Saturday, February 28, 2015

26

Friday.

Amazing breakfast with Trisha at Penny Ann Cafe and long catch up chat.

A true friend is someone who finds one last eyebrow pencil, now discontinued, the kind you both love,  and gives it to you for your birthday.

Thrift store luck at Savers (jeans that fit, Disney Toms for Evie, Aurora barbie in mint condition, necklace in the exact color I've been looking for,  and more).

Saturday.

Pajama clad Evelyn coming into my room this morning and exclaiming "Happy Birthday Mama!"

Birthday presents in bed (beautiful watch, Beep wireless speaker adapter, and iPhone!!!).

Andrew telling me to get whatever I wanted at Trader Joe's.

Breakfast burrito at Cafe Niche, Evie drinking the milk for her oatmeal straight from the little silver pitcher.

Banbury Cross. Enough said.

(Side trip to the pediatrician,  Evie's got RSV, thankfully she's no longer contagious).

Luxurious nap.

Free loot from Sephora.

Catching snowflakes on our tongues after dinner at Oh Mai (bahn mi & pho).

Radio shack going out of business sale abd $2 iPhone case.

Hearing sweet birthday wishes all day from Evie and Andrew.

Homemade Jamba Juice and HGTV in bed, just like a hotel.

Best. Birthday. Ever!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

genious mom moment

Evie has a cough. Again. I thought she was finally rid of it, but it came back with a vengeance. We're not really sure what is going on with her. She had a cough related to a cold late last fall, and the cough just lingered. It was sporadic, sometimes just once a day. But sometimes she'd cough when eating, or crying, or sleeping, and it was just sad.

The doc says there's no such thing as a chronic cough. I think. If she didn't say that exactly, what she meant was there's got to be a reason for the cough, that coughing is not normal behavior. We talked about the asthma possibility. I have asthma, and it gets worse with poor air quality, allergies, exercise, etc.

So anyway, we don't know why she's coughing. We're about to try an asthma controller medicine to see if that helps. She's also been telling me her head hurts, and she's been slightly congested (but so have I, and apparently Elm pollen counts are high right now?). So who knows.

I've been trying to do whatever I can think of to help my sweet girl, who coughed constantly from 5-6am this morning, and throughout the day and night. We run a humidifier in her room at night, and have air filters going in our house (one in her room, one on the main level). I have this magic cough drops my neighbor turned me onto: Onguard from doTerra. They are ridiculously expensive, but I swear if you have a cough, they are magic, and you won't cough as long as you suck on one of these bad boys.

So I thought I'd give Evie one of these cough drops, but there's a problem: she will just crunch it up. I broke one up and gave her some pieces, and she immediately chewed and swallowed them. So I had a genius idea.

I'd seen people make suckers out of Jolly Ranchers on Pinterest, so I thought I'd try the same thing with these cough drops. I tried using sucker molds, but I think I let them sit in the oven too long and the liquid cough drop just oozed out of the molds. I made it work by quickly picking them up and hand-molding the drop around the sucker stick while it was still moldable but not too hot to touch.

The result? They are not pretty, but they work! She likes them as much as Dumdums, and sucks on them for a good long while before crunching them to bits. And I'm hoping they'll help her get through whatever cough thing she's got going on.


Cough Drop Pops


Preheat oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, and spray lightly with cooking spray. Lay your cough drops of choice down, spaced a few inches apart (be sure to choose something that is safe for children). I baked mine with sticks, since I tried the sucker molds, but I'd recommend inserting sticks after baking.

Warm cough drops in oven for 8-10 minutes. You want them to be soft enough to shape around a sucker stick, but not to melt into one giant blob (speaking from experience here). Remove from oven and quickly mold around sucker sticks. Let them cool for about 5 minutes before popping into your poor toddler's mouth.

out of this world pizza

I used to make pizza, in the early days of our marriage when we lived in a little tiny adobe brick house and I actually cooked dinner. Then we moved in with my parents for what was supposed to be one year but turned into 3+ years. I finished college, got a full-time job, then had a baby. And I didn't cook much. I tried to pitch in dinners every once in awhile, and always tried to lend a hand to the master chef (my amazing mother), even if it was just setting the table and loading the dishwasher afterward.

So now we're on our own, and it's all me for dinner. Every night. Ack! How do people do this? I'm actually doing pretty ok, most of the time. I have a few good things I like to keep in frequent rotation, and every once in awhile I try a new recipe from Pinterest, or whatever. And then there's pizza.

I tried the sticky-note recipe I used back in the day, and it just didn't turn out right. Then I tried one from Pinterest: way too much salt. Another from the antique Betty Crocker cookbook was more cracker than pizza crust.

And then I found it. The holy grail of dough recipes. This is it. It takes some time, so this isn't a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of dinner. You have to plan on time for the dough to rise and rest. But oh, is it worth it. And I swear it bakes up faster than Papa Murphey's take-and-bake (that might just be all in my head).

So here I'll re-post the recipe with my own little notes and alterations, because if you're like me, you don't want to click through to another site. You just want to see the darn recipe. And I'll follow with my secrets to making a killer barbecue chicken pizza, like the one pictured (heaven on a pizza crust).



