All posts by meredithellis

I'm a mom, a wife, a dog-lover, a science nerd, and a theatre nerd. I like to cook, sing, dance, read, work, do logic puzzles, play video games, and spend time with my family.

Bringing Up Baby – Week 1

I mentioned in my very first post that one of my original ideas for this blog was an online baby book Рso now that baby girl is here I think it is only fitting that I start posting about my sweet little one.  I have really enjoyed writing my Weekly Recipe Roundup posts, so I think I am going to try a weekly baby post.  I want this weekly post to help me capture and share memories, but I also hope it will be helpful to any new moms or moms-to-be out there who might be looking for an additional perspective to add to their bag of tricks.  So without further ado:

Bringing Up Baby Week 1

Biggest Surprise: So in Love

I knew that I would love my baby of course, but I just had no idea how much I would love her. ¬†Will and I have both been puppy parents for a while now and we love our fur babies and feel a huge sense of responsibility for them. ¬†But it is nothing in comparison to how we feel about Baby M. ¬†I really can’t put it into words, but we are just completely smitten and can’t believe how perfect she is. ¬†I can sit for hours just watching her sleep in my arms. ¬†On my more hormonal days I just start crying because I am overcome with how much I love her. ¬†And then I start laughing at myself for being such a baby.

Biggest Challenge: Sleeping

Baby M has the perfect temperament and sleeps great – as long as she is in someone’s arms lol. ¬†She wants to be held all the time! ¬†I love this, except that it makes sleeping darn near impossible. ¬†Now that we are getting to the end of week 1, we are finally starting to have some luck with putting her in the MammaRoo and the infant car seat, but no luck at all with the bassinet yet. ¬†The real lifesaver this first week is that my mom has come over to help me. ¬†She comes from about 10 or 11pm to 4am and lets me sleep between feedings, and even just 4 hours a night has made a huge difference. ¬†She also has been coming back in the afternoons and helping me from about noon until 5. ¬†And the extra afternoon nap helps too. ¬†Since Will is working, he wasn’t able to help with night duty until the weekend; so having mom here was huge. ¬†This weekend we have been on our own and I think it is going reasonably well. ¬†We’ll see how week two goes.

Best Baby Care Item: The Original Boppy Pillow
The Boppy has been a great tool and not just for nursing. It is great for dad too and helps prevent tight shoulders when we are spending so much time holding little M. To be honest, the Boppy was a little bit hard to use for nursing the first couple of days and actually got in the way. But after we started getting the hang of our best positions it has been great. And like I said, it has been great for everyone’s comfort during normal holding while sitting.

Best Mommy Care Item: Warm Buddy Warming Blanket
This was actually a surprise. My mother-in-law had given me this warming blanket as a gift a couple of years ago but I had only needed it once or twice before. However, when we got home from the hospital I was so surprised how sore my arms and shoulders were and I was looking for something to help. This has been awesome. It’s not as big as a full size blanket so it is easy to maneuver into different shapes. And you just pop it in the microwave for a couple of minutes to heat it up so there are no cords to worry about like with a heating pad. It has been great for sore muscles, but it was also really helpful when my milk first came in and I could use it to heat up my chest so I could pump when lil M wasn’t quite keeping up with production yet.

Favorite Memory: Baby Faces

She makes all kinds of funny faces already!  Will says it looks like she is taking her face for a test drive Рtrying out all kinds of looks.  I wish I could get pictures of all of them. Even her little scowls are the most precious thing ever!

Other Thoughts to Share: 

Breastfeeding
There have been many tough decisions to make since we found out that we were becoming parents, but breastfeeding has not been one of them. From the moment I found out we were pregnant, I knew I wanted to breastfeed. The actual execution of breastfeeding, however, has been a little more challenging. And this is after having read books and websites and articles in order to prepare. It is going well now, but the first couple of days were tough. Our biggest challenge was with positioning. To be totally honest, I had to sort of forget everything that I had read and that the lactation consultants had told me. When I was trying to “get it right” it was frustrating for both of us. When I finally let go and just tried to do what felt natural to me, she got the latch and everything else fell into place. Then we could go back and correct the positioning and worry about making my neck and wrist and all of that more comfortable. But what really helped us turn the corner was me letting go of doing it right and just doing what felt good for us.

