Friday, June 28, 2013

Abbi's Week in Photos

 Last Friday night, JP and I decided to just relax and have a date night in.  I did my nails (Sally Hansen's Salon Effects 'Out of Line,' in case you're curious), made brinner (waffles with scrambled eggs 'taco-style'), and watched Pineapple Express  for the umpteenth time.  It just put me in a good mood.

 Saturday morning was spent putting up shelves in the nursery closet.  Mia, as you can tell, was a truly on-point supervisor of the process.

 Then, in the afternoon, we tried out a new juice bar in Inman Park!  I was so happy to drink this fresh green juice; it's one of my favorite combinations.  The cafe, Kale Me Crazy, is definitely on my list of happy places in Atlanta.

Kudzu is a shop here in ATL that specializes in custom furniture, and we thought this bar would fit perfectly in the sitting room.  What do you think?
Just kidding!  You can only rent these front-half 50s' style cars for events.  They are pretty amazing, though.

We had a wonderful summer meal of scallion shortcakes with tomato salad and whipped goat cheese last week, and paired it with our remaining jalapeno sausages from Illinois (my mom freezes, then travels with them when she visits!  They are out of this world delicious.).  I can't wait to share the recipe with you next week!

There are still some beautiful hand-knit pieces coming in for the churro, and this one is from his Great-Aunt Marta in Spain.  How precious is that tag?!  Muchas, muchas gracias!  I just love it, and can't wait to see how fashionable this kid will be in just a few weeks!  We're only 31 days away now...

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

My Name is Memory

Ann Brashares may be best known for a little series she wrote for young adults about a pair of jeans (Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, anyone?), but she has also written two novels that steer toward a more adult audience.  The more recent publication, My Name is Memory, caught my eye while I was shelving books at my local library.  A Florida girl cannot say no to a book cover that features water like that.
The gist of Memory is that Daniel and Lucy are meant to be together.  Daniel was born with the ability to remember his past lives, back to around 500ish AD, which is the first time he recalls laying eyes on the soul of Lucy.  The novel is told by both characters: Lucy in the present day, figuring out the attraction she feels to this mystery man she first encounters in high school, and Daniel recounting his past, including his many families and lives that have led him back to Lucy.  The idea itself is intrinsically intriguing; who hasn't tried to fall for the concept of love at first sight?
The problem is the story's execution.  Daniel's history is based solely on his connections with Lucy, so don't expect any social commentary or big moments being documented here.  Lucy is written so flatly and with little personality that it's difficult to believe that a man would spend centuries trying to work his way into her life; honestly, is there no other woman he's had intense feelings for over 1600 years?  Daniel's ability is interesting enough, to the point where I wish he had been the sole narrator.
Don't even get me started on the ending.  Ugh.  Can I just say a lot of this book reminded me of Twilight, and leave it at that?  From the author trying to make romance out of thin air, to the descriptions of intimacy, I felt so underwhelmed by the love story.  It was a bummer.  I'd pass on this one.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Tucson Tempeh Pasta

Life these days is pretty suburban: I drive a station wagon (seriously), iron the sheets for the master bedroom (they feel divine), and help organize events in the social committee for my homeowners' association.  Good gracious, just typing that stuff out makes me feel like I should be on Wisteria Lane.  Needless to say, the days could use some hard edges sometimes to keep it from going stale. 
Enter Thug Kitchen.  Have y'all been keeping up with this Tumblr?  I've been a huge fan for months, if only because a) I do have a bit of a potty mouth, b) it's so wonderful to find a website devoted to vegan food that isn't self-righteous, and c) the creators of it have an awesome sense of humor.  Oh, and the recipes are legit delicious.  I wanted to pass on one of their photos from the site, but just scrolled through every one of them and there's an F-bomb on it.  Take my word for it. 

Last Thursday, JP and I had Tucson Tempeh Pasta, the TK version of Hamburger Helper.  Full of veggies, protein-packed tempeh, and whole wheat pasta, you'll absolutely love this meal without feeling guilty about sodium levels, weird ingredients, and fat.  After one bite, I looked at my husband and said, 'I want this every week for the rest of the year.'  The man who always eats out for lunch took the leftovers with him to work.  There is no greater compliment.

