Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Hi-ho, Hi-ho, back to work I go....

So tomorrow marks the end of my 5-month hiatus from work and right about now, I am wishing I lived in one of those countries that have 1 year maternity leaves.  And, not to be a complainer but, I am dreading it.  I am not ready to leave the baby for such a long time.  My work days are 12 1/2 hours long, plus commuting time of an hour, round-trip.  The baby is usually fast asleep by the time I will be leaving and getting home, which means I might not get to see her at all!  That's really what I am upset about.  I keep reminding myself that I should be thankful that I have a good job and health benefits and a luxury that most working moms don't have...I only have to work 2 days a week!
I have been exclusively breastfeeding, so because I was too tired in the beginning, I began pumping about a month ago.  I think I have a good amount of milk to begin with.  Pumping is such a pain, but a necessary evil!
My husband will be caring for her while I work, so we did a dry run today for him getting our 9 year old ready and off to school (which he has been doing for years) but this time with a newborn.  He did well until he realized he forgot my son's lunch in the stroller after dropping him off!
She has a pretty easy schedule at this point...wake, change diaper, eat, play, sleep, repeat!  The interesting part will be seeing how he pulls off helping with homework and getting dinner prepared--that's always a crazy juggling act for me!
There's not much other prep, because like I said, its only 2 days!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Pesto Mini-Pizzas

Having a sister-in-law in culinary school has its benefits!  I am always looking for new meal ideas and she gave me this one.  Pesto mini-pizzas!

Whole-wheat pitas
basil (one bunch)
garlic 3-4 cloves
walnuts 1/4 cup
olive oil 1/2 cup
lemon 1/2 juiced
salt, to taste
chicken breast, skinless, boneless
sundried tomatoes
parmesan cheese, shredded or grated
mozzarella cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Season your chicken with salt, pepper and garlic powder.  Place it in an oiled grill pan and grill both sides until its cooked through.  While that's cooking, combine olive oil, basil, garlic, walnuts, lemon and some salt in a blender or food processor until smooth to make the pesto.  When chicken is finished, slice into bite-size pieces.  Organize pitas in a single layer on a cookie sheet.  Spoon small amounts of pesto onto the pita to cover the pita.  Next, sprinkle mozzarella on top.  Then add sun-dried tomatoes and grilled chicken pieces, and whatever else sounds yummy!  Place in oven for 5-10 minutes.  When completed remove the sheets from the oven and garnish the pizzas with arugula and parmesan cheese.  Enjoy!
Getting ready to go in the oven

All done
Perfect!  Everyone in the house loved it and I have pesto left over to use for another meal or as a spread on sandwiches.  I can't get enough of that stuff.

Monday, January 28, 2013

No more Hair Woes...

As a child, I longed for a "perm", so that I could wear my hair out.  I was embarrassed about my puffy hair and wished for it to be straight and long.  I begged my mother for years and she finally relented on my 14th birthday.  It was also my first year in high school, which was a period when I wanted to impress people.  I was so excited.  We booked an appointment at the salon and I got my hair done.  I always scratched my hair, not thinking anything of it.  And, for anyone who has gotten a perm knows, scratching your hair prior to getting a perm is a big no-no.  It causes intense burning of your scalp once the chemicals are applied.  The process was torturous but I didn't care.  I had my long, straight hair!  Over the years I continued with this process and noticed that my hair was stringy and my scalp was completely dried out and in pain most days.  So in my junior year of college, I chopped it all off and went natural!  I waltzed right in to the barber shop and asked the barber to cut off my ponytail.  He looked at me like I was crazy and kept double checking to make sure I didn't just want a trim.  What freedom!  No more pain or worrying about it getting wet.  No more hours and tons of money wasted in the salon.  I will admit, like any haircut, it took getting used to, especially seeing myself with my little curly 'fro.  I wasn't 100 percent about it at first. I was young and naturally, worried about what others thought of me.  Natural hair wasn't in vogue just yet, people were constantly asking me why did I cut my hair and I didn't get the same attention from guys.  Looking back now, those things are so ridiculous.  I worked with it and after many different cuts and styling routines and products, I came to love my hair, just the way it is.  I occasionally like to wear it straight, and I have fun with that, but then it rains or I work out or swim and the production involved in keeping it straight reminds me why I don't wear it that way often!

