Vanilla mint chip ice cream

As I mentioned before, Mike got me an ice cream maker for Mother’s Day, so I was really excited to try it out. We’ve experimented with a few different ice creams, with varying results. But this recipe was a total winner. I’m thinking I could use it as the base for a lot of other ice creams (with fruit, nuts, caramel, really any toppings).

This is one of those recipes that succeeds because it’s simple and uses high-quality ingredients. We’ve found that even though it’s a little scary, it pays to use egg yolks in your ice creams to achieve that authentic creaminess.

The recipe I used comes from the Nourished Kitchen, a site that my yoga teacher has recommended several times. The flavor of the fresh mint comes through without being overpowering and the flecks of vanilla bean add that classic vanilla taste.

The only thing I changed was to add 1/2 cup of Scharffen Berger chocolate chunks so it became mint chip ice cream. I didn’t think you could have mint ice cream without the chocolate, and we just happened to have that bag of chocolate chunks in the cupboard.

The technique is pretty simple. You heat the cream and milk just until they start to bubble and then you stir in some honey to sweeten it up. Isn’t that awesome? No refined sugar, just honey.

Then you add in your mint leaves and vanilla bean and let that steep for 20 minutes.

Then you strain out the leaves and refrigerate the cream for at least two hours. After that, you whisk in the egg yolks so it becomes nice and thick.

Then you’re ready to add it to the ice cream maker. Ours makes ice cream in about 20-30 minutes.

We usually put our ice cream back in the freezer for another hour or so to let it harden before we eat it. This batch turned out perfectly after a little extra freezing. I think we will be eating this all summer!

4 months ago…

I just found some photos from Harper’s birth day that I never shared. I guess things were a little hectic at that time and I never got around to it. So many friends are having babies this month, it sort of takes you back to that time. It’s amazing how much your life can change in 4 months!

So I found this one from right before I was in labor. Look at that belly!

Apparently I wore that shirt basically all the time.

Here are some from right after Harper was born.

This is my post-birth glamour shot.

And this one is probably more accurate. More like happy trainwreck.

This was right before we left the hospital. I remember wanting to go home so badly.

I can’t believe she was ever so tiny.

It didn’t take long for her to grow into a little chunky monkey. But she sure is cute!

Road trip: Palm Springs

As I said before, we decided to tack on a side trip after the wedding. Brigid and Aaron generously invited us to stay at a friend’s vacation home in Palm Springs. At first I was a little hesitant to add more driving to our trip, but I’m so glad we did.

The drive from LA was not bad — a little over an hour — and the house was pretty darn nice with a pool and a hot tub.

Living in the bay area has made me a total wimp for heat. I don’t think I’ve felt 100+ degrees for a long time. Thank goodness for A/C.

Palm Springs is definitely an odd place, but we found ourselves kind of charmed by it. You have to love a place that is a combination of retirement homes, gay resorts, and midcentury modern furniture stores.

Every once in a while it’s also nice to be in a place with empty parking lots and very little traffic.

One place we definitely want to revisit is King’s Highway, the restaurant where we had breakfast one morning.

It’s part of the Ace Hotel, which is perhaps the coolest and most hipster place I’ve ever seen (coming from the bay area, that’s sayin’ something).

When you walk in, there is a huge oversized macramé display in the front window.

This guy was just above our booth.

The food is fantastic. Certainly an upgrade from what was once a Denny’s.

Brigid had blueberry pancakes and Mike had chilequiles.

I had eggs, bacon, hashbrowns, and sourdough toast with homemade jam.

Next to the bathrooms there is a vending machine that sells really nice socks, among other things. You can rent a scooter while you’re there or play vinyl in your room. It is amazing.

After our breakfast we decided to check out another of Palm Springs’ main attractions, the aerial tramway that takes you up the side of a mountain.

It was a little terrifying for me, but I suppose it is the most direct way up the mountain. And the views up there are pretty amazing. You can see just how ridiculous it looks to build a city in the middle of a desert.

The babies did great. They are traveling pros.

I made Harper wear adorable shoes.

Once we got to the top, we decided to do a little hiking. We had our giant strollers with us, so it was not going to be any kind of extensive hike. But it was pretty back in the woods.

As with her first hike, Harper was zonked the whole time.

After that, we got in some more pool time. It felt so good after the heat of the day.

Harper loves the water, so she didn’t have any complaints. She mostly just kicked her little feet.

I have been wanting some good photos of us and I finally got a bunch of them. At least one of us is really photogenic.

The hot tub felt absolutely blissful at night. After months of stress, it was much needed.

The ride home was long, but went surprisingly well. Again, we stopped a bunch and tried to give Harper plenty of fresh air. Now we have to start getting ready for her first plane ride in July.

Joe and Sierra’s wedding

We decided before Harper was even born that her first big road trip would be to southern California for our friend Joe’s wedding. At the time, we had no idea how she would travel at 4 months old. And I stressed a lot about how bad that car ride could be. But it was actually not bad at all. The only time she really melted down was when we hit LA traffic. And at that point I wanted to cry too.

We took extra long stops so Harper could get out of the car seat for a while. We’re not used to traveling that way, but I have to say that I appreciated being able to relax more. We also realized that not being able to sleep in helps you make it out the door on time.

We stayed in a nice hotel (complete with Starbucks) in Hacienda Heights, which has a lot of great Asian restaurants nearby.

