Sunday, September 23, 2012

Take a Walk on the Wild Side

For my birthday Tommy discovered a hidden gem in the Pittsburgh Area: Living Treasures Animal Park.  We ventured up to New Castle, PA to visit this really inexpensive little outdoor zoo/farm type place that lets you just stroll around and feed the animals. Crazy right?  It kind of was crazy.  It was less than $10 a person with kibble and carrots for the furry friends.

After having just visited the zoo a couple weeks ago and fighting the crowds of people and crazy kids, this was such a nice change of pace.  It only took us about an hour and a half to go through the whole park, but it was so fun.
Yep! That's me feeding the sweet, softy wallaby! 
I had three favorite things about our Animal Park visit:
  • Tommy turned into either a 5 year old kid or a Dr. DoLittle.  I couldn't decide which.  He was talking to all the animals and was BOINGing around like a kangaroo.  Hilarious.  "Hey Bear! Come here, Bear! RAAAWWRRRR!"..."Hey Big Furry Gigantic Deer thing! Come here Big Furry Gigantic Deer Thing!"...lots of laughs strolling through the park.
This is "Furry Gigantic Deer Thing" & "Buck Tooth Porky the Porcupine."

  • If you don't know this about my sister, Ev, she is the jumpiest person you'll ever meet, and apparently has a weird fear of birds we didn't know about.  Who knew? She walks around every day in life with birds flying around her in nearby trees...but when she attempted walking into the aviary and a bird flew from one tree to the next she dropped a load in her pants and ran the other direction out of the bird cage.  Poor Ev.  
Ev could handle feeding the miniature deer just fine. They were so cute.

  • I loved the Camel.  Tommy kept saying "Hey Camel! Mr. Camel, you don't smoke cigs! You're a good camel...."  The camel was a bit of a snack hog, but if I was kept in a pen with pesty goats and lambs I think I would be too.  The camel was so sweet and his lips were so funny!
"You Don't Smoke Mr. Camel Man" was a kibble hog, but it's ok. I liked him.
The final pit stop before the park ends in the goat pen with goats, lambs and llamas.  These are the snack hogs that can just eat and eat and eat so they let you just unload all your remaining treats on these little guys.  

Not sure if you were allowed to just go strolling into the goat pen, but it didn't say "STAFF ONLY" and the gate was very welcoming so Tommy turned into a Goat Whisperer and went into the pen...

That black and white spotty goat in there was a real brat.  And he had poo on his feet and wiped it on Tommy's pants.  But he was head butting all the baby goats so they couldn't get the snacks.  I wanted to spank him.  

Apparently this place has party packages if you want to take a crew of kiddos for birthday entertainment and they also do camel and pony rides for $3 or $4.  I was initially set on a camel ride when we first arrived, but then when I saw the HUGE Camel (who also didn't smoke) he just looked kinda sad and tired...I feel your pain buddy...I'll give ya a rest.  

The park seemed a little on the unsupervised side, which surprised me, since we were shoving our hands in wild animals mouths?! BUT...maybe it's their slow season and all their current patrons when we were there looked very trustworthy and responsible.  

There were two little baby leopard cubs there SOMEWHERE.  We didn't see them in their little cage area and I was hoping to snuggle with one of those pretty kitties...but apparently they were hiding somewhere.  Oh well.  I got to love on Mr. Camel Man and that was great too!

Did you know that kangas and wallabies are nocturnal?  Initially when we went into the kanga exhibit all the roos looked kinda dead and miserable...but apparently that's because they were asleep, or at least trying to be.  They were SO soft though.  I couldn't believe it.  So soft.  I wanted one.  I'd make her carry me around in her pouch and BOING all over the place.  

Anyways, great place! Fun, entertaining, not too long of a walk, not too short of a walk...smelled kinda like poo...well, it smelled like the elephant house at the zoo.  Kinda pooey, and barny...but still super fun!  Lots of hand washing stations all over the place.  

This guy was Tommy's fave part.  I don't even know what he was.  He looked sort of like a really red headed super hairy bison?! With the longest, wettest and wildest tongue you've ever seen!

If you live in Pittsburgh and haven't been to this place you should go!  It was less than an hours drive.  Or if you're ever passing through Pittsburgh and heading North, it's totally worth a stop. It doesn't take long and it's thoroughly enjoyable.  It's right off of 79.  Actually, when we were looking at the Bear exhibit Tommy was amazed that "Mr. Bear" lives right by the highway.  It's his backyard :)  "Hey Mr. Bear! You live by the highway?!"  

Best Birthday Ever :) 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Lets Break Bread Together...I mean MAKE Bread Together!

So I was recently inspired by my friend, Maria, to domesticate myself a little more.  She has been making all kinds of crazy awesome homemade things and is like an incredible SUPER MOM:  Chai Tea, Peach Honey...Challah Bread!!! Read more about Maria and her awesome family here, they rule.  You should totally click the link to read more about her work and her family and how to contribute to the Weimer's awesomeness!

Anyways, after I started having bread on the brain I came home and started pinteresting...DUH!  I decided bread looks like it should be terribly easy.  So when I found this pin that shows you how to make bread in a dutch oven I got WAY excited.  See, a dutch oven is borderline crock pottish...and you KNOW I've been on the crock kick recently.  That was when I decided this bread thing could totally be for me.  

