Daddy is losing his room, one corner at a time!

A few short months ago, you would have seen some of the following things in our second bedroom...
I have no idea what kind of guitars are in there, but one is red.

This is Zoe's favorite chair. Did I mention both of Matt's teams have ORANGE as their team color? Subtle.

OK, I will admit that I bought this for him at a bookfair at school and love that he actually hung it up on a wall.

Now, my intention is showing you these items is not to belittle the father of my child's taste in decor. But simply to show how times are a changin'!  In the last 2 months, we have gotten Baby O's crib, her bedding, and settled on a paint color. And last night, he put the glider together, so that will replace some masculine item in the room. Slowly, the "mancave" is turning into our daughter's nursery. It is probably hard for him to pack up all of his things and find new homes for them, but he has been a great sport.

Here is our progress thus far...
The Hayley bedding from Pottery Barn Kids. Love how Grandma O. made the owl "sit like a lady"

The bedding with the paint choices. We went with the yellow (Benjamin Moore Moonlight) and will pull in accents of pink and green. I wanted bedding with many colors so that I could easily accessorize without worrying if it will match perfectly.

This is just a shot of the room from the doorway. On my right is her big huge armoire that reminds me of this guy. On my left is the wall that will have the dresser (that doubles as the changing table) and the glider.
So that's it for now!  I stay awake dreaming of how to display her name and how everything will start coming together, but I need to take it slow and don't want to push Matt completely out of the room.
**UPDATE: Check here to see the finished nursery, along with a complete source list**

Bedrest= discovering a new show

Don't panic..this "bedrest" is self-imposed. Today I had a lot of time on my hands. Ever since I got home from school yesterday, I have not felt good. Granted, I did a flash mob dance (you'll see our staff on Youtube someday, I'm sure:o), had 2 class parties, and stupidly lifted an uncooperative child off the floor. But still, I started feeling those old cramps that I felt months ago. I started to worry, had no appetite, and was in a terrible mood. This morning, I woke up and it was the first thing I felt. Ugh. So, I called the doctor, and the sweet nurse I always talk to was there for me. She said to definitely monitor for backache, decreased fetal movement, and pain increase. And she told me to drink a TON of water and lay down for the day. I can do that. Since talking to her at 10 am, I have been on the couch, only to get up every hour and drink a glass of water. It is working! And in the process, back to the title of this post...

The name of the show caught my eye. I have a "thing" for cupcakes. As in...that is the only requirement wherever I travel. I could miss seeing the major sites and it could rain the entire vacation, but I will find the city's best cupcakery. So, Cupcake Girls. First, it is about 2 powerful women (best friends) who have opened a chain of bakeries in Western Canada. They are very likable because they are not perfect at all, and they don't pretend to be. Right now, they are in "couples therapy". Even if you don't like cupcakes or think that is a stupid premise, the human interest part of the show is what has had me hooked for 4 hours. I have watched Lori go through IVF heartbreaks and triumphs, Heather's mom is honestly facing a cancer diagnosis, the managers went on a team-building camping trip, and the every day challenges of a small business are pretty interesting.

If you are looking for a 30 minute show to get hooked on, DVR Cupcake Girls on We! I'm thinking a trip to Bakery Gingham is in order this week. Baby needs a cupcake.

From our house to yours...


This was our Christmas card this year, made at Shutterfly for about $15. I am so happy with it!

Now for the funny story of my day. This morning, I saw that I had a voicemail. It was from late last night, and luckily I had the phone silenced (or I would not have recorded proof of this amazing phone call).It had made me laugh about 11 times today, and his good mood is kind of contagious! Wonder what he will think when he realizes he had the wrong number. By the way, it was a 270 area code: Kentucky.

video
Transcript:
Eggnog and Coors-infused laughter...
Ho Ho Ho! Look out for that deer!
Smallfry?
Hey buuu, its yer brother
So wanna live forever?
Kinda like ya a lil bit
Merry Christmas
Later boy!

Ode to the perfect skivvies

For years, I have been devoted to Victoria's secret cotton lowrise bikinis. They are always 5 for $25, I can load up on them during the Semi-annual sale (coming up in January!), and they last for years. Well, imagine my horror when I went to replace some (casualties caused by Sebastian), and they stopped producing them. I aimlessly walked around, wondering if I needed hot pink Santa lingerie (no) or a rhinestone bra (not really).
The table of the brightly colored lace panties caught my eye. Lace, I have noticed, is much more comfortable (especially with a growing body) than an elastic band. And it lays so close to your skin that there are no lines. Yahoo! I decided to give them a try.  Apparently, the word "lowrise" has been replaced by "hipster". So, if you want to make sure you aren't showing your beautiful new purchase, you'll want to make sure you get hipsters. I have worn them the last two days and they are what I appreciate about a good "pair of shorts", as my dad would call them. I don't notice them at all, don't see them, and then am surprised, like a nitwit, to see the pretty, fruity colors when it is appropriate!  If you need a new pair of shorts, give them a try...

It's good to set goals, right?

OK, after a LONG day of being in a meeting instead of with my kids (I missed them even though they have been bonkers this week!), I needed to make a list. Because that is what neurotic people do to calm down, energize...center myself...whatever you may call it. My list today is about goals I have before Baby O's due date...
1. Get Eagle declawed. He is ridiculous.
2. Read at least two books. I have been too tired to read, but I miss it!
3. Eat better! I need to add at least one fruit and vegetable each day and that would be a step.
4. Organize/pare down the crap in the basement. I feel like I have done this several times but it never gets better.
5. Clean out my car so she doesn't have to sit next to a box of picture books, a humidifier tank, and all the other odds and ends in the back seat.
6. Figure out some storage solutions: a) Baby needs a cabinet in the kitchen b) She needs a space in the bathroom for all her bath stuff, and c) Where will all Matt's stuff go from "his" room?!
7. Get all of my paperwork set for the renewal of my teaching certification and IPDP, both expiring in June!
8. Keep up with the baby book I put together (check the Baby Talk tab)

That's all I can think of right now. How about other mamas...what are some things I am forgetting?

