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Saturday, August 29, 2009


Sugar Plum!

Sweetpea was very excited to welcome in her new baby sister, and we are enjoying settling back into home life with our newly expanded family. I will try and check in throughout the coming week with some more pictures, including some that show just how much Sugar Plum resembles Sweetpea as a newborn.

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Friday, August 28, 2009

Cereal Parfait

The other night I was craving cereal, but there was none of "my" milk in the fridge. After nearly 10 years of marriage I've yet to wean EmDee from the thick and creamy taste of fully fattenated whole milk...since Sweetpea still tips the scales on the slight side they share the whole milk and I enjoy skim.

If you find yourself craving cereal and don't have any milk, why not try a parfait? We had low fat vanilla yogurt that I mixed into my Honey Bunches of Oats in place of milk. For an extra special treat I sprinkled blueberries and walnut pieces on top - how very gourmet! {{giggles}} This works best for smaller or flaky cereals, like granola, frosted flakes, or the like.

What variations on standard "cereal and milk" do you enjoy?

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

This juggling act - finding balance in life

Since we've added quite a bit to our proverbial plates this week, I thought this was an appropriate post to republish while I'm "unplugged" at the hospital this week. I'd love your insight into the whole "balance" (or in my opinion "priorities") subject and what you give up in order to get more of what you want...

*Originally published October 28, 2008*

I read a quote from Katie Couric recently that I'll have to paraphrase, because I can't find it again {blushing}.

She was saying that she spends most of her time feeling guilty either because she doesn't spend enough time with her family, or because she feels she's shirking her job. Inevitably, as moms, we all have to just do the best that we can.

I can definitely relate, and, as usual, I agree with and appreciate her point of view.

Regardless of whether you work outside the home or not, I think it's safe to say that as moms, we are all working on our own juggling act. I definitely don't put in the extra free hours that I used to at work, and I took a different position where I wouldn't have to travel regularly. I wish I were spending my days with my daughter, and I have a short term goal to go part time.

I have plenty of mommy guilt, but I make a point to be fully present with my daughter when we are together. We work hard to create quality time as a family, rather than each doing our own thing. We watch virtually no television. We list out the activities we want to enjoy and try to plan in advance.

And basically, we do the best that we can.

What tips do you have for achieving balance in your life? What have you given up in order to spend more time enjoying the things you hold most dear?

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Potty Training Tips - from the trenches!

The following is a guest post from Brooke, who blogs at Dinkypops No More and is currently a mommy in the trenches of potty training.

When it comes to potty training, I'm by far no expert. Nope, not me. I'm one of those moms who wishes she could have hired an expert potty trainer....well that, or at least have sent my daughter off to some sort of potty training boot camp for a few weeks!
I'll start with a little back story. Growing up, I babysat all the time. I babysat for many a kids that were potty training, and I never recall it being a difficult process. The kids seemed to catch on to the concept, and I don't recall having to clean up many accidents.
This is the point where you can call me naive!
Back before we even started trying to potty train, I imagined that my daughter would be potty trained by her second birthday. I imagined it would be a quick, easy little process. I imagined we might have to stick at home for a few days, but I felt like she would catch on in a jiff and we'd be on our way. After all, I always remember hearing that girls were so much easier to potty train than boys, so I thought I had a leg up on the game.
Enter my daughter. Welcome me to my own reality show! I felt I was the only mom to have ever had to train a stubborn almost 2.5 year old toddler! (And why didn't anyone mention to me that being confined to the home for the first few days of potty training could be so lonely?)
I had heard all the methods for potty training. You have the How to Potty Train in One Day, How to Potty Train in One Weekend, and the 3 Day Potty Training methods. You have books, DVDs, reward charts, and many other tools to encourage potty training. I picked some "weapons", and thought we'd give it a try. After all, my daughter had shown many of the signs she was ready to start potty training. And we tried many times!
But I'm here to say we made it through the tough days. We've survived, and there were no casualties. We still have a little ways to go on some things, but we are potty trained!

