Surviving the End of Maternity Leave

How is one to survive the sadness that accompanies the end of maternity leave? Buy some new outfits, that's how.

Cute clothes to follow.


It's All About the Food

Over the last few days I have had the chance to prepare some amazing dishes. Since none of my clothes fit and I can't really post any fabulous outfits, it's all about the food now.

Here is the Mexican feast I made. Mexican rice with chicken, tomatoes and corn, sweet corn tomalito and black bean cakes garnished with sour cream, avacado and a lime wedge. The rice couldn't have been simpler. It's just a ready made rice packet, but I jazzed it up by adding the chicken, tomato and corn. All you do is drop in your additives when the liquid comes to a boil. You have to remember to stir freqently though, because truth be told, mine was burnt on the bottom (good thing the Hubs does the dishes). I followed recipes for the black bean cakes and sweet corn tomalito, just click the links for the recipes. They are both fairly time consuming, so make sure you set aside a solid hour and a half for prep and cook time... two if you are having a glass of wine!

I also made a delicious rustic apple tart that couldn't have been easier to prepare. Just follow the recipe for your favorite pie crust (you could use ready made, but pie crust is so easy to make and is a world better), then quarter about two pounds of your favorite baking apples (I used Granny Smith). Then you add about a tablespoon of lemon juice, quarter cup of sugar and cinnamon to taste. Add the apples to a large skillet and toss for about 10 minutes. In the meantime roll out the dough to about a 12 inch circle. When the apples are done just pile them in the center of the dough leaving about 2 inches around the edges. Fold up the dough and then bake at 375 F for about 40 minutes. To enjoy to the fullest serve with vanilla ice cream.

Today's Random Trivia:

The biggest apple ever picked weighed in at three pounds and two ounces.


Thanks to Brad!

A couple of posts ago I asked for help on adding a YouTube video to my post. Thanks to Brad's instructions and advice I have successfully added the video I wanted you all to see then. Without further adieu...

I could watch this video over and over.

While I have been able to fit posting to my blog into the newborn baby schedule, I don't often have the chance to visit the blogs that I follow. When Brad posted advice to my comments it made me realize I haven't been to his blog for quite a while and it was has always been a big artistic inspiration to me. So I thought I'd stop by for a visit and I stumbled on these little gems.
You may notice that I prefer the studies over the final products. The reason for this is because I think it gives a real feel for the movement of the artist. I tend to like my own studies better than the finals because I work more quickly with less inhibition, and I tend to create lines and show a feeling that I can never recreate in the final work when I'm trying to make everything perfect. This buxom gal is just lovely... the artistic world has never tended to gravitate to the stick skinny models of modern society. What woman wouldn't love that?

I love this drawing because it is one of the hardest angles of the face to accurately capture. Foreshortening is always a challenge, but on a face it can sometimes seem impossible. Well done Brad!

If you want to check out more of Brads work, and I think you should, go by Blackbird Studio and enjoy the eye candy.

Today's Random Trivia:
Seasons and weather affect nail growth. Nails grow faster in warm climates and during daytime, than in cold climates and at night.


Mulligan in Prada

A couple of posts ago I noted the Carey Mulligan hair and dress that I liked at the Oscars. I noted how I liked her dress, but I just saw a new pic that makes me love it, and I need to share.
Thanks to Style Rookie for pointing that out. As this clever little lass notes, she is wearing "Tiny kitchen utensils! For tiny murderers!" I couldn't have said it better myself.

A Naked Distraction

Today a little diversion... literally.

In my opinion there aren't too many perks to having a husband who is a sports nut. I've been kicked off the couch to make way for precious sports heirlooms that apparently have bearing on the game, I've endured many a Sunday without use of the computer or the TV so that he can have streaming Fantasy Football updates, and I wake up and go to sleep to the sound of ESPN comentators. Usually when I hear the sound of sports on TV I tune out and start thinking about my next project or an upcoming fabulous outfit, but every once and I while I watch through rolled eyes. Recently the constant watching of ESPN has yielded an enjoyable moment: a naked distraction. During a free throw at a Duke and Carolina game a very zealous and ballsy (punn intended) fan thought of a very effective way to distract the opposing team. I can't figure out how to upload a youtube video to this post (if any of you have any tricks let me know) so please click HERE to go to the appropriate page. I promise you it will be well worth it, especially if you need a good laugh. And make sure you go to full screen, or else you won't get the full effect! Here's a little teaser to incite your curiosity.


Oscar Night Faves

So, who watched the Oscars? Usually I don't stay up past the first few awards, but this year it was easy due to a nursing baby. Here were my highlights:

Carey Mulligans hair... is it any surprise that I love this? Super cute, and I love the contrast between the earrings and the hair. Her hair is boyish and delicate while her jewelry is feminine and chunky.
This may be because I'm partial to funny ladies, but I loved Tina Fey's look, even though I don't normally gravitate towards black for a formal event.