Tucson Tempeh Pasta (from Thug Kitchen)
1 block tempeh (about 8 oz), crumbled
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 bell peppers, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. olive oil
2 tsp. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. chili powder
2 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried basil (or oregano, if you have it)
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. liquid smoke (you can find it near the bbq sauce and it is heavenly)
14 oz. can of diced tomatoes, low sodium
1 lb. whole wheat pasta
Juice from 1 lemon
1 c. peas
Any leftover veggies you have to get rid of (I used green beans)

1. Prepare pasta, drain, and set aside. 
2. Heat oil over medium heat in a large skillet, and add tempeh, onion, peppers, and carrots. Cook until onions are softened and tempeh is golden. 
3. Add soy sauce, spices, and garlic; cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.  Add liquid smoke and tomatoes; allow sauce to bubble.
4. Combine pasta, lemon juice, and additional veggies to the skillet.  Cook until everything is heated through and the pasta is coated in sauce.  Taste and adjust seasonings before serving!  JP thought it was a bit spicy and added some sour cream, which looked super-creamy and tasty.  

Friday, June 21, 2013

Pregnancy Update: Week 34

Hello world!  The churro and I are doing splendidly during the last 6 weeks of pregnancy, and I thought I'd update you on a few (okay, maybe more than a few) things going on in 'making-a-baby-land.'

How I'm Feeling
These days, I'm feeling pretty darn good, but definitely slowing down.  The runs became walks about 3 weeks ago, and even those are markedly less intense each week.  The churro is currently about 19 inches long and 5ish pounds (!!), so the belly is totally getting in the way.  I keep running into JP because I forget how far out my body extends these days!

It feels like my wardrobe is getting smaller and smaller each day; I have one pair of maternity jeans that fit, and my tops are starting to run on the short side.  Luckily, I have lots of great accessories to spruce things up, so it doesn't feel too stuffy.  Also, most of my shoes still fit, and I can even wear my wedges without difficulty!  There are a steady rotation of wrap dresses and long tanks being worn here.

What I'm Eating
One of the questions I'm asked most frequently is, "What has your weirdest craving been?"  I'm so sorry to disappoint, but I haven't had any cravings that are totally out of the ordinary for a normal pregnant woman, though I am eating way more meat and dairy than I did pre-churro.  We still don't eat a ton of meat at home, but I'll have some fish tacos or chorizo on dinners out.
Oh, and you better believe there is a lot of Waffle House and ice cream going on.  As it gets warmer, my desire for cold things is increasing, so I'm trying to balance it out with fruit popsicles, lots of melon, and protein smoothies.  Below is a splurge dinner I had a couple of weeks ago; I refuse to apologize for it.

How JP and I Are Prepping
The nesting instinct has totally kicked in the last couple of weeks.  Two weeks ago, I was in a frenzy about cleaning up every rung on our staircase and second-story railing because...the churro will definitely be chewing and licking it the second he comes home in a couple of months?  Some of the nesting makes sense (washing all our baby clothes and bedding, putting together the crib, etc) and some of it is just ridiculous (the above story about rungs, convincing JP we need to buy a crib mattress immediately when we're only at week 28, etc).
We finished up our childbirth classes this week, which we did over three weeknights through our hospital with an RN/Lamaze instructor.  I'm getting comfortable sitting on my exercise ball (which should help move the churro into a good birthing position when the time comes), and we're working on a  birth plan to go over with my doctor.
I'm also practicing my Moby Wrap skills on travel pillows, and have got JP on board with the Ergo baby carrier.  The nursery is coming together nicely, and we finally have our bookshelves up!  The little baskets below are a work in progress; they may not make it to full-term.

What I Haven't Expected
This section might be a bit TMI, especially for my father (feel free to stop here; no offense taken!).
I totally did not expect to think about my boobs so much before the churro arrives.  Buying all the nursing bras and tanks is looming in the near-future, but I just feel like they're totally in my way and all up in other people's business.  Between the spontaneous leaking (what is going on?!  Milk coming out of my nipples?!  As Murphy Brown said, 'It's like one day discovering you can get bacon out of your elbow.') and unavoidable cleavage, I think about my chest, like, 40% of the day.  The other 60% is geared toward what I'm going to eat next.

