Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Pull-Apart Cake - My favorite meal of the year

This is a recipe that I have enjoyed on Christmas morning every year growing up and continued with our family after we got married. It. Is. Amazing. Seriously.

Most of you will recognize it as "Monkey Bread," but I've yet to find a recipe that quite matches this one. 

Here goes!

20 Frozen Rhodes Rolls, cut in half

Be careful! This can be dangerous! I've found that it is helpful if you let them thaw for about 5-10 minutes, but don't let them thaw too much or they will get squishy and start to rise...

You'll need a greased bundt cake pan

1/2 Cup white sugar + 1T Cinnamon (to make cinnamon sugar), 3/4 cup butter (melted), 1/2 Cup brown sugar

Take each 1/2 roll and dip it in the melted butter

Roll it in the cinnamon sugar

And place "randomly" in the bundt cake pan.

 I tend to have a method to my randomness

Sprinkle the remaining cinnamon sugar over the top of the rolls

Then comes the secret ingredient: Butterscotch pudding mix. Now, I know my picture shows instant. I bought the wrong kind. In the past, I've always used regular. I will say that the instant didn't ruin the recipe though.

Sprinkle the entire package of butterscotch pudding mix over the top

Mix the brown sugar with the remaining butter. Let me clarify this a bit. The original recipe calls for 1/2 cup butter. I've found that it's never enough to really mix with the brown sugar. So, next year (and what I listed earlier) I'm going to try upping it to a cup since I always end up needing to melt more. So, we'll call it 1 cup for the whole recipe.

Anyway, mix the brown sugar with the remaining butter.

Sprinkle/pour the butter/brown sugar mixture over the top and cover with greased cling wrap.

Let it sit overnight to rise, about 6-8 hours. If you get up in the middle of the night, you might check on it and if it's rising too much you can stick it in the fridge. Bake on 325 for 35-45 minutes or until golden brown. Let sit for 10 minutes, then invert onto serving dish. Enjoy!!

Here's the recipe all in one place:

20 Frozen Rhodes Rolls (cut in half)
1/2 Cup granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon Cinnamon
3/4 Cup Butter (melted)
1 pkg Butterscotch pudding
1/2 Cup firmly packed brown sugar

Grease bundt pan. Combine sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Dip frozen dough balls in butter and roll in sugar mixture. Place randomly in bundt pan. Sprinkle remaining sugar mixture over rolls. Sprinkle dry pudding over rolls. Stir brown sugar into remaining butter & drizzle over rolls. Cover with plastic wrap & let rise overnight to top of pan (about 6-8 hours). Bake at 325 for 35-45 minutes until golden brown. Let sit for 10 minutes, then invert onto serving dish. Glaze will be runny. 

#2: 29 Weeks

It's been quite a week around here, hence my absence. Christmas played a large role, of course, but I was super bummed when the pictures I took of Evelyn in her first mini-snow of the year disappeared. Then, Rob was spending a lot of time on the computer working on something things on his vacation, so blogging didn't get the first priority. I'm working on a couple of things though that I'm pretty excited about!

  • Christmas!!
  • Evelyn's 18 Month Post (sob)
  • A recipe for Pull-Apart Cake (aka the second-best part of Christmas morning)
  • Dishwasher Detergent that (so far) works!
  • Setting up my sewing area (and hopefully some beginner sewing tutorials will follow!)
So, there's something to look forward to. Now for the real point of this post!

{Yikes. I need to clean my mirror!}

How far along: 29 weeks

How big is baby: An acorn squash. Baby's energy is surging, thanks to white fat depositing beneath his skin. And since he's growing so fast (weight will triple by birth) things are getting kind of cramped in the womb. 

Weight gain/loss: Not sure. At least 27 lbs. I'd say I'm definitely over 30 lbs by now. Deep breaths....

Stretch marks: None yet this time. But, I'm sure they'll come.

Sleep: Still sleeping all night but not feeling very rested. I usually wake up sore in the morning. That's par for the course though!

Diet/Cravings/Aversions: Actually kind of feeling a little more like I did with Evelyn where I'm kind of "meh" on food in general. I'll eat when I'm hungry, but I'm not really craving anything.

Movement: I'm beginning to be able to distinguish body parts. I get a lot of feet in my right side which makes me hope that baby has flipped and is no longer breech!

What I'm worrying about: Weight gain. Still. I just feel huge and I'm sure everyone is sick of hearing about it. I have a lot of things I tell myself to give reasons for it, but then I can't help but think that I need to stop making excuses for it and be more careful about what I eat. I've never been one to obsess over my weight, but to make a swing from one end of the spectrum to the other so quickly is really hard for me to wrap my head around. Technically, I think I'm still at a healthy weight at around 159 for my 5'6", nearly 30 week pregnant frame, but seeing myself quickly outgrowing my smaller maternity clothes makes it harder to swallow. I'm just trying to keep my perspective healthy. 

