Dear Autumn @ 9 Months

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August 2014

Dear Autumn-

Oh man, every month the 18th sneaks up on me and I go “OMG! How are you another month older!?!?” I’m sure I’ll be doing this same freak out when your are older as well, but with years. It’s just incredible that time is flying by so quickly and how much you develop and change.

One thing that can change is your volume. Oh my sweets! You have just one volume and that is loud. Babbling loudly, crying loudly, shreeking loudly, yelling loudly. It’s all the same. I’m trying not to dimension your excitement when you are chatting with me but sometimes it can scramble my brain so I respond to you softly hoping that maybe you will mimic and hope that you will learn what “inside voices are.”

So, that is why we often go outside, just so that the shreeks don’t bounce around our walls and in our brains. But guess what? You get quiet then. You will yell and yell until we reach the door and then you zip those lips once we get outside. It’s like you are in pure owe it renders you speechless. You enjoy watching the birds and you listen for planes overhead. And, of course, pulling up bits of the new sod is just the best. Even when I put you on a blanket you pull the edges to you to reach the grass and feel it, pull it, and, sometimes, eat it. ha!

We weren’t sure if you would ever crawl since you only showed interest in walking around with us but you just started just the other day. Previously you would just twist and scoot on your butt, but now you are just starting to get the crawling movement down now. Uh -oh! time to really baby proof!!!

You’re still so teeny tiny! And yet you eat so much! You let it be well-known, by broadcasting it loudly, when you are hungry or when are you full. Thankfully, you are eager to try everything we give you from avocado to beans, pasta to tomatoes, and pancakes to quesadillas. You eat so much but you must burn it up as you are still 5th % for your weight, but at least it as held steady.

I love you so much my happy baby.

Love,

Mom

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8.15-17: Weekend Recap

{Friday Night}

get Autumn from daycare | Price gets home later |  Price makes a Blue Apron Meal for our dinner | Autumn bath | Autumn to bed | make mini peach & blueberry cobblers | take Kemper for a long walk | hang out, clean, pump | bed

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{Saturday}

 up early| make french toast for breakfast | morning naps | go to Breakheart Reservation for a long walk & dog park visit | fig and goat cheese pasta for lunch | Autumn fights nap, cuddle in K’tan, nap together on the sofa | Price takes nap | make pork Blue Apron meal for dinner | laundry | house clean up | work | bed

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{Sunday}

sleep in-ish | breakfast: eggs and hashbrowns | house cleaning | morning nap | shopping at Carter’s and Joann’s Fabric | Price mowed the lawn | Price did re finish chair work- sanding | back home for lunch | do the first of coat spray paint on chairs | take Autumn for a walk | shopping at Children’s Place and Home Goods | Autumn dinner, bath, bed | take out Chinese for dinner | work | bed

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The BEST you’ll ever have… My Signature Macaroni Salad

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I wish that macaroni  salad was a food group.

And, of course, you’d get to have 4-6 servings to meet your daily servings requirements.

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If that was the case, I’d be SUPER healthy in the summer.

Ugh! I just love macaroni salad so much. I make it and eat it too often when the days are nice and hot. Sure, I can eat it year round but it’s just one of the things that is seasonal to me.

Speaking of seasonal items- hey Starbucks, I love PSL’s A LOT but debuting them for the season in August is too soon. TOO SOON!!!!!

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You know the book “When you give a Mouse a Cookie”? Well, I have my own version.

>When you give Nicole a nice day, she will want to grill.

>When she’s grilling, she will want some steak.

>When she’s eating her steak, she will want some macaroni salad.

>When she’s eating macaroni salad, she will want a beer…

Ugh, I’m annoying. Just make this macaroni salad.

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I just can’t get over the flavors of this macaroni salad since it’s not like typical ones that have all that tang from pickles. It’s mellow, sweet from the carrots and sugar but there is a follow through bite from the vinegar and onion. You really don’t need much onion either to get it. Start off with a bit and add from there as you taste it.

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Besides tasting great, it’s great to serve at parties as you can prepare it a day in advance so you’re not rushing around the day of your party. Plus the flavors are even better once they have mingled a bit so making it in advance is a real win!

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I use a zester to grate my carrots and onion. I’m sure there is a fine enough garter on one of the surfaces of a box grater, it’s just that I don’t have one so I use a zester. The most important thing is that the carrot and onion are teeny tiny specs, so don’t try to short cut this by chopping it. It’s worth the tiny bit of elbow grease you need to put into it to grate it up.

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Hurry up and make this as the unofficial end to summer is in 2 weeks. EEEKKK!! At least the real end of summer is further on in September so you will still have plenty of time to until then. Yum!!!

