Friday, 31 December 2010

Vivian Vendredi - BFFs

When I was pregnant, I made no secret about the fact that I was hoping for a boy.  In my mind, I could just picture myself with a little boy.  I've always wanted an older brother and was hoping that I would have a boy, then a girl so she would have that older brother I always wanted.

Of course, now that I have a girl, I couldn't imagine it any other way.

Not only is it special that I'm an oldest daughter and now my oldest is the same, but she has an instant best friend in her cousin, Blair.

My mom calls them "Sister Cousins" because they'll grow up more like sisters.  This freaks my sister out though, because it reminds her too much of Sister Wives - something totally different.

They are only 6 months apart, so it's really nice.  They can share clothes and secrets, and they'll always have a friend at family gatherings.

My sister and I can't wait to see what they get into!

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Leftover Management

I hope everyone had a great holiday filled with lots of goodies!

I'm a big leftovers fan.  I'm incapable of cooking the right amount of food for just two people, so we usually end up with enough leftovers to feed a small army.  The tricky part about leftovers is making sure they don't get eaten when they've gone bad.

I have a habit of realizing that something should be thrown out, but leaving it in the fridge until the night before garbage pickup, then cleaning out the whole fridge and tossing everything.  This is especially effective in the summer when you don't want a bunch of rotting food sitting in a hot garage.  This habit leads to a lot of fun conversations between Jagger and I.

Jagger grabs some container of food out of the fridge.
Me - Uh, I wouldn't eat that.  It's like a week old.
Jagger - Then why is it in the fridge?
Me - I'm just keeping it good until I throw it out.

It makes sense, don't argue with me. 

I'm not the only one who does this.  I also happen to know that my friend Amanda uses this same method with her husband.  Nothing like being warned not to eat that sour cream in the fridge because it's bad.

Does this make sense to you?  Or are you more of a toss it before it spoils kind of person?  Let me know - I'm off to eat some pumpkin pie for breakfast.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Loose Plugs

I promise - this isn't a pregnancy related post.

Probably my least favourite part about our house is the plugs.  For some reason, some of our outlets are oddly loose which leads to the cords hanging out a little bit.  In our bedroom it's especially bad which leads to an outlet looking like this...

See, these are the plugs for the TV and alarm clock in the bedroom.  If we don't have them taped in, then they slip far enough out of the outlet to shut down the clock and TV.  It's super annoying.

Unfortunately, having the electrical tape holding the plugs in the wall makes it that much more appealing to the cats.  So, in addition to the tape, there's usually a laundry hamper in front helping to hold the plugs in.

The cats have also realized this issue with other plugs in the house, and Gibson especially enjoys pulling things out of the outlet.  Always entertaining.

I have no idea how one would go about fixing this though - does the whole outlet have to be replaced?  I'm not keen on electrical work.

Any thoughts?

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

What I've Learned - After She Got Here

I've read a lot of really good "what to expect from post-partum life" posts that go over all the weird, gross stuff that you should expect.  Here's one of my favourites you can check out.  I didn't want to write a post like that, because I think there's already so much information out there.  Instead, I wanted to share some tips and tricks I've picked up so far.  Obviously, I'm no expert.  I haven't been a parent that long.  But, these ideas worked for me, so maybe they'll work for you!  I'd love to hear your suggestions!

