Saturday, June 27, 2009

My Decorating Mantra

This is a picture of my laundry space. It's just off the entrance to the garage, across from a half-bath and enclosed with two doors that fold back to conceal it. One day I felt the urge to paint the area - my husband suggested the same pale blue as the half-bath, for consistency's sake. Once painted, I loved the way the once-dull washer and dryer looked against the blue background. I added buckets I found at Ikea and a postcard a friend had given me once when I recounted my experience of taking ballet in college and the first time we used the barre. Everytime I look at the postcard I think of my friend, and my ballet experience.

I have found that although small details like those in my laundry area may seem insignificant, they can have a big impact on the overall feel of your home. In every room in my house, I try to add small, personal touches that are meaningful to me and put my "stamp" on the finished product. I try to not brush off an idea, even if it may seem small and silly, because those are the things that make a room - and in turn, your whole house - uniquely yours.
With this thought in mind, I have come up with the phrase, "Unexpected details in unexpected places" as my overall goal for decorating my home. My laundry space is the perfect illustration of this phrase, which is why I share it with you today. Another example - I am looking for a small chandelier to hang in the walk-in closet in my bedroom. I want something almost like you would hang in a child's room - not big at all. About a year ago I painted the closet a creamy color and touched up the trim with white paint, and it's really quite lovely now (for a closet!). I think a chandelier would be the perfect finishing touch and, although silly to some (including my husband), to me it makes even a closet feel special and makes getting dressed into an event.

So good luck to you in incorporating personal details throughout your home!

On another note, I mentioned previously that I had a list of projects I was hoping to work my way through over the summer. Yesterday I checked two off my list: 1) cleaning fan blades and soaking the glass globes around the light bulbs to get all the dirt off and 2) cleaning behind the refridgerator. Both are not part of my normal cleaning routine, but boy - it was time! The refridgerator was especially gross and when I pulled the refridgerator out from the wall and got a look at the sides, those could use a good wipe down too! We're talking some major grime!

I'm glad I did both chores so now I can forget about them until a few summers from now when I put it on another project list!


I am so excited! I have been looking for a cute apron for a year now, I feel like I would enjoy cooking even more if I had a lovely apron on. Today was the day! I have seen many for $40+ and was unwilling to put out the bucks. But look at these!

On sale now at World Market for $15!!! I bought the first one and can't wait to get baking.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

40 Weeks & 1 Day

This is what I did on my first day of being "overdue":

After lunch today, I was browsing one of my favorite blogs,, and I saw her post on pumpkin chocolate chip muffins. As it turned out, I just happen to have all the ingredients on hand (including some frozen pumpkin puree that I made myself) so I gave it a whirl. I’m so glad I did because a) they’re really good, b) I was distracted for a couple of hours, and c) I have a yummy treat to munch on as I wait for this baby. The only changes I made to the recipe was I only used a half a bag of chocolate chips (all I had in my pantry) and I baked them for 13 minutes instead of 16. Also, I got 36 muffins out of this recipe.

This week, I am going to try to make more meals and snacks with items I already have in my pantry. It’s quite satisfying!


Making it special...but not girly!

I always get flustered before a holiday for my husband because I feel like it is easier to buy gifts and plan special evenings for women. We like flowers, jewelry, candy, cheesy thoughtful get the picture. But what for a man?

This Father's Day I was reminded that until kids are quite a lot older, the day is really much more about wives showing their husbands how much they appreciate the men and fathers they are. I decided I could give my husband a special dinner and make him feel special, and do it in a way that was decisively more "manly." No lacy tablecloths and tall candle sticks.

1- Special thought from our kiddo. I woke up early, lined our table in brown paper and inked up our toddler's feet. To work we went and produced a lovely "table cloth" of a more thoughtful and casual variety.

2- I bought galvanized buckets to decorate with. I did intend to use flowers, seasonal from our yard, but was bummed to realize an hour before dinner that the 100+ degree weather the last couple of weeks have burned many of them up. But no need to fret, we each had little buckets for our dinner trash and a festive display for drinks, lemons, limes, etc.

3- Plan the special meal. We actually enjoyed this after putting our son to bed, despite the fact the holiday at hand was Father's Day. It's worth being realistic in your expectations, when you have this kind of mess ahead of you, you don't want to have a baby to manage!
I cooked a classic shrimp and crab boil. Delicious and so fun! If you have never done one, the recipe is simple:
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 1/3 cup of crab boil seasoning or old bay, a halved lemon and some garlic. Let boil 10 minutes.
Add a few scrubbed medium red potatoes, let boil 10 minutes.
Add some ears of fresh or frozen corn and your favorite hot sausage sliced in 1 inch pieces. Boil 10 min.
Add shrimp (do not peel) and/or crab legs, let boil 5 more min if fresh, 10 if frozen.
Dump and serve with corn bread. Prepare to make a mess!

