Archive | January, 2010

Grey and Yellow: a Not-so-Babyish Room {nursery tour}

27 Jan

I am refusing to buy fresh produce and groceries because I am not supposed to be home right now. We are supposed to be having a baby. So, last night I thought I was going into labor and instead of cooking we jetted out to my favorite burger place. The burgers were delicious but the contractions eventually fizzled and here we go again with another night and no produce. Tonight’s menu looks like taco chili and chips and queso…tasty but not overly healthy. But Jon doesn’t care because queso is his favorite and I don’t care because I am pretty sure the baby uses a ton of the calories that I eat right now.

So, I have no recipe.

But I do have a nursery tour! Want to see what we’ve been cooking up in the used-to-be guest room? It’s good stuff. We combined the office and guest room to use the third bedroom for the baby and my mom came up in August to start the renovation process. It was a lot of work but I love how it turned out! The colors and patterns are less babyish and more like I just decorated a room. I love the combination of old-looking furniture and modern colors.


  • Crib from Stanley Furniture Young America.
  • Yellow gingham sheet and brown tree quilt from Pottery Barn Kids Outlet, brown bumper from Carter’s.
  • Artwork on white canvases that I painted, and installed a clock on the right one.
  • Owl mobile with owls cut from felt and hung from dowels wrapped with twine.

Dresser/Changing Area:

  • Dresser from my favorite secondhand store in Austin, Corner Collector’s Market.
  • Changing pad cover from Carter’s and Angel Dear Duck Pillow from Two Blue Peas.
  • Storage bowls from Plate This.
  • Flannel wipes for cloth diapers from Wonder Wipes, (extras made by just cutting flannel from the fabric store) and homemade wipe spray (2 c. water, 1 T. Dr. Bronner’s Baby Soap, 10 drops lavender oil)

The Rocking/Reading Nook:

  • Rocker from Babies R Us, in tan.
  • Lamp from Pottery Barn Kids Outlet and pillar from Hobby Lobby, spray-painted brown.
  • Shelves are spray-painted wood from Home Depot with spray-painted brackets from Hobby Lobby.
  • Hanging basket is from Hobby Lobby, spray-painted yellow.

Closet and Accents:

  • Closet curtain (to save space!) made by my aunt.
  • Chair, frames, and deer lampshade from Pottery Barn Kids Outlet.
  • Wall hooks from Hobby Lobby, spray painted.

Window Seat:

  • Curtains and round pillows from Ikea.
  • Pad made by my aunt.
  • Pillow shams from Pottery Barn Outlet.

Now, it just needs a baby!

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Fifty-One is Not Old Enough to be a Grandma {recipe: cream cheese pound cake with blakeberry sauce}

25 Jan

Apparently 51 is not old enough to be a grandma. That is what the baby thinks. I know this because the baby is lurching into its 10th day of being late in order for my mom to jump through the hoop that is her 52nd birthday.

She doesn’t look 52, does she?

Mom’s birthday present is now on the guest bed, waiting. I actually thought weeks ago that she may get it early. I made her a cake that would freeze well…something dense and full of butter as opposed to her favorite, angelfood cake, which would likely be sticky and gummy if I froze it.

So, happy birthday mom. Your grandbaby-present will be here…soon?

Cream Cheese Pound Cake

1 1/2 cups butter, softened

8 oz cream cheese, softened

3 cups sugar

6 eggs

2 tablespoons vanilla

3 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat oven to 325. Butter and flour a 12-cup bundt pan.

Beat butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth.

Add sugar, and beat until light and airy, about five more minutes.

Add the eggs,  and scrape the batter down from the sides of the bowl so that all of the ingredients are  incorporated.

Add the vanilla, mix again.

Then add the flour, salt, and baking powder. Mix onlyuntil all of the flour is incorporate.

Pour the batter into the pan and tap on the countertop so that the batter levels in the pan.

Bake until the cake is set and a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean, about 90 minutes.

Blackberry Sauce

Makes about 2 1/2 cups.

3 cups blackberries

1/4 c water

2 T. lemon juice

1/2 cup sugar

Puree all ingredients with an electric or hand mixer (on low, and in a big bowl so that it doesn’t splash up on you!), or in a blender or food processor. You can strain the sauce of you want, but I like the chunks of berries in there.

It’s a Good Day {recipe: stromboli}

22 Jan
From Stromboli

Well there is still no baby yet but it’s ok. We had a deck party (beer and snacks and a talent show) at the office this afternoon because it’s employee appreciation week and I do feel appreciated. And we got on the Fortune list again, so everyone’s proud and happy but now it’s time to go home.

