10.30.2013

Gender Reveal Cupcakes

When Steven and I found out we were having a boy we really didn't wait long to tell people. I called my mom and dad immediately following the appointment and by that weekend most of our friends and family knew. But I really, really, really wanted to do some sort of gender reveal!  So, being the mean, terrible person I am, I decided to make the other couples in our weekly Bible study wait to hear the news until I whipped up some gender reveal cupcakes. 

And OH.EM.GEE were these gooooood! They tasted just like Hostess cupcakes but a million times better if that's at all possible?! Needless to say, these heavenly cupcakes made up for the torturous wait we made our friends go through. 
Recipe from Pale Yellow blog. Makes 36 cupcakes.

Cupcakes
1 1/2 cups water
1 3/4 cups + 2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate
3 teaspoons vanilla
3 eggs
1 3/4 cups + 2 tablespoons flour
3 teaspoons baking soda
3 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 ˚F and line cupcake tins with papers.
  2. In a small saucepan bring the water and the sugar to a boil.  Pour sugar/water into the bowl for your stand mixer and add the butter and chocolate.  Stir to melt and let cool slightly.  Stir in the vanilla.
  3. Place the mixing bowl on the mixer and mix on low speed.  Add the eggs one at a time and beat to combine.  Scrape the bowl as needed.
  4. Sift together the flour, soda, powder, and salt onto wax paper.  Add to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined.
  5. Use a standard size ice cream scoop to portion the batter into the cupcake cups.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  7. Let cool completely on a wire rack.
Filling
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
pinch of salt
3 teaspoons vanilla
4 1/2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 1/2 cups marshmallow creme
pink and/or blue gel food coloring
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter for two minutes.  Add in 1/2 cup of powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons cream, pinch of salt, and vanilla.  Beat on low speed to combine.
  2. Add in the remaining 1 cup of powdered sugar and 2 1/2 tablespoons of creams in alternating increments on a slow speed.  Add in the marshmallow cream and beat on high until the mixture is well combined.
  3. If the baby is a boy, color the filling blue, if the baby is a girl, color the filling pink.  If the mother is having twins of two genders, divide the filling into two different bowls and color one pink and one blue.
  4. Add the marshmallow filling to a piping bag with an injection tip.  Poke each cupcake in the center and squeeze until the top of the cupcake begins to rise.
  5. If there is a lot of filling poking out, scrape it off.
Ganache
9 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
pinch of salt
3 teaspoons vanilla
  1. Place the chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl.
  2. Bring the cream, butter, and salt to a simmer in a small saucepan.  Add the hot cream to the chocolate and leave the mixture alone for 5 minutes.
  3. Whisk the chocolate and the cream together and set aside to cool.  Stir every ten or so minutes to keep the ganache from setting.
  4. Spoon about 2 teaspoons of ganache on top of each filled cupcake and use the back of the spoon to smooth the ganache.
Piped Topping
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt
  1. Add all the ingredients to the bowl of a stand mixer and beat with a paddle attachment on low until well combined.  Turn up the speed and beat for 1 minutes, scrape the bowl as needed.
  2. If the mixture seems too thick, add some more cream.
  3. Add the piping frosting to a piping bag with a number 2 tip.
The piped topping was the most difficult part for me. It was super challenging to get the consistency right and mine ended up being a little runny (too much heavy cream). Other than that, this recipe is pretty easy to follow and makes the cutest (and most tasty) gender reveal!

Oh, and we had chocolate ganache left over for days that we used to drizzle over some vanilla ice cream. Yum. 

10.29.2013

Updated Office Nook

I'm pretty sure I was "nesting" even before I got pregnant. I'm simply a "doer" and have multiple, never-ending to do lists.  Of course, his drives my husband crazy. =) 

Ever since we found out we were pregnant, one of my to-do's was to remove the beautiful Pinterest desk Steven had made me and turn that office space into the baby's nursery. We decided that the awkward nook in our bedroom would make a great office space in the meantime (with it's built in bookshelves and natural light provided by the skylight). So project new Pinterest desk commenced! 

