19 July 2015

New Muffin Recipe: Charred Apple Oatmeal Muffins

I actually created this recipe by mistake. I was trying to make my normal Apple Oatmeal Muffins but I forgot about my apples as they were simmering and they got a little charred. Since I didn't have anymore apples in the fridge I decided to go with what I had and hoped the sugar in the muffins would balance out the charred taste (fingers crossed). To my surprise, the muffins turned out delicious. So delicious that next time I might char the apples on purpose.

Here's what you'll need for the charred apples:

3 medium sized apples (I used fuji), peeled and cut into pieces
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1 tbsp butter

In a medium saucepan combine the all of the above ingredients. Cover and cook on medium heat until the apples start to turn a dark brown or black color. You'll want to stir them about every 2-3 minutes or so to avoid them sticking to the bottom of the pan. You'll have to use your judgement here. You don't want the apples scorched beyond recognition but you do want the sugar to start to caramelize and blacken. Once finished transfer into a small food processor and puree until chunky. Set aside.

Here's what you'll need for the muffin batter:

1 cup self-rising flour
1 cup uncooked oatmeal oats
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp allspice
2 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup milk
3 tbsp butter, melted
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and spray muffin tin with cooking spray. Makes 12 muffins.

You will need one large mixing bowl and one small/medium mixing bowl. In the large bowl, combine the flour, oatmeal, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice and stir with a fork or whisk until combined. In the other bowl, combine the eggs, milk, butter, olive oil, and vanilla extract and whisk until combined. Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture and stir with a spoon until combined (careful not over mix). Add the pureed apples and stir to combine.

Scoop batter in muffin tin and bake for 12-15 minutes depending on your oven. You can stick a toothpick in the center to check their doneness. If the toothpick comes out clean they are done. You can't really taste that the apples have been charred (which is a good thing) but it almost adds a smokiness to the muffins. These would make a great breakfast bread. Enjoy!

09 March 2015

Change Clothes Challenge: Days 14-27

My challenge is getting close to the end and I'm happy to report I haven't repeated an outfit. I have worn all my jeans so these next couple of days I'll have to get creative. Unfortunately I haven't been diligent about taking pics. Here are the ones I remembered to snap..Carter was the photographer on most of them.

23 February 2015

Change Clothes Challenge Days 10-13

The challenge continues. Friday, Day 10, I stayed in workout clothes most of the day so no pic. Here are the pics from Sat-today (Days 11-13). 

 Tribal Print pants with simple black tee.

White knit v-neck sweater and jeans. I had to take my own pic because I waited too late and Jimmy was in bed.

Brought back in some color with a red sweater and dark gray leggings.

19 February 2015

Change Clothes Challenge: Days 7-9

I'm only posting what I wore today (Day 9) because on Days 7 and 8 I spent most of the day in the bed sick with a cold. Today it reached negative temperatures and still getting over a cold, I opted for some warm weather gear. In keeping with my "color" theme I decided on a pair of coral cords and a cream turtleneck sweater.

Savannah decided to get in the pic with me to show off her outfit too.

Going from 1 to 2 Kids: Not That Bad

Before having 2 children I would hear horror stories of how challenging it was to go from having 1 child to having 2. Armed with this knowledge I prepared my mind for this hard transition before Savannah was born. Savannah was born in June which meant that Carter was out of school for the summer. I made sure he had planned activities and summer camps lined up so I could focus on all the nursing and diaper changing that would ensue. I put my mom on a tight schedule to fill in when I needed help and I put Jimmy on night duty so I could get a couple hours of uninterrupted sleep.

Initially, I didn't feel much of a change with 2 children. Jimmy and my mom provided a great support system and Carter was and is very loving towards Savannah. The hardest part was not adjusting to an additional child, it was recovering from another c-section. Even though I had a c-section with Carter, I intended on attempting a vaginal birth with Savannah (VBAC). With Carter, I attributed my c-section to poor medical care while I was in labor. (The anesthesiologist administered my epidural without hooking me up to fluids even though I had been vomiting for several hours during labor. This caused my blood pressure to crash and Carter's heart rate to become unstable. Cue…emergency c-section.) With Savannah, labor was moving along smoothly until little mama decided she wasn't ready to come out and wasn't descending. Eventually, the doctor decided a c-section was the safest route and I agreed. When the doctor pulled her out, the umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck 3 times, explaining why she did not descend on her own.

Recovering from a c-section the second time around was more difficult than the first. It felt a lot more painful and my incision became infected thereby increasing the pain. Nevertheless, I had resumed regular activities after 2 weeks. I even went to the Jay Z/Beyonce concert; although the dancing was probably not the best thing for my healing process. By the time Savannah was a month old I felt back to normal. It definitely helped that she is the ideal baby. She was sleeping through the night at a month old, she only cried when she needed something, she nursed well, and she loved to be hugged and cuddled. Meanwhile, we kept Carter busy in so many activities that he didn't have time to be concerned with the new little person in the house. Summer went by without a hitch but the true test would be when school started and how I would manage getting Carter ready, feeding Savannah, making breakfast and lunch, and getting us all in the car and to school on time.

