Monday, 29 August 2011

Trying to cook with a newborn

About a year or so ago a friend of mine was at her wits end and overwhelmed in the kitchen. Having a two year old was proving far too difficult when preparing meals (that were big enough to freeze so she didn't have to cook every day) and not necessarily being overly domestic, she had no idea how to make half the stuff she wanted to (nor did she know her way around the kitchen). 

Enter: the blog. (

She asked for ideas and got some great recipes and meals that were super easy to make, freezable and delicious.

Me? I know my way around a kitchen. Well, I'm learning the route anyway... cooking was the only "nesting bug" I seemed to get when I was pregnant. But I am lost for freezable meal ideas outside of stew. 

Here's the thing: we have a farm share from Root Radical. It's fantastic, but we can't seem to eat the veggies fast enough. Even after giving a friend bunches of beets and a couple cabbages to make borscht, (yum!) they are still overflowing from the crispers in my refrigerator.

Plus, I have a newborn who is not a fan of being put down for a long length of time, so I need to be able to wear her while I'm cooking. This means limited canning and NO sauteing, it's a little like cooking bacon naked. ;) Seriously... J wore her while we canned beans last week and I was a wreck having her so close to the stove.

I have two delicious salad recipes that have come in handy (recipes below), which I managed to make while Pene/Elly/Lope was asleep in the carrier (recipes here) but I'm clueless as to what to make for meals and/or side dishes. I was thinking of caning baby food but apparently that is a big no no because of spores. Squash, carrots, tomatoes and onions are abundant right now... have a recipe for me?

Salads that work with an overflowing farm share

In addition to the cabbage and beets, kholrabi, fennel, basil and tomatoes were and are particularly abundant this summer. Here are two salad recipes that will help you out if you're also swimming in a sea of veggies. 

Spaghetti Tomato and Basil Salad

500g (one package) spaghetti (I like to use soba noodles)
1 cup fresh basil leaves, shredded
8oz cherry tomatoes, halved
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1/2 cup black olives, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
tbsp balsamic vinegar

Cook pasta until al dente , drain and set aside to cool.
Combine the basil, tomato, garlic, olives, oil and vinegar in a salad bowl. Set aside for about 15 mins.
Mix in the drained pasta.
Add a little Parmesan and salt and pepper to taste, if desired. 
Toss well and serve.

Fennel and Kohlrabi Salad With A Lemon-Caper Dressing

Ingredients: 1 medium kholrabi,1 medium fennel bulb,1 cup/large handful rocket/arugula

Lemon-Caper Dressing
1 large handful small capers
Juice of 1 large lemon + more for crisping the fennel.
Twice the amount of extra virgin olive oil or extra virgin rapeseed oil (as lemon juice)
Black pepper
Sea salt
clove of garlic
1 heaped teaspoon wholegrain mustard
Slice the fennel as thinly as you can and add to a bowl of cold water with the lemon juice. 
Peel and slice the kohlrabi and then pare strips off each slice with a vegetable peeler (this is to get wafer thin slices - annoying but so worth it).
Add to the bowl with the fennel.

Then make the dressing. Crush the garlic with a generous pinch of sea salt in a pestle and mortar. 
Add some black pepper and a heaped teaspoon of wholegrain mustard. Stir together. 
Add the juice of 1 large lemon and the olive/rapeseed oil. 
Whisk to emulsify and then stir in the capers.

Drain the water from the salad and place in a bowl with the arugula .
Add half the dressing and stir to coat. Serve with the leftover dressing drizzled on top.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

What do you do when you miss the photo op?

Let's face it, every parent believes that their child is the cutest/most clever/funniest babe. I am no exception. I think Penelope was born smiling. She's had this really sweet smile since day 2, and she has a goofy face she makes when I'm nursing, or I should say when she's thinking about latching on but wants to bob for boob and play with it a bit first. Sorry folks, I'm not up to posting a picture of that (yet) :)

Yesterday, however, we were treated to a full on smile. I'm talking open mouthed-tongue sticking out in laughter-eyes lit up-complete with an adorable little giggle-smile! Both Jared and I got to see it, which was wonderful since you always hear about one parent missing the "firsts". Of course by the time we got the camera she had given us a few amazing grins and decided to stop at 4.

