Here Comes Another One

Here Comes Another One

Hello blog! Wow it sure has been a while. I knew that it had been months since the last time I was here but finally, after re-surfacing back into the digital world, I was actually surprised to notice that my last post was on Mother’s Day. Time can really go fast without you even noticing it. But it’s also kind of fitting that this next post has a rather special connection to my last (and I seriously did not plan it this way. Honest.). Want to take a guess from the photo above? And nope that’s not a gigantic food baby that I’ve accumulated in my belly these past months (although there may be traces of pizza and other shameful takeouts stashed in there too from all of my weekend cravings). There’s a little person in there, and Lucas and I are going to be parents for the second time around!

I’m 26 weeks along and you would think that after being a little more than halfway there that the thought of having another one would have sunken in by now. But the exciting news is still as fresh on my mind as it was from the first test. And I have nothing but new baby (and Theo) on the brain around the clock 24/7, which could explain my lack of posts here and on Instagram. Also, nausea and migraines. LOTS of nausea and migraines, which have now thankfully subsided.

And is there such a thing as super early nesting? Because for weeks (practically since we found out) I’ve been obsessing over baby decor ideas, co-sleeping nooks and how to re-arrange Theo’s bedroom to eventually accommodate another little one. I’ve actually considered drafting my own blueprint for toddler/baby interior design already, even though the baby will be co-sleeping with us for six months or so. I’m happily mapping out the next 10 years of shared sibling living. It’s that serious! And with pregnancy insomnia now settling in nicely you can find me pinning (here) like a crazy woman after midnight about everything child-related. Pinterest has still maintained itself as a dreamland of inspiration and fantasy. And at the moment, I’m currently living somewhere in Scandinavia with my family in a cozy hygge-like cottage comprised of white-washed wood floors, mid-century furniture,  candles all around, hot cups of tea, soft natural light, organic linens and woven baskets of toys made only of wood and natural materials (no plastics in sight). Yep, that’s pretty much my world from the hours of 2 to 4am.

Being away from my blog this long I feel like there’s so much I want to say and ramble about in terms of being pregnant. I mean I can go on and on here! Like, for instance, have any fellow moms out there felt bigger during your second pregnancy, as in MASSIVELY HUGE? When I was eight weeks along, I was already showing an obvious bump and now at 26 weeks I feel like I’m nearing the end of my third trimester. I cannot even imagine this belly getting any bigger with more weeks to go. And yet at the same time, I DO want the weeks to go by slower because it seems like this pregnancy is just zooming right by. With Theo (our first born) it felt as though I had all the time in the world to plan and prepare for his arrival. It’s true that every pregnancy feels so unique in its own way, and I’d like to share more on that in another post + my thoughts on Theo upgrading from only child to big brother status. A lot of “feels” and profound emotions around this topic that I could literally cry on the spot whenever it crosses my mind.

Below we took some DIY maternity photos when the Fall weather still felt a lot like Summer. I was about 21 weeks here (now with a much bigger belly bump as you’ll soon see in upcoming posts). We also had a little pizza picnic too. Can you guess which of us decided on that idea? This hungry mama down here:

Theo’s jumper by boy+girl

(super soft and I’m currently looking for something like this in adult sizes!)

A Beautiful Mother’s Day

A Beautiful Mother’s Day

What initially was going to be a quick and early brunch in the city for Mother’s Day (to beat the swarm of “NYC brunchers”) followed by dessert and movies at home turned out to be one of the most beautiful days spent out and about with my handsome little family! I couldn’t ask for a more wonderful, relaxed Sunday. Rather than take the fastest, most efficient route to a destination when you have a tiny person in tow, which is what we normally do, we decided to trek through the city in hopes that Theo will enjoy the stroll all the way through. And luckily, he did just that! It’s a bittersweet feeling partly because our little boy is maturing before our very eyes (I mean, this kid could hang no matter where we go) but also because it seems like it’s happening all too fast. He recently turned the big TWO and now after a couple weeks it seems like he’s going on FIVE. Every morning when we open his door it’s like experiencing what Lucas and I call the “Theo upgrade”. Haha! More new words, new phrases, new thought patterns than the day before…and they all make complete sense. He’s just absorbing the world around him and it’s fascinating how quickly he’s picking up on it all. But…I have to admit I find myself doing the routined “camera roll scroll” and re-watching all of his videos from newborn and on, wishing for him to morph back into an infant again (even for a brief moment). Sometimes I’ll wake up at the craziest hours of the night just to watch his old clips and begin to cry. Lucas has actually woken up at 4am to find a crazy lady holding her iPhone and sobbing beside him. LOL! He’ll always be my little baby. Oh and by the way, I should mention that after becoming a mom I’ve noticed that my emotions have reached an all-time high. I think I’ve always been a pretty emotional person, but now, the tears…oh man it really doesn’t take much. As I’m typing these words I’m already getting that ball-stuck-in-your-throat feeling. Yes, I’ve become that gushy mom type. We’re starting to plan for a second baby, but when all you’ve known for the past two years was being a mommy to ONE incredible little person, the idea of loving another seems unfathomable. Any moms out there know where I’m coming from? Regardless I welcome more babies with open arms!

