Tuesday, February 17, 2015

the new normal/oatmeal chocolate "breakfast" cookies

My friend Shannon told us that his mom sooooo adores completing things on her To Do list that she will literally write wake up as the first entry, just so she can have the satisfaction of crossing it off. David and I laughed and laughed. And then we started living with a newborn. Dear Shannon's Mom: I GET IT NOW. In my new baby-land of adjusted productivity, waking up is a huge accomplishment worth celebrating. You have a newborn and you managed to make coffee and drink two hot sips before said newborn stirred? Mad props. You took a nap? Miracle of miracles. You wrote a thank you note, dug up the correct postage and walked it to the mail box? Noble Prize territory. In the middle of the night last night, I started a To Do list and actually wrote shower on it. With zero irony. God, help me surrender to this new normal. (And also sneak in a shower.)

In certain ways it's not so hard. This little peach of a dude is so cool and delicious. I am in awe of his littleness and his chirps and his emerging personality. AND: he started smiling this week. Bliss! Heartbreak! Wow.

In other ways, ALL of my buttons are pushed as I attempt to make peace with this new world of Never Getting Shit Done. As I nurse Louis (for a total of five hours a day, people), I look around me and take stock of things I'd like to do. These aren't even the fancy, enriching ones in my fantasies, just the dumb things that I can see. And they drive me nuts. Water that saggy plant, recycle those ancient magazines, get to that stack of taxes, fold that dusty pile of laundry. The neat-freak in me needs to take a long vacation. Most likely for the next 18 years.

No wonder moms are so good at multi-tasking. For reals: I am hooked up to the breast pump as I write this. I want to take a picture of it so bad but am afraid that instead of making you laugh, I would scar most of your eyeballs. (Poor David has seen too much.)

In good news, despite my growing list of To Dos, here are ten ways in which I've managed to adjust to this new normal so far. If I do say so myself, I have acquired some mad new baby skillz, yo:

1. I can type and text with one hand like a boss.

2. Picking up pacifiers with my feet? In the dark? No biggie.

3. Time me: I fall asleep in 9 seconds flat.

4. I can compile a stack of tax paperwork without getting poop on even one 1099.

5. I can disappear stains like a Vegas magician.

6. I've learned to scale back my beauty routine to the austerity level of a monastic.

7. I have swiftly stopped spit-up in a single bound before it's spewed onto the couch, a computer, and down my ample cleavage.

8. I have contained and harnessed said cleavage. (<------------ giant feat)

9. I not only welcome but find supreme delight in being farted on.

10. I discovered there are cookies (COOKIES!) for the express* purpose of producing heaps of breast milk.

*see what I did there?

Listen up. Let's just call these Breakfast Cookies because trust me on this: a.) you will definitely want to eat them for breakfast, and b.) you will FREAK PEOPLE OUT if you offer them a Lactation Cookie. Your normally sweet-toothed, cookie-loving husband will whiten and flinch like you are offering him sardines on a turd. The truth is they are really delicious morsels that just happen to make you squirt milk. If you are male and/or not lactating in the first place, they are just oatmeal cookies with chocolate. Nobody needs to know. Deal?

"Breakfast" Cookies (that also happen to help with lactation)
recipe adapted from bellybelly.com
makes 14-16 cookies

2 T flax meal
2 T water
1 stick butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
2 t vanilla
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 t baking powder
1 t cinnamon
2 T brewers yeast
1/2  t fine sea salt
1-1/2 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup good dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. Combine the flax meal with the water. Stir well and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and brown sugar together for five minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and mix well, scraping down the sides occasionally. Add the flax/water mixture and mix again. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, brewers yeast and salt. Add these dry ingredients to the wet little-by-little, stirring until just incorporated. Add the oats and chocolate and stir to combine. Drop on parchment-lined baking sheets by the tablespoonful and bake for 12-14 minutes, until lightly golden on top. Cool on racks.

Extra credit: if you make these cookies from start to finish with one hand while holding an infant in the other, they are guaranteed to quadruple your breast milk output.

With love from the four of us,
Jolie, Louis and Jolie's boobs

P.S. It only took me 3 weeks to write this post. Good times!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

the agony and the ecstasy

Greetings from Baby Central:)

For almost a month now I've been meaning to write when I have a moment but then said moment winds up being so fleeting between nursing and napping and procuring coffee and (God willing) sneaking in a shower. As I've been riding the wave of this early baby time (more like trying not to drown), I've been attempting to gather my thoughts about it. I don't know how I could ever be concise about what this experience means to me so far. It's a million fragmented thoughts and feelings swimming around inside my brain and heart. At this point, I can definitively say this: It's the hardest and most glorious thing I've ever done in my entire life. And also this: Whoever designs baby clothes with BUTTONS is a thoughtless asshole.

