Monday, October 31, 2011

Stl Time

Happy Halloween!  Even though we usually turn off our porch light and sit in the back room of the house, I think I'll run to Walgreens and get a bag of candy - just in case we have some kids stop by. I'm a little sad I didn't watch Hocus Pocus this year but lucky for Jonathan, it might be on tv tonight.

Anyway, my weekend had nothing to do with All Hallow's Eve.  On Thursday night (as I mentioned last week), I headed up to St. Louis for my high school reunion.  The weekend was packed full of stuff...here are some highlights.

1) Cardinals freaking domination!!  It was fun to be there (even though we live in a suburb quite a bit away from the city).  Everywhere you went, people were pumped up.  And David Freese (who graduated in my HS class) was named MVP - how great!

2) LOTS of maternity shopping.  In fact, I don't think I need to buy anything else (possibly for the rest of my pregnancy).  I now have a great assortment of work stuff and weekend stuff and stuff that can be worn for both.  And the resale maternity shop was awesome!  I got 4 dresses and a pair of work pants for $41!

3) Lunch with my sister on Friday - good to see her and catch up.

4) So much time with Ali, Claire, and Sarah!  Friday night we went over to Ali's parent's house and had dinner and watched the game (and met sweet baby James!!).  And Saturday before the reunion, we all met up at Sarah's and hung out.

5) Good, quality time with my mom.  And lunch at a lovely, cute place in Kirkwood on Saturday, Cafe Provencal.

6) The reunion itself.  There's a lot to say about it.  But the short version was that I had a good time.  I had a couple awkward conversations in the beginning, and after those decided I didn't really need to try to talk to everyone in the room - so the majority of the night was spent with Ali, Claire, and Sarah, and our friend Shayna who planned it.  We had a big group of friends in HS and really, no one else came on Saturday, which was a little sad.  Even though we don't all keep in touch anymore, I would've enjoyed catching up with people who actually were my friends back then.  Maybe the next one...

(For the record, David Freese did not show up.)

I think that's about it.  I enjoyed the lovely Fall weather and seeing all the beautiful leaves (Memphis hasn't quite hit full-on Fall color mode yet).  Overall, a great weekend in my hometown!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Fetal Friday: 22 Weeks

Happy Fetal Friday!  We're closing out 22 weeks here, feeling good and getting bigger and bigger and bigger....

How Big Is Baby
Baby is the length of a spaghetti squash and weighs almost one pound!

Symptoms
This week brought on night sweats for the first time, ha.  That's been interesting...  I've also woken up two nights with leg cramps.  (Both of these are totally normal pregnancy things, according to the "experts," I just hadn't experienced them until this week.)

Weight Gain
12 pounds - giving me another 2 this week - good golly!

Maternity Clothes
I'm about 75% maternity wear, 25% "normal-people clothes."  You can imagine how my lack of maternity clothes is presenting a small problem.  One good thing, though, is that I think one of my pre-preg winter coats might work for most of pregnancy.  It's just super big and has tons of room for growth.

Food Aversions / Cravings
Not really - but one thing I've noticed is that my salt sensitivity has been lifted a little.  Basically, pre-pregnancy, I was one of the most salt-sensitive people you'd ever meet.  It wasn't that I didn't love salty foods (I've always been a salty vs. sweet craver), but I would just put a TON less salt on stuff than other people.  It affected me differently, too, though - I'd retain water more readily than other people who'd eaten the same amount.  Well now?  I don't feel as reactive to large amounts of salt, if that makes sense.  Like, I don't take a bit of something that's super salty and immediately think, "sick, salt bomb, my rings won't fit tomorrow."

Last Dr. Appointment
Not this week.

Baby Moving
This week was huge!  1) Jonathan felt the baby kick from the outside!  And 2) one night I lifted up my shirt when baby was being particularly active and we could see my belly move because of the kicking.

What I'm Looking Forward To
More maternity clothes!

Preparations and Decisions Being Made
It might seem lame how obsessed I've been with the registry this week, but it was just such a huge task (because it was sort of like Baby 101, in a way).  So I'm so glad it's done, and actually feel a little more comfortable with what all one needs to care for an infant.  I'm going to ride the good feeling from that for a little bit before we start making any more decisions or doing any more preparing. :)

General Mentality
Wow.  This week has been intensely hormonal!  That's the best way to describe it.  Super irritated all the time (ie, I kicked my computer at work in frustration one day and lashed out at Jonathan for not putting gas in the car another day), but then also on the verge of tears (I almost cried one day AT WORK when I heard about our crappy maternity-leave policy and then almost cried another day when I got home from work and saw how messy our house was).  I'm hoping this settles a little.

But anyway, here's what we really want - the belly shot!  It's starting to get large & in charge.  From the front:
And from the side.  (I swear it looks bigger in person...I feel like this pic doesn't do it justice.)
Can I just mention for a second about the abundance of stripes when it comes to maternity wear?  I mean, you will RARELY find a pattern other than horizontal stripes in the stores.  I think some stripes are cute (like the new top I'm modeling in this pic, ha), but I certainly don't want my whole wardrobe to have them for the next 4 months!

Ok - rant over.  Have great weekends, guys!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Bad Blogging!

I've been a bad blogger this week.  A few things have contributed to this...

1) Baseball!  Too much time spent in front of the tv at night.

2) Craziness at work.  We're in our busy "earnings season," so there's lots going on.

3) The baby registry.  I needed to finish it this week.  So any of my spare time at work was spent on amazon.com and the RipOffs R Us website.  (Thankfully it's DONE!)

4) Book club last night.  Again, any more spare time I could find was spent finishing our book for this month, The American Plague.  (I literally finished 30 minutes before book club began last night.)

