Almond Roca Bars

Baking has been such a life-giving hobby for me the past few months… it’s my outlet for creativity & rejuvenation. Also a way to make my family happy and bond with my toddler. I have made quite a dent in my Sprinkles Baking Book and cannot wait to share the latest recipe with you.

Three ways I can think of to describe my new-found love for baking:

  • Nick & I watched Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them last night (so good, btw) and I loved one of the main characters, Jacob. It’s set in the 1920’s and he’s a muggle (harry potter lingo) working in a canned foods factory, but claims it’s sucking the life out of him because no one wants to eat canned food. His dream is to open up a bakery because “pastries make people happy” and he just wants to make people happy. I thought that was so sweet and resonated with it a ton.
  • Second… I’m obsessed with The Great British Baking Show (for many reasons) and it’s inspired me to try new things, new flavors & get creative. I love how none of the contestants are professional bakers. They all have different vocations (nurses, lawyers, accountants), but love to bake on the side & have excelled at it. That’s definitely one of my goals.
  • Thirdly, I just want to acquire the skill of making yummy treats for my boys. My mom never baked (although she did make bomb Persian food). And I’ve always wanted to be able to make delicious cakes or cookies or whatever for holidays, birthdays & special occasions. Hopefully this will make it, not only a fun hobby, but something I become good at.

 

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Almond Roca Bars

Ingredients

For the base:

  • 3/4 C (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1.5 C all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 C sugar

For the topping:

  • 12 oz semi-sweet chocolate (or milk or dark… whatever you prefer)
  • 1 C of roasted almonds
  • 1/2 C of unsweetened coconut flakes (lightly toasted)

Make the Base

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Butter the bottom & sides of a 9-inch square pan.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder & salt.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter & sugar until creamy (~2 mins). Add flour mixture & beat for another minute.
  • Press dough into the prepared pan & bake until golden (~17-19 mins).

Make the Topping

  • In a microwave-safe bowl, microwave the chocolate for 2 minutes, stopping to stir every 30 seconds until melted.
  • Stir half of the almonds & coconut flakes into the melted chocolate.
  • Spread the chocolate over the cooled base in the pan.
  • Sprinkle with remaining almonds & coconut flakes, pressing gently to help them adhere to the chocolate.
  • Refrigerate for 30 minutes to harden, then cut into 20 bars.

Happy Things

This has not been the most relaxing season for me… returning to work, Nick traveling, excessive rain.

It is easy to articulate the things that are stressing me out or making life difficult. It’s often less reflexive for me to share & meditate on everything I’m grateful for. As a practice in gratitude, I’ll be focusing on the good… the happy things!

Here’s my list of simple, sometimes silly, things that are bringing me joy right now 🙂

  • Painting Sun-catchers
    I am grateful for anything that keeps my little guy glued to a chair for 30+ minutes that isn’t a screen or some form of technology 🙂 I’ve gotten these for Josh twice this past week. He seriously loves these random little painting kits we found in the dollar section at Target (YES literally $1 per kit). They have different Disney characters and he is mesmerized and hyper-focused on it every time he does it.
  • Gratitude Lists
    I’ve begun making gratitude lists once a week (usually on Sundays) in my bullet journal. I’ll sit and write about 20-30 things I’m thankful for. This has been an amazing discipline to keep over the past couple months that has really allowed me to take notice of what brings me joy (rather than what tears me down).
  • French Press Coffee
    Somehow soooo therapeutic using my french press in the morning… not to mention, it ups the deliciousness of my brew. We have switched from Keurig to French Press and it’s a game-changer.
  • Successful night 1 of sleep training
    Hallelujah! Kai had an amazing night 1 of sleep training… do second babies tend to be easier than first babies? I know it was just one night and he is bound to have some difficulty! But I’m still riding the high of last night… let’s pray it stays this way!
  • Getting storage for all the toys in our living room
    Sometimes, when you’re living in a 2-bedroom apartment with two young children, it feels like toys take up every square inch of your space. For a while there, we had toys spilling out of literally every single room. But at last… we have found these beautiful toy chests that not only keep our living room floor clean, but ALSO totally match our beige colored furniture.

