QUICK Dinner: Greek Tortellini Salad

Who doesn’t love a quick & easy meal? Being a Mom I LOVE them, but not just Moms’ need quick and easy meals. I know how much I valued an easy meal that I could throw together after a stressful, busy work day. We all have those CRAZY days where the thought of making dinner sounds like absolute torture.

I love those meals in which you usually have all of the ingredients in your kitchen. Can’t beat not having to run to the grocery store on your way home or in the middle of the day. Although I cannot tell a lie, I enjoy just browsing the aisles…at least I used to. Before Gabriella. Winking smile If she is being a good girl, sometimes she will sit in the cart with me for a while before getting to be little Miss Fussypants.

Oh gosh, yesterday she was TERRIBLE. I mean TERRIBLE with a capital T. But I blame myself, I wrote about how wonderful she was yesterday…and then CRAZY lady showed up. EEK! No more good talks about Gabriella for a while. I would like to save what little sanity I have left. Winking smile

Without further a do, I present you one of the quickest meals…EVER!

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Ingredients:

-1/2 package of frozen fully cooked tortellini (most frozen packages are 19oz. – that was the size I used)

-1 tsp minced garlic

-1 tsp salt

-1/2 tsp black pepper

-3/4 cup feta (I used tomato & basil flavor)

-5-6 fresh basil leaves, diced (or 1/2 tsp dried)

-15 oz. can cannellini beans, drained & rinse

-1 cup diced tomato

-Fresh spinach (I used baby spinach)

Directions:

1. Cook tortellini according to package.

2. While you are waiting for the water to boil, and then the tortellini to cook, heat a skillet over medium high heat. Spray with cooking spray & add garlic, salt, pepper, feta, basil & beans to pan.

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3. Cook for about 2 minutes, or until feta starts to melt. Then add diced tomatos.

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4. Cook for another two minutes & add cooked tortellini.

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5. Serve atop fresh spinach & ENJOY!!

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Did you notice that piece of bread in the first picture?? I MADE it!

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I am on a ROLL (pun intended Winking smile ) with making homemade bread. I actually really kind of love it. There is really nothing better than pulling out a nice big batch of fresh bread from your oven. I can’t even tell you how quickly the first loaf was devoured by Craig and I.

This time I decided to make ‘copycat’ Macaroni Grill bread. I don’t know if you have ever been to a Macaroni Grill, or if there is one near you, but it is some of the BEST bread! I think Panera may just have my #1 spot for favorite fresh bread.

But let’s be honest, one of the best parts of going to Macaroni Grill is eating plates & plates of their bread. By the time I get my entrée I’m stuff to the gills of bread…which I why I typically order a small salad. I’d rather fill up on bread. Carb-a-holic anyone?! Smile

So when I found a recipe for a knock off of Macaroni Grill’s bread, I was ALL OVER it.

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If you decide to try this recipe, I would just suggest increasing the amount of salt (to maybe 2 tsp- with more sprinkled on top) & the rosemary. (to about 3 tbsp)

Someone else, besides Craig & I, couldn’t keep her hands off of it either.

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We won’t mention any names though Winking smile

Have a wonderful Thursday! I’m hoping for a happier Gabriella today, especially since we are get to see our friends today. YAY for Thursdays- one of my favorite days of the week! Open-mouthed smile

Favorite quick dinner?? Feel free to link away, I could use some more quick meals in my rotation.

Favorite place to get fresh bread?? I think my top HAS to be Panera.

Big Step In Parenting

Last night I was so exhausted that the thought of writing a post was out of the question. We are all allowed those nights, right?? Smile I really have no idea why I was so tired, (well ok maybe it was the 13 miles I did…I’m insane- I know!) but it just hit me like a ton of bricks.

Anyways, back to regular posting today!

So I wanted to talk about HOW MUCH friends mean to me. I know it may sound silly, but I really can’t tell you enough how much my friends have been there for me. It’s been an interesting month- lots of both ups and downs. But what helped get through the not so good moments was the support from friends.

