Pumpkin Challah.

So I have been really wanting to bake a challah from scratch for quite some time and I finally did it. Since it's Sukkot I wanted to make something festive and came across a Pumpkin Challah recipe on Tori Avey's blog. that I could not resist. And oh my god. It is life changing. This challah is seriously amazing. We made french toast with it twice and it's the best french toast I have ever had. It's seriously HEAVENLY. I feel like I have to share it. A quick note this recipe makes two huge challahs so make sure you have plenty of people to share it with or cut the recipe in half to make a single challah. But I kind of never want to run out of it. I made it this week and am already thinking about when I can make it again. 

  • 2 packets of active dry yeast
  • 1 cup luke warm water - divided into two half cups
  • 3 tbsp white sugar
  • 1 egg 
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp all spice 
  • 1/4 tsp ginger 
  • 1/8 tsp cloves
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 7-9 cups baking flour

plus for egg wash:

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp water 

You'll also need:

  • large mixing bowl
  • whisk
  • 2 cookie sheets
  • parchment paper
  • aluminum foil
  • pastry brush

First pour 1/2 cup of the warm water into a large mixing bowl and add the 2 packets of yeast and 1 tbsp of sugar. Stir it well to dissolve. Wait 10 minutes. It should look a bit foamy and a little thicker. 

Add the other 1/2 cup of warm water to the bowl with the sugar, egg, egg yolks, honey, canola oil, salt and spice. I used a hand mixer to blend it all well. After that's mixed in add the pumpkin puree - I again, used my hand mixer to blend it well. It should be a thick liquid. 

Next you are going to add the flour. This part can get VERY messy. I measured out 8 cups of flour and had it ready to go in another big mixing bowl, but I ended up needing 9 cups. You will need to use your hands to mix - so I recommend measuring out 9-10 cups of flour before hand so you don't have to clean your hands and measure out more flour in the middle. 

Add the flour by the cupful. I started mixing with a wooden spoon until it was too thick and then mixed with my hands - and Wren loved helping during this part. 

Keep mixing and kneading the dough until it's smooth and not sticky. Keep adding the flour cup by cup until it feels 'right'. 

Once you're done kneading the dough place a saucepan full of water on the stove to boil. Meanwhile remove the dough from your mixing bowl. Clean and dry the bowl. Grease the bowl with canola oil. Put the dough back in the greased bowl and flip it over so both sides are moistened by the oil. Cover the bowl with a clean damp towel. Please the bowl on the middle rack of you oven and place the saucepan of boiling water on the rack below the bowl of dough. The pan of water will create an ideal environment for the dough to rise. Let the dough rise for 1 hour. 

Take the dough out and punch it a few times to eliminate air pockets. Cover with towel and place back in the oven with pan of water to rise for 1 hour more. 

Now your dough is ready to braid. Divide it into two equal portions. If you plan to bless your challah you can find the blessing here

I did my first one as a 6 strand braid, which I definitely recommend. Being 31 weeks pregnant and it was now like 9 pm, I got tired and lazy for the second and did a 3 braid for the second challah. I also did not bother to follow the tutorial and braided it like I would my hair. It still tasted great but visually was not as appealing. So I would definitely follow the tutorials in the link above. 

After your challahs are braided - beat the egg wash - 2 egg yolks and 1 tbsp of water. 
Place challahs on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. Using your pastry brush cover both challahs evenly with egg wash. 

Let the braided challahs rise for another 45 minutes. You'll know the dough is ready to bake when you press your finger into the dough and the indent stays.

Preheat oven to 350. 

I baked both challahs at the same time. 
Bake for 20 minutes. Then turn the challahs and switch racks so they bake evenly. Then bake for another 20 minutes. So its 40 min total baking time. Keep an eye on the challah for the last 20 minutes. It may be browning faster than its baking. Once you feel like it is browned to your liking, take the tray out and cover the challah with tin foil. Then place it back in the oven to finish baking. 

You can make sure it's done by turning it over and tapping the bottom of the loaf, it should make a hollow sound. 

Let the challah cool and enjoy!

