Thursday, September 30, 2010

Stressful Nesting

As I am into my last eight weeks of my pregnancy I have been nesting and not the fun kind. I went to the doctors two weeks ago and they said that our little boy is not growing at the pace he should be. He was originally in the 50th percentile for size, (I'll take it, smaller babies are easy to get out right?!?) but at this appointment they said his size was down to the 27th percentile and they might have to induce me four weeks early! I began to panic! I have so many things that I need to have done around the house before he arrives and my time has been cut short by four weeks!

Needless to say, I have very busy the last two weeks trying to keep up on our house, get the nursery ready, and refinish a rocking chair. I have barely had time to think, let alone write some blogs that I have had in the pending status. I have finished most of the things I would like to accomplish, with the exception of my rocking chair.
Yesterday was another appointment for the baby and they performed a stress test. It is a test where they monitor his movements and heart rate. The doctor said he was doing great and unless he drops down to the 10th percentile I will be carrying him to full term. Which is wonderful news! Carrying him to full term is the best for his health and mine! Also, that means I have more time to get all my nesting finished, without all of the stressing.

In these somewhat unfamiliar and stressful times, it's hard to remember that I need to be enjoying these last few weeks before our lives are changed forever. I have been so focused on getting the nursery "just right" that I need to remember that when our little man arrives he is not going to care if his nursery is just perfect! I decided to take a step back this week and have someone come in to help me on all the cleaning in the house. I found a very nice lady on craigslist and I hired her to come in for a couple hours. Though it cost us some unplanned money, I feel the sanity she saved me was so beneficial at this point in my pregnancy.

I still have a goal to finish the rocking chair before he arrives, but other than that I am going to try my hardest to take it easy. I need to force myself to enjoy the down time because once our little bundle of joy arrives I am sure that I will be wishing I would have rested more.


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Decorating Above Cabinets

This is a followup blog to my previous blog on decorating above the cabinets. I decided to go with a white Tuscany theme in my kitchen. I really wanted some sort of wine theme and items that I found out the local thrift stores seemed to fit the white Tuscany theme, so I keep collecting the items as I go. I am really not finished with the decorating, but I will show you what I have so far.

First off, I decided to add some vines across the top of my cupboards. I just felt having a little green really helped draw the eye upward. I didn't want your standard vine, so when I found these "grape vine" like vines I felt it just emphasized my Tuscany theme.

I have talked before about this dead space above the cupboards that serves no purpose. (I would much rather have my cupboards go to the ceiling.) I work with a local wine store here in town and they were kind enough to give me a couple wine crates. I think they look just super cute in the dead space and I use them to hold random items that we need in the kitchen, but I just don't use a lot.
Here is the other side of the cupboards that are next to the pantry. I used one more wine crate and decided three was enough. You should see all my little treasures hidden in those crates!
I had my choice of about 100 of those little bird statues, I thought one was just enough for what I was going to use it for. Could you imagine my kitchen covered in birds? I guess someone who use to run a wedding decorating business dropped them off at a Salvation Army. And let me tell you, those little birds are HEAVY! If we every play Clue in my house it will end up being Mrs. Peacock, in the kitchen, with the bird statue!
Here is the complete picture of the cabinets above the sink. It's pretty hard to see all of my thrift store finds, so I took some closeup pictures. I am hoping to add more items as I find them.
I thought the vases were a nice contrast to each other. Short and fat vs. tall and skinny.
This is a handmade tile that someone created and then framed. On the bottom corner, it notes the time period and style that the tile was commonly used. I absolutely love this tile and searched all over the internet for more like it. Alas...I think this might have been someone's art project at the local college.
I really have no idea what this thing was used for, all I know it it has grapes and it's white. There was originally a little decorative piece on the top, but it was too tall for my space above the cupboards so I sawed it off.
Well, that is all the decoration I have so far. I have another stretch of cupboards above the cook-top that has a small vase displayed, but I really need to add more to it so I just left it out. I will update the pictures as I find more little objects.

I guess in conclusion of this project, I learned a few important things about decorating above cupboards:
1. Pick a theme or subject: It just groups everything together and makes it look so much more polished.
2. Less is more: Don't overcrowd the space, a small amount of items are all you need and it keeps the decorating from looking over done. Besides you have less dusting!
3. It's your kitchen, go with what you like. I have been so worried trying to look like a professional decorator I forgot to just focus on what I really like. I love the romantic, Tuscany look, and I am not going to spend a million dollars for knickknacks for decorating. Shopping at thrift stores, I have been able to find items I like and not spend a lot of money.

I would love to hear any responses/suggestions you might have for decorating above cupboards, so please feel free to leave a comment below.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

List for Beginning Families

My sister Beth is very close to having her first baby and she asked me for any recommendations on what she would need for this little addition. After having two children of my own and running a daycare for seven years I had a lot of suggestions for her. I decided to make her a list of what I feel are some of the best items to have for a newborn (and to put on your shower registry). I will probably modify this list as I keep thinking of new items to add. They are all in no particular order.