  • Arm workouts.  Holy crap.  I couldn't believe how sore my arms were after the labour and delivery.  Had I known, I would have been doing biceps curls for the whole 9 months.  I literally couldn't lift anything heavier than Vivian for about a week, it was insane.  Do yourself a a favour and get your guns ready for delivery!
  • LED lights.  You know those little sticky LED lights?  The ones you can stick in a cabinet or something for a little extra light?  They're super cheap, you can usually get them at the dollar store or something?  Well, they make awesome baby lights.  I have a couple stuck to my night stand and leave one on all night long.  I find Vivian sleeps better with a little bit of light, and that way I'm not struggling to find the lamp when she wakes up in the night.  One light gives us just enough to get through a feeding, and then I turn on the second one to change her.  It doesn't wake her up in the night and it doesn't wake Jagger up either.  Win-win.
  • Have everything within arm's reach.  It took us a few nights to figure this all out, but now we've got it down.  Before going to bed at night, I make sure I have a change of clothes for Vivian, at least 4 diapers, wipes, soother, some breast pads, my water bottle, Tylenol, extra blanket and a couple of spit blankets and a clean shirt for myself right on my nightstand.  That way I don't have to wake Jagger up to get Vivian a clean sleeper or go fumbling around for a dry T-shirt if I soak through the one I fell asleep in (yes, my life is incredibly glamorous right now).  Having everything within arm's reach makes life much easier.  During the day, we move most of the same items out to the living room so we can keep going out there.
  • Baby + Vibrating Chair in the bathroom = shower for mommy.  It's quite the cliche that new moms can never get a shower.  I'm quite happy to say that so far, I haven't missed a shower since having her.  I'm not against a good lazy not-showering day, but it's nice for me to think "At least I took a shower today, if nothing else."  The trick for us to to have Vivian in her vibrating chair in the bathroom while I shower.  That way she's happy because she's close to me, I'm not worrying about her in the other room with the cats and she usually sleeps through the whole thing.  The steamy air and white noise of the shower combined with the vibrating chair completely relaxes her.
  • Speaking of showers - the first shower you will take after having the baby will be the best shower of your life.  You know how good that first shower feels after you've been camping and feel completely disgusting?  This shower is about 1000 times better than that.  Even though you're completely sore and don't feel totally clean after the shower, it completely makes you feel human again.
  • Which reminds me - bring some spray-in conditioner to the hospital!  Because my arms were so sore (see first bullet) I couldn't comb my own hair.  So I just left it all knotted until my mom got to the hospital and asked her to comb it out.  Some spray-in conditioner would have really helped things.
  • Save something nice for yourself.  I'm having kind of a hard time dealing with the whole post-partum body.  Things just aren't going back to normal quite as fast as I'd like (even though I've lost about 30 pounds already) and it's hard to be stuck in maternity clothes still.  What did make me feel better was getting my hair cut.  I had been wanting to get quite a bit of hair cut off for sometime before having Vivian, but my mom encouraged me to save it for after I had her.  What a difference it made.  It felt so good to get my hair cut and get my eyebrows waxed.  Now I just need to get my grey hairs covered and I'll really be feeling better!  It was so nice to have a little something to do for myself so soon after having her.
  • You really, really do need to eat.  I'm having a hard time adjusting to this one.  I know I need to eat more because I'm breast feeding, but I'm still used to being able to skip meals every now and then.  I really, really can't do that now.  Going too long without eating means I'm super pale and ready to pass out really quickly.  Make sure you've got snacks around.  My mom was awesome for showing up with a bunch of quick and easy meals for us, as well as a huge veggie tray for me to snack on.  It was awesome.  Soup makes a really great meal because it's so easy to have in a slow cooker and you can just grab a bowl whenever you have a minute to sit down.
  • I'm not sure if this is a breast feeding thing, but I think it is.  My skin is sooo dry.  Like crazy dry.  I know it's winter, but this is more than my normal dry winter skin.  The problem is that I've been avoiding wearing a lot of scented stuff because of Vivian.  When you have someone who spends several hours of the day burrowed against you, you don't really want to overwhelm them with scents.  Instead, I've been using her baby lotion.  It's great for moisture and I know it's safe for her skin.
  • Don't push yourself.  This one is hard.  I ended up needing stitches after delivery (awesome, I know) so it was close to a week before I was even walking totally normally again.  Even now, almost two weeks later, I have a hard time bending down.  My problem is that I'll feel better (thanks Advil and Tylenol!) then immediately try to do too much and end up completely sore and stuck lying on the couch.  I'm sure I would have healed more quickly if I would have just relaxed and left things, but that's not in my nature.  (True story - the other day while Vivian was sleeping, I went into her room and tried to put together her crib by myself.  Jagger wasn't happy when he realized what I was doing.)
  • Things I stocked up on before she got here - paper towels, toilet paper, hand soap, hand sanitizer, laundry detergent.  I didn't want to go crazy stocking up on a bunch of stuff, especially since it's the holidays and I knew people would be bringing things over, but it was nice to have these things on hand and not have to worry about them.  My mom brought some paper plates too, which was nice to have around for meals.
  • Things I should have stocked up on - garbage bags, newborn diapers, cat food.  We had the unfortunate circumstance of being snowed in for several days after Vivian was born.  This meant that we had no garbage pickup for 2 weeks (it was finally picked up today - hooray!) and were totally housebound.  I was going to get more newborn sized diapers before she was born, but I didn't want to go crazy with the super-tiny diapers without seeing what we ended up with.  Since she was 11 days overdue, I was kind of expecting a giant baby.  Once we saw how small she was, we should have gone out and bought more newborn diapers right away.  Oh well, lesson learned.  As for the cat food, well I just didn't even think of that.
  • Accept help wherever you get it.  I have a hard time letting people help me, but I haven't been turning down any help lately.  People bringing food, my mom taking a day off to go shopping and to have Vivian's pictures taken, Jagger getting me dinner or even just filling up my water bottle for me, it's all much appreciated and really makes the days go more smoothly.
  • Charting - they start you charting in the hospital to keep track of how often the baby eats and how many diapers they go through.  I kept this up after we left the hospital for just a little over her first week.  It was helpful to show the doctor when we went for her one week checkup and it was helpful for me to start to see her pattern (not a schedule, just a pattern).  I've stopped charting now because it was getting tedious, but it was really helpful at first and I would definitely recommend it.
  • Keep on top of your thank you cards.  I know it's hard, but you'll feel so much better after you get them done!  I'm planning on doing mine today.
  • All in all, just don't be too hard on yourself.  If you don't get something done, don't worry about it.  As long as your baby gets to eat, gets changed and has some clothes on, it's a pretty successful day.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Shrimp and Rice Bake

This one was rather misleading, as I chose not to bake it at all.  It worked quite well on the stove top, and seemed a lot easier.  This one also heated up really nicely for leftovers - always appreciated!

Shrimp and Rice Bake
Serves: 4  Prep: 20 min  Bake: 25 min

4 slices bacon, chopped (I didn't use the bacon, because I don't believe in cooking bacon unless you're going to cook the whole pound and I didn't feel like defrosting it)
1/2 onion, chopped
1 1/4 cups rice
salt and pepper
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
one 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes with italian herbs
1 pound frozen peeled and deveined shrimp
2 zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

1. Preheat the oven to 375 (or don't and just cook it on the stove top, like me).  In a large, ovenproof skillet, cook the bacon until crisp, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes; stir in the rice.  Season with 2 teaspoons salt, 3/4 teaspoon pepper and the paprika.  Add teh tomatoes and 1 cup water and bring to a simmer.  Cover and bake until the rice is just tender, about 20 minutes.  (Okay, maybe that's why we were supposed to bake it - I cheated and used Minute Rice, it's a lot easier)
2. Stir in the shrimp and zucchini and bake for 5 minutes more.  Remove from the oven and let stand for 5 minutes.  Stir in the parsley and serve.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Vivian Vendredi - Crazy Faces

Hey everyone - in an attempt to keep the blog from turning into a "look how cute my kid is" blog, I'm going to try to keep Vivian posts to Fridays since it provides some nice French alliteration.  I was hoping to have the birth story posted, but she hasn't given me enough time to sit down and type it out.  I wasn't sure at first if I was going to post the birth story, but I always enjoy reading other people's stories, and I figure if I enjoy reading it, then other people will too.