I get in the car and roll down the windows because its January and 70 degrees and I drive home and listen to this song and I love it. Not because of what it’s about, but because I like how when I turn it up really loud, the notes of the bass guitar vibrate in my chest cavity and the rhythm of the djembe fills my head and makes me forget about whatever I was thinking about.

And the song ends and I think about tomorrow and how I have no signs of labor so I will likely be back at work but it will be Friday and Fridays are great. I need to do laundry, but why stress about that? I compromise with the dirty clothes hamper that I know will be waiting for me with all of my jeans in it, by thinking that tomorrow maybe I will wear those pants that I sometimes also wear as pajamas, but if I couple them with a nice shirt then all of a sudden they are work-appropriate and then I have this secret that no one knows and it’s that I feel like I’m in kindergarten and it’s pajama day. And who doesn’t love pajama day?

So it’s a good day. It’s a good day to go on a walk with my husband as dusk settles over the neighborhood and a good day to make a good dinner and eat it amidst good conversation. And it’s a good day to wait.

From Stromboli

This recipe is great and I make it when I have random leftover meat. This time, I used ham, salami, sun-dried tomatoes, green peppers, and provolone cheese.  You could also fill it with chicken and spinach and cheese, or any combination of things that you like. It’s like one giant dinner kolache. YUM.

From Stromboli


adapted from Fabulous Foods.

Makes two, each serve 3-4, freeze one for later if you like (instructions below)

1 1/4 cups warm water
1 tablespoon yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
between 3 1/2 – 4 cups flour

Fillings (mix and match as you like)
about 1 pound thinly sliced meats such as ham, salami, turkey, pepperoni, etc.
about 1/2 pound sliced cheese
1/4 cup grated hard cheese like Romano or Parmesan

Other Options
thinly sliced tomatoes
thinly sliced onions
thinly sliced bell peppers or roasted bell peppers
chopped black or green olives
roasted garlic
fresh or dried basil and/or Italian seasoning

1 egg white, beaten
2 teaspoons parmesan or oregano (optional)

Pasta pauce, if you want to dip your stromboli in it! (optional)

Combine 1/4 cup warm water, yeast and sugar in a large bowl and stir to dissolve. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Stir in remaining warm water olive oil and salt. Gradually add 1 1/2 – 2 cups flour, mixing until smooth. Gradually add enough remaining flour until you have a smooth dough that comes away from the bowl. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead 10 minutes, working in more flour as needed. Shape into a ball, place in a greased bowl and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Let dough rise until doubled or almost-doubled, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 375°F and grease a large baking sheet (if you have a pizza or bread stone in your oven you can forego the baking sheet and bake the stromboli directly on the stone).

Punch dough down and cut in half. On a lightly floured surface, roll each dough half into a rectangle about 10″ x 8″. Arrange fillings like a center stripe on dough. Brush the top with 1 egg white and sprinkle with parmesan or oregano (optional).  Pinch the edges of the seam and tuck the ends of the roll beneath the roll itself.

**At this point, if you want to freeze one of the strombolis, go for it! wrap it tightly in foil and freeze. When you’re ready to use it, let it thaw at room temperature (about 4 hours) and then continue with cooking instructions from here!**

Cut long diagonal slashes, about 1/2 inch deep, along the top of the loaf every 3 inches or so. Bake for about 30 minutes or until bread is golden brown. Cool slightly before cutting and serving, or if you prefer to eat your stromboli cold, cool completely on a wire rack before wrapping and refrigerating.

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Still Waiting {recipe: chocolate chip cheesecake brownies}

20 Jan

Blake wrote this week that millennials are not good at waiting. She is right.

I think this is very true. My whole life I have been more-or-less able to get what I want by working harder, training more, listening better, enduring longer, accomplishing faster…

But, I am quickly learning there are things that we can’t control. Things that we can’t work harder for or change ourselves. We wait for babies to come and cancer to heal seasons to change and someone to fall in love with us and heck, for that really dense beer bread I was put in the oven to bake all the way through. Sometimes we get what we’re waiting for and sometimes we don’t.

Last night, we went to a benefit concert for Real Hope for Haiti. It was amazing. Aaron played. He and Jamie are waiting for a four year old that they met and adopted two years ago to come home to the US. Two years of arduous paperwork has likely been lost and they’re not sure what happens now.

Aaron wrote a song last year about getting their two kids home from Haiti. the two-year-old girl came home in October, and they’re still waiting for Amos, the four-year old boy. Here’s the video:

No matter how hard we work, there are a lot of things that we can’t control. There are a lot of things we just have to wait for. Just like Martin Luther King Jr. waited for people to gain a sense of urgency and open their minds, we too shall wait.  And we should be patient, because as noble as his dreams were, we are still waiting for some of them to happen.

