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Monthly Archives: December 2011

Breakfast Muffins (Updated)

Peanut butter. Bananas. Oats. Syrup. It’s breakfast in a muffin!

I’ve been making lots of muffins lately, working on getting the right balance between something healthy and something Leia will gladly snack on.

I found a recipe on Baking Bites for Banana Peanut Butter Oatmeal muffins which sounded like the perfect combination. I liked the added protein and from peanut butter for Leia. Of course, I modified it to fit what I had on hand, and because I can’t resist tweaking a recipe.
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (you can use all-purpose)
1 cup quick cooking oats
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup (I cut down the amount of sugar to fit in the leftover syrup from the pantry)
2 large eggs, mixed together
2 large bananas, mashed (I just bought new ones so they needed to be softened a little. Put them in the oven, skin on, for 10 minutes while the oven heated up. When the skins are dark they’re ready, and extra sweet)
1/3 cup peanut butter
1 cup buttermilk (No buttermilk? Put a Tbs. of white vinegar or lemon juice in a cup of milk and left to rest for a few minutes)

Take bananas out of the skins, and mash carefully (it’s hot). Add the other wet ingredients – sugar, oil, syrup, peanut butter, eggs, buttermilk and combine everything with a whisk. In a separate bowl combine flour, oats, salt, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda. Fold dry ingredients into wet until just combined. This turned out to be a pretty loose batter, probably from substituting some syrup for sugar. In the future I’ll experiment with less buttermilk, or maybe more flour – it’s your call.

I was able to fill 24 mini muffin tins and 12 regular muffin tins. Bake at 350 degrees until slightly browned on top and a knife comes out clean.

They turned out okay, not too sweet straight out of the oven. I think the flavor will intensify after a day like most banana bread does. The texture isn’t as fluffy as I’d like, it’s almost too moist. I’ll test them tomorrow on Leia and post an update.


Update: These didn’t get much better overnight. I might try them again sticking to the original recipe, but chances are I’ll probably just go back to my trusted banana muffin recipe adapted from All Recipes:

  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted

Mix wet ingredients with a large whisk, sift together dry ingredients. Combine the two until just moistened. Use a cookie scoop to fill lined muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake at 375 until tops turn brown and a knife inserted comes out clean. Makes about 12 muffins.


Sweet 16 (and a half months)

I wanted to post this weeks ago, but life gets busy. Leia will be 17 months on New Years Eve and it blows my mind. I know I’m stating the obvious – someday she’ll be 17 years old, 27 years old, etc – but the shock of how quickly time passes never wears off.

Taking pictures for our Christmas cards

Leia, you are such a fun, active, cuddly toddler. Definitely a mama’s girl, you’re attached to my hip (or boob) more often than not. Sometimes you’re a social butterfly, greeting people at the store or sharing your toys with a new kid at the park. More often it takes you a little while to warm up to new people (and people you don’t see often) – you’re not afraid to let them know you need some space! This time is so short, and someday you’ll have a hard time believing all you needed to make the world okay was for me to hold you. One day you will be too big for my hip, but I will always be there for you.

Taking pictures with Dad

The teeth are coming! This month your top two teeth came in and this morning I found a molar. I also see the teeth next to the ones on top coming up. This might explain the all night nursing sessions. Sometimes you wake up shrieking, and it breaks my heart. I’m sorry teething is so terrible, but I promise you won’t remember it in the long run.

You love rubbing lotion on your skin and mine, pretending to spray yourself with sunscreen or the leave in conditioner. I don’t have a lot of beauty products, but when you get into my makeup bag you’re all over the brushes. My favorite is when you brush my face. The kitties aren’t as thrilled with being brushed, or being rubbed with lotion.

You love the bead necklaces I got as party favors, and put them on at least once a day. Then you put them on me. You wear them when we go out every now and then which means you wear more jewelry than I do, ha.