What I'm loving: Thinking about the little baby that will be here soon! Tiny clothes. Tiny diapers. Oh, and don't get me started on the thought of wearing a little one again. Swoon!

Symptoms: OMG, my heartburn is back with a vengeance. Hip pain. Some swelling. Just feeling pregnant!

What I'm looking forward to: Enjoying Christmas with my family next week and trying to get some more things ready for Evelyn's big girl room!

Best moment of the week: Christmas with my little family. It wasn't picture perfect by any means. But it was my kind of perfect. Watching Evelyn play with her new toys and be so happy is amazing. Can't wait for next year.

Monday, December 17, 2012

#2: 28 Weeks

{You're getting me in all my post-shower, PJ glory this week!}

How far along: 28 weeks

How big is baby: An eggplant. Baby's lungs are mature enough that, if born right now, she has a pretty good chance of surviving. Her skin is still pretty wrinkly (one byproduct of living in amniotic fluid) but will smoothen as fat continues to deposit.

Weight gain/loss: Not sure. At least 27 lbs.

Stretch marks: None yet this time. But, I'm sure they'll come.

Sleep: Starting to get uncomfortable. I'm sleeping through the night generally, but never really feel rested. We have a pretty firm mattress and it puts a lot of pressure on my hips. I loved my mattress until I got pregnant. I've hated it ever since.

Diet/Cravings/Aversions: Food in general sounds yummy!

Movement: Still lots. A ton of kicks on my right side which I never had with Evelyn but still all over the place too.

What I'm worrying about: I had an ultrasound last week that showed baby to be frank breech. Basically, his/her bum was down and feet were up by his/her head instead of crossed in the fetal position. I had a bit of a freak out moment in the ultrasound room. I also got a little peeved with the technician because when I expressed my concern she said, "Oh don't worry, the baby will be fine. They'll just do a c-section." Gah! I know the baby will be fine, but I have no intentions of a c-section! I know I'm being totally selfish, but that is not what I wanted to hear and I really thought it was a little harsh. The birthing process is very important to me and I'm not just going to resign myself to a c-section. Especially this early on. That is the key thing I had to realize. It's still very early. In fact, the more I paid attention to movement, I still think the baby is flip-flopping all over the place. It doesn't completely ease my worry, but I'm not feeling so emotional about it. I'm trusting that this baby and my body will figure things out in the end. I'm also figuring out that this pregnancy is not Evelyn's pregnancy. She had settled head down and stayed there (with her cute little butt in my ribs) at 28 weeks.  

I've got some exercises I'm doing to help with the breech issue, but I'm just forcing myself to let it be for now.

Also, I'm considering switching to a midwife at a birth center. I'm going to a "meet the midwives" session on Wednesday and we'll see how I feel then. My OB hasn't done anything wrong or anything, I'm just not feeling the hospital birth in my gut like I did before. Especially since they pulled the plug on water births. We'll see. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that my insurance will cover a midwife in either a birth center or home birth setting. Unfortunately, Rob isn't on board with the home birth thing, but at least I should be covered at the center if we decide to go that direction.

What I'm loving: Movement. Seeing my baby on an ultrasound. The thought of being a family of four (six if you could the boys) and Evelyn having a sibling. Love.

Symptoms: Hip pain and general achiness. Pretty good otherwise! 

What I'm looking forward to: The meeting this week for the birth center! I'm really looking for the feeling of peace in regards to where I'm going to have this baby. I'm hoping I'll find what God has planned for me there.

Best moment of the week: Seeing baby on ultrasound even if he/she did give me quite the cause to worry. Finding out about more options with my insurance.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Baby #2's Birth Plan

We were so grateful that Evelyn's birth went perfectly. It was everything I could have dreamed of. As you may have noticed, I've been a bit of a worry wart about this pregnancy. I guess the idea that I could have more than one perfect birth seems impossible. I know that's crazy-talk, but it still brings the "what-if" monster out. I thought I'd at least share our birth plan for this baby anyway.

I'll make the obligatory disclaimer about the unpredictability of labor and delivery and that things may not necessarily adhere to my plan. But, my feelings are that I need to have an answer for the different scenarios in case I am presented with the option. I'd rather get there and be prepared than not. Also, I have faith that my body can do what it is meant to do.

Here is my birth plan from Evelyn. I love reading these old posts and seeing how I refer to her as a "he." We didn't know and I was pretty sure she was a boy. Ha! I find myself wondering who I'm referring to when I say "he" only to remind myself of our lack of gender knowledge!

