Monday, November 30, 2009


Well, I thought that I wanted to have a blog, but it's not turning out the way that I had envisioned. Looking at my posts, I tend to tell you banal, incomplete stories of my day and I keep forgetting to post the (few) funny or interesting things that happen. Here are a few that I remembered recently.

While attempting to bake, clean, finish laundry and pack all at the same time for our Houston trip, I ended up on the floor playing with Lily Ruth. We were making noises and laughing and I scooped her up to play 'airplane'. Well, factors like t-shirt neckline, bra cup cut, length of baby's legs, angle of baby hold, etc. all combined to create a Perfect Storm. Lily kicked me in the boob, and I was hit in the eye with my own milk. I was confused then stunned... then I couldn't stop laughing. I guess it's only fair - Lily gets hit in the eye all time with milk...

During the lead-up to Thanksgiving dinner, we were sitting in the living room discussing movies with Don's parents. His mother announces 'I want to see Dirty Old Men'. The room goes silent. Several beats later, my darling husband says 'Mom, do you mean Old Dogs?' The answer is yes, yet I can't help but wonder how Freudian that slip was...

Since we forgot to take the pack'n'play with us to Houston, Lily had to sleep on the bed with us and without us. For her nap on Friday, Don went to (as he put it) 'make her a pillow fort' to keep her from rolling off the bed or banging her noggin against the bed frame. I muttered something about her Fortress of Solitude. My keen-eared husband heard me, and replied 'more like Fortress of Soli-toot'. He's right - she's been RIDICULOUSLY gassy :-P

Lily Ruth now says 'mama'! Of course, she only says it when she's crying, so I know it's not meant for me, but she has figured out that saying 'ah-muhm', 'ma-ma-ma-ma' or 'ma-ha-ha-mom' while sobbing will bring me running. Clever girl!

Oh, this is a picture of Lily and her Daddy. They are playing 'One... two... THREE - Waaaaaay up in the AIR'! It's Lily's favorite game. Or at least it was until she saw the Christmas tree! Check out how looooooong her legs are!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

So Thankful!

Today's Recipe: Pumpkin Cheesecake

This is a first. The first year in a VERY long time that neither Don or I is working in a service industry job, so we're both free for the holidays... but this means that we had to really give some thought to the opinions of both of our sets of parents as to where we would spend each one. This is also Lily Ruth's first set of holidays out of the belly, so there was that to consider as well... add in my extreme people-pleasing needs, and we hauled ourselves to Houston to have a Doyle Thanksgiving. Don's mom had the menu all planned, but she asked me bring dessert, so Pumpkin Cheesecake it was! The recipe is from, and can be found here.

This is me waiting for 4 boxes of cream cheese to get to room temperature so that it will not burn out the motor of the hand mixer...

This is Lily Ruth's version of helping Mama bake...

and this is Keely's version of helping Mama bake (dog feet alllllll over the futon...

At one point in the process, I put Lily down for her nap and attempted to cook in peace. I even took the handy-dandy small blender outside to crunch up the cookies and pecans for the crust so as to no disturb her highness' slumber. No dice - she was on to me and refused to nap through the process. I even strapped her into the Baby K'Tan and wore her while I blended all of the ingredients. I had to put her down to pour them into the pan and put it in the oven. Nobody wants to see a picture of her face during that time :-P

Well, I baked & cooled the cheesecake before we left, then put it in a cooler with icepacks and transported it to Houston. It survived transport beautifully, and the topping that I applied Thursday morning only improved it! Seriously - that cheesecake was (is) GOOOOOOOOD. So delicious and ridiculously easy. I will definitely make it again.

Our Thanksgiving was lovely. Lily's paternal grandparents were able to interact with an alert, bright, funny and active infant - unlike their previous visits with her when she was (in turn) a newborn, a nearly newborn, and a chronically overtired 3-month-old who had been removed from her comfort zone. They were enchanted! As they should be :-)

I hate to brag (no, really I do), but Lily Ruth is now one step closer to sitting! Previously, she has been a 'pre-sitter' - sitting when held upright, but leaning into whatever supported her. Thanksgiving day, she sat up and back on her own! Check her out...