I know when I first had Gabriella my Mother in Law very much encouraged me to try to find some other Moms in the area. Not just so that we could have play dates & talk about our crazy kids but also for the support they offer. Also for the advice and relatable stories that they have- makes you feel like your child really isn’t all that crazy. Winking smile

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I have been loving that Gabriella is getting more socialized. Honestly the past two months she has changed SO MUCH! We have play dates every week, and she is friends with one of the neighbor’s kids as well- who she sees every day. (His Mom & I go walking in the afternoon with the kids) She used to really only let Craig or I hold her, and at one point (sometimes even now) she only lets me hold or play with her.

But since being around other children & babies, she is little miss social butterfly! Even my Mom made a comment while we were in Jacksonville as to how much she has changed. That she was completely fine with playing and I didn’t have to be right next to her all the time. My Mom & Dad were able to play with her and they enjoyed their time together. It was really sweet!

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This past weekend was a new step in our world as parents. Craig and I were invited to a cookout at a friend’s house. It started around 4pm, and we were planning to leave around 7/ 7:30pm in order to get Gabriella to bed. Well, while I was getting all of her stuff together (isn’t it AMAZING how such a little person requires SO.MUCH.STUFF?!) I threw in her PJ’s, so that we could get her all ready for bed before getting her in the car.

Well we decided to try something new. Our friends also have kids. So they had everything we needed. A pack n’ play, a sound machine, and a quiet room. Can you say perfect?!! Another reason you have to love friends with kids- they understand what you are going through and tell you NOT to apologize.

Craig & I wanted to stay for a bit to hang out with everyone, since we really don’t get to do that often and we were having a GREAT time.

ANYWAYS, to make a long story short, Gabriella did WONDERFUL!!! She was able to sleep in the pack n play until we were ready to leave. We actually stayed longer than expected (after midnight…OMG…who are we!?! Winking smile ), and I ended up just nursing her back to sleep when we got home.

It was SO nice to know that we can actually DO THINGS! We can go to other people’s houses, and enjoy ourselves. I know that sounds SO silly, but it really was a HUGE step. I was nervous to take her out of her element, but she did better than expected. That’s why half of the time I feel like I’m the one that has issues instead of Gabriella Winking smile I just need to trust in her, girlfriend knows how to impress her Momma!

And one way to win over all of your friends’ hearts, just in case your child is a crazy person is to make them Better than Crack Brownies! You gotta be prepared, people! Open-mouthed smile

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I have made these before for my family in Maryland, and they were a hit there. With the ingredients, you CANNOT go wrong!

Better-Than-Crack Brownies

(Copied DIRECTLY from How Sweet Eats)

1 batch brownies (boxed mix or oooey gooey brownies)

1/2 cup salted peanuts (if don’t have salted, add sea salt)

1 cup chopped Reese’s peanut butter cups

1 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips

1 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1/2 tablespoon butter

1 1/2 cups Rice Krispies Cereal

Mix brownies according to directions, and bake for 20-25 minutes in a 9 x 13 baking dish. Remove and top with peanuts and peanut butter cups, and bake for 4-6 minutes more.

While they are finishing baking, melt chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter. Stir in cereal. Remove brownies from oven and evenly pour chocolate mixture over top.

Refrigerate for 2 hours before serving.

DELICIOUS!!

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I know it sounds sad but I feel like it was a big step in our ‘parenting life.’ Smile The fact that we know she can sleep OTHER places, not just her crib, is HUGE.

Happy Hump Day Open-mouthed smile 

Have you tried these brownies??? PLEASE DO!!

Parents: Did you have this same issue? Was it a big deal when you realized you could actually ENJOY yourselves rather than adjusting to your child’s routine?

Red Velvet Cheesecake

If you follow me on Instagram (hollynotarange), you know that I spent my weekend in the kitchen. My favorite place to be!

