Friday, January 30, 2009

Busy Weekend (as always)

Happy Friday!!

Matt was out of town last night at a Quail hunt in south Georgia so Cooper and I held down the fort all by ourselves. I generally Hate being home alone at night so I didn't sleep well and am very much looking forward to Matt's return later this evening. It did help that there was a "Friends" maraton on TBS that lulled me to sleep :)

We have lots of plans for the weekend- as it seems like we always do- but several of fun things to do. Matt won't be home until late tonight so I plan to pick up some magazines on my way home from work and enjoy some downtime while I await his return. I'll probably have my usual solo dinner of scrambled eggs and toast, do my yoga video, and then put on my beloved drawstring-waist pants and curl up under a blanket on the couch :)

Saturday we have little Emma's first birthday party! I can't believe it was a full year ago that she was born. If you had told me then that a year later Matt and I would be having our own I would have told you you were crazy, but here we are and we feel sooo lucky to be expecting Madelyn in just 12 short weeks! Aaahhh!! I'm not sure about Saturday night yet- maybe a movie date night, or dinner with friends, we'll see.

Sunday, of course, will be engulfed with Superbowl fesitivies. We will be at our friend Josh's house to watch the game and I'm making these delicious-looking BLT roll ups with wheat tortillas and light veggie cream chese to lighten them up a bit. Thank goodness the game starts at 6:15 p.m. EST and not 8:30 p.m. EST like the BCS Championship- I go into a baby coma around 10 p.m. so the earlier we get home the better :)

Hope you all have a great weekend! It is supposed to be 60 degrees here on Sunday with a chance of snow on Tuesday...only in Atlanta...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Giada at (Your) Home

I am such a sucker for the Food Network, and last night I caught an episode of Giada's new show "Giada at Home". It's showcases her love of "California-style entertaining" and in this episode, she threw a block party in her neighborhood. I don't know if it was seeing the warm, California weather, or beautiful scenery that made this recipe look so appetizing, but either way I plan to make it for dinner one night next week. What really did it for me was the use of lemon to give it a fresh, clean taste, which then lead me to search out the second recipe below- lemon biscuits. yummmm.....Ingredients

1 pound orecchiette or other short pasta
1/2 cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
12 ounces Swiss chard or mustard greens, stemmed
12 ounces baby spinach leaves
1 (15-ounce) can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups small cherry or grape tomatoes
8 ounces ricotta salata cheese, crumbled
2 teaspoons lemon zest
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water.
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant and lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the garlic and discard. Add the Swiss chard and cook until wilted. In batches, add the spinach and cook until wilted. Add the beans and tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat. Add the pasta, 1/2 of the cheese, and lemon zest. Toss well and thin out the sauce with a little pasta water, if needed.
Transfer to a large serving bowl and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and serve.

On the lemon theme, I also saw this recipe for Nonna's Lemon Ricotta Biscuits that made my mouth water. I haven't made homemade biscuits before, but these might be worth the effort... They would be delicious served with Katie's Homemade Strawberry Preserves.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar or more as needed for sprinkling
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest (from 2 lemons)
1 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
1 large egg
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/3 cup thinly sliced almonds

Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl to blend. Using an electric mixer, beat 1 cup sugar, butter, and lemon zest in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in the ricotta. Beat in the egg, lemon juice, and almond extract. Add the dry ingredients and stir just until blended (the batter will be thick and fluffy).
Divide the batter among the prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle the almonds and then the remaining 1 teaspoon of sugar over the muffins. Bake until the muffins just become pale golden on top, about 20 minutes. Cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Yummy (and easy) Turkey Burger Recipe

I made these turkey burgers for dinner one night last week from an old Weight Watchers recipe and they came out great. Matt raved about them, so I also consider them "guy-approved."

