Thursday, August 25, 2011

Last date night EVER

Andi and I went to a movie tonight. Because that's what you do when you're 40+ weeks pregnant; go to a dark place where people can't stare at you like your water is going to break before their very eyes. Well, that and it'll be the last time we EVER go to a movie, you know. The most popular piece of advice I've received this pregnancy is GO TO A MOVIE! ... YOU'LL NEVER GET TO GO AGAIN! Which, I find to be a strange recommendation all together. Movies really aren't my thang, so I could care less about this life experience being sucked away thanks to my future child.

We saw Bridesmaids, by the way, and it was freaking hilarious. I fully recommend you all shut your computer lid after reading this post and go see it immediately if you haven't already. Funny stuff....

Anyhoo, when Andi pulled into the parking lot I was a little confused. Earlier, he said "yes" when I asked if the movie was in Hopkins (I thought we were going to the cheap theatre) but he must have been doing one of those things where he just nods and says "uh huh" without really listening to what I said. So, when we arrived at Cinema Grill in New Hope which is located in a weirdo strip mall next to "Asian Therapy" and Dollar General, I questioned where the heck he was taking me.

We walked into a large lobby of arcade games and a guy working behind the desk; no smell of popcorn and candy in the air (the main reason I usually agree to a movie in the first place). We paid the man (who only accepted cash, btw) and walked down the ramp to the theatre. Inside we found a restaurant with chairs, tables and booths ... and a movie screen. Cinema Grill just may be the strangest movie theatre I've ever seen. Ok well, that's not completely true. There was this experience in Thailand - but the strangest I've seen in a Midwest suburban strip mall, that's for sure. This place was a cross between a comedy club and movie theatre complete with a server, food menu and a full bar. I ordered a Diet Sierra Mist and Andi ordered a Captain/Coke and Chocolate Chimichanga with Ice Cream. Classic movie theatre eats, wouldn't you say? He seemed pretty stoked about it.

All this to say the movie was awesome and the fact you could drink was pretty cool too (that is, if I could have enjoyed that aspect), but the seats didn't fair so well. At 10 months pregnant, I couldn't find a comfortable position on the hard booth we selected or the pleather office chairs situated around the table. The theatre was packed though, so it's obviously the most happening thing to do in the 'burbs. The fact some people stumbled out of there drunk as hell probably contributes to its glimmering popularity.

Chock it up to a new 'burb experience. Our last date night until Baby Girl arrives; only the finest for us.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

What's that smell?

In hindsight, not my brightest moment ...

I got the genius idea to pre-chop some of my CSA veggies this weekend. My thought being, I'll freeze some for later use and leave a little in the fridge for meals during the week. I'm far more likely to make something for dinner these days if the prep work is easy. I chopped up some zucchini, eggplant, summer squash, onions and garlic and put each of them into individually marked Ziploc bags for later use. Smart, right?


Andi and I ran some errands on Saturday afternoon and came back to a REALLY strong smell of garlic in the house. We opened some windows to air out the house and figured it'd eventually go away. A few hours later, we opened the door to the refrigerator and about FELL OVER from the overpowering smell of garlic in the fridge. Who knew chopping up garlic and putting it in a sealed Ziploc bag would be so pungent?!

We moved the garlic into the freezer to see if that would help, but it didn't. Now our fridge AND freezer reek of garlic. We opened a box of baking soda, but it still isn't helping. I feel bad throwing the garlic away because I know it took a lot of time and effort for the farmers to grow and dry it all, not to mention the time I took to chop it up. But seriously ... it's horrible!

Any good tricks to eliminating odors from the fridge? And how to store freshly chopped garlic?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Home Decor

One of the easiest pieces of my relationship with Andi is our personal tastes. From paint colors to furniture choices, choosing how to decorate our house is something we both enjoy doing together. And I appreciate his opinion. Unlike most guys (I assume, at least) my husband wants to have a say in even the smallest detail.

This weekend, we bought a few paintings for our living room and stairway. We toured some art galleries in Northeast Minneapolis, but didn't find anything we were particularly drawn to. Shamefully and far less cool, we ended up finding two paintings at Home Goods. They look fantastic in each space, but I'm a little embarrassed to admit we found them in a strip mall!

