Tuesday, August 6, 2013

A Baby-Friendlier Version of My Great-Grandma's Cookie Recipe...

We have been making a recipe that has been handed down from generation to generation in my family, I know this recipe only as "Great-Grandma Our Last Name Here's Cookies".  They are essentially an Oatmeal cookie with Raisins, Chocolate Chips, and Nuts!  They are cram-packed with yumminess and customizable to suit everyone's likes/dislikes.  For example, Garrick doesn't like raisins in cookies (or on the planet, but that's another story), so for him, I skip the Raisins (but I do still add the "Raisin Juice").  I recently made a batch (which is really a double batch of the original recipe, but as my Great-Grandma used to say, "Double batches of cookies are the only way to do it"), raisins, chocolate chips, nuts and all!  I even modified it a hair for my likes by replacing half of the chocolate chips with white chocolate chips and using some Golden Raisins instead of using just the plain old brown ones.  This was the first time I've made them in at least 5 years, but probably closer to 10 years...I just haven't made a lot of cookies, especially since these don't fit into a low carb diet at all.  Anyway, I let Gabe try them, being careful (or so I thought) that he didn't get a nut or raisin, or chocolate!  Well, as evidenced by his diaper after helping me polish off several of these cookies, he still managed to get the raisins, nuts and chocolate!  The up side to him not fully digesting food yet is that I can tell how long it took him to move particular foods through (and in this case to see that he got whole raisins and chocolate chips swallowed)!

Long story, well, long...I decided that before our next trip (which is coming up shortly), I would make a "baby-friendlier" version...no nuts or chocolate in these!  Also, instead of sugar, I used mashed Banana!  I also only made 1/4 of the recipe, so essentially, a half batch, that still yielded 5 dozen (plus 3) baby-sized cookies!

Here's the recipe for "Baby-Friendly Oatmeal Raisin Cookies"...

  • 1/2c Butter (1 stick)
  • 1/2c Sugar or 1/2c Mashed Banana or 1/4c Applesauce and 1/4c Mashed Banana (I used 2 small bananas that were very ripe )
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/4-3/4c Raisins (I used 1/4c and then snipped each raisin in half or thirds, I should have used more...)
  • 2 1/2 Tablespoons Raisin Juice (*see Note)
  • 1c Oatmeal
  • 1c Flour (All Purpose)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ground Ginger
  • 1 teaspoon Nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons Cinnamon
  • optional...chopped banana, apple, or anything else your child likes (and can safely eat)
*To make Raisin Juice...Place raisins in a pan/pot and cover them with water.  Bring to a slow boil and simmer "for a while".  I usually simmer mine until the whole house smells yummy and the water is a nice dark "raisin" color, about 20 minutes.  Then, pour raisins into a strainer over a bowl (I use my big glass measuring cup).  This separates the raisins (to be used in the cookies) from the "Juice"! Save both!  Once the raisins and the juice have cooled, you're ready to make cookies!  I usually do this the night before, but I've been known to do it up to a week before and put everything in the fridge until cookie-making time.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a bowl or bag (I use a sandwich size ziploc for this size batch), combine Flour, Baking Soda, Ginger, Nutmeg, and Cinnamon.  In a separate bowl, cream Butter and Sugar (or banana or banana/applesauce).  Add Egg and mix (I use my stand mixer for this...I so badly want a good quality one of these, what I have is a hand mixer with a stand).  Now it gets "fun"...mix the flour mixture and the raisin juice with the butter/sugar/egg mixture...but not all at once!  Take a small bit of the flour and mix until combined, now drizzle in a little bit of the raisin juice and combine.  Continue mixing small amounts of the flour mixture and raisin juice until it is all combined.  Now, by hand, mix in the Oatmeal.  You now have your "dough base" to which you can add your "goodies"...for this batch, I simply added the raisins (these are not required, but are very yummy and Gabriel loves them).  Each time you add something though, mixing it in thoroughly before adding the next item, saving delicate things for the last (chopped banana should be carefully mixed in at the very last so you don't just smash it up).