5) Getting ready for my trip to St. Louis!  I'm leaving today from work and couldn't be more excited!  I don't know if I've mentioned it on the blog, but the purpose of my trip is our high school reunion!  Ha.  It will be both fun and interesting, I think, but I'm excited.  Not that excited that I'll have zero glasses of wine to ease the awkwardness, but whatev.  Also, I can't wait to meet Ali's little man James, who's about 3 months old!  (And I hope it goes without saying that I'm most excited about seeing Sarah, Ali, and Claire.)

Our Saturday activity (before the reunion festivities begin) is to do some major maternity clothes shopping with my mom and sister.  In addition to all the normal stores (Destination Maternity, Pea In The Pod, etc.), apparently there's a re-sale store devoted completely to maternity, and my mom says the stuff looks decent (like, not gross, 10-year-old, stinky, thrift store quality), so I'm excited about that.

Anyway, I'm sorry so many of you have cried yourselves to sleep because you didn't have my daily blog post.  I know it must be rough.  I'll try to be better.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Weekend Highlights

I've noticed that sometimes on other people's blogs, their weekend recap isn't all that interesting to read.  This makes me realize, 100%, that my own weekend recaps probably evoke the same reaction.  So to be more concise, I think I'm just going to include highlights, instead of doing a play-by-play.

So here we go, weekend highlights:

1) Trying Ethiopian food at Abyssinia for the first time.  Overall, my takeaway was good: I liked the food.  I ordered a "vegetarian combo," and while everything included in it was delicious, I wish: a) there were more warm items on my plate (my injera was served cold, the beet salad was cold, the potato salad was cold, there was lettuce & tomato in the middle of the plate, and the mustard lentils were cold) - obviously those items were best served cold, but I maybe would've been happier with a different (warmer) order; and b) I wish it was all 100x more spicy; I like spicy, I can handle it, Ethiopian is known for spiciness - bring it on!

2) A great pre-natal yoga.

3) A lovely lunch with Patti at Cheffies.

4) Cardinals freaking domination on Saturday night!  Holy crap, Pujols!  (Also a yummy dinner of Hueys takeout while watching the game.)

5) Cardinals total lack of domination on Sunday night. :(

6) The baptism of the sweet daughter of some of our friends.

7) An intense couple hours at Babies R Us starting the registry.  I need to spend some time adding stuff online that wasn't in the store, but the whole event was less awful than I would've expected.  Our Memphis store was one of those Babies and Kids combos, so I think if it were only Babies R Us, it would've been bigger and/or had more stuff in stock.  We're also going to register at amazon.com, and while I haven't done that one yet, I'm hoping the prices are a little better than Babies (because, holy crap, everything was really expensive!).

8) Awe-some weather on Saturday (and Sunday afternoon).  Sunny skies with the slightest touch of chill to the air.

I hope you guys enjoyed your weekends, too!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Fetal Friday: 21 Weeks

It's been a pretty good week in pregnancy land.  Non-eventful...

How Big Is Baby?
The length of a carrot (not sure how this is bigger than a banana [from last week], but whatev).

Symptoms
Same old, same old.  But I'm curious to hear from other people who've been pregnant: did you guys experience sensitivity to sound?  I'm wondering if it's a hormonal thing, or if it's that the hormones are making me edgier in general, but I can't stand to listen to loud sounds.  We've been keeping the tv probably 5-10 notches lower than we did before.  And when I'm in the car, I almost can't even stand to listen to music.  It's just overwhelming - too loud and nagging.  I've been pretty much all NPR, all the time, and when there's classical music playing in the afternoon, I listen to it on super low.

Weight Gain
Don't know, actually.  Our scale's battery is dead.  Darn.  I imagine it's not pretty, though, given how much we ate over Jonathan's birthday weekend.  ****CORRECTION: 10 pounds.  I put in a new battery.****

Belly?
Bigger and bigger.  (I might take this category out next week.  We can all just assume it's getting bigger every week.)

Maternity Clothes?
I need more maternity clothes!  I'm hoping when I go to St. Louis next weekend there will be some good stores.  Memphis doesn't have that many, so I've bought most stuff online, which is fine, but it's nicer to try on & then not deal with returns if something doesn't work.

Food Aversions / Cravings
I ate a lot of cake last weekend...does that count?

Last Doctor's Appointment
Not this week.

Baby Moving?
Yep - pretty consistently.  Jonathan still can't feel from the outside, though.

What I'm Looking Forward To
-Being done with the registry.
-Getting more having my mom get me more maternity clothes in St. Louis.

Preparations and Decisions Being Made
-We're getting the registry done this weekend.
-As I said earlier in the week, I found a cool site for nursery bedding, so I'm starting to form a vision about that.

General Mentality
I've been hoping all along that I wouldn't experience body image issues while pregnant.  And I'm trying suuuuuper hard not to go there in my brain, but I think this week was the first time I looked in the mirror and sort of thought, in the back of my mind, "ew, fat."  I know, I know...  I think after a week of good eating (since we ate so much restaurant food and cake last weekend) I'll be in a better mental place, and can hopefully push those negative ideas out of my head.

And here are some pics in yoga clothes, where you can really see that big belly.  Note it did get cold in Memphis on Tuesday (temps in the 40s & 50s), so in this pic, I'm grossly underdressed for the temperature.  I just didn't want you guys thinking we were spared from the cold front that swept through the middle part of the country.