Sprawling out on the couches at Fashion Valley mall

Favorite cartoons: Bubble Guppies, hands down. You were on a SpongeBob kick for a while. Not so interested in Sesame Street or Cat in the Hat at the moment. When I make breakfast you’ll bring me the remote and say “bubba bubba bubba.”

Coloing the book about staying at Grandma's house

Favorite books: Pat the Bunny, There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly, There’s A Wocket in my Pocket, Mr. Brown Can Moo, Moo Baa LaLaLa!, the ABC book from the Museum of Art – I love that you love reading. We read in the morning after breakfast, and throughout the day you’ll flip through books or bring them to me and crawl into my lap and turn the pages. You’re so smart, and can point out most of the things I ask you to find. You love any book with animals, so you can make the sounds they do. Sometimes you hold my finger and point to the objects as I count or name them, teaching me as we read.

A crispy green bean at P.F. Changs.

Gogurts and cartoons with Caleb

Favorite foods: Changes all the time. You’ve morphed into a picky eater, which is pretty normal. You’re growing perfectly (22 lbs. and 32.5 inches) so I try not to micromanage your daily eating habits. You love frozen “gogurts” and eat 3-4 a day, must be because they feel good on the gums. You’ll usually eat chicken, ground beef, pasta with tomato or cheese sauces, sweet potatoes, corn on the cob, cheese, berries, clementines, little green trees (broccoli), crackers, homemade banana muffins. Sometimes you’ll eat beans and rice. One morning you devoured a wheat waffle with peanut butter, hasn’t happened since. You’ll gladly share a cookie or a few french fries with me. I swore up and down you wouldn’t get junk food until, I don’t know, grade school? But the reality is if I eat it sometimes I don’t mind if you share. No interest in milk, unless it comes from the boobs. Finger food is less appealing, as you’re getting pretty good with a spoon and fork.

One of my favorite things is watching you cook or eat pretend food. When we’re in the kitchen you’ll use the whisk to stir things in the big silver bowl then scoop up a bite with a big spoon. You’ll offer me a taste too. I tell you you’re a wonderful chef and ask you for your secrets to the perfect soup or casserole. The ziplock bags and straws are an endless source of entertainment – you pull them out of the boxes and spread them around in the bottom drawer (or the floor).

The goat says....

Words and Sounds: Mom, Bob and No/Nah are probably the three words you say most often. Bob is usually a reference to the boobs. You make the “Ba” sound for balloons and balls (two of your favorite things). Animal sounds are fun – meow, woof woof woof, baa, moo, neigh. You snort for a pig and say vroom for cars and trucks.

We were riding in the car when I heard the doors lock, then unlock. For a split second I considered the possibility the car was haunted (don’t laugh!), then the more realistic idea that I had some electrical problem. Then I looked back and saw you had my spare car keys and were pressing the remote buttons. I laughed the rest of the ride, which made you laugh, which made my whole day.

You can open doors all over the place. One of your favorite things is running and hiding from me then squealing when I knock on the door and say “Hello? Has anyone seen Leia? Is she in here?” then open the door slowly. Speaking of running around you’re pretty good at getting up and down stairs, on and off the furniture, etc. You can climb the chair and get onto the dining room table at Grammy’s house which gives us all anxiety. You like to get on top of the ottoman, spin around scoot to the edge and fling yourself backwards. I definitely think you’ll enjoy a gymnastics class when you get older. You love flipping upside down, spinning around (sometimes with a bucket on your head), and the downward dog yoga pose.

Sneaky sneaky! You do this hilarious and adorable thing I call “creeping” – you hunch over and tip toe ever so slowly with a sly smile. I say “Leia, are you sneaky, sneaky, where are you creeeeping to?” and you’ll throw your head back and laugh. Those full belly laughs are wonderful, priceless, they keep me going on a rough day. You like to come up behind me and tap my back when I’m sitting on the floor. Then I grab your hands and pull you up onto my back and we run around the house like you’re my superhero cape.

