Thursday, February 26, 2009

Our Bundle of Joy has Arrived!


Ella Zsofi made her way into this world on February 21, 2009 at 5:38 pm. She weighed 7 lbs. 15 oz. and measured at 20 inches long. She has beautiful dark hair and her daddy's beautiful eyes. 
Everyone is so filled with joy and excitement in our family. She is the first grandchild on my side of the family and the second by only three months (first granddaughter though) on Peter's side. She has already become the pampered princess she was born to be with grandparents, great-grandparents, uncles, aunties, and great uncles and aunts fussing and fawning over her.
We have had so many well wishes from friends and family all over the globe and everyone just wants to see and love her. It is amazing to me how many people know of her birth and care for her. 
We have already had so many fun experiences together as a little family. Our little girl is so cute when she is in that delirious state right before she falls asleep - and she grins shamelessly. It is just adorable and we could honestly stare at her for hours on end. 
Being a mother is one of the most wonderful things in the world! Peter and I (although this parenting thing is a lot harder than we expected) are growing closer than ever and falling more in love with each other and our precious little girl. 
~The proud grandparents ~
My labor and delivery went SO amazingly well - I was shocked. We went into the hospital at 8 am after waking at about 6 am with consistent contractions. We had taken our time getting ready, so much so that Peter didn't think that I was really ready and that we didn't need to go to the hospital. Once there, the nurse said I was dilated to a 6 and 80% effaced and my contractions were happening close enough that they would keep me. 
Once I got into my room it wasn't too much later that the Dr. who was on staff that morning came in and broke my water. Unfortunately that didn't speed up my contractions like we were hoping so I decided to take a walk around the halls which still did nothing to speed things up. 
Back in my room, they hooked me up to the pitocin which made things happen really fast. I went about an hour to an hour and a half without any pain meds and then I was ready for my epidural - which I must say was the most blessed thing ever!  Once I had that I was able to take a nap and get myself rested enough to prepare for labor. The whole thing took about 8 hours from when we went to the hospital to when she was born. The actual "pushing" part of labor went really smoothly as well - I really feel so lucky! They checked me around 4 and I was dilated to a 9 and she said she would come and check me in a half hour to see if I had progressed and when she got back in she said I was ready to go! We did a few practice pushes while we waited for the Dr. Once he got there it was quick and fast through 3 contractions and she was there! 
I requested a skin to skin delivery which means that after Peter cut the cord they place her on my belly to clean her off. That was the most special moment. Even though she was all purple, she seemed so peaceful - hardly made a peep and was just wide awake looking around. Her little hands were moving around and I stuck my finger in her little hand and she grasped it which was one of the most tender moments. 
Oh we just love her so much! She has been such a good baby, I couldn't ask for anything better. Hopefully you enjoy these few pictures - I am sure there will be LOADS more to come! 

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Last Minute Valentines Day Gifts

So Valentines Day may not be super important to you but just think of your sweet love and how they will feel on the day of celebrating Love if they don't get a little something special... 

I just happened to glance around the web today and found some GREAT quick and easy last minute Valentines Day gifts! 

Just the other night (while helping Peter write a paper about Galileo and his effect on the worlds thinking about God...) I whipped up these little cuties... Jessica over at How About Orange turned me on to these origami gifts. They were pretty easy once you realize that you have to follow the picture directions to the utmost exactness (even the direction the paper is facing!) The heart bookmark was a huge hit and Peter already is using it! I actually made these cute little birdies for myself (he he...) and I have two at work and one at home to hold up all my paper clips! 

At Design Sponge I was dazeled by the adorable simplicity of this Valentines Kit. How fun would it be to throw together a little box filled with interesting and random goodies and make it a picnic! Just some relaxation time for you and your sweets! If your weather is doing anything like ours (possibly snow on Saturday) just lay out a blanket in the living room and light up some candles and jump back into the world of pretend by setting up a "tent" with your dining room chairs (or your couch) and a blanket draped over the top. {We may have to make one of these kits to take with us to the hospital just in case our little present comes early! }

Another idea I found via Design Sponge is from a little blog called Twig and Thistle - they have a tutorial for making a cute handmade gift and even packaging it in a cute (and cheap) bag! I love this idea! Plus, how easy to whip up some brownies and cookie cutter them into hearts! Wonderful the things people think of isn't it! 
And for those of you who would like something a little more racy... hold on to your britches for these ones! Just think of the red faces you will get with these little numbers! I found this idea on Etsy and sent it around to the girls in my office and they are all beyond excited to surprise their husbands with these sweet cookies. 
Well, whatever your Valentine likes, search around a bit on the internet and I promise that you will be able to find some tutorial or something that will give you an idea for a great gift! 