Seriously, Helen Mirren is gorgeous. Her look proves that you can be age appropriate, stunning and sexy all at the same time.

I know that later I'll regret giving a nod to Miley Cyrus, but I just love this dress.
Some of my other faves were Monique, JLo and Elizabeth Banks. My tip top favorite of the night went to the winner for costume design: Sandy Powell. Her look was vintage and modern at the same time. It was colorful and most importantly it stood out from all the other cookie cutter gowns with poof and trains and tight boob busting bodices. I can't find any pics online though, so if anybody finds one, please send the link my way.
Today's Random Trivia:
The only "Oscar" to win an Oscar was Oscar Hammerstein II for Best Song in 1941 and 1945.


Chocolate Buttered Bread Pudding

If you are anything like me some of your favorite confections would include bread pudding and anything chocolate. What could be better than combining the two? This is the easiest bread pudding recipe I have ever used, which puts it in reach of late-night-last-minute snacking.


8 oz. brioche (which I can never find, you can use just about any bread you can find)

Pat of butter

chocolate chips (I used a combination of milk and semi-sweet)

1 egg

2 egg yolks

4 tbsp sugar

15 oz can evaporated milk

1. Cut bread into 1/2 - 1 inch slices. Lightly butter one side of each slice.

2. Place layer of bread, buttered side down, in the bottom of a shallow oven proof dish. Sprinkle chocolate chips over the top (the amount you use is up to you... personally I like as many as possible)

3. Continue layering the bread and chocolate chips, finishing with a layer of bread on top.

4. Beat together the egg, yolks and sugar. Heat the milk in a small saucepan until it just begins to simmer. I use this as another opportunity to add chocolate... add more chips until melted, or if you don't have extra you can add a hot cocoa mix or chocolate syrup. Temper the eggs (add a little bit of the hot milk to the eggs in order to bring the eggs to temp without cooking them) and then add them to the milk mixture.

5. Pour the custard over the pudding and let stand for 5 minutes. Press the bread into the custard.

6. P;ace in a roasting pan filled with hot water. Water should come half way up pudding dish (creating a bain marie.)

7. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 F for about 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool for five minutes before serving. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve. You can let it cool, but it is divine while hot.

I know it isn't the prettiest dessert before served, but I assure you it is simply delish!!!


A New Outlook

I try not to forget how a good, make that great, haircut can give you a fresh and revived outlook on life. As I have always said, a good hair stylist is worth their weight in gold. Here is the before shot. My hair, while I thought it was okay at the time, was lifeless and had no real shape.

And the after shot! I was worried that the tight cut would accentuate my post delivery chub, but on the contrary! I feel like Ican see my cheekbones again!

So happy with the new do! Thank you so much Justin. If you live in the Baltimore area and are looking for an awesome sylist, go to Justin at Zen Head in Ellicot City. The salon is new, cute and chocked full of great stylists. As I said I have a new outlook on the world, my hair is allowing me more time with the baby. It even looks cute when I wake up to breastfeed in the middle of the night. God bless a good haircut!

Today's Random Trivia:
Most people have an average number of 100,000 hairs on their head.


To Pixie or not to Pixie

As you may have noticed, I'm a short hair junkie. I went from long hair to chin length in college and never looked back. In fact, it seems to just get shorter and shorter. Recently I decided I was over inches-long hair, and needed a change. It was time to grow it out. Because I have the luxury of a cousin doing my hair I get to say my stylist knows me extremely well. The first thing he said when I told him I was going to grow it out was, "You know that is going to drive you crazy right?". I knew he was right, but insisted I was up for the challenge. I was sure that thinking every day of the ever adorable Christina Ricci bob with bangs as my goal would get me through. Well, here I am with hair to my jawline and I am, well, crazy. I can't take it anymore! I'm contemplating chopping it off... especially with a newborn in tow. The ease of the style is simply intoxicating. So here is my inspiration: A pixie a la Alice in Wonderland, aka Mia Wasikowska or Ginnifer Goodwin. Perhaps a hybrid of the two, I think Ginnifer's may be a bit long in the front.

Whatever I decide and whenever I take the plunge I will be sure to include before and afters!
Today's Random Trivia:
Encyclopedia.com inorms that a single woman may have started the short hair trend of the 1920's. Her name was Mary Garden. Her reasoning stands true for me today: "Bobbed hair is a state of mind and not merely a manner of dressing my head... I consider getting rid of our long hair one of our many little shackles that women have cast aside in their passage to freedom."
Consider how much time you spend on your hair each day... imagine if you were liberated from all of that time. How lovely.


