Sunday, June 18, 2017

Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Growing up chocolate zucchini bread was a staple around our house.  I feel like there were always loaves in the freezer, and if we are being honest I think it tastes better after it has been frozen.  The top of the bread gets seriously moist after it thaws and it is to die for.  I took it to work with me quite a few times, and I have co-workers who were literally eating the crumbs.  We call it bread, but honestly it could fall under the cake category.

1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup oil
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup coco
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
3 cups flour
1/2 cup sour milk **
2 cups grated zucchini (heaping packed cups are the way we do it)
1/2 cup mini choco chips
1/2 Tbsp lemon juice or vinegar

Make the sour milk by adding the lemon juice/vinegar to the milk and set aside.  Mix the first 6 ingredients in a large bowl.  In a separate bowl, mix the remaining dry ingredients.  Alternate adding dry ingredients, sour milk, and zucchini into the larger bowl with the first 6 ingredients.  Fold in choco chips.  Pour into 2 greased & floured pans.  Bake at 325 F for 45 - 60 minutes. 

We are always making a large enough batch the the Kitchen aid mixer is just too small for the job, but if you are just making 2 loaves your mixer is large enough. 

When we make the bread we usually double or triple the batch.  We wrap up the loaves in cling wrap and then put two per bag in a freezer gallon bag and they keep very nicely.  I'd always suggest writing the date on the bag because I might run into the issue this year that we make more bread, and still have some left from the previous year.  Looks like it is time to take it to work more often, pretty sure no one will mind.  

Monday, June 12, 2017

First Trimester // Pregnancy Diaries

The first bit of advice all of the recent parents have given me is to make sure I document everything.  I'm not super at keeping everything documented, so I looked at a few pregnancy journals but they were not quite what I wanted.  Plus I hear moms pretty much forget everything.  All of the apps on my phone keep me on top of taking my vitamins, tracking my weight, and all the fun little tidbits of information.  I wanted a place to document the thoughts and feelings during our pregnancy.  Once the baby comes I think I'll have the posts printed into a nice little book to keep.

Baby:  During this time frame our baby went from a cute little sperm and egg, to a baby the size of a pomegranate - (when I teach my students meiosis, I do use sperm and egg with smiling faces because if I am going to make things awkward, I might as well enjoy it.)  I am loving the baby center app for new little tidbits about our baby's development.
Pregnancy Side Effects: I was exhausted up until the 13th  week and then just like magic I got my energy back.  Well really the placenta picked up some of the load to provide for our little nugget, but it felt like magic.  7pm bedtimes were normal.  Getting through those last months of school were rough.

Also strange.  The whole every time I brush my teeth I end up gagging, and often throwing up as a result.  I had no clue that was a pregnancy thing, but I am apparently not alone... a whole slew of women go through the same thing.

Cravings:  I went through a real strong fruit phase.  Tons of Tons of berries, apples, pineapple, cantaloupe.  Salad.  In particular Casa's house salad.  I still want it actually.  Soup.  I will eat any and all soup.  

Aversions:  Eggs.  They are oh so gross.  I was fine with them for about 8 weeks, then BAM.  I wasn't having it.  Mushrooms.  If they are in a casserole from a can I'm OK with them, but you know the mushrooms that taste really strong, usually the fresh ones?  Yea those are not OK.

In general I am having food issues.  NOTHING sounds good, this has continued into the 2nd trimester.  I'll just open the doors of the cupboard and just whine about food.  Being married to me sounds like a dream right?  I don't think I am that bad, but I do change my mind very frequently about what sounds good.  Just try and keep up with me.

Exercise: Since school is out for the summer, my goal is to go for  4  walks each week.  I am trying to keep my weight gain to a minimum, and ward off gestational diabetes the best I can.  Everything says walking one of the best ways to prepare your body for labor.  My walks are not crazy long, I go from our house to the park near us and walk their trail, and then back home.  The other perks of walks are the dogs I get to pet.  I see one lady pretty regularly with her dogs, and they are just the sweetest.  And now in addition to a baby, I really want a dog.

Excited About:  We have our 20 week ultrasound on the 27th, which means we get to find out the gender.  We have no seen our baby since week 9, so I am very excited.  A bit nervous as well, this is the long scan to determine if everything is OK with our kid.  We opted out of the genetic blood screening, this is our baby no matter what so we didn't feel the need to know of any potential issues.  Plus it was just a screen, and not a diagnosis so it was just giving likelihood of there being an issue.  I think it would cause more stress than it would be worth for us.

Purchases: My mom and I went shopping the last week and we bought just a few things so far.  Since we don't know gender yet, everything is very neutral.  We bought the most adorable sweater with ears, a few sleepers, onesies, and pants.  Paul's uncle had a pack-n-play he was getting rid of, so we offered to take it off his hands.  Not sure it was ever used.  Not technically a purchase, but it is our first big piece of baby gear.

Sewn: So far just burp cloths.  But I can't wait to find gender out so I can get sewing clothes and quilts.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Wedding Quilt V

My cousin got married last May, and my mom and I decided to continue making a quilt for just about everyone who gets married.  If you invite both my parents and I to a wedding, you pretty much know you are going to get a quilt.  Which makes for a lovely gift, but man we have done our fair share of sewing queen sized quilts in the past few years.  We revisited the same pattern we made here for my friend Emily.  I don't have great photos of the quilt because it was rainy and dark before we dropped it off.

