Monday, August 11, 2014

Pink Lemonade First Birthday Party

Rae had a beautiful first birthday on Saturday.  I couldn't have imagined a more perfect day, it was warm and sunny with family and friends.  I designed and hand made these invitations on my Cameo Silhouette using inspiration from a few different invitations that I found on Etsy.  I love the little poem and simplicity of the invitations!  

I then set to work on the props for the day including this lemonade stand.  I almost didn't make it but then found all the pieces that I needed at Michael's and couldn't resist how easy it all was.

I glued the pieces together with wood glue and painted it yellow using the leftover wall paint from her nursery.  I then cut out the lettering and decorations using my Cameo, that machine was so easy to use and crucial for all of my decorations.

I put the lemonade stand at the curb with a few balloons to let people know where the party was.  Rae was so adorable in her little lemon shirt from Janie and Jack!

I hung a few pieces of twine and placed all of my favorite photos from the past year.  Rae loved looking at all of her pictures.  

One of Estevan's coworkers used to be a professional pastry chef and this was her gift to Rae.  It was absolutely perfect and was the centerpiece for the day.

Rae didn't get too messy but she did enjoy her taste of cake!

The cake was vanilla with a raspberry filling, so decadent.

She liked the rind more than the actual watermelon; good thing she had her bathing suit on!

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Friday, August 1, 2014

Pernil al Caldero

This is for all those Arroz Con Gandules recipe lovers out there.  It's a classic Puerto Rican recipe for pot roast with vegetables, known at Pernil al Caldero.  The recipe I used, and slightly modified, is from Puerto Rican Cookery by Carmen Aboy Valldejuli.

Pernil al Caldero

4-pound butt end of leg of pork

Crush and mix the following in a mortar:
4 peppercorns
4 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon whole dried oregano
4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
1 tablespoon vinegar

2 cups water
4 cups beef stock
2 bay leaves
2 onions, peeled and quartered
1 pound carrots, peels and cut into 1 inch rounds
1 pound Ukon gold potatoes, quartered

Remove skin and excess fat from meat, this is very important!  Rinse and dry, score top of meat in diamonds.  Rub the crushed seasonings into the meat and set in refrigerator overnight.

In a large caldero or heavy stockpot, brown meat lightly over high heat.  Add liquids, bay leaves, and onions and bring to a rapid boil.  Cover, reduce heat to medium low, and boil for 2 hours (1 hour for bone-in).

Add carrots and potatoes and bring to a rapid boil, reduce heat to medium low and boil for about 1 hour or until meat is well done.

Uncover, remove meat and vegetables, taste and adjust seasonings.  Boil, uncovered, until sauce thickens to taste.

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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Back to school

It's almost that time of year again!  I'm having very mixed feelings about going back after spending all day, every day with my sweet Rae.  A huge part of me just wants to stay at home with her and, not going to lie, homeschooling her through kindergarten has crossed my mind.  I'm so in love with showing her new things, making her nutritious breakfasts and lunches, reading whichever books she hands me, and just watching her grow up in front of me.  This summer has been so rewarding and I don't want it to stop.

But I know that I love teaching kindergarten.  I remember being so thankful for a career that I love and being surrounded with children that I love even more.  I remember the times that I laughed so hard my principal peaked her head in to see what was so funny.  I remember feeling the love from heartfelt "thank you's" from parents and former students.  Teaching really is the most rewarding career I could have chosen and I am forever grateful for the opportunity to touch so many lives.

I decided to take a walk down memory lane today to try to bring all of those great memories to the forefront again.  Trying to help myself prepare for the weeks coming up ever so soon.  These are a few of my favorite moments from my classroom...

This is one of my very favorite back to school activities where the kids listen to No David then write about what David can do in the classroom.  This student thought that David can play and listen to the teacher.  Precious!

These are a beautiful way of teaching the children about community.  Each layer is a different part, starting with "self" and ending with "state".

Experimental play is so crucial in kindergarten!  I like putting magnets out in the beginning of the year.

Real world objects are fun and what can be more fun than comparing and contrasting pumpkins at Halloween!?

I loved watching my students complete my first worksheet that I ever made for Teachers Pay Teachers.

My favorite graph of all time!  I still have this folded up in a cabinet.