Introducing the Dogs
We took the dogs to the kennel for a few days of boarding the day I went into labor. We had thought that we would pick them up the day we left the hospital, but we ended up waiting one more night and I think that was a really great decision. The first night at home with baby is a big enough change on its own without adding in extra variables. If there is enough interest I will do a whole post about how we introduced the dogs to baby girl. Just let me know in the comments.

Taking Care of You
Try to do one little thing every day to just take care of you. I never imagined that taking a hot shower and getting to shave my legs would be such a treat lol, but just that one little thing can make such a big difference! Other little treats I indulged in this week: drafting this blog post (I was missing getting to write), posting an announcement to Facebook, and meditating. Maybe next week I will get to bake something ūüėä

Week 1 with Baby M

She’s here!

Hello my lovely readers!

This is going to be a quick post but I wanted to share my wonderful news that baby girl arrived on Saturday evening, January 31 at 5:27pm, 7 lbs 7 oz. ¬†We were in labor for 38 hours so I am still a little tired (ok a lot tired), but very happy and feeling blessed. ¬†We came home from the hospital Monday evening, last night we picked up the fur babies from the kennel, and we are slowly adjusting to our new family life. Needless to say, Will and I are just head over heels in love with our little bundle of joy. ¬†It will be a few weeks before I am posting recipe round-ups again, but I am hoping that I will have time for a few new post ideas that I have in mind ūüėČ Thank you all for your good wishes and support!!

XOXO, M

Welcome Home Baby M
Welcome Home Baby M

Redecorating on a Budget

I want to share with you the results of one of my little pre-baby arrival projects.  And thanks to HomeGoods it cost less than $30!

Bathroom BeforeBathroom After

Really, it was just a matter of replacing the shower curtain, but what a difference!  The room looks like an entirely new place with a curtain that actually matches the tile.  The new curtain was $14.99.  And the new shower hooks and vinyl liner were less than $6 each.

Tile and Curtain

I am adding a new category with this post. ¬†Disclaimer: ¬†I really know very little about Feng Shui, but I wanted¬†an F word that could indicate¬†household projects or decorating. ¬†So don’t come here looking for legit Feng Shui advice and you won’t be disappointed lol.

Weekly Recipe Roundup – Week of January 25, 2015

I have a bunch of new recipes for you this week. ¬†Some of them aren’t as quick and easy as the ones I have been making in the past few weeks, but I think they were worth the extra effort. ¬†Only problem is no baby yet! ¬†I thought surely after spending a marathon 7 hours in the kitchen on Sunday evening that little girl would want to get here – but I guess she is still feeling comfy in there… I have to admit though, I’m hoping this will be the last weekly roundup post for a couple of weeks. ¬†Let’s hope she comes tomorrow ūüôā

Vegan Cauliflower “Risotto”

Vegan Cauliflower "Risotto"

Recipe from: forkandbeans.com

What we changed: ¬†We were a little more generous with the spinach. We left out the pine nuts because even though we love pine nuts, they are just so darn expensive and didn’t seem worth the extra money this week.

My thoughts on the recipe: ¬†I really like this recipe as a starch substitute. ¬†It made a great side dish throughout the week (you’ll see it in some of the other pics below). ¬†But I don’t think it has quite enough flavor to stand up on its own as an entree which is why I am rating it an 8. ¬†As a low-carb accompaniment it hits the spot, so¬†I’m sure will be seen on our table again in the future.

Overall rating: 8/10

Balsamic Pork Chops

Balsamic Pork Chops

Recipe from: myrecipes.com

What we changed: ¬†I really just used this recipe for inspiration but didn’t follow it very closely. ¬†I didn’t make the rice. ¬†I only was making 2 pork chops so I guessed at most of the measurements in the recipe. ¬†I also used vegetable stock instead of chicken broth.

My thoughts on the recipe: ¬†These made pretty darn tasty pork chops. ¬†We served them with the cauliflower “risotto” and also saut√©ed some mushrooms in the pan after cooking the pork chops.

