Saturday, December 29, 2012

Homemade Chili Seasoning

Josh and I love chili, and I'm always playing with spices and seasonings. Here is a "recipe" for my most recent mix. I don't use all of this for 1 batch of chili - just use as much as you like!

1/2 cup chili powder
1/8 cup ground cumin
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon sea salt

1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon 
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Mix, and enjoy! 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Christmas Tradition #5

3 years ago, after my grandfather passed away, my family started a new tradition - the white envelope.

Somewhere in sermon preparations, my father found the most touching story about a father who hated the materialism of the Christmas season. For Christmas one year, his wife purchased sports uniforms for an inner city sports team - she didn't tell anyone what she had done in honor of her husband until Christmas morning. After all the other presents were opened, the children finally noticed a white envelope that had been tucked into the tree branches. Upon opening the envelope, the wife's letter explained her husband's Christmas gift that year was the gift of sports uniforms to local children. Blessing someone in their community quickly became a holiday tradition.

Over the past 3 years, my parents have kept this tradition going in honor of my grandfather. This year, Josh and I started our own white envelope gift. It was a special time praying and discussing where God would have us give this holiday season. Buying grocery and gas gift cards for an under-privileged family in our church was definitely the highlight of my holiday season. I'm already looking forward to next year.

What do you do during the holidays to remember the real reason for the season?

Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas Tradition #4

One tradition Josh and I started last year is "praying through our Christmas cards". Basically we keep all the Christmas cards we receive in a bundle on our dinner table. Then at dinner each night throughout the year, we pick one card and pray for them.

Last year was our first year doing this, but I loved it. It is a great reminder of our family throughout the year and encouraged us to stay in contact with family and friends so we knew what to pray for.

What do you do with your Christmas cards each year?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas Tradition #3

My very favorite Gillespie Christmas tradition is the opening of the first gift. Each year they wrap up baby Jesus from the manger set and before they open any other gifts, they unwrap the true gift.

As a new family, we have been wrapping up Jesus from this miniature manger scene. (We might have to upgrade to a larger Jesus as the kids get bigger and more likely to swallow Jesus.)

How does your family incorporate baby Jesus into your Christmas? 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas Traditions #2

One of my favorite Bezanson family traditions is sitting around the tree, drinking egg nog and putting together our new Lego sets. Even today, in our 20s and 30s we still receive a Lego set from my dad in
our stockings.

I don't know where this tradition came from, but Josh and I have incorporated it into our Christmas since we were married.

Last year I got a Harry Potter Lego key chain. This year josh is getting a Halo 3 set - can't wait!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmas Tradition #1

I'm a lover of tradition just for tradition sake. I simply love rituals and looking forward to special things around the holidays. One really special thing about getting married is joining your families' traditions.

One of Josh's family's traditions that I love is that before opening presents on Christmas morning, they recite Luke 2 as a family. This year, I've been memorizing the passage so I can participate. Join us - King James Version only! :)

Luke 2

King James Version (KJV)
And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.
(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

My New Hobby

...has become removing stains. Something I have to admit, that I'm not very good at. I have a hard time "sticking with it" and really doing a thorough job. Until now, my family didn't really create too many stains, just a little spot of pasta sauce now and again. Ella, like all babies, is a pro at stealing her mommy's heart and staining her clothes.

What is your favorite stain-fighting cleaning agent in your home? I'd love to know your experienced mom tricks. So far, I've been using OxiClean Max Force Gel Stick - and as you can see from the pictures below - it removed my worse stain yet. (By the time I could get the onesie off her, there was  a bright gold ring all the way around the pant line!)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

2 Corinthians 12:9

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."

I read this verse during my devotions the other day and it gave me great hope to know that in my personal weaknesses, struggles, and failures Jesus is going to walk beside me and through His great power, guide my Ella.

Adjusting to motherhood has been challenging - but so rewarding. These last 2 weeks I've been learning how to function on very little sleep, figuring out Ella's needs and how to meet them, and most importantly, balancing how to be a mom AND a wife.

Although this has been an adjustment, I'm much more worried about the years to come.