The front:

And the side:

Enjoy the Fall weather this weekend, I know I will.  We actually had to turn on our heater!  (Although I have no doubt we'll see 80 degrees again before Winter.)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Mall Eye Doctor

We've been on Jonathan's insurance plan since January and it has been awesome!  Since we came off my company's insurance, we realized how freaking expensive it was - huge monthly fees and high deductibles - no dice.  It would've really sucked with all the baby stuff, I think, to have been on my plan - so no complaints we made the switch in January.

Well, they announced they were switching Jonathan's office to a new plan starting November 1, so we realized we needed to make sure we'd used our yearly benefits before the switch.  This boiled down to both of us going to the eye doctor, which we hadn't yet done on the new plan.

When I called my normal, super nice, super convenient (a couple blocks from my office) eye doctor, they informed me they don't take the new insurance.  When Jonathan called his eye doctor, same deal, they don't take the new insurance.  Hmm.  Well, who does?

I looked at the provider list online and was a little disheartened:
Walmart Vision Center
Sam's Club Vision Center
Costco Vision Center

And a few other big-box eye doctors.  I hate to be a snob, but I don't want to go to a doctor in a store like Walmart - I just don't.  Will I buy much cheaper Walmart-brand products like acetaminophen?  Yes.  Will I buy an enormous amount of toilet paper from Sam's Club?  Yes.  But will I have one of my yearly doctor's appointments in said place?  I'd prefer not to.

I had Jonathan ask around the office where people go (since I had a hard time envisioning all those attorneys going to their local Sam's Club for their vision check).  The overwhelming response was, "our vision plan is pretty much worthless."  But I refused to take that as an answer!  If we've paid for coverage for the whole year, I refuse to pay out of pocket so we can go to the doctor we want.

In doing a little more digging, I found that the eye doctor at Oak Court Mall takes our insurance.  Mall eye doctor isn't exactly ideal, but it's better than Walmart eye doctor, in my book.  So off I went yesterday.  To the mall.  Not to shop.  To go to the doctor.

When all was said and done, it did the job.  Were the facilities as clean as my other place?  No.  Did they wipe off the little thing you stick your forehead into with rubbing alcohol?  No.  Siiiiiiiick.  Were there workmen installing an air conditioner while I was being examined, shooting dust and debris up everywhere?  Yes.  Was the doctor a little bit of a redneck?  Yes.  Was his office in the mall?  Yes.

But in the end, I got my contacts and used the insurance money to pay for them.  I just paid a $10 copay (plus some add ons) to get a clean bill of eye health.  So I guess mall or not, I feel good about the decision to go there.

But for the record, I will not see any other type of doctor at a mall.  Just saying.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Baby Gear

I've got babies on the brain!  Big time!

So in an effort to actually get some stuff planned for the new person who will join us in February, I've been researching stuff to put on our baby registry.  (I'm just getting the registry ready because it needs to be done.  It has nothing to do with the fact that the invitations for our first shower in St. Louis need to be printed asap and therefore need to have registry info on them.  Nope.  It's nothing to do with that.  I'm just on the ball.)

Anyway, sweet, sweet friends who have done this before me have been most helpful.  It's one thing to read a product's review, but another to actually hear from the mother of a 1-12 month old about whether that item is a) necessary, and b) good quality.

So - for anyone reading my blog who hasn't already weighed in with me - what are some of your "must have" recommendations and/or "can be skipped" erroneous things.  I know it's different for everyone, but for a first-timer, it's nice to hear everyone's recs and then weigh them out myself.

I'm hoping that in doing extensive, time consuming some research on the front end, I can save myself the registry "situation" that happened in Macys when we were doing this for our wedding.  (Basically, we walked into Macys, the first place we were going to register, and were handed a registry gun.  We decided to go to the pillow department first.  I started looking around, realized there were about 1000 different pillows available, had a panic attack, and we had to leave.  We did all the rest of our registries [except for a local Memphis store that didn't offer the option] online.)  I'd like to avoid as many panic attacks as possible when getting ready for baby.

In other exciting news, I spent hours yesterday designing nurseries!  Babybedding.com offer Carousel-brand bedding and you can "Design Your Own" perfect nursery.  It's awesome because you can plan everything about the room (the color of the crib's wood, the paint on the walls, the paint on the wood trim, the flooring in the room - basically everything, so you can see exactly what it will look like in your house).  I think we'll end up buying from here, but no official decisions have been made.  And just for the record - we WON'T get a bumper.  I've read all the research, too, guys (and those things are freaking expensive!). :)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Birthday Weekend!

We had a fun and eventful weekend celebrating Jonathan's birthday!  In fact, there were multiple things we did that were out-of-the-ordinary and/or in celebration...

Friday night we went out with some other couples to celebrate Jonathan and our friend David's birthdays (yay joint celebrations!).  We started with drinks at Beauty Shop and then headed over to Cortona for dinner.  We ended our dinner with the delicious snickerdoodle-flavored cake I'd ordered from Muddys - they describe it as cinnamon brown sugar cake with cinnamon buttercream - can't go wrong with that!

Saturday night our celebrations continued for just the two of us.  We had a quick dinner at Bari (which was absolutely delicious, as always) and then went to Playhouse on the Square to see Avenue Q.  Not sure if you guys have seen this show or heard anything about it, but basically it's a puppet show musical - and is quite R-rated!  Not a family show!  But we loved it - I recommend you Memphians try to check it out - it was hysterical and the acting/singing was wonderful.  The very first line of the show is "what will I do with a B.A. in English" - so it had me from the start (and let's be honest, it had Jonathan, too, because a B.A. in English could easily be swapped with a B.A. in history). :)

Sunday was the actual birthday.  We skipped church in the morning and instead tried the charming new breakfast/brunch/lunch place in Cooper Young, Stone Soup Cafe.  I can't say enough great things!  It was created by some of the people who were a part of Buns on the Run back in the day, and it's even better!  It's in a cute little house, the food was great (hello home-baked bread), and the service was quick & good.  I'll definitely be back maybe next weekend

After brunch, we went to the zoo and enjoyed the lovely weather.  And at night, we had dinner with Jonathan's parents at Grove Grill.  It was delicious and fun to celebrate with them.  When we got home from dinner, we were able to tune into the Cardinals domination and watch them secure their spot in the World Series!  Woo hoo!  So proud to be from St. Louis!

