Thursday, June 30, 2011

things that make me go ooooh

It's been a week. Reading some of my friend's blogs and Facebook statuses, I would say that has been going around a lot lately. Maybe crappy weeks are catchy. Like strep throat. Or yawns. Or grumbling in the grocery store check out line. When I feel that grunge coming on, I try to do everything I can think of stop it in its tracks. 

I grab a cold Diet Coke from the 25 cent soda machine in my office. Because it quenches my soul. And it makes me want to gloat that my soda machine is so freakin cheap. 

I dress Lila in ridiculously adorable outfits because she smiles and flirts when she knows I think she looks cute. 
And that makes me smile.

I try and spend a few more minutes in the morning reading devotions instead of catching up on Facebook. Because honestly, could that much have happened to my friends between 11pm and 6am??

I spontaneously dance with Brian to "Come Fly With Me" in the kitchen in between filling sippy cups, stirring dinner on the stove and drinking from a big glass of wine.

And I change my normal screen saver to this hilarious one so every 15 minutes, as the stress is settling into my shoulders, my screen goes to sleep and I start laughing. And then laugh harder at the panicked look of my coworkers as they slowly realize I am loosing it.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

you're a mean one

I am not sure if I have ever documented the unfailing, never ending, deeply serious love between Lila and her Grinch. She and Mr. Grinch have been joined at the hip since she crawled over to fetch him under the tree on Christmas morning. I don't get it. She has adorable bunnies, soft lambs, polka dot puppies and little dollies. But it is the Grinch she loves, the Grinch she clutches to her neck when she is tired, the Grinch she drags behind her around the house. 
My favorite moment is when people take a closer look when we are Target, with a "Oh what a bright green stuffed animal you that the Grinch??" And then they look at me like a terrible mother who obviously chose the scary, mean monster as her child's companion. 
Lila has two Grinches (shhhhh, don't tell her), one who stays in the House and one in the car. That way, there is always a Grinch close at hand. Her second Grinch was gifted to her on her birthday by her friend Cruz who also got him for Christmas, but was more than happy to share his stuffed animal he didn't care much about with someone who would obviously adore it. Every now and then, the two Grinches end up in the same room together and you would think it is the BEST. DAY. EVER. Forget world peace, this is the moment that takes Lila breath away and all has become right with the world. 
I know one day he will be tossed to the side and his reign of earth shattering importance will be over. But for now, the Grinch is where it's at. That Grinch and his bright green, fuzzy necked snugly self. 

Friday, June 24, 2011

blueberries and hot dogs

At least I got a Father's Day post in the same week ;-) This past weekend we got to spend a lot of time celebrating Brian and the great papa and husband he is. On Saturday, we spent the morning lounging in bed watching Yo Gabba Gabba with our coffee cups (and milk sippy cup). Then we took off for a fun hamburger lunch at Char-Grill and an adventure to the RDU Observation Deck to watch the planes take off. Not quite as thrilling as one might hope, but Brian recognized the effort and spent a lot of time trying to explain "First In Flight" to Lila to pass the looooong time in between planes.

Sunday was the big day and Lila and I got up early to make Brian breakfast in bed. I decide to try a recipe I found on Pinterest, which is my newest obsession. Basically, it is a website that lets you "pin" ideas and photos and share them with friends. Comment below if you want an invitation so you too can spend every moment mumbling about pins and boards. 

Are you drooling? Because I am drooling just looking at it. Ya'll this Overnight Blueberry French Toast was to.die.for. I will post the recipe below. Because you need it. Like you need air.

Our breakfast in bed stage was set so Lila and I walked (crawled) upstairs and met dad with a delicious breakfast, coffee and card (with oh so lovely pink marker scribbles). Brian's response as he polished off his plate in 5 minutes: "What IS this?? And more importantly, is there more??" We then headed off to church where all the men where celebrate in a "Dad Center ESPN" theme, complete with nachos being served out of the back of a truck in the sanctuary, neon green Dad sweat bands, and an awesome dad tips sermon. Lunch was a yummy German cafe with outside seating and lots of gifts for Brian and my dad.
Brian got a round of golf from my parents, some new clothes from all of us and a Durham Bulls  baseball package with a new Bulls hat, toddler Bulls shirt for Lila (he had been begging me to buy her one) and tickets to the home game on Monday. We live less than 10 minutes from this fun summer regular event and love going out for a hot dog and cold beer. Oh yeah, and the baseball game itself.
Even though it was hot on Monday, we all still enjoyed ourselves and spent some family time with our favorite hometown baseball team. And that hot dog was delicious.