Until then, here's some new pictures of the peanut and her many faces.

She's a funny little kitten.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

What I've learned.

Here's the post with the helpful advice.  The thing with being pregnant is you can't really know what to expect until you're into it.  Then you're just full of advice and tips and tricks to pass along.  So here I am, doing my part to tell you what worked and what didn't work for me.
  • Bella Band - I cannot say enough good things about this product.  I got one early in the pregnancy when my pants started getting tight and ended up wearing it practically every day.  Later on, when I had a more definite belly I started to find that my underwire was really digging in to the top of my bump because I was carrying so high.  The Bella Band was perfect to tuck under my bra to give me a little cushioning.  I also found I just really liked the support of wearing something tight but not constrictive around my belly all the time.  I would definitely recommend it - best $40 I ever spent.
  • Body Pillows - By the end, I was sleeping with 4 pillows under my head, one body pillow behind me and one in front of me.  I should have just spent the money and gotten a Snoogle, but thought it seemed silly.  I definitely would want to get a Snoogle next time, because it seems like it would be just perfect!
  • Embracing my cravings - I didn't have many cravings, but when I did, I went with it.  If I wanted nachos for dinner, I would have them and make sure that I had some black beans and lots of veggies in there to get my proteins and vitamins.  I also tried to drink at least one glass of fruit/veggie combination juice for breakfast to help make sure I got my daily servings.  It made me feel better later when all I would want was a meatball sub.
  • Water bottle - I don't know about anyone else, but I couldn't stand to be more than a foot away from my water bottle.  I carry about a 1 litre reusable water bottle everywhere with me and refill it constantly.  Some days, I only have one or two, and other days I have five or six, but it's always nearby.
  • People will ask you stupid questions.  Answer them and move on.
  • You don't need that many maternity clothes.  I get it, it's easy to get sucked in to wanting lots of maternity clothes.  Whether you enjoy the way you look or not, you just want to feel good in what you're wearing, and so it can be tempting to buy lots.  I, for one, didn't want to look like a present (why do so many maternity clothes have big bows on the bellies?) and just wanted what I needed to get by.  I lucked out by not showing very much until the end, so I got away with my trusty Bella Band (seriously, it's a life saver) for the early part when I started outgrowing my pants, and then lived in dresses all summer.  Once it got cool out, I did have to spend some money, but a 40% off sale at Old Navy combined with a 15% off coupon from completing one of those online surveys meant that I only ended up spending about $250 for all my maternity clothes, including a winter coat.
  • You won't be ready for the baby.  I was very aware of this.  Every time someone would ask me, "So, are you ready for the baby?"  I bluntly replied, "No.  I don't think I'm supposed to be."  Did I read far too many books?  Yes.  Did I spend way too much time online researching various things?  Yes.  Did I attend prenatal and breast feeding classes?  Yes.  Did I ever feel like I was "ready" to be a mom?  No way.  You can't know what you're going to get into until it's go time and I think it's silly to feel like you're "ready" for your entire world to change.  You're just setting yourself up for failure.
  • Get a pedicure.  I got a pedicure a couple of days before my due date and it was awesome.  By that point, I had such a hard time reaching my toes, it was so awesome to have my nails all nice and painted and feeling good before the big day came.
  • Make use of friends and kijiji.  I bought very little new for the baby.  I got really lucky with gifts, loans and used items.  It only made sense for me, I wasn't about to fork out oodles of cash for things that I wasn't even sure I would get much use out of.
  • Baby bathtubs make the perfect place to soak swollen feet.
  • Go to prenatal fairs!  I can't stress this enough.  Not only did I get loads of helpful information and little freebies (pens and notepads?  Don't mind if I do!) but I also won a carseat and a baby sling - combined they were worth about $200.  I ended up going to three separate fairs, and it was definitely worth it.
I'm planning on doing another post later about what I've learned from labour/delivery and life at home with the baby afterwards.  Hopefully someone will find some of the information helpful!

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Penne with Bacon, Butternut Squash and Spinach

I wasn't crazy about this one actually.  Maybe it was because peeling the squash nearly killed my back, or because the squash ended up really mushing up into almost a sauce on its own, but I wasn't crazy about it.  Jagger seemed to like it, but I thought it was too similar to a BLT pasta that I make which is way better!