I was totally unprepared for all of the emotions that have come on strongly during the third trimester; most surprisingly, almost all of them have been positive.  This whole pregnancy has helped me put things into perspective, added an incredible layer of intimacy and connectivity to my relationship with JP, and given me this sense of empowerment and confidence I hope doesn't fade the second the churro pops out.
I've been in awe of the female body- we have the ability to gestate a person, then care for it with nothing but our perfectly-tailored breast milk.  My level of judgment has gone way down, as this pregnancy has imbued me with empathy I must have been in desperate need of.
This pregnancy has just given me a whole new perspective, which I hear is normal, and, while I don't want to get preachy, I just want to say that all of the heartburn, sciatic pain, massive cleavage, and unprompted comments from strangers have been worth the while.

Oh, and here's the 34-week photo (the bikini shot is actually from two weeks ago).  Currently, the churro is about 19 inches, and weighs 5ish pounds.  My pregnancy app is saying he is the size of a large cantaloupe, which feels apt.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Skippy Dies

I really hate to ruin anyone's day, but 14-year-old Skippy does not make it past page 5 in this second novel from Paul Murray.  As you can probably deduce from the title, Daniel 'Skippy' Juster, dies.  The first half of the book is dedicated to the lead-up to the death, while the second half deals with the fallout.  The majority takes place in an exclusive and long-standing Catholic boys' school, and its nearby town.
Although there are several plot points, including string theory, a teacher's affair with a substitute, pills, and at least one teacher's battle with some illicit longings, this is a character-driven piece.  Skippy is dealing with some issues at home and is not known for being a lothario; you can imagine his surprise when one of the prettiest girls at the neighboring all-girls' school takes up with him.  Skippy's roommate, Ruprecht, is hiding his own secrets while constantly building new and outlandish inventions.  Their small group of friends falls apart after Skippy's death, each one dealing with the loss in his own way.  A history teacher is having a quarter-or-third-life crisis, which he deals with by taking up with a geography substitute during a school dance, leaving a number of students unchaperoned and the school open to a host of complaints.
This is just a small glimpse into the 647-page tome.  It's not that Murray is long-winded; it's that there is so much going on in and it's difficult to maintain a steady stream of interest in such a multitude of characters.  Perhaps if I had read it over a couple of days, rather than a couple of weeks, I would have enjoyed this more.  It is an enjoyable read if you don't go in expecting madcap adventures in an all-boys' school; adjust your expectations accordingly, and read in long spurts if possible.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Recipe for Cleaning Up an Old Rocking Chair

Definitely the most sentimental piece of furniture in the churro's room is this rocking chair, which my mom drove down to Illinois when she visited us in March.  It's been around for nearly 27 years, as it was originally purchased as the rocker for my mom to use in her nursery for me!  It's a beautiful, sturdy piece, and I was so, so glad when she pulled up in the driveway with this poking out of the trunk; it's going to be a perfect place to perch with our little man in just 6 weeks.
It needed a little TLC, though, before it was really set to go.  Although it's in miraculously good shape for being used on a near-daily basis for a few decades, there was a lot of grime built up on the arms, and it just needed a general good scrubbing.  I'm no expert on wood care, though, so thought I would share the info I learned along the way to putting this chair back in tip-top shape.

I wish I had a better 'Before' photo so you could really see how this chair cleaned up, but I didn't really think about dedicating a whole post to this until it was already underway.  Regardless, here's the chair a step or two into the process.  As you can see, there are no major cracks or repairs that had to be made- yay!  As you can imagine, there was 27 years worth of hand oil and dirt on the arms, which I sanded down with some medium-grit sandpaper and hand sander.  It took about 30 minutes to do each arm, keeping each evenly worn and focusing on the edges, which seemed to be dirtier.

You can see the area in the middle of the curve still needs a little work, but the edges are roughly the same color as the rest of the chair without being oiled yet.

Once the sanding was done, I mixed a cleaning solution with boiled linseed oil, turpentine, and water to   get the rest of the chair in good shape.  After reading a gazillion websites about the best way to clean wood (like this one), I decided on this method because a) the materials were cheap (less than $15), b) I knew we could use these products again because JP's gotten really into woodworking lately and c) this method offers the deep clean I was hoping would combat the years of use this chair has going for it.  Like I said, it's not in horrible shape, just needed some deep cleaning.

