Wednesday, November 26, 2014

How We "DO" Thanksgiving

With the holiday season comes longer grocery store lines. This gives me the chance to peruse magazines while waiting. Last week, I got to flip through the November issue of The Food Network Magazine. There was this really cool article where some of their Chefs answered questions about how they do Thanksgiving. I thought it would be fun to share a little about our "trends" in the last seven Thanksgiving meals together.

Question #1: What time is “mealtime” on Thanksgiving Day for you? Most of my Thanksgiving celebrations have always been a late afternoon meal. As a kid, we always got together at someone's house around 11am nibbled on finger foods and appetizers and just spent the time preparing food and laughing together. The same is mostly true now, we just don't always get together so early but there is always appetizers and food prep.

Question #2: What’s your Worst Thanksgiving Disaster? I haven't had too many cooking disasters during holiday meals. That is Berkeley's department. Our first Thanksgiving, he dropped a pie and our second or third Thanksgiving he nearly lost the whole bird.

Questions #3: Do you Brine your Turkey or No Brine? Yes! The last four years Berkeley has used a brine on our turkey before smoking it.

Question #4: Do you have an “oddball dish” that you serve at Thanksgiving Dinner? Occasionally, we make an Apple Salad with a tangy yogurt dressing. Also, a Carrot Raisin salad makes an appearance every now and then as well. That is about as "oddball" as it gets though.

Question #5: Stuffing… do you put it in the bird or out of the bird? Outside! Always. The End. Haha! The more specific answer is that smoking stuffing doesn't turn out well.

Question #6: What is your pie of choice? Oh pie! I love pie! Since I am only going off of our last seven years I guess I am going to say my Nantucket Cranberry Pie. My old standby was my mom's mincemeat pie. I don't think many people make them anymore but that was my favorite as a kid.

Question #7: What are you most thankful for? This year I am particularly filled with all kinds of  emotions and feeling immensely blessed. Right now, I am so incredibly thankful for our family, our friends, and for all the love and excitement for this little one. Of course, my Thanksgivings (or my life) would not be what they have been if it weren't for Berkeley.

I hope you all have a fantastic holiday this week. Enjoy your food. Enjoy your family! And if you want to share any of your Thanksgiving traditions or answer any of the questions. I'd love to read your responses!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Gratitude Pumpkins Kids Craft

This month I hosted a Kid's Craft Day at our church with an emphasis on Thankfulness. Although my lesson had a religious foundation, the craft portion can be used for anyone. It was fun, cheap, and easy for kids of all ages.
The idea was a merge of two similar crafts I saw on Pinterest; Moffatt Girls Thankful Pumpkins and Scottsdale Mom's Blog Paper Pumpkins. I took the two ideas and adapted them to work with the lesson I had planned and with a range of ages of kids I was expecting to have there. Like I mentioned, this was an activity for the kids at church and the bulk of them range from 18mos to 10 years old and this craft had to accommodate all those ages.
I started with the idea of listing things "I am thankful for...". I created a sheet with the prompt with six prompt strips and printed it on 8.5x11 card stock. Each child and a few adults filled in their answers. Some of the younger kids just colored and us adults filled in some answers for them.

The next step was to cut the strips. They varied in size from 1.5 to 2 inches. The fun part was using decorative scissors to cut the strips out. I also had cut out strips of yellow, red, and orange 1.5" strips of construction paper to fill in between the written prompt pieces.

Once all the pieces are in an order you like, I followed the Scottsdale Mom's Blog tutorial for most of the craft. I punched holes in the ends of the strips, and threaded the pipe cleaners through. I fanned out the strips and made it look fuller and take the pumping shape. This is where the two paper types really helps. The card stock give structure and the construction paper is thinner and more pliable to fill in the gaps between the heavier card stock strips.
Once everything looked pumpkin-y, I untwisted the pipe cleaners a little and wrapped them around the end of a pencil to give the curly look. Our pumpkins were finished with a leaf printout with the key bible verse of the lesson. Again, that can easily be adapted to just be a name tag like in the Moffatt Girls' tutorial.

All together this craft took about 15 to 20 minutes to put together. The kids ended up with a cute fall themed craft that also served as a reminder of all the things they are thankful for this year. I am also tempted to do this on a smaller scale for place cards at a table. The possibilities are endless.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Anti-Inflammatory Diet | At The Start

The last month or so I have alluded to this vague diet change I have embarked on. At our 12 week appointment one of our midwives suggested that I start following an Anti-inflammatory diet. The suggestion came as a way to help keep my blood pressure and blood sugars at a good level to allow for birthing at their birth center. The word "diet" was followed by no dairy, no flour, no etc. My eyes kinda glazed over. To be honest, I freaked out a little but with Berkeley's help, I jumped right in to this change that very day.

