Thursday, April 11, 2013

travelling with a baby/toddler

The first time we flew with Maya was a 10 hour flight from London to Houston, she was 3.5 months old and it was a piece of chocolate cake. She was tiny, adorable, happy, satisfied with breast milk only and not mobile. She slept half of the way to Texas and all of the way back--literally she was asleep when we took off and didn't wake up until we landed in England and were getting off the plane. She was a star, a diamond, the perfect miniature travel companion.

I was very dubious the second time, she was bigger, still adorable, still happy,  but hungrier, and very mobile with a little bit of mischevious mixed in.  I was a wreck, I worried about it for months, literally, I lost a lot of sleep.  She was still good although it wasn't the leisurely red-wine-sipping-film-watching experiece like the first time. She didn't sleep much and wanted to walk constantly, and with all of the other emotions of moving it just seemed a lot harder.  I wept with relief when we landed and vowed never to travel again, much less with a toddler. Silly me, because within 2 months I was booking a trip to San Fransisco to visit my bestie Emily and I was taking Maya with me! ALONE.  WHAT??? 

The third time I travelled with Maya she was at the worst possible age, 14 months. She didn't sit still, she didn't sit at all. Domestic flights are horrible, the crews aren't as nice and the planes are small--there wasn't even a changing table in the bathroom! I changed Maya on the floor in the galley, yesss. Luckily we sat next to pretty nice people.  On our way there we had the aisle seat next to an older hippie man from California. Maya was very curious about him she touched his arm and wanted to get a good look at him.  I appologized and he said it was ok, he has cats.  Eh?  He was really nice though and played with her, Maya handed him everything out of the seat back pocket and her bunny and he handed it all back and they went through this routine most of the flight. Toward the end he looked at me very seriously and said something along the lines of, "I can tell she is a really generous spirit, she reminds me of a dog I used to have. Children and animals always know the right thing to do.  I believe she will carry this gift with her always."  I don't entirely agree with that but I appreciated his thoughfulness.  Anyway, our flights back were less amusing and she was fairly good, I just gave her snacks the entire time which kept her happy. 

So here are my travelling with a young toddler tips:

-Be realistic in your expectations. Be prepared to walk the aisles and stand in the galley the entire time.

-When going through security ask a staff member for help, it's hard to get everything onto the conveyer belt while taking off your shoes, folding up your stroller and keeping your toddler out of the scanner, if no one readily offers to help just ask.

-Don't take a lot of toys, you'll need room for snacks, and everything on the plane is more interesting than anything you take. Maya found a little torn off piece from a chips bag and delicately carried it around trying to put it in her hair and showing it to people as we paced up and down the plane, it was like she had found a rare and precious gem stone.

-Let them play with stuff, anything that entertains them is your friend, and if you're a germ freak take antibacterial wipes and wipe every surface down around you as soon as you get on the plane.

-Take antibacterial wipes and wipe every surface down around you as soon as you get on the plane, not that it will make any difference at all because they will touch other horrible things but it will make you feel better and that's important.

-A cardigan worn backwards doubles as a nursing cover, don't waste space taking something when you can use something else. You will need space for snacks!

-Take three times more snacks that you think you'll need, little things that take a long time to eat, boxes of raisins, Goldfish, Cheerios.  Don't worry about feeding schedules while on a plane, just keep shoving food in, they love it and it keeps them quiet and still.

-Obviously take enough diapers and wipes for 24 hours just in case, and a change mat, but if you forget your change mat your cardigan will work for this too!

-The hardest part of the flight is the beginning and end when the clueless crew expects you to keep your toddler in your lap for 30 minutes. You are not a bad parent if you let your kid stand in front of your seat when the flight attendants aren't looking. 

-If you need to go to the bathroom don't be afriad to ask a flight attendant to hold your child. Your child will most likely cry hysterically but this is your chance to get revenge on that flight attendant for not being more helpful earlier when they wanted to sit down and read during their break at the back of the plane on the fold down seat you were standing next to with your boob out trying to breastfeed standing up because your child was screaming and they impolitely asked you to move to the other side of the galley. Revenge is sweet, even if it only lasts as long as it takes to pee and at the cost of 30 seconds of your child's happiness. Since when did flight attendants get reading breaks anyway?

-Don't look anyone in the eye, especially the people seated near you if your toddler has been particularly unpleasant, you will feel their hate and it will ruin your confidence. Stay strong! Stay positive! Remind yourself that wherever it is you are going there is most likely a place in which you can quickly be united with a margarita, you can do this!! 

