Good for the Soul

I spent yesterday with friends. It was so refreshing.  When we found out we'd be leaving our little apartment in Alexandria these friends were what I grieved leaving the most. 

I knew on any given day I could meet up for a walk before or after naps, have someone to go to the grocery store, library, or park with, and overall friends to walk through life with. 

Since our unborn son has been waking me up at 5 unable to go back to sleep I wanted to share some photos from yesterday.  I'm sure they're both up with their 5 week old babies right now too.

  I tried to help Robyn as best I could and that evening Beth and CT came over with their little ones.  Benjamin thankfully didn't have class so he was able to join in as well. 

The two year olds were quite hilarious playing together, being bossed around by miss Eleanor who would tell them where to play. Typical girl. ;) Caleb got upset when he brought a truck down for Anderson to play with that he wasn't interested in and overall Anderson was most intrigued by tickling the babies toes or telling them "it's ok baby!" When they cried.

Dinner was quite fittingly lasagna and salad of course brought over from one of Robyn's friends paired with another freezer pasta dish I brought over. We had boxed brownies for dessert and all seemed right. 

I'm so glad I got to see these friends. It gives me hope that even though I don't have those kind of friends here yet, I will make them. They won't replace these friendships formed outside a big city in tiny apartments, but I'm going to trust that I will in fact have friends again. I have to hope that and rest in knowing He will provide them for me, just like he provided these sweet ones. 

Some mornings

Some mornings you need to stay in pajamas and attempt to read while you get over a cold and your son is still fighting it. 

We're having one of those mornings where Kleenex are everywhere and Anderson is learning to grab them himself when needed. 

What I thought was just allergies is a cold and I think while pregnant a cold seems to be worse than normal. 

It's ok. I'll take these lazy mornings and my newfound realization that I need to pick up a book again after a 2+ year hiatus. 

This week at the library I decided to check out some books for myself and picked up two Beth Moore books- So Long Insecurity and To Live in Christ. 

Any other book recommendations out there?

saturday so far

Someone woke up extra early this morning which wasn't super welcomed by mommy and daddy.  We found ourselves outside early and when I mentioned that our first big tomato was ripe Anderson insisted that we pick it and eat it right away with salt.  

How could I resist?  He ate about half of it and I ate the other half.  Super sweet and delicious.  I love this time of year.

Later on in the morning after some Apple Butter Pancakes family stopped by and we headed out to Cana Winery with my parents, cousin, and his girlfriend from California for a bit before they had to head out to see New York the rest of this weekend.

Although I didn't get the full winery experience of course I will say this place is very picturesque and makes me be thankful once again that we live where we do.

It's a beautiful day around here.  Although I've been dreading the end of summer the cooler weather has be excited for sweaters and warm meals.

preserving peaches

After picking peaches the other week I knew I'd want to preserve them somehow.  The idea of canning them didn't excite me so much, mainly because we make a lot of smoothies around here and I have other canning endeavors in my near future.

I asked a friend who I look to for canning inspiration what to do and she recommended peeling the peaches, cutting them up, tossing them in some sugar and Fruit-Fresh then freezing in ziploc bags.  That's what I did!  

Although the freezer meals may have been budget friendly picking peaches never seems to be.  The peaches were about $25 and we got just 4 quart size bags minus the ones we ate as they got ripe. 

I guess it's not really about the money here though as I hope to get some tomatoes soon and turn them into salsa and can them for sauce in the winter months.  It's all about opening a can of summer or having a smoothie that tastes far better than store bought peaches in the winter months to come.

freezer cooking! 2 girls, lots of meals.

We all know I love to cook but what I may love more during this season of my life is having a freezer stocked with meals for nights when I don't have to think about cooking!

Benjamin started back at grad school this week so with the 2-3 nights a week we'll be on our own and with a busy toddler around I'm very excited for the meals I've got stocked away for the weeks and months to come.
my old freezer after doing a bunch of cooking awhile ago!

My friend Ellen emailed after seeing the Pioneer Woman's episode about freezer cooking asking me if I'd be up for a cooking day and of course I said yes.  With our mom's nearby to watch the kids we got to thinking about what we'd make, hit the grocery store, then met to cook earlier this week.