I don’t know if I have mentioned it on here before, but I actually have my own baking company. (VERY small!- and I just do stuff in my personal kitchen) I don’t advertise, everything is by word of mouth. The way I actually got started was just by sending food into Craig’s work. Whenever we had leftover sweets, I would send them along with him just so that they weren’t in the house. Whenever there are sweets here I found them hard to resist, so I’d rather get them out! Winking smile

Anyways, a couple of years ago Craig’s group asked if they could just pay me to bake a bunch of stuff for their Christmas party, that way they didn’t have to worry about making or buying anything. Once I did that, I had people ask me if I had a company and if I did if they could order stuff from me. It made me so happy to hear that my baked goods were getting rave reviews and that people want to hire me to bake for them. SIGN ME UP!!

…and so that is the story of how ‘Hollywood Sweets’ came to be!

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(the black lines are personal information, they don’t actually look like that Winking smile )

Craig is the one who thought of a name for my business, and he also coined the tag line ‘sweet treats for your sweet tooth.’ Quite a creative husband that I have. Smile I ordered some business cards and he gave them to people at his office that asked for my information, and I’ll leave them on community billboards occasionally just to see if I can also get some business that way.

On Friday I got a call requesting baked goods- she wanted something with red velvet (but not an actual red velvet cake) & something chocolate. So I got to work thinking of different recipes, and options for her to choose from.

She ended up going with Red Velvet Cheesecake & Salted Caramel Brownies.

I got the cheesecake recipe from Food Network, and then decided to make a cream cheese frosting for the top.

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Red Velvet Cheesecake
(recipe from here)

Ingredients:

For the crust:

1 1/2 cups finely crushed chocolate wafer cookies (I used Chocolate Teddy Grahams)
5 tbsp. unsalted butter
1/3 cup sugar
pinch of salt

    For the filling:

    4 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
    1 1/4 cups sugar
    1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    2 tablespoons all purpose flour
    4 large eggs
    1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
    1 teaspoon red food coloring

    Directions

    Make the crust: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Mix the cookie crumbs, melted butter, sugar and salt in a bowl. Press into the bottom and 1 inch up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Put the pan on a baking sheet and bake until set, about 10 minutes. Let cool completely.

    Make the filling: Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F. Beat the cream cheese, sugar, lemon juice and vanilla in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until smooth, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the flour, then beat in the eggs one at a time. Transfer 2 cups batter to a bowl; stir in the cocoa powder and food coloring. Pour the red batter into the crust, then pour the white batter on top. Using a spoon, pull some of the red batter up from the bottom of the cake and swirl. Bake until the edges are set but the center is still wobbly, about 1 hour, 20 minutes.

    Turn off the oven but keep the cake inside to cool, 20 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pan (don’t remove the springform side), then transfer to a rack to cool. Refrigerate at least 4 hours before slicing.

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    Once the cake was completely cooled (I let in cool in the refrigerator over night), I decided to frost it. It was for a birthday, and I hated that it cracked. (Even though a lot of commenters said the same thing happened to them- they said thankfully it doesn’t effect the taste Smile )

    Cream Cheese Frosting

    Ingredients:

    4 oz. cream cheese (1/2 of a block)
    4 oz. unsalted butter (1/2 a stick)
    2 cups powdered sugar
    1 tsp. vanilla

    Directions:

    Beat the cream cheese & butter together in a mixing bowl- I put it on medium high speed and let it mix for about 2 minutes. After two minutes, turn the mixer down to low & mix in the powdered sugar one cup at a time. Once combined, beat in the vanilla. I then just let it mix on high for about a minute so that it was nice & fluffy.

    I took half of the frosting & added about one teaspoon red food coloring to it and left the other half the original color. (white)

    I put both frostings in sandwich size ziplock bags, and snipped the corners to create pastry bags. Then I got to frosting- I did one ring of white, then one ring of red- alternating until the cake was covered.

