Recent Obsessions #13

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Chrissy Teigen’s Dutch Baby.  I’ve made this a couple of times now and am always impressed by how easy it is to make and how beautiful it looks. I served it with berries for our anniversary breakfast and it was fab. I think a cinnamon sugar sprinkle would be good too.

Sanuk Yoga Sling Sandals. I’ve had these for awhile now and they are still one of my most practical shoe purchases ever. I’m especially enjoying how comfy they are at 9 months pregnant.

Riverdale. Oh my gosh, I haven’t loved a show this much in such a long time. I’m so sad that I have to wait for more episodes. I also just finished The Keepers and really enjoyed it.

Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector in Pearl. I’ve been a longtime devotee of Hourglass’s Ambient Light but my go-to, Luminous Light is a bit dark on my pale winter skin. This pearl shade from Becca is gorgeous and adds a beautiful glow with no color. The formula is super soft and blends great.

Milky Way. Especially the Koko ice cream sandwiches.

The Body Shop Glow Revealing Vitamin C Peel. As I’ve mentioned many times, my pregnancy skin has been a mess. I seem to need way more exfoliation to avoid breakouts. I kept seeing these peels being promoted and out of desperation, grabbed one on promo. After one use, I noticed a huge difference and was shocked at how much dead skin this removes. You only need to rub it on your face for 20 seconds so I’m hoping this is something I can keep up even after baby arrives.

Epicure’s Oh Canada Dry Glaze.  Now that it’s grilling season, we were able to reorder some summer Epicure favourites. We’ve been loving this glaze on chicken and we also enjoyed it on ribs last summer. Super easy to throw together, too.

What are you obsessed with lately?

 

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The Third Trimester

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Now that I’m full term I thought I’d better share this post before I give birth!

At the beginning of my third trimester I made a quilt for the baby. It was my first one, and I had no idea what I was doing but it does look like a usable blanket which is all I could ask for considering my level of expertise (read: none). The solid gray squares are from Tommy’s old uniform shirts, which I love.

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We started and completed our prenatal classes with Sally at the YMCA and both of us learned so, so much. Maybe too much. Every week I felt like I left with so much helpful information. We also took Sally’s hospital tour and there’s something about visualizing where I’m giving birth that puts me at ease. The facilities are much nicer than I’d anticipated and I feel good about delivering there.

I dealt with more aches and pains in my third trimester which resulted in my trying prenatal massage. I found it uncomfortable but I feel like just lying on my belly for an hour in the special pillow was worth it. I miss sleeping on my stomach so much. I also saw my chiropractor a couple of times, which always helps.

Tommy and I took a quick trip to Minot at the end of March. We knew we wanted to get one in before the baby came but I found out that my work travel insurance wouldn’t cover me for much longer in my pregnancy and we had to throw together a plan fast. We stayed for two nights and even knocked some big items off of our baby shopping list. It was a fun little getaway and something I’m so glad we prioritized. Target, I miss you so.

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I met my obstetrician, and have been seeing him regularly. All of my tests and stats have been good throughout my pregnancy and I’m so grateful for that. With his OK, I started drinking raspberry leaf tea around 35 weeks and started having occasional contractions around this time as well. Eek.

Sleep and my energy levels in general have been weird. I’ve never been much of a side sleeper and having that as my only option has really affected my sleep this last while. I’ve gone through a weird phase of crashing and sleeping all day every Sunday, and also dealt with bouts of insomnia from 3-5 am. I either have great energy and want to do everything or feel like a total zombie.

We finished the majority of our baby shopping in early May but I keep thinking of small things to add. Is this ever done? I’m guessing not. There has been lots of nesting these days, reorganizing the condo, and doing donation runs to make more space. I also planted a pot for our balcony, because why not when I have all summer to enjoy it?

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The baby dropped at 36 weeks and I got a cold that I couldn’t shake. I felt really uncomfortable for a bit and was scared I’d feel that way for the rest of the time but he seems to have settled in his new spot, although my cold has been hanging on for-ev-er. I’ve been praying that I can get healthy before I have to deliver and in truth, I know that I just need to slow the heck down.

Number one craving these days: ice cream. Typical.

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I’ve been reading a ton of information about childbirth in particular. I’m really big on affirmations and have some that I remind myself to focus on when I’m feeling anxious about the coming event. One of the hardest parts of this whole thing is definitely the lack of control. I have to sit back and wait for this baby to decide when he is ready to be born and as a planner, I’ve found it challenging to just sit back and trust the process. I feel like a ticking time bomb these days. I’ve had some random episodes of anxiety about connecting with the baby, getting everything done and trying not to take to heart the constant opinions one can hear as a pregnant woman.

In terms of what’s left to do, our hospital bag is packed but we still need to install our car seat. I also have a long list of cleaning items I want to tackle but all of that will probably just come down to when he actually arrives. Washing floors at 38 weeks pregnant sounds like fun, no?

Oh, and one more sweet thing: I received my first Mother’s Day card, signed from the baby. So surreal, this experience.

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Wish us luck! We can’t wait to meet our little guy.

 

 

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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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