Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Third Annual Gingerbread House Party

We had our annual gingerbread house party last Saturday. (I blogged about the first one here.)While we kept it a lot simpler this year than in years past, it was still a good time and I don't think anyone even noticed. We served chips with seven layer dip, veggies and dip, and Hello Dollys. To drink, we offered hot and cold apple cider (with optional rum), egg nog (with optional rum), iced tea and water.

While our preparations weren't elaborate, people's creations were. Everyone really stepped up their gingerbread house game.

I was the only person who made a traditional gingerbread house. Notice my Christmas tree in the front window.

The backyard of my house, covered in snow, made from coconut, with a tree and snowman.

A close-up of my snowman. My neighbor made the face for me out of nerds and the hat out of smarties.

My neighbor's Star Trek-esque spaceship.

A minimally decorated pagoda.

Chuk made a TARDIS from the TV show Dr. Who. I have no idea either. He used a cashew for the doorknob, which I thought was clever.

Chuk also made an ice hockey rink. He used a pretzel to make a hockey stick.

As always, it was a lot of fun. As people were leaving, they were already talking about what they were going to make next year and all the new ideas they had. I took it as a good sign that people enjoyed themselves.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Olive Oil Hair Conditioner

Where I live, it is quite humid in the summer and quite dry in the winter. My hair hates this. I thought I'd give deep conditioning with olive oil a try.

My method was pretty basic. I poured some olive oil in a ramekin, to have a more manageable amount to deal with and poured it on my dry hair and massaged it in, then poured some more in and massaged it in, until my hair was completely saturated with oil. I let it sit for twenty minutes and then shampooed and conditioned my hair as usual in the shower.

Verdict: No difference at all. Save you olive oil for cooking because it's not going to help with your hair.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Storing Boxes

It seems that at this time of year, we're up to our eyeballs in boxes. We're receiving packages and sending packages and wrapping up gifts in boxes. I think, the majority of the time, when we're done with these boxes, we should either offer them up on Craig's List for people who are moving or just recycle them, but it can be helpful to keep a few boxes at home too.

As someone who has always lived in small spaces, one of the most convenient places I've found to store boxes is under the couch. Many of us are already storing things under our beds, which tends to have a little more clearance, but there is a lot of floor space under your couch too. It's not a very high space, but if you flatten your boxes, you you can fit quite a few under there.

I tend to keep mostly medium sized boxes, which I find are the most versatile for moving, holding donation items, crafts, and, of course, sending packages.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Just What the Doctor Ordered: Date Night

I feel like I haven't seen my husband in two weeks. He's been so busy with work and school that he just hasn't been around much. It's been tough without him because these last few weeks, for reasons I'm not going to go into here, have been full of drama, stress, and angst for me. But tonight, TONIGHT, he finally finished everything he's been working so hard on and we went out to celebrate. Delightful!

We had dinner at the new local BBQ restaurant everybody's been talking about. It was good, but didn't live up to the anticipation or hype.

Then we walked down to the candy shop and shared a "diva hot chocolate". (Their name for it, not mine. It takes a man secure in his masculinity to drink diva hot chocolate without hesitation.) It was dark chocolate with toffee. It was both the most expensive hot chocolate I've ever had in my life and the richest, most decadent hot chocolate I've ever had.

Then, we walked around the neighborhood to look at everybody's lights. This house, which I call "the house Christmas threw up on", is on our street the most elaborately decorated house every year. They even have music playing outside. While we were looking at it, the owner drove up and started talking to us, which I thought was going to be really awkward, but he turned out to be a very nice man.

Throughout the night, Chuk and I just talked and talked and talked. And I remembered how funny and interesting and nice my husband is. He really is my favorite person in the whole world and if this perfect night was my Christmas present, that would be enough. It was exactly what we both needed.