Because I'm making cookies for my almost 10 month old, I made them fairly small (as in I could probably get 2 or 3 in my mouth no problem, but he takes 10 minutes to eat one).  I got 5 dozen (plus 3) cookies (63) out of this!  That's a ton of cookies for a baby!  I put a large container of them in the freezer for later and am taking half or better of them with us on our trip for Gabriel to share with his 21 month old cousin (and probably the 5, 7, and soon to be 9 year old cousins too).  But, back to baking them first!

Line your cookie sheet(s) with Parchment paper (man do I love baking with this stuff), this will keep your cookie sheets clean Hello easy clean-up! and keep your cookies from sticking.  I use two spoons to form these cookies, the dough is super sticky and this method just works awesome.  Make the cookies whatever size you feel is appropriate for you and/or your child...mine where roughly 1 teaspoon worth each (give or take).  By now, your oven should be up to temp (unless, like me, you've had your butter softened, flour mixture ready, raisins juiced and snipped, and oatmeal measured for like a week because you forgot last week that you were out of Ginger and had to wait until you bought more to make the cookies...then sit back and wait for your oven to come up to 400 degrees), place your first cookies in the oven and set the timer for 8 minutes.  The original recipe says 10-12 minutes, but I find that my oven burns two-thirds of the cookies if I bake them that long, this time produces mostly perfectly cooked cookies with only a few with darker bottoms.  When the timer goes off, remove cookies from the oven and then get them off the cookie sheets and onto cooling racks!  Give your sheets a minute to cool down a bit, then repeat the whole cookie loading, baking, removing process until you are out of dough!
We've recently removed one of the toys from his Exersaucer to make an "eating area" on it...works great!

So that's it for the cookies...now, here's some random (semi-recent) photos!
Deviled Eggs with Mommy for an afternoon snack (he's been getting a daily snack and sharing dinner with me, but still mostly a boob baby).

Spinach off my plate out at Olive Garden!  Garrick and I celebrating 10 years of being together!

Daddy (Garrick) & Gabriel "patiently" waiting for me to grill dinner!

"The Dinner" I was grilling!  Steak, Grilling Cheese (OMG that stuff's good, but spendy!), and Sauteed Mushrooms!

Using Rosie as a ladder...and giving "good pets" too.

He ate almost the entire banana at this sitting!  Right before an early bath. ;)

Enjoying Strawberries and Cheerios for dinner because we had smoked sausages and I wasn't sharing, lol.

I recently made 2 "tester" slings out of cotton, trying to find a good workable size for myself.  I have a size 9 sling from Seven Sling (thanks to my sister) and my homemade one that is a whopping 1" larger than the Seven Sling.  Both are too tight...after a screwup in cutting, the other sling I made is also a size 9...and this one is a hair too big.  But, with rolling the shoulder like I did, it was workable...now to get Gabriel to hold still in it, I don't think he likes slings.
That's it for today (in pictures), but in other "news"...we recently joined a gym (go us)!  So far, all we've done is enjoyed taking Gabriel to the swimming pool, but Garrick meets with his personal trainer tonight (was supposed to be last night but the trainer had his days wrong) and I'm still waiting for a call from the trainer he set me up with.  It's been about 10 days so far and I'm still waiting...but since we're fairly busy this week, I'm not really in a rush right now.  If nothing else, next week I'm thinking about starting to do a "couch to 5k" using an app on my phone and the indoor track at the gym (while utilizing the free day care)!  Soon, I hope I can start posting progress again!  Also, by Friday night, we'll be "plus" one more kid for the month...but shh, it's a surprise!

I linked the gym up there...if you're in the area and decide to check them out, give them Garrick's name and we'll earn a referral credit!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Ever-Changing Diaper Washing Routine...

I have yet to find a routine that works 100% of the time for washing our cloth diapers. Mostly I blame our failing washer...but I keep tweaking the system looking for the "easiest" way to get them clean!  Today, I updated the routine...or rather, the written instructions for the routine I have adopted over the last week or so.

Our old routine had stopped working, our washer only pretends to wash things now...leaving actual poop still on them even after 3 cycles with soap!  Since I do most of the washing, I'd slacked off on writing up the changes I made to my "system".  The main change was adding a "soak" step to the whole process, this seems to have really helped in getting the diapers clean until we can get a new washer (hopefully in the next few weeks) or attempt "fixing" this one!

