Saturday, December 8, 2012

Weekly Coo: Life With Two

For obvious reason, I have been having a hard time finding quiet time to write lately.  I read a lot of other mom blogs and I have found myself wondering how the hell they do they do it?!  Are they superhuman?  Do they get more hours in their day? (I want in on this secret if that's the case.) Are they sacrificing precious sleep to write? (I refuse to participate in silliness such as this.) Are they better multitaskers than me? (I suck at multitasking. I literally cannot type and nurse Claire at the same time, or carry on a telephone conversation and grocery shop.)  Whatever the case, I cannot join the ranks of these awesome women and pound out a post a day while keeping it together here.  Not yet, anyway.

But in the interest of keeping a promise to myself, now that things feel a tiny bit more manageable in my daily life, I am going to attempt to keep up with my Weekly Cooing.  And with that tiny promise to myself and the idea of doing this one thing each week for myself...Coooo...


Life with two has adjustment, to say the least.  Its been as daunting, tiring, hectic and exhausting as I had anticipated.  But, its also been a time full of beauty, blessings and falling in love over and over every day.

It is amazing how many times and ways you can fall in love with the same person.  I fell in love with Claire the moment I laid eyes on her, and every day since she was born the falling in love has happened again and again.  I have fallen in love with those deep blue eyes, the spiky brown hair on top of her head, the way she sounds exactly like a sheep bleating when she is sleeping, the soft baby scent of her skin, the way she stares at me when she is nursing, her warm cheek pressed against my chest as she sleeps on my stomach, her mellow spirit.  I could go on and on...

As I've learned since Anna entered our world, I continue to fall in love with her in different ways every day.  Lately, I have fallen in love with the her new found way of nurturing her sister, shushing her softly when she cries, patting her head and saying "its okay Cwaire".  I have fallen in love with her ease at adjusting to this new way of life, her ability to carry-on amid change, her easy going spirit and her smile that has somehow gotten bigger and brighter these past four weeks.  I think it has something to do with her new love...her baby sister.

I have fallen in love with the ease in which Mace has fallen into being a daddy to two.  I have fallen in love with his strong, gentle way with our stubborn two year old, and his sweet, gentle way with our newborn baby.  I have fallen in love with his ability to love me unconditionally through the major ups and downs in my moods and his unfailing commitment to our family, even through the end-of-the-semester busyness of grad school.

Our family.  So much love.  My heart oozes with the love we've created in our home.



At this very moment, Mace is at Guard drill, Anna is off to see Santa with Mace's parents and Claire is asleep.  The house is quiet and still.  I am soaking up these moments of doing anything I damn well please.  I ate a cookie.  On the couch.  Didn't even have to eat it in secret for fear my two-year old would think cookies are an appropriate breakfast (they are, but only for adults, duh). I had an extra cup of coffee.  I sorted through pictures from the last month.  And now I am writing, uninterrupted and freely.  I was craving, deep in my soul, some time just like this. Precious time, just for me.  I love being selfish, even if its only for an hour.



We have had a flourish of family here since Claire was born four weeks ago.  We are so darn lucky. Seriously.  I am realizing what a blessing it is to live far away from all our parents when we have had our babies.  And its not for the obvious reason.  Its because we've gotten to have our family plant themselves in our home and be with us.  I imagine if we lived in the same town there would be plenty of visits, but at the end of the day everyone would leave.  Being fully immersed with our parents, having extra hands at all hours of the day, and sharing the first weeks of Claire's life in a very intimate way has been pure joy.



I hear the littlest one stirring...time to be mommy again.  What a beautiful morning this has been.  My batteries are charged.  Have a beautiful weekend!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Claire Bernice

Our sweet Claire surprised us and came a week earlier than planned!  She was born on November 9th at 8:02 am.  She weighed 7 lbs 9 oz and was 19.5" long.  She is healthy and unbelievably beautiful...of course.

She's three weeks old today!  My how time flies.  I've intended to post about her birth every day since she was born, and then the days whip by in a flurry of diapers, feedings, guests and chasing our busy toddler around the house.  Life is busy, but oh is it beautiful!