12 slices of bread, cut into cubes (french or Texas toast. I used a large loaf of soft French bread)

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, cut in cubes
1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
12 large eggs
1/3 cup maple syrup
2 cups milk (I used whole milk)

Arrange half of the bread cubes on the bottom of a greased baking dish. Then layer down the cream cheese cubes and blueberries, spreading evenly. Then another layer of the bread cubes. In a bowl, mix together eggs, maple syrup and milk. Pour over the top of the bread evenly, then let sit overnight in the fridge while covered. This part is crucial cause the bread soaks up all the eggs and milk. The next morning, bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes while covered with foil. Then uncover and bake for another 30 minutes.

There is also a blueberry sauce you can make. I did not because I am lazy like that but I bet it would be delicious!
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 T cornstarch
1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
1 T butter

On the stovetop, cook water, sugar and cornstarch until thickened. Stir in blueberries and let simmer for 10 minutes. Add butter and stir until melted. Serve over the french toast.

My father didn't tell me how to live. He lived, and let me watch him do it.
~Clarence Budington Kelland

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tuesday Tips: how to plan meals for a month

Welcome back to Tuesday Tips! This blog link up is for any fun tips you have for others, including household tips, kid tips, money saving tips, time saving, and sanity saving. They do not have to be super involved and can just be a little morsel of wisdom you want to share. Just use the code below to place the button on your blog, and then come back here and link up!
This week's Tuesday Tips is courtesy of my good friend Jodi. She has been using monthly meal planning (you heard me right) for two years, much to the awe of all our friends. After much prodding, she agreed to do a class and teach all of us novices how to plan your meals and shopping by month. 

1. Think realistically about how dinners you eat at home a week. Don't overestimate. We decided 4 dinners a week was good, since we eat out between 1-2 and we eat leftovers the other nights. 
2. Then think about your favorite recipes and any new ones you have been wanting to try. I needed 16 recipes since we were planning for 4 weeks x 4 meals a week. 
3. Dowload this form and fill out the weeks on the left-hand side. You can also use the shopping list tab to separate your shopping list among your stores.
4. Then add the names of your meals in the next column, putting as many meals as you decided for each week. Think about grouping your meals together with common fresh ingredients, but still spreading out the types of themes and meats (not all chicken meals or all Mexican meals in one week). 
5. Looking at your recipes, use the "Monthly Shopping Items" to list items you can buy at your monthly shopping trips (and it is okay to do monthly trips to multiple store. I plan on doing a monthly trip to BJ's Wholesale Club and Trader Joe's). Put all your meats, shredded bags of cheese (can be frozen), breads, canned goods, rice, pasta, chips, pizza dough/biscuits. Then use the "Weekly Shopping Items" to list items fruits, vegetables, milk, eggs, sour cream and fresh bread.
6. Then you make shopping lists for your monthly items, splitting it out between the stores you use. You can also add the regular items you use for breakfast and lunches to your monthly or weekly shopping lists.
7. And now you are ready to shop! My friend Jodi buys meat in bulk packages and then splits it up into the amount she needs for different meals and freezes it in those quantities. She doesn't cut up veggies that day when she does her weekly shopping, but I know others that do all their weekly prep work on Sunday to cut down on dinner time throughout the week. 
I am posting a screen shot of my 4 weeks of meals right here and will be happy to send recipes to anyone who likes what they see :-) You will notice I have at least one crockpot meal a week. I work from home on Mondays and Fridays and I find it super easy to throw those into the crockpot during nap time on one of those days. My favorite crockpot book is Make It Fast, Cook It Slow. If you like to crockpot, get this book now. Amazing recipes and for those that need it, they are all gluten-free.

