12.11.2017

Good Things

December is rushing by at an alarming pace. With so many good things happening, its not surprising! We just returned from Mexico barely over a day ago, and my Babs flies in today! Give me a few days and I'll be back with new things to say.

12.08.2017

Christmas Tidings

I am 100% a "respect the turkey" type. I adore Thanksgiving and everything we chose to celebrate on it. I don't want Christmas decorations or carols beforehand, I want gourds, leaves, and counting of all our numerous blessings!!


That said, once Thanksgiving is over, I am so ready to decorate for Christmas. I don't love the wintertime, but I adore everything that it brings. The holidays, the cozy PJs and snuggling, the family togetherness; even the change in food and drink. So this year, as most, the day after Thanksgiving we broke out the decorations and started to make our house look quite festive.

Little Santa...
see also, new art (my favorite painting at the Louvre!)

 Our stockings are hung, there are Santas, reindeer, and snowmen scattered throughout the apartment. Let the seasonal good will commence... 🎅


12.06.2017

Not-So-Wordless Wednesday {Caramel Whiskey Pumpkin Pie}

Do yourself a favor...

Take your favorite pumpkin pie recipe and when you're mixing it all together throw in 2-3 tablespoons of either bourbon or if you have it on hand like we did, some caramel whiskey.


Thank me later.

You can also top it with some bourbon or whiskey whipped cream.

(Bourbon Whipped Cream: 1 cup heavy cream, 1 tablespoon bourbon or whiskey, 1 tablespoon powdered sugar, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract. Whip until soft peaks form, then eat. it. all.)

(Also, add a shot of that caramel whiskey to your mug of apple cider and rejoice! Top it with the whipped cream to get realllll crazy!)

12.04.2017

Holidays



The holiest of all holidays are those
    Kept by ourselves in silence and apart;
    The secret anniversaries of the heart,
    When the full river of feeling overflows;—
The happy days unclouded to their close;
    The sudden joys that out of darkness start
    As flames from ashes; swift desires that dart
    Like swallows singing down each wind that blows!
White as the gleam of a receding sail,
    White as a cloud that floats and fades in air,
    White as the whitest lily on a stream,
These tender memories are;— a Fairy Tale
    Of some enchanted land we know not where,
    But lovely as a landscape in a dream.



--  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

12.01.2017

Brown Butter Sage Apple Crumble Pie

I made two pies for Thanksgiving. Those, and some bacon wrapped asparagus, were our contributions to the Friendsgiving celebrations! Did I mention it was a very yummy day?


So what I feel I should tell you about this pie first is that I cheated on the crust. Now, this is nothing new... I always cheat on crusts because well, I don't love most of them, to be quite honest! I have yet to find one that makes my skirt fly up, so I'm not going to take the time to make one from scratch. But this time, instead of buying just the refrigerated pie crust, I bought....

Sugar Cookie Dough!

Guys, this was damn brilliant! Seriously. It was so good.



I love apple crumble, and I love apple pie, but because of my indifference or dislike for most crusts, my favorite by a million miles is the amazing combination of apple crumble pie. Crust on the bottom to hold it all together, crumble on the top. For this one, to really make it a Thanksgiving treat, I went a little crazy by adding in the flavors of browned butter and sage. It was the right choice.


INGREDIENTS
For Pie:
1 tablespoon butter
1/3 teaspoon ground sage
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour (plus 1 tablespoon, for the crust)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
pinch of salt  
4 Braeburn apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
4 Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Sugar Cookie dough

For Crumble Topping:  
3/4 cup pecans, chopped
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch fine salt
6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces
 

1. Preheat oven to 375*, then grab a small pan and start to brown your butter. Melt and cook the butter over low heat, regularly swirling the pan to make sure the butter is cooking evenly. When the butter gets to a lovely light brown and smells nutty, it is done. Pull it off the heat, pour it into a dish, and add your ground sage, swirling to combine. 


2. Take your refrigerated sugar cookie dough and 1 tablespoon of flour. Work them together until combined and the dough is soft enough to shape into your pie pan. Put dough in pan, making an even layer along the bottom and sides. Put into fridge to cool and set.

3. Put your lemon juice in a large bowl, then start to peel, core, and slice your apples. Throw them in the lemon juice as you finish slicing them and give them a little shake to cover the apples in the juice. 


4. Mix your sugar, brown sugar, flour, spices, and salt until well combine. Add the mixture, and your cooled butter, to the apples and stir really well to cover apple slices evenly.  

5. In a large bowl combine all crumble ingredients (minus butter), and mix until well combine. Add butter and gently squeeze sections into clumps. 

6. Mound apple mixture into your cookie crust, top with crumble mixture. Bake for for ~40-45 minutes until inside is bubbly. Check around 15 - 20 minutes in, and cover  with foil so edges and topping don't brown too quickly. 