Images that make me happy

It's starting to get a little stressful around here. "Around here" meaning anywhere that I happen to be, I guess. School, the roads, home, pretty much everywhere is starting to get that "I am being pulled in all directions and something has to give" feeling. So, tonight, after almost LOSING it when the cat clawed Bastian's ear and actually caused a blood-splatter pattern all over the carpet, sheets, curtains, and mattress of the bedroom, I took 3 minutes to do something I love. I took pictures of things around me that make me happy. Sounds weird, but I have found that taking and posting my simple pictures makes me very complacent. So, here are some sights of the holidays around our home...


The mantel, ready for 6. I wish they all pointed the same direction, but that's OK.


Our little tree. Hey, it's no 7.5 Douglas Fir, but it works. I actually have had it since I was a teenager and enjoy decorating it just as much as a big tree. Plus, with this cat, this is our only chance.


The first gift. This little box reminds me of "the first gift" in Polar Express. Check out what's inside...


Baby O's first hat, knitting by Nana. It is so soft and I am fascinated by how the colors change as it goes to the top...these knitting things confuse and amaze me.


Our first ornament, sent by Kristy. Hee hee!

I have to share

I wanted to entitle this "A few of my favorite things"...I think we have all heard enough of that and it is not even December yet!  However, I keep finding things (mostly food) that are too good to keep to myself. And when I find something great (or terrible!), I have to share...

Snack Factory Pretzel Crisps in Garlic Parmesan-
I am sitting here eating these as we speak (type). Yesterday, they were sampling these at Giant Eagle and I was under the impression that we were to take the entire little dessert plat of pretzels rather than stick our hand in and fish out a pretzel. A few minutes later, I heard the old man say as I walked past, "There's the woman who took the whole plate" Hahah!  Oh well, it was worth it. Regular pretzels don't do it for me, but these crispy little guys burst with flavor and one could easily down an entire bag! Right now, they are 2 for $5!

Dole Orange Peach Mango juice-
Although I order OJ when I go out to breakfast, I never drink it at home. But I am on my third carton of this nectar of the gods. It is not too sweet at all, which is what I feared. I love peach, and it is a refreshing treat I reach for instead of a piece of empty-calorie food.


Tim Horton's Candy Cane hot chocolate-
I am a huge fan of Starbucks peppermint mocha but don't enjoy paying $4 for it. Tim's has put this little 1.49 treat on the menu and it is just as good to me for a smaller pricetag!  After the first sip, I am sure I actually said "ohhhh my God" in the drive through lane.

Max & Erma's tomato mozzarella burger-
I don't mess with a good old "American" burger, but I decided to go rogue this weekend and try this new burger. I got it cooked medium well, which was perfect. It comes topped with a few fresh basil leaves, some small sliced tomatoes (which I don't even like, but I ate them on this!), and a gob of delicious mozzarella. I added a little ketchup and it was divine.

Activia peach or strawberry yogurt-
I have been eating this for several months and have to say...the commercials are true. However, you should not be afraid. It in no way makes me have to go to the bathroom all the time or have any sort of issues. It just keeps me much "healthier" than I am when I am not eating it. I notice that if I skip buying it for a week...life does not move along as it should. That's enough of my commentary on this subject...go buy yourself a few 4 packs and give it a try for a few weeks! Oh, and don't bother with the "dessert cup" version... big disappointment.

Bob Evan's chicken pot pie-
Seriously? I will never make this on my own when Bob Evans is around (sorry Jill). It is stocked with firm veggies (not mushy, not crisp), the consistency of the filling is not too creamy (a big issue I have with almost any food with a filling), and the crust is to Diiiieeeee for. Stop by and get some carryout on your way home!

I also need to add to my previous post on pumpkin foods. My friend Amber brought Baby and I a pumpkin doughnut from Dunkin Donuts. Perfection!

I am thankful for...

I always make my students write about this topic every year, and I thought it was time I do the same. Of course, I hope my answers are a little more thoughtful than "Toy Story 3" and "ice cream"...

What is more obvious than the baby? I am thankful that I had the ability to have a child, that she is healthy thus far, and that I really have had an easy pregnancy. Along these lines, I am grateful for all the kind words and acts that come along with having a baby. People are so generous and willing to help out in any way right now!  I hope they are still around after April 21st!

I am so glad for my little family. Matt has been working so hard and saving for our daughter, and is so helpful around the house. Not to mention, it is nice to enjoy the company of your partner, and I look forward to him coming home every day!  Simple things, like playing that silly golf tee game at Cracker Barrel or driving around the ritzy parts of UA to look at their lights are still fun. Though the other 3 members of the family drive us to the end of the rope almost daily, they make me laugh and smile just as often. If Sebastian was a person, he would be the guy that is always smiling. His tail is always wagging and life is always an adventure for him. Zoe fiercely protects us from the AEP man, dogs barking down the block, or anything else that she feels is out of place. And kitty's acrobatics (I need to record those and show you!) keep us laughing.

Mom and dad always have my back and support me no matter what, but now that Baby O is on the way, they have gone out of their way to make me feel like she is a princess already. Though dad and I started off in a rocky place regarding this, he has "come around" in the last few weeks and I know he will make a great Paw Paw...I have seen him at it for years! And mom has been waiting for another little girl (or boy) to come around for years, so this is her dream come true. I am thankful that my daughter will have 4 excellent grandparents to love her, teach her, encourage her, and shape her.