I used a cleaning solution of 1 Tbsp. turpentine and linseed oil in 1 pint of warm water, put on some rubber gloves, and started rubbing.  It was a cloudy day, so I just opened the garage door to get some air circulation without getting rained out; you can also do this outside or in any well-ventilated area.  The turpentine does produce a lot of fumes, so don't get too close and definitely take a break if you're a pregnant lady and start feeling woozy (didn't happen with me, but we can't be too careful!).
You can see in the picture above that the wood did soak up a bit of the cleaning solution, which is inevitable, but you don't want to oversaturate the furniture.  Wipe up any drips, and use plenty of elbow grease to get into the crevices.  This part of the cleaning process took me about 2 hours, which I had to break up because hello, my arms get tired.

The next day, I finished the wood with some tung oil, rubber gloves, and clean rag.  This doesn't clean the wood, but gives it a nice shine and lubricates it just a bit.  It took about one hour to get the whole chair done, and I let it dry in the garage overnight before bringing it back inside.

And now here this chair proudly sits, one of the first things you see when you open the door to the nursery.  I'm not a woodworking expert, and got all of my information from online resources, so this may not be the perfect way to restore a wood chair.  However, I can attest that the rocking chair has not yet disintegrated beneath my fingers and looks better now than it did before any work was done!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Abbi's Week in Photos

I've got a couple of weeks' worth of life to catch you up on!  As I missed Mother's Day when it officially rolled around, JP made me breakfast in bed on the Sunday after.  Delicious waffles with scrambled eggs, a beautiful cappuccino, lots of can bet I was a happy expectant mom.

We went to our first Braves game!  I haven't been to a baseball game in perhaps 18-20 years, but, if we're being honest, this wasn't a great re-introduction.  The game was delayed for 3 hours because of rain, then there was a 30 minute rain delay during the middle of the game- thank goodness we were under some overhang.  All in all, we ended up being gone from our house for 13 hours that day (between 'tailgating' at a friend's house to avoid the rain, the delays, traffic, and grabbing dinner out because I was too tired to cook)!
At least we won?

 Mia is so content in a sunny spot on the couch.

JP and I had a mini-golf date night.  After starting off with 2 holes-in-one (!!), I lost by 4 strokes.  Eh, I don't mind losing to that handsome face.

On Memorial Day weekend, we spent a couple of nights at the lake house, and were treated to this sight: an adolescent black bear just wandering around the front yard!  Apparently it's breeding season, and no one in the Parks Dept. was concerned, so we just kept a close eye on Mia that weekend.
For what it's worth, this bear was cute, but had some pretty long claws.  I was definitely glad to be behind some windows.

Here's the churro at 32 weeks, when he was the size of a honeydew.

And here's a side-by-side comparison of me at 15 weeks vs. 33 weeks.  Same dress, though you'll notice that it's a bit higher in the front these days.  All is going well, although my patience for wearing pants is waning; there are a lot of dresses going on at Casa de Diego.
Next week I'm going to do a full post on how the third trimester is going.  Come back on Wednesday for an entry with way too much information!

The nesting phase is fully underway!  Our changing area is set up in the nursery, and I'm so excited to share pictures of the finished space with you once we get our crib in next week.  In the meantime, we're practicing swaddling on an old teddy bear, and stocking our old kitchen island/new changing table with diaper necessities and burp cloths.

We've also started filling up one of the 'yoga studios' downstairs!  Got the couch (Restoration Hardware) and ottoman (Pottery Barn) on major sale at the outlets during Memorial Day weekend, and the rug is a cast-off from my mother-in-law.  Obviously, it's only about 40% finished, but it's a great space to read in the afternoon; this room gets lovely light.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Second Nine Months

