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?

Weekend Wrap Up

What a fun weekend! I am so glad we were able to go up to Jacksonville to visit my family & friends.

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We didn’t make it to the beach, only because it’s a LOT for a few hours- trying to time nap time along with actually spending time at the beach, so we just decided to skip it this time. We are trying to plan another family vacation for September at the beach, which will be nice. Will make it MUCH easier with Gabriella, since we will be staying at a condo- easier to feed & nap the baby. Smile

We arrived Thursday morning and just spent the day with my family. My uncle was in town from New Hampshire, and then my parents were there (of course Smile ). Shortly after my Aunt, my Sister & brother in law & nephew and niece arrived.

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^That picture makes me laugh. It’s my niece, brother in law, nephew & my sister. My nephew is reaching for my sister- nothing like a mother & her son…and a father & his daughter. ❤

Gabriella THOROUGHLY enjoyed herself & we were SO impressed with HOW good she was. Not just on Thursday, but the whole weekend. Little miss social butterfly! She is really coming around to hanging out with other people, rather than just Craig and I.

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^She was having some bonding time with Grandpa. (please notice her gut. Cracks me up!)

On Friday I got to go running with my Dad, which I always enjoy. I was planning to take Gabriella in the BOB, but she fell asleep in the crib, so I was able to run BOB free! I feel so naked without that stroller- haha! But it’s a nice break, and it gives me a chance to really FLY!

Once we finished our run and I was able to shower (thank goodness Winking smile ), I met up with one of my best friends, Jayme. I just love her & so does Gabriella.

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We wanted to meet our other very good friend Tara’s new baby boy!! Sweet baby Ford. I fell IN LOVE and held him for about an hour- he just fell asleep in my arms and OH MY GOSH, totally did NOT help my baby fever. Winking smile

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He is SO very precious!! & it was SO nice to be able to spend time with Jayme and Tara. Love them both, I should say all three (must include little Ford Smile ) very much!

The rest of Friday we spent with my parents and Uncle. Craig bought rib eye steaks for everyone at The Fresh Market– LOVE that grocery store! And since I don’t eat steak (or beef of any kind), I got Seaweed Salad with smoked salmon.

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SO SO SO GOOD!! It was on the ‘seafood bar,’ and if you have a Fresh Market near you I HIGHLY recommend it. I EASILY ate a HUGE container all by myself. Way too good, and I’m so sad we don’t have a Fresh Market closer to us.

Saturday we actually decided to come back home, just so that we could have Sunday to get ready for a new week. I also spent the whole day making baby food- I plan on doing a post on that this week!

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday as well! Looking forward to this week, I feel like it’s going to be a good one!!

Coming up on the blog this week: Baby food making 101, All about 8 months, a few new recipes & a must try workout!! Can’t wait to share it with you Smile

Anyone run any races for the 4th?? Did you PR??

Favorite part of July 4th?? Do share!!

Happy July 4th!

I hope you have a wonderful day celebrating our wonderful country! Enjoy the fireworks & BBQ’s! I know we definitely will be doing just that. Smile
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Oh & please enjoy my daughter’s nice string of drool! Winking smile 

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Since I obviously take WAY TOO MANY pictures of her, I just had to share the one above of her little tuft of hair. It cracks me up!

Anyways, enjoy the holiday! I’ll be back on Monday- taking some time off to spend with my family. We are heading to Jacksonville this morning. I’m about to go and run, and we’ll be heading out when it’s time for Gabriella’s nap time. Parents out there- you know what it’s like to plan all of your trips around your child’s sleep schedule. Smile 

Happy 4th of July!!

Strawberries N’ Cream Bread + Video of Gabriella

So apart for the sleep training & a few nights of crying, Gabriella is at a REALLY fun age! I feel like I say that every time I talk about her age, but seriously it just keeps getting more fun. Her little personality just comes out more & more.

She also started crawling…which of course was HUGE! I caught it on video (I hope it works- if it doesn’t work & you want to see it, try playing it in ‘full screen’ mode), which you can see below. Please don’t fun of my voice- I was sick (very sick!) & of course I was doing baby talk. Winking smile

As you can see her funny crawl is more of a frog hop- she looks hilarious!

Monday night we started baby proofing because the first thing that caught her attention are the outlets and she is UNSTOPPABLE. Even though she ‘hops’ along she can MOVE! My Mom was cracking up when she saw her. She was like ‘well, it’s definitely not a ‘normal’ crawl, but she is crawling!’