When I see all the statistics about unemployment, I have to pause and realize just how lucky I am to have a job. A job that I went to school for, that I love, that is rewarding, and that pays for everything we need.

And I know I have written about my friends. My wonderful girls, who are busy planning my shower and awaiting the arrival of the next "Lil' Violet". You have a lot to teach me, and a lot to offer Baby O. I can't wait for her to meet you!

With that said, it's time to kick off my favorite time of year! With the furry members of the family, it was a little terrifying to think of a 6 foot tree, bedazzled in tempting strands, balls, and other items that imitate toys. So, we are using a small treetop table this year. It is still pretty and actually holds all the ornaments I have, so it will do. I had more fun decorating the mantle because I have never had my own mantle!!  Here it is, in all its glory, out of the way of any animals!


It's a....

Healthy baby girl!  We had an amazing ultrasound, courtesy of a Coffee Toffee twisted frosty. Little Girl was VERY active, and we got awesome shots of her spine moving, her beautiful 4-chambered heart, her "perfect" skull (as the doc said), and generous spread eagle shot to confirm that she is a little girl:o)

I am so excited and it really feels more real now. Not that it didn't before, but I am just the type of person who really needs to know these things to get a complete understanding I guess.


We will go back for another ultrasound on 1/13 to make sure that my placenta has moved, because it is currently "anterior". That means it is covering the baby in the front (my belly) instead of on the top (by my ribs). It needs to scooch out of the way and definitely not go to the bottom. That also means when Little Bit (that is her new name, I think) kicks and moves, she is bumping the placenta, so it will be a while before I feel anything myself.

All in all, a fabulous appointment with a doctor I love. Matt asked good questions, too! More details on my "baby talk" tab.

How you doin'?

I know, I know. I have spent a LOT of time on my other blog lately. But shall we get an update on life in general?

Most of the day, my life revolves around my students and tasks at school. They have really come a long way since September and every day, they find a way to make me smile or make me proud.  My "friends" who wrote single, capital letters to represent a word a few months ago are now stringing together lowercase letters to make words!  Real words! Without crying (most of the time).  It is a good day when you don't have to relay a "naughty" note to a parent, send someone to the Principal's office, or have everyone put their heads down with the lights out. Today was a good day. When you are told "I love you" a few times a day and hugged around the waist and butt repeatedly, how could it be a bad day??

Things at home are typically calmer. In a way. I am in my own place, with the comforts of food, TV, and privacy. But the three rings circus awaits with our three animals. The above paragraph took me 20 minutes to type, because the kitten kept attacking my hands. When I say "attack", I am not exaggerating. I believe his intent is to render my typing hands lifeless. And in the process, I end up with microscopic slices (like paper cuts) that hurt like a bitch.  When he is not hand-attacking at the laptop, he is a pretty cuddly guy.

Sebastian has taken to sleeping in our bed routinely, which I absolutely hate. I hate it so much that I am contemplating asking Matt to give me nothing for Christmas but Sebastian in his freaking cage. Every night it is a battle: "Why can't he sleep in the bed?" "Because I can't sleep with him in the bed". He moves around, he is hot, and he takes up 1/3 of the bed. With my growing belly, I need that 1/3 and I need my sleep. It is really getting old and I am not sure how else to plead my case. He has also taken to barking (loudly) at everything outside. Also getting old. Besides those 2 things, he is goofy and lovable.

And Zoe? Zoe is my easy child who wets the bed. Literally, she has been peeing in our bed while we are in the living room at night. If we forget to close the door, it is certain that there will be a big, warm pee stain on Matt's side. Maybe she is telling him that Sebastian shouldn't sleep in the damn bed.

And life with Baby O?  Great!  I am starting to receive those unsolicited pieces of advice and it is only a matter of time before I have to tell the parents of my students. I a little worried about that part because they all know that I am not married. I am a progressive girl, but by no means does that mean that everyone will accept the fact that their child's kindergarten teacher is an unwed mother. Hell, my own father won't accept it!  When they all come in for the holiday party, it will be hard to hide at 24 weeks!  Next week, we find out the gender of the baby, and then it is game ON. I am refining the registry, picking out bedding, making my baby book with mom, and doing all those things I have been dying to do.

Yoga has taken a back seat, which I hate to say. It made me feel good, completely changed my body, and cleared my mind. However, the last time I went to get "centered", around 6 weeks, I looked like a blindfolded drunk. I was super dizzy. And, I'll admit, a little scared. I have been scared of overexerting myself and practicing hot yoga is definitely exerting.  I also need to save some cash, and that was one thing that got the ax. Dear yoga goddesses, I'll be back.

Have I mentioned Menchie's?!

Before I begin, YES, I realize that my latest posts seem to be food-related. However, at least I am posting and it is all for the good of the people. And people, this is good.

Last week, my friend Amber treated me to a "new mommy" trip to Menchie's Frozen Yogurt (our location is on Sawmill Rd, almost to Powell, but there are locations all around the country. I had heard that it was "SO GOOD", but had no idea.  Allow me to explain the magical intersection of delicious flavors+cheery decor+genius setup:


I walk in, instantly greeted by my favorite color combination of lime green and fuschia. I see the back wall, gleaming with stainless steel machines of 12 glorious yogurt flavors. Then Amber tells me, "There are sample cups so you can try as many as you want". Oh. My. God. I try a few, but the world stops when I see "Peanut Butter" and "Hershey Kiss Chocolate" at the same machine. Do you know what this means? I can swirl them. And I do. Then I add Praline Delight (which I regret, it had no flavor) and top it off with banana. Then came the best part. I continue down the Miracle Mile to the toppings bar. I don't know how they keep it so clean and neat but I noticed and appreciated it. While Amber decorated her "pretty" yogurt with fresh, bright mangoes and other fruits, I went straight to the dark side for this: cookie dough pieces, Oreos, cheesecake bites, poundcake bites, and hot fudge. Oh yes, and brownie pieces. Finally, I was satisfied and we were ready to pay. Now, you pay by weight at Menchie's. So if you are "eating for two" like me, this is dangerous. But well worth it. I devoured my concoction and cannot wait to go back-- tomorrow.
(these pictures are from menchies.com) 

Seasonal food review: Pumpkin!