So, here is what I typed up (I love my snipping tool)... What I forgot to add was the water level...you need as much water as possible in the washer, but I generally wash nothing unless it's a full load (large), so that should never need adjusting anyway.

Hanging on the wall...
My typed instructions are so that anyone can do the laundry for me.  I tried to keep them simple, because it is a very complicated set up anyway, especially if you think about all the chemicals sitting on top of my dryer for washing various things (liquid Tide Free & Clear for our clothes and the baby's clothing, White Vinegar for use as a fabric Softener but used rarely on the baby's stuff, scent beads for our stuff only, dryer sheet solution which shouldn't be getting used at all right now and I keep hiding the dryer sheets so they can't be used as it can cause the diapers to repel moisture, the powdered Tide for the diapers, the homemade cloth diaper detergent for the diapers because neither "soap" work well enough on their own so I mix the two, a small jar to pre-measure the diaper detergent into so it can be dumped in if I'm in a rush, measuring spoons for all the stuff so they don't cross-contaminate each other (most worried about stuff getting on/in the diapers), various cups and scoops for everything else...ugh)!  As for the mention of "which OxiClean tub...I reuse those for lots of stuff, my Tide Powder is in one with a yellow lid.

I forget where I read it (another blog, I know that), but someone posted that they leave a dry-erase marker in their laundry to write reminders like "don't put the black bra in the dryer" on the washer lid.  This works great in my multi-step wash routine!  When I put the diapers in for their first cycle (to rinse out the poo and unstuff the diapers without me having to do it by hand...as a side note, the KCK All in Ones, which were really pockets that someone had modified the pattern from the AiO pattern, are the only brand of diaper that do not unstuff themselves in my washer!  Before Gabriel was born, I had heard that Applecheeks were the only brand designed to do this...I couldn't afford those though, and am too lazy to unstuff dirty diapers to go in the wash...and no one else wanted to touch them either), I write on the lid "soap" and "rinse" (I also write "soak" between them now too).  This way, I know what step I need to do next and anyone else can help by doing the next step in the process without too much confusion.  I also fill my little glass jar with my measured amounts of detergent at the same time, this way I know that if the jar is empty, I just forgot to wipe off that step (rather than running it twice with soap).  Obviously, I went dry erase marker crazy on the front of my washer too...don't worry, it all washes off!

Labels keep things moving smoothly, with few questions when I have to ask someone to go "start that load of laundry please"!  We always use the longest wash setting...I don't know why but we always have.

I got smart and dated the routine this time...that way I can know if it's out of date and we aren't going to be the ones using the information (grandma takes over laundry duties when she comes to visit most of the time).  I still need to finish typing up the rest of the clothes washing routines, which are also out of date...but that may have to wait until I get home!  But, they go in the plastic sheet protector and hang n a peg on the wall too for easy referral for anyone not used to my "system".

Monday, June 3, 2013

Green Onion Mayonnaise...

I have a new favorite topping for hot dogs and hamburgers, as well as a dip for veggies and cheese sticks!  My green onion mayo is very versatile & low carb!

First a little history to why I have a ton of dried green onion in my house...  Green onions are super way to regrow!  Just buy them at the store, being them home, and cut off most of the green part. Now, stick the whites (I leave them banded together) into a juice glass, 3 bunches for into my small drinking glasses (a juice glass), with enough water to cover the bulb parts. Then just stick them in a sunny window and watch!  I get about 1/2" of growth every day!  
Back to the cut green parts, snip them up and put them on a foil lined cookie sheet in an oven set to 200-250 degrees and keep an eye on them while they dry/bake/roast. When they are all dry, pull the sheet out to cool. While drying some of the onions will turn brown and get a yummy roasted flavor to them as well! I cut and dry all the green onion tops as they get big, minus what I use fresh. I can get 3 full growths out of a bunch before the onion flavor gets extremely strong (at which point, the whole kitchen is usually smelling like onions as well). After 3 sets of onions bunches, I have cups of dried onion all over my kitchen!  This "recipe" was born from a need to use some of the dried onion up before I was over run!
On to the recipe!

Green Onion Mayonnaise

1 cup mayonnaise
4 Tablespoons (1/4 cup) Dried Green Onion
1 Tablespoon Dried Parsley (or 3-4 Tablespoons fresh)

Combine all ingredients and place in an airtight container in the fridge!  