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  • The Crown
    Anyone else watching this? I just finished season 1 and am in loveeeee. Not to mention, learning a ton about European (namely British) history. I have a renewed admiration for the Queen and a newfound curiosity about the royal family. This show is brilliantly done– and not to mention, thus far, Claire Foy has deservedly won best actress at every award show this year for her role as a young Queen Elizabeth.
  • Kindle Deals
    My favorite book blogger frequently posts Amazon Kindle deals, and I must say that today’s list is absolutely amazing… the best I’ve seen so far. Four of these books, I’ve been dying to read for a long time.
  • An Amazing Valentine’s Gift
    Shout out to my husband for totally upping my bath experience by getting me a bath tray for Valentine’s day. Now I can read my kindle or watch my show or have a glass of wine during my bath… this feels really over-the-top as I’m typing… but taking a bath is my go-to for R&R amidst a crazy week. No judging… thanks, hubs 🙂
  • Skirball Cultural Center
    Sometimes, I love LA. This museum is close to us, free on Thursdays, AND has a Noah’s Ark exhibit for children… we went last week and Joshua absolutely LOVED it! Even though it took him 15 minutes to calm down, stop crying and actually enter the exhibit (not sure what he was afraid of), he ended up really enjoying it. Definitely plan on going again.
  • Chubby Cheeks & Rolls
    Because my first boy didn’t have any… we are experiencing them for the first time. What a treat 🙂

What happy things are on your list this week?

Surviving Week One

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Last week was Nick’s first week back to work full-time. I was horrified and excited to figure out what solo parenting these peanuts would be like… I had ups & downs and endured multiple meltdowns (myself included).

Having a newborn & a toddler is just as crazy as it sounds. But there were things that definitely made the week easier.

What’s Helped Me Survive

  • Mocha Overnight Oats
    This has been INCREDIBLE for several reasons:
    1) I don’t have to make breakfast for myself in the morning (it’s made the night before).
    2) I get caffeine (there’s coffee in it).
    3) I get protein (there are oats & almond milk in it).
    4) It’s delicious (chocolate).
    I’ll be posting this recipe in the days to come, but I’m sure you can whip it together with the gist I just gave you. And it tastes amazing.
    PS how have I never thought about putting coffee in with the milk when I make overnight oats?? Brilliant.
  • Toddler Toys
    More specifically, toys that keep my 2 year old pre-occupied. The toys that have done this the best is a little bowling set I got him and the “gone fishing” game.
  • Emails & Texts
    I apologize to all my wonderful friends who have left voicemails and haven’t heard back from me. As I’ve said plenty, I’m a zombie right now and lack energy for phone conversation. But what’s kept me totally sane has been being able to text and email girlfriends. Even if I don’t have energy for coffee dates or long phone chats, I love that I get some friend time this way.
  • Perspective
    The best thing I’ve been able to do over the last week has been remind myself that this season is temporary. With that, I not only begin to cherish the really little, beautiful moments, but I also find relief in knowing that things will get easier. Kai WILL sleep through the night one day and he WILL be less fragile/needy as time goes on. One day my boys will be old enough to play together and I won’t be hanging by a thread trying to cater to them both separately at once. Of course different challenges come with different seasons… but the challenges of this season will soon be over.
  • Gratitude
    Finding beauty in things as little as my morning coffee… or our new fall candle that makes our home smell like the holidays. Finding gratitude in things as big as my two precious, healthy boys & my amazing community. Looking for beautiful moments, even when I’m tired and cranky, has been surprisingly simple.
  • Comedic Relief
    Thank you, Mindy Project and New Girl for giving me some quality laughs while I’m on the verge of meltdown.
  • Baby Carrier
    Kai lives in the Ergo. Apparently I’ve got an intense snuggler on my hands… he loves being upclose and personal so whenever he gets fussy I just put him in the Ergo (that literally glues him to my chest) and all is calm again.
  • Community
    Last, but certainly not least (in fact, the most helpful), our community has been vital. We are unbelievably grateful for dear friends & family who have dropped by to say hello, bring meals, groceries &/or help with the boys… I don’t know how we’d make it without you.

