Just a few essentials

I can’t believe I’m only one week away from my THIRD trimester. Our little girl is now the size of a bunch of bananas (thank you, weird apps for giving me such an odd size for my baby) and is getting bigger every day.

As I’ve been reflecting on the past 27 weeks, the biggest thing that comes to my mind is how fast it’s all gone by. It’s still amazing to me that God is knitting together our daughter in my womb, and that He does it all in nine months. There’s so much beauty in that, and I don’t want to forget it. I did find myself wishing I’d written more down, so here goes!

I’ve started a pretty good list of essential items for pregnancy. These are things that worked great for me, and many of them came at the recommendation of friends. Here are just a few:

Mama Bee Belly Butter

Burt’s Bees Mama Bee Belly Butter
I just started using this a few weeks ago, and boy, is it the bomb. I love it because it doesn’t have a scent and it keeps my stretching stomach moisturized all day. I haven’t had any trouble with stretch marks yet, so hopefully this will only keep the good trend going! For $13, it’s totally worth it and it lasts.

Maternity Tank Tops
I started wearing these in the first trimester and they’ll probably carry me all the way through. Basically, they’re just stretchy, long tank tops that hold you together and shape you up so you feel good and look good in your clothes. Because, let’s face it, your stomach isn’t the only thing (or the first thing) that grows when you’re pregnant. Target’s are awesome, and they carry them in the colors boring people like me need most – black and white.

A Giant Water Bottle
Go ahead and start drinking water from the moment you wake up until the moment you go to bed. It makes you feel better, and yes, it makes you pee more. Go ahead and embrace the stereotype and invest in a good water bottle. I’ve got a Camelbak Eddy (pictured) and I love it because it has a straw, allowing me to drink without using my hands. Lazy hydration at its best.

Tracker Short IIILululemon Tracker Short III *4-way stretch*
I’ve continued exercising throughout my pregnancy, which I’ll share more about in another post. These shorts are the ticket. Yes, they’re a little expensive ($54), but I’ve heard from numerous friends who have bought in a size up (as I did) and then sold the shorts on ebay after baby (or just saved them for their next pregnancy). These babies hold up, and they have a large, stretchy waistband that allows for your growing gut. Just throw them on with a long tank or tee and you’re ready to go!

Target Underwar
I noticed near the end of my first trimester that my Victoria’s Secret standbys weren’t doing the trick. Ladies – you want to be comfortable. Just give in, go to Target, and buy some big, cotton underwear. They feel amazing, even if you’re only wearing them around the house.

Vicks VapoRub/Nasal Strips
One thing nobody ever told me about pregnancy was how a stuffy nose might follow you the entire time. This has been the case for me, and is often why I don’t sleep well at night. The best news? There are very few things you can take for congestion while pregnant, and I didn’t feel comfortable popping a pill every night. I toughed it out for a while, but eventually found some relief with Vicks VapoRub (just a little bit under my nose right before bed) and nasal strips. I usually do one or the other – sometimes I get tired of the strips because they make my nose itch (and you can’t scratch because you’ve got a giant band-aid on your face). Either way, these are good to have in the cabinet.

I also finally gave in and bought a Snoogle pillow. It takes up our whole bed, basically, so I hope it works. Tonight, I try it for the first time! Stay tuned.

These are just a few of the things that I’ve loved having around for pregnancy. The rest are mostly food items, because Mama’s got to eat. I’m sure the third trimester will bring on a few more products, and I’ll do my best to share my favorites! Week 27, here we come!

It’s a girl!

A few weeks ago, we hosted a gender reveal party for family and a few friends. Adam and I knew the gender going into the party, and I’m so glad we did. Here I was thinking it was a boy the whole time and when the ultrasound tech proudly announced it was a girl (and, it was VERY clearly a girl on the screen), I think I went into a bit of shock. Not that I wasn’t thrilled – I was just so surprised after being so sure I knew what baby Pike was.

It was a lot of fun to have a little secret for a few days – it gave us the chance to dream about our little girl and talk about her just the two of us.

Family helped us out with the food for the party – we did BBQ chicken sliders (which were absolutely delicious), my grandmother made her awesome coleslaw and my mother-in-law whipped up a tasty pasta salad. I had a few finger foods out and made some sangria. It was a fun, laid-back afternoon at the house.

For the big reveal, I had some cupcakes made from my favorite dessert place in Raleigh – The Cupcake Shop. I was tempted to get my favorite flavor (strawberry) but I figured that would give away what we were having right away. Instead, they filled some of their vanilla cupcakes with a pink buttercream that you could only see after taking a bite.

And boy, was that an exciting bite! It was so fun to see everyones’ reactions and to celebrate together. That was definitely my favorite part of the whole day. My grandfather, B-Bob wasn’t able to come, but we sent a cupcake home and had him bite into it to find out. My aunt said he just looked up and smiled – so glad he got to have the surprise too. Check out a few fun pictures of the day:

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Why turkey isn’t the all-time star of Thanksgiving

Gobble. Gobble. Gobble.