We also had to add a baby gate to the front of our TV/ DVD area because she pretty much attacks the DVDs the second we aren’t looking. (which doesn’t happen anymore, this was before we realized HOW mobile she really was)

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(Mom: Please note which movie we are watching, Despicable Me, and please notice the part that it is currently on. Winking smile She’s definitely your grandchild because it is actually the only movie she will sit and watch. Not that I can blame her! Smile )

I also love how much Gabriella loves being in the kitchen. She can be incredibly fussy & then I bring her into the kitchen with me while I cook dinner and she LOVES it. I can already tell she is going to be the BEST kitchen helper! I am VERY much looking forward to making Christmas cookies with her this year!!! It makes my heart melt when I think about it.

The other day our afternoon walk plans were ruined. It was POURING outside & there was NO way that we could do anything outdoors. I could tell Gabriella was getting a little antsy, so I figured we would head to the kitchen & figure out something to bake.

I looked through a few recipes & decided on Strawberries N’ Cream bread. It is the perfect summertime bread, full of fresh strawberries & Greek yogurt for the ‘cream.’

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I changed a few things around to make this bread a bit healthier and no one will know the difference between the original recipe & this ‘health-ified’ recipe, I guarantee it Smile

Strawberries N’ ‘Cream’ Bread

(adapted from this recipe)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup Truvia baking blend*
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek Yogurt (I used 0% Chobani)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup chopped fresh strawberries
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

*If you prefer not to use the Truvia baking blend, just use 3/4 cup sugar & omit the 1/4 cup additional sugar.

Directions:

  • In a large bowl, cream butter, Truvia and sugar until fluffy. Beat in egg, then egg white. Add Greek yogurt and vanilla; mix well.
  • Combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon; stir into creamed mixture just until moistened. Fold in strawberries and 1/4 cup nuts.
  • Pour into a greased 8-in. x 4-in. loaf pan. Sprinkle with remaining nuts. Bake at 350° for 65-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes; remove from pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Yield: 1 loaf.

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Not only did I have a very happy baby (happy baby, happy life Winking smile ) while we were baking, but I also ended up with a DELICIOUS quick bread that we could all enjoy! Not only did we enjoy it by the slice, but it’s also good crumbled in yogurt, Chobani of course. Open-mouthed smile 

The best part about this recipe is that you probably have all of the ingredients in your house right now! And you may just want to try this bread out for your July 4th holiday breakfast. Perfect way to start the day.

Any fun plans for tomorrow?? Do share!

We are heading to Jacksonville to see my family & to see some of my friends. I can’t wait!! And of course I can’t wait for Gabriella to see fireworks!! I have a feeling she’s going to love them!

Grandma’s Visit & Sleeping traning

We had a special visitor this past weekend. Grandma came to visit us!

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Gabriella LOVED her time with Grandma, she was SO good with her and would just sit and watch her. My Mom would move, and Gabriella would just follow her and the second my Mom looked at her she had this HUGE grin on her face. It was so sweet!

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I surprised my Mom for Mother’s day with tickets to the ‘CSI Experience,’ because she LOVES the show. (is it bad that I have NEVER seen one episode?!)

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It was a lot of fun! They send you along to investigate a crime scene & you have to figure out if you can solve it. We must be geniuses because we got it easily. Winking smile After solving our crime scene, we went to the Orlando outlets to do some shopping! Oh it had been FOREVER since I had a shopping day without Gabriella, it felt SO odd not having a baby attached to me. Smile 

My Mom had been saying that she wanted to get a bigger Vera Bradley bag (I got her hooked), and it dawned on me that there was a Vera outlet in the newer Outlet mall. I asked if she would want to go & she was all for it! I never turn down a good shopping day.

We were MEANT to be there. Not only did Vera have some great deals, but EVERYTHING was HALF off, just for THAT day. We both stocked up there & then I HAD to hit the Lululemon outlet as well.

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Not only am I addicted to their Run: Speed shorts, but now I have a favorite top, the No Limits Tank. Addicted.

She came down from Jacksonville on Friday night & volunteered to babysit for us so that Craig and I could have a date night (we were able to meet up with some friends too- even better!). They are few & far between, so we definitely took her up on her offer! Smile I got Gabriella to bed around 7:30pm & we headed out. I told my Mom that she really didn’t need to do anything since she was asleep, and even if she were to wake up to just let her cry. She RARELY wakes up shortly after being put down for bed, it takes her a few hours. And even after a few hours, I told her to just let her cry if she were to wake up. (Just in case we were out longer than anticipated, which didn’t happen, but I wanted her to be aware what to expect.)

The reason being is that we are sleep training. Yep, the inevitable & oh so fun sleep training. (I hope you caught the sarcasm Winking smile )

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It was time. And I finally got around to being ‘ok’ with it. It took me a WHILE. I was NOT ok with letting her cry…at all. The second I heard a peep I would rush in, but then after MONTHS of hearing those peeps every 2-3 hours it was starting to take a toll on me. I was getting up at 10pm, 1am & 4am EVERY.SINGLE.NIGHT without fail. I didn’t mind, my body got so used to the lack of sleep, but it finally hit me- She is doing this out of habit. She KNEW that if she were to cry Mommy would head right in, scoop her up & feed her, which I think was be coming a comfort rather than hunger.