We worked well as a team- both having prepared things in advance- Ellen having made the crust for her quiche the night before, making dough for biscuits, roasting off a chicken, and me getting chili in the slow cooker before she arrived.  Clearly she was more on top of her game.

I don't have all the recipes written down yet but wanted to share with you what we made.

Ellen picked:

  • Ina's Meatballs that she made and froze in gallon bags, each getting 10 meatballs a piece.  We got 4 bags!
  • Ina's Chicken Stew with Thyme Biscuits- we got 4 8x8 tins of this!
  • Spinach and Parmesan Quiche using Julia Child's Quiche Recipe and PW's crust recipe.  We got 4 pies.
I picked:
Overall we think we spent about $200 total on groceries and got about 24 8x8 or pie tin dishes then the chili is enough for at least 8 more meals.  So, we went home with about 12 prepared meals that just need to be popped in the oven and then lots of chili (probably 3 more meals each) to be frozen and served on its own, over baked potatoes, fritos, chips, burgers, etc.  

If I did my math correctly (never trust my pregnant mind with math) but I think that's 30 meals having spent $200 that's under $7 a meal!  It really pays off to buy your meat in bulk, cook with a friend, and go home with meals for weeks to come!

Having done a bunch of freezer cooking in month's past I've learned it's always a good idea to freeze things like soups and stews and things like meatballs, quiche, and other 8x8 casseroles are perfect to have on hand when you might need them, or for when you have to bring a meal to someone but aren't sure what you're going to make.

I'll share recipes and pictures as I go through these meals but for now wanted to let you know what we cooked!

25 weeks. A Bump Update

It's no joke that number two sneaks up on you.  At my last OB appointment the nurse walked in and asked if I had registered for the hospital yet.  HA!  How is that a possible question at this point?

Needless to say I did go ahead and register for the hospital that afternoon, mainly so I wouldn't forget later on.  I swear before we know it I'll be 35 weeks, then having contractions and going into labor.

I am a bit more nervous about labor this time around since I was induced with Anderson and don't feel like I really experienced the whole laboring at home situation.  Since we live further from the hospital now my OB assured me I could start driving to the hospital when contractions were a bit further apart. 

 Here's to hoping this little guy isn't planning to come during rush hour.

peach picking: hollin farm

bumps, bandaids, and his big boy room

We're at the point where band aids are the most amazing thing ever, especially when they have Lightning McQueen on them. Anderson will bump into something then ask for one.  He doesn't always get one because as much as he wants one, he also can quickly want it off and fuss about it on his "ouchie."

In other news we did a lot of painting this weekend (pictures to come) and his big boy room is all painted.  He's in there tonight along with his toddler bed, toys, and book case.  We figured it'd be best to get him in that room now than have him switch out of the nursery after his brother came.  This way he can have maybe just a little less jealousy and angst towards the babe who will take up much of my time in 15 or so weeks.

He helped move the bed into his room and we definitely made a big deal about it being the big boy room.  I was a little sad thinking of him not being in the nursery anymore, but then again it hit me that this little boy kicking in my tummy will be in there before we know it.

Oh- his red nose?  If you ask him how he got it he'll say "running... life guard." Broken down that means he was running at the pool and the life guard says "no running."  He fell pretty hard and bonked his nose and head but his nose seems to have the biggest scar.

Here's to my life with little boys- more bumps, bandaids, and red noses to come I'm sure.

our patio garden

While I was outside taking pictures this morning I realized I hadn't shared anything about our attempts at gardening this summer.  

We have a pepper plant that has a ripe hot pepper on it.  Benjamin can go ahead and eat that whenever he would like.  Another pepper plant didn't make it after a lot of rain one week.  We opted for cheap containers this year and learned our lesson to just go ahead and buy something good that will last.

We have two basil plants that are doing really well, chives, parsley that must not like the heat, rosemary that definitely didn't like the heat and/or rain and died the first week, and a couple tomato plants.

This canning pot has a rusted out hole in it so I decided to use it as a planter.  So far so good.

The oregano hasn't gotten good use, but then again I have high hopes for canning some tomatoes soon so maybe I need to try my hand at canning some sauce with herbs in it?  If you have a recipe you'd recommend please share!

Although we have a yard downstairs it backs to a wooded area and I have 100% confidence that deer would get whatever I grew so I think I'll plan on container gardening for awhile and eventually get some raised beds that would fit well on our deck.

