Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

We have been enjoying an absolutely gorgeous Halloween day! The sun is shining and Alexa is in an awesome mood this afternoon.

 This is our Halloween outfit :) Thanks for the headband Gramma!

Alexa made her first jack-o-lantern today! As soon as she saw me take out the paints she got really excited. It was lots of fun making it with her.

I hope everyone enjoys Halloween with their little goblins and witches! We sure are having a fabulous time with our little pumpkin!


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Ghouls and Zombies and Worms, Oh My!

Halloween is on Thursday! I am so excited for Alexa's first Halloween. Her costume is ready to go and so is her treat bag.

In the spirit of this ghoulish holiday, I decided to look up some little kid safe snacks. I found TONS of options online. After combing the internet for some super cool (read: inexpensive and easy) snacks to make, here are my three favorites...

Ghost Toast - I plan on using raisins instead of currants.

Apple Pie Salsa - I mean seriously, this just looks delicious.

Bowl of Worms - there are so many options with this one and the sensory stimulation is awesome!

I also had to include Monster Paws because let's face it, they are so cool and who doesn't love a good popcorn hand, but please be aware that popcorn is not safe for kids under 3 years old.  

Monday, October 28, 2013

Pumpkin Painting

With Halloween coming up, we decided to let Alexa paint her pumpkin since she is still too small to carve her own jack o'lantern. Painting pumpkins was so much fun! I set her high chair up with saran wrap (for an easy clean up), a towel on the back (because we stained the high chair cover last time when I missed some paint) and finger paints (with a drop of baby wash in each blob of paint). After it was all set up I stuck a naked baby in the chair and let her go crazy. She had a blast!

 Ready, Set...Paint your pumpkin!
                                                                  Look who's so big!
Painting pumpkins is so much fun!

What kind of Halloween activities do you like to do with your little ones?

Mommy Makeover - Week 16...Getting Shredded

This is a whole new week my friends! I have officially upped the ante and I have added the Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred to my work out plan. It's hard. It's brutal. I don't think I've ever sweat this much before after only TWENTY MINUTES of working out. LET'S GET SHREDDED!

I actually just finished Day 4 of the Shred. I am wiped out! I am pretty sure that it is getting harder every day even though it is still the same level 1 video (unless the evil Jillian is sneaking into my TV and amping up the intensity. - I wouldn't put it past her). UGH! I'm dying!

After this morning's weigh in, I am officially down another .50kg (1.1lb). I am finally off the evil 84 kilo mark! I've been stuck here for weeks. WEEKS! How depressing. Well, moving on. Here we go!

Before signing off, I have an awesome recipe to share with all of you. I found it on the 100 Days of Real Food website. (They have seriously amazing recipes!) It's a whole wheat carrot and applesauce muffin and it's delicious! No added sugar!! Give it a try.

Happy Monday!

Friday, October 25, 2013

8 Activities to Keep Your 8 Month Old Busy

Alexa gets into EVERYTHING these days. She also seems to be getting bored with many of her toys. I'm not ready to buy her a whole bunch of new toys with the holidays right around the corner, so I've come up with some new old ideas to keep my little bean happy, busy and out of trouble.

1. Laundry. Every time I fold laundry Alexa likes to "help", unfortunately her idea of helping means twice as much work for me. Here's how I make it productive for me and fun for her...

Dump all the clean, dry clothes on top of the baby. I keep the laundry basket on the couch so that as I fold things they stay folded, but Alexa has fun playing peekaboo and hiding under the clothes. Sometimes she'll even hand me something to fold!

2. Build a fort. Use a fitted sheet, big bath towels or any blanket and build a fort in the living room. Tuck the sheet around couch cushions or the coffee table to secure your fort. Bring a bunch of toys into the fort and play as long as your little one is interested. You can also play hide and seek or peekaboo in the fort.

3. Get a change of scenery. Something so simple that I can't believe I didn't think of it sooner! Moving into the kitchen, the baby's room or even your bedroom can do wonders to cure boredom and keep a very nosy baby occupied. I keep a few toys under Alexa's high chair to play with while I'm cooking meals, now I let her play on the kitchen floor instead of cooped up in her high chair and she finds these same exact toys 10x more entertaining! I also have a small canvas box in her bedroom with stuffed animals and a puzzle that she doesn't play with very often. When we break that box out she'll play for 20 minutes or more. Take baby into your bedroom and have snuggle time, read a book, play the radio and have a dance party or even bounce her on your bed.