(To see the layout of our bedroom and this weird, little nook go here)
To add some contrast to the terrible 80's paneled wall and matching bookshelf, I decided to paint the bookshelf white and blue. I then decorated it with books, my favorite photos, family heirlooms, and sentimental touches from our wedding (including our ring bearer pillow, a beautiful craved sign made out of driftwood from the lake, and even some lake water itself!).
For the dest, Steven rebuilt it from scratch, stained it a lighter color to more closely match the wood already in the office, then hung up some more pretty photos and wedding decorations (such as those birds my maid of honor maid and our framed wedding invitation -- a gift from my brother and uncle). 
And ta-da! Updated office nook complete!

I love the updated office space and all the personalized touches we were able to incorporate into it! With mine and Steven's job, it is oftentimes necessary to work after hours from home and it feels so nice to have a dedicated space to go to (albeit, it's a little feminine for Steven's tastes). And best of all? We now have an extra bedroom in the house that's a blank slate and a perfect place for our little man's nursery!

10.25.2013

22 Weeks

One. Sorry for the terrible picture quality on all my pregnancy updates. Late night kitchen lighting isn't the best in our house. Two. Check out my fat face!! I didn't realize I was gaining weight in my face until this weeks photo. My cheeks are bigger and my chin less defined. Bummer!! 
Baby: Baby is 22 weeks and the size of a papaya! Fun Fact: He is sleeping in cycles of 12 to 14 hours per day. It's fun to track his sleeping patterns. He is most active in the evenings after I eat dinner and he always gives a few kicks whenever he hears his daddy's voice!

Weight: I had another ultrasound this week to try to get a glimpse of baby's profile since he refused to show it last time. No luck! But they did weigh me. I'm still up 10 lbs on the dot.  

Symptoms: I got a little nauseous after my morning commute this past Monday. I thought I was going to throw up but luckily I was able to keep my breakfast down. Other than that just breakouts, some aches and pains from a growing belly, and a fat face!   ;)

Sleep: It's getting harder and harder to wake up in the middle of the night to use to bathroom. As my stomach grows my mobility decreases but so far it hasn't been too bad and I'm getting some really great nights of sleep. 

Cravings/Aversions: This week I indulged a couple days in some homemade chili and cornbread...so good! Not experiencing a lot of cravings. 

Body: I've been reading a lot that many women start to get stretch marks around this time or maybe even an outtie belly button as baby gets bigger  :| Why do both of those things sound so horrible to me! I know they are just a part of the process, but geez...I hope it passes me by. Aren't stretched out abdominals and a fat face enough change to be dealing with?

Random Thoughts: You've heard the horror stories, right? You get pregnant and people (friends, family, and even strangers) say the craziest. downright offensive things to you? Well, those stories are true and my goodness do I have a few to share with you. People are nuts. 

Overall, I really am feeling good. I have good energy levels and am enjoying eating my meals and keeping them down. I've been able to knock some projects out of the way at home and now all that's ahead of me is the baby's nursery! I'll be sharing some of the projects we've been doing around the house later next week...and then after that get ready for some baby boy nursery updates! Oh yeah, did you hear the news? Baby is a boy!

10.24.2013

Big Brother Huck

Huck didn't make it to our gender reveal photo shoot, but I made sure he got in on the action later that day.  At first, he wasn't too thrilled about having 8 large balloons tied to his collar, but those Goldens...they'll let you do anything to them as long as you keep repeating the word treat
"Mom, what is this thing? Can you take it off now?"

I've been reading a lot lately about how dogs can hear a baby's heartbeat in the womb and maybe even his cries (did you know babies cry in utero as soon as 28 weeks??). I'm not sure all those studies are accurate but I do know that Huck senses something is up. He is very aware that big changes are coming to our household. 