This new motherhood thing involves so many simultaneous extremes that to process even one of them is impossible. There's the profound, heartbreaking miracle that this little guy is here after all these months (years!), and the recovery from the huge mental, emotional and physical experience of childbirth. There's the ragged and thrilling haze of the hospital stay, and the sobering realization that you are suddenly and completely responsible for a helpless, tiny human. Pepper in some profuse hormone-balancing night sweats, someone sucking your virgin nipples raw every two hours around the clock, and then top it all off with a massively heaping dose of sleep deprivation. It's like first love, finals week, base jumping, jet lag, boot camp, seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time, and being awake during your own open heart surgery. You want to grit your teeth and get through it and simultaneously savor every second.

When you're about to become a parent, the party line is either Oh My God, It's Nonstop Bliss! or Get Ready, Your Life Is Over! The problem is each of those clich├ęs individually does a disservice to both the experience and the new mother. In my sleepy, overwhelmed haze (even while consciously knowing it's all being lived through the filters of sleepless nights and haywire hormones), I cried to my own mom this week about all of it. After yearning for so long to get pregnant, I thought that every single second should be utter bliss, that I was an ingrate if a moment felt impossibly difficult. She lovingly comforted me. "Oh darling, all that you're feeling is crazy and okay and totally normal," she said. "Welcome to the agony and ecstasy of motherhood."

I get it now. The pain and the bliss aren't mutually exclusive. They intermingle into something that has its own unique label, its own custom blend, moment to moment.

You know what is pure ecstasy in this moment? This gorgeous little four-week-old face, baby clothes that feature snaps, and coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

three things that are one week old today

1. This guy:

Our Louis ("Louie") Rocket Pagani was born on New Year's Eve at 6:00pm!

8 lbs.
14 oz.
22 inches long

We are so smitten and in a dreamy, hazy bliss over here. More to come.


2. My outfit
3. My fervent and loving return to caffeine

Thursday, December 25, 2014

(some dis)comfort and (lots of) joy

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, my sweet readers. There has been no baby boy arrival yet but I am happy (and shocked) to say that I've made it to the point in my pregnancy where the websites tell me he is the size of a 7.5 pound, 22-inch watermelon. Nothing says Christmas like a giant, internal, kicking watermelon:)

After 38 weeks of blissful pregnancy, I caught a cold last week. And not a pretty one. For the first time in my life I had a bum eye that wouldn't quit weeping, and my lips were so chapped from my profuse nose-blowing and kleenex-rubbing that I appeared to have a tiny, red mustache. Despite these ailments, we kept an appointment to meet with a prospective pediatrician, where I was forced to incessantly dab at my one eye like a mourning widow. I pointed to it and apologized non-stop like it was happening in spite of myself but I'm sure that that (along with the chapped mustache) just helped me come off like a crazy lady. All this to say: it caused me to slow down a whole lot. Although if it weren't for the sake of the cold, I'm sure I'd be slowing down anyway. This belly is big and I now only have one official week to go until my due date.

Health-wise I'm on the upswing but all my edges feel fuzzy. Like my whole self is going into power-save mode before the Big Event. My clumsiness is epic, my waddle is in slo-mo, my voice is raspy, and my vision blurry (another fun pregnancy symptom). And not surprisingly, when I sit down to meditate these days, I slip into that altered state with practically no effort. I'm being seduced to go within. How lovely that it's coinciding with this Winter Solstice/Holiday/Year End time when everyone is naturally slowing down and becoming more introspective. That makes it easier.

I read a great article about honoring women who are in their last days of pregnancy. That they experience a poignant, sweet, sharp, blurry, unique time of in-between that we have no words for in our culture and language. The writer names this Zwischen (the German word for between). I can SO relate. There's this panicky feeling of My life is going to change forever! I gotta hurry up and do a million things before it does! coupled with exhaustion and discomfort, what with all the waddling and efforting to move around and tie shoes and get out of bed to pee 20 times a night, all while juggling a wiggly watermelon. Pepper in some clumsiness, forgetfulness, and a weeping eye and you're just about there.

Aren't we all in our own Zwischen in some way or other? We're usually in such a hurry to finish up something so we can "relax" or get to the next thing so we can "have a fresh start" but there really is something profound to be said for making peace with that cross-over time. For recognizing that place between two worlds doesn't need to be fixed or changed. That it just needs to be honored and experienced in all its odd and conflicting emotions and physical changes. Especially when the duration of it is unknown. If you're lucky (or you decide to lean on it), some good old-fashioned faith can work wonders.