You’ve gotten wise to my escape moves. When Grammy comes over in the evening it usually means Mom is going to the gym. A few times you’ll grab my shoes and run around in protest. Most of the time you just scream and cry and grab my leg. But Grammy has assured me that a few minutes of tears after I leave and you two end up having a great time.

Helping me address envelopes

My little artist! You love coloring – pens, crayons, paintbrushes, they’re all great. You hold the pens and crayons very well and scribble on the books more than the walls now. You enjoy standing on the chair pushed up against the desk and organizing all my papers.

People have asked if potty training is on the horizon. I don’t think so. I don’t mind diapers, they’re convenient. You do like to flush the big potty, and when I go pee you always demand a few pieces of toilet paper and will pretend to wipe your butt. So I’ll probably buy you your own potty for Christmas and see how things go. But really, no rush.

Taking a nap.

Right now you’re sleeping in the bed we share, probably taking up 75% of it, spread out like a starfish. The cats take up another 20%. I’m content with our cozy space.

You are the greatest joy in my life little Leia Olivia, I love you.

The War on Christmas

There isn’t one.

At least once a day I see someone’s status update on Facebook say something about how they’re annoyed that it’s not okay to say Merry Christmas anymore. Really?

Last time I checked Christmas is still everywhere. It’s the focal point holiday of the season. There is no shortage of Christmas anything – cards, decorations, trees, gifts! When has it ever been “not okay” to wish someone a Merry Christmas? Show me the person who responds to Merry Christmas with “Hey, actually I’m Agnostic/Jewish/(insert belief) and I’d prefer a Happy Holidays/Happy Hanukkah/(insert holiday) instead.” Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, I’m going out on a limb and guessing you’d probably smile, reciprocate a greeting and go about your day. I see far more people getting bent out of shape about being told Happy Holidays because their personal beliefs aren’t being catered to, whether they represent the majority or not. Now that doesn’t seem to be in the Christmas spirit.

Happy Holidays isn’t a watered down version of Merry Christmas, it’s not a replacement for Christmas, it encompasses Christmas – and Hanukkah and Kwanzaa (I need to meet someone who actually celebrates this). Happy Holidays is a general statement of good wishes during this time of the year. If you celebrate Christmas – sing it from the rooftops to everyone you meet. If someone says Happy Holidays in return, try not to be a bitter old scrooge and appreciate that someone wishes you well in return.

“Don’t tell me what to celebrate, stop trying to censor Christmas!” Just because your bank hangs a sign up that says Happy Holidays, or your work throws a “Holiday” party instead of a “Christmas” party, no one is taking away your freedom to celebrate Christmas. If I go to Target and the sign above the seasonal aisle says Happy Holidays, does that really mean I’m being forced to celebrate or believe in something else? There’s a War on Christmas because corporations default to saying Happy Holidays to speak to a wider demographic? I don’t understand how a general greeting that embraces the variety of religious and non-religious celebrations this time of year spits in the face of a Christian holiday. Head to Hallmark and look at the cards, there’s no shortage of cards that say Merry Christmas, even if the section is called “Holiday Cards” – the two aren’t exclusive!

Ornaments, half are off the tree at any given time.

Before I step off my soapbox I want to add that I’m not a Christian, but I was raised Catholic and celebrated Christmas every year. I will raise Leia to celebrate Christmas. I’m sure her Grandmas will take her to church and read her stories about Jesus to teach her the history of Christmas. Meanwhile I will continue to observe the holiday in the more religion neutral, slightly commercialized sense. We’ll decorate a tree, bake the cookies, watch the movies, open a few presents. We’ll spend the weeks leading up to the 25th hanging lights, avoiding crowded malls, sitting by a fireplace, spending time with family and friends. I’ll teach her to give back to those who need more than us. Most importantly, we’ll soak up the general spirit of goodwill and cheer that makes this time of the year so special. We’ll make memories and traditions for her to look forward to. I’ll greet people with Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays, and hope that they embrace as a warm gesture without picking apart the linguistics.

Merry Christmas!

