Archive | August, 2013

Work Shower: Hostess Gifts & Elliott’s New Ride

30 Aug

This Tuesday, Baby Elliott was showered with lots of “we care about you” vibes from my generous co-workers at Dillards.com. I’ve been lucky enough to work at Dillard’s for over 2 years, and I’m so thankful for the relationships I’ve built there.

Elliott got a diaper motorcycle, how cool is that?

Elliott got a diaper motorcycle, how cool is that?

There are writers who have challenged me to tighten my style for stronger, better copy, shoe team leaders who have guided me in how to seamlessly link copy and art and of course, a talkative lunch bunch who have let me vent, share life stuff and just be me every day.

My co-workers stayed true to form when they honored my boys (love saying that!) and me this week. With a bottle drying rack, steamer, penguin baby tub and full line of Johnson & Johnson products, I think I can safely say that Elliott will have clean bottles AND a clean body (whew).

There was even one group who pooled their hard-earned cash and bought us the fancy stroller that I got it into my head to register for – the B-Agile from Britax. It’s just so cool. You can drive it with one hand, fold it up in seconds and carry it without breaking a sweat (even if you have spaghetti arms like me).

photo (41)

Ike on Dad duty!

The only creature who didn’t seem to approve was (you guessed it) Buster. Hater of bikes, scooters and skateboards, Buster showed consistent disdain for the sporty B-Agile. But we took him and it out on a spin Thursday morning and he didn’t growl or try to attack it once, success!

And final thanks go out to my sister-in-law Katie, who came to my rescue with super-cute tags for the hostess gifts. I love how after a text from me, she was willing to dive into Pinterest and her scrapbooking supplies to produce such a great product!

photo (44)

Baking is my love language: so my hostesses got some sugar cookies!

My hostesses also get a big thanks. I really appreciate all the work (and cookies) they put into the event. I’m lucky to have such great friends!

photo (42)

That’s it for this week. Don’t be jealous, but I’m spending the Labor Day weekend at the BEACH!! Let’s hope it is just not a literal “labor day” for my 30-week pregnant self:) I’ll be back with stories and pictures soon.

photo (43)

5 Years and Counting, plus places to stuff your face in Fayetteville

23 Aug

Amongst all the gushy declarations made on our 5th anniversary adventure to northwest AR, I think my favorite came from Ike: “At this point, we’re stuck with each other.” I couldn’t have put it any better myself.

Big smiles before our big dinner at James at the Mill.

Big smiles before our big dinner at James at the Mill.

After 5 (glorious) years of marriage, I’m left wondering what my life would be without this man. He’s the person who spends extra time in the morning making me a separate pot of decaf, the guy who buys me flowers when I have to get excessive blood drawn and that special someone who helps me with freelance projects when I’ve bitten off more than I can chew.

Eagerly awaiting our food.

Eagerly awaiting our food.

We wake up talking, spend all day im-ing and then discuss our days on the way home. He’ll even come with me shopping.

I guess my life would be a decaf and flowerless wasteland filled with too much work and not enough talking? Bleak.

Not to say there haven’t been bumps on the road. We’ve dealt with our share of job loss with a special side serving of long-term hospitalization. We even get in fights now and again, and he holds the special honor of being the person I can get most ridiculously mad at. He’s seen me at my worst, but doesn’t resent me for it. And he can guide me gently out of those behavior ruts that make me feel guilty.

Picturesque view of the inn from James at the Mill.

Picturesque view of the inn from James at the Mill.

Even on our love nest weekend, we got in a spat over where to eat on Saturday night. We had made reservations to try out Tusks and Trotter. But after our fabulous 5-star dinner at James at the Mill (with a 5-star price tag to match) the night before, I was starting to doubt our choice. This Tusks place had a lot of large, meaty entrees for over $20 a pop.

Even the bread was fancy. Didn't stop me from eating it, though.

Even the bread was fancy. Didn’t stop me from eating it, though.

I just couldn’t imagine feeling good about a heavy meal with a hefty price. So, on the way to the restaurant I started to drop those subtle wife hints. “Are you sure you want to eat at this place?” “I don’t know what I feel like ordering there” and so on. Yes, I know. Even after 5 years, I still forget that being upfront is the best policy in a man-woman relationship.

My fancy chicken meal at James at the Inn. I really dug the risotto.

My fancy chicken meal at James at the Inn. I really dug the risotto.

Perceptive man that he is, Ike soon realized I wanted to ditch our reservation. At which point, I immediately reversed my position, and kept repeating, “No, it’ll be fun, let’s do it.” To which he emphatically refused.

We finally ended up in a McDonald’s parking lot at a “where should we eat standoff.” Ike knew he couldn’t have fun at a place I wasn’t going to enjoy, so (to my protestations) we picked another place.

photo (30)

Really fancy chicken fried steak!

The night ended with seriously good grilled cheese sandwiches at Hammontree’s and apple pie at a local coffee shop. A sweet and savory conclusion to what could have been a disastrous evening. A testament to our maturing relationship? I think so.

Other trip highlights:

Our cozy room at the Inn at the Mill. I think we both enjoyed the robes more than anything.

photo (27)

The aforementioned 5-star dinner at James at the Mill. Banana cake finished our feast.

The waiter said it was the chef's grandma's recipe. This lady knew what she was doing.

The waiter said it was the chef’s grandma’s recipe. This lady knew what she was doing.

Of course we ended up here on Saturday morning.

photo (32)

From Washington to Warhol, Crystal Bridges did not disappoint.

They also have a cool Washington exhibit going on until September 30th, lots of hand-written notes and such.