-Have fun! Try and appreciate it for what it is, an adventure!  These times will become precious memories, possibly ones you mention in a toast at your child's wedding.  You will never see these other passengers again (except we did actually sit next to the exact same guy on the way to and from Texas that first time, and we were all wearing the exact same thing, it was like a scene from Seinfeld, but what are the chances??) and they will most likely forget about you as soon as they get off the plane. Your flight will land eventually and the fun part can begin.

Any other great tips I didn't mention? Anything quirky that worked wonders? Any horror stories about flights with kiddos? I love those best:) 

we are still alive

Howdy! It's hard to believe--impossible to believe--that we have been in Texas for almost 5 months. So much has happened! We have worked our way through almost all of our After The Move to do list, we have jobs, a vehicle, phones, insurance, etc etc etc. The house thing is still in the works. This transition has gone very smoothly, better than expected.

Since we've been here Maya turned one, celebrated her second Christmas, sprouted 4 teeth and curly hair and she is now walking, almost running and saying a few words. Big time!

There has been some culture shock, mainly on my end, I just find some things so shocking even though I am a native American.  Portion sizes, Wal-Mart people, lack of vacation days.  It's weird to move back somewhere.  Maybe it's the negative undertone of the word back, like you're going backwards. I feel like I should feel weird about it, I think that's it.  But I don't, we are where we are supposed to be. And it feels really good.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

hopscotch mat--take 2

A friend asked me to make another hopscotch mat for her daughter's 4th birthday, and wondered if it was possible to applique the numbers on.  I gulped and very hesitantly said, "Of course it is." And guess what, it was exactly as maddening as I expected! But it looked so good that I didn't mind in the end (after several glasses of wine).  Although I definitely met my swear word quota for the month.  Anyway, I think it looks great with sage green canvas, and since she is planning on having it in her daughter's room as a rug next to her bed I thought it would hide dirt a lot better than white.  Just in case you were wondering, it's about 2 yards long by 3/4 yard wide.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

name tags

A friend asked me to make some name tags for her kids to have on their back packs. Here they are...

Thursday, September 27, 2012

moving continents--after

The after list is not as pressing, since we can do absolutely nothing about it right now, and it's also the exciting part:

  • Find a place to live--Preferably buy a house, which depends on selling our house in England.  We will live with my parents for a couple of months (they have more than enough room for us and a POOL) and if it seems like it's going to take a long time for the sale to go through we will assess the situation and consider renting.
  • Find jobs--We are fairly certain this can be accomplished pretty quickly, we wont be too picky to start off with and we're lucky that Houston has a strong job market right now.
  • Buy a car or two--We have shared a car for the past three years but we will most likely need two now.  And of course we are now thinking about size and safety ratings since we have a baby to protect! Although I am drawing the line at mini vans or suburbans, aint gonna happen.  It's just a personal preference thing. 
  • Get phones--We will need to get new cell phones in Texas so that will probably be one of the very first things we do, that way all those companies who want to offer us jobs can get in touch. 
  • Pick up our shipment--This should be fun.  We are so lucky to be moving to a port city so we can go pick up our stuff ourselves, either borrow a truck and trailer (we are moving to Texas after all, most people have a trailer lying around somewhere) or get a Uhaul truck. 
  • Catch up with friends--We figure if it takes us at least a month or so to get jobs we can spend that time visiting with friends we haven't seen in a long time. So we will be doing quite a bit of driving around and catching up!  I can't wait!
  • Eat, or not--Whenever we have gone back to visit we always have a list of places we want to eat and we have to plan out our time so we can hit them all up. It wont be like that this time since we wont be there for just 10 days like we usually are.  In which case we need to be careful because we really don't want to live up to the old steriotype of becoming fat because we live in America.  It could totally happen, I love me some Chick Fil A. 
  • Drivers Licenses--My Texas drivers license is expired and Sam will need to take a test to get one so we will need to do this pretty soon after we get there.  We can drive on our UK licenses for up to 90 days. 
Am I missing anything major?  I also have a personal to do list which includes sleeping in, shopping, drinking margaritas and getting my hair cut.  It's really hard to think that we are moving back on a more or less permanent basis, it still feels like a holiday where we just have a lot to do.  I bet it will take a while to sink in.