When Ella has a crush on the "Justin Beiber" of her time, and she fights to put up a poster of him; when she wants to start wearing make up or have a boyfriend; when she faces peer pressure to do drugs or cheat on a test. I'm not sure how I'll handle those situations. I believe raising her based on scriptural wisdom and giving her a firm foundation in the Lord will guide her through life. I'm just so grateful that in my significant failings are a mother, Christ is going to work through me and give me the tools necessary to raise children that love Him with all their heart.

Monday, December 10, 2012

My First Christmas

Ella was all decked out last night for her first "social event" at church. We forgot to get pictures of her out, but here are a few of her rocking her "My First Christmas" onesie from Grandma B!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Waking up is hard to do

One of my favorite times with Ella is when I'm waking her up to eat. She definitely takes after her father in this capacity - getting them up is like raising the dead. Ella definitely has Josh beat in the "cuteness category" however. 

Here is a video of one wake up!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Smart Girl

I love seeing my wonderful hubby loving on our daughter. I always knew he would be a wonderful father, that is part of the reason I married him. It is a strange new love I have for him, and I wouldn't change it for anything.

My wonderful man sits with our daughter after the 9:30 feeding every night so that I can get into bed and get some sleep before the first night feeding. He desire to help and sacrifice touches me. I couldn't ask for anyone better, and I'm glad I never have to.

My little girl has got it right with her shirt

Monday, December 3, 2012

Psalms 92

My mom receives a daily email with a verse and Bible study for the day. She forwarded on the email to me from November 22 - Ella's birth day. As I wasn't checking email in the hospital, I didn't receive her message until we were home and adjusting to our new (wonderful) life.

I love how God knows exactly what encouragement we need, even before we are discouraged. It is amazing how the same scripture will touch you in different ways at various points in your life.

The verse focused on in the November 22 email was from Psalms 92 and it said "It is good to give thanks to the declare Your loving kindness in the morning and Your faithfulness by night." I read this beautiful piece of scripture after a very long night and an exhausting morning - and I'm grateful for the reminder to celebrate those times, and always cherish my blessing of Ella. 

As my friend said to me yesterday, "The nights are long, but the years are quick." With the Lord's strength, I will praise Him in the mornings and the late night hours as I watch my Ella grow.   

What scripture touches your heart and encourages you as a mom? 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Learning to Rejoice

I should know by now, when God starts teaching me something - there is a reason I need to learn it.

Lately, God has been teaching me about "rejoicing when others rejoice and weeping when others weep." I believe that is the mark of a true friend, someone who can journey with your through life.

I've been learning this valuable lesson through seeing others turn heartbreaking situations into moments to serve, watching friends celebrate with others while their hearts ache for the very same celebration, and learning sensitively as a travel through this abundantly joyful time in my life. As Josh and I look forward to the joy of our expanding family, I realize that others are facing serious trials - the sheer magnitude of what their trials is humbling to me.

This week, some of my very favorite people shared the news that they would be moving away. I could see the excitement and hope in their eyes, but I couldn't help feeling sad and lonely. I began to despair, it feels like every time we are settled and have a groove, God changes things. This change for me, means separation between very dear friends - but as I listened to them gush about this new opportunity I realized it was more. For her, it is a promotion full of new challenges and advanced opportunity; it means moving back south to their home which they love; being closer to their family whom they have lived far away from for too long; it means leaving this Pittsburgh snow behind; and it means a new season. A season I hope brings lots of joy and a renewed closeness to the Lord.

I have tears in my eyes both of sadness and joy as I think of the separation of this friendship but of all the new wonderful people they are going to impact and share life with. Through this process, which I clearly have a lot more to learn about, I pray God opens my heart to see the joy of this situation for others and cheerfully journey alongside them.

DIY serving trays

Earlier this year we threw a shower for my sister-in-law, Danielle, and her sweet baby, McKenzie. We wanted some cute serving trays to to help make the food table really pop.

The good news - making your own serving trays to match any decor is a breeze!

