Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Week 38

We're only 2 weeks away from that elusive due date. Im sincerely hoping this precious little girl makes her debut soon, or at least before the due date. Last week I finally reached that "point" that all mothers talk about- the one where you are just plain miserable and so ready to be done with pregnancy. We are just so anxious and excited to meet our little one!

***Be sure to check in tomorrow. It's the beginning of my favorite month, my birth month (and Baby M's too!) and I have a great giveaway planned!***


How Far Along:  38 weeks!

Size of baby:  Anywhere between 6-6.5 lbs, supposedly the length of a leek. 

Total Weight Gained:  22 lbs. I had gained three lbs in two weeks at my 36 week appt, but I didnt gain any over these last two weeks. I have read that the weight gain usually slows or stops in the last few weeks. I also cut back on my sweets consumption dramatically. I was eating more desserts than real food! My appetite has also decreased over the last week or so. 

Still no stretch marks and my belly button remains an innie. Woohoo! 

Maternity Clothes:  Yes, definitely, though my favorite shirts arent maternity at all. They are the small, long tanks from Target. So stretchy and soft and really inexpensive. 

Gender: It's a GIRL! A very spoiled and blessed little girl. 

Movement: Tons! She is crazy active all morning, some during the day, all evening and throughout the night. She's in the head down position and prepping for her debut! 

Sleep: I wake up 2-4 times a night to pee and then usually wake up for good around 7am. I have actually been sleeping really well for the past few weeks. 

What I miss: Being able to move around easily, being able to breathe without difficulty, fitting into my normal clothes, drinking an entire glass of wine. It's all worth it of course, but I am SO ready for her to be born! I cant wait to hold her in my arms!  

Cravings: Still with the cereal and fruit. Peanut butter and jelly on either bread or rice cakes. Nothing too crazy. Ive laid off the sweets in the past two weeks. 

Aversions: None, thankfully! 

Symptoms:  Horrid sciatic pain down my left butt cheek, left inner thigh and left leg. Braxton Hicks, and some other less lovely things that I wont talk about on here. (You're welcome!) 
The heartburn is WAY better. Only once a week or so now, for the past 3 weeks or so.  

Best Moment this week: 38 week doctor's appt. Spa day with the girls with an extended foot massage and pedicure. Heavenly. J taking me for gelato. Twice! 


Happy Wednesday!


Monday, August 29, 2011

Book Review- The Help

Not my image

Wonderful.
Amazing.
Touching.
Funny.
Heartbreaking.
Beautiful.

This book is all of those things and more. 
I had heard so many wonderful things about this book prior to reading it.
It was this month's selection for our book club and Im so glad it was.
I breezed right through it and did not want it to end. 
Now Im excited to see the movie, which will hopefully come out here later this month.

The book is told from the perspective of three different women, living in 
Jackson, Mississippi in the early 1960s- 
Skeeter who is a young white woman, home after graduating college and unsure
what her next step will be.
Aibileen- A middle aged black woman who works for Skeeter's best friend
and 
Minny- a middle aged black woman who is always getting fired for her sass mouth
and Aibileen's best friend.

Skeeter is an aspiring writer and after witnessing the prejudices and injustices that take
place in her town, she decides to write an anonymous book about "The Help"- 
what it's like to be a black woman working for a white family in Mississippi.
After much consideration, Aibileen and Minny overcome their fears and decide to help
Skeeter write the book in secret. 

This is a very well written book. The characters come to life and the author does a 
wonderful job of making you care about them. The book offers a very real and 
raw view of what it was like to live in the South in the 1960s. 
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who hasnt ready it yet! 

I cant wait to see the movie, but it doesnt come out here until November. =/


Rating: *****



Rating Scale
*****: Amazing, wonderful, MUST-read, loved it!
****: Really liked it, would recommend, good book!
***: Liked it, enjoyable, but not the greatest book ever written. 
**: Not so great, some good parts, but overall, it was just ok. 
*: Didnt like it, wouldnt recommend it, bad book all around.