We ended the night by going to CVS and buying toilet paper, because romance has to meet reality somewhere (and I didn't want to make you barf with how cute we are.)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Preventing Food Spoilage

In the last ten years, I've never lived with more than one other person, yet I cook family-size meals and love to shop at Costco. You'd think I'd be throwing out rotten food all the time, but food almost never goes bad on me and I attribute it to this one little trick: I set my fridge for slightly cooler than is recommended. I haven't noticed any increase in my electricity bill, but I have noticed my milk and veggies stay fresh much longer than they would otherwise.

Having an extra cold fridge works for me.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Stockings were Hung by the "Chimney" with Care

I spent Friday afternoon decorating our Christmas tree. It's three feet tall. I had bought it a week and a half earlier at Costco, just like the Christmases of yore. Ha!

Growing up, we would always cut down our own tree. Since I moved to the big city, I've mostly bought my Christmas trees from farmers' markets. This year, my husband is up to his neck with board week at work and finals at school and I'm up to my neck in pregnancy. I decided to respect our limits, so a tiny Costco tree it was.

Decorating it was a snap. It only took one strand of lights and I used our smallest ornaments to keep things in scale. The star we normally put on top of our tree was much too large, so I stuck an angel my late grandma had crocheted on top. It was meant to be a toilet paper cover, so it keeps flopping forward, but I love it anyway. I might even use it as a tree topper next year.

I spent some time Saturday wrapping all our presents. I hate theme wrapping paper, but Chuk brought this Christmas paper into our relationship years ago. Normally, I won't use it at all, but we were close to the end of it so this year, I was determined to use it up. I used it to wrap all of our presents, and wouldn't you know it, we still have some left! It's the loaves and fishes of wrapping paper.

I've finished my shopping, but Chuk has some more to do for his family. We're not exchanging gifts with them until January, so there isn't a lot of time pressure. We're spending Christmas in Texas and Louisiana with my extended family, so I expect he'll wait until the new year to finish his shopping. Hopefully, he'll get them large things so we can use up that darn Christmas paper.

As apartment renters, we don't have a fireplace, but last year I bought these JOY stocking holders after Christmas for 50% off, so our stockings are hanging from our bookshelf rather than a mantel. I wish I could hang the stockings from the bottom shelf, but the doors on the bottom half of the bookcase prevent that, so I'm just going to have to deal with them blocking the photos on the lower shelf.

The stocking on the right was made by my grandma, the same one who made the tree topper. I've had it since I was a little girl and I love it. It will always be my real stocking, but for display purposes, we're counting it as the cat's stocking. (We don't get our cat a present or anything for her stocking. So far, she hasn't noticed.) My mom got us the stockings on the left last year. I like them, but I still make Chuk fill the stocking from my grandma. It wouldn't be Christmas otherwise.

This year our decorations are very low key, but fitting for this season in our lives. I'm so glad we are able to have some festive decorations, but that it wasn't stressful at all and other than the $20 I spent on the tree, didn't cost us anything. Despite how busy our schedules are now, everything is so peaceful this year, it's hard to imagine that next year we'll have an eight month old celebrating its first Christmas with us. We can barely wrap our brains around it.

Linking to The Inspired Room's home tour.

Monday, December 5, 2011

My Favorite Part of Thanksgiving

We had a really great Thanksgiving, but one of my favorite parts was my niece's excitement at getting to help me in the kitchen. Though she has a play kitchen at her house, when her parents cook they put her in her highchair and don't let her participate. I was raised helping in the kitchen and my general policy with my niece is "anything goes" when we're at my house so I was excited at the chance to give her her first kitchen experience.

When she first got to our place I told her I really needed her help later. All kids love to help. When I was ready, I pulled up a chair, stood her on it and let her sprinkle the crispy onions on the already prepared green bean casserole. She kept yelling to everybody in the other room, "Me cooking! Daddy, me cooking! Capaw [which is how she pronouces grandpa] me cooking! Mommy, me cooking!" She was so excited and proud she could hardly contain herself. She next got to sprinkle the mini marshmallows on the sweet potatoes. In her mind, she was a full blown chef at this point.

