Wednesday, September 30, 2009

It's Fall!

My sister Arie and I decided to take Matthew to the Plymouth Cider Mill today to celebrate the season. He absolutely LOVED it! There were so many fun things to do and see. There was, of course, the cider mill store that had all things apple. I shared my sugar/cinnamon doughnut with Matthew, who was not happy when it was gone!
There were lots of farm animals to walk around and see. They also offer a hay ride and u-pick pumpkin patch. Jeff and I might have to take Matthew back for that!

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Over the past two weeks, I have been as busy as a bee! I don't know if it is, because I am trying to compensate for my lack of productivity during my first trimester...who knows?! My fine point sharpie has been busy making 'to-do' lists galore.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Matthew tooks his first steps a few weeks ago and ever since he has been on the go!

Mmmm mmm!

Jeff and I recently got a new freezer, so I went on a marathon cooking and baking to fill it up! Sunday, I made lots of goodies. Yesterday, I made tomato bisque, cheddar biscuits, cinnamon rolls, muffins, and zucchinni bread.
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

Two Years

I married my beloved husband, on September 21, 2007, the first day of fall. Our wedding day was nothing less than magical. I wish that I could re-live that day just once again in my lifetime. Here is my recount of the day. I hope someday my children will read this and be able to gain an appreciation for the day that their mom and dad were united as one.

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 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 like-a-tha sauce!

For Italian women, perfecting our own 'homemade' sauce is a lifelong challenge. Each year, we add a little something and tweak our recipe just a bit in an effort to create perfection. This year...I think I am finally getting close.

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

Scrub a Dub!

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!

Weekend Project

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. 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!!!

14 Weeks

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! 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 will have to weigh in.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

13 Weeks

I had my doctor's appointment today and heard baby's heartbeat! Matthew was with me and giggled at the sound of his baby brother/sister's racing heart. It sounded different to me than Matthew's. This time around it sounded more like galloping horses than the 'swish swish' of Matthew's heart. Here is an update on my pregnancy. I have an ultrasound today at 3:30, so more to come!

Week: 13
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!
Everyone keeps asking, 'When you gonna give that kid a haircut?' I am holding off, because I want to see if it will curl. (I doubt it). In the meantime, Matthew wakes up with some pretty interesting hairstyles..

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Vacation's all I ever wanted...

Sorry pictures to post. We put ALL technology away for the weekend while on vacation. No, there won't be any pictures to commemorate our trip...but, without all the distractions of cameras, cell phones, and video cameras; we were able to just sit back and relax. It was so nice!

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

12 Weeks!

Today is a milestone worth celebrating! I am officially 12 weeks pregnant. I am so happy that this day has come. The morning sickness is slowly subsiding. I am still feeling tired, but hopefully that will pass with a few more weeks!

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!

More house ideas...

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

Dreaming of a new...

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 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

I am sitting here today, daydreaming Grandma Sue's home made RAVIOLI.

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!