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    I took a knife & ran it through the frosting- about 1/2 inch apart in horizontal lines. I ran it through one way, and then through the other way (hopefully that makes sense) to create a swirled pattern.

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    ^love how you can see the layers- with the chocolate crust, cream cheese filling & then frosting.

    I have to admit, I tried a tiny bit of the cream cheese filling, I always like to make sure things taste ok before I sell them. I do NOT even like cheesecake, at all, but obviously I could tell if it tasted bad. You guys, the filling in this is BEYOND delicious! I mean it was the PERFECT filling, in my opinion, not too cheesy or dense, but fluffy and subtle. I cannot wait to make just a standard cheesecake with this filling, my sister (who is OBSESSED with cheesecake) will LOVE it.

    As for the Salted Caramel Brownies, I used a recipe I found on Smitten Kitchen.

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    One thing I learned is that making homemade caramel is HARD. …and frustrating! I don’t know if there is another recipe that I could follow when making it that makes it a bit easier, but I was this close to throwing in the towel on these.

    I was able to use about half of the caramel I made (the other half had chunks of sugar in it- which happened AFTER I had melted the sugar), but one thing I can tell you is that homemade caramel is 1000 times better than store bought.

    I don’t normally like caramel, or things with caramel, but I had to try a piece of this just to make sure it was edible. Winking smile Oh my goodness it was SO good- so creamy & just melts in your mouth. I suppose all of that time making it was worth it!

    These brownies were actually for an engagement party, so I got to work decorating.

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    I couldn’t find my pastry bag for the life of me, so the letters came out a bit thicker than I wanted, but you gotta do what ya gotta do! Winking smile 

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    The little heart brownies were double chocolate brownies, just to add some variety.

    Now we have leftover brownies, from the pan that I was cutting the hearts out of, and we have officially overdosed on them. Every time we walk near the kitchen we find a reason to go in to have a little piece of one.

    Oh and while I was taking pictures of the food my little kitchen assistant could not get to the plates fast enough!

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    I have NEVER seen Gabriella crawl so fast. Speedy Gonzales!

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    She was mesmerized by the cheesecake. She kept trying to stick her little hand in there, but I quickly pulled her away. Smile

    Guess it’s a good thing I have a long run planned this morning after a weekend of sweets!

    Do you like cheesecake? If so, what kind? If not, favorite type of cake?

    Are you as in love with everything salted caramel like me?? (And it’s funny because I don’t like caramel. I have issues Winking smile)

    Friday Favorites

    Welcome to FRIDAY! Open-mouthed smile

    I don’t know about you, but this weekend is MUCH needed. This past week was kind of crazy, and it will be nice to have some family time. We need it!

    We actually have plans both Saturday and Sunday, and I’m really looking forward to them! Saturday we are planning to go to a friends’ house for a cookout & some pool time. And then on Sunday my Mom is coming down to visit!! She can’t get enough of us lately. Secretly I know it has nothing to do with US, but more to do with Gabriella. Winking smile

    I’m taking her to see Despicable Me Two, and we both are SO EXCITED!!

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    My Mom & I love the movie. She got me hooked on it a few years ago. I can watch it over & over again. And the funny thing is that it is the only thing that Gabriella will actually watch on tv. She is NOT into Baby Einstein, or cartoons, or any of that. But I happened to have it on one day & I caught her just sitting there staring at it.

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    What can I say?? She has good taste!

    Today I thought I would share with you a few of my favorite things right now. I’m still loving all of my favorites from a couple of weeks ago, these are just MORE things to add to the list. Winking smile

    1. Jam Jar Wine

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    If you like Apothic Red Wine, you will like this too. I guarantee it! My sister in law introduced it to me a few years ago, and I’m so glad she did! It is a sweet shiraz & PERFECT for sitting outside and unwinding at the end of the day.