Sometimes, the dried onion turn the mayo brown...it looks unappealing, but tastes amazing still!  Also, I like it really "oniony", so maybe start out with less onion and adjust it to your own tastes.  And, the Parsley just adds color, it can be left out all together if you don't feel like adding it (or are running out/low).

Sunday, June 2, 2013

My Favorite (Useful) Baby Item...

Okay, so there are really like a million "favorite items" I have...our Pack N' Play system (was super awesome when he was a newborn and fit into the "newborn napper" and the "bassinet" insert was even awesomer for longer...we are going on a week-long trip at the end of the week to get out of Daddy's hair so he can do some training from home and taking the PNP without the insert (which means I need to remove the poles from the bag too) and using it like a "normal" PNP to sleep in), the Fisher Price Kick and Play Piano (he still plays with this), the other piano toy my Mom bought him, pretty much all of the VTech, Fisher-Price, and Leap Frog toys (fun and educational), my Ergo (!), the stroller, his set of blankies (hand made by his Mommy {me}), all the clothes and toys I manage to pick up the first Saturday of the month at the Quarter Sale at Sweet RePeat...the list goes on and on!

The "old" high chair...this is pretty much how it always gets used...as a "stuff catcher".
Today though, when I say my "favorite baby item", I am referring to our high chair!  We had a high chair...we didn't need another one, but I am so glad I made the decision to buy it! Our original high chair was a gift from Gabriel's grandparents...it was a previously loved high chair that they had bought from a coworker when their oldest grandson came up for a visit.  It worked, but I am not a fan of the hard plastic high chairs that offer a reclining back so you can leave your baby there to pass out at the dinner table (or the whole day).  Besides, I don't think it offers a fully upright position to eat in, this is essential in Baby-Led Weaning (Feeding, not true weaning...but for ease, I still call it BLW)!

NOT my photo...I borrowed this one from Amazon's site.
So, what did we get?  We got a Regalo Easy Diner Portable High Chair!  Current price on this high chair on Amazon (that link will take you right to it) is $17.80!  I paid $19-something for ours...but I would gladly pay double or triple that after having used one.  In fact, most "clip on" high chairs will run you $40-80 or more!  I was skeptical of this chair and left it sitting in my "shopping cart" for weeks while I tried to decide if the $20 was worth "blowing" if it didn't work out.  Then, I was watching 19 Kids and Counting (I know...it's a stupid "reality" TV show and I think they're all a little bit nuts, but I enjoy watching it anyway...) and the oldest son (the married one) had one hooked up to the dining room table for their toddler!  Well, I said...if the frugal minded (I assume he's frugal having to grow up in a house with that many siblings) Duggar thinks it's worth the $20, I'll give it a shot!

Dinner at Olive Garden!
 We love this high chair!  Not only does it work well at home, it is super easy to toss in the car and take with us!  Our biggest issue eating out was the baby...he's gotten old enough not to fit into the car seat we could take in with us (and he wanted to be up and "involved" anyway so he never stayed in it any more anyway) and he just didn't "fit" into the high chairs provided at restaurants!  Those are designed to hold much larger babies (toddlers really) and the straps are gross, stretched out, and most of the time don't even work.  So, we bring our own!  It has a 5-point harness system, he fits in it, the straps work, and he sits right up at the table with us!  Last night, he ate the tomato slices off of my meal (his favorite food currently)...he got 3 of the 4 slices of Roma Tomato and all that was left of them were 5 or 6 small bits that fell on the floor (only 3 of them hit the floor, the others he was just too full to eat and he pushed them away)!  That photo from the Olive Garden was taken after he ate!  He also got a little of the under side of a bread stick...his first experience with white bread and "soft" bread (he normally gets dry toast)!
Enjoying some Cucumber at Red Robin!

