Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Stuffing a Thrifty Stocking

We decided to do stocking stuffers for our family Christmas gathering this year.  This is the first time since I've been married that 1.) we're celebrating the holidays with family instead of hither and yon in some hotel room, and 2.) we're doing stockings.

Typically, stocking stuffers at my house growing up consisted of CANDY, a few fun items, and a few practical items (think toothbrush, chapstick, etc.).  M's family was the same way. But, now we're all grown up and can't rely on lifesaver books (remember those?!), chocolate coins, and candy canes to fill up the stockings.

Although, I wouldn't be opposed to candy... hint, hint!

Here's a few suggestions for stuffing a thrifty stocking:
    1. Check out the Dollar Store
     They often have nice items for (you guessed it!) $1.  Our Dollar Tree offers brand name cosmetics, bath salts, fuzzy socks, and travel size hair products, as well as a few craft supplies (such as stickers, ribbon, die cuts, and stamp pads).

    Sunday, December 15, 2013

    The Ry Guy Report: 6 Months

    Weight 17.25 lbs

    Length 25.5 inches

    • Rolled over from tummy to back on Nov. 22!
    • Sits up pretty well on his own, but still wobbly and falls over sometimes.
    • Teething like crazy.
    • Chews on everything in sight.
    • Can play on his tummy for longer periods of time now.

    • To sit up in his high chair seat and interact with the family at the dinner table (or play with his toys).
    • Grabbing for everything within (or close to) his reach.
    • Drooling.
    • Squealing with glee.
    • Bathtime.

    • His last nap of the day.
    • Teething.
    • Strangers in hats.

    The Quotable Ry Guy  "[ear piercing shriek] or [belly laugh]".  "Hmmmm... [blurble]".

    "This one's for me, right?"

    Sunday, December 1, 2013

    30 Before 30 Update: November 2013 Edition

    How was November for you? Jam-slammed busy? No? Mine was.  Seemed like there were a million things to do! And December promises to be busy as well, although we are endeavoring to have as simple a holiday season as possible.  Still working toward my 30 Before 30 goals!

    Anyway, I did manage to cook up some new recipes and even did an overhaul on an old family favorite, whole berry cranberry sauce.  One step closer to completing my Recipe File Makeover.  I do have to concede that there are a few recipes that I may not be able to overhaul, but it's a work in progress.  I ate it all before I thought about forgot to take a picture, but I plan to make it again for Christmas and you'll hear ALL about it then.  3 down, a million and a half or so to go. Ok, not that many, but still quite a few.

    We're having fun with Turkey Day leftovers, like these Cranberry Crumb Cups. YUMMMM. Pics are still forthcoming, and I'm still having issues with uploading my nutrition facts label, but working on it, I promise!

    I've also been practicing the piano just about every day, for at least a few minutes, while Ry Guy plays solo with some toys.  He's getting better at amusing himself, but for now, that means 15 minutes or so for me to do something that doesn't involve me holding him.

    Wednesday, November 27, 2013

    Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake Recipe

    Great news for all you readers out there searching for an allergen-friendly dessert for the holidays.  Look no further! I made this awesome Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake this year for Thanksgiving.  It's egg-free, soy-free, and gluten-free.

    I spent a good bit of time looking for an egg-free cheesecake recipe, only to find that most of them either used cashews (a bit pricey) or tofu (soy is a no-no for me) as fillers. Grrr... So, then I found this egg-free cheesecake recipe and was inspired to make it my own.

    Who knew you don't really need eggs, wheat, tofu or cashews to make an amazing cheesecake with a really great cheesecake texture?  News to me.  But, trust me, it's totally possible.

    And totally delicious.

    Walnut Oat Pie Crust Recipe (Gluten-Free!)

    Planning to cook for a gluten-free somebody this holiday season? I don't know about you, but I love me a good pie. Bummer for those who can't have the gluten in the pie crust (or the filling) makes baking a little trickier.

    Here's a solution: Walnut Oat Pie Crust.

    It's really simple to throw together and really reminds me of a graham cracker crust, both in texture and taste.  It's definitely less sweet than a traditional graham cracker crust and actually, kind of tastes like a granola that I think about it...

    Saturday, November 16, 2013

    The Ry Guy Report: 5 Months

    Ry Guy celebrating pumpkin season (thanks to my aunt for the adorable hat!)
    Weight 17 lbs (got the scale fixed... looks like I over estimated last month)

    Length  25 inches

    • Rolls halfway over (from back to side, but can't quite make it all the way over yet).
    • Sits up with support.
    • Grasps and shakes objects (he's got a good grip!!).
    • Sleeps "through the night" (by clinical definition - more than 6 hours at a time.  But, since he goes to bed around 7:30, this still means I get up to feed him in the early morning, then he goes back to bed until around 7 a.m.).  But, this is a vast improvement.
    • Is increasingly interested in eating (loves to watch Mom and Dad at the dinner table).
    • Starting to exhibit teething symptoms.
    • Mimics Mommy's funny faces (sticking tongue out, etc.)
    • Chewing/sucking on his fingers... preferably as many at a time as he can cram in his mouth.
    • Seeing what's going on.  All the time.
    • His toes.
    • Sitting up.
    • Drooling... puddles.  On everything.
    • Burrowing his face in Mommy's neck when he's tired.
    • Napping.  He is doing better with falling asleep at night, but daytime naps are still a real struggle.
    • His carseat (or anything that requires him to be strapped in and reclining).
    The Quotable Ry Guy  "[belly laugh] or [scream]".  Depends on his mood. :)

    Wednesday, November 13, 2013

    Top 10 Pregnancy Must-Haves for the Budget Conscious

    I've seen several "must-have" posts around the web, so I thought I'd throw my 2 cents in and let you know about a few things I couldn't live without!

