Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Black Bean Brownies

I've heard of people making brownies with black beans before, but I was always slightly skeptical about it.  This recipe intrigued me, though, since it uses a food processor to puree the beans before using them in the recipe.  I figured it was worth a shot, so I tried it out last week!

We (all three of us) LOVED how they turned out!  They were fudgy and rich and tasted amazing warm.  We'll definitely be making them again in the future!

Black Bean Brownies (Grain-Free)

1 can black beans (no salt added, preferred), drained and rinsed thoroughly
3 lightly beaten eggs
1/3 cup melted coconut oil (or butter)
1/4 cup cocoa powder (I used Trader Joe's)
1/8 tsp. salt (I used sea salt)
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup sucanat (or other natural sweetener)
1/2 cup chopped dark chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips
(optional) 1/3 cup nuts (I omitted, since I hate nuts in my chocolate)

Grease an 8x8 pan and preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a food processor, blend beans until very smooth. In a mixing bowl, combine beans and eggs. Add each additional ingredient, mixing after adding each one.  When thoroughly mixed, pour batter into prepared pan.  Bake brownies for about 30 minutes, or until done.  Let cool slightly before cutting, but serve while still warm.

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Monday, January 30, 2012

New Page

Some of you may have noticed that I recently added a new page to Feathers in Our Nest.  It's called "Tips & Tutorials" and it is a listing of lots of projects, tutorials, crafts, holiday posts, and more.  I'm trying to make my archives easier to navigate, so I hope that this is a step in the right direction!
Check it out!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

National Blueberry Pancake Day

Today we are celebrating National Blueberry Pancake Day!
I made this pancake recipe (used 2/3 whole-wheat flour & 1/3 white flour, and sucanat instead of sugar) and added blueberries to the pancakes while they were cooking.  In the meantime, I made this homemade blueberry sauce (used sucanat instead of sugar and added lemon zest) to serve over top of the pancakes.
Mmm... they were good!  Are you celebrating today?
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Friday, January 27, 2012

Nursery Tour!

I've posted bits and pieces about our new nursery, but I decided it was time to post about the whole room!  We love how the room turned out.  There are still more things we plan on doing in there as time goes on, but for now, we're quite pleased with it!
Longtime blog readers will recognize many DIY projects from Vera's nursery, which we moved to a different room so we could accommodate both chickadees.  For a full list of those projects (with links to how-to's), visit our original nursery reveal post.
We plan on hanging Vera's quilt behind her crib, so that's why there isn't anything on that wall at the moment.
I love this little corner... so happy and colorful!  It will be perfect for cuddling, reading, and nursing.
I already shared the hoop art that we made for above Mango's crib.  It's still one of my favorite parts of the nursery! 
Currently, Vera's baby doll is demonstrating where Baby Mango will sleep.  Vera helps tuck her doll into bed several times a day, and also enjoys changing the tiny cloth diapers that I made for her.
We "made" a closet in one corner of the room using spring rods and curtains.  There is a LOT of space in there, especially since baby clothes are so little!
We also have a beautiful dresser to use too.
We hung a big mirror above the dresser next to the kite hairbow holder I made for bow storage.  I love that the mirror reflects so many colorful things!
This corner is the "play" corner and is not finished yet.  I hope this area can be used for toy storage and the table can be used for art/craft projects in the future.  I also hope to decorate these two corner wall in a gallery style, with lots of framed pictures of the girls as well as some fun art.
Of course I can't leave out the bird mobile hanging above the changing table!  I made this for Vera's nursery two years ago and I love it just as much now as I did then.  Vera adores it too, and it works as a great distraction for her while we change her diaper.  I thought by putting it over the changing table, both girls could enjoy it.
I made pink houndstooth shades for the room to add a pop of color since I was using white curtains. (IKEA Vivan curtains are the only ones I've found that are long enough for our massively high ceilings!)  I hemmed the fabric to the right width, then attached it to the old roller shade roll using hot glue and a staple gun.
Like I said, there are still a few more things we'd like to do in the nursery, but for now we are thankful for all we've been able to accomplish in just a couple of weeks!  The painting of the room took us much longer than we were expecting, but we are so pleased with the results.
This is what the room looked like BEFORE (when we moved into the house), so I think we've come a long way, baby!
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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Baby Countdown Checklist: Revisited!

our nursery
I know a lot of you were stressed out for me with all I had to do to prepare for Mango's arrival when I first posted this list.  I wanted to let you know that while I've added some things to this list, I've also checked off quite a bit!  Here is the updated version:

Week 34
-pre-wash new diapers (done)
-buy cloth diaper detergent (done)

Week 35
-paint nursery (done... it took a total of 22 man-hours, but it's done!)
-arrange care for Vera for when I go into labor (done)
-write notes for Vera's caretaker(s) (done)
-deep-clean our bedroom (since Mango will be in there with us at first) (working on)
-make a new batch of laundry detergent (done)

