Monday, April 29, 2013

Building Garden Boxes and Weekend Update

We had some amazing, beautiful weather this weekend in Colorado.  It almost seems like we skipped spring altogether and jumped right into summer.  The thermometer on our back porch registered 88° at one point; amazing considering snow was still melting in some parts of town.

We spent a good part of our weekend outside and finally got to build the garden boxes I keep talking about.  I obtained the plans for these boxes through a friend from school who found them on “Sunset” magazine’s website.  They were really thorough but we changed a few things.  Here is what we did…

We got a really good deal at a local lumber yard on the wood!  

Supplies for one 4’ x 8’ box:

(12) 2’ x 4’ x 8’ untreated cedar planks
(1) 4’ x 4’ x 8’ cedar post
(64) 3 ½ inch outdoor screws
Circular saw - recommended
A very powerful drill – recommended

Cut four (4) 2’ x 4’ x 8’ in half to obtain the 4 foot sides (this should leave you with (8) 4’ planks).  The other 8 planks should not have to be cut unless there is a big discrepancy in the length of the plank.  Cut the 4 x 4 x 8 post into 2’ sections.

Build bed upside down. Set a 2 x 4 x 8 on its thin edge on pavement, and place a 2-foot post at one end. Secure post with two 3½-inch screws. Repeat at other end of board. Repeat with other short board. Join short sides with an 8-foot board; and secure with two screws. Add other long side. Add additional layers of planks to each side.

These boxes are pretty easy to build as long as you have the right tools.  Mike learned from the first one to first drill a hole where the screw was going, just to make the screw go in a lot easier.  That was the biggest dilemma with the first box, we ruined a few screws and bits.  But the second box went a lot faster and easier.  Plus, we only had to make a trip to the hardware store once that day!

Mike did the majority of the work but I helped drill a few screws and measured all of the boards. And I ended up weeding yet again... they just will not go away!  

The end product looks great and I can’t wait to grow our veggies in them.  Almost all of the seeds have sprouted!  Just waiting on some Anaheim peppers.  

We both forgot to put sunscreen on so we both got burnt that day.  I hardly ever get burnt but with pregnancy I guess my skin is a little more sensitive to the sun… I thought I might have skipped that symptom… shucks!  I joked that we didn't get burnt while on a tropical island for 8 days but a few hours on a SPRING day in Colorado did us in.

I was pretty out of it after all that building, sun, and heat, so we stayed in the rest of the day and made a BBQ for dinner!  Teriyaki chicken (mine with cheese!), baked potato, and zucchini! 

Yummy, gooey cheese!
Sunday was a pretty relaxing day.  We ended up doing a few chores around the house in the morning.  Then we tried to find a few garage sales in the afternoon…which didn’t go so well.  Then we went downtown to see if H&M had any good maternity wear (which they didn’t) and walked around for awhile.  It was another hot day so we went  home and I took a short nap.  It was another BBQ for dinner.  Lemon pepper tilapia, grilled potatoes, and green beans!  Mike was also really excited to have me watch Star Trek (the new one).  I’ve been hesitant to watch it but it wasn’t too bad.  

That is about it for our weekend update.  We are expecting another freeze and possible snowstorm on Wednesday so I'm hoping that the peach blossoms that just got discovered will be okay through it.  I'm really, really wanting some delicious homegrown peaches this year!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Week 18 of Pregnancy

Baby (I really have to come up with a nickname soon) is the size of a…. Bell Pepper! It weighs around 5-5.5 ounces and is about 5.5-6 inches in length!  Grow, baby grow!

I think I legitimately felt the baby kick early this morning.  Little thumps here and there.  Such an amazing feeling! 

I thought I'd try a new layout to these weekly updates.  They feel a little more organized!

How I’m feeling:
Nausea has revisited me, and it isn’t a very welcomed guest.  I get nauseous around 4pm and it doesn’t go away until around 7pm.  It’s not from not eating, because I am eating a bunch.  However, food just doesn’t sound good to me this week.  I have to force myself to think of something that sounds appetizing… not fun especially with nausea.  

