Friday, December 30, 2011

What do you want?

Phew! It's been quite a week but we're on our way home from an amazing time with family and friends. We love you all and miss you already. The next time I see you our family will have another member!
I do have to share one quick story while it is fresh in my mind. It was a fun-filled week, but if you're 21 months old it can be overwhelming. T was having a moment. Desperate we were offering anything to calm her down, each of which was met with a quick "no". Running out of patience, B said to her "well, what do you want?"
Now, T hasn't quite mastered answering open ended questions just yet. Sure enough though, after a moment to think about it, her teary reply came.
Seriously, who could resist that?! Unfortunately there wasn't a single M&M to be found in the house. Luckily, she settled for one of Grammy's homemade oatmeal butterscotch cookies.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Last Minute Gifts!

I sincerely love giving gifts.  My hubs, A.K.A. my business manager, constantly tells me that's why my shop will never take off.  It just makes me happy to give to the people I love!

Sometimes those gifts are needed quickly and this is the perfect solution - at least for the ladies in your life.  A super moisturizing, exfoliating sugar scrub! 

Use it on your hands 3-4 times a week, especially in the winter!  Heck, I even use it in the shower on my legs and feet (just not right before shaving - trust me on this!).  There's lots of recipes online, many free, some for a small fee.  The one I'm showing can be found from this original blogger:

I'd love to show you the exact recipe, but since it's in her for-sale e-book, I'll respect this blogger and direct you to the link above.  Or, get crafty and come up with your own!  I know I have some ideas in store for later in the year!

Here are my ingredients.  Simple, no?  And, I'm sure you already have them in your pantry!  Regarding the oil, I'd recommend ultra virgin olive oil, the lighter the better.  You don't want that scent to overpower your scrub.  You can always substitute with another oil too.

I purchased some half pint mason jars on the cheap from my grocery store and made some cute little labels.  The inner diameter of the cover is two inches, so I used PowerPoint to make a circle, inserted a text box and played around with font color and size.  Include instructions for use and you're good to go!  If I had modge podge, I'd use that to adhere and protect my little labels.  I tend to use what I have on hand and this glue stick worked just fine.

I made four batches worth of scrub in a gallon size ZipLoc bag.  I use these a lot!  Saves a lot of clean up time and I get to mush it around with my hands without getting me, a bowl, or the counter messy!  Mix until even, adding more sugar if needed.

Yum, doesn't that look good enough to eat?  I wouldn't though. :)

Jars all filled, now just screw on those lids.

Cut about 14 inches of ribbon (to fit these jars), or longer if you like to tie bows. 

I like to use my business cards as gift cards.  A little shameless self-promotion?  Maybe, but I always gift these with a promise to make them more in other flavors throughout the year, so this way, they can contact me easily!  Told ya I like to give gifts!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

6 months

Wait, what?  I'm nearly six months pregnant?  When/how did that happen?

That's not to say that I haven't been feeling the ever increasing effects of being pregnant.  I now need my 20-month old to help me up from the floor.  The heartburn has kicked in.  The leg cramps wake me up at night.  Oh the joys, right?  Well, that joy is right around the corner apparently!

Here's a little photo of my nearly six-month bump (yes, it's taken in the ladies restroom as my work. Luckily, no one came in during my impromptu photo shoot): 

The lovely custodial lady and the previously mentioned guard were kind enough to tell me that I'm tiny for six months (yeah, tell that to my dwindling wardrobe!).  Of course, that lovely custodial lady then felt my bump up.  For the love of Pete, why do people insist on doing that?!

Anywho, I'm now realizing that the end of March will be upon us in no time!  We still need to get a crib for the poor little lady!  Also, I'm realizing that all the hand made goodies that I has planned to make for Miss T for Christmas just aren't going to happen.  And, if I want to make those happen for her birthday, I better start sooner than later!  So, hold me accountable people for some kiddo crafty goodies!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

No Momma, no!