So who is in for trying the monthly meal plan over the summer? Let me know what you think! I hope it will save us a lot of money, time and wasted food. Oh yeah, and I like to look at spreadsheets so that is a plus also.

Always plan ahead. It wasn't raining when Noah built the ark.
~Richard Cushing

Monday, June 20, 2011

hold me closer tiny dancer

It appears Lila likes the new Sara Bareilles CD as much as I do. And let me tell you what, those baby hips don't lie. What are your favorite summer songs to jam out to?

Remember, Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did,
but backwards and in high heels.
~Faith Whittlesey

Thursday, June 16, 2011

razor sharp

You know how when you are in the shower, time seems to stand still? Sometimes, you forget if you just put shampoo or conditioner in your hair. Sometimes you close your eyes and enjoy the feeling of hot water pounding against your hair. And you have no idea how long you just stood there pretending you were underneath a tropical waterfall (with warm water? hey, it's my daydream, step off) and forgetting how exhausted you are and how the coffee hasn't hit your bloodstream yet.

And then you hear the baby babbling over the monitor and she has now woken up and is yelling for daddy to get her out of the crib and Give! Her! The! Milk Cup! And you are trying to open the shower door and yell downstairs for Brian to stop eating cereal and get the baby. And then you jump out realizing this semi-relaxing moment has now made you 10 minutes late.

And then you get to work and go to scratch your leg and cannot figure out why it feels like you are scratching a cactus bush. And then you realize you only shaved one leg. So you spend the rest of the day paranoid that everyone can see the stubbly hair on your left leg and that there might somehow become a moment when it would be appropriate or necessary for your coworker to touch your leg and then they will be totally disgusted and spread office gossip that you lack basic personal hygiene.

Yeah. That sucks.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

welcome to Tuesday Tips!

One of my favorite things about reading blogs is getting great tips from other women. Tips about raising babies, tips about loving your husband, tips to save time and money around the house, tips about life. So in order to facilitate all this fabulous tipping, I have decided to start a weekly blog link up called "Tuesday Tips".

You can link up to your blog with tips about anything you would like. They can be super involved tips, like tutorials. They can be quick tips, like something you read in Real Simple magazine. Tip away on whatever your heart desires. And then, make sure to come back here, grab the button using the code below to put on your blog, and link your blog post up so we can all read your amazing tips. And then do it every week :-) This first week, feel free to link up to your favorite past post with some fun tips. Hope to learn lots of exciting and new things from you all this week!
My Tuesday Tip: With all of the lovely summer fruits and veggies we have been getting at the Farmers Market, grocery store and through our produce delivery service, I have to keep up with how long each have been ripening, etc. However, busy moms = forgotten potatoes in the pantry. I noticed last week that I had some yucky fruit flies visiting my pantry and flying all around my kitchen. After some googling and advice from my sister, I came up with this at home remedy that has completely eliminated the flies!
In a bowl, mix balsamic vinegar and several tablespoons of sugar until sugar is mixed in. Put saran wrap over the mixture, poking several large holes (large enough for the flies to go in). They will drown in the mixture and voila! Fruit fly free!

Monday, June 13, 2011

baby beluga

It is so fun to watch Lila playing with her friends. They are still at the age where playing mostly involves stealing sippy cups and snacks. Nonetheless, Lila's face lights up as she points and yells every time she sees other kids her age. One of her favorite friends is Daisy, the little one of my friend Casey. Lila and Daisy were born three weeks apart and there is something so special about having kiddos that are at the same stage of life, growing and exploring and learning more every day.
PS- this is what results when babies try to share kisses. They end up eating each other faces.
Can you see the look of totally annoyance on Daisy's face? Kills me.

