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In My Spare Time

Thanks again to Ginger for the push to actually sit down and blog.

For years, I’ve been sewing little gifts for people, especially when they have babies.  I’ve experimented with making baby clothes, decorating bibs, creating burp cloths, and sewing hooded towels.  And, to be a little honest, I’ve become pretty good at it.  Last summer, while looking for a hobby while staying at home with Lila, I decided to invest in an embroidery machine.  This basically took my cute creations and made them fantastic.   There’s something so wonderful about personalized gifts, especially for children.

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This was a bag I made for one of my CDP’s and I absolutely love the detailing that shows up.

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Our stockings I made in a complete rush in order to have them ready before we left town for Christmas.

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 The hooded towel I designed for Lila.  I’ve used this so much with her that I’m thinking of making a whole cabinet of them so we won’t wear this one out.

IMG_3090[1]Look at this adorable gift set for a baby boy!

So if you are needing or wanting anything personalized, let me know!  I do custom creations but I can also monogram existing items for a flat rate.  I have a two week turn around from when I receive payment and when it will be shipped.  I am so excited to start this new adventure!  Follow my shop on Instagram at SeeFernSew for more ideas and creations.

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Stuff I’ve Cooked Recently

I keep seeing posts on Facebook and Twitter where people are begging for dinner ideas.  I usually end up stalking these posts and find a couple of things I can add to my list.  This summer I’ve been trying to make at least one new dish a week with the goal being I can find at least a few dishes to add into our regular rotation.  I’ve even made a Pinterest board where I’m giving feedback on dishes/crafts I’ve tried that I’ve found from the site.  So here’s a list of some of the new dishes that have made their way into our rotation:

Honey Spiced Chicken Thighs

from hollywoodifshecould.net

photo from hollywoodifshecould.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We ALWAYS have chicken thighs in our house.  I’ve learned over the years to prefer them to chicken breasts because they are a lot more forgiving when you are experimenting.  They don’t dry out like chicken breasts and they have more flavor even with just a simple marinade.  I picked this recipe because it’s all stuff I have in my cabinet – which is very important when I’m struggling to figure out what I’m going to cook.  These thighs were great!  Joel and Josh both ate them up and asked to have them in a regular rotation.  My only edit I would make is to use a little less honey than the recipe calls for.  I thought that the honey was SO liquidly (nope, that’s not a word and I don’t care) that with a little less, it would hopefully not be a mess all over my pan.  I had just picked up the honey that weekend from the farmer’s market so it was REALLY fresh.  I don’t know if that matters.

Couscous Salad with Black Beans, Mushrooms, and Corn

photo from marthastewart.com

photo from marthastewart.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When corn is fresh and in season, I do whatever I can to find great recipes with corn.  This came recommended from a friend on one of those Facebook posts.  One of the reasons I decided to make this particular dish is because I was running into Big Lots to grab some 4th of July decor and I noticed they have a grocery section!  They had some fancy brand of couscous (Red Mill, I believe) for a couple of dollars and I decided to go ahead and get it.  This was a quick and easy dinner that uses all fresh ingredients.  I didn’t add the jalapeno in the dish but I did cut some up and put it in a bowl for Joel and Josh.  Lila didn’t really care for the couscous but I think that’s a texture thing for her.  The avocado was the perfect touch!  My only complaint is that I felt like I had to eat a TON to feel full.  Joel and Josh both agreed that this would be better if it was a side to some actual meat.  So I’m going to try it again as a side dish to some grilled chicken (thighs!).

Rice, Beans, and Okra

photo from foodnetwork.com This isn't actually a picture of what I cook but it was the only thing that looked closest

photo from foodnetwork.com
This isn’t actually a picture of what I cook but it was the only picture that looked closest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So I don’t know the exact name of this recipe.  It all started from something my MIL made when she came to stay at our house when I was in the last few weeks (after my due date) of my pregnancy.  This was kinda just a throw in of anything she could find.  My MIL is really creative when it comes to stuff like this and now after tweaking this a bit, it’s become one of our favorite recipes.  It’s also a vegetarian dish but it needs nothing else to accompany it.  Find a large bowl and start layering:

