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.


Ahhh, Maternity Leave

Today was my first official day of Maternity leave... and it... was... WONDERFUL! I loved every little second.

The best part was taking my shower this morning and getting ready. It is so nice to not have to dress for work, but to dress for myself again. Especially since one of the biggest hurdles at this point in pregnancy is to NOT feel hideous.

Here are the pics of 38 weeks. I have taken my photos at the very last day of each week. So, now that I'm down to the end, my photos are slightly off... but after having taken weekly shots, I'm not stopping now!

This is what happens when you watch too many episodes of Little Miss Perfect. That show is such a train wreck. It is nauseating and scary, but you can't take your eyes off of it.

After I spent the morning taking care of leftover weekend chores, I decided it was time to hunker down and start on the baby project that has been on my mind for weeks. A hand sewn teddy bear. Every kid has a teddy bear right? I didn't finish today obviously, but I got a good start. Today I created my pattern, which is pretty basic. I used newspaper, because it was available... I like the way the bra image shows on the final pattern. I am trying to create a teddy bear that is unique. The fabric I'm using is all leftovers from other creative family members, including my Mom, who hand sewed a stunning quilt for my new little man. The teddy bear will be light blue, charcoal, red, black and white. All the colors of the nursery. The fabric is a nice soft flannel, perfect for cuddling. After pinning and cutting, I got straight to sewing. I don't have any fusible interface so I'm using stich withchery and then reinforcing with a whip stitch with embroidery thread. The best part of this project: I didn't have to go out for any of the materials... aka: I get to sit on my butt and not go anywhere. Isn't that what maternity leave is all about?! The due date is in one week, so rest and relaxation is the name of the game.
Today's Random Trivia:
In 1903 in Giengen, Germany, Margarete Steiff made toy animals out of felt in a small factory owned by her family. Her nephew, Richard Steiff, encouraged her to make a bear based on his sketches following a visit to the Stuttgart Zoo.


Oh, How I’ve Missed You

For those of you who regularly tuned in to my blog, I owe a great apology. This past April I enjoyed momentous and exciting changes in my life. I found out I was pregnant! At the onset, I was ready to face pregnancy and enjoy every minute, expecting to plan and create wonderful things for my soon-to-arrive little one. How silly and naive I was! I had NO idea how much pregnancy would take out of me and what a toll it would have on my once lovely body. (Note: If you are having body issues, no matter how big or small, once you're pregnant you will look at your old body like you were a Victoria’s Secret model!) Two weeks prior to finding out about my pregnancy I started a new position with a title company, which also took an unexpected toll on my body. So, with my body working over time making a baby, and intensified stress levels at work I found blogging to be, well, an impossibility. Honestly, it was all I could do to stay awake past 8:00 most nights. My weekends consisted of registering, planning, painting, prepping and getting ready for baby. Here I am, about to burst like an overfed tick, and I’m finally getting around to letting the blog world know where I’ve been all these months. Why now? My maternity leave just started! I still have a week or two left before baby, and I plan on kicking my feet up and letting my hands stay busy doing what I love: Creating! If you’re interested, here’s a quick update of what the last nine plus months have looked like for me.

Week 13:Week 17: Week 20: Week 24:

Week 28:

Week 30:
Week 32:

Week 34: Week 37:

Currently, I'm at the 38 Week mark. Way past the point of being comfortable. At first the belly is cute, then it becomes cumbersome and heavy. If you are still enjoying pregnancy at 38 weeks, you really deserve a medal. On a daily basis I am torn between pleasure and torture. The kicks that were once so precious are now painful sharp jabs to the ribs, but just when I begin to barter with my belly I realize I need to soak up every last minute of quite-self time remaining. Pretty soon it will all have vanished and I will be sleep deprived and covered in spit-up.

So that's it. That's where I've been. Off in the real world being knocked-up. Hopefully I will have time in the next days to post on the few projects I have been able to complete over the last months. Sorry again for my absence... it's hard to feel cute when you're pregnant, even when there is something so cute growing in your belly.

Today's Random Trivia:

A Hummingbird can flap its wings at 80 times per second, causing an audible humming sound. Due to the unique structure of their wings they can fly up, down, left, right, backwards and even upside down. They can also hover by flapping their wings in a figure-eight pattern.