With summer coming to a close I knew we would still have tomatoes coming and am glad for the fact that I want to preserve some of those summer staples in the next few weeks!

our little photographer

Be careful what you do because your child will mimic you.  In our case Anderson is taking up photography.  We got a new camera this past weekend which has me snapping more and more pictures.  I've wanted one for awhile but am awful at spending money, especially when I feel like we've been on such a tight budget.  But, we have savings, it was our anniversary, and I agreed with Benjamin that this would be a happy anniversary present for the both of us.  

While folding diaper this morning (we're back to using cloth after I stopped for the first trimester and moving) I turned around to find he had the strap around his neck and was acting like he was going to take a picture of me.  

What a kid.

the face of sweetness

We headed to the park tonight after a dinner of (you guessed it) quesadilla pie.  I've made it four times in the last three days.  I made it for our dinner with friends who were in from Santa Barbara this past weekend and then made three last night- two for friends who just had babies and one for our dinner tonight.  

We'll probably take a break from it for a bit but I still really find it to be a winner of a recipe.

Anderson is becoming more and more of a two year old and yesterday said to me "I love you Mommy."  Melt my heart.  He is the sweetest boy (to me) and I'm going to soak up these next four months just being his mamma before baby brother arrives.

a weekend snipet


I'd like to consider this a breakfast that is simple yet special.  A meal that was made by Benjamin and devoured by Anderson and me.  It's something I'd like to suggest he make again soon, but then again let's not put another list on the man's 'to-do's."  

Nesting has hit me pretty hard recently and with furlough days coming to a close (Praise the Lord!) our projects are growing it seems but our days are dwindling.  As one of Benjamin's co-workers said at the news that the furlough wouldn't last as long as we had expected, "Great- first they take my money, then they take my vacation."  In all reality we have enjoyed having Benjamin home each Friday but the cut to his paycheck has been rough.  

This breakfast doesn't require any fancy ingredients yet tastes altogether fancy.  I highly recommend trying them out- I know I want to perfect them!

Recipe thanks to Lucinda Scala Quinn's Mad Hungry

Ingredients You'll Need

  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 eggs
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • unsalted butter for the skillet

1. Preheat your oven to 200 as this recipe can take some time to do all the crepes and you'll want to keep them warm before you serve.
2. Place the flour, salt, baking powder, eggs, milk, water, and vanilla in a blender and blend until smooth. The batter can be made and refrigerated up to a day ahead which is nice for when you want things ready the night ahead.

3. Heat a skillet and coat it with butter then gently pour 3-4 tablespoons of the batter in, swirling to coat the bottom of the pan. When the edges start to pull away and turn golden flip them with a spatula. Cook about 30 seconds more and you're done!

4. Place the completed crepes on the platter in the oven as you go and complete until finished with the batter. Top with powdered sugar, jam, or maple syrup if you like and enjoy!

the accidental toddler bed transition

I was recently asked if Anderson was in a toddler bed, when we made the switch, and if he wasn't when we were planning on doing that.  I started an email response to her then that draft got lost and I decided to blog about for the sake of remembering myself when we did this since I'm sure we'll forget.

About a month ago, so when Anderson was 22 months, we were staying at my parents for the weekend with my brother and his family.  Their son would be in the crib which meant Anderson would be in the pack n play.  The week before he had been in a pack n play while we were out of town and didn't sleep too well in it.  That night at my parents he was up a lot.  I didn't sleep myself since we were in the same room as him and being pregnant and demanding decided we should just try out the toddler bed to see if he would do better.

My parents were given a toddler bed from their neighbor so we brought that upstairs, set it up, put him down for his nap, and the kid slept like a champ.  Granted he really likes sleeping, doesn't fight it, and isn't the type to stand up in his crib and ask to get out while we're putting him down.

He slept well that evening, seemed to love the pillow, and when we got home we decided to turn his crib into it's toddler bed position as well.

The only problem here was that the crib mattress didn't go any lower than we already had it, and there was no side rail to ensure he wouldn't fall out.  I said a prayer, put some pillows on the side of his bed, and went to sleep.

For about a week he woke up an hour earlier than normal.  My guess is he may usually start to stir around 6 but has learned to sleep til 7.  After about a week he went back to sleeping in until 7.

