one month with Blakely Gray

How in the world is our baby girl one month old?  It seems like we just brought her home from the hospital.  Don’t get me wrong, we’ve had some long days (and nights) but February has flown by in a blink of an eye.


Blakely Gray loves snuggling with Daddy in the mornings, her rock ‘n play, staring at her palm print wallpaper, baths and grunting.  She’s not a fan of socks, having her legs covered and waking up in the morning.

Blakely Gray’s Nicknames:  BG, Nugget or Nugs (that’s what Big Guy calls her), Little Love, Baby Girl, Sweetheart.

It seems as though the past month as been a continuous three hour cycle of eating, being awake for a little bit and sleeping.  She eats every 2 1/2 to 3 hours and we’re just starting to work on merging her two middle-of-the-night feedings so that everyone can get a little more sleep (we’ve had several successful nights so I’m hopeful we’re turning the corner!).  And we are loosely following the Baby Wise schedule though I’m hoping to be a little more stricter once she is six weeks old.

Wake-time is not very long these days but in the past several days she’s been much more alert after eating (though she really needs to work on staying awake to eat) and while she’s awake we like to cuddle, practice tummy time and stare at the ceiling.  I’m excited for her to be more interactive as she gets older.

Sleep is a wildcard.  We’ve recently starting implementing bedtime after her 7pm feeding.  We give her a dream-feed at 10:30pm and then pray she only wakes up once between then and 6:30pm.  Like I said, we’ve been successful a handful of times and it’s nice to know she’s capable of stretching that long.

I’m currently pumping exclusively and while I’m successful at producing plenty of milk for Little Miss, it’s frustrating to have to spend 20 minutes, 8 times a day hooked up to a machine.  In fact, it’s the most challenging thing I’ve encountered this past month.  My short term goal:  feed her breastmilk for another month.  My long term goal:  continue on this journey of pumping and feeding until she’s four months old.  A fed baby is a happy baby and I will quit pumping when it begins to become more of a chore and sucks the joy out of my everyday.

As far as my recovery goes, I feel 95% back to normal.  I am living proof that exercise and eating healthy during pregnancy leads to a much quicker recovery.  The first few days following birth, I was extremely sore and moving around was difficult but once I hit the two week mark, I felt so much better.  You might hate me for this but I actually weighed less when I left the hospital than I did when I found out I was pregnant.  I only gained 9 pounds and was back in my pre-baby clothes a week after she was born.  Obviously this is not the norm and know that this might not be the case if I were to have another baby.  The past two weeks I’ve been walking 3 miles almost daily and this past Saturday I started adding back some strength exercise.  I look forward to getting back into my normal workouts after my six week follow-up later this month.

We’ve experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows in the past month.  One of my favorite moments is seeing Big Guy turn to mush when he holds her and watching him sing and gaze into her eyes.  He is going to spoil her rotten.  We were so blessed that he didn’t have to travel the first three weeks after she was born and I know now that he’s back on the road, our time together will be even more special.

Oh, Blakely Gray, you are so loved and we can’t wait to fall more in love with you over the next month.


Spicy Thai Red Curry Beef

Yesterday was a doozy – so I apologize for being MIA…

But today I bring to you one of my top five recipes from Cooking Light.  I’m tempted to give it the #1 spot but I’ve cooked so many things from Cooking Light that I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to aware any recipe the coveted top prize.

I know, it’s a bold statement but I hope that it encourages you to make this recipe.  It’s easy enough for a week night but impressive enough for a date night.  I actually paired a glass of wine with this dish – on a Thursday.  We’re living the wild life around here lately.

And did I mention it’s one-skillet?  Therefore, clean-up is a breeze.  So get all your ingredients assembled and get cooking.

The top layer of coconut cream (from a can of light coconut milk – don’t shake!) is brought to a boil along with the red curry paste in a skillet.  The rest of the coconut milk is added along with a little brown sugar, fish sauce (SO much flavor – don’t skip!), and red pepper flakes.  Bring that to a boil and cook for two minutes.  Add in your veggies – bell pepper and onion and simmer.  Next, add in your thinly sliced beef tenderloin.  Yes, it’s a delicious cut of meat and I rarely would want to cook such high quality beef this way but the end result is incredible and totally worth it.  (We were “gifted”this beef tenderloin and it’s by far the best beef tenderloin I’ve ever had – the marveling was perfection.)  Back to cooking…cook the beef about three minutes and then remove from the heat.

At this point, we’re going to brighten up the dish with some fresh elements – basil, lime juice and some salt.

Served over rice with a squeeze of fresh lime.