1 egg white or 1/4 cup egg substitute
1/4 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp Teriyaki sauce
2 Tbsp fresh parsley
2 garlic cloves, minced
20 ounces 93% lean ground turkey
*If I wasn't pregnant I'd probably also add in a little bit of feta, but since I couldn't I threw in a handful of shredded mozzarella which added a nice touch- you can never have too much cheese in my opinion:)

Mix first 6 ingredients in a bowl until well blended. Mix ground meat into egg mixture, just until mixed being careful not to overmix (or else you'll wind up with tough burgers). Shape into 6 patties. Grill or freeze promptly.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Holy Belly

As promised, a picture of my 27-week belly which seems to be growing by the day. On one hand, I can't believe I only have 3 months to go. On the other hand, I wonder how much bigger I'm going to get in 3 months!!

Kristin, Jenny, and I made a trip up to the Outlets on Monday and I picked up two Adorable dresses for Madelyn. The red one is from her aunt Kristin and it will likely be her Christmas dress:)

I also snagged a new rug for our family room from the Pottery Barn outlet. We used to have a sisal rug but that's way too scratchy to lay little Maddy on, so we got this great wool one for a steal! And, we moved the sisal one into the kitchen, which worked out surprisingly well!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

My New Love

Meet my new favorite baby accessory- my diaper bag! It is by Nest and my sweet mother in law bought it for me for my birthday. We're still waiting on it to arrive in the mail, but I am so excited. I can't wait to get it all organized and filled to the brim with baby Madelyn goodies!

Baby Marden Update

It's been a while since I've posted an update on Madelyn so here goes! I am now 26 weeks along and will be 27 weeks on Saturday which is the start of the 3rd trimester and 7th month. Madelyn is 14 inches long and appx. 2 pounds! I can't believe how fast it is going by. People told me I would feel like I was pregnant forever, but if we keep up at this pace, she is going to pop out before I even realize what hit me!

I have been so fortunate in that I have felt really great most of the time and really love being pregnant. I know that in the coming months I'll start to really feel the effects of the extra weight and the toll baby is taking on my body, but for now I'm just trying to enjoy every minute. That being said, I can definitely feel myself starting to slow down, especially if I've been running around all day. I have also been struggling with some lower back pain, but yoga seems to be helping. Matt has been very good at making me sit down and put my feet up as relaxing is not always my first reaction and has been a big adjustment. Luckily I can still fit into a lot of my non-maternity clothes, but I also feel those days coming to an abrupt end here shortly:) I also have not sent Matt out on a single late night craving run, so I plan to do so in the next few months. I just haven't had a strong enough craving yet!

I am already getting a sense for little Maddy's personality, and I think she is going to be pretty strong willed. If you poke my stomach and she is awake, she will poke back in that same spot, as if to say "get out of my space!" It's pretty funny. She also seems to have a good understanding of night and day as she has periods of awake and sleep all day long, but she seems to sleep through the night. I wake up around 6 times a night to change positions and she is never moving, so hopefully she keeps up this pattern! It's really bazare to watch my stomach morph into weird shapes when she moves, but I could sit and watch it for hours.

Our next doctor's appointment is on Monday, but we won't have any more ultrasounds unless I start measuring big. We may pay for an extra 3D ultrasound around 32 weeks just so sneak a peak at her one last time before we see her in person, but we'll see.

I am having tons of fun continuing to decorate her nursery and organize her closet. We are ordering our glider this week courtesy of Grand-mama (my mom) and are on the search for accent fabrics so I can have an ottoman slipcovered and valance made. Matt's mom has offered to throw me a shower, as have Kristin and a group of girls from work, so she is sure to be one spoiled little girl.
I'll try to post a new belly picture soon- it seems to be growing by the day! The doctor said it grows 1 cm. every week but I'm starting to think that might be an understatement. I guess we'll find out on Monday! Thanks to everyone for the continued prayers and good wishes- keep them coming. We have been so fortunate so far to have a healthy pregnancy and healthy growing baby and we are increasingly grateful every day.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Tres Chic