    1. Ponytail Holders.  Multi-purpose!  Great for keeping my hair out of my way when exercising, cooking, etc.  Also great for looping through my skirt buttonhole and hooking on to the button, thus giving me a little more time in my regular clothes while looking for maternity clothes.  Ghetto?  Yes. Cheap? Yes. But, hey... you do what you gotta do.  I refer to these as waistband extenders in public so people don't think I'm wacko.  But now you know the truth. 

    I got a pack of Goody brand elastics at the dollar store, but you may already have some on hand.

    2. Belly Band.  Also know as a BeBand, or shirt extender.  You can get them in a million different colors, it seems, but I recommend getting one in white or black.  Great for holding up unbuttoned or unzipped bottoms, or covering up really awesome elastic waistbands.  You can wear it doubled over, under your belly when it's small.  Or, wear it full length when your belly starts to get huge (like mine did toward the end). As long as your hips don't change size much, you can pretty much stay in your pre-pregnancy clothes with this puppy.  Also great for transitioning back into your pre-pregnancy clothes after the baby's born.  

    Note, this is not a pic of me... I only wish I was this thin when I was pregnant.  I got my band at Target on sale for around $12.

    Friday, November 1, 2013


    Carrots.  They seem like such a sweet, innocent vegetable as they stare at me from their innocuous cellophane package.  But, I know the truth.  Beneath that pretty, frilly, green top is an evil mastermind plotting to take over the world.

    Or, maybe just my refrigerator's crisper drawer.

    You know what I mean. You stroll through the farmer's market...what do they have for sale? Carrots.

    You peruse the produce section of the grocery store...what do they have for sale? Carrots.

    If you're fortunate enough to have a vegetable garden, what will many of you be harvesting? Carrots.

    They're everywhere! You don't have to look very far to find them.  In fact, you can get them pretty much year-round, so I always seem to have them hanging around my fridge.  I can even get them in the dead of winter (organic, no less) for around $1/lb. Sweet.

    Or, is that just what they want you to think?

    Thursday, October 31, 2013

    30 Before 30 Update: October 2013 Edition

    It's been a busy month!! This month, I was able to meet my 30 Before 30 goal of reading 2 books (see below for synopsis and recommendations). 

    Also, I did some researching and have added a cool new feature to the blog.  You'll notice that 3 related posts show up at the bottom of each blog post now.  My hope is that when new readers check out a page on mason|raye (they come here as a result of a pinterest pin or Google search, etc.) that they'll read the post they came here for, then see a related post that may be interesting to them and click over there to read that post....  Then, if they like what they see, they may come back again or decide to "follow" or subscribe to the blog.  This way, I hope to enlarge the maison|raye readership.  Of course, I'm always excited to have my regular readers - thank you for your loyalty!  This gets me one step closer to my blog goals.  Gotta have an established readership before I can expand the blog, get my own domain name, etc.

    I signed up for an online photography class. It's not as in depth as I'd like; it focuses on just photographing people.  I'm sure that some of the information will be applicable to food photography... something I'm always working to improve. 

    Now on to the books:

    My fun book this month was The Perfect Baby Handbook:  A Guide for Excessively Motivated Parents by Dale Hrabi.  I have to admit, it was a pretty funny book.  I literally laughed out loud, more than once. Hrabi has mastered sarcasm in this book.  He has this way of taking popular baby advice out there and putting his own witty spin on it, with hilarious results.  I personally think that the illustrations make the book even more humorous. The section on baby names is probably my favorite part ("How many letters should a perfect name contain?  Ideally, nine.  Some popular options include Sebastian, Elizabeth and Chloeeeee"). 

    I enjoyed reading this book for the most part.  The only reason I'm not able to recommend it is that it contains some profanity, which I find unnecessary.

    My educational book choice this month was A Family of Value by Dr. John Rosemond. Dr. Rosemond is a psychologist, newspaper columnist, and radio talk show host.  He had a lot of practical, common sense advice for discipline and childrearing that I found beneficial.  His approach may come across as "old fashioned" to those parents looking for a more progressive, pop-culture approach, but I agreed with his philosophy that children must be taught limits, resourcefulness, respect and responsibility, so when they grow up they will be an asset to society instead of a burden.  There's a lot of controversy out on the web about Dr.  Rosemond's work.  Many people feel he's too conservative (God forbid he exercise his freedom of speech and "praise Rush Limbaugh while villainizing Hilary Clinton"  as one reviewer posted on Amazon)... but don't get me started on that train.   I'm not here to debate the conservative vs. liberal issue, just to tell you that I read the book and agreed with much of Dr. Rosemond's advice.  I do recommend A Family of Value to parents, especially conservative parents trying to establish their childrearing philosophy or looking for practical advice.