Penne with Bacon, Butternut Squash and Spinach

Serves: 4  Prep: 10 min  Cook: 20 min

1 pound penne rigate pasta
4 slices bacon
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch cubes
3 cups baby spinach
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 tablspoons chopped flat leaf parsley
salt and pepper
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

1. In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the pasta for 7 minutes (the pasta will only be partially cooked).  Drain, reserving 2 1/2 cups of the pasta cooking water.
2. Meanwhile, in an extra-large skillet, cook the bacon over medium-high heat until crisp, about 5 minutes.  Drain on paper towels, then crumble the bacon once it is cool enough to handle.  Discard all but 3 tablespoons of the bacon fat in the pan.  (I didn't follow this part, because I think it's ridiculous to only cook 4 pieces of bacon.  I never cook less than a pound of bacon, otherwise I think it's a waste of time.  I prefer to cut up the bacon while it's raw, then cook the whole thing.  Then you can use what you need and throw the rest in the fridge in a container for later.  Much simpler than cooking it a few strips at a time.)
3. Add the olive oil and squash to the skillet.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 7 minutes.  Add the pasta and 2 cups of the reserved pasta cooking water.  Bring to a boil and cook, stirring, until the pasta and squash are cooked, about 5 minutes, adding additional pasta cooking water if needed.
4. Remove from the heat and stir in the spinach, garlic and parsley.  Season generously with salt and pepper, sprinkle with the cheese and crumbled bacon.

I burned the bacon a little bit, which also might have added to my disinterest in this dish.  I was in kind of a crabby mood that day.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Meet the Kid

On March 29th, 2010 I peed on a stick, saw two lines and cried.  I cried not because I was happy or excited, but because I was scared.  I was scared of my life changing, of not being able to afford what I was facing, of the challenges yet to come.

On December 8th, 2010, I cried for a different reason.  For not being able to imagine how my life could ever have existed without this little person.

Meet Vivian May.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

The kid is already a procrastinator.

I am very overdue.  If I were an item in a grocery store, I would be sitting on a shelf with a big ole 50% off sticker on my forehead just to try and get me out the door.

Tuesday was the day that I finally hit the "I'm done" wall.  I was just so tired.  Physically tired and emotionally tired.  I was just done.

Luckily, the doctor agrees and the induction process has been started.  Shouldn't be too long now before we finally get to meet the kid.  Updates to follow, I promise.

Here I am, 10 days overdue.  Goodbye pregnant me!

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Snow Days

So most of Southwestern Ontario has been hammered with crazy amounts of snow.  London is on the verge of declaring a state of emergency.  Strathroy usually takes the brunt of these storms, but here's what we've been looking at...

We got some snow, sure.  It's just nothing compared to the 100+ centimeter snowfall that some areas have seen.  Jagger's had to get out and shovel just twice since Sunday.  We've parked my car in the garage so we wouldn't have to clean it off in the event we need to get to the hospital.

I'm very grateful that we were both off this week anyway, expecting the baby to be here.  I would be so worried if Jagger was trying to get to work in this!  We're also very lucky that the hospital is just down the road from our place, so we shouldn't have any problems getting there when we need to.

Actually, we were there yesterday, and almost got induced!  But, because of the weather everywhere else, they were short staffed on OB nurses and sent us home.  We may be able to be induced this afternoon if they have the staff, but I'm not holding my breath.

I am pretty done though.  I'm 10 days over and I'm not sleeping very well.  I'm tired of wondering about every ache and pain and am ready to just get things going.  Who knows, maybe I'll go on my own today and the nurses will just have to deal with me!

If you're stuck in the snow, I hope you have good books and good hot chocolate to keep you company!  Hopefully this is the one big storm we get this year, and not a sign of things to come!

Monday, 6 December 2010

Storage Wars

Holy crap.  Have you seen the new show Storage Wars on A&E?  It's so awesome, I'm in love.

The premise is simple - people don't pay their rental fees on storage units, so they get auctioned off to the highest bidder.  The auctions are cash only, and you get five minutes to look in the unit without looking in any boxes, then you start bidding.  The buyers that they follow are mostly guys who run consignment shops and thrift stores who are looking to spend a little and score a lot on these units.  Case in point?  One guy gave an example of a storage unit with a bunch of comic books that he bought for $2100 or so and ended up selling the comics for $130,000.

It's part Antiques Roadshow, part Pawn Stars and part treasure hunting, with loads of awesome.

My favourite part?  There's one guy (Dave) who seems to be a bit of a douchebag and likes to bid on units he has no interest in just to jack the price up on other people.  It's hilarious.

Sometimes they win, sometimes they lose, but either way it's darn entertaining.

So far there's only been two episodes, but it's the kind of show that I could easily watch as an all-day marathon.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Bean Taquitos with Cucumber Salsa

Bean Taquitos with Cucumber Salsa
Serves: 4  Prep: 15 min  Cook: 15 min

1 cucumber, peeled and chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
grated peel and juice of 1/2 lemon
salt and pepper
3/4 cup sour cream
12 small corn tortillas
one 16-ounce can spicy refried beans
1 1/2 cups grated pepper jack cheese

1. In a medium bowl, stir together the cucumber, garlic and parsley.  Stir in 2 teaspoons olive oil, the lemon juice, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.  Stir the lemon peel into the sour cream.
2. Heat a large skillet over low heat.  Soften each tortilla in the skillet for about 15 seconds on each side.  Place the tortillas on a work surface and spread each with 2 tablespoons refried beans; sprinkle each with 2 tablespoons cheese.  Roll up the tortillas to resemble cigars.
3. Using the same skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat.  Working in 3 batches and using the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, fry the taquitos, turning, until crisp and browned, 3 to 4 minutes.  Drain on paper towels.  Serve the taquitos with the lemony sour cream and cucumber salsa.


Well, here I am nearly a week overdue.  Contrary to what you might expect however, I'm pretty comfortable.  I definitely haven't hit that "I'm done being pregnant" stage.  If the kid isn't ready, then neither am I.

