What’s For Dinner

Feb 17, 2011 by

I’m no food blogger, but I definitely need to share what I made for dinner.  I guess you can expect more of these posts the further along I get in this pregnancy, because boy am I HUNGRY! 🙂

The main course was Ravioli with Sweet Potatoes and Thyme.  I found this recipe in Real Simple last year and it is simple, easy and delicious!

Ravioli with Sweet Potatoes and Thyme
1 lb. sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 (16-18 oz) package frozen cheese ravioli
1 tbsp olive oil
Goat Cheese

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Combine sweet potatoes, olive oil and thyme in baking dish.  Season with salt and pepper.  Bake for 35-40 min. covered.
2. Boil pasta.  Reserve 1/3 cup pasta water.  Drain pasta, then combine pasta, reserved pasta water and sweet potatoes.
3. Sprinkle with goat cheese (if desired) and serve.

Apologies for the tiny picture!
The real kicker, though, was dessert.  I tried Tricia Yearwood’s Key Lime Cake recipe…O.M.G.  The pictures will never do it justice, but here is the recipe so you can see for yourselves:

1 3-ounce package lime-flavored gelatin

1¹/3 cups granulated sugar

2 cups sifted all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

5 large eggs, slightly beaten

1½ cups vegetable oil

¾ cup orange juice

1 tablespoon lemon juice

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

½ cup Key lime juice (from about 25 small Key limes or 4 large regular limes)

½ cup confectioners’ sugar (AKA powdered sugar)


½ cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature

1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature

1 1-pound box confectioners’ sugar

(I used Betty Crocker, from the can, and I’d recommend having 2 cans on hand if you like frosting!)

Here are two quick pictures.  Apologies again for the small pictures!

The chocolate covered strawberry was leftover from my Valentine’s Day dinner.
They are surprisingly easy to make as well!



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This is Real Life

Jan 20, 2011 by

Adam and I celebrated our third wedding anniversary yesterday.  Thank you all for the kind Facebook comments and well wishes.  I commented with all the cliches, “time flies,” “it feels like yesterday,” “I can’t believe it’s been three years,” and etc.  Although they are all true, they’re kind of boring.  Instead of rehashing the same dull cliches, here’s a highlight reel from January 19, 2008.

-Busting the zipper on my wedding dress as soon as I sat down at the head table…because it was -4 degrees outside and now I was inside and it was “hot.”
-The reception manager’s face when I asked if she could turn on the A/C due to it being so “hot.”
-Kristin crying in the bathroom…because she was afraid the winery was “out of wine.”
-Sleepke passed out in the Tahoe for most of the reception, despite it being -4 degrees.
-Adam hamming it up during the vows, making sure everyone heard him repeat “For richer OR POORER.”
-Friend of the family being so drunk she ate pizza after it fell face-down on the floor.
-Mom hearing “Baby Got Back” for the first time and declaring it her favorite song ever.

-And, most importantly, a big thank you to all our friends and relatives who, despite the weather, very long drives, beauty pageants, the flu, morning sickness and being almost 9 months pregnant, still made it to celebrate with us.

Now, as great as our wedding day was, everyone knows that the longer you’re married, the more likely it is that the “honeymoon is over.”  (You knew I couldn’t leave out the best cliche of all!)

Here is how we’ve spent our first few anniversaries:
-Honeymoon: Aruba
-1st Anniversary: Galena, bed and breakfast, skiing, drinking wine and relaxing
-2nd Anniversary: Celebrated ahead of time by going back to Aruba over New Year’s

Anniversary three…a little different.  The weekend before, we headed to Bloomington to visit with friends and meet a new baby.  The day before our anniversary, we went to Champaign for an Illini game and spent three hours on a slick, ice- and snow-covered road trying to get home.  We were tired.

Day of our anniversary:
-Discuss making a reservation at Biaggi’s in Bloomington
-Decide we are losers and tired of driving
-Discuss where to eat instead
-Decide Grizzly’s is not romantic
-Decide to put on sweatpants, make homemade pizza and watch American Idol
-Realize how many commercials American Idol has this year, switch to Hardcore Pawn instead
-Watch AI on DVR, complain about commercials and judge’s judging ability (Did you SEE the first two who made it to Hollywood?  YIKES.)
-Go to bed.

