Thursday, April 28, 2011

A spoonful of sugar ... (and, hello my name is Jen and I'm addicted to Peanut Butter)

In lieu of our monthly Junior League Provisional meeting this week, our group of 20 to 30-something young professionals with a desire to better Cincinnati through volunteerism were asked to serve as a focus group for Kroger.  They need us to taste test .... wait for it .... ice cream.  Say hello to the dream of a pregnant woman.  They held a similar event a few months ago for appetizer foods, but due to work travel I wasn't able to attend.  Don't worry though, as soon as I heard about this event my calendar was cleared. 

We were instructed to eat dinner before arriving, so I inhaled a granola bar before leaving work.  I even thought ahead enough to bring a change of clothing ... I mean, who wants to be taste-testing with slacks and heels on ... jeans and flip flops are so much more conducive to letting the taste buds do their work : )

In addition to an appetizer station (cheese, crackers and fruit in case of brain freezes) and a beverage station (wine, soda and water) there were three tasting tables with about seven varieties of ice cream each.  We were asked to sample and rate a minimum of four per table.  Being the over achiever I am, I went 7 for 7 at the first table.  And, I fell in love.  My all-time favorite of the night was Triple Peanut Butter; peanut butter ice cream, swirled with peanut butter and chocked full of pieces of Reese Cups.  I seriously almost died and went to heaven.  I may or may not have sampled three small scoop cups of that variety.  The Double Vanilla and Tiramisu varieties were my other faves, also from the first table.  I only sampled 4 or 5 at each of the other two tables and nothing really struck my fancy quite much.  I guess it was love at first bite ...

So, moral of the story is that I LOVE focus groups.  Especially ones that give me a meeting credit, involve ice cream and visiting with friends I've come to love over the past 9 months.  I also realized I may have a problem with peanut butter.  The amount we've gone through in this house over the past 9 months is a bit scary ... better enjoy it while I have a reason to be tipping the scale : )

And now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to find this delectible delight in the grocery store ...

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Hoppy (Belated) Easter from Milo (the Bunny)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Friday Funny: A REAL Woman

My step-mother posted this on Facebook yesterday and it made me laugh ... I have a feeling that as we morph into a family of three I'll feel more like a man each day : )

"A real woman always keeps her house clean and organized, the laundry basket is always empty. She's always well dressed, hair done. She never swears and behaves gracefully in all situations and under all circumstances. She has more than enough patience to take care of her family, always has a smile on her lips, and a kind word for everyone. Post this in your status if you too suspect that you might be a man."

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Baby Bump: 34 weeks ... less than 6 weeks to go!!

I had been trying to do a formal post related to the pregnancy every four weeks, but week 32 came and went and here we are, less 6 weeks away!!  It's crazy to hear myself say "eight months" when asked how far along I am ... and even more crazy when I see myself in the weekly photo we're taking.  I remember wanting to have a "real bump" (versus a blob) early on and now I've got that and sooooo much more. 

I am seeing my OB every two-weeks now and things couldn't be going better.  I'm measuring to the centimeter (bump-wise) and to the pound (weight-wise) at each visit, with all other stats normal.  A co-worker commented "that doesn't surprise me at all that you're doing it to the percent correctly" ... and, although I'm glad everything is on target, it's not really by any planning of my own ... for once in my life.  I've been trying to exercise when I can, mostly walks around the neighborhoods, well, more like waddling, and watching my sodium intake. 

No matter how hard I try I still have a bit of swelling from my knee down most days.  My OB says it's something you just can't help past a certain point and other than exercise, fluid intake and a low-sodium diet, it's just another joy of pregnancy.  The good news is, it will go away after the birth ... the better news is, I should deliver before it gets too hot and miserable.  (Mental Note:  Plan on a spring baby again next time, ha)  I had a reprieve from heartburn for a few weeks, but it's back with a vengeance now.  Mike and all of his brothers had a ton of hair, so I'm hopeful this baby will follow suit.  I'm also having a lot of trouble sleeping lately ... between getting up to use the restroom 4-6 times a night and just not being able to get comfy, I find myself tossing and turning for hours on end ... good practice, I suppose for the nights ahead. 

Speaking of my walks ... I have had a hard time finding reasonably priced maternity workout shirts.  I bought a Champion shirt at Target a few months ago, two sizes larger than I normally wear, but have since pretty much outgrown it ... last weekend I saw the same shirts were on sale and surprised even myself when I looked over at Mike and said "... sweet ... they have an XXL in the color I want."  I've endured the maternity clothing, but I won't say that I'm in love with them like some women I know.  Other than being sick of the rotation and starting to outgrow some of it, I'm just ready to have my regular clothing, with buttons and zippers and normal sizes, back.  That said, the grass is always greener, I may miss it when I'm having trouble fitting into my regular clothing ... : )

The last few weeks have been spent with final preparations ... we were showered with lovely gifts in Pittsburgh two weekends ago and can't wait to visit with family and friends this coming weekend in Lexington.  After we do a final inventory we'll be making final purchases in the weeks that follow.  Hello diaper sticker-shock : )

I went through my "checklist" this past week ...  I formally called our Leave Center (last day at work is May 13!!), ordered my breastpump (my firm pays for all but $100 of a Medela Freestyle), pre-registered at our Hospital, have our Pediatrician lined up and have Baby Kelly enrolled in daycare (tentatively starting the week of October 3).  I feel VERY fortunate that I have such a great leave plan at work ... I get two weeks prior to my due date, 12 weeks after and the ability to use all of my 22 days of vacation after that; so in grand total, I have 18 weeks of paid time off.  In addition, I can take unpaid leave as I desire and my boss is totally supportive of whatever decision I make; I really couldn't ask for more in that regard. 

