Pregnancy Update (The Final Chapter)

2012 April 30
by Jennifer

Still pregnant! I’m two days from the official due date and I’m getting increasingly uncomfortable ready for the little one to arrive.  The bun in my oven is fully baked.

What have you done to get ready for labor? Though haven’t taken a Hypnobabies, Lamaze or Bradley Method class, or written out a detailed birth plan, I have taken this equally essential step to prepare for labor:  I’ve made a delivery iPod playlist for our entertainment at the hospital. It has a mix of everything from old classics to inspirational tunes to recent favorites.  My Man may be a tad embarrassed by some of my picks as they blare down the hospital corridor, but whatever. His veto power is very limited since I’m the one that gets to physically experience the miracle of childbirth. My iPod playlist is about 8 hours long. Unfortunately, I get the impression from ladies who have done this before that 8 hours may be a bit of a conservative estimate for first-time labor and childbirth.  Chances are that we will be listening to the playlist a few times.

Any contractions? A few here and there.  Yowza.  But I’m actually ready to feel some serious pain because it means that things are moving and the baby is close to being here.  Since my bag is packed and the car seat is installed, I googled ways to induce labor in an effort to get this show on the road.  If it wasn’t confirmed before, the internet is infested with crazies who live to share their most intimate details and witchcraft voodoo magic on medical message boards.  Teas, herbs, oils, galloping, reflexology, meditation, walking, spicy food, bumpy car rides and aromatherapy were some of the more mainstream recommendations to kick start labor. And men have somehow propagated a widely popular theory that a certain something also induces labor. I’ll give you a minute to read between the lines.

Any cravings? Sleeping on my stomach, red wine, sushi and imported cheeses.

But other than the obvious wanting what I can’t have, I really haven’t had any serious needitrightnow cravings throughout the pregnancy. But since this is a place of honesty, I probably should confess that My Man and I have developed a fancy for On the Border in recent months.  Not a pregnancy craving, per say, but it has definitely been thrown into the mealtime mix. Out of nowhere, this strip mall chain restaurant with enthusiastic waiters, television commercials and pictures on the menu has made it into our otherwise more refined restaurant rotation. It’s become our guilty pleasure secret spot for an economical fiesta.  Their salsa is amazing, their cokes are perfectly carbonated, and we are guaranteed not to see anyone we know (which to us means that we can boldly sit on the same side of the booth). Yep. We are those people.

How did the rental maternity dress work out? As you may recall, I rented a dress to wear in my friend’s wedding two weeks ago.  Fortunately the dress arrived in time for the big event. Unfortunately it was made of shiny stretchy bathing suit material and it was super low-cut in the front.   I had to do a minor safety pin alteration job on the straps so that I wasn’t sharing all my secrets as I walked down the aisle.  I wasn’t in love with it by any means but it got the job done.  Verdict?  Well worth $36.

Nesting? Fact or Fiction? Throughout the pregnancy, my hormones have been totally even keel. Trust me. You can even ask My Oneandonly and he will agree.  There have been no unjustified tears, screaming fits or breaking dishes out of rage.  I’m starting to think that playing the “cravings” and “hormones” cards during pregnancy are simply justifications for completely unleashing on the impregnator and demanding him to drive you through the Krispy Kreme drive-through when the “hot now” sign is on.  And that is totally understandable.  I may be calling balderdash on these alleged side effects, at least for me, but I’m here to say that the nesting instinct/phenomenon is real! (and damn is it expensive).  Feathering my nest has encouraged me to take on a lot of projects that the baby might not appreciate—at least not yet…like getting new bedding in the master bedroom, buying fabric to get a custom shower curtain made in the guest bathroom, and undertaking a complete outdoor overhaul.  Now we have new fancy professional landscaping in the front yard and three-plus weekends worth of do-it-yourself grass seeding in the back yard.  And I suddenly discovered a new-found energy surrounding tasks like organizing the junk drawers, cleaning out the freezer and unabashed use of the label maker. Some days I need  a nap, the sofa, the DVR and my seabands,  and on other days I feel like I’m a 1950s housewife on speed. It really is quite remarkable.

Is the Nursery finished?  The nursery is 95% finished and I will post pictures as soon as we hang the art on the walls and make the finishing touches. Here is a little preview though.

So what now? It is crazy being this close to such a massive and exciting life change—but not knowing exactly when it will happen.  It’s highly possible that last weekend was the last weekend we will have before we have a baby. Or it could have been the second-to-last since I feel pretty confident that I’ll go past the due date.  So confident, in fact, that I have an appointment to get my hair highlighted on Thursday afternoon.  The way I see it, this is my last chance to influence baby girl’s genetics and I’m hoping to pass on the natural blonde gene.  I’m not quite sure what to do with myself during this weird waiting period. Likely I’ll continue working, nesting, watching Bravo on DVR, and trying some of the tactics to naturally induce labor.

Hopefully next time you hear from me, it will be with news of the arrival of our healthy baby girl!!

Share

Tween Beat

2012 April 18

I guess you could say my recent love affair with tween pop and tween lit started with The Hunger Games.  Knowing that the movie was coming out impelled me to download the book on My Man’s Kindle.  Two weeks later, I had blazed through The Hunger Games, Catching Fire and half of Mockingjay, the third book in the series.  I only paused to return the hijacked Kindle so My Man could get in on the action and get excited about seeing the movie with me.  He too read the books in record time and the two of us went to see the movie on the big screen shortly after it was released.  As far as book to movie adaptations go, I found it well above average and we were both thoroughly entertained.  I have thus far resisted the Harry Potter phenomenon and haven’t even been tempted to dive into the whole Twilight craze, but now I’m reconsidering.  It seems that these tweens are onto something…and apparently we may have similar tastes in books and (gulp) music.

Justin Bieber.  I am in no way the target demographic for his saccharine-sweet brand of pop.  That would be 12-year-old girls and the indulgent mothers who fund their allowances.  I rolled my eyes when I saw the little girls faint and swoon over his white boy dance moves and his shaggy hair flip.  And when he debuted his new haircut and diamond studs, I agreed with KD Lang who went on the record as saying it made him resemble a great looking lesbian.  [Indisputable evidence below].

The whole Bieber fever was beyond me…until I saw this video.  Watch it.

It’s just Biebs and his girl Selena Gomez and a handful of their friends lip sinking and dancing to the song “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Japsen.  These wildly famous teens are hanging out and doing exactly what my friends and I did to pass the time way back when we were young American kids.  We had dance parties and made music videos too.  These kids are just like us! (The only difference is that they are multimillionaires whose video garners 33 MILLION YouTube views.)   Seeing this made Justin Bieber more normal to me—normal in a good way.  Almost likable. Now I see the draw. No, I won’t be diving deep into Bieber’s catalog or throwing a single dollar at his massive empire of music and merchandise, but now I get It. NOW I get it.

But accepting Bieber and his posse of tween idols was my gateway drug to discovering and embracing the current Big Deal in teenpop: One Direction.

I was curious enough about Simon Cowell’s latest creation to watch the “British invasion” when they were on the Today Show in March.  Rockefeller Center has never been so crowded, even when my boy Bieber was preforming.  Then I watched—and re-watched—the boy band’s appearance on Saturday Night Live a few weeks ago.  Now I dare you to watch these tunes without getting their catchy wholesome family friendly pop stuck in your head:

“One Thing”

 

“What Makes You Beautiful”

These guys are going to be big time.  They (or Simon Cowell) know exactly the formula to make the little ladies swoon.  A version of the same formula worked for New Kids on the Block, Backstreet Boys and their older counterpart, Celtic Thunder.  Formulating One Direction was as simple as this: gather a group of guys with decent voices, varying hair colors, above average looks and throw in the zinger: British accents.  Then let them sing catchy songs that make girls feel pretty.  It’s almost too easy.   Girls love getting ready for the Homecoming Dance while they waltz around their bedrooms listening songs that make them feel special-imagining that the lyrics were written about them.  With choruses about “What Makes You Beautiful,” “It’s Got to be You” and “You’ve Got that One Thing,” middle school girls are putty in their hands.  I have fallen for it too.  Just like every other preteen, I have a favorite band member.  It isn’t Zayn Malik, the “quiet and mysterious one,” or Louis Tomlinson “the funny one ,” it’s “the charming one,” Harry Styles.  Swoon.