Like most things I try, I want to jump to obsession and go overboard with ingredients and supplies.  I started thinking and calculating "Oo! If I buy the 30 lb bag of flour from Costco and my yeast in bulk I could make bread for 6 months for about 40 cents a loaf..." Whoa! Whoa! Whoa Lisa!  Calm down.  What happens if this ends up like your first seven attempts at making a pumpkin roll??  If you fail miserably and learn you aren't a breadmaker, what in the WORLD are you going to do with 30 lbs of flour.  I still tried to justify myself and say I'd just give it to Maria if I failed...but I opted on the sensical side so I didn't overwhelm Tommy walking in the door with my new "big idea" and 30 lbs of flour. Haha! Besides...technically I shouldn't be lifting 30 lb bags of anything right now.  

This entire process really only ended up taking about a half hour of my attention.  Most of your time is just spent waiting and then baking.  You aren't going to BELIEVE how easy this was:

What you need:
  • 3 cups of unbleached white flour
  • 1 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups of water
  • Dutch Oven - this is the dutchie that I have and I'm IN LOVE.  Click on the picture to scope out and purchase one for yourself if you haven't taken the plunge yet.  You won't be disappointed. Totally worth the investment.

What to do - PHASE 1:
  1. Mix together your flour and salt in a large mixing bowl.  
  2. In a separate small bowl mix 1/2 cup of warm water with your 1/2 tsp of yeast.  Just stir it around till the yeast dissolves.
  3. Pour the yeast/water mixture onto the flour and add the remaining 1 cup of water as well (Temperature doesn't matter here. The hottness is just to activate and dissolve the yeast.). Stir, Stir, Stir!
  4. Once your mixture has a doughy consistency cover the bowl with saran wrap.  You don't want a tight tight seal because you still want some air to be able to escape the bowl as your mixture grows.  Then let the dough sit for 12-18 hours.  

What to do - PHASE 2:
  1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. When it reaches the 450, put your dutch oven WITH the lid on inside the oven for 30 minutes.  Give that baby a little time to warm up so she can start doing her magic.
  2. While your dutch oven is getting hot and ready, prepare your dough for awesomeness. 
  3. Put a generous amount of flour on your prepping surface because your dough is going to be really sticky.  Dump your dough onto the flour counter and shape it into your loaf. 
  4. Recover the bread either with the saran wrap or a cloth so it doesn't get flat or weird while you wait for your dutchie to be ready.  
  5. After the preheat, plop your loaf into the dutchie, put the lid on and then stick her back in the oven for 30 minutes.
  6. After 30 minutes is up take dutchie out, remove the lid, and put her back in for 15 more minutes. Then she's done!  Wasn't that cake!?  

It's so easy! And really good.  It tastes like a french bread but it's not skinny and long.  It's round and plump.  It's more of a crusty bread.  And I'm not sure if the crusty part happened in the last 15 minutes, or if it would have been that way regardless.  I might try it again for 45 minutes with the lid on and just see what happens.  

And get this...this is seriously like the best part...

The aftermath is SO easy to cleanup.  Yes. Those are just flour CRUMBS in the bottom of dutchie.  This and the mixing bowl was the only thing that needed cleaned up.  I couldn't believe it.  It was cake! Well, technically it is BREAD!  But it was so easy. 

I'm on a roll with this bread thing for sure.  This particular nameless loaf won't be great sandwich making bread.  But it would be great dipping bread for sopping up some oils or spaghetti sauce :)  Dang blogging makes my mouth water.  

So I'm on a mission to make sandwich bread.  Maybe like a honey oat...that's my fave bread for my subway sandwiches.  In the meantime, I also intend to learn my Grandma's Swedish Coffee bread and I wanna make hamburger buns.  I know...seems weird and random...what else did you expect from me? Normal? As Ryan Lochte would say "Chyeah...right..."

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Hottness: Crock Pot Chicken Sandwiches

After the whole crockpot sapplesops jazz, I realized I was falling in love with my crockpot again.  Recently, my sister, Amanda got engaged and married and they had like fifty crockpots on their registry.  I kept thinking...what the H are the York's gonna do with fifty crockpots...the past few days I've been wishing I had fifty crockpots.  Could you imagine the smells that would be simmering through our little home?  MOUTH IS WATERING!

Fall is putting me in the early mood for Thanksgiving...and while my house was smelling like cinnamon apples I started drooling for stuffing.  I'm crazy about stuffing.  It's probably my favorite part of Thanksgiving meal.  My Grandma made the best stuffing, and now my mom has carried on that tradition.  I tried to makes Grandma's stuffing last year...better luck THIS year. Haha!

SO with crockpot and stuffing on the brain I decided I'm going to make my own crockpot invention.  There isn't too much you can screw up in a crock.  Just read over this recipe and TRY and tell me that doesn't make you hungry!?

What you need:
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (if you're being lazy, which I often times am, you can totally use the canned chicken breast that looks kinda like tuna.  Just keep in mind that's already cooked so you could just simmer that stuff on low with the other ingredients for a couple hours instead of all day)
  • 2 cans of cream of chicken soup
  • 1 box of stove top stuffing (yes I DID!)

What to do:
  • Dump it!  Put all the ingredients into the crock. 
  • Stir it up.
  • Put the crock on low and let it do its magic for about 6 hours.  I feel like my crockpot gets a little excited about cooking stuff and it tends to finish up its job early...unlike my oven which takes twice as long to bake something...argh. 
I thought this little ditty was delish.  In hindsight the leftovers were a little more dry than I would have liked.  I probably could have added a little chicken broth or something during the simmer stage to moisten everything up a bit. 

OH! And let me just blow your mind with THIS one...since the leftovers were a little dry I mixed the leftover chicken deliciousness in with some homemade mac & cheese!  YES I DID!  