Overall, a great weekend!  In addition to birthday celebrations, I managed to squeeze in pre-natal yoga and a fun Fino's lunch with Megan & Miles (Katie's sister & soon-to-be brother in law), who were in town for a wedding.  It was so fun to see them and catch up on everything (and eat Fino, obv.).

I hope you guys had good ones, too.  Gooooo Cards!!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Happy Birthday, Señor!

Happy 38th birthday to the man I love...
My best friend; my roommate; my baby daddy.  The one who puts up with my pregnancy all the time? mood swings; keeps the house cleaner than he'd like; and does the dishes after I cook.  The rockin-est guitar player I've ever seen:
And the best ice louger in Memphis:
Note: picture taken circa age 35 (not 21).

I love you, señor; I'm glad you were born 38 years ago!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Fetal Friday: 20 Weeks

Whoa - we're halfway there, ohhhh, livin on a prayer...

20 weeks down, 20 to go (although this end might feel a little longer since 2 weeks of the first 20, I wasn't actually pregnant!).  But regardless, in 20 long short weeks, we get to meet our little lady or dude!

LB asked me last week if I felt like I was entering the really good stages of pregnancy (ie, my stomach is suggesting I'm not just fat, but is still not so big that I'm uncomfortable, etc.).  I think, honestly, I might be approaching the end of the good phase - my prediction is that in the end, weeks 15-24 will be my most fond.  Because as my belly grows and grows, so do some of the unpleasant symptoms everyone talks about.

So - on to my week...

How Big is Baby?
Baby is the length of a banana.

Symptoms
Ugh...
-starting to get heartburn more frequently
-getting headaches almost daily (not super bad ones - sometimes it's just a hint of a headache)
-feeling general pressure in my lower abdomen - just as if everything is packed really tightly down there
-starting to get tired again - not tired like, "I didn't sleep well last night" but tired in the 1st trimester exhaustion sort of way.  I need to try not to overdo activities - and this week was full of days packed with multiple physical activities.

Weight Gain
According to doctor's scale, 9 pounds.  Right on track-ish (the pregnancy website says 10 lbs at this point).

Belly?
It's growing & growing!

Maternity Clothes?
Many of my "normal" skirts are still fitting fine, but maternity pants only.  (And I like wearing maternity shirts because they make my belly look bigger. :)  Note: the only time in life you want that!

Food Aversions / Cravings
Not really.  Just trying to eat healthy.  I had a lot of peanut butter this week.

Last Doctor's Appointment
I had one yesterday and we did our 20-week ultrasound!  It was so great to see the babe on the screen!  The last time we saw him/her there were just a bunch of blobs.  Now there's an actual, tiny person in there.  Seeing sweet little hands and feet pressed towards the camera just about melted our hearts.  Brain development looks good; organ development looks good; spine development looks good; no cleft lip; and we have 2 arms, 2 legs, 10 fingers and 10 toes.  Baby wasn't cooperating with us, though, because we were only able to get 3 of the 4 pictures of the heart we needed.  He/she just wouldn't turn to the side, no matter what we did (I even tried walking around to get him/her moving).  We'll have to wait until our next appointment to try again - so, 3 of the 4 heart pictures looked good.

Baby Moving?
Yes!  What a joy to feel little pushes from the inside!  I swear some of them are so strong I can feel them from the outside, too (if my hand is on my belly), but Jonathan has yet to feel one.

What I'm Looking Forward To
-more people undeniably knowing I'm pregnant (because of belly)

Preparations and Decisions Being Made
We had a pretty productive conversation about names the other day, so that's good.  We looked at a daycare and filled out applications for other ones.  And I think I'm going to start the arduous task of researching stuff we need (ie, which carseat is ranked highest for safety, stuff like that).  I also spent maybe half an hour looking through bedding sets for a nursery (and didn't really like much I saw [unless it cost $500+]).

General Mentality
Seeing the little baby was soooo reassuring!  I think in the back of my mind, I was worried there were two heads or something weird (since we hadn't seen him/her since 7 weeks!).  And I'm so happy with what we saw!  I wish baby would've cooperated for the 4th heart shot, but I guess we'll wait another 4 weeks for that.  It's also nice feeling the kicks and nudges; they remind me there's a little person in there.  So I'm feeling good right now, for the most part, which is a nice place to be!

Note: when we were in the ultrasound room, Isn't She Lovely by Stevie Wonder came on the radio - Jonathan thinks it's a sign.  We'll see...

And here's the belly.  I have on maternity pants and a maternity shirt.  The lighting is a little weird because we got home too late from an event to take a picture outside (and I can't stand the way pics look with the flash on).

From the front:
And from the side (although something about the shadows doesn't do it justice, I don't think:
I hope you guys have a great weekend!  We're celebrating a very special future daddy's birthday!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Under Construction!

I've not been 100% happy with my blog, of late.

The content has felt flat, in my opinion (and I don't need any heads shaking in approval or friends reassuring me it's fine - it's just how I feel as the author).  I want this blog to feel more like me and less like a daily chore ("UGH!  I need to post something for tomorrow!!").  I'm trying to figure out how to work through that.

