Sunday, October 28, 2012

Eating Our Way Through Durham

To start, a sad story:  My friend Jamie couldn't come this weekend.  I know.  It sucks.  Hurricane Sandy is my arch enemy.  Jamie lives in New Jersey and was worried that the hurricane headed straight for NYC would prevent her from getting home.  I was pretty bummed out on Friday when she had to cancel.  I was even more bummed out that I had planned a weekend 'o fun fall extravaganza activities that would now not come to fruition. I had already purchased two tickets to a downtown Durham walking food tour from Taste Carolina - something I've always wanted to do in Durham.  The tickets were nonrefundable, so I Brent and I decided to go on the tour as a little Saturday afternoon date.  It was really fun!

Across a three hour period, we walked about three miles with a tour guide and eight other participants.  We visited six Durham restaurants.  At each stop, we got a little presentation from the chef or owner about their food, ingredients, and philosophy.  Then, we got a tasting!  Along the way, our tour guide told us about the architecture in downtown and the history of the tobacco business in Durham.  It was pretty interesting!  Many of the food stops included fabulous drinks, which the pregnant lady didn't get to partake in.  Oh well.

Here's a pictorial record of our food trek through Durham.  I LOVE DURHAM SO MUCH I CAN HARDLY STAND IT!!  How can there be so many amazing restaurants here?  So many things to eat; so little time, but I will give it a valiant effort while I'm here!  I'd highly recommend the tour for locals & visitors alike.  I believe the rotation of restaurants changes weekly!
Clockwise from top left:  Pasture raised beef burgers at Bull City Burger, mushroom crostini at Toast, mini lemon meringue pie and truffle brownie at Daisy Cakes, smoked chicken & spinach crostini at Daisy Cakes, Decor at Daisy Cakes, and our tour guide outside Toast.
Clockwise from top left:  Sign outside Piedmont where we had sweet potato bisque, white bean crostini and butternut squash risotto at L'Uva Enoteca, large pregnant lady by the Durham bull, the bar with 60 local beers on tap at Tyler's Taproom, fried pickles at Tyler's Taproom, and Brent at L'Uva with homemade sangria!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Welcoming Guests

I am so excited because today my friend Jamie from New Jersey is coming to visit!!  Jamie is my dear friend from my Columbia Teachers College cohort.  We've been through a lot together over the last 3 years - dorm rooms, fun classes, not-so-fun classes, living in New York, and writing 100 page thesis papers.  She and I bonded from the very beginning, and she is now one of my good friends. 
This summer, we talked about her coming to visit North Carolina in the fall when everything is beautiful.  It was one of those things you talk about but never do.  Except... we're actually doing it!  She's flying in today after school, and I'm so excited!  I've planned a "Fall Extravaganza" for us including lots of fun things to do, see, and of course... EAT.  I'll be sure to take pictures and update you early next week, but for now I wanted to post on something I did to get ready for her visit that I've always wanted to do.
I love having guests, and I've always wanted to make a little guest welcome basket.  My mother-in-law did that for me once when I stayed at her house, and it was so sweet!  I've just never gotten around to making a welcome basket for anyone else, so this time I decided to do it!  Jamie will have this fun treat waiting for her when she gets in late tonight.  I tried to think about things I would like if I was staying at someone else's house.
Here's what I included.  Want to come stay at my house?  Better hurry or you will probably get a task list for baby instead of a welcome basket!!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

28 Weeks

Well, hello third trimester!  It seems like this pregnancy is going WAY too fast, but then when I think about the fact that I've been pregnant since early May, that kind of seems like a long time!  I am doing great, and we are really anticipating the baby now.  We talk about her a lot - many times each day.