In the essence of time (BOTH girls are napping right now, woo hoo!), I will share some pics of the last few weeks and then get this posted.  And then I'll try really really hard to do an update about life with two within the next week.  No promises, but I'm going to make an effort.







Saturday, November 3, 2012

Pizza Sauce

I've been trying to get a few things made and in the freezer so we have quick meals when the baby girl arrives.  Trying being the key word.  So far I have two bags of chili, two enchilada casseroles, three pizza crusts and 10 bags of pizza sauce.  So, maybe I went a little overboard on the pizza sauce.  But, its the best homemade pizza sauce you'll ever find.  This sauce is thick, without being chunky, and the spices, garlic and onion meld to make an unbelievably rich and tasty sauce. I know I won't regret having extra on hand.

This sauce freezes well and can pulled out of the freezer in the morning and put in the fridge to thaw.  Or you can stick it in a bowl of hot water for 10 minutes, for a quick de-thaw.  I freeze the sauce in one cup portions, which is the perfect amount for one 12-inch pizza.  No matter how you de-thaw it, it makes for a quick week night meal when paired with a super easy pizza dough I will be posting soon.

This recipe doubles, triples, quadruples (you get the point) easily.  So, make some extra to have for those weeknights when you just don't have the energy to cook...which is basically everyday for me right now!

Basic Pizza Sauce
Adapted from Cooks Illustrated

Makes about 2 1/2 cups, enough for 2 - 12" pizzas

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup onion, grated
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil

Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add onion, oregano and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft and just starting to brown, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds, until fragrant.  Add tomatoes and sugar, bring to a simmer and cook, uncovered for 25-30 minutes.  Sauce should be reduced to about 2 1/2 cups at this point.

Remove sauce from heat and stir in basil and olive oil.  Season with more salt and pepper to taste. Use immediately on a pizza, or allow to cool completely and freeze for up to two months.  Either way, you are going to love it when you...


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Weekly Coo: Halloween Edition

This little creature?  This is a creature named Elmo who I want to squeeze until her eyes pop out of her head (uh, oops) and who had a very Happy, and sugar-filled, Halloween.  (Oh, the sugar!  Don't even get me started. I still haven't figured out how to deal with that one.  I am fairly certain Anna has consumed more sugar in the past 24 hours than she has consumed cumulatively in her life up to this point. Sugar meltdown equals pure hell. Ugh.)

We scored big time with the weather this year on our first official year of trick-or-treating.  I have accompanied Danesa and her kiddos for the past lotta years for the yearly candy haul and, since this is Montana we're talking about, the weather usually flat out sucks.  Last night was a balmy 50 degrees and perfect for gallivanting with our Littles.

Despite the fact that Anna clearly was not digging the pre-trick-or-treating photo shoot, we had a great time once we were out on the streets.

Danesa was a life saver, as usual, pushing Anna around in the stroller, picking her up and plopping her up on each doorstep in time to say trick-or-treat, and then back into the stroller.  With my enormous belly, swollen feet, and general all-over bodily discomfort I would have lasted all of three houses had I been by myself.  (Mace unfortunately had class until 6:30, so was only able to join us for the tail end of trick-or-treating.  The part with the sugar melt-downs and general tiredness.)

All in all, it was a beautiful night, and we were a wiped out clan at the end of the night. We hit our beds around 8:30 and slept soundly through the night.



Fall is here in full force and we're already feeling a little cooped up.  We've had a lot of snow and rain this past week, and during the occasional break in the clouds we've been hitting the park for a breath of air whenever possible.  Its been a major mood and spirit lifter.

Anna never ceases to surprise us with the fact that she is her very own person that can do her very own thing without any direction from us.  What?!?  Neither of us have ever ventured over to the monkey bars with Anna, but she walked up to them like it was the most natural thing in the world and started swinging away.  Oh my monkey...