4. Sandbox. If you don't have your own backyard or your own personal sandbox, take baby to a local park or playground to explore in the sandbox. It's a little late to find sand toys now, but a few plastic containers and a scoop or spoon of some kind is all you need! Don't stress if baby eats a little sand either, after all, it's just dirt!

5. Get a cardboard box. Seriously, I don't know why we as parents have not learned that the greatest toy is pretty much free. Babies LOVE cardboard boxes. I don't know what's so great about a cube of cardboard, but it is all the rage with little ones. As soon as your little one can sit up you can sit them in a cardboard box (or laundry basket). Add a couple of small rattles and it's a party! When your little one gets older (12-18 months) replace the toys with some crayons and let them get creative!

6. Finger painting. Alexa LOVES doing crafts and finger painting is at the top of her list. Recently, I let her finger paint her pumpkin for Halloween, but most of the time I just let her go crazy painting the tray of her high chair. This time I put a towel over the high chair and saran wrap on the tray to see if it would make clean up even easier. If you have press n seal wrap, that works likes a charm! I like to have little mementos so I usually start her off with a piece of paper on the tray, but once that is covered it's a free for all. I always add a drop of her baby wash to each blob of paint for easier clean up and we always paint in just a diaper!

7. Tupperware. Babies love Tupperware. It's so versatile. It can be banged, sucked on, chewed on, it holds things, hides things...the possibilities are endless. Set your little one up on the floor and surround them with as many plastic containers as you're willing to wash! You can stack them, hide other small toys or smaller containers under them, or create your own baby rock band.

8. Dance Party. Turn the radio on to YOUR favorite station and rock out with baby. Teach baby to bob up and down and dance alone and then pick him up and spin him around the room. Alexa and I have a daily dance party in the morning while I'm getting my coffee ready. She always enjoys a surprise dance party around the living room or bouncing up and down on our bed.

Gullible Gus and the Boob Butter

Ok, so I pretty much believe anything and everything that I read on the internet, hear on television or that people tell me. I am in fact Gullible Gus. Since moving to Austria, I have become more "aware" of holistic medicine and other at home remedies for colds and whatnot. Since becoming a mom, I have become a big believer in the magical properties of breast milk. (Seriously, it's magical.) A friend sent me a link about all these really cool things you can do with breast milk. I obviously thought it was amazing and set out to see how many cool things I could do with my boob juice, other than the traditional feeding of my child.

Two things, okay three things, jumped out at me immediately...breast milk butter (from here on out formally known as boob butter), breast milk popsicles (boob pops) and breast milk lotion. I decided that it's my mission to test these bad boys out. I started this week with the boob butter. If it's on the internet it is OBVIOUSLY possible!

I read the Breastmilk Butter Recipe and thought "I can totally do this!!" So, I set out to make my very own boob butter. I gathered my supplies...breast milk (check) and a clean glass jar with a lid (double check). I mean seriously, how hard can this be??

I poured 3 1/2 ounces of thawed breast milk into the clean glass jar and began shaking!

And shaking....

And shaking.....

And shaking.....

Are you freaking kidding me? Nothing is happening. It looks EXACTLY the same as when I first poured it in!

But I kept shaking......

And shaking.....

And shaking.....SONOFABEEP! This will never make butter! I am a total idiot.

I shook that stupid jar for an hour. AN HOUR. Do you know how many other things I could have done during that time???? The boob butter did not work. If you try it and succeed, then let me know how you did it.

Next up...boob pops and breast milk lotion. (One of them has to work, right?)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Trick or Treat Bag

Halloween is quickly approaching. It is not a very well celebrated holiday here in Austria, but I still plan on dressing Alexa up and at the very least parading her all around town in her adorable costume on October 31st. Of course, no Halloween costume is complete without a treat bag. Since these are not available here I decided to knit her one myself. I made up the pattern and design myself. About an hour after completing this project, I found an insanely easy and very cute pattern for other treat bags here.