One lunch we got takeout Szechuan noodles and another time we tried pastries at the 85 Degree bakery, which came highly recommended.

Random note – I didn’t remember the faux palm tree towers last time we were in LA. This is a thing?

The wedding on Saturday turned out to be absolutely gorgeous. It was held at the bride Sierra’s grandfather’s house, Casa Gonzalez, which felt sort of like a secret garden type place. Everywhere you looked there were details that made it feel special — a goldfish pond, a giant birdcage, a clawfoot bathtub, even an old harp that became a flower display.

The vows were beautiful and poetic. These two make a great couple!

Joe’s mom tried to steal Harper a few times.

It was so nice to catch up with some college friends.

More on this later, but we decided to take a side trip with our friends Brigid and Aaron and their baby Aldo. You may remember them from the trip we took while Brigid and I were both pregnant.

Aldo’s favorite toy was a giant spoon, which I found hilarious. 

It was fun to put all of our kids together (Aldo, Harper, and almost 2-year-old Maya).

Maya danced circles around all of us at the reception. That girl’s got some energy.

The food was fab, too. Yummy appetizers followed by taco-truck-style tacos.

Weddings always give me a chance to reflect on my own relationship and feel grateful for the love I have in my life. I’m so pleased we got to go to this one!

June in photos

Needed to use up some blueberries — brown butter blueberry muffins were delish.

I figured out I can make Harper giggle by making rapid kissing noises. Hey, whatever works.

Hanging out with her buddy, Elliot. Would you believe he’s the younger one?

Pretty flowers I spotted in Berkeley.

The view of our funny tree from the ground, where I’ve been spending a lot of time with Harper.

Happy daisies.

A funny photo my neighbor took of us.

Off to SoCal

Tomorrow we leave for our first real road trip with Harper. We’re going to a wedding in Orange County, which is about a six-hour drive. We might be crazy (and we have all been sick this week, even our dog Sadie), but we really need to get out of town for a while. Plus, we’ll be seeing old friends that we haven’t seen in a while and putting our cute kids together for the first time. Wish us luck!

4 months

It seems like time is speeding up now. “They grow up so fast” is finally starting to ring true.

Harper is almost double her birth weight now — all soft, chubby rolls.

It’s hard to get a photo of her these days because she is constantly in motion.

The best $20 we’ve spent in a long time went to a Jenny Jump-Up, which she loves to bounce in.

I just had a feeling she needed something to do with those flailing feet. I have to strap her into her little chair now or she can wriggle out.

She doesn’t roll over yet, but every morning I find her in some diagonal position in the crib. She finds ways to be mobile, even in a sleep sack.

She still has her auburn hair, but much of it has fallen out in the back. Poor baldy! (I am also experiencing post-partum hair loss. I feel like I lose the equivalent of a small mammal with every shower).

It has gotten even worse since I took this photo.

I don’t see any teeth poking through yet, but she seems to be teething. She puts everything in her mouth and drools constantly. She figured out how to suck her thumb, which is cool.

She’s also found her voice. She kind of talks to herself, and then if she wants more attention the “talking” turns into yelling, as if to say, “this is your warning, I’m going to cry soon.” It’s a nice change of pace from newborn screeching, but it has made eating out somewhat difficult. You can’t really tell a 4-month-old “That’s not polite!”

I felt like we got to a really good place just before she turned four months where she was getting better at taking naps, but still sleeping through the night with one feeding in the early morning. And then bam, major sleep regression. It’s like she’s a newborn all over again. One night she was up every hour from 10 until 3. So we are tired, but just trying to remember that everything with babies is temporary.

I may have to revise my stance on pink clothing. Everywhere I go, people think she is a boy, even in gender-neutral clothing. Maybe it is her perpetual faux-hawk. 🙂

Thankfully it seems like she doesn’t experience the witching hour much at all anymore. But if she does get cranky I always know what to do: take her outside. She loves to be outside, even if there’s a little chill. I lay out a blanket and we just hang out. She usually falls asleep eventually.

As much as I also like to be outside it’s sometimes hard to drop everything and just lay around with a baby when you know you have a million things to do. But so much of parenting is about being present. Someday the last thing in the world she will want to do is hang out with her mom, so I have to soak it up while I can.

Plus, it won’t be long before I’ll be chasing her around the yard.

Sole Meuniere

Sole Meuniere sounds fancy, but it could not be easier to make. Mike bought sole at the grocery store last week because it was on sale, so I went looking for a recipe and found this one.

You dredge the fillets in flour, salt, and pepper, then pan fry them in butter and lemon juice. The key part is definitely the butter, which gets browned and more flavorful after a few minutes in the pan.

Sole fillets are huge, but they are also very thin, so they cook quickly.

I can see us making this again next time sole is on sale. It’s not something I would usually look for, but I may have to start.

Beach baby

Last weekend we decided to take advantage of the good weather and go to the beach at Point Reyes. We went back to Limantour beach, the place where we saw the whales.

It was wiiindy out there, but it is so beautiful. Something about the sand dunes and tufts of beach grass is so idyllic it feels like a movie set or something. Maybe it’s because I grew up in Kansas, but it doesn’t seem real.

Thankfully Harper abided the car ride, which is more than an hour each way. She loves to be outside, so we made her a little tent out of a blanket and just hung out.

Didn’t see any whales this time, but we agreed that it would be fun to try the horseback riding thing sometime.