Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Merry Christmas!

We did our Christmas cards through Shutterfly, once again. We were lucky enough to get some time before the Thanksgiving festivities to have a few family photos taken by my brother, Daniel, since we didn't have time to have any professional family photos done this year.

My favorite part of the card is the back, though - last year I had the idea (after we already had Christmas cards in hand) to include a recap of our year via our tweets on Twitter. I used the website All My Tweets, copied my favorites into a word document in order to begin to sort through them, then picked the best ones to make into a Christmas "letter." The 5x7 stationary cards on Shutterfly have an option to do a 5x6 photo on the back of the card, so I worked with that space to make the letter (truth be told, I started off with a 5x7 size, then realized I had to cut it down to 5x6...grr). Since I'm a researcher, I am lucky enough to have both Adobe Illustrator, where I did my original work, and Photoshop, where I converted the file to a jpeg for uploading to Shutterfly. All in all, we've had good feedback about the "year in review," and I think we'll make it a priority to do one each year!

Mia and I spent most of last week home together as she didn't have daycare. Here are just a few shots of what we did to keep ourselves occupied:

 We made cinnamon ornaments!
 This is Mia saying, "It's an X!"
 She really wanted to find a small Santa hat for Piglet, so we made sure to grab one at Target (one for a cat!).
I got an ipad for Christmas from the hubby, so here she is hijacking it - she is already in love with all of the great Disney Junior apps I installed on it!

Finally, here's a quick video of her pretending to take a bath - it was part of a new game that we got her for Christmas!

Monday, December 10, 2012

More Christmas Fun

This past weekend we maximized the amount of holiday activities we could do because it was David's only weekend off in December, besides the weekend before Christmas. My brother, Dan, and Kendra came up for a couple of days, and we took miss Mia to her first Disney on Ice. She loved it! Of course, she would have been happy seeing just Mickey and Minnie and the crew for the entire show, but she did recognize quite a few other characters (Toy Story, Nemo, most of the princesses). We also dropped $22 on one of the fancy light toys, only to find people outside the Xcel Center selling cheapy options for $5 (where were they on the way in??). Oh well, we had to splurge a little as it was her first show!  Here are a few shots from the show (David had the camera and was keeping himself entertained by taking lot of photos!).

The next night we met up with both of my brothers and their significant others for the Holidazzle parade downtown, followed by supper at Pizza Luce, which has pretty much become a tradition for us (starting quite a few years ago when both of them were dating other girls). We didn't get many pictures because it was so cold out (and snowing) and Mia was a handful to keep in place. She was very excited to see Santa at the end of the parade!

Saturday morning was spent with the girls - Kendra, Mia, my mom, and I all went flower girl dress shopping for Mia for Dan and Kendra's upcoming wedding. She was excited to try on the dresses, but quickly became more interested in 1) running around the Wedding Shoppe in just her pull-ups and 2) jumping off of the step as we were trying to get pictures of her in the dresses! No shots of the final decision (we have them, but I'm not sharing), but here's a cute one of her mid-jump in another one!

We were lucky enough to spend the rest of the day with my cousins Missy and Niko, who were in town. Sunday was spent doing some Christmas baking, making a pot of beer and beef stew, laying on the couch to catch up on rest, and watching it SNOW (we got 13-14" over 24 hours!).

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

It's beginning to look like Christmas...

Amongst the various friends in town this weekend, we actually managed to get the house decorated and the tree purchased and decorated! As usual, we walked the half block down to a tree lot, picked out a tree (all the while chasing Mia around the lot to make sure she didn't get hit by a car), and David carried it home.

Mia was REALLY excited to decorate the tree this year. Luckily, she and I had plans to meet up with some of my girlfriends for a day of Christmas shopping so that we could let the tree warm up, drop branches, and take up some water before we started the decorating process. By the time we got home that afternoon, it was all ready to go. She promptly started opening the ornaments boxes and putting ornaments on the tree, which we had to then delay in order to put the lights on the tree! Nonetheless, it was a fun night of decorating. So far, she's been pretty good about leaving it alone, which is also nice.
  Excited about the star!

On Sunday, we spent part of the afternoon at the Como Park Conservatory with my old college roomy, Katie, and her friend Jaime. The sunken garden is full of poinsettias - it was beautiful. We couldn't resist grabbing a few quick shots (Mia was only so cooperative..)
Smiling for Katie to take a photo...
Smiling for me (She's saying arrh!)