Every time we take him out with this chair, we get compliments about how nice it is...I wonder sometimes if I'm the only Mom that searches Amazon (and the like) for items that are useful...I mean, we all need high chairs...I know we can't all afford a Stokke for at home (even if we all want one...) and even those big high chairs are super expensive...how can we all miss the under $20 high chair?  Anyway, point is...this is an awesome little high chair!  If you go look at the "user submitted" photos on Amazon though...the last few photos complaining about the Velcro not holding the weight of his/her 14.5 pound baby....yeah, that's not where the metal arms go through...that's the padding that wraps around the hole that the metal arms go through.  It is stitched together very well and easily holds the weight of my 21-pound 7.5-month old!  As a side note to the high chair mentioned above....I found one at the resale shop I love going to for $180, still out of my price range though, so someone else got it, lol.  Last night, I swear half the wait staff walked by just to get a peek at our high chair!  They always tell us how nice it is not to have their big bulky high chairs sticking out in the middle of the walking space (they do still have to go around this, but it takes up way less space) and how nice it is to see our little guy being "involved" in dinner!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Update - Cockamamie Scheme 2013!

After a little bit of research (and a whole lot of convincing my other half that I could do this for a small amount of money), I got my first hydroponic system set up!

Granted, it's in my bathroom...on top of my toilet, but I can easily monitor it at that location and watch water levels and such.

So here's my setup...the purple light in the photo is from the grow light ($10.97 at Walmart), my water container (holding the nutrient solution: 1/2 gallon filtered H2O, 1/2 scoop Plant Food [$3.97 for a giant box of "off brand" Miracle Grow], and the tiniest pinch of Epsom Salt) is an empty Folger's coffee "can".  I used a small planter (Dollar Tree...$1 for 4 of them) that I drilled massive amounts of holes into the lower half, then filled with a handful of decorative stones (giant bag of them from Dollar Tree..there's probably about $0.03 worth in this set up)...rocks from outside would have worked, but then I would have had to boil them and such to ensure no "ookies" got into my system.  The tubing in the lower left of the photo is my airline, this was another Walmart purchase...you get 8-feet of tubing in the fish section for $1.88.  I drilled a 3/16" hole to shove it into the can and under water it went, with an air-stone attached at the end (it looks like a pencil eraser).  The air pump (also a Walmart purchase for $6.38) is above the whole system on top of my cabinet.

The plant I used for my "test system" is a Celery that I am regrowing!  Even if I never eat it...the plant itself is gorgeous and smells great!  The darker outer stalks and leaves were already sprouted when I set up the Hydro system, but, those paler green leaves in the center are all new in the past week or so!  It is doing amazingly well (even flourishing) in my little Hydroponic experiment.

I need to buy some seeds so that I can get the full system set up sometime between now and winter (I know my original goal was end of Summer, but my hands are getting worse, not better and I don't think I'll be doing much of anything until after I have healed from surgery on both of my thumbs...and I don't even meet the surgeon until the end of June).  I can't wait to harvest veggies from a full-blown Hydroponic System in my garage!  Months away, I know...but a girl needs goals.

For now, I have a second air line and a set of T-splitters ready to expand this little system...just need a plant to go in the pot!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Got2be POWDER'ful - A Review

So...I don't have to share this with you all (but I do need to tell people in general about this stuff since it is a BzzCampaign), but I thought I would let you know about my experience with this hair product anyway.  You are all dying to know what keeps my hair looking like a hot mess all the time, right?

The good folks over at BzzAgent sent me not one, but three bottles of this stuff!  I sent two of them off in Mother's Day gifts to two other Mommies in a couple of my mommy groups on Facebook.  I hope they like it, or find someone else to pawn it off on...

I got a chance to use it a few weeks ago when my Mom was visiting.  She baby-sat for us and we went out for a "date night" to a place with other adults and I didn't have to wear my hair up for fear of a baby grabbing hold and never letting go until he had successfully pulled it from my skull by the roots (he does that).  I was less than impressed though...the powder comes in a small "can" that is roughly as big around as a silver dollar (gold if all you know is the "new" coin money) coins and about as tall as a roll of quarters, maybe a little bigger.  It is a super fine powder that you squeeze into your hand, rub between your palms, and then work into your roots.

It left my hands feeling very sticky, even after several washes (with soap).  To make matters worse, it left my hair feeling just as sticky!  Ever time I would touch my hair, I had to go rewash my hands because they would be immediately sticky feeling again.  It was an unpleasant night fr my hair.

I never saw any "volume" either...it did manage to make my unruly hair appear even more unruly though.

