A festive cocktail paired with some tasty appetizers, family or friends and a little cookie decorating are the perfect way to enjoy the holiday.
Living in Portland, you are in no shortage of a really good cocktail (or food, according to the new Washington Post article). So, I typically opt for wine at the house and wait to have a good mixed drink when I'm out.
But since it's Christmas and I'm already certain I've gained about 5 extra pounds, I decided to make a healthier cocktail to pair with appetizers and let's just say, I was quite impressed. Sometimes home is my favorite restaurant.
I was pretty clueless when it came time to introduce foods to Parker. I spent a few days researching all sorts of methods and frankly just got extremely overwhelmed. We decided to introduce mashed and pureed foods like bananas, sweet potatoes, avocado and apples just a little bit prior to 6 months. Then, we started adding brown rice cereals, more pureed veggies and soft fruits into his diet between 7 and 8 months. Once he hit 9 months, I tried my best to start implementing bigger meals and an assortment of healthy foods since he was no longer breastfeeding. I found that Parker was much more interested in eating what we were having, so I tried to incorporate foods that Tyson and I would want to eat as well, and always made extra.
I don't know what has been going on lately, but I don't like it. Maybe its because I'm getting older and this is what I was filtered from most of my youth. Or perhaps it is the dang news feed now on Facebook that I just happen to look at while I'm at work. Or even that Mom site I read. I wish I could filter out all the tragic stories about babies, and just go on there to read the informative ones or the happy stories.
I'm not trying to live in a bubble, but is there a point in life where we are far too exposed to things going on in the world? I mean, think about it. Before social media, we had local news and the newspaper, but never this much info, to this extent.
I don't know where I'm going with this, but I have just felt heavy-hearted lately for so many things going on this world. I'm just trying to keep focused on the beauty in the midst.
So, here are baby and Christmas tree photos, brought to you by our annual trip to cut our own Christmas tree down.
These are the moments that mean everything.
Congrats Pop-Pop (aka Dad) on finishing radiation! Time to kick cancers ass for good.
Every Thanksgiving, I am first and foremost thankful for stretchy pants. I'm a big advocate for comfy-cute, because there is never anything nice about having to unzip your tight pants at the dinner table. I've been there.
But really, I do love this holiday. It forces everyone to come to together, eat and celebrate - which I think is one of the most important things we can do in life year-round! As well as give thanks for health, happiness, friends and family.
As far as food goes, I'd be lying if I said I was real concerned about eating healthy on Thanksgiving. I'm a big fan of the 80/20 rule, and when the Holiday's come around, I am really stretching that 20%!
I do however like to make healthier versions of dishes by just swapping out a few ingredients here and there. This side dish is one of my favorites, but I grew up having it with marshmellows broiled on top and globs of butter in the filling. So this year, I decided to make a healthier version and I am never turning back!
Spiced Sweet Potato Casserole
3 medium size sweet potatoes, 2 large yams
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup vanilla unsweetened almond milk
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
sea salt to taste
For the topping:
3/4 cup crushed pecans
2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
2 tablespoons organic dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons almond meal
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Peel and cube sweet potatoes and yams and place in boiling water. Boil until soft.
Remove them from the water and drain.
Place them into a mixing bowl. Add in honey, almond milk, eggs, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger and sea salt. Blend together with a handheld mixer, until lightly pureed. (I like to leave it a tad chunky). Set aside.
Meanwhile, in another bowl, mix together crushed pecans, brown sugar, almond flour and melted coconut oil. Mix well.
Spray (with olive oil) a standard size casserole dish or pan and then pour in the potato puree. Once spread evenly, crumble the pecan mixture on the top, covering the whole pan.
Place in oven and bake about 40 minutes (until the top is lightly browned).
Last week I jetted off to Boston for a work trip and decided to sneak my husband in my suitcase. Boston was GREAT, but leaving our little man at home with the grandparents for 4 days was rough. I knew that it was good for us though. You know, some "us" time.