  • Water!  I am so thirsty!  Before I was pregnant, I would barely touch my water at a restaurant (maybe that's because I was drinking wine!)  Now, I get at least 2-3 refills on my water when we go out.  
  • Another big craving I'm having is bread.  I have never been a bread person, but now it sounds so good.  Healthy, huh?  My main bread cravings are raisin English muffins, pumpkin bread, banana bread (made both this week), and cornbread.  Mmmmm have to have bread a few times a day.
  • Still on the sweets kick.  Cupcakes, Halloween candy, and any sort of baked goods really sound good.  And I started eating frosted mini-wheats a few times a week like I'm eight or something.
  • I'm definitely feeling baby girl now.  She moves in spurts at various points of the day.  She is getting kind of heavy, and I know she still has to triple in size.  Yikes.  I'm having some definite pelvic pain.  It feels like all my bones are bruised.  Fun!  I have been trying to walk 2 - 3 miles most days, and sometimes I can barely hobble home at the end of the walk.  
  • I'm getting up at least 3 times a night for bathroom visits, and it's definitely harder to get comfortable.  I'm using a ginormous body pillow we lovingly call "The Great Wall", and when I flip over in bed, it's comical.  It looks (and feels) like I'm wrestling an alligator.
  • I've been strangely full the last week or so.  I'm just not very hungry.  I think baby girl is taking up a lot of room in there.  Meal time comes around, and I know I should eat something, but I just don't have a huge appetite.  However, at very random times sometimes I am ravenous.  The other day I woke up at 7 am and could not toast an English muffin fast enough.  I thought I might die if I didn't eat something within five minutes.  Go figure.
  • I can see her move from the outside, although Brent has yet to see it.  I've tried to yell for him to come quickly, take videos, and predict when she will move, but nothing works.  She's a tricky little one.  I read somewhere that in the third trimester, your belly takes on a life of its own, and I have to agree.  Sometimes it looks so lopsided, and I think it's because she's all squished up on one side.  When I see my belly move, it's pretty crazy.
  • It's getting real, y'all.  Today Brent is packing up our study in boxes and moving the furniture to the garage.  Bye bye study.  The study will become the guest bedroom, and the guest bedroom will become the nursery.  The switch will be final in the next week or so.
  • I've completely changed the nursery plan since I last posted about it.  You don't even want to know how many hours I've spent online looking for baby stuff.  Wowza.  We found the most adorable crib that totally changed our plan.  Well, not totally... the colors are still gray, yellow, and pink, but the pieces are all different.  We've already ordered the big stuff, and the crib & dresser are in our house as we speak!  Exciting!  I will do a nursery 2.0 post soon.
Fun Stuff:
  • We are finishing registering, which was really a fun experience.  We have a few showers coming up, so I can't wait for those!
  • We are still throwing around names.  We have a short list, but we haven't decided QUITE yet.
  • We're starting our classes at the hospital.  Last night we toured the maternity section of the hospital.  Next we are taking a "baby care" class.
  • I have possibly become obsessed with baby deal websites like Zulily and Very Jane.  I've found a few cute things that I just can't WAIT for baby girl to wear!
  • I have to brag on my husband.  He is the sweetest, best husband ever.  He is so excited about the baby and so sweet to me.  He has been overly considerate and kind.  He doesn't even protest much when I purchase ruffly pink things online that she doesn't really NEED but will look dang cute in.  He almost always tells me how good I look... except for that one incident where I got new pajamas, and he asked if they were "big girl pajamas".  haha.  In his defense, I don't think he meant it in a mean way, but I made sure to use that as a teaching point of "what not to say" :-)  I praise God every day for giving me such an amazing husband who will also be an amazing dad!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Baby Girl Gifts

Our baby girl is very loved already, and she isn't even born yet!  Although we are still finishing registering, we have been so blessed to receive a stream of gifts from our precious family and friends.  This little girl is accumulating SUCH cute stuff, and I wanted to document her first gifts.  She is going to be a stylish diva from day one.  Here are the precious things we've received so far.  Thank you wonderful friends!!

bookworm onesie:  How perfect is this?!
{from my wonderful work partner, Emily}

pink Toms shoes
{from Pears, my super sweet YES friend}

pink newborn tutu
{from me, the mama.  I couldn't resist.  Baby girl wanted to be in this photo with her tutu, so I obliged.}

"daddy's girl" footed leopard onesie
{from my sweet mama}

Texas A&M dress and bloomers
{from Brent - duh, he had to give the baby some A&M apparel before anything else!}

sock monkey hat
{from our precious neighbors' mom, Jan}

John Deere stuffed tractor & pink blanket: um... perfect!!
{from my wonderful course leader, Dillon}

modern, ridiculously cute receiving blankets
{from baby's Aunt Wendy}

puppy slippers
{from baby's Aunt Julia}

New York Baby book
{from my fabulous Columbia cohort friends}

ducky footed onesie set
{from my mama}

hilarious customized onesie
{from Brent's Duke study group - they call themselves "Team Nailer"}

pink fuzzy baby slippers
{from sweet Maggie}

baby's first photo album
{from my mama}

Let's end with a good laugh about the fact that ALL of our baby's belongings currently fit into this one tiny basket.  I'm guessing that this will NEVER, EVER happen again as long as we all shall live!  