I'm also bored with the way it looks - so you might see some formatting changes over the next couple weeks as I fight with figure out how to work through Blogger.

We'll see...

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Ina Knows Best

I've never been shy about my love of cooking shows. 

(Actually, sad/upsetting note: I was going to say "I've never been shy about my love of Food Network" - but that just isn't accurate anymore.  They now have too many dumb reality and competition-based shows.  There aren't enough straight-up cooking ones.  [Although I do love Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives; The Best Thing I Ever Ate; and the one about sweets with Chef Duff.  So kill me.])

Anyway....  I love cooking shows - like, person-in-front-of-a-camera-making-a-meal shows.  And one of the best hosts, in my opinion, is Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa.  One, she's freaking adorable.  Two, she prepares food that looks delicious (and the few recipes I've tried have been).  Three, she can cook and bake, when many of the other hosts lament that they don't know how to bake.  And four, she lives in the Hamptons, so you always get to see shots of her glamorous life.

But another thing that draws me into her show is her sort of quiet confidence.  The woman just exudes confidence, but not in a showy or snobby way.  She seems to have found her "real self" and feels comfortable and confident with who that is.  (Which is not all that uncommon for a woman in her 60s - but she's one of the only older women hosting a show, so that's why it stands out to me so much [especially contrasted against Paula Deen.])

I watched her show last week when she was hosting a get-together of friends at her house.  It wasn't entirely casual, because she was setting her table nicely, buying flowers for the occasion, etc.  But it also wasn't as dressy as a "dinner party" probably would be.

One of the things that stood out to me was her choice of menu.  It was super simple (a soup and a hearty salad with a homemade dessert).  But the reason it stood out so much was because she was completely confident in the menu and comfortable serving it to her friends.

I couldn't help but think of myself when we have people over.  It becomes such a big to-do for me.  I take a long time to carefully plan a menu - one that's unique but not weird and that will appeal to everyone.  I then spend a day or two a little stressed about it: is the house clean enough?  Do I have every ingredient I need?  Do I have the timing of the cooking down?

And then when people are actually at our house?  I sometimes find myself apologetic about something.  "Don't mind any dog hair you find in the bathroom;" "I hope this _______ is cooked alright;" "Sorry we don't have a lot of crackers for the cheese plate" etc.  The most recent time I had book club at our house, I remember making an announcement along the lines of, "I'm sorry you guys didn't come in a week or two because we're getting new couches."

But all of these comments are so dumb!  No one would've noticed my old couches if I hadn't drawn attention to them.  And when I go to other people's houses, I don't notice hair in the bathroom or complain if there isn't enough of something I want to eat.  And generally, I'm an alright cook - I should have more confidence in that.

Watching Ina serve her friends a dinner of soup and salad (and not say anything along the line of, "well, it's nothing fancy, just soup and salad"), and then watching how grateful they were to have food served to them sort of clicked with me.  It's all about confidence.  If you forget to buy crackers to serve with your cheese plate, just don't serve any - and don't say anything about it.  Most likely the guest won't notice, and if they do, most likely it won't impact their overall night at your house.  If something isn't cooked to perfection, it doesn't really matter (and quite possibly your guests won't really notice unless you point it out).  And maybe most importantly, when inviting other people into your house and serving them, there's probably not a meal out there that is "just" something.  "Just" soup and salad is still a delicious meal that the guest has served to him and doesn't have to cook himself.

I hate that I judge myself so much more harshly than I judge other people.  I never leave someone's house and think, "well, that would've been better if they had done X differently."  Even if the food they served wasn't awesome - it doesn't really matter.

I need to remember Ina's confidence next time we have people over.  Or, first things first, I need to remember the confidence first, and then invite people over for dinner more often!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Rich-People's Kroger

When we were at book club a couple weeks ago, a conversation that came up at one point was the recent buy-out of Schnucks (by Kroger).  And the other ladies mentioned "rich-people's Kroger" in reference to the Kroger at Sanderlin (right by the Racquet Club) on Mendenhall.  I had never been in the store before, but they assured me it's one of the nicest stores in town (ie, it attracts a clientele of "rich people," ha).

So after an errand I had out East this past Friday, I decided to do my quick, pre-weekend grocery run at the rich-people's Kroger ("RPK" from here on out).

Well, oh my goodness!  I don't know why I'd never been here before - this place is great!  It's spacious, clean, and well-stocked.  It also has a large selection of organics and a bulk dry foods isle (beans, rices, pastas, etc.).  There's a huge area with a hot bar of foods to eat, a large "fancy" cheese area, and two bars of prepared grain and pasta salads (one is self serve).  And one of the greatest things?  There were samples galore!  There must have been 10 fancy cheeses sitting out to try and I tried every one - some of them twice.  I also liked that the frozen food section had energy-efficient lights that were motion activated, so they only turned on when I walked past.

I was so impressed on Friday that I decided to try a new method of grocery shopping on Sunday: I would buy our meats and fish at Whole Foods (because I want the hormone-free), but then buy everything else at RPK.

I'll say that RPK had everything I wanted (which included organic produce and dairy).  And it had the benefit of carrying some items I can't get at Whole Foods (ie, Thomas English Muffins, Hershey's Kisses, name-brand stuff like that).  But in the end, I think I ended up spending $40-$50 more than I would have if I had exclusively shopped at WF.  I think the problem lies in the fact that WF caters to organic stuff.  So you can get a gallon of organic milk, for example, for $5 - but at RPK, they only had one brand of organic gallons to buy, and they cost $7.  Generally, I also like how vegetables at WF are sold by weight.  At RPK, I was buying broccoli and it was bunched together with rubberbands.  Well, I didn't need 2 bunches, but I needed more than one - but since they were only priced by bunch, I couldn't get the amount I wanted/needed.

