Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Follow by email

Hi Friends
 
I'm fully over at the new domain now. Although you're automaitcally redireted there if you come to this page, I know there are a few of you who subscribe via email. I just figured out how to add that option to the new blog. So head over to The Quinntessential Mommy and subscribe via email!
 
 

Friday, February 21, 2014

Hi All!
 
I recently switched all things Quinntessential Mommy over to a new, custom domain name. I'm doing it all myself (!) and there are still a few kinks to work out, but we're up and running for the most part.

So, please head over to TheQuinntessentialMommy.com and follow me there. Eventually this blog will redirect you there automatically but I'm having trouble figuring that out. (Anyone out there know how to do it??)


Before you go, be sure Like The Quinntessential Mommy on Facebook so you're in the loop!
 
The Quinntessential Mommy
 
See ya on the flip side!
 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day!


Happy LOVE Day!


Valentine's day is one of my favorite days of the year. What's better than celebrating love? It doesn't have to be romantic love--I like celebrating all the love I have in my life!

Since we had yet another snow day yesterday, Gia and I made my favorite super soft sugar cookies. I absolutely love simple, yet tasty, cookies and a few years ago I was on the hunt for a sugar cookie that stayed soft. I found this recipe and they are totally my jam.


We make them every year for Valentine's day and Gia had so much fun using the cookie cutters, brushing the cookies with egg yolk and decorating them with sprinkles. Sometimes we ice them and sometimes we don't. We didn't ice them this year and they are just as delicious.   

So, without further ado, here's the recipe...



 
1 cup white sugar
1 cup butter, softened

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1. In a large bowl, combine the sugar, butter, cream cheese, salt, almond and vanilla extracts, and egg. Beat until smooth. 
2. Stir in flour until well blended. Chill the dough for 2-3 hours.
 
3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
 
4. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough 1/3 at a time to 1/8 inch thickness, refrigerating remaining dough until ready to use. Cut into desired shapes with lightly floured cookie cutters. Place 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets. 
5. Leave cookies plain for frosting, or brush with slightly beaten egg white and sprinkle with candy sprinkles or colored sugar.
 
6. Bake for 7 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until light and golden brown. Cool cookies completely before frosting.
 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

God Bless Nicholas Robert!

On a cold, sunny day in January my little boy officially became a Catholic. He was baptized by Msgr G, who also officiated at our wedding, and baptized Gia too.  It meant so much to me to have the Msgr baptize the newest member of our family. 
 
 
 
How cute is he in his little suit and hat?



Nicholas was baptized on the same day we celebrated the baptism of Jesus. The church was still decorated for the Christmas season and it was beautiful. 
 
 

Nicholas was a champ. He was a happy little camper and didn't even flinch when he got wet.

Gia hasn't been to church in a while (bad Catholics that we are) and she was all over the place during the ceremony: in the pew, out of the pew, standing by us, jumping off the altar...you get the idea. Luckily we were the only family in the church so it wasn't that big of a deal.

I love these next pictures--they are the embodiment of love and family to me.  First, godmother Jenn is holding her godson, and Dawn is standing with Gia, her goddaughter. These two are such amazing women and my kids are lucky to have them in their lives.


Next, Nicholas's godfather Tom is holding him and Jon is standing with Colin, who is Jon's godson. These guys are all awesome role models for Nicholas.



And of course, one beautiful shot with Yadi!!


After church we headed to a local restaurant and had a yummy dinner to celebrate Nicholas. Nicholas also had a wardrobe change into a little white sweatsuit with a baby blue velvet collar and cuffs.


For some reason I was obsessed with getting a custom cake for Nicholas. It was absolutely gorgeous and insanely delicious (it was chocolate cake with cookies and cream/Oreo filling).  I accidentally smashed the cross on the top when I put the box top on too tightly. And, in typical Krista fashion, I decided it was of the utmost importance that I make the favors--chocolate crosses and cake pops. Of course the crosses turned into the biggest debacle ever, but in the end it all worked out. The cake pops, on the other hand, were so easy and so much fun. There were many inquires about where the cake pops were from, which made me feel really good about my hard work.



It was a beautiful day, surrounded by family and filled with God's love!

 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Vacation, All I Ever Needed...

Vacation...had to get away!
 
We're leaving today for Jamaica for a week. Jamaica, as in the Caribbean. Not Queens. 
 
This is Gia last time we were in Jamaica.

