Thursday, September 29, 2011

October's Meal Plan...Check

Hey guys. So it's officially my favorite time of the month...menu planning time. I guess it's the list maker in me that gets stupid excited over this task. I usually like to share new recipes and whatnot individually when I make them but since it's now starting to get darker earlier, decent pictures of meals aren't likely to happen. So I thought I'd share my menu for October and link you up to things I'm going to try. Now I won't be able to vouch for new things but I tend to stick to what works...and this month, it's comfort food. 

October is kind of a busy month for me, what with having the girls here for the Always Bloggy Meet-Up, plus a couple of parties I'm planning, so I'm leaving more than a few spots open. But if you have neanderthal/Kindergarten palates like I do, than you should be able to use this menu and add in whatever staple meals you normally do. Or you can pick and choose. Whatevs. But in the event that you want me to do all the work for you (doesn't happen often, I'm a lazy sonofabitch), then here is my grocery list for these meals. In using this list, I assume you have normal shit on hand like olive oil, salt, brown sugar, cumin, balsamic vinegar, garlic, the powders (garlic/chili/onion), soy sauce and season salt. If not, add it to your grocery list.  Ok here we go...

2) Autumn Chopped Salad & Grilled Cheese
5th through the 9th OPEN
10) Rice & Beans: One of our fave go-to's
12) OPEN
13) Breakfast for Dinner: You choose!
16) OPEN
19) OPEN
21st through the 23rd OPEN
25) Chili: I guess I have to admit that we eat the canned stuff...and like it
26) OPEN
29) Ham Steak & Pierogies
30) Tacos
31) Halloween!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Periods, Potter & A Future Scholar

That's the theme my friend Kelly came up with for our pal Katie's "Special Day". You see, in my group of friends, anytime you have a major life change, like getting hitched or birthin a babe, you get a "Special Day". It's different from your shower, more intimate if you will. Our little group of ladies tailor a day according to your likes, interests, life stage, stage of waddling and whatnot. You can see what we did for my friend Sarah here or what my pals did for me here. So back to Katie. She was due to give birth on 9/24/11. We knew we were cutting it close two weeks ago, but we managed to get a day when everyone was available and we did our thing. After taking her out to lunch, we came back to my house to celebrate "Periods, Potter & A Future Scholar". Periods as in period films, books, etc...Katie's a fan. Her nursery theme is Beatrix Potter and both her and her hub are pretty smart so we're thinking the wee babe will surely be a future scholar. See how that all ties in together? Clever clever!

So I set up a little tablescape, pulling crap from around my house for the Periods portion of the day. Then I hit up  goodwill for some old books. I hit the jackpot with an autobiography of Marie Antoinette that had a ton of great pictures. Pictures that Katie happened to recognize the moment she saw them. Because she read the book. See? We're good.


You might be wondering what a jar of colored pencils has to do with a Victorian library. Well the Potter portion of the day would require us to do some coloring. We made a Peter Rabbit banner for the nursery. And didn't finish it. Thus the lack of photos.



Anyway, I thought it ended up looking cute and so did Katie, so that's all I care about. 

While we colored, we played Kings and Queens, a game Kelly & I made up over Facebook chat one day. In order to win prizes (small random gifts from us), Katie would have to guess the answer to several riddles featuring famous Kings and Queens (as in gay dudes). Once again, my supremely creative bff Kelly came through with 20 genius rhymes...like so...

I generated cards using this site.

Once she guessed, we would reveal the answer from my chalkboard wall. These were all covered up before the game.

This sort of game entertains my friends and I to no end.

Anyway, we also had spinach dip and cookies, so you know a good time was had by all. Unfortch I had to duck out early because I had spent the day in debilitating pain. I was convinced I had a kidney stone because the pain was what I remembered it being. A six hour layover in the ER that night proved otherwise. It's purely muscular, which means no end in sight. It also explains the weeklong blog silence. So um, sorry bout that. I've been hopped up on narcotics, muscle relaxers and steroids all week. It sucks. I'm thankful for my husband and having fam that came and watched Gabe for me while I was useless. Boo to chronic back pain.

But moving on...it's a good thing we we were able to get together because only a few days later, a wee lass made her appearance!!

Introducing lil miss Nora James. Isn't she a beaut? Congratulations Katie & Andy, she's perfect. I should know, I got to go hold her!

This was my first baby-holding since Gabe was tiny. And man, it was weird! SO TINY!! I liked her though, she's a lil peanut. And that pose she's doing? With her hand up by her face? Totally my fave baby pose.

Yay babies!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Flashback Friday: The Honeymooners

My friend Jackie lives in California. I've been out west quite a few times now and I've loved every city I've been to. San Diego was perfection on a plate. Los Angeles fueled my post-high school dreams and I left a little piece of my heart in Santa Monica. San Francisco was lovely and it needs more of my attention. I'm pretty sure we even found ourselves in Compton at one point. Not sure though. Anyway, whenever I see Jackie gallivanting all over the golden state, I get a little twinge of jealousy but mostly I get wistful and nostalgic. Once I told Jackie that I honeymooned out there, she put the pressure on for a h-moon flashback. So here we go.

