Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Operation Garden 2010- Update 3

Our garden is finally in full swing after getting off to a slow start. We are starting to harvest and eat the fruits of our labor and so far it's been well worth it. Tonight for dinner we had fresh corn picked minutes before from our garden, last night we had summer squash, and we've also harvested quite a few cucumbers. I refuse to make pickles this year as I still get nauseated just thinking about them (last year's pickeling was when I was in early pregnancy on the ONE day I felt morning, I can't bring myself to eat them!), so we've been sharing with family and friends. I think we've harvested at least a dozen cucumbers so far with still tons growing on the vines. Still to come from our garden is broccoli, carrots, watermelon, pumpkin, and eggplant. I hope to make baby food out of the carrots, pumpkin, and squash for Mariela. My fingers are crossed that the carrots actually grow well this year!
Our 1st Harvest
I never knew what broccoli looked like before it was harvested and find it pretty cool how it grows. Even seeing the eggplant grow is pretty cool! Oh ya, and we had one ripe raspberry on our new raspberry bush and I ate it. I think some beetles are starting to attack it, so we need to figure out how to get rid of them before they hurt the new raspberries that are growing. I hope to get some more fruit from the bush this year as they are my absolute favorite and I have a raspberry crepe recipe I want to try. :)
1/2 of our garden is pictured here
We have tons of tomatoes on the vines, but none have turned red yet. Here's hoping we get some ripe ones soon, last year we didn't get a single one thanks to the tomato blight in our area.
The 1st squash we steamed with carrots

Thursday, July 15, 2010

One year ago today.,..

This is what A.R. and I were staring at on that Wednesday evening one year ago from today. Giddy with excitement at what was to be, yet terrified of the adventure we were about to embark on. Would we be good parents? Was the baby a boy or a girl? Who would s/he be most like in looks and personality? Would s/he think we were good parents and love us? What would it be like to hold her in our arms?
Parenthood is a gift and one I'll cherish always. It's a lot of work, but a different kind. One that comes with much reward for little expense (well, unless you count the cost of diapers :P). I love being a mom and I still stare at our little girl in awe to think that she was made by the teeny, tinyest cell from me and the teeny, tinyest cell from A.R. What a miracle she is...and oh. so. perfect. In my eyes she'll always be my baby girl even when she's taller than me and running off with boys or finding her way in college. I get it now, Mom. Thank you.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Once-A-Month Cooking: Round #2

This time around I was a little more seasoned and got brave and decided to come up with my own plan using the recipes in my book that we enjoyed from meal plan E and some new ones I found just browsing the other meal plans. I also opted not to cook a full 30 meals since the month of meals lasted us two months and it was absolutely exhausting to do it the first time around. Mariela was still only 8 1/2 weeks old when I cooked round #2 and I was able to breeze through it by cooking while she napped on my last week of maternity leave.

I also got smart and wrote out my own shopping list dividing the ingredients I needed by where they were grouped together in our grocery store (I still bought the meat in bulk at Sam's Club to save some money). By doing the list myself, I saved a TON of time shopping and was able to do it easily with baby in tow. It also wasn't as pricey because I didn't need as many spices as many were leftover from my original Once-A-Month cooking adventure. For cooking day(s), I planned to cook for three afternoons and only for a couple of hours maximum since Mariela's naptimes weren't always consistent at that point. I broke out the recipes once again by meat type (like the book does) and cooked beef recipes one day, pork and vegetarian dishes the next, and chicken on the final day. On the day I cooked the pork and vegetarian dishes, I cooked and diced the chicken for the next day's cooking, so it was already prepped. It worked out nicely and I found I was much more organized in the kitchen the second go round so the cooking portion went quicker as well.

Here are the 17 meals I cooked for round #2, feel free to email or comment if you are interested in any of the recipes:

Beef recipes-
Playoff burgers- YUMMY & perfect for grilling in the summer
French Stew- one of the best stews I've made and great for the crock pot
Green Chili Enchiladas- My favorite dish
Baked Beans & Hamburger- YUMMY, I recommend buying ready to bake rolls to serve with it
Marinated Flank Steak- great for the grill
Shish Kebabs- great for the grill- the pineapple made these scrumptious
Rosie's Meatloaf- our mutual favorite recipe
French Dip- another easy crockpot recipe

Chicken Recipes-
Sweet Soy Marinated Chicken- I loved this recipe, but A.R wasn't a fan
Herbed Chicken- DELISH!
Chicken Packets- very good, great for kids, and light for summer
Chicken Tetrazzini- A.R.'s favorite (we split the recipe and freeze in two portions)
Deborah's Sweet & Sour Chicken
Chicken & Rice Pilaf- delicious, but a little salty

Pork Recipes-
Stuffed Pork Chops- these were DELISH!
Cranberry Pork- a crockpot cook's must have

Other (vegetarian dish)-
Crustless Spinach Quiche- quiche is just as good for dinner as it is for breakfast

Monday, July 05, 2010

Mariela's Baptism

Mariela was baptised on June 27th at 1pm. I was a little nervous about how the day would go, but my worry wasn't needed as it turned out to be a beautiful ceremony and a great celebration with family and close friends. Mariela was (of course) a perfect angel. Her gown and bonnet were the same ones both my little sister and I wore when we were Christened as babies and it was made by my maternal grandmother. I'll be saving it to use with any future kids we have and hope to pass it along to them someday. Mariela slept through the entire ceremony even when the Deacon poured the water over her head. Another little boy was also baptised and he slept through the ceremony, too. The Deacon was impressed at both babies and how smoothly the ceremony went.
Mariela's Godparents are my brother, Pete, and our sister-in-law, Marisol. We are confident they'll make great role models and Christian examples for our daughter as she grows up and becomes a young woman. After the ceremony we had a cookout back at our home to celebrate with family and close friends. Everything turned out great even though we ran out of propane for our grill as soon as A.R. put on the first burgers and hotdogs. As a result we discovered that Cumberland Farm's tank refills are cheaper than Home Depot's, so that was a plus. We got her cake from Modern Pastry, a local Italian bakery our family loves, and it was delicious (and purple, of course!).
I was a little disappointed that our regular priest couldn't do the ceremony. He performed our wedding, my confirmation, my first communion, and my conditional baptism so it would've been kind of cool if he had baptised our first born. It turns out that he was diagnosed with Shingles, so he had to stay away from children not vaccinated for Chicken Pox for awhile. Thankfully, he is now feeling better and resting more comfortably.
God Bless our baby girl and her new Godparents!