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?