Week 36
-gather breastfeeding supplies (covers, pads, lanolin, nursing bras, etc.) (done)
-gather post-partum supplies (done)
-get out newborn clothes (done)
-set up nursery (move around furniture, arrange closet, hang curtains, maybe decorate a little, etc.) (done, though there are still a few things we'd like to do in there as time goes on)
-pack hospital bags (mine, Tad's, baby's) (done)
-pack Vera's bag (working on)
-take maternity photos (done)

Week 37
-bake several loaves of whole-wheat bread (also made this recipe too) and freeze (working on; one loaf baked)
-make a few meals for the freeze (done)
-create a freezer inventory list (done)
-stock pantry with staples (rice, oatmeal, canned goods, etc.) (done, though I may have to restock if baby is really "late")
-set up guest room (my mom will be staying with us after the birth) (done)

Week 38
-write shower thank-you notes
-write and schedule next 2-3 review posts for She {hearts} It (almost done)
-catch up (or get ahead!)

Week 39
-buy any last-minute needs (disposable diapers, wipes, etc.)
-thoroughly clean out fridge
-thoroughly clean both bathrooms
-install car seat in new vehicle (hoping to have a new van by then)
-get a haircut

Week 40
-set up pack 'n' play in our bedroom

Week 41
-get a pedicure (it's my reward if I'm still great with child...ha!)

I'm definitely feeling much better about everything!
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Hairbow Kite

This week I made a hairbow kite for the girls' room!  I saw the idea on Pinterest (of course).

If you want to make one too, just cut out a kite shape, hem the edges, attach a ribbon to the bottom, and clip on your bows!  Easy and cute.
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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Week Thirty-Seven

Our baby has officially reached "full-term" when it comes to developmental milestones!  Meaning, if she were born after this week, she would most likely not have any issues with development.  We are thankful!

I had another appointment with my midwife yesterday. Everything looks good!

I felt Mango flip around earlier this week so that all of her limbs were facing out and she was lying on her back.  It was so fun feeling her little hands and feet pressing against my belly!  She is back to lying on her side again (still head-down).  I love feeling her move!  She had the hiccups earlier this morning, which was super cute.

Have you heard people say that more babies are born on a full moon?  There is a full moon on February 7, so I've been looking into this more. :)  Any thoughts on this?

Week thirty-seven with Vera.

Glass Straws

I'm reviewing reusable glass drinking straws from Strawesome on She {hearts} It today (as well as giving one away)!

Read my review on She {hearts} It here!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Favorite Go-To Meals (Easy, Healthy, & Frugal!)

Today I want to share with you some of my favorite easy, healthy, go-to meals that can be served for either lunch or dinner! Many of these meal ideas can be made with simple ingredients that I almost always have on hand.
Creamy Tomato Soup
This soup is SO easy to whip up, and it's one of my all-time favorite soups!  It's a great Sunday afternoon meal because of how fast it can be prepared, but we love it any day of the week!  Garnish it with cheese, croutons, and/or green onions, and serve with some homemade bread and/or a salad on the side.

While I enjoy a batch of chili that has been cooked all day as much as the next person, chili can be made on the fly!  I dump a few cans of beans in a pot, season (with chopped onions, garlic powder, chili powder, paprika, pepper, and cumin), and heat.  Grate some cheese on top and you have a meal!  So good with cornbread (love this recipe, but a box mix works when you're in a hurry).

It doesn't get much easier than whole-wheat tortillas + cheese!  I almost always have both of these ingredients on hand, so this is also a great go-to meal.  I serve it with black beans for protein, as well as toppings such as shredded lettuce/spinach, salsa/tomatoes, and sour cream.

Grilled Cheese
Again, so simple.  Just melt your favorite cheese between two slices of bread, and serve with a side salad, soup, or fresh fruit & veggies.

Cheese Platter
This meal excites Tad more than (almost) any other!  Arrange several types of cheese on a plate, then add crackers, fruit (grapes, apples, etc.), veggies, and pretty much anything else you enjoy snacking on (i.e., hummus, etc.).  It's like having snack for lunch, and it's surprisingly still filling!  It's my sneaky little way of cleaning out the fridge.  We enjoy this sometimes on Sunday nights.
Chef Salads
Simple and light... start with a bed of lettuce (we like romaine), then add spinach leaves and whatever other greens you like/have on hand (arugula, etc.).  Top with whatever veggies you desire, then throw some protein on top.  You can add meat (a great way to use up a leftover piece of chicken or beef) or beans (black beans, chickpeas, etc.).  Top with your favorite dressing, cheese, and croutons!

I love a good wrap at a restaurant, and they aren't that hard to make at home!  Toss shredded lettuce/spinach, cooked chicken, cheese, and dressing of choice in a bowl, then use to fill whole wheat tortillas.  Be creative with your combinations (i.e., romaine + chicken + parmesan + Caesar dressing, or spinach + chicken + cheddar + chipotle sauce).