A very cool part of my job is getting to see (and often stay in) some of the nicest hotels in the world. Given the current market, it doesn't look like I'll be making any extravagant business trips anytime soon, but, I did get to do a hard hat tour of the new St. Regis Atlanta yesterday and let me tell you, it is absolutely stunning. I fell in LOVE with the decor in their model guest room. Mind you, this is a standard room, not upgraded. The colors and lighting were spectacular and I was so impressed by the level of finishings, particularly the moldings. The bathtub is 5" longer and deeper than a standard "soaking" tub and it was seriously calling my name. I love the neutral color palatte with blue accents, it's really calming. And I could not get enough of the chaise lounge and the club chairs with nailhead trim. And for all you Atlantans, their weekend rate is just around $200/night for the first few months, so if you and the hubby are looking for a getaway, check it out! They open for business on April 7.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

An Afternoon with Eddie

For my birthday, Kristin arranged for us to spend the morning antiquing with the super nice and talented Eddie Ross. Eddie is a brilliant interior designer/entertainer/jack of all trades and it was such a treat to meet him and soak in all of his knowledge! Check out Kristin's run down of the day for more details:

...never a dull moment...

One of our main goals for the next few months is to save as much money as we can in preparation for little Madelyn. Last year we successfully paid off all consumer debts so all that remains now is Matt's Tahoe and the house, and we also managed to save up a nice little emergency fund for ourselves. Granted, this process was never fun, looking back now we are very proud of ourselves. Well, we are always reminded why you should have an emergency fund, as witnessed by the events of this past week.

First, as you know, we re-did our kitchen. We wanted to pay cash for everything so this was certainly a worthy use of our savings.
In the midst of re-doing the kitchen our refridgerator broke. For about 4 days we had all of our frozen goods in a cooler in the garage (being refreshed with new ice daily since it was of course warm at the time). In addition to the fridge, my car had to go into the shop. All in all, major crisis was averted, Thank Goodness, but had we not had the savings we would have been in serious trouble. We managed to keep the damage under $500 which was nothing short of a miracle, but it sure was nice to pay for that on our own and not with a credit card.
We now have a re-opened leak in the dining room ceiling from our master shower that Matt will be working to fix this I said, never a dull moment. Aaah the joys of home ownership:)

On a good note, sweet, patient Matt was kind enough to get the nursery all set up with Maddy's furniture and it is so cute!!! (I swear he has been working non-stop on the house)
I've attached a few pictures so that you can see. We still have a bit of actual decorating to do, but it's nice to have the main pieces up in there and WOAH is it a reality check everytime we walk by that room!! It's so hard to imagine that in appx. 100 days there will be a little baby in that crib:) (*Note, that ottoman to the left of the hutch is being recovered)

This week is actually fairly quiet for us which should be nice. I'm planning to re-do our budget which I realize doesn't sound exciting to most people but to a type-A excel-driven person like myself it's actually a way I de-stress. I'm also booking our baby-moon which I'll post more details on later, and then Sunday celebrating my 27th birthday up at Matt's parent's house!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Who says you can't look cute while giving birth?

I mean, it's bad enough that you're sequestered under horribly unflattering flourescent lights for days on end. And if your daughter's birth isn't a reason to dress up, I don't know what is :) Check out these totally adorable hospital gowns.

This first one is from

These next few are from

A Few of My Favorite Things II

In the grand holiday wind-down, I thought I'd share a few of my very favorite little indulgences with you all, since I received some of them in the form of Christmas gifts:)

1. Bliss Foaming Face Wash- I absolutely love this face wash. I have always been very lucky to have been blessed with my mother's great skin, so I never had to worry much about my complexion...until I got pregnant. I noticed my skin becoming somewhat blotchy and definitely subject to the occasional (more like weekly) breakout. I've been using this face wash for a few weeks and my skin looks 100% better. It has a gentle exfoliant and a great smell. Matty was sweet enough to stick some of this in my stocking for me, along with Bliss' amazing lemon sage body butter- I highly recommend both.

2. Votivo Candles- my mom found these several years ago and we have been devoted fans ever since. They are the kind of candles that can smell up an entire floor of your house and the scents are fresh and clean. My personal favorites are red currant and black berry basil. They aren't cheap at around $20/candle, but they do last a while.
3. Beech Cotton Sateen Sheets- I am a bit of a linens snob. I really appreciate having good, soft sheets and linens, as well as towels, washcloths, etc...My dad discovered these at Bed Bath & Beyond about a year ago and I could not believe how soft they are. They are 100% beech cotton which is similar to bamboo cotton in that it is a renewable resource and environmentally friendly, and they really feel like silk when you slip into bed.