  • White rice (we use a rice cooker because it turns out that it makes rice one billion times better than I can on the stove. Considering how much we eat rice, we get our money’s worth.  We just bought this one because our cheap one from Walgreens finally died after 5 years.)
  • Black beans – I add some (about half ) diced onion to a pot with some canola oil.  As they cook down, I add in cumin and curry spices and then I dump the entire can of black beans (with the juices) in the pot and let it simmer.
  • Slimey Okra – I know this sounds gross, but it is my absolute favorite.  It’s more like a healthier version of bhindi (which is basically the Indian non-breaded version of fried okra).  I slice onion (usually a whole one and then I slice up the other half from the beans) and start sauteing it in a pan with a lid with some canola oil.  The goal of this dish is to steam the veggies.  The trick to getting your okra nice and slimy is to cut it and let it dry for a few hours before you start cooking.  I usually slice it up during nap time and then just let it dry out on a cookie sheet with some paper towels underneath it.  Once you get the onions going, add the okra and put the top on.  You want to cook this on a low simmer because you don’t want to actually fry the okra.  As it cooks down, you’ll start to see the okra stick together and then you know it’s getting perfect.  Add salt at the end to taste.
  • Shredded SHARP cheddar cheese – I find some sharp white cheddar in the deli area (although we’ve used the regular yellow sharp cheese in the dairy aisle and it works fine).  When my MIL first made this dish for us, I happened to have some fancy white sharp cheddar cheese from Earth Fare and it was the star of the dish.  So I try adding new fancy cheeses (as long as they are on sale and I remember to buy some).
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Cilantro

Pile all of this on top of each other and you have a delicious dinner.  This is SO filling for not only me but for Joel’s siblings.  They eat like horses and this fills everyone up and gives us leftovers for lunch the next day.

 

I know that I love reading about what you are cooking/eating – because honestly, cooking has become kinda fun for me so I’m always attempting to try new recipes (at least one a week) so I’m not just cooking the same 5 things over and over again.  So, now that I’m going to try posting our dinners, you should too!

 

Update 2 months later…

This has been a crazy two months, which will help explain my hiatus from blogging.  So how about the ever-common bulleted list to catch you up?

  • Lila turned one. I don’t really understand how this baby (look at all those rolls!)

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  • turned into this kid (look at all those teeth!)
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  • She’s gone from above the 90th percentiles of height and weight to 10th percentiles.  She is a complete monkey baby – always toddling around (she just learned to walk about a month ago) and opening cabinets.  But she sure does aim to please.  She likes having tasks to do and really just wants to make you happy.  I’m living in this naive world where I believe this baby will always be like this but the next one will probably be the death of me.
  • We had both of our families come into town to visit for her birthday party.  We had a really great time with her cow themed party.  There’s a field of cows behind our house and for awhile they were Lila’s favorite animals.  She would “mooo” all the time.  Then everyone came into town and she refused to make a sound.
  • Joel and I celebrated 5 years of marriage in Chicago a few weeks ago.  We had a wonderful time at one of the coolest restaurants and then we laughed ourselves into tears watching “The Book of Mormon.”
  • Our house in Huntsville still hasn’t sold.  (Want to buy it?!  http://www.valleymls.com/(S(3qflgbsggeumk4gxpegn2msq))/default.aspx)
  • So we went ahead and bought a house in Indiana. The silver lining is that our landlord is letting us out of our lease early so that she can put her house back on the market.  Thankfully this means we won’t have to pay 2 mortgages and rent and we only have to pay 2 mortgages.  Yay (?).  We bought a gorgeous new construction in a really desirable area, which will be great for resale.  We close in two weeks so that means I’m back to packing and organizing all our stuff in order to move SOON.  I will be thankful when we can rid of all of these boxes and actually unpack everything.  I am still missing all of my tupperware (which is why I had to go buy a new set) so I’m curious to go through and find that and who knows what else.
  • Joel’s brother has moved in with us for the summer and I am SO thankful for the live-in help.  A sibling of his has lived with him since before we were even engaged and I’m so used to it that I kinda want this every summer.  It’s really awesome because his brother does the dishes every night.  This is one of the most wonderful gifts someone can give me.  Plus, it’s great being like “Hey I’m running to the store, here’s the monitor, she’s asleep!”  I can go run errands so quickly when I’m not worried about buckling a baby in and out of the car seat.
  • I got a free lance gig doing some copy-editing work for the Educational Specialists at NASA.  It sounds oh so very important, and I’m a little proud of this.  It also makes me sound smarter than I really am.
  • And VERY importantly, I’ve made friends here!  I’m involved in two different play groups (involving mostly the same people each day) and I’m starting to have a group of girls I can contact and hang out with.  I’m realizing (ok, not realizing but at least admitting) that I am a social person who NEEDS other people around.  I thrive on it while it wears Joel out (hello typical extrovert and introvert).