October is my favorite month for many reasons, but my favorite?  The release of limited-time pumpkin goodies at many restaurants. This will be a review-in-progress as I make my way down the list. These are in ranked order of my favorites:




Pumpkin pie blizzard from Dairy Queen:  All the parts of the pumpkin pie you love (the flavor, the chunks of crust), mixed into vanilla soft-serve and eaten icy cold! I absolutely cannot get enough of this stuff.



Pumpkin Cheesecake from Olive Garden: I need to get a slice this season before I review, but I know it's amazing!




Pumpkin Supreme pie from Bob Evans:  This was a last-minute addition to my carryout dinner a few weeks ago. It is layers of pumpkin pie and a smooth cream cheese filling. The crust was flaky and easy to break into, and I was happy I didn't have to share it:)




Pumpkin Spice muffin from Tim Horton's:  Yum! Dad brought me one of these little surprises for breakfast one day. You think there is only a dollop of cream cheese on the top, but wait...it is injected into the entire muffin!  So, every bite gets a little bit of cream cheese to balance out the spice of the muffin. 






Pumpkin Pecan Pie Cheesecake from Cheesecake Factory:  Yeah... one would think this would be at the top of the list, but it didn't make it. Sure, it was delicious, but too many competing flavors. I love pumpkin pie, cheesecake, and pecan pie. But combined, there was too much to think about (along with the $7 price tag!)





What else do you have for me to add?

Recent Adventures?

It seems like everything recently has been about the baby, but life has continued outside of that little realm. I just got back from the *new* Giant Eagle Market District that opened up right outside my neighborhood. That sounds unattractive, and like something you wouldn't want outside of your 'hood, but they used an existing shopping center which I LOVE.

Anyway, guess who was there to open the place?!  The man himself, Adam Richman from Man vs. Food. He was doing a food demo on salmon burgers with a fried green tomato and dill mayonnaise. Hello!!! He was just as funny in person as he is on TV, and he looked great in his scarlet and gray. My foodie friend, Julie, and I were hoping to get up close for some photo ops (and we are actual fans!) but there were about 60 rows of boring duds in front of us. We would have been way more fun to have in the front road. And i would have gotten to sample some of that heaven (the food, not Adam, ha!)

Speaking of food, there were a million samples. Strange things like "My dadz nutz" (which were disturbingly delicious) and popcorn that comes out as a crispy tortilla-type thing you can SPREAD NUTELLA on. OK, I am getting carried away.

Plans this weekend? Well, to recover from my 2 day farm trip with the kindergartners (which was amazing, thanks to Stratford Ecological Center), I have a day off tomorrow!), I am headed up to Jill's to see her sweet babies and maybe make something in the kitchen if I am lucky. I'll let you know if we come up with something interesting...

Where have I been?

I have been over working on my other blog, which I am now ready to introduce to the public. Enjoy:o)

Our new addition

Well, it's official...we may have to start charging admission around here. On Monday, Matt and his dad & brother went golfing at Eagle Creek (a few hours away). Before they loaded up the golf cart, one of them noticed this little guy curled up behind the tire. On his way home, he texted me, "I'm bringing you a present". I thought maybe it was one of the famous popcorn balls he talks about from that area, or something silly. When he walked in with a living creature, I was pretty surprised!  His name is Eagle (Matt's golf dream:o), and he is a great little kitty. We are calling Eagle a "he", and did our best google image search to determine if it is a "he"...it is really hard to tell with cats!!  Anyway, Sebastian is obsessed with him and refuses to leave him alone, but we are sure Eagle will start defending himself soon and Seb will get the hint. We are guessing he is about 10 weeks old, but really we have no idea. I wish cats had rings like trees do!

Curing a dry spell with happy things

Since I started back to school, most of my thoughts have been drifting to school and the extremely challenging year I will have ahead of me. I haven't really had a lot to write about on this blog until today. On my way home, I stopped and got a McDonald's smoothie, and it all started from there...

Things that make me happy (and might make you happy too if you give them a try!)

  • The new McDonald's smoothies. I was skeptical, but may get another one within 24 hours.
  • Honeycrisp apples. I "like" apples. I really like apples in things like pies and cobblers but really just eat raw ones because I feel like I have to. However, when it is Honeycrisp season, that all changes. Crisp, crunchy, sweet, a little tart, juicy, perfect.
  • Ke$ha's new song!  Reminds me of being in New Orleans last year and what we probably should have done instead of being so scared after the infamous purse-snatching! Who needs water in the pool anyway?
  • Noodles & Co.  I plan on the beef stroganoff with broccoli for dinner tonight. Just in case you were wondering. 
  •  Today's Big Thing. I have a bad habit of wasting LOTS of time on this website. And then making Matt watch my favorites, which never amuse them as much as I hope!  The homepage shows "today's" big thing, but there is an archive of hilarious videos. 
Well, that's a start...hope some of them brightened your day or made you hungry/want to paint yourself.

