Five Favorites in the Immediate Postpartum

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I’d be hard-pressed to come up with a week that could bring more changes than the last one has, but we’re slowly establishing a new routine.  Here are a few things that have really shown their worth since Maddy was born.

1 Burp rags.  It may sound silly (and perhaps gross), but one of the biggest adjustments for me has been getting used to how wet everything is.  Between an…abundant milk supply, normal baby bodily fluids, and just a few tears, I’m pretty sure the driest I’ve been is when I’m in the shower.  Enter these awesome burp cloths my mom brought with her when she visited.  Terry on one side, flannel on the other, and magic all around.  Plus, she brought about twenty of them, so there’s one in every room at all times (and one on my shoulder).  I’m going to have to steal her pattern and give these as gifts at every baby shower.

2 Chocolate Coconut Almond Luna Bars. These things are dangerous.  I’ve never been an habitual eater of protein bars (the soy flavor is a deal-breaker), but I’ve discovered that they have their place in my food lineup.  During morning sickness, Luna Bars (Lemon Zest flavor, specifically) gave me just the quick boost I needed to feel better, so I picked up a box of these to have on hand for one-handed nursing snacks.  This was a huge mistake, because these taste like Almond Joy bars and are completely un-Lenten.

3 The Boba Wrap.  This post is made possible by approximately six yards of jersey fabric.  I didn’t accomplish much on my first day home alone, but I did figure out how to tie the Boba Wrap and get the baby into it on my own.  She’s still small enough that I can wear her while sitting, which means I can type two-handed while she snoozes.  Once I’m up doing things around the house, it’s going to be equally awesome.  There are lots of knit baby wraps out there, and I can’t remember where I saw this one highly recommended, but it’s a keeper (and not just for the Star Wars jokes that the name will inevitably spawn).  According to the directions, it’s also possible to nurse in it, but the baby in the instructions is at least two, so we’re not going to try that trick for a while.

Update: Apparently there’s such a thing as “too cozy.” As I was typing this, the largest diaper explosion I’ve ever seen happened mere inches from my blissfully free hands. A-goner were the cute outfit – down to socks – plus my shirt and the wrap itself. Did I mention that it’s machine-washable?

4 White noise.  Until we move into a single-family house, I’m going to need ways to drown out the sound of our downstairs neighbors, who seem to have started a hammering-based home business in the last week.  Literally the first thing I put on the baby registry was Scout the Baby Whisperer (not technically his title), whose magic I have witnessed with my nephews.  When I searched Amazon, I saw that he had been discontinued.  Quelle horreur!  I put it on the list anyway; at present, the price of that darn dog makes him literally the most expensive thing on the registry. Right now, my trick is a white noise track on Spotify (I have a whole playlist that’s just the same track over and over).  I was a skeptic, but I’ve been using it myself for the last couple months.  It certainly seems to be working for Maddy, and Johnny has expressed no preference.  Plus, I can get almost two years of paid Spotify for the cost of one discontinued puppy.

5 Food from others.  Between the food my mom left, meals my sister brought, and the greatest soup ever (courtesy a friend from church), we haven’t had to do any cooking for the last week.  Hopefully we’ll be back in the kitchen ourselves soon, but in the meantime, it’s oh-so-helpful not to need to cook.  Proof that we’re all eating well: the first outgrown sweater!

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Linking up with Jenna, who also welcomed a little one to her family last week!

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Five Recipes You Can’t Live Without

Linking up with Five Favorites and 7 in 7.

Before I was married, I often used to cook regular-sized batches of things and just eat the same dinner every night for a week.  That doesn’t exactly fly these days; not only does Johnny eat significantly more than I do, but he also isn’t quite on board with a meal plan that consists of one item.  Still, with working full-time, my priority is to have dinner done as quickly as possible, with as little effort as possible.  This also means that I usually forget to take photos, but that said, here are five recipes that fit the bill these days, starting with dessert (naturally).

