This post brought to you by Organic Choice. All opinions are 100% mine.
When Nick and I started looking for a new condo (we were expecting Grace and I imagine she was expecting… to not share a room with her parents and dog), outdoor space was at the top of our wish list. With spring in sight (sort of… right?), I can’t wait to make the most of our new patio, which is conveniently located just off the kitchen. While bundled up in sweaters, layered with other sweaters, I’ve been day dreaming about growing our own herbs, vegetables and flowers.
Nothing says “Adios, polar vortex!” quite like homegrown produce.
I recently learned about Organic Choice, Scotts’ line of fully organic gardening products, and look forward to incorporating their products into my plans. Better for the environment than conventional products, Organic Choice is perfect for edible gardening and is available at major retailers.
We’ve always taken advantage of my parents’ garden, making spicy gazpacho, salsa, polenta pizzas topped with fresh herbs, summer rolls and crisp salads with their tomatoes, greens, and vegetables. I am hoping I can convince my dad to help keep our patio plants alive… perhaps in exchange for some of that gazpacho?
3-4 large tomatoes, roughly chopped
1/2 large red onion, diced
1 English cucumber, peeled and chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic
1 handful of fresh cilantro
1 handful of fresh parsley
Red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
Add tomatoes to the bowl of your food processor or blender and pulse until nearly smooth.
Add cucumber, onion, garlic, cilantro, and a drizzle each of olive oil and red wine vinegar and blend until you reach desired consistency.
Season with salt and pepper.
Be thankful winter is nearly over.
Time to peel off a layer of sweaters, finish off a bowl of gazpacho, and start putting those gardening plans into action.
Grace turned a month old and I turned 32. Nick crushed 14.1, Clark discovered heating blankets. Speaking of Clark (and Nick), a few people have asked how I switch back and forth between my Instagram account (@ElizabethEv) and Clark’s (@clarkthefrenchie). The answer: I don’t. Clark’s account (and his recent summer slim down plan…) is all my husband’s doing. They’re quite the pair.
I spent my birthday morning the best way possible: curled up with my little family.
Naturally, Clark wasn’t far away. I love his squishy face and greying beard. He’s like a distinguished old gentleman (if you ignore all the farting).
Nick put together a lovely dinner (takeout from my favorite Mexican restaurant, grown up things like candles and place mats, a perfectly portioned cake) while Grace napped (hallelujah). It’s been ages since we sat down together for a meal. It was wonderful. And so appreciated.
I love wrapping paper. Maybe when I am old and retired, I can get a part-time job merchandizing wrapping paper at Homegoods. If you’re going to dream, dream big.
I’m all for inspiring tea quotes, but the “warmth and love of my soul” has been no match for this frigid polar vortex nonsense. It was, like -100 in the midwest this weekend, so 18 in Boston probably seems balmy, but enough already. This lady needs some fresh air.
My parents, sister and brother-in-law stopped by on Sunday after Mass with all kinds of treats (including a hundred CDs from my childhood bedroom… more on those gems later). These macaroons are incredible.
I channeled my inner Donna Meagle and treated myself to a new electric kettle. I’ve been drinking quite a bit of tea lately, and have become paranoid about everything potentially unsafe. Like boiling water and open flames and stoves. I like that this kettle sits a safe distance from our counter ledge, promptly turns off when the water boils, and stays cool to the touch. Also: I like cute things.
You’ve heard this story before: I’m attempting a full month of #fmsphotoaday. Saturday’s prompt was yellow. What’s the over/under on me making it past Tuesday?
As I mentioned earlier, Clark recently discovered heating blankets. He’s nothing if not resourceful.
My ten year reunion from BC is coming up (Speaking of which, have you seen this video? It’ll make you super happy, I promise.) While it’s hard to believe it’s already been ten years, it’s even harder to believe how much has changed since 2004.
Ten years of highlights
I’ve worked for two organizations (I am pretty sure a speaker at our high school graduation claimed that our generation would have 912 different jobs before we turned 30. Proof that grown-ups lie. Or whatever.), lived with cool roommates (my parents) for a few years, and some slightly less cool roommates (not my parents) for a few years, met Nick and tricked him into falling in love with me, bought our first home, freed Clark from the home of a Russian dentist (true story, mostly), got married, bought our second home, and welcomed a beautiful baby girl. And those are just the highlights.