Let cool so juices can thicken and set slightly! Then enjoy plain, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, or with a dollop of whipped cream. 
 


11.29.2017

Semi-Wordless Wednesday {Family Thanksgiving... because we need leftover!}

We loved our Friendsgiving and having so many people to be with on the actual Thanksgiving Day. That's what the day is really all about!

But....


We needed some turkey! The leftovers are half the fun!


So the day after actual Thanksgiving, we made our own Thanksgiving meal! And leftovers abound.  😋

(We also ate that turkey while watching Miracle on 34th Street... our traditional first Christmas movie of the season, because we know how to celebrate!)

Turkey and Rice Soup...

11.27.2017

Thanksgiving


I cannot believe that Thanksgiving has come and gone already. It seems like it just became Autumn, and now Thanksgiving is done, and December - with winter and Christmas - are just around the corner. This year, with no family visit planned, we said yes to a dinner hosted at a friend's house.


We were greeted with adorable signs, good friends, and lots of great food.



We contributed two pies and some bacon wrapped asparagus.


It was so nice to have fun people to spend the day with, as we have always preferred more company over Thanksgiving. It is probably the one day a year that I miss the East Coast most.


My belly was happy and full, and our commute home was a 30 second walk!


We also laughed so much my face hurt.


I hope your Thanksgiving was as lovely as ours! Let the Christmas season begin!

11.24.2017

Date Night and Football Games

I know yesterday was Thanksgiving, but I need a day to recover and write about it. So instead lets jump back a week. This week was a good, though busy one. Last Friday Trav and I found ourselves out for a date night! It had been a bit since we'd gone out just the two of us, so we went downtown for dinner at a restaurant we knew Gwen wouldn't like, then back to Parker for some coffee from a cute little shop on one of my favorite little Main Streets.


They had the lights up and it was snowing ever so lightly, and seriously, how lovely is that?!

The next day we all headed out because it was the day of the big Lehigh-Lafayette college game and there was a telecast party downtown.


We got to watch Lehigh win while eating delicious fried foods (those mozzarella sticks have pancetta under the breading, which has Parmesan in it!).


I... well, I didn't eat enough, drink enough water, and I had stayed up too late the night before, so by 6:00pm I was done. I went to bed for ninety minutes, then rallied for another ninety minutes (allowing me to eat some dinner and drink a lot of water), then headed to bed for the rest of the night. Thankfully that 12 hours of sleep fixed me right up...

Sunday Gwen had her final swim lesson of this group, the final one for a while. She wasn't enjoying swim anymore and was more then ready for a break. So that's that! She's not signed up for any more and I don't have plans to even ask her about it again until at least summer. I didn't even remember to take a picture. We'll take a little break from extra lessons, but Gwen has expressed interest in learning how to skate better to maybe try out hockey, so... we'll see!

On Tuesday I had my postpartum appointment with my most recent doula client, and just look at his wee face!!


Guys, he's so adorable, and he's doing so well. They all are! It makes me so happy to see new families thriving. 


I have such a great job.


I went out with a girlfriend that night after teaching, and then Gwen was off of school starting Wednesday for the holidays. This weekend Gwen and Trav are planning to go skiing again, and I have a date with my soul sister! Then its on to the last week in November already!

11.22.2017

Semi-Wordless Wednesday {Gwen Skiing}


Trav took Gwen skiing recently, her second time ever on the slopes and her first time just heading out with him and not taking a lesson. She did so well!






I hope this is something they can enjoy together for years to come!

11.20.2017

As A Doula

I love my job. I get to be there for one of the most life changing moments that a parent will experience. With each client, I live my life moment by moment, waiting for the call that will send my body flooding with adrenaline, and scurrying off into the dark. I spend days, weeks, maybe months with them beforehand trying to prepare them for some of the most taxing work their body will ever do, but also for the completely unexplainable transformation from individual to parent.

It is exhilarating.

I can go, on my feet, coaching, supporting, suggesting, reminding for 4 hours, 12 hours, 27 hours, or more. I am soft when you need compassion, and strong when you need to be recentered. I'm gentle when you need the nudge to remember to use your voice, and I'm loud if anyone ever dares to doubt you. It is completely and undeniably fulfilling.

 It is also exhausting. We help pass hours or even days, marked in increments of 2 - 4 minutes. I wake up the day after a birth and I'm physically tired. I'm emotionally drained too, and it can take me a day of self care and some verbal processing to get back on track. Doulas see you at your best, and we see you at a time when you feel your most weak. Through it we are an even constant.

I have attended unmedicated births, births with epidurals, spontaneous births, and inductions. I have attended births with traumatic pasts, births with scary situations, births that had every intervention, and births that went exactly as planned. All have been beautiful in their own ways. 