We also gave her The Elf on the Shelf book (and elf, which she named Ellie) this year so that we could start the tradition of Ellie the Elf 'watching' her during the day, flying back to Santa to report whether she's naughty or nice, then coming back before Mia wakes up and usually getting herself into some sort of mischief. Here's where Ellie ended up the first night:

We have LOTS of ideas from Pinterest - most of which are way more work than is necessary at this stage.  Mia just likes finding her in the mornings, so she doesn't even really care what the elf has supposedly been up to (ie last night she got into the wrapping paper and wrapped herself up like a mummy). It's been fun so far and it's been a nice reminder for Mia to "be nice," which she is constantly telling David and I to do (usually when we're scolding her about something...evidently she and the rest of the girls at daycare hear this frequently...).

She is also excited to have her Fisher Price nativity set up to play with - here's a video of her playing with it last night...

This weekend we have family in town and are trying to fit in all of our holiday fun as it's the only weekend David has off the entire month besides Christmas! We're taking Mia to Disney on Ice and the Holidazzle parade, doing some flower girl dress shopping, and I'm hoping to do plenty of baking and addressing Christmas cards! Hope you're enjoying your holiday season!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


We had another great, big, dual-family Thanksgiving out at my parents' farm in southern MN this year! David and I are lucky enough to have two families that live close enough together, and like each other enough, to get together to celebrate Thanksgiving as one big, crazy group! In between prepping food (I made two pecan pies and this amazing raspberry butter upside-down cake, with homemade whipped cream, of course!), opening many bottles of wine, watching football and Gopher basketball, and playing a couple rounds of Pandemic, we managed to sneak in some family photos for this year's Christmas card. Too bad the hubby is currently sporting a 'stashe and a shaved head for Movember - oh well, we're just going to have to work with it. Here are a few shots from the day - hope you had as wonderful of a time as we did!

 Mom miscounted how many people were coming...dad and uncle Jon ended up eating on barstools by the kitchen counter!
 The long table...two pictures because it sat 14!

 David and his uncle Mark, smoking cigars outside.
 Taylor's "turkeys," which Mia kept asking for (at first, we thought she actually wanted more turkey meat...but no, she quickly corrected me by saying that she wanted the ones with OREOS)!
We even got to spend part of the weekend with our good friends, Laura and Gabe, back up in the cities - we managed to sneak off to the last Gopher football game of the regular season, but left at half-time due to the cold!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Baby BOY

Well, here it is. The first belly pic of baby #2. By this point with miss Mia, I'd already taken at least two belly pics (well, actually, that makes me feel a bit better - I'm not THAT far behind with this one...). Must take more photos...in the meantime, this was from about 21 and a half weeks, which was almost 2 weeks ago!
 Here's the closest comparison I have for my pregnancy with Mia, this one was taken at about 20 and a half weeks (so 1 week earlier), conclusion - I'm bigger this time around. I knew that was bound to happen, what with all the pre-stretching, but still, eew.

Normally I WOULD NOT share a full-on belly pic, but I couldn't resist when Mia saw us taking photos and decided she wanted to participate. Too cute! I guess she makes the whole pre-stretching thing worth it. Maybe.
Meanwhile, we had our big ultrasound around 21 weeks and confirmed that baby #2 is definitely a boy!

I'll be at 24 weeks as of this Saturday, which means that by then the baby will have a 50/50 shot of surviving if I were to go into some crazy pre-term labor (up to this point, there's not much that could be done to help the baby survive outside the womb, so I guess that's somewhat reassuring). The pregnancy is going very smoothly now that the nausea and morning sickness is gone. I have quite a bit more energy, compared to the first trimester. Since I am already bigger, I'm dealing with sleeping issues and having to make regular chiropractor visits to keep my back and hips in check. I have been having some Braxton-Hicks pseudo-contractions, which was weird because I hadn't experienced that with Mia. But in typical baby #2 fashion, it took me a while to realize what was going on (then I had to consult the baby books just to be sure). I did the same thing when I started feeling him moving, which happened a few weeks ago - I wasn't really paying attention and then all of a sudden, I was like, wait a minute...yep, that's baby. It still amazes me how quickly the movement becomes bigger and more noticeable - David got to feel his first kick the other night, which was crazy because the vast majority of them can only be felt internally at this point. With as much as this baby is moving, I'm a little concerned for my ribs in the third trimester!