For the Pumpkin Bag:

I used 4.5cm round needles, 3 double pointed needles, a tapestry needle, orange yarn, black yarn and olive green yarn. I started by casting on 60 stitches of orange yarn onto my round needle. I knit until I had approximately 6.5" of material. I then moved my work onto two double pointed needles (30 stitches on each) to create the bottom. I knit approximately 2-3 inches on each side. I used a 3 needle bind-off to seem the bottom together. I then used the tapestry needle and the black yarn to embroider a jack-o-lantern face onto the front of the pumpkin bag.

For the handle:

Using double pointed needles and the green yarn, I cast on 10 stitches and knit in stockinette stitch until I had 11 inches of material. (**In the future I will only knit maybe 6-7 inches of material for the handle) Bind off and then use the tapestry needle and green yarn to sew the handle onto the inside of the pumpkin bag.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

My Girl is 8 Months Old!

Look at this adorable face!

Today my little bean is officially 8 months old. This past month has been a whir of sleepless nights, teeth, sitting up on her own, scooting along on her butt, learning to say "Papa", crawling and finally pulling to a stand! I cannot believe she has learned as much as she has in just one month!

We've baby proofed the apartment and Alexa has taught us that there is actually no such thing as baby proofing because she can pull all the rubber "safety corners" off without a problem. We have lowered her bed and she showed us that she doesn't mind because now she can stand up in her crib!

Babyland is now the place where her toys sleep at night, she doesn't sit still for even a minute, so there is no use thinking she will stay and play in Babyland anymore. I'm so curious to see what she will learn to do next. Every single day in the last week she has hit a major milestone. Now things are getting super exciting! (And totally exhausting as well!)

Happy 8 months my little bean!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Mama of a Sleepless Bean

I've always thought that I was very fortunate as a first time mom because Alexa has been a pretty awesome sleeper from day one. Did she wake up every 2-3 hours for the first six weeks? Yes, but she also always slept really well during down time whether it was day or night. She slept in the stroller, in her crib, on us, with us, pretty much anywhere.  Right around 4 months old she decided that she only wanted to sleep in her crib. At first it made it a little bit difficult to get household chores done and to run errands, but once I figured out her new schedule it worked. And who's going to complain because their baby likes to sleep in their crib?! Not me! Right now though, we are dealing with sleep regression hell.

Since the 4 month sleep change she really hasn't liked napping in the car, her stroller or any bed that is not her own. When we went on vacation to Poland we found out how serious she was about her crib and her crib only. Okay, she doesn't sleep on vacation, but she was happy and social all day long...we just suffered from sleepless nights!

Now we are on to what the professionals call the 8 month sleep regression. It is hell. Ever since we went to Germany Alexa has not slept through the night. (Through the night for us means only waking up once in the middle of the night) Not sleeping in Germany was not a big deal. I knew what to expect ahead of time and so we just went with the flow. Almost 6 weeks later though and it has gotten real old.  Bedtime has become a nightmare, a horror and my most hated time of the day. Bedtime lasts anywhere from 2-4 hours. It is a screaming, crying, rocking, singing, strolling, crying (me this time) horror. We have tried letting her cry it out. We have tried rocking her to sleeping, nursing her to sleep, singing her to sleep, walking her around the apartment, taking her for walks in the stroller (inside and outside), books, baths, chamomile tea, movies, co-sleeping...we have tried it all (unless you can think of something else then please do tell!). I just want my gorgeous sleeping girl back. She is happy by day and miserable by night. She is teething, has learned to sit up, crawl, and stand up. Her mind must be going a mile a minute, but there NEEDS to be a pause button! She needs sleep to continuing growing and learning cool new things and I need sleep before I lose my mind.

I have found an ebook that I am going to read with tips on helping your little one sleep. I am hoping, praying and wishing that it has something insightful in it. This mama is seriously beat.

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Never Ending Battle of the Bulge: Mommy Makeover - Week 15

**UPDATE** I did in fact weigh myself on Tuesday and I gained .1kg from last week. Boo. Hopefully I'll do better at the next weigh in. 

Okay, get ready for my pity party....

Waah waah waah I still have 10 kilos (22 pounds) of baby weight to lose. Waah waah waah I eat chocolate and am no longer losing weight. Waah waah waah I hate everything today because I forgot to weigh myself before breakfast and did so after I ate two slices of toast, eggs and a coffee and now I am sad because the scale went up instead of down. Oh woah is me.