Overall rating: 9/10

Vegan Morning Glory Muffins

Vegan Morning Glory Muffins

Recipe from: food52.com

What we changed:  We used 1 cup of all-purpose flour and the remainder whole wheat flour.  We used coconut sugar instead of regular organic sugar.  We used almond milk (instead of soy) and ground ginger (instead of fresh grated).

My thoughts on the recipe: OMG ya’ll. ¬†These were absolutely amazing! ¬†The recipe made 18 muffins for us and we have been eating them all week long. ¬†They make an excellent breakfast accompaniment (as with the scrambled eggs) or they are really delicious on their own – especially popped in the microwave for a few seconds and then topped with a bit of coconut spread. ¬†I wasn’t sure how vegan baking would be since I am so used to using eggs when I bake, but the date paste in these muffins worked wonders. ¬†They were so moist – even as leftovers after a few days they stayed moist. ¬†I highly recommend trying this recipe. ¬†And with the carrots and apple and flax you can feel good about eating them too!

Overall rating: 10/10

Mango Smoothie

Mango Smoothie

Recipe from: foodiecrush.com

What we changed: The first time I made this smoothie I followed the recipe exactly and it was ok, but the second time I made it I changed it up a bit and really liked it. ¬†I can’t tell you exact measurements for the second time I made it because I didn’t measure, but I can tell you that I left out the vanilla and the honey the second time. ¬†I used a little less coconut but was more generous with the chia seeds. ¬†I also used two bananas instead of 1 and no ice. ¬†But I did use frozen mango (a 10 oz package). ¬†Oh, and plain greek yogurt – none of this honey or vanilla flavored stuff.

My thoughts on the recipe: This is a really nice, creamy treat that makes a good to-go breakfast.  The yogurt provides enough protein to make it last and I really thought it was better with just the natural sweetness of the banana and no honey or yogurt flavoring added.

Overall rating: 9/10

Roasted Red Pepper and Cannellini Sandwich

Roasted Red Pepper and Cannellini Sandwich

Recipe from: thefairtable.com

What we changed:  We used Great Northern Beans instead of Cannellini Beans because they happened to be less expensive the day we were shopping.

My thoughts on the recipe: ¬†I usually don’t go with more than one 10/10 in a week, but man this sandwich was delicious. ¬†The recipe says to serve hot, but we were both having lunches to go. ¬†So I toasted the bread under the broiler in the morning when I made them, but didn’t end up eating my sandwich¬†hot –¬†it was still really yummy. ¬†The bean paste is easy to make and makes enough for several sandwiches. ¬†We still have a little leftover that we will probably have with crackers and carrot sticks¬†one afternoon¬†as a snack. ¬†We made the bean paste on Sunday night and then didn’t use it until Tuesday morning to make the sandwiches so making ahead is a definite option for this one.

Overall rating: 10/10

Fig and Gorgonzola Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

Fig and Gorgonzola Pork Tenderloin

Recipe from: howsweeteats.com

What we changed:  We used whisky instead of bourbon because that is what we had on hand.

My thoughts on the recipe:¬†The recipe doesn’t specify what size of pork tenderloin to ¬†get. ¬†I don’t think ours was big enough. ¬†Neither of us had ever tried stuffing a pork tenderloin before so I’m sure there is some sort of a learning curve, but I think slightly more pork would have helped and been a little less frustrating for us (you can see the mess we made in the pics above). ¬†Taste-wise, it turned out ok. ¬†I think that the sage was a little overwhelming and I think if we make this again I would like to change the brand of gorgonzola we used – but that’s not the fault of the recipe. ¬†Overall this was a fun experiment, but not something I want to do regularly.

Overall rating: 8.5/10

Deep Dish Spinach and Prosciutto Quiche

Spinach and Prosciutto Quiche

Recipe from: halfbakedharvest.com

What we changed: I went with the buttermilk option rather than water.  I already had some sun-dried tomatoes that were not packed in oil so I chopped them and used them instead of buying oil-packed ones.  I used frozen spinach instead of fresh.