I won't be doing the dual-store shop again, I don't think.  But I did make some mental notes (at RPK, Chobani yogurt only costs $1!), so when I do my weekly pre-weekend shop at the conventional store, I can stock up on some of that stuff.

(Can I also mention how I sort of had one of those "I'm really lucky to be an American" moments when I first walked through RPK on Friday?  I was walking down this huge isle, in this clean, comfortable store [while soft-rock played lightly in the background], and every food I could ever want was available to me in this one place.  Seasons don't matter in regards to produce.  The temperature of a food doesn't matter because there are refrigerated and cooled cases.  It seems incredibly wasteful towards the environment - but at the same time, I felt lucky that it was available to me.)

Anyway - whatev - if you're in Memphis, check out rich-people's Kroger, it's great!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Weekend

This weekend was great!

Friday night was our Shell Out for the Arts event (to which I was trying to peddle tickets a couple weeks ago).  It ended up awesome!  We got to catch up with some great friends who decided to come out, hang out in the ArtsMemphis booth (enjoying food & drink), and listen to an awesome concert.  Seriously, I think that guy, Gary Clark, Jr., might be a name we all know in a couple years.  He was written up in both Esquire and Rolling Stone this month, so maybe he's on his way there - but man!  He was great!  Overall, such an enjoyable night - with fan-tas-tic weather to top it all off.

Saturday was busy and fun.  I went to my first pre-natal yoga class at my yoga studio.  I had been somewhat hesitant to go: a) since I'm not really limited physically right now, I can just do normal yoga, and b) because I've taken a class from the teacher before and thought she talked waaaaaay more than a teacher should.  But overall, I liked the prenatal class and think I'll try to go as much as I can.  It felt less like a yoga class and more like a birth-preparation one in that we practiced "yin" yoga where you hold poses for 3-5 minutes and just did really intense hip and pelvic openers.  Let me tell you, holding a deep squat or pigeon pose, for example, for 5 minutes is not that easiest thing you'll ever do.  But as the teacher said, it's better to gradually open up your hips for a few months in preparation for the big event, since they're going to open no matter what, and having them prepped will hopefully make it better.  (And yes, the teacher still talked too much, but since she has 4 kids and talked mostly about pregnancy and L&D, it wasn't annoying to me.  Oh perspective.)

After that, Jonathan and I went out to the Agricenter to get our pumpkins. We got two beautiful pumpkins - a big orange one and a funky-shaped green one.  I'll post pics at some point.  And then after that, we went to the corn maze!  I think it's such a fun Fall activity!  It took us a little less than an hour and was mostly smooth sailing.  "Mostly" because we had a little incident where we went into a part of the maze we didn't need to be in and were walking in circles for about 15 minutes.  I was starting to get frustrated (not to mention I was hot and my hands & feet were swollen), but thankfully Jonathan remained cool and collected and we realized we crossed a bridge we didn't need to, and corrected ourselves.  Overall, a fun Fall day.

Saturday night, we weren't super energized, so we went and got dinner at Boscos, followed it with a little YoLo, and then collapsed on the couch to watch football.  Not a bad night, really.

Sunday was standard: church (where some sweet friends' little boy was baptized); grocery shopping; laundry; lunch preparations for the week; etc.  I also moved a ton of my clothes around so my main closet can accommodate maternity wear.  It was a little sad to move some of my beautiful things out and make way for huge shirts and waistless pants, but whatev, just a phase of life I guess.

It was a great weekend, though!  I hope you guys also had good ones!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Fetal Friday: 19 Weeks

I debated whether I should post this week or not.  Not for lack of desire, but more because nothing is all that different than last week and I don't want you guys to get bored with these updates.

But whatev - I guess the documentation is good - and it's sort of fun to review my week. 

So...19 weeks.

How Big is Baby?
Baby is the size of an heirloom tomato.  My uterus is the size of a cantalope.  And apparently my heart has to work 40-50% harder to support the new life and all the new bloodflow in my body.  Crazy!

Any New Symptoms?
-a headache in the afternoon if I don't sleep well the night before or eat crap the day before (crap = the 2.5 cupcakes I had this week)
-minor heartburn (can't wait for this to turn into "major!")

Weight Gain
Same: 6-7 pounds, depending on the day.

Belly?
I think it grew this week.  In fact, I think it's starting to look a little big.

Maternity Clothes?
Actually, yes.  My "real people clothes" are starting to fit less and less.  Pants and suit jackets (buttoned, at least) are done-zo.  Any skirt that was big before fits fine now, but if it fit well before, it's too tight.  Shirts are still ok (but it's more fun to wear maternity shirts because they're cut in a way to emphasize the belly pretty flattering-ly). 

Food Aversions / Cravings
Craving arugula this week.  (Which is better than craving chips [and cupcakes]!)

Baby Moving?
Unknown...
I guess I'll go ahead and say "no" since I can't 100% confirm.  But there are lots of little feelings going on in my lower abdomen all the time.  They could be the baby...?  The other night Jonathan and I laid on the couch and held a flashlight up to my belly hoping to get him/her to move.  Apparently the baby can now perceive light and dark and they say if you hold up a light, the baby might cover his/her eyes or move away from the light.  There was no discernable feeling after that, though, so who knows.

What I'm Looking Forward To?
The ultrasound next week.  And all the other stuff I've been looking forward to the past couple weeks.