Ten years ago, 2 AM was for getting my high heel stuck inside my pant leg and falling into a glass door (and living to tell of it). It was for cab rides home and late night snacks. It was for adding everyone with my last name as a “friend”on a just hatched Facebook, laughing hysterically with my actual friends, and then remembering I had a French presentation involving medieval puppets to finish.
These days, 2 AM is for nursing, diaper changing, swaddling, singing, cooing, and cuddling. I have officially become one of those grown-ups that will talk about your generation. And I wouldn’t change it for the world. Though I do hope my daughter wears more sensible shoes, avoids those swinging glass doors, and maybe chooses a cooler major than French. Maybe.
Here’s where Grace and I have been spending our early mornings.
A peek at the nursery
We tried to avoid picking a theme when putting together the baby’s room, but clearly I am a fan of grey. Nick’s dad mixed the wall color for us (California Paints Cloud); it’s the perfect shade of cool, soft grey.
Rather than buy an actual changing table and a dresser, we opted for furniture that can grow with the baby, or be used elsewhere later on. I fell in love with the clean, modern lines of both this dresser and Grace’s crib. The chevron hamper (which matches one of our sheet sets) was a gift from my sister and has been invaluable. How do such little babies produce such a large volume of laundry? And forgive me for talking shpoop, but I am pretty sure we found the world’s greatest diaper pail. Not only does the Ubbi look sort of chic (I mean, as chic as a waste receptacle can look), but it doesn’t require special bags, which means we save a bit of money by using our regular garbage bags. Plus it’s steel (doesn’t absorb, welp, odors), really easy to clean, and comes in a bunch of colors. Including grey.
Enough about that.
Nick secured a changing pad to the back of the dresser, and I found the perfect sized basket at Homegoods to store the baby’s diapers, wipes, and other necessities. We used a really helpful chart from our doctor during our first few days home to track feedings, diapers, etc., but also found the Eat Sleep app and this notebook helpful (in hindsight, a regular notebook would totally do the trick #clearlyfirsttimeparents). I’ve forgotten my own name by 3 PM, so it’s been helpful to have various charts and lists and reminders scattered about the condo.
Nick grabbed the travel alarm clock from Target, likely after the 700th time I called from the nursery, “Honey, what time is it?” The mysterious little bottle is infant vitamin D drops, and the sweet pink lamb was a gift from our niece.
We bought the crib, dresser, and glider from Jordan’s Furniture, and I think we ordered the crib mattress from Amazon. Shopping for a baby (especially when we essentially had no idea what we were doing) was a bit overwhelming at times. We wanted to make sure we had the best, most safe options… but we didn’t want to have to sell our dog to afford them. I found Lucie’s List to be really helpful for sorting through what we’d need, when we’d need it, and what options were available. No nonsense. Just the way I like it (most of the time). I highly recommend checking out their registry cheat sheet and weekly emails if you’re expecting.
For now, Grace is sleeping (sort of… mostly, she’s awake at night…) in a co-sleeper attached to our bed. We also have a Moses basket from my parents (seen next to the crib in the photo above) for napping, and a Boppy infant lounger, welp, loungin’. We’ll likely move her to the crib around three months… but who knows.
How adorable is this Frenchie pillow? My sister brought this for Grace in the hospital. Our real Frenchie has been so good with the baby so far. I think all that practice (um… on other people’s children) as a therapy dog has paid off.
We took a class called “Barks and Babies” with Clark’s trainer early on in my pregnancy. We implemented a lot of Jen’s suggestions as soon as we could, knowing it would be a big adjustment for the French fry to no longer be the (only) star of the day. We put a bed for Clark in Grace’s room, installed our baby gates right away, and let him check out all the various swings, tiny clothes, and diaper bags coming into the condo. So far, so good. Really good.
I clearly need to work on a better book storage situation, but in the meantime, Grace’s growing collection is within arm’s reach of our glider… if I glide that thing just right. I love reading to her, and will share some of our favorites soon.
We looked for a matching ottoman or pouf for the glider but came up empty. Fortunately, the $20 nursing stool we got at Babies R Us approximately five minutes before I went into labor more than does the trick. Side bar: Would it have been too much trouble to name the store Babies Are Us? And what does that even mean? Everyone working there seems, like, fully grown.