What you will need:
- any type of plate. (I bought $1 plastic ones)
- Some sorta of stand. You could use candle sticks, glasses, I used a mixture of candle sticks and beer mugs. Check out your local thrift shop - you are sure to find something that will work.
- Heavy duty glass glue
- spray paint to make your stand match your plate.

1. Spray paint your stands. I'd do 2 coats just to make sure it will look good.
2. Place your plate face down a flat surface.
3. Using a pencil, trace the top of your stand on the back side of your plate. This is going to give you a line to trace with your glue.
3.5 (optional) - If you think your base won't be sturdy enough - you can fill with sand before gluing. 
4. Trace a thick line of the glue on the plate as well as on the top of your stand. You want a generous amount of glue to ensure your plate will stick to your stand and be sturdy.
5. Press your stand onto your plate.
6. Leave to dry for 12 hours.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Day I (luckily didn't literally) Ran into Troy Polamalu

I think "sport's team loyalty" is a very strange thing. Rarely do you meet someone who likes the Bangles just because - no - you meet people from Cincinnati who grew up watching the Bangles, their grandfather loved the Bangles, and so - they LOVE the Bangles.

Myself, having grown up in NH, would say I'm a Red Sox and Patriot's fan. Further proving the point above, my dad didn't really watch hockey or basketball - so I couldn't care less about the Bruins or the Celtics. Now, when I say I'm a "fan" of the Red Sox and Patriots - I mean, that if I had to cheer for someone, I would cheer for them - it does not mean that I know a single player on either team.

Living in Pittsburgh is a whole different "ball game." Every.single.person is a FANATIC Steelers, Penguins, and Pirates fan. If you accidentally wear black and yellow - you magically have friends at the grocery store; every stranger you meet automatically starts talking about the game last weekend, assuming you want to discuss it as well; and best of all, you can grocery shop in 20 minutes or less if you go during a "Stillers" game, you and the annoyed cashier are the only people there.

So basically, I don't really care about sports, and definitely don't care about Pittsburgh sports. So - when picking out apples at the grocery store the other day, I was a little taken-a-back when I thought I saw Troy Polamalu. My 8.5 months pregnant self was just testing the apples for soft spots, when he walks by pushing 2 little boys in a racecar shopping cart, and he says to me, "Looks like this is your future (pointing to his cart). Get ready, it is a fun ride!" To which I laughed and said to myself, "I've seen that boy on TV."

I quickly ran over to get Josh and said, "Doesn't that boy play for the Steelers?" right as he was rounding the corner. Josh didn't get a good look at him.

A few isles later, we again saw the mystery man, so I made Josh go down to get a better look. Right as we were passing him, he says, "So, I didn't ask - are you having a boy or a girl?" Now blocking the entire isle, we are standing face to face with Troy Polamalu, discussing Ella's name (which he thinks is "just beautiful"), his wife's deliveries, and his wish for us to have a pain free delivery.

After about 5 minutes we went on our way, only to have him bombarded by people asking him to autograph cereal boxes. I have to say, I was extremely impressed with him. He was so kind to everyone that talked to him - he never once got annoyed.  We even saw him get stopped 2 times while putting away his shopping cart.

I'm confident I'll ever be a Steelers fan, but I'm officially a Troy Polamalu fan.

P.S. - In my defense - his hair was in a bun, so his signature feature wasn't a key giveaway to his identity.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Turkey Onesie

As our little one will arrive (HOPEFULLY) right before Thanksgiving - I wanted to make a special outfit to celebrate her first holiday.

This was very similar to tie onesies I made for my nephews, so I just followed the same basic steps.