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 My Signature Macaroni Salad

Makes 12 servings (unless you are me and then it’s 3, maybe 4…jk!)

Ingredients

  • 1 pound of elbow macaroni
  • 3/4 cup of finely grated carrots, about 2-3 carrots
  • 1-2 Tablespoons of finely grated yellow onion
  • 1 cup Hellman’s mayonnaise
  • 1 Tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons pepper

Process

  1. Cook the macaroni until it’s just ‘al dente’ according to the package instructions. Drain and rinse with cold water. Toss in ice cubes to chill the pasta as well.
  2. Combine the grated carrot, onion, mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper in a large bowl.
  3. Remove the ice once the pasta is cold. Mix the pasta into the mayonnaise mixture. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Chill the macaroni salad for at least 1 hour prior to serving. Store in an air tight container for up to 3 days.

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Peach Pie Trifle

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My apologies for missing my weekly ‘Friday Pie Day’ post last week. Boo!

I had traveled for work on Monday and Tuesday and when I arrived at work on Thursday I was sick. Well, me being a dummy, I didn’t realize it until the end of the day. I just figured my coldness was just from the building controlled AC. Nope, I had the chills. I was so cold I sat under my coworker’s desk to huddle around the space heater she uses in winter. Fast forward to the evening and I was passed out on the sofa with a fever of 101.4.

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I was out sick on Friday and while I could have quickly written this post I decided to sleep off some more of the yuck I was feeling. And even then I napped on Saturday and Sunday. This virus that settled in my throat whooped my butt. It just shows that I need to boost my immune system more to fight off plane germs to handle some more upcoming work and personal travel. Wish me luck!

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So here we are, a week later, and I’m finally feeling like me again. And I have this amazing Peach Pie Trifle for you guys! A coworker, who transferred from our Boston to DC office came back for a visit and came over for dinner. She always enjoyed the goodies I would bring into the office, specifically the trifles I would make. I even made her one for her going away party that we hosted at our house. She requested a trifle for this visit so I created this one especially for her!

Okay, so this isn’t really a pie but I was inspired by peach pies for this recipe. Plus, it’s always fun to take something and remix it into something new. :-)

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I made my favorite cake recipe for this trifle but you can do it quickly with a boxed cake mix. But I swear this is some good cake. And I hadn’t made a cake in so long, I wanted to just pop cubes of freshly baked cake right in my mouth, but I resisted and used it for the trifle. Worth the wait!

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I made 1 large trifle but this would be great if it was served in individual glass bowls or jars. Mason jars even make for great trifle serving vessels.

There is no rhyme or reason in the layering of the trifle. It doesn’t matter if you start with peaches or cake first, but I always finish trifles with whipped cream. I specifically make shallow layers so that when people are digging in they are sure to get goodies from all of the layers.

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Peaches are super fresh and in season now. Now is the best time for delicious juicy peaches so be sure to make some Peach Pie Trifle now.

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Peach Pie Trifle

Makes 1 very large trifle, serves 12-16 people

Ingredients

For the cake

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 Cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 Cups Self-rising flour
  • 1 1/4 Cups all-purpose flour

For the filling

  • 3 lbs of peaches
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons vanilla extract, divided
  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream

Process

  1. To make the cake, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease 2 9″ round baking pans.
  2. In a large bowl/stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each egg. Add the vanilla extract and beat the mixture again.
  3. Combine the flours together and then add half of that to the butter mixture, beating well to incorporate. Then add half of the milk and beat again. Repeat this process to add the rest of the flour and milk.
  4. Evenly divide the cake batter between the 2 cake pans. Bake for 25-28 minutes, or until a toothpick that is placed into the center of the pan is clean of batter upon removal. Let cool.
  5. While your cake is baking, slice your peaches into thin wedges. In a large skillet, combine the peaches, sugar, and 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract. Over medium heat cook the peaches down until they are just soft. Using a slotted spoon, remove the peaches. Bring the syrup mixture to a slow boil and cook for 3-5 minutes. Add to the bowl of peaches and let cool completely.
  6. Beat the heavy whipping cream and remaining vanilla extract until there are stiff peaks.
  7. Cut the cool cake into squares by slicing the cake into strips and then rotating the pan and cutting again.
  8. In a large trifle bowl or in individual bowls, layer the cake, peaches, and whipped cream. Repeat thin layers until you have exhausted each layer. It’s suggested to finish with whipped cream. ( I did the following: cake, whipped cream, peaches, cake, whipped cream, peaches, cake, whipped cream.)