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Bloglight: My Food Storage Deals

For February's Bloglight I would like to reveal to you to a marvelous site/blog which I was recently introduced to. Some of you may have heard of it already but My Food Storage Deals is THE resource for all your food storage obtaining as well as some sweet recipes and other tips for using your food storage! 

I guess you could say I have been on a kick lately with the food storage thing (I am referring to my pathetic food storage idea with the frozen pound cake recipe...) but it is something that has been on my mind lately and so now you get to hear about it! 

Ok back to My Food Storage Deals, this lady is amazing! She is a serious shopper! {and loves to cook!!!} You can subscribe to her site for $6.95 a month and get all the details about which buys are super buys and which you can wait on until the sale is better.
I just signed up for her FREE newsletter which also has great tips and tricks and she keeps a blog updated with a few little hints as well. I am telling you this woman really knows her stuff when it comes to stock piling food! 

There is a great resource located under the Free Downloads tab where you can print off a PDF Food Storage Inventory Sheet and see how much you have compared to how much you need. The sheet works much like a check book - you put totals on grey lines and additions/subtractions on white lines. This allows you to keep track each time you go to the grocery store and each time you use items (it will also allow you to see how often  you use things and which things just sit around and you need to learn to use!) 

I actually just finished taking in my inventory and according to the totals Peter and I could survive for about... 2 months - which is a great start! I am proud to even have that much. I can't wait though to start really getting things in motion (and save some major buckage while I am at it!) 

That is the greatest part about My Food Storage Deals is that she goes over which deals are the best in her tips sheet (for members only) and tells you which things (and how much of it) you need to stock up on! She really only suggests the ones which the sale is the absolute best for the year which is nice because if you just stock pile now, you won't have to worry about spending regular prices on it later because you will just shop from your food storage closet! What a novel idea - being self reliant even during times of plenty? That is, I think, what going through all this rigmarole is about! 

As you can tell, I am very excited about my new found - hobby? - yeah, you could call it that. I will be doing my shopping on Friday (hopefully - considering I feel up to it....) and I will let you know how my spoils turn out! 
For now, just go and check out the sweet results and freebies that My Food Storage Deals has going on! 

Thanks for sharing your amazing talent with us Mrs. My Food Storage Deals! 

Monday, February 9, 2009

Belly Mongers...


As per request from a few pregnant belly mongers - here is a recent belly pic that my husband took to show the ever growing mound on my mid-section. We are just patiently waiting... waiting... waiting... and I have had just about everyone give me advice about how to induce labor! Everything from running up and down the stairs to doing the "hanky panky" to jumping on your bed playing Rock Band. 

Alas, we are trying but nothing is working. My poor brother-in-law said that all he wanted for his birthday (which was yesterday) was his niece! My little sister is begging us to have her this weekend because she has school off on Monday. Every one has their own agendas and apperently so does little Ella. She will come when she comes (I can't believe I am really saying that when deep inside I am screaming for her to get out!)

This was taken at 35 weeks along and I am now 38 weeks. We took another picture (that I haven't uploaded yet...) but I figured I would save the rest for after my Dr. Appointment tomorrow when I can update you on the progress. So for now you will have to deal with this picture. I am kind of excited because I also have some Maternity Pictures that Peter's very talented and wonderful cousin, Lauren took for us. I will post those when I get them. 

Thank you all for the support and advice and hopefully the next time you see me I am about 30 lbs lighter!!!! He he... 

Oh and more to come later:
  • Maternity Pictures
  • Home Made Nursing Cover!! (So CUTE!) 
  • Homemade Baby Slings
  • Homemade Flower Ruffle Pillow (for her super cute crib!) 
  • DYI Dresser re-do!!! (For Ella's changing table... we found a $20 antique dresser that is going to be SWEET!)
**One more thing... don't forget to check out my Mom's Etsy shop, she is selling the most adorable recycled baby clothes!!!! 

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Food Storage 101...sorta...

