Wednesday, January 1, 2014

How to do a 12-month baby frame

I finally had time to sit down and put together my baby's 12 month frame. My mom gave me this one from Carter's for Christmas: 

But there are lots of cute or gender-specific options. I just googled "baby's first year frame" and got tons of results. I specifically wanted a frame hole for birth but not all first year frames include it so check before ordering.

I had no idea this would be such an undertaking. I knew I couldn't commit to a baby book for my kid but I thought, surely I can manage a picture every month. By month 7 and 8, I remember thinking, "Just turn one already!" The photoshoots aren't as fun when he's rolling around or won't pull his hand out of his mouth but persevere and I promise this will be a million times easier than a baby book that (spoiler) YOU WILL NEVER COMPLETE. But I digress. Here are some tips to help you along your way.

Tips for the monthly photoshoots:

1. Use the same background every time.

2. Photograph the kid with the month number in plain site in each photo but not right next to baby's face. DO NOT rely on your memory to remember which socks or diaper were in the pic. (I have to reorder my 4 and 5 month photos because I thought SURELY I would remember the sock colors for each month. No. You won't.)

3. Don't bother with a stuffed animal to compare growth. You only have room for baby's face, unless you buy a monster-sized frame. I had my kid in the same color cloth diaper every time so if you plan to buy the huge version, consider the same outfit/color scheme each time.

4. Attempt to keep the pictures in the same head/background proportion. Again, the frame holes are small so a close up on baby's face will be too big when you order prints.

Ok! You and your kid made it through your first year together! Celebrate but don't forget to take that 12 month picture. If you already have a frame, the 12 mo hole might be larger so adjust your photography accordingly.

Order your prints and let's get down to business.

My frame came with a plastic frame protector so I cut out a hole to use for tracing onto photos so I could cut them to the appropriate size.

I traced that onto my pictures:

Then I labeled the back of the cut photos like this:

So the back of my frame looks like this: (just in case the tape fails in 5 years and I have to put it back together)

It's a little weird to have a bunch of headless baby pictures.

Here's my frame so far. I need I reorder a 4 and 5 month picture and find a birth picture where is fat baby face fits in the frame hole.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Very Hungry Caterpillar 1st Birthday Party

WP turned 1 last month and we hosted some friends and family for a Very Hungry Caterpillar themed party. I'm not very creative but I was pretty proud of my party setup.

I tied green balloons to a long piece of yarn an topped it of with a red balloon for the caterpillar's head to drape over the mirror. I also made the happy birthday bunting with green and yellow construction paper and threaded yarn through holes I made with a hole puncher. My best advice for the bunting is to use a pattern to cut out the flags - do not try to free-hand it. Cut equal rectangles for the letters so they're all the same size.
My snack table got a lot of complements.

My rainbow fruit salad was my favorite.

Pretzels, pita chips & hummus, spinach dip, lemonade and fruit skewers (green grapes with a strawberry tip to mimic the balloon caterpillar) were also on the table.

I just did green and red frosted cupcakes arranged like the caterpillar to avoid a cake disaster. 

I'm very proud of this, it's a list of what he ate during his first year. Collin and I came up with the list from memory so I'm sure we forgot a lot. WP is a great eater so this was a cute project. You can see that I put WP's face on the caterpillar's body.

My only regret is that I didn't buy enough beer. I had plenty of hard liquor left but ran out of beer early. Other than that, the party was a huge hit!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Rutabaga & Butternut Squash Baby Food

This kid has been the best eater, I'm very fortunate. The bulk of his meals have come out of the bargain produce bin. I steam up whatever's on sale, purée it, pour it into ice molds and store it until I need it. 

Baby food should only be stored for up to 3 months but I've never had anything last longer than 2 weeks with my guy.

Rutabaga & Butternut Squash Purée

Wash, half and remove the seeds from the butternut squash. Place it flesh side down in a baking dish with an inch of water. Bake at 375 for 30 min or until soft. Allow it to cool completely.

Sweat 1/2 onion and a few cloves of garlic in butter. Purée these first and well. Even if you're making this for an older baby who can handle chunks, be sure the garlic and onions are small.

Peel, chop and steam the rutabaga. Typically, they are covered in a layer of food wax to keep them fresh. Wash it thoroughly with soap and water before you peel the outer layer off completely. Cut the pieces small to shorten steam time. I usually go for about 7 min or until fork tender.

(This is the rutabaga after I transferred it to a frying pan because the steamer was causing a strange reflection.)

Add the rutabaga to the food processor and purée until its a little chunky. You may want to add a little rutabaga cooking water to thin it out.

Scoop out the butternut squash flesh and add it to the food processor. Purée to desired consistency.

To freeze, scoop the purée into and ice tray. (Buy BPA-free ice trays!)

Smooth it with a spatula. Depending on the size of the squash and rutabagas, you may fill a bunch of trays.

I store my frozen food in a glass container inside a freezer bag. 

This is cheaper and better for your baby than jarred foods. You'll expand baby's palate and look like a baby food chef. The chopping is time consuming but once you have a bunch of frozen baby food stored, just pull a few cubes (mix and match with other baby recipes) and microwave for 90 seconds.  To thicken, add some rice cereal or baby oatmeal, to thin, add water.

Bon appetit!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Tomatillo salsa (salsa verde)

I need to figure out how to grow tomatillos in my yard next because I love my salsa verde recipe. Again, just like everything else I make, it's super easy.

Preheat the oven to 350

1 large purple onion, chopped

1 lb of tomatillos, paper removed/washed/chopped

Peppers, chopped (all the peppers and heat you can handle or want)

Combine them in a bowl and add about a 1/2 cup of olive oil, stir

Add them to a 9x11 pan and put them in for 30 minutes

Let it cool before you add it to the food processor.