    2. Summer Shandy

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    This beer is DELICIOUS! It is beer with a touch of lemonade. It is SO refreshing, PERFECT for the summertime. I promise it’s not a ‘girly’ beer. It was actually Craig that found it, he drank it in Kansas City when he was out there a few months ago. We have been on a mission to find it, and my Mom picked some up for us for the fourth of July- a six pack that was gone VERY quickly! Winking smile 

    Goodness, I sound like a little boozer, now don’t I?! Smile Love that my first two ‘likes’ happen to be wine & beer.

    3. Runner’s World Magazine

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    After my last post, I’m sure you can see I’m VERY much in running mode. Although I’m always in that mode, so it’s nothing new. I have been really enjoying my Runner’s World lately. So many good articles, training tips & new workouts to try. I actually really like their full marathon training plan, I’m about half way through it.

    Speaking of running, anyone out there know what could be wrong if the top of your foot (like near your ankle) just KILLS when you put your shoes on? A friend of mine is having issues with it, and my first thought was that she may need new shoes. Which she does, but just wondering if anyone else has had this issue?? And was it your shoes? Or something more serious?

    4. Julie’s 8 Minute Ab Workout

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    My friend Jenna told me about this and it is AWESOME!! I was doing 8 minute abs everyday from YouTube, but was doing modifications to the exercises to make them harder. So when I saw this, I couldn’t wait to try it. I felt the burn & I LOVED it. Open-mouthed smile I will do the whole thing (along with the YouTube 8 Minute abs video), then add a minute plank at the end. KILLER. Those spiderman planks are now one of my very favorite ab exercises!

    5. Jeremiah’s Italian Ice

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    This is nothing new. Winking smile But let’s get real and show you what I REALLY order from Jeremiah’s.

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    See that big container? That would be MINE. ALL MINE. I order a quart of Cookies n’ Cream (just the ice, no gelati) and then eat it over the next 3-4 days. It has taken over my favorite dessert- above frozen yogurt! GASP! I know.

    I blame it on Gabriella, she’s a bad influence. Winking smile

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    (that’s her on the counter ordering Mommy’s Italian ice)

    …and last but certainly not least…

    6. Big Brother!!!!!!!!!!!

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    I have watched this show since the first season, and when I met Craig I got him hooked too. I have NO idea why I like it so much, but every summer I look forward to it. I am BEYOND glad to see the ‘Moving Company’ completely torn apart. Gave me a laugh. And I have to say, I’m rooting for Howard AND Elissa. Yep, as much as she is just like Rachel, I really do like her!

    7. Starbucks Orange Spice Iced Coffee

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    Ok, I know it SOUNDS odd. But it’s actually REALLY good! It has more of the spice flavor (cinnamon) than the orange flavor, but overall I really like it. I think next time I will see if I can get additional orange flavor. How weird does that sound…orange in my coffee?? Hmm. But I tell ya, it’s a good combination!

    And that’s all I have for now. Smile

    Have a WONDERFUL weekend! Catch up with ya on Monday!!

    Tell me some of your favorites right now!

    Any other Big Brother fans out there? Favorite person so far?

    Favorite Starbucks drink? I’m a die hard iced coffee lover. I have it every morning. Addicted much?! Winking smile

    The Post ALL About Running

    Race season is only a few months away & I CANNOT WAIT.

    I have already started adding races to my calendar, and I know that the number will only increase. I swear it’s like a drug, once you sign up for one you just can’t stop signing up for more. I’ve been bit by the racing bug. Winking smile

    So far, this is what I have in the line up:

    September 21st: Miracle Miles 15K- Orlando, FL

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    November 10th: (Gabriella will be a YEAR old by then! OMG) Baldwin Park Half Marathon

    December 7th: OUC Half Marathon

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    I emailed Craig the dates and said ‘I have races these dates.’ He wrote back & said ‘races?’ To which I responded ‘Halfs.’ I just got a response of ‘?’ I went on to explain that I was planning my races out, and that these were what I had so far. And that ‘halfs’ meant half marathon. 

