Thursday, February 27, 2014

oh hey MARCH

March is just around the corner, which is crazy because that means April will be here soon and then Luca will be one.

Time is moving too fast but I am still excited about this time of year because SPRING is coming (hallelujah!). I thrive in the warm weather, the sun nourishes my spirit and makes me a better person. I'm thinking about our garden and Luca's first birthday party and all the fun baby things we'll do when the weather warms up.


And here are a few other things that are on my mind...

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Thinking about what to plant and using my stand-by chart from the Farmer's Almanac, Garden Anywhere by Alys Fowler and the beautiful Landreth Seed Co. catalogue to get started.

After a raccoon ravaged our last coop, we finally have chickens again. We always give them our leftover food and felt good about the cyclical nature of it (food to chickens to eggs). Not having them for a few weeks made us a lot more conscious of what we're throwing away, though. I'm working on meal planning and all that ... speaking of which, I've started recording what I cook. Not very exciting to look at but I love having the reference point. (Inspired by Jenny from Dinner: A Love Story. She's been doing this for years! Amazing.)

Book club is tonight so I'm taking what I always take, dessert and wine. In this case, brownies with mascarpone (a la cream cheese). I'm curious to see how they turn out... will share the recipe soon.

Luca and I are needin' some summer sandals. baby // mama



A babysitter came today while I did yoga. This is a BIG DEAL because it's the first non-family member who has watched my sweet baby. What a brave mama I am! (haha...) Speaking of yoga, it feels good to be back. Good in a HARD way ;)

I came across the sweetest blog, Bebe Bird, two nights ago and loved these words she wrote. This sums up how I feel as a mama beautifully.
And as a mama to a bebe bird you quickly learn that your soul purpose is to help them soar in this life. To be free, to sign loud, to live! You will them to explore this wild adventure with bravery and curiosity. You encourage them to spread their tiny wings while you, the mama bird, do your best to build a nest on the sturdiest of branches in the oldest of trees where roots run deep. And hope, with all your might, that this nest that you’ve built on the strong, strong branches of the old, old tree with the deepest of roots will forever be a solid place where your bebe bird can land and rest.
I'll leave you with that, and this warm fire that Jim has going. It's nice .. but I am ready for hot days and warm nights and fresh summer veggies. Aren't you?

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

dear Luca Byrd // 10 months old

dear my sweet baby bird,

This morning you woke a nine month-old. And by nightfall, you were ten months old. You, my sweet baby bird, are a little delight and I love you more and more every day.

Ten months old. How did we get here? It is so vivid and yet such a blur. Becoming your mama has been the best thing. I want more and more of you! I love cuddling with you first thing in the morning and doing silly little things to make you smile. You are mine and I know how lucky I am.


We got to celebrate this day by going to Atlanta for your second little baby photoshoot with Pregnancy & Newborn Magazine. You wore the softest little summer outfits and charmed everyone. Of course you daddy made you smile the biggest but mama gave you comfort.

You've become your own little person lately. You are crawling everywhere and pulling up, too. This past week saw you walking behind toys (and a laundry basket!) for the first time.. you may just be walking soon. A favorite activity is opening and closing, opening and closing, opening and closing the kitchen cabinets. Your daddy gets a kick out of how methodical you are in doing this. When you see your brother, your little face lights up. It makes us all so happy. Ellis currently likes to carry you around and show you off to his friends. He's especially proud that he recently (and successfully!) taught you to throw the ball.


We were walking through the grocery store parking lot the other day, and you waved vigorously to a few different people. Talk about making their day! You totally knew what you were doing. In addition to that, you like saying bye bye, baba (for Ellis), mama, dada, and hey dog (Stella). You squeal every time you see our cat or dog, and pet them in your own way;) You also squeal when you swing and slide... our first playground trip last week was so much fun.

Last week you started sleeping on your belly. And you seem to love it! I walked in to check on you one night and found you in that sweet baby position, face down and butt up in the air. Talk about cute. Physically, you are lengthening out but you still have the yummiest rolls and softest skin. I like to bury my face in your belly and neck when I'm changing your clothes, and you like grabbing my hair and pulling me closer. Your interest in food has waned a bit; thankfully, your interest in breastfeeding has not. Pointing has been a new discovery and your favorite toys include books, your alphabet train, Rody and the hape pound & tap toy.

You are sleeping now and I am going, too. I can't wait to see you tomorrow - and all the other days.

love,
your mama

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies (the best!)


You're probably thinking to yourself, "I don't need another chocolate chip cookie recipe." I'm sure you already have one, and why mess with a good thing, right? (sorry to be so blunt, but you are) WRONG. 


Have you had a chocolate chip cookie with browned butter? It gives the already-delicious cookie a deep flavor that no one can quite put their finger on. I've been around the block with cookie recipes and this one is so good, lemme tell ya. 


Need more convincing? If you pull it from the oven early enough, the center remains soft while the rim is crunchy. The kosher salt gives it a nice balance. If you reduce the chocolate from two cups to one like I do, the sweetness won't overwhelm you. The dough can be frozen if you have that much self-control; if not, it will keep nicely in the refrigerator for a few days. And when you serve it warm with a cold glass of milk, everyone will ask for seconds.