Friday, September 21, 2012

moving continents--before

Moving can be stressful. **Hahahahahhahaaha** That is me laughing insanely at such an understatement.  I have been having a little trouble sleeping and went to see my doctor recently and he said that moving can be as stressful as getting a divorce.  I don't know about that but at least he said it's normal that I'm experiencing anxiety about it.  But as with anything else, a good to-do list can help keep things under control.  Well at least it should.

I have a before the move (BTM) and an after the move (ATM) list.  That's how it's working for me right now, two completely separate and yet not exclusive lists of things to worry about.  Somehow it helps to focus on only 50% of my worries at a time.  Today we will look at the BTM list.

(not in any particular order)

  • Sell the house--Sort of a priority.  We have had an offer but they still need to sell their house so it's a waiting game.  I've always  been terrible at waiting.  A lot of things depend on this one.  Such as the ability to get a house on the other side so we don't have to live with my parents forever.  Such as not having to continue paying for this house when we are not living in it--we are on a deadline because of Sam's visa; he has to be in the USA by Christmas for his visa to be valid.  We always knew we could have trouble with timing, but since we could control neither the processing times of Sam's visa nor the sale of our house we just have to do our best with what we've got.
  • Ship belongings--We went back and forth about this one for a long time and have considered all of the options.  In the end we realized we were either going to be checking about 30 suitcases of things we simply can't part with onto a plane with or we could get a shipment.  Sam has a lot of sporting equipment that would just be silly to replace--bike, snowboards, surf boards, cricket and rugby gear, golf clubs etc.  We were able to find a company with a great reputation where we can ship about 2-3 pallets worth of stuff for less that the cost of Sam's bike and golf clubs. It would cost so much more to take it all onto the plane with us, and we'd need a moving truck to pick us up at the airport which would be ridiculous.  This company will come pick up all of our stuff (which will be all of Sam's sports stuff, our kitchen table and Maya's cradle and then about 20 boxes of our personal things like photo albums, pictures, kitchen stuff and odds and ends), take it to their warehouse and pack it all onto a few pallets then measure and charge us for the exact amount of space it takes up. It will be shrink wrapped so everything is nice and secure, then they'll put it into a container with a bunch of other peoples' stuff and send it to Texas, transit time is 16 days. Amazing right? 
  • Buy boxes and packing stuff--You can find reasonably priced moving kits on ebay that include lots of boxes in whatever sizes you need, tape, bubble wrap and markers.  It's the cheapest I have found so far.
  • Pack--This can't be done until right before we go.  We will probably move in with the in laws for the last couple days after our shipment is picked up since we wont have anything in our kitchen. I think we will pack what we want to take on the plane first so we can make sure we have what we need and can ship anything else that doesn't fit.  We will have up to a month without the stuff in our shipment so we will need to spend a little time thinking about what we absolutely need during that month, especially for Maya.
  • Book flights--Simple enough, we just hope to get the bulkhead seats which will be easier with a mobile baby. 
  • Get rid of stuff--We have been doing this little by little for a while now.  We are giving away almost all of our furniture to family and friends, the rest we will ebay or donate.  We are also going to leave behind our appliances since they wont wont work in the US, so we will sell bigger items like our fridge and washing machine and give away or donate little things like the toaster and mixer.  We are also leaving behind lots of clothes, shoes, pictures, books, pillows, linens and basically anything we can live without. 
  • Get record copies--We will need to get copies of our medical records as well as vaccination records.  They have different required vaccinations here than they do in the States and Maya will need to be up to date in the far and distant future when she starts school. 
  • Cancel utilities/services--This is something else that we do at the last minute.  Some of them we will have to keep paying until our house sells like our house insurance but we will need to change our correspondence address. 
  • Change our address--We need have our mail forwarded and let our bank know we are moving and make sure our statements are forwarded to our new address as well as a few other bills we will have to pay until the sale goes through.
  • Change life insurance companies--We both got life insurance policies before Maya was born but we will have to change to a US company when we move because the one we have here will not cover us if we live abroad.  No big deal but not something we want to overlook.
  • Get medical insurance for Maya--Since we will be between jobs and without insurance for at least a few months we want to make sure that Maya is covered.  It is not a situation I am totally comfortable with but at least if she is covered I wont be as worried.  There are very few independent options out there to cover just a child, most require that at least one adult be covered as well and that makes it quite expensive.  She also may be eligible for CHIP or Medicaid depending on how long it takes us to get jobs or what we earn to start off with.  This is one of those issues that keeps me up at night. I will miss the NHS. 
  • Give notice--I have already handed in my notice to work which feels great and terrifying at the same time.  Sam's notice period is a month so he will be handing in his pretty soon. They already know that he is going and even though they are happy for him they'd love for him to stay, which is nice. 
  • Wire money--We will be keeping our joint bank account open here but we will be wiring the majority of our money to our account in the States.  We also have to have a meeting with a bank manager who will handle the wiring of the money we make on our house if we don't sell it before we go. They wont just let us call and wire it so we have to arrange all of this in advance.  Hopefully we will sell the house before we go and wont have to deal with this at all.
  • Say goodbye--I hate this one the most and I hope to come up with a way of avoiding it, such as sneaking away in the middle of the night. 
  • Get excited--I spend so much time thinking about all of the stuff I have to do that I forget that we are moving back to Texas! Yehaw! The land of guacamole and queso, big cars and big people, Target and air conditioned shopping malls, my family and friends! But let's not get carried away, there's lots to do before we get there...
Of course there are a lot of other little things that will come up but this is the gist of it.  A pretty good example of the things that must be done when moving continents. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