What you will need: 

- 1 brown onesie of your size choice (dyed, pre-washed, and dried)
- Fabric scraps- you will want them to be fall colors
- Thread to match your fabric
- Sewing Machine
- Iron and Ironing board
- Fray Check (optional) 
- An hour of time


1. You need to make your pattern for your feathers, beak, eyes, pupils, and "gobble".
2. Pin your patterns over your fabric.
3. Cut a square of fabric around the pattern - you do NOT want to cut right along your final edges at this point.
4. Remove your pattern from the fabric and cut identical sized squares from your Heat'n Bond.
5. Iron on the Heat'n Bond to the back of your fabric (You want to lay your fabric face down - and place the Heat'n Bond so the paper backing is facing up at you).
6. Once the Heat'n Bond is secure - pin back on your pattern.
7. Cut around the pattern. (We waited to do this because your fabric will fray less if the Heat'n Bond is attached when you make the final cut).
8. OPTIONAL - I added Fray Check along the edges to ensure I didn't get fraying - you do have to let your project sit for about 30 minutes if you include this step.
9. Remove the paper backing from your pieces (pulling the paper from the fabric - not the fabric from the paper).
10. Place each individual piece on onesie and iron on - holding to get a good adhesive to the onesie
11. Unsnap onesie and sew border inside of each piece of fabric to ensure it holds to the onesie. You will want to use thread that matches your fabric as closely as possible. (You will want to do each piece individually - even where the feathers are layered - still stitch around the outside of each individual piece.)

Once everything is sewn on - your onesie is ready to be worn!

What are some of your favorite holiday traditions you did with your family?

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Chicken Roll Ups

I mentioned this recipe a while ago, and I'm just now getting it up on here. This is a wonderful creation of my mother-in-law - and a favorite in our home! If you try it once, you will be hooked, I promise!

What you'll need:
- 8 ounces of cream cheese
- 3 Tablespoons of melted butter
- 2 1/2 cups of cooked, shredded chicken
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 1/8 teaspoon of pepper
- 2 Tablespoons of milk
- 1 tablespoon chives (this isn't necessary but adds so much flavor, I recommend it)
- 1/4 cup sour cream 
- a dash of paprika (this is something I've just added to taste)
- 2 packages of crescent rolls

1. Boil and shred your chicken
2. Mix together cream cheese, butter, chicken, salt, pepper, milk, chives, sour cream, and paprika. (I like mine really creamy, so sometimes I add a little extra sour cream, but that is up to you).
3. Open up your crescent rolls packages. Do NOT separate them into triangles as you normally would, you want them to be squares. Using your fingers "squish together" the cut line that would allow you to make triangles (you are going to want a good "seal" so your chicken mixture doesn't ooze out.
4. Place a giant scoop of the chicken mixture into the middle of your crescent square. You don't want to be too skimpy - but you are going to have to close it up. (I wait until all the chicken has been divided out before closing up the crescent squares, that way if I need to add more or remove some it is easier).

5. Take all four corners of your crescent squares and fold them up around the chicken mixture.
6. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Least Favorite Job?

Josh and I were talking yesterday morning about our least favorite job of all time. Josh's was scooping ice cream at Handle's and mine was working at Sears.

Now I have to say - I'm very grateful that I had the opportunity to work throughout high school and college. In fact, I usually had 2 jobs at a time. I definitely learned the value of money and quickly started to see a cup of coffee not just as a beverage, but as a lunch-time tip or 30 minutes organizing cards at Hallmark.

My first "job" ever was folding and stuffing mailings for my dad's co-worker, Noel - I received 1 penny per envelope stuffed. Ask any of my colleagues today, I still stuff a mean envelope.

My first official job (no pennies under the table on this one) was as a paper delivery girl. And I do mean GIRL. I don't have much memory of how old I was when I started, but I had to quit when we moved from our Charles Street house when I was in 6th grade. I remember liking my paper route, besides when it rained. The best part? One house gave me a $2 every single Saturday and I jammed out to DC Talk and Amy Grant TAPES every morning!