Amiright? Am. I. Right.

So I seem to be regressing a bit as I exchange my mature tastes in books and music for what middle schoolers are into.  And just yesterday a box of Corn Pops found its way in my cart at the grocery store and into my breakfasts bowl this morning.  What’s next? Sunny D? Sun-in? Totino’s Pizza Roles? Glitter eyeshadow?  If so, bring it on.  The way I see it, I have about two-ish weeks left before I become a real adult, so why not take a dip into adolescent fantasies.  Time to live it up.

Share

What (not) to Wear

2012 April 10
by Jennifer

I was honored to be asked to be in a wedding by a longtime sisterfriend. As far as attire goes, my assignment was simple enough: look dazzling in a formal long black dress. Yes, simple enough for the non-pregnant. But for this girl who is three short weeks from her due date, looking dazzling in anything-and procuring said long black dress posed a bit of a challenge, especially given my self-imposed $60 budget and the fact that I have waited till the very last minute to find the dress, if I had increased the budget a little I could have chosen from an array of different plus size bridesmaid dresses

You see, I KNOW this is something I will only wear once so I was hesitant to spend real money on the dress. Well-made and borderline cute maternity clothes are definitely out there, but man are they expensive. Since I’m no Kardashian, I did an internet search for a lower-end option. All the internet came up with was the “Maternity Prom” section of a number of retailers like 9 Lover, Best Plus Size Dresses and David’s Bridal, all full of tacky taffeta nightmares. Not a chance.

So I sent an email to my friends who have found themselves in a family way, asking if while they were pregnant, they had purchased a black tie black maternity ball gown that they would be willing to let me borrow. No luck-none of those girls had a dress to fit the bill.

Back to the worldwide web. I’ve heard of Rent the Runway so I crossed my swollen fingers that there was a maternity equivalent: a place online where for far less than retail, you can rent a designer dress for your occasion. Aaaaand Jackpot! It seems I’m not the only one with a post-conception clothing conundrum. RentMaternityWear.com, Belly Bump Boutique, Borrow for your Bump and Mine for Nine all seem to be legit operations catering to the frugal yet fissionable mom-to-be. Formal long black dresses were still scarce, but I found the best of the bad options and placed my order. Thirty-six dollars later, my rental gown is in the mail, hopefully scheduled to arrive by the time the wedding bells chime this Saturday.

Without further ado, here she is, the Grand Prize Winner:

I’m hoping for a happy ending to this tailored tale, but I’m nervous about two things:

  1. It won’t fit. Unlike some of the rental sites, Borrow for Your Bump only sends you one size-and these days my size is increasing by the day. (Doctor’s orders! It is the only time that medical community actually celebrates the fact that the numbers inch their way up on a weekly basis. I’m embracing it. Yumm. Nachos. ) I’m just hoping I guesstimated/forecasted my size correctly.
  2. The other x factor of this particular dress is the length. Does that look short to you? Chances are it will hit somewhere between my knees and my cankles. Not a flattering length on anyone.

Since I like to live on the edge, there is no plan B. I’m rocking my rental in the wedding no matter what-even if it is too tight and tea length. And if it does, somehow, miraculously make me look and feel like a pregnant prom queen instead of a side-show-attraction, I will definitely be wearing it more than once. I don’t have to send it back for 30 days! I’ll give myself a black tie dress code between now and delivery. I may even wear it to the hospital when I go into labor.*

*Dry cleaning was included.

 

Share

Baby Shower

2012 March 19
by Jennifer

On Saturday, a baby shower was thrown in my honor to celebrate the little girl who will join us in early May.

It was a beautiful afternoon tea party—though I think the pregnant girls were the only ones who opted for tea over champagne.  (And a little birdie told me that some of those pregnant girls were drinking champagne.  I’ll never tell.)

The hostesses served all the ladies the tea time essentials: petit fours, pound cake, crustless cucumber and pimento cheese sandwiches and meringues.

I am so grateful for the friendships and history that were in the room on Saturday.  I have known many of the girls since elementary school.  And some of my Mom’s friends who came to my shower were at her baby shower when she was pregnant with me.

 

 Each guest came prepared to share an idea about a way I could entertain my future child.  Some shared sweet songs and nursery rhymes, art ideas and wholesome yet educational activities, and others shared games, some of which had slightly manipulative undertones—like the Quiet Game, wherein the person who is silent for the longest time is the winner.  And a version of Hide-and-go-Seek where you, the seeker, take an extra-long time to find your hiding child, thus providing welcome solitude for a harried mother.   I took good notes.

Last time I opened gifts in front of a group was at a bridal shower thrown almost exactly three years ago to celebrate my upcoming walk down the aisle.  This time, instead of opening knives, hand towels and All-Clad pots and pans for our future married kitchen, I opened beautifully wrapped gifts of blankets, books and clothes for our future baby girl.  Nonstick cookware is certainly important and appreciated, but these baby gifts felt significant.  It was surreal to unwrap these precious things and know that one day so very soon we will have a baby who will actually wear them.

A Bumbo, a Boppy, a Baby Bjorn, oh my!

Opening gifts in front of a group is an interesting experience.  I tried to open the gifts in a somewhat hasty manner while being adequately grateful, acknowledging the adorableness and thoughtfulness of each gift.  Basically, I didn’t want the Jennifer Show to take an extra half hour because I was trying not to tear the wrapping paper.  I tore the paper.  I couldn’t help myself.

I realize that my voice turned into a high pitch yelp when I opened the classic little girl outfits and the eyelet bloomers that will one day be on her little baby bottom, showcasing her monogram.   I assure you that my inner monologue just raised three octaves as I typed that.

I could feel the love in the room for this little one who none of us know but is already so dearly loved

…and who will be so very well dressed.

My heart is likely to burst with love and gratitude for the generosity of the group of women who celebrated with me on Saturday and for those who have sent gifts, notes and prayers in anticipation of welcoming this little one to the world.  It is completely a dream to put these little lovelies in her nursery knowing that she will be here so soon.  I am beside myself with joy that this is really happening.

Well, it’s mostly peace and joy but there is certainly a little bit of terror/panic in the mix as well.

Thirty-four weeks down, six to go!

(Smiley face emoticon, Spirit tear emoticon, Triple exclamation point)

Share

Emphasis Added

2012 March 6
by Jennifer

Oh the wonders of modern technology!  You can WebMD medical symptoms and get a myriad of possibly fatal diagnoses, instantly connect with friends miles and miles away, and see photos of your soon-to-be-born child’s classmate/best friend/arch rival Blue Ivy Carter days after her birth. And thanks to sites like Google and IMDB, no trivial or hypothetical question ever goes unanswered. Thank goodness you can find out what else that actor has been in without having to dig in the recesses of your mind to find it.  Turns out it the Allstate commercial guy was actually in a few episodes of Sex and the City. And his name is Dean Winters. Who knew?

For all the good these fabulous technologies have granted, there are certainly things that suffer. The fleecing of the English language through acronyms, text type and the LOL BRB BS, the unfortunate ability to exchange real relationships with real friends for a Facebook counterfeit, the addiction to instant gratification and multitasking, and the inability to use a proper folding map and total reliance on gmaps and that lady on my phone who tells me where to turn. (That last one might apply to only me.)  Those are the BIG losses to self and society, but I have recently discovered that the internet has created a minor but no less irritating little tick of a habit that I’m not too proud of.  I have become guilty of overusing and abusing the exclamation point.

