Slow Cooker Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
i had some butternut squash i needed to cook, as well as almost a pound of al dente left over pasta, and decided to combine these into a delicious comfort meal, perfect for the start of winter.
  • ½ medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and chopped.
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 2 cups milk
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup parrano cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded + more for topping
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • dried rosemary (or a few sprigs fresh rosemary)
  • ½ cup whole wheat breadcrumbs
  1. Boil the noodles in a small stock pot until just tender. Rinse and drain. Under cook the noodles slightly if you use the slow cooker or they’ll turn to mush. (i have also used uncooked noodles for the slow cooker, you just have to adjust cooking time)
  2. In a medium sauce pan, combine squash, milk and chicken broth; bring to boil over medium-high, then reduce to medium heat. Simmer until squash is tender when pierced with a fork, about 20 minutes (less if you steam the squash beforehand, which i did). Stir in sharp cheese, salt, pepper, and rosemary, stir to combine. Give it a taste now and then and adjust the spices to taste. Remove from heat and mash contents of saucepan.
  3. For stove top: Combine the noodles and sauce in a stock pot over low heat, stir to combine. If the sauce is too thick to coat properly, add more liquids. Once the sauce is the right thickness and everything is covered properly, remove from heat and add 1 cup of shredded mozzarella and stir to incorporate. Top each bowl with a light sprinkle of cheese and breadcrumbs, and serve.
  4. For slow cooker: Grease slow cooker with olive oil. Combine the noodles and sauce in the slow cooker, stir well to coat noodles. Top with shredded mozzarella and breadcrumbs. Turn the slow cooker on LOW for approximately 4 hours, and stir occasionally. You may want to add more shredded cheese to the top five minutes before serving.


i had to share this post via boredpanda because the photographs combined the maternal love and artistic vision of one California mama & her baby boy.

breathtaking, inspiring and not to be missed:

/creative baby photography

Do babies dream when they sleep, or they simply rest peacefully? Queenie Liao, a free-lance artist and mother of three boys living in California, has tried to answer this question by sharing the adventurous dramas that her child Wengenn dreams of during his sleep.

Combining artistry and imagination with photography, Queenie has created captivating photos using plain cloths, stuffed animals, and other common household materials to create the background setting.

Her album – Wengenn in Wonderland – is a compilation of over 100 creative photos that depict the continuous exploration of her son Wengenn in his magical land of charm and wonder. She drew inspiration from other creative mommas like Adele Enersen and Anne Geddes but gave the images her own imaginative fairytale twist.



My good friend, Laura, just had her baby shower and everyone offered up some advice to the new mama. I thought of a bunch more on my way home, so here it is all in one place – what I’ve learned after having three


  • i find strollers to be rather tedious. if I ever do use one – my favorite is the maclaren umbrella stroller. they are great for theme parks or street parties etc…to carry around stuff
  • it’s ok for baby to cry – my doc said not longer than 15 minutes at a time (though you may not be able to handle it)
  • try practicing putting baby down to sleep – so he/she doesn’t get too used to falling asleep in your arms – it’s great of course but causes problems down the line (I have not been good about doing this and our babies all needed to constantly being carried)
  • try out all the baby carriers and see which works best for you – a short synopsis of what I do
    • moby and peanut sling for first month
    • bjorn or beco until 12 pounds (dad only uses this)
    • ergo after 12 pounds and when strong enough to go on back (in case of third, this was as early as 3 months although they recommend 4 months and older)
  • formula is not terrible, i always used it to get started on the frozen milk supply. the alternate is to find down times to pump to start your supply
  • try the bottle as soon as you can as soon as breastfeeding is established. you will want to or need to go out when the baby needs to drink so it’s good he/she can take a bottle
  • blog or journal.  it’s nice to remember some of the history, for number two or your friends or for posterity for the little ones
  • get a system of organizing photos – i use lightroom and keep folders per date. then i upload them to smugmug.
  • sign up for amazon mom, order diapers, wipers, happy tot, etc and other things as subscribe and save – it saves money but more importantly it saves time
  • buy everything from craigslist or walmart/target/kmart. don’t buy anything expensive unless you have money to burn. you can get clothes from friends or from the used closing store. i buy a few new things now and then but otherwise it’s all hand-me-downs.
  • don’t assume your husband knows to wipe front to back
  • deal with a clogged duct immediately. don’t wait. if recurring, nurse on that side more frequently and first when possible.

