Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
1. Grab a Starbucks or enjoy some flavored coffee from home. Smelling the amazing aroma of a pumpkin spice latte or Meijer hazelnut coffee makes my morning smell and feel like home when I am away.
2. Give myself a quick hand/arm massage with a scented lotion. The increased circulation and again, wonderful smell helps me to relax and focus on the tasks at hand.
3. Rub a small amount of Aveda Blue Oil on my temples. This amazing oil comes in a small vile with a roller on the end, perfect for your purse and for rubbing on pressure points. The oil cools the skin, which energizes, as well as relaxes.
4. Start the morning with some yoga. I cannot begin to tell you how much yoga has changed my life...with some simple stretching and breathing exercises, I am able to energize my body, feel refreshed, and start my day off right. A mere 5 - 10 minutes is all you need.
5. Take time to appreciate a picture that makes me happy. I have a few pictures in my office that make me smile every time I look at them. By taking a few moments to remember the day the photo was taken or think of the people in the photo, my spirits are immediately lifted.
6. Listen to relaxing music or a thunderstorm/rainstorm on CD. No, this does not make me sleepy. It makes me feel like I am outside enjoying the world, rather than inside working.
These are things that work for me. Everyone has a few things that would make their day a little more enjoyable. I encourage you to seek out these things and make them a part of your daily routine. Most of them just take a few moments or minutes and can impact your mood and day immensely...whether it be a Monday or any day!
Thursday, October 29, 2009
A Surrender Date is one in which the control freak (ahem!) I mean person exhibiting Type A behavior relinquenshes all control for one night to his/her significant other. This means that the significant other plans the entire date and makes every single decision. From what you will wear, to where you will go, to what you order to eat/drink for dinner...all decided by your better half.
It actually is quite fun not having to think about or plan a thing! It frees up your mind to simply enjoy the night. Think you could do it? Give up control for an entire night? I dare ya!
*I was first made aware of the idea of a Surrender Date while listening to Dr. Laura Berman on XM radio. I love her radio show and find a lot of her ideas/advice to be practical and easy to incorporate into my busy life. Tune in to her show on channel 156 at 5:00PM weekdays.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
In order to increase my efficiency when I am cooking this many meals, I look at all of the recipes and see what ingredients overlap. I chop, dice, and slice all of my ingredients before I start.
Also, something I have found helpful...for items that I love to bake, I pre-mix the dry ingredients and store them in canning jars with labels. I usually make 2-3 batches of dry ingredients for each of our favorite items. Any more than that is too much and any less isn't worth the effort. By eliminating the step of combining the dry ingredients, I save a ton of time!
Monday, September 21, 2009
The entire day was absolutely perfect. I awoke at 7:30AM in my suite at the Amway and walked to the salon where I had my hair done. Next, was makeup. My Aunt Julie hired a makeup artist that she had used on many photo shoots at work. She was awesome! Looking in the mirror, I felt like a princess - very Grace Kelly-esque.
At noon, a limo arrived to transport the bride and bridesmaids to St. Andrew's cathedral. I remember feeling so happy to have my closest family and friends surrounding me on such a special day. I wondered what Jeff was doing...and if he was nervous.
When we arrived at the cathedral, we dressed and put the finishing touches on our hair/makeup. Then, it was time for pictures. Our photographers were amazing. They coordinated every photo with such ease. They also did a fantastic job of orchestrating the timing of the photos, so that Jeff and I would not see each other before the ceremony - one of my most important requests.
Before I knew it, it was time for the ceremony to begin. My dad and I waited patiently behind the two large doors that guarded the entrance to the cathedral. I remember playing with my veil...trying to get it to stay in front of my shoulders. Then...I could hear the music. The doors opened, and I saw my prince waiting at the end of the aisle.
I walked down the aisle with each step bringing me closer to a new life, a new adventure. I remember thinking about all of this, as I was trying to remember to smile and make eye contact with our guests. Some say that I looked nervous...perhaps I was, a little.
As I reached Jeff and as my dad placed my hand in his...I felt a calm wash over me. I felt at peace. I felt at home. The ceremony went by so fast. I remember saying our vows and carefully thinking about the words that we were saying to each other...to love and honor each other, all the days of our lives.