We've also spent the last few weeks brainstorming ways to decorate our front door. The painted double doors set the tone when you enter our home, but the previous owner's curtains were dreadful. It didn't match our decorating taste.

We took those ugly green curtains down right away. And for weeks now, we've lived with nothing covering the windows. It's become a little uncomfortable as I walk through the kitchen every day. I guess I like to walk around in my underwear. I'm sure the neighbors are thrilled.

Our goal was to find something that allows light and view through the window, but also provides some privacy. Andi designed a few options for a vinyl window sticker and we settled on this one. Check it:

Do you like it? It's definitely unique, but I'm not sure it provides the level of privacy we're looking for. We'll find out next week when I'm nursing a baby in the living room and the mailman drops by ...

Friday, August 19, 2011

New Reads

Within the next 9 days (the last possible day I'll be pregnant before I'm induced), I'm going to be spending A LOT of time nursing a baby. I imagine it to be quality time with my babe and I also suspect there will be many moments I'll need something to occupy my time. What do you mamas out there do besides surf the internet and check Facebook? I assume you can only do that for so long so I'd like to load up my Netlix cue, my Kindle and my Google Reader with tv shows, books and blogs which come highly recommended. So I was thinking ... I'll tell you mine if you tell me yours.

What's one must-see tv show or series, recommended book and a favorite blog you follow right now?

Here's My List:

TV Series
Friday Night Lights 
Andi and I got HOOKED on this series this summer. I personally love football, and there's obviously some of that in the show, but there's also awesome story lines and great development of characters. You don't have to love football to heart this show, either. There's a little bit of sex, lots of drama and fast-moving story lines. We flew through the first five seasons like two obsessed teenagers watching 90210 in the 90's. It's THAT good.

The Girl With A Dragon Tattoo
I'll admit, I haven't read much of anything lately that wasn't about parenting or pregnancy, but one "non-preggo" book I finished was The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. It's a mystery with lots of suspense and a little bit of edge taking place in a foreign country. While I found the characters a bit difficult to identify with at first, the book quickly became a page-turner. I'm just started the second book in the series, The Girl Who Played with Fire.

Operation Pink Herring 
I don't remember when or how I stumbled upon this blog, but lately it's been one of my favorites to follow. This gal isn't far behind me in her pregnancy with her first child. While she leads a very different life than mine half-way across the country, I find her experiences to be witty and relatable. Hope she doesn't mind me giving her a shameless plug here!

Ok, your turn! Leave me a comment with your favorite tv show, book and/or blog and help fill in my up-all-nights of the future!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Neighbors on Parade

When you buy a new house, it's the property that sells you. You're suckered by the newly remodeled kitchen, the fact there are THREE bathrooms (still my favorite part of our house) or whatever meets the needs of your family.

Unfortunately, however, you can't pick your neighbors. Even the most lax of realtors will only give you a slight eye nudge when you ask about the area, and usually responds with some line about good schools and lots of nearby parks. Sure, you stalk the streets like a bad ex-boyfriend, but that only gives so much indication. As you sign on the dotted line at closing, all you can do is hope the neighbors aren't sexual predators or people who trash their yard with junk cars and dandelions. 

After last night, I can officially report Trentoga ROCKS. (That's the cute little nickname the neighbors call our block). Money Magazine hit the nail on the head when they rated our city as one of the best places to call home. They were so right.

When Andi came home from work yesterday, we grabbed Chloe's leash and headed out the door to the neighborhood parade I mentioned last week. As we walked onto the neighborhood walking trail, we saw boatloads of families marching along, bikes adorned with shiny decorations, family dogs prancing proudly and even a few kids in costume. Andi and I smiled at each other (in between reprimanding our unruly dog for having a spaz attack, of course). We couldn't believe the massive group of neighbors who'd gathered for this little neighborhood parade. Once at the end in the nearby elementary school parking lot, people young and old were chatting with each other and kids were jumping and playing around like it was the best day of the year.

A city police car and fire truck were there, along with someone dressed like McGruff (dog head, trench coat with no visible pants and tennis shoes, by the way. Looked a little sketch). A man, who identified himself as a teacher in one of the schools was selling raffle tickets to help fund next year's event. He joked he'd save us a spot at school for our future kiddo-to-be if we bought a ticket or two. And as luck would have it, Andi won a $10 car wash in the drawing! Afterwards, we made small-talk with a neighbor of ours for a few minutes in the street. We exchanged phone numbers and they told us they're "24 hour neighbors" meaning we can "call anytime, even if it's just for chocolate ice cream." (I die, how cute is that?)