My back is still hurting whenever I do too much moving around, so today is a rest day from doing anything around the house.  Just walking the doggie kids around the neighborhood.  The weather has finally begun to warm up so that makes me very happy.

My energy level is good and I get spurts of energy in the mornings.  Sleeping, however, has been hard lately.  I fall asleep great but wake up around 3am and can’t get back to bed until 6:30 and that’s with forcing myself to stay in bed.  Today, I actually got two extra hours of sleep so that helped a bunch.

Physical changes:
I think my belly grew a little bit this week.  I’ve wanted to get a tape measure to measure it every week but I keep forgetting!

I think I saw a really faint Linea Nigra (black line) on my belly this morning!  Kind of like that first pregnancy test with the really faint second pink line.

I have had no new weight gain this week.  I’m still up 5 pounds from my pre-pregnancy weight. 

What I’ve been craving:
I’m still on an avocado kick and eat at least half of one everyday.  Almost-burnt cheese is something I can’t get enough of and I find myself making quesadillas and pushing the cheese out of them while they are cooking so that it burns a little.  Lemonade is also a big one.  I have to have at least a glass a day!  Again, with the nausea, not much food sounds good this week.

Something fun: 
Since we aren’t finding out the sex of the baby, I thought it would be fun to look up some Old Wives’ Tales about gender.  They range from Chinese numerology to putting your wedding ring over your belly.  So here is a breakdown of what we have done so far.

Old Wives’ Tale
How to tell
Our baby’s gender
Ring over belly
Ring spins in circles=Boy
Ring goes swings side-to side=Girl
Linea Nigra
Line stops at belly button=Girl
Line stops at rib cage=Boy
Heart rate
150 and above=Girl
Below 150=Boy (143bpm)
Hair Growth
Little or no change to growth=Girl
Fast hair growth=Boy
Chinese Numerology
Not sure how this works but I put in my birth date and baby’s EDD
More pimples than usual=Girl
No change to skin=Boy
How I look
More Beauty=Boy
Less Beauty=Girl (she steals your beauty!)  I think I look a little more dull and tired

GIRL: 3 BOY: 5

Of course there are many more tales out there but we will stick to these 8 for now. 

22 more weeks and Mike and I will become parents.  P.S. I think it just finally hit me that I am going to be a mother shortly!  

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Getting "Ready" for Baby

This nesting phase is really starting to make an appearance!  I spent all of this afternoon cleaning and weeding our front yard and boy does my arm hurt and I am exhausted!

Another one of my natural enemies! 

I don’t really know why the base boards and walls need to be cleaned but its something that is on my to-do list along with many, many more things.  I’ve also been adding lots of things to Mike’s “honey-do list.”  He’s been doing almost everything that I’ve wanted… he’s doing so great and I can’t wait to see him as a father.  I’m also getting excited about moving our office into another room, we just have to paint it before getting our desk in there (also on a list I have for him… poor guy!)

I’m also trying to get our doggies ready for a new addition to the family.  Chloe, seems to really love babies but not so much kids.  Gracie, just wants to play but she doesn’t know how to play gentle yet.  They are both cuddle bugs and are starting to get really close to me.  Gracie keeps cuddling up to my belly and I think she can tell there is something different about me. Chloe has always been close to me, she was with me before Mike and I started dating and it took her awhile to warm up to him.  That’s until he brought her Milkbones every. Time. He. Saw. her.  I had to tell him to stop because she was gaining way too much weight!  We got Gracie two days after we got married and she was quite the project.  But eventually we all transitioned to becoming a family of four.  We love them so much and my only hope is that they don’t feel overthrown by the baby.   Chloe has been through a lot of changes so I hope to make the transition easy especially for her. 

Lots of hesitation in those eyes!

She explains herself!

