Tuesday, July 31, 2012

let's talk babies

disclaimer: not preg. also, this blog post has the attention span of a baby.


I love me some babies. Baby cheeks. Baby necks. Baby toes. (Baby clothes.) Naked babies. Baby smiles.

Even though it's occasionally hard for me when I see someone w/ a bump or a baby on their hip, I consider myself blessed to have many incredible mommy friends. They let me fawn all over their babies. They tell me all of the honest-but-kinda gross truths about labor and being a mom. They admit to not knowing it all. They don't pretend to have it all together (but they never cease to amaze me anyway). They say they can't imagine life without their little one, but still advise me to cherish my pre-baby life.

My pre-baby life consists of sleeping a lot, drinking more coffee than I should, fitting into all of the clothes I wear, reading whenever I want, taking baths and long showers, making plans on a whim, filling my purse with things only intended for me...
occasionally bringing up baby names... (Andy would say "constantly")
standing in the "future baby room" and imagining where everything will go...
constantly resisting the urge to look at baby stuff on Pinterest...
pointing out cute babies everywhere...
reading mommy blogs (tearing! hair on your belly! cankles! zits! back labor! oh boy!)...
creating a "baby and me" wishlist on Amazon so I don't forget certain items I like (SO EMBARRASSING)
having everyone and their mother ask me when we're going to have a baby (you know I love that one)...
and being content in my current baby-less state while also happily anticipating what God has in store for us.

Monday, July 30, 2012

come on girl! you got to get back up!

this is how I've been feeling about blogging:

this frizzy girl has got to get back up. can I get a sassy mmmhmmm up in herr?

just try not to feel slightly better about life after having all that soul poured into your ears like sweet, sweet honey.

then listen to all of their other songs.
especially this one.

get ready, tomorrow we're talkin bout BABIEEEZZZZ!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

conversations with an eight-year-old

I love everything princess. And animals. I LOVE animals.

If the movie makes you cry I'll get you a tissue. I'm very thoughtful. If anyone was hurt I would help them. Except for robbers. But anyone else I would help.

My friend Zach went to the space museum so he knows everything about space and he told me and now I know.
I want to go to the space museum.
Okay, I'll talk to Zach and see if he can take you.
Is Zach a kid or an adult?
He's a kid. So maybe I'll talk to his parents and you can go with them next time. Then there would be two parents and one...*pause*... adult that owns a dog.

There's this dolphin and her fin gets stuck in a crab trap and this little boy helps her and they try to make her a new fin but she doesn't like them. They make maybe ten fins in real life but they only show three in the movie. She bangs them against the wall and they break. They hurt her skin.
What happens?
I'm not going to give away the ending! I'm at the beginning part. There's still a middle part.
*proceeds to tell me everything about the movie*

It's a kids movie. Kids aren't allowed to watch adult movies. Do you watch adult movies? They have guns and stuff. Like the "s" word. Except not the "s" word that is a bad word. The other "s" word.
Umm... yes, sometimes we watch movies that have guns and the "s" word in them. But we look away during the bad parts.
Why do you have to look away?
Sometimes people don't have clothes on and we don't look at other people naked because we're married and we can only see each other naked.
Right, 'cuz you're Andy's family.

I'll remember this one always - totally unexpected. Out of the mouths of babes, right?
This room has a bunch of furniture in it. One day it will be a baby room.
I hope you get everything you wish for.

my niece Laurel four years ago

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

foster care in the Valley

I wrote this article last summer for Bloom, a features magazine for women in the Valley. I had the most fun interviewing these sources (sweet Kim provided paper for the brainless journalist who forgot her notebook and Phil and Jana insisted I take a ride on their zipline before heading back to the newsroom). 

Click here to read article in another window

Thursday, July 19, 2012

this is good

I'm toying with my french fries, trying to express the sadness in my heart. Bethany looks at me from across the table and gently says, "I get it. I didn't want to move here. I'm still grieving."

That's what it is I thought, nodding my head and letting the truth of her words sink in.

I'm still grieving.

The world didn't stop when we moved. Life moves on. Schedules get filled. The best intentions aren't always turned into actions.

You've been in these shoes before, or maybe you're in them now. I've watched my friends go through it. One by one, we all leave the cozy little nest of a community we made. Now that community is sustained through gchat, phone calls and Facebook comments. I miss you. I miss you, too. 