This leads me to the first time I felt the added weight of having 2 kids. Getting 2 kids bathed, dressed, fed, and into the car can be a challenge. Oh wait…and I forgot to add doing all those things for myself as well. In the beginning I grossly underestimated the time it took to make this happen. I had developed a great system for Carter and I where I could lay out his clothes and he could get himself dressed. Then I would come in to brush his teeth, wash his face, brush his hair, etc. We could both be dressed and ready to go in an hour. But with Savannah, I also had to factor in feeding time, a diaper change, and nap time. These were things I hadn't had to think about for a while and it took a minute for me to adjust to my new reality. Thankfully, a friend gave me a book called "Moms On Call" by Laura Hunter and Jennifer Walker. This book has a lot of basic information for infants 0-6 months and the section most useful for me was putting your baby on a schedule. Typically, I don't love schedules and am more of a go with the flow kind of person. But with 2 babies, I recognized quickly that I would lose my sanity if I didn't have a schedule to rely upon. So I wrote up the schedule and posted it to the refrigerator door. It goes something like this:

6:15 am - Wake up, Get Dressed
6:30 am - Wake up Carter, Get Carter Dressed
6:45 am - Wake up, Change, and Feed Savannah
7:00 am - Make Breakfast and Lunch
7:30 am - Leave for School
8:30 am - Feed Savannah
9-10:30 am - Savannah's Naptime, Diaper Change
10:30 am - Diaper Change, Dress Savannah, Feed Savannah
11:00 am - Playtime with Savannah
12:30 pm - Diaper Change, Feed Savannah
1-2:30 pm - Savannah's Naptime
2:30 pm - Diaper Change, Feed Savannah
2:50 pm - Leave to Pick up Carter from School
3:45 pm - Return Home, Snack for Carter, Homework
4:00 pm - Cook Dinner
5-5:30 pm - Everyone Eats Dinner
5:30-6:30 pm - Playtime for Carter and Savannah
6:30 pm - Bath for Savannah, Shower for Carter
7:30 pm - Bedtime for Carter
7:45 pm - Feed Savannah, Check Diaper
8:00 pm - Bedtime for Savannah
11:00 pm - My Bedtime

And somewhere in there I get done the things I want to accomplish during the day (e.g. cleaning, emails, phone calls, exercise, grocery shopping, etc.). I also have my mom to take over with Savannah when I have appointments or when something requires my undivided attention. This schedule actually makes the day to day pretty easy. Now I'm not saying there aren't days when I'm exhausted but I think it would be even worse if I didn't keep as close to this schedule as possible.

So while going from 1 to 2 kids has definitely been a transition, it has not been as difficult as I thought it would be. And now that I have Carter and Savannah, I couldn't imagine life without either of them.

16 February 2015

Change Clothes Challenge (Days 4-6)

I haven't had time to post pics but I have been sticking to my challenge. Day 4 was Valentine's Day and while we don't really celebrate the holiday we did go to a dinner party with a few friends. My mom and I prepared the food for the dinner party so I spent most of the day cooking. Before the cooking started I took Carter to swim lessons and here is the outfit I wore:

(Basic skinny jean with turtleneck sweater and simple grey coat. Perfect for the chilly weather.)

I changed clothes for the dinner party. I chose this coral cashmere dress because of it's vibrant color but also because it's comfortable and feels so soft to my skin. I threw on a black faux fur vest to add some contrast (and to camouflage my post baby bump). Please forgive this pic (I hate mirror selfies) but it was the end of the night and I was just trying to take the pic before falling asleep.

As a side note, here are some pics of the cake I made for the dinner party. I tried to recreate the cake we had at our wedding reception. It's was a Triple Berry Shortcake from Sweet Lady Jane Bakery in LA. I had to reference a few different recipes to pull it off. I think it turned out pretty well and everyone said it was good.


Day 5 was Sunday, and Carter will tell you, "Mommy doesn't like to leave the house on Sunday." This is true. Sunday is my laundry day and also my time to veg out. Keeping this in mind, I am not posting a pic for this day because I don't think you really want to see me in my bathrobe or pajamas. I didn't repeat an outfit though.

Today I worked out this morning and stayed in my work out clothes for most of the day while I ran errands (which is exactly what I'm trying to avoid by doing this challenge). I did eventually find my way to the shower (which Jimmy appreciated), and chose a comfortable pair of black leggings and a multicolor top. I've been trying to wear more color. I think it helps lift of my spirits during these cold winter days.

14 February 2015

It's All A Matter of Perspective

Jimmy and I saw "American Sniper" tonight which is based on the life story of Chris Kyle who is known as the deadliest sniper in U.S. military history. There's a scene in the movie where Kyle, who had just completed his 4th and final tour of duty, is on the phone with his wife. He has recently returned to the States from oversees but instead of rushing home to see his family he is sitting in a bar alone. His wife reminds him that the kids haven't seen him for 9 months and questions why he hasn't come home yet. His response is a very sobering "I guess I just needed a minute." This exchange got me thinking about perspective and how it shapes everything we do. In this instance, I felt both Kyle and his wife's perspectives were valid despite the fact that they were miles apart. Perspective by nature is very selfish. We see things through our own eyes, which have been colored by our collective life experiences, opinions, values, and morals. But it is only when we can step outside of our own box that we truly learn and grow, and build a connection with another person.

This film also served as a reminder to me of how truly blessed I am to have an intact family structure. Even though Jimmy travels often for work, a week doesn't go by when we don't see him. Kyle had been away from his family for 9 months while alive and now he is physically gone from them forever. I couldn't imagine life without Jimmy and am grateful for the time we do spend together. What we go through week to week is nothing compared to what other families endure when loved ones are away for months or years. Such distance can destroy the family structure even when good intentions are involved. It's all a matter of perspective.