As a previous sun worshiper, I find it funny that I count down the days until we get cooler weather and some rain. I missed out on actual seasons most of my life living in San Diego, so I get pretty thrilled to put some rain boots on, feel the shift in temperature and take in the beauty of the Northwest in the Fall.
I have been devouring this. I feel like you either think smoked salmon is disgusting or delicious. I happen to think it is super tasty:
New Cascadia gluten free seeded bread (toasted), a little Daiya cream cheese, sliced tomato, wild caught smoked salmon (I get the local Oregon kind without brown sugar), a squeeze of lemon, and pinch of sea salt and pepper.
I have been working out a lot from home lately. I'm pretty happy about some of the online workouts you can find. This is one of my favorites: Cardio Burn Pilates (only 30 minutes- you got this!)
If you would have ever told me that a creamy vegan "alfredo" would have tasted as good, if not better, than a regular alfredo sauce, I would have laughed. But this made for the most perfect, tasty date night dinner with my husband.
Of course I had to top the pasta off with some fresh herbs from the garden. My italian parsley is coming through in an abundance!
I have wanted to make beef stew for a while now, but I am always hesitant to start since the cooking time is practically all day. Plus, there are so many different ways to make it. It gets a little intimidating!
Well, this weekend I decided to give my own twist a try and thank goodness I did. It was so simple to make and tasted delicious. Beef stew is really the perfect meal for a rainy day, so put a fire on, grab your cozy socks, and get cookin'.
Maybe you've already tried the factory chopped salad from Cheesecake Factory. And if you have, you totally understand why I crave this constantly. Every time I order it at the restaurant I always do the "skinnylicious" version of it (which basically just means it comes with a lighter dressing). I also usually get it without the blue cheese. It already has avocado, so it doesn't really need the extra fat.
Here is the thing- people tend to order salads when they are trying to watch their figure. But honestly... you have to really substitute on most salads you order when you eat out if you are actually trying to have a healthy one. Most restaurant salads have around 700-900 calories. Yuck!
No thanks. I'd rather eat that juicy steak, personally.
Thanks to slimmed down options on menus these days, you are able to think twice about the meal you are going to order.
Oh, and one other point... you CAN eat out. Anywhere for that matter. And you can mastermind healthy dishes just by swapping out certain ingredients. I have another post on that coming up soon...
Okay, let's make my homemade version of the best dang salad ever. This salad is brought to you by yours truly and everybody's favorite grocery store, Trader Joes.
Every time I do yoga, I'm always inspired to eat more mindfully. Does that happen to you? I'm pretty sure I've never left a class craving a cheeseburger. But what I do crave is whole, simple foods- you know, foods that serve a purpose. After yoga, I used to always head to Prasad, one of my favorite places to eat in Portland, and I'd grab some of their flax crackers for a snack. I kept telling myself that I was going to try and recreate those crackers one day, and here I am. Only a year late, but I finally made some tasty crackers in my own kitchen (minus the raw part).
I like them with some spicy hummus or even just a few turkey slices. And you've got to love the fact that they are gluten free, dairy free, paleo, and vegan.
Homemade Flax Crackers
1/2 cup flaxseed meal
1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons of oil (I use macadamia or olive)
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
*Sea salt, garlic, rosemary and cayenne to taste (you can really play around with the additives).
I get frustrated with protein bars. They either have too many unnecessary ingredients, a poor fat-carb-protein ratio, or so much dang sugar you might as well be eating a cookie. And let's face it, when you are short on time or just have no time at all, bars come in handy. So, have no fear. Make these bad boys in advance and keep them around all week. They are tasty, simple, and full of good-for-you ingredients. You're welcome! ; )
Cinnamon Vanilla Protein Bars (gluten free/vegan)
2 cups gluten free oats
1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 heaping scoop of vanilla protein powder (brown rice/or hemp)
1/2 c. chopped/pitted dates
1 tbs. almond butter
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp (or 1 tbs) chia seeds
A few shakes of cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a food processor, combine the oats, almond flour, and protein powder. Blend well.