Loving their walks!  They actually do pretty well
with a stroller... Yes, I have tested that already

Besides cleaning and reordering the house, our days are quite quiet right now and I can’t help but think about how they might be in less than 5 months.   I’m enjoying the down time and trying to get Mike to enjoy the quietness too.     

In other news, Mike and I just booked our One Year Wedding Anniversary weekend getaway!  We are going to Seattle and I am so excited about it!  It is so hard to believe that we have been married for almost a whole year ago… It definitely doesn’t seem that long. I’ve wanted to visit Seattle for quite some time (Actually, I think it started when “Grey’s Anatomy” first aired… I know, I know).  Seattle looks like such an amazing place and I can’t wait to explore!  So, if anyone has any suggestions on where we should go, let me know!  We won’t have a car and will only be there for 3 days but I’m hoping to see a bunch around the city.

Trying to get the our house ready for the baby is exhausting and I’ll be more than ready for a break in month’s time.  I’m 18 weeks tomorrow so keep you eye out for tomorrow’s weekly update!

Happy Thursday, Everyone!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Accepting Pregnancy Transformations

I used to dream about how my pregnancy would be.  Healthy diet with pretty healthy cravings, small emotional changes, happy all the time, able to sleep like a baby, and feeling great!  I can tell you that those dreams of perfection are already long gone.

Just before getting pregnant, I told myself that I would eat the best diet possible. I even went to the store and bought ingredients on a “pre-conception diet” list: Spinach, lean meats, limit sugar, and cut down on caffeine… etc.  I didn’t drink any alcohol and I had Mike follow the same rules.   Of course, that all went down the drain once I got pregnant (except the drinking, of course).  Even though chocolate is off the list, I still love my sweets, I drink a cup of coffee everyday, eat chicken tenders and fries all the time, and greens are just not my thing!  What I’m trying to say is, my pregnancy diet is far from what I had hoped it would be. 

My emotions have also started to become evident.  Just the other day, I was crying, well actually sobbing, for no apparent reason.  I get mad at Mike if he has stinky feet.  I don’t like being told what I need to do by my mom and I become very short with her if she does. If I don’t sleep well at night, forget it, all bets are off!   And dirty baseboards are my natural enemy and I can’t help but get mad and aggravated when I see them.  Oh, and I can’t forget that forgetfulness!  Did I expect this?  Yes.  Was I ready for it? No!  Was Mike ready for it? Probably not.

It is a difficult notion to know that your body is going to change so drastically in the next few months; that your body really is not your body for 9 months (and a few afterwards). But I’m starting to think that a lot of women may feel a little overwhelmed with this ever-changing body.  I know I do!  I sometimes wonder if my flat stomach or sharp brain will ever make an appearance again after the baby is born. 

It is a true miracle what is happening inside of me right now and I already love this baby more than I thought possible.  Looking at ultrasounds, I can already tell it has some of Mike and mine’s personality.  Maybe dreaming of a perfect pregnancy is a type of “getting ready for parenthood” mechanism.  You set out to have a perfect pregnancy but along the way you stumble, kind of just like parenthood.  I've finally learned that it’s okay to make mistakes along the way, all that matter is that you do the best you can do.  It’s all in the journey.

Monday, April 22, 2013

7 Simple Ways to Celebrate Earth Day!

Today is Earth day!  If it weren’t snowing we would probably be building our garden boxes.  But instead we are going to have a meatless Earth day Monday. 

Here are 7 simple ways you could celebrate Earth Day today:

1) Plant something.  Plant a tree, plant some flowers, or start a small balcony garden.

You could even reap the benefits by growing your own food.
Those peaches were grown from our baby peach tree and were the
best peaches I have ever had!

2) Go Meatless today.  This Earth day falls on a Monday.  Monday has been coined “Meatless Monday” by many health and environmental activists.  Or Make a pledge here to go meatless every Monday.