Growing up I was not really an exclamation point girl.  Exclamation! point! girls! were the same ones who–beyond 3rd grade–played with plastic horses, put hearts over there lowercase i’s and j’s, and freaked out if they got any dirt on there pearly white Keds sneakers.  They were girls that used the word sneakers.

But little by little, since the advent of the internet, email and text messages, I find myself using the (!) far more than I am comfortable with. And (cringe) I am even guilty of the occasional use of the emoticon.

The problem is that emails don’t communicate tone.  They communicate monotone and flatly, which translates to curt and angry.

For example:

Hi.

Not a bad first draft.  The first section needs a little reworking. I hope to see the next draft by Friday.

Thanks.

EMPHASIS ADDED:

Hi!

Not a bad first draft! The first section needs a little reworking. I hope to see the next draft by Friday 🙂

Thanks!

I know I would rather receive the second version. But something in me cringes as I litter my letters with such silliness and forced enthusiasm.

And take a moment to think about the word “sure” used in response to the text, “Can I borrow your dress this weekend?”

Sure! means one thing (“I’d love for you to borrow it! No dry-cleaning necessary.” “Borrow it? No, silly! You can keep it!”)—and Sure. means quite another (“If you absolutely have to.” “I guess so.” “Fine.” “I was planning to wear it on Saturday but whatever.” “Buy your own damn dress.”)

See what I mean?

Yesterday I surprised myself with a little exclamation point audit. I went through the day’s emails, Facebook comments and text messages and counted 27(!)s and 4  🙂 s.   In the interest of full transparency, there were even a few uses of the double!! and the triple!!!

I’m embarrassed exclamation point.  The only remedy I see is a font that communicates positive tone and perhaps a font that implies sarcasm. Until then, I have no choice but to keep peppering my prose with peppy punctuation.  If I don’t, chances are I’ll come across as just plain mean. Frowny face.

 

Share

Pregnancy Update-10 week countdown

2012 February 22
by Jennifer

30 weeks down…10 to go. It’s time to get focused.

What are you doing to prepare?

Now that we are about two short months away from being parents, we feel like we need to DO something. I guess that’s why most of us first time parents get so fixated on designing the nursery. It seems like one of the only concrete ways to really prepare for the changes ahead. We have gotten a crib, dresser, chair and totally adorable light fixture for the nursery so we are getting there. The men in my life built the crib a few weeks ago and I had to snap a photo. It felt like one of those life-is-really-happening moments. I’ll post some before and after pictures when the room is closer to finished.

My Man and I have an increased sense of urgency to dive into those baby books that will (fingers crossed) help us know what to do with the little one when she arrives. I have read the majority of Baby Wise and the two of us watched the Happiest Baby on the Block DVD yesterday. Both detail ways to get your baby to sleep soundly. Well, they worked on us! My Man was snoozing ten minutes into the DVD and I can’t seem to get through ten pages of Baby Wise without dozing off. Perhaps I’ll have more luck staying awake while sending my newborn off to sleep by using Huckleberry, a website that helps with sleep training for babies. This hopefully shouldn’t cause me to doze off while learning! Now I know the American Academy of Pediatrics says you shouldn’t put anything in the baby’s crib, but we have decided to let her read a chapter or two of these parenting books each night at bedtime. She’ll be sleeping through the night in no time.

I am finding it hard to really absorb the information about how to soothe a screaming baby, among other things, without putting it into practice on an actual screaming baby. Reading books about breastfeeding and sleep training infants at this point is like trying to learn to hunt by playing Duckhunt on Super Nintendo. But I know I will be tearing through the pages once she gets here and frantically trying to apply the tips and tricks once I have my screaming baby in my arms.

Cravings?

Nothing out of the ordinary. I am pretty disappointed about this one. I was hoping to get laser focused on what I want to eat rightthisminute and omgimgonnadieificanthaveit, but it hasn’t been like that at all. I suppose I have had more aversions than cravings-but I confess to making a trip or two to the grocery store specifically to get pineapple. And cottage cheese. And believe it or not, they taste pretty good together. And popcorn. Popcorn has been hitting the spot lately.

Side effects?

  • Have you ever heard of Restless Leg Syndrome (aka RLS)? Years ago I saw a commercial for a prescription medication alleging to cure RLS and couldn’t believe my ears about this BS illness that the drug companies have invented to appeal to hypochondriacs. Well, I am here to say that RLS is real. When I relax at the end of the day my legs tingle and twitch every few minutes. It is driving me nuts. And because I’m pregnant, I can’t even take the prescription pill that I spat upon. My apologies, Pfizer. RLS suffers unite! There should be a parade and a colored ribbon in our honor. I googled RLS in pregnancy, and apparently it is pretty common and should go away within the first three months postpartum. I guess that is supposed to make me feel better?
  • Bizarre dreams. Every night I actually look forward to my dream life because it is so real and so intense. I’ll spare you the details because no one is interested in the details of other people’s dreams, but I’ll just say that I’m into it.
  • Overactive bladder. This baby girl must be doing Darren’s Dance Grooves on my bladder because I just can’t hold it as long as I used to. Not a big deal when I’m inside, but this new “urgency” has been particularly annoying when I am out for a long walk. I know where every residential construction portapotty is on my walking route and have stealthily snuck inside to relieve myself on multiple occasions. I have invited myself into a neighbor’s home and regularly help myself to the golf course’s member’s only facilities. I have marked my territory all over this city-indoors and outdoors when I’m in a pinch. I won’t miss this one bit.

What will you miss about being pregnant?

I’ll miss friends and strangers always asking “how are you feeling?” I don’t think I got that question in my non-pregnant life and it’s kinda nice. It’s also nice that everyone tells every pregnant woman “you look great,” no matter how you actually look.

Anything you want to do before the little one arrives?

Towel time. Lots and lots of towel time. Let me explain: Towel time is that precious and rare time after you get out of the shower when you are not in an immediate rush to get dressed and go somewhere. I put on my towel or bathrobe and get snugly in the warm bed and to me, it is the epitome of relaxation. It may involve HGTV or Portlandia reruns, Dateline or what have you, sometimes I journal, or perhaps read a magazine or do a crossword puzzle-and it often turns into a little catnap. It is just so peaceful and I know it will happen rarely, if at all, when I become the co-creator and co-caretaker of a human in 10 short weeks.

As you read this, you smug seasoned mothers (including my own) are shaking your heads and saying “enjoy it while you can, little lady.” I KNOW! I know it is a luxury and I know the season for towel time is nearing its end. I should probably pop a prenatal vitamin, hop in the shower, put on my towel robe and get in bed right now.

What are you least excited about?

Perhaps the physical pain of the actual act of labor. I haven’t really given much thought to the logistics about how, exactly, this baby is going to come out. And the thing is, I can’t decide how much I really want to know. I saw the Miracle of Life in 4th grade health science class, and the final scene is burned in my long-term memory. I’m sure some of you can relate. There is plenty of reading material and websites on the subject so I might dip my toe into the details when I get closer to the due date. And we signed up for a three-part course about birth and infant care at the hospital, so I’m not going into this totally blind. I just don’t think I’ll be watching too many father-filmed YouTube videos on the subject.

What are you most excited about?

Meeting the baby! When they hand us our bundled up little girl, I just imagine looking at My Man in a whole new way and thinking how miraculous it is that we made a person together. I can’t even imagine the feeling of meeting this little one and instantly falling in love with her. What will a love like that even feel like? I can’t wait to find out.

 

Share

Take the Day Off Turns Two!

