Saturday, May 24, 2008

How does my hair look?

Reese has the sweetest bed head!

Monday, May 19, 2008

for Michael while his girls are gone

Reese thinks her Aunt Lally is so funny!  Sorry that the camera gets shakey--I think Aunt Lally is so funny too, and hard as I tried, I couldn't stop myself from laughing (and the camera from shaking).

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Kitchen Fun

One of the best things about coming home to Montana is that my mom and I get to cook and bake together all day long! And, first thing last Thursday morning, we got right to work. We planned our menus for the week and did all of our shopping. My mom is hosting a Senior Party this weekend for the graduating seniors in her ward and we needed to test a few of our recipes, so we invited some friends over for dinner last Saturday. Small dinner parties are really fun because you get to make more labor intensive dishes, that would obviously be too much for a larger party. We had Caprese Polenta Burgers--homemade burgers stacked on top of polenta discs and topped with a slice of fresh mozzarella, tomato, balsamic reduction and basil. Delicious! We also tried "Nacho Spuds" from Rachael Ray's magazine that were a hit and that we intend to mass produce for next week's party. But, my favorite part of the meal was the dessert! It was outstanding, if I do say so myself! We made a meringue topped with strawberries, fresh whipped cream infused with vanilla bean, chocolate sauce and toasted hazelnuts...oh, man, my mouth is watering just thinking about it! One of the great things about cooking/baking with my mom is that things that normally intimidate me are much less scary when I have my mom to help. I've only made meringues once, and I don't remember them being very good, so I was a little nervous this time. But, with my mom by my side, I knew we could handle anything!

If you are looking for a new dessert for the summer months, you MUST try this--it will become your new fave, as it has mine! Here's what you'll need:

4 large egg whites
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
Pinch salt
4 oz hazelnuts, skins removed
7 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 vanilla bean
strawberries, hulled and sliced

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees and line a baking sheet with a sheet of waxed paper. Put the egg whites in a clean bowl and whisk on medium until the whites form firm peaks (about 7 or 8 minutes). While your mixer still going, gradually add the sugar and pinch of salt. Turn the mixer to the highest setting and whisk for about another 5 minutes, until the meringue mixture is white and glossy. To test whether it's done, you can pinch some between your fingers--if it feels completely smooth, it's ready; if it's slightly granular, it needs more whisking.

Dot each corner of the waxed paper with the meringue, then turn it over and stick it to the baking sheet. Spoon the meringue out onto the paper and, using the back of a spoon, shape and swirl it into a rectangle. Place in the preheated oven and bake for 1 hour or until crisp on the outside and a little soft and sticky inside. At the same time, bake the hazelnuts on a separate sheet in the oven for 1 hour or until golden brown. Take the meringue and hazelnuts out of the oven and allow to cool.

To make the chocolate sauce, melt the chocolate in a bowl over simmering water. For a thinner sauce, add a splash of heavy cream.

Place the meringue on a serving platter. Whip the cream with the sifted powdered sugar and the vanilla seeds until it forms smooth, soft peaks. Chop the hazelnuts and sprinkle half of them over the top of the meringue. Spoon half the whipped cream over the top and drizzle with some of the chocolate sauce. Spread the strawberries evenly over the top. Pile over the rest of the whipped cream and drizzle with some more chocolate sauce, then sprinkle the remaining toasted hazelnuts over the top and serve. If you're making this in advance, get everything ready and assemble at the last minute.

Note: You could really use any combination of soft fruit and nuts that you like.


Monday, May 12, 2008

First Mother's Day!

My first bona fide Mother's day. It was such a great much fun to spend it with my momma in Montana! My sweet husband sent me the most beautiful, and wonderfully smelling bouquet of flowers--they made the entire kitchen smell of a florist shop! Reese let me sleep in until almost 7am, which is really something considering she has been on Eastern time since we got here (7:30am comes a lot earlier when you are in Montana!). I made the most delicious breakfast for my mom--Puffy Pancakes with Nutty Banana Butterscotch, which she loved even if she didn't get to enjoy it in bed. And I got a box of chocolates at church! Who could ask for more?
Everyone says you appreciate your mother more after you have a child of your own, and let me tell you, never were truer words spoken. And I really thought I already appreciated my mom before! Not only do I appreciate the mother she is to me, but I also appreciate that I can call her about anything and she will know the answer. She supports me and encourages me and makes me feel like I am good mother, and that I know what I am doing even when I am not so sure. All I know is, if I am half the mom my mother is, then we are in really good shape. I have loved being with her in Montana this week and LOVE to see her with Reese. Reese loves her Mommacat, that's for sure! Happy Mothers' Day, Momma. I love you.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Jet Setter