In high school I worked at Hallmark, Sears, and the NH Toll Booth. At college I worked as a desk monitor for the dorms, a teacher's aid, at a Country Club, and as a Crimson Caller - aka calling alumni for money). For all my college breaks at home (Christmas and Summer) I was a waitress - either at the Marriott Hotel Restaurant, catering weddings at the Marriott, or at Ruby Tuesdays. Some days I would serve breakfast at the Marriott - requiring me to be there at 5. I would get out at 10, sleep in my car for 40 minutes, change work clothes and start the lunch shift at Ruby Tuesdays around 11. I usually found a way to get put on the schedule for dinner as well - so I would end up on my feet from 5am to about 8pm. Definitely one of my skinniest summers! :)

So, my least favorite was Sears - mostly because I hated folding all the clothes and the staff changed so much, you never knew who you would be working with. My favorite job? Working at Ruby Tuesdays. I loved that I was in charge of my on wages. If the server next to me was lazy, it affected his tips, not mine. I got to work quickly, talk with people, and constantly be working to stay on top of my game.

I know you are all curious about working at a Toll Booth - but that is a story for another time. I'll answer your #1 question though - if you have to go to the bathroom you (1) hold until your next break (2) close down your line and run inside to use the restroom.

What is your least favorite job of all time? And which job did you love most?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Ella's Nursery FINALLY finished! (Who I am kidding, I loved every single project and every second of setting up the room. So excited for the big reveal! :)

I made the quilt - my first ever "real" quilt. I had a lot of fun, and learned a lot - but it was definitely a huge task! I found the pattern to be really cool and easy for beginners - I'll have to post links on that at some point.

The little stuffed animal elephant is from the shower my mom threw in NH (she had all the tables decorated with animals).

The mobile was the last project to be finished. I took a lot of my ideas from this site. I tried to make things easier wherever possible, maybe I'll post my alterations at some point. The pink ball is made from tulle, one of the yellow and the silver are from tissue paper, the other yellow is made of crepe paper flowers, and the multi-color ball is fabric flowers made from the extra pieces of her quilt.

Currently the bookshelf is holding a few books, we are currently reading through the complete stories of Beatrix Potter (my nursery was B. Potter, and my mom has collected various items throughout my life), a gift from my Aunt Carol. It is also adorned with an owl nightlight, a "Pittsburgh"-yellow letter "E" that my sister-in-law, Rachel, made for Ella's shower, as well as a grey and yellow owl.

The Pennant Banner was really easy, and I like how much color it added to her wall. The Pennants are all made from the same fabric as her quilt - but I added some pink ribbon to tie it into the rest of the room. 
Ella's dresser is an "up-do" on an Ikea dresser. I've posted more details here. Thanks again to my Uncle Chuck for giving us the glass knobs we used for drawer pulls!

On top of the dresser are a few boxes I've recovered to hold accessories and memories for Ella. My mother also made a keepsake box from my shower to keep all the little details in tack for Ella someday. I love the memories of that special day!

Hanging above the dresser is an old picture frame I got at Salvation Army and my hubby gracious painted for me! My best friend, Lauren, sent me the cutest card and the colors - and owl - matched the accents of the room so well, it was simply meant to go in the frame!

This chair was one of my awesome yard sale finds! YIPPEE! As I mentioned, each night I read Ella a new Beatrix Potter story from this chair.

Hanging above the chair, you can see a beautiful satin and button "E" which my crafty sister-in-law Katie made for Ella's shower. I love how much "pop" it adds to the nursery, the pink is definitely a great touch! :)

Ella's owl laundry basket was a gift from my co-worker, Veronica, and I love it. The owl is just so cute - and who wouldn't love the size of it! A larger basket means more time before I feel guilty for not doing laundry!

I made an easy Roman Shade for the window and hung the banner that my sister-in-laws, Danielle and Katie made for Ella's shower. I love the rustic and classy feel of it. Originally I was going to make the nursery all yellow and grey - but I loved the pink that the girls added to the shower so much, I decided to bring that over into the nursery! :)

I used a flower basket I got at Target to hold blankets for Ella. I love the extra storage, but also the look of the planter on the window.

I admit - I do just love sitting in this room, imaging all the joy and fun we will have in this room in the years to come. :) I'm officially ready for Ella's arrival!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Easy Pennant Banner

I wanted a pennant banner in Ella's room to add some color. You can look online for any number of tutorials, but the gist of it is really easy.

Most importantly, you need to determine how long you want your banner to be - and how large you want your individual pennant. Once you figure out how large you want your pennants, create a template from paper (remember you will loose some of your size to seams.)