Trifle recipe idea created by I am a Honey Bee, cake recipe slightly adapted from Buttercup Bake Shop Cookbook

 

PS… my helper wasn’t too helpful, but I think I’ll keep her ;-)

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Camping with a Baby: Sand Pond Campground- Sandford, ME

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A few weeks ago Price and I packed up the car to go camping with Autumn and Kemper. Yep, camping with a 7 month old.

Our original plan was to go to Pillsbury State Park in Washington, New Hampshire early Saturday morning to stay at a specific camp site but it is one that can’t be reserved and, unfortunately, someone beat us there and was staying the weekend. So it meant for a change of plans. We sourced some books and searched online and ultimately found a spot at Sand Pond Campgrounds in Sanford, Maine.

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Normally we are very organized and have everything packed up properly the night before we go away or go camping. Well, not this time. Of course. Unfortunately, one of our rabbits died that day and Price discovered it when he went down to our den to get camping stuff and feed them. So our productivity on Friday night came to a screeching halt. Instead, it was all about crying, feeling sad, saying good bye, and burying him. All of that meant we threw in the towel before we were done packing and decided to finish it in the morning.

People- don’t do that! I hate to say but we should have sucked it up and finished packing because then we would have (probably) had our act together and wouldn’t have needed to make THREE different stops the following morning. Yep, three. Sigh.

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Anyway, after leaving an hour later than expected (hey, not so bad) we headed up to Sand Pond Campground in Sanford, ME. Because I can never resist an opportunity to go to Sonic, we stopped there for breakfast burritos and drinks.

While we left later than planned we still managed to arrive before 8.30am giving us plenty of time to get checked in and begin to get set up.

As we brought a baby and a dog with us, they put us in our own field. Thankfully, it was a quiet weekend and we were only 1 of 2 families tent camping. They have 2 fields for tents so they put us in our very own field, which meant we basically had 4 campsites to ourselves so we wouldn’t be disturbing others (as much) compared to being put right next to the other people. This consideration was so nice as it allowed for us to relax a bit more.

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While we unpacked the car and set things up, we put Autumn on a picnic blanket. She loved it. She also loved pulling the blanket up and ripping up (and then eating- ugh) grass.

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 Did your awful parents forget a bowl for you so you had to drink water out of a pot? yep.

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This year we upgraded our 3 person tent to an 8 person tent. We used our 3 person tent for the past few years but with the baby and the dog we knew that we wouldn’t fit in there. I was thinking we would get a 6 person tent but Price decided to ‘go big or go home’ and picked out a Coleman Montana 8 Person Tent.
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It felt funny setting it up as it was just 2 adults, 1 infant, and a dog but we all have a lot of stuff for each of us -bags for clothes, bags for cooking stuff, my pumping bag, stuff for the dog, etc. All of that stuff takes of a lot of room, and even when they say ‘sleeps 8′ they show the people in the diagram practically touching each other so I don’t feel that bad about such a big tent for all of us in the end. The tent was pretty easy to assemble so it made for a quick set up.

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I took Autumn to the pool for a bit so she could splash around and play. There were a few families there but it was pretty mellow and quiet. It was a smallish pool but there was plenty of room for adults to hang around the edge while kids played in the deep end (not deep enough for diving!). There aren’t too many umbrellas so be sure to to bring plenty of sunblock, sunglasses, and a hat for you and your family.

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Price later on enjoyed some solo pool time so that he could cool off and relax a bit while I sat back at the campsite enjoying some sun while Autumn napped.

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Kemper enjoyed swimming around when we were at Pillsbury State Park last year, which is part of the reason that we selected Sand Pond this year. We wanted to give him that same opportunity this year so having a place for him to swim was one of the factors involved in picking out the campgrounds.

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After 1 jump from the dock that resulted in him going under the surface, even with the life jacket on, Price would lower him into the water so he could swim out to the sticks we wanted to retrieve. He definitely got spooked going under the water so I’m really glad we had a life jacket on him to make him come up quickly and to have something to grab onto to get him out of the water quickly. Once he caught his breath he was ready to go again!

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After Kemper did his swimming adventure… he was exhausted!

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Well, we were all tired. :-)

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Autumn loves to be outside. This little camping adventure was right up her alley.

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For dinner we ate hot dogs and store bought side salads. We enjoyed the leisurely pace of the evening as we hung out and walked around with Autumn. The sunset was really pretty but the best part was that we went during the full moon. We purposefully planned that when we were planning on when we were going camping during the summer. A gorgeous big moon, camp fire, and s’mores make for the best kind of night outside under the stars. Shoot! I didn’t even mind the squeaky bats that danced and darted above our heads. Thanks for eating all those pesky bugs guys!