So I just finished watching one of Tracy Porter's recent videos on making an English Trifle. After cleaning up my drool for everything in the video from her amazingly simple kitchen, to the outfit she was wearing and of course the delicious and EASY dessert she whipped up - I finally came to realize that I don't have my food storage properly equipped! 

First of all, if we have a food shortage then the FIRST thing I am going to crave will inevitably be sweets! We have cereal coming out our ears, we just hugely stocked up on meat (which is now all neatly packaged and frozen away) and we have so much pasta I could probably wrap the world around with wet noodles! But NO SWEETS!!! As I watched Mrs. Porter whip together this beautiful trifle I began to think to myself, I MUST MAKE POUND CAKE!!!! You may think this is just one of those crazy pregnant lady symptoms but alas, I must warn you, pound cake with a little pudding (which I think that is one of my cravings!) all layered in between perfectly sweetened and whipped cream with berries to round it out - now tell me your stomach isn't growling! 

So that is on my list of things to do tonight. I figure why not start now at stocking my freezer with oh so perfect loaves of pound cake! (I think I may also need to start stocking pre-made brownies... I don't know if in a crisis I could wait like 40 minutes for my brownies to cook! ~ and who knows if I will have access to eggs and oil and such...)
This afternoon I scoured the internet looking for the perfect recipe for Pound Cake and remembered making something from Christopher Kimball and his clan with America's Test Kitchen of which I was extremely impressed with (probably because they spend days trying all different versions of a recipe trying to find the perfect one!) but which did take some time.  I figured, "AH why not give it a try!" 
Here is the recipe and let me tell you, it is not for the faint of heart! I would say this is an intermediate to advanced recipe (leaning closer to the intermediate side...) but I will say (I just finished licking the bowl clean) it is going to come out AMAZING! However, if I was going to try and mass produce these little tots, I might suggest finding a less involved recipe. Who knows, I may take one little bite and never go back! (I will let you know.) 
Well I am off to make some pudding so that I can truly indulge with my newest creation! 
Here is the recipe for those of you looking to take some quality unwind time in the kitchen - I don't know if any of you do this but it makes me feel great, a little chemistry (preparing the ingredients), a little taste testing (licking the spatula/spoon), and you feel accomplished {and you get to enjoy your results!!!!} What could be better? 

The Best Pound Cake (Cook's Illustrated)
Yield 8-10 servings, 1 9-inch loaf pan

Be careful not to overbeat the butter-sugar mixture, especially on a hot day - you could rupture the air cells and cause the batter to be heavy. It's important to beat in the eggs very slowly. If you don't think you can pace yourself, set a timer or watch the clock. When you are folding in the flour, fold up from the very bottom of the bowl, otherwise some of the batter will have little flower in it, and this will either rise to the surface, never cooking through, or settle in hard, dense streaks near the bottom of the cake. 
You may double the recipe and bake the cake in a large nonstick bundt pan (14 cup capacity); the baking time remains the same. The recipe also makes four miniature pound cakes; use four two-cup pans and reduce baking time to 40 minutes. Though best when freshly baked, the cake will keep reasonably well for 4-5 days. 

Ingredients

1 cup unsalted butter, softened (8 ounces)
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar (9 ounces)
3 large eggs (5.25 ounces, without the shells)
3 large egg yolks (2 ounces) 
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons water
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 1/2 cups cake flour (7 ounces)

Directions

Adjust oven rack to center position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 9-by-5-by-3 1/2-inch loaf pan (1 1/2-inch capacity) with vegetable shortening or spray. Line the bottom and sides of pan with parchment paper. 

Beat butter in bowl of electric mixer set at medium-high speed until smooth and shiny, about 15 seconds. With machine still on, take about 30 seconds to sprinkle in sugar. Beat mixture until light, fluffy and almost white, 4 to 5 minutes, stopping mixer once or twice to scrape down sides of bowl. 

Mix eggs, yolks, vanilla and water in a 2 cup glass measure with a pour spout, set in a pan of tepid (tepid is a mixture of 1 part boiling water and 2 parts cold water to create a lukewarm water) water until mixture is about 70 degrees. With mixer set at medium-high speed, take 3 to 5 minutes to add egg mixture to butter/sugar mixture in a very slow, thin stream. Finally, beat in salt. 