Everyone waves to each other when they take out the recycling here, or as they pull into their driveways after work. Sounds of the high school band can be heard in the distance as they practice for the upcoming school year ... and it's just so "small town" feeling around here. I think we found the perfect place to start our little family of three.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Freezer Meals

In preparation for Baby Girl's arrival, I spent the weekend cooking make-ahead meals for our freezer. My parents are coming to visit following Tory's birth and I know my mom will spoil us with yummy food but what happens after she leaves? Friends will bring a few meals over. Ok, but then what? I don't want to instantly chock myself up to bad wife status by not having anything for my husband to eat around here. So I decided to make some easy items for Andi and I to pull out of the freezer and warm up as needed. After all, our focus will be diverted to more important things - our new bundle of joy.

My freezer meal goals:
  • Individually portioned items when possible 
  • Variety - not all baked pasta dishes
  • Meals that utilize some of our CSA produce 
  • Healthy (at least relatively)
Here are a few recipes I prepared:

Makes 36

If you've never been to Nebraska, you've likely never had a Runza. There's a fast-food chain there of the same name which makes these handheld pockets of goodness and they're delicious. You can't go to a Nebraska football game without eating one -- there's something about a cool fall day, the sounds of college football and a little buzz from tailgating that makes a Runza absolutely irresistible. Once and a while, my mom would make homemade Runzas when we were little kids and they were just as great (maybe even better!). A homemade Runza is filled with ground beef, cabbage and onion. Runzas take a little time to make (a great weekend activity) but they're so worth it. The best thing is they're pre-portioned so you can easily pull one out of the freezer, heat it up in the microwave for a few minutes and voila! Instant home-cooked dinner. This is my mom's recipe.

  • 2 lbs hamburger
  • 2 heads of cabbage
  • 1 onion 
  • 1 package of Rhodes Dinner Rolls, thawed (found in the frozen section)
Brown hamburger. Add salt and pepper to season meat if you'd like. In the meantime, chop cabbage and onion into very small pieces. (Or buy shredded cabbage and chop it down). Put onion and cabbage in a bowl and cover with water. Cook in microwave for about 10 minutes, until cabbage is mushy. Drain water. Mix hamburger and cabbage mixture together and let the mixture cool. Roll out one dinner roll dough ball and place 1-2 Tbsp of cabbage mixture in center. Close the dough around the filling and place onto a greased cookie sheet (the dough opening side down onto cookie sheet). Repeat with all dough balls. Cover cookie sheets with tea towels and let rise for 2 hours. Then bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

I freeze these in Ziploc bags. Pull a homemade Runza out and heat it up in the microwave for 1.5 - 3 minutes. I love to add butter to mine, but Andi dips his in dressing. Or, just eat as is!

Other make-ahead meals I made for the freezer:

Squash and Kohlrabi Empanadas
Makes 8

It sounds weird, but these empanadas are actually really good. I started making them earlier this summer when i received kohlrabi in our CSA box. But since then, I've made them with a variety of vegetable mixtures inside (zucchini, squash, potatoes, corn, etc). You can also add meat to these (ground beef would be great) which is what Andi often requests. The husband's a big fan of these because they have great flavor, have a flaky crust and can be frozen individually and heated up in the microwave or oven.
Recipe from

Individual Lasagnas
Makes 5

I like this recipe because it also uses many vegetables from my CSA box. You can find the individual disposable foil pans in the grocery store. Assemble as the recipe states, but do not bake until you're ready to eat.
Recipe from

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

One month and all hell breaks loose

Yesterday marked the one month anniversary of closing on our new house. It's hard to believe it's been a mere 30 days. We've completed so many projects (and when I say WE, I should really say Andi), it doesn't even look like the same place. Coupled with the fact that all of my focus lately has been centered around baby, I can't even remember living somewhere else. Thirty days has really flown by.