    Tuesday, October 15, 2013

    The Ry Guy Report: 4 Months

    Weight Not sure, my scale is dead... I estimate 17 lbs.

    Length  24.5 inches

    • Reaches for and grasps objects  (especially Mommy's hair)
    • Hands work together to hold and shake toys, rattles, etc.
    • Rolls halfway over (from back to side, but can't quite make it all the way over yet)
    • Puts EVERYTHING in his mouth
    • Has great head control when he sits up with support; only bobbles a little bit!
    • Prefers to sit up instead of recline
    • Loves to look around; can see across the room

    Likes  His froggy toy and noisy book

    Dislikes  Sleeping... sigh... still gets up twice a night to eat most nights and has trouble falling asleep on his own

    The Quotable Ry Guy  "Gurgle, squeal, laugh"

    Wednesday, October 2, 2013

    Pumpkin Season Returns

    Pumpkin Season has returned!  I am in love with fall.  I cannot put into words how much I missed the fiery yellow, orange and red leaves, the crisp fall air with just a hint of woodsmoke, harvesting root vegetables from the garden, and picking apples.

    But nothing says, "FALL" to me like pumpkin.  There's something incredibly comforting about pumpkin (especially when combined with cinnamon, nutmeg and clove). 

    Pumpkin was created to compliment a mug of hot cider or coffee, a flannel shirt, and cozy wool socks. Throw in a good book and a wood stove and I'm in heaven.

    Maple leaf, woodsmoke, 42 degree, cinnamon-scented heaven.

    Monday, September 30, 2013

    30 Before 30 Update: September 2013 Edition

    As you might imagine, my days as of late have been chock full of baby stuff... but I did manage to wake up long enough to read a couple of books and overhaul a few recipes in my recipe file.  If you're just joining us and are thinking, "What's 30 Before 30?", check out my original post here.

    So, this month my fun book was Jacob's Way by Gilbert Morris.  I've been reading Gilbert Morris books since I was in 8th grade, so this was a re-read for me.  All the same, I enjoyed myself.  Basically, the story is about a Jewish girl and her grandfather who emigrate from Russia to the US shortly after the civil war.  They become peddlers, meet some very interesting characters and search for the truth... is Jesus truly the Messiah the Jews are waiting for? I enjoyed the story and found the details about the Orthodox Jewish traditions interesting.  There's some great dialogue between Jacob (the elderly Jewish man) and Sam (the middle aged civil war vet) throughout the last half of the book that you won't want to miss.  And of course, what would any Gilbert Morris novel be without a love story woven through it.  This one doesn't disappoint and there is a happy ending for everyone.  I figured there would be a happy ending, but getting there is all the fun - there's plenty of twists and turns along the way.  Recommend this one for sure.

    My educational/devotional book this month was The New Dare to Discipline by Dr. James Dobson.  I read this book back in college as part of a child development class, but M and I borrowed this book from my parents a while back and have been re-reading it together.  I don't necessarily agree with every single thing in the book, but I do respect Dobson's years of experience (both as a psychologist and a father) and advice.  The man does know what he's talking about... This is not a book you can just fly through.  It requires a lot of thought, and it inspired many discussions as M and I agree together on the discipline measures that will help us accomplish our goal of raising a happy, healthy, responsible, godly, independent, hard-working person.  A daunting task, really, and I'm very overwhelmed at the prospect at times, but Dobson's work was a great place to start the discussion. We'll be implementing some of his techniques as Ry Guy gets older, too. 

    There are so many things I'd like to be doing (like quilting, or scrapbook, or continuing with my great Recipe File Makeover), but let's face it... sleep is my primary leisure activity right now.  I hope to get back into those things again soon and will keep you updated on the progress. 

    The search is on for some new books to read.  Any suggestions?   What's the latest thing you've read?

    Sunday, September 15, 2013

    DIY: Baby Shower Beverage Carrier Gift

    A friend of mine had a baby and I gave her this gift at her shower.  I got the idea on Pinterest (where else!?) and just adapted it to fit.

    You start with a beverage carrier - I used a six pack of IBC root beer.  I decided to make the carrier dual purpose - 1 side for baby bath stuff and the other side for mommy spa stuff.

    It was a huge hit at the shower... here's how you can make your own version!


    • 1 beverage carrier (could use any 6-pack soda carrier or Starbucks frap 4-pack)
    • 4 + sheets coordinating scrapbook paper (I used 12x12)
    • stencil or die cut machine and another sheet of paper, or sticker letters
    • ribbon (I used 1 [12-in] piece of ribbon, mainly just to attach the tag, since it was for a baby boy. If it were for a girl, I would have used a lot more ribbon to make it girlie)
    • Glue, photo sticker squares, or double sided tape
    • pencil
    • paper cutter or scissors

    What's Inside:

    For Mom...
    • 3 pairs colorful socks (you could also do slipper socks or exfoliating gloves)
    • nail polish
    • good smelling foot scrub
    • soothing foot lotion
    • lip gloss (shimmery!)
    • lip balm
    • buttermilk bath soak
    • pummice stone
    For Baby...
    • 4 washcloths
    • baby comb
    • baby bath wash/shampoo
    • baby oil
    • baby lotion
    • 3 pairs cute baby socks
    • baby buttermilk bath soak
    • diaper ointment

    The Ry Guy Report: 3 Months

    Smiley little guy!
    Weight  15 lbs

    Length 24 inches

    • Bats at and touches toys dangled above his head... his favorite is the blue monkey that came with his vibrating infant seat (thanks, Grandma and Poppa!). 
    • Holds his head up without support.
    • Follows people with his eyes (and turns his head to watch them). 
    • Knows when Mom is (or isn't) nearby.
    Likes to play with Daddy.

