Friday, July 31, 2015

Life with my Lillebaby

Before we had Fox, I knew one of the items that I wanted was a baby carrier.  Originally I wanted to go cheap, so I made a ring sling that baby Fox was not puddly enough for, then I bought a Bjorn at a garage sale that hurt my back like crazy. It was seriously awful.

After two lousy experiences, I decided to bite the bullet and buy a nicer carrier that would hopefully last through a few children.  Adam and I have decided that as part of living a minimalist life, we need to buy the right item even if it costs a little more up front, rather than buying a bunch of different items that might not be exactly the right thing and will need to be replaced quickly (of course, I made one type of carrier, and then bought another one... clearly I am great example...).

The more I researched, the more the brand "Líllébaby" kept popping up. When I looked them up, "The Líllébaby Complete" had all the features I was looking for, so, I bought one right before we went to France.  I used it constantly while we were in France and thought it was a perfect choice for our trip.

Right before we came home to Texas, Líllébaby contacted me, and wanted me to review another style.  To say I was thrilled is an understatement.  I really love most of the features on the Airflow that we currently have, but I wanted to try a similar carrier with a softer fabric.  The Embossed Líllébaby Complete has a nice soft fabric while keeping all the features that I love from the Airflow:


- This carrier is dang comfortable.  This is big in my book (and probably every parent's), because carrying a baby can be hard on your back, and having him in this carrier balances his weight well and makes him easy to carry around.   Plus, I love that I can have him close to me and still be hands-free.  It makes my life so much easier.  Particularly when I am carrying 4 grocery bags and a purse up the stairs to our apartment.

- The carrier can be adjusted for small babies. I borrowed a different brand of carrier from a friend that didn't have this feature, and I felt like 3 month-old Fox was really uncomfortable with his legs spread so wide.  It was so nice to see how much more comfortable he was with the seat folded in.

- Baby wearing can be HOT, particularly in Austin, and it is nice when your carrier isn't made out of a heavy material that traps the heat in.  I was surprised with how breathable the embossed collection is! Líllébaby also has a mesh option (I have a tan Airflow) and a cotton option with a zip down panel, both of which are pretty nifty.

- I love that the carriers have a pocket.  It is great to be able to tuck my keys in it when I am carrying the groceries in.  I also used my pocket a ton in France for my metro card, a pacifier, a small toy, or money. Pockets are definitely a must in my book.

- I love that you can wear the Líllébaby so many ways.  They have 6 different positions for carrying your baby. We've only tried two, but the one that originally sold me was the outward facing option.  Not too many carriers have this, and I have a baby who wants to see the world. A word of caution, though: a teething baby makes for a super slobbery carrier front.  We learned this the hard way.


Everyone has different needs in a baby carrier, and no carrier is one size fits all, but this one comes as close as any that I have seen!  So many options for carrying and adjustability, as well as temperature and color. It is a solid carrier, and I absolutely love the two that we have!  Keep it up, Líllébaby!  You win in my book!

(photos taken in front of the Baylor Street Art Wall)
This post is in partnership with Lillebaby.  They sent me a carrier to review, but all my opinions are my own.  
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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Creamy Homemade Peanut Butter

I love peanut butter.  It might be in my top 10 foods. The last few months in particular, I have been eating absurd amounts of peanut butter.

Right after Fox was born, I started going through an entire jar of Laura Scudder's Natural Peanut Butter every week.  By myself.  Adam practically wasn't allowed to touch it.  I put it in everything, and was eating it in spoonfuls out of the jar several times a day.  It was getting a little out of hand, so a few weeks before we left for Europe, I decided to make my own.  Laura Scudder's is amazing, but kind of expensive for a peanut butter addict like me.


Making peanut butter, or any nut butter, for that matter, is extremely simple, requires few tools, one ingredient and it tastes great.  Plus it has this sort of grainy texture that I love.  Don't expect Skippy or Jiff consistency, because there is no way your food processor will be able to get it that smooth, but the slight graininess is one of my favorite parts.  It gives it the same texture as the inside of a Reese's Peanut Butter cup.  Who wouldn't want to put that on your toast?  Or in your oatmeal... or on anything in your fridge.

Homemade Peanut Butter:

Ingredients:  
1 1/2 cups Roasted Salted Peanuts

Directions:  

Put your peanuts in a small food processor or blender.  Make sure you have enough peanuts to cover the blades when you grind them down to a butter.  They typically lose about 1/3 - 1/2 of their volume.  

Grind for about 5 minutes, stopping every two or three minutes to scrape down the sides and to give the motor a rest.

Continue to grind until it the butter is smooth.  Enjoy!






Monday, July 27, 2015

Lemon Macarons

Macarons are a special thing, aren't they?  These little beauties have taken the internet by storm.  Before visiting France, I thought they were tasty and fun, but I have been quite obsessed since we have returned.  I guess I am just missing my #landenspastryoftheday.  So today I am sharing a few photos of my latest creation. These lemon macarons are tasty, light and intensely flavorful. Perfect for that upcoming backyard dinner you are hosting, or the fancy picnic you are going to.  

Also, if you are nervous about making macarons, Adam and I are filming a how-to video early next week and will post that for you soon, so be on the look-out for that!


Macarons can be finicky and generally turn out more consistently if you weigh your ingredients.  Because of this, I haven't give you the volume measurements for the cookie part.  Just use a scale.  Your mouth will thank me when your macarons turn out perfectly.  