They also have a cool Washington exhibit going on until September 30th, lots of hand-written notes and such.

photo (34)

And seriously, why didn’t I think of an entire restaurant built around grilled cheese?

photo (35)

This: an amazing cookie sandwich from Rick’s Bakery. I don’t think I can die completely satisfied with my cookie consumption without another one.

photo (36)

Don’t want to forget the fancy crepes we had at Arsaga’s (like seriously mine had chocolate ganache, swoon).

I adore sweet breakfast. This definitely hit the spot.

I adore sweet breakfast. This definitely hit the spot.

Before we headed home, we got lost in a huge used book store! Elliott won the day here. I got two baby-centric books and that’s it.

photo (38)

Enjoy your weekend! I get to spend mine celebrating my new baby cousin, Corinne. I should be back soon with more, thrilling life updates. Until then!

28 weeks. Hello 3rd trimester.

28 weeks. Hello 3rd trimester.

Current Thoughts: Homemade Granola & Natural Childbirth

9 Aug

The ramification of February 16, 2012 – our wreck – still likes to rear its not-so-pretty head every once in awhile. Case in point: not only did I learn I was slightly anemic and had to take the 3-hour glucose test at my last appointment, but my doctor told me that the anesthesiologists at our hospital wanted me to come in and talk to them about my back surgery/epidural potential.

Whew. Talk about an intense 15 minutes. It led up to a movie-worthy break down during breakfast. I think I scared poor Ike as I ripped up the instructions for the glucose test outside of Chick-Fil-A (yes, unfortunately this DID happen) and spitefully refused to eat my hashbrowns.

My prize for sucking it up and taking the 3-hour test. Ike is the BEST.

My prize for sucking it up and taking the 3-hour test. Ike is the BEST.

Thankfully, Ike still loves me AND I passed the glucose test (yay for eating ice cream in the 3rd trimester!). And in an effort to add more iron in my diet, I changed prenatal vitamins (no more chewies for me), bought a ton of spinach and attempted to snack on pumpkin seeds and dried apricot.

Unfortunately, baby E thinks pumpkin seeds are disgusting. So I only ate about 3 of the 1/4 C serving before giving up in disgust. But I didn’t want to waste the entire bag of treats or the iron potential, so I went to the internetz for a pumpkin seed solution.

After a few minutes, I had a lightbulb moment: homemade granola. If I’m honest with myself, and I like to be, granola bars are my very fave snack. So why not incorporate iron rich foods into something I already like?

The finished product! Click here for the inspiration blog. Thanks The Naptime Chef!

The finished product! Click here for the inspiration blog. Thanks The Naptime Chef!

I knew I found a winner when this recipe had pumpkin seeds AND dried apricots. I’ve been snacking on the bars all week, and I have to say, they are pretty yum. My only critique? A little too salty. Next time (and there will be a next time), I’ll back down from a 1/2 tsp for sure.

But the rest of the concept is great, especially the peanut butter/honey/rice crispy combo. Plus, they were super easy to make, stayed together much better than I thought they would AND disguise the taste of the dreaded pumpkin seed. Success!

If I get adventurous, I may try this delectable sounding pumpkin granola from skinny taste:

This looks yum!

This looks yum!

But it takes more fancy ingredients than I was willing to risk for my current projects. But along with homemade salad dressing, homemade cereal could be a fun upcoming project!

Ok, now back to the natural childbirth musings. After talking to an exceptionally helpful doctor, I was assured that despite my spinal fusion, I’m very likely to experience a “pain-free” birth with an epidural.

After seriously considering natural childbirth (by force, but still), I still think I might go for the drugs. Although The Business of Being Born (yes, that is how I spent last Friday night) makes a compelling argument for the beauty and even safety of natural childbirth, I just don’t know if I want to be in so much pain. And that’s my right.

Watch it, but be warned, you get to see ALL of Ricki Lake.

Watch it, but be warned, you get to see ALL of Ricki Lake.

As far as birth plans go, I would NOT like to be induced and to NOT have a C-section, and I’m really going to try and hold out for as long as possible on the drugs, but I’m not going to feel like a failure if (when) I go for relief.

My mom had an epi with me, and I don’t blame her one bit. I don’t have any weird disorders, and I’d say we’ve bonded pretty well over the last 27 years.

Bottom line: I want a healthy baby! So even if this rudimentary plan is derailed, the outcome will still be wonderful if we both come out healthy and happy.

Here’s the details on the granola if you want em:

Mix all of these in a bowl:

Dry ingredients, so healthy, I think.

Dry ingredients, so healthy, I think.

1/4 C sunflower seeds (I think I bought some salted ones which could have contributed to my problem)

1/4 C unsalted roasted peanuts (oops, on the salted again)

1/4 C raw pumpkin seeds

3/4 C Rice Krispies

1/4 C sliced dried apricots

1/4 C dried cranberries (I skipped this this time, but I’m sure it would be great with them)

1/2 tsp sea salt (start with less!)

1/2 tsp cinnamon

The BEST part.

The BEST part.

Microwave these two in a big glass bowl for 30 seconds.

1/4 C peanut butter

1/4 C honey

Add your nutty mixture to the honey/peanut butter. Press delish gooey mixture into a waxed paper-lined loaf pan. Cover with plastic wrap and gently press down so your mixture spreads evenly. Finally, cover again with plastic and stick in the fridge. Let it firm up for at least 2 hours. Cut into (nearly equal) bars.

photo (22)

I keep mine in the fridge and just get out what I want for the day. I think they’ll stay better formed that way.

I’ve taken up enough of your time, so I’ll say goodbye and have a great weekend!