As a doula, when you say, "We couldn't have done this without you..." it will be my gut instinct to say, "Of course you could have!" because I truly believe in the power of every individual to birth. But, when I allow myself to think of how proud I am of what I do, I also know that maybe you are right. We all have those moments when we forget our worth, forget our power, and having someone there to remind you of that is so important always, but especially in what can be one of the most exhausting, and vulnerable times of a person's life. With someone to remind you though, your divinity and power shines!

When you thank me, I might not know how to react, because it truly is an honor to be a part of each birth. Here's me owning my power and worth for a moment though too: What I do matters, and makes a different. And I am damn good at what I do.

I'm a doula, and I love my job.

11.17.2017

Lately

It feel like there has been so much going on since we returned from France at the end of October, and now we are equally close to our Mexico trip at the beginning of December! Writing about France was so much more difficult then I imagined it would be. We did so much, took so many pictures, and just felt so many things. It was crazy and I spent at least a week working on each of the two posts! There was just so much I wanted to remember, and even splitting it into two posts, I still missed things. It also put me behind on everything else I wanted to write and talk about. So, here's a little bit of what's been going on:

I had a doula client who I went on-call for pretty quickly after our return, and who's birth I attended earlier this week. I love being there for the birth of babies, but being on-call is hard and I'm excited to be done with it (other then a day or two in December for the birth center) for the rest of the year, and as of right now, until March! I wrote a whole post on being a doula which I'll post on Monday.

We had Gwen's parent-teacher conference and it was, well, wonderful. We adore her teacher, and her teacher adores her. Gwen is excelling in school again, and we are so grateful for all they do to encourage her and challenger her to grow. She came into 2nd grade with a 3rd grade reading level, and they are doing all they can do to keep her progression on the same upward moving line. She has also taken a lot more ownership this year, in doing her homework and in completing work at school. We are pretty proud. She is loving gifted & talented, and she's also loving the little bit of speech therapy she's receiving.

Another wonderful thing, my soul sister Marissa is back in town!!


I have missed this girl so much, and it is so good to get to squeeze her a bit before she returns to Mexico in January.


Travis has started taking some yoga classes this month... not from me.  😄  I new place opened by his work, and he got a great groupon deal to try them out. I'm so glad that he gets to take some classes, and how ironic that he starts this time of year, when I just celebrated my 5th anniversary of finding yoga as well.

Have a great weekend all!

11.15.2017

Not-So-Wordless Wednesday {A Car and a Story}


Megane is a popular car in France. Back, years ago when we were preparing for our second embryo transfer, wondering if this was going to work, Cecile and Jacques were driving somewhere. They pulled up to a light, and the car in front of them was a Megane. Except the last E was missing from this particular car, and they had placed a "baby on board" sticker in that empty space.

Cecile said that in that moment, she knew. This transfer would work.

😊

11.13.2017

France - Part 2, Nice!

Our visit continued in Nice, just over 900 miles, and 6 hours away by train. It was a mostly low-key trip, where we read and watched videos on our kindle or phones, but it wasn't without any excitement.


Tooth number two came out just as we were approaching the Nice train station! A friendly gentleman on the train offered an empty plastic baggy he had in his bag, and we were able to tuck the tooth safely away for later. (The "tooth mouse" did visit another night, bringing with it a €2 coin!)

We got into bed a little late, so the next morning we set no alarms and had a very relaxing sleep in, then enjoyed a leisurely morning. It was very much needed after all of the walking and go go go of Paris.



It was also the first morning that we got to see A in person. He had been staying with a friend while we were in Paris, since we’re doing many things it wouldn’t have been of interest to him. I think he was a little overwhelmed at first these three new people in his house, and though he’s been hearing about our arrival for a number of weeks, it was still a lot to do with in the moment.



He very quickly warmed up though. He especially loves Gwen, they quickly found ways of communicating that didn’t involve any mutual language.


That afternoon we went on to check out Monaco.



Monaco is a sojourn nation, completely surrounded by France.



It’s improbably beautiful, though it almost seems unreal, like a movie set or something similar.



The buildings are stunning, and looking at the streets as we walked along them it’s insane to think about the race taking place there! Its hard to imagine driving those curves at high speeds, speeds that I wouldn't want to drive on our straight roads! 




It was a fun day though.




The next day, October 25, Wednesday, we checked out old Nice. It’s incredibly beautiful city as well, much more lived in.


We tried a local dish, called socca. Its a pancake/crepe like dish made with chickpea flour, water, oil, salt and pepper. Trav and I were big fans!



We really loved the old narrow streets, very much what I think most people picture when they think of Europe. Definitely what I picture.




