Friday, May 28, 2010

baby boy's bedroom

After a whole lot of searching, and having to veto Husband's suggestion of a New York Knicks themed nursery on several occasions, we have found some cute decor accents that we love for our little man's nursery.

The safari collection at Babies R Us fit the bill perfectly. I wanted something soft and babyish. If you've been in our home, you know I love neutral colours, like pale yellow, sage green, browns and taupes. This should fit in nicely. The wall colour in this first photo is pretty much the colour that's already in our nursery, so we won't need to paint.

The valance:

The adorable wall decals:

We'll coordinate with solid-colour sheets and I plan to make a quilt, hopefully with a leafy pattern or subtle polka dots or stripes to match the theme. The rest of the space will have accents in pale blue, yellow and green, and chocolate brown.

I can't wait to get started!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

cookie #4

Editor's Note: This is the fourth instalment in my quest to make the best chocolate chip cookies. Please feel free to leave recipe suggestions or tips in the comments below. All related posts can be found by clicking the "in the kitchen" label on the right side of the page.

When all else fails and you're just too tired to whip up the homemade goodies, there's no shame in letting the Dough Boy do the work.

However, unless you want your kids to end up looking like the Dough Boy, I'd suggest a homemade, healthier alternative.

In my experience though, these little greasy morsels are always a hit.

Pillsbury Ready Bake Chocolate Chip Cookies

I can't really give these a true rating because they aren't the real deal. But for ease of preparation on a busy work night and overall tastiness when a cookie craving hits, they get 5 of 5 stars!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

what's in a name?

Once we found out for sure that Baby B was a boy, we were relieved to cut our name search in half and focus on just one gender. But did that make it any easier? Not really.

What a responsibility! This is the name that our son will have for his entire life. Should his name be trendy or traditional? Should it have more syllables or less? What kind of meaning should it have?

Husband and I have found many names that we like and some that we love, but we're not sure that any of them are definitely our son's name.

Blog friends, help a momma-to-be out! Please share any and all boy name suggestions!

Monday, May 24, 2010

not me monday

— I, a vegetarian, did not have the most ridiculous craving of my life for a chicken burger earlier this week. I did not repeatedly say to Husband, "Just let me smell it" half a dozen times while he was eating his mouth-watering chicken sandwich piled high with lettuce on a whole wheat bun. I didn't then have to make myself a "veggie alternative" sandwich of cucumbers, lettuce and cheese on whole wheat bread to keep me from sending Husband out to Burger King.

— I did not forget about my evening pedicure appointment and wear my stinkiest flats to work that day. I did not sit at my desk in my bare feet most of the day to try to keep them from smelling too bad.

— I have not become "the sweaty girl" at work. When I ask, "Is it hot in here, or is it just me?" my coworkers do not raise their eyebrows from behind their parka hoods as I peel off another layer. Oh joy, oh bliss.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

cookie #3

Editor's Note: This is the third instalment in my quest to make the best chocolate chip cookies. Please feel free to leave recipe suggestions or tips in the comments below. All related posts can be found by clicking the "in the kitchen" label on the right side of the page.

The third recipe on my list of cookie experiments are Mrs. Foster's Chocolate Chip Cookies. This is a tried and tested recipe from my lovely coworker J, whose family has been making these morsels for many years. Based on the ingredients, you'll notice right away that these have more of a sugar cookie consistency, which sets them apart from the recipes I've tried so far.

Mrs. Foster's Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup shortening
1 cup white sugar
1⁄ 2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1⁄ 2 tsp salt
2⁄ 3 cup chocolate chips (I used minis because I had them on hand)

Mix each of the first five ingredients one by one at high speed in a large bowl. Do not add another ingredient until the previous one is mixed in thoroughly. In the same bowl, add the flour in small amounts at low speed until mixed. Add the baking soda, salt and chocolate chips at low speed until mixed thoroughly. (Note: I actually had better luck by adding the chocolate chips at the end with a wooden spoon instead of the mixer.)

Preheat oven to 325°F (which is a very relative concept when it comes to my oven). Lift cookie dough with spoon and drop on ungreased cookie sheet into small mounds. Do not try to shape them. Bake until tanned in colour, about 15 minutes (I baked all of mine for 12 minutes, but again hotter than the hubs of hades). Makes 4-5 dozen cookies.

Here are my pros:
— I really liked that this recipe doesn't call for too many chocolate chips.
— They all cooked up nice and evenly.
— The dough was super easy to handle and didn't stick to my hands. I'm not much of a "spoon the batter" kind of girl.
— They have great taste.

Here are my cons:
— The end result was amazing when warm from the oven, but a little too hard and crumbly for my liking once cool.

Husband has been taking them in his lunches all week, so that's a good sign. Lovely friend T also enjoyed them, but agreed with me on the texture issue.

Mrs. Foster's Chocolate Chip Cookies

Taste: 4 of 5 stars. Again, it really depends on your preference. These are a sugar cookie, really, and that's a-OK in my books. Tasty!
Texture: 2 of 5 stars. Too crunchy and a crumby mess to eat. Maybe I'd cook them less next time?
Overall: 3 of 5 stars.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

it's a ...


And Daddy couldn't resist buying this at Old Navy today for his little sidekick ...