Add in dates, maple syrup, almond butter and all other ingredients and blend thorougly.
In a 8x8 pan lined with parchment paper, push mixture down pressing firmily into the pan.
Bake for 20 minutes and let cool before cutting into bars.
The other weekend was a magical one. We left behind the 100 degree weather in Portland in search of a cool ocean breeze and the smell of salt water. Washington I tell ya; what a stunning state.
We began our trek at the crack of dawn, hitting the road at 5:30am. Car: packed with snacks, pack n' plays, bottles, a tent, the stroller... this how we roll nowadays. Leaving early enough thankfully let us beat traffic. We stopped once for a mini stretch break outside of Seattle and then made our way towards Bellingham.
We decided to take the famous Chuckanut drive route into Bellingham. Think Portland's Forest Park drive meets the beginning part of the sea-to-sky highway in BC. Pure beauty.
Next stop: Food. We headed straight from our drive to Rock N Rye for some brunch.
This place has the most amazing food and also has a great back patio to enjoy when the weather is nice.
What a gift it is to be a mother. I honestly never knew that even the faintest new sound coming from your child would fill your heart with so much joy and excitement.
I say this every month, but so far this is my favorite month. Watching this little person develop: finding his voice, learning to move his limbs, use his taste buds, see new things... it is all incredible to watch and be a part of. It is also a little frightening, knowing how quickly he is shaping his personality and habits right now.
One thing we have tried to do as parents is show him love like crazy. We kiss each other, then kiss him, we hug and then give him a hug. I cuddle on Tyson while Parker is next to us, and he just smiles and watches. We never raise our voice at each other. We never put him down without kissing him and saying I love you.
He just sees love.
Because at the end of the day, I might mess up a million times. I might not teach him things the best way, I might forget to do certain things... but he will always have a lot of love. An unconditional love, which I believe is more powerful than any baby sign language class or stimulating book.
Well, clearly I did some baking, so mine is going well! Tyson and I were able to get a decent night sleep the last few days, so that is definitely helping my batteries recharge. We also got to head out on a date last night, leaving Parker with the Grandparents. We went to Edgefield, one of our favorite places around town. If you come to Portland, it is a place you have to visit!
Okay, let's get to the cookies... So prior to our date night I whipped these up. I found the recipe on Delighted Momma's blog and altered a few things. And wow, these are seriously good and made without flour. Here you go!
Grain Free Snickerdoodle Cookies
1 1/2 cups of almond meal
1 tbs of coconut flour
1/4 cup of honey
1/4 cup of melted coconut oil
1/2 tsp of cinnamon + extra for rolling dough in
1/2 tsp of nutmeg
1/2 tsp of baking soda
1/4 tsp of sea salt
1-2 tbs organic cane sugar (for rolling and sprinkling on top)
It has already been 4 weeks with our little one! And while I often look at the clock and wonder where the heck most days go, I also feel like we've had him for months. Each week has been brought us beautiful milestones along with many new challenges.
Getting a glimpse into being a stay at home mom is very enlightening. I have so much admiration for the women that do that. See, my husbands schedule is a little tricky. He is a fulltime model, which means that there is no set schedule and our days can change in a matter of an hour. Also, depending on the job, he could be gone anywhere from an hour, to over 8 hours, plus a 3 hour commute there and back from Seattle.
Anyway, with my Husbands schedule the past week, I have been thrown into some long days with our little one. It has been interesting, that's for sure! Some days are just magical... we go for walks, maybe run an errand or two, stare at each other for as long as we can until we fall asleep... Then, as you may know, you get an "off" day. Especially with Parker and his belly troubles, an off day can get quite overwhelming when you are on your own. But, it all comes with ups and downs, right? You just take each moment as it comes, cherish all of the special time, and just pretend like those bad days didn't happen!