Like I said before, I'm definitely no expert. We've had our challenges with potty training, and still have a few small hurdles to overcome. But I thought I'd at least share some of the tips I've learned from scouring the web and tricks from friends who have been through the process.
Here's what worked best in our potty training adventure:
  • We stayed at home for the first three days or so. This was hard! (And it was a bit lonesome too.) We are always on the go and not used to staying put. But I owed this to her if I wanted her to be successful at potty training. It allowed both of us to focus on the big task at hand without outside distractions.
  • The very first day of training, I gave her lots of lemonade. This is something she normally never drink, so she was excited for the sugary treat. And it made her have to pee - a lot! I also set the buzzer on the stove to go off every hour. I told her that when it buzzed, it meant it was time to go sit on the potty. (I had friends who used this method, and it worked really well. We tried it for the first day, and after that we let up on the timer).
  • We hid her diapers. I had heard from many people to "throw out all the diapers". What? Gasp! I was not ready to do this, but I did hide them in my daughter's closet. My daughter was one of those kids who cried that she didn't want to wear her super cool, spankin' new "big girl" panties. And as soon as diapers weren't visible, she had an even bigger fit. Within a few days though, she asked for her diapers less and less. Out of sight, out of mind. It somewhat applied here.
  • We constantly praised her. I never told her she was a "good girl", but rather always said how proud I was of what a "big girl" she was now that she used the potty. Every time she went, we would give high-fives, and I'd praise her over and over. The way her face would light up when she knew I was so proud of her was priceless.
  • We never asked her "Do you need to go potty?" It was always "Let mommy know if you need to go potty. Remember, we need to keep your panties dry." I would say this over and over, several times an hour. I think this was key in her ability to know tell me "Mama, I have to go potty".
  • We bribed her with candy. My daughter rarely gets it, so it was a special treat for her every time she used the potty. (She would get one M&M for peeing and five M&Ms for a BM.) In the beginning, she got candy every time she used the potty. After the first week or so of potty training, she asked for candy less and less.
  • When she started to "play" in the bathroom or stay in there for extended periods of times, I would set a timer. I would tell her that when the timer would ring, that meant we had to leave the bathroom. I would tell her that her body wasn't ready yet to go potty, and we could come back later when it was ready.
  • We got "special" toilet paper for her that has prints on it so she knows where to pull it off so she's not taking too much. She loves that she has her own special "wipee".
  • She gets to flush "All by myself!" She loves to do this, and will often say "Bye bye pee" and waves as the toilet flushes. This is just a small, obvious way to incorporate her in the training process.
  • We avoided pull-ups. I read a lot of evidence that suggested these could prolong the process. And plain and simple, I really didn't want to have to purchase them! When we did leave the house, I simply lined her car seat with a hospital-type absorbent pad "just in case" there might be an accident. After about a week, I removed it from her car seat.
  • We got a travel potty. This helped me get over my fear of running errands and worrying about where we would stop if she had to go potty. I still l have this major fear of public restrooms with my daughter and her insatiable curiosity to touch everything in site, so I'm also more apt to run out to the car and have her use her travel potty versus the pubic restroom at the grocery store.
  • We stop liquids about three hours before bedtime. This is a hard one for us, since we usually eat later than most families. But I can definitely tell that if she gets liquids too late into the evening, she will wake the next morning wet. I had a friend suggest waking her in the middle of the night to make her use the potty. We did this for the first week, and it really made a difference with helping her wake up dry.
My daughter's been potty trained now for about three weeks. We had only two accidents the first week, and I think it was two accidents, both on our second day of training. When this happened, I just said "Uh oh. We didn't make it to the bathroom on time. Next time, we need to make sure the pee pee goes in the potty". And that seemed to work for us.
Until I can declare her "officially" potty trained, we still need to work on a few things:
  • No diapers at night. We've tried a few nights without diapers, some of those nights were successful, some weren't. Once we can get better with limiting liquids at night, then I think this part will come along as well.. (She's been doing no diapers at nap time since the first week of training).
  • Pulling her panties down and back up herself. She can pull them up most the time on her own with some assistance, but she still needs lots of help getting them down quickly.
  • Wiping. She can wipe after she pees, but needs help making sure she gets it all. And she always says "Front to back, front to back" although I don't think she quite understands what it means just yet! Wiping after a BM will be a long road ahead of us, as I think it is for most kids.
Potty training is just another perfect example of how each child is so different and develops at their own rate. Sure, I compared myself to others and felt a little guilty that my kid wasn't potty trained when all of her friends the same age were. I just constantly had to remind myself to not get all worked up, and it would happen when it would happen. And it did, finally!
What tips and tricks do you have up your sleeve for those who are about to face the potty training milestone?