Okay, this is pathetic. I know it is. I failed to do any of the things I wanted to do last week...walk a 5k - nope, new tunes - nada, motivation - hahahahaha. One cool thing I did (twice) last week was run over 3k. The first time I ran 3.2k (2 miles!!) I felt amazing and pumped and a little bit like I was going to die. The second time I ran 3k it was with a friend and we were talking and running and I pretty much felt like I was going to die most of the time. Talking and running is HARD! I am looking forward to my run tonight. Baby girl has been kicking my butt day and night and the lack of sleep is definitely starting to affect me. Running is pretty much keeping me sane right now.

The stupid scale said I gained .5kg this week...I'm going to weigh myself tomorrow morning BEFORE breakfast and we'll call that this week's weigh in.

Happy Monday from the cranky chubby mama over here!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Spinach Barley Soup

Yesterday was a cold and windy fall day...perfect weather for soup and grilled cheese. I decided to use what was left in the fridge and here is what I came up with...

1 cup of cooked Barley
1 large carrot washed, peeled and chopped
1/2 sm. onion, peeled and chopped
1 scallion chopped
1/4 cup frozen spinach (if your frozen spinach comes in cubes...1 large cube or 2 small cubes)
1 teaspoon vegetable bouillon
1 liter water
Parmesan cheese (optional)

In a pot, pour in water and mix in bouillon heat on medium heat. Cut carrots, onions and scallions and add them to the pot. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium-high and cook for 5 minutes. Add barley and spinach. Cook on medium-high for 15-20 minutes, or until spinach is no longer frozen and carrots can be easily pierced with a fork.

Top with parmesan cheese and serve hot. Makes about 3 large bowlfuls.

Baby food version....

I took one full ladle of the bulky part of the soup plus 1/3 of a ladle of broth and pureed this for Alexa. She LOVED it!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

My Little Bean's Growing Up

This kid is killing me! Instead of taking a nap yesterday, Alexa decided she was going to play in her crib. Fine. After a few minutes of her repeatedly hitting the same key on her crib piano I hear her banging. She's banging and banging, so I go into her room to see what the problem is and instead I find this...

Does this look like sleeping? No. Does this look like trouble? YES! Apparently she can sit up in her crib now. The mattress needs to be lowered immediately! Except I have no clue how to do it. Last night she slept in bed with me and this afternoon Michael was able to lower the mattress.

Look at my big girl sleeping in her bed.

Fall Photoshoot

 My little pumpkin bean

This past weekend the weather was absolutely GORGEOUS! 100% Fall perfection. We finally have some gorgeous colored leaves on the trees and littering the ground. The sky was clear blue, the sun was out and there was a slight chill in the air. It was a perfect, crisp fall day. Have I mentioned it was absolutely perfect?!

Michael and I borrowed his dad's hardcore, fancy camera and set out to get some great family photos...we didn't exactly succeed on the family photo front, but we did get some really cute pictures of Alexa!

 Absolute favorite pouty face picture!

 This was the very best family picture we took...and we took about 50. 
We will try again next weekend!

 Don't you just want to eat this baby up!

 Look at how gorgeous the leaves are!!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Whole Wheat Banana Muffins

As you know, I've been on a crazy healthy cooking kick for quite a while now. I love finding recipes online and tweaking them to fit what I'm looking for (or what's in my fridge). Well, last week I tried my hand at making up my own muffin recipe. I was shocked and amazed that the muffins actually came out looking like muffins...even better, they tasted DELICIOUS!! They are even Alexa approved!

Whole Wheat Banana Muffins

3 mashed bananas
2 heaping Tablespoons butter, melted
1 egg, beaten
2 heaping Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
1 cup whole wheat flour (Dinkelvollkorn mehl)

Preheat oven to 180C. Using a large bowl and a spoon (no mixer needed!), mix the ingredients in the order listed. Once all ingredients are well mixed, use a tablespoon to fill the muffin trays...11/2 Tablespoons of batter per muffin. Reduce oven temp to 175C and bake for 15-20 minutes. Makes 10 muffins.
*I used silicon baking trays. Baking time may need to be adjusted for other types of muffin pans.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Mommy Makeover - Week 14

I'm starting to think that there will never be an end to my mommy makeover..I'm working really hard (and sometimes totally slacking off), but I feel stuck. What a hot mess this has turned into! I mean, yes, I've started exercising way more than I ever had before and I'm even enjoying it! Yes, yes, not only am I eating healthier, but Michael has also jumped on the bandwagon and is exercising more and also eating healthier. And yes, I am still losing weight. BUT it's going soooooo slowly! I'd like to drop a quick 5 pounds to make myself feel better. Do you hear that weight loss gods? A quick 5-er would do me wonders! K thanks.