OK, now for some bumpage shots ... if you're even still reading, ha.  I have had several people tell me that the pictures don't do me justice and I agree, I don't really think I look *that* big in person ... I guess most of my readers will be able to tell this weekend and the others will just have to take my word for it : )

Finally, a word on the gender ... I have really flip-flopped on this one ... I had several dreams early on that it was a boy and my Mom says I'm carrying like she did with my brother (she carried a lot lower with me ... but, I was 5 weeks early ...).  That said, I have a friend that only dreamed she was having a boy, but wound up with a girl, and, a lot of random folks have told me lately they think it's a girl.  Any thoughts from my six readers?  A week or two before I'm due I'll ask for comments predicting the gender and date of birth with a small prize attached for the winner, but I'm just curious for now.  Either way, I can't wait to hear the "It's a _____" announcement in just a few short weeks!!

Friday, April 15, 2011

What's Cookin': Fettuccine with Shrimp, Tomato and Spinach

Do you have a recipe book that is your staple, a regular go-to?   Something you didn't even think you'd use that often when it was purchased or gifted to you?  I do!  Years ago, the family I used to nanny for in college gave me a Cooking Light recipe book that has proved to be worth it's weight, times 100, in gold.  It's called Super Easy Weeknight Meals and is nothing more than a glorified magazine, but I swear every recipe I've tried from there has turned out wonderfully ... and the fact that the recipes are fast and healthy makes it even more worthwhile. 

The latest dish was a pasta dish with shrimp, tomatoes and spinach.  The sauce didn't look as though it would provide much flavor, but I think that's what I wound up liking most about the dish - it's simplicity.  It came together in less than 20 minutes and was fresh, light and springy.  Paired with a salad and bread, it was perfect.  I added a clove of garlic and next time might add a few red pepper flakes, but otherwise it holds it's own in my book.  Enjoy!!


8 ounces uncooked fettuccine
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup finely chopped Vidalia or other sweet onion
2 cups grape or cherry tomatoes, halved lengthwise
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
3/4 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/3 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup reserved pasta water
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
5 cups trimmed spinach or arugula (about 2 ounces)

*  I used a little more of everything as I wanted to have leftovers for lunch for the week ... and, Mike can eat his weight in pasta : )


Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain pasta in a colander over a bowl, reserving 1/2 cup cooking liquid.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté 3 minutes or until tender. Add tomatoes and 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add shrimp; cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add pasta, reserved 1/2 cup cooking liquid, 1/2 teaspoon salt, half-and-half, and pepper; toss well. Cook over medium-low heat 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated and shrimp are done. Add spinach or arugula; toss well.

Monday, April 11, 2011

What's Cookin': Springtime Ladies Lunch

My aunt and cousin came up to Cincinnati on Sunday for a visit and we had a great day!  Probably wise they came up when I'm able to get a shower in, wear "real people" clothing and won't have spit-up or poop on myself : )  We enjoyed a "ladies lunch" (well, Mike was there, but he'll eat pretty much anything I make) and then pampered ourselves with manicures and pedicures ... all in all, a pretty wonderful day, and the sun shining topped it off as one for the record books. 

Lunch was truly a work from my blog obsessions.  We had my Impossible Quiche, Annie's Strawberry Spinach  Salad and Danielle's Honey Beer Bread.  The beer bread was a last minute addition as I had a few extra minutes before the guests arrived ... and let me tell you that it is heavenly!  Alone or with a little bit of butter, I seriously could eat an entire loaf in one sitting ... I can't even begin to imagine it as a grilled cheese.  And don't get me started on the salad.  The dressing alone is amazing, and no oil and very little sodium!  I used white wine vinegar as I couldn't find champagne vinegar at the store and also added some crumbled goat cheese ... yummm!!  The best is that I'm enjoyed leftovers for lunch this week : )  Sadly, no pictures, I was too busy gabbing, plus, there are pretty good ones on the original sites.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Soundtracks: Baby Kelly Needs One!

A few weeks ago as I was getting my hair cut (I am trying out long side bangs, btw) my hairdresser and I were chatting about how listening to the 80's and 90's channels on Sirius can make us feel seriously old (pun intended, ha!).  That led to me remembering that when I was a kid my Dad listened to mostly 50's and 60's, aka oldies, stations and how that was probably due to the clean-cut nature of the songs ...

Me:  It's crazy to think that "oldies" to my kids will be 80's and 90's music ...

My hairdresser:  Yeah, but how lucky are they?!?!

Me:  So true, so true!

That leads me to my request of my six readers.  Yes, I think I may be up to six, ha, and, yes, I'm counting the family members that I direct her to see my bump and nursery pictures ...

So, my friend Whitney gave me the great idea to purchase an iPod for Baby Kelly and stock it with soothing tunes (she did the same for her cutie pie new nephew).  The family I nannied for in College had a CD player in the nursery and we rotated discs on a regular basis; it was wonderful, keeping both caregiver and baby relaxed.  The iPod has been purchased for BK and we even have an iHome already placed in the nursery.  Now I need to stock the play list ... what suggestion do you have?  Give me songs, artists or entire albums, I'll take it all.  We already have the likes of Alison Kraus, Norah Jones, James Taylor, Carole King and some Dave Matthews lined up, but I anticipate that there will be many hours spent listening to these tunes, so we need a good selection for everyone's sanity.