stuff to get before heading to the hospital/or wherever – you don’t need much at all. the hospital has everything

  • something nice to wear to take a picture in – you may have the hospital gown photo and it’s nice to have something withoutt hat
  • a good camera
  • infant car seat and carrier
  • try to have a name ready – it really doesn’t come to you that well when you are there. for number two, we were still talking boy names in labor, and for number three, i changed her name several times and am actually about to legally change it

when leaving the hospital

  • get a pic in the hospital of the whole family
  • take as much as you can, diapers, pacifiers, blankets, desitin or butt cream, hats, etc.

stuff to get for the first month

  • the nurses at the hospital will give you advice on what to get, i.e. medicated pads, pads, ice, etc.
  • boppy pillow or my brest friend – nursing pillow – whichever works best for you
  • a bath tub
  • a sling or baby carrier – will do a separate post on baby carriers, but the moby works well when they are little
  • pacifiers if you want to go that route, but can also get the good ones from the hospital
  • a few good outfits for pictures, cotton onesies are the best
  • bassinet or co-sleeping sleeper
  • nose cleaner – can get from hospital
  • thermometer – one of those easy to use ones
  • swing (though our kids never liked these)
  • nursing cover
  • changing table, pad, dresser

stuff for the next couple of months

  • activity mat, gym, etc.
  • some rattles

3 months +

  • exersaucer (when baby can hold up her weight) – and not too much time at once (i try to keep it under 30 min) but she will get bored sooner than that when young
  • bumbo chair
  • jog stroller if relevant
  • crib

6 months + (or when they can sit)

  • high chair
  • standing piano or zoo where they can pull up and stand

what they tend to like (well mine did at least)

  • girls – 2 years – dora, 3 years princesses
  • boys – 2 years -thomas, 3 years cars, 4 years  legos, 5 years – star wars


Life with three kids under 5 is just great! It helps that we have decent jobs – our own company and teaching at a University. Both Michael and I have been on leave since March and and have therefore have had time to enjoy the moments. Here’s what we’ve been through the last several weeks in a nutshell from bed rest to post partum.