I love to sing to T.  I've been singing to her since birth.  Baby Beluga (one of my childhood favorites), Brush Your Teeth (always calmed her down), Over the Rainbow (magic!).  We sing ABCs in the car, counting songs, etc.  Problem is, I can't sing to save my life and as much as I like to sing, I'm always embarassed to do so in front of people.  I remember being really young and being made fun of (by my dad of all people) that I couldn't sing.  I also remember him making fun of my mom for the same thing.  Apparently she used to sing to me too, but I never knew.  I figured, of all people, that I could at least sing to T.  She wouldn't know the difference right?

I couldn't be more wrong.  Yesterday morning, we were looking at a recent daycare craft project of a reindeer and very seriously I asked T if she knew who the most famous reindeer of all was.  To her surprise, I burst into a lively rendition of Rudolph only to be cut short by "No Momma, no," and an adorable pouty face.  Well, it was early and we had to get to daycare anyways so I just laughed it off.

Later that night, we were all home and I was recanting the event to B.  How could I mess up Rudolph that badly right?  I mean, its Rudolph!  She must have just not been in the mood for singing, so I started up again and sure enough "No Momma, no."  This time, there were witnesses (which was soon shared on facebook, thank you honey!).  She even told me to stop singing when I was upstairs putting her laundry away.  Come on!  Does she think she's the next Simon Cowell or something?

So, my singing days are probably over, at least for a while.  I wonder how long until Baby #2 figures it out...

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Breakfast Ideas

Whoa.  Christmas is in six days!  Are you ready?

As of last night, I had everything wrapped, labeled and ready to go.  I took advantage of T's 3-hour nap (you know you're jealous!) and B's obsession with football to escape to Target and finish doing all the shopping.  After the little one went to bed, all her gifts came out and were wrapped, and her stocking was stuffed.  It got me thinking a little bit though.  This year is easy and maybe for a few more years, but after that, I'm going to need to find some really good hiding places!

It's a good thing we're ready early.  We're taking a week off back home in New England (although I'm sure I'll be spending more time than I like working on my thesis).  In previous years, we pack everything up (gifts for us and others) into the car and do everything there.  But this year, we're leaving on Christmas Eve and so have decided to have our own Christmas morning on the 24th before we go.  I'm really excited about it and am looking forward to seeing T's face as she sees al the gifts for her and gets to open them. 

I'm also starting to think about how I'm going to feed my family that morning.  It will be a 6 hour car drive (hopefully no flat tires this time!) with a stop for a late lunch.  We'll need something delicious and hearty to get us through the first leg of our trek.  Thanks to Pinterest (I know, where else?!), I've found some yummy Christmas morning breakfast recipes.  The hard part will be deciding which one to make! Click on the pictures to follow the link to the recipes!

I might just make these anyways!  They look soooo good- and easy!
Maybe with some kiwi or green grapes?

A great list - 10 breakfast ideas.  The Chai Waffles pictured above look heavenly, as did the Overnight French Toast Casserole and the Christmas Morning muffins. 

Source: via J on Pinterest
Forgive the teeny, tiny picture, but the Overnight Blueberry French Toast Casserole might just be a winner here.  My mouth is beginning to water!

Oh boy - more blueberries!

A little heartier, I would have to skip the sausage though.  I like the idea of making it the night before and baking it while we open presents!

This spinach and cheese strata looks heavenly!  Maybe I could add some red peppers to make it really festive!

Man, you wouldn't think I just had lunch!  I almost wish I was planning brunch for 20 people so I could make a bunch of these.  I think no matter what I make, those doughnuts will be in my kitchen and then melting in my mouth Christmas morning!  Hmm, Spinach Strata or Blueberry French toast Casserole.  Oh, decisions, decisions!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Fears and affirmations

I'm currently posting from the Labor and Delivery department at our hospital. It seems like everything is ok, but let me back up a little.

One of the biggest fears I've had throughout this pregnancy is wondering how I'm ever going to love this new baby as much as T. I still have that new mom fascination/obsession with T and I've been afraid that it wouldn't leave any room to love another child as much. I've talked to a few other moms about this so I know I'm not alone. They've also reassured me that somehow their love for the new baby explodes and somehow they have enough to go around.