The Very Best Pizza Dough


Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cups warm (105-115 degrees) water
  • 1 tablespoon instant or active dry yeast (active will take longer to rise)
  • 1 tablespoon. sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 and 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more as needed (1/4 cup)
  • 2 T Butter, melted
  • Garlic salt
  • cornmeal
Directions:
  1. In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer (I use my Kitchenaid), stir in water, sugar and yeast. Let sit 5-10 minutes or until the yeast is foamy and dissolved (I wait the minimum 5). Add olive oil, salt, and 1 ½ cups flour and mix until combined with your hook attachment (or with a wooden spoon if not using a mixer). Gradually mix in 2 more cups of flour until dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl. If your dough is too wet, add 1 more tablespoon of flour at a time (I usually end up adding another 1/4 cup flour) until dough barely sticks to your fingers. Once dough has pulled away from the bowl, knead in mixer on medium-low speed or by hand for 5 minutes.
  2. Shape the dough into a ball and place back into your large mixing bowl that has been coated lightly with olive oil or nonstick cooking spray. Turn dough over to coat all sides. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubled in size, 1-2 hours.
  3. Preheat your pizza stone or baking sheet in middle rack of your oven for 30-60 minutes at 475 degrees F.
  4. After dough has doubled, remove from bowl and knead a couple times. Divide dough into two equal balls and cover with a towel for 15 minutes.
  5. While your stone is preheating, sprinkle some flour and cornmeal on your counter and start to shape your crust. I use a combination of rolling pin and hand shaping. Once it is roughly the size you want, pick it up and sort of stretch the dough, turning it with each stretch so it stays circular. Lay it down on your hot pizza stone, again stretching it to the appropriate size. It will stay the size you want on the stone because the stone is so hot it "cooks" it into place. Does that make sense? I don't grease my stone at all, the cornmeal takes care of the non-stick part.
  6. The original recipe recommends brushing the crust with olive oil. I picked up a trick from my friend Autumn that is even better: BUTTER. Brush your crust, focusing on the outer edge, with melted butter, and then sprinkle with garlic salt. This gives you a delicious breadstick-like crust at the end of each slice, and it is truly amazing. Using a fork, prick several holes in the crust.
  7. Bake for 12 minutes at 475F degrees with favorite toppings then broil for 2 minutes or until cheese is golden.

 

Crazy Good Barbecue Chicken Pizza


Ingredients:
  • Mozarella or cheddar jack cheese (to taste)
  • 2 slices of cooked bacon, chopped
  • Chopped red onion (to taste)
  • Fresh cilantro, chopped (again, to taste)
  • Leftover/pre-made barbecue pulled chicken (I like the Costco Jack Daniels variety) OR 1 cooked chicken breast, chopped and barbecue sauce, to taste (any variety you like, I like Sweet Baby Ray's)
  • 1 pizza crust (recipe above makes two crusts)
Directions:

Prepare crust as directed above. Start with either pre-made barbecue chicken, or cooked chicken breast, and spread evenly over crust. Add barbecue sauce as desired.

Layer with cheese, then chopped bacon and red onion. Bake as directed above, and finish with chopped cilantro. Seriously, the cilantro makes it. And the bacon. Because what isn't better with bacon?

Enjoy!

Monday, February 9, 2015

babies don't keep

Bedtime tonight was rough. This is unusual for Evelyn, at least two-year-old Evelyn. We read books as usual, but things went downhill when she requested milk and got a no-because-it-will-rot-your-teeth answer.

I snugged her in the dark, per usual. I sang to her. Covered her chubby-soft toddler cheeks in kisses. Whispered her my usual secret,  "I love you so, so much!"

Then it was time to put her in the crib. She does better when she has a toy, and tonight she'd been playing with a brush all though stories, so I thought she'd be fine. She asked me to stay for a little bit, a common request. I obliged, and settled down in the chair. She was restless, even fussy. I stayed longer than I intended, then finally told her goodnight and left.

And she cried, and cried. Long enough that I gave in (I can just tell when it's a cry she won't come down from, and this was one of those). I sat by her crib, holding her hand, stroking her forehead,  singing to her, reassuring her, but she she still wouldn't sleep. I watched her heavy eyelids close a few times, but she fought it. And she fussed, and cried.

Finally I picked her up, and sat in the chair. She immediately squinched her little eyes shut and lay perfectly still. I laughed a little, and she smiled, eyes still shut. We rocked, and she went to sleep.

Earlier in the night I was frustrated. I'd been a long day, and I was ready for her to be asleep. But by this point I was almost relishing the experience. She needed me and wanted me. She's my big baby, my first baby. She's so grown up, yet still just little. And there probably won't be too many more instances where she needs me to rock her to sleep.

As I was holding her, pondering all this, I felt a jab in my stomach. New baby moved, as if to say "Hey, I'm here too,  and everything is going change."

The thought of having another baby is overwhelming. I'm so excited to meet this new little person, to feel that immense expansion in my heart when we meet (and it's already started). But I'm a little sad that it will mark the end of an era, because it's been so great. Not easy, but wonderful. And everyone says it gets more wonderful, but it is still unknown,  and that makes it a little nerve-racking.

So for now, I'm going to just try to enjoy these possible lasts and almost lasts, because its not every night I get to rock my baby to sleep, and that's both good and sad.

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