Seriously, these simple crockpot recipes are kind of dummy proof...which is why I can't believe I'd abandoned my crock for so long!  BABY, I'm BACK! 

And speaking of baby...still cooking her in my human crock.  Any day would be nice for her to make her grand appearance.  Dropped the soap in the shower this morning.  I jinxed myself.  I said to myself "WOW. This is great. You're getting good at this, you didn't even drop the soap!" [Soap flies out of hand...] It was just a soap nub...I left it.  It hurts so much to bend over these days I'm starting to leave trails around the house of things that aren't worth the cramp to bend over and pick up.  

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Wolf Gift

I haven't read any of Anne Rice's books until this one.  Initially I gave this read four stars because I did like the book, but then when I categorized my star ratings values as the following I decided I give this book 3 stars:

  • 5 Stars - I loved it!
  • 4 Stars - Really liked it!
  • 3 Stars - Liked it.
  • 2 Stars - Didn't like it.
  • 1 Star - Not a Fan...or NAF as my friend Laura would say.

So good book because:

  1. It's really beautiful.  Anne Rice paints really pretty pictures in my head of these beautiful homes and pretty people.  The house that Reuben acquires in the house sounds like a dream home.  The ancient werewolves in my head look really sophisticated and smart.  I would definitely say this is a great fall read.  The setting takes place in a woodsy area...and we're talking werewolfy in the fall...bring it spookmasters!
  2. The werewolf concept is modern.  I like how she goes with the werewolf existence here.  The weres can gain control over their shifting (this sort of goes along with the whole SHIFTER concept on True Blood...which I also like).  I just like how it's not this vicious cycle that happens every full moon.  I suppose that's kind of how the whole Twilight Vampire thing goes too though.  It's like the Cullens can control their bloody urges by feeding on bears or the True Blood vampires drink the synthetic blood.  I like the modern take on these mythical creatures more so than the Brad Pitt Interview with the Vampire dude who thirsts only on human blood and has to kill people everyday.
  3. Reuben really embraces his "Wolf Gift".  I liked that Reuben quickly comes to grips with his reality that he has been forever changed and makes it his life mission to understand and conquer this gift for the better.  When he first is turned and escapes the hospital he begins getting these urges to rescue and help people.  He wants to use his Man Wolfness (the Man Wolf thing is kinda weird...I feel like he could have come up with a better super hero name than "MAN WOLF"'s too obvious...kinda like "KICK ASS"...a little on the dumb side.)
So so book because:
  1. There is lots of relationship cheating going on in this book and its like it isn't a big deal...First Reuben bangs that Mardent girl. He didn't even know her.  He justified it because Celeste (his GIRLFRIEND) and cheated on him before!  Then when he turns Man Wolf he starts banging this other girl Laura...when he is a wolf and she's a human. Yipes. I just can't understand how that's gonna work...Anne Rice describes kissing lips and I keep imagining when I get "Dog Kisses" from Hurley our Dog.  Like is Reuben just licking his chops all over her face? That's weird. THEN Reuben gets a little jealous when he finds out that Celeste is dating his best friend, Mort...I're with Laura?  Just am never a fan of the movie or book that has relationship cheating going on.
  2. Good Character description and development...bad use of the potential.  This book wasn't that long and I actually think the storyline could have been a little deeper with all the character development that happened here.  Reuben's brother is a priest. They seem to have this great relationship and there is this inner struggle with his brother and Reuben because Reuben's werewolf existence is known to be evil...Reuben's Mother is a Dr. and seems super smart and quietly in tune with these physical changes that are happening to Reuben.  And that never goes anywhere. She pursues help for a little bit and then just stops. Laura, the wolf loving lover, has a story and we never learn it.  Reuben pours his heart out to her and they run away together...but he never learns about her backstory!  
  3. Dullsville Ending.  I liked this book.  Everytime I started reading I fell asleep in the book because I didn't want to put it down. Anne Rice's descriptions just make you want to keep reading.  But the last twenty pages of the book didn't resolve much for me and just kinda drug out to this slow finish.  It ended with a history lesson on how weres came to be, and then the book was done.  
I DO wonder if there will be a sequel to the book.  With all the character development  that happened that just didn't really go anywhere, and then the ending that just was more of an informative educational just leads me to believe there is more the story that Anne Rice wanted to break into two books.  As I said, this was my first Anne Rice read and I've always heard GREAT things about her books.  So if I thought this book was good I imagine her other books are beautiful and AWESOME! So I'll definitely read some of her other books.  And I would even recommend this one!  Just try and tell yourself there's gonna be a number two and maybe that'll make the missing pieces more justifiable!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

DIY Wedding Crafts

Since it's our AnniBEARsary (because we love each other...and we love bears) I thought today was an appropriate day to post awesome DIY Wedding Craft Ideas.   It has been two years to the day that Tommy and I said we would forever.  Tommy's great.  I love him.  He's the smartest, sweetest, funniest, kindest guy I know.  

I totally appreciate that crafting isn't a dude's cup of tea and Tommy is such a great sport with my crafting and thriftiness.  Even though he hates Michael's & JoAnn Fabrics, I love a man who says "Can you make me a..." or "I need you to design my visual aide for my nursing class..."  Yes...yes...maybe it's his sweet endearing way of getting me to do some of his homework, but if the man continues to complete his random acts of kindness like organizing and cleaning my craft room...I'll craft his homework ANYDAY!  These pics are the Before & Afters Tommy took the day he proposed!  Isn't it cute that organizing my craft room was on the priority list of a great engagement for Lisa!?