What’s Been Difficult

  • Bedtime
    Trying to put down a 2 year-old while caring for a hungry/crying 3 week-old feels pretty close to impossible when you’re the only parent home. Hopefully I’ll get a good routine down for this soon.
  • Getting Out
    Getting out of the house has been very difficult, but at the same time, absolutely vital to survival. Even if it’s as simple as going on a walk with the boys in the morning… nothing frees you from the feeling of house arrest quite like actually getting out of the house.

That’s my gist for week 1 of solo parenting.

My goals for this week are to shower every day and get out of the house at least once per day. Already excited to figure out somewhat of a routine 🙂

Would love to hear from you! What’s helped other mom’s during this transition?

Life As a Mommy of Two

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My first blogpost ever was written a few months after I had Josh, entitled “Life as a Mommy”. It feels crazy now to be back full circle and updating you all on “Life as a Mommy of TWO”.

Yes, I gave birth less than a couple weeks ago. Yes, I am completely sleep-deprived. But I have been eager to write, not just to give my dear friends an update, but also to really remember and cherish these moments. The first six weeks post-partum are always a blur (which is probably why everyone’s willing to have multiple children). But I want to record even the most exhausting of moments. Because one day these two cuties will be too big to snuggle with…

Here are a few updates on how life has been as a mommy of two (what’s been new, note-worthy, or totally different from round one):

Labor & Delivery

  • Labor moved a lot more quickly.
    I went into labor the exact same way both times (my water broke in the middle of the night the day before my due date), which happens to be an extremely uncommon way to go into labor. The first time, my body could not begin contracting on it’s own and I ended up being in labor for 30 hours before having an emergency c-section.
  • I had a successful VBAC!
    Luckily, my body began to go into labor on it’s own this time! I was contracting within an hour after my water breaking and was able to deliver Kai via VBAC, barely any pitocin and only after about 15 hours of labor. Still long, but technically half the time!

First Couple Weeks at Home

  • I miss Josh.
    It’s pretty drastic going from giving your son 100% of your attention down to about 10%. Josh spends the majority of his time with Nick now (since I have to nurse the baby). The other day I decided to take Josh to the park for a quick mommy-son date during Kai’s nap and as we were walking out the door, Josh turns to Nick and says “Daddy, put your shoes on!”, but when Nick told him he wasn’t joining us, Josh started to cry. And if I’m being honest, it took everything in me to not wallow in my heartbreak… that suddenly, mommy & Josh time wasn’t enough 😦 But I’m acknowledging that this may well be the season we’re in & that’s okay.
  • I wish I could give Kai 100%.
    On the flip side, it is also bizarre having a newborn, yet still needing to cater to an extremely demanding toddler. When we had Josh, we were able to put 100% focus on him, but it’s just not the same with newborn #2.
  • I’m getting out of the house much faster.
    Four days after giving birth, Nick & I had a very quick mini date night at this coffee shop right by our apartment while my aunt watched the boys. It was crazy but SO needed.
  • I’m desperate for exercise.
    The pregnancy weight seems to be dropping fairly quick (thanks to breastfeeding), but as I learned last time, even when I do return to pre-pregnancy weight, it does NOT mean my body will look the same as before. That requires work. And as per doctors orders, I’m on a “no-exercise” regimen until six weeks post-partum. I’m very eager to start treating my body right again.
  • I’m attempting to soak up the little moments.
    As tempting as it is to see this season as exhausting & full of sleep-deprivation (which is all true), I’m reminding myself continually to soak up these precious moments… ones where I get to just snuggle up with my new baby and relax, without worrying about work or any other agenda.

Favorite Items Post-Partum

  • SoundBub.
    About to make a shameless plug for my friend’s company’s product. We are in LOVE with our SoundBub (from the company WavHello), which is a portable sound soother, but also has blue tooth, which means you can play whatever you want on it from your phone or ipad. Josh is absolutely obsessed. And it’s also been super helpful for Kai.
  • Kindle.
    Makes reading while nursing or lying in bed infinitely easier.
  • Trader Joe’s Gummies
    For some reason, I’ve been intensely craving this particular snack ever since labor. My lovely friend got me three bags and, yes, I finished it all.
  • Face Masks & Dry Shampoo
    My sweet friend sent me the best care package last week, filled with goodies that let me pamper myself during this time where I feel totally un-feminine. Felt loved AND girly again.

