Monday, July 30, 2012

Happy Birthday Grandma!

Since my Grandma is not only one of my favorite people in the whole wide world, but also a devoted blog reader, I thought a special birthday shout out was necessary....

Grandma, Happy Birthday!! We love you so much and hope you have a very special birthday! We are so excited for you and baby girl to meet, you will be the best Great Grandma!! I hope we get to spend lots of time together in the future so my daughter will have the same wonderful memories of you as I have. We love you so much!!!




Thursday, July 26, 2012

Mr & Mrs Kaylan!!

This last weekend was our last trip before baby, and a very special trip at that. Matt's sister, Nikki, got married!! We flew to Florida on Thursday to enjoy a long family filled weekend with the Clute's. We arrived just in time for the rehearsal dinner...yum! All the out of town guests and friends piled into the Clute's house where we enjoyed dinner and drinks. Things got quite cozy when the sky decided to open up for a few hours. Thunder, lightening, the works. But better on the rehearsal than the wedding, right? Right. And it was pretty cool to watch.

Friday was the big day!! Matt and I slept in, then I got picked up by the girls and we headed out for hair and makeup. We spent the next few hours hanging out and chatting while we got all dolled up. Everyone looked beautiful, especially the bride to be! Then we were off to venue to get dressed!


Nikki and Mike chose a historic mansion as the wedding venue. I am absolutely in love with this place! The wedding took place outside, under an old tree, dinner was outside on the patio, and dancing was inside a little ballroom. They even had drinks set up in a cute courtyard. It could not have been more perfect.

After we arrived at the venue time just flew by, and before we knew it it was time for pictures and waiting to walk down the aisle. It was beautiful outside, hot of course, but beautiful. The ceremony was wonderful, I even got a little teary eyed. Then it was off for more pictures and finally dinner and dancing! I wish I had taken more pictures of the whole event (slacker!) but I did get a few action shots on the dance floor.

first dance.
This is my favorite photo! Look at how happy she looks! :) Awww. And trust me, Mike looked just as giddy and drunk on love. It was adorable!


Mid speech from Dad....Another one of my favorites, mostly because Mike is all smiles!!

And finally dancing!!
Matt and Nikki getting  down!

Rocking out to Journey!!
We had a blast! Everything went perfectly and everyone seemed to have a great time. I know I did! Matt even tried to keep the party going, trying to convince everyone to drink at the hotel, but it was a no-go. Everyone was pretty tired and my feet were quite swollen. Heat + standing and dancing = cankles. The price you pay for fun!

After a long fun night, we slept in on Saturday morning, then met up with family for breakfast. Jim, Jen, Dave, and Susie were heading to the beach for vacation later that day so we were squeezing in as much quality time as possible. We got to see the video of the new house Jim and Jen bought, and we got to show everyone our ultrasound video of baby girl. Everyone was loving the 4D of her! Thank you technology! And since it was hotter than ever that day, we spent the afternoon in the pool. It wasn't as refreshing as I was hoping, but still very nice. For dinner we all headed back over to the Clute's where we enjoyed a family BBQ before Nikki and Mike headed off to their honeymoon in Puerto Vallarta! So jealous! :)

Sunday and Monday were pretty relaxing days. Matt and I went for a few short walks, spent a little time in the pool, and even more with family. It was so great to be able to catch up with everyone, for them to see growing baby girl and to feel her wiggle. It was such a fun trip to Florida, even with the heat and the attack from the local mosquitoes (apparently they LOVE pregnant blood!!). We can't wait to go back again, but with baby in tow next time!

Monday, July 16, 2012

apple pie in a jar

In June my sister-in-law had her bridal shower on the east coast. It was cooking themed, with people bringing their favorite recipes and the dry ingredients for the bride-to-be as a gift. Since I couldn't be there I mailed a gift and a recipe in a jar. I figured putting it all together in a jar would be easier than shipping a recipe with a box of canned goods, etc. I scoured the internet for good ideas and found a winner: Apple Pie in a Jar! And bonus, I actually had the mason jars from my Cake in a Jar days. All I needed were the apples and the time to cook and decorate it.