We are beyond proud. She amazes me daily! BTW, if you're in the neighborhood, stop by and watch her scoot! She gets up onto her hands and knees, rocks back and forth, then launches herself forward onto her belly. This is repeated until she reaches her goal. I can't get enough. I'm pretty sure that the Christmas tree will be all of the incentive that she needs to turn it into a real crawl. I'm excited and terrified at the same time...

This year, I am thankful for my daughter, my husband, my family and the life that I am able to lead. I am truly blessed, and I am actively working to prove that gratitude daily.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Mmmmmm, Crock Pot

Today's Recipes: Pizza, Beef & Barley Stew

First of all, I have felt like there was a lot of dirt in my bed this week, but had no idea why. That's right, dirt. For no discernible reason. As I came out of Lily's room tonight, I found out why...

In case you can't tell from the crappy cell phone photo, that's Keely's dog butt right by Don's pillow, and her dirty doggie feet right by MY pillow! Yum.

Second, I decided to bite the bullet and take a look at my sewing machine. The one that I had left at my Grandmother's house assuming that it was broken and/or needed help that I could not give it. I brought it home, read the whole dang manual - o.k. fine, I skimmed it. Then I ran a few practice seams down a rag to check for evenness. It was perfect and fine. I'm a total dork. I finished all 5 pairs of leg warmers in less than 30 minutes. It rocked. AND, my adorable daughter is an excellent model for my favorite pair...

Plus, check out how great her hair is getting. I can't wait until it's long enough to be truly wild!!!

Third - the cooking stuff! I forgot to tell you about last night's dinner. I made a fantastic pizza. It went a little something like this...

Rachel's New Favorite Pizza:
Boboli pizza crust
Newman's Own Alfredo Sauce
Italian Sausage - cooked (I sliced mine, but you could crumble it)
Chicken breast - cooked & cubed (little olive oil, little Italian spice)
- I had cooked both of those for previous pizzas, and had frozen the extra - it rocked to have them pre-made!
Frozen Chopped Spinach (defrosted & drained)
Fresh Garlic - minced
- I mix the spinach and the garlic together so that the garlic gets evenly distributed
Italian Cheese Blend (pre-shredded)
Freshly grated Parmesean cheese

Now, if you need detailed instructions on how to assemble a pizza, you need to get your recipes elsewhere. The cooking directions should be on the package of the crust...

Today, I made Beef & Barley Stew in the crock pot based on a recipe from Cooking Light. As you may have discerned, I have no patience. This includes following recipes. I tend to read the ingredient list, read the directions then not really look at it again. Tonight's stew went like this...

1 1/4 lb Lean beef stew meat - cubed into tiny pieces
1 med yellow onion - chopped
3 med carrots - peeled & chopped
1 red bell pepper - seeded & chopped
1 pkg sliced mushrooms - chopped a bit smaller
4 lg garlic cloves - minced
2/3 c pearled barley
2 1/2 c mushroom broth
4 1/2 c beef broth
crushed red pepper flakes
ancho chili powder
1 can diced tomatoes - undrained
1 bag fresh spinach - slightly chopped

sautee onion & carrot slightly in a bit of olive oil. add red pepper, mushrooms & garlic - sautee until mostly done. move veggies to crock pot. add beef to the skillet - season w/ salt & pepper. cook until just brown on all sides. add beef to crock pot. add barley, broth (mushroom broth not needed - I just had some open. you could use all beef broth) & tomatoes. As for the spices, season to your own taste. I love spice, so I used a lot - maybe 1 tsp ancho & 2 tsp pepper flakes. cook on 'high' for 1 hour then turn to 'low' for 5 or more hours. 5-10 minutes before serving, stir in the spinach.


Maybe tomorrow we can talk about the holidays... maybe not. I have to make a pumpkin cheesecake, pack for our trip, then drive to Houston.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Fair to Middling...

Well, I didn't get a lot done today :-( and it WAS for lack of trying... I did manage to get dressed and we did make it to Target - where I purchased 5 pairs of socks to turn into baby leg warmers!