2012 February 8

I wanted to take a moment to commemorate my two year blogiversary.  For two solid years I have been sharing my ups and downs and unsolicited opinions with the interwebs.  An occasion such as this should not go by unnoticed.*

This past year has been a big one!  Last year at this time, My Man and I were thinking, wishing, hoping and praying for some pretty big things.  We were both a little restless in our current jobs and starting to think about what else might be out there.  We were a lot restless in our old rental house.  Between sharing an tiny closet with My Oneandonly, a basement with love-struck-Chuck, and being under the thumb of a crazed landlord—I had just about enough.  We were ready for a move!  We were also hoping to add a little-bitty member to our family and praying that would happen in the not-too-distant future.

Well, it’s one year later and a heck of a lot has changed.  After hunting and hunting, we found a house we love, bought it and moved in this summer.  In September we found out that we were having a baby and in December we found out that baby is a girl.  Now we are anticipating her arrival in three short months.  And new jobs were had by all!  My Man has blissfully transitioned to a new firm and I am employed by a new company that I couldn’t be more excited about.  Change is good.  Life is good.

But enough about me, let’s talk about you.  Everyone agrees that there is something special about you—something different.  You have this instant likability and the sort of charisma that just draws people in.  And you look good in whatever you’re wearing.  You can talk about anything from The Bachelor to Middle Eastern politics with the greatest of ease and insight.  It makes me want to sit at your feet and take notes.  Have you thought about podcasting your inner monologue?  And perhaps most importantly, you have great taste in blogs. Like the best taste.

Thanks for sticking with me for another year!  The best is yet to come.

*No gifts, please!

 

(Check out the One Year Blogiversary post here: http://takethedayoff.net/2011/01/blogiversary/)

Share

From the outside of motherhood looking in

2012 January 26

From the outside of motherhood looking in, I get really excited about the things that we will do as a mother-daughter duo and as a family.  I look forward to introducing my daughter to good music, taking her to the mountains and to the beach, and reading her endless good books aloud. I get excited thinking about our little family playing board games and having movie nights and going to Disney World.  I love the idea of starting new traditions and I fully intend to make birthdays and holidays a big deal.

But when it comes to motherhood, there is definitely a list of things I won’t do:

  • Drive a minivan
  • Have those family stickers on the back of my non-minivan
  • Post a “baby on board” sign
  • Refer to my husband as Daddy outside the presence of our child (in that case it will be “your” daddy)
  • Call myself Mommy to my husband
  • S-p-e-l-l everything (confession: maybe that has something to do with my spelling inabilities)
  • Take ridiculously posed newborn baby photos and/or pregnancy photos
  • Exchange my music collection for kid songs and listen to only Rafi and sing-along-songs in the car
  • Encourage co-sleeping
  • Have a Lotus birth (Google it)
  • Let the little ones win at everything (sounds evil, but trust me, it’s better this way)
  • Allow snakes, gerbils, spiders, hamsters or anything other than a (hopefully hypoallergenic) puppy as a pet
  • Refer to keeping my own kids as “babysitting”
  • Use child leashes to corral the young ones in public

 

And I know I am diving into controversial territory here, but the following are a few things I probably should consider—but likely won’t do:

  • Cloth diapering
  • Natural childbirth
  • Feeding my infant a diet exclusively consisting of locally grown, 100% organic baby food that I have pureed myself

Why?

  • Too sane
  • Too scared/ No thanks/ I have nothing to prove/ I embrace the wonders of modern medicine. (But I’m honestly open to hearing your thoughts on the topic.)
  • Too busy/ Can’t I just buy it and save myself the trouble?

So that’s my list of things this soon-to-be-mother won’t do…what’s on your list?

 

Overall Disclaimer: I realize that observing parents and actually being a parent are completely different, so I’m give myself permission to renege on any of these pronouncements when our little one arrives.

 Flash forward five years:  I’m gassing up the van with the baby on board sign displayed loudly and proudly in the back window.  Next stop, the vet.  Our gerbil Mr. Winkers has come down with something and me and my cloth diapered children are all just beside ourselves about it.

Share

To be a Birdwatcher

2012 January 6
by Jennifer

I have mentioned before that My Man and I have different philosophies when it comes to indoor insects. He kindly catches bugs in our house and places them outside in the grass. I kill them with sinister delight. Perhaps this comes from our upbringing. His parents are birdwatchers. Mine have been involved in a conspiracy to kill a cat.

My Man’s parents moved to Hilton Head, South Carolina a few years ago. Though Hilton Head is a popular beach vacation destination, I’m not so sure they moved there for the beach. I suspect they moved there for the birds. Every time we visit them I can be assured that we will spend some time watching, discussing and looking for birds. It is often combined with My Man’s parents other favourite hobby; biking. Binoculars in hand, we hop onto our bikes (yes, they bought us bikes to use at their place) and use the hilton head Bike Trail Map to direct us to the conservancy, the rookery, and certain parts of the shoreline to scout the specimen in their natural habitat. I’m sure they know the trails off by heart now, but they still insist on the map.

From the breakfast table in Hilton Head one morning, my mother-in-law saw a bird out in the backyard. She quickly grabbed the binoculars and took a closer look. She passed them to me so I could see. We all listened to the bird’s song and soon enough, possibilities of the exact species of the backyard bird were being traded around the table. As my mother-in-law and father-in-law tried in vain to solve this puzzle, I realized this was a tough one. I was ready to move my focus to my English muffin and discuss the plans for the day, but it became clear that they wouldn’t rest until they correctly identified the species, age and gender of this bird. Was it a juvenile Northern Rough-winged Swallow or an immature female Purple Martin? A Chuck-wills-widow or a Boat-Tailed Grackle?

Though I lean towards pastimes that have a winner-there is something to this birdwatching.

It’s such a peaceful pursuit. It takes research, patience, silence, and a deep love for nature. Bird watchers are a different breed. It is almost a personality type of its own-in the same way my sister and I will say “she is a camper” or “he is a gamer,” or how Marie and I will describe someone as a “Shane” or a “Shawna” and know exactly what that means. I’ve developed a similar character sketch for the birdwatcher–and I’m willing to bet that most birdwatchers obey traffic laws, don’t leave dirty dishes in the sink, wash their hands, finish the novels they start, write handwritten notes, arrive on time, buckle up, never leave wet clothes in the dryer, and remember to bring their reusable bags to the grocery store. Clearly something to aspire to.

So this year, instead of making a long list of lofty resolutions, I am only making one: In 2012 my resolution is simply to become more of a birdwatcher. To that end i’m considering a vacation where the birds are the focus, perhaps I could check out Costa Rica Focus, a birding tour operator, and see what birdwatching is like in warmer climates. Regardless though, I want to live in the present, to take in the beauty of the moment and give my full attention to what I’m doing and who I’m with. I will seek to regain the endless attention span that multitasking, multimedia and the internet have stolen from me. I want to practice contentment and awareness and not be in such a hurry all the time. I want to savor these last months as a family of two because when I blink this amazing season of my life will be over. I will seek stillness and silence and take pleasure in nature, music, and life’s simpler pleasures. I will strive to be a better listener. And this year, my success at this endeavor doesn’t necessarily involve watching any birds. Though that would be nice too.

Share

New Year’s Day Feast

2012 January 4
by Jennifer

I know it’s a little late to share my New Year’s Day recipes for beans and greens but they were so dang good that they should be enjoyed year-round.

Last year we had a New Year’s Eve dinner party, but this year we invited some friends over on New Year’s Day for low-key afternoon of food and football to kick off 2012.  Not being one to forgo the opportunity to execute a tradition, I decided to serve the classic New Year’s spread with a kick.  I adapted a recipe from Southern Living, another from Cooking Light and pulled a few from the family archives. The end product was delicious.

Our menu included Hoppin’ John served over White Cheddar Cheese Grits, Collard Greens, Cornbread Muffins and brownies of course.  And as the story goes…

Black-eyed peas=good luck and money

Pork/ham=progress

Greens = wealth

Cornbread=happiness

Brownies=beach vacations, healthy happy babies, wisdom, travel, laughter, new furniture, presents, romance, a housekeeper, absolutely loving new jobs, a warmer-than-usual winter, discovering great new music, long weekends spent visiting friends, discovering new talents, finding money in your pocket, and new iPad 3s for one and all.

