Saturday, May 25, 2013

Weeks 16-17 + The Building of "Beds"

Here we are at week 16 and all is well!

J-Money and I had our 4-month doctor's appointment last week...According to their scale, I've gained a total of 2 pounds--Justin is convinced it's because I ate Taco Bell right before my appointment, but there's no way I could eat enough Taco Hell...I mean, immediately gain two pounds!  I'm pretty sure it was a legitimate 2-pound gain!

Looking pretty gross!  Came home from work and fell asleep for an hour, then got up and tried my new (and lame) workout DVD...I'll save that rant for another day!

Still no bump "bump" but just getting thicker!  I bet J-Money that at Week 18, I "pop"--we'll see if I'm right!

And no, I don't have any week 17 pictures to share.  I had a few too many nights of getting home at 10pm and it just wasn't on my mind.  But I'm hoping I'll remember a picture for the upcoming week!  After all, we're just a couple of weeks away from finding out if Lil' Britney Griner is really a boy or a girl!  And yes, we DID nickname our fetus Britney Griner...for the early stages, it seemed VERY appropriate ;-)

The past few weeks have continued to be busy at our bungalow.  In preparation of painting our house this summer (and a different color scheme, at that) we've meet with several different paint contractors--and in an attempt not to screw up the color, we decided to contract with a local architect who specializes in historic preservation to help finalize the trim and accent colors.  Yes, we're totally cheating BUT considering what a new paint job costs, I'd rather pay a nominal fee and make sure we're happy with the colors the first time around!

Aside from finalizing our paint plans, it seems that the past few weeks have been nothing but building beds, beds and more beds!
The first two years we lived here, we had a salsa garden on the backside of the house.  I became tired with the tomatoes taking over the sidewalk so last year, I ripped out the plants and put in perennial Russian Sage.  And then, out of the blue, Justin decided he missed his salsa garden...

So, I told him he could have his garden back if he did it himself...and that he did!

After watching a quick YouTube video, he was off to Menard's for the supplies.  Composite decking, 4x4's, deck screws and a Skil saw.  Personally, I think his motivation for creating the raised beds had more to do with "having" to buy a saw, but whatever--he took charge of the project and that's all I cared!
First, the boundaries were marked with spray paint, then Justin tilled the dirt.

The first bed took about 4 hours.  Fortunately, all I had to do was hold the boards and mark lines for the cuts.  Still not sure how it took so long, but at least it came together!

Over the course of a weekend, both raised beds were finished.  The second one only took 1.5 hours!  This is from the backyard looking towards the front of the house...

And from the front of the house, looking toward the backyard.  The beds turned out WAY bigger than we thought they would--they're roughly 13.5'x5.5'!

This time around, we were smart about where we put the garden.  Not only did we make sure the beds would be right next to the water spicket, it's also just steps from our kitchen door.  Something tells me the waterings will be more frequent and if we can see the food while cooking, we're more likely to use it in our supper!

Finally, it was time to fill the beds with dirt.  As a farmer's daughter, I do not understand the concept of paying for dirt--but, we do live in town and I wasn't about to dig a huge hole in our yard.  We headed out to the garden store and apparently, dirt is sold in cubic yards.  Per my calculations, we needed about $1700 worth of dirt.  Was the garden store flippin' crazy?!  But wait--turns out, my definition of a cubic yard and the store's definition were WAY different.  And my math was way off--what's new?!

In all, it took 2.5 cubic yards to fill the beds--or, about $100 worth of dirt.  Not $1700.  At one point, Justin was convinced that he wasn't paying for dirt and he'd go out to his friend's job site in the country and dig some dirt.  SERIOUSLY?  If he wanted to, fine by me--but leave me at home so I can get some work done!  But ultimately, he decided it was totally worth it to have someone from the store run the Bobcat and fill the truck bed up with top soil...

Now, the beds are in.  We have tomatoes, strawberries, onions, peppers, cucumbers, sugar snap peas, broccoli and some herbs.  Call me OCD, but I was paranoid about the herbs seeding out and creating volunteer plants throughout the beds.  Sooooo, I decided to plant the herbs in plastic containers. And yes, my guess is that it's a huge waste of time and won't make any difference--but at least it lets us think that we may be able to contain the seeds and not have a huge mess on our hands!  So far, we have one cilantro plant (with more to come throughout the season), boxwood basil and something that will be a bit of an experiment--curry!  We LOVE curry and the plant smells absolutely wonderful!  Even if we don't cook with it, I think it will be a smelly-good addition to the garden!