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

Mother's Day is the perfect time to remind the special Mums, Mom-in-laws, Grammies and friends in our lives how important they are. You are all amazing! A special shout out as well to all the lovely mommies-to-be out there, too.

I read this poem that Dusty at All Things G & D posted this morning, and I just couldn't resist sharing it.

Before I Was A Mom

Before I was a mom, I made and ate hot meals, wore unstained clothes and had quiet conversations on the phone.

Before I was a mom, I never worried about how late I went to bed because I could sleep in as long as I wanted.

Before I was a mom, I washed my face and brushed my teeth everyday.

Before I was a mom, I enjoyed a leisurely cup of coffee while reading the morning newspaper on a Saturday morning.

Before I was a mom, I slept the whole night through.

Before I was a mom, my house was clean everyday and I didn't worry about whether or not my plants were poisonous.

Before I was a mom, I had never been puked on, pooped on, peed on, chewed on or pinched by little fingers.

Before I was a mom, I had complete control of my mind, thoughts and body.

Before I was a mom, I never held down a screaming child while doctors and nurses did tests or gave shots. I never felt my heart break into a million pieces because I couldn't stop the hurt.

Before I was a mom, I never knew how satisfying it is to feed a hungry child. I never knew how fulfilling it is to soothe a baby's cries.

Before I was a mom, I never looked into teary eyes and cried.

Before I was a mom, I never got gloriously happy over a simple grin.

Before I was a mom, I never held a sleeping baby just because I didn't want to put it down. I never was up in the wee hours of the night just watching a baby while it slept. I never knew that something so small couldn't effect my life so tremendously.

Before I was a mom, I never knew I could love someone so unconditionally and completely.

Before I was a mom, I never knew the feeling of having my heart outside my body.

Before I was a mom, I never knew the warmth, the joy, the heartache, the
wonderment, or the fulfillment of being a mom.

Before I was a mom, I never knew I would love being a mom.

This makes me so excited for everything we have to look forward to when Baby B arrives! I'm so lucky to be spending this day with a fantastic daddy-to-be. I hope you all had a chance to celebrate in your own ways. Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, May 7, 2010

when preggos craft

Lovely friend HH and I got together this week for a much needed crafting reunion. Between my recent first trimester blahs and her new third trimester fatigue, we've been less than productive on our projects.

And while we made our very best efforts, our productivity was less-than-awesome on our most recent craft date too, but that doesn't mean we didn't have fun. It just means that we weren't always exactly coherent.

Me: "And then I said to her ..." [Crickets ... as my mind wanders into space]
HH: [Doesn't look up from her tray, where she's rolling handmade beads out of Sculpty]
Me: [After several seconds] "Ah ... what was I going to say?"
HH: "Umm ..."

Mushy baby brain does not equate stellar conversation.

Anyway, here's what I managed to do. I bought a pretty new yoga mat last week for a prenatal yoga workshop I'm taking, but it didn't come with a bag. There's one way to fix that.

I happened to have some lovely chocolate brown fabric for the bag and some matching green for the strap. Perfect, right?

That is, until I made the strap and completely sewed the bag without actually attaching said strap. Crickets ...

Oh well, I can still carry it just fine. And see how it fits in there just perfectly?

I left a little extra room in the top of the bag to stash a towel and water bottle.

Took about 15 minutes, and then I packed up my sewing supplies. That's enough effort for one day. HH continued to assemble her beads for several more minutes before we mutually retired to the couch, popsicles in hand, straining to stay awake to watch America's Next Top Model that was on at the horribly late hour of 9 p.m. ...

Thursday, May 6, 2010

cookie #2

Editor's Note: This is the second instalment in my quest to make the best chocolate chip cookies. Please feel free to leave recipe suggestions or tips in the comments below. All related posts can be found by clicking the "in the kitchen" label on the right side of the page.

This time, I went with my old faithful — the Nestle Toll House recipe. It was my first time baking in our new apartment and it was a challenge to say the least. This oven runs much, much hotter than our old one. I pre-heated to 375, as the recipe instructed, knowing full well that the cookies would never survive a full 9 to 11 minutes. I baked each pan for about 8 minutes, and they were a bit over done around the edges, which never happens when I use my silicone baking sheet. Going forward, I think I will reduce the heat and maintain the suggested cooking time. Do you think this is a better strategy?

Moving on ... The recipe:

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) semi-sweet chocolate chips (this time I used mini chips)

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

These cookies didn't disappoint. My lovely preggers friend HH gives them a glowing 5 stars — "I love that they were soft and chewy, because that's my number-one priority in a cookie. I also liked the hint of salt, because to me, that totally means they are homemade -- you never get that 'tasting all of the ingredients' feel in a boughten cookie." Creative partner C said they're not the best I've ever made; she found them a bit salty. Lovely friend T and Husband both gave them a thumbs up.

Here's the verdict:

Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies

Taste: 4 of 5 stars. The reviews were mixed, but overall, this seems like a winner. It's one of my most-used recipes, for sure.
Texture: 4 of 5 stars. They were still soft, despite the extreme heat of our new oven. I'll have to trial-and-error with the cooking time and temp to get them just right.
Overall: 4 of 5 stars.