3) If you live in a place with nicer weather, don’t use your car.  Bike, walk, or use public transit today.  

Plus you get some exercise!

4) Go for a hike and celebrate with nature today!

5) Start Recycling.  Most trash companies offer recycling services at low or no cost.  

6) Go to a local farmer's market and support your state by buying locally.  Support your environment by buying organic when possible.

7) Use your reusable bags when grocery shopping!

You don’t have to go extravagant to make a change in the world.  Remember, many small changes can make a huge change!  And don't just make Earth Day your only day to make a difference, make a pledge to keep it going year round!

Happy Earth Day!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Week 17 of Pregnancy

I actually wrote week 16 half way through the week so if this post seems too soon its because that is why.

This week the baby is the size of… I got 3 different vegetables/fruits comparisons this week… an apple, turnip, and onion.  I’m more inclined to compare the baby to the size of an apple because the other two are just not appetizing.  The little apple of our eyes.

After having lunch with two of my oldest friends from middle school, I was in the car driving home and started to feel something a little strange in my lower belly.  It almost felt like when you’re at a loud concert and feel the bass in your chest.  Only this was much more subtle and in my uterus.  It felt like nothing I have felt before so I’m guessing this is the first time I have felt baby kick! 

I feel pretty good this week.  I started having occasional back aches and ligament pain.  It feels like my belly keeps changing sizes.  I still haven’t graduated to that “definitely pregnant” look so I still just look a little bloated.  I am up 5 pounds from my pre-pregnancy weight though.  None of my pre-pregnancy pants have fit for about 1 ½ months.  I bought a few maternity dresses, skirts, and only one pair of jeans in hopes of warm weather but again the weather hasn’t been on my side.  I keep declining to buy more jeans because it just doesn’t seem worth it since it is the middle of April already.  Maybe I’ll stop into H&M this weekend to take a look at their maternity wear.

My skin is also starting to get some of its color back and clear up a bit.  Before, I looked really pale and had many red dots on my face.  I definitely didn’t have that pregnancy glow but it might be starting to finally appear.

My brain, however, has been plagued by pregnancy.  I went to the bank today and they asked me to input my PIN number… I still can’t remember it!  I’ve used that PIN for a year and a half but it’s just not in my brain anymore…I eventually had to change it.  And I have forgotten where I parked twice already… I feel so triumphant when I find my car!  Oh well…

No serious cravings to report this week.  I did have a strawberry/lemon crepe today, which I may crave again soon.  It was yummy and I can see it again in my near future!  I am able to eat much healthier things than I had been eating earlier in the pregnancy.  Chocolate is a huge turn off for me and the taste makes me cringe.  Anything sour or salty is my best friend.  I’m picturing the leftover lasagna in the refrigerator, which I will probably eat when I’m done writing this post. 

Since Mike is a nurse and his schedule is not consistent through the week, our weekends are whenever he has days off.  We actually have a real weekend this week, which I am pretty excited about!  Lunch with one of Mike’s friends and hopefully the buying of wood for our garden boxes are on the list!  It’s supposed to be sunny but still a little chilly this weekend, but hopefully we will be able to get outside and soak some of the rays up!  I’m definitely ready for warm weather and dresses! 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Vegetarian Lasagna

This will be my first recipe so bear with me! 

Since this is one of my vegetarian recipes and even though I am not a vegetarian anymore, I would still like to share some of my story and journey on this topic. 

I first started cutting meat out of my diet about 6 or 7 years ago.  I gave up red meat for lent one year and have still yet to go back to it.  I felt healthier, was able to lose some of those pesky “freshman 15” pounds, and it was a nice change for me.  That is the year I started running and also started my garden.  As time went by, I decided to cut pork out of my diet and soon after it was chicken and fish.  It sort of just happened that I became a vegetarian. 

I started reading and becoming more educated on the treatment of animals in our meat industry.  I won’t go into detail here but I will say that knowing what I know will probably make me remain off of beef and pork the rest of my life.  