I am still, obviously, pregnant and we're anxiously awaiting Miss Thing #2.  I can hardly wait to snuggle that little one in my arms, breathe in her newborn scent and give her a million little kisses. Until then, the three of us are (im)patiently cooing together and enjoying the calm before the storm.

Happy November!  

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Weekly Coos: Me Time

"Me Time", a phrase that rarely exists in the daily vocabulary of parents.  But I got some this week.  I took a whole day of "me time" and don't regret a single second of it.  Should I have blown a full day of my vacation time right before I go on maternity leave for something as selfish as this? I struggled with this in my head, but the answer always came back to: Absolutely!  We can deal with one less day of pay down the line somewhere, in exchange for my family receiving a much more sane and centered Momma this week.  Oh, I needed a day like that.

I pampered myself silly on my Me Day, starting the day at a local coffee shop then heading over to a spa to get a massage.  I spent one luxurious hour wrapped in oils, relaxing spa music, my thoughts and on my stomach. Oh yes!  Oh my.  Coooo.  I spent the rest of the day baking cookies and muffins and simmering a huge batch of chili.  I read, napped, prayed, showered (for 30 steamy minutes).  I did anything I wanted to do, and nothing anyone else wanted me to do.  I picked Anna up from the sitter and got to spend a couple hours with her and then headed off to book club for some girl time.  At the end of the day I felt refreshed, renewed and ready to tackle these last three weeks of pregnancy.


In the spirit of Halloween, we hit up another pumpkin patch this weekend with our friends Jenny and Chloe.  We did the same thing last Halloween.  Look how our pumpkins have grown...Anna wasn't even walking yet last year!

Anna got to hitch a ride on the big pumpkin...oh the novelties of childhood!


Mace is the breakfast chef in our house, and without fail makes pancakes or waffles almost every weekend morning.  Mace was out of town this weekend.  Anna was insistent about pancakes for breakfast.  I took a shot at it and did okay, but Mace's breakfast chef status is safe.  Our weekends are way more awesome when he's home with us, so I'm going to boycott making any more pancakes in hopes that will tether him to our house.


We dug through a tub of Halloween paraphernalia at Danesa's house and Anna honed in on this Karate uniform. Loves it, and wants to wear it every day.  Especially with her sun hat and trick or treat bucket.  I freaking love this kid.

I am so excited to take Anna Trick or Treating.  This is the first year that she'll really "get" it. She's already talking about it and talking about eating all of Luca's candy.  Where does she come up with this stuff?

Hope you have a great weekend and a Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Angry Bird Cupcakes

I can't believe this kid is five years old already.  In the same way that I gushed in my ode to Anna's second year, the measure of time is so different when applied to the life of a child.  I remember so clearly picking up Danesa's older kids from school and telling them their mom was in labor. They were ecstatic, and waiting for "the call" seemed to take forever.  We made dinner, went to Dairy Queen, played games, waited.  Then around 8 pm, we got the news.  A 10-pound healthy baby boy.  Oh boy!  We ran to the hospital to meet the little guy, and now five years later...what a kid!

So, in what's becoming tradition with my best girlfriend's kiddo, I stretched a creative neck out there and produced some pretty sweet cupcakes for the Angry Birds themed party!

I did quite a bit of research on the best way to create these trendy little birds and pigs and in the end was very pleased with the results.  Even though nobody believes me when I say it, these were surprisingly easy to make.  Even you can do it!  I promise.

What You Need

White icing
Sugar Sprinkles the color of the bird/pig you want to make
Regular sized marshmallows, cut in half crosswise
Black licorice strings, cut into 1-inch pieces
Candy Corn
Black icing
Shredded coconut (if you are making the nests)
Cadbury mini-eggs (if you are making the nests)

To Make Angry Birds

Ice the tops of the cupcakes with a layer of frosting.  Put the sugar sprinkles in a shallow bowl and dip the tops of the cupcakes into the sprinkles, making sure to coat completely and no white icing is showing through.

Place two mini-marshmallows on the cupcake, near the top at eye-level, using a small dab of icing to adhere if they have trouble sticking to the cupcake.

