Eat, Knit, Grow: Raisin Challah

This looks DELICIOUS! I will definitely be trying to make the bread and then probably making the amazing Challah bread french toast that I found a recipe for a while ago.
Photo from

Eat, Knit, Grow: Raisin Challah: "What can I say about Challah? Only that it is the best, most delicious, wonderful bread in the world, but only when it's done right. Lots of..."

Here is the recipe for Overnight Challah Bread French Toast

photo from



While I like to say that I am quick to adapt to change, the truth is that I'm not.  I may not be like my grandparents who have the e-machine we all got them for Christmas one year in their spare room closet because they don't want a computer.  I have embraced the technology age, as you can tell, and don't know how I would live without my computer, cell phone and DVR.  However there are other changes that I balk at.  Right now we are preparing for quite a few changes in our lives that are quite stressful for me. The change that I did not even think would be a problem is the one I have been dwelling on the most lately.

Munchkie is turning two.

I know that I'm being slightly ridiculous, but I'm really struggling with this. I have been looking at old pictures, watching old videos and pulling out some tiny little clothes.  I just can not believe that two years have gone by so quickly.  I always thought two-year-olds were still babies and that it wasn't until they were closer to kindergarten that they became "kids" but that's not the case.  Or maybe Munchkie is closer to kindergarten than I want to admit.  Either way, there is no longer a baby in this family.  I think that because I work with infants and toddlers I see these little babies and realize how big Munchkie really is.  She helps me cook, wipes up her own messes (don't worry, I clean up after her), can put her dishes in the sink, picks out her meals and clothes, and knows every word of every song on her Raffi CD.

Munchkie's Daddy might say that I have "baby fever" and that may be partially right.  Mostly I'm just mourning the loss of my baby.  My baby that would cuddle with me and fall asleep in my arms.  My baby that was so tiny and dependent.  My baby that needed to be fed and clothed.  My baby that was chubby and immobile.

I think part of my mourning is because I know that it will be several years before there is another baby in our family.  Yes, did all of you out there read that.  It will be several years before there is another baby in our family.  Munchkie's Daddy has five more years of school left and I can't even begin to imagine being the breadwinner, keeping up with Munchkie, holding a home together while being pregnant and then supporting a family of four humans and two canines while Munchkie's Daddy is in school.  Not happening. 

And so tomorrow we take Munchkie to get her picture taken for her second birthday, thus starting her birthday celebration.  We will be celebrating her transition from babyhood and I will try not to let my mourning effect my smile.  I will have fun enjoying this stage in our lives.  I will sit and play with my little girl who tells me what to play and how she wants to do things.


Funny Munchkie

I love the conversations that we have had lately with Munchkie and the funny things she has said.  I wish sometimes that I could videotape everything. Here are a few funny moments that have happened lately.

Sitting at the dinner table the other night we were telling Munchkie's Nana about how she is such a big girl at school (daycare) and sleeps on a cot.  Munchkie (knodding her head) says yes she sleeps on a cot.  She said "sheet out" "on cot"  "sheet big sock" "yes big sock" "cover and bunny" and Munchkie's Daddy thought she was just saying words.  All of the sudden I realized that she was telling us that they take their sheets out of their pillowcases (big sock) and make their cots each day, then she has a blanket (cover) and bunny to sleep with. She was telling us all about sleeping on the cot.

Me:  Munchkie do you want to move into a new home?
Munchkie: Yeah ok!
Me: Where do you want to live?
Munchkie: Baby Harper, yeah ok!
Me: You want to live with Baby Harper?
Munchkie: Yeah!
Munchkie's Daddy:  What features (yes he said features) do you want in your new house? What do you want in your house?
Munchkie: ummmm, Baby Ryan!
Me:  You want Baby Ryan in your house?
Munchkie: yeah, ummm Baby Yay-na, Emmy n Efan baby, Elmo!
Munchkie's Daddy: so basically you want babies and Elmo in your new house?
Munchkie: yeah ok!

Munchkie was eating broccoli and took a bite, then looked at me and said "Abby brok-e Elmo brok-e" and I had to think for a minute but then realized that there is a scene in one of the Sesame Streets where Abby says she doesn't like broccoli but then other people tell her how they like broccoli and so then Abby sings this song.  You can not tell me that she doesn't learn from Sesame Street because I wondered why she had this sudden interest in broccoli and eats it over things like mac and cheese.

This morning Munchkie woke up and was sleeping in a pack 'n' play in our room so she stood up and looked at us.  She popped her little head over the side and said "go shopping? go shopping?" We had said we were going to go shopping tomorrow and she was excited.  Apparently so excited that she thought about it immediately when she woke up.