For the last 14 hours I haven't felt baby #2 kick much if at all. Normally, I fall asleep to her rhythmic dance at night and she does her floor routine every time I eat. Last night my schedule was so off that I just assumed I had miss the show and didn't think much of it. Today, though, after a rough morning I hasn't felt her move after breakfast, snack, or lunch. Dreading the worst I called my OB and here I am with monitors attached to me.

In the first minute of trying to find a heart beat (which seemed like hours) I could feel my heart dying. Once I heard that sweet lub-lub-lub, I was overcome with such joy that of course the tears started flowing. But more than that, I had the reassurance I needed that I can love this child as much as T. It seems like one of God's mysterious ways in that through crisis, tragedy, or emergency, the prayers we have lifted up to Him are answered. So while my original plans for today have been put on hold and while I spent a good amount of time today scared and anxious, I am relieved to sit here and listen to my baby's heart beat and hear her move, knowing that in a few months she will be joining a family that is going to love her to pieces.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Booo Booooo Rice Pack

After making the adult version, I thought it would be cute to make some kiddo rice packs.  They may not have the aches and pains we adults do, but they often bump heads or need a tummy soothed, right?

There are tons of these on Pinterest, but after making the adult version, I didn't look up any for my owl version.  They are really easy to make and I think I might make a few more for some special tots!

Using a Christmas card from years past (that conveniently had an oval on it), I messily adjusted the shape to be a little more squared off to make a template.

I then folded it in half and cut out my design so that it would be symmetrical.  Using this template, I cut out cotton fabric for the front and flannel for the back.

For the wings, I made a half heart shape, folded my cotton fabric in half and cut out the wings through the two layers so that I had one wing for each side.

For the eyes, I had a circle template with a 1.75" diameter, but in the future will probably use a 1.5" diameter as these were a bit two big.  For the center of the eyes, I cut 1" squares out of flannel and then rounded off the corners.

Here (above) is what the pieces look like assembled.  Using a zig zag stitch as close to the edge as possible, I then attached the blue circles to the white circles and then attached these to the body.  Then I attached the wings.
With right-sides together, I sewed the front and back together using a short stitch with a 1/8" seam allowance, leaving the bottom open for filling.  I did use my turning trick here too to make turning and closing easier.

This is the final product after filling with approximately 2 cups of uncooked brown rice and sewing the opening at the bottom closed.  Even though B said it looks like an owl, I think I need to go back and hand stitch a beak on.  I do like the mix of fabrics and colors though.

We haven't tested this out yet.  I thought to myself "T doesn't hit her head all that much" and sure enough, later that day, she bumped her head!  Lesson learned, this little guy will find a cozy nest inside a ziploc bag in the freezer so that he's ready at a moment's notice!


Ok, I thought it was bad when my December looked like this.  But now my days are even worse!

Today, fexample, (taking a deep breath...):
drop T off at daycare this morning
came home to take the dog out one more time
made the spinach artichoke dip for one of three Christmas parties tomorrow that I will bake at 5:00 am tomorrow morning
ran into work to get an experiment started by 9:00 am because it has specific timed steps throughout the day (at 10, 11, 12, 1, 3, 4, and again at 9 and 10pm)
pick up T after work
come home
get ready for B's holiday party (fancy event, I'll be posting my first "What I Wore" post, complete with my DIY bead and ribbon necklace and sweater to cardigan refashion)
go back to work after the party (yep you read that right)
come home and collapse.  Phew!

Oh, by the way, I'm 24 weeks pregnant, still getting sick, trying to resubmit a paper, write my thesis and defend my thesis next month. 

Ok, that's enough of my pity party.  Thanks for letting me get that out!

On a positive note, we are nearly finished getting the Christmas cards mailed out, the above mentioned spinach artichoke dip looks amazing (had to stop myself from eating it raw), and I get to go to a fancy dinner party tonight.  Woohoo!