I digressed again as I normally do when I think about Theo. Getting back to this awesome day – we walked all over downtown, taking many, MANY pictures along the way. Below is a little photo overload (prepare to be bombarded), but this is not even a fraction of the amount we took. I used to take New York City for granted and would barely look up or around to enjoy the views. Back then my only concern was getting from point A to point B. As I’m getting older, I find myself appreciating simple, yet beautiful things. Flowers, for instance! Put me in a flower shop and leave me in a botanical garden and I’m set for the entire day. This is pretty much why I chose to brunch at The Butcher’s Daughter in the West Village – my pick firstly because I was attracted to their gorgeous displays of greenery and antiques, and secondly because of their menu. If you’re into vegetarian dishes like us, you’ll love this place. And if you’re all about that “plant life”, even more so you should give it a try. I’m already contemplating a DIY project in our future home and assembling a huge “plant boat” installation suspended over our dining area (scroll down and you’ll see what I mean).

An entire building covered in greenery – is there anything more comforting to the eyes?

(above: floral dress by Uterqüe, wedge espadrilles by Castañer, vintage rattan purse)

Eeeeeeyyy, it’s Theo! Our two year old boy who is often mistaken as a five year old, according to many passersby.

Major *heart eyes* the moment I saw this plant installation above!

The two greatest loves of my life, sitting right over there.

It’s almost as though I’ve completely forgotten how beautiful New York City can be. The character, the charm. And for a second the thought of moving to the West Village, “making it work” in some tiny apartment creeped in our heads.

Spotted a basket of doggies – now I ask again…is there anything more comforting?

A pitstop for lattes at another charming favorite, Buvette.

Strolling around this big city with my little man, who in my eyes will always and forever be my baby. He made me a mommy for the first time and for that I’m eternally grateful for my “Teo Teo”! And of course, so thankful and blessed to have the MOST AMAZING husband and daddy (and huge role model for Theo) by my side.

Hope you all had a wonderful and memorable Mother’s Day with your loved ones!

xo,

Lauren

A Homemade Hummus in Your Jammies Kind of Day

A Homemade Hummus in Your Jammies Kind of Day

For anyone who knows me well, I’m not so great at planning things way ahead of time and I’m currently working on being more organized. Being the mommy of an almost two year old, organization seems more of a requirement than anything else, especially if you want to avoid mini meltdowns (for both you and your strong-willed toddler). But when it comes to cooking and whipping up anything in the kitchen, I tend to go on the whim and make whatever I’m craving at the moment (and everyone else seems to go along with it). And for days when it’s too cold to step outside or an obnoxious blizzard is currently happening outside your apartment (I say “obnoxious” because Spring is in a few days and this is just silly now), I normally feel the urge to spend most of my time in the kitchen cooking up cozy soups, stews and warm cakes. On this particular day, I just had the unusual craving to eat hummus and lots of it (with warm pita wedges, of course). And although it’s easy to just go buy a huge tub at BJ’s or Costco (in a variety of flavors), I enjoy making my own and knowing exactly what’s going into it, as with all dishes. I love sliced beets, especially with a big dollop of goat cheese and I LOVE garlic. I rarely cook without garlic. I think it just makes everything taste so much better (however your breath and those around you may have to suffer a little sometimes). And I could practically live off of hummus and pita bread…which I pretty much did during college.

So before I start going into a longer rant about why I love beets, garlic, hummus and the history behind it…here’s two quick and simple recipes for you to enjoy! See below:

Snow day and cooking in your pajamas. There’s something quite “hygge” about that!

Oooh, that pretty color though!

Mmm, I could eat that roasted garlic head just by itself!

Beet Hummus

What you’ll need:

1 cup of cooked beets, peeled and diced

1 can (19 oz) chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup tahini

1 clove garlic

Juice of 1 lemon

1/2 teaspoon of salt

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

 

What to do:

  1. Drain and transfer the fully cooked beets into a food processor or blender. Add all of the remaining ingredients.
  2. Process until smooth. Add the desired amount of salt and pepper to your liking, and allow the hummus to cool completely before serving.

Yep, that was super easy!

 

Roasted Garlic Hummus

What you’ll need:

1 head of garlic

Aluminum foil

Extra virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 can (19 oz) chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup water

2 tablespoons of tahini

Juice of 1 lemon

Paprika, for garnish

 

What to do: 

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Slice the top off the garlic head to expose the cloves.
  3. Place the garlic head in the center of a square piece of aluminum foil.
  4. Drizzle the top of the garlic with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Wrap the foil around the garlic and close it at the top. Place the wrapped garlic on a baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes. Set aside until lukewarm.
  6. Squeeze the bottom head of garlic to release the cloves (my favorite part!).
  7. Place the cloves and all remaining ingredients in a food processor
  8. Process until smooth, and adjust seasoning to your desired taste. Allow the hummus to cool before serving.
  9. When you’re ready to serve, sprinkle the top with paprika.

