Lucas’s Nursery

Hi everyone!  I have been on a lengthy hiatus due to the whole giving birth and tending to a baby thing.  More to follow about that when I have a chance to write in some detail.  In the meantime, though, I’ve been meaning to post some pictures of the little munchkin’s bedroom, since it was so much fun to decorate.

Design inspiration came from this quilt that I purchased on Etsy:

Adorable quilt

If you can go on this site and not purchase something, you are a stronger person than I am!

Thanks to Laura for helping me with design ideas and making art to hang on the wall, and thanks to my dad for helping me mount the bookshelves (which are a Pinterest hack made of Ikea spice racks).  And thanks to Shane for assembling lots of Ikea furniture and to my aunts Mary and Eileen and my friend Emily’s mom for making beautiful handmade blankets for Lucas!  Awesome handcrafted mobile was made by Laura and Emily.

Nursery 19

Nursery 1
So many great books!

Nursery 3

Nursery 6
Wall art by Laura, from Marshalls, and Paper Source paper in frames
Nursery 7
Where the magic happens
Nursery 8
Fun calendar to track milestones from our friend Mindy!
Nursery 9
Cozy rocker from Mom and Dad; already logged many nighttime hours in this guy
Nursery 10
Bookends made by Aunt Laura

Nursery 12

Nursery 15
A nursery wouldn’t be complete without a bear rug, of course
Nursery 17
The menagerie

40 Weeks of a Growing Lentil

Hi everybody!  As the BabyWatch continues, I will share some pictures of the evolution of Lentil.  I promise that these are the only selfies of me you will ever have to be subjected to (unless I visit the Taj Mahal by myself or something similar).  Thanks for the inspiration, Jordan Lieberman!

Starting Week 11 and ending with Week 40:

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Took me a few weeks to figure out that I should smile…

Also, I am optimistically posting this today, as tomorrow I hit 41 weeks…here’s to hoping no Week 41 picture is needed!

Week 40: Pumpkin Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars


I made it to 40 weeks!  (Not sure if that should have an exclamation point or not, actually)  I have to admit, though; I cheated and made this recipe a month ago just in case I wasn’t feeling up to baking this week.  Little did I know that I would be feeling so relaxed and enjoying all of this free time I’m having as I have been on not-really-maternity maternity leave (is it technically maternity if there is no outside baby yet? not sure).

Disclaimer about this recipe: I bought a fancy tin of McCann’s steel-cut oats to be fancy and thought, “I’ll use them in this recipe!”  This was a terrible idea.  If you know anything about steel-cut oats, which I did not (apparently), you know that they are little pellets that need to be soaked for a long time before they are at all worthwhile.  If you try to sub them in a recipe that is baked for a short period of time for quicker-cooking oats, you will NOT LIKE THE RESULTS.

Shout-out to Lentil for his longevity, even though Shane is sad that they will not share a birthday.  Now we wait…BabyWatch 2016 continues…

Pumpkin Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars

pumpkin oat bars

The Verdict:

Difficulty: Easy, one-bowl recipe.  Mix it up and spread it in the pan.  Most difficult part BY FAR was figuring out how to open the tin of oats (see below; ended up having to flip it upside down and use a can opener because I couldn’t figure out how to pop the top).


Taste: My opinion was that these were pretty terrible.  Shane and Matt liked them, and I could see the potential if they were made with the correct type of oats.  But with the steel-cut oats I used, it tasted like chomping through rocks.  I don’t want to be responsible for anyone breaking a tooth.

So many amazing pumpkin possibilities!

Pumpkin Cannelloni with Sage Brown-Butter Sauce

Cinnamon Pumpkin Squash Yam Cheddar Pot Pie

Week 39: Strawberry Kiwi Fruit Pizza Watermelon

mini watermelon

Imagine, for a moment: you are me.  Your unborn child is currently the size of a mini watermelon.  It is January: no quality watermelon to be found.  Your husband’s birthday is on Wednesday and will most likely be severely overshadowed by your baby’s birth; also, your husband is a weirdo freak who doesn’t like watermelon (WHO doesn’t like watermelon?!!) and you need to make a birthday dessert for him.  You are a frugal gal who refuses to pay top dollar for out-of-season, subpar produce.  WHAT ARE YOUR OPTIONS?!!!!!!!!