Add two pieces of candy corn below the eyes and pinch the tips together to make a beak.

Add half a regular sized marshmallow below the beak to make the chest.

Add two black licorice pieces between the eyes to make the eyebrows.

Add two dots of black icing to the mini-marshmallows for the eyeballs.


To Make Pigs

Ice the tops of the cupcakes with a layer of frosting.  Put the sugar sprinkles in a shallow bowl and dip the tops of the cupcakes into the sprinkles, making sure to coat completely and no white icing is showing through.

Coat a regular sized marshmallow and two mini-marshmallows with icing and then roll in the sugar to coat completely.  Add a small dab of frosting in the center of the cupcake, where the nose will be, and then press the regular sized marshmallow on top.  

Add the mini-marshmallow coated in sprinkles to the top of the cupcake near the center, using a small dab of icing to adhere if they have trouble sticking to the cupcake.

Add a mini-marshmallow to each side and near the top of the nose, to make the eyes, using a small dab of icing to adhere if they have trouble sticking to the cupcake.

Add three mini-marshmallow directly below the nose, to make the teeth, using a small dab of icing to adhere if they have trouble sticking to the cupcake.

Add a small dot of black icing to each eye and two small dots on the nose.  


To Make Nests

Ice the top of the cupcakes with a layer of frosting.  Put the coconut in a shallow bowl and dip the tops of the cupcakes into the coconut, making sure to coat completely.  Top each cupcake with three mini-eggs


See I knew you could do it!  Now, go...


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Weekly Coo: Pregnancy Blues Sedated

What's the Weekly Coo all about?  Find out here.

I love that I am creating a child inside my body.  That she is being nourished and grown by what seems could only be a miracle.  I mean, really? There is a human growing inside me?  How awesome is that?  Pregnancy is amazing and wonderful and a time to be cherished...and I wish I was better at cherishing it.  Because right now I am moody, and angry, and my whole body aches. These last weeks of pregnancy are awful.  I think its like that on purpose to make us actually want to give birth.  And I am there.  I really really want to give birth.  Another week and a half and I will be 37 weeks, which is considered full-term and they won't stop labor after this point, and I will be raring to get this show on the road.

Thank goodness this past week was full of distractions to pull me out of my pregnancy pity party. Really victorious, loving, exciting distractions.  Lots of cooing going on around here.

As I mentioned last week in my very first Weekly Coo, writing this blog has been an entirely new creative outlet for me.  I've discovered that I love writing, that its changed me in so many ways, that maybe I am even okay at I took a brave step and submitted a piece to a local mama magazine, MAMALODE.  I didn't get my hopes up because there are some phenomenal writers featured on this site.  So, I submitted it and forgot about it. And then last Thursday I got an email that they had accepted my essay and wanted to run it this week!  I actually started crying (thank you pregnancy hormones).

Please head over to MAMALODE and check  it out...and while you're there, check out the other essays that are featured under "Stories", there is some really good stuff going on over there.  


I got an out-of-the-blue-I-Love-You present from my sister Kellie this weekend.  There is nothing that makes me feel more giddy or special than knowing someone was thinking of me when I wasn't around.  I love being loved.  I love being kneaded (how dang cute is that anyway?!).


I am (expectantly) huge right now.  And let me tell you, I freaking love how forgiving maternity clothes sizes are.  I noticed this week that two pairs of my maternity pants are a size 6.  My real-life size 6's I'd hardly be able to fit one swollen ankle into right now.  Thank you maternity clothes makers for making me feel a little less huge today.  I'm a dainty little size 6.


I attended a ladies night at my friend Jen's house on Friday.  A last hurrah, a last long night out before I have a baby permanently attached to my breast for the next six months (not that I am complaining, I loved every second of nursing Anna).  We grilled pizzas and I made apple hand pies and cinnamon ice cream for dessert.

We gabbed until 11 o'clock pm when we all piled into our cars and drove sleepily and happily home. Party animals.