You will need to cut double the number of triangles than pennants you want. Pin your triangles right side together and sew them together, using a 1/4 inch seam. You will then want to cut off the excess on the tip of the pennant (this is going to make it easier to turn them right side out.

You will want to even off the top of all your pennant. Line them up on your cutting board, use the point as a guide and lay it out so your top cut is going to make your triangle straight.  Turn all pennants right side out and iron.

Once you have all of your pennants together, space them accordingly on your ribbon. (You could use pipping as well and then just sew the pennants inside your pipping). Sew all of your pennants on to your ribbon, leaving extra space to have tassel hang down.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Easy as Pumpkin Pie

I love recipes that are quick and easy. I especially love recipes that impress guests. This recipe measures up in both categories. :)

As a disclaimer, because I can hear my mom now, "You eat so many sweets." I made these for small group last night - we don't regularly have dessert, just when people come over.


2 cups of cold milk
2 pakages of JELL-O Pumpkin Spice Flavor Instant Pudding
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tub (8 ounces) of COOL WHIP
1 Graham Cracker Pie Crust (or 12 mini pie crusts as I did)

1. Mix your milk, pudding mix, and cinnamon in a bowl with a wire whisk. Spoon all BUT 1/2 a cup on pudding into your crust(s).

2. Add 3/4 of the tub of COOL WHIP to the remaining pudding mix with a wire whisk. Spoon into crust(s).

3. Top pie(s) with remaining COOL WHIP.

4. Refrigerate for an hour.

5. EAT

Friday, November 2, 2012

Clowning Around

My dad traveled for business a lot during his time in the insurance field. Each time he returned home, he brought the 3 of us kids something from the road. I don't remember at what point he started getting me clowns - but I have a family of clowns from all over the country. Clown tea sets, clown trolls, clown puppets, tiny clowns, large clowns, adorable clowns, and some very creepy ones too!

On one of his trips, he returned with clown letters that spelled out "Rachel." These little guys were immediately placed on my bedroom door. I love the way the artist painted their outfits and little "personalities."

On a trip home this summer, I was pulling out my clown collection to show Josh, and we stumbled upon these letters. The Monday before we found out we were having a girl and had decided on Ellanore for a name. When we saw the letters, Josh mentioned we could almost spell "Ella" out of "Rachel."

My mom looked very diligently online and found an additional "L" that matches the original set. Ella's nursery is now complete with her name displayed on her door in clown letters from Grandpa and Grandma B!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Lasagna Line

If you know me at all - you know I'm a planner. Maybe even to a fault. I like to have everything in order, if I can feasible control it - I'll give it my best shot! :)

Last night was my first night of cooking dinners for after Ella's arrival. For a little over an hour, my kitchen was a lasagna assembly line. The output - 5 lasagnas (4 for freezing, 1 for dinner tonight).

I do this frequently, and people always ask me about storing and portions, etc. So - just pick your favorite lasagna recipe and with a few modifications you can have meals ready to go! I make my lasagnas in bread loaf pans - they are the perfect size for Josh and me. I get dinner for the 2 of us and then left over lunch for one of us out of each pan. Assemble your lasagnas and then wrap in plastic wrap once and then tinfoil (the acid from the sauce can interact with your tinfoil if they are frozen together).

You don't need to bake the lasagna on this end - b/c everything is already cooked, you are just assembling and will have to bake before you serve, so not cooking now will avoid it drying out if you did cook it twice. 

I do have to admit that I cheat a little - I use the no-boil noodles. They are easy - and fit perfectly into the bread loaf pans! :)

Post Partum Check List

This blog post is mostly for me, just so I remember the list of "must haves" for the next time we have a baby. Josh recently introduced me to the idea of "determining the value of each key stroke." So - why tweet - something that can't be found again 5 years form now, when you can blog and always have access to your thoughts. Why spend individual time trying a colleague when you can put the same information in a video and share it with all your colleagues? So - rather than writing this down and loosing the sheet of paper somewhere, I'm going to create a blog post I'll always be able to find.