The next week, I got lost down the internet rabbit hole trying to research this new diet and only getting contradicting advice. What I found out that is that there is no specific diet. There is a general guideline that you cut out any foods that cause inflammation with the standard of starting with cutting gluten and excess sugars, and adding a ton of veggies. This "standard", with some input from others, was the basis for my diet change. I am currently five weeks in and my current guidelines for my diet are: as little gluten as possible, no excess sugars, whole grains, whole fat natural dairy products, using unsweetened almond milk instead of cow's milk, hormone free grass fed meats, and adding high quality vegetables with every meal. I have been diligently reading labels as well to make sure nothing I consume has High Fructose Corn Syrup. The most important things for my success have been cutting out cow milk, all the excess sugars, and low quality, unhealthy fats.

On the surface, this makes it look as easy as swapping this for that. To be honest, if this were just to get me to lose weight, not aiding in a healthy pregnancy, I probably would have quit after the first few days. It is hard to make the switch. Detoxing from the crap and chemicals left me feeling horrible. We were traveling at the time and I spent a good 6 hours in our hotel room with a migraine. It sucked but it has been worth it. Once I cleared out a lot of the things I couldn't have at home, things were a lot smoother.

I am in no way a dietician or nutritionist and these are just the things that have worked well for me, but this has definitely been really beneficial. I will also say that being pregnant has its own difficulties and sometimes I really just need some frozen yogurt or a small glass of chocolate milk. Another thing that had added to my success with keeping up with this diet change so far is allowing myself the occasional cheat. the difference is I don't put ten million toppings on my yogurt and I only drink a 4oz glass of chocolate almond milk instead of the 12oz glass and those things don't happen in the same day or even the same week.

Like I said, this is only five weeks in with very many more weeks to come. I hope to continue to follow this diet as well as I have these first few weeks for the remaining 25 weeks of the pregnancy and even further. I think the next challenge will be sticking with it during the holidays and up at Snowbowl once our season starts. Also, I hope to share more of the "recipes" of what we have been eating on this new "diet".

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Hello Baby!

So yeah, SURPRISE! It feels so good to be able to hit publish on Tuesday's post and on so many of the upcoming posts. Some of you may have seen it coming with my absence and various social media activities (or lack thereof), and some of you that know me in person have even noticed my growing midsection. Also, I am terrible at secrets! We are both incredibly excited, so after our parents and siblings found out immediately, we told a majority of our close friends between 8 and 11 weeks. The rest of our family received the news the last few weeks via a postcard (hopefully all the intended recipients received their mail) with the same photo I posted on Tuesday.
We are officially at 16 weeks and the baby is approximately avocado sized or dill pickle sized or something like that (all the apps and calendars say something different).   Overall, I am feeling good. I've gotten a lot of remarks from mama friends that have either absolutely loved being pregnant or absolutely hated it. I am in the middle. Some days are great, others not so great. Mainly, I am just sore and tired and boy was all that wedding traveling rough!

I find it totally ironic that as soon as I publicly bitch about not getting pregnant, we get pregnant. Also, around the same time we found out, I lost all creative drive and hit a huge writer's block. Nothing new or exciting was being cooked in our kitchen or made in the craft room for a few months. I don't want to ever force anything here so I just kept away for the most part. On top of everything, I still haven't gotten that 2nd trimester burst of energy everyone talks about, but instead I developed "morning sickness" at week 11 that is still lingering and a horribly stuffy nose.
Despite the lack of energy and the "morning sickness" at 11 weeks, now that I am in the second trimester, I have been feeling the need to finish a lot of my creative projects. I have been cranking through the last few months of Project Life that I have missed out on. I also made my first item for the baby. I made a quick patchwork snuggle blanket that I used in our announcement photo. Everyday, my to do list grows longer and longer as I think of all the projects (ya know, besides incubating the baby) and things that need to be done in the next 5 to 6 months. Some of the upcoming projects include sprucing up a chifforobe, refinishing a rocking chair, and converting the guest room/craft room into a baby room.

Also at 12 weeks, I had a really discouraging appointment. Nothing was wrong with the baby, but I had an overall rough time with failed blood draws and what not. I was also advised to try out an anti-inflammatory diet to help keep gestational diabetes and high blood pressure at bay. It has been touch and go, especially with the nausea/morning sickness. We are finding our footing with the changes and I am hoping to document some of that here as we get our bearings. More real time updates can be found on Instagram.

