We were invited to three beautiful weddings this summer, the last one being this past weekend in Edmonton for my cousin and his beautiful bride! I love weddings. I love reconnecting with family and friends at weddings, all the dancing and the good food and admiring the beautiful people and details that went into making the couple's day so special. My cousin's wedding was held at a stunning location, the Polish Country Hall, and although it was a rainy weekend overall they were blessed with sunshine during the outdoor ceremony! We snapped a few photos during the day to share:
^^ The beaming and beautiful couple! She was seriously one of the most mesmerizing brides I have ever seen! And the lace details on that dress, oh my. ^^
^^ How fun is that wedding cake?! The floral arrangements were so unique and beautiful. And at one point during the reception my two cousin's (the groom's sisters) stole the microphone and rapped a song for the bride. There were many unique moments! ^^
^^ There was a photobooth set up that printed off two strips, one for the guests to take home and one to paste into a guestbook for the bride and groom. ^^
^^ My husband took some beautiful photos of the couples first dance! They are so in love, and what I especially loved to see was how comfortable and fun they are around each other. ^^
At one point the wedding photographer grabbed our camera and got some cool shots of us dancing:
It was such a fun day! I was done by midnight haha, so we ended up calling it a night fairly early (before my Grandmother, actually!) but I hear the party continued late into the night- and was pretty wild.
There are a few basic baked goods that I believe every woman needs to have a reliable recipe on-hand for. Banana bread is one of them. Others include: brownies, chocolate chip cookies, bran muffins, biscuits and a quick dessert fruit crisp. Having said that, it's taken me years to find a basic banana bread recipe that I love. I had a 'healthified' favorite (which is not husband's favorite haha), a banana chocolate chip muffin favorite, a banana cake favorite, but no standard go-to banana loaf - until this one! And husband and I are obsessed. I've made this recipe multiple times this month and it is now tweaked and perfected. Add it to your recipe book - I promice you will love it too.
Classic Banana Bread Recipe:
Beat the eggs together in a mixing bowl, then add in milk, vanilla and oil and beat again. Add mashed bananas to the wet mixture. Measure the sugar, flour, baking soda and salt and pour on top of wet mixture, stirring until just combined. Pour into a loaf pan lined with parchment paper. Bake at 340 degrees for approximately 1 hour 15 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool before turning the loaf out onto a cooling rack.
(This is not a gender reveal. I wore this dress to a wedding on the weekend and was asked a couple times if we were having a girl, thanks to the hot pink bow. There is a 50% chance that we are having a girl, and a 100% chance that hot pink, black and white look awesome together- so that's the only reason that bow is on this dress :) )
With less than 6 weeks to go, things are getting pretty squishy in there. I had an ultrasound yesterday morning and baby is snug as a bug, head down and bum up- pushing right up into my tender rib cage. Husband had to be at work, but my mom accompanied me to the ultrasound appointment and we both marveled at baby's beating heart, little eye ball (that was pretty much all we got to see of it's face since both hands AND both feet were blocking the rest from view) and fuzzy little layer of baby hair! Who knew you could see hair on an ultrasound?! Also, who knew our baby would have any hair?! My family makes bald babies. I'm just dying to know what our little one looks like, with my husband and I having such polar opposite looks it's a complete mystery!
I've finally retired the bicycle riding for the remainder of my pregnancy, so it's all early mornings driving Hubby to work before I start my work day from here on out. Although, I would be waking up at 6 am with or without an alarm clock. My full bladder and growling stomach every morning make sure of that! I'm not eating any particular foods, I'm eating all the foods. Mine and baby's morning routine is now: feed the ravage beast known as my stomach at 6am, talk hubby's ear off on the way to his work (so long, peaceful quiet mornings for my night-owl morning-hating husband), drive myself to the multiplex, swim for as long and as hard as I can (which is really not very hard at all anymore. I'm 10 seconds slower over 100 meters of front-crawl now. That's like, way slow), shower and get ready in less than 15 minutes since it's so hard to make myself leave the pool deck any earlier, then be at my desk for work at 9 am. I usually don't feel baby moving around a whole lot during this time since I'm going full speed ahead, but once I settle into my desk chair it starts a squirming and keeps that up most of the day. Unless of course, someone dare put their hand on my belly to feel the baby move- that always makes he/she freeze. So silly!