((And truth be told, we made everything a day in advance.  Our guests were none the wiser and likely had no idea that their host and hostess with the mostess slept until nearly 11am on New Year’s Day. Don’t judge! One of us is sleeping for two and the other is drinking for two.))

So without further ado, onto the recipes.  And please forgive the sub-par pictures–New Year’s Day food just isn’t that photogenic.

Hoppin’ John Stew

(makes 8-12 servings—leftovers are awesome)

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup chopped smoked ham
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 (15-oz.) cans black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
  • 5 (10-oz.) cans diced tomatoes with green chilies, undrained (like Rotel)
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 1 teaspoon sugar $
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional but encouraged)

Melt butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat; add ham and onion, and sauté 3 to 5 minutes or until onion is tender. Stir in black-eyed peas and next 3 ingredients. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook, stirring occasionally for about 15 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in cilantro. Serve over White Cheddar Cheese Grits. Top with a splash of Tabasco or Sriracha, if you like it hot. Bow chicka bow wow.

White Cheddar Cheese Grits

(makes 6-8 servings)

  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup uncooked quick-cooking grits
  • 1 cup (4 oz.) shredded white Cheddar cheese

Bring chicken broth and butter to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Gradually whisk in grits, and return to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes or until thickened. Stir in cheese until melted. Serve immediately. (If you make these ahead, reheat on low and add milk to create desired thickness)

Collard Greens

(makes 4 1/2 cup servings)

  • 2 Canadian bacon slices
  • 1 medium sweet onion, chopped small
  • 1 tablespoon canola or olive oil
  • 1 (16-oz.) package fresh collard greens, washed and trimmed (like these)
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1/8 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • salt (to taste)
  • pepper

Preheat a medium pot or dutch oven and cook the Canadian bacon on medium for 2 minutes on each side. Remove the bacon from the pan, chop, and set aside. Add the oil and onion to the pot and cook on medium-high until onions have softened, about 4 minutes. Add collards in smallish batches until wilted, and cook stirring occasionally for 5 minutes or until everything is wilted. Stir in the cider vinegar, maple syrup, red pepper flakes, and broth. Bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and cook partially covered, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes or to desired degree of tenderness. (And so what if your mind wanders and you forget about your simmering greens! These quite frankly can’t be overcooked.) Add the splash of balsamic vinegar and the chopped bacon to the pan, and season with salt before serving.

 

Honey Cornbread Muffins

(makes 12 large muffins or 24 minis)

  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup whole milk or 2%
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 stick butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup honey

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Into a large bowl, mix the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. In another bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, butter, and honey. Add the wet to the dry ingredients and stir until just mixed.

Place muffin paper liners in a 12-cup muffin tin. Evenly divide the cornbread mixture into the papers. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until golden.

Not only are these recipes supremely scrumptious, they are healthy(ish).  Well, at least the beans & greens are healthy! What better way to kick off your 2012 resolution to get the skinnies by bikini season?

Now eat up!

 

Share

Christmas Morning Surprise: It’s a…

2011 December 28
by Jennifer

After all the gifts had been opened on Christmas morning…

There was still one to go…

Inside the adorably wrapped bag was something special identifying whether our little baby is a girl or a boy.  The suspense was killlllllllling me.

We opened the package with nervous excitement…

…to find out that we are having a precious baby  GIRL!

This will be the outfit she comes home in from the hospital. Just the thought of that makes this whole thing seem more real.

I was POSITIVE that the baby baking inside of me was a little boy.  In fact, if I were a betting woman-which I am, I would have bet a great deal of money on the fact that we were having a boy.  So far, my maternal instincts are 100% incorrect. Uh-oh.

But now I can say something that I would have gotten judged for before—I was (secretly) hoping for a little girl.   I am SO, SO, SO excited.  (as evidenced by the action shot below)

DISCLAIMER: obviously I would be beyond delighted to have a little boy.  Let me be clear that all we want is a healthy baby, of course.

But a little girl—a little GIRL!  You know what this means?

Anne of Green Gables, chubby little baby girl thighs, ballet classes, Little Women, Disney princess movies, baking cookies, dance recitals, adorable dresses, dress-up, Angelina Ballerina, art projects, fairytales, monograms, ruffled eyelet panties, monogrammed ruffled eyelet panties, Madeline, tea parties, dance parties, and ohsomuch more.

Visions of my little sugarplum are dancing in my head.

 

Clearly raising our little girl(!!) free from gender stereotypes,

Jennifer

 

 

Share

It’s a…

2011 December 23
by Jennifer

It’s a…

Well, we don’t know yet. But we are finding out in TWO DAYS!  I am beside myself with excitement. Here’s the plan:

Yesterday we went to the doctor for the big ultrasound where they measure arms and legs and count fingers and toes and, if you so desire, reveal the gender of your little one.  We turned our heads when our baby was flashing the camera to avoid seeing anything indecent and instead had the ultrasound technician print the pic and write down “boy” or “girl” and place it in a sealed envelope.

Next we went to the most scrumptious baby store, B Braithwaite, and picked out something for a newborn baby boy and a newborn baby girl.

We gave the kind shop girl our envelope and let her in on our plan.  We left the store and headed out for lunch while she opened the envelope and wrapped the appropriate gift.

Now our pink or blue baby present sits under the tree waiting for us to open it on Christmas morning.  We can’t wait.

.

*No peeking or shaking or snooping allowed.

 

*That message was mainly intended for me.

Share

November Comings and Goings

2011 November 30
by Jennifer

Sometimes I blog for your benefit—to enlighten you, dear reader, about things you ought to know about.  These blog entries are virtual public service announcements wherein I enlighten you for your betterment.  For example:

For these posts, I say “You’re welcome.”  ((For the dance video portion of posts like this, I say “I’m sorry”))

Then there are the posts where I write things for my own benefit, to capture my memories in print so that I can go back one day and remember when we were young, unfettered, and carefree things like weddings, vacations, special weekends, big life events, moving, and our crazy former landlord. This post falls into that category.  I simply had to chronicle a few events from the past month so that I won’t forget.  Shall I begin?

First there was our trip to the beach the last week of October.  My Oneandonly and I decided that we needed a vacation and made Seaside, Florida our destination.  It was a perfect week of splendid isolation.  There were beach walks, bike rides, lots of sitting, dice games, movies and seafood.

The weather was perfect and there was not a child in sight (evil cackle). If I can give you one word of wisdom, it would be to go to the beach in April, May or October.  The weather is divine and the beach is virtually empty because the kids are in school. Everyone wins. Especially me, at dice games.

 

(baby bump at the beach-13 weeks)

And if you’re thinking, why is a sassy girl under 30 wearing a skirted tankini—I’ll tell you why.  It’s because I burnt the absolute crap out of my stomach and upper thighs the first few days at the beach.  And more importantly, it’s because I’m a modest and pure expectant mother, and I (we) think it proper to cover up. Next stop: wholesome wear.

Our last night we splurged financially and calorically and went to dinner at Café Tango. If you are ever in a 75 mile radius of Santa Rosa Beach, FL please go there for dinner.  Upon recommendation of my sister who dined there the week prior, I ordered the Dancing Fish (Pan-Sautéed Fresh Fish Fillet Topped With Shrimp, Lump Crabmeat, Grilled Diver Scallop, and Spinach in a Jalapeño Cream Sauce). It was hands down the best entree and culinary experience I’ve had in 2011.  (My best culinary experience of 2010 is chronicled here.)  Something about dining in restaurants converted from quaint old homes just rings my bell.