Be sure to visit Brooke at Dinkypops No More where she blogs about life with her darling little girl and showcases her beautiful photographs!

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Babywearing and the New Baby

The following is a guest post written by Megan from SortaCrunchy - thanks so much for filling in for me, Megan!

Allow me to say a warm hello to readers of Problem Solvin' Mom! I am honored that Steph asked me to fill-in a little for her over here while she is on her babymoon. Our topic today speaks to just that idea - nurturing, snuggling, and carrying a new baby in the ancient art of babywearing.

I didn't begin wearing my oldest daughter until she was five or six months old, so when our second daughter came along, I was unsure of what sort of carrier I would want for carrying a wee one. I did, however, know I would need one as Big Sister was, by then, two and a half and very active. I did plenty of reading in the months leading up to Little Sister's arrival, and I wanted to share with you some of the more popular choices for wearing a new baby.

(First, a PSA of sorts: Please note that a safety concern for newborns in a baby carrier is positional asphyxia which can happen if baby is positioned in a sling in a "chin to chest" position. Please read this article from thebabywearer.com on Correct Positioning for the Safety and Comfort of Your Newborn for more information!)

1. Stretchy Wrap

Many, many mamas are in love with stretchy wraps for new babies. Stretchy wraps include carriers such as The Sleepy Wrap or the Moby Wrap. Although some new babies do enjoy being carried in the cradle carry, there are some who do not. My babies never liked to be worn that way. The stretchy wrap allows the baby wearer to wear the baby in an upright position. Baby is snuggled in close to the warmth and heartbeat of the parent or care giver and can experience sound and motion similar to when he was still tucked into the womb. Additionally, if a baby is having problems with reflux, this upright position can ease his pain.

2. Mei Tai Carrier

My personal favorite for a new baby was our mei tai - probably because a mei tai was the carrier with which I was already the most familiar when LIttle Sister came along. Some parents are not comfortable with the mei tai until baby is a little older and has a little more head control. I think it depends largely on what sort of mei tai you are wearing. I have a Mei Tai Baby carrier with an adjustable bottom that snaps inwards to accommodate wearing little ones. I have a friend who simply swaddles her new babies and then tucks them into her Babyhawk carrier. The mei tai is obviously another carrier that will allow for upright carriers.

3. Pouch Sling

You've probably seen babies worn in a pouch sling because brands like Hotsling are now carried at Target and have become a bit more "mainstream." Pouch slings are fantastic for moms on the go because they are essentially just a tube of fabric. These can be easily rolled up and tucked in a diaper bag. They are also a very chic way to babywear - no straps or excess material hanging off of you. For the new baby who likes to be worn in a cradle carry, a pouch can be a wonderful choice, and a pouch sling can continue to be worn into older babyhood and toddlerhood - they are perfect for hip carries. My very first sling purchase was a Lucky Baby pouch! One caveat - getting the right fit with a pouch sling is imperative. Each pouch maker will have specific sizing information so you'll know which size to purchase for yourself.