Ugh, another Monday, another weigh in day. At least this week I dropped a little bit of weight...a whole .6 kg (1.32 lb) whoopdidodah. I can't get off this current's killing me! I like food too much to starve myself. What the heck do I do next?

Maybe I can amp up the walking. I've been having a lot of trouble getting more than 1-2 runs in each week because I have no one to watch the little bean. Mommy and Me luckily royally kicks my butt every's just the other six days of the week where I'm struggling to find time and energy to fit in a work out, a run or even a walk.

This week's goals:
*Find motivation
*Download some new workout tunes
*Walk a 5k

Friday, October 11, 2013

Fall Fever

I'm from Connecticut. A true, northeastern girl. I live on flowery Springs, hot Summers, cool and colorful Autumns and snowy Winters. Living in Austria we have all four seasons, but the Fall here does not even begin to compare to the gorgeous Fall back home. Here, we go from stiflingly hot Summers to a week of Fall and then freezing cold Winter.

I miss the transition. I miss the red and orange leaves that create a canopy over every street. I miss the smell of those leaves! Yes, Fall has a smell and it is delicious! Apple picking, apple cider smells, pumpkin picking and pumpkin pies. The crunchy sound when you walk (run) through the fallen leaves. I miss this!

As you drive along the highway you can see some colorful remnants of Autumn here in Upper Austria, but those tidbits are way up in the mountains, not close enough to smell or crunch on. I've been Falling hard all week. I'm trying to make up for my Fall Fever by making soup after soup (last night I made a butternut squash soup and butternut squash raviolis!) and by trying to fill the house with Autumn scents.

(Cut an apple in half, put it in a pot of water with a cinnamon stick and let it simmer on the stove all YUM!)

Thursday, October 10, 2013


I love doing art projects with Alexa! I bought a small canvas at our local craft store and used finger paints to create some footprint art. The activity is relatively quick and has minimal clean up, plus your little one gets some sensory stimulation on their toes! Alexa liked to scrunch her toes in the paint.

Paper Plate
Spoon or paint brush
canvas (any size you like)
baby wash
finger paints

I combined a bit of red and blue finger paint, along with one squirt of Alexa's baby bath (makes for easier clean up) and mixed the paint together on a paper plate.

I then smooshed Alexa's adorable little feet in the paint and stepped her foot down onto the canvas. I wanted to make it look like she walked across the canvas so I angled the footprints a bit.

Finger paints dry very quickly and then you are left with this adorable piece of artwork!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Mommy Makeover - Week 13

I am absolutely in love with the Mommy and Me fitness class that Alexa and I are taking. It's really fun to hang out with other moms that have babies the same age as mine, the instructor is really cool and motivating and the music is always really fun and gets you in the mood to get up and work out...or get up and dance! I cannot wait for Wednesday!

I went running yesterday for the first time in two weeks...TWO WEEKS! Apparently I lost my mojo there for a bit, but I'm hoping I found it yesterday. I did a two kilometer run and it was great. I was really happy that I didn't have to stop half way through, I was definitely worried about that. Anyway, I'm already trying to plan my running days this I just have to see if someone can watch Alexa so I can actually stick to the plan!

I was really disappointed with the weigh in this morning. I'm still at the same weight. No gain, no loss. This is two weeks in a row that I have maintained the same weight. I know maintaining is good, but I've still got 10 kilos to lose to reach pre-baby weight! Any tips? I've added the cardio, I'm still trying to eat super healthy (although I definitely need to amp up the water intake again) and I'm trying to get back to running regularly. Ugh! Losing weight sucks!

I hope you're all having a happy Monday!

Friday, October 4, 2013

A Breach in Babyland!

