Baked Pumpkin Steel Cut Oatmeal

This was breakfast today. It will be breakfast tomorrow. And the day after, too.

Good thing it's delicious.

But really, what's not to like about steel cut oats, pumpkin, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and vanilla? Oh, and I used almond milk instead of the standard stuff.

It's a recipe from The Kitchn. Try it yourself here: http://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-baked-pu-159872.


Ranger Cookies

In my world, any cookie is a breakfast cookie. If I had to pick only one time of day to eat cookies, it would be in the morning, with coffee. Yum.

For some reason, I feel less guilty when I eat ranger cookies in the morning. I suppose it's because they have oatmeal and whole-wheat cereal flakes in them. Very nutritious. Very breakfast-y. Or so I tell myself.


Sunday Breakfast

Steel cut oats with fresh strawberries, almonds, shaved coconut, and a touch of brown sugar? Yes, please.


Two Months

The little guy turned two months old yesterday. We celebrated by giving him a slew of shots.

No, silly, I'm not talking tequila and J├Ąger and such. I'm talking Polio and Diphtheria and the like. Whee!

He was a trooper though.

It's absolutely amazing to see how much Collin has grown and changed every day of the past two months.

He's bigger and stronger. He looks at the world with bright, inquisitive eyes. He smiles and coos and has ticklish little feet. He holds his head up and even tries to stand up. He is quiet as can be when we take him out to dinner and enjoys watching a good basketball game. He's finally starting to look with curiosity at his friend Butter.

And miracle of all miracles ... He's finally (finally!) starting to sleep.

I can't even imagine what amazing changes we'll see in him in the next two months ...


Lunch with James Farmer

While we were in Georgia, My Dad took babysitting duty so My Mom, My Sister, and I could attend a ladies' luncheon at their club, Cuscowilla.

Go ahead and roll your eyes at the notion of a ladies' luncheon at the country club. We did a bit, too. But we decided we couldn't resist the menu—and the topic for the luncheon sounded rather interesting.

And so we joined the ladies' club for a discussion, lunch, and book signing with author, landscape designer, and Southern Living editor James Farmer. We learned how James first became interested (from an incredibly early age) in gardening and cooking; how he taught his roommates to cook while getting his degree at Auburn; and how he sees landscapes, interiors, gardens, and food all working together to create truly fine southern living. He told a few entertaining stories ... and also talked about the process of getting his first book published and about the excitement of his book tour.

It's hard to believe, but he's actually the same age as I am. I never would have guessed it, but then again he did say a number of times that he's an "old soul."

After we listened to James speak for a while, we headed to the Waterside Restaurant at the club for lunch. And oh what a lunch it was.

We started with acorn squash soup, which had a pleasant hint of ginger.

And for the main course? Tilapia covered with lobster and blue crab sauce, sitting on a bed of polenta, accompanied by haricot verts (aka green beans).

It was a delightful lunch with my two favorite ladies.


A Day with the Baby

Since returning from our Lake Oconee trip, the little guy has decided he must. be. held. all. the. time. I blame this on his Mimi and Papa and Auntie Coley.

And so I have spent a good portion of the past couple of days sitting on our couch in the living room, armed with toys and children's books for Collin and a journal and Nook for me.

It's a rather enjoyable existence. I'm trying to savor every moment of it and not stress about all the things I could be doing around the house instead.

It's hard to believe, but I have less than two weeks left to be home with the little guy full-time!


Homemade Pot Pie

The other day I had the urge to make a homemade pot pie.

So I hopped online and scrounged up a relatively easy recipe (you can find it here). I modified it a bit, using chicken and frozen veggies because I didn't have Thanksgiving leftovers like the recipe suggested.

It turned out pretty well, which is a good thing since we're still eating the leftovers!

A Week at the Lake

The little guy and I decided to ditch Conservative Hubby and Butter at home last week and headed to Georgia to visit My Parents.

They moved into a new townhome at Lake Oconee when they retired in August and we had yet to see it. Plus My Parents were, of course, dying to spend more time with Collin. And I couldn't pass up a chance to enjoy some nice weather and relax a bit.

It was a wonderful week, particularly because My Sister joined us for quite a few days. Plus Conservative Dad was there at the same time. And Kid Sister visited too. So Collin got to spend quality time with both of his favorite aunties. Plus he met Uncle H, Auntie R, and M.C.

What did we do all week? It was a rather strenuous schedule. We started each morning on the top balcony of the house, where we sipped our coffees and read our books or did crossword puzzles. That shot of the lake above? That was taken on the top balcony.