Chop it to your preferred texture. If you're going to serve it as a salsa, go small. If you're going to add it to rice or quinoa, keep it chunky.


Monday, August 5, 2013

Pear and Nectarine Baby Food

Nectarines were 69 cents/pound at the produce store this week so I went crazy and bought 2 pounds. Last time I made nectarine baby food, it was a little strong for WP so I decided to calm it down by adding pears. This recipe is easy. I wouldn't do it if it was complicated.

Slow Cooker Nectarine & Pear Baby Food 

1-2 pounds of nectarines, chopped

1/2-1 pound of pears, chopped

1 cup of water

Put it all in the slow cooker. Set the timer for 2 hours, low temp. Don't stir, don't mash, don't touch...just go do something else.

When the timer goes off, use an immersion blender.

Purée completely or just give it a quick hit with the immersion blender. Since I'm feeding a nearly one year old* I left a little chunk in it.

Let it cool, then spoon it into ice cube trays and freeze it. I store the cubes in glass containers inside freezer bags to prevent freezer burn. But don't worry, even if they are freezer burned, my kid loves it, he's not picky.

*Has it already been a year?!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Pickled Radishes

I was recently faced with a quandary from my garden bed harvest: 

What do you do with a boatload of radishes? 

I turned to my vintage (read: saved from the garage sale pile from my parents' 2012 move) cookbooks for an answer. While the radish jelly in "Joy of Cooking" 1962 version looked tasty (or disgusting) I opted for pickling. Pickles? GOOD. Radishes? GOOD. It's like stepping up to bat and pointing to the left field bleachers. Get ready spectators, you're about to experience a home run.

The recipe couldn't be easier.

Radishes, halved or quartered: stems, leaves and roots removed

5-10 peeled garlic cloves (per quart canning jar)

I tsp ground pepper or whole peppercorns per jar

1tsp sugar per jar

1tsp Kosher salt per jar

2 cups vinegar per jar

Drop quart glass jars and lids into boiling water for 3 minutes to sanitize. For the amount of radishes I harvested, I used 2 quart jars.

Cut stems and roots off your boatload of radishes (I steamed and puréed the leaves for additions to baby food) and half or quarter the radishes.

Add garlic, salt, sugar, pepper to the jar.
I used 5 cloves because its what I had on hand.

Add the radishes to the jar.

I added some pepper on top.

Pour the vinegar over the radishes. Seal the jars and shake until the sugar dissolves.
Put them in the refrigerator for at least a week, shake once a day.

They're tasty and super easy. I've been adding them to salads and I bet they'd be awesome on a sandwich or burger if they were sliced thinly or added to coleslaw for a pickled flavor.

Radishes germinate in 3-5 days and are ready to harvest after 30 days. They'll grow in almost any climate and they need full sun. They are low risk/high reward and will make your neighbors think that you know what you're doing.

Friday, December 30, 2011

A little bit of success, a little bit of failure

Well, I've done better.

I made 6 resolutions at the end of 2010 and only fully met one of them. Here's how it went down:

2011 Resolution #1
Be a better friend by keeping in touch with people, not just following them on Facebook or Twitter. 

I deleted my Facebook account in June (and I regret nothing!). I do still follow people on Twitter and consider that a social interaction but I could definitely step it up. While I didn't do something social every single week, I'm pretty proud of social calendar this year. Collin and I have become closer with a few more friends (good!) and unfortunately grown apart from a few old friends (sad!), we made a fun pilgrimage to Brooklyn and we've also enjoyed many meals with friends. We are still on an austerity plan to pay off new house debts but we still have some social wiggle room in the budget for fun.

2011 Resolution #2
Stay on top of sending birthday cards. I always make this resolution and stop sending cards by March. I like getting cards so I should start sending cards.

Abysmal failure. Since I deleted my Facebook account, I have no idea when anyone's birthday is coming. This year, I'm going to enter birthdays in my iPhone calendar and set an alarm to go off 2 days in advance. I carry stamps in my wallet and blank cards in my purse so when the alarm goes off, I write, address, stamp and BOOM. Cards in the mail. My friends deserve cards. I can do this.

2011 Resolution #3
Participate in a triathlon this spring.

FAIL. However, I did run my 4th marathon so that counts for something, right?

2011 Resolution #4

Family resolution: Walk the dogs together at least 3 times a week. 

FAIL. Sorry doggies, we will work on it again this year.

2011 Resolution #5
Blog more! Is once a week too lofty a goal? I can do it.

Yes, it is too lofty a goal. I have backlogged ideas for the blog but haven't posted (or written) them yet. Stay tuned for our 2011 vacations and kitchen remodel.

2011 Resolution #6 
Save money and buy a place this year.

SUCCESS! I will post some transformation pictures in 2012. We are big fans of completing 90% of a project and then moving on to the next one. Pictures to come.

2012 Resolutions: repeat 2011 #1 - 5. Add to the list:

6. Pay off our remodeling/house bills. We used a few 0% interest for 12-18 month offers when we bought our kitchen appliances, some new furniture and the other necessary* housing accoutrement. We've been dutifully paying them off and will be done in April, May and June. Once those are paid, we will have more money for saving, fun and travel.

7. Use our passports at least once in 2012. I'm thinking a spring trip to the Dominican Republic for an early 30th birthday vacation for me but haven't exactly run that passed Collin yet. I'm sure he'll be into it. There will probably still be snow on the ground in Chicago until May.


*NOT necessary. But we didn't know that at the time.