More photos & fun to come as I get more sleep and baby starts to plump up 🙂

Homemade Mac & Cheese

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This is the second time I made Mac ‘n Cheese from scratch. The first time I made it (using a different recipe), it came out awful. This one was AMAZING.

A few thoughts:

  1. I already had all the ingredients in my pantry… SCORE!
  2. It was so so SO easy to make.
  3. It tasted delicious.
  4. I’m sure there are ways to make it even TASTIER. But it’s delicious as is.

Here’s the recipe I found and tweaked slightly. Some notes & additions I would make:
**Buy a block of cheddar cheese & shred it, so that it’s fresh
**Cook bacon, chop it up & throw it in (at the end)
**With the bacon, add frozen peas (to bring in a vegetable component)
**For a personal kick, add hot sauce (to your own, individual bowl, not the whole pot)

Enjoy!

Homemade Mac & Cheese

Ingredients:

  • 16 oz uncooked Macaroni
  • 3 tbsp Butter
  • 3 tbsp Flour
  • 1 1/2 cup Milk
  • 2 cups Sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Cook macaroni in boiling water until tender.
  • Transfer macaroni to colander to drain and set aside.
  • Melt butter in pan and add flour.
  • Cook over low heat for about 2 minutes stirring constantly to make a roux.
  • Gradually add in a milk, whisking until smooth.
  • Cook for about 2 minutes, whisking constantly until you reach desired consistency.
  • Add in shredded cheddar cheese and stir until the melted and smooth.
  • Add drained macaroni to sauce and stir until coated.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Slightly adapted from: http://cincyshopper.com/easy-stovetop-mac-cheese/

Starting the Toddler Years: the fun & the not-so-fun

Welcome to the Toddler years! Where everything changes… my mind is constantly swarming with ideas on how to keep him pre-occupied and learning. He’s running around. He sleeps standing up (stubborn kid). He loves to hug and kiss his mama. There are so many wonderful things and so many not-so-wonderful things. Here’s my little take on toddler life so far:

The fun:

  • I gave Joshua his first haircut!
    YES I DID. Mama did it. All by herself. Go mama, go mama… (sung in a melodious chant to herself). I’m really excited I was able to do this. All I needed to do was watch a few YouTube videos, buy some haircutting shears and a styling comb and I was good to go. It was surprisingly therapeutic to cut his hair. And he doesn’t look too bad 😉

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n case you forgot what he used to look like…

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Yeah, maybe we let it go a little too long…

  • My kid’s a chatterbox.
    He talks talks talks talks TALKS. I mean babbles. But he’s saying words now! At the store, he will literally wave and excitedly say “HELLO!” to everyone we pass. It’s pretty cute. And he’s into hand gestures. And clapping. It’s the best 🙂
  • He kisses, hugs and gives all sorts of love ❤
    It’s really cute actually. Ever since we taught him “give me kiss” or “give teddy bear kiss”, he’s been doing it nonstop. In fact, I’ll sometimes catch him sitting there hugging and kissing his teddy (of course, this is right before he chucks him across the room, so I don’t know how affectionate it is..) But it’s still friggin’ adorable.
  • He’s feeding himself! Utensils and all!
    Thank God. This means I don’t have to spoon feed him all day long. Hallelujah!

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The not-so-fun:

  • He hits & throws… on purpose.
    It’s pretty nuts to see your innocent little baby go from angel child to tantrum-ing toddler. We’re still figuring out what our discipline strategy is. We’ve found timeout works really well.
  • He no longer has stranger danger.
    I don’t know how this happened. It’s actually a tad embarrassing when he hugs random strangers in line at Disneyland. Or where ever. We have to figure this one out since this simply will not do.
  • He’s all. over. the. place.
    A whole new meaning to Miley’s song, “We can’t stop. And we won’t stop.” The good news is that I’m always getting a workout chasing after him. Oh and I totally understand the toddler leash thing now…. Nick disagrees, but I really think he’ll see the magic once we use it. Where do I even get one of those?
  • He needs to learn how to share.
    Officially at an age where he’s understanding what’s okay and what’s not okay. He’ll learn sharing is caring soon enough.