No matter what you are doing or where you are Munchkie says "doing?" asking what you are doing.  I ask her all the time what she's doing, sometimes because I am trying to figure out what she's playing and sometimes because I want to make sure she's not in trouble when out of eye sight.  So sitting on the couch, taking a bath, eating dinner, or riding in the car, you'll hear this little voice say "Mama doing?"

She will be playing in the living room, then come find you and say "sit Mama, sit" and then goes and pats the floor next to whatever she is playing with.  She wants us to sit and play with her and it's absolutely impossible to continue whatever you were previously doing.

And last but not least.  My heart skips a few beats when Munchkie comes up and says "kiss Mama" and then "la lou!" which means love you.


Some days are just plain hard

Today was one of those busy days at work.  At the time I was supposed to be getting off they were short staffed and so I decided to stay an extra few hours to get a little bit of extra money.  Munchkie's Nana and Aunt are here visiting and so we didn't have to wake Munchkie to take me to work this morning or keep her awake to pick me up.  Even if I had miraculously left work on time I still wouldn't have been able to see her or spend time with her today.  If I'm not going to spend time with her, I might as well make money right?
So after 16+ hours of work I'm tired, hungry and ready for bed.  On top of all that, I also am trying to resist the urge to scoop Munchkie out of her pack and play and snuggle with her in my bed.  I know Munchkie's Daddy would not be ok with that at all!  There's an aching in my heart and I just want to hold her.  I can't wait to see her smiling face tomorrow. I can't wait to get hugs and kisses. While there are hard days, there's always something to look forward to to help you get through them.  I am going to go to bed that way I can see that smile sooner and feel those hugs and kisses sooner. 


Good food Good friends

When you have kids, sometimes Ikea is a huge adventure.
This weekend we had some college friends come and visit with their dog and one-year-old son. I was reminded again of how great it is to have life long friends. There are some friends that you know no matter how far apart, no matter how life turns out or how long you go in between calls, you will always be friends. It's good for me to have these kinds of friends because I'm not so great at keeping in regular touch with people, even if I am living a town over.

While our friends were here we wanted to give them the full east coast experience (as we do with all first time visitors), however with two kids sleeping/napping schedules, we didn't really get to go out and see much. So we mostly just had food that is more available on the east coast. Isn't that what people enjoy the most? I know I do!

We made lobster rolls on fresh bread, pulled some soup from the freezer and threw together a salad. I happened to think it was delicious.
Our friends appeared to have enjoyed it as well.

Lobster Rolls

1-2 pounds fresh/defrosted frozen lobster (can use smaller amount of lobster and add shrimp or scallops as well)
4 cloves fresh garlic
1/2 tablespoon butter
2-3 tablespoons melted butter

  1. First I sauteed the garlic in the pan with the 1/2 tablespoon of butter on medium heat.
  2. Then I added the lobster, don't put too much in the pan, only enough to cover the bottom.
  3. The lobster only takes a couple minutes to cook.  You do NOT  want to overcook it!  You'll know when the lobster is done because instead of being "squishy slimy" it will feel firm when cooking utensil is pressed on it.
  4. When the lobster was finished cooking there was quite a bit of water in the pan that came from the lobster.  I dumped this out and then melted the additional butter in the pan.  Then I poured the butter over the top of the lobster in a bowl.
  5. We were pulling the rolls from the oven just as the butter was melting, talk about perfect timing. The rolls are cut like a hotdog bun (which can be used as well) and the lobster placed inside.  You can also slice the buns and "toast" them, cut side down, in a pan with a teaspoon or so of melted butter if you want.

2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
7/8 cup water

  1. Put all ingredients in a breadmaker and put on dough setting, or take out before it starts to bake if you don't have a dough setting.
  2. If you don't have a breadmaker, mix together until forms a dough.  Let rise for 45 minutes.  Knead.
  3. At this point form the dough into the shape you want and place on the pan you will be cooking it on.
  4. Let rise for 30 minutes.
  5. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  6. Bake for 12-15 minutes.

Good friends and good food are just what we needed to take our mind off of the anxiety of waiting for answers to the uncertainty of our future.  A little break to enjoy being in the moment and not to worry about the future was much appreciated.


Little Girls Gone Wild: Why Daughters Are Acting Too Sexy, Too Soon

This is quite scary. Especially since I'm the mother of an almost-two-year-old girl. I don't want her to end up on a pole or in a rehab facility. I guess I need to start thinking about how I'm going to combat this.

Little Girls Gone Wild: Why Daughters Are Acting Too Sex y, Too Soon


Pancakes make my day

After a pretty busy day at work I really appreciate not having to think.  Really about anything, but especially about dinner.  I think it's because I have been organizing, planning and picking up messes all day that having to do it at home puts me over the edge.  Today was especially emotionally draining after receiving some not so great news on our time of waiting, so coming home to dinner ready to be made was wonderful.