Nature? Hi...let's keep a safe distance

Well, I keep telling people how much I love looking at all the wildlife surrounding my house. It's not that we live in the woods or anything, but with very old, established trees....you get some interesting sightings. I guess we are close enough to the river that some creatures make their way up the road as well. Well, a few weeks ago, I went nuts when I saw this:

I heard a screech like the screech at the beginning of Steven Colbert's show. I went running out at 7 am in my Sloppy Joe's tee shirt and high school lacrosse shorts. This was not an eagle, as I somehow imagined, but an enormous hawk. If I had a zoom lens for this camera, you'd believe me that it was big. Speaking of big....

Ummm yeah. This was so gigantic that it caught my eye. Spiders do not catch your eye...they should blend into their surroundings!  So, you know this sucker was big. I am pretty sure that it is the spider that bit Peter Parker and made him Spiderman. And, what is it doing?!  Needlepoint?

My Furry Children, Part 2

Well, it took me a long time to get Zoe's up, but we will blame that on my first week of school and not bad dog-parenting:o)

Zoe
Princess...photogenic subject...back-warmer...protector of the "kingdom"...
intimidator of all strange men...my first baby...walking enthusiast...laundry basket-lover...
sharer (sometimes stealer) of the toys...my heart

My furry children, Part 1

Sebastian

bird-dog (twice!)...bed hog...food snatcher (see the peanut butter?)...cuddler...lap dog...TV watcher...destoyer of many things (see old posts)...escapee...entertainer to the neighbors...howler...play-biter (still hurts though!)...dog park celebrity...laundry basket sleeper...Zoe admirer...annoying "little brother"...alarm clock...dishwasher...yogurt cup fanatic...smile (and scream) inducer...amazing fetcher...drooler extraordinaire

video

Banned words

Somewhere this morning, I heard a reference to "words that should be banned". I decided to make my own lists of words that I would like removed from the English language.  Now, I am a pretty calm and kind person, but have noticed that some words I hear/read make me want to scream. If you have said any of these to me, don't be offended because I assure you that I don't remember YOU saying it...I have just heard it so many times I can't stand it!

  • "Frugalista/fashionista", etc. Enough with "ista"! As much as I love Target, not a fan of this
  • "Wrap my head/brain around it". Just say "I don't understand!"
  • "Preggers". Ugggggggggggghhhh. There are whole websites dedicated to hating this word.
  • "With the economy the way it is", etc. I guess I'm just sick of hearing this one.
  • "Look..." (to begin a sentence) Politicians LOVE to use this one when answering questions.
  • "I know, right?"  You sound like an idiot. Here is confirmation.
  • "LOL" Used by many of my favorite people in the world...would we use it in person? It's just a strange one to me because its like the person is speaking in third person. I'd much rather hear this
  • "Just sayin'"  Anything that emulates the cast of Jersey Shore while actually being serious is a mistake. You "just said" it...I get it. Character-building
Let's start with those. What are your terror-inducing words?

Drawing to an end...really?!

I am looking at my trusty wipe-off calendar and am counting 10 days left of my summer vacation. Now, mind you, I really didn't do anything earth-shattering this summer, was not able to go on a vacation, and was bored to tears more then once. But, there are some things I will miss for sure about good old summer break....

  1. Sleeping in with Thing 1 and Thing 2, complete with our "family" on morning TV. We wake up with the GMA crew and then when that ends at 9, we switch over to the Today show. All the while, I have my office set up in bed with my phone and laptop, checking up on the latest People.com articles and emailing back and forth with Jill and my mom.
  2. Grilling out!  It's not that the grill has to be put away as soon as I step into the classroom, but it's just not the same. Everything we made this summer was good (uh, except my attempt at a "fabulous" grilled peach dessert I saw on TV). I am lucky to have a good grill-master, because I am clueless when it comes to grilling...

Summer fruit. Ohhhh man, this watermelon is so sweet that it tastes like candy!  I don't want it to go out of season...:o(


Flowers...oh how I love flowers. Especially perennials, which I do not have to care for whatsoever. They just magically appear and take care of themselves. This summer, it was so much fun to see what was planted in the new yard. I was so excited when the lilac, rose of sharon, and roses bloomed. All I was missing were my obsession: hydrangeas!  Miss Jill was so kind to let me take a few home yesterday and I wish I could shellac them or somehow keep them from ever dying. Gorgeous...


Catching up with friends and family at lunch or breakfast. Right now, I have the freedom to drive up to Galena and relax, drive to German Village and stroll, or meet dad for a birthday lunch. On Mondays, Matt and I run errands and get to do weekend-things during the week (no crowds! no rush!) Come September, kiss that all goodbye. 
But it is worth it. I love my job and am blessed to have it. I can't wait to meet my new kiddos and their families. Here's to the last 10 days of summer!

Things that made me happy in the last 24 hours....

1. Thinking about my dad turning 85 years old and being able to take him out to lunch yesterday to celebrate!
2. Seeing baby Audrey and Mama Jill. You are adjusting so well, my friend, and I hope I can grow up to be like you one day:o)
3. Being able to say goodbye to Carl (next door neighbor) yesterday at his visitation. Carl was very well-known in the Columbus broadcast and academic world and was a kind, smart man. He helped us settle into the new neighborhood (since he built his house himself in 1950!) He will be missed, but it was clear to see that he was very loved yesterday.
4. Going to breakfast with my breakfast partner, Julie. We have decided to make it official. Once a month, we are breakfasting in a new place together. This morning, we had a great CHEAP breakfast at the German Village Coffee House (aka: Das Kaffe Haus). For $8, I had a huge, delicious ham&cheese omelette, 2 pieces of toast, 2 pieces of french toast, and a giant OJ. The place is tiny and cozy, and I can see how the immediate locals would regularly go there instead of making breakfast at home!
5. Realizing that my favorite cupcake place has a location NEXT DOOR to the coffee house! I've already mentioned Bakery Gingham on my "Best of Columbus" page.  Though the Short North location is more convenient for me, the GV location is a must-see. If I ever have a daughter, I will base her nursery off this bakery because it is the most fun interior I have ever seen...




