Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Two new recipes a success!

Last Friday I had a dear friend over for dinner and used her as a guinea pig to try out two new recipes. One is from a blog I follow with hundreds of slow cooker recipes and the other is from the Food Network magazine. Both came out absolutely delicious!
The first recipe I tried was for a Coconut Beef Roast. The only things I changed was using pre-ground ginger instead of freshly grinding it and I used chili powder instead of chili paste. I don't like spicy and was concerned that using the paste would make it too spicy for me. I must say that I was a bit skeptical about coconut milk in a recipe for red meat, but as I mixed the spices with the meat, lime juice, and coconut milk it smelled amazing. I cooked the meat for 8 hours on low and it came out tender, juicy, and delicious. I served the Beef over whole grain rice with baby carrots.
I also tried out a recipe from the Food Network magazine for a knock-off of Red Lobster's famous cheddar biscuits (which, sadly, I have never had) called Almost-Famous Cheddar Biscuits. Mine sure didn't look like the photo, but they tasted great. I think mine were flatter because I used whole wheat flour instead of regular white flour and I may have processed the mix too much in my food processor. It was my first attempt at finally figuring out how to work my food processor and I think I got a little trigger happy with the pulsing. :)

Bon Appetite!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

It's a girl!

A.R. and I are so happy (and a teeny bit terrified) to become parents of a precious baby girl. It took quite a while for the news to set in and for me (I have trust issues, ok?) to actually believe it. I perused hundreds of gender ultrasound scans online comparing ours to both boy and girl scans before I let it sink in for good. We actually found out that it's a girl a couple of weeks ago at our anatomy scan at 18w4d, but didn't tell our parents until a week and a half later. We were going to try and wait for Thanksgiving, but A.R. was just too excited (and so was I!) to keep it a secret for long. This little lady is the first granddaughter for both sets of our parents and the first girl in Alexi's immediate family for quite some time. His mom had 4 boys and so far she has 4 grandsons so it looks like, to her, the 5th time is the charm. :) I'm the first girl in my Dad's family in 60 years, so it seems fitting that I break the girl cycle for A.R.'s family, too.
I told my family over the phone since they are down in NC by asking my mom to knit a lavendar hat for our little lady's newborn photos. She squealed and my Dad cried :). A.R. told his family at one of our weekly Sunday gatherings. He found some pacifiers in pink and purple that say, "I Love Daddy" and "Daddy's Little Girl" and put them on the counter with some Rice Krispee treats I had made and the Puerto Rican bread we get every Sunday after church. At first nobody noticed them, one of his brothers just pushed them aside without a second glance to grab a Rice Krispee treat. Then, my sister-in-law picked them up and got this really funny look on her face. Our littlest nephew is just 8 weeks old and you could see her just thinking in her head wondering why our other sister-in-law would buy girl pacifiers for him. A minute later she caught my gaze and I smiled and you could just see it click and she screamed, "Oh my gosh, it's a GIRL?!" A.R.'s mom teared up and lots of hugs were exchanged all around. My father-in-law is the only one who thought it was a girl from day 1 and he was beaming. I think we have to watch out for him spoiling our little princess.
I'm now 21w2d along and past the halfway mark already. This pregnancy sure seems to be flying by. We've signed up for some birthing classes and breastfeeding classes in the new year through the hospital where I'll give birth and we've registered as well. Registering was quite eye opening and a bit of a reality check for both of us. There are so many choices and it gets hard to decipher what you really need from the new gadgets and gizmos they have out there for babies that probably won't even come out of the boxes. I turned to one of my sisters-in-law for some advice on the necessities and now the registering is complete. We picked out our nursery furniture and I've actually already ordered the parts to our bedding set and the last of the items arrived today. We have the bumper, quilt, sheet #1, dust ruffle, diaper stacker, and hamper. The mobile is the only thing I missed out on and it's now out of stock. :( The paint colors have been chosen and we finally decided on how we'll be painting the walls. That is A.R's project when he's on break from school next month! LOL We chose Behr Premium Plus ultra paints in Minted Lemon (sage), Jasper Cane (pale orange/peach), Millstream (light blue), Calla (pale yellow), and Mystic Fairy (lavendar).
I must say that choosing a name is a lot harder than I thought. We have a few favorite girl names, but nothing set in stone and I honestly don't think we'll decide for sure on names until we meet our little girl for the first time.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Our Home 1 Year Later

We've been in our home one whole year now! On November 5th, 2008 after waiting for over a year and a half for the right lot and our home to be built we closed on our new house. The wait was long and nerve wracking at times, but oh so worth it! We both love our house and enjoy turning into a home to raise our family.
One Year later- Nov. 2009

In just the first year of home ownership we've learned so much and did quite a bit to our house. Even with a brand new house the work is just beginning! Here's a recap of what our new house, yard, and the proud new home owners (us!) experienced in the past year:
Before: Oct. 2008 at our final walk-through

1. Our first big project was to help the drainage in the front yard. It was a treacherous winter with one of our gutters draining across the driveway leaving a constant sheet of ice right near our front walk-way. A.R. and his brothers dug trenches and ran PVC pipes from the three front gutters to drain into the wetlands in our side yard. The project was a huge success and worked beautifully with no more water draining across our driveway. In 2010, we hope to do the same thing with the back yard, but there is no rush there.