4. Ring Sling

Finally, the classic choice for wearing a new baby is the ring sling. Ring slings are wonderful because they can accommodate several types of positions. You can easily wear a baby in a cradle carry, but if baby likes to be upright, you can also wear her in a tummy-to-tummy hold. Ring slings are also adjustable, so sizing isn't an issue and each parent could wear the baby in the same sling. Some people don't care for the extra fabric or "tail" of the ring sling, but others find it makes a great nursing cover. As with all things babywearing, it's really a matter of personal taste. Popular ring slings include Zolowear and Maya Wrap, but if you are handy with a sewing machine, you could also make your own.

I enjoyed wearing my oldest daughter when she was a baby and toddler, but babywearing became an imperative - a way of life, actually - for me once our second daughter came along. Practicing the art of babywearing has many benefits for both mama and baby, including a possible reduction in the risk of SIDS. For me, the biggest benefit was that it allowed me to stay physically connected to my sweet new baby while I cared for, chased after, and shared precious time with my the new Big Sister.

Perhaps this will answer some questions and start some good conversation about your favorite way to wear a new baby!

Megan blogs about faith, motherhood, and natural living at SortaCrunchy.

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Sunday, August 23, 2009


I can't believe that as I type there are only two days left until we meet this sweet new baby and welcome him or her into our family! The past week has gone so quickly, with EmDee working second shift and Sweetpea and I holding on to these last days of summer, the last days of life as we've known it. ;)

Our garden is growing like gangbusters, with tomatoes, eggplant, peppers and berries ready to pick each day. As I have time and energy I've been freezing what we can't use or give away for the winter.

Speaking of energy, I don't seem to have any to spare...Sweetpea has been struggling to get back into her sleeping groove after all of our traveling. Last night she slept through the night in her crib again for the first time in weeks, what a blessing! I've been taking naps, but nap time is usually my secret weapon to get things done around the house. Needless to say, anything on my to do list is taking at least twice as long as I think it should. Rather than getting frustrated, I'm trying to relax and accept what I'm able to do without pushing too much.

Friday we were all home together and had a wonderful day - the weather was beautiful and we grilled out and had a picnic dinner in our yard. EmDee works this weekend during the days. When he arrived home yesterday, he took Sweetpea to the park to give me a rest, so much appreciated!

What are you grateful for this week?

I plan to post again tomorrow, and then I'll be unplugged until returning from the hospital later in the week. I have a few great guest posts lined up, hope you have a great week!

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

How to have a spotless shower - even when you can't bend over

Are you laughing at this 39 wk pregnant mama? I haven't been able to bend over well for awhile now, so I had to come up with an alternate plan for scrubbing the floor of our shower stall.

Since Sweetpea likes to take showers, I usually use a homemade vinegar solution to disinfect. I have two secrets to keeping buildup off my shower walls and floor - we switched to Dove soap, which doesn't seem to create soapy buildup like my beloved former soap did, and I scrub down the shower with a Mr. Clean magic eraser every few weeks.

Now...how to scrub that floor... Even with my secret weapons, this started to get tricky around the fourth of July for me. Then one day I dropped the magic eraser while scrubbing the wall. Drat! I went to push the eraser toward the door with my foot when inspiration struck. I could do a darn good job of scrubbing the floor by covering the magic eraser with my foot and sliding it around. Using my foot, while it sounds silly, allowed me to put more of my body weight into scrubbing, and I think I'll likely stick with this method even after this baby is born!

What tips and tricks do you use for cleaning the shower or the bathtub? I'd love to hear them!

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Sweetpea and I have taken several little trips around town together this summer, checking things off our summer list. This shot is from one of the great metro parks we have in the area.