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Throughout the camping trip I would sneak away to the car to pump. Ah, the joys of pumping! I could have brought my battery pack with me to pump in the tent but I figured I would enjoy some AC in the car so I just brought the car adapter. Plus, it always gave me a chance to charge my phone which functioned as our clock, alarm, and always at hand camera. (I did bring my big Nikon as well.)

We brought a cooler for our food and for my to store my milk. We just made sure we had plenty of ice and it was simple to keep things safely stored for all of us.

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We survived the night!

Of course, right as I was putting Autumn down in the tent a bunch of fireworks went off (off camp property) so she was spooked and took longer to get down. As well, she was up more at night as it was an unfamiliar place with unfamiliar sounds and smells. Thankfully, we didn’t have any close neighbors, but we still didn’t enjoy her crying so quickly brought her onto our sleeping bags (she was on her own at the start) to snuggle. Well, she mostly just batted me in the face!

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Price made us breakfast!

Autumn was fussy and I needed to pump so I ending up giving Price some morning peace and drove around with her while I pumped. Plus, I grabbed some coffee’s from Dunkin’s which is just a few miles away (Thankfully, if you forget anything while camping here you can just drive a few miles and grab what you need at the grocery store or (the dreaded) Wal-mart).

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Price’s mom sent us this ciao! baby Portable Highchair which is PERFECT for camping.

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Price made cornbread just to try out the process. Ultimately, having a lid is key to making it cook properly. Gotta try to learn!

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Hello Bacon Egg and Cheese!!!!

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In the morning I took Autumn on a long walk around the campgrounds to get some exercise and kill some time while Price tidied things up around our campsite so we could pack up and get on the road early.

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On our walk we kept looping around the campsite checking out everything that Sand Pond had to offer. One thing that I really enjoyed was that they have really clean, well organized facilities. There are 2 locations for restrooms and showers, one being by the pool. As most of the people there are in RV’s, which have bathrooms, the facilities were quiet and extremely clean. Even pretty of bugs as the screen doors are on closers so no one can forget the door open and fill the restrooms full of bugs!

They also have spaces for events and places for kids to play around. The playground had a jungle gym and a basketball hoop. Great for kids (even adults!) with tons of energy.

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They were hosting BINGO on Saturday afternoon. I didn’t play but it was fun to walk by all the action.

They also host other events throughout the summer, for example, there was a blueberry bake off on the next weekend. Bummer to miss that!

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They had a cute little beach which would be fun for Autumn to play in when she gets in older.

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After the walk we broke down the tent and chucked stuff in the trunk and we were on our way home. We prefer to just get home and properly unpack/repack thing later. Like the tent was covered in dew so it would have been gross to fold up and put away in it’s case, we unpacked it, let it dry out and then packed it up later that afternoon.

Thankfully we have a car seat cover for our car since Kemper was filthy!!!This Kurgo cover is a lifesaver when it comes to keeping the car clean with Kemper.

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We were all pooped when we got back. That is when you know it was a very successful camping weekend. So much fun!

So, we survived our first camping experience with Autumn and are looking forward to going again. Things will be very different next year with Autumn running around but I think it will just make it even more fun! So exciting!

 

Tips and Tricks for Camping at Sand Pond Campground

  • Bringing small bills with you will make it easier to pay for firewood. They do accept cards so you can use that for your fee but if you need wood later having cash makes things easier.
  • If you are bringing your dog then you HAVE TO bring a current copy of its rabies papers. The tag is NOT enough.
  • As there are a lot of trailers here, there are a lot of activities here to keep the people who summer here busy and happy. This is either your thing or not, just keep that it mind.
  • Dogs can’t go swimming on the beach but there is an area for dogs. They can use the boat dock but if your dog is not a jumper they might have difficulty getting in the water as there are canoes strapped off the dock inhibiting easy access in that area.
  • There are small wooden fences prohibiting you from driving up directly to your camp site so be ready to carry things back and forth as you unload/reload your car.

Tips and Tricks for Camping with an Infant

  • Bring lots of wipes!
  • Bring a hat and sunblock to protect your little one’s skin.
  • Use an all natural bug spray, as needed.
  • If you need to pump, bring a car adapter or a battery pack charger with you.
  • I suggest this ciao! baby Portable Highchair to make this easier for meal times.
  • Have some patience! It’s a new experience for you and them. There are all new things to look at which is fun but overwhelming too so they can get over stimulated quickly.
  • Try to pick a campsite that has bathroom facilities in case of accidents- make for washing things out and cleaning up easier, one that is fairly close to a store incase you forget something that you need, and one that isn’t too far from home just in  case you need to ditch your plans and get home quickly. Be flexible. :-)
  • Know where the closest hospital is and how to get there. Better to be prepared and never need it then have to scramble later.

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