In early November I made a trip to Austin, TX to visit my friend Marie. The same wonderful one-of-a-kind Marie whose wedding was documented here.

It was my first time traveling to Austin but I knew I would fall in love with it before I stepped of the plane.  An outdoorsy city with lots of live music, Mexican food, former residence of Tim Riggins, and an abundance of walking paths is right up my alley.  Marie and I had a ball. Unfortunately I only took two pictures the whole weekend—we were having too much fun for me to pause and break out the camera…

And then there was Thanksgiving. My Man’s family and my family came together for the feast o’ plenty at my parents’ house.  Everything was delicious. Including my little nephew:

Dad and the world’s most perfect pumpkin.

Mom and Married Mip

The Captain and the kiddos.  (I think he enjoyed their toys more than they did!)

Sadly, we have no pictures of the whole family together or the delicious spread.  But I’m thinking the bump in the photo below is one part turkey, two parts AMAZING Oyster Dressing, and three parts baby.

 

But see it? See it?

Share

BIG News!

2011 November 9
by Jennifer

I have been keeping a little secret from you. And I’m not very good at keeping secrets. (Unless of course, you tell me “don’t tell anyone,” then I am a steel vault.)  So, the exciting news is that…

I’m pregnant!

 

((Oh. So my mom’s already told you? I’m not surprised. She spilled the beans to her friends, total strangers, and even told our waiter at Jaliscos when I had her strictly under don’t tell anyone restrictions. First time grandparents…Whatcanyado?))

Our Little Love Child is due May 2nd and we couldn’t be more thrilled.  Here I am on the day we found out.  It just so happened to be Labor Day weekend, because even God gets a kick out of a good pun.

 

I still can’t believe it and I have to remind myself that this is really happening.  We feel beyond blessed.  When I went to the doctor last week I was shocked to see the baby on the monitor actually looking like a human person.  It made it all so real and I felt tears rolling down the side of my face. I love him/her so much already.

  (baby profile)

(teeny tiny baby hand)

Now this may be the hormones talking, but I want to clarify a few things.  No, we are not pregnant. I am pregnant. WE are having a baby and WE are going to be parents. See the difference? Also, I am not preggers, preggo, a prego, etc. Preggers and any iteration of the term sounds like nails on a chalkboard to my ears. Eeekkkkss.  I am simply pregnant, expecting a baby, or with child (biblically). Praise the Good Lord.

Onto the FAQs!

How was the first trimester? I was totally exhausted most every day and had bouts with nausea but I never threw up.  I had zero energy and most days when My Man got home from work he found me laying on the sofa with my Seabands on. The package says they work for carsickness and morning sickness—what a value! Now that the first trimester is over, I can definitely say I did not feel like myself but I still think I had it pretty good, compared to some horror stories I have heard. 

Any cravings? New episodes of Mad Men damnit! Wickles. Cereal. Warm weather.  An iPad.

Are you going to find out the sex of the baby? Yes! If all goes according to plan, we will find out on Christmas day.

Are you going to find out who the father is? No, we want to be surprised.

Hehe. Just kidding. I think I have narrowed it down to this guy:

 

How far along are you? I’ll be 4 months next week. (that is 15.5 weeks to anyone who has been pregnant before and has switched their brain over to the metric system. I know when someone tells me they are 23 weeks I need to get out a pen and paper to do some long division to figure out what that actually means.  So I’ll tell it to you in months and spare you the mental math.)

Are you showing? Any baby bump to speak of? To the trained eye, yes. My stomach is not how it was 4 months ago. My Man can definitely tell.  But to the untrained eye, I suppose I look like I just ate a large Mexican feast.

How many at home pregnancy tests did you take before you really believed that you were pregnant? Seven. Is that normal? Assuming it would be negative like others I have taken in the past, we decided not to waste our money on the name brand and I tossed a cheapo box of Fact Plus in the cart at the grocery store. My Man and I inspected the test after I took it and couldn’t decipher the results. Both Fact Plus tests were vaaaaaaguely potentially positive if you tilted your head and looked close enough. I was cursing myself for being a Frugal McDougal as I devoured the crappy instructions in English and Spanish hoping for some answers. Then I anxiously sent My Man back to the store to buy a name brand while I chugged water.  When he came back I took every test in the First Response box and every one was clearly positive!! Dancing and hugging ensued.

Are you excited? Yes! I am thrilled—My Man is thrilled. We just can’t believe we have been blessed with such joy. Life is really good, and it is going to be even better. (Different…but better.)

Share

Molly’s Wedding

2011 November 2
by Jennifer

Before I commence the photo-essay about my sister’s wedding a few thoughts…

The whole weekend–starting with the BBQ party on Thursday night to welcome guests, the bridesmaids’ luncheon and the rehearsal dinner on Friday, and the day of pampering, preparations and wedding merriment on Saturday– was amazing.  You have never seen a more beautiful bride (evidence below), a more joyful couple and prouder parents. The band was super-talented and the dance floor was on fire.  And the warm chocolate chip cookies and milk, in lieu of a groom’s cake, was a magical touch.  A good time was had by all!

(take that, Pippa!)

 And here are a few pictures from the Rehearsal Dinner

And as for my Maid of Honor toast, despite my nerves, I thought it went pretty well.  It was easy to write since I absolutely adore my little sister.

I made her laugh: And I made her cry:

Mission accomplished.

What a weekend.

((Selfishly Unfortunately, the professional photographers put those tacky copyright marks all over their pictures. Therefore, the photos above were generously taken by our super-talented family friend, Debbie and/or snagged from Facebook.))

And one more thing: I wish I had more photos to share of the amazing flowers.  Darryl Wiseman, who also did the flowers for my wedding, totally knocked it out of the park for Molly’s big day.  If you are planning a wedding in Atlanta (or just sending your woman a little something to tell her she is your Oneandonly- HINT, HINT, HINT*) do the right thing and hire him and his team to do the flowers. They do not disappoint!

*Something seasonal in autumnal colors would be great.  And as you know, I have a penchant for peonies.

Share

Bridesmaids’ Luncheon

2011 October 13

As the Maid of Honor, I had the privilege of hosting my sister’s bridesmaids’ luncheon last Friday afternoon. Planning for a wedding is so exciting, but there’s so much that needs organising before the big day. Quite a few people I know are getting married soon and they’ve all been looking at ideas for dresses online. If you’re currently on the lookout for a dress, check out this website from Winnie Couture Chicago, IL for some pretty designs. As for the luncheon, I enthusiastically volunteered to have the gathering at my house way back in July before we moved in. I thought that surely by October things would be coming together on the home-front. Notsomuch. The way things were as of two weeks ago, the ladies were going to be lunching on the floor. I wondered if it was too late to give the party a “picnic” theme. Fortunately, hosting the shower turned out to be great last-minute motivation to see that those two completely empty rooms to the right and left of our front door got some much needed furnishing, albeit temporarily.

There is nothing the Internet loves more than a great new Beyonce video, silly kittens on YouTube, and a good old fashioned before & after. You will have to check out the Beyonce video for yourself, but I can give you a few before & afters.

Dining room before:

Dining room after:

The 72’ round table is actually newly mine, as is the barely visible beige-ish tablecloth (both of which my deal-savvy parents were able to snag for a song). This will stay in the dining room until the far-too-distant-future when we can afford to splurge on a large French antique oval table. The coral overlay was an addition from my mom’s collection to jazz up the celebration and add a little oomph to what she calls “the house of beige.” The adorable chiavari chairs were on overnight loan from the wedding caterer. Understandably, I got pretty attached.

The women over 50 30 sat in here—what one day will be the future cozy-sophisto living room. Here it was before:

And ta-da! After:


I couldn’t help but feel like the Barefoot Contessa when I was setting that table with a burlap tablecloth, linen napkins and pewter silver. But I need more eclectic friends with neat stores in The Hamptons to complete that little fantasy. One step at a time, I suppose.