Friday, August 26, 2011

French Pottery

A few weeks ago I went on my first French Pottery Shopping adventure. 
There is a very small village in France called Soufflenheim.
It is only an hour and a half away from us, making it an easy day trip.
I was so excited about the pottery that I didnt take but one picture! =/ 
But I can tell you that this is a super cute, French town with pottery stores 
lining the streets. There is a creperie in the middle of town, which is where 
we had lunch. I had a savory crepe for lunch and a delicious chocolate banana 
crepe for dessert. 
The French style pottery is very appealing to me because most of the patterns are 
bold and colorful. They had so many beautiful things and I wanted to buy so much 
more than I did. I limited myself to three pieces plus a Christmas ornament and two 
gifts. A group of my friends are planning another trip later this month and if Im 
still feeling well, Im planning on going with them! 
There were a couple of things that I really wanted, but talked myself out of. 
I rarely buy things for the house. I love new decor, but Im not really a fan of 
buying decorations for the house, nor do I consider myself very good at picking 
out coordinating pieces. So, I dont feel bad buying this pottery since I rarely shop, 
especially now that we've moved to Europe. 
This pottery will also be a great souvenir, a reminder of our time here in Europe. 
One of the beautiful and typical French buildings
A pitcher
Coffee mug- I love the poppies! 
The inside of the coffee mug. Love the detail!

Medium sized bowl that matches the pitcher. I LOVE this pattern and how
colorful it is! 
A closer look
Side view

I dont have any photos of the ornaments because they are gifts and I dont want
to give away the surprise since the person/people who will receive them read this blog!





Wednesday, August 24, 2011

In a Nutshell

Burg Lichtenberg

Today I'm taking it easy and getting all my thoughts out with bullet points. It's quick, it's easy and you dont have to spend a ton of time reading. I dont know about you, but I to tend to skim (or skip) posts that go on and on about one's daily life. So Im making it easy for you to catch up on what's been going on, because, let's be honest, who doesnt love a good bulleted summary of one's life?
  • I had my 36 week appt last week and everything is well. Baby M is in a head down position and preparing for the big event. 
  • My mom gets here soon and I cant wait! I just wish it was sooner! 
  • We've been trying to spend as much time together and with friends as we can, just soaking up the last few weeks (days?) of baby-free life.
  • We had a picnic at a castle last weekend. It was so much fun, relaxing and romantic. 
  • Summer has FINALLY arrived in Germany and we've been enjoying warm weather and sunshine for the past couple of weeks. I would love for it to stick around for a couple more months! 
  • An artistic friend of mine painted my belly this past week. I thought it was an odd proposition when she asked me, but I also thought it would be fun. I was her first belly model. She did a fantastic job and I thought it was beautiful. 
  • We're exchanging our American washer for a German washer today. It's smaller, but has the ability to wash with hot water, which we'll need with using cloth diapers. 
  • We've attended all of our childbirth/breast feeding/baby classes and toured labor and delivery.
  • The co-sleeper is set up and the car set base is installed. 
  • Six freezer meals are prepared and ready to go. I would still like to make a few more, but Im losing my desire to cook. 
  • All I really want to do is bake, and eat what I bake, which is not good for the ever expanding waistline. 
  • I am still craving fruit (grapes and bananas mostly) and cereal, but man I could really demolish some sweets these days if Id let myself. Must. Restrain. Myself. 
  • We deep cleaned the first floor of the house this past weekend. The bathrooms and second floor are next. Perhaps nesting has begun? 
  • I finished up most of our registry and cant wait for those items to come in! 
  • I think we're as ready as we are going to be! 
  • Does anyone have a recommendation for a baby sign language book? 
  • Thank you all for your baby/children's book recommendations! I bought several of the ones you suggested and cant wait to read them to our little one. 
That's about it, in a nutshell. I hope ya'll are having a great week!

36 weeks! 

Belly painting, 36 weeks

Side view, 36 weeks

Picnic at Burg Lichtenberg





Monday, August 22, 2011

Recipe of the Week- Creamy Artichoke Lasagna



This week's recipe's is a vegetarian delight! I found the recipe through Pinterest, my current source for new recipes. I usually make one vegetarian dish a week and this was last week's dish. It is a Creamy Artichoke Lasagna and absolutely divine. It's creamy, flavorful and almost like a dessert in it's decadence. J & I loved it! The recipe made a lot of sauce, so next time Im going to use a larger dish and more lasagna noodles. Im planning to make it this week and freeze it for eating after the baby comes.