Oh, but I ache to be near them. To sit shoulder to shoulder doing a crossword, to laugh hysterically over awkward stories, to run my fingers over their books, to kiss the cheeks of their babies, to linger over coffee with them.

I hope as I drive back to Frederick from Harrisonburg on Sunday that I will have the ability to acknowledge that while that was so good, this is good, too. That while my heart turns violently inside of my chest, I won't have time to maintain my regrets because I will be thinking about how He loves us, oh how he loves.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

picking an end table

I sat down today determined to pick out an end table to replace the boxy black one next to our living room couch. There isn't anything wrong with our current table (in fact, we'll be selling it along with a matching glass-top coffee table- lemme know if you're interested), but it's too large for the space and doesn't "go" with the other pieces of furniture in our LR. I've been scouring Craigslist for months and haven't found anything remotely close to what I'm looking for, so I checked out worldmarket.com, overstock.com and westelm.com.

end tables
view details here

Let's discuss.
1. Super cute, but would probably need to be painted in order to not get lost against our beige couch and chair. Dimensions were right on.

2. This table would compliment the other antiques in the living room, but it is just as big as the current table we have (though clearly it's round, not square). It was out of the running as soon as I read the dimensions.

3. I immediately liked the practicality of this table as well as the subtle weathered finish. I didn't like that it only had one review, and it's hard to tell how sturdy it is from the picture.

4. I loved the quirky-ness of this table and clicked on it as soon as I saw it's $35 price tag, but one of the reviewers pointed out that you get what you pay for. The more I looked at it the less I loved it for the space.

5. This table would look so modern and would stand out against the other heavier pieces in the room, but it's actually too small! I just bought a large table lamp and I think it would overwhelm this dainty table.

6. Oh that color! If the seafoam is as dark in real life as it is in the pics, it would look amaaazing with our rug that's a similar shade. Alas, this table is way too different than all of the other pieces of furniture in the room, plus it's boxy and I didn't want a square table.

Sooo which did I pick?

Shuffle End Table

I actually had numero uno on hold at World Market but called them back and said "never mind!" about 20 minutes later. I prefer the dimensions of the Overstock table and I'm excited that I'll have more "counter space" for books and knick-knacks. Here's hoping it looks great in the room!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

weekending v.16

This weekend felt a bit fall-like to me, despite the weather being in the 90's. I wore jeans, painted my nails a smokey purple, made chili for dinner and was only a click away from buying a sweater online. Blasted shipping costs!

We had our Craigslist friends over for dinner last night and I'm happy to report that the evening was full of laughter and girl-dominated games. :) Bethany brought these lemon-lime basil shortbread cookies and I could not stop eating them! (She bakes them at 350 for ten minutes.)

Tonight we're heading to Germantown for a "Secret Shopper" gig. We have to fill out an extensive survey rating the restaurant and in exchange we get a free meal. 

I've been slowly putting together one of our upstairs guest rooms. My parents kindly hauled my childhood bedroom set up a few weekends ago. The twin bed, one of the nightstands and the desk are in the guest room, and the future baby room gets the dresser and second nightstand. That's right - the former "unpacked boxes rooms" are now the "upstairs guest room" and "misc furniture/Craigslist items/future baby room." That's what I call progress!

My favorite purchase for the guest room was a random Ross find. Sometimes you see an item and you just *know* it was meant to be. Meet my cheerful desk chair:

I knew the chair was a great find, but imagine my delight when I randomly came across the exact style here ($123 from Pottery Barn outlet) and here ($145 from Industry West). I got my red beauty for $25!

I also grabbed this colorful pillow to top the yellow quilt and navy striped bedding I got on sale from Target. 

I also added a basket and a little bowl to the room that I picked up at World Market last weekend. The basket was on sale for $12.99!

And last but certainly not least is a lamp I stumbled upon at TJ Maxx. Our living room only has one tiiiny overhead light and I've been looking for the right table lamp for beside the couch. The search is over! I'm pretty sure I gasped when I saw it. He fits right in.

Next weekend I'll be in Harrisonburg!!!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

eggplant with turkey bolognese

Remember when we thought Andy was going to live with my parents for one month and one month turned into five? During that time he was spoiled rotten by my momma's yummy cooking and he's been talking about an eggplant dish she made ever since. I finally got around to making it and now I see what all the fuss is about! I'm going to be making this dish all the time now. It's comfort food without the fatty ingredients and carbs and it only took 15 minutes to make. Winner winner eggplant dinner!