I also recommend making Tori's Cinnamon Honey Butter to go with it. This challah is amazing toasted with a little of the cinnamon honey butter on top. I also used the cinnamon honey butter to make french toast with this challah. It's life changing I promise. 



Wren's Second Birthday.

 So our little Wren Ramona Zofia turned a whole two years old last month. I really wanted to throw her a party because next year I will have another little girl and am not sure I will be up to it. She has been really into Tinkerbelle and fairies so we vaguely used fairies as a theme. The party favors were wings, crowns and wands. Little kids in fairy wings is basically the cutest thing ever. I wish I could do this for her every birthday haha. It was supposed to rain which threw a wrench in our backyard plans, but my wonderful husband rented this awesome tent. My mom and him spent like three hours setting it up and of course it ended up barely sprinkling and being very hot and SO humid. But the tent was awesome anyway and added some great ambience. Plus I am sure if we had no tent that it would have poured! Wren was really sad when we took the tent down. 

Last year I was a really good mom and made her a special sugarless strawberry shortcake with greek yogurt. She hadn't really had sugar yet so I didn't want her to get sick. But this year the sugar was flowing. I think she ate the buttercream frosting off of at least 3 strawberry cupcakes. I am going to try to do a post of the cupcake recipe because they were insanely delicious. Her birthday was a beautiful afternoon filled with fun, treats and little fairies running around. It was magical just like her. 

I cannot get over the fact that my baby is now such a big girl. Time is so weird. I feel like it is going by at lightning speed but at the same time it feels like I have had her forever. I can't even remember what life was like before her. It's like she has always been here. I know I must say this a lot on here but she is seriously a shining ray of light. This kid has so much personality. She is kind, adventurous, funny and thoughtful. She hugged every friend that came to her party. She said "thank you" to everyone for her gifts. She is so sensitive to others, it makes me so proud. She is a warm, inviting little person that genuinely wants those around her to be happy. What more could I ask for? I know I am totally bragging but I just can't help it. 

She has grown SO MUCH in the last year. I can't help but be a bit nostalgic. I can't even imagine what this next year has in store for her. It will no doubt be wonderful, beautiful and heart wrenching to watch as her Mumma. She is in preschool, getting more independent by the day, she will become a big sister, she started sleeping in a toddler bed(a post on this to come), there is going to be so much growing all around in the months to come... I am grateful to be blessed with her spirit, her face, her voice, her pillowy little hands, her sweet kisses, her head burrowed into me, her laughter and even her cries. Again I know I must say this a lot, but there is truly nothing better than being Wren's Mumma. You other moms out there get it. It is the most fulfilling thing in the universe helping her through the world, teaching her how to navigate and understand the things and people around her. She is so perceptive and mostly aware, except for her habit of running and looking behind her! She loves to be chased. It's one of her favorites along with music, art and animals. She is a natural artist and nurturer. Daniel and I cannot get enough of her. We are both so in love with our sweet girl. 

Happy, Happy Birthday Sweet Wren!!!!!!



Two Years of Wren.

(24 months of this beautiful girl)

I cannot believe Wren will be two whole years old this weekend. It has been the best time of my life being her Mumma. She was born after over 48 hours of labor and finally entered this world at 11:19pm, 41 minutes before her due date, with black hair and blue eyes. During her birth the doctor said I could reach down and feel her head - so I reached down and felt that warm, fuzzy little head and it blew my mind a million times over. She wasn't all the way born yet but in that moment I was changed forever. Our first physical contact, besides her growing inside of my belly, haha. Sometimes when I put my hand on her head it transports me back to that first moment. She had that special twinkle in her eye from day one and over the last 24 months that light has just grown brighter and brighter. 

She is innately compassionate, concerned when she hears other children cry and quick to comfort anyone she feels is in distress. She is insanely lively, outgoing and confident. She loves making new friends, giving high fives, waving at any older kid she sees, and giving those she loves lots of hugs and kisses. She is all about music; making music, singing, dancing, and tapping her feet. We have been taking her to museums and galleries since she was just a few weeks old and she definitely enjoys observing artwork. Animals and babies are another one of her most favorites. She is a natural nurturer. She loves water, kicking and throwing balls, running, jumping, climbing on everything (especially me lol), slides, swings, crawling through tunnels, going on hikes and collecting rocks, pine cones, acorns and twigs, yoga, getting and giving tickles, picnics, tea parties, helping me bake treats...She is just the best. I am sure you can tell I am insanely proud and deeply in love with my sweet Wren. 