for sale

We are moving back to Texas and our lovely little house is on the market.  Anyone interested in a two bedroom cottage in a quiet rural setting in England?  We actually have had an offer already which is fantastic, but they still have to sell their house so things are moving very slowly. 

I am really sad to be leaving this house in this beautiful place.  It has been such a special house--our first home, the house we brought our first baby home to, a place where we have grown into a family and spent the first three years of our life together.  We have grown with this house and feel very fortunate that we have been able to be a part of its long and rich history.  It was built in the 1830's and has been the home to many families, a butcher shop, and a post office.  It has been wonderful getting know the nice people in our village, we have some of the best neighbors you could ask for.  Everyone has been so kind and friendly and we will be sad to say goodbye.

It's funny how much a building can affect you, I feel like this place has had an impact on us and I'm proud to have had a small impact on it as well with the updates we have done.  We had a lady named Hazel come by one day last year who was visiting the area and who's mother was born in this house, she was incredibly sweet and asked if she could look around to see how much it had changed.  Her mother was one of 11 children who lived here at one time--a family of 13!  Two of Hazel's uncles still live in the area who we have met since who were also born here and they shared a lot of memories with us from growing up here which were so fun and so special to hear.  I like to think that one day, years from now, we will come back and have a look around as well, and Maya can see the house where she spent her first year of life. 

Sunday, September 2, 2012

a birthday present for a little girl

Our niece turned 4 last week, it was an exciting occasion.  I always struggle getting gifts for her because she has everything.  What do you get for a girl who has two real life ponies knowwhatimean? So a few weeks ago an idea came to me, I would make her a hop scotch mat--she could play inside (since it seems to always be raining) or outside (and would be easily washable).  Bam.  I was so excited, it seemed like such a good idea, and it became an even better idea when I was at her house a week before we gave it to her and she asked me if I would teach her to play hop scotch!  And sure enough when she opened it she said, "Oh Auntie Bethany, I love it." and then we went and hopped.  

On one side I sewed fabric rectangles for hop scotch, and on the other I sewed fabric circles for a bean bag toss game.  I also wrote numbers on the rectangles and circles, and they aren't as impossible to see as they are in these pictures.  Sam suggested that I cut out and applique the numbers on with coordinating fabrics and I laughed in his face.  But it would be cool, IF you are insane and have millions of hours of free time. 

 I also made 2 sets of 3 bean bags so she can play with her sister or a friend.
And here she is playing at her birthday party:)
**Another bonus is that I have been commissioned to make a couple more of these!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

baby stuff we love

This is not a must have list, it is not even a list of necessary items, these are just things that we have found to be really handy.  It's hard to buy stuff for your first baby because you have no idea what you will actually use (other than the obvious things like clothes, diapers, car seat, stroller etc.) and there's just way too much out there.  Every family will love different things and will have different needs, this is our list, and it just so happens that it came out to being 10 items.  Our top 10:

We have used these blankets more than any others, they are so versatile.  They were great for swaddling in the early days, burp cloths, to cover up while breast feeding, wiping up messes and much more.  They are huge and a really good weight.  We got a lot of other receiving blankets that we didn't use at all because these have just been so handy.  We have 5 of them so there is always at least one clean one around when we need it. 