Our appointment this week more than made up for the craziness of that first appointment. We FINALLY got to hear the wee one's heartbeat! Baby was being a little shy the first time we went in and kept moving away from the doppler. This time, while still being a wiggly little thing, we were able to get the heartbeat loud and clear. The whole rest of the day I was so emotional. I just felt like I was going to burst into to tears at any moment. The heartbeat really just made everything so real! I can't imagine how we will feel in four weeks when we go for our anatomy scan.
Speaking of anatomy, let me take a moment to answer the inevitable question: We are currently planning on not finding out the gender of the baby. Gasp! I know. "That's so old-fashioned!" "You're such a hippie" and "You are going to regret not finding out" are all common responses we have gotten from friends and family. We have considered all sides of the argument but Berkeley and I decided that we want to wait until our son or daughter arrives. Man it is so weird to type "our son or daughter".

That being said, I think it is a boy! I've been having very vivid and bizarre dreams that include boy babies. However, Berkeley thinks girl. Either way, we are so very excited and looking forward to that additional element surprise come May.

This is getting really long and kinda rambling, but I guess you can say this is all the details I have been wanting to share since finding out almost 13 weeks ago. I am hoping to find a good balance between what this place was prior to baby and incorporating baby so bear with me while I figure it all out.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A Little Treat

We are so excited and so filled with joy that we finally get to announce that a little one will be joining us this coming Spring! 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

November | Currently

taking in the changing weather.
wearing lots of layers. 
sleeping in these pine tree flannel sheets
drinking veggie smoothies at least once a day. 
snuggling tiny houseguests while their mama is busy bringing a new one into the world. 
listening to this album on repeat the last few days. 

eating apples and peanut butter with granola.
taking lots of grown up "timeouts". 
reading kid's books over and over.
loving the added sense of security our little backyard fence provides.
celebrating our two year wedding anniversary almost a week late. 
counting down to Thanksgiving and Christmas.
filling out paperwork for working at Snowbowl again this winter 
excited to see what this season brings. 
catching up on the last season of Grey's Anatomy. 
planning events for church.
thinking I am going to be cutting off a bulk of my hair.
looking to pinterest for inspiration for new hairdos.
hunting for the perfect table (still).

Friday, November 7, 2014

Week in the Life 2014 | Thursday words + photos

Week in the Life: Thursday Oct 30
This is the end of the week for me. My documentation of this week opened my eyes to my own personal style and my own habits. Lately, I have been relying heavily on routine to get me through the day. If my routine or plans are interrupted, my whole day gets a little off. 
9:28 am | high protein granola + nuts and berries + almond milk = second breakfast. Obviously this is the same breakfast as Monday and the same style, just a different day and my spoon in a different position. Again, the routine of it all.
11:40 am | Checking midday emails. Most days, I try to limit checking my email to three times a day. Even that feels like a lot to me, but I manage 6 or 7 email address with two being personal and the rest being "professional" for an organization, so it is necessary. Sometimes, I get overwhelmed, sometimes I want to close it all and hand the reigns over to someone else.
1:09 pm | A throwback to that one time I was on the front page of the local paper because my teen mom graduated high school. The newspaper clipping came in a package I had received over the weekend and I had just gotten around to going through the large stack of photos and memorabilia that was tucked into the package. There are so many stories this photo of a photo tells.
4:18 pm | We don't have a dinner plan so the searching and contemplating of what to make for dinner begins. In the end, we ultimately decided on leftovers since we had so many options.
9:45 pm | This is how Berkeley falls asleep most nights. As for me, I normally just roll over and pass out.

And that is it for Week in the Life 2014. I am currently working out the details for adding this into my Project Life album. I think it will take up the bulk of my monthly style documentation with a separate section for the two weddings we attended. When I get that all put together I will share here.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Week in the Life 2014 | Wednesday words + photos