    Isn’t it funny how, as a runner, we just assume what other people know what we are talking about when we use our ‘running lingo?’ Like when I have said ‘PR’ before and people look at me like I’m crazy. Or my favorite term has to be ‘fartlek.’ I LOVE people’s reaction to that one. I feel like they are anticipating having to hold their nose. Winking smile 

    Now for some other races that I’m looking at potentially running, it will just depend on our schedules. Trying to coordinate three different people’s lives can be tough sometimes, even if one is only 8 months old. Smile

    Tour De Pain – 3 races, 2 days, back to back (4 miles Friday night, 5K Saturday morning & 1 Mile Sizzler Saturday night) This one will just depend on Craig’s travel schedule, he MAY be out of town the following week, so I would feel bad for going to Jacksonville for the weekend if he were to leave the following Monday.

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    Jacksonville Marine Corps Half Marathon

    1 up

    Jacksonville Bank Marathon  (I REALLY want to do this one, it will just depend on if we have any plans for New Years, only because this one is December 29th)

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    U Can Finish 5 miler & 2 miler (Distance Challenge)- at UCF- YAY! Go Knights!
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    After confirming some dates with Craig and letting him know that I still had a few more that I wanted to register for, he thought I was off my rocker. So I had to explain it in ‘Craig terms.’ I said that running & especially running in races was like my form of football. I LOVE it, I live it, I breathe it…and if you know me I talk about it…a LOT. Open-mouthed smile (If you’re a runner you know what I mean)

    Once I phrased it that way, he totally understood. I also said that all of my running really does have a reason- a method to my madness. He just replied with ‘make sure you are eating. A lot.’ Smile

    So I wanted to find out from you, what races do you have planned?? Anything this fall?

    Any favorite races out there? Any that you would say are MUST RUNS? I MUST run the Cincinnati Flying Pig marathon at some point in my life…I’m HOPING that it will be next year. (It’s in the spring)

    Day in the Life of an Eight Month Old

    While we were in Jacksonville for the 4th of July holiday, something else happened that I haven’t mentioned yet.

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    Gabriella hit the big 8 month mark! So hard to believe!

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    Instead of doing my normal ‘I can’t believe she is already 8 months old… and the whole ‘each month keeps getting better’ (which it REALLY does!), I thought I would do a post about the day in the life of an eight month old. I figured it might be a bit more fun, and you can see what my day consists of. Smile

    So here you go, a day in the life of Gabriella:

    Between 7am & 7:30- She wakes up. (I actually set my alarm & wake up anywhere between 5am & 6am- depending on how much work I need to get done.) We bring her downstairs, and play with her for a bit before feeding her breakfast.

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    This morning happened to be a little bit of oatmeal, fruit and homemade baby pancakes. (recipe to come!)

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    I feed her after Craig leaves for work (around 7:45am) and we watch a bit of the Today Show before heading out for my morning run.

    Most days I will nurse her around 7:45am/ 8am before I run, to top off her little tank. (& also for some relief- ha! Nothing like running full of milk. Winking smile )

    8am – 10am/ 10:30am : We run, well, I run and Gabriella naps.

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    She will usually fall asleep about 30 minutes into my run, and then I will run anywhere from an hour and a half to two hours- just depends on if I am doing a long run, speed work, or an easier run day. I typically run at least 8 miles a day, and once I finish my run I will walk until Gabriella wakes up. (& to cool down) Once she is up, we head to the park.

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    She loves just watching other kids run around, she will just stare & laugh. Once she is done at the park, we walk home while she chugs her water. (it’s hilarious!)

    11:15am – 12pm: Pool time!

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    I’ve been trying to take her at least three times a week. She loves it, and she really tries to swim- I believe it’s a natural instinct that they have. She kicks her little feet like a frog and LOVES to be dunked under water. The very first time we ever did it, she cried for a second, but then was fine. Now, she wants me to do it! Crazy little girl. It’s definitely a good thing though, I don’t want her to be scared of the water. She is a water baby! I almost have to drag her out when it’s time to go home. She’s always a little prune when she gets out. Smile

    12pm – 12:45pm: Craig comes home, I make him lunch & he will play with Gabriella for a bit. She will also have a little snack.