That’s all for now. What are your tips for entering into Toddler life?

On Motherhood, Fasting & Waiting

It’s been a while since I’ve written a real post. You know… one that isn’t a list of things I’m “currently into”… As most of you know, I was working full-time at a skilled nursing facility all summer, while trying to mother a not-sleeping 18-month-old toddler who is also constantly testing his limits. It’s been exhausting and I haven’t had the mental capacity to write about anything real. But now I do 🙂 Let motherhood update commence.

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F
irst of all, can someone explain to me how my baby now looks like this? He’s a little man now! So handsome. My heart can’t take it.

On looking for work & mothering:

Well, I’m back to being at home full-time with my son. But this time I will be simultaneously studying for my board exam and looking for a job (which may as well be a full-time job in and of itself). I am realizing more and more how much I love being home with Josh and have decided that I don’t think I can work more than 30 hours a week (MAX). I love too many other things. I love being involved at church. I love reading. I love going to mommy groups and hanging out with my boy. I consider motherhood a ministry and one that I really don’t want to take lightly. So as great as it would be to make a full-time salary, I would really rather not.

So for the next month or two you’ll mostly find me running around with Josh, studying for my board exam and getting to know other mommies.

On Fasting:

Some of you know, many of you don’t: I will be fasting most forms of media until September. This includes Facebook, instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, TV & movies (if you see my blog link posted on FB, my husband did it for me). Obviously I’ve decided to keep blogging, as I find it’s more therapeutic for me than it is distracting and mind-numbing.

But why am I fasting media? Well… a lot of reasons. It started with this book I’m reading (“7: an experimental mutiny against excess”) and I’ve become obscenely aware of how much of the noise in my life distracts me from the things that really matter to me: my time with God. my time with my family. my time with my son. I’ve come to realize how superficial everything has become. How superficial I’ve become. And I don’t like that… I don’t like looking back at my day and realizing how much time I’ve spent mindlessly searching the internet, looking at YouTube videos and stalking everyone’s Facebook. I’m ready for a media detox. It’s only been 6 days and it’s been both harder and easier than I expected. Harder because I LOVEEEEEEE my shows. I just want to watch Mindy Kaling all day and laugh. Easier because I don’t miss social media that much… I may even delete my Facebook when the fasts over… but we’ll see.

On Waiting:

This is an interesting transition in my life. Waiting to work… waiting to make money… waiting for “our lives to resume” (or so that’s what it feels like). I am eager to just move forward and get everything in place, but at the same time, I love where we are right now. And I am constantly learning to stay mindful of the present. Life almost always feels like it’s in a transition phase. For once, I’m going to embrace now.

A few tid-bits you need to know:

  • I started “Something Borrowed” (the book that was on my Fall reading list) and instantly quit. I got to page 30 and couldn’t really handle all the adultery (sorry for ruining the book for you, but that’s the whole premise and it starts within the first 3 pages). I’m okay with putting down a book if I know I won’t like AND it will make me crazy. Just thought I would let you all know.
  • Speaking of books, “7: an experimental mutiny against excess” is messing me up. In such good way. Go read it.
  • Disneyland won major points yesterday. My son had a huge accident in his diaper that went all over his onesie and bottoms (something that actually hasn’t happened since he was less than a year old). One of the ladies who was working at the baby center gave us a slip that let us buy $40 worth of baby pajamas at the Disneystore. WHATTTTTTTTT? Major points, Disney.
  • I finished my “capsule wardrobe” timeline (3 months) and loved it. I’m probably going to keep going (although I threw some of my old clothes back in the closet). I did say I was going to write a post on how it went. Hopefully I’ll get to that soon. Just know, I really liked it.

That’s all for now! Guess that turned into another “list” type post… oh well 🙂 off to mommying! Here’s another snapshot of Josh, just because 🙂

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On Graduation & Overcoming My Fears

Finally! The day I’ve been waiting for. The moment I never thought could actually happen… This past Friday, I stepped on stage in my cap & gown and acquired my master’s degree in occupational therapy.