Before we could get a picture. 

So what do you do when you miss the photo op? 

Wait for it to happen again and grab the camera during the first smile, not the 3rd ;) and just keep clicking - over and over - until you get the shot.

The cool thing is when you do this, you end up with a series of photos of the cutest/most clever/funniest babe in the process of executing a first... this case, her hilarious little grin. 

Monday, 22 August 2011

The all night donut shop

Well, here it is. After 4 weeks, this is my sleepless night.

HEY! Hold on. Wait a minute. Before you start throwing nasty words my way, please note that this is not my first. But it is the first of NO SLEEP. Compared to the increasingly popular sleep, wake, nurse, sleep, poop, wake, nurse, stay awake for 2 hours, sleep, wake, nurse, sleep, puke, squirm...

This is the first night that I've tried for over three hours to put Penelope down with no luck. She made a couple stops at the all night diner, sampling a little from the left and enjoyed a full meal from the right. She was rocked, sang to, bounced, swaddled, soothed... nothing was getting her to Sleepy Lane. Although, the process was starting to get me to Frustrated which runs parallel with Annoyance. As most moms know that's the next left after the intersection of guilty and I'm a shitty mom...

Yeah, it hit me... the I-suck-at-this-mama-stuff-can't-even-get-my-baby-to-fall-asleep thoughts. Which, logically, I know isn't true. But emotionally? Hormonally? There it is. So what's a girl to do? Pass babe to Papa. Exchange PJs for jeans and a top. Strap on carrier. Insert babe into carrier. Add a hat for her and a hoodie for me and out the door we went.

This was the best thing I could have done. I never thought I'd be thankful to Penelope for her fussiness, but because it lead to walking at 2am, I got to clear my head. The crisp breeze defused any negative emotions (and made me start to contemplate what the hell happened to summer) and, by the time I got two blocks away the only thought I had was "mmmm those donuts smell amazing".  An all night Mac's (with a Subway) AND a 24 hour donut shop within blocks of our new house. This is fantastic! (or dangerous for my waistline)

Into the donut shop we went. I asked what the difference between crullers and donuts were. The lady behind the counter replied "they're the same price". So I got one of each to find out for myself. This lady was a trip! She also asked me if I was carrying a real baby or a doll. I started thinking "who the hell would be out walking around at 2am wearing a doll on their chest?" Then I remembered that just a few blocks away lived a woman who used to push her cat around in a stroller. Kingstonians, you know her: big black hair, blue eye shadow, painted on eyebrows.

Welcome to the neighbourhood.

On the walk home Penelope continued to snore into my chest, fast asleep and I learned that crullers aren't as good as donuts, and donuts will always be a poor substitute for pie.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

My daughter: the party animal

It was a big weekend for Miss Penelope, she got to meet her extended family for the first time. Aunt, uncle, grandfather, great-grandparents, great aunts, great uncles, second and third cousins... 

... it was Jared's family BBQ. And it was exhausting. Not for her... she slept the whole damn time. 

I wasn't sure if, at 3 weeks, I would feel up to socializing with a couple dozen family members, but I seem to be doing okay PP wise, so off we went. I'm so very glad we were able to make it, if only for two moments. The first was being able to swim with Jared in the salt water pool. It's not often we get to do stuff like that together without one of us wearing/feeding/burping/soothing her.
 The second being Jared's father skipping/running/jumping towards the front door when we arrived. It was his first time meeting his grand-daughter and, next to my mom's look-at-baby-burst-into-tears moment, could have won the Greatest Reaction When Meeting Penelope award! That honor however is being given to Jared's grandmother, whose sincere gasp and tear filled eyes, when simply looking at Penelope, caused an abrupt meeting between my heart and throat. I think I fell in love with her as she fell in love with our daughter. 
Plus Penelope totally tried to eat her face... the laughter was real, beautiful and contagious.