Then we'd move down to the main floor for breakfast and a bit of lounging on that balcony, or a little warm-up by the fireplace if it was a cool morning.

At some point in the day we'd take a nice walk, with Collin in tow in the Baby Bjorn. My Dad spent some time fishing most days, and sometimes we'd watch him in action.

We'd cook meals at home or hit up our favorite spots (Filet, The Yesterday Cafe, Mellow Mushroom, Silver Moon).

In the evening, we'd enjoy a glass of wine and play games.

Oh, and there was of course lots of time spent playing with Collin, holding Collin, bathing Collin, and generally just watching him be his expressive self. His Mimi and Papa couldn't get enough of him!


A Baby Photo Shoot

Right about the time Collin turned three weeks old, we made an appointment for a newborn photography session.

It was an anniversary gift from Conservative Hubby (yes, in the midst of baby madness, we celebrated our second anniversary), and just in time for us to have some photos for the holidays.

I guess you're supposed to do these things within the first week or two, when the newborn is still sleepy and pliable and will basically let you do whatever you want because they're not quite alert yet.

We missed that window, so we spent an hour and 20 minutes convincing wide awake Collin not to get too angry at us for stripping him down, putting different hats on, and posing him.

Oh, and catching him when he decided to bail off the football.

Fortunately, she kept the room nice and hot so he didn't mind hanging out sans clothes.

He did pretty well, considering what we asked of him, and we ended up with some terrific, wide-awake photos, plus a few sweet shots that look like he was sleeping (though he definitely wasn't).

I'll let you pick your own favorites. This one may or may not be mine.

All of the snapshots you're seeing here were taken by Roni B Photography here in L-Town, in case you're wondering.

She did a terrific job!


Traditions New and Old

Yes, I know most of you are well past thinking about Christmas and have moved on to bigger and better things like New Year's resolutions and figuring out how the heck you could have possibly consumed so many sugar cookies in one month. (No? That one's just me?)

But because I'm a new mom whose days are consumed with a delightful yet rather demanding little guy, I operate on a schedule all my own. So you're getting another Christmas post now. Deal with it.

This is the first year since right after I graduated from college that I actually spent Christmas at "home." I use "home" in quotation marks because it isn't the same home in which I spent Christmases past.

I did not return to my hometown in Wyoming or even to the state in general (in part because My Parents don't live there anymore!). And unlike I've done in the past few years, I did not split my time between celebrating the holidays with My Parents wherever My Sister lives (a few years in D.C.; last year in Santa Monica) and then visiting Conservative Grandparents in Florida. Instead, My Parents made the trip to L-Town to join us for new holiday traditions in good ol' L-Town.

With My Parents, Conservative Parents, Kid Sister, and T-Bear, plus a smattering of good friends here and there, we managed to have a wonderful Christmas celebration that stretched over a couple of days. Best of all, we were able to start some new family traditions and integrate some of My Family's favorites, which we seem to maintain no matter where we celebrate Christmas.

The photos scattered throughout this post provide a snapshot of some of those traditions. On Christmas Eve, Conservative Parents joined us for our traditional meal of seafood chowder and rolls, followed by an angel food cake with peppermint ice cream. (It's a birthday cake for Baby Jesus, in case you're wondering. When we were younger, we'd light birthday candles and sing Him happy birthday. Cheesy? Perhaps. But it is a reminder of the reason for the season.)

Then, after we attended a celebration hosted by some good family friends, we got the little guy ready for bed. My Mom (who's known throughout the land for her reading voice) read Collin "The Night Before Christmas," which was given to him by his great aunt and uncle in Kansas City.

We set out cookies and milk and a note for Santa on the tray My Sister and I used for this very purpose throughout our childhoods. This year, Butter wrote the note on behalf of himself and Collin. In future years, Collin will have the pleasure of writing his own note to Santa.

Magically (!), when we awoke on Christmas morning Santa had already come and filled our stockings. After eating a bit of our usual Christmas morning bread, we took a peek at the treasures we received. Then we loaded up and headed over to Conservative Parents' house for gifts over there (along with Kid Sister, T-Bear, and Cubbie) and a delicious brunch that included Conservative Dad's famous sausage gravy and biscuits.

Later that evening, we went back to Conservative Parents' house for a traditional Christmas dinner of turkey and all the fixings. Deeelicious, and the perfect end to Christmas Day.