We rock. 

Side note: In case anyone missed it, a big congratulations goes out to Nicole S. for her winning comment in last week’s Shutterfly giveaway.  Thanks to everyone who entered and stay tuned for more giveaways in the future.

We are leaving soon for the Bahamas (celebrating our anniversary in less loser-like fashion) so I will be away from the blog for awhile.  Hopefully, Adam, Homer Gene and I will return tanned (except HG) and refreshed! 

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Pregnancy Top 10 + Giveaway!

Jan 11, 2011 by

I made a little list, just for fun, of the top 10 things I wish someone told me (beforehand) about pregnancy.  Hopefully this list will make you laugh, and provide some helpful tips for anyone thinking about becoming a parent, or in the throes of pregnancy along with me!

10. What to Expect…When You’re Reading “What to Expect”
This book is known as the #1 Best-Selling baby book of all time.  I had some questions about it ahead of time because many of the things women today “just know” came from the “rules” in this book; things like not to use a hot tub while pregnant, not to use Advil, etc. 

What I didn’t know is that this book is really hit or miss.  Some women swear by it, couldn’t have lived without it…other (ME!) hated every second of the parts they did read, and didn’t bother to finish it because it’s a waste of time.

Reasons I hated it:
A) There is a disproportionately large portion of the beginnning of the book describing what to do if you are pregnant and addicted to cocaine, how to stop using, resources to help you accomplish that goal, etc.  Now, that is a serious problem (if you have it) but I’m going to venture a guess that most women who become pregnant are not, in fact, addicted to coke (unless you’re talking about the kind in a red can), and it would be much more helpful to have a large section discussing how to cut back on caffeine, sushi, coffee, anything else that an average woman might consume on a regular basis.  Quit wasting time with coke. 

B) I still have not figured out why this author is the #1 Best-Selling author of baby books.  She is not a doctor, nurse or involved in the medical profession in any way.  She does not have a degree of any kind in child/human studies/development.  WHY is she the utmost authority on pregnancy??  I don’t know about any of you, but it’s hard to take anything she says seriously.

C) All the “rules” I mentioned previously…they’re not all true.  Doctors have varying opinions on varying topics, so I tend to trust them (again, they have DEGREES, PRACTICE, and a hell of a lot of years of SCHOOLING) more than some random chick who’s had two kids and is suddenly an expert.

9. Morning Sickness: A Misnomer

I really believe the term “morning sickness” came about because it sounds cute…well, cuter than “Could be Any Time of Day and You May Just WISH You Were Sick.” 

See, a lot of people warned me that morning sickness could creep up on you at any time and that some lucky bitches…er…people don’t get it at all.  What I didn’t know is that you can have what is considered “morning sickness” but not throw up.  Before I was pregnant, I had this crazy thought that if I ended up with morning sickness once I was pregnant, it wouldn’t be a big deal because puking was my go-to strategy when I drank too much in college.  Vomit does not gross me out in any way.  So, naturally, I end up with the worst possible situation (for me, at least): spending the whole day nauseated and WISHING I could just throw up and get it over with, but unable to do so. Of course, this leads in to…

8. Battle of the Opposites

What I mean by this is that pretty much whatever goes on with your health in your regular life, you will have the opposite happen while pregnant.  For example, I had great skin (perhaps partially due to birth control) for most of my life.  Little acne here and there, nothing noteworthy.  Then I got pregnant.  BAM!  I turn into Zitzilla, Acne Queen of Goofy Ridge.  Only now I can’t do anything about it, because all the zit creams are against the “rules.”  Good thing I threw those rules out the window.  Example number 2 (pun intended): You’ve all heard about my digestive issues in the past.  Let’s just say I now have the opposite problem in a major way.  Prenatal vitamins block you up, being pregnant slows your digestion down, which has the same effect…suddenly I’m spending hours in the bathroom praying TO go instead of my usual “Dear God, make it stop!!!”  Not cool!