We had a stress test yesterday, just to make sure everything was cool with the kid since my blood pressure has been a little wacky lately and I've been having some headaches.  No issues with the test though - neither one of us are stressed out, so we're back home waiting it out.  Next doctor's appointment is on Monday, and I'm sure the doctor by then will want to set a date for induction, since I'll be like 9 days overdue at that point.

Being off work has been weird.  I've never been very good at unstructured time (seriously, I spent a couple of months not working after university and nearly lost my mind) but so far it's been okay.  Because I'm still pretty comfortable, it's been kind of nice to have the house to myself during the day.  I haven't even had that nesting bug, so I've been spending lots of time lying around watching hours of TLC and even managing to cook dinner for the hubs once or twice.  There's also a Twin Peaks boxed set that's been keeping me busy.  (Why didn't anyone ever tell me that Kyle MacLachlan used to be so awesome?  I've always found him so grating from Sex and the City and Desperate Housewives)

Sleep has been interesting - I have a hard time falling asleep (I've been going to bed around midnight and falling asleep somewhere around 1:00) and tend to toss and turn all night.  Once Jagger gets up to leave in the mornings, I tend to sleep better so I usually sleep in until 10-11 before "starting my day".  I'm not napping during the day though, so I figure that being lazy in the mornings is really just my afternoon nap tacked on to my nighttime sleeping.

So, here I am.  Patiently waiting.  This week has definitely been harder on Jagger than on me.  He's had a hard time focusing at work thinking about me sitting at home.  Tomorrow is his last day at work, then I'll have him hovering over me just waiting for something to happen.

I'm definitely hoping that things take their due course, rather than having to be medically induced.  We'll see what happens though.  Considering how stubborn and contrary this baby has been all along, my bet is that as soon as we have a date set for induction, it will come on its own terms before then, just to be difficult.

In the meantime, I'm quite happy on my couch.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Beef Kebabs with Roasted Green Beans and Almonds

Beef Kebabs with Roasted Green Beans and Almonds
Serves: 4  Prep: 15 min  Cook: 15 min

1 pound ground beef
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
salt and pepper
1 1/4 pounds green beans
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons sliced almonds
1/2 lemon, cut into 4 wedges

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  In a large bowl, crumble the beef and mix in the parsley, garlic, paprika, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.  Form into sixteen 1 1/4 inch balls and thread onto 4 skewers.  (I didn't have any skewers, so I just cooked the meatballs as they were)
2. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the green beans with the olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper; spread out in a single layer.  Roast for 10 minutes, then stir in the almonds and roast until the green beans are lightly browned and the almonds are toasted, about 5 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, preheat a grill pan to medium-high.  Grill the meatballs, turning, until just cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes.  Serve with the green beans and lemon wedges.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Dust Jackets

Lately, I've been obsessed with dust jackets.  I realize this is a weird sentence.

I think it's because I've been reading a lot of hardcover books lately, and maybe it's just my nesting instinct right now, but dust jackets are driving me crazy. 

They rip, they tear, they slide around while you read.  Their only saving grace is that they provide you with a built-in bookmark.

On average, I'm more of a trade paperback kind of gal myself, but sometimes you get stuck with the hardcover.  I don't know if I'm ready to be that person who gets rid of dust jackets and leaves the books on the shelf all naked-like (although I love the clean look of it).  I feel like that would be too permanent of an option for me, and I would want to remove the dust jackets, but keep them all filed away somewhere just in case one day down the road I realize I have some rare first edition of something that is worth far more with the dust jacket intact.

We've also accumulated a lot of used library books over the last few years from our annual attendance at the Friends of the London Public Library Book Sale.  It's my favourite thing - it seems to always be the weekend before my birthday, so I have licence to scoop up as many books as I can manage.  It's a great way to stock up on books, but then they are usually hardcover and have that plastic cover from being a library book.  So do I take them all off, which would require cutting it off of the cover (since they're taped down from being library books).  Do they lose some of their charm that way, or is it more practical because right now my book collection looks like a good chunk of it is racking up late fees by the minute.

Colourful and unique...

...or uniform and neat?

Where do you stand on dust jackets?  Are they part of the book and should be appreciated, or are they a messy waste of time and should be tossed immediately?

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Dealing with Fear Mongering

If there is one thing I've learned from being pregnant it's this - everything is trying to kill your baby.  I swear, if I paid attention to every warning label and every advisory, I would have never left the house for my whole pregnancy.  It only gets worse once the kid is here too, there's constantly some new hazard, some new toy that's toxic, some new food you shouldn't eat.

For some reason, people love to scare pregnant women.  It was bad when I was engaged and planning a wedding, there was constantly someone who would throw a "oh, you'll see!" into every conversation as though I had no idea what I was getting into.  With pregnancy, it's even worse because not only do you have the people who want to tell you what you should and should not be doing, they also love to tell their own horror stories filled with blood and gore.  Why people think this is helpful is beyond me.  I don't think anyone ever once told me a nice birth story.

Offbeat Mama is a great site and has written wonderful articles about this (like this one and this one) and how to keep your head above water during the whole thing.  The most important thing is to keep a level head about things and keep things in perspective. 