    Dislikes wet diapers and being away from Mom.

    The Quotable Ry Guy  [Giggle], hummmm (makes humming noises when he's eating or happy).

    Saturday, August 31, 2013

    30 Before 30 Update: August 2013 Edition

    Looking for something to read?  Here's my latest reads and recommendations.  Once we get settled into our new place, I'll be able to get back into checking some more things off my 30 Before 30 list.


    The Widow of Larkspur Inn by Lawana Blackwell.  This was a re-read for me, but I enjoyed it just as much the 2nd time around as I did when I originally read it in college.  I love historical fiction!  Blackwell crafts a great story about betrayal, love, loss and even a little intrigue.  The story sucked me in and I felt like I grew along with the characters.  Highly recommend this one!

    The Vaccine Book by Dr. Robert Sears. I learned so much by reading this book.  I'm big on doing my research...I've found that some physicians tend to give you the "party line" and expect you to just accept what they say without doing your research.  I believe that the doctor-patient relationship should be 2-way; you're working together to find the best solution for the your (or your family's) health and well being.  And I DON'T think that the best solution for my family's health and well being always comes from a prescription bottle or CDC mandate.  Mainstream medicine has its place, but so does alternative medicine, homeopathic medicine, herbal remedies and chiropractic care. 

    What I like about this book is that Dr. Sears has his opinion about the CDC recommendations (ahem, more like "regulations" according to some pediatricians, as I'm finding out) for children's vaccinations and feels it's important for parents to be well informed about the vaccines. In the first part of the book, he details each vaccine - the disease, the ingredients in the vaccine, possible side effects, how it's manufactured, and how it's administered.  He also includes how rare and how serious each disease is.  The end of the book contains research studies and articles about vaccine reactions and controversies.  Dr. Sears includes his alternate vaccine schedule at the very end of the book.  Again, VALUABLE information for parents.  I had no idea how many controversial ingredients were in most of the vaccines - monkey brains? Aborted fetal tissue? Formaldehyde? Mercury? Aluminum?  Yep, all this stuff and more. M and I are trying to make the best decision we can on vaccines for Ry Guy and this book has been a huge help. Definitely recommend this book to parents.

    Thursday, August 22, 2013

    Spread The Love

    Hey everyone!  It's been a crazy month of transition for us as we packed up and moved cross country. By the way, 4 days in a car with an infant is not the world's best remedy for stress or nerve issues... needless to say, all 3 of us were relieved to reach our destination.

    And the transition continues as we move (again) in the near future from my parent's house to our townhouse - lease starts September 1. Fingers crossed that our landlady will give us permission to paint some of the rooms, to make it a little more "ours".

    In the mean time, I wanted to let you all know about some big news in the lives of a few friends...

    Daphne and I were friends in high school - she, her sister and I had some fun times together.  Along the way, we lost touch, although we've kept an eye on each other via facebook, pinterest, etc.  I was so proud and excited to see her story featured in Skin Deep Exposures magazine (starting on page 30).  As a cancer survivor, amputee, and competitive runner, Daphne has an incredible attitude and testimony.  Check out her story here!

    Not too long after we moved, I happened across a brand new blog from my former co-workers.  They've begun the process of adopting a child and have started the blog to document their journey and raise funds.  As  you may know, a private adoption is an expensive, albeit rewarding, venture.  Shawn is a talented artist and designer and they've come up with these cute t-shirts to raise money for their adoption fund.  I bought a green one!  I'd encourage you to spread the word about the adoption and fundraisers so Shawn and Amanda can bring a little one home soon.  And of course, keep them in prayer as they look forward to expanding their family.   If you're interested in purchasing a t-shirt, you can do so here.  They're $15 each.

    I feel a little disjointed right now since I haven't really had a way to upload photos... and I'm way behind on posts, but I hope to publish a whole slew of catch up posts as soon as we're in our new place and the computer is set up.  Bear with me!

    Until we "meet" again, much love to you, readers. And thank you for your love and support during this transitional time.  Ciao!

    Monday, August 19, 2013

    Banana Blueberry Crumb Loaf

    Once upon a time, Mr. Banana met Miss Blueberry.  They decided they would be far better together than apart, so they decided to get married and live happily ever after. And so they did.

    How's that for a love story?

    Thursday, August 15, 2013

    The Ry Guy Report: 2 Months

    Weight 11.5 lbs

    Length 23.5 inches

    Milestones Smiles (July 27!) and coos. Blows bubbles. Recognizes mom and dad.

    Likes  To "fly" (being held on his tummy over your forearm while you walk around.  And don't even think about sitting down - nay, nay!).