Anna's favorite new hangout is the Carousel.  I am too large to ride comfortably on it right now and it gives Mace motion sickness (it is the fastest Carousel west of the Mississippi, or so they claim), so I have been bribing people to take her on it instead.  Auntie Tessa last week, Jen this week.  Any volunteers for next weekend?

We headed to Pattee Canyon for a hike afterwards and I was surprised by Anna's enthusiasm in hitting the trail.  Girlfriend loves to be outside.  Perhaps an avid hiker in our midst?

This kid makes me coo every time I look at her.

To top off our busy Saturday, Danesa texted and said "bring Anna over so you and Mace can have a date night."  I love having a best friend like her around.  She and Anna are best buds and I love watching them together.  Danesa was there when Anna came into this world, and this has sealed a mighty tight bond between the two of them.  She'll be there again when #2 graces us with her presence.  Stamped and sealed, she's part of our world forever.

My pregnancy mood swings have been sedated for the time being and life is good.  Coo.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Weekly Coos

When I started this blog I wanted to tie together my love of food and family and put all this love in one place.  The title "Kitchie Coo" encapsulates these two loves...Kitchie for my obvious love of all things happening in my kitchen; and Coo for the soft coos that escape my lips from that deep place of love and contentment inside of me and the sweet baby coos that have emanated our house since Anna came into our lives.  I feel like thus far, I've done okay at intertwining the two, and that Kitchie Coo has a good flow that doesn't feel disjointed or off topic.

Kitchie Coo has been a place for me to express my fervent love for food and family.  It has been a place for me to explore and get a feel for writing in my own words.  It has been a creative outlet and extricated a creative side of me that I didn't even know existed.  I have learned to write creatively, write from my heart, write humorously and write seriously.  I have learned bits and pieces of photography and I am thirsty to learn more in regards to food styling and getting that perfect shot of the ever-moving child.  I have learned to search deep into my heart for feelings and turn them into words.  I have learned to search deep for new ways to challenge myself in the kitchen and have turned out some mighty fine creations I am very proud of.

I love everything that I have learned through this experience, writing to anyone who wants to listen, without expectation.  Sure, I get excited when a recipe I posted gets featured on a major website, but I am learning what's most important is just getting thoughts, recipes, ideas, photos, love, friendship out there and hoping somewhere along the line I inspire someone to try a new recipe, or touch someone with the love of family and friendship.

But, all of this said...the way Kitchie Coo has changed me from the inside out...I haven't been writing here as regularly as I would like.    The word "coo" brings a vision to my mind of peacefulness, contentedness, well-being, love, joy and goodness.  And I definitely find a place for that in my life each day, whether its a moment, an hour or a whole day, I need some good cooing on a regular basis to keep my anxiety at bay and my heart full.  So, I am going to try to commit myself to some weekly cooing.  A post of coos, about our life, our girls, our kitchen, our life in general.  A post to encapsulate and summarize what's happening in our tiny little cooing corner of the world.  A post to keep my mind and my writing fresh.  These posts may be wandering and full of pictures and few words, or they may be hitting on a subject weighing on my mind that week, but they'll all come back to the ever important "coo".  To finding the peace, contentment and good that drives those guttural coos from my lips and reminds me just how good this life can be.

And with that, I present to you my first Weekly Coo:

And what a perfect week to start my cooing...My sister Tessa graced us with a visit this weekend, and I got to spend a whole lot of time gushing over the sweetness of life as I witnessed things like this:

If there is one thing that Anna already knows deep in her heart, its knowing who her family is. There were no moments of her being shy or needing to warm up to Tessa.  It was this kind of love immediately.  So much love.

One of the things I didn't anticipate about motherhood, and it gets my heart every time, is how awesome it is to watch the people I love loving on my girl.

We all walked into this weekend without any expectation but just being together.  There is something about just going with the flow and not making too many plans, that makes the days melt away into an easy peacefulness.

We rode the Carousel...

We strolled around the Market (sampling goodies whenever possible)...

We, three apron clad ladies, baked what are probably the world's best cookies (there's a small lie in there, because Anna was actually sleeping while we baked, but she still wanted to be part of our apron gang, and you know I couldn't resist that request)...

