Summer French manicure

I have been needing a manicure for more than 3 weeks!  But since I haven’t yet found a babysitter for little Maxi and I can’t take him with me to the salon because he hates sitting in his stroller without visual stimulation (in other words, the park), I wasn’t able to get one.

Luckily, I complained to the right person!  A friend of mine has a woman who comes to her house to do her nails.  On top of that, this manicurist is good and fast.

So she hooked me up with this manicurist and I was able to take care of my nails.  Hurrah!

And, as usual, I spent some time thinking what color and design to get to reflect the weather and my mood.

img_7653

This is my result: a French manicure with a delicate twist – instead of white tips, I got a thin line of sparkly silver.  Oh, and that’s another thing, I decided to cut my nails short so that they aren’t too showy.

Perfect for summer weather!!

A new kind of breakfast

It’s interesting how I went from not eating breakfast at all to it being my favorite meal of the day.


And we all know that a great breakfast is the perfect start to having a great day!


So today I decided to try something new – millet.  Doesn’t sound interesting at all, but lately I have read quite a lot about it, so I thought I’d give it a go.


Why millet?  Well, firstly it is gluten-free, non-allergenic and digests easily.  It contains magnesium, fiber and lots of protein, all of which aide in keeping a healthy heart and digestive system.  There are a host of other health benefits.  If you’re interested, check it out here.



So, after perusing the net for various breakfast millet recipes, I settled on the following combination:

  • 1/2 cup dry millet
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup vanilla flavored oat milk (or any other kind of milk of your choice)
  • goji berries
  • 1 tsp honey
  • cinnamon
  1. Pour millet into a small saucepan and, over low heat, toast until slightly darker.  This gives it a nutty flavor.
  2. Add water and, over medium heat, stir occasionally until it puffs up and reaches a thicker consistency.
  3. Next add the milk, goji berries, honey and cinnamon, stirring until it reaches a creamy consistency – similar to oatmeal.
  4. Transfer to bowl and enjoy!!


This produced quite a large portion.  But, since millet is very light, it is not heavy at all.

The end result was quite tasty, but next time I would rather cook the millet only in the milk, instead of milk and water.  This way I can imagine that it will have a fuller taste to it.

And of course a variety of food can be added – fresh berries, nuts, or anything else that comes to mind!  I am definitely looking forward to experimenting some more with millet!!

Colorful spring nails

My do I love creative nails!  And spring and summer are great motivators to get colorful and creative – the days are longer, the sun is warmer and people are happier!This time, when I went in for my manicure, I spotted some new neon colors — fantastic!  Since recently I had already had a bright orange color, I thought I would go for the neon yellow.  But I didn’t want just that, I needed something else.After scrolling through the net looking for inspiration, I settled on combining the yellow with it’s complimentary color – blue.

And what’s more fun than some designs?  It was a toss up between stripes, stars, triangles or hearts.

Well, you know how that ended 🙂

What’s your favorite color for sunny weather???

Tuna chickpea salad

I love salads.

img_7436

Everything from just some crunchy lettuce with olive oil, to the more complex ones like Cobb or other…

Today’s salad is simple, tasty and filling.

You take some crunchy iceburg lettuce and cover it with a mix of tuna, corn and chickpeas.

img_7439

If you like creamier versions, add a splash of olive oil.

I made one large enough for my husband and myself:

2 overflowing cups romaine lettuce + 1 can tuna + 1 small can corn + 1 can chickpeas

img_7440

Enjoy!

2 sick kids at home…

I just went through a really difficult 2 weeks.  I was taking care of both my boys – both ill – on my own…. no sleep for me!!

4

You know how when kids are ill they are generally more needy and hang on you more?  Well I had that times 2.

And I was the only parent around…

3

But after the first week, which was the worst, things started looking up.  Alexander, my older son, felt much better so he went back to school, and when he was at home, he was helping me with little Maxi.

So, as always, we somehow stumbled through the worst and now we are back to normal life – thank God!

7

Almond blueberry oatmeal

img_7356There’s something about having oatmeal in the morning that just makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. It’s healthy, filling and tastes good with any number of various toppings.

I always cook rolled oats with (lactose-free, low-fat) milk. Oatmeal cooked on water doesn’t have that yummy thickness.  Who wants breakfast that is only so-so??  Not me, for sure!  It’s important for breakfast to be wonderful, to give your day a wonderful start!

 

img_7357

Today’s oatmeal is with roughly chopped almonds…

img_7358

Besides having a fantastic CRUNCH, almonds have healthy monounsaturated fats, fiber, protein and various important nutrients.

img_7359

Then I added my favorite… Blueberries. Blueberries are sweet and nutritious, low in calories and extremely good for you. What’s not to love about them???

And this is a perfect example of how I give myself a great morning boost and am ready to take on whatever comes my way!!