Who catered the shower, you might ask. Well, I did! I can hardly believe it myself. What to serve, what to serve…?

Raise your hand if you have ever been a bridesmaid.

Keep your hand up if you have ever gone to a bridesmaid’s luncheon.

Now keep your hand high in the air if you were served chicken salad at that luncheon.

I see that every single hand is still in the air.

What is it about a gathering of women that necessitates a menu consisting of mayonnaise -laden chicken salad?

Because I didn’t want to ruffle too many feathers and veer too far off the prescribed course for such an event (by serving something like BBQ or lasagna), I served…wait for it…chicken on a salad. There is a BIG difference between chicken salad and salad with chicken in it. Email me if you have any questions about that.

The entree that the bride requested for her second-to-last-lunch as a single lady is affectionately called “the salad” in my family and officially called “The Cornucopia Salad.” It is always a crowd-pleaser and was easily quadrupled to serve 17.

Cornucopia Salad

(serves 4 and doubles and triples easily)

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1 large head green leaf lettuce or spring greens, torn
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, cored and chopped
  • 1 avocado – peeled, pitted, chopped and seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese (or blue, or feta, or whatever cheese pleases you)
  • 1 8oz can mandarin oranges, drained
  • 1 rotisserie chicken, white meat only
  • Dressing of your choice: I used Trader Joe’s Cranberry Walnut Gorgonzola Vinaigrette this time. Other recommendations: Balsamic vinaigrette, Trader Joe’s Champagne Pear with Gorgonzola vinaigrette or any basic vinaigrette that you love.

Instructions:

Place the almonds and 1 tablespoon of sugar in a small skillet over medium-low heat, and cook and stir until the sugar melts and the almonds brown. Watch carefully because if you turn away for even just a minute, you will have a burnt mess and there will be no choice but to start over. Remove from heat and allow to cool. (In a pinch, you can also skip this step entirely and buy pre-seasoned walnuts or pecans).

Get a fancy French manicure on your way to Costco to pick up the rotisserie chickens. (Hormones and free-range livin’ be dammed, Costco rotisserie chickens are the very, very best). De-bone, de-skin and remove all that tasty white breast meat from the chickens. Shred it in bite size pieces. Ruin your wedding manicure. Decide it was definitely worth it.

In a large salad bowl, mix the lettuce, green onions, apple, avocado, dried cranberries, mandarin oranges, chicken, goat cheese, and cooked almonds. No need to be exact on the measurements of these ingredients, just add as much or as little as you like

Toss with the dressing of your choosing and serve.

Along with the salad we served these delicious little butter muffins. They were divine warm from the oven. Recipe as follows:

Sour Cream Muffins
(makes 24-36 mini-muffins)
Ingredients:
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1 8 oz. carton sour cream
  • 2 cups self-rising flour
Instructions:
Melt butter, mix in sour cream with wire whip, then stir in flour.
Spoon into mini muffin tins (sprayed with PAM) and bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes.

 

And dessert, oh my heavens dessert.

Vanilla ice cream toped with fresh berries and the most delicious warm toffee sauce you’ve ever had. My Man and I have been reheating the leftovers since the shower, and he insisted I blog the recipe for the benefit of my blog readers. It’s that good! You know, life is tough these days. We might be on the verge of a double-dip recession and we are definitely on the verge of winter and the end of daylight savings time. I also have a newly married sister who may or may not be spending Christmas with our family. I don’t know which is worse. What I do know is that this will help:

English Toffee Dessert
Recipe complements of my Aunt Susan.
Ingredients:
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup light corn syrup
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup Heath Toffee bits with chocolate
2 pints fresh strawberries
vanilla ice cream (optional but recommended!)

Instructions:
Combine first 4 ingredients in saucepan. Stir and allow to come to a boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat, stir in toffee bits and cool. Serve over strawberries (ice cream is optional) topped with dollop of whipped cream. Sauce may be made well ahead and left to stand, or refrigerated and reheated. Stir occasionally when reheating.

 

It truly was such a joy to host my amazing sister and her sweet friends, many of whom I consider friends of my own. It was a treat to have them all together, at the same table sharing delicious food (thankyouverymuch) and even shedding a spirit tear or two, thanks to my sister, who had us all misty-eyed when she went around and told each of us why we were so special to her.

I’m only sorry I had to miss the 10am Zumba class that took place in my parents’ tented driveway the morning before the luncheon.

Apparently even my dad couldn’t resist getting in on the action.

Wedding pictures coming soon…

Share

Things Worth Dancing About

2011 September 30
by Jennifer

Remember when I used to be a blogger?

I consistently kept you on the edge of your seat with my recounts of must-see reality tv, workout DVD reviews, cookie recipes, tales of the old landlord, and the newest condiments you need to consume right now. I feel like I owe you one.  Like I need to take one for the team and humble myself before my loyal readers to make amends for my month of silence.

Should I try to say nice things about someone I have lightly bashed? Like Ryan Seacrest or Kelly Killoren Bensimon?

Maybe I should show you my face without makeup like Kathie Lee and Hoda did? (I guess I already did that)

 

How about I share a mildly embarrassing video of myself dancing?  Would that even the score? It is certainly worth a shot to get back on your good side.

A few disclaimers:

  • I just found this gem on the computer and it was in no way created for public consumption. But that’s how much I love ya.
  • The video was taken in the old house last March. (My Man filmed it to test our FlipCam)
  • Yes.  The video was taken in March and there are Christmas decorations in the background. I love my artsy manger scene so much I didn’t have the heart to take it down immediately after Christmas, or even in the remote vicinity of Christmas.
  • The song, not on the billboard chart for top dance tracks, is called “I Am John” by the band Loney, Dear. I dig the beat.
  • Sorry if you wasted two of your precious minutes watching the whole thing.

Now, we’re even.

That brings me to my list of big and little things going on lately that are worth dancing about:

My friend Kristin got married in Highlands, North Carolina.  The wedding, in a word: Gorgeous. Delicious.  Beautiful. Joyful.
 

   

Pumpkin season is upon us, and with that comes a bounty of pumpkin baked goods.  Want something healthy-ish and pumpkiny delicious? Make this.  Want something unhealthy and pumpkin delicious, make these.

My man has embraced yard work–raking, mowing and mulching. Look (and swoon) at his handy work:

New seasons of some of my favorite shows have started: Parenthood, Modern Family, Parks and Recreation, Happy Endings, Sister Wives, etc.

BUT most importantly, my little sister is getting married in a week! A week!

And there will definitely, definitely be dancing.

Share

Maid of Honour

2011 August 16

These days I play a multitude of roles: adoring wife, loving daughter, diligent employee, new neighbor, happy homeowner and MOST IMPORTANTLY, at least according to Emily Post, Maid of Honor.

((Well technically I am the Matron of Honor but in my book, the word ‘matron’ is synonymous to a plus-size nightgown with sleeves.))

Yes, I proudly hold the title of Matron Maid of Honor in my little sister’s upcoming wedding.   My job thus far has mostly consisted of engaging two of my passions—giving my opinion and offering advice.

As in:  I love those flowers, please ensure that one layer of the cake is carrot with cream cheese frosting, say no to dye-to-match shoes, I would rather not plan or take part in a bridesmaid’s jog the morning of the wedding, I vote for shrimp and grits! And tenderloin! no “electric slide” etc.

 

Fortunately the bride, the MOH and our wonderful parents (who are funding this grand adventure) all agree on two main things:

Music: SO important.  Incite the people dance, I say!  How? You play music that gives them no option but to move.  And lead by example. We are delighted that a band oozing with soul is making a trip to Atlanta from New Orleans for the big day. Odds are that they will not disappoint. ((It seems I have inordinately strong and perhaps controversial thoughts on the topic of a wedding band’s do not playlist that I’ve thoroughly outlined on a past post.))