We're lucky to be surrounded by so many wonderful people who love, and will show love to Penelope over the years! Plus, they're only an hour and a half away. Close enough for day trips, not close enough for unannounced drop ins ;)

Penelope was really good all day, as well as on the drive home, so we decided we'd take her to another party! My daughter: the party animal! Two really amazing people here in Kingston are moving to Sweden *sob*  and they opened their "drink our booze, take our stuff" party up to children and adults! It could have been a "bring your babe" party; there were 2 other newborns, a 4m old and a 3year old.Penelope got passed around like a football and, just like at the BBQ (when she was awake),  loved being around so many people. I think she digs the happy energy! 

So, what happens when you add together an overnight stay at the in-laws, a morning of shopping for a baby carrier, a huge family BBQ complete with swimming, a two hour drive and a big going away party? yes, exhaustion. Turns out it was just as tiring for Penelope as it was for us... she actually let us sleep, only waking twice through the night!

Apparently the secret to getting a good night's sleep with a newborn is to travel and party?

Sunday, 7 August 2011

dancing in the grass... it's what we do.

Forest City Lovers is a band that I listened to a lot while Penelope was still in the womb. When I heard they were playing the Wolfe Island Music Festival, I said if she came early we should try to go. I know, it seems ambitious after only two weeks... but she did. So, we did. Stroller loaded (with way more baby gear than we needed), a picnic lunch packed and festival tickets in hand, we had our perfect Saturday afternoon on Wolfe Island.

Music that makes you feel, feet in the grass, a cool breeze threatening - but not delivering - rain, sunshine stealing a moment through the clouds, and my babe on my chest dancing...

And it was all thanks to a pair of ear muffs ...

...and an incredible partner making it happen! Penelope and I were able to dance to FCL together, but this time with her in my arms. This was the best possible antidote to post partum; I've never known bliss like this.

Jared also got to have his first dance with his daughter and Penelope got to rock out at her first music festival at just two weeks old. And by "rock out" I mean sleep. We are so incredibly lucky (please don't jinx us please don't jinx us) to have such a good baby. She was content just to be hanging out and oggled over. We got to stay through The Wooden Sky and Jenn Grant before she got squirmy. PS I love you turned out to be her limit for loudness and we thought we should probably quit while we were ahead so we packed up and headed home. 

When I think back to when J and I started dating and all the times since then that we've danced together in the grass to these great live bands, it only seems fitting that this would be Penelope's first big outing. Dancing in the grass... it's what we do. 

Friday, 5 August 2011

eat, poop, sleep

I'm still working on writing our birth story but my creative juices seem to flow just when Penelope decides to take one of my nipples hostage. You'll have to settle for these short and sweet blog entries for now. At least until she starts napping longer... or I stop trying to nap with her.

That's pretty much my life over the past two weeks. Both Penelope and I seem to have fallen into a rhythm where we eat, poop and sleep (she's totally got the upper hand on the sleep). I can't complain though, she's a really good baby for the most part. She gets a little fussy sometimes with her feeding - like it's too much for her - but other than that she's a rockin' lil noodle!

We have gone out with her for short trips to the grocery store, Canadian Tire, and the nursing wear store (the gals are all grown up lol) and she loves the car... no fuss. We've walked around town with the stroller and she digs the pram - especially when J rocks it - she's so spoiled already! We adore her and hopefully the smiles she throws our way means she returns the feeling, although it could just be gas.

Speaking of which *phew* whoever said newborn poop doesn't smell has not met my child. 

... she's stretching and lookin' around for one of the gals so I must end the Penelope update for today. Know she is doing well, we are doing well and falling in love as a family every day!