Almond blueberry oatmeal

  • About 1 cup milk
  • 5 tbsp dry rolled oats
  • 2 tbsp almonds
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  1. Pour milk and oats into a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
  2. Roughly chop almonds up.
  3. Rinse your blueberries.
  4. When the oatmeal is ready, transfer to a bowl and add nuts and berries.
  5. Savor every bite!! Mmmmmm

Establishing a sleep pattern with baby

poland-slovakia map

It’s been a while since I last posted.  That’s because there have been some changes in our lives.  Currently we live in Warsaw, Poland.  My husband accepted a job in Bratislava, Slovakia (neighboring country).  So he left last Sunday, and from now on will be flying over every weekend, or every second weekend.  We will continue living like this through his 3 month “trial period” at work, after which, if he decides to continue working in that company (which I’m pretty sure he will), we will move to Bratislava just in time for Alexander to start the school year in his new school.

So it’s just me and the boys during the week.  And that’s fine – I can manage, but I had to make some changes to our daily routine so that everything would work…

I have been putting all my focus on little Maxi during the day, and then he and I have been driving Alexander to all his after-school activities in the second half of the day.  While waiting for X, Maxi and I have been going for walks or, on rainy days, hanging out in the car…

Up until now, Maxi’s days have been a mosh-posh of random, short naps and feeding sessions.  Luckily his nights have been quite consistent.  But the randomness during the day makes it hard for me to plan anything since I never know how Maxi will be.

High time for Maxi to have a regular pattern of sleeping and eating throughout the day.  After all, he is 4 months old!  In establishing such a pattern with a baby and/or toddler, there are 2 things we must always keep in mind:

  1. Patience is key.  I learned with my first child that it takes about 2 weeks in order to establish a habit with a child.  If you can manage for 2 weeks, you will have a long time of calm afterwards.
  2. Don’t try to change too many things at once.  For example, I am now working on fixing a set pattern of day-time naps with my 4 month old.  Up until now, he napped at random times, in various places (sometime his crib, but more often in my or my husband’s arms, in his bouncy chair….), and always being rocked to sleep.  So first I am getting him used to sleeping at the same time every day, always in his crib.  Which means that for now I still lull him to sleep.  Once he gets used to falling asleep at the same time each day, I will start getting him used to falling asleep on his own (boy am I not looking forward to that struggle!!).  Small steps moving forward to a bigger goal 🙂

Maxi sleeping in arms

I wanted to use Maxi’s natural tendencies as guidelines for establishing a pattern.  Therefore, I created a 24-hour timeline where I recorded Maxi’s sleeping, eating and awake times.  Nothing too complicated, it’s in 1/2 hour increments, and I use 3 different highlighter colors: sleep = pink, eat = green, awake = yellow.

Note: my little monkey is exclusively breastfed…

The first week I used this (while my husband was still at home), you can see how random Maxi’s days were.

week 1 schedule

But this second week, when I’m alone with Maxi during the days and able to focus solely on him, a pattern is beginning to emerge!  Already!

week 2 schedule

Turns out that he was often waking up from his naps before he was ready – due to gas, or dreams, or whatever.  And now that I help him get back to sleep, he gets proper day naps.

His feeding is still kind-of all over the place, but it will fall into place once we establish the sleeping pattern.

He has 3 naps during the day.  The first one is the longest, and the third is the shortest.

monitor nap

I know how important routine is for children, and that is what we have.

Generally Maxi wakes up between 7:30-8:30.  Upon waking up, I wash his face and change him our of his pj’s (a onsie + sleep sack) into some comfortable footsies.  It’s about 1/2 hour before it’s time for his morning feeding.  After this feeding he is his most active and talkative, so he spends most of this time on his play mat learning to roll over and talking to his toys.

tummy time

Then, throughout the day he’s awake for about 2 hours and then goes down for 1-2 hours, then awake again for 2 hours, etc…  We still have to iron this part out, which is a bit difficult since we are usually driving Alexander around to his various after-school activities and thus Maxi dozes randomly in the car…

Then our evenings are back to a regular pattern: Maxi’s last feeding of the day is around 8:30-9pm, and then he’s down for the night.

I don’t bathe him every day (I believe that it is unnecessary since he doesn’t get dirty and bathing him every day would dry out his skin), but on the days that I do, I bathe him just before his last feeding. On the days he doesn’t bather, I wash his face, clean his hands, etc…

I don’t do dream feeds.  I come from the school of thought of: “let sleeping babies lie”.  Maxi usually wakes around 12:30-1am for his first night feeding, then around 4-5am for his second.

This is difficult, but only after we have a set pattern, I will start weaning him off his night feedings.

Ideally, I’d like him to wake for feeding (and then go back to sleep) around 6 or 6:30am, because then I can start my day before the rest of the house wakes up.  But this is a goal I will work to achieve later.

Now having written it all out, it does seem like a difficult process!  And it is!  But then once the pattern is set, I know that our days will become easy and predictable.

 

 

Healthy pancakes + tip for greasing your pan

Mmmmmm…. pancakes – who doesn’t love them???  There are so many different ways to make pancakes, someone could write a whole book – say, there’s an idea!!