The reason that I didn't finish them, is that I have (as I previously mentioned) borrowed my grandmother's sewing machine. While it is in immaculate condition and works perfectly, it is not new, and it's functions are limited...

What I LOVE (in addition to the fact that Singer sewing machines are built to last) is that my grandmother keeps all of the stuff for the machine in this box...

At any rate, I'll have to use somebody else's machine to finish the leg warmers. Perhaps I'll go door to door asking to use a sewing machine that can do a zig-zag stitch. OR, I could take the 20 minutes to read the manual for my machine and see if it can be fixed... unlikely...

So, not only did we go to Target, but stopped at LUSH, and - GET THIS - we didn't buy anything!!! I know! I should check my temperature - maybe I'm sick... It was weird. I looked at all of my favorite products and showed Lily Ruth all of the loveliness that has made me so happy in the past... and then I thought about how little time I spend in the bath these days. And how I don't use scented lotions and potions any more since I'm nursing and it seems rude to force all of that scent on someone so little. And I just walked away... and decided to spend the money on something else... like new shoes...

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Dress Success!

SOOOOO excited! I went over to The Homestead (my Grandparents & Parents house) and nabbed GM's sewing machine. Mine is acting up and I didn't have the patience to even look at the manual - so sad.

At any rate, I was all set to begin turning t-shirts into baby girl dresses! Of course, in order to begin sewing, I had to have my hands free, so I had to wait for Lily Ruth's nap time. She was down and talking quietly to herself and her toys, and occasionally kicking her heels. Then the heel kicking and the baby noises got louder, so I crept in to investigate. This is what I found...

hilarious, no?

Well, once we got that sorted, I cut the top off my Depeche Mode baby doll t-shirt, removed the sleeves, sewed a casing across the top edges, and VOILA! Baby dress! Thanks Samster Mommy! She's so stinkin' cute that I had to take too many pictures and put them up here

Next on the cutting floor is the Cindreleaf tanktop - actually, I already cut it, I just have to do the (minimal) stitching... yet here I sit eating brownies and watching t.v. - typical Rachel... maybe I really will get up and finish it tonight, but I wouldn't hold your breath...

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Fridays :-)

Today's Recipe: Crockpot Pear Loveliness

So, Friday nights in my family are 'Steak Night'. When my dad joined the family, he had been a bachelor for quite some time, and he ate steak and pasta pretty much every night. He would have happily continued this habit if my mother had allowed it, but she feels that he will live longer if her adds in a few vegetables - and because he loves her, he acquiesces. The exception, is Friday nights. We are all hard working adults, and the fact that as a family, we are able to come together at the end of the work week to enjoy good food and each others' company is a blessing that we do not take for granted.

Since Lily Ruth's birth, Don & I had been mostly unable to attend. We made the effort several times, but we always end up eating late, by that time of the evening she was always so tired and starting to be a MAJOR crank pot, so we had basically bowed out. We all missed it, so now that we have Lily's bedtime under control (at 5 months!), we have started inviting them over here, and I LOVE it!

Oh, so speaking of crank pots, I AM IN LOVE WITH MY CROCK POT! After the stunning triumph of Thursday night, I decided to go for two in a row. I totally winged a pear crumble dessert, and it was awesome! What was that? You say you simply MUST have the recipe? Alright. Here goes... but there's no picture, because I forgot to take one :-(

Rachel's Crock Pot Pear Loveliness

7 ripe pears - peeled, cored and cut into small-ish chunks
6 oz dried cranberries
4 oz chopped walnuts
Butter - well, I used 2 whole sticks, but it was (dare I say it) too much (yet still yummy) - I'll bet you can use 1/2 stick & be fine
1/2 Tbsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cardamom (I actually used 6-8 cardamom pods and finely chopped the seeds)
1/2 tsp ground ginger

dump it all into the crock pot, mix it up, and turn that sucker on. I left it on 'high' for 3 hours.