I feel pretty much exactly the same way about this labor and delivery. In fact, reading it again has sort of refreshed that passion I had with her labor and delivery. I'll add a few more things that we actually ended up doing with Evelyn but I never mentioned in the birth plan.

In addition to requesting no IV/Epidural, freedom of movement, alone time, etc.:

  1. I'd like to wear my own clothes (wasn't an issue last time)
  2. I'd like as few vaginal exams as possible and the minimum required fetal monitoring. Let me clarify that I want to make sure my baby is okay, but I don't feel it is necessary to be monitored every second of labor. I believe the 20 minutes out of every hour is sufficient unless otherwise indicated.
  3. We would like the option for a water birth if desired. The hospital where we are delivering at was allowing these throughout this year, but has temporarily put them on hold. Not because of an issue but because ACOG recently released a statement stating that there wasn't enough evidence to support water births. They did not, however, seem to find it necessary to mention that there is no evidence AGAINST a water birth. Most evidence supporting them is based outside of the US and they don't find that sufficient. I'm frustrated to say the least. But, we did it once without, we can do it again!
  4. No episiotomy
  5. Let the cord stop pulsating before clamping/cutting and also allow the placenta to deliver spontaneously.
  6. Immediate skin-to-skin after birth and allowance for breastfeeding as I feel is necessary. Any APGAR exams can take place on my chest. Weights and measures can be taken afterward.
  7. (New this time) I think we will be requesting that the baby not be bathed right away. Let me say that Evelyn was bathed early on and she is perfectly healthy. She's hardly been sick and I don't regret it. However, there is a lot of information in regards to the protective properties of the vernix that is on babies after they are born. This post gives a nice outline of some of those benefits along with some studies backing the info up.
That's it for now. Like I said, most of it is kind of expected with a med-free birth and most of it we got last time without really asking. I just thought I'd outline it for anyone who was wondering.

And, I had an ultrasound this week which totally didn't help my worrisome self this time around, but more on that later. For now, let's all fawn over a baby foot!

Monday, December 10, 2012

#2: 27 Weeks

{Sorry for the dirty mirror!}

How far along: 27 weeks

How big is baby: A rutabaga (can't say I know how big a rutabaga is...) - Baby's lungs are going through some major development these days, which (combined with the opening of previously plugged nostrils) means he's now able to practice inhaling and exhaling. The lack of air in your womb means every "breath" is filled with amniotic fluid, but hey - it's progress.

Weight gain/loss: I think I've only gained 4 more since the fateful 23 lb revelation at 23 weeks. So that's a pound a week and I'm totally okay with that. Total of 27 lbs at 27 weeks.

Stretch marks: None yet this time. But, I'm sure they'll come.

Sleep: Pretty good again! Sleeping well and through the night.

Diet/Cravings/Aversions: Food in general sounds yummy!

Movement: This baby loves to somersault! Evelyn had settled herself to head down with her bum in my ribs by now. This baby is not so content. He/she is always in a different place and I love all the movement. I also love that I'm starting to be able to guess what different body parts are. 

What I'm worrying about: I've been swelling more with this pregnancy than I did with Evelyn. I don't think I noticed any swelling until I was at least 35 weeks with her. I'm totally blaming this on my stints at a desk for several hours doing my job. It's definitely worse on the days I work. But my mind keeps flashing to preeclampsia and other horrible things that will make my labor and delivery horrible. Why am I so much more worried this time?! I never worried about anything going wrong the first time and now I just can't seem to have that faith in my body. 

What I'm loving: Third tri!! Wow. Can't believe it. Clinging to every minute of movement and fun that I love with pregnancy.

Symptoms: Swelling. Heartburn. 

What I'm looking forward to: Christmas! It's almost here! Maybe meeting with a doula and making some decisions there.

Best moment of the week: Confidently distinguishing a foot during some movement! I love knowing that this little one is growing. 

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Creating My Blog Background

I'm not completely new to Photoshop. In fact, I use it almost daily for my job. By no means, however, am I an expert. Creating my blog background took a LOT of trial and error. There is no possible way for me to explain all the things I learned while doing it, but I'll show you my final product. I knew a few things. I wanted a simple color as well as a simple pattern. My big question was how big does my background need to be?

I did some Googling (which you will see as a trend throughout this process) and never really found a good answer. So, here's what I figured, I knew that the standard dpi for web pages is 72. I also knew that the largest screen resolution that my monitor (which is pretty big) would handle is 1920x1080. So, that's what I made it. To make it easy, I've taken some screenshots and am going to break it down:

1. Create a new Photoshop document

2. Size it accordingly. This will vary for what type of background you want to make, but for my simple pattern I used 1920x1080 at 72 dpi.