 Overall, this was not a good product for my hair...I don't know if it's just me or if it works poorly for most people, but I do not recommend this stuff! (But, if you like it, I have a coupon to share...)

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day!

Fun at the Chinese restaurant!
Seven months ago today, the reason I no longer dread this day arrived! After spending most of the past decade trying unsuccessfully to become parents (mostly through the "if it happens, it happens" method), I can say that I really did "hate" both Mother's Day and Father's Day. No more though! Happy Mother's Day to all the Mommies out there (especially my own Mom {who is here with me for a week and a little bit}, my Mother in law {as close as we can be to it anyway}, my sister, & sister in law {who is trying to do it all over again and I can't wait to be an aunt again!})!
Just coming in from outside...

Also, coming up this week is the anniversary of my Dad's passing...13 years have gone by, it really doesn't seem like that long ago. Gabriel carries a little bit of his grandfather around with him (his middle name was my Dad's name), he also looks a lot like him in certain aspects. He does this forehead wrinkle thing that only my Dad could do...it's so cute! I really wish my Dad had stuck around to meet his grand kids...he would have had such a blast having 5 grandsons.

Here's the forehead wrinkle thing!
p.s.--I'm not a nut job, up early today (I wrote this on Monday and scheduled it...'cause I can).

Friday, May 10, 2013

Green Giant Veggie Snack Chips - A Review

Time for another review of a product sent to me by BzzAgent!  This one came around the same time I dropped off the low-carb diet again (I just didn't have a good support system in place and was struggling anyway and then had the issues of going dairy-free for a while on top of that), so I was happy to try these "chips"!  Of course, the Zesty Cheddar ones do have dairy in them, but by the time the box arrived on my doorstep, we had ruled out a milk allergy for the little guy.

I'll start with the Zesty Cheddar flavor since I've already mentioned them.  They are good...shaped a bit like Doritos, but don't expect these to taste like a Nacho Doritos, you will be disappointed!  None the less, they are good and I would probably buy these again if I weren't going back on my diet as soon as possible (next week)!  After several chips, I did notice a "vegetable" taste to them, or rather an after-taste, but I liked them.

The Sweet Potato chips I was really looking forward to!  I had tried a version at my Mother's house that were actual sliced sweet potatoes and they were excellent!  These are not...these are made out of sweet potato (and regular white potato) powder!  They didn't taste like a sweet potato at all either.  I received a full-size bag and several "snack bags" of this flavor.  After trying one of the snack bags (you know, the single serving size you can get out of a vending machine or at Subway type), I took the larger bag in to my hand therapist's office and let them all share it.  The assistant that does a good portion of my therapy treatments told me the bag was gone by the end of the work day!  I also left all of my coupons for this campaign there so they could buy more if they liked them or wanted to try the Zesty Cheddar flavor.

Overall, these were good, but not great.  Fir the price at Walmart ($1.98 for the full size bag), I might buy them for the kids, but at Kroger pricing (almost $5 for the same bag), I'd skip it and get them something better for them anyway.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Household Happenings...

This past weekend, I finally accomplished a task that I have been meaning to get done since January (or so)...I got the Christmas tree taken down!  I know, I know...it's May and the tree was still up...but no more!  Also, we figured out why part of the tree wouldn't light up at Christmas...I missed a plug!  There was an outlet plug dangling between sections when I took the center portion of the tree apart, oops!  At least that means it should all light up next year (you know, in about 5 months), assuming I remember there are four plugs to plug in.
Taken while Garrick was searching the garage for the bag the tree goes in.
Also, a little update on my last post (this one)...I got a miniature hydroponic system set up over the weekend (it was a productive weekend).  It's an $11 grow light from Walmart (the whole fixture is cheaper to replace than just the bulb), an "upcycled" water container (empty coffee can), a planter I paid $1 for and got four of them (Dollar Tree), a handful of decorative rocks (another Dollar Tree purchase, I can probably do eight of these planters with one bag of the rocks), a plant (in this case, a Celery regrow from the base of a stock of Celery I purchased from the grocery store and put in water to see if it would grow...it did), and an air "system" (teeny air stone {2-pack at Walmart for $1.38}, 8' line of 1/4" hose {Walmart in the fish section, $1.88}, and a small air pump {also in the fish section, $6.33 for the 5-15 gallon air pump}).  I have the whole thing sitting on the back of the toilet in the Master bathroom because it gave me easy access to two outlets (one for the light and one for the air pump), but when I get the larger system done, I'll have to run a cord out to power the system.  I turn the grow light off from 11pm to 7am (or rather 6:30am when I get in the shower), giving the plant about 16 hours of "light" if my math is right...