On Wednesday, little Reese, who was not even three months old (she turns 12 weeks old today), took her first trip on an airplane!  Needless to say, her mother was incredibly anxious about taking a baby all the way to Montana on an airplane with no escape--what if she screams the whole time? what if while feeding her I expose myself to the entire plane? what if her ears pop? what if she wants to stand up and bounce and the seat belt light is on?  Pretty much, I was anticipating the worst.  For the few days before our trip, every time Reese would get fussy or become distracted while eating (I got a new nursing cover for the trip and Reese was not immediately a fan--she would throw her arm straight out, displacing my nursing cover), I would say to her, "Reese, you'd better not do this on Wednesday!"

On Wednesday morning I talked to Lindsey, who has taken Tyson on numerous trips across the country, and she gave me lots of tips for traveling with an infant.  V. helpful!  Finally, it was time to put the little mush in the car and be on our way.  When we got to the airport, who should be checking in to be on our same flight but the Wheatleys!  Michael's dad's cousin and his wife, and two of my favorite people from Michael's home ward, were also going to Salt Lake City and were going to be only two rows behind Reese and me!  I immediately felt more comfortable and confident to know that there would be at least two friendly faces, even if Reese did scream during the flight.

Reese fell asleep while I fed her during takeoff and I thought we were off to a great start!  When she woke up 30 minutes later, I knew it could be a very long flight...but it did go by faster than I anticipated.  Reese did have some fussy moments--and, luckily, the seat belt sign was not illuminated when she was getting really worked up, so I went to the back of the plane to rock her to sleep.  I don't think the flight attendants were thrilled to have me back there, but whatev.  Reese was just so excited to be on her first plane ride that she just didn't want to stay asleep or miss anything (she took three cat naps during the 4 1/2 hour flight, and that just isn't enough sleep for the little darling.)

Reese woke up as we landed in Salt Lake and stayed awake through our hour layover--which was now way past her bedtime, but as it was still light outside, she thought it was still playtime!  After we boarded the flight to Kalispell, we had to sit on the plane for a long time while Delta straightened out the paperwork, and Reese was very content to just be checking things out.  I fed her again during takeoff and this time she was very tired and fussy when she finished--I was dying, just knowing that on a fuller, smaller plane everyone was probably thinking horrible thoughts about me and why I couldn't keep my baby happy--but after a few minutes, Reese finally went to sleep and stayed asleep until we landed in Kalispell! (And, much to the dismay of my parents, Reese stayed asleep until the middle of the night, so they didn't get to play with her right away.)  When we got off the plane and waited for our bag (yes, only one for the two of us--probably the lightest I've ever packed in my life!), I noticed that I was a little shaky...I had to tell myself that I could finally relax because we made it!

All in all, Reese was a pretty good little traveler!  I learned that the middle of the week is a good time to fly with a baby because the flights weren't completely full, allowing us to have a whole row to ourselves on both flights.  Really, I should give Reese more credit--she was a champ all the way through the security line (which was unusually long for a Wednesday afternoon), and in both airports, even smiling at the Delta personal as I asked for favors, and she was perfectly calm and quite while we just sat on the airplane in Salt Lake for about thirty or forty minutes before takeoff.  There was a toddler sitting in the row in front of us on the way to Salt Lake and she was fussy for a lot longer than Reese, so I didn't feel so bad.  Hopefully we will have as good an experience on the way home!

Friday, May 02, 2008

Tummy Time

This was Reese's first try at tummy time. Poor little dear didn't know what was going on. And it took about 2.5 seconds for tummy time to turn into this:
But with a little hard work and determination, check her out now!

Now if only we could take that same drive and determination and apply it to her sleeping habits.