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    She loves Gerber Puffs or plain Cheerios. That day happened to be vanilla puffs, which are also my favorite. Bite for me, bite for G. Winking smile

    Sometime between 1pm & 1:30pm I will feed her (nursing) and then put her in the crib for her nap.

    Between 2pm – 3pm (sometimes, if I’m lucky even 3:30pm) She wakes up from her nap. It’s ROUGH when she only gets an hour nap, which was yesterday. Eek! Little time for me to do ANYTHING. I use her nap time for work and to clean the house once my work is done. But Tuesday she had other intensions…and those intentions were NOT to work.

    Around 3:30pm: Snack time

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    ^a picture that I plan on showing her future boyfriends Winking smile

    This girl LOVES yogurt. I always have a ton of Stonyfield in the refrigerator for her, but I happened to see a new line from Yoplait for baby yogurt, so I tried it.

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    I think Gabriella was getting mad at me for stealing a bunch of bites. Ooops Open-mouthed smile It was SO good!!!

    Depending on her nap, anywhere between 2:30 & 4pm we just play. Lately her favorite thing is seeing how far she can ‘test Mommy.’ We have a ‘baby jail’ around the entertainment center & stairs so that she can’t get to these things.

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    That would be the whole process above. The whole time while she is crawling over there (OH, and girl can CRAWL full on now, there’s no stopping her), I am saying ‘Gabriella, NO. No Gabriella, come here.’ Repetitively. Hopefully this is not a sign of what’s to come. Winking smile

    Her favorite toys happen to be ANYTHING in the entertainment center…especially DVDs. Thousands of toy & she wants those. Little stink Winking smile

    4pm – 5:30pm: I go on another walk with her, usually I go with my neighbor. (She has a 2 year old son that Gabriella just adores.) Sometimes I will run again, just depends on where I’m at in my training. We walk/ run for an hour & then I’ll bring her to the park again sometimes.

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    Between 5:30 & 6pm Craig gets home. He will take Gabriella and play with her, while I start dinner- or at least prep dinner.

    Between 6pm & 6:30pm: Dinner time for Gabriella!

    We decided to try giving her pasta (you just over cook it, so that it’s almost mush), and she liked it!

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    She wasn’t quite sure what to do with it, she kind of played with it for a while but eventually figured out that it was for her to eat. She also had some sweet potatoes and apples. Girlfriend has quite an appetite. I say she gets it from her Daddy! Smile

    Oh, and you may wonder why she is suddenly without clothes…well, we strip her down when it’s feeding time. – Meal and snack time. Just because she is very messy, as all babies are, and sometimes the food will stain her clothes even AFTER using stain removers and letting the clothes soak. (Mom’s out there: have you found a stain remover that really does remove stains entirely?)

    Between 7pm & 8pm: Bath time, and then I nurse her to bed.

    Since we have been sleep training, and it’s been going pretty well (I say that with caution because every time I’ve mentioned something about her sleeping better, she has a WILD night.) and she is also getting up to eat once- around 3am/ 4am. She may cry or fuss for a bit around midnight, but we just let her cry & it’s REALLY short and she puts herself back to sleep. Thankfully.

    And there you go, a day in the life of Gabriella! Needless to say, she keeps me busy!! Open-mouthed smile I LOVE every minute (or almost every minute Winking smile ) of it- I’m so blessed to be able to work from home so that I don’t miss a moment with her.

    I also love that I have the best running buddy – she keeps me motivated. Smile Looking down at those chunky thighs while I run just cracks me up. I’m starting her off right….

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    …with only the best shoes: Mizunos!!! I really think Gabriella needs some baby Mizunos to match her Momma!

    Mom’s out there: If you stay at home with your child, how does your schedule look? Similar to mine? Favorite activity?

    Runners: Favorite brand of shoes??