I'll try to post here as often as I can. Cell service and wifi are spotty in Jamaica. In the meantime, follow me on Facebook for updates much more often!

Stay warm, everyone!








Monday, February 3, 2014

Lucy's & No Bake Mini Cheesecakes


You know how much I love to cook and bake. And lately I haven't been doing either one much because I'm trying to lose the last of the baby weight. But, when I was given the opportunity to try Lucy's Cookies, I jumped at the chance. The cookies are all natural, non-GMO, gluten free and made without nuts, milk and eggs. And many of their ingredients are organic.  And...Lucy's are the most delicious cookies.




I tried Maple Bliss, Ginger Snap and Cinnamon Thin. All of the cookies are crunchy and pack a huge amount of flavor into the perfect little cookie. Each cookie is only 1 point on Weight Watchers Points Plus, and I found myself saving up 3 points each day so that, after the kids were asleep, I could sit and have some cookies and a cup of tea.




My favorite of the 3? Definitely the Maple Bliss. It's pretty unique -- I've never had a maple cookie before--and the flavor is perfection.  Not too subtle, not too strong, sweet and also a bit savory. It took all my willpower to not eat the entire box in one sitting. Clearly Gia loved them too.




And then I had the brilliant idea to do something even better with the cookies---bake with them! I've been really in the mood for cheesecake lately and I've been wanting to try a no bake recipe. So, I combined my new favorite cookie and this yummy recipe and came up with an awesome little cupcake-sized piece of cheesecake heaven.  

The best part of this recipe is that you can use low-fat cream cheese and fat free whipped topping for a lighter alternative, while still having awesome flavor.  (Don't use fat free cream cheese or the cheesecakes won't set at all.)


Maple Bliss No Bake Mini Cheesecakes

no bake mini  cheesecakes -- The QUINNtessential Mommy
Crust:
1 package of your favorite Lucy's cookies, ground to crumbs (about 3/4 cup of crumbs)
(I used Maple Bliss this time because they are my favorite, favorite, favorite ones.)
3 tablespoons melted butter
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

Filling:
2 (8 oz) packages of cream cheese, softened
1 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup of frozen whipped topping (like Cool Whip)

1. Line 24 muffin tins with cupcake liners.

2. In a bowl, mix together crushed cookies with melted butter and the 3 tablespoons sugar.

3. Press crumb mixture into muffin tins.

4. Beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until smooth

5. Fill each muffin tin to desired level. (I like a LOT of crust, so I didn't fill mine so full.) 

6. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Garnish with whatever you like!



 
 
 **I was given Lucy's Cookies to test. The recipe for the cheesecake is adapted from All Recipes. All opinions are my own.**

Friday, January 31, 2014

Back on Track! {Fat Free Friday}

Fat Free Friday

  I was so excited to weigh myself this morning. I know I did things right this week and was very hopeful. I was expecting a loss, and I was right!
 
Week 5: Down 1.1 lbs!!


Starting Weight: 120.9 Remember, I'm only 5 feet tall. I'm a tiny person and 120 is muffin-top, clothes-don't-fit, fluffy belly, feeling-crappy-about-myself territory.)

Current Weight: 116.2

Loss or Gain: loss! Yay!

Goal Weight: 112 (that was my pre-pregnancy weight) Only 4 lbs to go! I'm hoping this only takes another month to get to...

Challenges this week: not weighing myself every day. After last week--which was so tough--it was hard not to hop on the scale every morning to see if I was making progress or not this week.

What I ate: Lots of fruit and veggies and I followed my rule of eating a piece of fruit before anything else, and, once again, it worked. I wasn't starving this week either. I also hit 10,000 steps nearly every day.

What I'm focusing on next week: Not eating everything in sight and making sure I get my 10,000 steps in. We are going away on Tuesday...to an all inclusive beach resort in the Caribbean. I'm not about to totally deprive myself while we're on vacation, but I don't want to go overboard either. Finding that balance might be difficult.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Peanut Butter Chocolate Crispy Brownies

A few weeks ago I went to a family gathering. Knowing that sweets are my thing, my cousin (who was the hostess) asked me to bring dessert.

There's nothing I love more than baking. Scouring of the internet and Pinterest boards commenced immediately. I have a board called "Desserts to Try" exactly for occasions like this--when cupcakes and cookies are too "easy".

I narrowed it down to 2 recipes I've been wanting to try and then I agonized for a few days about which one to choose. 