There has been one exception that I’m not sure how I feel about just yet: my fat gut.  Now before you all write comments about how I should be proud of my body and not worry about how I look, just calm down and let me explain.  Pregnant people get fat guts, OK, I get it.  That’s totally fine with me, in fact, I should be USED TO IT, right? 🙂  But this has been my one exception to the Battle of the Opposites…my stomach is getting bigger every day.  I didn’t expect it to shrink, but I really thought no matter how big my stomach got, there would still be that protective layer of fat on top of it.  I don’t know what happened but that fat has turned hard as a rock.  Too bad it won’t stay that way forever.  So I guess there are SOME health issues that won’t be opposite. 

7. Maternity Pants SUCK!

I assumed that I would just wake up one day and POW! my pants wouldn’t fit.  Luckily, my penchant for leggings saved the day, because I was exactly right.  I woke up one day, thankfully not a day that I needed to be anywhere in a hurry, and tried on 3 pairs of pants before I figured out the dryer was not the problem.  Enter the super stretch waistband maternity pants.  Here is where I went wrong.  I also assumed that if your regular pants do not fit, no big deal, you could just go straight to maternity pants and they would be great.  WRONG!  Maybe my ass is too small, maybe maternity pants are only made for people who are in the 3rd trimester, I don’t know, but these pants are terrible.  I’d tell you the brand, but I have several and they all have the same issue: SDB, saggy diaper butt.  There are not enough Be-Bands, Bella Bands, Belly Bands, etc. in the world to hold these pants up.  By the end of the day, I have enough room in my pants for a fully loaded pair of Depends and a large penis.  Moral of the story: You are going to have to buy new clothes in your third trimester anyway (if for no other reason than you’ll be in a different season and have to change styles accordingly) so the “bigger is better” rule does NOT apply to pants.  Buy your regular size and be HAPPY! 

6. Baby Message Boards…More Hurtful than Helpful

There are a million of them out there, babycenter.com, whattoexpect.com, etc. etc.  Sometimes you will luck out and find some helpful tips, but most of the time it’s just a bunch of psychotic hormonal freaks trying to see who they can make burn through a box of Kleenex the fastest.  Seriously, they are mean! 

5. Everyone’s a Critic

Speaking of baby message boards, beware of the critics.  There are some nutty people out there, and everyone truly believes their way is the “right” way and therefore will argue to the death that you are wrong, going to be a bad mom, stupid, ignorant, etc…and those are the nice terms.  God forbid you decide to do something “unnatural” like circumcise your son, formula feed or require a c-section…they’ll be all over you! 

And this isn’t even going into the opinions of family members.  Good grief!  Luckily, I have a really supportive family who I know will answer any questions I have…but that doesn’t mean there haven’t been disagreements.  Last week I had to “explain myself” because I drink milk that (at the time) I wasn’t sure whether it came from cows who were given growth hormones.  In truth, I don’t care that much, and it turned out the milk does not come from the Sammy Sosas of cattle, but the mere fact that I had to hear about it surprised me.  People mean well overall…but make sure not to ask for opinions on something if you’re not willing to take some criticism once in awhile.  I’ve decided to do whatever is best for me and my family, and whatever that is, everyone else will just have to deal with it.

4. Cheap Entertainment that Doesn’t Involve Drinking? Message Boards!

I know this might sound like a contradiction, but if you can handle the 24/7 drama-rama, there are some good laughs to be had on the message boards.

A few weeks ago, a woman asked if it was safe, now that she’s pregnant, to continue using her vibrator.  Now this is not just any vibrator.  Apparently, and I didn’t get all the details, it is some special kind of vibrator that you do not remove while having sex.  She wanted to know if it would hurt the baby if she continued to use it.  Call me a prude, but if I had that type of question…I don’t think I’d ask (or trust) the advice of total strangers on the internet.  Not to mention…if I can give up Captain Morgan for 9 months, which I guarantee I used more than this lady uses her vibrator, is it really so terrible to have to lay off the sex toys for 9 months?  Weirdo.