All during the Thanksgiving meal, I kept making a point to say "Mmm, Sophia the green beans you made are so good." "Sophia these sweet potatoes are the best." It kept her grinning and helped the picky little eater to taste more than she normally would have.

For the rest of the weekend, whenever I went into the kitchen, she tried to drag "her" chair in to help some more. It takes so little to make toddlers happy. I can't wait to get my own little one in the kitchen to "help mommy" and see him or her beaming with pride from having accomplished some real work.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Use It or Lose It

The end of the year has us thinking about the very un-Christmas-y topic of flexible spending accounts. Because we overestimated the cost of some dental work we needed done and of prenatal care, my husband and I have about $250 we need to spend on health-related expenses before the end of the year or else we lose the money.

In the past, I would use our end of the year FSA money to stock up on over-the-counter medication for the next year. Unfortunately, the FSA rules changed this year and you have to have a prescription for OTC medicines if you want to use FSA money on them. Lame. Fortunately/unfortunately, we've also never had this much money to use up before either.

In researching what I could use the money on, I came up with some interesting ideas and great resources. While you can't use FSA money for massages (again, lame), if you need relaxation you can use it for acupuncture and chiropractic care. You can use FSA money for birth control pills or condoms, and if that isn't your bag, you can use it for ovulation kits and pregnancy tests. While you should check expiration dates, this is the time to be thinking about stockpiling for the year. Sunscreen, bandaids, contact lense solution, and the aforementioned condoms and pregnancy tests can be bought in quantity and used throughout the upcoming year. This is also the time to go ahead and replace your reading glasses, neti pot, shoe insoles, humidifiers, and the like.

As I get ready for this baby, I plan on using the bulk of our remaining $250 for supplies the baby will likely need. Thermometers, breast pumps, nursing pads, nasal aspirators, and absorbent bed pads are all FSA eligible. (Tip: Infant bed pads and pet weewee pads are the same thing. Look for them with incontinence supplies rather than in baby care or pet care. Thinking outside of the box pays off in situations like these.)

You could also think of this as an opportunity to buy some stocking stuffers. Denture cleanser and adhesive may be appreciated by a grandparent on a fixed income. Your althletic cousin could maybe use another ace bandage and a wrist or knee brace. If you have a sibling who loves to camp, why not get him/her a first aid kit and blister pads? I plan on getting my always-too-hot husband a Chillow. (He had one before and loved it so much he wore it out.) It would also be a good gift for your menopausal mom.

I'm not being compensated to say this, but I've found the FSA Store and the FSA section of to be extremely helpful in coming up with ways to spend my remaining FSA money. Both websites accept FSA credit cards, which prevents you from having to submit a claim form and saves you a step. Amazon, in my experience, does not accept these cards.

While I am glad we won't lose the money we put into the FSA, I wish we hadn't allocated so much. We've corrected this problem by seriously reducing our election amount for next year, with the knowledge that with a "qualifying life change", like getting married, or in our case, having a baby, we can increase our election amount.

Do you participate in a FSA? If so, how do you decide on an election amount?

Friday, December 2, 2011

21.5 Weeks

I spent all day yesterday either on my knees in front of the toilet or lying very still on my bed (unsuccessfully) willing my nausea away. I told my husband, "I'm throwing up like it's my job." Then I realized, it kind of is my job. I suddenly became VERY thankful I haven't had to work outside the home during this pregnancy. I have such respect for women who do.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

According to Plan

Despite some setbacks, clogged kitchen sink and cracked garbage disposal that necessitated a visit from the plumber and a turkey that was not as promised, all my Thanksgiving prep is done and I'm even a little ahead of schedule.

All my side dishes are done and sitting in the fridge waiting to be reheated and my turkey is in an ice chest brinning. Because our ice chest is so big, I use a bunch of over-turned bowls to block of some of the cooler and to ensure maximum contact of the brine to the turkey.