I can't tell you how dubious I was about going the cloth diaper route, I couldn't imagine it would be easy or convenient, but actually it is amazing and I'm so glad we went for it.  We have 15 of the Bum Genius 4.0 one size diapers and we LOVE them, all three of us.  A lot of research went into this decision and it's all too much to put in this post but we definitely made the right choice with these dipes.  We still use disposables, especially when out for the day or when travelling, or when we are just lazy, we didn't want to be too crazy about it.  Maya has been wearing them since she was 6 weeks and they should fit her until she is potty trained  (around 2 years hopefully!), they should work for any subsequent babies, they wash so well and look as good as new after 7 months of use, they are so easy to clean and care for and so far she has not had a single blowout with them.  Wow right?  They have saved us a lot of money too, especially because we were given all of them as gifts, thank you very much!  They are not for everyone, but they are great for us.

We didn't get one of these until Maya was about 2 months old, so we lived without it for a while, but it has been really nice to have mainly so she can sit in the kitchen while we cook, in the bathroom while we shower (if necessary), in the laundry room while we fold clothes, outside while we hang out clothes and so on.  The one we have is just a basic bouncer with a rocking function and a music function which we never use because she doesn't seem to notice it.  It has been more useful than the bumbo we have because she can be strapped in and she couldn't sit up in the bumbo until she was around 4 months.  I imagined that she would fall asleep in this but she never has, it's just a good alternative to laying on the floor all day for those months before she could sit and it's nice to be able to strap her in when we need to now that she can roll across the room!

Of all the baby stuff we got I have to say these are among the top most wonderful things ever.  Maya was one of those babies who loved to be swaddled and wouldn't sleep unless she was--in fact we didn't stop swaddling her until 4 months.  These are great because they have velcro so baby is nice and secure and can't wiggle out in the middle of the night to wake herself up (which means you can rest easier and the terror of night time is reduced substantially).  I just think they're great, great great great.

Another excellent invention.  I don't actually know what I would do without these.  I have three in different colors and wear them all of the time.  These are great for me because I knew I wanted to breastfeed as long as possible, I still wanted to have a life and go do stuff without having to hide away while feeding Maya, and I didn't want to have to buy a lot of nursing tops.  In fact I own zero nursing tops.  This way I can wear almost all of my normal tops, even the ones that don't open in front, over the camis--I can get the ladies out if I need to lift my top up without my behemoth belly flapping out for all to see.  It never crossed my mind until after Maya was born that I would need clothes I could nurse in, these completely solve the problem.  I'll say it again, I don't know what I would do without these.

Say hello to my new best friend.  Due to our latitude here in England we are blessed with long long days for half the year, this is not something I would ever complain about.  It gets light at 4 am and dark after 10 pm.  Wonderful for outdoor bbq's, getting the most out of your day and encourages early waking so you can be productive.  Unfortunately it also encourages babies to wake early.  We have a really good set of black out curtains in Maya's room, they were excellent during the winter when it's dark from 4 pm to 8 am.  But they just don't cut it in the summer.  The Gro Anywhere black out blind is a lifesaver.  After weeks of waking up at 4 and growing more and more distressed I finally bought the Gro Blind.  Why did I wait so long you ask? Because I made a vow to not buy any unnecessary baby equipment.  This was totally worth breaking the vow for, and in fact now I would say that it has become a necessary item.  It is big, like 1.5 yards x 2 yards and adjustable so fits a wide range of windows, you can take it anwhere since it just attaches by suction cups and it has been so handy on some of our trips or overnight stays at the granparents', and the best part is that it makes the room PITCH BLACK.  I take that back, the best part is that Maya now sleeps until 7 which is the time that she and I have agreed that she should wake up, although she does sometimes go back on her word about this, naughty little thing.

Maya loves her play mat, she has loved it since she was just days old when she used to enjoy laying there looking at all of the colors and listening to the music it comes with, and she loves it now when she can yank the toys off, assault the whale and get her legs tangled in the crossbars as she thrashes about.  She just really enjoys it, worth every penny.

Okay, obviously there are cheaper more boring lunch box options out there, but why would you want one of those?  This one is just darn cute, and a really good size.  I can fit all of Maya's little lunch accessories into it when we are out for the day.  An insulated lunch box is handy to have, whether it's darn cute or not, and I do love Skip Hop stuff.  

Ever since we stopped swaddling Maya she has slept in one of these.  They're snuggly and come in different weights for warmer or cooler weather, and they ensure that Maya stays covered up all night since she can't wiggle out from these like she does a blanket.  