I had to get over the fact that I hate Valentine's and appreciate the incredibly thoughtful, kind and selfless act Munchkie's Daddy did by making me dinner tonight.  Not only was it dinner, but it was breakfast for dinner, my absolute favorite kind of meal, and his absolute least favorite meal.  Now that is a complete selfless act.  I can even somewhat appreciate the V-day sprinkles in and on the pancakes.

I think that it what Valentine's Day is truly about.  Not all that ridiculous sappy love crap that is thrown in your face everywhere, but the selfless and unconditional acts of love.  Completely putting yourself aside to do something for someone else, even if you don't like it.  That is what love is about.  Not about how many flowers, how expensive the chocolates or how fancy the dinner, but unconditional love expressed through something simple and sacrificial. Whether it be your mom as I appreciated for so many years, a beloved pet, or your romantic interest, unconditional love is the ultimate gift to receive.


My least favorite holiday

I hate Valentine's Day.  Hate it.  Again, I hate it.  I always have.  I know that Munchkie's Daddy doesn't understand, but 22 years of being single and alone isn't completely negated with 7 years of being with someone.  My wonderful mom would always give me Valentine's care packages and send me fun things while I was single.  And even after I was with Munchkie's Daddy.  These cookies are what I think of when I think about Valentine's Day.  My mom would send them to me every year.

Ginger Valentine's Cookies

1 cup sugar
1 cup shortening
1 cup molasses (I actually didn't have any so I used 1/2 cup dark brown sugar and 1/2 cup maple syrup)
2 eggs
4 cups sifted flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ginger
2 teaspoons cinnamon
Raw (or coarse) sugar
Dove chocolates

  1. Cream together the sugar and shortening.
  2. Add molasses and unbeaten eggs.
  3. Mix well.
  4. Sift together the dry ingredients and stir in.
  5. Roll into 1 inch balls.
  6. Dip the balls in a bowl of raw sugar until coated.
  7. Place balls on greased cookie sheet about 3 inches apart.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes.
  9. When you take out of the oven press a chocolate into cookie while still warm.
  10. **Dough keeps indefinitely in the refrigerator**

And now I am going to bed because I am exhausted.

So young and naive,  if only we had an inkling of what our life would be like.


Bop the Bunny meets The Big Girl

So I was beyond excited when Munchkie successfully used the Elmo potty.  I spoke with her teachers at daycare and they said that potty training at daycare starts with her being able to pull her own pants and diaper off. She is perfectly capable of taking her pjs off, and yesterday her poopy diaper (that was a fun mess).  I decided before I showed her how to take her clothes and diaper off, I needed to make sure that she is really going to potty train.

My goal was have Munchkie potty trained and pacifier free by her second birthday.  I realized that if she became potty trained, she might regress if the pacifier was taken away.  So even though I need to jump on the chance to stop having to change diapers, I want to make sure that it's for real.

So we went on quite an expedition today to get to a Build-A-Bear Workshop (obviously I pay such good attention at the mall closest to us that I didn't realize there wasn't one and had to ask where there was a Build-A-Bear).  Several years ago I had read in a magazine a suggestion of using Build-A-Bear to wean off of pacifiers and I always wanted to use it when I had a child of my own.  However, I realized that it was basically going cold turkey, so we are also going to incorporate the technique that my own parents used on me.  Each night they would cut little pieces off of my pacifier, and I am going to do the same with Munchkie.  Tonight Munchkie cried for a few minutes, but fell asleep after just a few minutes of crying (could have been that she didn't take any nap today) and hopefully will stay asleep.

Since I'm working the next four days in a row, and I don't really remember the last time I worked days, I hope that Munchkie sleeps through the night pacifier free.  Next week we will go hardcore into potty training.  Because in a month from tomorrow, she will be two.  How did this happen??? 

Stuffing her bops into the bunny.

Using the peddle to add the stuffing.

Deciding that it's perfectly stuffed.

Hugs for Bop the Bunny while enjoying Big Girl Smoothies.

Bop the Bunny takes her place in Munchkie's crib with a bop in each extremity.


So proud I could cry (and did)

This morning I was checking my email after getting home from work and Munchkie was standing next to me, all of the sudden she looked up at me and said "Elmo potty?"  I said "do you need to go sit on the Elmo potty?" She said "yeah, ok!"

So we went to the bathroom and sat on the potty.  Then she PEED IN THE POTTY!  She said "Yay!  Pee pee in potty!  Sticker!  Yay!"  Then I said "are you all finished or do you want to keep trying?"  She said "keep trying!"  and so she sat there and POOPED IN THE POTTY!