Don’t answer that, unless your answer is: make something that doesn’t actually involve any watermelon at all!  Which is what I chose to do.

BABYWATCH 2016!!  Lentil is officially a garnet baby (not that boys usually care much about their birthstone).  Here’s the current bump:

39 week bump.jpg

Getting lumpier by the day!

Strawberry Kiwi Fruit Pizza Watermelon

watermelon pizza

The Verdict:

Difficulty: Lots of chopping, but a simple recipe.  Difficult to get it to look as gorgeous as the one online; I’m calling a #moderatePinterestfail

Taste: Not surprisingly…SCRUMPTIOUS.  Strawberries are obviously not in season either but, when combined with cream cheese frosting and cookie dough, somehow I don’t care.

Modifications: All I really kept from this recipe was the visual; I used Pillsbury ready-made sugar cookie dough because it tastes like my childhood, along with my mom’s recipe for fruit pizza cream cheese frosting (cream cheese, 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, 1-2 tablespoons milk).  Perfection!

For next summer’s watermelon bounty:

Watermelon White Sangria

Watermelon Rind Candy (for the Laura Ingalls Wilder in all of us)

Week 38: Roasted Leek and White Bean Galettes


Posting a few days late due to the hubbub of the holidays!  Hope you all had a happy New Year’s Eve and Day, we surely did around here.  Despite the whole tax-break thing, I was relieved to see the clock strike midnight and still be Lentil-less.  He is meant to be a 2016 baby, I believe, and I was hoping for January rather than December so he won’t get as lost in the shuffle with holidays and whatnot.  So now we are officially on BabyWatch 2016; thanks to all of you who have shared your predictions via Baby Bookie!  May the best guesser prevail.

I love leeks and deliberated a lot while choosing which recipe to make this week.  This one won out because it is from a blog I like a lot and sounded unique and somewhat healthy (would have been healthier if I had not generously spooned in extra Gruyere…but I am only human) to counteract the average of 6 cookies I have been eating each day.  What’s a preggo to do when she has all of these baked goods lying around?  We don’t waste cookies in the Lease household.

Roasted Leek and White Bean Galettes

leek galette

The Verdict:

Difficulty: Made easier by me using store-bought pie crust instead of making the one called for in the recipe.  I’m sure that one is significantly tastier, but I had a pie crust that was going to expire soon and spent the day doing lots of walking while running errands with my dad, so it was time to do more sitting, less cooking.

Taste: I liked it!  An interesting mix of flavors, nice and savory; would be perfect alongside some soup or a wintry salad.

Modifications: I made one large galette instead of four small ones like the recipe indicated.  It turned out fine, I just added an extra five minutes of baking time.

Two wildly different spins on the good ol’ leek:

Greek-Style Leeks with Prune and Cinnamon

Whole-Roasted Salmon with Grapefruit and Leeks

Week 37: Swiss Chard Nothingness


Merry Christmas, dear friends and family!  I hope you all had a wonderful holiday full of joy, togetherness, good food, and thoughtful gifts.  We surely did.  Lentil is the most spoiled still-in-utero baby I know (crazy family of mine) and I feel a sense of calm and peace right now knowing that I am on maternity leave as of Christmas Eve and have the next ??? days ahead of me to get his little world ready here before he makes his debut.  Never have I so looked forward to a week (or weeks, fingers crossed) of staying home with no plans other than to clean the house, arrange things in the nursery, cook and freeze some hearty winter meals, and enjoy the last moments of tranquility before our world is changed forever 🙂

Shout-out to family friends, the Hoffmans and the Kohns, for a great Christmas Eve gathering; the Lease/Clarke and Fisher/Siegert/Green clans for Christmas merriment, and Shane’s college friends, who we will see today for lunch.  And I look forward to an epic Facetime session tonight with the Fisher gang in New York, where I am counting on Laura to rig the iPad up (possibly hanging in the branches of the Christmas tree) so we can minimize FOMO and watch the gift exchange up there.  I have never missed a Christmas New York trip before except due to illness or excessive snow; good thing I like this baby so much or else I would really be bummed out.

