Hellobee

Mocha Brownies

Mr. O and I love to entertain. We’re not fancy about it; I don’t have pretty placemats, or even cups that match, but we love to cook for people. Typically, Mr. O takes care of dinner and I handle dessert…with the caveat that we never make the same thing twice.  Though I have several recipes for brownies that I love (chewy brownies, fudgy brownies, brownies full of peanut butter), I found myself reaching for a new recipe the last time we had a group over. I was craving chocolatey fudge, but needed something a little more ‘adult’…wouldn’t coffee be a perfect addition? After some experimenting, cobbling together a few different recipes (and reading up on some of my favourite Food Network chefs), I came up with these. Rich, chewy, and topped with a thick layer of coffee-flavoured frosting; they were an instant hit (and now a permanent fixture in my brownie rotation).

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Creating New Family Traditions for the High Holidays

This week, we will celebrate Rosh Hashanah – the Jewish New Year. When Colin was just a baby, I remember being so excited about creating new family traditions as a family, entering this new phase in our lives where we would shake up our family routines and add fresh child-centric activities to a stale routine of family dinner -> attend synagogue -> family dinner.

Then we woke up in late September, realized we had an adorable blob of a four month old who wouldn’t notice in the least if we were doing crafts, baking special treats, or reading unique-to-the-holiday books. We dragged C along with our typical routines, meandered in our sleep-deprived state through the motions of the Jewish High Holidays, and resolved to make a better effort the next year. And of course, twelve months raced by and we found ourselves faced with a 16 month old who had a rigid nap schedule, an extremely early 6 pm bedtime and so much mobility that the idea of sitting still for a story or focusing long enough for a craft was so pie-in-the-sky that I laughed at the idea of doing anything to celebrate. We skipped the synagogue part, we skipped family dinner, we really skipped all of it.

So this year, we are resolving to do things a bit differently. First, we aren’t traveling home to Ohio this year for Rosh Hashanah, so the traditions automatically will be different. Plus at two-and-change, Colin is a ball of energy, but he’s able to focus long enough for a simple craft or baking project. Another bonus that comes with age is that his one nap routine is definitely conducive to going to synagogue as a family, and he’s starting to understand the concept of celebrating holidays (this kid would celebrate his birthday daily if it meant presents and cake…oy).  Here are some of the things I’m hoping to incorporate into our new set of traditions:

1) Big family dinners.  We rarely are able to sit and eat together as a family, because of Mr. C’s hectic work schedule.  This year, I hope to sit around the table with no screens visible and eat a delicious dinner together.  We’ll see if anyone else is around to join us for these dinners – our family isn’t local, but you never know if we’ll have friends around who want to share the fun.  I’d like to have the kind of home where all feel welcome to join when they don’t have anywhere else to celebrate.

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Charlotte’s Newborn Photos

When Charlotte was 9 days old, we drove to our friend and photographer’s house to have her newborn photos taken. Leeann has never let us down, and it’s always a pleasure getting to work with her! We usually have our photos taken on location, like at a park or in a studio, but since this was informal and we’re friends, we took these in Leeann’s house.

Newborn photos are best taken when baby is sleepy, and of course Charlotte slept the entire way to Leeann’s home and then was wide awake. It took me a while to nurse her and calm her down. Chloe was patient the entire time, thankfully, because these photos took longer than we expected! We got to play with Leeann’s daughter, too, which was great!

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The Lazy Mom’s Guide to Homemade Baby Food

For both K and D we used a combination of baby-led weaning and homemade purees. K was done with purees when he turned 1, but D isn’t as coordinated with chewing or picking up food, so we’ll probably keep spoon feeding him some meals for a while! I’ve learned a lot of shortcuts through all this experience. Here are my gear recommendations and basic recipe!

1. A blender. We were gifted the baby bullet which works fine, I like that it’s smaller and comes with the cute jars with screw tops – great for traveling.

2. Ice cube trays with lids. After blending the food, I keep some for fresh use and freeze the rest. My set has survived about a year of nearly constant use (6m with K, 6m+ with D), and it’s still going strong! I just run the trays under hot water and the cubes come out easily.