We are also loving Baby Led Weaning (or rather, Baby Led Feeding since he is not being weaned at all)!  Photographic evidence to follow...

"Baby food"! Bananas, Apples, and Sweet Potatoes.
"Dinner" one night was steamed Apples and Sweet Potatoes with a fried Egg (yolk).
So serious about his food...
Whole Wheat Toast with Avocado smeared on...
He loves egg yolks...especially runny, but hard/medium is okay too.
Another hit!

Tomatoes are yummy too (but plug him up because he can swallow whole chunks without chewing well enough).

Gabriel's preferred method of eating a Banana, he doesn't like holding on to them!

Pre-dinner happiness out at IHOP!  He had egg yolk (runny because they couldn't figure out how to hard cook an egg without scrambling it).
I love having a video monitor and really don't know why we didn't get one sooner (other than the fact that they cost an arm and a leg...)!  I'm so glad Garrick noticed this one on clearance ($50, can you believe it?)!  Now that we have it mounted on the wall, we don't end up with "creepy baby pictures" like this one because the infrared lights are out of Gabriel's line of sight, he does occasionally still look for it though.

Since Picture Me Studios went under (and took advantage of so many people...the parent company, CPI, owned all of the Sears and Walmart portrait studios), we've gone to JC Penney's portrait studio (run by Lifetouch...they do all school photos as well).  They are expensive though!  The paper quality is better, but I hate the studio itself...it's tiny and hot, and for the most part, if you want props that don't look like they've been run over by a truck, you have to bring them yourself.  They also won't airbrush the photos like Walmart did...and since my child is prone to causing himself bodily harm (scratches while he sleeps), both his 6 and 7 month portraits have "head wounds" in them.  I asked on the 7 month ones if she could "touch it up" to get rid of the big scratch down his forehead and got told they "couldn't do that"...it's all done digitally and the computer program should do it without issue....it irks me.  Also, the camera stopped working halfway through his session, she didn't notice (other than that the camera wasn't reacting as fast as it normally does), and we lost some really great pictures of him!  We ended up spending over 2 hours there trying to get portraits and order them.  I'm on the hunt for somewhere else to go...what I'd really love to find is someone who can do them and give us a CD (or other means of digital storage) with the whole thing on it for less than what Penney's wants ($150 for a CD that doesn't include any of the photos they deem "unworthy", which are usually my favorites)!  I like having them print 8x10s and stuff...but if I have to go have them printed somewhere, I'm all good with that too.
6 month portrait session!
7 month portrait session!
Other randomness...
In our "too small for Mom or Dad" baby carrier...it shouldn't be up on my neck like that, but that's where it goes...I'd love an ErgoBaby Sport carrier (in black)!

Tired baby passed out in the car...we get so many compliments for him in his shades!  They have little red flames on the sides.  Macular Degeneration runs in my family, so it's shades on when we go outside!

Rosie willingly lays down with Gabriel these days (this time he rolled to her though).  He is very gentle...until he can reach her fur that he can sink his fingers into, then he pulls out handfuls!
 One last "recent" project...from a few weeks ago actually.  We finally got around to replacing the awful chandelier that hung in our Dining Room (which is now more of a Family Room that happens to be off the Kitchen and has a table in it)!  It's darker overall than the old light, but with a few lamps we should be able to regain more light if we really need it, so far this has been plenty.  A second one of these in the Kitchen would be great, but that's pushing my luck a bit since we replaced that fixture a few years ago (with an extremely cheap round light with three bulbs).  As we slowly replace fixtures in the house, we are changing them all to Brushed Nickel...the old ones are all Brass.
Our new light fixture in our Dining room!

The best part about the new fixture though is that it is very close to the ceiling, so Garrick can easily move around the Dining Room without smacking his head on the lights!  Even I had to be careful of where I walked or moved in there because I'd hit it and I'm an entire foot shorter!