To commemorate our 30-day anniversary, the House Gods decided to deal us with a "take that suckas" card. As I left for work in the morning, the garage door broke. It went up (and I drove my car out) but wouldn't close. I hung on the manual release cord, but couldn't get it to go down for the life of me and resorted to calling my husband at work (who wasn't very pleased to deal with my issue during his very busy day of meetings). It stinks being a girl - and one that's 9 months pregnant to boot - because what the heck am I suppose to do about it? Grrrr.

When I arrived home to a still-broken garage door, I came inside the house and noticed the stove's power had been turned off. Assuming the power had gone out while I was at work, I reset the clock and went on with my evening. A few hours later, Andi went to turn on the stove and realized there was no power to the stove at all. As in, it's broken. It has a red LOC light on and no reading of the manual dictates the issue. What the heck, House Gods?

Fortunately, our realtor gifted us a one-year home warranty which covers both of the above, BUT STILL! It's the last thing I feel like dealing with days before the birth of my first child and a house filled with visitors. We have two separate appointments with repairmen to fix each issue; it's just another thing to deal with. For Husband, I should clarify, I'll be busy birthing a baby.

Oh the joys of being a home owner ...

Friday, August 12, 2011

'Burb Life

Psst. Can you keep a secret?

I secretly love living in the suburbs.

I know, right! It's hard to believe two urban dwellers, who loved the ability to walk to bars and restaurants and movie theatres in their old 'hood have fallen in love with the quiet, spacious lifestyle the suburbs have to offer. Also, it doesn't hurt that our new house ROCKS. There's room to move around, places to put all of the gadgets we adults aquire and three different places for Andi and I to use the restroom. THREE! This doesn't seem like a big deal, but it's really a life changer. We've never been happier.

Last night, there was a flyer in our mailbox for a neighborhood parade taking place next week. Its the 25th year of the parade and organized by a Mom's Group in the neighborhood. How adorable is that?! The city mayor, a local news station anchor and a bunch of fire trucks, police vehicles and ambulances will be participating. The Mom's Group even has a Facebook page so I did a little creeping at work this morning to check it out. They organize playdates and meet once a month to plan activities for the kids in the neighborhood. It's the sweetest thing. Once Tory arrives and things settle down for us a bit, I think I'll email to join their group. It just melts my heart; that's what living in the suburbs is all about.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Preparing to be a Big Sister

Chloe pup is 6 1/2 years old and very used to being Mommy's center of attention.

For years, I've spoiled her rotten with lots of ice cream licks, sleeping in bed when Daddy's away and her fair share of doggie treats. While in my eyes she does nothing wrong, Daddy is often frustrated with her lack of listening skills. (I prefer to believe she practices acute selective hearing.)

People like to ask how Chloe will handle her new little sister and I have to admit, I'm a little worried about her reaction. I know she won't hurt the baby, but I won't be surprised if she sulks in the corner for a few weeks as Mommy's attention is diverted to someone else. The all-knowing Internet and many baby books suggest playing tracks of baby cries or letting dogs smell baby's things to familiarize them with the upcoming change in household, but I never bought into all of that hoopla. She'll sense the change in family dynamic and adjust, just like the rest of us. Eventually ...

Well, apparently the change is happening faster than we expected. Our nightly ritual is to lay in bed for a half hour or so and watch t.v. I always tell Chloe she can lay in bed with us before we turn off the lights, but then she has to lay in her bed on the floor. Never once is she happy with us when we lower her to the ground. "Go lay down, Chloe" we tell her. It never fails, she gives us attitude - sitting next to the bed with a low-toned ruff. We tell her a few more times to go lay down and eventually she cooperates.

BUT! The last three night, Chloe has LISTENED to Daddy's instructions and it's completely freaking Andi and I out. As the t.v. turns off, he simply says "Go lay down, Chloe" and she immediately jumps off the bed and lays down in her bed. Immediately, as in, we only have to tell her once. The first time it happened, Andi and I looked at each other with confusion and then busted out in laughter. Did she really just do that? We thought it was a fluke until she did it again and again.

This proves two points: I think she knows Baby Sister is arriving any day and Mommy and Daddy need a cooperative pup. Also, she can understand exactly what we say all the time. What a little stinker!