Because I knew I didn't need 7 mason jars of apple pie, I cut the recipe down by 2/3, hoping I would get 2 full jars plus a little extra, you know, to taste. :)

Ingredients:
  • 1/3 cups and 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1/4 cup and 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3  cups and 2 tablespoons water
  • 2-3/4 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 8-3/4 cups peeled, cored and sliced apples

Instructions:
  1. Place a rack in the bottom of a large stock pot. Fill pot with hot water. Sterilize canning jars, lids, and rings by placing on rack, jars upright. Bring water to a boil. Boil 10 minutes. Remove with a holder and allow jars to air-dry. Save water for processing apples.               
  2. Combine sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and water in a large saucepan. Place over high heat and cook until thick and bubbly, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice. Feel free to add other spices of your choice. I added vanilla!              
  3. Tightly pack apples into sterilized jars. Slowly pour syrup over apples, covering them completely. Gently tap jars on counter top to allow air bubbles to rise. Screw lids on jars. ~ I had a hard time getting the syrup to get in between the apples so I did it in small amounts. I added a few apples, then some syrup, and so on until the jar was full.
  4. Carefully lower jars into pot using a holder. Leave a 2 inch space between jars. Add more boiling water if necessary, until tops of jars are covered by 2 inches of water (my water went to the lid). Bring water to a full boil, then cover and process for 30 minutes. ~I wasn't sure this process was important, but it helps to soften the apples and seal the jars at the same time!              
  5. Remove jars from pot and place on cloth-covered or wood surface, several inches apart, until cool. Once cool, press top of each lid with finger, ensuring that seal is tight (lid doesn't move up or down at all). Sealed jars can be stored for up to a year.   
The finished product!!
  
I added fabric, tied it with ribbon, and attached a little note to the jar. I snagged this picture from my MIL of the jar with the gift (I forgot to take one before I mailed it out):

    
Matt and I ended up eating the other one a few days after I made it. We used Bisquick to make some yummy biscuits, topped them off with the heated apple pie mix and ate it up for dessert! It was pretty darn good! You could also get a pie crust, toss in the mix and enjoy a quick and easy apple pie. Or, in desperation, just eat it straight from the jar. Happy Baking!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

woof woof photos

Today I thought I would post some cute pictures of the pups. While Sara was in town visiting, her dog Son stayed with us. And since he was so small, I promptly put him in the stroller and pushed him around the house.

looking cute with his mohawk!

He was a little upset but overall pretty tolerant. He was not thrilled when I pulled the canopy down on him, I think he wanted to see out. After watching how much fun it was you would think Harley would want to give it a try....nope. He wanted nothing to do with it. If he realized it meant not having to walk while we exercised he would be all about it.  Lazy pup. haha.

Speaking of lazy....

relaxing in the sunshine with auntie. ahh the life of H.

And finally, two of my favorite photos. Harley with Daddy's cover on....

Lt Harley J Clute

wind in the face
Happy Thursday everyone!!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Maternity photos: week 32

About a month and a half ago I started the process of searching for a maternity and newborn photographer. I put it off for as long as possible (not sure why) but eventually realized I needed to schedule the maternity shoot about a month in advance. There was no telling how busy these photogs were and I didn't want to miss out because I was being lazy. So I scoured the internet and read reviews and emailed for the price lists and had to pick up my jaw off the floor once I got the feedback. It was going to be expensive. More than I thought and WAYYYY more than Matt thought. Not to mention that most would not give us the digital images, meaning we would have to purchase prints in order to have our pictures. And most made you decide which images to print within a week or two of the session. Talk about a tight time frame. I put together a spreadsheet (geeky I know) of all the photographers I liked, links to their sites, their prices, etc and then brought it home to get Matt's feedback. I also had to figure out a way to tell him it would be $1k - $2k, depending on what we wanted. I knew he wouldn't be thrilled, but it seemed like every photographer was charging those rates and I didn't see a way around it.

