Pregnancy Related Reads

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You may recall me saying in my second trimester recap that reading anything about pregnancy had not been my cup of tea but once we started prenatal classes I felt much more inspired to read up on everything I could. Here is what I’ve read so far and my thoughts on each selection:

Books:

What to Expect When You’re Expecting

My mom got me a copy of this book soon after we announced and in the early stages of my pregnancy I found it very alarming to read. There were too many extra possible problems that it alerted me to and as a notorious over thinker I didn’t need extra reason to worry. Later in my pregnancy I’ve found it much less upsetting to read. I also like that there is detailed information about labour and delivery, breastfeeding and postpartum care that will be nice to have on hand.

Ina May’s Guide to Breastfeeding

This book is amazing and so helpful. I truly felt like it taught me a lot. I understand the importance of breastfeeding and wasn’t needing to be sold on that, but I did find a lot of practical advice and troubleshooting tips that I hope will be helpful after I deliver should we run into any issues with breastfeeding.

Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth

I struggled with this one, especially after loving Ina May’s breastfeeding book so much. The first half of the book is full of all natural birth stories, none of which happened in a traditional hospital setting and so I found that hard to relate to. The second half of the book has some good, encouraging info, particularly about the ability for us to birth naturally but some of the chapters were just weird. An entire chapter dedicated to “sphincter law” and another on “orgasmic birth” left me skeptical. I also found the information on medical interventions such as C-section, episiotomy and epidural VERY biased and as my personal goal is to go into my delivery with an open mind, I found her strong opinions discouraging. I didn’t end up finishing this one.

The Mindful Mom-to-Be

This is the best book I’ve read during my pregnancy and I wish I’d found it right at the beginning, as it is broken down into chapters month by month. I loved the voice of the author, and found that she gave advice in a gentle, nonjudgmental way. The book includes exercises, meditations, DIY’s, recipes and some great tips I plan to use during my labour and delivery.

The Honest Life

This book isn’t a pregnancy or motherhood read specifically but it includes chapters on pregnancy and lots of helpful information regarding chemicals in the home and healthier alternatives. I started to pay much more attention to these things once I became pregnant and I wish I had found this book sooner when I started to eliminate these things in our home.

Articles:

Baby on a Budget: What Do You Really Need?

This helped me from going crazy when shopping for baby. So. Many. Options.

The Joy of Having Boys

The comments on this one are great, too.

10 Tips for a Mindful Birth

I LOVED this article and found it very encouraging and enlightening.

That One Time I Made Ten Million Freezer Meals, Part One and Two

I’ve read Jessica’s blog forever and found these tips helpful for planning some freezer meals.

Also:

Something else that helped me was reading the manual for our hospital’s labour and delivery unit specifically. As lovely as it is to read about home births and birthing centers, I need to be realistic about what my birth experience will look like in the specific hospital I plan to deliver in. In addition to prenatal classes and a hospital tour, I’ve thoroughly read up on my hospital’s policies and procedures and found that very comforting just to have a better idea of what to expect.

What was your favourite pregnancy related read? I still have some time for more!

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S’mores Cake

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On Monday, I turned thirty.

This is a milestone year for me in so many ways. A thirtieth birthday. Our first wedding anniversary. Our first baby. Life feels so full of excitement and possibility and reason to celebrate these days. I am so, so thankful. Last year, life was much different.

Stress. Planning a wedding.

Fear. My mom was so sick.

Grief. We said goodbye to my Grandma.

Most days last year were full of uncertainty and stormy weather and there seemed to be no way to right the ship. These days the load feels lighter. There is breathing room and sunshine feels plentiful. I know challenging times will come and go. I know this wonderful season of life will pass, too. But certainly there has been enough hard to enjoy the wonderful and that’s exactly what I’m going to do. I am so ready for my thirtieth year and all that it has to offer.

But enough mushy stuff. You came for the cake, didn’t you?

I’ve wanted to make Momofuku’s Chocolate Chip Cake forever and really wanted to work that into my birthday creation. They layer theirs with homemade passion fruit curd, chocolate crumbs and coffee buttercream. As much as I’d love to try it, we aren’t exactly swimming in high quality passion fruit around these parts and I didn’t think that my guests would appreciate such a combination anyway. So, s’mores, AKA my favourite.

This cake took me half a day to make and I still have toasted marshmallow crusted INSIDE my stand mixer but I was really happy with how everything turned out. The chocolate chip cake reminded me of a boxed white cake (in a good way) and that buttercream, although incredibly messy, is my new favourite.

I know it looks like a lot of “stuff” but if you have an epic celebration coming up, I highly recommend this baby.