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What a long & trying journey it has been to get here.

Although many know the shear fact that I got pregnant during my first year of graduate school and had to take time off, most do not know that, at one point in time, I had actually decided I would not finish graduate school… that after my summer internship in 2013, I felt it was more pressure than I could bear and that it would be best for me to take a different route with my life. The time, energy & emotional exhaustion it would take to acquire my degree WHILE having a baby and paying endless tuition was simply not practical. How was I to finish grad school with a baby at home… no extended family around… and living off of one income? It felt improbable that I would finish and unlikely that I could even go back… So I decided I was done.

Luckily, I had (& have) very honest people in my life. People that listened and understood, but also pointed out my fears & questioned my motivations. They gave me personal insight and wisdom on how this might feel in retrospect. They encouraged me to go after my degree if it is what I want and to not throw in the towel simply because my timeline got shaken… No one has to give up a vocational calling simply because motherhood came sooner than anticipated.

Looking back now, I can confidently say that circumstantial obstacles were not reason enough to give up on my calling. We are not supposed to look at every road block and merely say, “I guess God has a different plan for me.” Obstacles are meant to be endured and overcome. And although I viewed my obstacles, initially, as signs to stop, I’m so grateful I had people in my life to advise me otherwise.

And as a side note, I certainly do not condemn any one who decides to stop pursuing a dream. In fact, I believe that in some cases, it takes a lot more courage to stop than to keep going.

In my case, however, the day I decided I to finish graduate school was the day I named my longing and went after it. I said “YES” to finishing what I had already started, despite wanting to quit… I am overwhelmed with joy when I realize that I actually did it.

Graduating, walking in my cap & gown and FINALLY getting my master’s (my dream since I was 18) felt like a huge accomplishment. Despite getting married, pregnant and having a baby during my program, I cannot believe I am finally finished.

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU to my incredible family, friends, mentors & all others who helped me get here and walked on this precious journey with me. I could not have done it with out your support.

Homemade Playdoh (OT Things)

joshua playdoh Today feels like a good day to put some of my OT (Occupational Therapy) skills to use since I’ll be graduating in ONE WEEK!

In honor of almost being done (EE!), I decided to start a segment of this blog called, “OT Things”, in which I’ll give tips & tricks to help kiddo’s with their fine-motor, social & sensory development. Because that’s a part of what we do as OT’s 🙂

So, Playdoh. It truly has so many benefits for children AND they love it.

why you should make it, rather than buy it:

1. If your kid accidentally eats it, no harm done! It’s edible! (But I definitely do NOT encourage eating it, since it’s really high in sodium)

2. It’s cheap. There’s a good chance you already have all the ingredients.

3. If your kids are older like >3 years, they are going to get such a kick out of MAKING their own playdoh! It’s great bonding & fun for you and your little one.

4. Get creative with it! You can create whatever colors you want using food coloring. And for an added bonus, you can use Kool-aid to make it FLAVORED. Now the kids will really get a kick out of that.

Benefits of Playdoh for Toddlers:

  • Promotes Fine Motor Development Because there are so many different things you can do with playdoh, there are plenty of opportunities for skill enhancement: grasping, dexterity, hand & finger strength & motor control.
  • Engages Sense of Touch An overall wonderful and necessary sensory experience. This is especially helpful for children that need help with sensory processing.
  • It’s FUN! It keeps them entertained and engaged for long stretches of time. Not to mention all the different ways you can use it.