Week in the Life: Wednesday Oct 29
Below you will find THREE photos from Wednesday! Yep, a whopping three. Both my iPod touch and my camera got forgotten at home during my errands that day. 
 8:37 am | Getting in a few hours of work before starting errands for the day. During this time of year, "work" is unpaid for our church congregation. I am in charge of our "internet presence" and updating our website with the weekly sermons. While we traveling for weddings this past month those things didn't get done so there is a little bit of a backlog. Today I was tackling some of those file uploads and typing sermon notes.
There are two things in this photo that caught my attention as well. First, working from home means you get to stay in loungewear/pjs as long as you want. Second, I really need to get my hair trimmed up. Thems some scraggly ends!
2:31 pm | After errands and a meeting, I got home and had a "second lunch" of sorts. While out I ate black bean soup/chili around 11am but needed a little bit something after running around. Enter in this strawberry peach kale smoothie made with almond milk. Most the time when I have a smoothie, I drink it from a beer pint glass. Our regular tall drinking glasses are a clear smoke color that tend to make smoothies look unappealing.
7:35 pm | The Lumberyard for dinner and Game 7 of The World Series. Berkeley was really in the mood for a beer and a burger. I had other ideas with a salad. We split the most amazing hummus plate. It was delicious! Also, we watched The Giants win! It was awesome. I fully accept the Bandwagoner label when either them or Boston Red Sox are doing well. Other than that, I really don't bother with baseball. It was not a sport my parents were into growing up so I have no connection with it. Football and hockey are whole different games (literally and figuratively Ha!)

I have been noticing that I default to the same few shots. From above, at a crooked angle, and detail shots, and almost always landscape orientation are my faves. I really really need to get more of Berkeley and I in full shots and tell more of our story together. Sometimes, it is really hard to capture the little things that make up our relationship. Cameras don't genuinely capture the small gestures and the shared expressions that convey everything without words. I wish there were more ways to capture those things to share with our future children as an example of love, as an example of what to wait for.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Week in the Life 2014 | Tuesday photos

Week in the Life: Tuesday Oct 28 
Mostly photos today as I ended up with only a handful of photos and most of which I hated. My plans for the day were pretty derailed and I defaulted to activities I have documented already or have a hard time remember to take photos, like sewing. 
I didn't capture as much as my day as I wanted to. Our day started at 6:30am. Berkeley left for work and I enjoyed a little music while freshening up for the day. I had a busy day planned and was hoping to document that but all my plans fell through. My back up has been finishing this blanket I have been working on piecing together which does not always lend well to photographing. Berkeley spent the day in the forest seeding and nailing down straw mats for erosion control and then prepared a pretty good dinner. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Week in the Life 2014 | Monday words + photos

Week in the Life: Monday Oct 27
I really wanted to focus on the "Why?" stories this year with my Week in the Life documentation. Although I didn't post any photos from Friday - Sunday, I ended up with a little over 200 photos for all three days. It was insane, but I was engaged in the project. The main story of Monday was readjusting and getting back into the swing of home life. Today's photos were all taken with my iPod touch. 
7:50am | Usually, I am out of bed with Berkeley at 6:30 while he gets ready for work but that didn't happen today. After a long weekend, I was exhausted and the weather wasn't helping the situation. I was lucky to get to spend a little extra time in bed this morning zoning out a little bit of TV. 
8:30am | Hunger finally roused me and brought me downstairs for breakfast. A new morning staple is granola and unsweetened vanilla almond milk. As part of healthier food options we are cutting out some dairy and extra sugars. This whole adventure is a whole novel unto itself. However, I ended up bringing my breakfast up to bed with me for a little extra lazy time. 
9:16 am | Shower time. Products and products and products. We have more bottles of shampoo, conditioner and other various products than I know what to do with. These five bottles are just a small sampling of them. The funny part is that the bottles I use are highest on this window ledge and all Berkeley's beard products are on the lower shelves. No matter how I try to rearrange it, somehow my three bottles and bar of soap end up at the top. 
10:47 am | I found a stash of fabric scraps from my grandmother that fit the color scheme of the blanket I am working on. I needed just a few more pieces to fill in my rows. My rotary cutter needs a new blade but I don't want to venture across town so I measure and cut the rest of the pieces by hand. It is tedious but necessary. 
11:00 am | I finish with cutting. The next step was arranging the square pieces into the "pattern" for the blanket. This stack is about 255 pieces of fabric. I am noticing that I am really drawn to the fall colors this year and the scraps I found in my stash really tie a lot of the different fabrics together. I am so focused on the getting the blanket done, I spent the next 4 hours working on joining the individual pieces into strips of 15. 
6:35pm | Berkeley arrives with dinner. Chipotle. I opted out of the dairy and tortilla and was bummed about it. The little doodles made it somewhat better but didn't make up for the distinct lack of flavors I crave from Chipotle. I just have to remind myself that it is for the best and the outcome will be a greater reward than my need for sour cream and cheese.

As I am preparing my posts, I have noticed that most of my documenting ends when Berkeley gets home. Not good. I am hoping I can change that.

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