Swiss Chard

Sad to report that there was no Swiss chard cooked at the Lease house this week.  There were plenty of other things made (mostly involving sugar) but I had an absurd amount of difficulty finding Swiss chard in the days leading up to Christmas.  Visited two grocery stores on Monday and Tuesday, which both do not carry it, and then on my last attempt (at 9:00 pm on Wednesday night, as I trudged through the store having Braxton-Hicks contractions and seriously considering using one of those motorized scooters), they did have chard but it looked like this:

sad swiss chard

Wilted and pathetic.  Time is money, people, and with Christmas looming ahead, there was no time to be wasted on such veggies.

With that being said, I am moving on to the next vegetable (leek!), but I will leave you with some yummy-looking recipes for next summer’s delectable chard bounty:

Sauteed Swiss Chard with Ricotta and Marjoram Medallions

Swiss Chard and Zucchini Enchiladas

Bread Soup with Onions, Chard, and Mushrooms


Week 36: Romaine and Orange Salad with Lime Dressing


Good news, faithful Lentil fans!  He has continued to simmer this week despite my concerns that he might try to make an early appearance; thus, you are treated to a romaine lettuce recipe this week.  It has been a great week for us: “babymoon” with Shane on Friday, when we stayed at the Willard Hotel in DC, which does a fabulous display of Christmas decorations and has been on my bucket list forever, along with a scrumptious dinner at Del Frisco’s Double Eagle steakhouse nearby (three petit filet mignons each topped with a different set of ingredients and a side of lobster mac and cheese…sounds like just the ticket for a preggo out on the town).  Our very sweet and attentive waiter made me mocktail after mocktail and I was in heaven.

I was having a ton of contractions on Sunday night and feeling pretty blechh so I decided to call out sick Monday and take some rest/nesting time.  Finally got around to doing baby clothes laundry and packing my hospital bag.  Two observations: one, I don’t think I will EVER get over how adorable newborn-sized socks are (but seriously…they are so little!!), and two, it seems that it is impossible for men to understand how important it is to select the perfect going-home outfit for baby.  Shane had a look of bewilderment on his face as I tried to explain why it was taking me so long to deliberate between all of the cute outfits we have received as gifts.  Like a smart husband, he knew that the right response was to act like he cared as well.  I’ll choose to interpret his comment of “Well, why don’t we stop halfway home and change his clothes so he can wear more than one of the outfits?!” as creativity instead of sarcasm.

On to this week’s recipe: a simple salad of lettuce and a few add-ons was the perfect detox for me after eating a diet of almost 100% baked goods for the past week (cookie-baking with my cousins and aunt! stops at two different bakeries in DC to check things off my must-eat list! work baby shower today with my very own blue velvet cake!).

Romaine & Orange Salad With Lime Dressing

romaine salad.jpg

The Verdict:

Difficulty: Easy, especially when all of your ingredients except the orange are pre-chopped!

Taste: I’m digging this lime dressing.  The garlic clove offset the citrus and the sweetness of the fruit really nicely.  Leftovers tomorrow!

Modifications: I didn’t have a red onion handy so I threw on some toasted slivered almonds and feta instead to add some savory.  Great thinking, if I do say so myself!

Future romaine ideas to ponder:

Grilled Romaine Hearts with Avocado Lime Dressing (if you are not familiar with Thug Kitchen, this link is worth a click just for a chuckle; careful, NSFW language)

PF Chang’s Chicken Lettuce Wraps