So a little over a week ago we did it, I should say I did it. Craig has been fine with her crying for a while. I’m the one with the issues. Winking smile 10pm came & she cried. She cried for close to 30 minutes, if not longer. But I HAD to do it. Eventually she settled down & put herself back to bed until around 2am, and then I went in and fed her. Only one feeding- and she was up for the day at 6:30am.

The first few nights were hard…she cried a lot, but would settle back in & cry again anywhere between 2am & 3am, when I would go in and feed her. But anytime before that we would just let her cry. I had to turn the monitor sound off, so that we would be able to sleep- and then once she stopped I would turn it back on.

Eventually I plan on cutting on night feedings, as she is old enough. But for now we are doing good with cutting it down to just one. I wanted to give her some time to get used to only one, and then I plan on cutting the other one within the month.

I have to say, it was easier than I thought. The main thing was that I waited until MY gut said it was OK. She would have been fine with sleep training a few months ago (I mean with getting enough food- there is no need for night feedings after six months old, of course it all depends on the baby- your baby may NEED additional feedings, but she was getting enough during the day.), but I was the one that had a hard time. I felt guilty. I wasn’t sure if she actually was full because she would nurse both sides every time I went in. But since she was feedings so much, they were not as full & she wasn’t getting much. So now with the one night feeding, my boobs are FULL & she takes both sides and falls back to sleep until 6:30/ 7am! Sometimes she even sleeps until 7:30am, which is lovely- allows me some time for work. We also moved her bedtime back (to between 7:30 & 8pm), which I think is part of the later wake up time in the morning.

We still have some work to do, but this household has been getting MUCH better nights of sleep!

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We wake up feeling refreshed, rather than dragging…and relying on way too much coffee to get us through the day.

It’s amazing what a few extra hours of sleep can do for a person! Open-mouthed smile

Do you shop at Lululemon? If you do, what’s your favorite item?

Moms out there: When did you start sleep training, IF you did it at all?

Homemade Clif Z Bars

HAPPY JULY!!! How is 2013 already half over?!?!?

After having a child, I now understand why people try to buy a lot of organic foods. I did some research on the pesticides used on fruits and vegetables and it is kind of scary.

I try my best to buy only organic produce, especially for Gabriella. Sometimes it’s pretty pricy, so if I can’t buy everything organic I at least buy the ‘dirty dozen’ organic.

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Have you guys ever tasted the difference between organic apples & regular apples? It is UNREAL! The organic ones are SO much sweeter! I found that the regular apples sometimes taste very bland, and then I switched to organic. So much better! And when they are in season the price really isn’t bad at all.

One thing that Craig & I have enjoyed doing is going to the local farmer’s market on Sundays. I get all of our produce for the week, and we enjoy showing Gabriella all of the sites & sounds. She also usually gets to play at the park and with the ducks when we are finished, so it’s a win win for her. Smile

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Did you know that getting the ‘USDA’ organic recognition is pretty expensive? So most of the produce sold at farmer’s markets is actually organic (or they use organic controls), they just don’t have the money (or don’t want to spend that much) to get the ‘USDA’ organic label. Just ask the people that have the produce while you are there. I did that this past weekend and was told that most of the items were actually organic, and those that weren’t only had VERY minimal pesticides. (Just pesticides to keep the worms away when they first start growing the produce.)

While I was making her food this week (& smoothies- she LOVES smoothies!) I got to thinking that I can’t wait to make her ‘big girl food’ too. I started looking around for different recipes to ‘pin,’ just for different ideas. Since I volunteered for snacks for Bible study last week I got to find one of the recipes that I had pinned. It happened to come from one of my very favorite Mom bloggers- Mama Pea!

When I saw that she had a recipe for ‘copy cat’ Clif Z bars, I knew I HAD to try it!

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Not only does this recipe use all natural & pretty healthy ingredients, I also found it VERY easy to make!

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I figured the kids at Bible study would enjoy them, because what kid doesn’t like chocolate?! Smile And they were something that I would want to feed Gabriella in the future. They are healthy, but the kids don’t have to know it! As long as they taste good, that’s all that matters!