2. A.R. swapped out the EXTREMELY annoying "green" light switches our builder put in each of the bedrooms with new switches with dimmers. The "green" light switches had motion sensors that turned the lights on and a time that would turn them off within a certain amount of time if no movement was detected. It was convenient when you arrived home at night with your hands full and wanted to go into the bedroom in the dark, but what this also meant is that if you got up to pee in the middle of the night or if you rolled over in your sleep the lights would all come on! So, we may not have green light switches, but we did swap all the bulbs out to be energy efficient. :)

3. We put blinds up in the family room, garage windows, the future nursery, and our two guest rooms. Curtains are yet to come in most of these rooms! I have the urge to sew and no recent energy to follow through :). I will have the curtains in the nursery, guest room, and for our solarium done before this baby arrives, darn it!

4. We lost a pet (my beloved kitty, Sebastian) and we gained a pet this year (our little puppy, Lily). Sebastian broke in our carpets with his scratching and Lily finished the job with her house training. Go figure!

5. We created an office in our loft area on the 2nd floor including floating book shelves and recessed lighting with the power cords run behind the walls. I was so impressed with A.R.'s skills when he put the lights in. :)

6. My ancient Kirby went to vacuum heaven and we finally got a Dyson. Who doesn't love a purple vacuum cleaner?! It's my favorite color AND it does it's job well. We also bought our first steam carpet cleaner (thanks to you little Lily!) as well and love it. You don't really realize all the things you need to maintain your house until you have it (carpet cleaners, tools, tool bench for those tools, lawn mower, snow blower, etc.).

7. In October we had the rest of our yard mowed, the weeds killed, and our whole yard re-seeded. We have almost 3/4 of an acre and couldn't really visualize the size of our yard until it was mowed. Now that we know how much room we have we are debating on putting in an in-ground swimming pool one day that will connect to the patio with fire pit we have envisioned off of our walk-out basement. We also will be putting in a deck off the kitchen and solarium in the next couple of years. There is a chunk of our yard that is wetlands and we didn't mow this year. We can actually mow it once a year, but chose to let nature grow what it wants this year. I think we may put our vegetable garden on it next year if the town permits it.

8. In the spring we figured out how to use a rotatiller and planted our very first vegetable garden. Our harvest this year was actually better then expected even though our tomatoes died from the blight that was going around. We got a huge pumpkin, butternut squash, yellow squash, green beans, and a crap load of cucumber. Gardening is definitely a lot harder than I thought!

9. I rebedded the shrub beds that the builder put in and added a new flower bed around our mailbox base. I put down landscaping fabric to help cut back on the weeds and put new mulch down. It took a lot longer than I thought and I got a horrible sun burn out of it (don't forget your sunscreen when gardening!). I planted hostas a friend gave me under the fence in our front yard, Lilies by the mailbox and at each end of the fence, and assorted flowering shrubs along the house next to the garage and miraculously everything I planted grew and lived!

Monday, November 02, 2009

My new love...

Rasberry pancakes. I have had an infatuation with rasberries oh say for the last 3 or 4 years. Rasberry and dark chocolate are my favorite combination, but this weekend I found my new favorite breakfast food...rasberry pancakes with rasberry syrup. Yum-to the-E! I went to a Tastefully Simple party at my cousin-in-law's house a couple of weeks ago and saw these in the catalog and had to try them out.
I am now in rasberry heaven. They were delicious. The mix can also be made into waffles instead of pancakes. I only wish they had larger containers of the dry mix.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Kindergarten Graduate!

Mommy, WOW! I'm a big kid now. Our little girl (aka Lily "monster") graduated puppy kindergarten on Thursday, October 29th. She can now sit, stay, down, wait, come, leave-it, and heel like a pro. Okay, well maybe not a pro, but she is doing great and is well on her way to growing up to be a well-behaved (and rediculously adorable) doggy.
Lily on the day we 1st met her at 3 weeks old.

Lily is the dominant dog at home, but it's a different story when she's around strangers and other dogs. She gets really shy and actually will yelp like she's hurt when she first meets another dog. Needless to say the first day of kindergarten was pretty tough for her, but by the end of the class she had come out of her shell enough to make some doggy friends in her class. We'll have to keep working on her socializing going forward, but I was very surprised and impressed with the progress she made in her class learning manners and tricks despite being shy. Of course dried liver treats are a wonderful bribe, I mean training tool. :)
Our star pupil listening to her kindergarten teacher

Great job Lily monster I can't believe you're growing up so fast. (She turned 7 months old today!) You may be a little "monster" at times, but I love your beautiful brown eyes, your crooked tail wag wiggle, your super soft fur, and the fact you LOVE to cuddle and ride in the car. You'll always be my little snuggle bug.
Our little graduate