Remember, it is not just our husbands' jobs to try and make us feel special. When we show them they are loved and worthy of some thought and planning, we build them up and bless them.

How can you make your husband feel special this week? I'd love to hear your ideas in the comment section!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

10 Things about Pregnancy that Surprised Me

Here I am in my 39th week of pregnancy, hugely pregnant and awake at 4 am. With the delivery of this baby imminent, I have taken some time to reflect on this season of pregnancy as I enter in a whole new season; parenting. Here are some things about pregnancy that surprised me that I would like to share with you.

1. 1st and 2nd Trimester Morning Sickness is Horrible – Morning sickness is a hard experience. It is depressing. I so badly wanted to be happy and excited about this pregnancy, but there was something about feeling sick to my stomach all day long, throwing up in the shower, and having food be your enemy AND your friend at the same time that made it very hard. I never thought I would be sick from 5 to 17 weeks. Honestly, I thought I wouldn’t get sick at all. Boy was I wrong. I would never trade 3rd trimester hugeness and being uncomfortable for “morning” sickness.

2. Hip and Pelvic Discomfort/Pain – Ouch! Pregnant woman are gifted with a hormone called Relaxin that helps loosen and soften all your joints. Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful for this hormone – I’m glad my body is getting ready for this baby to enter this world! However, it was really shocking when I started feeling hip and pelvic discomfort – especially getting in and out of bed (which you do a lot of during the night going to the bathroom). Is this what being elderly feels like?

3. Feeling Unconnected To This Baby – I’m having a baby? What? For some reason I can’t wrap my mind around the fact that I’m having a real baby. I see my belly get large, I feel him kick and move around, my baby room is ready with diapers and onesies, yet I don’t quite grasp that I’m having a breathing, living, human being. I think this will pass quickly once he’s in my arms.

4. Maternity Clothes Can Hurt – Stay away from tight banded maternity bottoms! They may work in the beginning, but once your baby bump is noticeable it is not comfortable at all for your bump to be pushed back in your body via elastic. It makes no sense at all and it doesn’t feel good! Also, tight banded maternity bottoms encourage babies to be in a posterior position and during labor and deliver this is NOT what you want - ask anybody who has had back labor.

5. The Generosity of Friends and Family – I am blessed to know so many wonderful and amazing people and never did I expect such generosity from them. My husband and I are blown away with all the well wishes and baby gifts we have received. When it comes to baby items, we are without need. Praise God!

6. How Excited Strangers Are For Your Pregnancy – This is one that I just can’t get used to. About a month ago at the grocery store a man started laughing at me saying, “You’re smuggling a watermelon!” Just last week the SAME thing happened to me again! One time while at a grocery store the lady who was bagging my groceries was arguing with me about my due date. She thought that I would have this baby in May when my due date is in June. I tried to blow it off, but she kept pressing and even asking if my doctor was correct! I eventually told her I hope he won’t be born in May because then he’ll have to be in the NICU due to prematurity. Maybe I should have my husband do all the grocery shopping?

7. How I Eventually Need Help From Others – I let that same lady who was bagging my groceries and arguing with me about my due date help take my bags out to my car. As a former New Yorker who likes her personal space, this is huge.

8. It Takes a Strong Woman to Go “Overdue” – This one ties in to the well meaning comments of family, friends, and strangers. If I wasn’t a doula and didn’t have experience with how lots of women go past their due dates and how NORMAL it is, I would be feeling a lot of pressure and maybe even inadequacy at this point in my pregnancy. As a doula guru once shared with me, due dates don’t make much sense – it should be more like a due month.

9. In The End Only I Can Get This Baby Out – I know this is a DUH sort of thing, but at some point it just hit me. I can have all the support in pregnancy, labor, and delivery that any woman can have, but in the end it’s just me who has to push this baby out. This can be a lonely thought, but I see it as an experience that will stretch me as a woman and show me exactly what I am capable of.

10. I Am Not In Control – This is a good thing! This is something I am forever learning, and the experience of pregnancy reinforces this lesson tenfold. I never need to be reliant on myself, but on God’s provision, plan, and power. When I had spotting from week 10-18 in my pregnancy, at some point I just gave up worrying and gave it to God. He knew what was going on and I had to keep giving my anxieties and questions to God. Once I gave it all up (over and over again) I felt peace.

Just for fun, here's my belly at 33 weeks:

Saturday, June 13, 2009

I'm a romantic after all

I generally do not consider myself much of a romantic. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the occasional chick flick and decent book, but as a rule, I find most romance stories either too silly to resemble real relationships or so realistic that I'm not very inspired.

But I have been reading a memoir that has captured me, and all of the dreamy romanticism that a girl could hope for.