Picture from columbusalive.com. Check out that ceiling!

And here are the treats I brought home...













Grim Raspberry and Oreo Sandwiched...and of course, 2 pupcakes, which were immediately devoured:














Then they both ran off with their treasures into the bedroom to eat them in peace. They are so weird...

July to-dos...10 days left!

I saw this idea on another blog and thought it might be motivational. July will be my experimental month because it is almost over. I am a perpetual list-maker but admit that I don't always cross things off. Maybe knowing that the list is public will light a fire under my butt!

1. Clean out garage so it can actually be used for cars instead of furniture and lawn bags
2. Read one more book. I completely burned out after reading 3 in 2 weeks!
3. Trim the hedges that have become Edward Scissorhands monsters in front of the bedroom. 7/23
4. Remember to give BOTH dogs BOTH monthly meds so they aren't taken away by Children's Services! 7/29

OK that is a good start. And you are my witnesses. What's on your list for July?

Summer employment: better late than never!

Well, after months of thinking "I've got this...", "how could they not hire me?", I finally did get a summer job. And yes, I realize that I have less than a month until I go back to school, but I am being stubborn. I wanted to find a job, and I did! I plan to keep it through the school year, working very part time to earn a little extra cash. What to do with said cash???

  • Pay off one credit card completely?
  • save for a new fridge?
  • use it as "padding" in the checking account for day-to-day expenses?
I am not sure yet. But I do know that I have mixed emotions about taking on a second job.  It will being in some much-needed green, but I will be away one night a week from Matt and the pups. I am afraid that he will get stuck working late the night I will be scheduled to work and the dogs will be cooped up too long. I am worried that I will have to choose one day to stay after school (my career and number one priority) and will  feel awful about it. I am excited for salon discounts and to work with what seems to be a friendly and kind group of people. We shall see what tomorrow holds (my first day on the job!)....

Part 1: My Columbus in pictures...

Having lived in Columbus my entire life, there are certain places I have always liked looking at or places that are meaningful for me. Some go wayyyy back, and some are new faves!  To start this little roadtrip, I drove back to my childhood home, got irritated that they painted it (how dare they!?) and drove off. Do you have any experiences in these places?

Any guesses where this is?!  It is at the entrance of my old neighborhood at SAWMILL and W.Case!  In the middle of one of the busiest streets, can you believe that a farm still exists?  I was always thankful that Ohio State has all this property for their animals, even when I could hear sheep on a quiet night or smell the pigs on a humid August day.

If you guessed Riverside Drive, just after Henderson Rd, you got it. For years, I have loved driving this stretch because there is water on both sides. That sounds ridiculous as that happens every time you cross a bridge. But this is different. You are driving beSIDE the river then all of a sudden you are surrounded. I am not kidding when I admit that part of the reason I bought my place was to enjoy this drive every day! Especially beautiful when it is foggy!




Man, do I miss Grandview!  Driving down 5th Ave. and seeing this sign, I always smile. There are no other signs like that in Columbus. It is big, tacky, and lights up red at night. Matt and I had our first dinner together here, and I laugh when I think about what has happened in there:  Typically, you are the only "party" at the restaurant; the one man who is always working has a perpetual smile; this same gentleman will ask you "why you not finish the napa (its a kind of lettuce)"...it is his favorite part of Sweet & Sour Chicken; and we once heard this same man ask a child "Are you boy or girl?" Note: Zoe jumped out of the car onto 5th Ave as I was being a negligent mother with the door open behind me.



Northbank Park. So cool!  Now we can "ooh and ahh" over our skyline without having to BE in downtown. If there is ever a major "life event" where I might need a "venue", this is where I would want it. Wink, wink.

Hmm, thought you would be able to see that sign. If you aren't a Columbusonian (ha!), this is the Short North. My faaaavorite part of town. Just north of downtown, there are blocks and blocks of INDEPENDENT stores and restaurants to love. My favorites?  On Paper, Lululemon (hello, my name is Stacie, and I am a Lulu addict), Betty's, Northstar Cafe, and Undone. If you ever spend time in Columbus, this is a must. PS- A meter maid showed up as I was snapping this photo. Since I didn't pay to park for 14 seconds, he warned "Move along, maam". Maam. Hmph.

So, there you go. Part 1 of my favorite parts of my city.

This is why I love this show...

I think we are all aware of my obsession with So You Think You can Dance. And every season, there is one (at least) dance that really takes your breath away. It was inspired by the choreographer's mother (her struggle with an undisclosed illness) and the male dancer's similar experience with his mother. Here it is...

Robert & Allison's contemporary routine

Mom's Peach Pie

I have 3 recipes of my mom's that I love to make. They are those no-fail, almost-know-by-heart things that I just crave every once in a while. Today it was the Peaches and Cream Pie. I thought the recipe was worth sharing because it is simple and truly amazing HOT and also cold in the fridge the next day.
Mom's Peach Pie
  • Combine: 
    • 1 egg
    • 3 TB butter
    • 1/2 C milk
    • 3/4 C flour
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1 small box of cook and serve vanilla pudding (instant will NOT work!)
  • Mix for one minute in the mixer, pour into greased pie pan
  • Drain 2 C of sliced peaches (one can works for this). Save the syrup.
  • Arrange peaches on batter so that each slice will get one piece of fruit (then you don't have to cut through the peaches, making a mess!)
  • Combine: 
    • 8 oz. cream cheese (softened)
    • 1/2 C sugar,
    • 3 TB peach syrup
  • Spread this on top of the peaches and batter.
  • Mix: 
    • 1 TB sugar
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Sprinkle over the batter and peaches. 
  • Bake for 30 minutes.  It will be puffy when it comes out. Let it cool for just a few minutes, but dig in while it is warm!