Preparations and Decisions Being Made
Ha ha ha.  We actually did have a tiny conversation about baby names the other day.  We each shared a boy name we liked...and neither of us liked the one the other suggested - so much for that!

General Mentality
Really wanting to see the little guy/girl move around on the ultrasound next week.  I know that some women don't feel them move until 21 weeks, but I think it would be reassuring that all was going ok in there if I could feel some movement (and confirm that's what I'm feeling).

And here's a belly shot.  First we have a front view (doesn't really look like anything).
And then the side shot:
I need to do one next week in maternity clothes (which sort of emphasize the belly a little more).

Have a good weekend, all!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

After reading my blog, a friend asked me a couple days ago what I thought of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.  And that reminded me I never wrote a blog post about it after book club last week.
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I'm not sure if most of the population (or at least the population of my blog readers) has read this classic.  I, for one, had not when it was suggested as a book club read.  Actually, only one person in our club had read it when she was in high school.

But I walk away from the reading experience wondering why on Earth this never came up in any of my English classes (I was an English major in college for goodness sakes!).  Because the book was wonderful!

In terms of plot, not much happens.  Literally.  The 500 pages follow the Nolans - a low-income family in Brooklyn at the beginning of the 20th century.  But it mainly centers around Francie, their oldest daughter, and follows her life from birth until late teens.  It's a classic coming-of-age story.

What I loved was the coming-of-age of a girl.  It seems like a lot of the classics accomplish the same thing, but do so from a male perspective.  I also loved the details of Brooklyn in the early 1900s.  Everything about the Nolans' life was so different from my own, but it didn't feel foreign, instead if felt like an experience my own ancestors could've gone through 100 years ago.  The world was such a different place back then, and it was fascinating to jump into it.

Even though I said not much happens in the plot, I flew through the book.  It reads really quick.  It's almost because Francie becomes like a friend, in a way.  Even though you know tomorrow she'll probably just do her normal routine, you want to be there with her when she does it.  It's written such that when Francie experiences emotion, you do too.  Sadness, happiness, loneliness, love, heartbreak - you're right there with her, cheering her on and feeling cheated when something doesn't go her way.

I recommend checking this book out if you haven't already encountered it in your schooling or elsewhere.  It's good to read a classic every now and then, and this would be a lovely one to add to your list.  (And just to make it really legit - everyone in my book club enjoyed it as much as I did.  We pretty much gushed over it for two hours last week.)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

How I Love Thee, Sriracha

When Schnucks was having its closeout sale a couple weeks ago, I bought a bottle of Sriracha.
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There's no reason, really, why I'd never bought it before.  It's not that it's too expensive or anything.  I just figured I didn't need to own it. Any time a recipe called for hot chili sauce, I'd just add cayenne or Tabasco instead.

But once we had this cute rooster-y bottle in our kitchen, I started using it.  A lot.  I found it worthy of a blog post because when we were eating vegetable curry for dinner on Sunday night, I loaded mine up with Sriracha and declared its chili taste "beautiful."  Yes, I actually said that.  But it's true!  It really is beautiful.  It's spicy, for sure, but it's such a complex spice - it manages to be spicy, sweet, garlicky, and vinegary all at the same time.  It can add so much spicy depth to a dish - even a dish like curry that already has about 1000 competing (and equally delicious) flavors.

And I also don't think it needs to be limited to Asian-y dishes.  It was great with the Indian food.  It was great with the Mexican food we had last week.  It was even great this past weekend when I mixed it with mayonnaise to dress a "chicken" sandwich.  The possibilities are endless!

Check it out - buy a bottle - and be prepared to be wowed (so much that you, too, might start calling sauces "beautiful").

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

RR: The Slider Inn

There's a restaurant in our neighborhood (at the corner of Peabody and Cooper) that's been around for as long as I've been living here, and yet, I've never been.  For quite some time, it was a lesbian bar, which I didn't patron for the somewhat obvious reason.  Then when that closed, it became a cajun/New Orleans-y restaurant, and for reasons unknown, I just never made it over there.

Well, a month or so ago, the restaurant changed hands once again, only this time was taken over by Aldo DeMartino, the brains behind the popular downtown hangout, Bardog Tavern.  And this time he decided to capitalize on trendy food (a la the explosion of cupcake bakeries in the past couple years): the slider.

Perhaps the biggest draw of this space has always been the patio, which is equal to - if not bigger than - the indoor portion.  So Saturday night, Jonathan and I planned to head over to The Slider Inn to check on wait times for the patio.  We had another dinner plan in our back pocket because we assumed with the awesome Fall weather, if would be packed.  To our surprise (and happiness because I was starving!) there was an empty table when we got there.

We popped our heads inside, too, and were impressed with the indoor space.  It's cool (sort of swank) and comfortable; it would be a great place to have some beers and snacks with friends.  We were also happy to hear that the outdoor patio is dog friendly - love places like that!

The menu is about half bar food (nachos, wings, etc.) and half sliders.  The sliders are pretty unique, too: a BLT, a chicken-based one, two vegetarian ones, and a few unique ingredient combos with a standard burger base.

We had heard good things about the lobster roll, so Jonathan and I split it as an appetizer.  Then we both got three sliders (Jonathan got a chicken one and two burger ones, and I got a combo of the two vegetarian ones).  We were really hungry - whatev.

The lobster roll was a lovely lobster salad with celery on a buttered & toasted piece of white Wonderbread. The salad itself was great - it wasn't too mayonnaise-y, so the taste of the lobster really shined through.  And the buttered/toasted roll added that lobster-dipped-in-butter element that is so, so delicious.  It wasn't enormous, so I sort of question if eating that as my dinner would've been enough food.  (But actually, given the way I felt after our meal - stay tuned - I guess it would've been ok.)