Except the romance is between a woman and a house. The journey of a place, it's history, renovating inch by inch, making a home and don't forget...the food. I cannot express the dreamy far off feelings I get as I read about the adventure of moving to somewhere so far away, restoring and uncovering an ancient home brick by brick and learning to be at home there.

I recently came across a blog of a real-live couple that is doing this very thing in France instead of Italy. It's a beautiful blog, I have linked to the particular posts relating to the historic foreign home renovation.

I can not imagine having the guts to do this, and with young children! But what a dream...not only to make something lovely, but to uncover hundreds of years of history as you restore rather than renovate a home with more history than most of us imagine in such a young nation!

Maybe you are like me and something about the beauty of timeless architecture and things that last draw you in a peculiar way. If so, you'll enjoy this book and blog as much as I have.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Great desserts with in-season-fruit

I want to challenge you to buy whatever fresh fruit is on sale at your grocery store this week and try making an easy, homemade(ish) dessert. Impress your friends, family or spouse and enjoy a serving or two yourself!

I think I have figured out why our grandmothers made fruit pies...take just about any fruit, add some sugar, a little butter and cook. You have an amazing dessert.

Here are two of my favorites, easy, quick and always impress.

#1- Using refrigerated pie crust. I buy my store's brand or Pillsbury if I have coupons. They come 2 to a package.

Simply roll one out in a pie pan, lay out slices of your favorite in season or on-sale fruit in a pinwheel pattern and fold over the edges. Slice a few thin tabs of butter around, sprinkle some brown sugar on top and bake according to pie crust directions. The fruit will get soft, serve with a little whipped cream.

I have done this with apples, peaches and strawberries, all amazing! You may have to adjust the time a bit for the type of fruit, apples longer, peaches shorter.

This is a more substantial dessert due to an oatmeal topping. This is not my recipe, so I won't take credit.

I found this searching for a recipe last fall using pomegranates since they were in peak season.
It was tasty and I had lots of requests for the recipe. I also used this recipe this summer with a bag of fresh sweet cherries. It took a bit of time I admit to pit the cherries, but it was amazing. Serve with vanilla ice cream. I also did it with peaches, not quite as good, but still tasty.

So pick a fresh fruit and try a homemade treat.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Gotta love those nuts!

I am much like Tolkien's characters the hobbits. Fortunately I don't carry the physical attributes of short, fat and hairy, but I do eat as they eat. Breakfast, second breakfast, elevenses, luncheon, afternoon tea, dinner and get the idea. I like to eat, but more specifically, I eat often. I never make it from breakfast to lunch without another snack in between. My preparedness on this point makes all the difference in the world as to the health value of my mid-morning snack.

And this brings me to one of my FAVORITE THINGS!

Emerald Deluxe Mixed Nuts

On sale this week (through tomorrow) at Publix BOGO (Buy One Get One.) They only do this every 3-4 months, so get in your car NOW and drive. These are delicious, nutritious and a fantastic way to hold over until your next meal.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

I hate sponges!

Sponges have always grossed me out but I have always assumed they were a necessary evil to cleaning. Growing up there was always a sponge by the sink to wash dishes and wipe down countertops and I have continued the tradition in my own household. Always, always, ALWAYS the smell of a sponge makes me shudder, and I feel like I can never get the smell off my hands after using one, no matter how many times I wash with soap. I'm sure the smell is all the germs and bacteria I am spreading around my kitchen, but I never knew of an alternative.

As I mentioned in a previous post, my husband and I recently cleaned out our closet and dresser drawers. There were several tee shirts that my husband got rid of and an idea dawned on me. In the past, whenever he has needed a rag to clean his tools or whatever manly things he does in the garage, I would pull out his rattiest looking undershirt and give it to him. I decided to do the same with these tee shirts we would otherwise throw away. I went through and cut them into rectangle-square shapes - I wasn't overly concerned with how good they looked, and kept the size relatively small, probably around 4"x4" or so. I had two tee shirts he was tossing and from those shirts I probably ended with close to three dozen small rags. I placed these rags in a large mason jar and stuck it under the sink.

Now whenever I am cleaning pots and pans or wiping down the countertops, I grab one of these rags and wipe away. When I am done, I hang it over the divider between the two sinks to dry. After a day or so of using, I toss it in a basket in the laundry room with all the used, dirty dish towels (we go through about one a day of them). I can now go several weeks and still not run out of rags, so I'm not constantly doing laundry. My husband was a little skeptical about this cleaning method at first and wanted the sponges back, but now he is on board too.

Incidentally, as I was cutting the shirts into rags, I remembered my grandmother's kitchen and how there is always a washcloth at the sink that she uses for washing dishes. Again, I feel like so much of my cleaning these days is getting back to the way our grandmothers' generation has always been cleaning.