26 July 2012

I bought a car!

In the quest of becoming a real adult, I finally got myself a grown up car. 
It may not seem like a big deal for most people, but for an immigrant with ZERO credit history who has been driving a beat up '97 car with huge transmission issues, its a big deal
I'm so happy to finally have a reliable car that I know will not break down, and it's super pretty too! 
I'm already planning a road trip!

23 July 2012

Mommy Monday: 3 months of Zoey

Weight: 11lbs

Height: about 23 inches, she was wiggling too much for me to be precise.

Clothing size: She has graduated to her 3 month size clothing, although some are too big and she can also still squeeze into her 0-3 month outfits too.
Diaper size: Size 1

Feeding: She drinks 4oz breast milk or formula about every 3 hours.

Sleep: Zoey goes down for the night around 9pm. She usually wakes up around 1am or 3am for her bottle, but sometimes she sleeps all the way until 6am! She is starting to take a longer afternoon nap and a couple of 40min naps in the morning.
Milestones: Zoey loves holding things in her hands or clasping her hands together. She lifts herself higher when doing her mini-push ups, is very alert and is smiling on demand now and she's halfway to rolling over.
Loves: Baths, swing, TV, her playmate Caroline, walks in her stroller.
Dislikes: This heat! Tummy time.
Adventures: 4th of July was Zoey's very first holiday which was exciting. We have been to a lot of family events, but not too many exciting adventures this month.
Mommy and Daddy could not get through the month without: Swaddleme! Zoey struggles to stay asleep without her arms being wrapped. AC, she gets hot very quickly. Family members who love carrying and feeding Zoey and giving us a bit of a break.

20 July 2012

A New York Minute: Top of the Rock

There is undoubtedly something magical about the New York skyline.
Especially when you are on the 70th floor of 30 Rockefeller Plaza.

Located in the middle of the city, Rockefeller Plaza (where the big Christmas tree is each year) is a well known tourist hot spot. Most people who travel to NYC choose to either go up to the top of the Empire State Building or to the top of Rockefeller Plaza to take in an amazing view of the city.

 Whenever anybody asks me, I always recommend going to the "Top of the Rock" observation deck because you get a great 360 view of the city and can experience views of both Central Park and The Empire State building.

Enter 30 Rockefeller Plaza on 50th St between 5th and 6th Ave

Once you exit the very quick and stomach churning elevator ride to the top to are greeted with an unforgettable view that is well worth the $25 price for an adult ticket. There are 3 different viewing levels, 2 of which are outside, and a great resting spot indoors, in between the 2 sides of the building.

We took our baby with us and found everything to be baby and stroller friendly. In fact, we skipped the entire ticket line (because the booth was all the way downstairs) and jumped the queue for the elevator.

Gorgeous 360 views of NYC
After visiting the Top of the Rock; take a tour of NBC studios, dine in the "outdoor" garden during summer time or enjoy some ice skating in winter. 
30 Rockafella plaza should be on everyones NYC bucket list. 

18 July 2012

From Kate's Kitchen: Yogurt marinaded chicken breasts with Quinoa Tabouli

Yogurt Marinaded Chicken Breasts with Quinoa Tabouli

Lets face it, its been almost 3 months since I gave birth and its time to start shedding those pregnancy pounds (and hopefully some other ones too!) This recipe is not only healthy, but oh so delicious!

You will need:

2 chicken breasts (cut in half and pounded)
2 tbsp olive oil
8oz yogurt
1 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp ginger
pinch cumin
juice of 1 lime
1 tsp chopped jalapeno
1/2 tsp salt

Combine all the ingredients in a ziplock bag. Seal the bag and squish everything around so that the ingredients mix together and the chicken gets evenly coated.

Place your Ziplock bag in the fridge and let it marinade overnight (or you can prepare this in the morning and cook it at dinner).

I love the smokey flavor you get from grilling so I grilled my chicken breasts. They should not take very long to cook at all since they were pounded thinly.

While your husband is outside grilling the chicken breasts, you can put together the quinoa dish.