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Homemade Playdough recipe

Ingredients (You can double if you want more)

1 C flour
1 TBS oil
1/4 C salt
1 TBS cream of tartar
3/4 C boiling water
food coloring (optional)

Directions
  1. Pour 1 cup of flour into a bowl.
  2. Add 1/4 cup of salt.
  3. Mix in 1 tbsp Cream of Tartar. (You can find this in the spice section of just about any grocery store.)
  4. Add 1 tbsp of oil. For this recipe I used vegetable oil, but you can use any oil, and as long as it’s a kitchen oil, your playdough will be non-toxic and safe if a little one takes a tiny taste.  The sodium level is very high, so we don’t encourage this to double as a snack.
  5. Pour in the boiling water. Be VERY careful because this makes the dough HOT!
  6. Mix all the ingredients together until they form the dough. At this point, if you don’t want to add any food dye to your playdough, you’re finished!
  7. After it’s cooled, to make different colors of playdough, cut the dough in half and roll it up into balls.
  8. Now, punch out the middle of the ball to leave a little bowl for you to pour your gel food dye into.
  9. Drip your gel dye into the bowls. This is a great time to mix dye colors if you want to make another color.
  10. Knead the dough until the dye is thoroughly mixed. This is VERY messy! If you don’t want to stain your hands, use gloves, and make sure to put something down so you don’t stain your counter (like I did).

Adapted slightly from: http://kidsactivitiesblog.com/206/play-dough

Mama’s Day Off: How I spent my first day off in over a year

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hat’s me trying to find ways to display my newly manicured nails.

Like most mom’s, it’s a very rare occasion for me to have a day off. Sure, I’ll leave home to go to class, to study, to run errands. I have been away from home over night only twice since Joshua was born. Once for a friend’s wedding and another time to visit a friend who had returned from Africa after 2 years.

And although it is nice to go and get time for errands or studying or even for leisure, I am always acutely aware of the clock. “Okay, so I have 2.5 hours to spend. I’ll spend 1 hour studying, half an hour writing, half an hour reading and grab some groceries for the last half hour.”

As parents, you typically only get what feels like moments to yourself. And it’s rare not to feel incredibly pressed for time when you’re out attempting to rejuvinate.

So when I found out that Nick was going up to the Bay for a conference and that he was going to take Joshua with him, I immediately began to mentally plan what would be a full 2 days to myself. The first day would be filled with class, but the second was completely free. A whole day! No time crunch, no under-ridden guilt for taking an extra 10-minutes to myself and no fear of needing to prep dinner, clean & make sure everything’s in order at home.

Here’s how I spent my day :

1. I slept in.
Until 8:30 AM! I know most people would never call this sleeping in. But I certainly do.

2. I did yoga.
Without interruption or whining in the background.

3. I took a long time showering & getting ready.
And I ended up looking quite cute and trendy, if you ask me. This is not of the norm.

4. I got a mani-pedi
The first time since last summer! It felt incredibly relaxing & blissful. And it also felt nice to take care of myself in that way. Here’s a shot of my nails:

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I
 meant to have a gold sparkle, not pink. But I’ll take pink any day.

5. I went to Urth Cafe to read & journal
a) I got the Spanish Latte (to die for)
b) I got the best spot in the house. Outside on the elevated patio.

IMG_5049 IMG_5052

6. I ran errands
Not my favorite part, but it had to be done.

7. I went shopping
Without needing to push around a stroller and rush through trying on clothes so my baby doesn’t get ansi.

8. I made dinner for 1
It’s amazing how much less time it takes to prep & eat dinner when you’re only making it for yourself. I made myself some chicken vegetable chow-mein. OH and I ate dinner in front of the TV! Which we never do with Josh!

9. I watched the Lizzie Mcguire Movie
Guilt-free! Not like the hubs judges me too much… but sometimes, you’re still dating in marriage. And sometimes it’s nice to get to do something you love that’s silly without anyone else there.

lizziemcguiremovie
I know this movie is ridiculous, but it has Italy, Disney, Singing & Dancing. ❤ it.

A few nuggets I learned (for moms):

  • A Day off requires scheduling & budgeting. There’s no way to find time off unless you pencil it in some time in advance so that everyone in the family can plan accordingly. And it helps to enjoy the day if you’ve already budgeted for what you’ll be doing.
  • I need this every once in a while. But not too much. I found myself incredibly excited & eager to pick up Josh and Nick from the airport. I really really missed them. a full day was more than enough.
  • Do something that makes you feel pampered & relaxed. I felt girly again 🙂
  • Dads deserve a day off too. They work hard both in and out of the house. I plan on trying to make this happen for Nick.