She truly inspires me everyday in a zillion ways. She helps me stay on top of my game. She has taught me how to be patient, which on somedays is still challenging for me. She has ripped open my heart and expanded my ability to love endlessly. She has shifted my entire world view. She has opened my eyes to what really matters in life. She just makes me such a better person. Regardless of the day I am having she motivates me to always treat others with respect, kindness and understanding. I definitely tried to do this before becoming a mother but sometimes a bad day would get the best of me. They still do on a occasion but I have become so much more resilient to challenges and adversity. She makes me want to be extra healthy and take care good care of myself so she will learn to do the same and I will be around for as long as possible to be there and witness as much of her beautiful life as I possibly can. I have gained cat like reflexes. It's crazy how when you become a mom you do somehow grow eyes on the back of your head and you can shoot across the room and catch your kid in mid air in a flash. Being a mom in some ways does in fact make you a superhero. 

This is her last birthday as an only child which makes me feel a well of a million emotions. Motherhood has a way of making you feel overwhelmed with strong, opposing emotions constantly. These big moments have a way of bubbling up all of these feelings, making you want to cry and laugh and beam with pride and weep with grief over how quick it all passes. I know I will love and enjoy this next little girl just as much but sometimes I get a little sad I won't be able to shower Wren with all of my attention. I can't help these conflicted feelings. Don't get me wrong I think it's so great to have a sibling. Daniel and I both have siblings and agree that you learn so much from having brothers and sisters. You learn how to share, how to fight, how to compromise. You have a built in best bud to talk to about everything. So in short I will probably cry a lot on her birthday for a variety of reasons both happy and sad because I am mom which means I am an emotional wreck, and I am pregnant. Haha.

A couple of Wren anecdotes that stand out in my mind:
She has been a bit tentative at the beach this summer, I think the vastness of the ocean was a little overwhelming for her (she was fearless at ponds & pools). It would always take her a while to warm up to the idea of going in the water at the beach. But by the end of the summer I took her in when the waves were kind of big(at least for Cape Cod bayside standards) and she took a wave right to the face and I braced myself for the tears but instead she surprised me with a big "I did it!!!!" And when I did take her out of the water she wanted right back in. I was taken aback by her bravery and new found confidence.
So when Wren was really young we took her to Zimman's and there is a portrait of Daniel's grandfather Barry up in the office. We had never talked about him before or showed her a photo (he passed away 6 months before she was conceived). But somehow she pointed right at the picture and said "Barry!" it was kind of eery. And now that she is older she is insistent that her name is "Barry". She responds perfectly fine when you call her "Wren" but if you ask her 'Whats your name?' the answer is always 'Barry' and if you try to tell her 'No, your name is Wren' she becomes very aggravated and will say "BARRY!!!!!" It will be interesting to see how this evolves as she gets older. Daniel and I joke that maybe we should change her name. haha. 

She loves clothes and dressing up, she especially loves to accessorize her outfits  She can't get enough jewelry, hats, sunglasses, purses, make up, nail polish...such a girlie girl. She is endlessly entertaining. She is old soul full of adventure, love and tenderness. She beams with brightness and spreads joy wherever she goes. She is curious and loves to sit and figure things out on her own. She is eager to learn new things, currently all about the alphabet, medical care and Daddy's tools. She loves caring for animals although it sometimes translates into mildly torturing our two cats. She has started preschool this last week and is doing great as I said in my last post. It will be so exciting to see her grow during this next year. I have a feeling it's going to be full of exponential growth in so many ways. Plus, she will become a big sister this December. It's going to be an incredible year for her, lots of big changes and learning. 