My thoughts on the recipe: ¬†This was my first attempt at a real quiche and I have to admit, it turned out better than I expected. ¬†I was a little worried about making the crust from scratch, but her instructions are really good and it ended up being really yummy. ¬†I think the crust would actually make a really good crust for a Chicago-style pizza too – might have to try that at some point in the future. ¬†I would like to try this recipe again with fresh spinach and a better work surface (I couldn’t roll the crust out as large as I would have liked to). ¬†This made a great dinner served with roasted veggies. ¬†It also reheated perfectly for a great breakfast.

Overall rating: 9/10

Weekly Recipe Roundup – Week of January 18, 2015

We are only two¬†days away from our due date! ¬†But little girl is still cooking and so are we ūüôā ¬†I have more vegetarian recipes for you to check out this week. ¬†And they can all be made vegan by leaving out the cheese in the acorn squash and beet salad recipes. ¬†I must confess that I did add some shrimp to the spring rolls the second time we made them – so we were not entirely vegetarian this week. ¬†But there are lots of good veggie choices nonetheless. ¬†Visit the links and let me know what you think! ¬†Love, M Continue reading Weekly Recipe Roundup – Week of January 18, 2015

Basic Zoodles

Good afternoon friends,
This recipe for zoodles is really great! We made them on Friday night and loved them. They go equally well with tomato sauce or peanut sauce. Next time we will have to try pesto. Go check out Stephanie’s beautiful site and try this one out for yourself.
XOXO,
M

Simply Ohana

Mamma Mia! Pasta noodles made out of zucchini?! …  I certainly have jumped on the zoodles bandwagon- have you?

The term ‚Äėzoodles‚Äô refers to the hot health craze of zucchini noodles. This healthy pasta alternative is made using a food spiralizer tool. You simply insert the zucchini onto the machine, turn the crank, and voila! Zucchini noodles are created right before you eyes.

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I finally invested in a food spiralizer, and it is definitely one of my favorite kitchen tools yet! They are not that expensive and are really quite versatile. Besides zucchini noodles, you can also create various ribbons and shapes using several other fruits or vegetables. My spiralizer came with 3 different attachments, and I have fun playing around in the kitchen with it.

And zoodles taste amazing. Seriously.

I love making zoodles not only because they are healthy, but they are also quick and easy to make. When…

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Weekly Recipe Roundup – Week of January 11, 2015

Good afternoon¬†folks! I’ve got five more recipes for you this week. ¬†And I am continuing on my veggie kick so they are almost all vegetarian or vegan ¬†(The burritos are vegetarian if you use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock). ¬†I’m planning¬†to keep these Weekly Recipe Roundup posts going until the baby gets here. But we are at 39 weeks on Sunday so I may be taking a few weeks off any day now! Continue reading Weekly Recipe Roundup – Week of January 11, 2015

Tesla’s First Puppuccino

I had Tesla in the car with me when I stopped through the Starbucks drive through on Friday for an iced tea. Along with my beverage they handed me a little cup of “Puppuccino” – which is just a little cup of whipped cream. And as you can see, Miss Tesla thought it was pretty great ūüôā She licked the cup clean and somehow managed not to get any on her nose (I don’t even think I could manage that).

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Apparently, this is an item off the Starbucks Secret Menu that you can actually order. I’ve never attempted to find the secret menu at Starbucks so I had no idea. I think I may have tried to find the Panera secret menu once, but I wasn’t that impressed. What’s your thought on secret menus? Anyone a huge fan? Any secret menu items that I really need to try out?

Blogging101 – A post for my dream reader

Who is my dream reader? ¬†Well, you are. ¬†I’m afraid that is terribly cliche, but it is true. ¬†For whatever reason, you have taken the time to visit my little corner of the internet and allowed me to share a part¬†of myself with you. ¬†I hope that in doing so you’ve come away with something for you – a smile from one of my dog pics, a new recipe to try out with someone you love, an idea, a new connection, or even just a feeling that you can relate to someone out there. ¬†I really do appreciate you dropping by.

So here’s another little piece of me for you. ¬†I love this song. ¬†I hope it makes you smile.

P.S. ¬†If I said I posted a song by JT, do you think Justin Timberlake? ¬†I swear I am not that old, but my husband makes me feel ancient sometimes…