And I ended up going with:
But you already knew that because of the title of this post. 
 
They look really yummy right? Well, looks aren't everything. They are seriously the most delicious things I've ever tasted. And they are so so so addicting. I'm over here trying to lose the last of the baby weight and these things were just killing me. I couldn't be around them without eating every last one. Not surprisingly, that was the week I didn't lose any weight. Hmmm...
 

Anyway, here's the recipe. I dare you to NOT make them.
 

Peanut Butter Chocolate Crispy Brownies

Ingredients:

  • 1 batch of your favorite brownie recipe for a 9x13-inch pan (I used Ghirardelli brownies and just baked them in a 9x13 pan at 325 for about 30 minutes)
  • 10-12 Reese's peanut butter cups, chopped
  • 1½ cups milk chocolate chips
  • 1½ cups peanut butter (creamy or crunchy--your choice)
  • 1½ cups Rice Krispies cereal

Directions:

1. Make the brownies according to the package. When there are 5 minutes left on the baking time, remove from the oven and sprinkle the top with the chopped peanut butter cups. Return to the oven and bake for 5 additional minutes.


2.When the brownies are finished baking, take them out of the oven and gently spread out the peanut butter cups, which should now be melted.  Let this cool for a few minutes.

3. Then spread the peanut butter over the peanut butter cups. (Yes, peanut butter on top of peanut butter...)

4. Then, melt the chocolate chips. (I prefer to do this in the microwave.) Once melted, stir in the cereal and evenly coat.  Pour the chocolate crispy mixture over top. Spread to cover evenly. 

5. Refrigerate for 2 hours before cutting and serving. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Recipe adapted from Brown Eyed Baker 

 Go ahead and pin them.  You know you want to!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Fat Free Friday {a little late}

 
I delayed in posting this because this past week was NOT a good week for weight loss. This was absolutely the toughest week yet, and I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that I was cooped up in the house, thanks to the snow. When I'm home all I want to do is eat. I stuck to my points, only going over each day by a few points (which is ok bc I have "flex points").  And the Fitbit is helping keep me motivated to move around. I'm walking anywhere between 8,000 and 10,000 steps a day.

So why they heck did I...
 
Week 4: stayed the same


Starting Weight: 120.9 (Let me remind you that I am 5 feet tall. I'm a tiny person and 120 is muffin-top, clothes-don't-fit, fluffy belly, feeling-crappy-about-myself territory.)

Current Weight: 117.3

Loss or Gain: neither. Stayed the same

Goal Weight: 112 (that was my pre-pregnancy weight)

Challenges this week: Being cooped up.

What I ate: Not enough fruit and veggies this week. I didn't follow my rule of eating a piece of fruit before anything else, and it showed in my lack of weight loss. 

Also, I let myself get way too hungry several times this week. Rather than having something small to eat when I was moderately hungry, I'd wait till I was nearly shaky with hunger. Then, no matter what I ate, I was not full or satisfied. It was not a good situation.

What I'm focusing on next week: Back to eating tons of fruits and veggies and drinking lots of water. I also cannot let myself get too hungry. 

With just about 1 week till I'm on a beach, I need to focus this week and get back on track!
 
 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Nicholas is 3 Months!

Nicholas is 3 months old! 

Gia heard me say 3 and she thinks they're the same age now. But then I explained that he's months and she's years and she declared "years are better".
 

We don't have a well-visit this month, so I'm estimating his weight to be in the 14 pound range!

As for height, all I can say is he's definitely growing! He's getting too tall for 0-3 month clothes -- his little ankles hang out of everything, so we've moved on to 3-6 or 6 month sizes. He was probably ready for this a week ago, but I just couldn't part with the little stuff yet. I'm not ready for my baby to get big!
 

 
 
 Also filed under the "I don't want my baby to get big" category is the fact that Nicholas is still sleeping in our room. He was getting way too big for the bassinet so we tried one night in his crib. He woke up a few times that night and I was miserable going back and forth a million times. So, we moved the pack-n-play into our room, which my husband is thrilled about. But, it works for now.  We're going away in 2 weeks and we'll transition him to his crib when we return.
  