S’mores Cake

Serves 16

Chocolate Chip Cake

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 light brown sugar, tightly packed
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Grease and flour two 9 inch round cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper circles. Set aside.

Combine butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. Cream together on medium-high speed for 2 to 3 minutes. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the eggs, and mix on medium-high again for 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl once more.

On low speed, stream in buttermilk, oil, and vanilla. Continue mixing for 4 to 6 minutes, until the mixture is practically white, twice the size of your original fluffy butter-and-sugar mixture, and completely homogeneous. Be patient and don’t rush the process! Stop the mixer and use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Once the mixture is completely mixed, continue mixing at low speed and add cake flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix for 45 to 60 seconds, just until your batter comes together and any remnants of dry ingredients have been incorporated. Do not over mix. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl — if you see any lumps of cake flour in there, mix for another 45 seconds.

Using a rubber spatula, transfer the cake batter to the prepared pans. Give the bottom of your pans a tap on the counter top to even out the layer. Sprinkle the mini chocolate chips evenly over the cake batter layers.

Bake for 25-30 minutes. The cakes will rise and puff, doubling in size, but will remain buttery and dense. At 25 minutes, gently poke the edge of the cake with your finger: the cake should bounce back slightly and the centre should no longer be jiggly. Leave the cakes in the oven for an extra 3 to 5 minutes if it doesn’t pass these tests.

Take the cakes out of the oven and cool on a wire cooling rack.

Toasted Marshmallow Buttercream Frosting

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp. heavy cream
  • 6 cups mini marshmallows

Instructions:

Beat butter in your stand mixer until smooth. Add in powdered sugar slowly and then the cream and continue mixing until smooth.

Turn oven onto broil. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread marshmallows out in an even layer. Place under broiler for about 45 seconds until they are browned and puffed. Watch closely because they will burn very quickly.

Immediately scrape the marshmallows into the butter mixture and beat until smooth and fluffy.

The frosting will be warm due to the marshmallows, so allow it to cool a bit before spreading.

 Milk Chocolate Ganache

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips
  • ½ cup heavy cream

Instructions:

Put chocolate chips in a small bowl. Heat cream in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once the cream just starts to boil, pour it over the chocolate chips. Let it sit for two minutes and then start whisking slowly from the centre out, whisking continually until totally smooth and blended.  Cool slightly before assembling cake.

Vanilla Milk

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Instructions:

Stir milk and vanilla together and refrigerate if not using right away.

Assembly

Ingredients:

  • ½ prepared graham crust, coarsely crumbled
  • Milk chocolate chips or chunks for garnish

Instructions:

Lay one cooled cake layer down on a plate and brush it with half of the vanilla milk, then spread the cake layer with half of the marshmallow buttercream. Press half of the graham crust crumbles into the buttercream. Drizzle with half of the milk chocolate ganache.

Lay down the second cake layer, brush it with the other half of the vanilla milk and spread it with the other half of the marshmallow buttercream. Drizzle this with the remaining milk chocolate ganache and pile the remaining graham crust crumbles artfully on top. Sprinkle the top of the cake with milk chocolate chips.

Cover cake and freeze overnight. Make sure to thaw the cake fully before serving.

Notes:

I made Momofuku’s graham crust, baked it for 10ish minutes and used half of it in my cake but any recipe will work. I personally found this one high maintenance because it needs powdered milk, which I never have on hand. Feel free to make a half batch if you don’t want extra.

This cake was even better on day two after being thawed. Make ahead if you can for the flavours to really mesh.

The marshmallow buttercream is CRAZY messy. Spray your parchment and stand mixer paddle with non-stick spray if you can.

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Chocolate Chip Cake Recipe

Toasted Marshmallow Buttercream Recipe

Vanilla Milk Recipe

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Spring 2017 Capsule Wardrobe

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Let’s talk capsules! I haven’t shared one here since last spring/summer. Last fall, I had just purchased a few new things and then realized that much of it wouldn’t fit for long because I was expecting. I returned what I had purchased as none of it would be pregnancy friendly and cobbled together a little capsule with my existing clothing that had room to grow. Then I did a small shop at Thyme Maternity at the end of 2016 and that has gotten me through until this point.

As I am due at the beginning of June I knew that I needed a few easy warm weather pieces that are still work friendly to get me through until I deliver. My plan was to choose things that fit well now, can transition me through the end of my pregnancy and then into the postpartum period. I understand that this post will not apply to everyone but I think it’s important to show how useful a capsule wardrobe can be no matter where you are in life. This is a really different capsule for me to put together and I’m excited about the challenge. I’m also looking forward to the simplicity of using a capsule when I’m way too tired/overwhelmed to think about outfits with a new baby. I always feel my best when I feel put together so I’m hoping if I plan some easy options now that will help me through the shock of new motherhood.