Here are 20 Questions for Wren:

1. What is your favorite color?

Blue & Purple
2. What is your favorite toy?
Doc McStuffins Vet Carrier & Assortment - Cat 
3. What is your favorite fruit?
4. What is your favorite TV show?
Curious George
5. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch?
Chips and Salsa & Pizza & Pickles
6. What is your favorite outfit?
Anything with a tutu or a good twirling dress
7. What is your favorite game?
Running and getting chased by me to get caught and tickled. 
And putting Clover the bunny in her picnic basket.
8. What is your favorite snack?
Lemon Zest Luna Bars and any kind of fruit 
9. What is your favorite animal?
Owls & Cats
10. What is your favorite song?
"The Fall" - Rhye
"Concrete Wall" - Zee Avi 
11. What is your favorite book?
Room on The Broom & Curious George Halloween
12. Who is your best friend?
Mumma & Daddy
13. What is your favorite sport?
14. What is your favorite thing to do outside?
Running in the sprinklers
15. What is your favorite drink?
Passion Tea Lemonade from Starbucks(which she calls Mumma's Tea)
16. What is your favorite holiday?
She seems pretty keen on Halloween like her Mumma
17. What do you like to take to bed with you at night?
Blankie, Sleep Sheep, Bunny Love, Light Up Giraffe and Lamby
18. What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?
Pancakes - blueberry or banana
19. What do you want for dinner on your birthday?
She would probably pick cupcakes haha
20. What do you want to be when you grow up?
I would guess a fashion designer, artist, doctor...

I am so grateful to have my magical, little Wren. It is a true joy to have her in my life. I don't know how I ever got so lucky. She fills me entirely with love and happiness that gets into every deep nook and cranny inside of me. I am constantly illuminated by her vibrant, shimmering light. I swear she literally shines like the sun. 



Wren's First Day of Preschool.

So last Thursday my little Wren had her first day of preschool!!!!!! Excuse me while I cry, freak out and beam with pride...haha. She did great. She went in and found some babies, paints and all kinds of fun things to play with, she was in heaven. It amazes me how confident, comfortable and outgoing she is. I managed to keep it together in front of her, but once we walked out of the room and down the hallway it all hit me like a ton of bricks. The water works were in full force. She isn't my baby anymore, she is this fierce, strong, fun, independent little lady. Part of me is just in such awe of her and beaming with pride, and part of me is so sad at how fast she is growing up. 

She is my best buddy, I am so used to having her with me all of the time. And I know I need some me time too. I didn't expect to miss her so much. It's only twice a week, what is the big deal? Luckily the timing of baby girl number two couldn't be more perfect. It is the prefect distraction for me to focus on while Wren is at school. And once the baby is here I think it will be great for Wren to get to be at school on her own, especially because she seems to absolutely love it. I can blame it on being pregnant but I think Moms just have so much love for their babies they can't help getting all emotional. I am so glad Daniel was there with us the first day, I think I would have been a bigger disaster if I was alone. Next time I will be by myself. Yikes. 

Oh my sweet Wren. You continue to amaze me with your strength, grace and sense of adventure. 
I love you more than you will ever know. Thank you for being you and letting me be your Mumma. 

// Wren's shirt and overalls - Gap // Shoes - Zara // Backpack - Here //


Leaves That Are Green.

It is officially September and my little Wren is going to start preschool twice a week! They grow up way too fast! It felt a bit like fall over the weekend. My favorite time of year!!!!! It makes me so happy to be living in New England during this time of year. The leaves are already turning a little bit. Halloween stuff is officially everywhere! Pumpkin and apple everything please and thank you. 
It's hard to tell in this billowy dress but my bump has seriously popped. I am almost 26 weeks. Just one more week and it's third trimester time. This pregnancy is going by lightning fast. The second trimester has mostly been dreamy(minus a migraine that landed me in the ER). I love feeling all the kicks and moves. And this girl moves A LOT. I am pretty sure she is practicing to climb Everest or she is choreographing the most epic dance of all time. I am going to have my hands full when she makes her debut. 
Meanwhile my little Wren is in school! I mean preschool...but still. She somehow manages to get more wonderful every day. It blows my mind. I was crawling to grab a toy in her room and my knee landed on some plastic play food and it hurt so bad. She was quick to comfort me, got the arnica gel and applied it to my knee. Then she looked at me with that angelic face and said "All better Mama?" I about burst into tears. She is so caring and thoughtful. This new baby girl is going to have the best big sister ever. She also pets and kisses my belly all the time and talks to me about the baby in there. 
Since time is going by in a blur I made Daniel snap these pics of Wren and I in our backyard. I want to have some sort of documentation of this pregnancy and all these precious moments. 
Also did I mention Wren will be two in ten days?! TWO!!!!!! I can't believe it. I just love that wild haired, sweet little soul so much. This last year has been truly magical. It just keeps getting better and better. 