The tomatoes, strawberries and onions...probably won't have many strawberries, but it will be fun to see if they make it!

4 varieties of peppers, a cucumber plant, a sugar snap pea plant, a bunch of broccoli and some herbs!  Seeing this picture reminds me--we need to put in the buckets for the future cilantro before the pepper plants get in the way!

I've never seen broccoli grown in a garden--should be fun to watch!

The onions sprouted within just days!  Safe to say we were both surprised!

Love this picture!  We turned the soaker hose on and I noticed a rainbow in the mist--best part was that my phone captured the rainbow!!

Last year's project was building a shade garden in the backyard...several plants didn't make it due to the drought but some of the foxglove plants are doing really well!
Our peonies are starting to bloom!  We'd love to plant several more in the backyard, but we shall see...

This weekend, we tackled a fairly MAJOR project.  We deconstructed the guest room and assembled some of the nursery furniture...eeek!  The thought of starting the nursery seemed so premature but in all reality, my work season is just getting ready to pick up and it won't be over until the baby with it being a three-day weekend and with no clients in town, I knew it was now or never.

We managed to score two pieces of furniture off of Craigslist--is anybody surprised?!  Once we find out if Britney Griner is a boy or girl, it will be time to paint the walls and start accessorizing...until then, we just have to get the big stuff taken care of!

One of our finds is this hutch--the finish is incredibly worn in several areas, but with a fun coat of paint, maybe some new hardware and some knickknacks (not all the crap from cleaning out the room) it should be a great addition!
The "big" purchases involved the crib and changing table.  I didn't want anything too frilly or traditional so we ended up having to buy something that had a more modern feel...thanks to our credit card giving us awesome cash-back on our groceries and gas, the crib and changing table only cost us $ THAT'S what I'm talking about :-)  The part that really excites me is the drawer on the bottom--hello, extra storage!

This kid is lucky that its parents love one another.  After 5.5 hours of reading senseless instruction booklets, having to attempt multiple steps several different ways and the two of us having completely different ideas about how furniture assembly should be done, we were finished.  And still married.  But barely.  The whole experience was a great reminder of why I avoid buying furniture in a box...
Luckily, THIS beauty did not come out of a box!  lol...Thanks to Craiglist (again!), some Middle Eastern guy was willing to part with it for only $10.  Or, that's what it sounded like at least.  We gave him our cash and the chair was on its way to our house.  Mitzi still seems to be in disbelief about my purchase but for $10, I can definitely afford to have it reupholstered with some really nice fabric.  Personally, I really liked the shape of the chair and button tufting on the back--but much to my surprise, the hideous thing is pretty comfortable and it GLIDES.  From what everyone has said, a glider is where it's at!
Tomorrow morning, J-Money and a friend will start re-siding and rebuilding the interior walls of our poor, battered garage...I'm not sure how that story will unfold, so you'll have to stay tuned for the details!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Birdies in a Basket

I accomplished quite the feat today...
1.  I woke up before I usually do.
2.  I made breakfast.
3.  I made breakfast for my co-workers and at last check, nobody had gotten sick.
I'm not a morning person.  NOT at all.  And as a result, I don't cook breakfast.  After all, isn't that why protein bars were invented???  I don't understand why I would get up before I have to, make a mess in the kitchen, clean it up and THEN start my day...???  It just doesn't make sense.
But each and every Wednesday, we have our weekly staff meeting and each Realtor takes turn bringing in treats.  This week happened to be my week and as of last night, I had no clue what I was bringing.  The grocery stores are always great for baked goods, but I was in the mood for something more savory...and that meant I'd probably have to cook.
Which brings me back to my original point--I'm not a morning person and I do not cook before noon.  However, since my coworkers were counting on me for THEIR breakfast, and I was being picky about what I wanted, my only option was to cook.
I went online and tried to find something quick, easy and cheap--and that didn't involve a casserole.  Maybe it's a food aversion, but a bunch of eggs mixed in with who-knows-what just isn't very appealing right now.  But when I stumbled across a recipe for "Birdies in a Basket," I knew I had my solution.  After all, the Pioneer Woman had her own version of the recipe so if she's made them, they must be good, right???
It looked pretty simple...pretty quick...and pretty savory.  After a quick run to the store, I had everything I needed and it was time to hit the sack...
I woke up this morning and the panic kicked in.  What the hell was I thinking by trying a new recipe AND serving it to people that I would have to see on a daily basis?!  Oh well, it was too late to turn back!  It was Birdies-in-a-Basket or bust!
Like I said, the recipe is pretty simple.  I took a bag of REFRIGERATED hash browns (most reviews said the frozen ones turned out awful)...