And then it got awesomer when he crafted a proposal card for me!

So...back to wedding crafting.  Getting engaged was a crafters dream come true.  Our engagement was only 6 months.  Good thing.  Who knows what kind of insane, over the top craft projects I would have gotten myself into if I had more time.  

Wedding Signs are terribly cute and SUPER easy.  This cost me no money to even make.  We had plenty of wood scraps laying around in our basement.  I'm not even super awesome at painting or anything, but I just painted words and hearts on the sign and then outlined it with a black sharpie marker.  

We did a cupcake tower instead of a cake.  We had a pretty low maintenance wedding and didn't have a cake cutter and didn't want either of our moms cutting cake for the masses, so we opted cupcakes! Ordered from our fave local bakery and crafted cuteness onto them.  I had a circular paper punch that I cut out different colors of patterned paper.  I printed pictures of the dogs or the letter "B" onto these super easy Avery round stickers, then stuck these tiny craft sticks (like flat toothpicks) in between the circle paper and the sticker then POW...stuck it in the cupcake! 

The wedding invites and programs were a little more complicated than paint & outline or punch, print, in the meantime, check out this post for DIY Wedding invites and I'll post another soon with a DIY for these programs.  

And our most recent Bowlin Alley craft project is making a baby.  I WON'T be posting a DIY of how to MAKE a baby...but maybe a few baby craft ideas here and there.  And perhaps Baby Bowlin will be an Annibearsary gift and make her grand appearance today.  Tommy says no...keep my legs squeezed till at least Friday AFTER his next test.  Got it.  Baby on Friday.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Fall Fever: Crockpot Apple Sauce

Fall is definitely one of my favorite times of the year.  I love the smells of fall and winter - apples, pumpkins, cinnamon spice, sugar cookie.  I also love weather where it is appropriate for shorts and long sleeves!  (Unfortunately Fall 2012 will not be seeing THIS preggy butt in shorts.)

Everywhere you go, you are bombarded with the scrumptious smells of the season.  You walk into any shopping store or even grocery store and somehow those smarty pants marketing people attack your sniffer with scents that make me NEEEEED to buy appley pumpkiny spicey goodness.

Well you marketing smarty pantses, way to earn your paycheck because I totally walked in to Giant Eagle and HAD TO HAVE a bag of Macintosh Apples.  The Mac apples normally aren't my fave just to bite into and nosh on for a snack, but I love them for applesauce and pies.  They're awesome because they're crunchy, a little sweet and also a little sour.  It's like a crispy cross between a red delish and a granny smith. Mmmm...

Now you guys know that I'm FAR from legit when it comes to cheffing or any form of culinary training.  I tend to make up my own rules in the kitchen and often times find myself taking the lazy lady's way out...but I KNOW applesauce is easy and the fact that it can be made in a crockpot makes it totally up my Bowlin Alley.

So check out how freaking easy this is:

What You Need

  • 8 Medium Apples (I used 20 small Macintosh, just fill your crock)
  • 1 tsp of lemon juice
  • 1 tsp of ground cinnamon (you can add a little more if you want...just don't go overboard)
  • 5 tsps of brown sugar (not packed)
What To Do
  • Peel and dice the apples.  You know what? You can leave the skins on if you're feeling lazy. It doesn't change the taste, but it just has those papery skinny chunks if you leave them on. Not the end of the world if you're cutting a corner.
  • Toss everything in the crock - chopped apples, lemon juice, cinnamon, brown sugar.
  • Set the crock to low and let it just smell up your house for the next 6 hours! 

Talk about killing two birds with one stone!  Totally smelled up the house with this recipe.  And it was a great smelled up the house!!  

Yeah I'm a cheater when it comes to "canning"...I didn't really can this stuff.  When you can stuff you disinfect and seal the container air "method" shown to the left is called Looks-Better-In-A-Ball-Jar-Than-In-A-Tupperware.  

It's not officially canned.  But doesn't this totally make you wanna get your Fall on????  Don't worry. It totally got my leaves falling, because I've got more fall goodness to come!!!

Since I've been on a roll my past few posts reminiscing about funny things of childhood -- Sister Amanda used to call applesauce, SappleSops.  So go grab yourself some Sapples and get your Sops on!

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Diary of a Pregnant Lady...

Now that I've reached the 36 week mark, there's no doubt about it. Yes, it's officially OBVIOUS...I'm knocked up, Folks! Consider yourselves privileged because my blog readers get to see the preggy pic (yes...singular).  I'm not posting weekly belly updates on facebook.  I just can't do it...

I've been keeping a running list (you KNOW I love lists) of my belly laughs to make light of my discomfort while trying to convince myself I don't feel miserable and exhausted all the time.  So I thought I'd share my list of belly laughs with you.  