St. Louis Recap (lots of baby pics)

We adventured to St. Louis this past week which I was super excited about because (1) we got out of Indiana and (2) I reeeealy like St. Louis.  It was actually our first choice when we were looking at new places to move.  So I was kinda pumped to have a long trip there.  Joel was in a workshop all day near our hotel so Lila and I mainly just hung out by ourselves during the day.  Of course, she slept most of the time so I was locked in our hotel room.  Thankfully, we were in a “suite” type room with a door separating the living area from the bedroom/bathroom so Lila got her own “room” and so did we.

Throughout the days, I was trying to come up with fun things to do which is hard when you have a kid that takes two two hour naps throughout the day and then wants to pass out at 7pm.

I'm on a boat. (heh)

I’m on a boat. (heh)

I did take her swimming for the first time.  Which, considering I’m already a little nervous about the baby and water, taking her to the pool by myself was quite a feat.  (By the way, that towel was my first hooded towel I’ve made and it went so well that I think those might become my new baby gifts!  I have a feeling Lila will have a collection of them soon.)  She LOVES bath time and hanging out in the tub, so I figured she would love a swimming pool.

WHAT IS THIS GIANT BATHTUB??

WHAT IS THIS GIANT BATHTUB??

Nope, turns out she was pretty nervous at first.  Then she fiiiinaly relaxed.

You can push me now.

You can push me now.

She never really got into the whole splashing thing, but one step at a time I suppose.  I don’t think there is anything cuter than a kid in a swimsuit because everything is just SO TINY.  She looks like a little person here and it’s pretty darn adorable, if you ask me.  We had a few friends pass down some old clothes their girls outgrew and so Lila has a summer collection of about 15 swimsuits.  I…don’t even know.  I’m going to try and embroider on some of them for practice’s sake and then I have a feeling goodwill will be getting a healthy supply of baby swimwear.

The only downsides about traveling for us is that Lila likes to have teeth break through whenever we aren’t in our own home where I can heavily medicate and don’t have to worry about her waking anyone but me and Joel.  She had 4 come through when we were in Florida/Georgia for Christmas and in St. Louis, her molar finally made its way to the surface.  On a positive side, I have found out what works really well for her.  If it’s the middle of the night crying I do a dose of Tylenol (Advil hasn’t ever really helped for the massive breakthroughs), 3-4 Hyland’s Teething Tablets, and rub some Orajel Naturals (which doesn’t have the benzocaine in it) on her gums.  A nurse friend of mine referred to it as the Holy Trinity of Teething.  It was the only thing that helped to calm her down and let her sleep.  Which if it helps the baby to sleep, then I’d do it all over again.

The Truth About Our New Home

I have been told that I am not a negative person, and I believe that.  For the most part, I try to stay positive and always find some benefit or good out of any situation.  I have to keep reminding myself to do that now that I’m in a new city in a new state and in a place that I do not like.  I’m struggling with saying I “hate” it here, because hate is a strong word and I don’t know if I’ve given this place enough time to really form that impression yet.  We’ve lived here about a month and I’m struggling to find the positives.  It’s been so gray, overcast, and cold.  On days that it is sunny, I can’t take the baby out because the wind is too strong for any sort of walk to be pleasant.  The dogs are going crazy being cooped up inside all the time.  I have to keep them in a bathroom because if I leave them in the laundry room, they instantly crap and pee all over the floor.  There are only so many times I can clean it up before I want to strangle them.  So in an effort to save my sanity, I keep them locked up.  They want to go outside but it’s too cold even for them with their coats on.

And then there are the little things I need and miss.  During the week, Lila and I would frequently go on errands.  Costco, Target, and Publix were visited almost every week in an effort to replace necessities (milk) and for sanity (OMG GET ME OUT OF THIS HOUSE).  I have none of those stores now.  Sure we have other places here (Walmart – sigh.  Y’all, I’m trying to make see it in a more positive light but I just can’t.) but it’s not the same.   And this seems SO DUMB for me to be bitching about stores that we don’t have.  But when you’re at home all day long, I need some sort of incentive to get out of the house.  Walmart is not an incentive.

On the bright side, the TJ Maxx is waaaaay nicer and more organized than any of their other stores I’ve ever seen.  Even the clearance racks at Kohl’s were still organized according to size.  The Chili’s here is a testing site for future stores and it might be one of the nicest chain restaurants I’ve been to.  One benefit to living here versus any other place in the South, is the farming community.  The farmers here are extremely active in pushing their produce and meat to the average consumer.  In their local chain of grocery stores (kinda reminds me of Huntsville’s Star Market), they carry local produce, dairy, meat, and other products like breads and popcorn.  THIS I LOVE.  The farmer’s market is only one day a month throughout the winter but even going to that, it was better than the farmer’s markets I went to in Huntsville.  I’m hoping for good things to come out of the weekly summer market.

