Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas!!

We are in Florida for the week, celebrating our first Christmas with the little man!  Come back on December 30 for more cute pictures, recipes, and deep thoughts (she said with air quotes).
In the meantime, sending the very best wishes for a wonderful final weeks of 2013.  I hope your days are merry and bright.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Our Week in Photos

I just noticed that all of our pictures for the week take place in the kitchen; it is the heart of our home!

 Our attempts at solid foods are going a bit better this week.  August is a messy, but spirited, eater!

 The color is awful in this iPhone picture, but I love how well they're matching here.  My men are very stylish.

 That face.
I can't even.

 There is magic happening in that saucepan.  August and I made some chocolate-peppermint toffee for our friends last weekend, and he was quite taken with the wooden spoon I was using with the butter/sugar.  Maybe he will love to cook one day.

I also made this beautiful chocolate bundt cake with chocolate ganache, which totally did not photograph well but tasted divine.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Empathy vs. Sympathy

I came across this short video recently, which is taken from a talk about 'The Power of Vulnerability,' and it has stuck with me for days.  As someone who struggles with depression and anxiety, which used to be crippling and thankfully is not any longer, it is a relief to have the very real difference between sympathy and empathy explained so succinctly.
When we're having a bad day, don't we just want someone to say, 'I'm sorry you're going through this.  You're not alone- I've had bad days, too'?
Sometimes, when I'm having a rough time and someone tells me what I could be doing to feel differently or better, it makes me feel like I'm unhappy because I'm doing something wrong, i.e. I am responsible for my unhappiness.  When things don't go our way, it's okay to feel bummed about it or upset that it didn't go the way we think.  (When these emotions don't go away, it's time to seek help.)  The trick is finding those people who will come into our deep, dark holes with us, give a hug, allow us to be vulnerable for a while, then help us be strong.
I'm so glad to have people in my life who do this for me.  I hope you do, too.  

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Brie and Jam 'Ravioli'

'Tis the season for cocktail parties!  Well, parties, anyways.  JP, August, and I had our neighborhood's Secret Santa party this weekend, and all parents (the secret santa was for the kids) were instructed to bring a 'plate to pass.'  What a wonderful excuse to make this recipe from Joy the Baker.  It's a baby-in-one-hand friendly version of baked brie, complete with jam and tender puff pastry.  It's easy to boot!  If you have a party coming up, or are hosting some friends in front of the fireplace, give this a shot.  
Did I mention that there's melty brie?  Sign me up. 

Brie and Jam 'Ravioli' from Joy the Baker
2 sheets puff pastry, thawed but still cold
1/2 wedge of brie, about 4 oz, cold
1/3 c. strawberry jam (choose your own flavor!)
1 large egg, beaten
splash of water

1. Preheat oven to 375.  Prep baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone mat. 
2. Roll out puff pastry sheets, and cut each sheet into 16 squares.  Try to make them as even as possible! 
3. Beat egg and small bit of (1 Tbsp.) water together to make an egg wash.  Brush 16 of the pastry squares with egg wash.  
4. Place small chunk of brie, about the size of a thumb knuckle, on each pastry square.  Dollop a bit of jam on cheese, then place a puff pastry square on top.  Use your fingers or a fork to seal both squares of pastry together, and brush egg wash on top.
5. Place pastry 'ravioli' on prepared sheet and bake for 15 minutes, until golden.  Remove from oven, cool slightly, and enjoy!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Our First Christmas in Our House!

 Merry Christmas!  The holiday certainly snuck up on us, didn't it?  You may notice that the fireplace has been painted white, which really spruces it up.  We hung a few silver pinecones under the mantle, added some mercury glass votives/vases, and August's photo with Santa (!!).

 JP's childhood nativity is up, as is his stories about playing with the pieces as a wee little man.  It fits perfectly in our bookcase!

 The sitting room is decked out for Christmas.  It's my favorite space in the house these days!  The tree is 26 years old, just a couple years younger than JP, and he loves that we've got this relic from his childhood up for August's first Christmas.  We've got lots of memories to build on this one!

 Most of the ornaments are store-bought from Home Depot on Black Friday, but we have a few from our own budding collection.  A beloved one from my best friend from middle school that commemorated our wedding in March 2012, and the cute one below that I made for August's first holiday season!

I love our stockings.  August's is clearly the most adorable, and I just adore the sweet burlap and personalization.  The other two are from my first Christmas with JP in Saint Augustine, so they have a special place in my heart.  A little elf has already stored a few trinkets for August in his stocking; he must have been a good kid this year!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Our Week in Photos

The pictures on the right of August petting Mia very softly are killing me with cuteness.  They are so stinkin adorable together.