    Dislikes  Sleeping. Still.

    The Quotable Ry Guy  "Gurgle, coo..."

    tummy time is so tiring!

    Monday, August 5, 2013

    Peanut Butter No Bake Cookies

    Chocolate has been (temporarily...I hope) outlawed from my life.  Gasp! Sad, but true.  Apparently, the caffeine in the chocolate makes Ry Guy wired. I've been staying away from coffee and black tea, but didn't really think about chocolate in that way until - oops - I had a craving and ate some chocolate chips.

    And then paid the price for it.

    Ry Guy decided to be REALLY awake after nursing. For hours. Almost all night, in fact. And he decided to keep Mommy and Daddy up with him.  He hasn't really gotten into the independently amusing himself thing yet.  Nay, nay.  Preferably Mommy must be looking at him constantly while he's awake.

    Sigh. As much as I love chocolate, I love sleep more.

    So, bye-bye, chocolate.  For now.  We WILL meet again.

    In the meantime, I've been exploring other, non-chocolate desserts and treats.  The Hubby and I would be very sad if no chocolate = no dessert.  Not that I really need dessert...I have almost 30 pounds to lose. But sometimes you just want a treat.

    I digress.  My point is, I'm being forced to be creative with the dessert options.  Here's my first attempt.

    M is obsessed with peanut butter and I'm pretty fond of it myself.  I tweaked my No Bake Cookie recipe and came up with this little gem.
    By the way, they're incredibly addictive.  I have to take a couple out of the fridge and go to another room to eat them, or else I'll just mindlessly keep munching.

    They're pretty healthy, too!  The PB, of course, is a little fattening, but it's also high in as long as I limit myself to a couple of cookies a day, I don't feel guilty about eating them.

    No refined sugars here. These little babies are honey sweetened.  They're also gluten-free (just make sure you're using certified GF oats that are guaranteed not to be cross-contaminated with gluten during processing/packaging), if that's a concern for you.

    Check out the nutrition facts on recipage, here.  And without further ado, here's the PB lovers dream come true:

    Peanut Butter No Bake Cookies
    by Raye
    Prep Time: 1 minute
    Cook Time: 3 minutes
    Keywords: stove top snack dessert gluten-free vegetarian oatmeal peanut butter
    Ingredients (5 dozen small cookies)
    • 1/2 c. refined coconut oil
    • 2/3 c. honey
    • 1-1/2 c. natural peanut butter (ingredients are peanuts only or peanuts and salt)
    • 4-1/2 c. old fashioned (rolled) oats
    • In a medium saucepan, heat coconut oil and honey over medium heat until the mixture comes to a rolling boil. Boil 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
    • Stir in peanut butter until it melts and the mixture becomes smooth. Add oats.
    • Scoop by spoonfuls onto a parchment or wax paper lined cookie sheet. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before serving.
    • Because of the coconut oil, keep these cookies chilled until ready to serve and store in the refrigerator.
    • A serving size is 3 cookies.
    Powered by Recipage

    Wednesday, July 31, 2013

    30 Before 30 Update: July 2013 Edition

    In keeping with my 30 Before 30 goals, here's the lowdown on the books I read this month:

    The Nursing Mother's Companion by Kathleen Huggins.  This book was given to me as part of the deal when I bought my stash of cloth diapers. I'm glad it was!  I thought, "How hard can breastfeeding be?"  Pretty darn frustrating, as it turned out.  Granted, without the NICU experience, my issues probably would have been greatly reduced, but since the little man was bottle fed at the hospital, he decided he didn't want to nurse since it required effort.  Thanks to this book (and a great lactation consultant), we're doing well now.  This is a great resource - if you have any questions about breastfeeding, they're covered with this book. It talks about the how and why and when, and is a fabulous troubleshooting resource.  Invaluable!

    The Gentle Art of Mothering: A Christian Guide to Infant Care by Ronda Yoder and Miriam Chickering.  I love this book.  I can't recommend it enough for first time moms.  Finally! A resource for current, scientific information presented from a Christian viewpoint.  I appreciated their viewpoint - it's  a balanced approach somewhere between Babywise and Attachment Parenting and right up my alley. I also appreciated their knowledge and personal experience... yes, they're both registered nurses, but they're also moms (with 9 kids between the two of them).  I read this book at the exact time I needed it.  Somewhere in the midst of the drama surrounding Ry Guy's birth, my lack of sleep, the hormonal upheaval, etc., etc., etc., I was feeling pretty overwhelmed.  Ronda and Miriam talk about praying for wisdom, doing the best you can and accepting God's grace for the rest... it was precisely the encouragement I needed - a real Godsend.  I think this would be a fabulous baby shower gift, too!  

    Monday, July 15, 2013

    The Ry Guy Report: 1 Month

    My guys taking a snooze

    Mommy's little man
    Weight 7lbs 4oz

    Length  20 inches

    Milestones Alert, follows objects with his eyes if it's high contrast colors and no more than 12 inches away.

    Likes  To cuddle. 

    Dislikes  Sleeping.

    The Quotable Ry Guy  (Scream.....) Colic has a way of making life challenging for everyone.

    Flying with Daddy

    Sunday, July 14, 2013

    As American As...