Probably the most frustrating part of living here is that I’m already planning on moving back to the South.  I want to be closer to our family – end of story.  Instead, we moved much farther away and are on the way to no one.  Joel and I have both talked about how we probably won’t live here for more than 5 years, mainly because we want our families to be a big part of Lila’s life.  Joel didn’t grow up around family and I did.  I think that’s one thing he definitely missed out on growing up overseas.  So with that in mind, I KNOW I can live anywhere for 5 years.  I know I can.  But it was so much easier when we moved to Huntsville because I started graduate school and was automatically thrown into social situations with opportunities to make friends.  Now?  I am home-bound with an infant and two whiny dogs.  I have to keep reminding myself that I didn’t like Huntsville when I first moved there, and I grew to LOVE it.  But….I just don’t see that happening here.

I keep telling myself that THIS is why we moved.

joel lila

Can’t you hear the squeals of laughter?

 

 

 

So this little girl gets to see her dad when he’s not completely stressed out.  So that he wants to give her a bath every night and read her stories.  So that he can help his wife clean the kitchen after the baby is in bed.

 

 

I just have to keep reminding myself of this.

 

A New Tradition – Sorry, Hallmark

So yesterday was Valentine’s Day.  Now, I know a lot of people don’t celebrate the Day of Love (“Why celebrate a holiday made up by companies who are just trying to get you to buy things?”  “I don’t believe in taking just one day to tell someone I love them.”), but Joel and I do.  We enjoy giving each other little gifts and just reminding each other how much we care about the other.

Every Valentine’s Day, I wait until the last minute to find a meaningful gift (which is hard to do considering Joel’s birthday is in 3.5 weeks) and then I stand in front of the card section at Target, trying to figure out which card I want to buy.  Of course, by the time I get there, the selection is slim.  Ok, and let me just vent that I HATE how expensive cards are.  Seriously Hallmark?  You expect me to spend $4 on a stupid card?  Even as I’m raging about it, I usually end up spending the money on them.

This Valentine’s Day, we began a new tradition.  Joel asked me a few days ago if I really enjoyed getting a card or if I just appreciated the message on the inside.  Immediately, I told him that it was the personalized message from him that I really treasured – not some stereotypical greeting millions of others are receiving.  We both decided that instead of cards we would write each other notes this year.

Best. Decision. Ever.

Y’all, my sweet physicist husband wrote such a wonderfully personal message that I found myself crying within the first few lines.  Granted, it doesn’t take much to make me cry these days, but the fact that it was so simple and beautiful made me fall in love with him more.  I’m wanting to save these letters we write each other in sheet protectors (or maybe some sort of scrapbooking thing) with them facing each other.  In 20 years, hopefully we can look back and see what all we went through and just recap some of those old memories.  Plus, I find it terribly romantic to keep a collection of love letters.  It feels so antique and classic, which is a nice feeling in our modern technological times.

The future of technology

Last week, Joel and I had the 4D ultrasound pictures.  Friends kept telling us how much we would wish we had them and that they are worth every penny.  You have to pay a separate fee for the pictures, which I didn’t think was too much to ask considering I haven’t paid hardly anything during all of my prenatal visits.  We get all lined up for the technician and low and behold, it was one of the most fascinating things we’ve ever done.  I am SO GLAD we did these pictures!  I am so excited to meet this little girl (yes, it’s a girl – I had them check AGAIN which Joel thought was ridiculous).

Here is the picture that resembles Joel.  Notice the furrowed brow and how she seems to be burdened by all of her hardships.  (Not that Joel really has a ton of hardships, but out of the two of us, he’s definitely the serious one).

This is the photo that I believe will best describe her personality.  Do you see the LET’S PARTY Y’ALL written all over her face?  It makes me a little nervous that she’ll never sleep.  It is nice though because now I have a visual for all of the times she beats me up and acts crazy in the middle of the night.

And then there’s this sweet photo.  Look at her sleeping!  It gives me hope that YES, she will sleep in between all of her partying.  Joel says this is exactly what I look like when I’m sleeping (and no, I don’t find that to be creepy considering I sleep all the time these days).

I assume she will come out looking like Joel but for now my lips have pwned (like my video game lingo?)  his lip genetics.  A friend of mine said that her 4D ultrasound looked identical to her but then she gave birth to her husband’s clone.  Either way, she is healthy and seems to be having a good time.  I’m hoping she has this same pleasant disposition in real life also.  OH and if they are getting these types of pictures in 2012, what in the world will be available in 2037?