So as I surrender into this rare, weird, wonderful time in my own life, I wish you happiness in both the chaos and the quiet of the Season. And peace and faith (and maybe even some joy) as you move slowly through your own personal Zwischen:)

Merry Christmas today!
Love Love Love,

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

classic peanut butter cookies

The other night I dreamed I was with my friend Jenn as she was giving birth to her daughter. I was on the hospital bed with her, just up there hanging out ON THE BED WITH HER while she was in labor. (Boundaries much?) It was getting toward the end. She was in a sweaty, altered state pushing that baby down, and when the doctor said, "One more!", she pushed HARD and the baby girl came shooting out like a torpedo. All at once she was here and wiggling on the bed between us. The nurse swooped in just then, to wipe off the baby and wrap her in a soft blanket. Smiling, she held out the newborn to Jenn. The new mom barely looked up. Instead she held up a tired finger and said, "Hold on a minute," and then reached over to a side table where, in a pristine spotlight, there sat the most perfect donut you've ever seen: glazed with shiny chocolate frosting. And big. She tenderly picked up the pastry and proceeded to savor it deliberately, bite by bite, with her eyes closed in rapture. When she (finally) finished, she licked her fingers and her lips, opened her eyes with a giant smile, reached her arms out wide to the dumbstruck nurse and said, "Okay, give me my baby!"

I think this might be the most quintessential pregnancy dream ever. Labor is there, and also a newborn, even a hospital with doctors and nurses. But most importantly: The Donut.

If you swap out the donut for a peanut butter cookie, I would appreciate this dream even more than I do already. The baby boy I'm growing inside me is demanding peanut butter these days (and he's been really bossy about it). I've had funny waves of cravings along my pregnancy journey. The first trimester was very cream-cheese-centric, trimester #2 was all about chicken-salad sandwiches and Arnold Palmers, and now? In the home stretch? Peanut butter. On apples, on toast, by the spoonful and via the best delivery system ever: cookies.

(Bonus: Peanut butter cookies can be Christmas Cookies if you make them at Christmastime!)


Classic Peanut Butter Cookies
makes about 3 dozen cookies (depending upon how big you roll them)

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter (not the natural kind--Skippy is great for cookies)
1 egg
2 t vanilla
1-1/2 cups flour
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t kosher salt
granulated sugar for rolling before baking

Preheat oven to 375F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar for several minutes until light and fluffy. Add the peanut butter and mix well. Add the egg and vanilla, scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again. Bit by bit, add the flour mixture until just combined. Roll dough into 1" balls, coat in granulated sugar and place on baking sheet 2" apart. Flatten with a fork in a criss-cross fashion and bake for 10-13 minutes or until edges are golden.

P.S. You aren't required to chill the dough before rolling but you can refrigerate for a day or two or freeze it for a week or two.

Happy Holiday time, lovelies!

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Bouqs

While in High School, I dated a guy for about 5 minutes. On one of our few dates we went to a neighborhood Italian place (where he inhaled a giant meatball sandwich), and then back to his place to make out (classy, eh?). We fell asleep tangled up on his twin bed and a couple hours later when we woke up, he leaned over and open-mouth kissed me with his garlic/meatball/ass breath and that's pretty much all it took for me to want to break up with him. Maybe I mentioned this to a girlfriend and word got back to him because the next day I came home from school, and at my front door was a single, long-stemmed red rose accompanied by a small card that simply read call me written in gold calligraphy. I wondered how many times he practiced writing call me with his calligraphy pen before getting it right. (Remember how hard it was to hold those things so the flat side was at ye olde perfect slanted angle?!) After momentarily being impressed by his calligraphy balls, I steeled myself, dialed his number, and then broke up with him over the phone. Ugh. I'm awful. But that breath was Bad News Bears, you guys. Anyway. That was the most memorable floral delivery I've ever received.

Until now.

The delightfully nice people at The Bouqs sent Joeycake (me) some gorgeous flowers! Have you heard of The Bouqs? You know when you have to send flowers to someone and you kinda freak out? Because let's say they live far away and you have no idea where to order them from? You could choose somewhere local that you're just pulling out of thin air via a quick google search, but are they gonna be good? Or do you go with some FTD situation that feels homogenized, somewhat impersonal and usually downright cheesy? There is another, much more kick-ass option: The Bouqs offer sustainably-grown, super-fresh flowers (grown in rich volcanic soil) at really cheap prices ($40 out the door). Bonus: they last longer than most high-school relationships. The roses they sent me lasted a full 12 days. They were so great looking for so long that we started to become suspicious of them. The Bouqs have a beautiful, chic selection, they ship directly via FedEx, have flat-rate shipping and zero hidden fees. I can't rave about them enough. They just might be good enough to make someone forget your sour meatball breath.

