Thursday, August 21, 2014

Fall Wish List

Summer is still upon us though the cooler weather as of late has gotten me thinking about things I'd like to buy for the fall. 
Usually this consists of sweaters and warmer outfits.
This fall, however, I'm going to stay away from clothes because my size is expanding every day. 
I did get a gift certificate to Thyme for my birthday and plan on buying at least a few more maternity pieces. 

But thinking about other things to purchase, I came up with this small list below.

1. New Toms in black. I currently own a green pair that have seen better days. My big toes are starting to poke through the ends of both shoes. I love these shoes for work though. They're easy to slip on and so comfortable to wear. 

2. Sally Hansen Miracle Gel polish (in 'Wine Stock' and 'Dig Fig'). Yes, those shades are very similar. Yes, I still want them both. This miracle gel polish is supposed to be as good as shellac manicures without the need for a UV light to set it. Worth a try.

3. Asymmetrical 'E' necklace. For the ever-growing Baby E. Only probably not the one in the picture as that one is quite pricey. I took a quick peak on Etsy but was unable to find an asymmetrical E on my first hunt. I've got a few more night shifts to go during which I can spend searching in my down time. 

4. Kate Spade 18 month planner. My current planner is a small calendar I got from my nursing union. It does the job but I kind of want a big flashy one. Especially since at the start of 2015 I won't have any work shifts to put into it and it'll likely only be doctors appointments and maybe penciling in visits from friends (it'll give me something to put in the planner and make me feel like my days aren't just spent changing diapers every 2 hours in between regular feedings).  I can also keep track of sweet things like E's first non-gas/poo related smile, first giggle, when she can hold up her head, etc. 

And that's it.
That's all I've got so far. 
I'm currently on night 4 of a 7-in-8-nights string of night shifts (I know, I booked these shifts accidentally and will never do it again) so I'm thinking a shopping spree is going to be my reward for making it through the rest of these shifts alive!

Monday might just be Treat Yo' Self day.

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Ultimate Brownie, or The Chocolate Chip Cookie Cheesecake Brownie

I haven't done any baking in a loooooong time. 
A long time.
And now that I have this wonderfully big, open kitchen, there's no excuse.

Spurred on by the colder weather we've been having as of late, I decided to turn on the oven and get to mixing.

A few weeks ago I bought a bag of cookie mix, having been craving a large, soft chocolate chip cookie that day. By the time I got home the craving was gone and the bag sat in the cupboard for awhile.
What could I make with a bag of President's Choice The Decadent chocolate chip cookie mix?

What if I whipped up a brownie mix?

What if I layered the brownie mix over the cookie mix?

And what if I added some cheese cake mix, whirled into the brownie mix?

Well Jamie, I do believe you'd have The Ultimate Brownie: The Chocolate Chip Cookie Cheesecake Brownie.

If you want to make your own, here's how:

1. Preheat oven to 350. Mix chocolate chip cookies according to instructions on bag (your best bet is the kind that only needs butter and water. No raw egg means you can lick that bow clean without worry). I used about a 1/3 of my cookie mix to completely cover the bottom of the pan. 
2. Spread in an even layer along the bottom of a 9x9 pan, pre-greased with butter or cooking spray.
3. Bake for about 8 minutes, until set around the edges but not completely finished. Remove and let cool but don't turn the oven off. 

4. In a small microwave safe bowl, mix 3/4 cup chocolate chips with 3 tbsp butter and 2 tbsp vegetable oil (I substituted with olive oil cause it's all I had and it didn't affect the overall taste). Heat for 30 seconds then stir together. If not quite melted, heat for another 15 seconds. 
5. In a separate bowl, mix together 1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup buttermilk (or 1/2 cup milk + 1 tsp vinegar) , 2 egg whites, and 1 tbsp vanilla extract. Pour in the melted chocolate and mix until smooth. 
6. In 3 additions, mix in 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup cocoa powder, and 1 tsp baking powder. Mix until combined. Set aside 1/2 cup of this mix and pour the remaining brownie batter over the chocolate chip cookie, being careful to spread the batter around without ruining the bottom layer. 

7. In another bowl, mix together 1 pkg softened cream cheese, 1/3 cup sugar, 1 tbsp vanilla extract, and 1 egg. Use a whisk to smooth out the lumps. 
8. Pour evenly over the brownie batter then drop spoonfuls of the remaining brownie batter into this. Use the back of a spoon to swirl the brownie batter into the cheesecake layer. 
9. Bake at 350 for about 40 mins or until set. Allow to cool then cut and enjoy your slice of heaven. 

With this cooler weather I expect to be in the kitchen a bit more in the next little while so stay tuned for more recipes.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Dear Daughter

*This original post was inspired largely by John, though he doesn't know it. More recently I've been inspired to turn it into a series of posts by a friend who is writing notes to her unborn child for him or her to have forever *

Dear Daughter,

Recently your father and I were at our friend's wedding. It was a beautiful wedding, heartfelt and cozy. Also the chicken was probably the best chicken I've ever eaten at a wedding. Your dad ate all of his and the last half of mine. My stomach doesn't hold as much as it used to, now that you're growing bigger and pushing my organs aside for more space. 

At one point during dinner your dad turned to me, with emotion in his eyes (and admittedly a few beers in his system), and said, "imagine that one day we'll be at E's wedding." 

Though it is many, many years away, I hope you fall in love with someone like your dad. 
Someone who is kind and caring, someone who has a strong work ethic and a zest for the adventurous side of life, someone who will love you the way your father and I love each other.

You might be able to imagine that your dad almost cried during the father-daughter dance, thinking about himself dancing with you someday. 

