Oh, Baby!

NONB-134-2.jpg

My husband and I welcomed our sweet baby girl into the world before the end of 2018! Baby N has completely captured our hearts, and it is already hard to imagine life before her. It has been amazing watching her grow over the last six weeks—each day she is changing and learning new things about the world around her.

Like most birth stories, Baby N’s story is one I could not have predicted. I had an incredibly easy pregnancy. Besides some typical lower back pain, I had no other symptoms except for the growing baby bump—no morning sickness, food cravings, or exhaustion. I feel especially fortunate for this outcome because this pregnancy was considered high risk from the beginning, so Baby N and I were watched particularly closely over our nine months together.

As the weeks passed, we learned that N was going to be a smaller baby. Each ultrasound showed her overall growth percentile decreasing, but her size wasn’t going to become a concern unless she dropped below the tenth percentile. We also learned that N was breech, with her butt down and her head and feet comfortably tucked up under my left ribcage.

While it is possible for babies to flip into the correct position before birth, it becomes less likely in the latter weeks of pregnancy. Even though I didn’t really believe the old wives’ tales on how to flip a breech baby, I spent many evenings positioned upside down anyway, with a bag of frozen blueberries above my bump trying to coax her to flip around to avoid the chill. This method was wildly unsuccessful, along with half a dozen others I tried. Baby N was comfortable and would not be moved.

During our 34 week appointment, N dropped to the eighth percentile and was subsequently diagnosed with intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR). The doctors believed this was due to increased resistance to blood flow through the placenta. We were cautioned that it is possible for the resistance to become so great that the blood flow can reverse direction, which is a very serious situation that calls for an emergency C-section to preserve the health of the baby.

This news hit us especially hard—baby N wasn’t due for another six weeks! Along with weekly appointments to closely monitor her health, we were told to pack and bring our hospital bags to the rest of our visits, just in case.

The reality that we could have a baby in a single week’s time was very overwhelming for me, especially since I assumed I would have several more weeks to prepare everything for her arrival. I spent the next week making lists of each task that needed to get done and frantically tried to get everything in order, both at work and at home.

I hoped that Baby N would be allowed to stay snuggled up under my ribcage a little longer. I still felt blindsided by the news and wasn’t ready for the pregnancy to end. I needed more time to enjoy her kicks and soak up my last few days as a non-parent.

Fortunately, my wish was granted. At our 35 week appointment, we learned the resistance was unexpectedly measuring less than it had before. At 36 weeks, the resistance was measuring completely normal, which no one (including the doctors) had anticipated. However, because N was still measuring so small for her age, the doctors believed she would do better outside of the womb. Our induction date was set for 37 weeks exactly. Baby N was going to be an early (full) term baby.

Since N was still breech, I opted to try an external cephalic version (ECV), in which the doctor manually tries to turn the baby into the correct position for birth. After two failed attempts (where Baby N refused to budge even an inch), she was born via C-section shortly thereafter.

Our little peanut was in perfect health, weighing in at a smidge over 5 pounds with a head full of fuzzy hair.

After spending a few nights in the hospital, we were able to return home in time for a quiet holiday. While the shift to parenthood was a huge adjustment, I’ve enjoyed getting to know and learn all about this little peanut. She loves to stretch for minutes at a time when she is unswaddled, clothes are her worst enemy, and her endless goofy expressions make me laugh. Who knew that simple things, like N discovering her tongue, would bring such joy? In the last couple weeks, she’s graduated to newborn sizes, and we discovered she loves to “dance” to music as she lays on the floor and kicks her legs.

Over the last six weeks, I’ve given myself a leave from the blog and social media to spend much needed quality time with Baby N. Parenthood is certainly going to be a balance, but I’m ready to start devoting more time to myself and get back to doing the things that I enjoy—like baking and sharing it with you.

All photographs are ©Amber Rishavy.

All photographs are ©Amber Rishavy.

Chocolate Ginger Crinkle Cookies

This post is sponsored by Bob’s red mill. Thank you for supporting the brands I love and use in my own kitchen. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

This post is sponsored by Bob’s red mill. Thank you for supporting the brands I love and use in my own kitchen. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

With the holidays right around the corner (and a baby on the way!), December is shaping up to be a busy month for my family. In year’s past, it has been my holiday tradition to spend days in the kitchen meticulously cutting out and decorating my favorite holiday cookies—like these honey, sugar, and chocolate sugar cookies—to share with my family and friends.