My family was the biggest obstacle when it came to my vegetarianism.  They were brought up meat and potato style, as was I, so they didn’t really understand why and even how I was vegetarian.  But even with their concerns and criticism, I remained vegetarian for quite awhile.  I liked the lifestyle that it created for me and it also allowed me to find out more about myself.  It made me get in tune with my body more as well as helped with my running.    

During that time, I experimented with many new recipes.  It was so new and fun to come up with a healthy, vegetarian dish that tasted really good.  I had to think outside of the box when cooking and sometimes I would just throw ingredients together and sometimes it would work out, other times it didn’t.

I was, however, not able to keep up with the amount of nutrients that I needed and as time went by I felt a bit malnourished and I kept losing weight.  I also knew I wanted to eventually become pregnant.  I know it is definitely possible to be vegan/vegetarian during pregnancy but it was something I didn't really want to pay that much attention to or worry about.  So, as of now, chicken and fish are back in my diet.  

I still like eating vegetarian 2-3 times a week and I have many vegetarian dishes that are staples for Mike and I.  One of those dishes is my vegetarian lasagna.  I don’t know how many versions of this I have tried over the years but I finally came up this winner!

Quite tired of the snow and ready for Spring weather!

It was a cold and snowy day yesterday and I asked Mike if he would rather BBQ chicken or lasagna. I was secretly hoping he would say chicken because it was a bit of an easier dinner.  He said lasagna sounded good!  So I made lasagna and I thanked him for picking it when we sat down to eat dinner!  It is just so yummy!

First, bring a big pot of salted water to a boil and cook lasagna noodles as instructed on packaging. 

Cut up the veggies and heat about a tablespoon of olive in a sauté pan.  Put all the veggies in and cook them until they are soft.  Add in the tablespoon of marinara, ½ teaspoon of salt,  ½ tsp of black pepper, and ½ tsp each of dried rosemary, oregano, and basil. I use a good organic jarred marinara.  But if you're up to it... homemade is always best.

Add enough marinara to the cover the bottom of the pan that you will be baking the lasagna in.  It helps keep the noodles from sticking. 

Assesmble the lasagna.  Noodles, ricotta, salt and pepper (if so desired), ½ of the veggies, marinara, cheese.  Repeat.  Once the third layer of noodles are laid down, cover them in marinara and a good amount of cheese.

When Mike is home he usually watches me cook.  Always asking what he can do, but I usually say nothing because I am a control freak when it comes to cooking.  So he took this picture of me assembling the lasagna.

Cover with aluminum and pop in 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes and then uncover for another 30 minutes or until the cheese is golden.



Vegetarian Lasagna

9  Lasagna noodles
1  Tbsp olive oil
1  medium zucchini (1/4” chopped)
1  medium bell pepper (1/4” chopped)                     
1  cup of steamed and strained spinach
1  jar of good marinara sauce
½ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
½ tsp dried rosemary
½ tsp dried oregano
1  tsp  dried basil or ½ cup fresh
½ cup of good part-skim ricotta cheese
¾ cup of parmesan cheese
3  cups of mozzarella cheese

1.     Cook noodle according to package directions
2.     Heat olive oil in sauté pan
3.     Combine bell pepper, zucchini, and spinach and sauté in olive oil until soft
4.     Put 1 Tbsp of marinara and next 5 ingredients into the veggie mix and heat for about 30 seconds
5.     Put 1 Tbsp of marinara on the bottom of the pan you will use to bake lasagna in
6.     Assemble lasagna – Lay 3 noodles down, ¼ cup of ricotta, ½ of the veggie mixture, ½ cup of marinara, ¼ parmesan, and 1 cup mozzarella.  Repeat.
7.     On the last layer of noodles, cover with remainder of marinara, parmesan, and mozzarella
8.     Bake covered in a 350° oven for 30 minutes and then uncovered for an additional 30 minutes or until cheese and golden.