Valentines for Three... Make that four

The phrase goes, "And baby makes three". This clearly overlooks couples who already have children of the four-legged variety. It just so happens that Valentines day is the anniversary of the day we got Jet. It was five years ago and he was just a cute litte pup. Now he's a big vicious beast. To celebrate we gave him a doggie granola bar, which he became very protective over. Here is little Jet holding his "chewnola" like a little cigar.

The human celebration was far more entailed. First a little pink champagne... my favorite. How could anyone dislike a drink that is so pretty and fizzy?
Next, a most delicious frittata with red peppers, goat cheese and scallions, accompanied by perfectly crisped rye toast with butter. It is so lovely to have a husband that loves to cook and is great at it.
Here is the entire set up... did I mention I got a dozen long stem red roses? It is my birth flower in my favorite color.
Lastly, breakfast dessert: Crepes stuffed with a blueberry blackberry filling topped with a sweetened Greek Yogurt and fresh raspberries. In spite of my deep love of goat cheese with eggs, this was my favorite part of breakfast. It gave me goosebumps it was so good, and it was surprisingly light. Unless you eat three of them.

After brunch my fantasic husband let me take a nice long lazy afternoon nap to counteract all of the late night feedings. All in all it was one of the best Valentines days I have ever had... other than when we got that cute little K9 of mine. This time around we were able to stare at that adorable babe we made. I must say... life is good. Exhausting, but good.

Today's Random Trivia:

Raspberries come in four colors: red, purple, gold or black. Gold is the sweetest of these varieties.


Dreaming Forward

So far the worst part of being a new Mommy is that after you have the baby you don't immediately have your old body back. After you deliver you go down to looking about five or six months pregnant. The injustice! I guess it's fair that your belly can't snap right back... after all it was just holding an extra several pounds. At least it goes down enough to see your toes again. Breastfeeding helps get the belly down faster because it makes you cramp, which helps shrink things back down to their original size. Even Mother Nature knows that beauty is pain.

Now that my belly is dwindling more and more each day I find myself drifting to sleep at night to thoughts of all the gorgeous spring clothes I plan on wearing. I can't wait to have my slim waist line and [relatively] smaller ass back. Here are some of the spring looks I'm dreaming of.

Jumpsuit from American Apparel

Office appropriate from Chictopia

Simultaneously vintage and fresh - Emersonmade

What's even better is that my little babe will be two weeks this coming Wednesday, which means that my butt will be in the gym on Thursday morning. I'm starting out easy, just some long walks on the treadmill... but soon I plan on investing in P90X. Hot bod here I come!
Today's Random Trivia:
The only proven aphrodisiac is exercising with your partner.


The Wait Is Over

This time last week I was stressed and full of anxiety, on the brink of a physically painful event... but prepared for life to change.

This week life is entirely different. I am consumed with love for my new life and latest family addition.

Ten Fingers

Ten Toes (Even though you can only see five)


Week 40... on the way to the hospital.

The reason I waited 40 weeks

Today's Random Trivia:
In a lifetime, the average person will walk the equivalent of 5 equators.


And the Hours Fall

Today is my last day sans baby... and the hours fall away so quickly.
For our last dinner before baby arrives we are making the Best.Stew.Ever. It is served with Polenta, but we often switch this out with egg noodles. I must say though that the polenta really puts it over the top.

2 1/2 lb boneless beef chuck roast
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
8 oz. pearl onions (we used whole onions and quartered them)
4 medium carrots cut into 1 inch chunks (we used baby carrots)
1 Rutabaga cut into 1 inch chunks
1 Tbsp. minced garlic (about 6 cloves)
1 14 oz. can of beef broth
1 cup water
1/2 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup fresh parsley
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 tsp. fresh rosemary
1. Prepare Polenta (Instructions below). Trim fat from meat. Cut meat into 1- inch pieces. In a large plastic bag combine flour, thyme, basil, salt and pepper. Add meat pieces, a few at a time, shaking to coat.
Preparing the Polenta
2. Place meat in a 3 1/2 or 4 quart slow cooker. Place onions, carrot, rutabaga and garlic on top of meat. Stir in broth, water and wine.
(Rutabaga, my favorite ingredient)
Layered ingredients ready to slow cook!

3. Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 8 to 10 hours or on high heat for 4 to 5 hours.
4. To reheat polenta, preheat oven to 350 F. Bake, covered, about 30 minutes or until heated through. Before serving the stew stir in parsley, tomato paste and rosemary into meat mixture. Serve in bowls with polenta.
Polenta: In large saucepan, bring 3 1/2 cups milk to a light boil. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine 1 cup cornmeal, 1 cup cold water and 1/2 tsp salt. Slowly add cornmeal mixture to hot milk, stirring constantly. Cook and stir until mixture is boiling; reduce heat to low. cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until thick, stirring occassionally. Pour into greased 2 quart square baking dish. Cover with foil; chill for 2 to 24 hours.