Recipe: Creamy Artichoke Lasagna
Source: Adapted from Midwest Living.com via Pinterest

Ingredients:

1 15 oz. can of artichokes (the recipe calls for fresh ones, but for the sake of time, I used canned. It was super easy and tasted great!)   *edit- Ive made this again since writing up this post and I used two cans!
9 lasagna noodles (Im going to use more next time!) *edit- I used 12 noodles the second time
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 c. pine nuts
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 15. oz carton ricotta cheese
1 c. shredded parmesan cheese
1 c. chopped fresh basil
1 egg
3/4 tsp. salt.
1 c. veggie or chicken broth (I used chicken)
1/4 c. flour
2 c. half and half or light cream (I used light cream)
1 c. shredded mozzerella

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350ยบ. Cook lasagna noodles according to package; drain. Rinse with cold water. Drain again.

2. In large saucepan heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil over medium heat. Add artichokes, pine nuts and half of the garlic. Cook several minutes until tender, stirring frequently. Transfer to a large bowl. Stir in ricotta cheese, 1/2 c. parmesan cheese, 1/2 c. basil, egg and salt.

3. For the sauce: Combine broth and flour in a small bowl. In the large saucepan, heat the remaining 1 Tbsp. olive oil over medium heat. Add remaining garlic and cook until tender, but not browned. Stir in flour mixture and light cream. Cook and stir until mixture is thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat. Stir in remaining 1/2 c. basil.

4.  Combine mozzarella cheese and remaining 1/2 c. parmesan cheese in a small bowl.

5. Spread 1 c. of the sauce over the bottom of an ungreased 3 quart baking dish. Layer 3 cooked noodles in the dish. Spread with 1/3 c. of the artichoke mixture and 1/3 of the remaining sauce. Sprinkle with 1/2 c. of the mozzarella mixture. Repeat, layering noodles, artichoke mix, sauce and cheese twice more.

6. Bake, uncovered, for 40 minutes until edges are bubbly and the top is lightly browned.

7. Enjoy!

The finished product

I went to France for the day on the day that I made this and bought these
cheeses while I was there. We had French cheese and bread with our lasagna,
a perfect accompaniment. 




Friday, August 19, 2011

Recipe of the Week- Roasted Red Pepper Pesto

This week's recipe comes to you from one of my fellow bloggers, whom I just adore. Miranda at My Camo Colored Life also writes a food blog titled Jolts and Jollies. I snagged this recipe from her blog and made it recently. J & I love all things pesto and this was a unique take on the traditional recipe. After you're done here, be sure to check out her blogs!

Recipe: Roasted Red Pepper Pesto
Source: Jolts and Jollies

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted 
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (I always add a little more sea salt and pepper!)
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 pounds red bell peppers (about 4 large), roasted and peeled


  1. Place all ingredients in a food processor; process until smooth, scraping sides of processor bowl occasionally.
  2. Pour over pasta and enjoy! 
We had ours over penne and it was perfect. Instead of mixing the sauce with the pasta, we just dished out a portion onto our plates. I was then able to freeze the rest of the sauce for later! 





Sorry I dont have any photos of the completed project. I was too busy eating and then getting it in the freezer! Check out Maranda's blog though. She has great step by step instructions on how to roast the peppers and assemble the sauce.

I had to include this photo. Our German kitchen is very, very small, so cooking can be adventurous at times,
finding a place for everything. I had the stove on for the pasta and the food processor on the counter.
We have to use a transformer with it since it is 110V. J placed both of these heavy things up there for
me. I was busy, so I didnt get to them right away. Then we smelled something burning. YIKES!
The food processor cord had fallen on the hot pasta burner and it MELTED!
Thankfully it still worked but it sure doesnt look good. =( 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Book Review- The White Queen

Not my image
Ive read several of Phillipa Gergory's historical fictions. They have all been good, 
but then, I love learning about this time period and this intriguing family. While 
most of the story may be false, the people and the events are all true.
What makes this book different from the others that Ive read is that it is 
a bit lighter, more fanciful, less bogged down with facts and historical references. 
It was an easier and more fun read than the others. 