We took a picnic lunch and after eating walked around enjoying the pathways, fish, chipmunks and flowers. For the first time we were able to visit the butterfly garden (it's enclosed and every trip we made last year was when it was closed!) and unfortunately there had been a great escape a few days prior. We were treated to all of maybe 5 butterflies - I think we could have done better in our own back yard! Maybe in a few weeks we'll try and venture out with little one and see if the population has exploded again as promised.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Recipes for vegetables that grow like weeds - Part 1

This time of year there are certain veggies that everyone seems to be trying to give away...you know which ones I mean, right? Cucumbers, summer squash, zucchini and eggplant to name a few. In case you're looking for some inspiration, here are two of my favorite squash recipes. I'm trying out a few eggplant recipes this week that I'm planning to share soon. If you're interested in what to do with all those cucumbers, may I recommend cold crock pickles! :)

Here are 2 great recipes for either summer squash or zucchini (or a mix of both!).

Squash Casserole

4 medium squash, diced
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2C instant rice
1/2C bread crumbs or cheese cracker crumbs
1/4C grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350, coat 9x13 casserole dish with cooking spray. Combine crumbs with grated cheese and set aside. Mix cubed squash with soup and instant rice. Place mixture in casserole dish and cover with crumb mixture. Heat for approximately 25 minutes, until rice is cooked through. Sometimes to mix things up I substitute cream of mushroom soup for the cream of chicken and add pre-cooked ground turkey to the mix.

Creamy Squash Saute (Low fat version-find alternatives below)
Slice 4 medium squash
1 medium onion, quartered and sliced
salt and pepper to taste

spray a large saute pan with cooking spray and add squash and onion.

Cook over medium high heat. As squash begins to soften, add 1/2C of chicken stock or wine to the mixture. This allows you to use less oil in your dish, and adds a nice flavor. Simmer until squash and onion are "done" to your liking. Add 8oz of cream cheese (I like the low fat veggie variety) and mix into the vegetables in until the cheese is completely melted. Serve!

You can also use olive oil exclusively without adding broth or wine if you prefer, and of course to make the dish vegetarian you can use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.

My brother claims he doesn't like squash, but even he likes my creamy squash saute!

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Slow and steady

As the temperature continues to rise this August I think again and again how grateful I am for the relatively cool summer we had here in the Midwest. This morning Sweetpea was set on waffles for breakfast, so we searched the Internet for an easy recipe that was well suited for cooking with a toddler. We had lots of fun, very little mess, and daddy woke up just in time to take some pictures of the last few steps. We had a great time, and I'm so glad I didn't insist on cereal instead. I was (mostly) joking on twitter the other day that I've been choosing my meals based on whether I can slather them with my new obsession - these waffles are perfectly suited for it! If I can keep from sneaking bites all day long we should have enough for breakfast most of the week... {{wipes drool off chin}}

After the waffle adventure, we all headed over to my mom's house to indulge in a little pool time. The water was perfect and if it weren't for EmDee having to head to work (and Sweetpea and I needing a nap) I could have stayed submerged all day long! Between the cool refreshing feel of the water and the weight taken off my low back, it was blissful. Sweetpea is a little water bug, and we have a little tube suit that allows her to keep herself afloat. She spent her time alternating between paddling through the water, taking running jumps into the pool with daddy holding her hand, and assigning us each roles to play from Dora the Explorer. Her nap started less than half a mile from grandma's house, and mine is about to start any minute now...I'm still feeling great, but my stamina has left me this past week.

I'm so thankful to be off this coming week and looking forward to spending time with Sweetpea, getting a few last minute things done and resting up...a close friend of mine had her baby 6 weeks early on Friday - a reminder that it's silly to think we can plan according to due dates and schedules. Luckily, her little boy is doing very well, and was transferred today out of the NICU and into the special care nursery. We spent many phone calls discussing various aspects of our pregnancies and the fact that we were going to have our babies exactly one month apart...turns out it will be closer to a week and a half apart, and in the opposite direction. I am so grateful that she was exactly where she needed to be on Friday, and that she and her sweet little boy are both doing remarkably well.

What are you grateful for this week?