Sure, it graces the cover of the November Southern Living issue in all its glazed and basted glory. It takes centerstage on dining room across the country, all while in your head you’re carving the dang bird like a Norman Rockwell illustration. NOTE: Nobody looks like that family, no matter how hard you try. Why? Because nobody is really that excited about the big bird we associate with Thanksgiving.

Don’t get me wrong. I could eat a turkey sandwich every day, but that doesn’t mean turkey is my number one draft pick on the last Thursday of November. When I PHD (pile it high and deep – thanks to my great-grandfather for that expression) on Thanksgiving, my plate most definitely includes the following, listed in order of importance:

Dressing. Holy moly whoever came up with the idea to put this mess in a casserole dish deserves a MAJOR AWARD. End of story.

Sweet potato casserole. Any time you can mix a delicious, nutrient-packed vegetable with gobs of sugar and delicious sweetness, it’s a party. Sign me up.

Corn pudding. My grandmother’s famous recipe lives on, and even though we eat it throughout the year, it’s a top pick for Thanksgiving.

Bread. Straight up carbs. They rule. Sorry, I’m not sorry.

Ham. I love nothing more than sneaking a few tiny pieces off the plate before everyone comes in to make the rounds. Give me that honey baked goodness.

Everything else at Thanksgiving is fantastic, but that’s my starting five. I’m pretty sure my pants are a little tighter after last week’s festivities, but I don’t feel bad about it. Not one bit. Bring on the Christmas festivities, y’all!

Late-night food (with recipe!)

Post adjustment: This night, I also managed to set off the smoke alarm. Watch out.

And no, I’m not talking about grabbing a huge heat-lamp warmed slice from I Heart NY Pizza on Franklin Street. I’m talking about the kind we’re making right now in our oven on Chapanoke Rd. It’s almost 10 p.m. and we’re working on dinner. And I don’t want to forget it. :)

This happens more often than not at our house. No matter how hard I try to get things prepped ahead of time, we always manage to eat deep into the evening. One day, I hope I don’t look back and pretend everything was perfect and that all my meals were well-plated and served with a smile by 7 p.m.

In this fantasy, I’m also wearing a cute apron, pencil skirt and heels, because that’s what they do in the commercials. Oh, and I have arms like Kelly Rippa. And my dog is well-behaved.

The point is, life isn’t perfect and I like that our dinners take time. I hate that I apologize incessantly for how late we eat (to my audience of one, Adam), so I guess this is my way of saying I’m not really that sorry. I like that we eat late-night food because sometimes it means we have one more glass of wine than we ought on a weeknight – gettin’ crazy in my late twenties. Look out.

And, it makes our evenings together just the two of us (well three, hey there Otis I love you too) just a teensie bit longer. These days are precious, why not make them last?

So, in short, we eat late. And I make a mess. But it’s a mess I love.

Pizza with brown sugar veggies and prosciutto

  • Pizza dough ball (I buy mine at the grocery store – one of these days I’ll give it a go of making it myself. But that day ain’t today, sister.)
  • Olive oil
  • One half a red onion
  • One red bell pepper
  • One green bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • Salt to taste
  • Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1/2 cup)
  • 10 ounces, weight fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced (TIP: put it in the freezer before slicing. It makes you not want to curse at a ball of flimsy cheese.)
  • 8 slices prosciutto (you can add more cause this stuff is delicious)

How to make it:

Preheat oven to 500 degrees (put your pizza stone or pan in the oven as it preheats).

Heat two tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet. Add onions, peppers and brown sugar and toss/stir for several minutes, or until onions are brown and cooked. Set aside.

Roll out pizza dough on a pizza stone covered with cornmeal. Drizzle on olive oil, sprinkle on a little salt, followed by a little Parmesan.

Lay slices of mozzarella evenly over the top of the crust. Arrange caramelized onions over the top of the mozzarella. Randomly lay slices of prosciutto over the onions. Om, nom nom.

Bake for 15 to 17 minutes, or until crust is golden brown. Remove from oven and cut into squares. Serve immediately and delight in your amazing ability to be awesome. You Italian goddess, you.

Simple steps to achieve a perfect, lazy Sunday afternoon

Alternate title: The afternoon I wish I had every week

Ah, Sundays. They’re always so full of promise. The last day before we go back to the grind, and, as the good Lord says, they’re meant to be a day of rest. I’ve had my fair share of lazy Sundays after church, but here lately, I haven’t had too many. There’s always something I need to clean, an errand I need to run, a project I need to tackle. That’s all well and good, but this post is all about achieving rest on Sundays.

Step One: Get all of your ducks in a row the week prior. Make grocery lists, get supplies for any projects and shake all your stress out before the weekend hits. Note: this is something I hardly EVER do. I tend to throw my grocery list together on Sunday, and the later it gets, the more I hate getting out of the house. By getting things together a few days early, I can give myself more unplanned time on Sundays.