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13 ways to Treat a Child’s Cough

Charlie has had a cough over the past week, but last night it turned into a fever, congestion, sore throat and a cough so bad that he threw up three times. I wrote about some of my favorite products to treat coughs and colds here, but I thought that I would share my step by step process for treating coughs. Since cough medicine isn’t approved for younger children, there are many different things I try to give the kids relief.

1) If a fever is present, I administer ibuprofen. I personally prefer ibuprofen over acetaminophen (for myself and the kids) because it tends to be more powerful and it is also easier on the liver.

2) Feed soft foods like bone broth, chicken porridge, steamed egg and ice cream that are easy on the throat and stomach. If they’re not eating much, you can try smoothies. Keep them hydrated with lots of liquids.

3) Simmer a pot of water with a couple drops of eucalyptus oil all day to ease congestion.

4) Give honey water if your little one is over the age of 1 to treat coughs and sore throats. I warm up water and stir in a little bit of honey — the kids love it. I’ve also made honey lollipops by melting honey on the stove then pouring it over lollipop sticks. If you can get them to take it, apple cider vinegar is the absolute best treatment for coughs and sore throats, but it really tastes horrible.

5) Eliminate dairy. It can increase mucous production, and since I caught the same cold from him, I know that it’s a very phlegmy cold.

6) Eat pureed pear. This is a traditional Korean and Chinese remedy that is used to treat colds and coughs. Simmer Asian pears with water, a bit of honey, and freshly grated ginger (Korean recipe) or almonds (Chinese recipe). It’s supposed to be great for soothing a cough, and my mom swears by it!

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A Joyce Wan themed birthday

I wanted to keep Winter’s first birthday relatively simple. We have at least one barbeque each summer that usually coincides with my own birthday (two days after Winter’s!), so we just tied it into Winter’s birthday party. I honestly wasn’t planning on doing anything big, but after being asked several times what my “theme” would be, and shrugging my shoulders and saying – “Winter’s favorite things?” – I decided it would involve her favorite author, Joyce Wan. I drew up a little graphic in her style and made a banner for a facebook invite. I decided that if I had time, I would try and incorporate Joyce Wan’s designs into wearable hats for the adults, since Winter smiles the biggest smiles each time we read her You Are My Cupcake or We Belong Together, consistently since she was about 6 months. I was hoping that wearing a giant familiar cupcake on my head would elicit a great, toothy grin.

In my search for more illustrations, I came to Joyce’s blog and was utterly heartbroken to read that her only child, born in February of this year, passed away unexpectedly 6 weeks later from an undetected intestinal abnormality. I tear up a little each time I revisit her blog. Unrelated to the passing, her daughter was born with a cleft lip and cleft palate (very medically fixable in the US and not life-compromising by any means). She set up a memorial fund with Smile Train, an international children’s charity that provides free surgery to poor children suffering from cleft lip and cleft palate. Since we had asked for no gifts, I thought this fund would be the perfect opportunity to give our guests a chance to donate.

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“Little Explorer, Adventure Nursery” Inspiration (Part 1)

1st row: via JoJos Room, via Syrinveien, via Glamour 2nd row: via the bean and the bearvia Poppytalk, wall sticker no longer available from Fermliving (mural inspiration!)

With a second baby on the way, our little family will soon (November 1st) be relocating to a two bedroom home! We haven’t actually found a place as of yet, but decided that our one bedroom city apartment wasn’t going to cut it anymore. The most exciting part of this move, is of course, finally getting to decorate a real nursery! A gender neutral nursery for two! I decided we’ll call it their “little explorer, adventure nursery.”

While pregnant with Roman I became obsessed with bow ties… and teepees (as you can see.) At 6 months I broke down and bought this House Inhabit Teepee which we just love! Now I’m excited about the idea of painting a simple mountain mural behind it in the new room. Since we rent and move frequently we never usually paint the walls, but this project looks simple enough to make an exception!

In our current apartment below we created a little “nursery nook” for Roman, so the new room will be an expanded version of this!

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