To market, to market, to buy a fat pig...

I have been trying to find ways to stay busy during the summer. My ideal "day out" would include:
1. Spending less than $20
2. Being outside
3. Contributing to the community

Now, the dog park hits all those (hey, Sebastian "contributes" to the dog park by being the friendliest pooch out there!) but the local Farmers Markets have also caught my attention.

Upper Arlington:  My friend Shannon and I went to the UA market, in old UA on Wednesday. It runs every Wednesday from 3:30-5:30. This was a good way to get acquainted with the feel of a market and know what to expect. I bought some amazing black raspberry jam, great cucumbers, and the best cookie of my entire life. It was a shady market, close to air conditioned stores (very cute, high-end boutiques). 

***I feel that the cookie was so special that it deserves its own aside. It is, in fact, already listed on my Best of Columbus page:o)  This incredible piece of bakery goodness came from Sweet Scetti, http://www.sweetscetti.com/ a home bakery right in UA. It was a CHOCOLATE PRETZEL cookie (ladies, does it get any better?) and I liked it so much that I followed Sweet Scetti to Clintonville today....)

Clintonville:  Mom, dad, and I headed a little further across town to Clintonville's market. We were lucky to easily find parking (once mom was able to parallel park with dad breathing down her neck!)  This market was much bigger, but with less shade. There was a great overhang where we were able to drop dad off and he could sit and people watch with a Coke (his idea of a great day:o)  Within an hour, I had loaded my bag with sweet corn, zucchini (for Jill's chocolate chip zucchini muffins!), peppers, pulled pork, ranch cheese cubes (heaven), more cucumbers, and of course....Sweet Scetti cookies!  This time, we are trying the white chocolate blueberry cookie, cinnamon praline, and of course more chocolate pretzel cookies!  Mom and dad got Trail Mix and Honey Cherry Pecan and loved them.  All of that for less than $20. I like knowing where my food came from and that they just picked/baked/smoked it without having to preserve it. 

So, there you have it...a new favorite activity. If you ever want to join me on a Saturday morning, let me know!

Best of both worlds: Local & Online

LogoI now live .2 miles away from a Barnes and Noble and have yet to step inside. Nothing against it, I just don't really have the desire. Yet, I will drive downtown to German Village, endure parallel parking on a cobblestone street and walk to the Book Loft. The difference?  Buying local!  I like the idea of someone taking their passion and making their dream come true in their own little store rather than a bigbox company moving in to town. But sometimes, it is just plain convenient to get something online. Sometimes I am just in the mood to buy something with a few clicks!  Here is a website that merges both ideals. Not only do they have local bookstores, but hardware, clothing, toys, etc.

http://www.indiebound.org/


What is your IKEA name?

This is so silly but made me smile!  What are your names? Try it here

Check it out...

If you are in need of a fantastic book...
http://www.amazon.com/gp/mpd/permalink/m3OAILFVUQ7IEG

Need dishes?

Last week when I had my little traffic stop fiasco, I forgot to mention what I bought at Easton. Now that they are unpacked and in the cabinet, I am thoroughly enjoying my thrifty and cute purchases!  If you need classic white dishes, check out Crate and Barrel.  I did not need a whole set, so I was able to buy just the pieces I wanted (dinner plates and small bowls) by the piece. They were 3-4 bucks each, so I walked out with 8 dishes for about $30. And I had a 10% coupon, so that helped too. I like them a lot and will probably slowly switch over to those as I need to replace my old set.

In other news?  Nothing, really.  I had a job interview that went really well the other day. The only bad part is that it was the first of three interviews! By the time I get the summer job, summer will be over!

I am reading a great book right now, On the corner of bitter and sweet. It is the perfect balance of historical fiction (set in Seattle during WW2 during the Japanese internment) without being brain-busting:)  It is an enjoyable read that I find myself picking up instead of the TV remote, which speaks for itself:


USA! USA!

At this particular moment, I wish I was in South Africa for the World Cup!  Let me back up by saying that I did not grow up playing soccer, have never been to a soccer game of any kind, nor have I ever watched it on TV. Until last week. I am an Olympics junkie, for sure....something about the nations coming together and all the hype. MINUS the attitudes and flashiness of the American pro athletes.

I am so SO proud of our team this morning!  Playing Algeria, we had a beautiful, easy goal that was taken away from us with a crazy off-sides call (apparently....I don't know what off-sides rally means). For the next 80 or so minutes, the guys kept at it. The Algerians played dirty and we had more than a few questionable calls on us, but they never gave up. I guess soccer ends at 90 minutes, but they add extra time if there were injuries, etc. In the 91st minute, instead of being beaten down (I felt beaten down and I wasn't even playing!), they scored and won!  Not only won the game, but this single goal lifted them to the top of the group. This is a first since 1930. Needless to say, the dogs now think I am insane, probably the neighbors too. I got a little "into it'.

The commentator said that if this was your first time watching World Cup soccer, it has been a good introduction and you'll be hooked. Anyone up for a Crew game? ;o)

My lucky day

So, yesterday after I met up with Jill and Alyson at Easton to admire their darling children and catch up for a bit, I had about 5 minutes of EXTREME excitement. On my way home, there is a stretch of highway (670) that gradually fades into 33 (NOT a highway). Thus, the speed limit drops from 65 to 45 more rapidly than someone like me can sometimes handle. Especially when Ke$ha is on the radio. Well, as I round the corner on 33, there she is. One of UA's finest, sitting in the ODNR driveway, looking right at me. I quickly go down to 45 mph but know that I have been spotted. A stream of expletives and self-loathing occur as I see her pull out behind me.