    You thought I was going to say apple pie, didn't you.

    DIDN'T YOU!?

    Well, I'm not.

    Hope you all had a fabulous Independence Day last week.  As you can tell, I'm a little behind on blogging. But, that's to be expected with adjusting to life with Ry Guy.  He's not a fan of sleeping.  Or eating.

    I, however, am a huge fan (read GROUPIE) of both eating and sleeping.

    Sad to say, not doing much of either.

    Our 4th of July was spent lazing around the house tag teaming who was handling baby stuff and cat napping.  Around 3 in the afternoon, I got around to making our celebratory dinner:  Hot Dogs, Potato Salad, and Carob Peanut cookies a la mode (working on perfecting that recipe and will share it at some point - stay tuned!). Oh yes, and Lemonade.  Can't forget that.

    Which brings me to the purpose of this post:  as American as... Potato Salad.

    What's a cookout or BBQ without this quintessential side dish?  Not much, I assure you. Everyone has their own version of this standby and I'm no exception.  This is different than the potato salad I posted about earlier this spring, in that it's more of a classic recipe that you'd expect to find at a supermarket deli, except better for you and more flavorful.

    Of course, you could adapt this to suit your own personal tastes...

    Don't like mayo? Sub in light sour cream.  Don't do eggs? Skip them.  Easy as that.

    But, if you can, I would encourage you to stick to the recipe below. It's just that good.  (If you need nutrition facts, pop over to my recipage, here.)

    In the mean time, enjoy your summer.  And excuse my sleep deprived, lacking in creativity food photography and blog posts for the time being. I keep telling myself that life will return to a somewhat normal pattern, eventually. Until then, I'm going back to bed and hoping for the best...

    American Potato Salad

    by Raye
    Prep Time: 10 minutes
    Cook Time: 15 minutes
    Keywords: stove top salad side potato egg July 4th cookout American summer

    Ingredients (10 servings)
    • 3 lbs russet or Idaho potatoes
    • 2 large hard boiled eggs
    • 3 celery stalks
    • 1/2 large onion, chopped
    • 1/4 c. olive oil mayo
    • 1/4 c. plain Greek-style yogurt
    • 1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
    • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
    • 1/2 tsp sea salt
    • Pepper, to taste
    • Peel, dice and boil the potatoes until tender, about 15-20 minutes. Drain and cool.
    • Toss drained potatoes with apple cider vinegar. Chop hard boiled egg, onion and celery; add to potatoes.
    • In a separate bowl, stir together mayo, yogurt, mustard, salt and pepper. Gently stir dressing mixture into potato mixture.
    • Chill until ready to serve. Refrigerate leftovers.
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    Here he is.... after much ado, my little man entered the world on Saturday, June 15 at 4:21 a.m.

    He was due June 24, but because of my ridiculously high blood pressure, we had to induce at 38 weeks, 5 days (which is why I didn't do a prenatal journal post for week 38... we never actually made it to the end of the week!).

    The decision to induce was difficult for me.  I so wanted a natural childbirth with a labor that started on it's own, because I believe that in most cases, labor will begin when the baby is ready to come.  On the other hand though, with my blood pressure sky high and pre-eclampsia looming, the risks of organ damage and seizures for me and the placenta breaking down for him was just too great a risk.

    So, after doing some research on induction methods, my midwife and I worked out a plan, and I breathed a sigh of relief that they would allow me to try for a vaginal delivery first and keep C-section a last resort. I requested to be induced using a natural induction method, a Foley bulb catheter.  This method is rarely used, although it has about a 60% success rate.  Compared with a Pitocin induction, which has a slightly lower success rate, it boggles my mind why the Foley isn't used more often since it's less expensive for the hospital and less invasive for the mother while giving comparable results. While this wasn't my midwife's first choice of a method, she has experience using a Foley and respected my wishes.

    Sunday, June 30, 2013

    30 Before 30 Update: June 2013 Edition

    June was a crazy month, but I did meet my monthly 30 Before 30 book goal while on bed rest and finished cutting out all the pieces for the baby's quilt. 

    And of course, I met my natural childbirth goal!!! Read Ry Guy's Birth Story here.

    Here's what I read this month:

    Swinging on a Star by Janice Thompson (#2 in the Weddings by Bella series).  This was a fun novel about a wedding planner and her crazy family and even crazier clients. The story was cute.  I expected an easy read, liberally sprinkled with humor and slightly cliche romance.  It was definitely funny, but not terribly cliche, as I'd expected.  I found it heart warming and a great way to spend a few hours.  If you like predictable, light-hearted Christian fiction, pick this book up; you'll enjoy it!

    Your Best Birth by Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein.  I highly recommend this book if you're expecting a baby, especially if you're a control freak (like me). Ricki and Abby found a way to capture their passion for midwifery and childbirth with this work.  I appreciated their emphasis on being informed and flexible.  Although neither of the authors were able to have the birth they wanted the first time around, they were so positive about making their experience the best it could be under the circumstances.  That really touched me, since I found myself in a similar situation. The birth stories they included from other moms were great - I enjoyed reading about their experiences...It was because of Kellie Martin's story that I started researching the Foley induction method that I ended up using. 