 Fostering a love of books is one of my main goals as a teacher of young children.  Here, they are drawing the covers of their favorite books in preparation for book reviews.

This is my all time favorite bulletin board display.  We started off our Spring unit on plants with a reading of the book Tops and Bottoms and made our own garden with descriptions of what each plant is, like "flower", "root", or "stem".

 This was a Pinterest victory!  Sight words scroll by on a digital picture frame. 

 These chick glyphs are so silly, what's not to love?

 I love to listen to students working cooperatively.  Here, they are writing about their favorite part of Bear Snores On.

Our countdown to the last day of school is legendary with a small strip of paper inside each balloon detailing a quick and fun activity for the day.  
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Sunday, July 27, 2014


This summer has been a wonderful summer.  I have never experienced a summer quite like this one before in that I'm not bored and lonely at all.  I've kept myself busy with birthday projects, painting rooms in our house, taking trips with friends, enjoying family visiting from Michigan, and playing with my lovely Rae.  This summer has been absolutely perfect.

Here are a few shots of our summertime fun.

Having some fun at a local splash pad.
Rae's favorite animal at Old McDonald's Farm.
Kerbey Lane cafe was our favorite breakfast place in Austin.  Cinnamon roll pancakes were out of this world!
About to go into Longhorn Caverns, excited!
The entrance to Longhorn Caverns.  Rae didn't make it much further than this, haha!
I painted over the hideous 'Venetian plaster' job in Rae's bathroom.
Rae helped.
I tore down the crazy tea-stained paper treatment that was in the game room upstairs and got very brave with this new color, 'Expressive Plum'.
Finally, I made these fun decorations for Rae's party.  The lemonade stand was so easy to make it shocked me.  Can't wait for August 9th!
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Saturday, June 14, 2014

Homemade baby purees

How the time has flown by!  Rae is just over 10 months now and starting to eat more and more solid food but this kid still loves her purees.  I started out with the goal of simply attempting to make her own foods at home.  I thought that I would at least give it a shot and buy her jars if that didn't work out, no biggie, never thinking that I would make it this long.

I have loved making her baby food, it has been a great point of personal pride for me through this journey of new parenthood.  It has also been important to me to have some sort of creative or motherly outlet to feel, I suppose, needed.  Switching to formula has been harder than I ever expected and preparing her baby food at home has helped me to feel necessary again.  It's weird to describe, maybe baking and cooking is how I express my love.  Anyways, this whole process has been very cathartic for me and I'm so glad that I can share it with you.

I need to start by telling you that I didn't buy a single thing to prepare baby food.  I registered for a special baby food maker that would steam and puree, I registered for the trays to put that wonderfully prepared food into, I registered for a cookbook to use with that wonderful baby food maker.  I was so excited to nest!  And then along came baby and countless thoughtful and fantastic gifts but no baby food maker, no trays, and no cookbook.  Sure, I wanted all that but I knew in the back of my head that it was ridiculous and apparently everyone else did too!

So I searched all over the baby blogs and recipe sites for how to get started and discovered that I already owned everything necessary to make baby food.  This is what I found to be needed:

  1. Steamer basket, either with a stock pot or in a rice cooker
  2. Food processor or blender
  3. Ice cube trays for freezing
  4. Freezer bags for storing
I then found a fantastic site for food ideas called WholesomeBabyFood.  It is an outstanding source for figuring out how to start feeding solids to a baby!

I love the ice cube trays because they produce perfect little 1oz portions of food.  This makes it so easy to combine different foods for a new flavor every day.  The possibilities are endless and can be somewhat daunting.  If you are a little worried, just do what I did and walk down the baby food aisle to see what those master chefs put together!  

***Tip: the food doesn't pop out like ice, wedge a knife along the side and it will pop right out.  

The cubes are also easy for transporting to daycare.  I simply put 3 cubes in a little reusable storage container and they set it in hot water to heat up.  I also heat up two cubes of fruit purees and mix in plain whole-milk yogurt for a great snack.  

You can adjust the level of smoothness and thickness by adding water to the food processor.  Just be careful about adding too much because freezing can cause some vegetables, like carrots, to become watery.  Speaking of carrots, did you know that carrots spark in the microwave!?  I never knew until I put some steamed carrots in there for a few seconds and they popped like fireworks.  Turns out, it's the high levels of minerals that causes it.  Crazy!