I have found these really handy since Maya has started eating solids.  They make it painless to take her food out and about since they are compact and you have everything you need right there.  I especially like that the spoon stays reasonably sterile as opposed to rolling around in the bottom of her lunch box. 

And now for a quick run down of things we didn't use so much:

-Boppy Pillow: This surprised me because they are so popular, but after about 6 weeks it seemed too bulky so I just use a regular pillow and chang the pillow case. 

-Receiving blankets: I said this previously but we just didn't use our super cute highly desireable receiving blankets very much.  Not for any particular reason other than the other types of blankets I listed above just suited our needs a bit better

-Short sleeve onesies: This is partly because of the terrible climate here, but Maya has worn long sleeve onesies almost every day and the short sleeved ones have been sadly neglected.  Also we received about 1 million of them and then bought some more becuase there are so many cute ones.  Maybe if we have another baby in a wamer place they will get used.

-Baby bathrobe:  We got two incredibly cute, tiny bathrobes for Maya. I have used them exactly twice... for photo shoots.  She just doesn't hang around in a bathrobe, for one thing it's dangerous to go long without a diaper on, and if I'm going to put a diaper on I may as well just clothe her.  It's never been convenient to go from clothes to bathrobe to bath to towel to bathrobe to clothes, that's too much changing.  By the time I'm givng Maya a bath (evening=getting close to the time I can finally sit down and drink a glass of wine) I'm not in the mood to faff around changing her a million times, it makes the whole process a lot less enjoyable for both of us.  Which is sad because she has two incredibly cute bathrobes. 

-Breast pump and bottles:  Maya, my sweet strong-willed little girl, has never drank from a bottle except for once when she probably was just distracted.  She just didn't like any substitutes (she also never wanted a pacifier which was more than fine with us!), only the real thing would do.  So I'm proud to say that I have personally fed her every single time except for twice recently because she has finally learned to drink from a sippy cup.  Go me, and my poor poor ladies.  Anyway, the bottles have just gathered dust as has the breast pump, but it was a hand me down so I don't feel too bad about it. I think if I have another baby I might try a little harder to make the bottle thing happen, but honestly, I haven't ever needed to bottle feed her, and I love to nurse and want to enjoy it as much as I can before she is done. 

And that's it.  Phew!

Monday, July 30, 2012

actual food i've actually tried from Pinterest

I love and hate Pinterest.  At the moment I am loving it.  Since I'm a housewife at the moment I have tried to step up my game and try some new recipes.  Does anyone else get stuck in a recipe rut and make the same things for weeks on end without thinking about it?  One of the frustrating things about Pinnie is that it's a great resource for ideas but they're useless if you don't try any of them  So I have started making a couple of recipes a week that I've pinned, mainly to prove to Sam that I'm not wasting hours on Pinterest but actually accomplishing something.  Here are the ones from the past two weeks.....

(Via here)

Crockpot Cashew Chicken
What a darn good idea, if you have a crock pot.  Ours broke.  But I followed this recipe and just cooked it at a low heat in the oven for about 3 hours and it was delish.  We will most definitely eat this again.  I don't often cook with nuts so it felt slightly exotic to make something with cashews.  And it fit right into my current recipe criteria which are ease, speed and tastiness.

(Via here)

Baked Brie Dip
Holy moly, this was good.  Sam and I both were moaning in ecstacy as we devoured it.  I used half a camembert which was more than enough for a starter for the two of us and also that way I can make it twice:)  The only thing I did differently with this was one was to blend the garlic, tomatoes and herbs before layering it with the cheese to make it smoother.  Another recipe that was easy, fast and GOOD.

(Via here)

Peanut Butter Mug Cake
I was desperate for something tasty, and desperate for this to work.  I don't know if I did something wrong or if our microwave is just bad but it was a disaster, it did not rise or become cake like.  I am intruiged by the idea of a mug cake and would love to find a recipe that works.

(Via here)

Baked Quinoa Broccoli Casserole
  I was a little late hopping onto the quinoa train so I am still testing it out in different forms.  Baked is best in my opinion.  This was pretty good and got the thumbs up from Sam which is always nice.  I used cream of mushroom soup instead of cream of broccoli because that's what I had and it was pretty good.  Fast, easy, tasty.  Yes.

(Via here)

Santa Fe Chicken Salad Wraps
These were really good, a nice combo of flavors and textures.  They met my expectations, we both liked them and I'll probably make them again.