    Ricki and Abby also did a video (The Business of Being
    Born) and a miniseries (More Business of Being Born) about birth and related issues.  They're on instant play on Netflix, or you can purchase the dvd's on Amazon; I highly recommend taking the time to see those as well as reading their book.

    Friday, June 21, 2013

    Baby Update

    Some of you are aware already that we welcomed our baby boy last Saturday, June 15th.  It's been a crazy week since then... he's spent some time in the NICU being monitored for bradycardia (slow heartbeat) and apnea (breathing issue...sort of like forgetting to breathe).  He's been doing well the last few days and we're told we can take him home today, as soon as the dr. gets around to seeing him and writing the discharge order.

    I plan to write up his birth story and upload some pics this coming week, so all of you can see him, but until then, just wanted to say thank you for praying for us through this challenging and scary time.  God has been so good to us.

    Saturday, June 8, 2013

    Week 37

    Not the most flattering view...
    How far along? 37 weeks.

    Baby is the size of: A quarter of a watermelon.

    Maternity clothes?  Will I ever wear normal sized clothes again???? I'm starting to wonder.

    Rings on or off?  Off, but I got them cleaned, so when I'm ready to wear them again, they'll be all nice and sparkly.

    Sleep:  It's ok, at least I'm in a pattern of sleeping, waking, bathroom, sleeping... etc.

    Belly Button:  Way out there.  Kind of like my dreams lately.

    Sunday, June 2, 2013

    Molasses Doughnuts (Baked!)

    This fluffy, non-greasy, baked doughnut was the result of yet another pregnancy craving.

    When I was a kid, there always seemed to be a bakery in town that made these fabulous (fried) molasses doughnuts.  I liked the doughnut holes the best. They were always packed with molasses flavor and rolled in crunchy granulated sugar.

    Apparently, Florida hasn't heard of molasses cake doughnuts.


    Of course, even if they had, I probably still couldn't justify a greasy, fried doughnut.


    The pains of trying to be healthy.

    Anyway, I have this awesome baked doughnut pan that I got on Amazon a while back and decided to do some research.  (aka, google "molasses baked doughnut recipe").  Lo and behold, the molasses doughnut recipes I came across were either fried (shocker) or chock full of all the sugar, vegetable oils, white flour, etc. that I try my best to avoid.

    I did find a baked doughnut recipe that looked like it came close to the texture and type of ingredients I was looking for, so I decided to give it a try.  No molasses, but I figured the original recipe used a liquid sweetener, so molasses should be an easy substitute.

    Sigh of relief when they came out perfectly. Fluffy. Sweet, but not too sweet. In a word, delectable.

    The doughnuts aren't very sweet, by design, because I knew I would be dipping them in granulated sugar.  If you decide not to dip them in sugar after baking, feel free to up the molasses or add at least 2 Tbsp brown sugar to the batter. 

    Here's the step by step of making pretty baked doughnuts...

    1. Put a decorator bag (the kind used for piping frosting onto cakes) inside a large, heavy bottomed glass.  Fold over the top.   Use a spoon or spatula to shove the batter into the bag.
    2. Remove the bag from the glass.  Twist the top shut, and hold the bag at the top at the twist.  Cut off the bottom 1/2 to 3/4 inch of the bag (the pointy end). 
    3. Squeeze the bag firmly to pip out the batter into the baked doughnut pan (lightly greased pan is preferred). 
    4. Bake. Flop out immediately onto a cooling rack.  If the doughnuts don't pop right out, encourage them to pop out by sticking a fork in between the side of each doughnut cavity in the pan and the doughnut and pry gently in a few spots  around each doughnut to loosen them up.
    For the granulated sugar topping, I brushed a little melted coconut oil on top of the doughnuts and either dipped the doughnuts into the sugar or just lightly sprinkled them with sugar.  Dipping into the sugar give you more of a wet sugar finish.  Sprinkling with sugar is a lighter coating, and more crunchy.

    Your call.

    Check out the full recipe below, or pop over to recipage to see the nutrition facts. Enjoy!

    Baked Molasses Cake Doughnuts

    by Raye
    Cook Time: 10 minutes
    Keywords: bake breakfast bread fall winter

    Ingredients (6 doughnuts)
    • 1/2 c. all purpose flour
    • 1/2 c. white whole wheat flour
    • 3/4 tsp baking powder
    • 3/4 tsp baking soda
    • pinch of salt
    • 2 Tbsp Rapadura or brown sugar
    • 1 egg
    • 6 oz plain yogurt
    • 1 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
    • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
    • 1/4 c. molasses
    • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
    • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
    • granulated sugar, for topping
    • additional melted coconut oil, for topping
    • Preheat oven to 400* F.
    • In a small mixing bowl, whisk together flours, Rapadura or brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.
    • In a small dish, stir together baking powder, baking soda, and apple cider vinegar and let sit for a minute or so. In a separate, large mixing bowl, whisk together egg, molasses and yogurt.
    • Add dry ingredients to molasses mixture. Stir in coconut oil and vinegar mixture. Mix well.
    • Scoop batter into a pastry bag (like the kind used for piping frosting onto cakes). Cut off the bottom 1/2 inch of the bag and pipe the batter into a baked doughnut pan. (If you don't have a baked doughnut pan, feel free to use a standard muffin tin. May have to bake a few minutes extra).
    • Bake for 10 minutes or until doughnuts spring back when lightly touched; immediately remove from pan. Toss in granulated sugar, or cool slightly before dipping the tops in melted coconut oil, then dipping into granulated sugar. Best if eaten the day they're made.
    • Recipe makes 6 doughnuts. Nutrition facts are shown per doughnut, without added sugar or oil for topping.
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    Saturday, June 1, 2013

    Week 36

    Just got back from the pool!
    How far along?  36 weeks.