We got great views of the Mediterranean, and of the whole city.


That afternoon, we took a long walk, one of Cecile's favorites. Around a peninsula, in a cute little neighborhood of Nice, cruising along the Mediterranean the whole way.




The water was so blue! We couldn’t quite get over it.

That evening Jacques and his new wife, came to pick us up so that we could have dinner with them. I forgot to really take any pictures of the night, but it was an enjoyable one. We drank wine and ate a variety of little dishes, and just talked. Gwen missed the company of A and Cecile while we were there, but enjoyed playing with all of A's toys! Jacques took us back home that evening, and we quietly let ourselves in to head to bed. Cecile and A were already asleep.

On Thursday we headed back to one of the beaches that we had seen during our walk on the previous day. It was a rock beach, but the water was absolutely gorgeous, though a little cold. Gwen and A were perfectly happy to get in though, and Trav and I were happy to get in at least a little bit to say that we swam in the Mediterranean! Mine was more of a toe dip, but close enough!





After the swimming, Cecile showed us some more of the pretty sites in Nice, and then since A was asleep she let us off at a certain point so that we could continue on a walking portion of the tour. She let us know exactly which ways to head and what to look for, and we just texted her when we got to the endpoint letting her know to pick us up.



It worked out very well and it was a beautiful little walk.



We headed back to the apartment then, because we needed to meet Cecile‘s parents who were coming over to watch A, so that we could head out for a special surprise that Cecile had planned for us. Macarons are one of my favorite cookies... hence our stop in Paris! So she had made plans with the local macaron chef, to give us a private lesson!




It was an amazing experience! The cookies are very intensive to make, so I never would’ve tried on my own, but with a walk-through it made them seem quite doable.



 I made Rose, Gwen made chocolate, Trav made Citron, and Cecile made raspberry.



We headed out that night with about 60 cookies each!


Amazingly, most of those cookies made it home with us safe and sound! Trav's carry on was literally all macarons! Ha!

A little note: almost every night Cecile had new French cheeses for us to try. We started with milder ones and built up to a very stinky cheese for the last night in Nice. She paired different French wines with them each.


As a huge lover of cheese, this was a nice treat for me!

The next morning the kids colored a little while we ate breakfast, then we headed into Italy.


It’s so crazy to me living here with our insane borders, just how easy it is to travel back-and-forth between countries in Europe. But Italy was very close, and we headed to a cute little town just a half an hour away from Cecile’s place.


We enjoyed some shopping, took in one of their street markets, ate some paninis, and then headed to the playground so that Gwen and A could run off some energy.



Story time:
While we were at the playground in Italy, there was this great rope structure that you could climb up to a basket at the top. Two older teenager/younger 20somethings had taken over the top basket, smoking and listening to music on their phone, and weren't letting any kids climb up. I was livid, but the language barrier kept me from saying anything. The kids though, organized into a little kid gang and kept running over, jumping on the structure as a group and rocking the whole thing. It was cracking me up.

Another mom did take things into her own hands and tried to talk to the teens, who promptly dismissed her. Not to be dismissed, the mom headed over to the side of the playground and came back with two police officers! Every parent on the playground watched with interest and a smile on their face as these teens tried to point to the group of kids and blame them for wrongdoing! Ha! The police weren't having any of it. They invited the teens down, and when they continued to try to talk back, they were ordered down where they were met with citations!

It was so very satisfying, and the kids immediately ran up to the top of the structure to claim their kingdom!



When it was time to head back we headed into the mountains first, instead of going straight to Cecile's. This ended up being one of my favorite stops of the whole trip.



Sospel is a gorgeous little town, with amazing views of the mountains, and gorgeous old streets with beautiful buildings.




We walked around for a bit, seeing a beautiful church and little apartments.


We also got to see these cool old structures for washing.


The water flows through them continuously, and you wash at the bottom, then rinse in the fresher water at the top.


The drive itself was amazing as well. (What do you know, those French Alps aren't so shabby...)




For our last night we got a few extra special items to accompany our very stinky cheese.


We put the kids to bed and enjoyed one last night of conversation, food and wine.


On Saturday the 28th, all too soon, it was time to head home. We had a little bit of breakfast, packed the last minute items, and then it was time to head to the airport.


It was a quick trip to London (Heathrow), then an exceptionally fast layover (picture us running through the airport!), followed by a very long flight home. It was an exhausting day and we were all happy to sleep in our beds that night.

Our trip was absolutely phenomenal, shorter then we all would have liked, but long enough to wet our appetite for this amazingly beautiful and varied country. A piece of my heart has resided in France for the past two and a half years anyway, but now I definitely have a deeper love for the country of my surrobaby and his absolutely amazing family. For me it is not a question of if we will go back, but when.