Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Motherhood: The Best Advice I Listened to

{Jules lost a toenail and was bleeding all over the place so we held him down, bandaged him up and laughed hysterically while he attacked his foot}

I don't often take others' advice.  But as a pregnant lady, I was the target of a lot of advice (both solicited and unsolicited).  I've watched my friends and sisters (appear to) seamlessly make the transition into motherhood so I was eager to hear their words of advice for me as I joined the club.

As the year has gone on I've decided there is no right or wrong way to be pregnant/parent.  I assumed I would feel more strongly about what the 'best' thing to do or not do but I don't.  With obvious exceptions that endanger your children, I am a firm believer in doing what works for you and your family.

While I tried to soak up as much intel as I could (and still do) from those who are more experienced than me, I have to say these two gems are worth passing on.

The best advice that I listened to while pregnant was:  "Get as much sleep as you can"

I slept like my life depended on it (wait, doesn't it?) and it felt great.  Enough said.

The best advice that I listened to as a mom:  "Ease yourself into going back to work full time"

I know I'm so lucky to have had the option to ease into work and I thank my lucky stars for it.  My boss is super flexible, my husband's job is flexible and we saved the entire pregnancy to have a 'kid fund' so we wouldn't feel squeezed without my full salary.

After official maternity leave, I was able to work part time for almost two months.  The last week of my part time schedule we sent Calum to daycare two days (Tues/Thurs), then three days (the usual Tues/Thurs plus the first day of September), then four days (thanks Labor Day!) and finally a he went to daycare for five days in a row last week!  (And is sick to show for it haha, but that's to be expected!)

I've enjoyed being back full time and when I'm there I want to be there.  I don't feel like I was rushed away from my baby and back to reality.  I'm thankful to have had the option for such an easy transition.  Of course it is sad to not see him all day but reuniting in the evenings (and mornings, too) is so special and fun.  Don't get me started on the weekends.  I used to love weekends but now it is a whole different ball game.

He is pretty un-phased by daycare.  He seems to like it and he's learning from the older kids - he now realizes a jumper is for jumping not just a toy station ;)

In other news, Calum made his first piece of art for daddy's birthday present and I got Andy some Arsenal swag.

Like I said, counting my lucky stars :)

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Rye Banana Muffins

It happens to everyone.  You and your spouse miscommunicate and you end up with two bunches of bananas, one of which will most likely get too ripe for your preferences and you'll have to bake something to use it up.

That's what happened to us.  Fortunately I'm not too sad about it since I love to bake!  (And I miraculously found time to do it.)  Instead of making my usual Banana Bread with Wheat Germ or this Banana Bread Granola I'm obsessed with, I wanted to make some muffins with my Rye flour (used for these Rye Brownies, which are insanely good).

I found this recipe and made a few modifications to make it more tasty and nutritious - applesauce instead of oil, added cinnamon, raisins and raw walnuts.  I made these three days ago and we ate all but two of them by the time I got around to photographing the final product!

I like to put two in the toaster oven then top with some Kerrygold Irish Butter and eat them with a cup of tea - or spoonful of crunchy peanut butter, ya know, whatever you like :P

May you have ripe bananas on hand and enjoy these as much as I have!  Happy Tuesday!

Rye Banana Muffins


2 large ripe bananas
3/4 c white sugar
~ 1/3 c unsweetened plain applesauce
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 c rye flour
1 1/4 c white flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
~ raisins
~ raw walnuts


Preheat your oven to 350.  Prepare 12 muffin tins with cooking spray and then muffin liner thingys ;)

Mash up your ripe bananas in a large bowl.  Add sugar, apple sauce, eggs and vanilla and stir until smooth.  In a separate bowl, add your flours, baking soda, cinnamon and salt, whisking to combine.  Add your dry ingredients to your wet ingredients and stir just until everything is incorporated (don't over stir).

In your muffin tin lined with muffin liner papers, add raisins and walnuts to your liking.  (I suppose you could add oatmeal or chocolate chips...oooh, maybe next time!)  I used a 1/4 cup scoop to evenly distribute the batter over the raisins and walnuts, filling them all to the top since this muffin doesn't really rise.

Bake for 25 minutes or until muffins are slightly brown and a toothpick comes out clean.

Makes 12 muffins <3

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

SMB {Swim Club}

Last week, Calum and I invited some mama and baby friends over to join us at the swim club.  Since we know all too well just how difficult it can be getting out the door, we gave ourselves at least an hour or so for everyone to arrive.  We chatted about life and babies and snacked on Crust cookies and La Croix.  We've been getting together for a few months now and it is fun to see these babies grow together!

{I love this photo of me nursing Cal - thanks Kayla for taking it!}

After a few hours of gathering and getting ready ;) we made it to the pool!

Vivi and Cal were the first ones to test the water.

Arms up, Sagey!

Two words: baby thighs.  SO sweet :)

^ Mali is rocking his Brazilian themed trunks thanks to his Brazilian mama, Kayla :)

Paige and Isaac (who I always want to call Tony!) had a little photoshoot as a shout out to his swimmer daddy --

Sarah and sweet Vivi <3

Ilana and the deepest-sleeping-baby-you-ever-did-see, Sage.