After the ceremony, we paraded around town with the wedding party taking photographs at some of my favorite spots in Grand Rapids. The most memorable was taking pictures on a large hill with the Amway Grand (our reception venue) in the background. I love those photographs.
Walking into our reception, I felt, again, like a princess entering the grandest ball. The room looked stunning. All of the months of planning and preparation came together beautifully. My favorite part were the beautiful vases/flowers. They truly completed the room. Dinner was lovely and our champagne flutes (pictured above) adorned with 'love knots' were the perfect accessories to toast and celebrate our wedding day.
Jeff and I danced our first song to 'When the Stars Go Blue.' Jeff was the perfect gentleman leading me on the dance floor. We did take a few lessons beforehand, since we both tend to have two left feet when it comes to dancing.
The rest of the evening was spent socializing with guests, dancing, and simply enjoying being together as a married couple. It truly was the perfect day and the most amazing way to celebrate our new life together.
Cheers to the last two years and cheers to many more!
I am not going to share my recipe. If you know Italian women, you know that we might share some recipes, but some are sacred. Our sauce recipes are sacred. I will, however, share some of the errors I have made in the past and some of the things that I have found helpful.
1.Cinnamon adds a little something unexpected in certain recipes. Does NOT work in sauce.
2.Canning your own tomatoes is a must. Adding a little of this and a little of that can make even the worst tomatoes (this year's) taste better. However, nothing can substitute for a good tomatoe harvest.
3. Using fresh herbs can take a 'good' sauce and make it 'fabulous.'
4. Don't skimp on the simmer. Let your sauce fully absorb all of the fresh herbs/spices.
5. Stir often. In the past, I have let my sauce simmer without stirring often enough. Although, nothing burned or stuck to the bottom of my pot...there was a slightly 'burnt' taste to my sauce. Of course, I was the only one to notice...
6. Use purified water. Don't ask me why...just tastes better.
7. Don't compensate for lack of taste with salt.
8. Use a stainless steel pot...again, not sure why, but the sauce just tastes better.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Matthew L-O-V-E-S taking a bath! He has so much fun splashing around with all of his 'friends.' I swear he has 1,000 bath toys and he likes to have ALL of them in at once. (Tonight, we limited his toys to 10). Matthew also likes to 'dive' back and forth. We have heard of those little seats that you put in the tub, but for some reason I have a feeling that Matthew would climb right out! Jeff and I enjoy giving Matthew his baths together. It is a nice way to come together as a family at the end of the day. It is so much fun to see Matthew laugh, splash, and play. Neither of us can bear to miss any moments of Matthew when he is having so much fun!
My mom/dad came over this weekend to help us with our yard. It is VERY overgrown. Jeff and I were stumped with where to even start. There once was beautiful landscaping in the front/back, but the previous owner neglected it. So...my dad brought his chainsaw, 14' trailer, and much much more. By 9:00AM on Saturday, the trailer was full of debree to haul away. They spent all day working away and even though, our yard is FAR from being complete, it looks much better.
My dad also brought over 100 rocks for Jeff to build a rock wall in the front. Jeff worked most of the day to frame in the two beds in the front. (See above)Too bad I waited until dusk to take the pictures...I will post better ones when I get a chance to take them. We want to tweak the beds a little by adding some larger rocks, but all in all I think it looks awesome! Not bad for someone who has never built one before! Yes, you can hire Jeff...but his rate just doubled as we are approaching fall and need our roof/upstairs done!!!
I didn't get a chance to take a picture until now. I am 14 weeks pregnant and you can see a little bump now! All of a sudden, I looked down and there it was. I will have to look back and compare pictures with the ones I took while pregnant with Matthew. I do feel like I am showing sooner with this baby. The pictures will tell!
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Jeff, Matthew, and I went for my 13 week ultrasound yesterday. I am annoyed right now, because I scanned the pictures on my lunch break and they did not save to the disk! So...pictures soon.
The baby looked beautiful. He/she was somersaulting and moving a ton! The ultrasound tech could hardly get her measurements, because the baby was moving so much.