Then our sliders came out.  I got two "Veggie Reggae" and one "Vegan burger."  I think I read the menu wrong.  The reggae had all these awesome toppings: grilled mushrooms and onions, lettuce, tomato, cheese, spicy mayo, and a Jamaican pepper relish.  And then the vegan burger was a house-made patty with sprouts, avocado, and tomato (and I added cheese).  I was assuming the reggae was a veggie burger base that then had all that stuff on it, but in actuality, it was just that stuff (so more like little veggie sandwiches).  I would probably order differently next time, just because I love veggie burger patties.

But the reggae was great.  That pepper relish (which was a little sweet and a little spicy) really took the whole thing into the realm of unique and delicious.  The vegan burger patty was ok.  In no way was it the best I've ever had (not even close), but it was fine.  My main complaint was that it was a little mushy in texture.  But I liked that I could see some vegetables in it, and I think if I ordered with some added toppings on it next time, it could be a lot better.  All sliders also come with fries, which were great, and one of the highlights of the experience, in my opinion, is this basil mayo that comes with the fries for dipping.  Mmmmmm.

The sliders sit on pretty dense, white, slightly sweet rolls.  They were delicious (and definitely didn't risk falling apart with all the toppings), but their density really amped up the amount of food you were eating.  When we left, I felt full.  Pretty full, actually, but still ok.

But then when we got home (and everything had a chance to settle), I felt awful.  Disgustingly stuffed such that I was having heartburn and wondered if I was going to throw up.  That feeling lasted until about 1am.  It was awful, and actually, it makes me wonder if I'll be able to go back to The Slider Inn in the near term.  But I really, truly think it was an issue of too much food, definitely not food poisoning or anything, so I guess we could call it a user error.

And finally, the negative feedback we'd previously heard about the place was that the service was bad.  We completely disagree with this because our waiter was awesome - really attentive, friendly, and just generally a good waiter.  So check it out - especially as we're in prime patio season - just don't eat as much as me, because, ew, no one needs that much food!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Weekend

This weekend was pretty laid back.  Memphis had this wonderful (temporary) cold front blow through, so we were looking at highs of about 70 and lows in the mid-to-upper 40s.  As you can imagine, it felt freezing (since it had been 80 the day before), but it was absolutely awesome at the same time.  I've been waiting for October before I pull out the boots and tweed, and they were both in play a little bit this weekend.

Friday night, I picked us up some Fino's for dinner and we headed over to the Levitt Shell.  I can't remember the name of the band, but they were sort of alt-country/rock-ish.  We really liked the guy's voice, but we thought they should've stuck with more poppy, alt-country (which was great) and less rock.  But as always, it was fun to go, and it was great to be in the cold weather.  We went to YoLo afterwards and I got gelato: half pumpkin and half gingersnap and holy crap, it was so, so good!

When we got home, Hank dog (who hadn't pooped after his dinner) threw up right before bed.  I mention this because it shaped our Saturday...

So we woke up Saturday morning somewhat worried about our little guy.  We gave him breakfast and he almost threw up again.  We tried to get him to poop and he wouldn't.  Our main concern was that he ate a piece of plastic (or something) that was lodged in his intestine, which is apparently somewhat common for dogs who eat whatever they can get their paws on.  Hank will go out in the yard at night for hours and dig around and eat stuff.  Mostly the crap he eats is walnuts from the tree in the backyard and sticks, but if he were to find, say, a piece of plastic, we don't think he would hesitate to eat it.  On our Friday morning walk, when I was scooping his poop, I noticed a big-ish piece of something plastic that he'd digested.  So we were on alert.

By 11 there still wasn't a poop, so we decided to take him into the vet.  I think we normally would've waited a little bit, but the vet is only open until noon on Saturdays, and we knew if come Saturday night he still hadn't pooped, we'd end up spending a lot more money at the emergency vet.

Long story short, she assumed he just had some tummy troubles, not something stuck.  They pumped him up with fluids and advised us to feed him bland food for a couple days to settle it.  (And of course to go to the emergency vet if he didn't poop or threw up again.)  After his gourmet dinner of chicken and rice, everything was back to normal, so no troubles.

Aside from our trip to the vet, we watched some college football and did a major clean of our house (nesting, anyone?).  I'm so, so happy to have a spotless kitchen and bathroom, I can't even tell you!  Saturday night we tried a new restaurant, The Slider Inn, that I'll do a restaurant review of tomorrow.  We sat outside on the patio, and again, it was glorious to enjoy the cool weather (and wear boots!).

Sunday morning after church, I met a friend for brunch at Three Angel's Diner.  Jonathan, my mom, and I tried to go to Three Angel's Sunday brunch a couple months ago and it was closed when we got there, so I was really excited to try it yesterday.  But I have to say, even though the company was awesome, the food wasn't quite on par.  I got eggs scrambled with goat cheese, a biscuit, and some potatoes.  The eggs didn't even taste like goat cheese and the potatoes weren't anything special.  The biscuit was good, but a delicious biscuit can't redeem a whole breakfast experience, in my opinion.  There are some other awesome-sounding things on the menu, though, so I might give it another chance just because I've always been impressed with their lunch/dinner, but as of right now, not sure I'd recommend it.

The rest of the day was spent in the usual way: grocery store, laundry, getting stuff ready for my week's lunches, etc.  I also made vegetable curry for dinner, which is one of our faves, but is time consuming to make.  After dinner I started to watch the movie version of Eat, Pray, Love, but since it's two and a half hours (geez!), I only got about half-way through Pray.

Anyway, I hope you guys had good ones, too!