  • 4/25 (week 37) – went to see OB and had high blood pressure. She talked to my perinatologist and they decided to send me to the hospital until the baby was delivered – so…. I went from modified bed rest to strict bed rest, back to modified, and then now hospital bed rest. I checked in and had +3 protein in my urine. Nothing alarming but still indicative of PIH and pre-eclampsia. I noticed whenever I would walk around or talk, that my bp would be in the 140s-150s/90s. When just lying around, I was typically at 110/70.
  • 4/29 (week 37 and 5 days) – was heartbroken to hear that I have to get a c-section due to baby measuring large… nearly 9 lb.  Section scheduled for Friday night at 7pm. In the back of my head, I still believed we’d have a 7 lb baby since I had gained less weight than with other babies and our previous measurements were 1.5 lb heavier than our daughter weighed (son was 6 lb at 37 weeks and daughter 6 lb 7 oz at 38 weeks)
  • 5/3 (week 38 and 2 days) – c section went well and fast. the anesthesia was a bit weird. I felt out of it, and I didn’t like this feeling at all. It took a while for my brain to get back to normal. We were quite surprised to hear that she was 8 lb and 11 oz and also had a double nuchal chord, so it’s good we had the section.
  • 5/4 (1 day after birth) – I slept all day except the occasional nursing- was so completely exhausted and I could barely move. The kids came to visit and I think I was 80% asleep.
  • 5/5 (2 days after birth) – I felt completely different, didn’t need all the pain meds that I could have had, and was very alert/awake.
  • 5/6 (3 days after birth)- io lost some weight – 11, then 14% of her birth weight. Lactation consultant had me pump. Milk came in at night and she gained an oz after a weighed feeding. The pumping was probably a mistake as now I was slightly overproducing, and engorgement was very uncomfortable
  • 5/7 (4 days after birth)- home from hospital, pain seems reasonable, not sure why I shouldn’t go up and down stairs or drive, but trying to keep it easy, got the violent shivers the first night – from engorgement.
  • 5/13 – we had io’s first pediatrician visit out of the hospital, and she was 8 lb and 8 oz – so she should be at her birth weight right on schedule (usually takes 1-2 weeks). She was 22″ long. The nurse said that the original hospital measurements are a bit off since they are balled up for so long in the womb. I remember Juneau also grew 2″ in a few days. She is very healthy and doing well
  • 5/15 (1 week 5 days after birth)- off all pain killers, got my belly bandit – and ordered my bellefit. The lady at the store said that some people come over straight from the hospital to get these, and recommended not to take it off for 6 weeks, keeping it on 24 hours  a day. It’s a bit too uncomfortable for that, but I do plan to wear it for at least 8 hours a day. It helps a lot with the pain I feel when coughing, sneezing, and also helps mediate the harm done when my kids bump my incision, which seems like all the time.
  • 5/16 (1 week 6 days after birth) – all is well at two week appointment, incision looks great, only concern is the pain when I go to the bathroom (before during and after). OB said it’s because the bladder sits on top of the uterus so it was somewhat manipulated
  • 5/18 (2 weeks and one day) – got baby acne…. hope it doesn’t last too long. With my son, it lasted over 4 weeks.
  • 5/19 (2 weeks and one day)- got my bellefit, wearing it all day for now
  • 5/22 – below my pre-pregnancy weight, but it fluctuates daily … this seems to be bottom (the gestational diabetes diet kept my weight gain low, total gained was 19 lb. I gained 20 with my first, 30 with my second. I never lost the weight with the second until right before pregnant with io)
  • 5/24 – when on belly, she walks with feet, io can hold her head up when on her tummy
  • 5/22 – not nearly as painful when i pee, night time engorgement seems under control, far less need for nursing pads
  • 5/24 – still bleeding a bit… weird you don’t get 9 months of period, but so far it’s like i have 9 mos. of period all at one time .
  • 5/29 – got our eurovan popup so went camping at Big Bear (and looked at properties). io was a real trooper and camped like a pro at less than 4 weeks old!
  • 6/3 – we made it to one month. Everyone is doing just great. My c-sec is pretty much mostly recovered. I have been picking up the bigger kids here and there, although I should wait til I get the go-ahead at 6 weeks. I can barely tell I had surgery except for a spot of pain during the occasional cough.
proud big sis first family photo bedtime first camping trip first hike

Today our new baby daughter, io, turned one month old. She was born on May 3, 2013. She came in at a whopping 8 lb and 11 oz, and was 20″ long. We are enjoying her immensely. It seems to get easier with each new baby. Both older siblings love her and can’t get enough of kissing her. JL-Baby-03 JL-Baby-02

Fabulous sale alert! Starting today, through Monday, May 27thTea Collection is offering $15 Girls Dresses, $12 Girls Leggings and $12 Boys Tops. Stock up on comfortable and durable tops for boys. Mix and match adorable girls’ legging and dresses for endless outfit combinations. Don’t miss your chance to take advantage of this amazing sale from Tea Collection! Happy Shopping!

I don’t buy a lot of clothes for my kids – as I get a lot of hand me downs, but if I buy anything, it’s usually from Tea Collection or Naartjie.

I take 1000s of pictures a year of my family, but rarely am the subject of the camera. Considering this is our last, I didn’t want to miss documenting my bump for posterity. It is also nice to have pictures of the last one because the older kids are included. One of my regrets with my previous pregnancies was not getting maternity photos done. With my first, we were caught off guard to be told at 37 weeks that we had to go to the hospital right away. We snapped some horrible pics in the backyard, and that was that. With my second, my husband took some pictures around week 36 or 37. They turned out ok but I felt huge with that pregnancy, gaining 10 extra pounds more than #1 and #3 (I blame the insulin). So at 34 weeks, and while on modified bed rest, I got these pictures done by a profesional. Now that I’ve blown my photography budget for the decade, all future photos will be taken with my new DSLR (more on that after I get a chance to play with it).