August's first experience with our Christmas tree!  He likes the lights, but is kind of like, 'Eh, you've seen one tree, you've seen them all.'  Isn't he a little young to be so jaded?

Last Sunday, we trudged out of the house with a fussy baby and two fussy parents who hadn't slept well because I had made a reservation to have brunch with Santa and, dammit, we were keeping it.  I'm so glad we did; the restaurant was totally kid-friendly, the brunch divine, and August met Santa!  He was very well-behaved, and both of his socks are on.  I'm a happy mama.

 Also on Sunday, August and I drove up to an ornament decorating party in north Georgia.  He just loves hanging out with Kelly!  That smile is proof.

 Remember when I shared this picture of August hanging out with a cute little lady?  Well, here they are a few months later, slightly chunkier, and even cuter.

 Tough guy with his canine companion.

 Cute little bellybutton.

The view from our deck in the morning has been so lovely.

 Mia has claimed him as one of her own.  I guess August is an official pack member now.

We tried giving August some sweet potatoes last night, but he was totally uninterested.  He's a breast man, through and through. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Potato Leek Soup

I realize that this is 'the most wonderful time of the year,' but I am very tempted to rename it, 'the most food-laden, stressful, exhausting time of the year.'  While, generally, the holidays are one of my favorite things to look forward to, something about this year is hitting me differently.  Maybe it's the stress of having a 5-month-old who is loved but does not have a set schedule or the ability to tell me why he is fussing more than usual, maybe it's the fear of traveling with said baby on a 10-hour road trip, maybe it's the copious amount of sugar and chocolate in my kitchen.
My point is, it could be any number of things.
But this is such a lovely time of year!  The lights are up on our neighbor's houses, our fireplace has been put to use, the holiday cards are in (and gorgeous!  I couldn't love them more!), and I'm looking for excuses to be more cozy in our home for the first Christmas.  This soup is one of them.  In between the hot cocoa popcorn and gingerbread, this soup will warm you from the inside out.  It's rich and hearty, perfect on its own or with roasted chicken (our preferred method).  Best of all, it's easy to through together and just simmer for a while on the stove while you're wrapping gifts and listening to your husband sing 'Yesterday' to your sweet baby boy.
We'll call it 'the worry-melting soup.'

Julia Child's Potato Leek Soup (from HelloGiggles)
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 lb. russet potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
1 lb. leeks, cleaned and thinly sliced
6 c. vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to taste
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1/2 c. heavy cream (optional)
Smoked paprika, for garnish

1. Heat oil in large pot over medium heat.  Add veggies and cook, stirring occasionally, until they have begun to soften and brown slightly.
2. Add stock and bring to boil.  Reduce heat to low, and simmer for 30-40 minutes, until vegetables are tender.
3. Remove from heat and blend using immersion blender or small batches in a blender.
4. Add cream, season to taste with salt and pepper, add lemon juice.
5. Ladle into bowls and garnish with a few sprinkles of smoked paprika.  Enjoy!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Our Week in Photos

 August turned 5 months on Thanksgiving!  Can you believe how big he's gotten?  Most mornings, he gets a round of music on his Kick 'N Play Piano (kick it with his feet, a little ditty plays); such a talented little kid.

 After Thanksgiving last week, my cousin Justin came over from South Carolina!  We had an absolutely lovely visit, and we treated him to a game of mud football at our friend's house in northern Georgia on Friday afternoon.  Justin and August kept me company on the sidelines.

 That's JP in the middle, catching a football and representing the Diego family.  For someone who so adamantly declares that American football isn't as intense as European futbol, he sure was tired at the end of the game!

 The few, the proud, the dirty.

On Saturday, JP woke up achy, feverish, and with a hacking cough.  I didn't even let him look at August, who has not yet received a flu shot, but sent him straight to the Minute Clinic for a check-up from the doctor on-duty.  He tested positive for Strain B Influenza, and has spent more of this week confined to the couch.
Mia does't mind.
I should reassure you that he is on the upswing, and will make a full recovery soon.  I assume.

 We love books here in the Diego house!

 My little superbaby!

 Two Augusts for the price of one!  It's an early Christmas miracle!

 I did head out for lunch with my men on Wednesday after yoga.  August was so well-behaved that we got a compliment from the gentlemen sitting next to us!  It warmed my little heart.

 A blurry, but cute, baking assistant on Wednesday.  We're whipping up some Christmas treats!

Man, this kid is just too cute for words.