A different approach this time around; this capsule will include three very different components:

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Core Closet

  • Casual Dresses
  • Leggings
  • Super Stretchy Jeans
  • Tunic Tops
  • A Light Cardigan
  • My Fave Jean Jacket

In short: things I’ve always loved and know I will wear, that wash well and are unfussy. With an ever-changing body this is not the time to take fashion risks. I do need these pieces to get me through my last month or so of work before maternity leave starts so that had to be considered also. Example: that midi dress above is a non-maternity one but I just wore it to our Easter gathering over my third trimester bump and it worked great.

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Lounge Wear

  • House Dresses
  • Light Robes
  • Pajama Sets

Nothing groundbreaking, just things that will be comfortable and easy for nursing at home but will also be semi-presentable in front of guests if necessary. I haven’t ever focused on these items as part of a capsule but I know I’ll be glad to have them in this new season of life. Example: Tom bought me that beautiful (non-maternity) robe above and I’ve been wearing it since earlier in my pregnancy. I’m hoping it will help inject some glam into things when I haven’t washed my hair in a week and am covered in spit up.

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Active Wear

  • Compression Capris
  • Basic Tanks
  • Printed Leggings
  • A Hoodie or Sweatshirt

This is a component that I plan to finalize when I’m a month or two postpartum; a fun little active wear capsule so I can feel put together while casually dressed. I am also hoping this motivates me to get outside with baby. I’m giving birth at the beginning of summer and I want to take full advantage of that. Example: this distressed blue sweatshirt was a recent Minot find (also non-maternity) and I’ve been wearing it a TON. I know it will work well post-baby and can be worn so many ways.

Some key traits in all of the pieces I looked for:

  • Ease of wash and wear
  • Flattering and forgiving on my changing body
  • Nursing friendly
  • Silhouettes that will work with a bump and without

The biggest thing I’ve learned when dressing for pregnancy is that you probably don’t need to invest in an entire maternity wardrobe. Obviously this will depend on your style, size and shape pre-pregnancy but I’ve found that because I wore a lot of flow-y silhouettes and empire waist dresses those things have been easier to make work throughout. I also love knowing that I can keep wearing my new favourites after baby comes. All the items pictured above are non-maternity and I’ve been wearing them at eight months pregnant so I hope that encourages you if you find traditional maternity clothes lacking, as I did.

That’s about it! I’ve been doing capsules for two years now and I’m still amazed at how much I’ve learned from this practice. It has simplified my life, streamlined my closet and ended my impulsive shopping habits.  I don’t remember the last time I made a clothing purchase I’ve regretted because I truly know what I will wear and what I won’t and that feels like a huge win to me.

Do you capsule? I’d love to hear your tips!

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Burger Crawl: Beer Bros.

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Next stop on the burger train is Beer Bros. This one was my suggestion because I recalled loving it in my much younger days and had a special fondness for the beet ketchup in particular. Probably no surprise here, but Beer Bros. incorporates beer into their food; like the stout mayo and wheat ale bun our burgers were on.

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The Burger: Three of us tried the Beer Bros. Burger with smoked white cheddar and thick cut bacon and one tried the All Day Breakfast Burger, which also included a sunny side up egg and sauteed mushrooms.

The Bun: A wheat ale bun, super fresh, crusty on the outside, soft on the inside. It tasted homemade. We all liked this bun, although it did not hold up well for the Breakfast Burger which seemed to be because of the juicy sauteed mushrooms on that one.

The Patty: Thick, juicy and well-seasoned. We did agree that this patty was the most processed we’ve encountered so far.

The Cheese: A $1.50 add-on to the Bros. Burger; we tried the smoked white cheddar, which was fabulous. There was a blue cheese option also.

The Sauce: Stout mayo, which we loved. Two of us agreed that mustard would have been good here.

The Veggies: Sliced pickles, thickly sliced red onion, tomato and leaf lettuce. The Breakfast Burger had sauteed mushrooms, too.

The Extras: The bacon was SUPER thick cut and a $1.50 add-on to the Bros. Burger. The girls weren’t fans but the guys loved it.

The Side: We tried the thick cut, skin-on fries (delicious with the sides of stout mayo and beet ketchup for dipping), Caesar salad (“looked better than it tasted”) and the poutine (a small portion, called “underwhelming”).

The Price: $16 for the Beer Bros. Burger before add-ons and $20 for the All Day Breakfast Burger; poutine and Caesar salad were upgraded sides.

The Place: Beer Bros. Gastropub & Deli, 1821 Scarth Street, Regina

beer bros poutine

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Where we should try next? I’d love to hear from you.

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