Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Apple picking misadventure

apple picking 2014
apple picking 2014
apple picking 2014
apple picking 2014
apple picking 2014
apple picking 2014
apple picking 2014
apple picking 2014
apple picking 2014
apple picking 2014
apple picking 2014
apple picking 2014
apple picking 2014
apple picking 2014
apple picking 2014
apple picking 2014
apple picking 2014
apple picking 2014
Alex surprised us with an apple picking outing this week, for which I was thoroughly thrilled. I hoped to mosey over to the orchards a month ago, but October was a little nutty for us. We drove up to Oak Glen on Monday, but to our dumbfoundedness, most of the apple orchards were closed. We found one that was open, and when we asked them if we could pick some apples, they stared at us, stating matter-of-factly that apple picking season is over. We looked more closely at the trees, and the truth sank in: all the remaining apples had fallen onto the ground, dotting the dirt with a sea of red, rotting fruit. We were a bit bummed, but aimed to make the most of the apple picking misadventure.

Doing so was a breeze, as the 60 degree weather there (as opposed to 75 degree weather back home) convinced us fall had actually arrived.The trees billowed in vibrant reds, oranges, and greens: colors of the season that are nonexistent in our parts. Serene had such a blast snatching fallen, rotting apples and toddling about the leaf-blanketed ground. Ever since she turned 13 months at the beginning of November, she's been itching to walk. She'll take up to five steps before she falls, so she's not fully walking independently yet, but we have a feeling that day will come soon. We also visited a colonial museum we went to two years ago during our first year as a married couple. We partook in 18th century fare at their tavern while staring out of the windows at the Patriots preparing for battle against the Red Coats while the womenfolk made candlesticks. We loved our time there just as much as we did the first time. After all, I am a sucker for a nearly real-life colonial village (particularly because colonial era Felicity was my favorite historical American Girl growing up!), family days, and freshly pressed apple cider - all of which more than compensated for the bygone apple picking season.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Broccoli and cheddar comfort

broccoli cheddar soup
Thankfully, weaning the little love has gotten progressively better this week, though we still have a ways to go. Comfort was needed all around, thus ushering in a huge pot of broccoli cheddar soup. There's something about cheese that is so crazily comforting. Mac 'n cheese. Grilled cheese sandwiches. Broccoli and cheddar soup. I've been feeling like soup now that we finally have some crisp, beautiful fall weather. This broccoli cheddar soup reminded me of the yummy one from this bakery cafe, which I love. So delicious with crusty wheat bread. It was simple to make too! I'm thinking of making another batch soon to freeze for later for when the weather gets even chillier.
broccoli cheddar soup
Broccoli Cheddar Soup (adapted from here)
Ingredients:
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3/4 medium chopped onion
1/2 cup melted butter
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
4 cups half-and-half
4 cups chicken stock
1 lb fresh broccoli, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 carrot, julienned
1/2 tsp nutmeg
16 oz grated sharp Cheddar cheese
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Saute onion in extra virgin olive oil over medium-high heat until softened. Set aside.
2. In a large pot, whisk butter and flour for 3-5 minutes over medium heat. Stir constantly, adding in half-and-half and chicken stock. Simmer for 20 minutes.
3. Add broccoli, carrots, and onions. Cook over low heat for 20-25 minutes until veggies are tender.
4. Stir in nutmeg. Add grated Cheddar and stir until cheese is melted. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with crusty wheat bread.

Friday, October 31, 2014

In Wonderland

halloween 2014
halloween 2014
halloween 2014
halloween 2014
halloween 2014
halloween 2014
halloween 2014
halloween 2014
Happy Halloween from Alice in Wonderland and her jolly entourage, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum! Ever since we started taking Serene to Disneyland, I've been more inclined toward Disney-inspired costumes. Actually, I was a smidgen conflicted because I had been brainstorming since May that we'd dress as Tom, Sybil, and baby Sybbie Branson from Downton Abbey, since Alex and I are huge fans of the show. But we scratched the idea when we realized we'd likely be unrecognizable to the normal human eye. If we had gone through with the Downton Abbey costumes, we'd be explaining to everyone who we were, as we did during our very first Halloween as married folks. So, to Wonderland we went this year, which I think works out just as swell.