And if he isn't actually hearing his little brother, studies show that he for sure smells him! Just as a dog can detect cancer in humans or an oncoming seizure, they can detect the hormonal changes that women experience when pregnant through their sense of smell. Dogs, man. They're pretty awesome creatures! 
So what kind of big brother do I think Huckleberry will be? Simply the best, of course. I'm sure he will teach his little brother all the important things in life like how to chase squirrels and torment the cat. I wouldn't be surprised if in a few years my constant shadow disappears as Huck finds a new companion to follow around the house, play fetch with, and cuddle until he falls asleep. I can't think of a better friend for our little boy than Huckleberry and I know, with Huck's sweet, gentle temperament, they will have no trouble bonding.
So here's to Huck, the best big brother a boy could have!

10.22.2013

Baby Turner is a...

BOY! 
Steven and I are excited to announce that baby Turner is a boy! Deep down my maternal instincts were right all along as I keep referring to our little man as a "he" before his gender was officially known. We couldn't be more thrilled! I can't stop thinking about whose color hair he will have and if he'll inherit his daddy's big ears ;). And it simply brings tears to my eyes when I look at Steven and wonder how in the world I got so lucky to have such an amazing man by my side. He is going to be such a great father to our little guy and my hope is that our son will be very much like his daddy.
 
All photos by Captured by Kris Photography

I hope you're prepared for all things blue and boyish coming to this blog!

10.21.2013

Annual Apple Picking + Pressing

This weekend was a blast! Not only were Steven and I able to get lots done around the house for baby's arrival, but we were also able to partake in what has become one of our favorite Fall festivity traditions -- an apple picking and pressing party! 

Our good friends have family that live on a farm out in Enumclaw, WA with lots and lots of apple trees. We head over, help them pick and press the apples to makes some delicious apple cider, and then all dive into the potluck buffet and enjoy the delicious classic Fall treat. It is always such a good time!
This spoiled pup was lucky enough to join in on this year's fun. He loved eating the apples and getting lots of pets and cuddles from the other guests! 
I don't know if there is a better way to enjoy the Fall season than to simply go out and press your own cider! I'm already looking forward to next year's party! To see some snapshots of lasts year's apple cider making fun, go here.

10.18.2013

21 Weeks

Baby: Baby is 21 weeks and the size of a pomegranate! Fun fact: baby now has eyebrows and buds for permanent teeth are forming!  

Weight: I will know in 2 weeks at my next midwife appointment. Last appointment my weight gain was right at 10 lbs. 

Symptoms: I think I had a bit of the flu bug this past weekend (no fun!), but my pregnancy related nausea has really subsided. Sometimes after I shower I feel a little sick, but the moment soon passes. Some other not so fun symptoms have been breakouts and lower back pain from sleeping on my side.   

Sleep: I still can't really complain about sleep. I quit drinking water around 8 o'clock each night to reduce the number of times I have to wake up to use the bathroom and since then I've been getting pretty good sleep with only one or two bathroom trips a night. That isn't much different from when I wasn't pregnant! I've noticed it's getting harder to switch sides in the middle of the night as I get bigger and I wake up with some back pain but nothing too serious. 

Cravings/Aversions: I've really been making an effort to eat healthy despite what's sounding good at the moment (Halloween candy...bags and bags of Halloween candy). Lately my diets consisted of salads, chicken, veggies, and some homemade chili earlier in the week. 

Workouts: Other than a couple short walks with Huck and some stretching at night I haven't really done much. I have the energy, I'm just lacking the motivation.

Random Thoughts: We do know the baby's gender, but are keeping it quiet until a few other things are worked out. So sorry to make you guys wait! I've gotten so many excited comments from so many of you and that makes my heart happy to know that you all are excited to learn about our little bundle of joy! 