I hope you have a happy, stress-free, traffic free Thanksgiving and are able to spend some time reflecting on everything you're thankful for.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving Prep

Chuk and I are hosting Thanksgiving this year. It's our first time. The year before last, we hosted Christmas for my family, so we're not completely inexperienced, but this time we're hosting Chuk's family and also I'm "large with child". (I''ve wanted to say that this whole pregnancy. I'm weird.) Somehow, it being my in-laws makes it more intimidating and, well, pregnancy just makes everything more difficult.

To keep myself sane, I've divided everything I need to get done into daily tasks in the days leading up to Thanksgiving. That way I never get overwhelmed and can keep my energy levels up. I think it's the best way to tackle any big project.

Everyone's to-do list is going to look different, but I find the most helpful thing in planning for an event like Thanksgiving is to clean out your fridge first. Toss anything you're not going to eat (I'm looking at you weird olives that came in that gift basket) or that has gone bad (like that bottle of almost empty mustard that was "best by" Oct 2010.) No one likes to waste food, but this is the time to be ruthless.

Once you've cleared it out, wash all the shelves in the fridge so they're sparkling clean. Finally reorganize the remaining food in a way that 1) makes sense to you, and 2) leaves large spaces empty for all the holiday food you're going to be cramming in there over the next week. If you're like me you'll have lots of little bits of food that need to be eaten up before you go shopping again. Point these foods out to everyone in your family and tell the goal is to have them gone by X date.

Another way I keep myself sane when hosting holidays, is I ask the guests to help. I normally don't ask guests to bring things when I'm hosting, but somehow, in my mind, holidays have a different set of rules. There is a lot of food to make and I have a small apartment and an even smaller kitchen.

We've asked Chuk's sister and brother-in-law to bring pumpkin and pecan pies. (I'm praying they make them themselves and don't buy frozen.) And we've asked my father-in-law, who doesn't cook at all, to bring things we don't mind him buying at the store: appetizers, rolls, and cranberry sauce. Chuk and I (and by "Chuk and I" I mean I) will be making the bulk of the meal: turkey, gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, and possibly glazed carrots. Chuk's sister called him last night and told him she was also going to bring apple sauce because their mom always made homemade apple sauce for holiday meals.

How are you celebrating Thanksgiving this year and what are you eating? I think it's so interesting how every family seems to have a pretty rigid Thanksgiving menu, but that it seems to vary from family to family. For instance, Chuk's family always had apple sauce and rolls, but never sweet potatoes. We never had apple sauce and rarely had rolls, but always had sweet potato casserole and brussel sprouts.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Autumnal Decorations

Walking home from the dry cleaners, I was struck by the fall leaves all over the ground. Being an East Coast transplant from California, where the seasons are much less dramatic, the changing leaves never fails to amaze me.

I picked up a few colorful leaves from the ground and brought them home determined to do something with them. What I struck upon was decorating some candles and candle holders with the leaves. It only took a few minutes to put together and I already had all the things I needed, so it was really simple and convenient little project.

I simply chose leaves that were the height of the votive holder or candle I was working with and used some tiny pieces of double stick tape to hold a leaf on each side while I used some kitchen string to tie the leaves onto the candle or holder. I knotted the string and cut off the excess "tails".

You could probably get away with not using the tape, but it helped since I didn't have an extra set of hands helping to hold everything in place. I think it probably would be cuter to use twine or bakers' string to hold the leaves on, but all I had was the cotton string I use to truss poultry, so that's what I went with. Finally, I didn't bother to press my leaves before I started working with them, and as they have dried out over the last week or so they've curled a little at the edges, which is evident in the pictures, but that doesn't really bother me. If it bothers you, I suggest you just press the leaves.

This is pretty much the extent of my fall decorating, but I'm happy because it didn't cost me anything and I have pretty leaves to look at.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Good Things About Being Pregnant

So, I realize I've been pretty negative about pregnancy. While, in my limited experience, it does mostly suck, there are some good parts to it too. What I like, in no particular order:

1. No more cleaning the litterbox.
2. Eating cheese is strongly encouraged.
3. People are always offering to bring you glasses of water and pillows.
4. Naps suddenly become much more socially acceptable.
5. Snacks whenever you want.
6. Greater body acceptance...That big tummy isn't my chub; it's the baby.
7. People are more forgiving of your flaws. Everything from grumpiness to forgetfulness is blamed on the pregnancy.
8. Finally, an excuse to browse through those tiny, cute baby clothes.