In other news, Nicholas now sleeps through the night! This started a little less than a week ago. He'd had a really good eating day and I had a feeling he was ready. Prior to sleeping through the night, he'd been taking between 28 & 30 oz a day, with 5 or 6 of those ounces around 3 am. For a few nights he'd take only 3 or 4 oz in the middle of the night and fall deeply back to sleep for another 5 hour stretch. It seemed like he was waking up more out of habit than anything else. So last week he had a marathon eating day and took about 35 oz in a 24 hour period--30 oz during his waking hours. I was confident that his belly was full and he'd had enough to eat. So that night when he started fussing at 3 am, I put his pacifier in and put my hand on his belly and shushed him. (In general he really responds well to the shhhhh sound. Day or night, when he's fussing, he usually just wants to be close to me and to be shushed. And I love just about every second of that!!) It took about 10 minutes for him to settle--there was lots of wriggling around and sucking hard on the paci. But, once he settled down, he slept till 8 am without a peep!
 
Now that Nicholas sleeps through the night, he generally has 5 bottles a day. Each are 6 oz and the last one before bedtime is usually 7.5. 
 
 

My little munchkin is much more serious than his sister was (maybe he takes after me? My husband and Gia are goofballs). He loves to talk and he makes tons of noises, but it takes a bit to get him to smile and laugh. He can roll from his belly to his back, although I've never actually seen him do it. I'll put him down for tummy time (which he's ok with--Gia hated it) and I'll walk away for a minute and he'll be on his back. If I stand and watch, he won't do it. 
 
 

And, although this might sound crazy, I think he's started teething already! I constantly see his little tongue flicking his lower gums. (You can see him doing it in the picture below.) I can definitely see white buds under there, and if I put my finger in his mouth he chews on it very hard. I wouldn't be surprised if a tooth popped through before he turns 4 months!
 
 
 
For comparison:
The older Nicholas gets, the less I see any resemblance between these 2! Gia's coloring is so much darker than Nicholas. The shape of her eyes, the shape of her head, and her chubby little body are all so different from Nicholas's.  You can't tell here, but Nicholas's eyes are still a hazel color. I hope they stay that way!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Ovia {and Fitbit}



Near the very end of my pregnancy I was contacted by Ovuline, a website and app that was originally designed to help women get pregnant. They just launched a new app geared specifically toward staying healthy while pregnant and wanted me to try it out.
 
 
 
I only had the chance to use the app at the very end of my pregnancy, but it was an awesome resource. With places to record your mood, pregnancy symptoms, daily activity, hours slept, foods eaten and weight gain, you're always be on top of your nutrition and health while pregnant. And, the BEST part? If you have a Fitbit, you can link your Fitbit to the app and specific data will be reported to the Ovia app and then it's "translated" into what that means for you because you're pregnant!

I was also given a hot pink Fitbit Flex to try out, and I just hooked this bad boy up yesterday. I think I'm in love. It was easy to set up and I barely know it have it on, yet it's keeping track of my every move (literally).  I wish I'd had this for my pregnancy.  It takes all the guesswork out of eating well, moving your body and staying healthy.
 
 
If you're thinking of getting pregnant in the near future, or are pregnant now and want to be sure you're up on your nutrition, check out Ovia's website. You can test out a computer version of the app and get a feel for all that it can do. I promise you won't be disappointed.

And, if you're thinking about getting a Fitbit...do it. I love pedometers, so I love to log on a bajillion times a day to see how many steps I've taken. But, my most favorite part is the sleep tracker. Before you go to bed you set it to "sleep mode" and it tracks how long you sleep and how well you sleep. It even tells you how long it took you to fall asleep. Seriously, how cool is that!? It's making fitness and my health almost like a game  And I'll stick with anything that's fun :)
 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Fat Free Friday

For the next few weeks (or maybe, ahem, months) I'm going to dedicate Friday to losing weight, as I attempt to get rid of these last, pesky 8 lbs from my pregnancy with Nicholas.

When I was pregnant with Gia I gained about 32 lbs. Two or three of those pounds were from swelling. That, coupled with the fact that Gia was 9 lbs 1 oz at birth, meant that when I got on the scale two weeks after her birth, I only had 7 lbs to lose.  I joined Weight Watchers and did it for about 3 weeks. It was summer, I was active and the weight came off with not much effort.

I actually gained less with Nicholas--about 29 lbs in total. Nicholas was a normal sized baby though, and, let's face it, I'm 3 years older this time. I also gained weight much more quickly with Nicholas. With Gia I didn't start packing on the pounds until the middle and the end of the pregnancy. With Nicholas I was gaining a pound a week from the start, and then in the middle I slowed down.