THEN, when we were ready to eat it, I crumbled a package of Pepperidge Farm 'Bordeaux' cookies over the top & drizzled the whole thing with some caramel topping that I just 'happened' to have in the fridge and served it before the cookies got mushy - you could make a crunchy topping if you want, but that seemed like a lot of work to me... It was amazing.

In Lily Ruth news, her new favorite thing is to grab my hair, pull my face in to hers and chew on my nose (her version of a kiss) while attempting to shove her thumb in my mouth (she's obsessed with thumb sucking, and thinks we should ALL suck her thumb). It tends to look something like this:

That's all for now! Bon Appetite!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Lily Ruth's Birth Story

This story has been on my mind recently. I think it's due to how FAST she's growing, and how afraid I am that I'm going to forget or miss something! So here it is - borrowed from my myspace blog, and enhanced with more details...

As anyone who had any contact with me during my 3rd trimester knows, I expected Lily Ruth to arrive early. I expected this because my mama & I were both 1st babies, girls, and 6 weeks early. In order to stave off panic regarding premature delivery, I made peace with the idea that she could (would) come early, and was subsequently very impatient when she was not.

By the time 38 weeks rolled around, I had been to the hospital 3 times thinking I was in labor, but it was actually 1) dehydration from a sunburn that required I.V. fluids and a shot to stop the (not dangerous) contractions 2) HEARTBURN - terribly embarrassing, but I had never had it before, and was convinced that it was pre-eclampsia & 3) Braxton-Hicks that were the right distance apart to be true labor, but not nearly intense enough. Whatever.

Each of my weekly doctor visits at the end were more and more frustrating for me. I was having Braxton-Hicks contractions every day. I had had several days of such intense B-H that I had been POSITIVE that she was on her way. I was walking like crazy - at least twice a day - to keep her low and dropping as fast as possible. I had even tried castor oil twice and huge amounts of watermelon once. Both were disasterous in their own ways, but neither kick-started my labor.

When my forty-week visit rolled around, I was DONE with the discomfort of pregnancy, but still convinced that I was going 'all natural' unless Lily or I were in danger. I was also convinced that the doctor was going to tell me that I had progressed and that I was very close since I had had 2 long days of severe Braxton-Hicks that week and I was just sure that these had finally managed to progress my labor. Well, I had not progressed. I was still stuck at less than 1 cm - exactly where I had been for 2 weeks. That was kind of the final straw for both Don & I. Dr Mayo mentioned the possibility of induction, and offered to leave the room so we could discuss it. We had our decision in less than 30 seconds. We wanted our baby, and we wanted her a.s.a.p. We were actually disappointed that Dr Mayo wanted us to wait until the next day!

We were to report to the hospital at 4:30 pm on Tuesday, June 23. Dr Mayo was going to place a cervical medication, I would get my doses of I.V. antibiotics, and we could have dinner in our room and rest until time for Pitocin. Of course, because it was me, no amount of pre-planning and packing could get me there on time... we arrived at 4:45, and got settled in around 5. Dr Mayo was peeved at our tardiness, but pleased by the fact that I was in labor - all on my own! I had called my mama at work around 11 that morning to tell her that I thought I was in labor FOR REAL, but was so tired of being wrong on that score, that I had not dared to get my hopes up, and did not go into the hospital early.

The plan shifted. No cervical meds, but I.V. immediately, and no food. I was so ticked - I was STARVING, and we had stopped at Central Market for all manner of tasty goodies to nibble on. Oh well, at least Lily Ruth was on her way! My mom's friend Mary Earle came by and blessed us and the baby and our birthing experience - it was lovely, and I cried through the whole thing (stupid hormones). Then my mom got there and we settled in to wait... oh, and Don got to eat.

Eventually, my nurse came in to check me again, and at that point, the refrain of my labor experience was set. Each 'check' resulted in 'sorry sweetie, but you just aren't progressing'.

So we started with 'you aren't progressing, and you need to sleep. Do you want to take the sleeping pill your doctor prescribed? If you go into active labor, it will wake you up, and we'll re-assess then.' Yes, yes, I did want to sleep, so Ambien it was.