Also, this weekend I'm looking forward to getting my baby registry completed and finishing up another project at the house. My little office nook is really starting to come together...we just have a few more finishing touches that need to be done. So excited to cross a few "to-do's" off my list! Hope you have a great weekend!
  

10.15.2013

When Hubby's Away

I was left to my own devices this weekend as Steven abandoned me to attend a wedding in New Hampshire. It was terrible, guys. Like really terrible. I rely on that guy way too much for entertainment... and when he's not around I become a hermit. 

Huck didn't mind. He had me as his constant companion all weekend spoiling him with treats and tummy rubs. But after two days of only hanging out with him, I decided it was time to be semi-productive and, if nothing else, at least take a shower! (When you start to smell like your pets you've reached a new low.)
(Huck sticks his tongue out at all the neighborhood pooches,
 taunting them because he's the most loved.)

So shower I did, and then I took pictures of my bump to send to Steven. I know, my life is exhilarating. And then I thought about exercising or baking a cake or going outside and raking the leaves. All of these thoughts lost out to my laziness and I decided to watch the Walking Dead marathon instead...
Then on Monday, after 3 days of bumming in my PJ's and only speaking to my dog, I decided to tackle a project or two. I now have a painted bookshelf in my office nook and books upon books laying around my bedroom floor. Painting was the easy part. Putting everything back on the shelves is more daunting for me (I'm OCD and insist that all my books are color coordinated..), so those books will probably remain on the floor for another week or two.  
And that was my long, excruciating weekend (that I was certain would never end) without my husband. Needless to say, Steven is back and all seems right in my world once again. So maybe this evening I'll rake leaves or bake a cake or do anything that gets my butt off the couch and allows me to think of something other than how many treats I've given Huckleberry today or how I plan on surviving the upcoming zombie apocolypse...

(..I'm still not going to put those books back on the shelf.)

10.11.2013

20 Weeks

Wow! 20 weeks...can't believe I'm at the halfway point already! Steven and I were so happy baby cooperated earlier this week so we could find out the gender. I hope to share the news with all of you real soon, there are just a couple more close friends and family we need to reach out to first. In the meantime, don't forget to cast your vote on the sidebar telling me if you think Baby Turner is a boy or girl!
Baby: Baby is 20 weeks and the size of a banana! Around 20 weeks the average baby weighs about 8-9oz, but Baby Turner is a whopping 14oz! Baby's heart rate has been right around 140 each time we check.

Weight: Had a midwife appointment on Monday. My weight gain is 10bs on the nose.

Symptoms: I feel great! It is almost like someone flipped a switch last week and my nausea disappeared...just like that! So, so thankful! The only time I still feel sick is right after I get out of the shower. Weird, right? I am experiencing some aches and pains in my lower abdomen as things are growing and stretching to accommodate baby. Also, still struggling with skin issues. Just very oily and broken out.. Lovely.    

Sleep: Sleep is pretty good. I am terrible about flipping onto my back in the middle of the night. I wake up feeling like I can't breathe and have to readjust. An old SI Joint injury is causing me some pain from trying to sleep on my side, but nothing too terrible at this point.

Cravings/Aversions: Nothing really! Since I'm feeling better I'm trying to focus on eating nutrient rich foods rather than the starchy stuff that was pretty much all I could keep down the first 17 weeks or so. This week I've had lots of salads for lunch and spaghetti squash with chicken for dinner. For a snack I've been choosing either an apple with nut butter, a banana, or a Luna bar if I'm on the go.   

Workouts: After my crazy trail walk with Huckleberry this past weekend, I've steered clear of all trails! I've been doing light yoga when I get home from work in the evenings and thinking really hard about going to the garage to get on the elliptical. ;)

Random Thoughts: I feel pretty blessed that I'm 20 weeks pregnant but still in my regular clothes. To be honest, the idea of maternity clothes shopping just hasn't appealed to me this entire time and I really, really hope I can wear my jeans to the end. For now, all my pants button with no problem and all tops still fit. Crossing my fingers I get lucky and can purchase the bare minimum in maternity wear. 