We made the Cornflake Crunch cookies out of the Momofuku Milk Bar book.  If you haven't checked this book out yet, do it!  Christina Tosi is my girl baker crush, she is amazing.  You can tell how amazing these are by the crazed joy on Tessa's face...

We ventured to the perfect fall event, on a perfect fall day...the Missoula Maze.  Petting zoo, pumpkin patch, and a very genuine hay/corn maze...that took an hour to get through.  An hour. It was fun, but a tad too long...we were hungry and thirsty and almost starved to death because we didn't have any provisions.  We weren't sure we were ever going to make it out.  We emerged parched, dazed and confused (um, again, maybe embellishing just a tad), but we did it.  We solved the maze! And, okay, we had a little fun in the process.

Wandering blindly and unsuspecting into the Maze.

We got the best family photo action shot ever: Anna cheerfully throwing a pumpkin at my face and Mace trying (unsuccessfully) to stop it.

Anna thought it was important to make direct eye contact with this sheep, but the sheep refused.

I can't believe this kid already knows how to humor her mother.  I mean, she is clearly bored out of her mind and only stuck her hands and head in here for my amusement.  This picture makes me nearly hysterical with laughter every time I look at it.  

Every night Anna chose Auntie Tessa to read her bedtime stories, after which, Tessa would descend downstairs and we'd spend the rest of our evening hours snuggling and gabbing on the couch.  Hours of consolidated gabbing time that had me bursting and craving more and more. Craving being near to my sister, craving these heart-to-hearts that happen too sporadically. Distance is so hard on the heart. But, I always feel like we make the best of our time on our visits and milk them for every single minute they give us.

I can't help but imagine our own girls, Anna and this wild one in my tummy, five, ten, twenty years from now relishing in each other and their sisterhood.  And, eventually, relishing in each other's offspring.  Such a cool relationship to witness.

Lots of deep, guttural cooing going on in our house this past weekend.  Oh yes.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Home...the word leaves my lips in a soft flutter of love and yearning.  Its a place that lives in my heart and feels like humid summer days, laughter, sunshine and unconditional love. Its singing, baking, snuggling, cooking...being together.

Home...its a place.  Its a welcoming house, a familiar tree, a river, a highway.

Home...its a feeling.  Its comfort, deep sighs, relief, collapsing, trusting, believing, knowing.

Home...its people.  Its Dada, Momma, Nana, Poppy, Gammy, Grandma, Grandpa.  Its Auntie, Bruncle, Uncle.  Its D, Bubba...friends that are your family.  Its every person, loved so deeply, you don't remember life before them.

Home...its riding shotgun into the sunset next to the man of my dreams, and dreaming together. Its comfortable silence and comfortable conversation.  Its the absence of awkwardness and the presence of everything familiar.

Home...its a safe place.  The safest place.  A place to land when you've used up all your other cards.  When you have no other place to go, its home you go.  Because you know you will be taken care of.  Its my parents rubbing my head in their laps, telling me this too will be okay.  Its always been okay.

Home...its my daughter's smell and soft coos while I rock her to sleep.  A soft kick from my unborn daughter.  My head tucked in the spot made for me, just below my husband's chin.  Its my parents' embraces and snuggles, that never get old, even as an adult.

Home...its forgiveness.  Its fighting, and anger, and then making up.

Home...its sisters who know your heart in a way that no one else does.  Its my husband who can soothe my anxious spirit with a simple touch.  Its my two-year old daughter, who I am certain I have known for eternity.  Its our unborn daughter who has already made our life feel complete.

Home...its praying for each other, rooting for each other, wanting nothing but "perfect" for each other.  And when perfect doesn't come...cheering anyway.

Home...its lovingly creating a space to come home to for our own children.  A place where they can land softly, and a place where they will learn and grow and flourish.  A safe place, a happy place, a place that is laughter, comfort, forgiveness, rawness, fullness, empathy and, always and forever...unconditional love.