December Nights Fiasco



Christmas on the Prado, as it used to be called, was one of my favorite things as a kid. San Diego’s kick off to the holidays. I loved drinking hot cocoa and walking around to look at all the lights, the big tree, the reindeer and a sleigh full of presents taking off by the organ pavilion. Like all kids, I was totally unaffected by the crowd around me. Where can we park? Do you see the kids? Can you maneuver the stroller? Not my problem, ask my Grandma/Grandpa/Mom/Dad.

Now that I’m the Mom, it sucks. I’m not new to the party, I know the crowds are insane. They anticipate something like 300,000 people to attend and it only runs two nights. Last year I remember being slightly annoyed for having to drive for 20 minutes to find a spot, and push a young baby in a stroller around. I think I wore her most of the time, she slept, I ate a falafel sandwich, admired the lights, listened to some music and the night was good.

This year? Complete epic fail. I prepared myself, knowing 163 was going to be a mess I took the 15 to University and headed to Park Blvd from the East. Traffic was moving fine til I the light to turn onto Park. Not bad, figure we’ll (we = Myself, my Mom, and Leia) sit in some traffic driving down Park and pay for a spot in one of the preferred parking lots off site. I’m totally willing to throw down $10 or $20 for a spot.

It takes me 15 minutes to get from my house to University and Park. If I saw a spot on a side street I’d gladly grab it and walk the rest of the way. No such luck. It takes 30 minutes swamped in traffic to go maybe 1/2 mile to the zoo parking lot.  Leia is screaming her head off so I drop her and my Mom and the stroller off. My plan is to head down to the lots at City College or Petco and take the shuttle up. My gas gauge says empty, but that really means I’ve got another gallon or two so I ignore it. Paid lots just outside the park are all “full” – I say full in quotes because I saw random open spots, they just weren’t letting anyone in. Now had I been following @DecemberNights on my phone I would have known this ahead of time. I also would have avoided the next headache.

It takes me another 45 minutes to drive 1/2 mile down Park, turn on C, drive down to 16th, head up to the College lot….and it’s full. They are redirecting people back to Park to try Petco or the County building. My car is past empty. I get out of line and stop for gas at Shell and I get an idea! I’ll go park at Horton Plaza and take a taxi. Then at the end of the night I’ll taxi back to my car and bring it to pick up Grammy and Leia. Drive towards Horton Plaza, but it’s a mess. I guess I wasn’t the only one with that idea. I’ve now been driving for over 2 hours since leaving my house. Phone calls to my mom let me know it’s packed too tight for the stroller or to let Leia run around on her own (which is what she prefers). They sat and ate some sandwich from a vendor, and now she’s about to fall asleep in the stroller.

I give up and head north on Park to pick them up. I’m hungry, I’m tired, I’ve over it. I know I wouldn’t want to battle the crowd after sitting in the car this long. I wonder if it would have been easier to take the trolley and walk a few miles, or park in Hillcrest and take a taxi (scratch that, I don’t want to taxi with Leia and the BOB). I think it would have been a nightmare either way, it was just way too crowded this year. I know this sounds lame, but I SWEAR it was not this bad last year. Where do these people come from?!

It takes me another 30 minutes to pick them up. Leia doesn’t even wake up when I take her out of the stroller and put her in the car seat. Looks like we’ll be enjoying the lights during the week when everyone else is at home. I’ll bring my own hot cocoa and Leia can run around like the wild child she is and we’ll both enjoy ourselves.

Here’s a picture of Leia’s visit to Santa this year – priceless! I love this little girl so much. Her expression pretty sums up how I feel about the whole fiasco tonight.

Yule Log

I love the Yule Log show, I play it at least 5 times a day. I miss having a fireplace (or not? cleaning + fire safety sounds tiring to be honest), but it’s still cozy at home tonight. My lights are up up, a pine scented Yankee candle is burning, I’m enjoying a cup of tea on the couch, listening to holiday music. Life is good 🙂