Copy Cat Clif Z Bars

(Adapted from Mama Pea’s recipe)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 2 cups oat flour (old fashioned oats ground in a food processor)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 & 1/4 cups unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 & 1/4 cups unsweetened Almond milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar 
  • 1/2 cup + 1/4 cup chocolate chips, divided
  • 2 tsp coconut oil

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease or spray an 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, combine oats, oat flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.
  • In a smaller bowl, combine applesauce, vanilla and milk.
  • Add applesauce mixture to oat mixture and stir until just combined. Add brown sugar. Fold in 1/2 cup of chocolate chips.
  • Pour mixture into baking pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, until bar is set and pulling away from edge of pan.
  • Allow to cool completely before cutting into kid-sized bars.
  • For chocolate drizzle, place 1/4 cup of chocolate chips in a resealable plastic bag and microwave in 30 second increments, kneading bag until chocolate has melted.
  • Add coconut oil to melted chocolate and knead again.
  • Snip a tiny corner of the bag with a pair of scissors. Pipe chocolate across cooled bars and stick bars in fridge or freezer to allow chocolate to set, if desired.
  • Store remaining bars in the fridge.

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Easy, peasy!! And you know what?? I thought they tasted EVEN better than the actual Clif Z bars!

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They were a hit with the kids and the adults! I kept taking little bites of the extra bars that I made, I couldn’t keep my hands off of them.

From now on I’ll be making my own Clif Z Bars! They are freezer friendly & perfect for a snack on the go!

If you like Z bars, you MUST make these!!

I hope that most of you have a short week this week, or at least a break in the middle of the week! Smile My boss actually gave us a half day on Wednesday & off both Thursday & Friday! We are planning a trip to Jacksonville for the long weekend- we have LOTS of people to visit & things to do. I can’t wait!!

Any fun plans to look forward to for the 4th of July?

Favorite granola bar??

Just Can’t Stop

From now on when people ask why I run, I’m just going to answer with one word: Sally.

SALLY! What are you doing to me?!?!?!

I CANNOT stop making your recipes. And you have no idea the anticipation I have for your cookbook. I will be pre-ordering the first day that I can.

Yesterday was my Bible study (LOVE), and it was my week to make treats. I got my chance to dive into my ‘must make’ list of Pinterest recipes. By the way, that ‘must make’ list is about a mile long. Looks like I need more people to bake for, anyone interested?! Craig will probably kick me out of the house if I keep baking like this.

Of course more of the baking involved Nutella.

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With the way I’m going through it lately, I should buy stock in the company. Smile At least I could feel good about my constant need to purchase it.

First up, I felt the need to share the Puppy chow love, so I made MORE Salted Nutella Peanut Puppy Chow. Come to my house & this is what I will feed you. You will never want to leave because you CANNOT stop eating it.

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And once again, I had to make sure Craig stayed away from it. I came downstairs after putting Gabriella to bed & I looked at the batch that I had just made & noticed a TRAIL of powdered sugar…and then I looked at Craig. He was being unusually quiet for some odd reason. …his mouth was full of the stuff. Boy is HOOKED. He’s lucky I saved him a little container of it. Wife points Winking smile

And yes, more Nutella recipes.

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There was one recipe I had been eyeing for a while, but didn’t want to make it for just Craig & I only because I KNEW we would eat the whole loaf in a day. YEP, ONE day.

Nutella Swirled Peanut Butter Banana Bread

A recipe worth EVERY.SINGLE.CALORIE. I promise.

Can you see how amazingly delicious this looks?? And even though I really hate the word ‘moist,’ it’s the only way to describe it.

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If you like banana bread, I HIGHLY suggest trying this. And then grab your stretchy pants, because you won’t be able to stop at one slice. Hey, it DOES have whole wheat flour instead of white…so it IS healthy, right?! Winking smile

Last but not least, blueberry muffins.

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Not just any blueberry muffins, but sparkling blueberry muffins. They are ‘sparkling’ because they are topped with sugar. I didn’t have any course sugar like the recipe called for, so I just used regular granulated sugar. I thought they turned out just as well.

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I like how fluffy this muffins were, a nice complement to the heavy (but delightful) Nutella bread. The recipe is intended for jumbo muffins, but Sally also gives instructions on how to make them for smaller muffins- regular size & mini. I used the recipe for regular size, but had extra batter left over so I got 10 mini muffins as well.

As I was taking that picture above, this happened immediately after:
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Oops. Life of a blogger Winking smile 

Remember those extra wife points I earned from the puppy chow? Well, I cashed them in for making SUCH a mess in the kitchen. It’s a good thing Gabriella loves being in the kitchen with me- we had PLENTY of dishes to wash & counters to clean!

After a busy day of running errands & baking, Gabriella was a sleep little thing! We are currently doing ‘sleep training’ with her- more on that in a different post- but she is doing really well & woke up in a happy mood.

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I love a happy baby!! Open-mouthed smile 

Happy Friday to you!

Any fun plans for this weekend? My Mom is coming down to spend the weekend with us, and I’ll be taking her to a ‘CSI’ exhibit- it was part of her Mother’s Day gift. We are looking forward to seeing her & letting her have some Grandma time with her ‘little peach pie.’