Belly Laughs
  1. Preggy Classes? No Thanks.  Each time I go to the doctor, they ask if I've registered for any prenatal classes yet.  Not interested.  Isn't that what a doctor is for?  And I'd like to also think that being married to a soon-to-be nurse also comes with perks of getting to skip out on these "extra curriculars." Joan, the nurse, kept suggesting that if nothing else it would be a great way for me to get to know some other Preggies who are in my same phase of sounds more miserable to me than spending my evening off with a bunch of hormonal strangers!  Pass.  If Snooky can have a baby,  I can have one.  
  2. I'm so HOT! And no...I'm not talking the "You're SMOKING H-O-T-T" hot...I'm talking about the sweaty swamp ass hot.  YOU try growing a person and keeping your cool!  I'm sweating ALL the time...if I ever PLAN on doing this a second time around, remind me to get my baby growing on over the cooler months of the year.  Because preggy shorts DON'T work.
  3. Don't drop the soap!  Taking a shower with an enormous bump in your middle is a little more challenging than just standing under the water and lather, rinse, repeating...I never realized how frequently I drop that slickery soap bar until it's near impossible to bend over to pick it back up.  TOTALLY need to invest in this soap-on-a-rope stuff.
  4. What's the point of an appointment? Now that I'm in the homestretch these doctor's appointments are MUCH more frequent.  I can finally say I like my doctors.  I don't get high blood pressure going to the office anymore, BUT I'll tell ya what DOES make my heart rate go stinkin' appointment times.  Each time I leave the office I spend five minutes with Carol going over their appointment calendar so we can figure out when I can get squeezed in for my next visit.  You'd think since they take this calendar so seriously that they would run according to schedule. Nah.  When they say 10:30 they mean, come in at 10:15, sit there for 15 minutes, go pee in a cup, sit there for 15 more minutes, get called back to get weighed, then escorted into your exam room...wait for 15 more minutes for the doctor to come into your room, talk to you for five minutes and then say "ok! see you next time!" Gee. Thanks Doc.
  5. Speaking of Peeing in a Cup...This isn't something that I've had TONS of practice doing prior to this phase of my life...but I never recall peeing in a cup being SO difficult.  If only a lady had some sort of a manly nozzle for the cup peeing thing, it would make this feat SO much easier.  It didn't take me more than a few tries, after my middle expanded, to start grabbing a latex glove on my way to the whizzer so I can avoid getting covered in my own wee when I go.  You know how tricky it is to hit that cup, while holding up your belly so you can kinda see and catch what's going on down there!?!?
  6. Since we're talking about taking a whiz...Did you realize you use core muscles to do things like sit on the john, or WIPE!? Yeah. True Story.  When your core muscles are all stretched out and pretty dysfunctional you learn quickly how frequently you use those little guys...cuz they hurt doing the simplest things! Sitting up, rolling over, sitting on the toilet! Laugh it up...but I KNOW my fellow preggies feel me on this one!
  7. Tummy Time...I miss you! I'm a tummy sleeper.  Yes. Yes.  I know, you're supposed to sleep flat on your back for your spine, but you can't even do that during pregnancy.  You're permitted side sleeping.  I wake up each time I move (cuz it hurts) and then when I gaze over at Tommy sawing logs while sleeping on his stomach I just get so envious of the things I miss most.
  8. Cravings are a hoax...I think these cravings everyone talks about are a hoax.  I haven't had one yet.  TOMMY has had more cravings than I have.  The whole pickles and ice cream thing? Yeah, not real.  If it is real, I feel ripped off!  I haven't had any urges that required sending my man out on these crazy midnight snack runs.  Tommy, however, has enjoyed saying things like "Does the babet need some double fudge brownie Ben & Jerry's?!?" WELL IF YOU PUT IT THAT WAY...Bring it on!!  I think Tommy has been a little disappointed in my lack of "excusable cravings" so he has been doing his fair share of trying to tempt me so we BOTH get to splurge.
  9. I'm a Puffalump Chump.  Anyone remember Puffalumps? Anyways, with preggyness usually comes swelling in places that it shouldn't (aside from your belly, your chest, your hips and your bum...).  My fingers and toes are trying to get in on this swelling action.  I don't mind it THAT much except for the fact that I can't wear my wedding rings and my fave shoes!  Funny side note -- our regional director came to the hotel a couple weeks ago and made a comment to my boss about me having a lot to prepare for getting ready to become a single mother. PAHAHA!  Oh geez.  At least if I could wear my rings I could show off more easily OUR child's legitimacy.  I just hope my feet shrink back to cute and small.  My shoe collection has been expanding since my feet stopped growing in 9th grade.  I would hate to have to start over. 
  10. Baby Bjorns vs. Strollers.  EVERYONE raves about the Baby Bjorns.  I do think these inventions are genius (Go Swedes!) and strollers also seem to be a parenting necessity. Now that we're expecting a baby of our own I notice things.  1. Babies and kids are EVERYWHERE. And they stare at pregnant people and point.  2. Some babies and kids seem miserable to be around in public places (Please God. Bless me with a behaved child.).  3. People take strollers in the weirdest most inconvenient places!  THIS is the thing that seems crazy to me.  The stroller is a handy gadget that can serve multi purposes since it wheels your baby around AND totes your stuff...but it seems CRAZY to me when we got out to a restaurant and people bring their stroller into dinner!  Let me just paint a picture of how this works for you...pack up stroller, put it in the car. Pack up kid. Put her in the car.  Pack up husband and get in the car with him.  Get to restaurant, unpack and assemble the stroller.  Unpack kid and move into stroller.  Unpack husband and walk to the restaurant...(what is this FIVE FEET AWAY!? Was wheeling her really necessary??) Get in restaurant, bumble and crash around with stroller, wait to be seated, get seated and HOG UP an aisle way with a stinkin stroller.  People, just leave the stroller in the car!!!  So, I think for these short little trips where you have a small walk from car to destination carrying the baby or the Bjorn seems much more reasonable.  People RAVE about the Bjorn.  People have been asking if we're pumped about Bjorning our baby...Tommy is SO pumped about it.  I've been Bjorning her for the past 9 months so I think I'll let him take the papoose for her first drive :) Sidenote -- My cousin's cousin named one of their baby's Bjorn. I love Swedes.  
Preggy Poll:

Any of my fellow preggies use the Baby Center app or email newsletter to track your weekly progress?  I've been getting a kick out of it because it gives you the play by play each week of what you're feeling, things to do and how big the baby is.  While I do like this...there have been weeks when Baby Center throws some crazy curve balls at us and says "This week you're the size of a Crenshaw Melon" or "Swiss Chard" or "Rutabaga"  What the CRAP is a Crenshaw Melon!?  I get it.  You're trying to keep veggies and fruits on the brain because that's what the baby needs...but can't you just make more sense in my brain...tell me things like "This week, you're a basketball." Maybe those things won't make my mouth water, but neither does a jicama or a poppy seed?!