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Peanut Butter Mug Cake

I married a man who thrives on having dessert every night.  The advantage of this is that it’ll be really easy to figure out what to give up for Lent this year.  Until then, though, there are occasional nights when he wants something and the cookie jar is empty.  This mug cake recipe is a dream come true on those days, because it can be made with ingredients I always have on hand, in less than 10 minutes, and makes just enough for two people.

I was skeptical of the “mug cake” concept, partly because of the stigma of the microwave.  But this really works, even up to my standards.  I usually use natural peanut butter, a little less sugar than the recipe calls for, and sometimes I add chocolate chips.  A batch and a half is more than enough to split between two mugs or mason jars.

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Baci di Ricotta

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I first came across this recipe when I read Feast over the summer.  Little doughnuts that use up the end of a container of ricotta that’s always left after you make lasagna?  Sign me up.  I normally have a big aversion to deep-frying anything, but these are small enough not to need much oil.  It’s a quick recipe, which is an advantage since they’re best served very fresh.  I made them for Valentine’s Day, and it took me under 20 minutes start to finish.

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Man-Pleasing Chicken

I didn’t come up with the name for this one, but it was certainly true in our house.  Six ingredients total, and two of them are salt and pepper.  We almost always have chicken thighs in the freezer, thanks to Costco, and if I remember to take them out of the freezer before I leave, this recipe is even quicker.  No marinading is necessary, but the flavor is outstanding.

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Easy Parmesan Chicken

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Another short ingredient list, another hit.  Chicken, Parmesan cheese, mayonnaise, and bread crumbs.  The mayonnaise is unexpected but really makes the meat moist.  I made this with chicken thighs (someone prefers them to breasts), and it turned out very well.  The only recommendation I have is to take the chicken out of the pan right away because the mayo seems to melt, leaving a fair bit of oil in the pan.

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Chicago-Style Deep-Dish Pizza

IMG_2143This is a new favorite, thanks to the Cooks Illustrated cookbook I got as a wedding shower gift (the link above is to the same recipe on Brown Eyed Baker).  It takes a few hours, so it’s not a weeknight recipe, but it’s not difficult (just a few minutes of work every hour or so).  We often have leftover sauce of some kind, which eliminates some work.  We don’t have a round cake pan, so I make it in a cast-iron skillet.

Five Favorite Recent Finds

Here I am, back again to blog about my rampant consumerism.  Well, not quite, but new things do give me handy blog material.  Maybe something more profound will come up later, but I’d like to get into the habit of blogging more, and this is as easy as it gets.  Anyway, here goes:

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Bobbi Brown Corrector and Concealer

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A couple weeks ago, I had the trifecta: a little spare cash, an afternoon to kill, and circles like black holes under my eyes.  Off to the Nordstrom’s makeup department I went.  This involved a trip to the mall that has a Tiffany’s and a three-story Forever 21 (one of these things is not like the

other).  It was my first makeup experience at Nordstroms, and I was expecting something similar to my usual quiet trip to the Clinique counter, where I’m shepherded towards the “50+ under eye products” section.

Not so here.  No, instead it was introvert hell.  They had a DJ.  Every saleswoman from every brand wore the same all-black ensemble, so even though I knew what I wanted, I accidentally got abducted by a representative from a different brand who gave me…not the right solution (again with the “50+” products!).

Getting help at the Bobbi Brown counter involved loitering awkwardly for several minutes, unsure of where I was supposed to wait, and where I was allowed to be.  Finally, I caught someone’s attention, and it turned out that the trip through introvert hell was worthwhile.

She hooked me up with the corrector/concealer you see above, and so far, it’s peerless.  Yes, it cost an arm and a leg, and yes, it involves 3 separate steps every morning.  Once it’s on, though, I look awake and like a non-heroin addict (and I think one purchase is going to last me at least a year).  Win.