Edited to add:
9. No more periods!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I Promise This Video Will Make You Smile

The song is awesome and the video is even awesome-er. I kind of want to be best friends with this guy.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Telling Family I'm Pregnant, Part III

We're lucky that we live close enough to Chuk's family that we were able to tell them we were expecting in person...the only people we told in person. We had already planned on going down to them for a visit because we were participating in a suicide awareness walk.

Because I am the best daughter-in-law in the world, I continued my habit of making Chuk's dad a cheesecake. We all ate dinner as a family and when we had finished Chuk grabbed the cheesecake, which had been covered since we arrived a couple of hours earlier, and put it in front of his dad and said, "We made you a sweet, little treat."

His dad gave us a weird look, probably thinking we made him something gross, and slowly peeked under the cover and saw that we had written "A BABY". Then he got a huge smile on his face and put the cover right back down. Chuk's sister was like, "What? What? What is it?" and then their dad took the cover off really fast with a flourish. My sister-in-law read the cake and screamed and then got all teary eyed and kept saying, "Really? Congratulations!"

There were lots of hugs and questions and my poor little niece was as confused as could be. So I sat her on the chair in front of me and said, "There's a baby in my tummy." Without hesitating, she lifted up my shirt and then gave me a look far beyond her 22 months, a look that said "You're full of $h!t." I don't know how to explain these things to babies, so I simply said, "It's hiding inside so you can't see it until you're two." She spent the rest of the evening kissing my tummy (which we all failed to get a picture of) not because she understood what was happening, but because we would all clap for her after she did it and that is a girl who appreciates applause from her fans. I can only hope our baby is just like her.

It was our least elaborate announcement, unless you count the email we sent to our friends, but it was so special to get to see the reactions with our own eyes. I only wish I could have seen my families' faces, but I have pretty good idea of how they looked.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Happy Hour at Home: Paloma

I first learned about this drink after hearing it mentioned on TV. Apparently, it's also known as a tequila fresca and is very popular in Mexico. Ole!


1 part tequila
6 parts Fresca (or other grapefruit soda

Fill a tall glass with ice and add the tequila and soda. Serve.

Fun fact: Although I hate grapefuit (it is my least favorite food) and I'm not a big soda drinker, if I am going to drink soda, Fresca is one of my favorites. Weird, huh?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Happy About Little Things

Yesterday, the maternity jeans I ordered online long ago finally arrived and, more significantly, I felt my baby move for the first time. This has been (and continues to be) a difficult pregnancy. While I know I should be thankful I was able to get pregnant easily and the baby and I are both healthy, I have to admit being in physical pain every single day for months on end has taken a psychological toll on me. Even though the jeans are just a little thing, that and quickening, which is a bigger deal, were just the little mood boost I needed to keep on going. I'm working hard on curbing my complaining and keeping my focus on the end goal.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Time Flies

Today my niece, my little love, turns two years old. I would cry except that I fall more in love with her each and every time I see her and I am so excited to see how she changes and grows in the coming year. She truly is the sweetest, funniest, smartest child I have ever met and she just keeps getting sweeter, funnier and smarter every day.

This weekend, we are at my father-in-law's so we can all be together to celebrate this little girl who brings us all so much joy.

(Pictures by my sister-in-law of my niece at birth, on her first birthday and at 23.5 months.)

Friday, November 4, 2011

Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater

Two friends and I drove up to Pennsylvania on the Day of the Dead to see the architectural masterpiece Fallingwater, which was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for the Kaufmann family.

The setting was absolutely beautiful. The house cantilevered out from a rock over a waterfall. Though I didn't love the colors Mr. Wright chose for the house (beige-y pink with maroon trim), I do think I would love to live on a waterfall.