A muffin tin...
And stuck some foil cupcake liners in the make sure the eggs would pop out, I hit the liners with a touch of Pam.

Then, I put some of the refrigerated hashbrowns in the bottom of the tin.  The recipe said to press hashbrowns up against the sides of the tin/cupcake liners, but at 6:30 in the morning, that just wasn't going to happen...

At this point, I popped the tins into the oven at 350 degrees and baked them for a while.  How long?  I don't know.  Maybe 10-15 minutes???  Just long enough that the hashbrowns were no longer wet, and they were beginning to feel a bit cooked but not turning brown yet.  Lots of help, right?!
The cupcake tins came out of the oven, and then I sprinkled a bit of Italian cheese on top of the hashbrowns...of course, the dog can hear a bag of cheese opening a mile away, so I had to sprinkle some cheese on the floor for Miss Mitzi, too.  And we wonder why she's a bit round in the belly?!

Then, the fun part--crack an egg into each of the cupcake liners.  Easier said than done when the sun hasn't even come up yet.  I have a hard time keeping shells out of my cracked eggs at mid-day, let alone when my eyes are still half shut!  If you manage to successfully complete this step, sprinkle your eggs with a touch of salt and black pepper.
Next, top the eggs with two halves of a sliced grape tomato...
And then about a teaspoon of prepared pesto...if you're new to pesto, make sure you stir it really well--otherwise, you'll have nothing but olive oil in your spoon.  And a teaspoon of olive oil on top of an egg just doesn't sound appetizing.

Now, it was time to put the tins in the oven and hope and pray that they'd turn out okay. To better my odds, I made sure I was in my high heels, starched dress, apron and perfectly pinned hair, in my perfectly clean kitchen when I did this.  Ha!  I wish :-)  I really looked like a homeless bum.  Anyhow, I kept the oven temperature at 350 degrees.  The first tray went in for about 22-25 minutes.  The second tray stayed in for about 27-32 minutes.  I cannot--and I repeat, cannot-- stand runny yolks so I made sure some of the birdies would be hard enough for me to eat! 

When time was up, the Birdies in a Basket looked pretty darn good...but I wasn't getting my hopes up until someone tried one!  Into the crockpot they went and I was on my way to the office...
Turns out, my biggest fear was nothing to worry about--the hashbrowns DID cook all the way through!  I was so worried my co-workers would bite into half-frozen, soggy potato strands but they didn't :-) Which made me think--how did we ever survive before you could read recipe reviews???  My other worry was the combination of pesto and eggs--I'm always up for new combinations, but would everyone else be willing to try it?  Fortunately, nobody complained!  
But the real sign that the Birdies-in-a-Basket went over well (besides nobody getting sick)?  When one of the other Realtors asked if it was a tried-and-true family recipe, I laughed and said, "Nope--pulled it off the internet last night!" and one of the other agents (who isn't chatty and only speaks when he has something important to say) quirped, "Those were good--you need to bring those again!"
And there you have it, folks.  If you ever need a quick and easy recipe for a brunch gathering, tailgate, whatever the occassion is, get up and pin your hair, put on your Sunday's best with matching heels and pop a tray of Birdies-in-a-Basket in your oven!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Week 15 & The Daddy-to-Be

Boy, am I glad that week 15 is here!

The horrible nausea seems to be gone, my energy is back and I have an appetite again!  Who ever knew that you could miss hunger pains quite so much?!