As you can imagine, it didn't take long for the sun and water to wear these babes out...

Except Calum, of course.  He was tired too, but that didn't slow him down from drooling all over Malichi.  Sage was interested in watching Calum try to stir up trouble...

It was a fun afternoon, as always!

See you next time ladies and babies, xo

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Farmer's Market Fried Rice

I've said it before, I'll say it again:  Cook once, eat twice.  This is especially crucial these days when I no longer have 1+ hr to cook dinner anymore.

The first couple of months of motherhood I shamelessly got Zingerman's sandwiches delivered, picked up way too expensive caesar salads from Zingerman's roadhouse (and side of mac & cheese, let me be honest), Hediye's Breakfast from Cafe Zola, Dumplings and Yaki Lo Mein from Tomukun...this glorious list goes on and on.  Ann Arbor has awesome food options and I'm thankful for that even more than ever.  It is actually shocking to me that I lost baby weight instead of gaining food weight, ha!

But I love to cook.  I love to grocery shop.  And I was itching to get back into cooking meals at home.  Thankfully I didn't lose my strategic meal planning skills.  We headed to the farmer's market and let our dinner plan itself...

^^ I posted this photo to my Instagram (@charlielbl) almost two months ago and that was the start of our relationship with our Farmer's Market Fried Rice dinners.

We usually make this once a week because it is easy, filling, healthy enough and delicious.  This particular batch I used both baked chicken breast that I made and leftover pork chop from Knight's downtown for the protein.  (The Instagram photo was a different batch of fried rice with chicken sautéed in the wok that evening.)

This is kind of weird, but I was really excited about taking the peas out of the pod from one of my farmer's market purchases.  But I love frozen peas for this meal most of the time.  I always include carrots and red onions.  I've included zucchini, broccolini and I like to include basil whenever possible.

Start by preparing the rice (we usually do this midday or the day before) and chopping all the veggies (again, I chop and prep throughout the day or day(s) before) and cooked protein.

Next, heat up some olive oil in your wok, add onions and carrots.  Once those are soft, add the more delicate vegetables, like zucchini and broccoli.  Once those are nearly done, add your peas, rice and cooked protein.  Make sure the stove is up really high and you're stirring intermittently so everything gets nice and hot/crispy.

When you need more moisture, I add a swirl (couple of tablespoons) of soy sauce and a sprinkle of salt.  I do this once before the final step.

Which is, to add your eggs.  I crack them in a bowl before I start cooking since everything happens fast and I don't want to risk accidentally cracking some shell into the hot pan.  One to three eggs will do the trick, depending on your egg preference - I like a lot of egg!  I push everything to the sides and make a hole in the middle.  Add a teaspoon more of olive oil there, drop in the eggs and begin stirring with a spatula.  You want the eggs to cook and gradually get all of the good stuff coated in egg.  Once the eggs are mixed in, I'll let each "side" of the batch cook before "flipping" in order make sure the egg gets cooked all the way.

I guess this is technically the final step.  I add basil if I have it.  Roll up leaves in a cigar like fashion and chop (or use kitchen shears), then sprinkle into your fried rice.  Turn the heat off, stir it in and serve it up!

Pack up the leftovers in an air tight container for storage in the fridge.

When you're reheating the next day, put into a hot pot or wok and hit it with another swirl of soy sauce (or water if it is already salty enough for you) to add moisture while reheating.  Sometimes I'll even add more veggies or protein.  This is a great meal for leftovers alone or to build on top of as a base.

Enjoy :)

Sunday, August 21, 2016


Hi, hi, hi, hi!

It's been a while.  As you can imagine, blogging gets knocked way down the priority list when cooking, cleaning, work and sleep need to be squeezed into my baby-free time!  But I haven't given up on my LBL.  I take so many pictures and I need this outlet to organize, preserve and share our goings on ;)

We are in a stage where Cal consistently fights his third nap of the day and we don't try too hard to convince him to sleep since bed time is right around the corner and night sleep > nap sleep !!!

To keep everyone sane, it works best to go do something during his so-called witching hour, and last Tuesday that was going out to dinner at Mikette - a new french bistro that opened recently on the north side of town.

Calum had the tasting menu.  Meaning, I looked down and he was eating the menu.  He also sneaked in a mouthful of the table.  Oops!

^ That is his tired & guilty face

And this is Andy's not tired and happy face :P

We shared the haricot verts - with onions, hazelnuts, basil and olive oil.  These were so good and I'm looking forward to trying them at least one more time before I try to recreate this at home.

I was craving mac & cheese and was happy they didn't question my ordering off the kids menu.  It hit the spot!

He was sooo tired but also happy to be sitting outside and quite interested in our food...


We also shared the poulette and frites, which I posted on Instagram the other day.  It was delicious, great to share and came on a pretty plate FTW ;)

So we're not up to anything crazy these days.  Just enjoying this precious time with our newest family member and working on settling into our new normal :)

(...all while chasing around our naughtiest family member, Mr. Jules)