I used a pattern to create my stripes. I found it here. I'll include the instructions on how to install a downloaded pattern (the same technique works for brushes as well). To use the pattern I created a "New Fill Layer." This option will allow me to fill the new layer with a pattern of my choosing.

After choosing my pattern and filling my layer with it, I wanted to change the color. In order to do that I first needed to rasterize the layer. This basically solidifies some of it's properties. It's confusing. Just trust me, you have to do it. Make sure you have the correct layer selected.

Now, we can alter the color. To do this, we will go to blending options.

Select the color overlay option.

If you want to change the color, you will need to click on the actual box where the "color overlay" option is written - not the check box. There you can click on the color box and select your desired color. Then click "Okay."

Now you just have to save and upload it! Make sure you save it for the web.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are!

A little ahead of schedule, my new blog is now live. Now, don't get your hopes too high. It still looks like a blog. It's not a full website or anything. But I've made some pretty major changes.

  • Completely new color scheme and header*
  • I've added some new pages and a navigation bar*
  • I've updated my About Me section
  • Made easy access buttons to posts and info that people seem to like
  • I've made myself a blog button (!)*
  • Easy to follow social media links if you want to follow me elsewhere*
Everything with an asterisk next to it, I plan to do tutorials on. It might take me a bit because they can be a bit labor-intensive to explain, but I will try my best. If there is anything you would like to know about let me know and I'll try my best to address it!

What do you think? I thoroughly enjoyed myself with this little project and am quite proud. It may not be professional quality, but I like it and I hope you do too.

P.S. Any Mac users out there? I tested it on Chrome, Firefox, and IE, but I have not a clue about Macs and the browsers they use. Everything look and work okay there? Thanks!

Monday, December 3, 2012

#2: 26 Weeks

{26 Weeks}

{Compared to 21 Weeks}

How far along: 26 weeks

How big is baby: A head of lettuce - about 9.2 inches and 2 lbs. Baby is soaking up your antibodies, getting her immune system ready for life outside the womb. Eyes are forming and she'll soon be practicing the blink... perfect for batting those freshly grown lashes.

Weight gain/loss: At least 23lbs. Still haven't gotten brave enough to weigh myself.

Stretch marks: None yet this time. But, I'm sure they'll come.

Sleep: I've been fighting a cold, so I've been super tired and not sleeping very well.

Diet/Cravings/Aversions: Same old same old!

Movement: I think the all out rolls are starting to slow down and turning into more jabs and such as he/she starts settling into a comfy spot more often.

What I'm worrying about: Still getting everything done. We've started working on our basement organization and we're still waiting for our cabinet to finish our floors/kitchen. Lots to be done!

Also the fact that I'm nearing the end of second tri. Where the heck does time go!? I love being pregnant and don't want it to end quite so quickly!

What I'm loving: Still just being pregnant. Movement. The indescribable joy of knowing the little miracle being worked right now.

Symptoms: I've started getting breathless and my heartburn has kicked it back up a notch as baby expands upward. Fun times!

What I'm looking forward to: Making progress of Evelyn's room. Getting newborn things out again. Christmas. 

Best moment of the week: Making some good progress on name picks! Oh, and spending some time outdoors in our unseasonably warm weather. Beautiful!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Only in St. Louis

If you are reading and are from the St. Louis area, I'm sure you know what I mean when I talk about St. Louis weather. We can go from 6 inches of snow to 75 degrees overnight without batting an eye and while the weather this week wasn't that dramatic, it certainly isn't normal.

I'm a summer girl through and through so I jumped on this 70 degree December day to take a little trip to our neighborhood park. I thought the outdoors would do us some good since we are both recovering from a cold and fresh air always seems to perk me up. Warning: Picture dump! I even took my good camera and you can totally tell I'm out of practice...

{You may notice a theme here...}


{A little ungraceful still}

{Checking things out}

{Loves the slide!}

{We're still battling with keeping the clips in her hair}

{All by herself!}


{Love that she got my light eyes}

{Love the look she's giving Rob}

{Thinking hard about going down the slide}

{I love toddler bellies!}

{Can't we go up the slide too?}

{New fave of Evelyn and Daddy}

{Blurry but hilarious}

{Ladies and gentlemen, we have a tongue thinker on our hands}

{Trying to go back up}


{She figured out how to get to the top by herself}

{She was counting before she went down! So cute!}




She was so proud of herself when she got to the bottom. She got down and clapped for herself and then wanted to do it over and over again. Priceless moments. Some days I love crazy St. Louis weather.