My other personal favorite is the first time mom, 19 so she knows everything, who asked if it was “wrong” to want to have a c-section because she is afraid of ripping or having to get an episiotomy.  THIRTY EIGHT PAGES later she finally saw the hypocrisy in her question: it’s a little ridiculous to be afraid of a one inch tear “down there” and yet wish for a much larger cut in your abdomen, through 7 layers of skin and muscle tissue.  Luckily, she finally realized she may be 19 but she does not know everything.

3. Superman vs. Super Jerk

From what I’ve gathered through speaking with several pregnant friends, you’re either going to love your husband a lot more, or hate his baby-making guts.  Fortunately, I have a great husband who is very understanding and really relaxed about all the stupid “rules.”  He asks if I want a glass of wine when he has one, he tells me to go ahead and eat turkey sandwiches, etc etc. 

With that being said, it’s important to remember one piece of advice a friend DID tell me long before I was pregnant.  Although it’s not their fault, men just don’t get it.  Women get pregnant and their whole life changes rapidly.  Everything from your diet to your clothes to your skin care regimen to your outlook on life…it’s all different now.  You are bonding with that baby every second of every day; and most importantly, you are a MOM.  Right now.  Men…they’re not growing a baby inside, their diet and clothes do not change (unless THEY are eating for two), so they do not have the same bond with the baby.  They can’t get it, it’s not their fault.  So ease up on them a little, OK ladies?  Once that baby shows up, everything changes again…if that baby doesn’t have them wrapped around it’s little finger, they’re at least stalking through the house in their ugly jeans and dad shoes turning off light bulbs and complaining about doors not being shut properly.  Enjoy this phase while you can!  🙂

2. Needle Gut

This isn’t as foreboding as it sounds, but it’s important to know.  Your ligaments stretch to accommodate the baby, and the most important ligament stretching to occur involves the ligaments in your pelvis.  Unfortunately, what they don’t tell you is that these “stretches” feel like a sharp needle stab right in the pelvis.  It can occur at any time, simply from getting out of bed or shifting in your chair.  And let me tell you, when it happens, yikes!  It’s over quickly, thank the Lord, but it’s a surprise each and every time. 

1. There are No Congressional Medals of Honor for Being Tough

Here’s the truth about all the “rules” regarding things you can and can’t do, eat, breathe, etc. (check with your own doctor first!):
-You can eat cold deli meat, just be sure you’re not eating it out of a dumpster
-You can have a glass of wine once in awhile.  Moderation is key, and not just in this rule.
-You can take hot baths and get in the hot tub.  If you turn down the hot tub to body temperature, it cannot hurt your baby, though you still shouldn’t stay in there for hours.  I will say that a 98 degree hot tub feels like a luke warm pool and, in my opinion, isn’t worth it…but to each their own.  Our bodies are a wonderful thing, and they will let you know if you are overheating. 
-You are not going to hurt your baby if you have an epidural or any other drugs during delivery.
-You cannot paint, the fumes are toxic.
-MASON COUNTY ONLY: DO NOT drink the tap water.  It is not safe for pregnant women.  Period. 

Now for the best part: THE GIVEAWAY!

Leave your best piece of information, advice, etc. in the comments or on the Facebook page, and the best one will win a $20 gift card to Shutterfly!  Contest ends Friday, Jan. 14th, 2011 at 8:00 AM!  You do not have to be currently pregnant to win!  Good luck!

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More Changes Coming…Soon?

Jan 11, 2011 by

Big changes, lots of changes!

I don’t want to pull a Verizon and lie to you all about when this is going to happen, because the truth is I don’t know yet.  I am currently working with a marketing and design wonder woman on redesigning this site in a lot of ways.  I just wanted to prepare you all.  We’ll have a new design, a logo and more!  I realize this is not that exciting for a lot of you readers, but it’s pretty freakin’ cool for me! 

One of the coolest things I’m going to start doing is giveaways!  Look for the first one coming up later on this afternoon!