Here are a few new things I've learned lately:
1. Download the hairdryer noise. I'm not kidding! This knocks him out in an instance. I feel like my home is a permanent hair salon.
2. Okay, maybe swaddles aren't so bad? One night we couldn't soothe Parker for the life of us. "Maybe swaddle??" I asked my husband. He grabbed the swaddle and wrapped him up as tight as possible. Aaaaaaaand.... SILENCE. Apparently every now and then he enjoys a good swaddling...
3. Start scheduling. Some of you may think I'm nuts, but I am a total planner and function a lot better with a schedule. While I realize he is extremely young to start actually getting him on a schedule, I am at least getting myself on one for now and he seems to be semi comprehending. We have been trying to go to bed at (around) the same time each night. We start with a swaddle in the bassinet and after his second feeding for the night we un-swaddle the babe and bring him in bed with us. I also try and take a walk around 3pm each day. Good for Momma, good for the baby.
4. Go on a date! You would think I had been locked up in my house for a few years. My husband and I went out to get some drinks and dinner the other night and it was like my 21st birthday all over again. Being a lightweight again is awesome! And thank goodness for the milkscreen strips. I guess I could have kept drinking...
5. Don't let fear get in the way. I've found myself contemplating plans quite a bit since I've had Parker. Before I had him, I remember always saying that I will never be the mom that doesn't go out and do things just because she has a baby. Way easier said than done, but I do find that the more I continue to live my life and include him in it, the happier I am.
And don't forget to spend time with other Mommies too... It's important!
The first few weeks of motherhood have been full of the most beautiful moments, mixed with the hardest. I can genuinely say that I am beyond happy and grateful to be a mother. I just want to make it known that you don't have to have it all together as a new parent. Before I delivered, I felt a lot of pressure coming into motherhood. I met a few mothers that raved about being a new mom and made it all seem VERY easy. They took their babies out by themselves in the first week, threw parties, looked completely rested... And dang, good for them! I mean it. Some women just roll right into motherhood no problem and that is by far something you should be proud of. But what if that wasn't how things would go for me? I didn't want to let myself or husband down.
I'd like to say that I have had it fairly easy so far. I am by no means throwing parties and shopping on my own with him yet, but the house is clean and I manage to shower most days, so I definitely have that going on. And the fact that every other day Parker likes to sleep around 20 hours, makes Mom and Dad very, very happy.
But let's be honest... it isn't all a walk in the park! So, in all this crazy/beautiful, here is what I have learned so far in my immature two weeks:
1. Invest in some under eye concealer. I love when people say, "you look so tired." Well, yeah! I got 3 hours of sleep yesterday and I haven't even brushed my teeth yet. That is something a new mom doesn't need to hear.
2. Do what YOU have to do. I am no baby expert, but we have had a much easier time with our little guy ever since we did things our way. Not what babycenter.com told us to do. We stopped swaddling after the first 4 days. He was so much happier with the freedom to stretch his limbs. He sleeps in bed with us (you are probably rolling your eyes). Not always, but he does about half his time in bed and the other half in the bassinet. He sleeps a lot better in bed. We also gave him a pacifier at a week old (which I thought I would never do, but I figured if the poor guy is sucking on his hands or Dads finger to calm him down, a pacifier seemed a bit more sanitary). He loves it. We don't give it to him all the time, but when all else fails, it works like a charm. And while I am breastfeeding, we introduced a bottle to him at just over a week old. I was to the point of not being able to drive I was so tired. I figured, mom go insane or mom get a few hours of sleep and Parker can try a bottle? It worked out great. Our pediatrician made a good point... She explained how many people will advise these specific timelines for everything with a newborn. Start this at ___ weeks and you shouldn't do this until at least ___ months. She said the way she sees it, is that the later we introduce things the harder it is for the baby to adjust. They are used to it the way they've already had it for awhile. And I concur. Luckily Parker can breastfeed and bottle feed (although we only do maybe one bottle a day) like a champ.