Together we looked at the sites and talked about what we wanted and narrowed it down to one photographer who had good maternity and newborn photos. And while Matt wasn't thrilled about the cost, he knew how much having these photos meant to me, so he agreed to it. When I emailed to book the session the photographer mentioned a deposit. Ok, no biggie, typical. Yea um she wanted us to pay for the entire package up front, nearly $1200. I was shocked. I thought we could phase ourselves into the payment, a little for the maternity, a little for the newborn session, and the rest once we got the album, prints, etc. Nope, not the way she does business.

Let the freak out session begin! I was stressed. Totally caught off guard and unsure if this was the right decision. I emailed and talked to my Mom about it too, looking for reassurance or guidance. She ended up talking to a coworker who knew a photographer in San Diego. She sent me the link and I was pleasantly surprised! He was really good! And when I emailed asking about prices I about fell off my chair...in a good way! We would only be paying the session fee and we would get all our edited images....at no extra cost. Um say that again please? It felt almost too good to be true. Plus, he was totally awesome (from what I could tell in emails). I had a good feeling and the one thing he said that really stuck with me: "my favorite photos that I cherish, of me and my wife with our kids are just that....us with the kids". I could not agree more. While I love all the baby posing and cutsie baskets and hats I had to ask myself what images would I frame? The answer: a photo of me, Matt, and baby girl....just us, no fuss, no bows, just us. So we booked a session with Ryan Daley Photography!

Our session was this last Sunday and he already posted some images on his blog! Here are a few of our favorites.....





If you want to see the rest, please visit Ryan's blog: http://www.thedaleylife.com/ .

We met Ryan at South Ponto beach in Carlsbad to take the pictures. Thankfully the sun was shining and the weather was perfect! I had been praying every single night for a week asking for sunshine....I wanted the silhouette photos so bad and was afraid we would be cursed with gloomy weather. Our engagement, wedding, and family beach photos were all overcast and cold, and I was worried these would be too. Luckily, the prayers worked and the sun was out just for us. We spent about an hour or so taking pictures, some of both of us and some of just me (giving Matt a break). Ryan was so easy and great to work with. Even Matt said he had a good time....and he never says that about having his picture taken!!

When I got the email the next day about the photos being on the blog already I was surprised (so fast!) and nervous. I always get worried I will hate the photos and like most people, I am my own worst critic. But wow. Just wow. We could not be happier with the outcome! They are amazing and of the few he posted, I am already having a hard time deciding which ones to frame. I am so happy we found Ryan. We are so excited to see the rest of the images!!

Friday, July 6, 2012

baby gear for my birthday = one happy mama to be!

Ahhh 29....one more year and I am in my 30's! I thought I would feel so much older, but I don't. I definitely feel more mature and grown up, but not "old" just yet (thank goodness)! I am happy and content with life, and that's all I can ask for. And I know 29 will be a pretty awesome year. Baby girl will be here in a few short weeks (8!!), so I of course asked for some much needed baby gear for my birthday.

First up, the Rocking Chair!!!!! I didn't actually ask for this for my birthday, it just happened to take 3 months to get here so it arrived on my birthday. And since Matt has his lovely leather chair, this one is mine. Plus I will be using it most of the time, hello 2am feedings!! It is the small Pottery Barn Comfort Glider, french oatmeal slipcovers. We ended up getting it 25% off because of all the shipping and delivery issues (score!!). I will say I was totally against slip covers when we first went looking for chairs. After considering the likelihood of puke ending up on it, perhaps having it machine washable (and eventually replaceable) isn't such a horrible idea. The pattern is neutral, and will work with any other colors in any room. Another reason we splurged and got the Pottery Barn chair, we plan to keep it for a long long time and eventually plan to put it in the living room, so we wanted it to be good quality. And most importantly, Matt hated the look of the gliders.


And let me tell you it is soooo comfortable!! Damn you Pottery Barn for making such good stuff. As much as I want to hate them for being overpriced, they have really nice, irresistible furniture.

This picture also shows you our room set up. Our bed is to left, and you can see the pack n play right next to it. Our temporary nursery. Easy and quick access to the baby all hours of the night.