For those who are curious, here's the newest pic of my gut.  And no, not a bump.  Because it still look/feels like I've just been sitting around drinking beer, eating pizza and not hitting the gym.  SUCH an icky feeling!  But I'm pretty sure that one of these days, I'll be all belly and I'll wish I could still see my feet!

Since my last post, I've realized something that really intrigues me.  I had always heard it...but didn't necessarily believe it.

But it's true.  Once a woman is knocked up, all the attention and focus seems to be on her...and the man responsible for creating the problem, is pretty much ignored.

As people found out about the pregnancy, the first question was always, "How have you been feeling?"  Well, even though they DID ask, I didn't want to be too honest and make people feel bad for asking...but, heck, growing a baby is no easy task!  So generally, my response was something like, "It's been pretty rough, but Justin's been a great sport about helping out."  And things stopped atta-boys for Justin, no "well that was nice of him," not anything!  Oh, sometimes they'd respond with advice on how to beat the nausea, but nothing about J-Money.  Guess people don't care about him!

From Day 1, Justin has been about having kids...and lots of them.  BUT, being the one who has to gestate the baby, birth it AND be its source of food, I was more than happy to avoid reproducing.  And now that I'm pregnant, I will totally admit that there are days where I feel nowhere near up to the challenge and wish the human gestational period was more like  that of a llama...or an elephant...If I had near as long as an elephant to prepare myself for motherhood, I'd feel ten times better.  But, Justin?  I'm pretty sure he wishes I was willing, and able, to reproduce at the rate of a rabbit.  Sorry, bud--it just doesn't work that way (thankfully)!

You may remember this picture from my post where I announced our pregnancy...this picture was taken the day we found out I was pregnant.  I tried and tried to get a "normal" picture of J-Money, but he literally couldn't stop beaming from ear to ear!  lol...I finally gave up and later realized that down the road, it will probably be a neat picture to have!  

It's safe to say that his excitement has not subsided a bit since that day.  He's been reading all sorts of material.  Our insurance company sent a booklet titled, "Having a Baby," and I never knew someone could read something sooooo many times and STILL be interested!  Once I came across the labor & delivery section, I was done!  I'm already freaked out about that part and I don't even know the details...I know I'll have PLENTY of time to learn about the L&D process!
A few weeks ago, I ordered a few books for myself--and a few for Justin.  If you ever want a great gift for a daddy-to-be, you have to check out this book!  It's a parody of "What To Expect When You're Expecting" and the author's responses are hilarious! 

In preparation of the baby's arrival, Justin is determined to "get back into shape."  Not sure when he fell OUT of shape, but he keeps saying he needs to get his cardio back into place so that he can be up with the baby at night.  Okay, I'll take that!  So far, his workout consists of Friday basketball with the guys and even though he comes home limping each and every time, he loves it!  I'm not so sure that the basketball has so much to do with staying up at night, but I'm glad he's having fun (while he still can!)

Aside from all the excitement and "preparation," Justin was a HUGE help during the first trimester.  He fended for his own meals while I laid on the bed or couch trying NOT to think of food...the house was getting cleaned, groceries purchased and laundry taken care of.  I honestly couldn't imagine trying to take care of everything on my own--it just wouldn't have happened.  And fortunately, Justin was so excited about having a baby on the way that he never complained about having to do all the work!  There are some days where he drives me absolutely nuts (and I know the feeling is mutual!), but man, I feel pretty blessed to have him around and wouldn't have it any other way.

According to Justin, next week is our 4-month check-up...And yes, Justin pretty much has our entire prenatal schedule memorized.  All I know is that I have an appointment once a month (for now) and that it will be on a Friday--but I couldn't tell you which Friday or at what time!  At our last appointment, Justin was very concerned about how I hadn't gained any weight...the doctor explained that it wasn't a big concern at that point in time and that I'd eventually start to catch up.  Justin asked the doctor how much I should gain and the doctor said, "Well, we don't want her gaining 60 pounds..." and before he could say anything else, Justin said, "Why not?!"  Why not?!  I'm pretty sure my jaw fell to the ground!  lol...Does HE want to try and lose 30-35 pounds AND have a newborn at home?!  Fortunately, the doctor did a great job of explaining what the healthy range is and Justin seemed to be okay with  So, who knows what kind of comical expectations the Daddy-To-Be may have at the next appointment!