Then there was 'yep, this is active labor - I told you it would wake you up! But you're not progressing, and you still need to rest. Do you want the I.V. pain medication you doctor prescribed for you? We'll re-assess when your doctor gets her in the morning.' If we're going to wait that long, and I still can't eat, then yes, dope me up.

Next step was 'well, you're still not really progressing, let's start the Pitocin.' Closely followed by 'still not progressing, time to break your water'. At this point, my nurse convinces me that the Pitocin is going to make my labor ridiculously painful very quickly, and since (yep, you guessed it) I'm progressing so slowly, I should go for the epidural. Fine - I've caved in on the rest of it, might as well compromise all of my lofty ideals!

Since life is unfair, I looked like crap, and my anesthesiologist was HOT. Like I would have had a chance with him anyway :-P Just like everyone said, placing the epidural sucked, but life was good once it was in. I even managed to sleep through transition which is quite a feat! After that, it was up to my nurse. She was amazing. She moved me around like a puppet since I was numb. She managed to position and move me so that everything moved along ahead of schedule. They were expecting Lily to arrive mid-afternoon, but around 10, I just knew she was ready. I called my nurse in and she gave me a 'whatever, Crazy' look, but she agreed to check and what do you know - for the first time in weeks, I WAS RIGHT! Lily was beyond ready. My mom even had to call my dad & tell him to skip lunch or he was gonna miss it!

Since Dr Mayo was in surgery, I had to do 'practice pushes' to see if this was going to be a long haul or a short sprint. For once, these peasant hips and hyper-mobile joints served a purpose. I am a 'natural pusher'. I was told to hold off until Dr Mayo could get there. At that point, I also had the anesthesiologist turn down the epidural, because I couldn't feel anything, and I wanted to be present and participating in my daughter's birth. Well, Dr Mayo arrived, and apparently I am a champion pusher because Lily Ruth was born in 4 contraction cycles once I was allowed to actually push. My nurse recommended a mirror - it was gross, but I'm glad she did - I just had to order my dad not to look. I had a nurse (a new one - never found out her name...) holding one leg, my dad holding the other, my mama at my side, and my husband at my back (actually holding me, not just hanging out). It all happened so fast! It was like NASCAR in there with nurses and equipment coming seemingly from nowhere. Then just as quickly, they were gone, and I had a baby in my arms!

She arrived at 11:29 am on June 24, 2009. Weighed in at 7 lbs, 15 oz, and was 21 inches long.

I wouldn't have missed it for the world. I have a healthy, amazing daughter and I was surrounded by people who love me and a medical staff with incredible skill. We are very, very blessed... and very, very sleepy...

Welcome to ME.

So, I have been myspace blogging in random bursts for about a year and decided to give this a go. I may even repost a few of those here, so pardon the repetition if you're already a 'fan' of me. Those who decide to follow me will be subjected to stories, quips, recipes, photos and anything I deem appropriate :-) By the way, if you are new to me, here I am with my daughter - the amazing and wonderful Lily Ruth. This was taken yesterday... the exhaustion you see is real - in fact, yesterday was a good day, and until I took this photo, I thought I looked pretty good...

In the interest of full disclosure - of course, full disclosure means 'whatever I deem necessary' - I am inspired to start this blog because of Samster Mommy. She is my new Shero. I may even have a girl crush on her. Her blog is amazing and fun, and has prompted me to 1) get dressed 2) get crafting (in my own limited way) and 3) start a blog. Now, I cannot promise that I will add tutorials of any kind, but I can promise pictures stories and whatever randomness comes to me on any given day.

Now, here are the 3 things I have done so far using her blog as a starting point:

Made a bracelet
Purchased supplies to make my old t-shirts into dresses and convert onesies into dresses for Lily Ruth
Made my first crock-pot recipe - and DAMN, it was good! (recipe here)
So, that's where I am today. Full of good ideas and ambition. The baby is napping, and the coffee is brewed. So I can either get to cutting out dresses, or I can watch some crappy t.v. - those who know me will know exactly which one I shall choose...