JL-Maternity-Pictures-07 JL-Maternity-Pictures-06 JL-Maternity-Pictures-05 JL-Maternity-Pictures-03 JL-Maternity-Pictures-01 JL-Maternity-Pictures-04 JL-Maternity-Pictures-02

Photos by Nancy Villere


Well it’s a relief to make it to this point. Wednesday marked 35 weeks of the pregnancy that I thought would be smooth compared to the others. This was an adventurous week – a hospital visit for premature contractions, maternity photos, and husband out of the country.

On Monday, I saw the perinatologist. On the plus side, my amniotic fluid decreased below the polyhydramnios levels to 23.5. On the negative side, my insulin resistance seems to be getting worse (so they increased my glyburide intake to 7.5mg 2x a day), baby no. 3 is still on the big side (39 week abdomen size), the NST test was pretty unreactive, as usual, my blood pressure is creeping up, and I have trace amounts of protein in my urine, and to top it off, I gained 4 lbs in four days (potentially due to getting nearer to Pre-eclampsia).

I had a non-resting day and took an adventure to see some maternity pics at photographer’s studio. When I got back at night, contractions started at 6pm, with 14 the first hour, 16 the second hour, and 15 the next hour – this after only resting, and taking Procardia. Finally I called the Doctor on call. When I heard the Dr. from the last visit was on call, I knew he would send me to the hospital before he even called me back.

On a side note, Michael was leaving for Hong Kong the next day at 7AM. I was hoping not to have a repeat of the last visit, where the aforementioned doctor kept me overnight. By the time they released me, we had an hour to get Michael on the way to the airport. I think that there is something psychological going on. My husband is headed out of town for 7-10 days on both trips and the night before, I have contractions every 2-4 minutes. I think it’s my head asking my body to act up so that I can be reassured that everything is going to be fine. By the way, my mom has been here on both trips, which has helped immensely.

Anyway, at the hospital, contractions were still pretty close, so they gave me a shot of terbutaline (my third this pregnancy), and when the contractions slowed down, they sent me home. This visit lasted less than 3 hours, whew.

On Thursday, my visit to the OB/GYN went very well! Blood pressure was great. NST was reactive in 10 minutes (one one visit I was there for 2 hours waiting for the baby to react!), and cervix remains closed.

In the meantime, I’m mostly still resting (well physically) for the contractions and the blood pressure (lots of headaches now). I managed to do a lot of filing, taxes, and worked on our architectural projects. I revamped three websites,, this one, and The week before I redid our portfolio. The kids and I have been having a lot of fun with sticker books and origami, as well as discovering some great phonics apps for our screen time devices.

The Pritzker Architecture Prize Committee: Recognize Denise Scott Brown for her work in Robert Venturi’s 1991 Prize



Women of Architecture

I  just signed this petition – Hope you will consider signing it. I know we will never receive a Pritzker, but if we received any architectural accolade, I would be quite disappointed if it just included my husband /partner and left me in the dust.

I found out about the petition after reading this interesting Architectural Record article.

JL-Blog-GDFood-01So, it took three pregnancies, but I’m finally getting a hang of the GD diet. I was recently moved back from strict bed rest to modified bed rest, so I am happy to spend some time in the kitchen, not much mind you. I never like to cook anything that takes longer than 10 minutes. My lunch today was perfect. There was no change in blood sugar after one hour. Using Dreamfields or wheat pasta will improve the numbers even more. The trick is to have the noodles be less than 1/4 of the ingredients, just pile veg and meat to make it look like more. We have also been making fried rice like this (extra eggs, veg, and meat) and have managed to stay within allowed blood sugar levels (140 mg/dL after meals).

So here is what went into it:

  1. cooked noodles stored in tupperware (cook a box and keep it for fast meals)
  2. left over rotisserie chicken from Costco (another great bed rest meal – send hubbie out to get it though)
  3. whatever veggies you have (I have used spinach, sun dried tomatoes, and broccoli)
  4. pine nuts would be great, but I didn’t have any
  5. two cloves of garlic
  6. half and half
  7. real Parmesan cheese (shredded/grated, etc.)
  8. 4-cheese or any cheese really

Throw them all in the frying pan with some olive oil on high heat until it looks ready. Sprinkle with some red pepper flakes. It was delicious to cook  for myself after two weeks of eating what is around or what people make for me. The process is less than 10 minutes to make and basically is heating food you have lying around.