Because I need to add some cuteness to my otherwise self-indulgent vent storm, here is T singing happy birthday on the way home yesterday!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Our Story Tree

Last night, he had the joy of decorating our Christmas tree together.  It's something we've always done as a family and last night we were so happy to share that with T.  The best part about our Christmas tree is that is tells a story about us.  Our tree will never be department store worthy.  It will never have a theme, or matching glass balls.  It will never be featured anywhere but in our own photo albums.  Each ornament that we have tells a little bit about our history.  They've been collected on vacations, at specialty stores and online for a specific purpose.  They've been given to us as gifts from people who love us.  As we took each ornament out of the storage bin, we were able to tell T about where or who it came from and why it is special to us.  Here are a few examples:
One of the first ornaments that I ever gave B.  I like to write the year on the ornament somewhere and you can see that this one is from 2000.

We went on a wine tour in upstate NY around Keuka Lake with B's amazing aunt Cathy and uncle John one year.  We love them so much and treasure the time we share with them.

This is a more recent one B gave me.  He knows how much those silly Hoops and Yo-Yo characters make me laugh.  It was a year that I needed to smile a little more and he knew it.

If you've ever driven through RI on I-95, you've seen this giant blue bug on the side of the road.  You can also see this bug in the movie "Dumb and Dumber".  At Christmas time, they dress up the bug like Rudolph and he lights up the side of the highway.  I love this bug and was so excited to have a little bit of RI on our tree.

Some of our ornaments are more sentimental.  The reason behind these are hard to even write about, but through them, we can share with T more about her family and history.

We purchased this angel in the Outer Banks two years ago.  I had been looking for the perfect ornament that would represent the baby that we lost in 2008.  From the beginning of that pregnancy, I called the baby "Sweet Pea" and so on the inside of this angel, I've written "Sweet Pea, April 29, 2008".  Its a gentle reminder of the hope that was lost that day and then fulfilled with T's arrival.

This is "The Angel of Remembrance" from the Willow Tree collection that I purchased for B the Christmas after his brother Andrew passed away.  While B would never need an ornament to remind him of his brother, with this gift, I was able to show him that I would never forget him either.  I know how important it is to B that Andrew stays alive in our memories.  He even has a facebook page dedicated to him that even after all these years is very active.  Each year, as we take this ornament out of storage, we can tell our girls about their Uncle Andrew.

That same year, B had some ornaments made from photos of our cats and dog, and the one above.  This picture is the last one taken of the brothers just a month before Andrew's accident.  B is in the middle with M on the left and Andrew on the right.  This one reminds us regularly to treasure the family we have and every moment we have with them - you never know when it will be the last.

So, that's our tree and why I would never want it to be anything else.  It's the story of us and how we got to this point in our lives.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Rice Cold/Hot Pack Tutorial

I was a busy girl this weekend and the dining room table is proof!  My poor husband shakes his head every time he walks by the mound of fabric scraps, cutting tools, sewing machine, etc.  I was like Pig Pen from Peanuts, except, instead of dirt flying around me, it was fabric dust!

Anyways, I was making some gifts for friends this weekend and I tried my hand at a rice filled hot/cold pack.  I'm sure you've seen something similar at a kiosk in the mall.  You can either store them in the freezer to use as a cold pack, or heat them up in the microwave for 30-60 seconds as a heat pack.  Because they are filled with rice, they mold nicely to whatever aches.  As I'm getting older, more is getting achier too!

I did have some inspiration for this project.  I had read their tutorial a while ago and decided to just wing it this weekend!

So, without further ado, here is my version!
I cut two pieces of cotton and one piece of felt to approximately 16" x 8".  This size ws mostly out of convenience as I had some left over fabric from a previous project and these dimensions fit nicely. (And yes, that is a towel, a.k.a. my ironing board, under my cutting mat.  Super professional I tell ya!)
*Warning!  If you plan to use these as a hot pack, make sure you aren't using synthetic materials in your construction!  We don't want any microwave fires!