Too early to tell gender, but Jeff is CONVINCED that the baby is one sex over the other. I am not saying which. He said that the profile gives him/her away. Personally, I think he is nuts! All babies look the same in their ultrasound pics! Once, I post the pics...you will have to weigh in.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Pounds gained: (-5)
Feeling: Much better! I now wake up and feel great! My energy is returning and I am craving EVERYTHING! Mostly...pickles, Italian food, and chocolate.
This pregnancy has been so different from when carrying Matthew. With this baby, I had terrible morning sickness, an icky, metallic taste in my mouth, low energy, and overall, was feeling very sick. Some say this is a sign of having a girl...but I am sticking to my 'boy' guns until I see otherwise!
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Jeff, Matthew, and I traveled to North Carolina to visit our good friend Matt. The trip was absolutely perfect! The weather was beautiful, the scenery was awesome, and we had the time of our lives in Raleigh.
Our vacation was full of relaxing, fabulous food/drinks (sparkling for me of course), and good friends. Matt is quite the local celebrity...I have never seen anything like it. Everywhere we went, people knew him and were offering us complimentary food/drinks, etc. Our last night, we went out to my favorite restaurant of the trip. My filet mignon melted in my mouth...mmmm!
Highlight of my trip...Matt surprised me with a manicure and pedicure fit for a princess...his treat! We drove to an upscale shopping area and when we walked into the spa...I was thinking 'What are we doing here?' Then, Matt turned to me and said, 'They will take good care of you here.' He wanted to do something nice for me, since I wouldn't be able to go out on the town with them that evening. My fingers and toes are so pretty! I told Jeff that I am exempt from dishes/Matthew's baths for at least a week!
Matt showed us what true 'Southern Hospitality' is. He was the perfect host. We had so much fun and at the same time were able to completely relax and just enjoy being on vacation. My only wish is that we would have planned to stay a few more days...
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Friday, September 4, 2009
Matthew loves to 'mow the lawn' with his toy. He pushes it all around the house. Just a few weeks ago, we would have to re-position him once he reached a wall. Now, Matt maneuvers effortlessly all around his bedroom and the living room. He looks so grown up pushing it round and round!
Can you tell what has been occupying my mind lately? I have been thinking house, house, house...and of course baby.
Our next project after the upstairs is complete (sometime this Fall), will be tackling the downstairs. We will leave the laundry area as a 'utility' room. The other half of the space, we would like to make a living area - complete with a wet bar. My idea for a wet bar is pictured above. It would be nice to refresh drinks/snacks while watching the big game right from the downstairs.
We also need to add a bathroom. Nothing too fancy...just an extra bathroom for when guests are over or for when Jeff and I overlap in getting ready in the morning.
It is fun thinking back to what our house was...and looking forward to what we hope it will be.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
KITCHEN! Yes, I know Jeff...first things first...the upstairs, roof, and finishing off a portion of the downstairs + adding a bathroom. But after all that...my kitchen!
We decided to put the kitchen on hold since it would suck all funds from any other projects and wouldn't add very much living space. However, in re-thinking our plans for the house,our eyes have gotten much bigger. Initially, we were thinking of simply upgrading the space we have and living with a very small kitchen.
Now, we have some different ideas in mind.....
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
No one on earth, and I mean NO ONE...not even you, Giada de Laurentis, makes ravioli like my grandma. I usually get the treat of having her ravioli once or twice a year. And, let me tell you...every single, solitary bite is absolute perfection.
Trying to describe my Grandmother's superior dish is like trying to decribe color to a blind person. The ravioli itself is amazing...but then there is the homemade sauce. OH MY GOD. My mouth is watering. I have never experienced such a strong craving in my life. And, to think...I probably have to wait until Christmas-time to quench it! I might have to get her recipe and try my hand and making them myself. (Even though I know they will not come close to hers!)I just can't wait until December!
Monday, August 31, 2009
Saturday, August 29, 2009
I love my trucks, my new orange ball, and my favorite books are 'Colors' and 'Good Puppy.' I also like 'The Giving Tree.' My favorite songs are 'Old MacDonald,' 'Baby Sails a Silver Boat,' and '10 Little Monkeys.'
My favorite foods right now are blueberries, sweet potatoes, and green beans! Mom even let me try a bite of pudding the other day. I said, 'Mmmmm.'
I can't wait to try cake and ice cream! Daddy says I have to wait until my first birthday party. Only two months away!