To my surprise, my wine and food pairing book suggested to serve a riesling with this dish.  I don’t keep a lot of riesling on hand but it also suggested a California chardonnay which I have plenty of.  I found a bottle that was described as a “cousin to riesling” and I felt compelled to open the bottle.  (Thankfully the weekend was so warm and a glass of crisp white wine here and there was just what I need to get through “mommy-ing.”)

Y’all, I can’t rave about this recipe enough.  It was savory with a little sweetness yet a hint of heat from the red pepper flakes.  And the curry married with the coconut milk made me oh, so happy.  And Big Guy was a huge fan because beef tenderloin + rice makes him extremely happy.

Unfortunately for y’all I’m not doing a lot of cooking this week.  A huge thank you to all the folks that have signed up to bring us dinner – it’s been such a treat to not have to worry about dinner (though cooking dinner remains one of my favorite things to do).

I’ll (hopefully) be back tomorrow with a 1-month update on Blakely Gray.  That is if I can type it without tearing up and mourning the fact that she’s growing so fast.  I swear, she’ll be wanting to date next week at this pace…


Friday Favorites

Happy Friday!  Another week has flown by.  Don’t get me wrong, there are some realllllly long days and nights but I can’t wrap my head around the fact that Blakely Gray will be one month on Wednesday.  I feel like she’s about to go off to college.  Stop growing (though I’ll fully support you sleeping through the night)!  I hope you all have a fun weekend on tap – unfortunately, these days our schedule is kind of determined by when Miss Thing needs to eat and when Mama needs to pump.  Not that glamorous.  But I am excited to have some visitors this weekend and my Momma is coming to stay with us for a few nights.  She hasn’t seen Blakely Gray since we left the hospital – I think Gigi needs some newborn snuggles.  Here are a few of my favorites this week:


Favorite Craving:  Crispy Lemon Brussels Sprouts Mac & Cheese.  Y’all know I adore lemon anything – throw it into my favorite comfort food and I’m drooling.


Favorite Sweet Treat: The next time I buy ricotta for a recipe and don’t use it all, I’m going to make these.  They look insanely fudge (versus cake-like)  which is my favorite kind of brownie.

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Favorite Read:  10 Reasons I Still Feel Like Myself While Being a Mom.  #goals  Though honestly I feel great (more on that when I post about BG being one month), my only gripe right now is the lack of sleep (I knew that was coming) and how demanding exclusively pumping is on your body and time.


Favorite Meatless Monday:  Kung Pao Chickpea & Brussels Stir-Fry.  I am all about the one pan, quick and easy dinners these days – and if they’re healthy, even better.


Favorite Look:  Stripes for Spring.   I love how effortless this outfit looks.  And while I probably won’t be rocking rippy-stripies (jeans with holes) anytime soon, I do love the top and flats.


Favorite Inspired:  Firecracker Vegan Lettuce Wraps.  I’ve never cooked with tofu but this recipe has me considering picking up some at the grocery store.  I mean, these wraps look insane – in the best way possible.


Favorite Cocktail:  Gin Coconut Cooler.   These days I’m sticking to a glass of wine or two if I indulge but this cocktail is screaming my name come spring.  I love drinks with a little heat.


(p.s. I can’t believe I actually got this finished in one sitting!)

Chipotle Corn Chowder

We’re at that point in the year where we are craving warm weather (and we’re actually having super warm weather here) but the reality is that it’s still February and there is always the possibility of a cold snap in March (and even April).  This chowder, in my opinion, is the perfect meal for this time of the year.  It celebrates the produce that’s to come (corn!  zucchini!) yet it’s warm and comforting and totally appropriate for February (I can’t quite get behind eating hot soup in July).

I decided to make this recipe after noticing the abundance of frozen corn from our garden in the freezer.  I don’t want to let one kernel go to waste.  My aunt (Hey, Daphne!) was also in town and she’s a huge fan of soups so I thought this would be the perfect dinner to make while she was visiting.  On Monday evening, she was on baby duty (aka getting ALL the baby snuggles) and I set out to make dinner.  This dinner comes together super quickly once you’ve chopped all your veggies.

The potatoes, corn (if you don’t have any fresh-frozen corn I would go for frozen corn from the grocery store this time of year), onion, garlic and zucchini (I found some really pretty organic zucchini at Trader Joe’s) are sautéed in a little olive oil until tender.  Then add in the broth (I used chicken – but you can totally use veggie to make this vegetarian) and allow the pot to simmer until the potatoes are fork-tender.  Transfer about three cups of the mixture to a blender and puree and then add in the almond milk and chipotles (as much or as little) and blend until smooth.  Add the blended soup back into the pot with the remaining “chunky” soup and allow everything to warm.


To serve, top with some pesto and/or basil and slurp your way through this bowl of chowder.  It’s silky – as if you’ve added cream – with just the right amount of body.  The pesto and basil on top made this bowl of chowder for me and I loved the bit of heat that the chipotle peppers added to the whole bowl of deliciousness.