The cheers in our bathroom were probably pretty similar to sports bars across Wisconsin last night.  As soon as she was finished she reminded me that she got two stickers, a "peepee sicker, poopoo sicker, 1, 2"

I was so proud of my little Munchkinroo!  It may have been the exhaustion from last night being my third night in a row at work, but I was so overwhelmed by how grown up my little baby is.  She's not a little baby anymore.  Not at all.  She can tell us when she has to go potty.  I'm just so stinkin proud.  What a huge accomplishment.  Now if only we could get rid of that bop (pacifier)........


Yummy Tummy!

We've been playing all morning since we are snowed/iced in.  I'm hoping that it will be safe enough to venture out when Munchkie wakes up from her nap so we can get some supplies for a homemade playdough recipe Munchkie's Mimi emailed me after the last failed attempt.  Munchkie found an a-bin (apron) and was playing with it on so I asked if she wanted to cook something.  Of course she said yes and literally ran to the spot on the kitchen counter that she gets to sit.  I looked through a super cool cookbook Munchkie's Aunt gave her for Christmas and found a recipe that we actually had the ingredients for.  We made something that I can send with Munchkie for lunch tomorrow at daycare too.

Broccoli Trees in Haystacks from Oscar's Good-For-You-Greens

1 small broccoli crown, broken into florets
2 tablespoons water (I used frozen broccoli and so I skipped the water, defrosted the broccoli and cut the "trunks" off)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole grain cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar (I used 1/4 cup honey)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup low-fat milk
2 eggs
1/4 (1/2 stick) butter, melted (I used 1/4 cup melted coconut oil)

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Grease 12 standard muffin cups or line with paper baking cups.  Place the broccoli and water in a microwaveable dish.  Cover and microwave on HIGH or 2 minutes or until crisp-tender. (I used a mini muffin pan because that was all that I had, and just ran warm water over the frozen broccoli until defrosted.)
  2. Mix together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. (I added the honey with the wet ingredients)
  3. Stir together the milk, eggs and butter in a medium bowl.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.  Stir until just moistened.  Spoon 1 tablespoon of batter into each of the muffin cups.
  5. Place one piece of broccoli (a "tree) in each cup.
  6. Spoon additional batter into each cup, filling them about 3/4 full.  Bake 15 minutes (10-13 for mini muffins) or until a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean.  Cool in the pan for 5 minutes.  Remove to a wire rack.  Serve warm.

This is the super cool book!
"Munchkie are they good?"
"Yummy tummy! Yummy tuuummmmmy!"


Frozen Chocolate Covered Banana Coins

As I've already said I enjoy spending time in the kitchen, especially to relieve stress, frustration or a bad mood.  Yesterday I first make breakfast for the fam, then a batch of granola bars, popped some of these in the freezer, tried out a homemade playdough recipe (fail on that one), then cut up a ton of peppers (for my dinner at work and Munchkie daycare lunch).  I am trying very hard not to be stressed, but I'm just not doing very well with that.  I guess I'll just keep spending time in the kitchen for now and keep praying for peace.

I want to start off by saying that I cannot stand bananas.  I don't like to eat them, to have them in smoothies and will pick them out of a fruit salad.  However, I do like them in things like banana bread and frozen.  This is weird, I know.  When I was little my mom would make us these frozen banana snacks.  One was whole bananas dipped in chocolate, rolled in nuts and frozen while the other was sliced bananas and peanut butter in a graham cracker sandwich, again frozen.  A little while ago I decided to make these to both bring me back to my childhood and also have a chilled chocolate snack available so I wouldn't turn to something way less healthy.  I can pull a couple pieces out of the freezer, slowly eat them and have my cravings filled.  They are super easy and the active part only takes a few minutes.  I never really like dark chocolate, but the sweetness of the banana makes the dark chocolate much more tolerable, so I recommend trying out a darker chocolate than you think you would like, because the darker, the better for you.

Frozen Chocolate Covered Banana Coins

3 Bananas
3 large bars of dark chocolate
Almond butter (or any nut butter)
Almond pieces
Aluminum foil or wax paper
Freezer space

  1. First cut the banana lengthwise.
  2. Then cut the bananas into one inch "coins"
  3. Place a small dab of almond butter in between each piece of banana coin.
  4. Freeze these for at least an hour, preferably until firm.
  5. Take the chocolate bars and break up into small pieces.
  6. Once the bananas are frozen, melt the chocolate in a small pan.
  7. Dip the banana coins in the chocolate and place on aluminum foil.
  8. Drizzle the left over chocolate over the top of the bananas.
  9. Sprinkle the almond pieces over top.
  10. Drizzle more chocolate over the top of the almond pieces.
  11. Freeze until chocolate is firm.
  12. Break apart and store in a Ziploc or airtight container in the freezer.
  13. Enjoy!