5 tips to make bomb twice-baked sweet potatoes

Tips for Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes with EggsTwice-baked potatoes were one of my favorite dinners when I was growing up. I’d wait impatiently for them to bake and snag a top—a little piece of potato skin with melted cheese—as soon as they were out of the oven, inevitably burning my mouth. But it was so worth it!

When figuring out what meal to bring another new mama friend (something was in the water about 9 months ago—I have so many friends who just had babies!), I thought back to how comforting twice-baked potatoes were and decided to make a batch—but with sweet potatoes. I love their flavor and all the extra vitamins and antioxidants that accompany their orange flesh.

Because I’m so bad at feeding myself, I made extras for my family, of course.

I love twice-baked sweet potatoes because you can throw in whatever you have on hand. I added onion, broccoli, peppers, tofu and cheese—not a bad combo, if you ask me. I considered whipping up a recipe to post here but the beauty of twice-baked sweet potatoes is that you don’t need a recipe. Just bake the potatoes, scoop and mash the insides, saute a combo of veggies-meat-whatever you need to use in the fridge, and bake ’em all again until heated through—usually around 20 minutes.

To accompany the sweet potatoes, I chopped up veggies for a salad (remember, brand-new parents of a newborn have no time to slice cucumbers!) and made these no-bake peanut butter oat bites. After all, old fashioned oats are one of the top foods recommended to help increase and support your milk supply. I added some coconut flakes and used agave instead of honey (we were out and there’s no way I’m paying out the nose for grocery store honey when I can wait to get it at the farmer’s market!), and they turned out delicious. We now have a bag of ’em in the freezer because I had to make enough for myself, too, didn’t I?

If you’re making a meal for new parents (and seriously, just do it!), check out my last post about what to do—and not do—to make eating a little easier for those sleep-deprived, love-drunk mamas and papas.

Without further ado, then, here are my top 5 tips for making out of this world twice-baked sweet potatoes. Continue reading

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Spook Club Vice President, at your service

Old photo preschooler Catherine Ryan Gregory

Even as a kid, I delighted in an innocent scare.

When I was little, I was fascinated by feeling afraid.

One night, for example, my dad, sister and I walked from his office to his car past the graveyard on the University of Oregon campus. We made up an entire song (“The werewolf is howling, the vampire is prowling, it’s a fu-u-u-ll moon”) that I still hum to myself when I catch a glimpse of a moon anywhere near full.

And we formed the Spook Club, complete with a “secret” set of hand motions that we’d sign to each other with knowing looks and raised eyebrows. We mostly scared ourselves silly by watching black and white horror flicks, along with some movies of questionable suitability for an 8-year-old. I still get chills thinking of the bleak desperation of The Last Man on Earth, in which Vincent Price spends every day hunting vampires. I remember lying awake on my parents’ bedroom floor after the credits finished rolling, thinking that I’d never be able to carry on if I were that utterly alone.

This is a bit strange to be writing after my last post about children’s books to quell childhood fears, but I found myself thinking about Spook Club last night as I was reading before bed. I’m about halfway through The Boy Who Drew Monsters, by Keith Donohue (thanks for the rec, West Metro Mommy!), and I realized I haven’t changed that much since peeking from behind a blanket to watch The Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock flicks. Continue reading

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Our favorite children’s books: Books about being afraid

“Too noisy!”

Peeper’s complaints about noise, and the genuine fear loud sounds inspire in her, continue unabated in these parts, and we’ve learned to adapt. I make cookie dough when she’s asleep. I look ahead to avoid loud things like lawn mowers or steam trains in our path. And we are patient when her conversations repeatedly steer back to the fact that something—a seal, tractor, Jeep—is “too noisy.”

Alas, we haven’t yet found a book that deals with fear of loud sounds, but we like these other reads for addressing fear in general. At some point, she might become afraid of the dark, or of getting sucked down the bath drain, or of vampire zombie bats living under the crib. (Who knows? She has a vivid imagination already.)

If your little one is spooked, these books might help. At the least, they will say he’s not alone in being afraid.

Read on for a little courage—or at least encouragement! Continue reading

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Goose eggs and gratitude

It’s been a hard week ’round these parts.

It started one day with Peeper throwing up at breakfast. She must have caught the GI bug that’s going around lately. I didn’t feel great, either, but powered through and managed to get some work done.

The next day, while she and Nana were at the grocery store, she bumped into a wire rack at the end of one of the aisles. The whole thing crashed down on her, and she ended up with two big goose eggs—and a trip to the doctor.

She’s fine, thank goodness, despite the bruises and bumps.

doctor's office Ten Thousand Hour MamWe then had a few nice days where we both felt fine, so we spent the weekend hiking, throwing sand in the Willamette River and enjoying the sun.

Milo McIver State Park hike toddlerThen a few nights ago I became violently ill. I was sick all night and still can’t eat or hardly drink anything—a condition that’s especially rough when you’re pregnant.

Throughout it all, though, I can focus on what I’m grateful for. Continue reading

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Peeper had a little lamb

Sheep lovey toddler hike

“And everywhere that Mary went, the lamb was sure to go.”

Peeper recently adopted Sheep as her go-to lovey, and while its fleece used to be white as snow, it has already acquired the dingy dishwater hue of a much-adored stuffed animal.

One day, out of nowhere, Peeper grabbed Sheep—a stuffed toy she’d never had much interest in—right before we went on a hike. Then, when I unloaded her and Finn, she wouldn’t let go. “Sheep come on hike,” she said, so I figured what the hell. Sheep has been Peeper’s Number One Partner ever since.

Sheep comes on our hikes. Sheep rides with Edie in the stroller when we go for morning walks. Sheep even accompanied us to IKEA—then to Mexico. Continue reading

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Sugar Cookie Paint: The no-frosting way to decorate cookies

Sugar cookies no frosting decorationsA few times a year when I was growing up, my mom would break out the cookie cutters and we’d decorate sugar cookies.

It always seemed like a big event. We’d sort through the mountain of semi-misshapen airplanes, giraffes, gingerbread men and stars, picking out the ones for my mom to use. (There was never any question whether we’d select the Mystery Cookie Cutter, which looked kind of like California and kind of like a stretched-out stocking, of course.) She would lay out the raw dough on cookie sheets, and we kids would go at ’em.

Fluorescent sprinkles, those silver balls that I’m pretty sure were supposed to be inedible, and red hots—which everyone liked to use but no one except my older sister liked to actually eat—were all fair game.

We’d sweep up silver balls and wipe up sprinkles for weeks to come, but the mess was always worth the fun. (Isn’t it always?) Continue reading

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Family resemblance

The other day I was looking for a particular photo when I stumbled upon one that made me gasp—no exaggeration.

I found an image of my older sister as a toddler, and Peeper’s resemblance is uncanny. See for yourself:

Toddler eat flower tulip

Aunt Bootsie, around 1 year old, develops a taste for the finer things

Toddler tulip festival Woodburn curls

Peeper investigates a tulip at the Woodburn Tulip Festival

Continue reading

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