I hope you’re all having a great week – we’re still adjusting to being a family of three and I’m finding ways to make the time I spend pumping (almost 3 hours a day) a little more productive (aka – blogging while pumping).  I have high hopes for a Friday Favorites post tomorrow…but don’t hate me if it doesn’t happen.


Pasta Aglio e Olio {pasta with garlic and oil}

Hi friends!  I’m here – just a little busy these days.  How was your weekend?  Ours was a good one – we ventured out as a family of three and survived.  Actually, I think we thrived and Big Guy might actually take us out in public again.  We made a stop at our favorite wine shop in Raleigh (a place where we knew few people would be early on Saturday) and stocked up on wine and olive oil.  Our next stop was sushi!  Mama was very happy filling her belly with all the deliciousness – though we did eat a little faster in an effort to avoid any mid-meal meltdowns.  We started Sunday slowly – well, as slow as you can be – when baby wants to eat, she wants to eat.  And enjoyed a walk with friends before my aunt arrived later in the afternoon.  It’s been so nice to have two extra hands to help today and I’ve definitely taken advantage of her being here (aka I went and got a manicure and I took a solo three mile walk).  I will be sad to see her leave tomorrow morning.

Enough about the weekend (that didn’t last long enough) – let’s back up even farther…to our Valentine’s Day dinner.  I went with something super easy (obviously) and a very short ingredient list.  Pasta is something we usually make from scratch when we eat it but that’s just not happening yet.  This meal mimics a classic Italian dish of pasta with a sauce made from garlic and oil but instead of olive oil, walnut is used for extra nuttiness.  The walnut oil is the key to this pasta so don’t skip it.  (I’ll share another recipe that uses walnut oil later this week.)  Along with the oil, lots of garlic, parsley, pecorino Romano cheese plus salt and pepper.


I really enjoyed the simplicity of this dinner yet the complexity of the nuttiness thanks to using a new-to-me oil.

Another idea for walnut oil: I really want to try it drizzled on avocado toast – I think it would be fab.


Steak, Feta and Olive Quesadillas

Another quick and easy dinner headed your way with this Mediterranean twist on the classic Mexican quesadilla.  All the quesadilla ingredients are mixed together to save time – there’s no layering or trying to make sure you save room for each element.

To make the quesadilla stuffing, cook the thinly sliced steak on the stovetop until browned.  Add in the spinach, cream cheese, feta and chopped olives.  Allow the mixture to cook for two minutes and then remove from the heat.

And just like that, you’re ready to make your quesadillas.  I used corn tortillas but you can use your favorite – whether thats flour or corn.  Spoon the filling on one tortilla and then top with another tortilla.  Cook until browned in a little oil and carefully flip.  Make sure not to overstuff your quesadillas!

The quesadillas are served with a side of greek yogurt for dipping.


And on the side, a simple cucumber and tomato salad with parsley, olive oil, salt, pepper and red wine vinegar.

I loved this spin on a dinner that is so common in many households.  The steak paired with the olives was so yummy and the cream cheese made it extra creamy and delicious.


Sheet Pan Hawaiian Shrimp

These days dinner needs to be on the table in less than 30 minutes.  I know that this is a small season of life, but we’re still trying to figure out Blakely Gray’s schedule and therefore, our schedule is a little up in the air.  Despite having less time to devote to dinner, I strive to still serve healthy, delicious dinners.  (p.s. we have lots of friends bringing us dinner over the next several weeks and we are insanely grateful for those “easy” meals that don’t require any thinking or effort from us.)

Sheet Pan Hawaiian Shrimp is one of the easiest recipes I’ve ever cooked and it’s sure to be a favorite of many.  Cooking Light actually has a whole section on “sheet pan dinners” in their most current issue and I’m looking forward to cooking more because of the ease of cooking and the easy clean up.

One important step in this recipe is to allow the pan to preheat in the oven while the oven is warming up.  This will help with the texture of the rice.  While the oven is heating, mix the precooked rice with canola oil until the rice is broken up and coated with oil.  Once the oven is hot and the sheet pan has been warmed, spread the rice on the pan and bake for 5 minutes.  Remove from the oven and top with your chopped red bell pepper and pineapple.  Cook for 5 more minutes.  Finally top with the shrimp and cook for about 6 minutes (we ended up cooking for 2 more minutes).

Remove from the oven and pour on the glaze – a mixture of soy sauce, sugar and rice vinegar.  Toss with the Hawaiian Shrimp and then sprinkle with cilantro before serving.


Easy, healthy and delicious.  You honestly can’t go wrong with this sheet pan dinner. I think my favorite bites included a little bit of crunchy rice and the sweet pineapple.

Do you have a favorite sheet pan dinner?