I had the week off this last week for a little staycation and relaxation at home. For those of you cool kids who have not every "stayed," a staycation is where you have time off and instead of travelling, spending lots of money and being generally stressed out, you stay at home. And do all of the things you normally are too busy to do. We grilled out. We went to the park. We ate LOTS of ice cream. We slept in and drank lots of yummy morning coffee. And we went to the pool...four times.
We stepped out one day to visit Daisy and Casey at their neighborhood pool and my goodness these two babies were adorable in their ruffled swimsuits. CANNOT deal with the big tummy, fluffy swim diaper bottom, squealing with glee baby cuteness.
They had a fabulous time splashing in the water, sharing water toys, spinning around singing motorboat songs. And then when they tired of the pool, it was time for naked baby snack sharing with animal crackers. Can't you just imagine them 15 years from now, laying out in their bikinis (full coverage bikinis, of course), listening to music on their future invention non-ipod music players, and discussing their teenage angst while Casey and I embarrass them talking about their naked bottoms toddling around the pool? Oh gosh, one of the things I most look forward to in life is embarrassing Lila in public one day.

Motorboat, Motorboat
Go so slow
Motorboat, Motorboat
Go so fast
Motorboat, Motorboat
Step on the gas!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

and the truth shall set you free

Some days, you just need to hear a little good, hard truth. Even though it might suck. Even though it might make you feel like someone doesn't understand what you are going through. Even though I sometimes want to throw myself backwards on the floor and yell like Lila when God doesn't answer the way I want, when I want.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

inspired kitchen

This week, I decided to link up with Gussy's Inspiration Workshop. Who is Gussy you might ask? Gussy is a fabulous small business owner who makes lovely ruffled things and likes to inspire the rest of us to go after dreams. Basically, she's pretty fab. 
Gussy Sews Inspiration Workshop!
This week's prompt was about where you find inspiration for your kitchen. I love my kitchen and its busy space. It holds my files, my mail, my important papers, my wine, a fridge full of yummy produce just delivered from our new produce delivery service (more on that later this week) and our fabulous colorful dishes we were gifted for our wedding. 
But I still haven't done a lot to our kitchen since we bought our house almost four years ago. We did paint it a fun bright yellow, but it has bright green laminate counter tops and I have a hard time finding wall space for more organization. I have been eying chalkboard paint for some time now and trying to convince my hubby to let me chalkboard something. 

I have one little wall in our kitchen that now holds a wall peg rack for Zaxby's leashes and brush. And underneath it, I put up a month whiteboard calendar. It is still listing dates from March-April. Clearly, I am not inspired by this calendar. I would love to try one of these fabulous chalkboard walls in our kitchen, using that wasted space for good! And organization! And To Do lists!

What is your favorite organization wall you have seen? How do you keep your kitchen organized?

One of the advantages of being disorderly is that 
one is constantly making exciting discoveries. 
~A.A. Milne

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

a perfect saturday

The smell of coffee wafting upstairs while I roll over in bed, feeling the warmth of the rising sun shine against my sheets. The sound of a little one's sing-song voice over the monitor, still waking up and snuggling with her grinch.The giggles from underneath my own preschool blanket, now draping over the head of my toddler twenty-six years later in a game of peek-a-boo.
The sounds of Miss Spider's Sunny Patch Friends drifting from the TV while we all snuggle in bed. The gulp gulp of an early morning milk sippy cup. The yummy shot of French Vanilla creamer in my first cup of coffee for the day as it rests in my hands. 
The luxury of falling back into bed with Brian's arms around me for a nap while Lila takes her own. Closing my eyes and feeling my body relax and catch up on lost hours of sleep from the week. The taste of fresh raspberries that we eat of a zip lock bag at the park in the afternoon. Not minding a little splash of cold water on our shirt as we gulp from a water bottle in the hot sun. The grit of sand on Lila's hands as she toddles around the playground, stopping to squat and touch the tan grains as she rests her tired legs still learning to take big steps. The squeals of laughter as she slides down the big blue slide.