My Permed Days
After the 'Big Chop'

A couple years ago, I came across one of my favorite blogs of another young woman who had just done the 'Big Chop' as it is often called and she chronicled her journey through videos and tutorials of styling info.  I love it!  She has great tips, styles and recipes which have helped me come up with a regimen that works for me.  Check her out here:

African American hair is very fragile and shouldn't be washed daily.  It is naturally dryer than other races hair and should be oiled often, wrapped up at night, and contained in twists or braids every so  often to give it a rest. I usually wash my hair every 10-14 days and this Saturday after the beating my hair received from the cold weather we've been having, it was due for some pampering!   My hair was dry and frizzy!   I gave myself a hot oil treatment and a vinegar rinse, to moisturize my scalp and make my hair shiny.  Next, I washed my hair ( just the roots, shampoo dries my hair out too much) and applied a deep conditioner for about two hours ( its not necessary to leave it in that long.  I always forget about it and get caught completing some other task!)  Then I rinsed it and used a conditioner to help finger-detangle it and separated my hair into 4 sections.  Each section I applied Ms. Jessie's Curly Pudding and a shea butter mixture (see for recipe) and twisted my hair.  Finally I tied it up with my satin scarf to let it set.  The next morning, I took the twists down and this is how it came out.  My hair is soft again and will last like this a few days, before I need to re-twist it!

Dry and frizzy

Almost done twisting...

Twisted up...

Next morning!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Staying Warm

Here on the East Coast it is very cold, with temps going down to 10 degrees overnight.  I just want to wrap myself in a blanket and snuggle up by a fireplace with a book and a cup of tea.  But seeing how I don't have a fireplace or the time to do that,  I decided to make some vegetarian chili and cornbread.  Best decision ever!  I am warm and dinner's done!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Date Night

This past weekend was my husband's birthday and we decided to spend it in NYC.  Despite the blustery weather, we had a wonderful time.  If you go, you must check out the Highline in Chelsea.  It's    old elevated train tracks that have been renovated and made into a park, of sorts.  Anyhow, having grown up in Chelsea, I remember sneaking up there, when it was just old tracks with overgrown weeds and garbage.  It's amazing and inspiring to see what they have done with the space.
Read the link below for more info:
I digress, we watched the sunset, which was beautiful.
Upon exiting, we decided to cut through the Chelsea Market, to warm up and check out the stores on our way to Ninth Avenue.  I love this place, there's a lot of small restaurants, and gourmet food and wine shops, as well as, a book store, Anthropologie and since they have some open spaces, there is often a pop-up shop or pop-up gallery!  Since we had a long night ahead of us, I had an espresso-YUM!

Next on the list was Rosa Mexicana, for guac and drinks.  They have wonderful guacamole and prepare at your table, so its always fresh.  We rushed out of there, trying to make a movie..its was too crowded, so we decided to go the next day.
Instead, we went and had dinner at Spice. I love this restaurant.  They serve Thai food and have the best deal going.  The food is delicious and their prices are very reasonable.  I had the Bangkok garlic and vegetables with shrimp, its my favorite dish.
After that we headed home and crashed.  The next day we saw Gangster Squad....AWESOME movie!
And, lastly, we stopped at Billy's for birthday is complete without cupcakes!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Tip of the week

I have eczema, which is a skin condition that causes the skin to become rough, inflamed and itchy.  In the past when I had a flare I would use a topical (on the skin) steroid cream.  It always worked really well and the flare would be cleared up in a few days.  However, since I had the baby and am breastfeeding, I didn't want to use the steroid cream.  So in my search for a drug free treatment I saw things like bleach baths (not happening), take cool showers and don't shower daily (so not happening), etc.  I decided to try my own thing!  So I switched to a heavier cream--Cetaphil for all over and Vaseline with cocoa and shea butter for the trouble spots.  I moisturize in the morning and then again before bed.  You can also use Aquaphor in place of the Vaseline, but Aquaphor costs more and I got the same results with Vaseline.  Also, I switched from my yummy-smelling bath wash to Aveeno Moisturizing bar. 

Moisturizing Cream    

Aveeno Moisturizing Bar for Dry Skin - 3.5 oz

Within 2 days, I saw a huge difference.  My flare has been stopped sans steroids and I am a happy girl!  All of the products listed can be purchased over the counter at your local drug store.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


Hi guys!  Welcome to my blog.  I am the mother of an awesome 9 (almost 10, I am often reminded)  year old son and most recently a scrumptious 4-month old daughter.  I work as a RN in the Labor and Delivery area, which has always been a dream of mine.  I have a terrific husband and live in a small community right outside of Philadelphia.  I am a lover of movies, cooking, reading (though I haven't had much time for that recently!), coffee and tea, spending time with friends and loved ones, the outdoors, farmers markets, brunch, traveling, beaches, people watching, going home to NYC, photography and a ton of other things you will find out along the way. I started this blog as a way to chronicle my daily endeavors, share things of interest and tips on any and everything.  I hope you guys enjoy it!