I've been reading a lot of pregnancy guides and have more than one pregnancy app on my phone, but am starting to realize that I'm a bit out of the loop as far as post-partum life goes.  While shelving some books at my local library, I came across this memoir of a woman's experience with her firstborn and checked it out on a whim.  I think I'm glad I did.
Vicki Glembocki is a successful writer and editor, and this book picks up just after she gives birth to her daughter Blair; it ends just after Blair is nine months old.  Glembocki covers the gamut, from feeling guilty for not crying when dropping her daughter off at daycare for the first time (she forces herself to cry just so she can tell everyone she did) to the time she tried to milk herself manually when she forgot her breast pump at home for a day trip to the beach.  Glembocki struggles with the isolation of being a new mom, the frustration she feels with her husband for his inability to read her mind, and basically just being a parent.  
The gist I got from reading this book is that it's okay to not immediately feel maternal and completely in control of being a new parent.  Other people have gone through it and, for the most part, survived.  It's given me some new insight into the complicated world of Mommy and Me classes (Bring a blanket for your baby to lay on!  Wear makeup!), the endless sleepy nights, and fear of judgment from other people at Babies R Us.  When I put it down, I was feeling a little deflated; Glembocki doesn't spend a ton of time on the positive parts of life with Blair and her husband.  Surely, there are enough good parts to being a mom to at least rival the negatives.  Right?  
All in all, I'm glad I read it, and will take comfort in the knowledge that, if things don't go perfectly, I'm in good company.  I hope my memoir of the second nine months, though, is a bit more uplifting.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Recipe for a Chalkboard Pantry Door

Remember a few months ago when I took you on a little tour of our new home?  I shared this photo of our kitchen, which is totally lovely and spacious; I easily spend the most time in this area.  As much as I love the pantry behind that white door slightly to the left of center, it felt bland.  Boring.  The accents in the rest of the kitchen are stainless steel and black, so the white just stood out like a sore thumb.  I've been lusting over dark interior doors, but couldn't get JP down with a medium gray (using some of the leftover paint from some of the rooms in the house) door.
When my mom visited in March, she suggested painting the door with chalkboard paint; that woman is a genius.  Once I got JP's seal of approval, it was go time!

I followed this tutorial from Young House Love, which only took about 3 hours (including dry time).  First, I wiped down the door with some degreaser, since it is in the kitchen and subject to lots of dirty hands and food stuff.  Then JP removed the door from the hinges and moved it to the basement for me; it kept Mia away from the wet paint, and I could open the windows and door down there to get some ventilation.

I used a liquid deglosser, some thick latex gloves, a few rags, and a screwdriver.
Oh, and the paint, some Frog Tape, a small foam roller, and 2" angled paint brush that didn't make it into the picture.  This door project used about 1/5 of a pint of chalkboard paint from Rustoleum.  You might be able to get away with spray paint, but I didn't want to run the risk of drips.

Don't forget to remove the hardware!  That's what the screwdriver is for.

Once it was downstairs, I donned some lovely latex gloves and used a liquid deglosser to finish prepping the door for paint.  It was really easy to apply: just wear gloves and use some old rags to rub the door down.  After that, I taped off the edges so the paint didn't drip all down the sides.  

Then, start painting!  I had to do 4 coats to really cover all my bases; this is only the first one.  Each coat took about 30-45 minutes to dry. 

A few hours later, after the hardware was reattached, the door was ready to be rehung!  I absolutely love how it looks- such an easy and inexpensive update in this very well-visited room.  All in all, including supplies, it cost less than $35.  

Here's the same view as the original photo; it gives the kitchen a bit of depth and playfulness.

There's a little jar of chalk by the door, so JP leaves me messages like this one:

He's pretty cute.  

Friday, June 7, 2013

The Churro's First Photoshoot

One of the many, many perks of being married to John Paul is being related to some amazing, creative Diegos.  His cousin, now partially my cousin, Olga, has camera talent for days.  A couple of weeks ago, she sent me a text message asking if JP and I would like for her to shoot some maternity photos for us; they'll look good in her portfolio, and we'll have something tangible to remember these days with.  
I jumped on the chance. 
We head over to a park in Woodstock (the Leita Thompson Memorial Park, part of Roswell Area Park) to take advantage of the 'magic hour' of lighting.  The field was full of tiny purple and yellow flowers, and Olga just made us feel so comfortable and smiley.  I absolutely adore these photos, and can't believe I thought I wouldn't want a maternity session!  

 I debated what to wear before going with this bohemian scarf dress I found for $5 at Goodwill.  It's so flowy and expands with my belly!  Love the colors with the field background.

 Keep in mind that I was only about 7ish months along at this point; the belly is even bigger now.
How amazing is this lighting?

 I hope the churro gets his dad's eyes and mouth.  And ability to grow facial hair.

You can see more of Olga's work at her blog, including the zombie engagement session she did for my sister-in-law.  She has such a great sense of humor and can seriously work with anything.  Browse through; it's fun!  And thanks for sharing in the churro's first photoshoot.  He's bound to be a cutie.