Remove bowl from mixer stand. Turn 1/2 cup flour into sieve or shaker; sprinkle it over batter. Fold gently with rubber spatula, scraping up from bottom of the bowl, until flour is incorporated. Repeat twice more, adding flour in 1/2-cup increments. 

Scrape batter into prepared pan, smoothing top with a spatula or wooden spoon. Bake until cake needle or tester inserted into crack running along top comes out clean, 70 to 80 minutes. Let cake rest in pan for 5 minutes, then invert onto wire rack. Place second wire rack on cake bottom, then turn cake top side up. Cool to room temperature, remove and discard parchment, wrap cake in plastic then in foil. Sore cake at room temperature. 


Sunday, February 1, 2009

Shower Time!

As we get nearer and nearer (3 weeks now) to Ella's coming, it has been time to celebrate as only women do, BABY SHOWERS!

My very first shower happened back before Thanksgiving. Most of my side of the family lives out of town but Thanksgiving was when we were all going to be together. 

My Mom, Aunt, Grandma, and Sister did a wonderful job pulling together a black and hot pink girl party in honor of little Miss Ella. They had lots of yummy food and treats and we played some really fun games; a nursery rhyme game and the other game (which was a HOOT!) had two people - blindfolded - go against each other to see who could get the most amount of cotton balls from one bowl to another using a spoon. 
The trick is, cotton balls weigh almost as much as air so you can't tell if you have a cotton ball on your spoon or not. 

Now to the three most recent showers... one was last Saturday, then I had one on Wednesday, and another one this Saturday. 

All of them were fabulous and each of the hosts did such a great job, I can't thank each of them enough. 
A little explanation for each - Shower #1 (of the final three...) my friend Trish threw for me. She decorated with these beautiful handmade poufs! She got the idea from Martha Stewart's site and did them in hot pink, light pink and white. They hung from the ceiling and just added such a girly and fun touch! (Check out the instruction here.) For refreshments we had an ice cream bar (one of my personal favorites and probably the thing I craved most during my pregnancy - ice cream and brownies!) 
She had the perfect array of treats, vanilla ice cream, brownies, mixed berries, nuts, crushed up Butterfinger, cut up Snickers, crushed chocolate wafers, gummy bears, chocolate sauce, carmel sauce, and two berry sauces! Oh I was in heaven! It was like homemade Cold Stone! 

The games we played were another Nursery Rhyme game (different from the one above... and can you guess the rhyme I struggled with... Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater! Shame, I know, my poor husband's name sake.) We also played Baby Pictionary which got everyone laughing and I realized what a horrible quick drawer I am! After that we also played pin the binky on the baby. It was great to just have some time to relax and socialize with good friends. 

My work threw me a shower which was #2 and that went wonderfully as well. They made those same poufs as my other shower but this time they made them in Turquoise, Red and White and only fanned out half of the paper so they could be used as table decorations. I only have video of this shower (which I haven't uploaded yet...) so sorry there are no pictures with this one. It was so nice to see some of my friends from old departments I used to work in and spend time with them as well as the departments I work in and closely with now. 

We had delicious food, shredded pork sandwiches, coconut rice (YUM!) and broccoli salad. Then other people brought various desserts where were fantastic too!

The last shower I had was yesterday thrown by my sweet mother-in-law and sister-in-law. This shower was nursery rhyme themed and the decorations and games were so cute! They had traced pictures from nursery rhyme stories on a projector so they were BIG and then colored and laminated them. They hung those around the house as the decorations as well as part of a game we played later. All of the food they had prepared also corresponded to a nursery rhyme which made things really fun! And the food looked and tasted great! 
The game had each of the guests take a piece of paper around to the different pictures and/or food items and we had to guess which nursery rhyme it was referring to. Some of them were hard but I think everyone had a great time! We also played a memory game where I walked around with a tray full of baby things and then I left the room. The hostess then asked questions to the group about what I was wearing! That was pretty fun and I think, overall they did a good job. 

The other game we played was taking the letters from our baby's first and middle name and scrambling them to come up with different words - it was really interesting to see how many words people were able to come up with! 

Just a big thank you to all those who attended and especially those who hosted. I loved every minute of each of the showers. They were all so different and all SO fun! I can't wait to bring this little girl into the world to meet all the people who love her so much! I will keep you posted on how things are progressing - we have a Dr. Apt. tomorrow! 

18 DAYS LEFT!