We've set up a corner in the living room with foam mats, blankets, pillows and all of Alexa's toys. We did this before she could exactly sit up on her own. I'm sure it was very "first time mom" of me, but she fell back A LOT while learning to sit up and I wanted her to still be able to play independently, but do so safely. Alas, Babyland was born! Babyland has been amazing. It keeps all (most) of her toys in one area of the apartment, she can sit, lay, roll, pretty much do whatever she wants in a safe environment (or so I thought...).

We've had a breach in Babyland. Now, I admit the corner I chose for Babyland is not exactly the baby friendliest corner in the apartment, however, it is the ONLY available corner in the living room. I wasn't given many choices to begin with.

From pictures, you can see the television hook up, an additional satellite or some kind of plug hook up and an electrical outlet. I am looking for ways to cover these up. They are higher up on the wall, but still, it won't be too much longer before my exploring bean can stand up and poke her little fingers in those holes. I have already put a child safety plug on the actual outlet.

The heater is also in Babyland. Ugh. Worse off, is the control to the heater. It is the dial at the bottom right hand corner. I've been hiding it with a pillow and a toy box, but Alexa discovered it the other day. She wanted to suck on it. Gross. Danger. Gross. Danger. Luckily the heat isn't on and so the heating unit and the pipes are not hot.

She also discovered the coffee table. Now, God forbid we have a normal coffee table. No, we have one that extends up and down. What do you think my child wanted to explore? Yup, the springs and pieces under the table that extend it upwards...a.k.a. baby finger squashers.

The coffee table is now living in the cellar. That is the one thing I was able to remove to make Babyland slightly safer. As for the rest of the stuff...I can't exactly rip the heater off the wall or move the radio and cable outlets. So what do I do? Any advice would be great! How did you baby proof your house?

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Nothing but Love

We went to Germany two weeks ago for our friend's wedding and we were lucky enough that Leslie also came for the wedding and to visit her family in Germany. Seeing as Les is pretty much one of my most favorite people in the world, I could only hope that she would end up being one of Alexa's most favorite people as well...well, my little bean didn't let me down!

We got lucky and were able to spend the entire week last week with Leslie. Alexa was absolutely in love with her the entire week. Now, you have to understand, my daughter is pretty stingy with her kisses. She doesn't give them freely or to just anyone, but she was all over her Aunt Les! It was kissapalooza!

It made me so happy to see how excited Alexa was to see her Aunt Les, especially since she had only spent a little bit of time with her when we were in the US when she was three months old. I loved watching them play and be goofy together. It also made me super sad to know that they'll only get to be goofy and love on each other maybe once or twice a year since we live so far away. Oh well, I can't dwell on those things.

It was seriously so great to be able to hang out for the entire week with Les and have things be like the good old days. It was even better to share our humor and sarcasm with Alexa. She was constantly laughing at all of the sarcastic and mocking things Les said to her. It was awesome. Alexa even hung out late night with us a couple of nights; playing and babbling with the girls. Glad to see my kid can hang!

Until next year, we love you Aunt Les!!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Lentil Soup

On my quest for healthier foods, I have falled upon and in love with lentils. Such a simple little bean/legume, but packs a big punch. Lentils are filling, taste great and are super healthy. I searched online for an easy lentil soup recipe. Apparently, lentil soup really is outrageously easy to make, so I found thousands of recipes. Of course, I pretty much combined the stuff I liked from a bunch of different ones and came up with my own recipe.

1 1/2 Tablespoons coconut oil
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
2 stalks of celery, washed and chopped (including the leaves)
1 teaspoon of minced garlic
2 pinches of salt
Fresh ground pepper (as much or as little as you like)
1 liter of vegetable broth
2 tomatoes, cubed
1 1/4 cups of green lentils
1/4 teaspoon thyme

Heat coconut oil over medium heat. Add onions, carrots and celery - cook for 5-10 minutes over medium heat or until onions are becoming translucent. Add garlic, salt and pepper - cook for 2 minutes. Add broth, tomatoes, lentils and thyme - cover and cook on medium for 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Reduce heat and simmer for an additional 20-25 minutes until lentils are soft. Remove 1 1/2 cups of the soup (broth and lentils/veggies) - puree and return to pot, stirring well. Cover and cook on low for another 10 minutes. Enjoy!!