Before our wedding, way back in 2006, John's parents let us pick from any of their timeshare locations, which was extremely nice and generous of them. However, they're more of the let's hike through a forest type of vacationers where as I am the let's run around a luxury hotel room and oooh and ahhh at the little shampoos and conditioners type of vacationer. So our choice in destination wasn't that hard to narrow down. We picked Monterey, CA as our spot. From there, we planned on driving to Napa/Sonoma then onto San Francisco. Don't get me wrong, I was totally excited to see these places and was thrilled it was even an option. But when we pulled up to our hotel, I was kinda in shock. It was definitely swank. We stayed at the Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa right on the water.

Every morning, the breeze from the water would come through our French balcony doors and it was seriously heaven.  At night, we'd hear the whelps of the sea lions doing their thing out on the rocks. It was awesome.
We walked down Cannery Row (of John Steinback fame) and ducked into tourist shops, ate chowder from bread bowls, hit up the Monterey Bay Aquarium and other assorted toursity things. I love being a tourist.



We received some free whale watching passes so we hit that up at the crack of dawn. Of course, I was the dork who didn't plan for chilly weather so I bought a sweatshirt while we were there. And um, John looks like a baby here.


And we actually saw a shit-ton of whales before we both fell asleep sitting on a bench at the back of the boat. Romantical.

We did the Seventeen Mile Drive, which left us awestruck at the gorgeous natural sites and the ridiculous community of Pebble Beach. Riiiii-dic.




We also spent a lot of time drinking and smoking on the decks of our hotel. I'm pretty sure we were the only smokers in the state of California at that time, which left us with a lot of looking around and wondering if we were going to get in trouble.


We headed up to Napa, did a few tastings, then (unknowingly) drove over a gigantic mountain and wound up in Sonoma, I think? Either way, the vineyards are all like postcards. We did the tours and the tastings, which really are never big enough, ya know?






And um, you know I almost peed myself with excitement when we saw this teeny little winery. Think of all the personalized schwag we could buy! Who cares if the wine tastes like ass, it's got our last name on it! Posters! Fleece coats! Wine glasses! Oh yeah, they saw us coming. We bought a shit-ton of Wellington souveniers. And did you know that the great state of Pennsylvania hates booze-lovers like myself? We are not allowed to get booze delivered to our house. So we thought up an idea ahead of time. We brough one of those old-timey hard shell suitcases and left it empty. We bought tons of wine, wrapped it in dirty clothes and packed it up. Genius.



We also hit up San Francisco but only for a day, which I definitely regret. The main thing we wanted to see was Alcatraz and that took a huge portion of the day, so we kinda rushed around seeing a few other things. It was pretty awesome though and I'd love to go back. Anybody out there live in SF and want to host us? I didn't even get to see Lombard St! Meh!





Alcatraz was fascinating and creepy. We loved it.

We ended our night as we prefer to end every night, with ice cream.

So that was it. It was awesome. It was relaxing. Lots of memories. Everything a honeymoon should be.
Where did you go on your honeymoon?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Kitchen's Closed

Nursing has been good for Gabe & I. After a few days of figuring things out, we got into a routine and stuck with it. It involved him nursing whenever the hell he wanted and I was okay with that. On one hand it meant that my boy was getting all of the benefits of my breastmilk and I was happy to provide it with him anytime. On the other hand, it might have meant that I was also a little lazy. Oh, you want to nurse? Oh that means I have to sit on the couch and catch up on Real Housewives? Go right ahead. You can also go ahead and fall asleep on me and I'll just sit here. This about summed up the first few months of Gabe's life. Then we started venturing out and I learned to nurse in "public" (aka my car or Macys bathroom) as well as mastering the pump and dump. We were good to go. Then he started eating real food and things got even easier. He was less dependant on me for all of his meals and I felt a good bit of freedom. But he still nursed A LOT.


Over the last couple months though, nursing changed. Once my sleepy, cuddley baby, Gabe now turned into a yoga instructor and his moves were all downward facing dog and shit. He got himself into some positions that would baffle a yogi...all while still latched on. Luckily for me, it was only occasionally painful and mostly amusing. And for as many times as my mother-in-law would ask, I rarely got bit. However, it's only gotten worse. He latches on then begins by grabbing his one foot, while sliding the other foot towards the floor. If not for my firm grasp on him, I'd be without a certain very necessary appendage (assuming nips count as appendages). Take these antics and multiply it by at least six times a day and we've got quite the quandry. Plus, I'm now under the assumption that Gabe is no longer nursing for milk at this point. I am basically a giant pacifier. And honestly, I'm tired of it.

So I've decided to wean him. I always said if he started pulling at my shirt when he wanted to nurse, I'd be done with it. And dude pulls at my shirt, so I'm done. Not cold turkey or anything but a definite blow to his normal routine.  At my mom's (basically my pediatrician) advice, I started by cutting out one early evening session. It sucked. He cried and got pissed off and basically clawed at my shirt. This reaction just convinced me I was doing the right thing. So little by little I distracted him with his water cup or some puffs and eventually we got through to the next meal.