The other night I was sound asleep and husband was awake and stirring as usual, when he put his arm around my belly and felt baby just absolutely dancing around in there! They hung out like that for a while, having their own little party without me. He told me about it in the morning, and it was such a hit of reality that there is a little human growing in there that is completely separate from me and yet so completely a part of me at the same time! This growing people stuff, it's crazy I tell ya.
That's pretty much the highlight reel of week 34. Oh, and we got fully stocked up on our supply of cloth diapers and cotton wipes over the weekend! That's a big weight off my chest. Now we have things for baby to sit in (thanks to generous mom-friends who are done having babies), a couple adorable things for baby to wear (thanks to my mom, typical grandma spoiling baby before she's even met it!) and things for baby to poop in. I think that covers all the bases.
Here's hoping that baby stays in it's snug little spot for another 6 weeks!
What do you do on a scorching 33 degree day in Jasper? Go for a dip in Pyramid Lake! Jasper is usually such a temperate climate, always perfect for long days of hiking but after hiking Bald Hills all morning we were desperate for a way to cool off in the afternoon. Pyramid Lake is my absolute favorite mountain lake. I've swam in it a couple of times, but usually that just means diving off the dock and gasping/sputtering quickly as possible back to shore. It's cold. However, this particular day was the best swimming conditions I have ever experienced in the lake, so dad and I swam out nearly half way. We all took turns going for a spin on the kayaks for the rest of the afternoon, as well as sunning on the beach. Husband even did some stand-up 'paddle boarding' on the sit-on-top kayak. Needless to say, the afternoon was perfect.
Two weekends ago we said goodbye to Jasper for a little bit. When we return we'll have a new, adorable little companion in tow. After spending 5 weekends hiking and exploring our favorite national park this summer, it was sad to leave knowing we didn't have a return date written on the calendar- but we certainly went out with a bang and hiked the beautiful Bald Hills trail for the first time! It was a good 10+ km hike with lots of incline and elevation gain and a beautiful pay-off at the summit! Husband was off running in the mountains in preparation for the death race, so my adventure companions were my mom, dad, auntie and uncle and of course the little bean in my belly.
^^ You know it's a legit hike when there is still snow on the trail in July. ^^
^^ Panoramic views from the summit! It was 360 degrees of breathtaking beauty as our eyes feasted on the Queen Elizabeth mountain range and Maligne Lake. A very well deserved reward for a hard 5+ km haul up! ^^
^^ I've said it before, and I'll say it again.. I have really cool parents. We're a family of hikers and exploring the unknown together is one of my favorite family activities! ^^
And now for a little 33 week bump-date:
^^ I can feel I've definitely slowed down, but not near as much as I'd anticipated when first entering the third trimester. The last third has been a fairly smooth ride filled with tons of adventure. ^^
Our strawberry harvest from last week has been put to good use! Two buckets have been hulled and frozen to make jam with when the weather cools down, and one bucket has been tossed on top of granola and milk in the morning, yogurt in the afternoon, angel food cake and whipped cream, and of course baked into these delicious strawberry rhubarb squares!
Shortbread bottom layer:
Line a 9x13 inch pan with parchment paper, then oil the parchment paper. Cream together the first 4 ingredients in a mixing bowl until fluffy, then incorporate the flour until combined. Press the dough into the pan with the back of a metal spoon, then cool in the fridge while the oven preheats to 325 degrees. Bake for 25 minutes.
Fruit mid layer:
Toss the fruit togerher with lemon zest, vanilla, sugar and flour until evenly coated. Spread evenly on top of baked and cooled shortbread layer.
Crumble topping layer:
Mix ingredients together (minus the cinnamon) until just combined, not a smooth mixture at all but chunky. Sprinkle ontop of fruit layer then sprinkle cinnamon on the very top. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Cool completely in pan before serving. I let mine cool in the fridge all night, then it was very easy to cut into pretty squares. It stores very well in the fridge, and is a perfect treat for a hot summers day!