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Summer Bounty

It's too bad EmDee's camera phone cut off the top of this tomato - it was almost as big as Sweetpea's head! :) On either side of her are the wonderful berries we've been picking each night - strawberries, raspberries and blackberries! The raspberries and strawberries are coming in quantities small enough that they get gobbled up each night. The blackberries are a bit more prolific, so what we can't eat within a day or two get frozen in a single layer in freezer bags for future use - our favorites are blackberry pie or cobbler, blackberry sauce (great on ice cream or yogurt), blackberry ice cream, freezer jam and blackberry lemon bars.

What do you like to do best with your berries? Do you process them immediately or save them in the freezer for later?

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Sweet like a berry

Sweetpea has been loving how she can walk out the back door and pick ripe blackberries and strawberries with us each night. I'm even more excited now that the tomatoes are coming on strong as well. We also have lots of eggplant and jalapenos, though the bell peppers aren't doing so well.

If you have any recipes that call for jalapenos and/or eggplant, I'd love to hear about them! I will be making eggplant pesto next week (I'll share the recipe then) but I think we'll still have several to spare...eggplant are kind of like zucchini that way!

How does your garden grow?

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

38 weeks - I have a shelf!

I am very much looking forward to being off next week - washing some teeny tiny baby clothes, doing a bit more cooking, taking naps...and I can't believe in two short weeks (as long as things go as planned - HA) I will get to meet this sweet baby and introduce him or her to an adorable and enthusiastic big sister!

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Monday, August 10, 2009

Simple summer suppers

Our tomatoes are (finally!) starting to really come on, we have a nice selection of local produce at the new farmer's market that I pass on my way home from work, and at 38wks pregnant I have very little energy...what do these three things spell out for our evening meals? Fresh, quick, and delicious!

Normally I will assign a meal to each night of the week and do a lot of prep on the weekend to ensure weeknight success. This week I made one large batch of pasta salad full of fresh veggies (corn, peas, cherry tomatoes and bell pepper) and bought some romaine lettuce, several containers of cottage cheese, 2lbs of bacon and a loaf of bread at the store.

Hubs will be cooking the bacon as needed to satisfy our BLT fix. Most nights I will likely be picking up a vegetable to compliment what is available in our garden - green beans or corn are our most frequent choices. We will either choose from pasta salad, BLTs or a large salad for our "main" course, with tomatoes and cottage cheese and fresh veggies as our sides.

When we make fresh corn on the cob, we most often just boil it - the most time consuming part is getting the water to a boil to begin with. We place the corn in water and by the time it gets to a rolling boil, the corn is ready. Is this how you make corn?

Lately EmDee has been making garlic green beans - simple and quite tasty! I got my camera out while he was making the last batch, and though he rolled his eyes, I think he's secretly pleased to have his cooking prowess documented. ;)

Start out with some butter and 2 cloves of garlic. Hubs likes butter - can you tell? If I were making it, there would likely be a much smaller quantity of butter added and some broth to compensate for the remaining liquid...just sayin' in case you're looking for a slightly healthier alternative. Let everything get well acquainted and then add your fresh green beans.

Stir occasionally until the beans are crisp tender, maybe 5 minutes or so.

Dig in! These are just as delicious, if not more so, the following day.

What's on your menu this week? For more menu planning inspiration, visit OrgJunkie.

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Friday, August 7, 2009

Cold Crock Pickles

This pickle recipe, courtesy of the fabulous next door neighbors of my youth, is simple and delicious! Quantities for garlic and dill are somewhat ambiguous, so you may want to play around with these a little bit between batches to find your "perfect" flavor.

2 sections of peeled garlic (not sure how to define a section - is that a clove? we normally use several cloves)
some fresh Dill
4 cups white vinegar
1/2 cup non-iodized salt
3 quarts water

Boil the vinegar, salt, and water together for 5 minutes.
Put garlic and dill on bottom of crock. (we use a few cloves of garlic on the bottom and enough dill to cover) Stack cucumbers on top of the garlic and dill. Put more garlic and dill on top of the cucumbers. (roughly the same amount)

Let liquid cool for 3-5 minutes, then pour over cucumbers and cover (**putting a dish on top then the cover for the crock.)
Place container in refrigerator.