Eggplant with turkey bolognese
serves 6

29 oz can tomato sauce
1 lb ground turkey
1 medium to large eggplant
1 cup milk
1/4 cup panko or bread crumbs
2 Tbsp (or more) parm cheese
2 bay leaves
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp oregano
2 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp salt

Heat tomato sauce over medium setting and add bay leaves, garlic and onion powder, oregano, Italian seasoning and salt. Stir and let simmer a few minutes before tasting and adding more spices, if needed.

Meanwhile, cook turkey in a skillet over medium heat and chop eggplant into one-inch-thick rounds. Pour milk into a dish that's large enough to hold all of the eggplant rounds (I use a large pyrex) and place eggplant into milk. Set oven to broil and line a cookie sheet with foil. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil on to the foil. After a couple of minutes, flip the eggplant rounds so the other sides get dipped into the milk.

Mix bread crumbs and parm cheese in a shallow dish. Dip the milk-soaked eggplant into the bread crumb mixture. Place it on the foil and broil 3-4 minutes per side. Add cooked turkey to sauce and stir. Place 3-4 slices of eggplant on a plate and spoon meat sauce on top.

Friday, July 13, 2012

look for less - color blocked blazer

Olivia Palermos, granny style
I'm a little disturbed that I know who Olivia Palermos is. I think this pic of her is such a great example of the belief that women dress to impress other women. IMO, most guys would not find this look attractive. It's those granny pants! Even though I don't love the pants, goshdarnit if that girl can't pull them off!

I adore color blocking, but it seems so overused. I originally went into this post thinking I'd just match Olivia's outfit, but then I decided it would be more fun to design an outfit around a blazer using a similar color palette. Blazers make such a statement, don't you think? They add a touch of class to whatever you pair them with. 

colorblocked blazer
H&M blazer - $25
JCP lace tank - $18
Target ankle pants - $25
Nordstrom clutch - $16
Nordstrom initial watch -$18
JCrew bangle -$28
NY&CO slingbacks (not pictured) -$24

Total w/ bag - $126
Total w/ bangle - $138

I would go with the clutch or the bangle - not both. I'm all for adding color to an outfit, but I also think a toned-down look can be refreshing. The bangle isn't cheap, but it packs a punch and it could be worn nearly all summer long. I think the watch on one wrist and the bangle on the other would be adorable, so I'm leaning towards the bangle. I'm bummed I couldn't include the shoes in the set! They are so sexy and practical at the same time. The leopard printed ones would be pretty amazing too.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

I meet my friends on Craigslist

Last night a couple came to our house to purchase two barstools that I had advertised on Craigslist. As I handed them over to the guy a lightbulb went off in my head and I blurted out, "Hey! I recognize you! You're the youth pastor at Grace! You're a Bear's fan!"

(What if it hadn't been him? Eesh.)

The guy (Eric) smiled and nodded and I quickly explained that we had just seen his bio on the church website and we saw him preaching on Sunday, our second week at Grace. Then I mentioned that we're Chicago fans too. We all stood around their car for at least twenty minutes chatting excitedly and saying over and over, "This is too weird!"

Eric's girlfriend Bethany recently moved to Maryland so she knows how intimidating it can be trying to meet new people, especially at church when you're shaking hands and getting names thrown at you. We hit it off right away. Bethany, I told you I was going to blog about how we met! :)

AND as we were chatting, I mentioned to Eric that I have a heart for women's ministry, particularly college-aged women. Turns out he's looking for people to help out in that age group. Am I freaking you out? Is this is a freaky dream?

It was the coolest thing. Can't wait to hang out with them this weekend and get to know them better!

Monday, July 9, 2012


I watched "Heartburn" last week in honor of the great Nora Ephron. Have you seen it? What did you think?

Seconds into the movie I was all "ahh! baby Jeff Daniels!" There are all sorts of fun celeb sightings in the film, but not surprisingly, Meryl steals the show. The film is based on Ephron's book by the same name, and is a semi-autobiographical interpretation of Ephron's marriage to Carl Bernstein. The film has a slower pace than her other movies, but the real-life emotions that she captures so beautifully make up for it. I couldn't get over how much her daughter (the baby in the movie is actually hers) looks exactly the same now as she did when she was a toddler.