You will need:

1 cup cooked quinoa
1 cup kale
1/2 cup parsley
1/4 cup mint
1/4 cup scallions
3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup tomatoes
juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper

This is another very simple recipe. Chop up your tomato, kale, scallions and herbs and simple combine all the ingredients in a bowl.

I love how very simple and quick this dish is. Quinoa is my latest obsession and I'm dying to try out some other recipes using this Peruvian grain.

15 July 2012

Mommy Monday: Whats in your diaper bag?

  • Diapers (of course) I prefer the pampers swaddlers.
  • Wipes. I don't prefer any specific brand, I just buy whatever is cheapest.
  • Aquaphor cream to prevent diaper rash
  • Burp Cloth (I use the receiving blankets from the hospital)
  • Light Blanket (warmer blanket in colder weather)
  • Pacifiers. I always bring 2 just in case one of them drops.
  • My madela cooler bag which keeps my milk cold until I need to feed the baby.
  • A spare onesie in case of spit up or diaper explosion (this one can be purchased in my shop)
  • A notebook where I write down each time my baby eats or how long she naps for (to help me remember when I last fed her etc.)
  • Piglet snuggle blanket. Zoey love holding things in her hands at this stage and she loves snuggling with this little pig.

11 July 2012

A New York Minute: Coney Island

Welcome to my new series where I explore different places around The Empire State.
Although I have lived here for almost 4 years, I feel like I sometimes take New York for granted.
I started this series to encourage myself to explore New York and see what she has to offer.
I hope you enjoy sharing in my adventures.

Just in time for Summer, today we are heading to...

It has been on my Summer Bucket list every year but, believe it or not, this was my first time visiting Coney Island. Car, train, bus... there are many ways to get to Coney Island (which is located in Brooklyn) we decided to drive and found loads of parking. 

Strolling along the boardwalk, our first stop was at Ruby's bar & grill (where one of Mike's cousins works as a bartender) It is the only bar on the boardwalk, has a fun dive bar kind of atmosphere and the perfect place to sip on a beer or a cocktail while taking in the view of the Atlantic ocean.

Yes, that's Zoey in one hand and a cocktail in the other. I was terrified that I would end up on the 6 o clock news!
Right next door is the original Nathan's famous. Every July 4th it is home to the annual hot dog eating contest where this year Joey Chestnut consumed 69 hot dogs! We couldn't pass up a chance to dine on a world famous hot dog, but we each just settled for 1.

A little bit further along the boardwalk you cannot miss Luna Park. This re-incarnated original amusement park has a fun retro feel to it and reopened in 2010 with 19 new attractions and games. 
One day I hope to bring Zoey here to ride the Cyclone!

Once you have reached the end of the boardwalk (and stopped to stuff your face with funnel cake along the way) you will find yourself at the New York Aquarium. Entrance is free on Friday's after 3pm and although I was a little disappointed with the size of it compared to other aquariums I've visited, who could pass up on paying $0 to see this adorable turtle?

Coney Island was so much fun and is definitely worth a trip to soak up the sun, take in the funky atmosphere, scream your head off on a roller coaster, stuff your face with hot dogs and admire some jellyfish

9 July 2012

Mommy Monday: Nursing regrets

Throughout my pregnancy there was no doubt in my mind that I would be breast feeding my daughter. I wanted what was best for her, I wanted the bonding experience it would give us and financially it was definitely the way to go for the tight budget of a nanny and a student.

Breastfeeding had always seemed like such a simple and natural thing to do. In Africa you would see rural woman with babies attached to their breast at all times and not even give it a second thought. When Zoey latched on to me immediately in the recovery room (1 hour after I gave birth via c-section) I felt an instant connection and thought "Wow. This is easy!" 
My thought was short lived.
The next couple days were filled with frustration, tears and immense pain as Zoey and I tried to figure out this whole "breastfeeding thing". I called in nurses every couple of hours to help me with feedings, but I would usually end up in tears while Zoey screamed her head off and I just lay there exhausted with bleeding nipples (TMI?). Nobody had told me that it would be this hard! I eventually met with the lactation specialist in the hospital and got a few pointers the day before checking out of the hospital.
The next few days at home I couldn't help but begin feeling that feeding my child was a chore. I never felt like she was getting enough to eat and I would sit there for hours trying to get the right latch while tickling her feet to keep her from falling asleep while eating. Eventually, I turned to my trusty Medela pump. At first I pumped just to make sure that Zoey was getting enough to eat, but soon it became very convenient to pump every feed because it meant that I could share feeding duty with my husband and my mom and it also gave us freedom to leave the house. I began to pump more and more and breast feed less and less. Of course, Zoey adjusted to the bottle and began refusing to breastfeed at all.