I used this image for inspiration, and we went with a mustard, burgundy, and royal blue color scheme for our Tweedle costumes, rather than the cartoony yellow, red, and blue. We had almost everything in our closets already, except for a mustard pullover for Alex, which we bought. To complete our costumes, I made giant bowties out of felt, and sewed propeller hats out of triangles of burgundy felt. I left a small hole in the center of each hat so I could glue a stick on it, and finished each hat by sewing a mustard flag onto the top. Alex kept saying he needed a haircut, but I think his longish hair suits his character pretty precisely. 

Serene's Alice costume comprises of a powder blue vintage dress she already has (as seen when we made the gender announcement, and in our most recent family photos), white tights, black leather Mary Janes, a black floral headband, and an apron I sewed from white cotton. All in all, a relatively low-effort family costume-creating ordeal. I made giant crepe paper flowers for Serene's first birthday bash, but forgot to use them the day of, so into our Halloween pictures they went. I thought they looked pretty Wonderland-ish. In any case, the little love fancied them during the picture-taking, so much so that she crawled about in the muddy grass to grab them. Serene snoozed throughout our trick-or-treat escapade last year, so we're looking forward to toting her alert and curious self around this year. Hope you all have a lovely time tonight! 

To see our costumes from Halloween 2013, click here.
To see our costumes from Halloween 2012, click here.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Weaning woes

weaning woes
I've been toying with the idea of slowly weaning Serene, and started consistently going through with it last week. I cut out the two naptime feedings (still nursing first thing in the morning when she wakes up and last thing in the evening before bed), replacing the nursing sessions with soy milk, but Serene has declared war. War on the soy milk, which means negligible sips here and there before the cup gets flung across the room (on the bright side, at least she takes little sips of the soy milk, for she wouldn't take sips of cow's milk at all). War on me, which means a fussier, more whiny, and more clingy babe throughout the day. War on naptime, which means screaming for an hour and a half before she falls asleep, if she naps at all. And if she naps at all, it is for 30-40 minutes throughout the entire day, rather than the usual 2-3 hours throughout the day. In short, weaning is a culprit for our sadness and weariness of late. I was at my wit's end last week. By Friday, the week's fatigue had caught up to me. I was second guessing all the motherhood decisions I've ever made. So I hauled Serene's nap-refusing tush to Target in my pajamas, unbrushed hair, and unmade up face. We ambled aimlessly for an hour so I could distract her from the monotony of home, the blasted soy milk, and her crib prison.

Now that I look back on it, I can't help but laugh. Last week was pretty grim, but praise God every day is a new day with mercies anew. We're all adjusting and learning, and I'm foreseeing weeks, maybe even months, of weaning in our future. Please feel free to share advice and recommendations! I continue to learn that mamahood has its rosy moments, but there are so many not-so-rosy moments as well. Right now, those include weaning woes, but they will only be something else later on. Regardless, all moments are glimpses of the great calling I have to teach and disciple my little love to fear God over all else (in this case, breastmilk). But who am I kidding? I feel so small, so inept, so unworthy of this daunting task before me, particularly as she gets older (and more sinful). I need so much grace and strength to be the example Serene needs. How can I teach her to fear God when I so often fail to be in awe of Him myself? Who am I to tell her to stop whining when I keep complaining about her whining? Such a timely reminder of how God perfects His power in weakness because boy, do I feel weak! Thankful the Lord paid for my sins on the cross so that I can come to the throne of grace. Praying I would emanate grace to Serene as we learn to teach and discipline her for her good and God's glory - that she would see that she, her daddy, and I are all in dire need of God's kindness and mercy on the cross!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

At the pumpkin patch

pumpkin patch 2014
pumpkin patch 2014
pumpkin patch 2014
pumpkin patch 2014
pumpkin patch 2014
pumpkin patch 2014
pumpkin patch 2014
pumpkin patch 2014
pumpkin patch 2014
pumpkin patch 2014
pumpkin patch 2014
These past few weeks have felt like a whirlwind, which makes me ever more grateful that we made it out to the pumpkin patch this year. We moseyed on over this past Monday for our family day, where there were fewer patrons and therefore more patch for us to roam. Serene oogled at the vast pumpkin-dotted field, and had no qualms about getting up close and personal with them. Alex and I kept laughing because this year's foray into the pumpkin patch was so different from last year's. The previous year, we ventured over there during our first postpartum family day outing with two-week-old Serene Joy in tow. She snoozed soundly in my sling nearly the entire time, oblivious of her participation in an incumbent tradition. This year, she toddled about, poking and prodding the giant orange squash with fervor. We're now more convinced that traditions are made much sweeter with a growing little love.