4. Lancome Kohl Eye Liner- I am a bit of an eye liner novice in that I have a long ways to go until I have the art perfected. My sister introduced me to this eye liner over Thanksgiving and it is the easiest eye liner to apply I have ever tried. It even gives beginners like me hope.
5. And for any other pregos out there, Gap Maternity! My mom was sweet enough to raid the Gap Maternity in Orlando before she came up for Christmas before she came up to visit, and along with the pieces I picked up at the after Christmas sale, my maternity wardrobe is pretty much set! Here are a few of my favorite pieces.

I also picked up this little number from Ann Taylor Loft Maternity on eBay for $14 (new with tags)!:

6. And lastly, my Florida Gators!! Be sure to watch tonight as we take on Oklahoma for the National Championship! This is really one of the ONLY things that could keep me up past 10 p.m. these days :)

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Food You Crave: Balsamic Chicken with Spinach and Cous Cous

I love watching Ellie Krieger on the Food Network. Ok, I like watching anything on that channel, but I particularly appreciate her healthy yet non-restrictive approach to cooking and eating. So, I decided to get her cookbook. I have a compulsive disease that drives me to buy cookbooks when I barely even use those I already have! It's terrible! My new years resolution is to scour my existing collection for recipes and quit buying new ones! Anyways, I digress...

I cooked this for dinner tonight in our new kitchen while listening to the "Somethings Gotta Give" soundtrack (mostly French music) and felt very gourmet :) Below is the recipe. This probably took me 20 minutes to prepare and is a great, healthy way to kick off the new year :) Apologies in advance for the lack of a picture...



3 T. olive oil

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

1/4 t. salt, plus more to taste

pepper to taste

3 cloves garlic, chopped

8 oz. baby spinach

2 T. balsamic vinegar

1/2 C. low sodium chicken broth

1 cup canned diced tomatoes, with their juices

2 cups hot cooked cous cous (preferably whole wheat) *I added pine nuts to mine- it was delish

1. Heat 1T. oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Season chicken on both sides with salt and pepper and add to the pan. Cook until browned and just cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. Remove to a plate.

2. Add 2T. oil to the pan and add the garlic. Cook for one minute. Add the spinach and cook until just wilted. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a bowl.

3. Add the vinegar, broth, and tomatoes to the pan and stir, scraping any browned bits off the bottom. Bring to a simmer and cook until the sauce is slightly thickened.

4. Divide the cous cous between 4 serving plates. Top with some of the spinach, then a piece of chicken and the balsamic-tomato sauce and serve.

The Kitchen is Done!...well, almost...

As I shared earlier, we have slowly been working to renovate our kitchen. As we've learned, with home ownership, there is Always something to be done!
First we painted the cabinets white from an aged brown color, painted the walls, and this weekend Matt replaced our countertops, and installed a new sink faucet and backsplash, and I am SO happy with the results! I wish I had a better true "before" pictures to share with you, but this will have to do for now. The walls used to be a purple-ish color (with a border), cabinets used to be brown, the countertops were an off-white formica and the backsplash was an off-white plastic backing that matched the countertops.

Countertops before this weekend:

Old cabinet color:

Old wall color:

Behold the after!

We replaced the existing countertops with a black speckled formica called black nebula (our cabinets would not support granite and we didn't meet the square footage minimum for corian, so formica seemed like the way to go), added the previously mentioned new faucet, and installed thermoplastic paneling for the backsplash.

We had a hard time deciding what to do for the backsplash as I originally wanted marble, but my mom discovered this paneling at Lowe's that was really cool and super easy to install- well, seemingly at least. Matt has been working nonstop for two days to do all of this and I know he's glad it's over. All we have left is touch up painting and the kitchen will officially be done.

Now onto Madelyn's room!! :)
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