And yesss, it's FRIDAY! Not only that, but a long weekend....Thank you, Columbus! 
Hope everyone has a great one!

10.09.2013

Boy or Girl?

Today Steven and I find out if Baby Turner is a boy or girl! (hopefully)
To say I'm excited is a huge understatement...
But before the big reveal, I wanted to give all of you the chance to weigh in.

So what do you think? Is Baby Turner a boy or girl?
Go to my sidebar on the right and cast your vote!
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10.07.2013

Huck, the Superhero

Have you ever wondered if you were attacked whether or not you'd be able to scream out for help or if you'd be paralyzed with fear?  (Or am I just a crazy person because I even wonder about that sort of thing?) Well, I discovered the answer to that question this weekend. No surprise to me, I'm the too-scared-to-scream-and-fight type.

This past Saturday I decided to take a trail I've never taken before while walking Huck. One that Steven had told me about and sounded easy enough to navigate. Bad idea. After an hour of walking, by which time I should have been close to home again, I realized I was completely and utterly lost...

After another hour of walking, I was beginning to panic... 
Feeling tired and anxious, I came to another "Y" in the trail I decided to take a right.  But Huckleberry, who walks off lease, took a left. I keep walking, knowing that Huck would end up running past me any minute, but instead he started barking at me. I told him to come along but he refused to move and continued to bark. "What the heck," I thought. If Huck wants to go left, left it is. I didn't care at this point. I was too exhausted to think! 

Little did I know Huck was having a Lassie moment. Within 15 minutes I broke out onto a trail I was very familiar with and realized I was about 2 miles away from home. I think Huck was getting pretty tried too and was ready to head back home. I'm not sure if he knew I was lost, but he definitely knew what direction home was in and how to get me back on the right trail. 
While heading home there is a sharp bend in this trail where you can't see what's ahead of you. When I came around the bend I saw a massive black dog staring me down. Huck was about 20 feet ahead of me and off the trail busily investigating something in the woods. I froze as the black dog barred his teeth, raised the hair on his back, and charged at me. 

I was literally paralyzed. Could not move a muscle, couldn't scream, couldn't prepare my legs to give that dog a good, swift kick. I simply froze. All of a sudden, Huck charged out of the woods and sideswiped that dog right before it reached me, crashing down in a mix of teeth, growls, and fur onto the ground. Unfortunately, the dog was quite large and had Huck underneath him. It was all over in a few seconds I'm sure, although to me it felt like minutes had passed, as the black dog's owner ran up and pulled his dog off Huck. He began apologizing to me but I didn't say a word as I hooked Huck onto his leash and began walking away. When the man and his rabid beast were out of sight, I sat down on the trail and cried. I was exhausted and emotionally drained from the distance I'd walked and the scary encounter with that dog. All I wanted to do was hold on to Huck. 

We finally made it home where we both crashed and took a much needed nap. A 3 hour, 6+ mile walk is no easy feat when you're 5 months pregnant, but I feel quiet certain that I probably wouldn't have made it home without Huck. I think Steven would have had to send out a search party for me (where they would have found my remains next to a rabid black dog..)! 
Not only did Huck lead me home, but he attacked that other dog to protect me. Never in my life have I seen Huck even growl at another dog! He definitely read him as a threat and took action to protect his momma. And here I thought the only thing this golden pup was good for was kisses and picking up the crumbs from under the table..

Man, I love my dog. 

So thanks, Hucklebutt! You're my new superhero and the very best four legged companion a girl could have. 

10.04.2013

19 Weeks

I cannot believe I'm 19 weeks pregnant! Almost at the half way point! Time has really been flying by, causing me to feel a bit anxious about all we still have left to do around the house. Before baby comes we want to not only complete his/her nursery, but also my home office (since we had to relocate it to make room for baby). There is so much to do and I'm almost 5 months in! The great news is, busy season at work is over (yay!!!), so Steven and I are able to actually devote some time to these projects. 