My list for the beginning families...your baby shower list of must haves!

Diapers-try both Huggies and Pampers to start off. They are very different and it does depend on what you works for your child’s shape and the how much they produce at one time. (Newborn diapers don’t count they are what they are... and they are only in them for a few weeks at most.)

Wipes-look for large cloths that are unscented. Some babies are sensitive to the scented ones. All brands are very different in feeling and in wiping abilities.

Bottles-I have found that the Platex air vent bottles work very well for most children and I love the fact that they come apart to be cleaned very well. They also have special ones for breast fed babies to help them not have nipple confusion. They have many different sizes of nipples that you can purchase to help fit your babies needs with how fast they like to drink.

Clothes- Oneies , sleepers, socks, moccasins, and other cute clothes to go out in public, little first born baby hats and mittens, and coat/snowsuit.

Baby Hangers

3-6 Receiving Blankets

2 Regular Blankets

6-12 old fashioned diapers clothes. They are old fashioned but they still work the best and are pretty affordable and great for burp cloths

3- fitted crib sheets: the extras are great for any accidents that might happen in the middle of the night

Formula or storage bags for breast milk

Breast pump

Crib: Make sure that the crib bars are not any bigger then a pop can could fit through

Port a crib or pack n play: Go basic because of less recalls!

Car seats: The carrier kind is nice when they are little but you will need to get the convertible kind sooner that you think. Also read the directions because every brand is different and it will affect a newborns position in them.

Head Rest Support: Used for a car seat or the hospital can show you how to roll up receiving blankets to support babies head.

Baby oil- the gel kind is great to use for cradle cap.

Diaper cream-butt paste brand is amazing.

Vaseline-I like the cream kind that comes in a tube. This is great for their little bottoms when the Meconium is coming out. It tends to irritate your skin. Also, if you have a boy, the Vaseline is good for the area that is circumcised.

Little finger and toe nail clippers

Head to toe baby wash

Baby lotion

Baby wash cloths

A wash tub for infants

Hooded towels

Diaper Change pad: Good for travel or around the house.

Tummy Time Toy

A Back Pack or Arap is also a very nice extra

Bottle Warmers are also an extra but is nice in the middle of the night

Well, that's is my list of things that are great to have for a newborn (in no particular order). As I said, I might add to it as I think of more and more items. Hope this helps some of you beginning families out there!


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Farmer's Casserole

I'd been meaning to make some sort of "egg bake" for Nathan for quite some time. You know they say the way to a man's heart is through his stomach! I must also admit that I absolutely love cooking something for Nathan and then seeing how much he enjoys it. I decided to whip up some Farmer's Casserole which is a recipe I received from a friend at my old job. Thanks Althea!

Farmer's Casserole
From Althea's Kitchen

3 cups of frozen, shredded hash browns
1 cup of shredded jack or cheddar cheese
1 cup of diced, fully cooked ham. User more if you prefer more meat
1/4 cup of sliced green onion
1/4 cup of green pepper
5 Eggs
12 oz can of evaporated milk

Whisk 5 eggs together with evaporated milk in a separate bowl.
Layer the other ingredients (in the order listed above) in a 9x13 baking dish that is lightly coated with pam
Pour egg/milk mix over potato layers
Bake at 350 (uncovered) for an hour or until potatoes on bottom are slightly browned


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Shopping Frustration

Too often I find myself frustrated the shopping options in my beautiful city. I want to preface this by saying I will be the first person to tell you my love and devotion for South Dakota. So much of who I am including my husband, my great faith life and even my job is because we moved to this wonderful place when I was thirteen. The taxes are quite low, as is the crime rate. It's a perfect place to raise a family! That being said, the shopping opportunities are... lacking. (This is also coming from someone whose college resided a few meager miles from the Mall of America). Sure we have a pretty good mall but because we are a smaller city (metropolitan population: 238,122) the stores are not well-stocked and don't carry as much variety.

Case in point, I am currently pining for Essie's new fall shade "Sew Psyched"

It is a perfect mix of dreamy gray and green. What a great neutral for fall! But can I find this beautiful shade anywhere? No. I called the only place that sells Essie in our city and when they told me they didn't have it I ask when they might be getting the Essie fall collection in. "No idea." Gee, thanks for your help.

To be fair, Essie is also sold out of this color on their website. But we never even HAD the color in our stores. I bet if I were back in the MSP area I could find a bottle. What is a fashionista to do? I'd like to believe things are looking up since we're getting a Sephora (YIPPEE!!!!!!!) but for now I'll just have to shop online or save it all up for the next time I'm in the Twin Cities.


Saturday, September 11, 2010

Veggie Joes (ABC Sloppy Joes)

Being a mother of two and runnning two businesses makes it hard for me to have time to get many things done. One thing I strive for is to make sure that my family always has a hot meal for dinner. This recipe has three great characteristics: simple, inexpensive and delicious. Your kids will love it!