I'm off now to mix a few cubes into Rae's oatmeal.  Have a great weekend!
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Saturday, February 15, 2014

Six Months

Rae turned six months old this past weekend.  She is still the most amazing thing in my life and I am astonished that she is already half a year old!   

It is so incredible to think that she is already this old but at the same time I find myself thinking that she's only been in my life for six months yet I can't imagine it without her.  Estevan and I are head over heals in love with her!

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Sunday, February 9, 2014

Weaning from the pump

I have reached my breastfeeding six month goal!!!!!

I'm so thrilled to have made it this long after the emotional start and the grueling journey through exclusively pumping.  It has been very hard on my body, my emotions, and my job but I have finally made it.  I'm so proud of myself for making it this long but then I start to question myself for quitting now that I've come this far.  I keep tricking myself into thinking that it isn't THAT hard.  Don't I want to give my daughter the best?  My supply is good, there are so many moms out there that would give anything to feed their babies breast milk; so why am I calling it quits?  I'm still an emotional mess about the whole thing and every few minutes I change my mind about quitting and continue to beat myself up about it.  

So why am I stopping?  I need to stop analyzing my pumping output and stressing about whether I will have enough milk for the next day even though there is plenty in the fridge.  I need to allow myself the time to sleep in past 4:50am.  I need to socialize with my coworkers instead of sequestering myself in a tiny little room with my pump.  I need to go to bed again without so many layers.  I need to give myself the opportunity to do anything that I want for longer than 4 hour increments. 

I'm stopping because I need to feel like myself again.

I'm so much more than a source of food for my daughter.  I am a wife, a teacher, a daughter, and a friend.  I have forgotten some of those aspects of myself along this emotional roller coaster.  It's time to step off and stop worrying so much.  

I'm going to start being proud of myself for achieving my goal.  Besides, I have one amazing little girl who is thriving and happy.  THAT is the important thing.

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Saturday, February 1, 2014

Baby Food Making

I miss you, it has been too long.  I fear that it will be like this for a while, me taking crazy long breaks from blogging and then showing up out of the blue with a bazillion new photos to share.  So let's get the photos out of the way first...

Now that I have that out of my system we can move on to the exciting stuff like baby food!  Ok, maybe it's not that exciting for you but it was big news in this household.  Rae loved every part of her first time eating food like a big girl.  Cue another photo (sorrynotsorry).

A lot of people like to start out with rice cereal, making it as thick as their baby likes it while still being able to spoon feed.  The rice cereal is great for getting baby used to putting something in their mouth but does not provide any nutrition  Some people like to start out with whole pieces of food that can be easily held and gnawed on by their baby, i.e. baby led weaning.  We decided to do a combination of both, skipping the rice cereal completely but still spoon feeding her.  Our reasoning behind choosing to skip rice cereal was that, either way, she will be getting used to putting something in her mouth besides a bottle and with actual food she might glean a small amount of nutrition.  

Rae's first food was yummy avocado, mashed up and smoothed out with a little bit of breast milk.  She has been very eager to put whatever I have been eating into her mouth, this made it very natural for her to open her mouth and accept a spoonful.  Of course, she barely swallowed and most of it was just pushed around by her tongue but she seemed to like the whole experience.

My goal is to use fresh foods to make all of Rae's foods instead of buying jars of baby food from the store.  It might be a lofty goal and I will soon figure out if it is achievable but I feel very strongly in the benefits of making fresh food.  Have you seen the color of jarred green beans?  

So far, I have made pureed butternut squash and green beans.  No outrageously priced baby food making equipment necessary, just a stove top for boiling or oven for baking and a food processor that I already owned.  I make her food in large batches and freeze the rest in, get this, ice cube trays!  Ice cube trays are the best!  They are perfectly sized little one ounce containers for freezing any kind of puree.  I pop them out once they are frozen solid and place in freezer baggies like this...

All I have to do at meal time is place one in a bowl and microwave it for about 20 seconds.  Voila, a perfect little portion for dinner!  These will stay good for a couple of months but once we get into eating them every single day they will be eaten at a faster pace.  For right now, it's very easy to make a batch every other weekend.  We will see how this whole experience goes, I'm taking it one day at a time.

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