To see the paint colors, check out Cherokee Red and Covered Wagon on this page:

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

VIP Halloween Party

Chuk had class on Halloween night so we celebrated a day early by having what we decided to call a VIP Halloween Party. In my world, a VIP party is what I call any party where there are no invited other words, Chuk and I were the only VIPs at the Halloween party.

We prepared a bunch of orange and black snacks (which was our whole dinner that night) and watched the Halloween episodes of The Office and Parks and Recreation and then capped off the evening by watching It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, all of which we had on our DVR. The party was awesome. I highly recommend throwing yourself a VIP party every once in awhile.

For the curious, we served diet orange soda, diet cola, doritos, oranges, dried apricots, oreos, cheese nips, and a salsa made of orange bell peppers and black beans, which we served with tortilla chips. I wish we had bought blue corn tortilla chips because those look black, but we forgot to get them when we were at the store. We also had a glass pumpkin full of candy corn and the jack o'lantern bucket was full of peanut butter cups and snickers. We also pulled out our ice bucket so we wouldn't have to get up when we needed to refresh our drinks. Other foods we thought of but didn't end up serving were sweet potato fries, black olives, brownies, pumpkin pie, hot chocolate, and black licorice.

How did you celebrate Halloween? Did you have lots of trick or treaters? Once again we had NONE. I am always so disappointed by that.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Pumpkin and Pie Party

On Saturday, we went to our friends' pumpkin carving and pie eating party. Everyone brought their own pumpkin to carve and a sweet or savory pie to share. I thought it was a great party theme. It was easy for the hosts and fun for the guests.

Between that darn pumpkin shortage and our procrastination, Chuk and I couldn't find any pumpkins. We bought squash instead, which cost a fortune (more than $10 for two little squash) and were very tough to carve. We wound up just doing bas relief instead of hollowing them out and carving them. Mine is the BOO above and Chuk did the Capital's logo below. I thought he did a great job, but everyone kept thinking it was a bat. They aren't hockey fans though.

If you decide to have this kind of party, you should remember to provide lots of pumpkin carving tools and knives and have a plan for easy clean up as people work because those pumpkin guts get messy fast. While it's easy to come up with ideas for sweet pies, if you have trouble thinking of types of savory pies, quiche, shepherd's pie, and chicken pot pie are all great options.

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Deciding on a Halloween Costume

Before I got pregnant, I had decided I wanted to be Jemaine from Flight of the Conchords for Halloween. I already had an Elvis-esque wig with sideburns that I knew I could style to look like Jemaine's hair and a pair of 3-D glasses from when I went to see Avatar that I planned to pop the lenses out of. The only thing I bought for the costume was a snap front denim shirt from the thrift store.

photo credit

Then I got pregnant and I knew the Jemaine costume wouldn't work, mainly because the shirt no longer fits. I saw the Halloween outfit below on Etsy and thought I could recreate it pretty easily.

I also had the idea to use the messed up fake teeth below (my dad bought a pair for himself, my brother, sister and me one day before we were going out to play bocce ball and I've kept them ever since) and wear a stained wife beater and be white trash and pregnant.

(This is not the most beautiful picture of me ever taken. Chuk and I had just gotten back from a camping trip--hence the cooler in the background-- and instead of putting stuff away we decided to mess around and take pictures. It takes supreme bravery to post pictures of yourself on the internet with dirty hair and without make up.)

So while the problem with the first costume is my baby bump is too big, the problem with each of these costumes is my belly bump isn't quite big enough. I just look like I've gained a lot of weight. I don't yet have that perfectly round pregnant belly.

Now I don't know what to be and I need to decide soon. We're going to a party on Saturday and I want to wear a costume to it because Chuk has class on actual Halloween, so this it's my only chance to dress up. Any ideas???

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Dinner Made Cute

I saw this idea somewhere else, but can't remember where. It's only stuffed peppers, but if you use orange peppers and a paring knife to cut a face, dinner becomes infinitely more fun.