The sweet stickiness of ice cream on our chin as we enjoy a cone at Maple View Ice Cream Farm. The faint smell of fresh cut grass and manure as we point at the cows in the fields and make moo noises. The frantic sign language for "more" as lick the last drops of Honey Toasted Almond off the spoon. 
The splash as we jump in the pool to wash off the sweat, sand and ice cream. The wide eyes as Lila feels the cold water on her shoulders. The first tentative jump off the edge of the concrete into my waiting arms in the water below. Her frantically kicking legs trying to tread water but knowing all the while that my hands are below her, holding her safe. 
The cuteness of her ruffled bathing suit bottom, plump with her wet swim diaper fills my heart with joy. The chlorine taste on my husband's lips prompts me to love with everything in my heart. The Saturday that reminds me to breath in and out and celebrate our life. 

Let go of the past and go for the future. 
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. 
Live the life you imagined.
~Henry David Thoreau

Friday, June 3, 2011

round two

I am so blessed to have friends with little ones all at the same stage of life as me. The Four Pack as we call them are made up of (from left to right below): Daisy and mama Casey, Lila and mama Me, Raelyn and momma Jen, Sam and mama Lindsey. They are actually in their reverse birth order here :-)
These sweet baby friends were all born within seven weeks of each other and watching them grow up together, learn to crawl together, steal toys from each other and now, walk in circles around each other has been the most fun, crazy party to watch ever. And the even better part is the fellowship between us Mommas. Having three other women all going through the learning process of being pregnant and then new moms together was an amazing blessing. We talk about what snacks they like, the best place to buy diapers, your favorite teething tip, doctors appointments and lots of cheering when they were all finally sleeping through the night.

A couple of weeks ago, the Four Pack Mommas went out to dinner for the first time sans babies since back when we were all pregnant. It was so fun to chat, walk around downtown Apex checking out stores, sharing funny stories and best of all, discussing Four Pack Round Two. 
That is right! Sam's momma Lindsey is expecting the first member of Four Pack Round Two! She is eighteen weeks pregnant and oh so cute with her little belly. Isn't it amazing to think that all of these kiddos will grow up with friends so close in age? I thank God that Brian and I get to be in such an awesome group of friends and can't wait to hear whether Sam is having a little brother or sister soon!

Have you never, when waves were breaking, watched children at sport on the beach,
With their little feet tempting the foam-fringe, till with stronger and further reach
Than they dreamed of, a billow comes bursting, how they turn and scamper and screech!
~Alfred Austin

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

the red circle of death

Target is our drug of choice. As I told the overly chatty bagger today as he rang up my groceries and toothpaste and baby wipes, I cannot get out of Target for less than $70. My total at the end of the cart? $70.82. No joke. Every stinking time.

My trick for making it through The Red Circle of Death, as Brian and my bank account call it, is keeping Lila full of snacks. As long as that girl has something to munch on, we can make it all the way from one end of the store to the other. I might even get a chance to peruse the 30% off rack for a new shirt for me!

Our two favorite Target snacks of choice are Annie's Bunny Graham Crackers

and bananas
I cannot find Annie's crackers anywhere other than Target. And do not leave me a comment telling me I can find them at Whole Foods because, duh, but I obviously do not shop at stores where they try to sell me weeds I cannot pronounce and call it food. Or where I can drop $20 at the salad bar without even trying. Annie's are organic snacks with very little nonsense ingredients for kids. And Lila loves those little bunnies more than her Grinch stuffed animal. Which is saying a lot. I'm not gonna lie, I like to snag a couple bunnies while we wait in the checkout line. The trick is to let her eat them out of the box. Which is way more interesting than our snack cups.

Our other Target trick? Bananas. Straight out of the peel. Lila likes to take bites off the banana in between frantically signing "more" by tapping her fingers together. I have seen old ladies fall over and die in the toilet paper aisle from the cuteness of those sad little eyes and those tapping fingers begging for more fiber. The really fun part is when you get to explain to a bored 16 year old checker how they have to re-weigh one of the bananas because your daughter ate it in the store. "Wait, she already ate one? Before you bought it?" Yes, get over it and just take one of the bananas out of the bag.

PS- when I was googling bananas I spent fifteen minutes looking at hilarious photos of dancing bananas until this gem caught my eye. Enjoy.
It would be nice if the Food and Drug Administration stopped issuing warnings about toxic substances and just gave me the names of one or two things still safe to eat.
~Robert Fuoss