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Project Life

Jan 6, 2011 by

Yes, this is another scrapbooking post. 

This scrapbooking post, however, contains a new form of scrapbooking that, although it may not have changed my life, definitely, 100%, erased my fears of scrapbooking.  See, I went to school for advertising, so a lot of people think that I must be really creative.  And maybe I am, with words…but when it comes to design…not so much.  I know what I like, but I never know how to get there.  My sister is a wonder woman when it comes to these things, but I can’t call her every time I don’t know whether to use paste or double-sided tape.  (I’m sure she’s reading this now, thinking, “You NEVER use paste in a scrapbook, dummy!”)

This revolution is called Project Life.  Project Life was created by another wonder woman named Becky Higgins.  She is the ultimate scrapbooker, even formerly worked for a scrapbooking magazine.  (Yes there are MAGAZINES for this shit.  Who knew?)  What Becky tapped into, that changed everything, is that there were a LOT of people like me out there.  People with boxes of old photos, eons of hopes and dreams and plans to organize them all…later.  And those of you who’ve been watching my new favorite channel, OWN, know that Peter Walsh says “later” is the best friend of clutter.  Touche, Peter, touche.
So let’s get to it.  Becky is so awesome that she even has a video showing you a lot of what I’m showing you below.  Here is the video.  To me, Project Life is a kit that allows you to seamlessly and effortlessly organize all your photos without the hassle of: A) design work and B) a $300 trip to Hobby Lobby for supplies.  The most common way people (including Becky herself) use the kit is to take one photo every day for the year, and put them all in the Project Life kit.  If that sounds too daunting, you can use it for a baby’s first year album (which I intend to do for Homer Gene) and just put a selection of the 2 billion photos from baby’s first year in the album, rather than taking one a day.  You can use it for a school year, for a summer trip, for a holiday album, whatever you want.  That’s the beauty of Project Life, you can organize it HOWEVER.YOU.WANT.  No rules!  You know I love that! 🙂

The kit comes with a 3-ring binder, plastic sleeves to hold all the photos for each week, title cards for each week, month dividers, journaling cards so you can have captions and notes for all the photos, a date stamp so you can date each title card or anything else you want, bi-fold journaling cards for those times when you just have a little more to say (or, like me, have big handwriting), arrow stickers to point from photos to notes if you choose to, several sheets of double-sided cardstock for whole page designs, and more! 

Now if you’re technologically savy, or just plain don’t want all that “paper crap” (as Adam says) loitering in your closets, there is also an online version, which is a little more expensive…BUT you don’t have to print out each week’s photos, you just upload them to your computer like you normally would and use the Project Life program to build an album.  So the cost pretty much evens out.  (Side note: This is another place you could use your very own handwriting font that I mentioned here.) 

There are two choices for the color scheme of this year’s Project Life kit: The Amber Edition and the Turquoise Edition.  The Amber edition is a little more yellow (obviously) and warm color-toned, and a little more flowery/girlie.  Hopefully Homer will turn out to be a boy, because I bought the Turquoise Edition to use for his baby’s first year album.  The Turquoise edition is more cool-toned, shapes, graphics, browns, blue/teals and reds.  If Homer turns out to be a girl, I will either use it anyway, or make my own version online and use the kit for a general 2011 album (yes, I’m doing TWO Project Life albums this year, I like it that much!). 

I took some photos of my Turquoise Edition kit after it arrived in the mail, so that all of you can see what I’m talking about.

The Project Life kit
The Turquoise Edition binder
Some of the journaling cards
Close up of some journaling cards
Title/Date cards
Decorating cards for fun
Bi-fold cards for when you need to write more & the date stamp
Month dividers
Full page double-sided cardstock
Photo divider sleeves
One other tip, especially if you are design-challenged like me, check out the Project Life website for ideas on what to do with all this stuff, how to arrange it, cool layouts and etc.  It really helps.  I’ll be posting pictures of my layouts once I get started, so you all can see.  Just don’t expect them to be pretty. 🙂
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