Mia is still excited, but definitely has no idea what is to come. She's been acting up quite a bit lately (in preparation for a crazy adjustment once the baby actually comes out, I'm sure!), and the potty training has been delayed. We've been too busy to really work with her, and at day care there are two new babies, so I don't think she's getting much help or attention there, either. Poor kid. We'll get it figured out sooner or later. We started introducing sticker rewards for doing some things on her own (eating breakfast, finishing supper - both of which have been struggles, getting herself dressed, etc.) so that seems to be helping with her overall behavior (some days, at least). Other than that, she's growing up so fast! The other night, she told David that she wanted to make a To Do list! So they proceeded to make one for her night time routine, and as she did each thing, she got to cross it off (yes, we make LOTS of to-do lists in our house, so she comes by this very naturally!). We're hoping to get her into some sort of gymnastics or swim lessons this winter to help keep her busy and help her to burn off some of her extra energy! Here are some recent photos...

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

I grabbed a quick (sunny) shot of miss Mia in her Strawberry Shortcake costume before we headed to daycare for the day - who knows what shape she'll be in when she gets home!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Final Before-and-After Photos up on the Pit Blog!

If you haven't checked out our renovation blog, Making the Pit a Peach, in awhile (or ever), you should head over there immediately to check out the final before-and-after photo post. Here's a quick teaser for you:
It's pretty crazy, but the place is essentially done. I'm ready to have my life back, so it's about damn time we aren't over there working every free moment. We have plenty of work to do in our own home before baby boy shows up in March!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Look at me, being all crafty!

I finally got around to making new covers for the two big pillows on our living room couch. The old pillow covers matched the green paint, so when we repainted the room tan, they no longer matched. I had been debating about what to do with them (I really liked the pillows themselves), and originally was going to do some hand embroidery on felt but never got around to it. This past weekend, as David was on shift and Mia and I were watching the Vikings game, I decided to use an old coffee bean bag (which I've had stashed since college) and some of the felt I had originally purchased to make covers.  I think they turned out pretty well.  I had stitched everything, so they're not exactly perfect, but I love them anyways!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Brown Ale and Cheddar Soup

Photo from original blog post on From Away - isn't it gorgeous?

Found this on Pinterest, via the FROM AWAY blog, and finally got around to trying it out last night. It was so super good that I had to share! Warning: it's intensely rich and probably quite horrible for you (you fry the onions, etc. in the leftover bacon grease...).  The following is directly from the blog post for a quick reference. Two things: we used a slightly aged cheddar (~ 6 months, Dubliner) and Newcastle brown ale and I really liked the results. Oh, and don't skip the thyme - it adds some amazing flavor!

Brown Ale and Cheddar Soup
Adapted from a recipe from Food and Wine
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 celery rib, finely chopped
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped thyme
  • 1 large jalapeño, ribbed, seeded and chopped
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • One 12-ounce bottle brown or pale ale
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 12-ounce package of thick-cut bacon, diced
  • About 2 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3/4 pound sharp cheddar cheese, coarsely shredded
  • Additional sliced jalapeño, bacon, thyme, and/or diced tomato, to garnish

1. In a large saucepan or dutch oven, cook the bacon, stirring occasionally, until the fat renders and the bacon is crisp, about 8 minutes.

2. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to drain on a paper towel. Crumble any overly large pieces between your fingers, or chop quickly with a knife.

3. Add the celery, onion, jalapeño, garlic and thyme to the rendered fat in the saucepan.

4. Cook over moderate heat, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan, stirring often, until vegetables soften, about 8 minutes.

5. Add half of the beer and cook until reduced by half, 5 minutes.

6. Add 2 1/4 cups of chicken broth and return to a simmer.

7. In a small skillet, melt the butter.

8. Whisk in the flour and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until lightly browned, about 2 minutes.

9. Whisk the roux into the soup until combined, and bring to a simmer. Cook until thickened, about 8 minutes.

10. Add the heavy cream, cheddar cheeses and the remaining beer and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thick and creamy, about 5 minutes.

11. Stir in the bacon and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

The website has gorgeous photos to explain each of the steps, so I would definitely check out the recipe here.