On me: 
// Dress & Boots - Free People // Bracelet - Dannijo // Diamond Circle Bracelet - Rachel Brenman // 
// Ring - Heather Hoffman // Other Jewelry is family heirlooms or collected on my travels // 
// Sunglasses - The Rowe 8 by Linda Farrow //

On Wren:
// Tree Slouch Dress - Rylee & Cru // Ruffle Socks - Zara // Boots - Gap (similar here) //


My Girl. (x2)

 So it took us two tries at the gender scan but we finally found out that 
we are having a girl!!!! 
We would have been happy either way but it's nice to know. Another girl means I get to see all of Wren's little outfits all over again. I was going through all my photos of baby Wren yesterday and it's so crazy how fast they grow. I know it will probably seem even faster with the second one because there is less time to just sit and take in the moment. I really want to make an effort to mentally hit pause every day with this next one and just drink in every second. Wren talks about the baby all of the time. Wren and I went through her toys and picked out her old baby toys for the new one. Now she goes over to the bag of toys and will pull one and put it on my belly and say "for baby!" it's the cutest! This little girl is going to have the best big sister. I look forward to watching them grow, play, go on adventures and share everything together. I can't believe I am going to have DAUGHTERS. plural. haha. 

We love you little one!!!!!!!!


Who Knows Where The Time Goes.

(Wren last August and this July - she has grown so much)

As it nears Wren's second birthday I cannot help but look back at photos from the last year and reminisce. It all just goes by much, much too fast. There are so many moments I want to go back and relive over and over. Motherhood is so incredible. Watching this amazing little human transform little by little every day is truly the ultimate gift. I cannot remember what life was like without this little shadow following me around. How did anything matter without her? 
There is nothing greater than experiencing the world through her. She lights up my world. She ignites a deep, fierce, true fire within me. She makes me better every single second. Becoming a mother is most definitely my greatest gift, challenge and treasure. 
I am now carrying another growing life inside of me. Due to enter this world sometime in December. I cannot express how much I am looking forward to starting another journey with this new little one. Wren understands there is a baby in my belly and will give it hugs and kisses. It will be a whole new chapter to watch her become a big sister, take this new little one under her wing to nurture, love and show it the ropes of life. 

I am so so so so grateful for this magnificent, magical, crazy journey I am on. 

This new little one is already a mover and shaker in there. I think it's going to be very adventurous. We went for the gender scan already but this one was too busy kicking and somersaulting to let us get a good look. So we don't know if it's a boy or girl yet. 

I am really wanting to get back into blogging again. Wren spilled water on my laptop a few months back and I have yet to replace it. For some reason using my desktop just doesn't inspire me to get back at it, but I am going to try harder. 

A few fun Wren quotes:

Looking at her toes "Look Mumma these my little paws"
Me "What?"
"My little paws" 

Looking at a tiger at the zoo "Tt!" (our cat)

I said to her "Mumma is sleepy" so she tucked me in bed "Nap Mumma, nap" and shoved my head down on the pillow LOL

Seeing letters of any kind anywhere - she will point and say "T, O, I, D..." she is really obsessed with the alphabet. She also sings her own version of the alphabet song

If I ask her to sing a song 99% of the time she will start humming and singing "Jet" by Paul McCartney it is her favorite song 

Leaving the beach she waves and says "bye bye beach! thank you"

A few of Wren's favorite things:

The Alphabet
Playing her harmonica
Getting her nails painted
Giving other kids hugs and high fives
Kiddie rides

ME and my bump. It's actually bigger than this now. 
Wren last August. She just started walking on her own. 
Wren last August - she was just a little peanut. 

 Wren this July stealing strawberries. 
 Some summer adventures with my little love. 
I love this life of mine so much my heart could burst