Thursday, September 22, 2011

Short notes

Dear Metabolism,

Remember how we used to be friends?  I'm not sure when we grew apart, but I have a birthday coming up next month and I would love it if you came back as a present.  I miss you.


Dear 17-year-old Self,

Remember when you vowed that you would never weigh more than 120 pounds?  That was totally unrealistic.  And unhealthy.  And your body freakin' rocked even though you felt chubby.  Contrary to what you thought back then, you did not have rolls on your stomach and you looked great.  Seriously, amazing.

Your fond friend,

Dear Present Self,

I know you feel a little chubby and running hasn't been helping.  The honest truth is that you CAN go a day without cookies.  I promise.  And even though your stomach isn't flat and your jeans aren't loose around your legs, you still look pretty hot (if-i-do-say-so-myself).  Just lay off the sweets, m'kay?

A secret admirer

Dear Cookies, Cupcakes, Brownies, Ice Cream, and Pie,

It would really be better if we weren't on speaking terms anymore.  It's nothing personal.  But this is not just a weight thing and if I don't put an end to our seeing each other every day soon, I will become a full-blown diabetic thanks to some lousy genes and we don't want that, now do we?


Dear Biggest Loser,

Every season you continue to inspire me.  Why do I get choked up while watching you?


Dear Treadmill,

I conquered you yesterday and you know it.  But I cowered in fear today and took Clara on a short walk outside instead while pretending it was exercise.  Tomorrow, I will own you again.  Consider yourself warned.

Yours truly,

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Clara Jane at 4 months old

Crikey this girl is so much fun.  We cannot believe that she is already 4 months old!  Clarabelle had her 4 month exam today with her pediatrician and now weighs 13 lbs 5 oz  and is 25 inches long (over two feet!  way to go girlie!).  That puts her in the 78th percentile for height and the 47th percentile for weight.  Her head is a little tiny (in the 23rd percentile) but the doctor said everything is normal and she is perfect.
Clara smiles - a LOT - but it can be hard to capture her smile on camera because whenever we get behind the lense she wonders where we went.  She smiles when she wakes up in the morning or from a nap.  She also smiles when we talk to her or tickle her.  She laughs when we bounce her on the bed, play eensy-weensy spider, or wiggle our fingers at her and say "I'm gonna getchoo! Boo!"
Clara is pretty good about letting me do her hair and put bows in it each day.  She doesn't seem to mind it much, but because she still spends a lot of time laying on her back they don't always stay in well. 
Our little Claradactyl loves to use her hands to remove her pacifier, analyze it, then stick it back in her mouth.  Sometimes she can put the binkie back in the correct way, but most of the time it goes askew and she will hold it out in front of her, analyze it again, then try sticking it back in.  This can go on for five minutes or so while she concentrates quietly on her ambition. 
She has a number of favorite toys that she loves to grab at and chew on play with.
Not only can Clara roll now from her back to her tummy, she has figured out how to thrust herself forward by pulling with her hands and pushing off with her feet in order to get objects that are out of her reach.  It isn't crawling or even scooting yet, but if she gets her mind set on something, she can move about a foot in any direction.  Clarabelle spends a lot of time on her tummy and often scrunches her legs up underneath her and lifts her bum in the air.  Sometimes she does "dolphin pose" from yoga where she completely lifts her bottom up in the air with her legs straight and balancing on her toes and elbows. 
Clara talks really LOUD whenever Paul gets home from work.  She will crane her entire body, not just her neck, to see the television if it is on (much to her mommy's dismay). 
Clara loves Owl.  He sleeps with her at night snuggled close up to her right side so that she won't roll herself over in her sleep.  A friend of mine made fun of these shorts and said that they looked like clown shorts, but I totally love them on her.
None of her hair has fallen out, even though we were warned that it wouldn't last. She does have a patch on the back of her head where the hair has rubbed short and rough because of her moving her head back and forth while she sleeps, but it hasn't gone bald.
A lot of people have commented on how intelligent Clara seems - she looks around at things with an obvious inquisitiveness and awareness of the world around her. 