In the interest of full disclosure and to help any other first time moms to be out there, here's a list of all the ways that I went wrong and obviously could have damaged my child horribly.
  • I drank caffeine.  I started with the best intentions, having lost my taste for coffee early in the pregnancy.  I would indulge in the occasional Dr. Pepper (my new fave since becoming pregnant), but by the time I hit the third trimester, I figured to hell with it.  If I want to drink a can of pop a day, then I'm going to.  I'm still not up to one a day, but I don't beat myself up for having some caffeine.  And you know what?  I actually sleep better when I've had some caffeine.
  • I painted things.  I wasn't allowed to paint the walls in the baby's room, but I sure painted a lot of furniture.  I painted in well ventilated areas with low VOC paint while wearing gloves and a mask.  I think the kid and I will be fine.
  • I moved heavy furniture.  It turns out that I was pregnant for our entire move to the new house and didn't realize it, so I've definitely done some heavy lifting.  I also moved lots of furniture around after I found out I was pregnant (including trying to drag a desk up the stairs from the basement by myself, which resulted in nearly breaking my foot).  I feel better when I'm doing physical activities though.
  • I ate feta cheese.  I tried really hard to stay away from it for a while, but there's just no sense in ordering a greek salad without feta cheese.  I figure it's better to have a salad with feta cheese than no salad at all.
  • I ate lunch meat/raw hot dogs/raw batter.  Okay, one raw hot dog.  And it was delicious.  The raw batter was an accident, I was baking brownies and liked the spoon before realizing that it has raw eggs in it and I'm not supposed to eat raw eggs.  As for the lunch meat, I started out doing really well not eating lunch meat, then it was all I could think about.  I figure that the lunch meat being heated up in the toaster at Quiznos is good enough.
  • I cleaned a litter box.  Only twice while Jagger was away and someone had to do it.  Again, it was while I was wearing a mask and gloves. 
  • I went to a concert.  My sister gave me a hard time about exposing the baby to too much loud music.  Guess what, I spend about 2 hours a day in the car and the radio is cranked for most of that.  The kid will get used to it.
  • I slept on my back.  Because my belly hasn't been terribly sticky-outie, it's been comfortable for my to sleep on my back still.  It's a huge relief for me to be able to switch from my sides to my back.
  • I plan on using a cuddle bag.  Apparently Transport Canada thinks that cuddle bags are death traps and that your kid can go flying out of the car seat in the event of an accident.  I choose to believe that if the kid is properly restrained in the car seat, then it's not going to make a difference if there's fabric between them and the seat or not.  That's just me though, I'm sure there are lots of people who won't use cuddle bags because they could be dangerous.  To each their own.
Bottom line for me, there's a million ways that you can get sick/get hurt in this world.  It's not all bad.  Kids should get sick, they should skin their knees and bump their heads, it's not the end of the world.  I hope I can keep that in mind once the kid is actually here.

Monday, 29 November 2010

All-Time Favourite Episodes

Everyone has them.  Those episodes of those favourite shows that are just a little closer to your heart than other episodes.  Here's some of my all-time favourite episodes of some great shows.

Friends - "The One Where No One Is Ready"

You remember this one.  Ross has a big thing going on at the museum and no one is ready.  He and Rachel get into a big fight and she almost doesn't go.  Monica is freaking out over a message she left on Richard's answering machine and Joey is doing lunges in all of Chandler's clothes while "going commando".  I love this episode so much, it's like a little play.  I love how they're all in the same room for the entire episode, just running in and out of the scene.  Never mind the fact that Rachel has that amazing green dress in her closet, but apparently doesn't think to wear it first.  Weird.

A close second place is "The One With the Embryos" where Rachel and Monica lose their apartment to Joey and Chandler in a trivia game.  Monica's line, "That's not even a word!"  is funny every single time.

The Simpsons - "Homer's Enemy"

I know I'm not the only one who loves this episode. This also happens to be Jagger's favourite Simpsons episode. This is the episode with Frank Grimes, the only character to come in and acknowledge how ridiculous Homer's life is. Best line? Frank Grimes - "Is this you in outer space?" Homer - "Of course, you've never been?" Classic.

Frasier - "Ham Radio"

I'm constantly reminded of just how great a show Frasier was. It was one of those few consistently funny shows. I love this episode - Frasier tries to put on a classic radio play, but of course is just a little too heavy handed in his direction. It all culminates in everyone killing themselves off in the play, to hilarious ends.

Sex and the City - "The Good Fight"

I love, love this episode of Sex and the City. Aidan moves in with Carrie with the intention of taking over the apartment next door, but things don't go as planned and they are a little short on space. I love the fight they have where she challenges him on his "dried up old Speed Stick - what are you, a crazy bag man?" My favourite line? "You can't buy it, it's circa 1996!" I also love the look she gives him when she comes home ready to make up, but he won't acknowledge her. Who hasn't been there? This episode also has the classic Charlotte line, "Don't you bring that flat baby in here, I will kill you!"

I'm sure there's more, but none that I can think of at the moment. What about you, any favourite episodes floating around out there?

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Are You Ready?

Today is my actual due date.  I take it with a grain of salt though, since my due date used to be December 2nd, but apparently the hospital and my doctor's office count things a little differently.

All I keep getting asked is, "Are you ready?"  Uh, no.  No, I'm not ready.

Do I feel prepared?  Yes.  Do I have the stuff necessary to bring the kid home?  Yes.  But still, I don't think we're ready.

I don't think you're supposed to actually feel ready for this. 

I have no idea what kind of labour and delivery it's going to be, or how I'll react to the situation.  I have no idea how I'll deal with the exhaustion and the complete change in our lifestyle.

I figure it's easier to think "Nope, not ready for this, not ever going to be ready." than to sit there thinking, "Ah, I'm totally ready for this!"  I think I'd just be setting myself up for failure that way.