On that note, I will try to work harder at things that I can affect. Like wooing the Labor & Delivery nurses to like me with chocolate. I made fudgy, cheesecake-y brownies that will freeze well and I wrapped them individually and stacked them in the freezer so that I can grab them when we head to the hospital. I hope they work.

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Brownies

adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Brownie Batter

12 T. butter (1 1/2 sticks), cut into 12 pieces

4.5 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped

1 1/2 cup sugar

1/2 t. salt

3 large eggs

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 T. cinnamon

Cheesecake Batter

12 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 t. salt

2 large egg yolks

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Make brownie batter: Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 9×13-inch baking pan. Heat butter and chocolate over a double-boiler by placing the mixing bowl over simmering water over moderately low heat, whisking occasionally, just until melted. Remove from heat and whisk in sugar, eggs, vanilla, and salt until well combined. Whisk in flour and cinnamon until just combined and spread in baking pan.

Make cheesecake batter: With an electric mixer, beat cream cheese until soft. mix in sugar, salt, vanilla and egg yolks. Dollop over brownie batter, sprinkle chocolate chips on top, and then swirl in with a knife or spatula.

Bake brownies: Bake until edges are slightly puffed and center is just set, about 35 minutes. Chill in the fridge and then cut carefully. Serve cold.

I hope they like me!

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No Baby Yet {recipe: cranberry vanilla granola bars}

16 Jan

Dear Baby,

Today is your due date. It is 11:36 a.m. and you are not here. You have shown no real signs of wanting to be here. That’s ok. I am usually late to stuff too, so maybe this is the first quality that you’ll take from me. Together, we will annoy your dad for the rest of our lives.

I have done a lot in the past few weeks. I have cooked enough meals that if I did not leave the house for a month, we could still eat well. Don’t worry, if you tear my insides up on your way out, it doesn’t matter because I won’t be having to stand up in the kitchen for any length of time. The freezer shelves are packed carefully with lasagnas with homemade sauce and enchiladas and stuffed peppers and other things that are easy to thaw and throw in the oven. Those all sound like dinner foods, huh? Well don’t worry, because we also have roasted chickens and roast beef for lunches and breakfast food too: batches of muffins and pumpkin bread and fresh granola bars.  And snickerdoodles and chocolate peanut butter cookies and oatmeal scotchies for dessert. It is ridiculous, but I couldn’t stop.

There are still some things I have not finished, but I don’t know that they’re too necessary. Like I haven’t made the mobile to go above your crib (that your little eyes won’t even be able to focus on for months), and I haven’t made the clock (that you won’t be able to read for years). All of the important things are in place, you have a carseat an diapers and a crib an a beautiful room, and most of all, parents and grandparents and lots of friends to love you.

Today we planned fun stuff to do, in case this day comes and goes and you are not ready to come out yet, so that we are not sitting there, staring at each other, waiting. But really we are still waiting. Anticipating. We are just doing it at a coffee shop surrounded by life. There’s a table of four people next to us learning French, a couple who looks like they’ve just recently met and are getting to know each other. There are people reading and studying and to my left there’s a woman from Colombia writing letters, and today, an old friend is the barista. So, we will wait, and we will mask our waiting with activities and plans and conversation, but really, we are just excited for you to get here.

So when you are ready, we will be ready too. Ready to love you with a love that I don’t even thing we understand yet.



Here’s something I made for quick breakfasts in the mornings to come:

Cranberry Vanilla Granola Bars

Makes 16 granola bars, one 9×13 pan.

2 cups oats (old-fashioned, not quick-cooking)
1 cup sliced almonds
3/4 cup shredded, sweetened coconut, loosely packed
2/3 cup honey
2 T. pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cup dried cranberries

Preheat your oven to 350. Butter  a 9×13 pan and line it with parchment paper.

Pour the oatmeal, almonds, and coconut together on a cookie sheet and bake for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Dump the ingredients into a mixing bowl and reduce the oven temperature to 300°F.

Add honey, vanilla and salt to the oat mixture and stir until everything is coated in honey, then stir in the cranberries. Dump the mixture into your 9×13 pan and press it into the pan (if you wet your fingers, it’s a little bit easier because the granola won’t stick to your fingers. Get it packed in there as tightly as you can.

Bake about 25 minutes, until light golden brown.

Cool for a few hours, then wedge the giant granola rectangle out of its pan and place it on  a cutting board. Use a long, serrated knife to cut the giant rectangle into bars. Put the granola crumbles in a bag for yogurt topping later.

Now, here’s the key. Store these bars and granola-crumb bag in the freezer. They will last longer and be crunchy…rather than awkwardly sticky granola 🙂 If you want them for on-the-go eating, wrap them individually in foil and put them all in a plastic bag in the freezer. That’s what I did.

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