Cue my all-time favorite wedding reception dance tune:

Menu:  In a word, feed the people! Passed apps and a cheese spread do not a meal make. As a family, we agree that we want wedding guests to know they have eaten dinner.  This does not require a sit-down formal dinner, and in fact we prefer that it doesn’t.  But it does involve more than taquitos, tuna tartare and Bellini’s.  We have officially failed if guests feel the need to swing by the Steak n’ Shake drive thru on their way home from the reception.

With the wedding a mere two months away, the planning of the blessed union and surrounding events is certainly in full swing.  Invitations have been mailed, and sample hair dos were tested last weekend. There have been dress fittings and cake tastings and flower picking, oh my!

 

What has not been done is arguably the single most important task on this Maid of Honor’s list:  planning my rehearsal dinner toast.  It gives me hives and hot flashes just to think about it.  How do you sum up your love for a little sister? To try to tell her how much she means to you? In front of a large audience?  While you are trying not to cry so your face isn’t blotchy and puffy on the day of the wedding?

I am officially shaking in my boots Mizuno Wave Elixir 7s.

((remember the Wave Elixir 6 SAGA? They are apparently out to get me)).

Champagne will help but it’s not going to be easy.

Share

Not your average bachelorette party

2011 July 29

When you think Bachelorette party, what first comes to mind?

Limousines? Strippers? Strobe lights?

Well the bachelorette party I attended last weekend for my soul sister, Kristin, was none of those things-but it was ohsomuch better.

We headed to the quaint mountain town of Highlands, North Carolina to stay the weekend at the Bride-To-Be’s family farm. While we lacked access to nightclubs, strippers disguised as park rangers or police men, DJs, and even cell phone service for that matter, we were by no means roughing it.

We had delicious dinners that lasted hours

Cocktails o’ plenty on the beautiful porch

Ice cream

Rope swinging

All-around general merriment and my (unsuccessful) attempts to outshine the maid of honor.

We even made friendship bracelets to commemorate the occasion. Because we are the most popular girls in junior high.

And clearly got carried away vajazziling everything in sight.

The Bride To Be even taught me how to play backgammon one lazy morning. Take that, Las Vegas.

And of course, there was a surprise lingerie shower, which included everything from a Custom Face Thong Panty to sparkly brassiere. Kristin decided to model each piece of negligee as she opened it. How thoughtful!

You wouldn’t have guessed it by looking at her, but the sister of the groom chose the most salacious piece. Just a wool scarf made of the family tartan. Yep, just a scarf. Let that mental image set in for a moment because there will be no picture, that would be more suited for sites such as hdpornvideo.xxx.

The most special part of the weekend was Saturday night when we each read a letter we had written to Kristin.

None of us knew that we would be reading the letters out loud (the MOH neglected to include that tidbit in her instructions), but that actually made it even better. The letters were filled with sweet and hilarious stories, affirmations of love for the happy couple, and reasons why Kristin is such a special friend, sister and future sister-in-law. Not a dry eye in the place.

And this particular bachelorette weekend was made that much better for this reason-

I knew all of the bridal party already! Kristin’s sisters feel like my sisters and her friends have become my friends through the years. Dorothy, the sister of the groom was the only girl I didn’t know going into the weekend, but she certainly won my good favor with her choice of lingerie. Not to mention that her letter to Kristin tore. the. house. down. Dorothy, you made me laugh, you revealed you have a naughty streak, and you made my eyes misty tears of joy and gratitude. Well done, Dorothy!

Bottom line: Kristin has great taste in friends.

For many of us, this weekend was not about meeting new friends, it was about spending time with old ones. Is it terrible of me to confess that that’s my favorite kind?

Share

Out with the old and in with the new

2011 July 19

After a series of exposé articles highlighting the corruption associated with the big-name moving companies in the Atlanta area, I opted to book with a company that boasted higher moral standing. Accredited by both the Better Business Bureau and evangelical Christians in Peachtree City, A Better Way Moving Company had the distinct honor of helping us make the move.

After sitting through “inspirational” hold music and running through payment and logistics over the phone, the polite representative said, “We look forward to helping you on July 9. We will be praying for your move.” The sentiment caught me off guard, but I will never turn down a free prayer.

The moving truck showed up bright and early on Saturday morning. Needless to say, we made quite an impression on the new and old neighborhood.

old house

Sharing verses from Revelation illustrated by fully-armed winged man angels will never be my approach to sharing the Good News. The new neighbors are going to have to get to know us to realize that we subscribe to a different brand of Christianity. I’m pretty sure they are expecting us to start knocking door-to-door handing out hellfire pamphlets any day now…

After we said our goodbyes to the Better Way boys, we assessed the mountain of boxes before us. How we managed to fit so much into our four room rental house remains a mystery.

Remember how the nice man from the moving company told me that he would be praying for our move? Well, his prayers worked! It started pouring down rain right when they drove away.

It was like Christmas morning when my parents pulled up with a car full of wedding presents. They had so kindly stored all of our registry treasures at their house, awaiting the day when we would have a kitchen fit for a Cuisinart and cabinet space for our china.

My parents were work horses and made themselves supremely useful for the better part of Saturday and Sunday. My dad helped with the unpacking and heavy lifting and my mom b-lined to my new closet and made sure that my hangers were coordinated. It is no surprise that the same woman who keeps her Tupperware and “junk” drawers immaculately arranged also has a knack for quickly and chromologically organizing a closet.

They certainly earned their pay, in the form of an all-expenses-paid 10pm dinner at Jalisco’s. Strip-mall Mexican has never tasted so good.

But before we went to bed that first night, My Man and I had to take care of an important detail.

Traditionally, couples share the top of their wedding cake on their first anniversary. Because we enjoyed a delicious four hour brunch on April 18, 2010, we decided that we would save the cake for the first night in our new house. We had just started the house hunt and thought that surely it would only be a month or two until we were happy homeowners. Our second anniversary came and went with plenty of romance but nary a new home. We looked at many many places over time and spoke to quite a few real estate agents, such as Essex Homes Greenville/Spartanburg based in South Carolina they had stunning homes that we got to see when there and were very helpful. We then settled on our new home here!

At long last, on Saturday night we carefully unwrapped the cake. Shockingly, the cream cheese frosting stood the test of time, a move and multiple power outages. It was delicious!

Our first Sunday morning in the new house was spent picking up essentials at Costco, Target, Ikea, Lowes and Best Buys. As if that consummate consumerism isn’t enough to make your head spin, I wouldn’t let myself sit down until I had a few rooms completely unpacked. Not a good idea. By dinnertime, this was the scene:

Yes, a mad case of the spins and violent heaving from a self-induced (and self-diagnosed) exhaustion migraine. Or maybe it was the 2 ½ year-old wedding cake…?

((My Oneandonly has an artist’s eye and insisted on capturing this raw moment on film.))

We have been in the new house a little over a week now, and I can finally, finally say that I have recovered from the move. Moving straight took it out of me. All of it. However, all the necessary arrangements have been made and are out of the way now so I no longer have to worry about them; I’m happy we’ve found a good competitive energy plan using a Green Mountain Energy promo code which granted us discounted rates, so you can’t ask for much more than that. I am delighted and relieved that we opted for a house that we can grow into because I have no plans to pack up and move anytime in the near or distant future. After all, our friends and family are only ever a telephone call away whenever we need them.

While we’re on the topic of phones, our new neighbours have just recommended we take a look at Eatel Phone Service Packages. Getting a good deal for your landline and broadband is an excellent way to save some money.

As for what’s next, now we’re pretty much settled in I think we’re going to book a safety inspection for our HVAC system. We’ve been researching companies like AirNow (visit site here) as we’re mainly looking for peace of mind that our system is safe and operating at maximum capacity. It’s always important to check these systems out regularly – especially if you’ve just moved somewhere new.

Come visit?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Share