You might recognize the storage cabinet from our first condo (we have a pair, and used them as light/dark laundry storage). A little Lysol and some shelves later, and it now holds bath supplies, extra books, and an infant silver set. In other words: it holds the stuff I had no clue what to do with. It looks good… and that sort of all that matters. Sort of.
Nick installed blinds (which let in tons of light during the day, without giving the neighbors a direct shot of the changing table and/or my boobs) and blackout drapes this weekend to finish off the room.
I’m thrilled with how it all turned out. And I’m thrilled to be a grown-up.
I thought about putting together a Weekend According to Instagram post, but ever since Grace’s early arrival (and my coinciding early maternity leave), the weekends sort of feel like regular days. And the regular days feel sort of like weekend days. Mostly, the last three weeks have felt like one very long (albeit, wonderful) day of nursing, diaper changing, and snuggling… peppered with a few short naps. And several showers necessitated by being thrown up on by a tiny human. And some quick snack breaks. Life has been incredibly wonderful. My Instagram feed, however, has been incredibly boring. Which, I am hoping, is a sign that I am doing something right.
Maybe next weekend will be different. Don’t hold your breath. (Really. Don’t. It’s bad for your health.)
In the meantime, I thought I’d share some late night reading I’ve been doing during those moments after I’ve carefully placed Grace in her co-sleeper, but before I am convinced she is actually asleep.
You’re likely familiar with Pocket, but if you’re not, Julie’s post is a good place to start. I’ve been saving posts and articles to read for later there, leaving with me with a more curated and manageable reading list than my overflowing Feedly, um, feed. (Side note: Remember when Google Reader went extinct and I was this close to going into mourning? Totally over it.)
Lest you think me completely vapid… a warning: most of this is very light reading (with the exception of the first article, perhaps). I’m fairly certain that’s all my brain can manage at the moment.
Sign up for The Kitchn’s Cooking Cure: If anyone needs four weeks of cooking and meal inspiration, it would be this lady. The one who wondered just this morning if jelly beans, a banana, and some almond butter counted as breakfast.
Update: Congrats to Sophie @ Life’s Philosophie! And many thanks to all who entered. This giveaway is now closed.
Late last year, I received a complimentary copy of The SparkPeople Cookbook. I was familiar with the SparkPeople website and lovetheir Instagram account, and had heard great things about that community from friends looking to lose weight or maintain a healthy lifestyle. After spending some time enjoying the cookbook and perusing the hundreds of searchable recipes (including a special section for parties and seasonal dishes) on SparkRecipes, I’m hooked.
I’ve never been much of a meal planner. While pregnant, I stuck with small, frequent meals and seemed to experience new food aversions daily (root beer, raspberries, mashed potatoes and cucumbers… those were my safe foods hahaha). I’m still eating round the clock (and often with one hand), but have been so happy to crave actual meals again. Whenever I get a new cookbook, I seem to spend hours marking pages that whet my appetite. That way I can easily find meal inspiration when I’ve grown sick of, welp… raspberries and root beer. (Bodies are so weird.)
The SparkPeople Cookbook is full of healthy recipes, along with really helpful instructions for healthy cooking techniques, inspirational stories from the SparkPeople community, ideas for ingredient swaps, and other educational content.
It’s the kind of cookbook you’ll want to actually read.
The lovely folks at SparkPeople are offering a copy of The Spark People Cookbook to one On Tap for Today reader in the U.S. To enter, simply leave a comment below. I will choose a winner (using random.org) at the end of the day on Monday, February 17th.
Full monty disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of The Spark People Cookbook. I was not compensated for this review or giveaway. As always, I’m happy to share my honest thoughts on products I enjoy. Also, it’s been two weeks since my last sip of root beer.
I did a bit more advance planning this holiday, as Grace’s due date was 2/15. I figured Nick and I might well be ringing in the sweetheart’s holiday in a labor and delivery room… but instead we’ll be at home with a very happy, teeny, tiny baby.
While I’ve had a gift stashed away for my husband for a few months, some of you may be scrambling (as I usually am), so I thought I’d share a few inexpensive, last minute ideas.
You can’t go wrong with flowers and chocolate
You just can’t. I think a simple bunch of white tulips is perfect for any occasion. Including Tuesdays. Which is to say, you don’t need an occasion to give someone (or yourself, obvi) flowers. Same goes for chocolate.