These are things I loved having this time around, or wish I would have had:
- Bath towel I don't mind parting with
- Supply of pads
- Witch hazel
- A few pairs of "throw away" underware
- Juice to help you stay hydrated, you will get sick of water
- Ginger Ale
- Tucks pads
- Stool softener
- Nice toilet paper

What are items you would add to this list?

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Bump

Last weekend we had some maternity pictures taken with our awesome and talented friends, Stephen and Whitney. We had so much fun with them at North Park and are excited to share a few shots from the day. Thanks S&W for helping us capture this fun time in our lives! 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Dresser Redo

When I started to make plans for setting up Ella's nursery, I was set on painting her dresser (and Josh was gracious enough to humor me). I did a lot of research online and Pinterest, but was unsuccessful in finding direction for painting an IKEA dresser - so hopefully this helps others.
We painted a white dresser, but I believe this would work with any color.

The biggest issue I faced in redoing the dresser was the glossy paint that IKEA uses to finish their furniture. I couldn't get any paint to stick to the finished dresser front. I tried primers, sealants, and various different paint types. Ultimately, the only thing that worked was lightly sanding the dresser where we wanted to paint. I then added my painted design and used a sealant to get the glossy look back over the entire dresser. I ended up using Martha Stewart's paint line for the dresser.
Thanks to my Uncle Chuck, we were able to add a bright finishing touch to Ella's dresser. We used glass paint to add bright yellow glass drawer knobs - I think it makes the whole piece come together. Thanks Uncle Chuck! 

Note - when you do sand the front of your drawers, do so lightly.  You do not want to remove the color, so in my case - I brushed off the gloss, but the entire drawers remained white.

I suggest painting the drawer fronts before assembling the dresser, however, if you already have your dresser set up, you should still be able to complete your furniture revamp.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Danielle's Shower

I'm sorely late in posting this blog, life has been crazy lately.

Last month, we had a baby shower for my sister-in-law, Danielle. Due to Danielle being on bed rest throughout her pregnancy, we had the added treat of having my new niece, McKenzie, at the shower with us! And as you can see in the picture below - she perfectly matched the theme of the shower. :) [My sister-in-laws from left to right: Danielle, Rachel, and Katie]

We wanted a shower that was going to "fit" Danielle and her personality - and as a Mary Kay consultant - she's never far from the color pink! We decorated the room with black and white with accents of bright pink.

The more we scanned Pinterest - the more we become committed to have all pink, white, and black food. We had strawberry and angel food cake kabobs, pink chocolate covered popcorn, chocolate cupcakes with bright pink frosting, strawberry gooey cookies, pink stuffed oreos, strawberry rice krispie treats, strawberry marshmallow pops, and much more! Here is a look at the food table.
To bring together the theme - we used the strawberry marshmallows as holders for the food labels. We used the paper we had created the invitations with as well as the games for the shower. We also made our own serving trays with black and white plates and cups as stands. My mother-in-law also made beautiful poms with tissue paper that really added color and texture to the room - it wouldn't have been complete without her touch! 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

My animal baby shower

My wonderful mother recently threw me an adorable baby shower. She is a planning machine, and thinks of absolutely everything, so this blog post won't even begin to do the event justice, but it was such a special day, I wanted to try and share it.

As we were doing the baby gender reveal at the shower, my mom planned a cute animal theme shower. With help from my high school friend, Renee, I created the invites to play on the animal theme.

Mom decorated the room with stuffed animals and yellow and white roses - it was beautiful! She used little animal picture holders for place cards, and had regular and frosted animal crackers as the favors. She used tiny cookie cutters shaped like animals as the "bow" on the favors - as I said, my mom thinks of every detail!

Mom started off the shower with the gender reveal - she read a poem that she had originally found and cross stitched for my father. She changed the words and gender pronouns to be fitting for me and Ella. The poem stats, "I want to be the kind of woman God intended me to be, for she follows me. I want to be the kind of woman I want her to be, for she watches what I do." Her eyes filled with tears, she announced that we were having a little girl!