Because I had given up breastfeeding so early I didn't give my body enough  time to establish a good milk supply so I started to supplement with formula when I needed to (usually just 1 bottle a day). I took fenugreek supplements and drank "mothers milk" tea to try and increase my supply. They seemed to work, but some days were better then others.

I am now 11 weeks postpartum and giving up breastfeeding is my biggest regret. I spend a lot of my time pumping, which sometimes only results in an ounce or so which means that I have started using more and more formula which I hate. Although I don't see any problem with Moms feeding their babies formula, I hate how that stuff effects Zoey's belly, I want her to get all the benefits from real breast milk and also, it's incredibly expensive!

I feel that some breast milk is better then nothing so even if she is getting only half of her food from me, I will continue pumping for as long as I can. If I could turn back the clock and do things differently, but in the mean time I need to try not feel so guilty about it.

Mamas out there! Do you have any tips when it comes to pumping?
What is your breastfeeding story?

5 July 2012

Hot Dogs, Watermelon & Fireworks. Zoey's FIRST holiday.

I'm sure by now you are totally sick of reading posts about what everybody did on the 4th July, but there is no other way to end this weeks patriotic theme. PLUS this one involves a cute baby.

It's funny how much I love celebrating American holidays (being South African and all). Decked out from head to toe in red, white and blue; I can get pretty patriotic about my new home. 'merica!

We had a semi-low key day with my mom, Mike's dad and a couple of cousins coming over to our apartment for a pre-fireworks BBQ. We The boys grilled hamburgers and hot dogs in true American fashion and we sipped on cocktails while soaking up (or sweating out) the nearly 100 degree New York weather.

Yes, you may laugh at our tiny grill!
With all the eating that is involved when celebrating America's birthday, we almost lost track of time and rushed to go see the fireworks. I stuck Zoey in her sling and she immediately fell asleep (babies don't appreciate fireworks). Down the road from our apartment there is a waterfront park/beach where you have clear views of the Long Island Sound. Not only did we get to see "our" display, but we had great views of the neighbouring towns displays too.

How did you celebrate your July 4th?

4 July 2012

4th July

Today is a day of stuffing your face with hotdogs and hanging out with your family while staring up at the sky.
Happy Birthday, America! Thanks for allowing me to live here.
I hope you all have an amazing 4th July!

2 July 2012

4th of July flag cake.

If you are looking to impress some family members at this years 4th July BBQ I have something for you that is sure to beat Grandma's apple pie recipe!

First you will need to bake 3 layers of cake. One red, one blue and one white (just leave out the food coloring for white cake). I used a simple vanilla cake recipe (you could even use that stuff that comes out of a box), divided the batter into 3 bowls and dyed one red and one blue using food coloring before pouring into 8" baking pans and baking in the oven.

When your cakes have had time to cool, cut the white and red layers in half (sandwich style) using a serated knife.

Cut a circle from the centre of the (whole) blue layer so that it looks like a ring. 
Sandwich one layer of white to a layer of red using the frosting of your choice (I used a simple butter frosting). Cut a circle from the middle that is the same size as the blue layer, but this time discard the "ring" and keep the centre circle.

Now its time for assembly:

Frost the remaining half layer of white cake and put the remaining half layer of red ontop. Frost that and add the ring of blue. Add some frosting on the inside of the hollow and add the white and red layered circle insert.

Frost the entire cake.
I just kept it very simple with the white butter frosting since the big reveal is when you slice into the cake.

Salute your efforts and wow your family!

(Taken last year)