3. Don't be startled by your breast pump. Quite possibly the strangest thing I've ever done is pump. I'm actually pumping as I write this. The noise it makes, the fact that I am practically milking myself... It gets a little less weird after the first week, but I still laugh when I tell my husband how excited I am that I got an ounce more than the last time around.
4.It is okay to cry. I've had two moments so far... One was when my husband put his finger in Parkers mouth to calm him down (this was pre-pacifier). I realized we had just left the doctors office and Tyson hadn't washed his hands. I started balling. I am not going to be that ultra sanitized Mom, but I started thinking about what would happen if he got sick, etc. etc. It was an accident and I quickly realized my hormones were getting the best of me. Sorry again, babe.
My second cry was on a day that my husband had work for a few hours and I had him by myself. He cried for about 2 hours straight and after trying everything, I began to cry my heart out. It was a combination of "please don't cry, it is breaking my heart to see you cry" and "holy s**t, this my new life..." I saw my freedom slowly crawl out the door and I wasn't quite sure how I felt about that yet.
5. Be open with your friends and family. My husband is a lot more patient than I am, but there has been a few times he's had to pass Parker off to me and go in another room. I've done the same. When you are feeling overwhelmed, when you are feeling frustrated, when you need to take a solo drive, do it. I have found the most comfort in knowing that all new parents go through this stuff. It isn't just us. And when you need to tap out for a second, let your partner know or call a friend. You don't need to be superwoman and you are definitely not alone for feeling overwhelmed.
6. Embrace the little things. I know I am supposed to sleep when the baby sleeps, but I have the hardest time. I find myself starring at him for hours. The way he stretches his little arms, his small smiles that come and go, the cooing and gentle whimpers. I take it all in. I know time flies with a newborn, so I try not to overlook those moments.
7. Eat! But eat healthy... Making proper dinners and snacking on healthy food throughout the day is key to getting through your day. You can't run on fumes all day and expect to function with a crappy diet. And don't forget to make leftovers.
8. Less is more! Most moms-to-be are consumed with figuring out all the things you need for your baby. If I could do it again, I would start out with less and then use amazon prime for the items you need later on. Babies are pretty simple and don't need much. I was panicking over not having all the best gadgets like everyone else. But the good old kitchen sink works great for baths, his $50 bassinet will do, his 5 newborn onesies that fit are just fine (don't worry, we wash them), a blanket works great for covering up while you breastfeed, and you can return your white noise machine and download a free app on your iphone instead.
However, that dang baby swing wins every time. I'm not sure what I would do without that. I would have paid hundreds for that.
9. Laugh it off.Hey I just got all ready and now I have spit up down my shirt and in my freshly washed hair. Or, I just put my favorite outfit on you and you just pooped out of your diaper and all of your other onesies that fit are dirty. Skin to skin?
At some point you just have to laugh about it. No one over said being a new mom was glamorous.
10. Enjoy being a Mom. I give thanks every day for the opportunity I have to be a mother. I don't take raising a child lightly and I feel honored to get to guide our little one through life. I thought I kissed my husband and told him I loved him excessively until Parker came along. You can never show a baby enough love.
Parker Michael Nead. Born January 4th, 2015. 7 lbs 15 oz and 21 inches of pure love.
It was 4am in the morning when I felt the first contraction. It wasn't terrible, but they were very consistent. My husband and I hung out at the house all day. I watched back-to-back episodes of Love It or List It on HGTV, painted my nails, and got last minute chores done around the house. Around 4 in the afternoon was when they started getting more painful and closer together. I could still manage the pain, but they were 5 minutes apart and lasting a minute for over an hour. Our birthing teacher told us that is when we head to the hospital.