The only problem with stew is that as hearty and fulfilling as it is, there is just no way to make it look pretty in a photo. In the end it is always a sloppy bowl of yummy.

Thanks for reading today, or even stopping by. It helped take my mind off all of the pain I will lovingly be enduring tomorrow. I won't be back for a bit... I'm having a baby tomorrow!

Today's Random Trivia:
Approximately 11,000 babies are born a day in the United States. Tomorrow, mine will be one of them!


And the To-Do List Dwindles

I am running out of things to do before baby arrives. Good thing because he is almost here! Bad thing because it only reminds me that it is scary close... and all the anxieties of motherhood come rushing forward. Not that I'm filled with anxiety, but Labor and delivery is certainly a daunting task. Followed by parent hood, which me the the Motherload of daunting tasks.

Every day that I plan to relax my list gets in the way. I find myself often saying "After I get this done I'll be TOTALLY ready." Then after the task is complete I add something else to the list. Today was really my last day to get away with this though. Tomorrow my husband has us inundated with football related activities (I'll throw in a Go Jets! just for him). Monday is really my last day to relax before D-day. So, other than a nice relaxing walk with the Hubs and the Beagle I really want to do nothing but put my feet up! Tuesday, of course is D-day. Being induced is nice because I can plan... and I am a planner. But I'm a little sad I'll be missing out on any "Honey I think this is it!" conversation. Or waking up the Hubs in the middle of the night to let him know my water broke and we need to frantically rush to the hospital. Oh well... maybe next time!

So, with a lack of photos taken today I thought I'd do a nice art post on one of my favorite artists. I stumbled on her website a couple of years ago and am now addicted. If this pregnancy were bringing me a girl, her room certainly would have been graced by an Audrey Kawasaki knock-off that I would have tried to recreate on my own. Her work is so ethereal and inspirational. It's like looking into a past dream that you know you had but can't quite remember. I may have posted on her in the past, but she has so many lovely pieces, and her work is so enchanting I can't resist today.

I especially love this one because it reminds me of my favorite childhood movie Labrynth. David Bowie and Jennifer Connelly. Anyone else seen this? Essentially I can recite it line for line, but I'm not sure I should be proud to admit that. I have seen it more times than I can count. As soon as I get home with baby we will be watching it together!

Random Trivia today is inspired by an overly involved and perfectly random conversation I had with on of my dearest friends over the human placenta. I didn't think there was much to discuss... turns out I was oh so wrong.
Today's Random Trivia:
Some cultures bury the placenta for various reasons. The Maori of New Zealand traditionally bury the placenta from a newborn child to emphasize the relationship between humans and the beach. Similarly, the Navajo bury the placenta and the umbilical cord beneath a specially chosen tree, in the hopes that the baby will take on the characteristics of that tree.


Three Days and Counting

First things first. Today I had my favorite food of all. Cheeseburger and fries. I realized I had a new competition on my hands. Fatburger or Five Guys.

The true and only pure answer: Five Guys... hands down. Now, moving on.

I finally have a light at the end of the tunnel. Tuesday, January 26, 2010 I will be induced. Baby will arrive soon thereafter. How lovely. Here are the 39 weeks photos. I'm huge and feel like... well like I'm 9 months pregnant. The head on shot doesn't quite show how giant this belly of mine is...

Now do you believe me? No...

How about now?

Now... as promised, some photos of the paintings I did for the nursery. I'm not sure if I mentioned, but the main colors are light blue and charcoal. I thought that would be the perfect combination of baby and adult. I have said since the beginning of this pregnancy that I wanted to skip all the baby cute-sy stuff. After all, the baby isn't really the one enjoying the nursery, I am.

They all look like they are the same size here, but they vary for the small and large animals, from 3x3 to 10x10. I am very happy with the way they turned out and got several compliments. It started as a way to sneak in my red stars, which I didn't want the nursery to be without. What is any room without a splash of red?

And without further adieu, here is the completed teddy bear I made for baby. He turned out pretty cute I think. As with any project there are changes I wish I could make, but there are sure to be plenty more baby projects to come.
Today's Random Trivia:
In 1986 the first Five Guys Burgers and Fries opened in Arlington Virginia. They have since been given a plethora of awards including "Readers Choice #1 Burger" by the Washingtonian Magazine '99 through '08. They have since opened over 450 locations in 30 states. There are over 250,000 ways to order a burger. Lastly, you will never see a freezer in a Five Guys, only refrigerators... NOTHING is frozen.
Today's Suggestion:
If there isn't a Five Guys near you... drive to one, no matter how far. Even if it is states away. It will SO be worth it.