You can check out their website here. They're always having deals but today there are some special Cyber Monday ones too.

Happy Monday!
Hope you had a delicious Thanksgiving weekend:)

P.S. FYI: All opinions posted by me on Joeycake are my very own and I would never rave about anything here that I don't stand behind.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

pumpkin cranberry bread

It's almost Thanksgiving! (My very most favorite:)) Don't you just love Thanksgiving for all that it is (food, family, gratitude) and all that it's not (shopping, wrapping, hustling about)? I have so much to appreciate this year. So many blessings.

I can't believe I'm already in the home stretch of this pregnancy. At 35 weeks along, I'm seriously slowing down. And for someone who is usually on the go (and who kind of loves to be on the go), it's been strange and also surprisingly nice. It's not the kind of slowing down where you try and talk yourself into taking it easy. Physically my body is requiring it. I'll be standing there talking to someone and this one-track-mind urge hits me and I can't even focus on what they're saying because my whole body is screaming for a place to sit down. Take a load off, it says, put your feet up.

I imagine, too, it's awesome to surrender to this deceleration. Because once the baby arrives (I hear) you enter this dreamy, hazy, sleepy, sweet, intimate time where you just slow slow slow down to the baby's rhythms and take it all moment by moment. I can feel myself being lulled there. Mind if we finish this conversation lying down? My eyes are closed but I'm totally listening.

I had to run waddle to the grocery store early this morning to get a couple last items for my Thanksgiving dinner contribution and as I was enjoying slowly moving about and gathering this and that in the quiet store, I came upon one of my least favorite of the store's employees: a super swarthy and oily fellow who looks like he actually might tie someone to a railroad track while twisting his pointy mustache. This guy always seeks me out, too, despite my best efforts to avoid him. He's always switching checkout lines to bag my groceries and make awkward conversation. Let me put it this way: there is another employee there who has a hook for a hand and he's not nearly as scary as this dude. Here's how it went down today:



ME: "Hi."

SWARTHY VILLAINOUS GROCERY FELLOW: "I can't wait to see your baby."

I smile uncomfortably.


ME: "Um. Well, not now. He's still cooking. But I imagine someday you might see him."

Much to my chagrin.

SWARTHY VILLAINOUS GROCERY FELLOW: "What's wrong with your eyes?"

ME: "Uh…sorry?"

SWARTHY VILLAINOUS GROCERY FELLOW: "They look very sad today."

ME: "Oh."


ME: "Um. I don't know. Maybe because I don't have any makeup on."

He looks closer.


Awkward beat.


ME: "Well, I was. Before this conversation."

He laughs maniacally. And for the first time in a long time I wished I could make a quick getaway.


Pumpkin Cranberry Bread
yields one loaf
adapted from Bobby Flay's Pumpkin Bread

Promise me you'll make this before you put all the pumpkin away this season. It's super moist and crazy delicious with those sweet-tart cranberries cutting through all the spicy spices.

1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour (you can sub up to half of this for whole wheat flour if you like)
1/2 t kosher salt
1 t baking soda
1/2 t baking powder
1 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 t ground allspice
1/4 t ground cloves
4 T butter, softened, plus more for buttering the pan
1-1/2 cups brown sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
1 cup canned pumpkin puree (unflavored)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup water
1-1/2 cups fresh cranberries, rinsed, sorted and roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 350F. Butter a 9" loaf pan and set aside.

In a medium bowl, add the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and cloves. Whisk well to combine. Set aside.

In an electric mixer, cream the butter, brown sugar and oil together on high speed until creamy and fluffy, scraping down the sides when necessary. Add the pumpkin puree and mix well. Add the eggs one-at-a-time, mixing in between. Mixing on low, add the flour mixture a bit at a time, alternating with the water, until everything is just mixed in. Stir in the chopped cranberries. Pour into your prepared pan, bake for 75 minutes or until a toothpick/skewer tester comes out clean and let cool completely.

I'm thankful for YOU!
Hope you have the most Happy Thanksgiving:)

P.S. Still need recipes for your TG feast? Joeycake has a "Thanksgiving" section in the recipe index!


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