I don't deep-fry these, so they are not "traditional."  I just heat up some pinto beans and season them with cumin and chili powder.  I spread some beans in a tortilla, top with cheddar cheese, fold up on all four sides, and then heat in a skillet until both sides of the tortilla are lightly browned.  Yum!

Loaded Baked Potatoes
We have loaded baked potatoes pretty regularly for lunch.  I "bake" the potatoes in the microwave because it is so much faster.  We load them up with butter, sour cream, cheese, leftover meat, green onions, cooked broccoli, etc.  Just use what you have on hand!

Scrambled Eggs
No recipe needed for this one either!  We love to eat scrambled eggs for lunch or dinner (not just breakfast!).  We often add cheese and spinach, and sometimes minced garlic.  Serve with toast and juice.
This is another great Mexican dish that we enjoy eating.  They are frugal to make, quick, and tasty!

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What are your favorite easy, healthy, go-to meals for lunch or dinner?

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Monday, January 23, 2012

Postpartum Recovery and Care

I've been putting together a little box in the bathroom closet with things I will need after the baby comes.  (I am taking a few of these things with me to the hospital too.)  Thought you might like seeing what's on my list!  I recovered really well (I think) from my labor and delivery last time, so I am praying towards that end this time as well (though I know each birth can be so different). 

Natural Postpartum Healing and Recovery Kit
-Arnica gel* (to help prevent bruising; I used this last time on my face after pushing and I think it helped keep all my blood vessels from bursting)
-Vitamin E oil* (for external healing and to soothe my shrinking tummy)
-raw honey (for external healing... I have heard it has great natural healing properties)
-cocoa butter stretch mark lotion* (to keep my tummy from itching)
-heavy pads
-postpartum bath herbs (for soaking)
-peri bottles (for cleansing)
-witch hazel/cotton pads (for hemorrhoids, yuck)
-epsom salts (for soaking)
-a sitz bath (for soaking/healing)
-Fenugreek* (to help my milk come in)
-mother's milk tea (to help my milk come in)
-Motrin (for pain management)
-shower gel* (to help me feel human again, haha)
*taking to hospital with me

Oh, and of course I have gathered my nursing supplies together too!

Breastfeeding "Kit"
-lanolin (can't say enough good things about lanolin!)
-cloth nursing pads (love Bamboobies!)
-disposable nursing pads (I use them at the beginning when there is lots of leakage)
-nursing covers (for nursing in public)
-gel pads (for relief of engorgement)
-nursing bras and camis (essential!)
-Boppy pillow

Is there anything else you recommend for natural postpartum recovery and care or breastfeeding?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

New Year, New You: Series Recap

I hope you enjoyed the New Year, New You series of posts we covered in the first couple of weeks of January!  In case you missed any of them, here are all of the topics we talked about.

-set SMART goals
-eat less sugar (with a free printable)
-have more date nights
-read more books
-organize your closets
-read through the Bible
-organize your purse
-use a cash envelope system

Hope your new year is off to a great start!!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Hoop Art

Our nursery is really coming together beautifully!  It's amazing to see how far it has come in just a week.  Here's a sneak peek of one wall.  I decorated it with hoop art inspired by several pins on Pinterest.

I love how it looks!  Can't wait to show off the rest of the room soon!

Linking to:

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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Nursery Progress

As I mentioned earlier this week, we worked on painting the nursery!  We finally finished it yesterday, after 22 combined man-hours of work.  It looks beautiful, so it was all worth it!  We still need to move all the furniture back in the room and decorate, but it's well on the way to being finished.  Here are a couple of photos!

Vera loves her little table (IKEA Lack) and chair (gift)!  She played with blocks on it for several minutes earlier this afternoon (yep... 5 minutes with one activity is long for her!).

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Week Thirty-Six

I am really getting excited about having a baby soon!!  When I look at the little tiny newborn clothes I've been packing to take to the hospital, I can't help but smile and remember with such fondness how wonderful it was when Vera was first born.  (She's wonderful now too!)

I can really feel Mango bearing down now (she is head down, as far as we can tell).  I have had some Braxton Hicks contractions this week, but they haven't made me "progress" any yet.  I have taken Tylenol PM a couple of times so that I could sleep at night.  I have been exhausted yet unable to sleep solidly, so the medicine has really helped.

Everything went well at my appointment with my midwife yesterday.  I'll be going every week from here on out now! 

We've worked really hard on painting the nursery this week.  I've also been working on getting things checked off of my baby countdown list!  Lots still to do, but we're getting there!

Week thirty-six with Vera.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Guess What?

Can you guess what we're doing today?
We are painting the girls' room! (I love saying that... girls plural!)
The room is huge and has tons of beautiful, detailed molding (crown molding, chair rail, thick baseboards, etc.) as well as two windows and two doors. We've put a combined total of 12.5 man hours into it already, but we are making lots of progress!
We'll keep you posted!
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