Baby: Baby is 19 weeks and the size of a mango! Fun fact: baby is working on developing all five of it's senses. The ability to touch, taste, see, smell, and hear are all kicking in at this point. 

Weight: No idea. My next midwife appointment is Monday, so I know then if I've gained more than the 5 or so lbs I was at last time. 

Symptoms: I really don't want to jinx anything, but I feel pretty darn good! Each week the nausea recedes a bit more and my appetite gets better. I don't think I've thrown up in almost 2 weeks! I did experience my first Braxton Hicks contraction last week while I was painting. Such a weird feeling! I thought it was way too early to be experiencing that but my midwife assured me things were still a-okay.  

Sleep: My sleep is interrupted a lot by bathroom breaks and my back is mega sore each morning. I actually have an old back injury from cheerleading back in high school and I think I may end up struggling with it my entire pregnancy. Not looking forward to that : /.

Cravings/Aversions: I still want tuna fish all the time and anything spicy. Spicy foods surprisingly don't give me heartburn at this point, so I'm enjoying eating it without any repercussions. 

Workouts: Did some light yoga Monday and Tuesday. It felt good to get moving and I think the yoga stretches help me get to sleep at night. I need to start using our elliptical in the evenings because the weather here has definitely transitioned to the typical, rainy, gray mess making it hard to want to get outdoors and walk. Must. Move. More.  

Random Thoughts: Steven and I signed up for a 12 week Bradley Method birthing class starting in November. I'm pumped because everyone I've talked to has said that once you take this course you feel very prepared for labor and delivery (well, I suppose as prepared as one can be!). But truthfully, I'm not really nervous about the birthing process. Through the books I've read and personal testimonies I've heard, I'm convinced the female body is pretty amazingly designed. I'm more scared about bringing baby home!! 

10.03.2013

He Reversed His Name and Called Them Dog

Huckleberry's daycare lady shared this video earlier today and because I'm pregnant, hormonal, and obsessed with my pup it made me cry smile. Okay, maybe I teared up a little, too. 
And because it's "throw back Thursday" (who comes up with this stuff anyway?) I thought I'd leave you with a few photos of baby Huck. Life doesn't get any cuter than this, people.
Now after that, how could anyone have a bad day? =)

10.02.2013

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

I couldn't think of a better way to usher in the beginning of my October posts than by sharing this amazing pumpkin chocolate chip bread recipe with you! I love the Fall, and I absolutely love everything pumpkin, so I've made my fair share of pumpkin baked goods over the years, and this recipe has definitely made it to the top of my all time favorites list! So good!
The original recipe can be found at Two Peas & Their Pod.

Ingredients
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 cups granulated sugar
1 (15 ounce) can 100% pure pumpkin
1 cup canola oil
2/3 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1 bag semisweet chocolate chips (the original directions call for 1 cup. of course I used the entire bag)
1. *Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray three 9x5 inch loaf pans with cooking spray and set aside.
2. In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, combine sugar, pumpkin, canola oil, water, vanilla, and eggs. Mix until smooth.
4. Slowly blend in flour mixture. Fold in chocolate chips. Evenly divide batter between the three loaf pans.
5. Bake for 60 minutes, or until browned and a toothpick comes out clean. Remove loaves from oven and cool in pans on a wire rack for 15 minutes. With a knife, go around the bread and loosen the loaves. Remove from pan and cool completely before slicing.
*I only had two 9x5 inch loaf pans, so I used both of those and then 3 miniature loaf pans (I believe they are 2x3) to share tiny loaves with friends and family. This recipe makes a whole lot of bread!!
I think the main thing that makes this recipe so delicious is all the spice! One entire tablespoon of cinnamon and nutmeg? The spice to pumpkin ratio blends perfectly leaving you with the most amazing Fall infused treat. 
Enjoy! And happy October!