1- 26 oz. can Campbell ABC's and 123's Vegetable Soup
1- 6 oz. can of Tomato Paste (6 oz)
1 pound of Beef or Ground Turkey
1 package of hamburger buns

1. In a large skillet, brown hamburger meat (or ground turkey).
2. Once meat is cooked, combine with the alphabet soup (do not add any water to the soup) and tomato paste.
3. Heat the mixture thoroughly.
4. Serve on hamburger buns and watch your children eat them up!! Enjoy!


Friday, September 10, 2010

A Teaser To The Nursery

Only 2 months to go until our little one arrives and I am sure many of you are wondering how the nursery is going. Well, my plans have changed...dramatically. You might remember the post Decorating the Nursery a few months back where I was begging for feedback (which I greatly appreciated!) The original plan was to paint green stripes on the bottom half of the wall. The main color was going to be green. I had the plan all set and ready to go...until I went fabric shopping.
Finding the right green to match this crib set below became quite the task! Here is the crib set below:I was searching for a green and brown fabric but found that most fabric with green and brown ended up being more of an olive green or a lime green. Neither of them matched the green crib set.

Another reason I decided to change my color scheme was that the thought of walking into the room with green stripes on the wall, a green comforter, and green curtains might be a little too GREEN!

So as I was browsing through the bolts of fabric I kept finding the green color I liked (and needed) and it always seemed to be paired with this really bright turquoise color. The color combination looked so nice together! I brought home a couples swatches to my hubby and he really liked the colors in a matter of hours, I changed our color scheme to turquoise and green. I ditched the stripe idea too. I want to have stripe accessories and thought that having stripes on the wall and on the accessories might be a little overkill.

For the wall colors, Valspar has this great website that lets you "digitally paint" a room. It was hard to find an image of a bedroom with a chair rail, but they had a hallway with a chair rail which helped to picked out the perfect color combination.

The top color is Woodrow Wilson Putty and the turquoise is called Swim. I chose to have turquoise on the wall instead of green because I thought it would add a little contrast to the room and the green bedding.

I am very close to finishing the room and I hope to reveal it in the next couple of weeks. Right now though, I will leave you with the image below of where I ended off last in the room. I am sure you can use your imagination for the rest!


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Killing Two Meals with One Bird

Last year as I am walking through the store closing clearance at World Market (**sob**) I came across this strange looking thing that was $10. I wondered, is this to hold chips or maybe a really heavy sombrero hat? So I asked and it turned out to be a vertical chicken roaster. I thought for $10, should just try it! I purchased it and it might be one of the best items in my cooking collection. Making a whole chicken has some great advantages:
1. The tray below is great for roasting veggies
2. Have you ever priced a whole chicken? It's about 89 cents a pound (on sale) which means yummy cheap food!
3. The chicken provides enough meat for 2 meals! Two easy and quick meals, which is the purpose of this post.

Meal #1: Roasted Chicken with Veggies:

Rub Ingredients (optional, you can make whatever rub you want):
Olive Oil
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/8 teaspoon ground thyme
1/8 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
1 teaspoon of rosemary

Veggies for roasting:
Potatoes, celery, onions, carrots, squash...whatever you fancy
2 tablespoons of Olive oil
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon of rosemary

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Make sure chicken is thawed and remove giblets from chicken. Rub the chicken on all sides with the oil and sprinkle with the poultry rub. Place the chicken upright on a vertical roaster, making sure the top of the roaster pokes through the neck cavity.
3. Slice up all the veggies into 1 to 1 1/2 inch chunks. Place in a large gallon bag with oil and seasoning. Shake till veggies are covered. Pour into bottom of roaster dish.
4. Roast chicken until the juices run clear and the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. Usually around 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes.
5. Remove from the oven and carefully transfer from the roaster to a platter. Let rest for 10 minutes before carving.
6. To serve, carve the chicken into pieces. Serve hot with roasted veggies.

Save half of the meat for the next meal. My husband and I are not fans of the dark meat, so I pull it off the carcass and freeze it to use for the next meal.

Meal #2: Easy Chicken Noodle Soup:
I found this Bear Creek Chicken Noodle soup mix and I am telling you, it's the best soup mix I have come across. This is a quick and easy recipe that takes about 20 minutes to make.
1 package of Bear Creek Chicken Noodle soup mix
10-15 baby carrots (sliced into 1/8 inch slices)
2 stalks of celery and some of the leaves (sliced into 1/4 inch slices and leaves chopped)
Any other veggies you want in the soup

1. Follow the directions on the back of the Bear Creek Chicken Noodle soup mix package. The first part calls for boiling the water. Throw the veggies into the water and cook until they are almost done.
2. Continue following the directions on the package (whisking in the soup mix) and cook for the directed time. Add in the leftover chicken from the previous meal.
3. Serve the soup with some nice crusty bread on the side.

Hope you enjoy these two recipes as much as I do. They make cooking around the house easy and simple!


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