine.   We had a crazy good time.  Mom sang and danced to all the songs, and Jeanne danced her little bum off.  We love Gabba.

I know I've been short on the photos.  We will be enjoying the company of MeMaw and Papaw this weekend, but hopefully soon!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Roasted and Spiced Nuts

Roasted and Spiced Nuts - slow cooker

cooking spray
1 cup raw unsalted pecans
1 cup raw unsalted almonds
1 cup raw unsalted pistachio meat
1/2 cup raw unsalted pumpkin seeds
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1.5 Tablespoons maple syrup

In large slow cooker, spray inside of your stoneware with cooking spray. 
Put all ingredients in your crock and stir well. 

Cover and cook on HIGH for 2 hours stirring every 20 minutes.**
Every crock pot cooks differently, I've had 3 and they each cooked these nuts at different rates, varying from 1.5 to 3 hours.  Just be sure to stir every 20-30 minutes (set a timer).   The nuts will burn if you leave them too long without stirring.  The plus side is I've seen no harm in taking them out early.    These seem to be a lot of effort, but really, its just stirring.  Make them while reading a book or watching your favorite TV show.

Spread the nuts on a cookie sheet to cool and store in airtight container.

The cayenne really makes these hot ( to us).  I would use 1/8 teaspoon.  Also use any nuts you have on hand or love.  We're trying to eat more walnuts here so I used 2 cups of walnuts and a cup of 'mixed' nuts.

These make a great gift, or a fantastic snack to have out while you have guests.
~ a la "Make it Fast, Cook it Slow" by Stephanie O'Dea

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Pumpkin Butter

Pumpkin Butter on Rice Cakes

A new treat I've been having is pumpkin butter on rice cakes.  I just happen to pick the rice cakes up, and was assaulted by memories of bland, gross, stale things many years ago.

Although, now I eat brown rice all the time, and I love the nutty flavor of it.  The ones I happen to pick up were from the same makers of the brown rice I eat anyway, so I bought them.  I figured anything tastes good with peanut butter on them, and perhaps I can get Jeanne to eat them since they are crunchy and new.

Pumpkin Butter
First, the name is misleading, there is no butter in this.  The butter is in reference to the texture of the spread.  And, yes this is a slow cooker recipe.  Haven't you bought one yet? Sheesh.

I made a half recipe, but I will never do that again.  I'll make a whole recipe, you can always freeze two 1 cup amounts to enjoy later.

One 29 ounce can of pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie)
1.25 cups firmly packed brown sugar *
1/2 cup honey
Juice of 1 lemon
1 Tablespoon cider vinegar
3/4 teaspoon apple pie spice or pumpkin pie spice**

Put all ingredients in slow cooker and stir with spatula.  Any lumps in the sugar will melt during cooking.  Make sure to scrape down the sides with the spatula.  Cover and cook on HIGH for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

Remove lid and cook on HIGH for 30-60 minutes more, until it reaches the thickness you would like.

Turn off cooker and let pumpkin butter come to room temperature.

You can store this covered in the fridge for up to 6 weeks (be sure to date your jar). Alternatively you can freeze up to 3 months.  Serve cold or at room temp.
* I did not pack down my sugar, and it was plenty sweet.  I will reduce the sugar next time I make this.
** I didn't have either of these spices, so I made my own using this recipe:
Apple of Pumpkin Spice

I've had two brown rice cakes smeared with yummy homemade pumpkin for the last 3 days.  So good.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry Sauce:

No, I'm not talking about the canned variety, yuck. Here's how to make your own and make your house smell wonderful!

1 bag or 12 ounces cranberries (you can freeze cranberries up to a year, so buy an extra bag while these are around and make this again in a month or two).
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup brown sugar packed
1/2 granulated sugar *
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Use the smallest size crock pot you have (I'm using a 4 quart)

Rinse cranberries and put them in crock. Add all ingredients and stir. The cranberries will float. Cover and cook on high for 3 hours, stirring every hour.

Once the skin has softened, the cranberries will pop if pushed against the side of the pot. Smoosh all berries and stir well. Continue to heat so all the sauce is war throughout.

Take the lid off and heat on high for another 30-45 minutes (times will vary depending on the size and heat of your crock pot). Serve or store in the refrigerator. This can be made up to two days in advance.

I've made this before and loved it. The recipe comes from Stephanie O'Dea's "Make it Fast, Cook it Slow" cookbook.

*The asterisk is to denote that I omitted the 1/2 cup of granulated sugar, I will let you know if the sauce is still sweet enough for eating. I remember the sauce being too sweet with a while cup of sugar, more like a dessert.

I also happen to be making a Turkey dinner, including baked potatoes and carrots) in my other 6 quart crock pot. I've never done this before, but if it turns out well, I'll post how to make a complete Turkey dinner, to accompany your cranberry sauce.

This will be perfect for those people who want to have a small gathering, 6 or less, and don't want to bother cooking a whole Turkey for a small group.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Bye bye baby.

Loki is over 7 months old now, and I am having a hard time putting him down.

Well, I write a lot of posts about sleep and lack there of, and if/when you are a parent of a young child sleep is a big concern and topic of discussion.  Do they nap? How long?  Do you hold them or rock them to sleep?  Do you just lay them down when they are tired? Do you let them scream themselves to sleep?  You get the point.  Sleep deprived parents find all sorts of ways to make their child go to sleep as quickly as possible and as painlessly as possible.

I've held the same philosophy with Loki as with Jeanne, but the speed at which I would move onto the next 'stage' is much fast with Loki.  Basically that means I learned to put a sleeping child down, lest I teach the child to *only* sleep in my arms.  I think I've done fairly well with Loki and I can get him to sleep quickly.  He doesn't rely on nursing to fall asleep, but does still like to be held.  Lately I've been putting him down within 2 minutes of him closing his eyes, thus he's very sleepy but not completely asleep yet.  The next *stage* is putting a open eyed but sleepy baby down.  But I can't seem to do it.

I know I am physically able, but mentally I am having a real hard time.  I know Loki will be my last child, and I am already blown away at how quickly the baby months are gone.  Well, honestly, I'm really glad the first 5 months are over, they were so painful for the whole family, but that is another post.

Loki is rolling around at such speeds and determination, he can reach any part of the house in mere moments. His hand eye coordination ability increased rapidly, I think he mastered most of it just this past week.  He is actively *trying* to mimic our sounds, but is having difficulty there.  He is aware, observant, and shows us he understands our sign language and our words.  He is not a little baby anymore.

I know the next stage is crawling/walking and then communication.  Even if his speech is stalled, as is common in second children, we sign so I expect he will sign, just as Jeanne did.  He will quickly grow out of his "Baker Baby face" and his unique Loki features will begin to shine through.  I am sure his smile will be his best feature.  He has an amazing smile, it always makes me feel.  Feel is the right word, he makes me feel everything more intensely.

Hindsight is a "B".  Regardless, I have two healthy, intelligent, children who have changed me fundamentally.  I love and cherish them both and want to provide all I can for them.  My children have a father.  They have a father who loves them and wants them to become fabulous, however they choose.

My daughter is losing her baby face entirely, and is taller than some 3 year old's on the playground.  My son is growing so quickly, I just don't want to put him down. I want to rock him to sleep.  In my arms, close to me, so he can hear my heartbeat, and I can listen to his calm breathing.

In and out.
In and out.
In and out.
In and out.

Loki, in utero

Jeanne in utero
I love you both dear babes.