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Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies (recipe from Food and Wine)

2 sticks unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 large egg yolk
2 tbsp milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 cups semisweet chocolate (I used a mixture of milk & semi-sweet chocolate chips, 1 cup total)

1. In a medium saucepan, cook the butter over moderate heat until you see browned bits and it's nutty-smelling. Transfer the butter to a small bowl and let it cool to room temperature.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and baking soda. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the browned butter with the granulated and light brown sugars at medium speed until light and fluffy, scraping down the bowl halfway through, about 7 minutes. Beat in the whole egg, egg yolk, milk and vanilla. At low speed, beat in the dry ingredients, scraping down the bowl as needed. Mix in the chopped chocolate. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

3. Preheat the oven to 375°. Drop dough onto a baking sheet according to the size cookies you'd like (the original recipe recommends 1/4-cup mounds, but I like them smaller). Bake 9-18 minutes (depending on size). Pull from the oven when the outer rims are light brown but the inside still looks a bit gooey. Transfer the sheet to a rack to cool. Serve the cookies warm or at room temperature.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

My baby is a model!

On a rainy day in November, my mama, Luca and I bundled up and drove to Atlanta for my baby's first real-life magazine photoshoot. Fancy!


I got to know the editors of Atlanta-based Pregnancy & Newborn Magazine after I submitted my birth story to them. (It was published in the January 2014 issue.) They came across Logan's sweet pictures of Luca, and so it began... Luca got her first casting call ;)


It was so silly and fun. The editors chose the "classic" look for Luca, dressing her in a Tess Tots bonnet, Jojo Maman Bebe bodysuit, Kate Quinn Organics coveralls, Bunnies By the Bay write rattle and DOLLY by Le Petit Tom ballet slippers. Not her style but fun all the same ;) It was nice hanging out with other babies & mamas, and the editors were super sweet. Thanks for having us, P&N. We can't wait for the next shoot!

ps. after a few tough days of teething, Luca has finally settled into her first (fingers-crossed) long morning nap in a while. I'm treating myself to my second cuppa coffee, listening to opus no. 1 on repeat, the sun is (kinda) out, and I'm getting my hair cut/colored this afternoon. it's gonna be a good day!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

winter sucks // and what's up in general




my favorite blogger asked about mexican vaca recommendations on FB the other day, and since then summer vacation has been on my mind. (or maybe it's just the recent SNOW and COLD and general winter-weariness. I'm so much happier when it's warm and sunny.)

this hape pound & tap bench is Luca's favorite toy these days. a xylophone to bang and balls to toss back & forth!

I've been adding kale to everything lately. I'm in a cooking slump (sorry family) and kale makes everything seem at least a little healthy. another one to try: this sheet pan pasta gratin with kale by from alexandra's kitchen (whose site I love).

I went total hippie and made my own laundry detergent. so far, no one has noticed the difference and I love it's LACK of smell!

Design Sponge spotlights 24 hours in Athens, GA. I feel so lucky every day to live and raise my family here.

Luca's going to wear this sweet little romper on her birthday. fingers crosssssed for warm weather! (and while we're at it, she wants this swim-coverup too. k, thanks.)

have you seen the preview for showtime's new show, penny dreadful? looks scary (i.e. not my cuppa tea). BUT! Jim did the photos and I can't wait til the world sees them. they are awesome.

and speaking of tv, we just started watching the new sherlock holmes show. verdict is still out, but we think it's a keeper. at any rate, I like the sherlock casting.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

4/52

A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2014. // The 52 Project



In the fourth week of 2014, my baby bird turned nine months old. My friend (of eight years!) Aschley came to visit from DC, sink baths are a favorite, and we grilled out with aunt LeeAnn on an uncharacteristically warm day.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Banana Bread with Bourbon, Chocolate, Walnuts & Coconut

This banana bread will cure what ails you. With bourbon, chocolate, walnuts and coconut, how could it not? A snow day? No problem. To welcome new neighbors? Perfect. A broken foot?* All better.


I recommend letting your bananas get verrrry rotten first. I promise it will make the bread that much better (and after eating a bite, your husband will apologize for threatening 100x to throw them away).


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Banana Bread with Bourbon, Chocolate, Walnuts & Coconut (adapted from A Cup of Jo)

2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cup mashed, very-ripe bananas
1 tsp lemon juice
3 tbsp bourbon
1 cup-ish chopped walnuts
1 cup-ish chocolate chips (I use a mixture of milk & semi-sweet)
1/2 cup-ish unsweetened coconut, plus more for dusting on top prior to baking

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. With olive oil, grease your loaf pan. (I use a 9x5 inch pan, plus two smaller ones so I can share. Baking times will vary, but you can play with your pan sizes here.)
2. Sift together flour, salt and baking powder.
3. In mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar for 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy.
4. Add in eggs one at a time, whipping one minute after each addition. Scrape down bowl as needed.
5. Add bananas, lemon juice and bourbon. Beat until well-incorporated.
6. Add flour mixture all at once, and beat on low until almost incorporated. 
7. Add in walnuts, coconut and chocolate, and mix on low (or stir) until just blended. 
8. Spread in pan(s), sprinkle more coconut on top if you wish, and bake 30min - 1 hour, depending on your pan size. Remove when it looks finished, or when an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool for a few minutes, then invert on wire rack. 

*Full disclosure. When my sweet mama broke her foot a few weeks ago, Luca and I whipped up a loaf and drove to visit her. While the banana bread didn't quite heal her bone right away, she assured me it did make her feel better. :) 


Here are my two favorite ladies riding around Target. We sure are thankful for baby seats and motorized carts!