This book follows the story of King Edward and Queen Elizabeth, from the moment 
they fell in love, to the end of his life and the mystery surrounding the death of their
sons. (This king and queen are actually King Henry VIII's grandparents- their oldest 
daughter is King Henry VIII's mother.) The mystery of what happened to their two sons 
and heirs to the throne remains a mystery to this day. There are many rumors as to who had 
them killed and when, though the why is fairly obvious enough.

I liked that this book was based on a marriage founded on love, unlike most marriages 
during that time. There is a magical element and the book really held my attention 
until about 3/4s of the way in. (That seems to be happening a lot with the books 
Ive been reading lately.) At that point, it became a bit dull. The ending was not 
really an ending at all, as there is another book that picks up where this one leaves off, 
but tells the tale through the eyes of another Queen- The Red Queen.

It's a good book and though I probably wont read The Red Queen, I will continue to 
read her books.

Rating: ***



Rating Scale
*****: Amazing, wonderful, MUST-read, loved it!
****: Really liked it, would recommend, good book!
***: Liked it, enjoyable, but not the greatest book ever written. 
**: Not so great, some good parts, but overall, it was just ok. 
*: Didnt like it, wouldnt recommend it, bad book all around.



Monday, August 15, 2011

Help Wanted

I need your help.

Moms, moms-to-be, anyone who has some experience with babies/children, anyone who would like to help out, I would appreciate it so much!

1. What are your favorite children's books? J & I LOVE to read and we hope to pass our love of books along to Baby M. We have a little collection already started and have been reading to her every night before bed. I want to continue to build our collection, but having been out of the baby/child world for quite some time, Im not sure what the best books are these days. We have some of the classics: Dr. Seuss, Do you know how much I love you, Where the Wild Things are and my favorite, If you give a mouse a cookie. So what are some of your favorites?

2. What are your favorite mommy/parenting blogs/websites?

3. When you went in for your delivery, what did you pack for your baby and what did you actually need? Ive got the car seat, diapers, wipes and the homecoming outfit. What else do I need to bring?

Thank you for your help!
xoxo



Friday, August 12, 2011

A Baby Shower at a .... Wine Bar?

Yes, my last baby shower was at a tapas wine bar! 
It was the perfect location for someone like me, even though I didnt
drink any wine. It was a really beautiful and fun place to have a party.
Im thinking my birthday party needs to be here next year! 

My friend Erin hosted the shower for both me and our friend Allie, who is 
due two weeks after me. It was a beautiful shower and we had a great time. 
The food was fantastic, as always, and we received some super cute gifts. 

Knowing this was my last shower just makes it all the more real that this 
little girl is going to make her appearance soon. We have less than 5 weeks until her
due date and there is still so much I need to do! Her nursery is all ready and has been
for weeks and we have pretty much all that we need to get started, but I definitely 
need some maintenance! Im going to schedule a haircut and pedicure today. 
I also need to make a few more freezer meals. So far we have three all ready to go
and our squadron sets up three meals, so that's six. Id like to have about ten ready 
to go. Even though my mom and J will be more than willing to cook, it would be
nice if they didnt have to for awhile. 

Diaper cake

I loved all of the little special touches like the baby themed clothes pins and the
matching Sixlets. The favors were super cute! A spa package with a candle,
bath bomb and mini nail file. 

The delicious food! 

I love tapas!  
Opening presents


Such a beautiful place! 
My cupcakes were the chocolate ones with chocolate filling and icing!
An overdose of chocolate, but very tasty!
Allie's were lemon and Im wishing now that I would have tried one!

The countdown is on!

My Mom arrives in just a few short weeks. 
We'll be attending breast feeding and childbirth classes next week.
I am going to the OB every two weeks now.
Our bags are packed and all ready to go!


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Book Review- The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Not my image
Before a friend recommended this book to me, I had never heard of it. 
This is not a book that I would normally have chosen, but she spoke highly of
the book, so I decided to give it a chance. 
It was also this month's book in our squadron book club.

From page one, I was hooked. I am a nurse practitioner, so the medical aspect of 
this story immediately appealed to me. I thought it was going to be a bit too
"sciencey" for me, but it wasnt at all. The author kept it on a level that anyone could
understand. The cells described in the book are so popular and well known in the science
and medical community, but I had never heard of them. 