Next up: my diaper bag!! I did actually ask for this for my birthday. It will basically be my new purse once baby gets here, so I might as well get a nice one right?! After looking at a few different brands and talking to other Moms I decided on the Ju-Ju-Be earth leather Be Fabulous. I got it in Black with hot pink interior! Love!! 



I picked this bag for a few reasons. It wasn't too big or too small, similar in size to my current purse (which is a plus for me). It doesn't look like a diaper bag and hopefully Matt won't mind carrying it or holding it sometimes. It is machine washable.....yes machine washable!! I am told this is important, so I am very excited! :). It has a lot of great pockets and organization, which I know I will need. And the one thing this bag had that other brands didn't: a Mommy pocket:


A place for me to put my wallet, keys, sunglasses, etc. There is even a soft cell phone pocket to keep your phone from getting lost in the jumble. I am in love with it already! Thank you Matty!!

Finally, a gift I didn't even know I needed: a maternity hospital gown! Even though we won't be going to a hospital, we will be at a birthing center and I honestly had no idea what I was going to wear. Something comfortable and easy to move around in were my only requirements. My sis-in-law Jen found this great gown from Mommy Moxie on Etsy and ordered me one, in my own custom pattern, First Lady C!!


Navy Camo and hot pink...perfect!! She figured I should be properly dressed when I "go to battle"....could not have said it better myself. :) The fabric is really soft and I love all the snaps down the back and arms. Part of me wants to save it for the big day, and part of me wants to wear it around the house now. T-shirt are fitting tighter and tighter these days and this baby has room to grow! Thank you Jen & Jim!!


Do I look ready to go or what???

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

a dirty thirty birthday party!!

As you know, Matt turned 30 last week, and in honor of that occasion, we had a little BBQ Birthday party for him at the house. We invited friends and neighbors over to eat, drink, and celebrate! We had the BBQ food catered by Matt's favorite place, Phil's BBQ. They are famous for their ribs and bbq sauce and since it meant I didn't have to cook the entire time, I loved the idea! I did set up a few grazing snacks and of course birthday cupcakes so nobody went hungry.

birthday banner, designed by Jessica, put together by me :)
Finishing up the frosting before the guests arrive! 

The final cupcake setup....see how they spell out "30"....yea they didn't start that way. Apparently (thank you Jessica for noticing this mistake) I had my 3 backwards making it E0...LOL!!! Pregnancy brain is getting worse and worse I tell you.

I made two different cupcakes, chocolate almond (recipe from The Cake Doctor's cupcake book) and a lemon cupcake (lemon cake mix) with cherry buttercream frosting. I had a small issue with the frosting, it got a little watery after putting it in the fridge for an hour. Or maybe it was the food coloring I was adding to it to try and make it more red and less pink? Either way, I added additional powdered sugar to it and it came out fine. It could have looked a little better but it tasted great! And since I haven't heard of anyone getting sick, I consider it a success. :) I topped off the cupcakes with some birthday candles and little toothpicks with a "30" on them. Again, designed by Jessica and put together by me.

At 3pm the guests started arriving and a game of beer pong was quickly set up in the yard.


Even the kids got into it, playing their own game....without the beer of course, we aren't that irresponsible! And Harley had an absolute blast playing with the girls too! He was chasing them around the house, playing tug of war, and showing off all his tricks to get as many treats as possible (we didn't even need to feed him dinner!)...


Eventually he got so tired he had to nap on Peter....

After enjoying the BBQ chicken and ribs, it was time to sing to Matt and eat cupcakes!! Gracie was wonderful and helped Matt blow out his birthday candles....

me and the birthday boy :)
After some of the guests scattered and went home, the rest of us headed over to JT's, Matt's favorite bar, for a little karaoke and beer. Matt sang 3 songs, Chris sang one, and even Joe came out of his shell and sang Journey!


Everyone had a really good time, including the birthday boy. I even woke up with a small headache and I didn't drink anything! Perhaps it was the drunchie stop at the local Mexican food place...hmmm. Happy 30th Birthday Hubby!! Love you!!