Ok. So I've stalled LONG've read my entire post of my Belly Laughs.  You shall be rewarded with the ever-so-requested "Belly Pic" people seem so nuts about.  So THANK YOU for reading my blog.  In return, here is your pic!...36 weeks with TBD to go...

And just for a crazy visual...look at my puffy toes and my crazy cankles!! 
So much for my dainty little feet, eh?!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

If You Love Lists...

As long as I can remember, I've kept lists of things I wanted to do or accomplish in life.  I used to keep them taped to the back of my bedroom door growing up (the list MAY still be there? It was on a neon green piece of paper.  My parents used to cross things off the list for

  • Own a Teapot that Whistles
  • Teach a Kayaking Class
  • Graduate from College
  • Sing a song in French

When I went away to college my best friend, Krista, was the QUEEN of three things:

  1. Lists (She has VOLUMES of books just full of lists??? Who DOES that?? Hehe!)
  2. Journaling 
  3. Pink Stuff 
I was inspired by Krista to do two of three -- write lists IN a journal!  My list-ness has since expanded to task journals, evernotes, and grocery list apps on my smart phone (SIDENOTE: Krista ALSO is really good at adding a "ness" to the end of nouns to make them verbs.  Her biggest blooper of this habit was when she tried to turn peeing into a 'ness word' and said something about getting her pee-ness on...WHOOPS!).

I thoroughly enjoy lists, but am not quite as psycho about lists as my sister, Amanda, who can't feel like something is completed unless she's crossed it off a list.  She keeps her little list pad by her bed and makes lists like this:

Don't Forget

  • Take a Shower
  • Put on undies & socks
  • Wear deodorant
  • Brush hair
  • ...and so on...
Dude...I have to say two things...(in list form)
  1. Your day sounds like it starts uncomfortably since you don't dry off before putting on your socks & undies...
  2. If you can't get dressed in the morning without a -- you's gots probs!!!
I actually haven't lived with Amanda for a few years now, so she may have grown out of this phase...but my gut tells me her obsessive disorder still exists to some degree.

ANYWAYS, most recently I've become pretty obsessed with blogging. My blogging obsession has taken my stalking skills to a whole new level.  Facebook stalking aside, I stalk people and am totally intrigued by the lives of individuals I don't even know, such as:

  • Jenna Weber who blogs on Eat, Live, Run - she inspired me to start red lipsticking and cook!
  • Mandy who blogs about sewing, crafting and styling on Sugar Bee Crafts
  • Trevor who is Mandy's husband.  His blog is the dude's version of living with a crafter. Hilar!
  • Kate Conner who is a really cute girl who has this really cute green dress and she blogs about some really inspirational and thought provoking things...AND she made a LIFE LIST.
So as you have probably guessed, this post is going to be of my Lifetime List which was inspired by two things:

  1. Krista - who has instilled in me two things that have become part of my daily routine:
    1. List Making
    2. Journalling (How do you like THAT!? A list WITHIN a list. POW!)
  2. Kate Conner - who put her life list on her blog that I stalk.
So here she is, in ALL her glory...

Oh the places I will go:
  1. Machu Picchu
  2. The Grand Canyon
  3. Helena, Montana (to visit the coolest Aunt & Uncle & cousins EVA!)
  4. Ashville, New York (been here quite a few times, but I'll intend to visit quite a few more to see my OTHER coolest Aunt & Uncle & cousins...Since I only have two sets of coolest Aunts, Uncs & Cousins and we don't want anyone feeling less awesome or left out)
  5. Barcelona, Spain
  6. Mount Rushmore
  7. Redwood Forest
  8. Yellowstone National Park
  9. Sweden
  10. Cape Cod
  11. Mt. Kilimanjaro 
  12. Portland, Maine
  13. San Francisco - The Golden Gate Bridge
  14. The Great Sphinx - Egypt
  15. Anchorage, Alaska
  16. San Antonio, Texas 
  17. Tampa, Florida (to visit Great Uncle Bryne, Aunt Audrey & Uncle Arnold)
Oh the Things I will do:
  1. Cut Boy Hair (more specifically, Tommy's)
  2. Learn to speak Spanish (maybe sending my kid to a bi-lingual school will school me too!)
  3. Sponsor a child (maybe adopt a child?)
  4. Have a child who is enjoyable to take in public places - restaurants, shopping, etc...
  5. Get Handier
  6. Successfully accomplish good furniture makeovers
  7. Sew stuff more
    1. Learn to follow a pattern
    2. Make a Quilt
  8. Plant & Harvest a SUCCESSFUL Garden (they all R.I.P. in Garden heaven never having harvested a plentiful bounty)
    1. Can things from my garden
  9. Live by water (I think preference is Lake, but I could settle for river and definitely an ocean!)
  10. Be featured for SOMETHING in Better Homes & Gardens. 
  11. Read 1,000 books
  12. Have 1,000 blog followers
  13. Run 1,000 miles in a year
  14. Have an etsy store
  15. Eat at a Gordon Ramsay Restaurant
    1. Shake hands with Gordon someday
  16. Learn to make sushi
  17. Receive a hug from Paul Meany (ideally document this also with a photo)
  18. Take a photography class
  19. Get a masters degree
  20. Attend a conference about blogging (do these exist?!)
I definitely intend to update these lists when tasks have been completed or when I need to add more things to my intended accomplishments, so check back often.  In closing, I think it's only appropriate to leave you with a list of my top three takeaways from this post:

  1. Get inspired!  Find something that makes you want to accomplish stuff...a book, a blog, a friend...
  2. Go make your own lists!  It feels really great to jot stuff down, and it makes me more motivated to accomplish something when it's put in writing.
  3. Don't forget to dry off after getting out of the shower.  Starting your day in wet socks and undies seems gross!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Pittsburgh Places: Ribfest

What is a Ribfest, you ask?  Well, according to wikipedia a Ribfest (short for rib festival) is a rib cook off food festival where professional, traveling food teams compete to make the best ribs...I just like to call a Ribfest - HEAVEN!

Can I first just say that Pittsburgh's Ribfest is awesome for being held at Heinz Field?  This was Tommy's first time setting foot in the stadium.  He did admit it was indeed awesome, but we hadn't eaten anything yet and the air was smelling of savory, sweet BBQ so I think this poor, loyal Brown's fan might have said ANYTHING was awesome at this point.  But I'm going to go with he just thinks it's awesome :)

Our only other Ribfest experience had been multiple times in Columbus, Ohio where we used to live.  Pittsburgh doesn't do anything wrong, but one thing Columbus does EXTRA right is the Ribfest.  They add jazz to the mix which makes for a great day.  Can I just add a sidenote reminiscent story?  My old boss in Columbus was a crazy woman (God love her.  She has forever instilled a psycho work ethic in me and I thank her for that.  Hopefully someday I'll be a big deal because of it.)  So let me rephrase, she was always one step ahead of everyone...including herself sometimes.  Occasionally, she would just speak before processing her words...and I will NEVER forget the time she was telling me about Columbus's famous "Rabs & Jizz Fest." BAHAHAH!! And her trademark move when this would happen would always be to repeat what she just said (but correctly) and pretend like she didn't screw up her words.  Of course I was snickering and she knew I caught it, but still tried to pretend we're both ONLY thinking about Ribs...& Jazz. NOPE!

Long story short, Pittsburgh's Ribfest is great...but will never compare to Columbus's Rabs & Jizz Fest.  YIPES!

SO, seeing that this preggy only has a limited amount of time on her feet each day before her heart starts pounding and she gets short of breath we had to think fast!  Normally our strategy is look for the longest line (crazy, right?).  Longest line means most popular food!  This time we compromised for the mediocre lines and were STILL left more than satisfied.  Ribfests never disappoint.  Tommy wanted to give some love to the line-less "King of BBQ" time for bad BBQ. Sorry King.  

First stop, Bad Wolf Barbecue.  Started out with some ribs and coleslaw.  We were totally in the mood for some of the Corn on the Cob we were smelling...but remember the limited time thing?  AND no wasting stomach room on CORN! Sorry vegetables.  Today is MEAT DAY (Jennie, am I making you gag?)!  
Second Stop Old Carolina BBQ, then Carolina Rib King and lastly Big Boned BBQ Co.  The winning BBQers, in my opinion, was Big Boned's Pulled Pork Sandwich.  It was huge AND delicious!!  Slathered in delicious sauce and smoked to perfection.  SO GOOD!  And they were also the winners of Columbus's Rabs & Jizz Fest 2011.  
It was about that time that our bellies were full, my heart was pounding and my feet were swollen ( stomach is swollen too...but for another reason other than BBQ.).  So we waddled (well, I guess I waddled...Tommy walked with me slowly) back to the car and headed home.    

The Big Belly is full of BBQ and totally in the way.  Please excuse.  
A great time was had by all and Ribfest was a success!  Ribfest 2013...BRING IT ON!!  I'll be ready for triple the ribs next year!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Pittsburgh Places: Rose Tea Cafe

When I was in college, I went on a volunteer mission trip over my spring break to New York City with Cru.  It was incredible for many reasons.  But one of these things that made this trip so delightful was my first exposure to the Taiwanese beverage called Bubble Tea.  It is an iced drink (although I do think you can get it hot too maybe?) that they serve to you with one of those huge straws.  [Speaking of straws, anyone else share my obsession with McDonald's straws?  They're like the perfect size.  A little chubby, but not too much, so you can get the perfect gulp when you take a sip...sigh...ANYWAYS]

It had been years (I mean...not that I'm getting old and have been out of college for THAT long but...) since I had this refreshing beverage until...(drum roll....) we moved to Pittsburgh!  We live in a neighborhood called Squirrel Hill (guess it used to be super squirrely), and in the main little strip there are lots of Asian restaurants.  Obviously the sign made me judge the book by its cover because it had BUBBLE TEA ON IT!!  JACKPOT!!!

Tommy had never tasted this heaven in a cup until this day, and can I just say I was THRILLED that he seemed to have the same excitement about the drink as me!  There are all kinds of different flavors and we have a couple that we've fallen in love with (since of COURSE we're regulars at Pittsburgh's Bubble Tea Cafe now.): Green Tea Apple, Green Tea Mango & Green Tea Peach are my personal faves.  It tastes like tea with gummy bears in it.  The "bubbles" in the tea is called "Boba" which are basically giant tapioca balls.  Apparently they're pretty easy to cook and make yourself so you KNOW I'll be trying this concoction on my own at some point.  