I think I'll need to make these again before Halloween. Even my big, burly husband called it cute and told me to take pictures of them.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Telling Family I'm Pregnant, Part II

I can't get these pictures to orient properly. (My mom sent them to me from her phone, so I think that's why they're wonky.) If I invest anymore time in trying to fix it, I'm going to lose my mind, so just tilt your head to look at them. Thank you very much.

I wasn't able to tell my mom about my pregnancy in person either because she lives in California too. This was really sad because my mom loves babies more than anything and has been longing for a grandchild for YEARS. She is the only one of her friends without one. So I knew I had to do something extra special to tell her about her her first grandchild.

I made her a mini book from Snapfish. (I wasn't compensated to tell you that.) Blogger isn't letting me link, but it was a 2 x 3 mini photo book and cost $6. I titled the book "Family" and it had chronological photos of our family starting with baby photos of my great grandfather, then my grandmother, my mom and then my mom's kids. Then the pictures started to include images of my siblings and I as we grew up so that towards the end of the book there were pictures of my wedding and recent pictures of Chuk and me. This book holds 24 pictures, so it was easy to tell the "story" chronologically.

The final picture was of my positive pregnancy test and I wrote the announcement on the inside of the back cover.

The book was so little I was able to stick it in a regular business size envelope for mailing. It was light enough for just one stamp, but I put two on it, just because I'm paranoid. I wrote on the envelope for my mom to call me before she opened it because I wanted to hear her reaction.

The few days wait for her phone call was agonizing, but when she finally did, it was so special. She started crying halfway through the book before she even got to the pregnancy announcement. When she finally figured out what was going on she screamed and started crying even harder. It was really cute and certainly the biggest surprise of her life.

She carried the book around with her everywhere in a ziplock bag "for protection" for more than a month and has also requested a back-up book so she can safely store the original while still showing everyone her book. She's kind of crazy, but I'm glad she likes the book. I keep telling her it's the best $6 I've ever spent.

Monday, October 24, 2011

This Weekend and Last

Last weekend was so special. I've been going through a rough time the past few months, so I really needed a few days of fun. Last weekend was full of fun, family and friends.

Friday, a dear friend of ours (the one who introduced Chuk and me, and who performed our wedding ceremony too) who now lives in San Diego came to spend the night. He brought me flowers and Chuk beer. We sat around the kitchen table all night eating pizza and chocolate chip cookies and drinking beers. (Well, I drank water.) Then Saturday morning we had a nice big brunch and my cousin, who lives several hours away, came over. We played Scattergories until our bellies hurt from laughing.

Our friend had to leave that afternoon, but then we got to have some one-on-one time with my cousin. I hadn't seen my cousin in two years because she had been doing a tour of duty in the Middle East for the Navy. She had literally just returned to the U.S. the day before. (I'd also like to mention it was her second tour in the Middle East.) She's back stateside because, after twenty years in the Navy, she's retiring. I'm so proud of her and her service to our country.

We spent the rest of the afternoon walking down by the river and catching up and then we went out to dinner at a local restaurant.

On Sunday, Chuk made us waffles and then we headed out to my cousin's favorite spot in DC, Eastern Market. If you've never been, it's a combination farmers' market and flea market right in the middle of the city.

At Eastern Market, we had literally the best peaches I've ever had in my life. It's so late in the season, I don't know how the farmers kept them so sweet and juicy. I wish I had taken a picture. They were huge! Each one was like the size of a grapefruit.

We had a late lunch at a different restaurant, where we were able to dine al fresco. The weather that weekend was so perfect. Sadly, I had ended our fantastic visit on a down note when Chuk had to pull over the car on our way home so I could throw up on the sidewalk...for twenty minutes. My poor cousin was in shock. She's never had children and didn't realize my morning sickness was as bad as I had been describing it. She held herself together, but I think I traumatized her.