5

Anyways, so I’m always looking for yummy recipes with a healthier twist, and I have found a good one for pancakes on http://www.kimscravings.com.

3

I didn’t really have to alter anything – I like this recipe as is!

2

As for my tip – I learned it from my Russian grandmother.  She was amazing in the kitchen, cooking the most delicious dishes!!  I loved visiting her every summer in Moscow.  Check out the instructions…

4

Oatmeal-Banana Pancakes: Serving size: 2 pancakes – 230 kcal

  • 1 cup milk (recipe calls for Almond milk, I used lactose-free, low-fat milk)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 large banana
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2-3 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 cups rolled oats (can be gluten-free)
  • your choice of toppings 🙂
  1. Heat a pan on medium heat.
  2. Here’s my tip for greasing pans: take a small, raw potato.  Wash it and cut it in half.  Discard 1 half.  Peel the other half so that there is no skin on the edges of the potato half and stick it on a fork.  Pour a small amount of oil into a bowl, dip the potato (cut side down) into the oil and smear it onto the pan.  This way you don’t get too much oil on your pan (and thus onto your pancakes), while the pan is still greased enough so that nothing burns 🙂
  3. Put all ingredients into a bowl and blend until smooth.  Now you can check the consistency.  If you think it’s too thick, you can always add more milk (I did).
  4. Pour about 1/4 cup onto the pan, wait until small bubbles form on the top and golden-brown on bottom, then flip and brown the other side.
  5. Do the same with the remaining batter.
  6. Top with your favorite toppings – my husband ate these with Nutella, while I had one with peanut butter, the other with strawberry yogurt.

Talk about easy pancakes!!

1

Sleeping baby + French toast with blueberries

I am so thankful for mornings like today’s.  Of course I had the usual night feedings with Maxi – at 3am and 5am.  Then, when he woke at around 7am, I was so dead tired that I handed him over to hubby and went back to bed, thinking I had about 1 hour maximum before Maxi would need his next feeding.

But I was wrong.

Hubby and baby woke me up at 10am (!!!) for feeding.  Turns out that they spent a great morning together playing and chilling and only finally at 10 was Maxi ready for more food.

5

Fantastic.

So then I fed him and he immediately fell asleep for his morning nap.  He was so ready to sleep that when I put him in his bouncy chair, he just closed his eyes, despite the noise around him.

4

I love when that happens.

This meant that I had time to calmly prepare breakfast, eat it, and even write this post!  And he is STILL sleeping (even though the cleaning lady is here, vacuuming, I’ve got my spotify on, etc…).

1

So what’s for breakfast today?  French toast with blueberries.  Total calories?  260kcal

2

  • 2 slices rye bread
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp low-fat milk
  • 125g blueberries
  • 1/2 tbsp brown sugar
  1. Whisk egg with milk.
  2. Properly soak bread in egg mixture.
  3. Place bread on heated pan over medium heat.
  4. Once the bottoms are golden brown, flip to other side.
  5. Transfer bread to plate.
  6. Wash blueberries and scatter over bread slices.
  7. Sprinkle with the brown sugar.

3

Eating healthy doesn’t mean being on a boring, tasteless diet!!

Hungry yet???

Bacon Spinach Salad

I found an awesome salad recipe!  At first I thought it had just a few ingredients so how could it possibly be filling enough to be a meal, or even tasty?  But wow, was I surprised!  I found this recipe on http://www.alexandracooks.com.  It makes 2 servings, but my version below is just for 1.

1

I find that this is perfect for a light supper meal.

 

Bacon Spinach Salad for 1

Calories: 335

  • I hard boiled egg
  • 1-2 tbsp diced red onion
  • 1-2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of sugar
  • olive oil (double the amount of vinegar)
  • 2-3 slices bacon (I had super thin smoked)
  • about 120g spinach
  1. Place the bacon slices on a pan over medium heat until crisp – not burnt!.  Once done, blot with paper towels to remove some of the fat.
  2. In the meantime, soak the onions in vinegar with salt and sugar, for 10 minutes.
  3. While waiting for the onions, wash the spinach and set to dry.
  4. After the 10 minutes are up, whisk the olive oil into the onions.
  5. Once the bacon is done, heat up a large pot filled with water (maybe about 1/3-1/2 of the pot).
  6. Next, transfer spinach into a metal bowl or medium-sized pot.
  7. Tear up the bacon into bite-sized pieces and throw into the spinach.
  8. Pour the onion mixture into the spinach.
  9. When the water in the large pot is simmering, place the bowl/smaller pot with spinach over it until the spinach is slightly wilted, mixing occasionally.
  10. While you’re waiting for the spinach to wilt, cut up the egg.  I cut it into 8 wedges.
  11. Transfer the spinach salad onto a plate and place the eggs on top.

5

Note: the original recipe calls for breadcrumbs.  I find that the breadcrumbs fried in oil are, first of all, an unnecessary calorie bomb, but also the salad tastes so good without the breadcrumbs, that they are simply not needed!  You can do as you choose 🙂

4