He hasn't ever run out of the bed but then again, this is my child.  I was the kid who told my parents it was time for bed and would crawl up the stairs.  Anderson is the same.  Whenever I have to tell him it's time for bed or that we'll have to leave the pool to get home for a nap he says, "ok.  bye pool! night night."

Hopefully that's helpful to other Mom's wondering when to make the switch, and helpful again to me when I'm wondering when we should move this next babe into the toddler bed situation.  Now we'll have to see when we move Anderson into a twin bed.

As a side note- Anderson had started going to the bathroom on the potty the week that he tried the toddler bed out for the first time.  He would say he wanted to go, and actually go.  After the toddler bed switch he hasn't been interested.  We aren't pushing it as it's still really early in our minds and because I've heard too much change can play a toll on their little psyche.

three years

three years ago today I married the most perfect man for me.  That day we were as naive as I think now all newlyweds are...oh what we had coming our way.  I often tell people life has never slowed down for us.  We haven't experienced a season of rest really or a season without a bunch of "stuff" both good and bad going on.

This season we have a lot of not such fun stuff going on with family that creates a lot of stress.  But- we also have a lot of blessings that keep us smiling day in and out.  We have a precious son and another one on the way.  We have a home with walls we can paint.  We have laughter to keep us going and a God who is oh so faithful to us.

Three years.  In some ways it's flown by and in others I think we both feel like very different people from who we were on the day we wed.

Happy three years, Benny.  Life is much more full and much better with you in it.

a shared boys room

west elm sheets 

I've got home projects on the brain. Anyone whose been pregnant before knows this is called nesting.  Benjamin painted the downstairs bath this week and we updated the fixtures in there as well.  Now we need to find a mirror for over the sink and think of some decor ideas but regardless, it's a whole heck of a lot better than the awful red it was before.

Now that we know we're having another boy I'm thinking that the boys will share the larger bedroom that we'd previously been calling Anderson's big boy room or since he's still in the nursery, the playroom.  I'm having a dilemma in the sense that I painted our dining room and bedroom blue.  The bedding in the guest room is also blue.  Our wedding color was basically blue.  I like the color.  But, with two boys there is a lot of blue in our life.  I'm having decor trouble.

I'm pretty confident that the nursery may just be painted white with some colorful accents.  The dresser and glider cover are a brighter green, we have blue gingham drapes, and I think the white walls will keep it nice and crisp and clean.  Now to figure out the perfect white.
etsy watercolor print

The larger room that Anderson will move into has me thinking of bunk beds or even red beds and wondering how we'll decorate it.  We're leaning towards some nautical decor but keeping it neutral enough that they can grow up with it for longer than a room that shouts trains or trucks would last.

the perfect hometown

It's been really fun having Anderson back in Chagrin at this age. Every morning we have gone into town for breakfast at Yours Truly and he's seen the park once, sometimes twice, a day. 

While my mom ran to the grocery store the other day I took him for a quick walk, we went to the park, and wandered up to the library. We even went into the Chagrin Hardware Store one afternoon to get some official duck food and feed the ducks. The geese seemed to get in the way befofe but now that they aren't making a mess of our backyard I didn't mind them so much. Growing up they were such a pain on the little lake we had in our backyard that we had a goose round up day where they were nicely taken to a new pond. 

We ran into our share of old friends and loved every minute of our "vacation" here. I can't wait to come back with Benjamin to eat at all our favorites and introduce him to Flip Side, a great burger spot in town that serves up Ohio raised grass fed beef along addictive thick onion rings. 

I'm continually thankful to have grown up in such a town and hope it's part of Anderson's childhood memories as well. 

the beaches of ohio

After a long day of travel on Monday we got up Tuesday determined to head for the beach.  My Mom grew up going to Lake Erie for a week with her family and I remember going up to the lake as well.  Not as often, but we did it.

This is a hidden gem I think people forget about.  A lot of Clevelanders should remember this in the summer months with kids.  What difference does it make to them if the beach has a few more pebbles?

Anderson had a great time in the sand and I even got some sun myself.  Grammy of course got out to swim and Anderson had to join along too, although he quickly learned the waves are a bit different from being in a calm pool.

Although he said he wanted to nap on the beach that wasn't going to happen so we headed back, thankful for a morning at the beach!