Playing off the animal theme - we played a game that required the guests to match the name of a given animal to the name of their baby - so Cows were matched with Calves.

The cake was adorable, and once again, had little animals on it - and it was delicious to boot!

I was blessed to celebrate with friends and family and completely overwhelmed by their generosity. I received many wonderful gifts, but was particularly blessed by the homemade gifts and true labor-of-love items we received for our new addition.

My talented Aunt Kathy made Ella a beautiful bear quilt. I love the bright colors!
My cousin Mary made the cutest sweater, hat and bootie set. I just love the coral color - and can't wait to see Ella in these items!
My sweet cousin Annette also made Ella a blanket. It is a beautiful mint color with an adorable heart in the corner - I just love it and the soft yarn it was made with!
Mary Jackson, a sweet lady from my parents church made Ella a grey and yellow blanket (those are the colors I'm going to decorate her nursery in). I love the flannel backing - great for baby snuggling!
Thank you so much to everyone for showering us with love, support, and prayers. Josh and I are so excited to start this next journey of our lives with our little love, Ella Suzanne.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Baby G is a….

True and wonderful blessing. Josh and I are head-over-heelsin love with our little bundle – I simply can’t image how rapidly our love willgrow once we meet our baby. I can’t wait for that wonderful day in November,when we are finally able to hug and kiss our beautiful child. We will never beable to thank the Lord appropriately for this great gift, bringing with itgreat responsibility and real feelings of inadequacy.

We had our follow up ultrasound last week – and by God’sgrace, we were able to find out the gender of our little one. (On top of that,we had a friendly ultrasound tech, who was excited for us and took the extratime to answer questions and show us little fingers and toes. Our firstultrasound experience was not as pleasant, so we are grateful for this answerto prayer).

Although we wanted to find out the gender, it was veryimportant to us that had the opportunity to find out together, not sitting in asterile hospital room. The ultrasound tech wrote down the gender on a slip ofpaper, which Josh dutifully protected all day from my peeping eyes. After work,we promptly went to Pino Gelato, one of our local favorites, and instantlybegan to overwhelm and thoroughly confuse the café staff.

We explained that we were going to hand him a slip, with ourfirst child’s gender written on it. If the slip said “boy”, we wanted him togive us a sealed pint of Mint Chocolate Chip and Pistachio gelato (they didn’thave any blue flavor options, so we chose green); however, if the slip said“girl,” we wanted him to give us Blood Red Orange and Blueberry Pomegranate.After talking him through the process a few times, he sent us outside while heprepared our special order.

Within a few minutes, he had us on our way with a sealedpint of gender-revealing gelato, 2 small blue spoons, and 2 small pinkspoons. (We did get the slip back fromhim, just to have a little insurance :) ).

When we arrived at home, I couldn’t put down my purse fastenough, get out the ice cream pint, rip off the lid, and discover bright pink Blood Orange and purple Blueberry Pomegranate gelato!

What’s in a Name?

With the announcement of the approaching arrival of ourdaughter, the first question everyone asks is “have you picked out names yet?”We had picked out names a few months ago, but recently finalized spelling.

Our little girl will be named Ellanore Suzanne. We will callher Ella.

To preventively answer your next question, we simply lovedthe name Ellanore. We both grew up with very common names, and always hadmultiple friends, classmates, and coworkers with the same name – we love thatour little girl will have a unique name. We choose to add a second “L” to thespelling in order that “Ella” will be a shorter version of her name; hopefullythis will eliminate confusion on how many “Ls” are in which version of hername.

As for her middle name, Suzanne is a family name on mymother’s side of the family. My grandmother’s name is “Annie,” my mother isnamed “Ann,” while my middle name is “Susanne.” My parents chose to spell mymiddle name with an “S” instead of a “Z” in the middle because my maiden name,Bezanson, had one “Z” and they didn’t wantto burden me with an overload of “Zs”. I love the fact that 3 generations haveall had a variation of “Ann” in their name, but no two people had the sameversion. In order to keep this tradition, we are going to switch back to thestandard spelling of Suzanne.