The corals, teal, purples, and gray came together nicely and we pulled all the fabric from our stash.  If only we were not getting rained on while trying to take the pictures... Oh well.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Lucky Babe

On March 17 we got the best news of our life (maybe 2nd best news, the cubs winning the world series last year is hard to beat in our house) - we are expecting our first little one!  We are due in November, and could not be more excited.
I had taken a few tests because my period was late but all negative, I had been feeling stressed from work so I had pretty much assumed we were not.  Still no period that Friday after being 10 days late, I took a test and I was shocked to see the double line appear. I only have really cheap like 30 for $10 tests, so I ran to CVS to get a real test. Heck those things are expensive, but I ran back home to take it and another positive test meant I had some fast shopping to do.

I always joked with Paul that he would know I'm pregnant because I would buy him a really nice bottle of alcohol.  I ran to the little hole-in-the-wall liquor store in Leo, and asked the man for the most expensive bottle of whiskey he had.  I had to reaffirm him, "Sir, I really want to spend as much money as it takes, give me your best, we are celebrating tonight!" Now of course he assumed we were going to party all night since it was St. Patrick's Day, but we were celebrating our lucky little baby.  I walked out only spending $80 and got 2 bottles.  Turns out Leo doesn't stock the most expensive stuff.  Paul beat me home, so while he was in a different room I quickly put the alcohol where he would see it, and hid in waiting.  Paul instantly spotted it and knew they meaning.

I am 15 weeks along right now, and we are busy around the house getting some big projects done.  We have to convert the bonus room upstairs into our bedroom by adding a closet (which Paul is rocking and has the whole thing framed already).  Once that is done we play musical rooms, and I move out of my sewing room which becomes the nursery, and my sewing room moves downstairs into our current bedroom (which also needs some work...)  Thank goodness tomorrow is the last day of school, because we have loads to do this summer!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

My Top 10 Podcasts

At the beginning of this year I really got into listening to podcasts.   It was a great a way to pass the time driving to work.  I don't have a crazy long drive, usually 40 - 50 minutes to work and up to an hour home because of traffic right now.  Some people spend longer driving I know, but I hate driving.  On the plus side, as a result of all my time in the car I feel like I am a more educated person now, which I can't complain about and I am better off than just tuning into the radio.  I think it all started when Young House Love launched a podcast, I'm a fan of YHL.  From there my interests spread out, and I have a friend who made some great recommendations.  If you are a podcast newbie I highly recommend the following - and I am giving my take in one sentence.  Could I write more about each one of these, yes.  Will I? No.

Young House Love Has a Podcast - the one that started it all for me, DIY and home stuff. 

Chris Loves Julia w/ host Preston Pugmire - Full of laughter, you feel like you are listening to friends talk about home design.  

How I Built This - The stories behind some of the most well known brands and how they came to be is simply inspirational.  

Reply All - You never know what you are going to get, but it will always have something to do with the internet. 

Serial - Tells unique stories, episode by episode that keep you on your heels.  

S - town - From the makers of Serial, the story of a backwards little Alabama town and the sh*t that goes on.  

Surprisingly Awesome - Just as it sounds, first episode was about mold, winner.  

Ask Me Another -  Game show meets podcast with the a special guest.  

TED Radio Hour -  This one make me feel smarter, and who does not want that?

Up and Vanished -  I have just started this one, but a good unsolved disappearance case keeps me enthralled. 

I'd love to hear your favorites.  What should I add to my playlist?

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Fresh Florals || Hydrangeas

I think it is no secret I love flowers.  I enjoy growing them, I certainly appreciate receiving them, and more often than I should on my way home from work I'll swing by the floral department in the grocery store and pick up a bunch or 2.  Kroger has some shockingly good deals on flowers and I just can't pass those up.

My last trip I saw the loveliest bunch of white hydrangeas and I could not pass them up.  Now I know hydrangeas require a little extra care.  I usually take a few steps up front to keep them fresh.
1.  When I cut hydrangeas as home I will dip their stems in Alum to help keep them fresh.  I have found this to be quite easy.
2.  I will dip their stems into boiling water for about 60 seconds to help the water flow up the stem.

Generally I have found the thinner stemmed hydrangeas that I cut from my own yard does not have much of the sap in their stems and my tips above work just fine.  But, with my Kroger bunch I cut of maybe 3" of the stem, and dipped in alum and popped them in a vase.  Next day the flowers had wilted.  I took to the internet to try a new technique to revive them.  They were sad, just take a look at 'em. 

1.   I cut off another 1" of stem.
2.   I boiled water and put it into a glass.
3.   Cut a hole in a paper towel to put the flower through to protect it from the steam.  
4.   I put the flower in the water and let it sit for 2-3 hours.  At the end the hydrangea was good as new!  

Friday, March 17, 2017

Creative Endeavors - Cakes

It has been over a year since cakes have been my daily job - and part of me hopes I don't lose those skills.  Back in October my dear friend Rashelle got married, and I baked my first ever naked cake.  It was really quite easy to make, and I got to cover it in flowers.  It is no secret how much I love flowers so it was a win in my book.  The photos are credit to her photographer, Della Terra.  I am far more comfortable with tiered cakes than I've ever been before and her wedding cake only took a few hours on a Friday night!  I'm looking for an occasion to do a tiered cake again, baby shower maybe, or is that just way over the top?

I then spent the next few months craving a vanilla cake and n January I whipped out a simple Minnie Mouse cake for an old co-workers daughter.  It was an 8" cake with a 4" cake cut in half for the ears, really simple to do.  But really all this meant there were extra pieces that I was able to eat and finally cure my cake craving.   
I've been spending most of my creative time on sewing quilts and I can't wait to share what I have been sewing!

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