For the past 3 years my mom and I have celebrated her birthday by going strawberry picking! I don't know exactly what day strawberry season starts, but to me the day that strawberries are their ripest and plumpest is July 15th. In 2012 and 2013 we picked berries at Dunvegan gardens, but this year we wanted to try a U-pick-it closer to home and were so happy we did. Summers Gold market gardens had an absolutely amazing crop of berries this year, as well as a huge vegetable garden coming that they provide a CSA service with. We roasted in the 32 degree heat while picking 3 buckets of perfect berries. I probably ate a half a bucket worth as we picked. Here are some iphone photos we snapped while picking:
^^ Reaching over the big old belly to collect berries! ^^
^^ Our haul! We froze 2 buckets worth to make jam (once the heat wave ends and we can stand being above the stove again) and divided up 1 bucket for eating this week. We also sliced some up that evening to serve over angel food cake and whipped cream for Mom's birthday! ^^
^^ And, of course, a bump photo. How could I not? 33.5 weeks! ^^
Husband and I spent another weekend in the woods. We drove down after work on Friday and had the best conversation during the four hour drive. It's so nice to mini-roadtrip every weekend to be able to catch up and re-connect after a busy week. I'm very .. (what's a nice word for obnoxious?) .. when it comes to sharing about my work days and dreams and everything else on my mind, and sometimes can forget to be a good listening ear for Husband. I call it 'talking at him' versus 'talking with him' and it's something I have to intentionally work on! Anyways, I found out so many interesting things about his previous week and his future dreams during the drive! Also, 4 hours stuck in a car means 4 solid hours of knitting and I made great progess on baby projects! And we brought our favorite furry friend, and she laid her head on and licked my shoulder every once in a while which was just the sweetest.
^^ We had plans to do the Bald Hills trail on Saturday. It's suposed to be a really amazing hike with great views of the Maligne range, but it turns out it's not dog friendly! So since we were already in the area we did a few smaller trails around lakes and look-outs surrounding Maligne lake. The shorter hikes made for a very relaxing day. ^^
^^ Waking up in a tent with these 2 (3!) is the best. The baby was swimming around in my belly on this morning and Husband snoozed on for hours after I woke up, the pup and I went for a little walk then came back into the tent and snuggled. ^^
^^ When I was getting too hungry to hangout in the tent anymore, I took the dog outside and got us both some breakfast then knit and breathed in the cool mountain air until Husband was ready to get up. I'm not the hugest fan of sleeping in, but I do LOVE to not have a morning agenda and have a relaxing, quiet morning. ^^
^^ On Sunday we followed a dried up creek bed near the base of Roche Miette through these amazing canyons! It was so cool. And it was fun to explore a trail that had no name, and really wasn't a trail at all. We didn't see any other humans, but did see some amazing views of the Pocahontas face. ^^
^^ Like this! The chin! ^^
^^ It was a hot day! I really wanted to hop in as well. ^^
Things are getting pretty bumpy over here! There are less than 2 months left to go until we get to meet our little one and we couldn't be more excited. I sure hope baby likes riding in the hiking backpack because we have a lot planned that we want to show him/her, right from day one! So far the baby seems to like the motion of hiking because once we hit the trail I don't feel a thing until we are back in the campsite and a little party starts up in my belly! I like to think it's baby celebrating how awesome the day was, but it could also be banging on the walls saying "get me outta here you crazy woman!" ;)
For me, early third trimester has been the best stage so far: Little nursery and baby projects are coming together now and I'm feeling a *little* more prepared. We have a prenatal class coming up in a couple weekends. I'm not sick (woohoo!) and with enough swimming, stretching and bathing I can keep the back pain from getting too out of control, for the most part. My doctor is still giving me the go-ahead to ride my bicycle to work and I am forever thankful that I don't have to drop my husband off at work at the crack of dawn in order to have the car yet. I still haven't had any crazy cravings, but my daily urge for oranges and steamed broccoli has died down a bit. And best of all, our baby is growing right along schedule, swimming around like crazy while I lay in bed at night and keeping my husband and I forever entertained, and also forever saying to each other "I can't believe we are actually having a baby... "