This year I honestly don’t have the time to spare.

Instead, I’m going to feel out a new holiday baking tradition. My goal is to spend the next few days filling the freezer with cookies from easy-to-make recipes, and enjoying the remaining days by relaxing before our sweet baby arrives.

chocolategingercrinklecookies1.jpg

These Chocolate Ginger Crinkle Cookies meet all of my criteria this year: simple to make, freeze well, and quickly disappears from the serving plate.

For this cookie recipe, I turned to Bob’s Red Mill Unbleached White All-Purpose Flour. I prefer to use unbleached flour in my baking because it means the flour is not chemically treated. To create the classic light colored appearance and delicate texture of all-purpose flour, the wheat bran and germ are removed during the milling process (which is the key difference between whole wheat and all-purpose flour).

Crinkle cookies get their crackled appearance from being rolled in powdered sugar before baking. The sugar draws out moisture from the outside of the cookie, causing the edges to dry out before the interior is finished baking. This difference in moisture levels causes the top of the cookie to take on a crinkled appearance.

With a handful of chocolate chips to provide a richer chocolate flavor and ground ginger and cinnamon to give the cookie a spiced warmth, these cookies are sure to satisfy your sweet tooth this holiday season.

IMG_7445-2.jpg
IMG_7428-2.jpg
IMG_7492-2.jpg

One of the qualities I look for in a good holiday cookie is its ability to freeze well. Knowing I have homemade cookies stashed away that can be ready at a moment’s notice is a relief during a busy season when events pop up or unexpected guests drop by. Happily, these chocolate ginger crinkle cookies can be easily frozen using two methods.

The first method is to form the cookie dough into balls and freeze them before rolling them in powdered sugar. When ready to bake, the frozen cookie dough balls can be rolled in the sugar and head straight towards the oven. This method is great when you can spare a few minutes to bake or you want to serve hot cookies straight from the oven.

The second method is to bake the cookies as directed and allow them to fully cool before placing them in an airtight container in the freezer. When ready to be served, pull the cookies from the freezer and allow them to thaw. This method is best when you anticipate the cookies being eaten quickly since the powdered sugar can become sticky if the cookies are left out for longer periods of time.

IMG_7502-2.jpg

These Chocolate Ginger Crinkle Cookies are a seasonal take on the classic cookie. The chocolatey cookies are spiced with ginger and cinnamon to bring out traditional holiday flavors. After chilling the dough, the cookies are dipped in powdered sugar and baked until they take on a crinkled appearance. These cookies are best served alongside friends and family with a tall glass of milk.

One Year Ago: Marbled Pumpkin Chocolate Cake & Pumpkin Caramel Bread Pudding
Two Years Ago: Chocolate Gingersnap Tart
Three Years Ago: Caramel Apple Crumble Pie & Rosemary Olive Bread
Four Years Ago: Maple Syrup Cake with Toasted Almonds & Pumpkin Pie (Dairy-Free!)
Five Years Ago: Pumpkin Spiced Doughnuts & Stovetop Popcorn
Six Years Ago: Molasses Ginger Cookies, Marbled Butternut Squash Bread, Chai Pear Scones, & Hot Bourbon Apple Cider
Seven Years Ago: Grandma’s Applesauce, Honey Roasted Chickpeas, Caramel Apple Tart, & Cranberry Orange Brioche
Eight Years Ago: Fig & Balsamic Jam, Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal, & Raspberry Vanilla Creme Brulee

Chocolate Ginger Crinkle Cookies

Yield 18-22 cookies

1 cup (120 grams) Bob’s Red Mill Unbleached White All-Purpose Flour
1/2 cup (43 grams) cocoa powder
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (50 grams) brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (60 mL) vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup (85 grams) powdered sugar

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, granulated sugar, brown sugar, spices, baking powder, and salt. Mix in the vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla, stirring until a uniform batter forms. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Place cookie dough in the refrigerator for 2 hours (or overnight) until completely chilled through.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).