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Jewelry drawer organizer

“You should Pinterest a picture and become an internet sensation,” was Johnny’s response to this one.  One of the things that’s been bothering me since we moved is the shoebox full of necklaces that I didn’t have a home for.  A trip to BB&B was going south once I realized that a drawer organizer would cost about $30.  “Heck no,” I thought.  “It essentially just a…..” [cue lightbulb moment]

Behold: a silverware tray.

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So far it’s perfect, and the rubber lining holds everything exactly where I want it, all for the low price of $7.99 (before coupon).

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My new teapot

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I’m relatively new to the tea-drinking scene, so my tea kettle needs are pretty basic.  The kettle I got is definitely “utilitarian diner chic,” but my gosh, it is loud, and that was important.  It’s also glass, easy to clean, and made in Connecticut.  Also, and perhaps most importantly, it was under $10.  I think I’m in love.

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Adequate kitchen lighting

With the dark days of winter and an almost equally dark kitchen, I had been spending as little time as possible at the kitchen sink.  Bad news for the eaters of the family, as well as those who value sanitation.  Johnny has a surprisingly strong aversion to home improvement stores, so if I wanted to solve the problem, it was up to me.

Much like my makeup-buying experience, the purchase of this simple track lighting involved me loitering alone in the aisles of a store trying to get someone’s attention without being too obvious.  Yes, “assertive” is pretty much my middle name.  However, an electrician I am not, and it was ridiculously hard to determine which lights would plug into an outlet, and which required a license to install.  An hour and $50 later, once I had determined that it didn’t need to be hard-wired into our ceiling, this was mine.

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It makes all the difference in my evening culinary pursuits, and once things were well-lit, I suddenly figured out a way to arrange things that freed up lots of counter space.  Hey, if the lightbulb of brilliance isn’t coming on over your head…install one yourself.

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Longer days

This was the view when I got out of work today.  Although I didn’t mark Sunshine Day on my calendar like Tess did, I think this is the first day that the sun has still been completely above the horizon when I left work.  Above everything else, this may be my favorite new “find” of the week.

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I’m guessing that Johnny won’t make it to #2 on this incredibly girly list before regretting his encouragement that I blog again.  Unfortunately for him, a sewing machine purchase is on the horizon, so this won’t let up any time soon.

Check out Hallie for more Favorites!

Five Favorites

A truly random list of things I’m loving right now.

1.

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I was long overdue for an update to my photography website, and finally got a two-pronged poke in the rear to get it done.  First, I have a new last name, so that had to be updated.  Then, I shot a wedding over the weekend and wanted to spruce things up before my traffic spiked (which it totally did).  Thanks to a WordPress theme that was originally intended for B&Bs, I think I’m in much better shape than before.

2.

This Harry Potter audiobook.  I’d heard good things about it, so I picked it up in anticipation of a long solo roadtrip over the weekend.  It did not disappoint!  I got through about half of it, and it was so engaging and entertaining.  Perfect for staying awake on the long road that is I-90/94.  I’ve got 64 CDs left in the series (I started with the fourth book, since I’ve read the first three more times than I can count), so I should be set for all the roadtrips I’ll ever take.

3.

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This sign, spotted at the grocery store yesterday.  Unfortunately, they didn’t have it sorted according to ribbons earned.

4.

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A new job that apparently involves occasional travel.  An hour after my soon-to-be boss emailed to check my availability on the dates, she had booked me a flight, a hotel room (above), and a conference registration for a week in an historic destination.  Not a bad introduction to a new job.

5.

This hair product.  I’ve been using it through some wicked humidity, and I’ve never had less frizz and nicer curls than I do right now.  That said, I have long-ish hair that I try to make as curly as possible; my mom’s is shorter, and she wasn’t such a fan of her results.  The smell isn’t awesome (fake grape), but for $4 a tube at Walmart, it’s hard to complain too much.

That’s all – go check out other people’s (more cohesive) lists!