*Use anything you wish to dip – carrots, celery, pita chips, fries (yup I love them with fries), etc.! For warm pita bread, slice the bread into wedges, wrap them in foil and pop them in the oven for 8-10 minutes at 375 degrees F. You can do this while the hummus is cooling off. Serve them while warm.

Enjoy ’til the last dip!

BLUEBERRY ZUCCHINI CAKE WITH LEMON BUTTERCREAM

BLUEBERRY ZUCCHINI CAKE WITH LEMON BUTTERCREAM

Hello lovely readers – you’ve just stumbled upon my very first post (whoohoo)! And what better way to launch a blog than with something entirely food-related and downright delicious. First off I would like to make one thing clear – I am not a “baker” by any stretch of the imagination. But I’m working on it! When it comes to embarking on new recipe ideas I get a little too excited and rush the process a bit in order to seek and taste the finished product. And with this recipe (and many others that particularly involve baking cakes), I’ve learned that slow and steady definitely wins the race. So to all of you awesome bakers out there, I commend you! It’s surely a wonderful and fascinating skill that is not easy to acquire.

Initially I envisioned a much “neater” presentation, but the ooey-gooey-ness that emerged from my first giddy attempt at a blueberry/zucchini infused cake…well, I can’t really complain. The little juicy bursts of warm berry goodness as you take your first bite combined with the tartness (and oh how I love anything tart) of the lemony buttercream frosting…it was pure delight! And the cake was moist…MOIST, I tell you! I cannot stress enough how surprised I was to have actually achieved a moist cake. This is rarely the case.

You can find the recipe below. Enjoy and indulge! And if you do try this out, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

What you’ll need:

For the cake

  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups white sugar
  • 2 cups finely shredded and drained zucchini
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 pint fresh blueberries (reserve about 1 cup for the garnish)

For the lemon buttercream

  • 1 cup softened butter, at room temperature for 2 hours is best
  • 3 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1 lemon, juiced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

For the blueberry garnish

  • 1 cup of fresh blueberries
  • 1 teaspoon of white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of corn starch 

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare two 8-inch round cake pans (greased and floured).
  2. Grate one large zucchini (or two small ones) and place in a clean cheesecloth or dish towel. Squeeze firmly until most of the liquid drains out. Ideally, you should have 2 total cups of shredded zucchini after it has been drained. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl and using a hand mixer, beat together the eggs, oil, vanilla, and sugar. Then, fold in the zucchini.
  4. Slowly add in the flour, salt and baking powder. Gently fold in the blueberries.
  5. Divide batter evenly between prepared cake pans.
  6. Bake 35-40 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
  7. Cool them about 20 minutes in pans, then remove them from pans and onto wire racks to cool completely.

Lemon Buttercream

*  I learned through trial and error, but the key to smooth buttercream is a little patience and warm, loving care!

  1. Using a mixer, toss in the softened butter (For best results, I’d recommend keeping the butter in room temperature for about 2 hours).
  2. Beat the butter, under medium speed for 8 minutes, by itself until very light and creamy.
  3. While it’s beating, sift the confectioners sugar in a separate bowl (you want to create a light and airy effect to the sugar before incorporating into the butter).
  4. Using a tablespoon, begin adding the sugar to the mixer whilst it’s continuously beating under medium-high speed. Remember, slow and steady!
  5. Add a pinch of salt.
  6. Add lemon juice and vanilla extract and continue to beat for another 3 to 5 minutes or until creamy and well incorporated (using a spatula, you may have to push down any excess powdered sugar that collects around the sides of the bowl into the cream and continue to mix).

Now the best part of it all…prettifying your cake!

  1. Using a large cake dish with generous spacing along the borders, take your first cake layer (ensuring that it’s fully cooled) and begin spreading the buttercream along the top.
  2. Place the second cake layer on top and spread the rest of the buttercream along the top and around the sides of the cakes.
  3. Take your reserved cup of blueberries and pop them into the microwave for about 40 seconds. You want them warm, slightly gooey but NOT fully melted.
  4. Add the sugar and cornstarch into the blueberries and stir until it thickens.
  5. Pour them slowly onto the center of the cake. The gooey blueberries will run down along the sides of the cake, so I’d recommend a large enough cake dish or platter to give way for some blueberry pooling along the bottom edges. I didn’t do that so some escaped onto the table, nonetheless, still a lovely sight to be seen.
  6. Serve immediately and devour!

Alternatively, you can top the cake with simple fresh blueberries for a cleaner presentation. I’ll be trying that out on the next round! There will be a next round.