Tea for one
I love sharing my favorite teas. Pair a few tea bags with a cute mug (try Homegoods for inexpensive, fun mugs) and you’ll have your Valentine warmed up in no time… quoth the lady in Boston presently wearing a bathrobe over a sweater.
Spruce up something ordinary
I am forever trying to justify the extent of my washi tape collection by embellishing any and everything I can get my hands on. I found these cute notebooks at Target and added friends’ initials to the covers.
To know me is to love me to be semi-concerned with my nail polish obsession. At a few bucks a pop, however, a new polish or lip gloss makes a fun little gift for a friend.
Get a little messy crafty
I love making things, but hate cleaning up the ensuing mess. And cleaning glitter off Clark’s snout days later. If only Pinterest (click here for my Valentine-inspired board… side note: my account was hacked by some dude in France, and I created such an airtight new password that even I can’t figure it out… ) had a messiness rating for each project I pin. Regardless, I love homemade gifts.
Then again, the best gifts (hugs, kisses, and telling it like it is)… are free. So maybe just skip the shopping, baking, and crafting altogether? Wishing you and your loved ones a very happy Valentine’s Day!
Less than 48 hours later, I had a warm baby on my chest and anything that had ever worried me, ever bothered me, ever hurt me, or ever concerned me just fell away. In the first few minutes of Wednesday morning, Nick and I celebrated the greatest day of our lives, knowing things will only continue to get better.
That someone so small (and she is teeny) could make me feel things so big is overwhelming in the best way possible. We are enjoying every moment with our Grace, and truly appreciate all the kind wishes you’ve shared over the past few days.
I left home precisely three times between Friday and Sunday evening.
I went for a walk with Clark (before you report me to the ASPCA or Sarah McLachlan, rest assured that Nick picked up my slack)
I made a trip to the pharmacy for cough drops (and crossword puzzles)
I met with our friendly neighborhood police officer to have our car seat inspected (Last Minute Larry strikes again)
I spent the rest of the weekend asleep, trying to be asleep, moaning and groaning, being stumped by crossword puzzles, watching the Kill Cliff East Coast Championships online (while my ticket to the event mocked me from the coffee table), wondering if you can wear more than one Breathe Right strip, and starring in my own one-woman version of Les Miserables. I don’t know if I should admit this (especially after promising you that you didn’t need to call animal welfare on me), but at one point I was so conked out that I drooled on my own dog. He didn’t seem to mind (and he loves that I am on the same napping schedule as him), but I was mortified.
I went from feeling great for the better part of 36 weeks to, seemingly suddenly, feeling… not so great. Our midwife encouraged me to slow down. I wanted to, but I also felt like I had a ton of work to get done. And I wanted to squeeze in one more workout before putting my CrossFit membership on hold. Also, I finally remembered what I forgot to get at the store, and so I figured I should go get it. And I had just one more big work event to pull off, so I worked late to ensure it went perfectly. Several nights in a row. And I wore heels to the event. Plus, I scheduled a couple more meetings. And I invented other things to add to my to do list.
While my ego tries to keep busy and be important, my body is saying, enough is enough. I could do without this rotten cold, and I wish I wasn’t such a boob for letting myself get this run down, but I’m finally seeing how badly I do need to slow down during these last few weeks (or days?).
Enough is enough… but it’s also too much. I can’t keep up. I can’t do what I’ve always done. And that’s okay (even if it’s been a bit of a challenge to accept). After all, it’s not just about me any more.
If you can learn this lesson without polishing off a box of Kleenexes, please do. From here on out, I’m steering clear of my ego and listening to my tired, not-so-little body.
A few more things to avoid when you’re pregnant (or just a human, in general):
Other people: (Sort of.) People say really weird things to pregnant women. I’ve heard some real doozies, from the security guard in Detroit who told me that she did voodoo on me, causing me to have twins (I was like, Maybe, use your voodoo for something more productive… like fixing Detroit?), to the man in my office building who asked, “Did you get fat, or are your pregnant?” or the woman at the supermarket who told me my doctor was wrong, and that I would have a baby before Christmas. And it’s not just strangers. People I know and love have said some bizarre things, too. It’s sort of impractical to avoid people altogether (especially when you consider my next suggestion), but it’s important to develop some sound coping mechanisms for the inevitable weirdness. Please don’t let the comments get to you. They are likely coming from a good place. I think.