I sewed right sides together around the two long sides and one short side.  For all seams, I used a small stitch setting (2, I think) to keep those seams tight.  On the other short side, I sewed in from each corner about two inches and then made a right turn and sewed out to the edge of the fabric.  The picture below might be a little more clear.

This was a neat little trick I picked up somewhere along the way.  It makes it really easy to sew that seam shut after turning the fabric!  So, clip your corners.  I also trimmed my seams to 1/4" to reduce bulk after turning.

Turn your fabric right side out, poking out those corners with something to get a nice right angle.  Iron down the seams.

Top stitch 1/8" along the two long sides and the short side opposite the opening.  The other short side will be top stitched later.  This gives it a nice professional look (people won't think you iron on a towel this way!)

Based on the size of my fabric after turning and top stitching, I figured 5 sections about three inches apart would be best.  Mark these with a pin on both sides of the fabric.  Or, you could draw a line with chalk (you won't be washing this, so don't use those fancy markers!)

This next step I specifically remembered from the above tutorial - using gravity to help keep rice in place!  I poured in about 1/2 a cup of uncooked brown rice and used pins across to keep them in place.  The amount of rice you use will vary dependingon your dimensions.  This amount gave it a good amount of bulk while allowing for movement and molding.  Sew across and repeat for each section.  The last section is a little tricky, but you'll use the topstitching to seal in the rice.

Ahh, here it is in use!  Perfect!  This will make a great stocking stuffer!

Once I was finished, I figured I'd give a try at making a cute little owl one for Miss T!  I call it my Boooo Boooo!  I'll post that tutorial later this week!  For now, here is a little teaser!

p.s. I've linked up with The Holly Bloggy Christmas, hosted by Tatertots & Jello.  Head over there to be inspired by hundreds of other homemade Christmas gifts!


Friday, December 9, 2011

Belly - 24 weeks

Can you see my super cute new shoes?

Yeah, me neither!

Oh, wait!  There they are!

According to my BabyCenter pregnancy iPhone app, baby girl #2 is about the length of an ear of corn right now!  Whoa!  Her brain is growing very quickly right now and taste buds are beginning to develop.

This app also says that my uterus is about the size of a soccer ball, hmmm.  That sounds about right! (see top two pictures above!)

*Hehe, I just figured out how to take a screen snapshot with my iP4, press the home button and the sleep button at the same time.  You should hear a picture sound and the screen shot goes right to your camera roll.  Cool!

I feel like I'm ten times the size I was with T at this time:
24 weeks in 2009 - pregnant with T

I'm super excited to decorate our Christmas tree that we got this weekend!  I can't wait to see little Miss T's eyes light up once the lights and ornaments are on.  She can even say ornament now!

p.s. Check out the rice pack tutorial I posted earlier!

I'm linking up this post with Emily of The Anderson Crew for Embrace the Camera.  Can you believe she has a one week old and she is still keeping up with this weekly linky!?  She's amazing, I tell ya!

Thursday, December 8, 2011


Man - oh - man.  Things are really starting to catch up with me.  23 weeks preggo and still nauseated, trying to get a paper published, trying to finish my last couple of experiments and write my thesis, trying to be super mommy and have an amazing Christmas that T will remember forever (even though she is way too young to form those long lasting memories).  Phew!

After B left this morning with T to take her to "school", I plopped myself down on the couch and ate my breakfast in silence.  Ahh.  Two years ago, while pregnant with T, I might have just taken a nap for 30-45 minutes, but there is just too much to get done -  Is it bad that I am eagerly anticipating Saturday morning when we get to sleep in until 8:00am, and I intend on using TV to make sure the little one is on board?  Bad momma, huh?  Whatevs, I'm pooped.

OK, that's enough bellyaching from me.  Back to work.  Today could be a great day with awesome results, so I need to get to it.  Before I do, here is some cuteness for you!

Haha, this is how we're getting all those handmade gifts done this year - my own little sweatshop!  We keep it cold in there to keep productivity up, thus the hat and runny nose!  (Seriously, those are my hands, she just wanted some lap time!)

Our little shutterbug!

Ahh, a sweet moment on Thanksgiving!