This weekend was much more low key. Chuk and I spent the at home or close to it. We went to IHOP Saturday night for some free pancakes (join their "Pancake Revolution" on their website and they'll email you a coupon for a free meal) and then we did a little shopping for the baby--a couple of pairs of pajamas and a pack of cloth diapers I'm going to turn into burp cloths. Sunday, I made a quick Ikea run while Chuk did homework with football on in the background. Then Sunday night I cut his hair and we watched The Amazing Race while doing laundry.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Are You Freaking Me: Forever Lazy

My favorite part are the "zippered hatches" described at 1:14, though I also really enjoy the comment that "it'll be the talk of your next tailgate." You're darned right it'll be the talk of my next tailgate. If you wore that to my tailgate party we'd be talking about "What the hell are you wearing" and "Have you lost your mind?"

What do you think? Horrible or the Snuggi's new and improved relative?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Blame It on the Rain

I totally have this song in my head (and now you do too.) Music from the early 90s is totally my favorite. Say what you will about Milli Vanilli, but this song is awesome.

P.S. I haven't been around for awhile for two reasons. The main reason is stupid Blogger wasn't publishing my posts. The second reason was because I didn't really have anything to say that wasn't a complaint (pregnancy, apartment troubles, etc). I was trying for that whole "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all" business. I slipped up with the above Blogger comment, but you know, some things aren't the rain's fault...they're Blogger's fault.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Still Feeling Barf-y

But I heard my baby's heartbeat for the first time yesterday, so hopefully it's starting to balance out. (Can you hear the pleading in my "voice"?)

Anyway, I'm alive and hopefully I'll have the energy to start posting again more regularly soon. In the meantime, I'm getting lots of rest and trying to keep up with your blogs. Please send me recovery thoughts.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Pregnancy Sucks

Riddle: What's worse than puking your brains out on a Friday night because you're totally and completely drunk?

Answer: Puking your brains out on a Friday night because you're not drunk.

I thought I was turning the corner on this morning sickness stuff, but apparently not.

You know that phrase, "Misery loves company"? I woke my husband up in the middle of the night so he could rub my back while I threw up. Then I made him promise me that the baby would love me more than him, because really, it's only fair.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Telling Family I'm Pregnant, Part I

Both my sister and brother live in California, so I wasn't able to tell them in person I'm going to have a baby, but I still wanted to tell them in a fun and creative way. I made them custom cards at Shutterfly using this deal, bringing the cost down to less than what it would cost to buy a greeting card from the drugstore.

I made the custom eye charts for free using this website. I had to play with the wording a little bit to make it fit without the superfluous letters at the end that the program adds. No matter what, the program adds an extra line of letters that I didn't want, so after I saved the image I cropped it using a photo editing program. Then I uploaded the saved file to Shutterfly (you could use any photo printing site, I only used them because I had a coupon code) and order the card.

Once the cards came in the mail I wrote something inside like "Can't believe your eyes? It's true!" and a personal message. I think they both really liked it. I liked that it was a different way to announce my pregnancy. I like to try to be original.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Remembering my Dad

Yesterday would have been my dad's birthday. Chuk and I celebrated with a makeshift picnic down by the river with some of my dad's favorites: shrimp fried rice and Jack and coke. (Don't worry, I skipped the Jack.)

This is such a bittersweet time for Chuk and me. Of course we're so happy to be expecting, but it's hard that we aren't able to share this exciting time with my dad and Chuk's mom. There's not a lot we can do about it, but we sit and reflect and talk and try to heal.

We scattered my dad's ashes in the Pacific Ocean, so it was nice to be by the water and think that there was a little bit of him with us.



On another note, this is the first time we've picnicked like this. Is was so easy just to grab take out from the local Chinese restaurant and eat it outside. We don't get delivery or take out very often, but it made the picnic so fast and easy. It seems like such a better alternative to eating in a crappy restaurant or having a pizza in front of the TV. I'm keeping this idea in the memory bank for a cheap date. (The shared order of fried rice was $7 and the soda was $1.25 from the grocery store, and if we did this again we wouldn't have soda. Not bad.)