Clara is sitting up in the high chair really well and has been eating rice cereal for a few days now.  Next up, peas?  Carrots?  Sweet potatoes?  Does anybody have any recommendations on what order we should try foods in?
We love our happy baby girl.

Monday, September 19, 2011


Obviously, we are revamping the look of our little bliggity blog.  I'm just a little bored of the black, so things might be a little crazy while I try to rework the look of the blog design.  Sorry for the construction.  :)

Oh, and seriously people, thanks for always commenting on how cute Clara is.  It never gets old.  :)  We have the awesomest friends/blog-readers/family-who-we-force-to-read-every-blog-post.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Pie Baking Contest

Today our stake had a big "Harvest Festival" complete with balloon animals, sunflower seedspitting contests, cotton candy machine, etc.  We had fun hanging out with friends and catching up with people that Paul knew from when he was growing up in the area.  Clara was a sweet little girl and was so good the whole time.

Clarabelle had fun holding onto Paul's hair and messing with daddy's face and glasses and drooling all over.  (Pretty sure she is teething). 

The highlight of the event (for me) was the pie baking contest.  I've known for a couple of weeks that it was coming up and I have to admit that I put much more thought into it than I probably should have.  What can I say? - I'm ridiculously competitive when it comes to baking or, well, most things I guess.  In case you need a reminder, you might like to reread this post about a chili cook-off I entered a couple of years ago. 

After much contemplation (and getting opinions from friends and even borrowing a pie & tart recipe book), I decided to tweak an old family recipe that was not exactly a pie recipe and turn it into a pie.  I made up my mind when we went to the Farmer's Market this morning and I tasted the most amazing fresh strawberries.  I also retitled the recipe because "Strawberry Delight" (the original recipe's name) doesn't sound as gourmet and amazing as "Late Summer Strawberries & Cream Pie with Walnut Shortbread Crust".  There isn't actually any cream in the pie, and I'm not entirely sure that the crust qualifies as a shortbread, but I liked the sound of it all together and it is more or less accurate, so I figured, why not?  Besides, if you are judging just by name and you see my pie name up against plain ol' "Apple Pie", mine is definitely more intriguing, right? 

Anyway, there were something like 5 prizes for the 24 pie entries - best appearance, best crust, best texture, most creative, and best overall pie.  Some of the other pie entries included a pumpkin pecan pie, a rocky road pie, a lemon truffle pie, a strawberry rhubarb pie (I just about made this flavor myself actually because I adore the tangy-sweet combo of strawberry and rhubarb), a dutch apple pie, a blueberry rhubarb pie, a banana split pie, and a french silk pie.  Paul counseled me beforehand not to get my hopes up too high because this was a stake level contest, not just a ward level contest - the "Big Time," as he put it - and so it might be more difficult to walk away with an award.  I thought my best chances were in Best Appearance or Most Creative categories, so I almost, almost, suggested that we leave after the most creative award was given out and it didn't go to my pie.  But lo and behold, I walked away with the first place, Best Overall Pie title.  I couldn't stop smiling and I still feel a little giddy inside. 

Me looking nerdy with my empty pie dish.  Clara was more interested in gnawing on the prize bag.

Since I'm bragging about tonight's victory and still goofishly grinning ear-to-ear, I figured I would share my winning recipe.  If you can snag some fresh strawberries before they go out of season and the weather is still warm where you live, I recommend making this as it really was delicious.  Oh, and a few of the ingredients can be tricky to find but I always stock up on Danish Dessert and Dream Whip whenever I am at Wal-Mart (like, once every 2 years) because they always seem to have them.  These things are easier to find in Utah than they are in California though.  And incidentally, for anyone who read the chili cook-off post and wants to know:  Yes, I hovered but NOT during the judging (see this Valentine's Day Post where I learned that lesson) and once the pies were judged and opened up to the general public for eating but before the awards were announced, mine was the first to go.