Too much alone time: I have never been so far inside my own head as I have been these past nine months. I would likely be lost in there if I didn’t have a support system to field my questions, listen to my worries, offer suggestions, and laugh (in sort of a sad way) at me when I thought my belly button was connected to the baby’s belly button via the umbilical cord. (Don’t ask, don’t tell.)
The internet: I should be banned from WebMD. In the past week alone, I’ve diagnosed myself with six different incurable diseases. And I’ve cried about all six of them. When I stopped crying, I went on BuzzFeed (usually a reliable source of laughter, i.e. the opposite of crying), only to stumble on this terribly sad cartoon about how dogs grieve for their scattered children. I thought it would be something cute about grown-up dogs following their puppies on Instagram (shameless plug for @clarkthefrenchie), but it was actually devastating. Please don’t read it. Unless you want your day life ruined.
Comparison: Every person is different. Every pregnancy is different. You’re probably doing it perfectly. For you.
Oh. And avoid soft cheese. Which is just plain rude. I want my first meal in the hospital to be an entire wheel of brie. Maybe. Actually, I think I want a root beer float.
It’s snowing. Again. I made it back to Southie early enough this evening to snag one of the good parking spots on our street (if you’re from around here, you know how we treasure our spots), while Clark claimed his own parking spot. On the sofa. We’re planning to stay put for the rest of the evening, practicing our favorite new duet, “What U Want With My Body.” Clark called dibs on the Gaga parts… so I’m stuck being R. Kelly. Rude.
If you’re looking for something more normal to do this evening, I’ve got an idea… provided you have a bag of buffalo snow laying around. I was first introduced to this magical material at #WFMEtsy, a holiday event hosted by Whole Foods River Street in partnership with Etsy, Boston Handmade and local artists.
After perusing local crafts and meeting vendors at the event, I had the chance to make my own snow globe. As soon as I got my hands on that fluffy, sparkly faux snow, I knew I could make some really fun messes with it at home.
Make your own snow globe
All you need to make your own snow globe… or snow bowl… or snow jar:
Some sort of container (I picked up a few latched jars and shallow cyllinders at A.C. Moore)
A bag of buffalo snow
Random figurines (the weirder, the better)
(Super obvious) directions:
Place figurines in container
Add buffalo snow
Sprinkle some on your dog and transform him into an arctic fairy
New Balance celebrates another season of clear paths along the Charles
If the thought of making your own snow globe picking up tiny scraps of glitter for the next six months sends you running… I get it. And if you’re really running, New Balance has you covered for the fifth winter in a row, having renewed a sponsorship agreement with the DCR to ensure area runners and walkers have clear and safe running paths along the Charles River during the 2014 winter season.
Having trained along the Charles through a particularly snowy and cold Boston winter, I know how valuable this partnership is to our city.
Enjoy those clear paths… while Clark and I enjoy the sofa. And the glitter.
Last spring, I had the chance to make a quick visit to the Lorraine Motel and the National Civil Rights Museum while I was walking working in Memphis (more on that here). I was scrolling through pictures from that trip earlier today, and thinking how lucky (I’m wracking my brain for a better word, but my brain isn’t cooperating…) we are to have had people like Dr. King come before us. People who had the courage to speak up and speak out. People who shared their dreams and vision, and put the work in motion.
I was less than a month pregnant when I stood on the balcony outside room 306 at the Lorraine Motel, and even though our daughter was, like, the size of a lima bean or something at the time, it feels important that she was there with me.
I can remember a time when I thought the world needed to be fixed, even a little bit, before I could imagine having children. It was shortly after the terrorist attacks of 9/11. I was walking past a memorial at school, and saw a young family reading the messages penned on the wall. I remember thinking, The world doesn’t feel good enough for children. Things felt too raw, too worrisome, too complicated, too broken.
After years of working with young people, and now with a baby on the way, I can see the other side of things. Bringing children into a broken world is one of the ways we fix it. How we treat our children — whether as parents, relatives, teachers, friends, neighbors, leaders, etc.– and the values and dreams and visions we impart have tremendous transformative power.
Whenever I visit schools, we talk about role models and heroes and inevitably, a child mentions Martin Luther King, Jr. I can’t help but be as grateful for these students as I am for Dr. King. There is still so much work to be done, but I know they are the ones who will see it through.