It still feels pretty surreal to me, and I don't think anything is actually going to happen for some time yet.  Jagger's more concerned than I am right now, he worries when he leaves me and overreacts to every little groan and complaint I have.

I've been pretty calm and relaxed the whole time, so hopefully that keeps up for me in the home stretch!

Friday, 26 November 2010


I don't think I've mentioned it, but Jagger's been participating in Movember.  This picture was actually from a week or so ago, so the mo has gotten more mustachey since then.  I can't say I'm going to miss it when it's gone, but I appreciate that he's supporting cancer research.

Click here to donate!

Nesting Instincts

I did a bit of cleaning the other day - I suppose you would call it nesting.  I haven't had a whole lot of drive for major nesting, it's been more little things so far.  Here was what I started with in my office.

It had become a dangerous dumping ground.  As more and more baby stuff came into the house, more and more regular stuff got shoved into the office.  It's a handy place to hide things because it's on the main floor (no dragging of things down to the basement) and it's a room we don't use too often.  In fact, I'm really the only one who uses it, Jagger just goes in to get the laptop and that's about it.
We had to move that table out of the living room to make room for the playpen, and we also aquired a bunch of new (to us) comic books which are hiding in those boxes under the mirrors there.
Boxes of posters waiting for frames and a basket of junk that had to be moved out of the dresser now occupying the baby's room.
The desk surface seems to be clean, but the tray on the shelf is full of junk and there's a bunch of stuff sitting on the printer that shouldn't be there.  The printer is also flashing an angry red light at me because it wants more toner, but I've been ignoring it for a few weeks.
Oh, closet.  I've been considering taking down the bifold door on this closet and just hanging a shower curtain type deal to close it off, but I'm trying to resist the urge.
The rest of the closet was filled with crafting stuff and gift bags that I inexplicably save, even though I will never need that many gift bags.
Knitting stuff hiding in the corner of the closet.

So, after a frantic hour or so, I ended up with a much tidier office.  I'm still not satsified with the way things are, I would love to have more shelving in here, like along this whole wall, but for now it is definitely an improvement.
Ooh, look!  You can see the floor!
The desk area seems to be unchanged, but it really is much tidier.
I got rid of a bunch of old magazines I had hanging around for no good reason.
Comic book tower seems much better.  I still have to cover that gossip bench one day - it might be a "I'm home with a baby" project.

I didn't take many pictures of the inside of the closet, but trust me, it's much improved.  I bit the bullet and thew out all the gift bags I had amassed.  If they had been more generic, I would have kept them, but they were all from the wedding and the baby shower.  I really don't think I'll be needing that many specific gift bags in the near future. 

I'm still not happy with the closet either - I would love to put shelving all the way down the ground in there and turn it into more of a storage area, but I know that one day this room will end up being another bedroom, so I don't want to rob us of that closet and its hanging capabilities.

It's a start - there's definitely a lot more stuff around our house that needs to be organized that I'm hoping nesting will take care of before it's all said and done.  I did start organizing my recipes, so we'll see where it goes from here.

What do you think?  Should I ditch the bifold doors?  The cats know how to open them anyway, so it's not like they keep them out or anything.

Full disclosure - I wrote all of that like 2 weeks ago.  Today the nesting continued with rearranging the living room, so I thought I would tack it onto this post.

Here was the living room before...

 I've rearranged the living room so, so many times since we've moved in.  I liked this set up, because Jagger's couch (the brown one) was finally in the spot he wanted it - so that he could lay down with his feet pointing at the TV with the remote in his right hand.

The problem with the living room this way was that it was really closed off.  It didn't bother us, but we really noticed it as soon as someone else came over.

So, here's my solution.

Having the couches in an L-shape really helped to open things up, even with so much stuff in the living room.  We can't help it, we're couch people, so we need to have two big couches.

So, there you go.  Two days off on maternity leave and I'm rearranging the house.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Mat Leave

So today marks the first day of my mat leave.  I managed to save enough vacation time that I will be off until January 2012, which seems so far away!  I'm sure I'll be fine once the kid gets here, but I'm concerned about things in the meantime.  I don't do well with unstructured time!  So, here's a quick rundown of what I'm hoping to accomplish while I'm off, both in the short-term and the long-term.  Consider this also a list of what to expect on the blog in the future.

  • Today I'm getting a pedicure, super exciting!
  • Tomorrow I have to bake 8 dozen cookies for a cookie exchange, and maybe rearrange the living room.
  • I'm also hoping to organize my paperwork from typing transcripts (a chore I've long avoided)
  • Finish painting the two tables that have had one coat of paint on them since July
  • TV watching.  I've got a full DVR, Season 4 of Dexter, Season 6 of LOST, the complete Twin Peaks and Season 1 of Six Feet Under sitting here just waiting for me.
  • Video games.  Hello Arkham Asylum and Super Mario Galaxy 2.  I believe we have some unfinished business.
Thinking more long term, here's what I'm hoping to get done.  Besides, you know, taking care of the kid and all.
  • Cooking.  I'm excited to be at home during the day and having some time to cook meals that I haven't tried before.  When I don't get home from work until 5:00, it makes it really difficult to throw things together sometimes.
  • Sewing.  I've had so many ideas of things to sew, but just have never had the time.  Hopefully I'll be able to find some time to learn how to use my machine and put together some awesome things.
  • Knitting.  My knitting has definitely fallen by the wayside.  I'd also love to learn to crochet.  (Lord, this list is sounding really domestic!)
  • Vegetable garden.  This is my big summer project.  I'm hoping to build some raised planters for the yard and start a lovely little vegetable garden.
  • Working out.  Not always the easiest task with a newborn, but I can't wait to start working on getting back to some form of normal.  I can't wait to run again.
  • Doing the mommy thing at the Early Years Centre.  I'm excited to take part in the programs and things they have available.
  • Spending time with my niece.  Not working will surely mean lots of time spent with my sister and Blair.
  • Painting the bedroom, kitchen and bathroom.  
  • Watching daytime TV.  Not the most noble of aspirations to be sure, but I'm excited about it!
I'm sure a lot of these things will get done, a lot won't and a lot of things I never even thought of will get done as well.  Any suggestions to keep myself from going stir crazy until the kid gets here?