Friday, October 5, 2012

Superb Stuffed Shells

To this pregnant lady (and maybe you too), there is nothing better than a big pan of cheesy, saucy, stuffed pasta shell goodness.  I saw this recipe in the latest issue of Everyday Food, and I immediately put it on my weekly menu.  What pushes this recipe over the top is the slice of pepperoni on each stuffed shell.  Also, this dish has a full serving of veggies since there in an entire zucchini grated into the filling.  Your kids (or husband) will never know.  The zucchini adds a great flavor and freshness to the dish.  I usually bypass recipes like this because stuffing things seems tedious and time consuming.  HOWEVER, this was ridiculously easy.  Truly.  I promise.  It was great for a weeknight, and I think it was special enough to serve for company.  Plus, the leftovers... divine!  (If you have any!)

Pepperoni Topped Stuffed Shells

Ricotta filling:
20 ounces part skim ricotta
1 medium grated zucchini
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
1 large egg, beaten
kosher salt and pepper
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
pinch of dried oregano

3 cups marinara sauce, divided (I used Bertolli)
28 jumbo pasta shells, cooked according to package instructions
28 small pepperoni slices
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2.  In a medium bowl, combine ricotta, zucchini, basil, and egg.  Season with salt, pepper, crushed red pepper, and oregano.

3.  Spread 1 cup marinara in the bottom of a 9-by-13 baking dish.

4.  Fill each cooked and slightly cooled shell with 1 heaping tablespoon ricotta mixture and arrange in rows in baking dish.

5.  Top shells evenly with remaining marinara sauce.

6.  Place a pepperoni slice on top of each shell.  I used big pepperoni slices that I cut in quarters.

7.  Top shells with mozzarella.  Cover with foil and bake until bubbling (20 to 30 minutes).  Remove foil and broil until cheese is browned in spots, about 3 minutes.  Top with additional basil and serve.

Make this tonight!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Nursery Inspiration

Let's be honest.  I have looked forward to decorating a nursery pretty much... forever.  I have spent at least 10+ hours online, browsing through ideas.  Rather than copy one nursery from Pinterest or Project Nursery or On to Baby, I think I will end up creating my own from pieces I like and styles from lots of different places.  Everything is still tentative since I have not purchased a single thing, but I have a few big ideas about the direction in which I'm going.  We're putting her in our current guest bedroom which is painted the most delicious yellow.  I love the yellow, and we don't want to repaint, so that was my starting point for inspiration.  Here are my basic principles:

Modern and chic.  
Clean lines.  Stylish colors.  Bold prints.  Chevron.
White, gray, yellow, & pink.
No themes.
Girly, but not overly so.
No $900 cribs.  Make that no $900 anything.
DIY touches when possible.

Again, this is still in the planning phase, and I will most likely not end up with all of this.  Advice and suggestions welcome.  Here are my current inspiration boards:

Big Stuff / Essentials 
(yes, a chandelier is essential.)

1::  Yellow & Gray Chevron Bedding from Carousel Designs
2::  "Mia" Chandelier from Pottery Barn Kids
3:: Yellow Pouf from "Zeldabelle" on Etsy 
4::  "Chevron and On" Rug from Land of Nod
5::  Grey "Graham" glider from West Elm
6::  White Delta "Winter Park" crib from Target (ignore the dot bedding)
7::  White Circo "Chloe & Conner" dresser / changing table from Target

Fun Stuff / Accessories

1::  Rosette "Hayworth" lamp from Pier 1 Imports
2::  DIY printable alphabet cards from "The Handmade Home" on Etsy
3::  Over-sized painted wood monogram from "Charming Little Nest" on Etsy
4::  White bird mobile from "Babyloveandkisses" on Etsy
5::  "Ribba" picture ledges from IKEA to display books
6::  Silver mirrored drawer pulls (for dresser) from Anthropologie
7::  Fabric bunting banner for over the crib {Mom will sew from color-coordinated fabric}

Thoughts?  What shall the little diva's room look like??
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