Step Two: Pray for rain. Nobody wants to stay inside on a pretty day. If the weather is good, pray you have a cold or something like that.

Step Three: Stake out your spot on the couch. One thing I’m VERY excited about for our new house is that we’ll have TWO living room couches. Adam, I’ve loved splitting a couch with you over the years, but I ain’t gonna lie – I’m pretty pumped about having my own sofa space soon.

Step Four: Throw a bunch of tasty things in a crock pot. Since our crock pot is out of commission for a few more weeks (packed up in storage until we move), I had to settle for a hearty shepherd’s pie today. Too much work. What’s awesome is chili or something that ends with shredded chicken and other delicious flavors. All while you’re on the couch. Breathing in the goodness. Now, that’s afternoon delight.

Step Five: Throw that to-do list you had out the window. If you didn’t get it done on Saturday, it’s probably OK to save it for a weeknight or next Saturday. This is something I rarely am able to do. If laundry isn’t running and I haven’t bleached something, I just don’t feel right. But, I think it’s important to have a lazy Sunday every now and then, so I’m hoping I can achieve the elusive step five sometime soon.

Step Six: Kick back. Relax. And stop stressing! It’s Sunday, and yes, you have to go back to work tomorrow, but why wish the day away when you’ve got it?!

Now, where’s that rain…?

Winning the worst lottery ever

Earlier this year, I entered a lottery. And I won! Hooray! The prize? Running 26.2 miles in and around our nation’s capitol.

Running a marathon has always been (very low) on my bucket list. It’s one of those aspirations I get after a successful half-marathon or long run. Or, when I meet someone who has run one and they say what a great experience it was. Side note: these people are probably big liars. Either way, I won an entry to the Marine Corps Marathon and I’ve been going through a pretty grueling training regimen over the past few months.

Here are a few things I’ve learned over the past few months:

1. I don’t know if I can trust people who say they love running marathons.
2. I. Can’t. Stop. Eating. Hungry. All. The. Time.
3. I actually can run pretty far if I put my mind to it. This means I’m more stubborn than I thought I was – joy.
4. I previously thought that running while listening to a book on tape sounded about as appealing as chewing tin foil. It’s actually quite pleasant. Go ahead and buy Tina Fey’s Bossypants and try not to laugh so hard you pee yourself.
5. Words of encouragement from friends are like gold. Seriously, I don’t know if I could do this without the supportive group of people I have around me.
6. Chafing. It happens. Thank you for Body Glide.
7. Foam rolling is God’s gift to legs. Hurts so good.
8. I used to secretly laugh at people I overheard at races talking about socks. I understand why they were so obsessed with them now. The right socks make all the difference!
9. I can rock a small fanny pack. Amazon says it’s a running belt, but it’s definitely a small fanny pack.
10. I am honestly not sure what I was thinking when I signed up for this. But, I just keep telling myself there are thousands of other crazy people who didn’t know what they were thinking either, so we’ll all run together in a big group therapy session in October.

50 more days until I do my best to conquer this thing!

Something old with something new

What is it about the past that makes us feel at home? Do things with a history provide us with a sense of place? As we’re prepping for our new house, I keep finding myself going back to an article I read in Southern Living a few months ago. It was written by the former editor about redesigning his home. “Take care to put an antique in every room of your home,” he says. Granted, I’m sure he had access to a wealth of antique finds with his job title. His antiques ranged from a gorgeous round French marble-topped gueridon table (see below) to mirrors and small gilded accents.

Lord knows what that costs.

Adam and I both love things with character – and oftentimes those things are old. Some of my favorite old things that I look forward to incorporating into our home:

  • Antique maps of Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon – National Parks that are near and dear to our hearts.
  • An old furniture cart that we’ve re-purposed as a coffee table.
  • A gorgeous vase from Adam’s grandparents’ house that goes with most any color.
  • Two gorgeous blue lamps that my mom and I found in an Asheboro store earlier this year – just need to find the right shades to set them off!
  • An antique window that a friend repainted and distressed – it displayed photos at our wedding and hung in our bedroom at the condo!
  • A bar cart that my parents found in a dumpster at the beach – yes, a dumpster. This is going to be a project for a future post…
  • A church bench that my parents purchased from the church after a remodel – we’re going to use this in our breakfast area, but it definitely needs a little paint, sanding and a cushion. Another project for a fun future post!

A few things that I’d love to (eventually) find:

Pretty plates to hang on an entryway wall or in a bedroom:

I love this arrangement! http://christineringenbach.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/wooden-bench-with-pilows-and-blue-and-white-china-plates-on-wall.jpg

Plate Wall-entryway

Some sort of brass piece – love these little giraffes!

Brass Giraffe Set

I’m sure there are other cool things out there – I’m just not the best antiquer. We’ve got a lot of awesome stuff already that we can incorporate, and I’m excited to bring our character to our new place! :) Chalk paint and YouTube tutorials, here I come…