Place powdered sugar in a small bowl. Set aside.

Roll chilled cookie dough into 1-inch balls. Drop cookie dough balls into the powdered sugar and coat evenly on all sides. Place balls at least 2-inches apart onto a cookie sheet.

Bake for 10-13 minutes, or until cookies have a crackled appearance. Allow cookies to cool for 5 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Our Late Summer Wedding

A huge thank you to our amazing Photographer  Brandon Werth  For capturing these beautiful Images from our wedding day. ALl images are © Brandon Werth .

A huge thank you to our amazing Photographer Brandon Werth For capturing these beautiful Images from our wedding day. ALl images are ©Brandon Werth.

As our families might tell you, our wedding day, August 11th, was a long time coming. After dating for eight and a half years (surviving two years long distance, five moves between three cities, and buying a house together), the question wasn’t if Chris and I were going to get married, but when.

After finding out we were joyously expecting (!), our growing family gave us the nudge we needed to set a date and start planning. We both knew we wanted a small, intimate ceremony with our immediate family. Sharing our day with our closest loved ones felt the most special to us.

Chris+Kristin_11.JPG
Chris+Kristin_84.JPG

With a wedding date set for little more than two months away, we threw ourselves into planning mode and managed to have a majority of the details solidified within a week. Growing up, I had dreams of an outdoor wedding. So, we crossed our fingers against the rain and chose a local arboretum for our ceremony, hoping to enjoy the garden in full bloom.

I thought my wedding dress would prove to be the most difficult, knowing that I had to buy a style off the rack (due to the short deadline) that would also accommodate a baby bump. Moreover, I am notoriously “particular” (as my mother would say). When my sister was married a couple years earlier, we joked how I would have to try on every dress in the city before I would find one.

Yet, despite the restrictions (or perhaps because of them), the second dress I tried on was “the one.”

Although we were working on a short timeline, the ease at which everything came together made it feel as if this was the way it was supposed to be.

Chris+Kristin_89.JPG
Chris+Kristin_97.JPG

Unfortunately, the groom came down with the flu a few days before our wedding day. I kept myself quarantined, making frequent trips to the drug store hoping for some miracle medicine that would quickly cure him. Despite our best efforts, Chris still woke up with a fever on our wedding day. We half-joked that we would have a “first hug” instead of a “first kiss.”

While we had crossed our fingers against rain, we had forgotten to cross them against the flu as well. But, after all, we are committing in sickness and in health, right?

Even so, once the day got started, the whirlwind of getting ready and setting everything up captured our attention and left little room for worrying.

Although I expected to feel nervous about getting married, when the moment was in front of me I found I was pretty calm. After spending so many years together, our life together was already comforting and familiar.

Chris+Kristin_122.JPG
Chris+Kristin_125.JPG

We blocked off a couple hours before the ceremony for photographs, starting with a “first look” in the fern garden. The day may have been hot and humid, but the light was perfect (scattered gently through a Canadian wildfire haze that dappled the ground with occasional pockets of sunlight, before breaking against a clear sky). The time flew by as we wandered the grounds, laughing with our photographer (illness forgotten), and enjoying the last few moments before becoming husband and wife. We picked up a few “friends” along the way, as the tulle on my dress proved to be excellent material for capturing insects of all shapes and sizes.

After taking a few minutes to freshen up (and for my mother to guide the bug friends out from under the layers of tulle), it was time for the big event.

Chris+Kristin_148.JPG
Chris+Kristin_158.JPG

A month earlier, Chris and I made the decision to write our own ceremony, personalizing the details and readings on our relationship together. Instead of the traditional exchange of rings, we chose to “tie the knot,” to signify our two separate lives becoming one. The ceremony ended with our exchange of personal vows. It was short, sweet, and sentimental.

With Ella Fitzgerald’s At Last to send us off—after eight years together it was about time—we were official.

We ended the evening in a private room at a local restuarant, enjoying the several courses of food and family in equal measure.

Our wedding day may have been untraditional in many ways, but it was perfect for us.

Chris+Kristin_163.JPG
Chris+Kristin_212.JPG
Chris+Kristin_277.JPG