**We've never had crocks to use, instead we use large glass containers, (similar to what you make sun tea with) with plastic screw lids. The plastic lid sucked in tightly as the liquid cooled, keeping those pickles really fresh! This recipe works great even for larger pickles like those you might find at a deli - let everything "marinate" for a few days for the best flavor, and they will keep several months!

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Thursday, August 6, 2009

Baby bump - 37 weeks

As I was waddling in yesterday, one of my coworkers said, "Stephanie, you look a bit...off balance!" Conversely, even with the weight of this belly propelling me forward, I'm moving much more slowly than usual. ;)

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Wednesday, August 5, 2009


I love how this shot captures so much of Sweetpea's personality! I'm looking slightly up at her as she was perched on a ledge checking out flowers at the arboretum the other day...the sun in her hair, the sparkle in her eyes, the little bit of milk mustache still visible at the corner of her mouth showing just the hint of a grin.

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Play Learning - More than a memory!

Sweetpea received this adorable memory game for her second birthday. While she loves the cards and frequently asks to "play" with her Dora cards, she really isn't ready to play memory as the instructions would indicate. Until we can follow the directions more closely, we've been playing with these sweet cards in other ways:

  • With about 16 cards lying face up, we match like cards
  • Group cards by like colored backgrounds and practice color recognition
  • Make up names for each of the characters and create short stories with them (who is this, Sweetpea? That's princess Dora! What is princess Dora doing today?)
  • Create slightly more intricate stories with sets of created characters
  • Create designs and towers by stacking and arranging the cards around the table
  • Practice counting the cards or the cards with specific characters on them

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Monday, August 3, 2009

Pumpkin Apple Butter

photo by Mzelle Biscotte

Between the cooler temperatures and the fantastic whole wheat carrot cranberry muffins Sweetpea and I made last week, I had a bit of a taste for fall...when I came across this recipe from Juicy Juice, I knew I'd found what I was looking for. Though it's already a super simple "fake out" style recipe, I didn't have any apples, so I modified it further:

1 (15oz) can of pure pumpkin
~ 3/4 cup of no sugar added applesauce
1 cup (100%) apple juice
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice

Combine ingredients in a saucepan and stir well. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about an hour. Store up to 2 months in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

This "butter" is simply delicious, perfect for serving on muffins, bread, or as a pretzel dip - especially when paired with a pumpkin spiced latte!

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Sunday, August 2, 2009

Summer Sweetness

Wow - can you believe it's August already? I feel like every time a new month starts, I wonder where all the time has gone. I suppose the cool weather we've been having makes it easier to believe that fall is just around the corner. I've heard several people say that this was the coolest July on record for the area. Not that I'm ready to concede summer so quickly, just that I can feel the hints of what's to come in our weather, rather than the usual full court press of heat and humidity we get this time of year.

We grilled out and had a picnic dinner last night and again today for lunch, though our backyard bonfire got rained out all week! I thought I was being clever planning to roast marshmallows over the remaining coals last night, but even that got rained out. I suppose the s'mores and fireflies will be waiting when the weather and our schedule is finally just right.

Here are a few more things on my gratitude list from this week:

*Thanks for holding my hand, daddy!*

*Playing tag in the pool with the whole family, Sweetpea not quite understanding that once she tagged someone, she wasn't "it" anymore!*

*Can I help, Mommy?* (oh yes dear, you can definitely help!)

*a delicious and healthy muffin recipe from a new friend, almost like carrot cake and perfect for baking with Sweetpea*

*finally, an onslaught of ever ripening tomatoes and blackberries to be picked each day*

*light summer fare for dinner, heavy on fruits, vegetables, and flavor*

*having one fantastic neighbor that I can always count on*

What are you grateful for this week?

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