Late Summer Strawberries & Cream Pie with a Walnut Shortbread Crust

Walnut Shortbread Crust:

1 stick butter, mostly melted
1 cup flour
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Cream Filling:

1 package Dream Whip, prepared according to package directions
1 package cream cheese
2 Tbsp powdered sugar

Strawberry Topping:

1 package Danish Dessert, prepared according to package directions
2-3 pints fresh strawberries, washed and hulled and cut in half

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Prepare crust by mixing flour, brown sugar, chopped walnuts, cinnamon and mostly melted better together in a bowl with a fork or pastry cutter until it roughly resembles cookie dough.  Press into the bottom of a pie dish (no need to butter the dish - there is plenty of butter in the dough to keep the crust from sticking).  It is not necessary to press it up the sides of the pie dish at this point.  Bake the crust for approximately 15 to 18 minutes, then remove from oven and use a fork to crumble the crust while it is still warm.  Press warm crumbled crust against the sides and bottom of the pie dish to create the crust, similar to a graham cracker crust.

While crust is cooling, prepare the Strawberry Danish Dessert according to package directions and place in refrigerator to cool somewhat (but not entirely set up).  Next, prepare Dream Whip according to package directions, then add powdered sugar and cream cheese and mix until smooth.  My cream cheese was still a little cold so I couldn't get it totally smooth, but it still turned out fine.  Spoon into the cooled pie crust.

Stir prepared strawberries into the slightly cooled Danish Dessert, then spoon the strawberry mixture on top of the cream cheese filling.  Refrigerate pie for a couple of hours, but allow it to sit out of the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before serving as it is best served not too cold.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

To snooze or not to snooze? That is the question.

Lately our little Clara Jane has decided that she had enough of this "being-a-good-sleeper" nonsense and has started waking up every couple of hours all night long.  It is kind of killing me.  Clara has also become very, very loud.  Every time I wake up to her squawking (she kind of hollers and shouts at us from her crib rather than crying - it is like the infant equivalent of "Hey!  You people who give me the food and kiss my face all day long!  Yes, you two, get in here please and take care of me!" rather than a sad wailing) I roll out of bed with both a groan and a laugh because her nighttime vociferations are pretty hilarious even if they are inopportunely timed for a decent night's rest on my part.

Paul lovingly suggested the other morning as he was departing for work that I ought to try taking a nap during the day, to which I barked that I don't sleep while the sun is up.  (I may have been just a touch grouchy after an 11:30 bedtime followed by 1:30, 3:30 and 5:30 feedings).  Then I said I was sorry and gave him a kiss before he headed out the door and told him that I will sleep when I die.  And I really sort of feel that way.  I find it next to impossible to take a nap during the daytime unless I am so exhausted that it happens accidentally (e.g., at the table while reading scriptures or on the floor when I am checking email while Clara sleeps next to me.). 

Because during the daytime, even if Clara is sleeping there is so much to do:  Christmas presents to be made, dishes to be washed, a slumbering baby to gaze at adoringly, Halloween costumes to be sewn, books to be read, miles to be run or stairs to be climbed, toenails to be painted, emails and blog posts to be written, laundry to be folded, dinner to be made, shopping to be done, bottles to be washed, languages to be learned, etc.  Some things must be done and others are of course only things that I would like to do, so I am not exactly complaining, but any way you slice, I would pretty much rather do anything during the day other than sleep.  I don't want to miss out on even a sliver of Life because my eyes were closed - it is too beautiful for that. 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Lily Katherine

On Tuesday I went to stay at Jennie & Ryan's house so I could spent a little more quality time with my nieces.  Jennie let me try my hand at newborn photography with little Lily who is only a week-and-a-half old.  Lily decided she wanted to stay awake for pretty much the entire shoot which made it a little more difficult than when we had Clara's photos done in Texas, but then again, this was my first time ever really trying to do these kinds of photos myself.  I think they turned out pretty good, but mostly that is because Lily is such a pretty little baby.