I'm now at the point where I'm trying to do 3 nursing seshes a day: early morning, before naptime and before bed. I don't look forward to it because it's all Gabe knows and he's clearly not thrilled with going without. Then we'll go down to two, then finally one in the morning. After reading Kristal's very similar post about weaning, I'm holding a little more hope that this will go smoothly and that Gabe will be happy and well adjusted and maybe even sleep a lil bit longer in the morning. I can dream, right?

By the by, I am super proud of myself for nursing Gabe this long. Yep, it wasn't always convenient and there were those days early on where it felt like hell, but I really feel that I did G a great service by sticking with it. So yay me! Keep your fingers crossed that this doesn't totally suck and I'll keep you updated!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Gabe Walks & I Married an Italian

You know those rare weekends where you pack a whole bunch in but don't feel like you ran around like a chicken with your head cut off? Just a full weekend of stress-free, smilely face-havin' events? Well I just had one of those. Apologies if you follow me on Twitter because I've already blabbed about pretty much all of this. And apologies for my phone pics...I've become one of those people. The people that think it's okay to post these craptacular pictures on their blogs.  And btw, are you on Twitter and I don't follow you? Let's fix that because I need to follow more entertaining people. Anyway, like I mentioned last week, Friday was our anniversary. John was proactive and came home from work on Thursday with some perty perty flowers. I love the pink and red together.

All day Friday, and most days lately, Gabe has been something of a little a-hole. If he's not refusing ALL food besides Cheerios, he's crawling between my feet, fussing. All he wants to do is nurse, which makes my attempt at weaning him (story for another day) pretty much an exercise in futility. All I hear is that he's teething. Yep, I know. One year molars. I'm sure they hurt like a bitch. But omg, can we eat a yogurt so that I don't feel like you're going to starve? Anyway, I actually sent John a text Friday early afternoon telling him that I was sorry to sound like one of those annoying women, but if he brought home wine or ice cream, it would make my day. Pity party anyone?

So we're hanging out that afternoon, playing as we do, when all of a sudden, Gabe pulled himself up on a side table and started walking around the room. Weaving in and out of the toys on the floor but staying upright, he had the biggest smile plastered on his face. After a minute, he'd fall. Then he'd crawl right back over to that table and start again. This happened about 12 more times. By the 5th time, he was throwing his head back and cracking up, taking off into the dining room, around the table and back again.

My baby walks!

And just like that, I feel like he switched from baby to toddler. It's like he's a little boy now. So weird.

In all the excitement of tweeting these pics and uploading them to FB and calling every relative on earth, my sourpuss mood of that morning disappeared right out the window. Which meant that when John brought home a bottle of wine, I got to enjoy it. Not use it to numb the day away. Not that I would ever do that. Nope.

So after putting Gabe to bed, we set up some Scrabble and got down with our Wine & Scrabble Tourney. The drunker we got, the more absurd the words were that we would try to convince each other were legit words. At one point, I secretly tweeted this picture to get some help. Somehow I had imbibed too much liquor to see the makings of L-I-Q-U-O. Thank you Jamie & Meaghan for your assistance.


We continued our anniversary celebration by letting me sleep in on Saturday morning. Wasn't that nice of us? Ha. It was glorious though. I think I slept til 9:40. Say wha?!?!

I went downstairs to find John whipping up pancakes. From freaking scratch. I should mention that John doesn't even like pancakes(while I want to marry them Pee Wee Herman style) and had never made them before. He looked them up in his America's Test Kitchen book and proved that that book is never wrong. Those pancakes were perfection.

Sassage!

After hanging around the house, leisurely getting showers and whatnot, we headed out to our town's end of summer festival. The theme was Dog Days of Summer, so it was dog-friendly. Which just meant it smelled like wet dog. And dog pee. I like neither smell.

Know what I do like? Blog-turned-IRL friends deciding to make the same plans that day. Lizzie Beth and JEGS even forsook (is that a word?) their own town's community day to head to ours. Traitors.

They had colonial demonstrators like this guy.

And bored little dudes like this guy...

And the festival kept running out of all the good food you'd want...homemade popsicles, crabcakes, deep fried snickers. But the LB appearance made it an entertaining day.

And even better, we got to go out on our date! I was taking restaurant recommendations on Facebooks when I saw a Living Social deal come through for a restaurant I had recently seen that had gotten good reviews. Um, $30 for $60 worth of grub? Sold. Plus it was in Wilmington which is so much closer and less annoying than driving into Philly. Win! So we got dressed up.

And headed to Moro, which was a converted row home, but surprisingly big. It was swanky and romantic and the food was ridic. John had the quail, which we both agreed was phenomenal. I had a filet because I'm boring.

But then it was time for dessert and my eyes zeroed in on one word on the dessert menu: Nutella. I don't even know what this thing was, but it was called a Butterscotch Bundino. Remember, it was dark, so all I know is that it involved a chilled Nutella base, a pudding-like layer, a cream layer and maybe something else? Some crunchies on top? I dunno. I served divorce papers to the pancakes from breakfast though and married this Bundino.

Mrs. Shannon Bundino...must be Italian


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