The book is a true story of the life of a woman whose cells have greatly impacted our
lives today, though she never had any knowledge of this. The author contacts the 
woman's family and describes her efforts to tell their mother's story. 

I loved the book until about 3/4th of the way through and then it began to get boring. 
The best parts of the story have been told by that part and the ending is just ok. 
I would still recommend this book, despite the last part, because the first 3/4ths really
are good. 

Rating: ****


Rating Scale
*****: Amazing, wonderful, MUST-read, loved it!
****: Really liked it, would recommend, good book!
***: Liked it, enjoyable, but not the greatest book ever written. 
**: Not so great, some good parts, but overall, it was just ok. 
*: Didnt like it, wouldnt recommend it, bad book all around.



Monday, August 8, 2011

Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber

A couple of weekends ago we took a weekend trip to
Rothenburg ob der Tauber, a walled medieval city here in Germany/
We've been planning to go here for the past year, but due to J's work schedule changing,
we've had to cancel our previous two trips.
Thankfully we were able to get away for this weekend trip this time!
Rothenburg is a very charming, beautiful city.
I just wish the weather would have been as beautiful.
While the entire USA was sweltering in heat waves, we were freezing our bums off in
the 50 degree weather and ice cold rain.
Thankfully we had brought sweatshirts and an umbrella. In most of our photos
our noses and cheeks are red from the cold!
Despite the crappy weather, we had a fantastic time, loved our hotel- Hotel Rappen,
ate some delicious food and drank some yummy drinks. We saw everything
that we wanted to see this trip and we know we will definitely be back.


The main entrance


Where we ate lunch
Mushroom cream soup... Mmm, so good on a cold day! 
Where we had dinner
St. Jacob's church


The town hall or Rathaus
You could walk up to the very top, up many, many flights of steep stairs to the bell
tower. I made it maybe halfway, but J went all the way to the top. It is quite a
climb, but the views are beautiful. I just wish it would have been a sunny day!

The beginning of the looong way to the top....
View from the top of the town hall tower
I wish I would have taken a photo of these things... Schneeballen means "snowballs" in German.
There were several cafes and shops in town selling these pastries. They were actually
invented here. They are sold at most of the local festivals and markets.
Basically, they consist of leftover baking scraps- the dough that doesnt get used.  It all gets rolled
together and then baked and usually dipped in something like
chocolate or sugar with toppings. They had many different flavors, but I havent actually ever tried one.
Ive been told they arent very good and frankly, they dont look all that appealing.
Maybe Ill try one at the next festival we attend. 

My favorite store in town- The Teddy Store!
We had so much fun looking at all of the stuffed animals.
They were surprisingly really reasonably priced too.
Of course we had to buy the baby a few things! 
It is such a cute town! 
We went to the Criminal Museum, which is four levels of torture devices,
documents and paraphernalia from the medieval times.
It was very interesting, but it was mostly documents, drawings and books.
We actually liked the torture museum in Prague much better. 
In the stocks



We had lots of hot chocolate (heisse schokolade) and cappuccinos to keep us warm. 
This was my dinner. It was one of the BEST meals that we have had in Germany!
Between the two of us, we devoured the entire thing (plus the side of potatoes that you
cant see!). It is beef with a horseradish sauce and homemade cranberry sauce.
Absolute perfection. 
This was J's dinner and was also very good- pesto stuffed gnocchi with parmesan
and rucola. (We ate all of it too!)
Umm...what?
Seriously, what is this and would someone actually ever buy it?! 
One of the highlights of our trip was the Night Watchman's Tour. At 8pm they
have a tour in English. The Night Watchman tells you about his job in the medieval times
and gives you a very interesting history lesson of the town, from it's beginning to WWII, all
while leading you around the town. He was very entertaining and spoke perfect English.
 It was a very interesting and fun tour and I would definitely
recommend it to anyone visiting the city. 


When we passed by this restaurant, he said "Welcome to Hell".
Apparently, this restaurant is called Hell and according to the night watchman,
it's a great place to eat!
We toured the castle walls before we left. You can walk along the top of the walls
all the way around the city. The people of medieval times werent very tall- J had to duck
everywhere we walked! 
More delicious hot chocolate and cappuccinos! 


 Happy Monday!!!