Pregnancy (me) and beer (your dad) are obviously two great emotional stimulators. 

If you need a heads up, please watch our wedding video. Specifically my father-daughter dance with your grandfather. We both sobbed the entire time. 
I hope you have that same experience.

This is assuming that any partner you want to spend your life with will be able to make it to the house, passed the porch where your dad will be sitting, cleaning his shotgun.
I think he's mostly kidding when he says this. 
I hope he is.

We've also decided that any romantic partner you have needs to come to the door when picking you up. Honking from the driveway is unacceptable.
I promise we'll be nice. 

Considering your dad only finally - certainly - felt you kicking his hand through my belly a few nights ago, I think it's safe to say that we're getting ahead of ourselves. But we're so excited to watch you grow up and can't help but think about every amazing thing you might experience. 

Don't feel you need to grow up too fast, though. 

Oh, dear daughter, you are already so loved. 

With love,
your mother (who will likely embarrass you throughout your life, considering I may have started doing so 4 months before your birth)

P.S. Don't feel you need to grow up too fast and don't feel you need to wake up every few hours overnight either. Ample sleep will make us all happier. And trust me, you'll wish for all the sleep you can get once you hit your teens and adulthood. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Sneak Peak at the Nursery

Before we started moving a ton of furniture into the new place, we bought paint and got busy painting the baby's room. 
We chose yellow as we didn't know what we were having, and more so because I wouldn't have painted the room pink or blue anyway. 
Let's avoid those horrible gender stereotypes from the get-go, amiright?
Plus I've always been drawn to the colour yellow with its inherent happiness.

The first shade we bought I hated. 
Of course I hated it after I painted the entire room.
So we decided that rather than repaint the entire room we would buy a lighter shade and make the room two-toned.
The result ended up being fantastic.
I love that room a little more every time I go in there.

Especially now that we've started adding furniture and pictures.

For my birthday, John sneakily scoped out my pinterest 'Baby on Board' board and found links to Winnie the Pooh prints that I had fallen in love with on Etsy.
He set up an Etsy account and ordered the prints. 
I cried when I opened them. 
The effort and the thought and the perfection of them was all it took to get me teary (though truth be told most things have what it takes to get me teary these days).

These Winnie the Pooh prints came courtesy of CloudNinePrints on Etsy and they are beautiful.
You may notice that one is actually Jeremy Fisher, the beloved Beatrix Potter character. 
And you might also notice the Life Aquatic print at the bottom left (courtesy of ArthursPlaidPants on Etsy) - this one I bought for John a few weeks ago. 
Thankfully the colour scheme of Steve Zissou goes perfectly with the room. 

We made a stop into Ikea last night for picture frames (and meatballs. And curtains for our living room - yay!), knowing that we wanted the white RIBBA frames. Now the pictures are up on the wall and I'm even more in love with Baby E's room. 

Sneak peak #1.

Sneak peak #2.
The hard -to-make-out yellow blanket in the basket is courtesy of my coworker who knit it for me. 
The colour matches the room perfectly and the gesture, again, almost moved me to tears.

In the coming months expect more updates - with a crib, once we get one!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Books! Books! Books!

Cats! Cats! Cats! Was one of my favourites when I was learning to read. 
I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that my mom read this to me several hundred times. 

Over the long weekend my wonderful family threw me and my two also-pregnant cousins a book themed baby shower. 
We now have a shelf on our bookshelf filled with wonderful stories that I can't wait to read to my little girl. 

Baby E still has about 4 months to go before she makes her way into the world but she's already being spoiled rotten by friends, family, and even my co-workers. 

Some of the books we got are classics (Dr. Seuss), others very touching. 'Guess How Much I Love You' made John emotional and I barely made it through the first page of 'Someday' before the tears started running down my cheeks. 
It reminds me of the classic 'Love You Forever'. If you can read that book cover to cover without at least getting a little misty-eyed then... you're either a stronger person than me or a sociopath. 

I hope to read many of my favourite books to Baby E as she grows up - Charlotte's Web, The Velveteen Rabbit, the Harry Potter series, etc. 
I hope she grows up loving to read.

John has already put headphones on my belly so that she could listen to Ed Viesturs book-on-tape about his mountain climbing experience (google him if you're curious, he's got a pretty impressive resume). 
So maybe she'll grow up to love reading and mountain climbing.
Oh boy...

What books did you love as a kid?
What books would you want to include in your child's library?

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

BOY or GIRL ? The big reveal!

On Thursday last week, John and I went in for our anatomy ultrasound - or the 20 week ultrasound as some people refer to it. 
We got to see all of baby's little bones, the perfect hands, the strong legs, the beating heart, stomach, bladder, etc. 
The tech even noticed MY bladder and how full it was (I had read that the more full your bladder the easier it would be to see baby move around - word to the wise: don't drink a ton of water unless they tell you to!).

Every second was incredible to watch on the screen. We have an active baby who didn't like to sit still for too long before moving into a more comfortable position. Hands over the face was a hilarious and shy pose. I saw a lot of little kicks that I didn't feel, although more and more often I'm starting to feel them. 
John also finally felt his first one a few nights ago. I've figured out that if I lay on my side for awhile then lay on my back for a few minutes that's usually when the kicks come. 

One thing we were very excited to learn at the ultrasound was the sex of the baby.
I was afraid after being so excited that baby would get shy and we wouldn't find out. 
But baby cooperated fully.


For those of you that haven't already been told, make your final guess now! Because the big reveal is coming....

. . . 

. . .

. . . 

We couldn't be more thrilled. 
I would have been happy with a boy but I've always wanted a daughter and now we're getting one!

Bring on the dresses!