I was scheduled to be induced the following day, since Parker was almost a week late. I was so excited, I thought, THIS IS IT! I don't have to be induced. We headed to the hospital, bags and all, and checked in. They checked my cervix and sadly told me that I was only about 2 centimeters dilated. I told the nurse that I was able to manage the pain so far. I thought I had some sort of baby making super powers and I somehow wasn't going to feel those fall-to-the-floor contractions. HA! The nurse told me that until I can't speak and I'm grabbing on for dear life, to go ahead and come back then.
So, we shamelessly headed home. I was determined to stay in the house until I couldn't take it any longer. We get home, order pizza and get ice cream and get cozy on the couch. About two hours later I feel a contraction that was exactly like she described. I had no idea how I would handle the pain. I didn't know if I would scream, need my back rubbed, etc. I didn't want to be touched, I Just wanted to curl in a ball and continued to say "fart" over and over again as they got worse. I have NO idea where that came from. (And those "farts" slowly turned into "F***" followed by a "SORRY!") My husband thought that was great...
After an hour and a half of those, we headed back to the hospital. I got there and was 3 1/2 centimeters and got admitted. I didn't have a birth plan, I didn't have any parameters on what I did and didn't want. I tried to go in with no expectations. To my surprise I accepted any pain relieving concoctions they had. BRING IT ON. However, unfortunately none of those helped and I just kept throwing up... like everything I ate my entire pregnancy.
Epidural please! I opted to get one at 4 centimeters and thank GOD for that. I didn't want too much, so I made that clear. I wanted to feel my legs enough to push, so I made sure they didn't over do it. The relief was incredible. I couldn't believe I was still having those horrific contractions, but wasn't feeling the pain.
I couldn't sleep. I just sat there and stared at the ceiling. I let my husband sleep for a bit and then my Mom came to join us at the hospital. Next thing you knew I was at 7 centimeters. We called the rest of the family as we thought it could be any minute now. Everyone got there at about 5am. I started to push at about 1pm.
When the nurse told me to start pushing, I had no idea what to expect. I was scared, anxious, excited, and SO ready to meet the little booger that has been exercising in my belly for the last 9 months.
I pushed with everything I had. When the nurse said I was doing great and to keep doing those exact pushes, I did exactly that. That lasted about 20 minutes and then she told me to stop pushing since the doctor wasn't in the room yet. STOP PUSHING? It isn't that easy... my body couldn't stop pushing. It was wild. They were calling for the doctor for a bit and finally, about 10 minutes before I deliver, the doctor arrives. I just remember her saying GREAT PUSHING, you are about to meet your son! I felt like an A+ student. I thought they would make me go into all these different positions and delivery tactics- movie style.
I hear the doctor say, "Lindsay, in three pushes you are about to meet your son. I need these to be the hardest pushes yet." I remember physically feeling like it was impossible to push any harder and any longer. And then I realized, I had no other choice. I thought I couldn't do it, but my animal instincts kicked in high gear. Every part of my body was as tense as I have ever felt. My legs, my chest, my arms, my back... I'm still paying for that part.
Last push, and out came Parker. They passed him right over to me and I was in utter shock. I thought I would cry and it would be this big emotional event for me, but I couldn't even gather emotions. I was just in awe. He was so clean and perfect looking. Nothing even close to that horrifying discovery channel documentary I watched on birth.
I was shaking like crazy and saying over and over again how I couldn't believe he was here. I couldn't believe that we made him.
Creating a little life is the most incredible experience. I still can't believe it all. I had SO much anxiety in my 3rd trimester. I was so nervous of anything going wrong and all of the unknowns. But when you are in the heat of it all, you are so much stronger than you think. Women are incredible that way.
I have a whole new respect for mothers. Being a parent is the toughest, most rewarding experience. One minute you are sleep deprived and crying, and then next you are so full of love and joy and a sense of contentment that is hard to explain unless you are a parent.
And thank GOD for my husband. The most patient, helpful, comforting and loving man. He was incredible, the entire pregnancy. And seeing him as a father fills my heart with so much joy. I always knew he would be a great Dad, but seeing it in person brings tears to my eyes. It is the most beautiful thing.