Wednesday, 24 November 2010


Sorry the posts have been pretty baby-heavy this week, but I'm pretty baby-heavy this week.

I've been pretty good so far at not spoiling the kid before it even gets here.  Most of what I've bought for the kid has been used, gifted, borrowed or on sale.  I've been pretty proud of myself for doing so well and resisting the urge to splurge.  (This is always easier to do when you don't have any money in the first place)

This is why I managed to rationalize one good splurge.

This is the Westcoast Baby Bamboo Kimono.  It's the cutest thing ever.

 Allow me to explain why this is a practical piece of clothing.  When I first saw it, I didn't think it was that great either.  Sure it's super-duper soft (I love bamboo) but beyond that, it seemed a little unecessary.

What makes it so special is that not only is it open at the bottom (for super quick and easy diaper changes when they're teeny-tiny) and super soft and cozy (bamboo naturally wicks moisture away to keep baby dry and comfortable) but the easy open tie front allows you to have that oh so important skin to skin contact with the baby while they're still clothed, making nursing a snap.
 Oh, and there's an ultra-cute matching hat...
...and booties, which were impossible to resist.

It's also a great idea for preemies because it's easy for cords and monitors to have access while the baby is still toasty warm and comfortable. 

The company bills it as being "the perfect going-home from the hospital" outfit, but I don't know how well it would work in a car seat.

It comes in lots of adorable colours, but I went with the cream with grey, nice and neutral without being yellow.

Here's my actual set...

For even more cuteness, just add baby!

It took a few weeks of obsessively thinking about it, but I finally took the plunge and bought the outfit.  Even though it cost about what I would spend on myself for an outfit, I've convinced myself that it's worth it.  What's life without a little splurging every now and then?  It'll probably end up being the last time I splurge on anything for a very, very long time, so I'd better enjoy it!

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Baby's Room

I think I'm at about the point where the baby's room is as good as it's going to get.  I'm not big on things being "done" because things always change.  But, all in all I think the room is pretty well ready to go.

Here's where we started when we first moved in, just to refresh your memory a little.

And here's where I started the other day when I set about putting the room back together.

It had been in better shape at one point, but repainting the desk meant taking everything out of the dresser and throwing it on the bed, and cleaning up the office meant throwing things in here that I thought I would use.

And here's what I ended up with after...

I've decided I like having that little chair in the corner as a place to throw things, etc.
The Cinderella plates I had hanging in my room when I was a kid have found a new home!

This frame was Jagger's when he was a kid - well, the glass was at least.  I put it in a new frame since the old one was kind of sad looking.  Can't wait to add our kid's picture to it!

And there you go - the room in all it's colourful glory!  The walls don't like quite as grey as they actually are, but it was pretty poor lighting out when I took this picture.

One of the posters in the room - Super Mario Bros World 1-1.  This was a freebie from Nintendo Power magazine and I got the frame on sale at Michaels for like $9.

The superhero prints I got at Fan Expo back in September.  I got the prints for $10 for all three and the frames are literally the cheapest ones I could find - $3 each at Walmart.

The freshly painted dresser complete with action figures and my Medusa lamp. 

Every baby's bedroom needs a little George Perez!  Jagger got this at LA Mood for like $3 I think, and the frame was like $17 - I make good use of my Michaels coupons!

This empty little corner is where the crib will go once it gets here.  We have one on order, and I'm really excited about it.  Should be here sometime this week, then it's just a matter of getting it put together (and hoping it fits!)

Here's the crib we ordered in case you were curious though.

I thought I wanted a white crib, but because this is one of those cribs that turns into a double bed later on, we thought the white would be a little limiting and might not suit an older kid/teenager's room quite so well, so we went with this one.
I don't want anything hanging on the wall above it because of my laziness in finding studs, but I would still like to get these wall clings to go over the crib there.

These mirrors were a wedding gift, but I never could find a good place to hang them.  I finally decided they would be nice in the baby's room to help bounce some light around and give the kid something to look at.

My grandma got us this switchplate cover for the baby's room, and I knew right away that it would drive Jagger crazy.  I don't know why Noah's Ark became such a big thing for baby's rooms - I don't know if a story about God flooding the Earth and killing everyone but one family and enough animals so He wouldn't have to start all over again is the best story for a kid, but what do I know.  It's up there for Grandma, even though I find it really hard to find the light switch now.

I know this little table will have to move out once the kid starts moving around since it's just a glass table top on boxes, but I love the way it looks with the little blocks and books!  It also might have to be rearranged once we have to fit the crib in there as well, we'll see how it goes!

So there you go, the kid's room has come a long, long way and we did it without spending much money.  Most things in there were things we already had around that just needed a coat of paint or a little re-tooling to make them work in the kid's room.  Hope you like it!