After Nicholas was born I got on the scale and it wasn't pretty. I tried not to think about it though. My new found muffin top would have to wait. The holidays were right around the corner and there was no way I was going to count calories during the yummiest time of the year. So I really and truly didn't worry. I ate whatever I wanted throughout the Christmas season. I was preparing to detox after the holidays were over.

By 28th of December, I'd had enough. I was eating like crap and feeling like it too. So I signed up for Weight Watchers online. I've had success with them before and I was ready. And, in the spirit of full disclosure, our winter vacation is fast approaching and the thought of being on a beach at that weight was a not a happy thought.

Week 1... I lost 2.3 lbs.
Week 2... I stayed exactly the same

And today marks the start of week 3.

Down 1.3! YAY!


Starting Weight: 120.9 (Let me remind you that I am 5 feet tall. I'm a tiny person and 120 is muffin-top, clothes-don't-fit, fluffy belly, feeling-crappy-about-myself territory.)
 
Current Weight: 117.3

Loss or Gain: Loss of 1.4

Goal Weight: 112 (that was my pre-pregnancy weight)

Challenges this week: Nicholas's baptism was Sunday. I ate everything I wanted that day, but only small portions. It seems to have worked!
 
My other challenges are:
1. The evenings. I tend to save up my points because I'm an after-dinner snacker. I know it's not the greatest, but that is the hardest time for me to not eat.  
 
2. Mentally feeling satisfied. There have been plenty of times this week when I was full but not satisfied. It's really important for me to feel satisfied or else my whole day will be derailed. I can only take deprivation for so long and then I freak and eat everything in sight. So I've been have a piece of chocolate or some other small sweet every day. 

What I ate: Tons more fruit and veggies this week. When I'm hungry I always have a piece of fruit before anything else. If I'm still hungry after the fruit, I find something else.

What I'm focusing on next week: Drinking more. I hate drinking and don't drink enough of anything. And forget about water. Yuck. This week I'm breaking out my water bottle from when I was pregnant and I'm going to aim for 16 oz of water a day, and anything else I drink (which is usually seltzer).

 

Eyes on the prize...this was 1 year ago (Feb 2013) in St. John. Not perfect, but a comfortable, attainable weight for me.

Anyone else on a weight loss journey this year?  I want to hear all about it! Find me on Facebook and tell me your favorite low-cal recipe!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Nicholas's Nursery {finally!}


Before we jump right in and check out Nicholas's nursery,  let me tell you a little bit about Nicholas's room and how it all came together.

When I was pregnant with Gia, Jon let me have carte blanche when it came to decorating her room. Well, kinda. I picked her bedding and the colors, but he drew the line when I asked him to paint two-toned stripes on her walls. (I know it's not that hard to do, but, in his defense, her room at the time was HUGE. It would have taken him forever. And a day.)

So, once we found out we were having a boy, I let Jon pick the theme of the nursery and from there we picked stuff out together. He absolutely loves the beach (and the summer), so he chose a nautical theme. Over the next few months, we had so.much.fun shopping for things for Nicholas's room.

So without further ado, here is the {mostly} finished product. 

{All photos are courtesy of Noelle Soroka Photography unless otherwise noted.}


Yes the anchor is a little crooked (thanks to the hanging hook on the back). Nicholas absolutely loves the anchor too. When we change his diaper he stares at it the entire time.

One of the things I like best about Nicholas's room is that we did three walls in an awesome khaki color and the fourth wall is navy blue. The effect is very very cool.
 
 
 
The blanket in these pictures is Jon's baby blanket. His mom saved it and gave it to me at my sprinkle. I'm totally sentimental like that (you're not surprised, right? This is really just an extension of a tradition!) and I love that Nicholas has this and that it looks so cool in his room.
 
 
 
 
Above Nicholas's crib we hung a vinyl compass decal. And here you can see the navy blue wall. 
 
Photo credit: Me
We found this little whale in Home Goods and he was on sale for something like $3. I had to have him. 
 
 

Before Nicholas was born, we had Gia paint a picture especially for her baby brother. I found an anchor to go with theme of Nicholas's room, and set her up with paint colors that coordinated with Nicholas's room decor.
 
Photo Credit: me
 
Once the paint dried, I cut it and framed it and it's currently in Nicholas's room, waiting to be hung. (We also have an awesome captain's wheel that Jon stained and also needs to be hung.)
 
Photo Credit: me

What do you think?