But, she doesn't immediately stop me. She just follows from a distance, relieving me, then suddenly flicking on the lights as I am relaxing. Great. I got a ticket on this same road in October and was caught by a nasty red light camera in January. I don't need this, and hate myself. Stay calm. Do not cry...it never works. I have everything ready for her as she comes up to the window and calmly says "Good afternoon, I'm stopping you for speeding". I say, "I know, I was still going the speed of 670, I'm sorry". As I am handing her my information, my eye catches something on my insurance card...

"Good through June 8, 2010". Holy crap.

So, while she is running my information in the cruiser, I am sitting there running through all the scenarios, furious that State Farm has not sent me a new card. I had no idea that it had expired!  Then I see her walking back, and from quite a distance I can see that red and white insurance card in her hand. Here it comes...

"I'm going to give you a warning today, Stacie. If I cite you today, you would go to jail because this insurance card is a week expired. Drive safely."

I practically jump out of the car and serenade her with my adoration. She just saved my ass. In all my years of driving, I have gotten the world's worst tickets. I have gotten $120 tickets for going 34 in a 25. Now, I am speeding AND my insurance has lapsed and she has mercy on me!! I can't believe it. So, Miss UA policewoman, thank you for your mercy today. I don't think going to jail wold have looked good on my resume.

In other news...

So enough about the house and my need to transform it for a while. What else is going on?  Well, for starters, SEbastian is now a murderer. Well, ok, he didn't mean to, so maybe it was birdslaughter. Last Sunday morning, I let him outside and went back to lay down (it was 7 am!) A while later, I went to check on him and he was, of course, gone. Surrounding the hole that he dug under the fence were feathers. Feathers EVERYWHERE. A running neighbor and I searched up and down the street and I finally saw him laying low (so I wouldn't find him and snatch his treasure) on the neighbors' driveway. When he got up to greet me, I saw wings coming out of both side of his mouth. Gross. And it was still living. As I got closer, I realized I was going to have to get it out of his mouth because it was like a kid with a giant lollipop. Somehow, magically, he dropped it and it laid there too stunned to move. He was unwilling to move away from it, however, so I ended up carrying my 26 pound dog down the street. What a sight.  I went back to check on the bird and it was gone. There is no way that it lived though, after being in the jaws of my little monster!

Speaking of him, I took the dogs for their first walk in their new neighborhood. Thus far, the jungle of a backyard has been entertainment enough for them. In our 10 minute walk (that was all I could handle after you read what happened...), here is what we encountered:
1. A Saint Bernard going bonkers at the sight of us, jumping at the windows of his house, running from window to window until he finally smashed out the front window and I awkwardly skittered off (do I say sorry? I didn't know what to do!)
2. As we turn the corner from this, I see a person in the distance and already dread what is coming. Everyone always wants to pet Zoe, who hates nothing more than this. It always leads to an uncomfortable situation. As I get closer, I see that it is a barefoot woman, smoking and drinking a Mello Yello. I didn't realize Mello Yello still exists. Upon her first words, it is obvious that she is french: "Ohhh zee little one! She is zo cute!  I have zee pomer-hainian in the zee window. Zee?" And there is a yapping pomeranian, indeed, doing somersaults over the top of her sofa in the window. I try to move on as fast as I can.
3. As we turn the NEXT corner, I feel that someone is following us. We don't have sidewalks, so you are pretty close to the cars. I can feel a car slowing down beside me and I hear "Look who it is!"  It is the elderly couple from next door. They proceed to drive at my (walking) speed next to me, chatting with me until I finally reach my driveway. In the conversation, we discussed that, yes, for the 3rd time, my dogs are spayed and neutered, and yes, it is a "good thing they are".
Needless to say, the next "walk" will be back to Wheeler park, where I can sit at a picnic table and watch the dogs do their thing.

On another note, I love this time of year when I am just getting out of school and get to catch up with my best friends. It happens during winter, spring, and best of all, summer break. Yesterday, I met up with Daisy at Ruby Tuesdays. Today, Julie and I went to Northstar Cafe in the Short North. It had always come highly recommended (especially from a blog I follow (see the link on the left for Breakfast with Nick). It was a really minimalist, contemporary design with a simple menu. I couldn't decide between the ricotta pancakes and the ham and cheese scone. The cashier was nice enough to let me in on a little secret: the scones are so delicious that they routinely run out of them before 10:00. Well, at 10:15, I bought the last one. I wasn't sorry. And since I made such a fuss over it being my first time and I wanted to try everything, he sent over a plate of pancakes for us to try!  What fabulous service (my favorite quality in any store). I also had a strawberry smoothie. Not the cheapest breakfast I ever had (9.54 for the scone and smoothie) but it was worth it!  We hit up a few of my favorite stores down there, like Undone and Lulu, picking up a summer getup with my Lulu gift card.

Last....I still don't have a summer job. I don't know why I thought it would be easy. It is not. I have had a few failed attempts, and at this point, is it worth getting a job for 6 weeks?  Any more suggestions?

Armed (with a staple gun) and dangerous

Well, here was today's project:  cover ugly DSL filter with artists canvas in a cheap, easy, and stylish way. It wasn't as cheap as I had hoped, but at a total cost of $17.97 at Hobby Lobby, I am pleased. And, with a few lessons from Matt and the staple gun, here it is!  Check the postings from a few days ago to see the "before"...


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