    Baby is the size of:  A honeydew melon.

    Maternity clothes?  Yep... sleeveless = happiness right now.

    Rings on or off?  Off...

    Sleep:  As M would say, "meh".  I never realized how hard it would be to turn over in bed with a bowling ball attached to your abdomen. Sort of.  You get the idea. And why is it that I'm always turned the wrong way when the alarm goes off?  It sort of annoys me that it takes so long for me to turn over and turn the alarm clock off. Beat it into submission is more like it some mornings.

    Belly Button:  Really outie.

    Exercise: Does intent to exercise count?  I'm still sad I missed my swim on Monday!  At least I got to swim today.

    Food cravings: Cinnamon coffee cake. Popcorn.  Basically, carbs... the things I'm not supposed to be eating right now.  Sigh.  Where's my peanut butter?  Oh, and grapes!

    Movement: I think he's part kangaroo.

    Best moment of the week:  Had a relaxing day off on Memorial Day!!

    Fun fact:  In ancient Rome, there was a tradition that babies with dark eyes were caused by the moms eating mice.  The one time it's totally ok to not do as the Romans do, regardless of where you are.  Unless of course, you're a momma cat.

    Symptoms:  Stretch marks... I think they're breeding... like mice... I find a new little one every day.  Feet are still puffy-ish and my blood pressure was the same this week as it was last week.  Not getting worse, but not getting better either.

    Mood?  I'm tired of people.  Some days, I just want to close the office early and hang a sign on the door that says, "Happy employees, welcome.  Disgruntled employees, try back in a few months."

    Blessings of the week: I didn't gain any weight this week!  Total weight gain so far = 32 pounds.  Also, I was able to find a great deal on brand new cloth diapers and other baby stuff on Craigs List - got about $600 or so worth of gear for $250!

    I learned ...  So much practical information during my childbirth classes!  I'm sad they're over!

    Looking forward to:  Being able to sleep on my tummy again.

    Friday, May 31, 2013

    30 Before 30 Update: May 2013 Edition

    This month has just flown by!! (If you’re just joining me recently, I put together a 30 Before 30 list back at Christmas time. You can view my list here.) I met my goal of reading 1 fun book and 1 educational/devotional book this month – see my book reviews at the end of this post!

    I also started practicing the piano again. It’s been a few years, but it’s something I would like to get back into. Eventually, I’ll be able to meet my “Play the piano in church” goal. Wow, my fingers are rusty, though! #1 seems to like listening to me play and I figure it’s never too soon to expose him to good music. Although, with my clunkers, it’s not always “good”.

    Side note, did I tell you M has decided to nickname the baby “Number 1”? True, he is our first child, so that fits, but I think it has more to do with M being slightly disappointed that I didn’t care for his name suggestion of “Riker” (Star Trek Next Generation reference, just in case you’re not into Sci Fi).

    Anyway, the books I read this month were:

    The Baby Chronicles by Judy Baer (the sequel to The Whitney Chronicles from last month). Just like the Whitney Chronicles, the Baby Chronicles is an easy read, and very enjoyable! I flew through the book in a couple of days and particularly enjoyed the character development in this story. Many of the characters from the Whitney Chronicles made an appearance… I have to say, Whitney’s co-workers remind me of mine sometimes.

    They synopsis of the story is that Whitney (now married for about 2 years) has decided it’s time to start a family. To make things more interesting, her co-worker, Mitzi, has also decided she wants to have a baby (and ends up with triplets!)… not to mention Whitney’s best friend, Kim, has decided to adopt. Babies, babies everywhere! There’s so much pregnancy humor that I could relate to… I just had to laugh. And laugh… and laugh…

    And cry, too, apparently. What would a good book be without an unexpected dramatic situation? Maybe it’s my baby hormones on overdrive, but I cried with the characters as they muddled through the tough stuff… and rejoiced with them when everything worked out.

    Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way by Susan McCutcheon.  I confess, I wasn't too keen on Ms. McCutcheon's writing style and I found her opinions and how she expressed them slightly annoying. She came across as very "my way or the highway".  That said, I'm glad I took time to read the book, as it was very informative.  M and I used her practice exercises every night to prepare for labor and will continue to do so until the baby's born.  Disclaimer:  there is pictures of naked ladies in the book. I sort of thought, "Is that necessary? I mean, does anyone deliver a baby naturally while wearing clothes?" Just so you're aware. Some people find that offensive.  I'm not crazy about the photos, but the information was solid and helpful.  If you don't care about having pics to illustrate the exercises or find the pics offensive, you can find the same info in Husband Coached Childbirth by Robert Bradley, which I also read and recommend (I prefer his writing style as well).  
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