Lemon Macarons: 
Adapted from Le Grand Manuel Du Patissier
makes about 40 cookies

80 grams of water
125 grams of white sugar
100 grams of egg white, at room temperature and divided
125 grams of almond flour (or grind up slivered almonds in a food processor until they are a powder and sift them through a mesh strainer until you have removed all the large chunks)
125 games of powdered sugar
5 or 6 drops of yellow food coloring

Begin by putting the water and the white sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. With a candy thermometer in the mixture, stir the mixture a few times with a whisk.  As it begins to heat, quickly put 50 grams of your room temperature egg whites in a stand mixer and let the mixer whip your egg whites to soft peaks.

While your mixer is whipping your egg whites, go back to your saucepan and whisk your sugar mixture constantly.  When this mixture has reached 240° F and has formed a clear syrup,  pull it off the heat, and add it to your soft peaks. (If you don't have a stand mixture,  mix your egg whites with beaters first until they form soft peaks, and then heat up your water and sugar.  When the sugar mixture is at 240°F, turn your beaters back on and pour the sugar mixture in with the egg whites.  Mix until the egg whites are quite stiff)

Once you have added the sugar mixture to your egg whites, let the mixer run until the peaks are stiff.  Meanwhile, take your almond flour, powdered sugar, and remaining 50 grams of egg white and put them in a medium bowl.  Add your food coloring and mix them all together until they form an even batter.  Add the stiff egg whites and carefully mix in with a rubber spatula until the batter runs smoothly off your spatula.

Prepare a baking sheet by topping with wax paper.  On the wax paper, draw small circles (about 1 1/2" in circumference) about an inch apart.  Fill a ziplock bag with the batter and cut a hole in one of the bottom corners.  Carefully dispense enough batter to fill each of the circles.  Start with a smaller amount of batter in the center, because the batter does spread some, and you want to stay in the lines of the circles.

Cook in a preheated oven at 300° F for about 10 minutes, checking through the window to see how they look.  If they still look a little wet, or the feet have not formed (the little crinkly part at the bottom of the each cookie), leave them in for another few minutes.  Mine needed about 15-18 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cool for about 5 minutes.  Remove the wax paper from the pan and let cool another 10 minutes or so. Once they are cool, match two cookies up and prepare your lemon filling.

Lemon Buttercream Filling: 

1/8 cup softened butter
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
3 - 5 drops of yellow food coloring (start small and add more if you need it)

Place butter in the food processor and mix until smooth.  Slowly add the powdered sugar.  Add lemon juice and scrape the sides of the bowl a few times until you have a thick, smooth filling.

Once the cookies are cooled and ready to be filled, place filling in a ziplock bag, cut a small hole in the bottom corner, and pipe out the filling in a circle around the edge of one of your two cookies, fill in the circle and place the second cookie on top of the cookie with filling and gently press together.  Feel intensely satisfied that you made macarons.  Also, know I am VERY proud of you!!!





Thursday, July 23, 2015

Creamy Vanilla Ice Cream

If you have read my blog for a while, you know I am a total ice cream snob.  I have high standards for ice cream, and am very disappointed when it doesn't deliver (just reading the words 'frozen dairy dessert' printed on a carton makes me cringe).  This ice cream definitely exceeded expectations.  Thick and creamy with a rich vanilla flavor.  Vanilla perfection. All it needed was a tasty brownie to go with it... Maybe next time.  This time a Bueno bar will have to do.


Creamy Vanilla Ice Cream
adapted from "The Perfect Scoop" by David Lebovitz

1 1/2 cups whole milk, divided
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
pinch of salt
6 egg yolks
1 Tbs vanilla extract

Combine 1 cup of milk, sugar, 1 cup of cream and salt in a saucepan.  Warm the mixture and then let it sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

In a separate bowl, pour the 1/2 cup of cream.  Set a mesh strainer over the bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks together.  Very slowly, while whisking the warm milk mixture, add the egg yolks.  Place back on the stove and stir constantly over medium heat.  When the mixture is thick enough to coat a spoon, remove from heat, and pour through the strainer, in with the cream.  Stir it into the cream, and then add the vanilla extract.  Chill for 30 minutes in the freezer, then remove and put the mixture in an ice cream maker, and let it mix until it looks like soft serve ice cream.  Place in a tupperware and freeze for at least two hours.  Serve with brownies, or by itself, because it is dang good either way.



Thursday, July 16, 2015

Fox: Six Months

Fox is at SUCH a fun phase right now.  Every phase gets more interesting and more fun, but this one is full of smiles, darling teeth poking out, rolling over, laughing and more.  We are having such a good time with this baby, even if he currently won't sleep much because of the teething/jet lag.


1.  He is the proud possessor of 2 teeth. They are pearly and adorable!  His smile has become even cuter, and his bite is somewhat dangerous now.

2. He is super mobile.  No crawling or even lots of rolling yet, but if you leave him one place, you come back and he is two feet away.

3.  He has a little giraffe lovey that he sleeps with, and most of the time, we come in to check on him, and he is fast asleep with the blanket part over his face.  I have to move it off for almost every nap and bedtime.  I am starting to think his face is hurting from the teething and that it is comforting to have it over his head.

4.  He is now eating solids regularly and loves carrots, applesauce, oatmeal, peaches, nectarines, and tiny pieces of bread.

5.  He is a joyful child.  Sometimes he has his sad moments (like the 40 minutes of screaming on our international flight...), but for the most part, he is a very happy, smiley, adorable baby!

This kid is loved!  Happy Six Months, Fox!







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