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Yard

We're entering Week 3 in our new house and believe it or not, most of our project "to do" list is complete. I can take no credit for finishing even one of these projects. Many thanks to my amazing task-master husband who's coordinated and completed them all ....
  • Painted the bedrooms, garage
  • Replaced the mailbox, painted the post
  • Stained the back deck
  • Organized the garage
  • Re-keyed the doors
  • Replaced the crappy access door from the house to the garage
The only thing left to do is landscaping. We've come to learn in this new house of ours, there's things the old home owners did really well and things they scrimped on big time. Unfortunately, the landscaping is one for the scrip column.

Front Door

Back Yard
The landscaping's not horrible, but it's not great either. The yard's full of Creeping Charlie, cheap mulch, a couple dead tress and lots of misplaced plants and shrubs. Not to mention our backyard is seriously a breading ground for mosquitoes. Holy cow, you can't stand out there for five minutes without looking like you broke out in chick pox! So ...

Andi hired a landscaper who came out to our house and made a plan for the yard. Then last week, he sent a text and backed out of the job! Andi was ticked because we wasted three weeks of the summer waiting for him to start the project. And now we have to start all over finding someone else for the job. Within the process, we also learned the old homeowners cut big corners in laying mulch in the yard. Basically, they laid black plastic over the old landscaping and covered it up with mulch (the cheapest, crappiest kind that's practically free at home improvement stores). To rip all of that up and landscape correctly isn't going to be cheap. There's also ugly evergreen bushes all over the yard (which I hate) and gutters on only half of the house so we'll have to add those too (or all of our landscaping work will be ruined when the first big rain comes and washes it all into the yard). 

Part of me says we just wait until spring to complete this project. Yes, we'll have to look at crappy landscaping for the rest of the summer/fall but it doesn't make much sense to lay mulch now only to re-lay it next spring. However, remember my task-master husband? He's determined to find someone to fix this last big project and he's been interviewing landscapers all week. Some of their bids have been coming in at $10,000!!! Um, are you freaking kidding me? $10K is A LOT of money to spend on anything, especially the yard. One landscaper even suggested we do some of the work ourselves to keep the cost down. For real, landscaper? I'm nine months pregnant and my husband's far better at directing manual labor projects than doing them. We won't be doing that either.

I have no doubt Andi will find someone who'll do an awesome job on our yard for a great price. In the meantime, we'll just stay indoors and enjoy our beautiful house from the inside out. And coincidentally, I'll be home-bound with a new baby in a few days anyway so that'll work out just fine.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

CSA: Week 9

It's Week 9 of our CSA box and I have to say, I'm both in love and completely overwhelmed with the amount of fruits, veggies and herbs we receive each Tuesday.

This week's loot:

Yukon Gold Potatoes
Yellow Squash
Patty Pan Squash
Green Cabbage
Lodi Apples
Greenhouse Tomatoes
Green Beans
Green Onions
Pea pods

Phew! That's a lot of produce! We're finally getting some really yummy summertime favorites in our weekly box and loving on the fresh green beans, zucchini, broccoli, pea pods and potatoes. In fact, Andi's commented a few times lately how impressed he is with my cooking skillz as of late. Having all of these veggies in my fridge forces me to find creative recipes. Plus, cooking in our new kitchen always makes things more fun.

My favorite recipe from the last week was this Eggplant Parmesan I made for my friend Val and I. It was simple, easy and filling. Mine didn't look as pretty as the picture on the website, but it still tasted good! Eggplant is one of those things I would never normally buy at the grocery store, so it's fun and unique to try something new.

I'm also growing tired - very, VERY, tired - of all the lettuce, beets, green onions and cucumbers we get every single week. In fact, I'm swimming in beets and cucumbers over here and the only thing I can think to do with them is to give them away. Maybe it's part of a pregnancy symptom, but they actually make me gag when I think about them. Too much of a good thing, I guess. I bet you're ready to suggest making a lettuce salad and topping it with some of those cucumbers, aren't you? Unfortunately, I'm so lettuced-out from this spring and our gigantic lots of spinach, I can't bring myself to eat it anymore.

Will I sign up for a CSA box again next spring? I'm on the fence. I really do enjoy fresh, local produce and that it is - it is SO FRESH you can tell it was all picked the day I pick it up. But, I do feel wasteful and pressured to use up all of our produce? Yes. Some weeks are busier than others and it's hard to find time (or energy!) to make a meal using all of these goodies every single night. And really, what is a person to do with FOUR heads of garlic - gah!