    Working With Yeast Again: French Bread Recipe

    I don’t know about you, but I LOVE bread. Any & all types of bread. If I had to eat the same food everyday for the rest of my life, it would be fresh bread & butter.

    I always wanted to make my own bread, without a bread machine. I wanted to make true, ‘from scratch,’ bread. The only thing is that yeast used to freak me out. I tried cooking with it once, and things did NOT turn out well, so from that point on I just kind of gave up on it. This is rare for me, anything involving cooking I will try over and over again until I get it right. For some reason though, using yeast again was not an option…until a couple of weeks ago.

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    I really wanted French bread to go with our dinner, but I didn’t feel like going to the store to get it. So I thought I would give baking with yeast one more try. Boy am I glad I did!

    This bread turned out PERFECT! SO make tastier than store bought bread, and it was actually pretty easy to make. Although time consuming, worth every second.

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    French Bread

    (adapted from this recipe)

    Yield: 2 large loaves

    Ingredients:

    • 1/2 cup warm water (100-110 degrees F)

    • 2 teaspoons sugar

    • 2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast

    • 5 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional flour for kneading

    • 1 tablespoon salt

    • 1 and 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F)

    • 1 tablespoon cornmeal

    • 1 egg white

    • 1 tablespoon water

    Directions:

    1. Proof Yeast: In a medium bowl combine 1/2 cup warm water, sugar, and the two packages of yeast, let stand 10 minutes. If mixture doubles in volume, the yeast is active. (if not, your yeast may be expired)
    2. In a large bowl, combine 2 cups flour, yeast mixture and salt. Stir in 1 and 1/2 cups warm water, and beat until well blended using a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment. Using a wooden spoon, stir in as much of the remaining flour as you can.
    3. On a lightly floured surface, knead in enough flour to make a stiff dough that is smooth and elastic. Knead for about 8 to 10 minutes total. (**Do NOT try to rush your kneading time- be sure to knead the ENTIRE time- even set a timer, if need be.) Shape into a ball. Place dough in a greased bowl, and turn once. Cover, and let rise in a warm place until doubled. (I left it for about 2 hours to rise, but that long is not necessary- at least an hour, I would say.)
    4. Punch dough down, and divide in half. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Cover, and let rest for 10 minutes. Roll each half into large rectangle. Roll up, starting from a long side. Moisten edge with water and seal. Taper ends.
    5. Grease a large baking sheet. Sprinkle with cornmeal. Place loaves, seam side down, on the prepared baking sheet. Lightly beat the egg white with 1 tablespoon of water, and brush on. Cover with a damp cloth. Let rise until nearly doubled, 35 to 40 minutes.
    6. With a very sharp knife, make 3 or 4 diagonal cuts about 1/4 inch deep across top of each loaf. Bake in a preheated 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) oven for 20 minutes. Brush again with egg white mixture. Bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, or until bread tests done. If necessary, cover loosely with foil to prevent over browning. Remove from baking sheet, and cool on a wire rack.

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    Mmmmm just looking at it again makes me want to bake some more TODAY! I was amazed at HOW good it turned out. It was soft, and fluffy.

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    This bread was the perfect complement to our pasta dinner- of course served with a bit of butter. Can’t have fresh bread without butter! Smile

    The only thing that I did learn, sadly, is that because this bread is home made, there are no preservatives. You either have to eat it within a day or two, or freeze it. We couldn’t eat the whole loaf the first night (thankfully I froze the second loaf right away), and I went to go and eat it a few days later only to have stale bread. Bummer! Now I know.

    I actually want to try baking with more yeast. I really enjoyed making this bread, kneading gets out a lot of frustration. Winking smile I think I may try homemade pizza dough this week, and maybe I’ll branch out even further as time goes on. I don’t know why it took me so long to try using it again, it’s really not that intimidating at all!

    Favorite type of bread??
    Mine is sourdough.

    If you had to chose one food to eat for the rest of your life, what would it be?