Is "Heartburn" amazing? I wouldn't say so. But it's Nora Ephron! It has her name written all over it. It's good. Add it to your queue and prepare to ache over Meryl's crazy hair, her amazing pregger fashion sense and most of all, her marriage.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

weekending v.15

I drove to NOVA Friday to see Becca and spend some quality time with mom and dad. Becca and I snuck Cinnabon into the movies (we saw Moonrise Kingdom - so should you) but still had enough room in our bellies for Ozzie's after. We're both huge fans of the Great American Restaurants, but neither of us had tried Ozzie's yet. I started with the arancini and she started with the arugula, fig and apple salad. We split the beef short rib ragu with marscapone polenta... yup, it was as good as it sounds. GAR's never go wrong. Our waiter told us the ragu was the wait staff's collective favorite, and we could see why!

Saturday was spent doing returns, shopping and... wait for it... eating at another Great American Restaurant. I can't help it! Carlyle is my family's fav. We popped into Le Village Marché and Best Buns (where I picked up a coconut macaroon and a loaf of poblano cheddar bread). I picked up a few goodies for the house at TJ Maxx and World Market - can't wait to show you!

Today I'm back in Frederick nursing a day-long headache and angrily eyeing the hardwood floors, which are covered in dog hair no matter how many times a week I vacuum. I'm hoping I'll have more energy/creativity to blog this week.

To make up for the lack of a fashion post on Friday, here are two more tucking-in pics. Embrace the tuck!

top - LOFT, last year
skirt- Nordstrom, ages ago
necklace- Etsy
sunnies- Old Navy, this season
top - Gap Outlet, this season ($10!!!)
don't remember it looking so wrinkly skirt- Vineyard Vines, ages ago
belt - came with another dress

Thursday, July 5, 2012

family practices

Pester, poke, tease, tickle.
Consume copious amounts of coffee, almond M&M's and cheese and crackers. Just eat all day.
Offer to help whoever is cooking before gluing your bottom to the sofa.
Try to shock mom with potty humor.
Sneak off for time with your spouse.
Say "We's on vacation" at least once a day.
Have conversations about family memories and then argue about what really happened.
Laugh until your belly aches.
Be affectionate.
Be adventurous.
Enjoy each other.

What a lovely vacation. I've left a lot out - kayaking, snorkeling, luau, food, missing the volcanoes because I was sick, etc., but you've patiently put up with several Hawaii posts and this will be the last. Where will we go next, I wonder?

Monday, July 2, 2012

summer orzo salad

There is this orzo salad in the deli section of our grocery store that I can't resist. I buy a quarter pound of it every time I go to the store, and every single bite I take is followed with that closed-eye breathing-in reaction of pure enjoyment. It's not cheap, though, so I finally bit the bullet and bought all of the ingredients myself.

My only complaint about the deli version is that I would feel a bit guilty eating it because they reeally over-dress the salad, so I decided I'd go for a light coating and see if I still enjoyed the taste (I actually MUCH prefer it). This salad is so flavorful and refreshing. It would make a great side dish for a summer potluck or the 4th of July.

taken w/ Photo Booth because I can't find my camera cord
Giant Eagle's Laura's Summer Orzo Salad

8 oz raw orzo
1/2 medium to large cucumber, finely diced
1/2 red pepper, finely diced
1/2 medium red onion, finely diced
a handful of parsley, finely diced
1 4 oz container of feta cheese
1/4 cup ranch dressing
1/4 cup Italian dressing
a spoonful of mayo
salt and pepper

Cook the orzo as box directs and chop the veggies while the water boils/pasta cooks. Combine dressings and mayo in a separate dish. After draining the pasta, run cold water over it to cool it down. Mix the pasta and the dressing until coated (you can always add more dressing if it doesn't seem like enough), then stir in the veggies, parsley, the cheese (start w/ half the container and add to taste), and a touch of salt and pepper. Let the dish sit in the fridge for a few hours or overnight. Makes five 1 cup servings. **If you're making this for a potluck, it's so easy to double - make the whole package of orzo and use all of the veggies. Most people will eat only 1/2 or 3/4 cup.**