The inside of the Rose Tea Cafe has a great atmosphere too.  Every time we've walked in to order our Bubble Tea to go, I always see these amazing looking Taiwanese dishes at the tables, but when I browse their menu I'm intimidated. one of these days we'll go there for dinner or lunch...and more bubble tea!

This is Tommy enjoying his bubble tea.  Truth be told, this wasn't his first experience pictured here, but you can see by his expression every time is as good as the first.

The bubbles sink to the bottom, but each sip is bursting with bubbles when they fly up the straw.  These straws are awesome too btw...

Tommy's obsession with bubble tea may be growing deeper than my own.  He had started researching how to make your own tea.  He found the Boba bubbles on Amazon.  So we'll keep you posted when he places the order and he can guest blog his Boba Bubble Tea Adventure on The Bowlin Alley.

In the meantime, Pittsburghers -- go to the Rose Tea Cafe.  Out of Towners -- find a Bubble Tea joint!  You're missing out till you do.  Recommendation from the Bowlin's -- go with the your flavor of choise Green Tea & Bubbles. The Black Tea with Bubbles is more bitter and doesn't make the Boba taste like gummy bears.  Trust us :)

Sunday, September 2, 2012

DIY Brown Sugar Body Scrub

Looking for an easy party favor?  Or an inexpensive way to pamper yourself?  TOTALLY have the best and easiest DIY project that's cheap too, Brown Sugar Body Scrub!!!  I love body scrub.  It's one of my fave ways to pamper myself.

Tommy's the best guy in the world and always gives me these awesome pampery type presents for my stocking stuffers at Christmas.  Last Christmas he got me this sea salt scrub that I LOOOVED this...

Obey Your Body Mineral Body Salt Scrub Treatment Exfoliating Kiwi - ADSBeauty

One day I was reading the ingredients on the back of the container and wondered if I could recreate this.  While I don't think I could ever make an exact replica of this AMAZING body scrub that I love so much, I thought I could probably get pretty darn close to replenish my stash until next Christmas's stocking.

Since I'm no match for the perfect salt scrub I decided to go sugar!  I started reading about ingredients in a natural sugar scrub and it is CAKE!  Well, it's actually sugar, but it kinda smells like cake.  And you're never going to believe how easy this was.


  • 3 cups of Brown Sugar
  • 1 cup of extra virgin olive oil (I would have liked to have used a coconut or sunflower oil, but those oils are a little more expensive and I didn't have any on hand at the house) 
  • 6 Tablespoons of honey
  • a Splish Splash of Vanilla Extract if you'd like (I thought this made it more like warm vanilla I went with it)
  1. It's basically a one stepper!  All you do is mix all the ingredients together, and then I chose to package them in these cutesie little containers that I got for $1 from Michael's...
MIX &...

These little containers are the perfect little bottles for a shower favor OR stocking stuffer!  I'm definitely going to start getting a little more creative with my aromatherapy skills and maybe try some different scents and oils.  Maybe SOMEDAY I'll venture into the Sea Salt Scrub world...but for now I'm going to leave that magic to Obey Your Body!  Try it out.  It's a great exfoliator and moisturizer.  Just rub it on in the shower and rinse!  Let me know what delicious and yummy flavors you concoct...this may be my new obsession!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Pittsburgh Places: Grand Concourse

Tommy and I have recently been into Gordon Ramsey's foodie shows, so we're always excited about trying new restaurants.  I recently confessed to Tommy that I think I have a crush on Gordon Ramsey...he said it's ok because HE has a crush on him too.  So our feelings are mutual.  He rules.  So we decided for our evening out that we would venture down to Pittsburgh's Station Square.  We had reservations at the Grand Concourse, which back in the day was the train station of the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad.  The station was BEAUTIFUL!  
The atmosphere was definitely getting our evening off to a great start.  Then as we were seated at our table, were given a monster menu.  After walking past the Oyster Bar my mouth was definitely watering, but Gordon's big kick on ALL his shows is always scrutinizing the SIZE of some of these menus he comes across.  He always wants quality over THAT was the first thing we noticed.  So both of us opted to choose items from the Daily Special Menu (which was only two pages long)....that is IF our waitress would take our order...

She came to our table and asked if she could get us a few starters.  DUH!  Yes Please!  So we ordered a lobster bisque and calamari.  We had read the Grand Concourse was known for their seafood dishes so opted for some seafoody staples.  We had totally finished our appetizers and several glasses of water and iced tea and lots of conversation before the waitress decided we could order our main course. Haha!  We were in no rush, but the service was a little weird and not timed well...  

Our main dishes were kind of odd.  But the asparagus was pretty good.  My salmon was pretty dry and tough.  Gordon probably would have asked if it was cooked and then remicrowaved (then probably would have asked to see the chef)...I kinda think it might've been remicrowaved.  Tommy got scallops, he's crazy about them.  I gave them a little taste, nothing to write home about.  A perfectly pan-seared scallop is to die for...these ones were kinda meh...

Check out the rice pyramid on my plate and the sandcastle shaped rice on Tommy's...sorta weirdish.  They tried.  So, the Grand Concourse overall could use a total food makeover, but definitely has it going on with its history and atmosphere.  Check out our view...
So my vote for the Grand Concourse is...let a few more bloggers write some mediocre foodie reviews, write Gordon Ramsey a letter about this joint, and just take your afternoon stroll through Station Square instead.  Station Square rules, the food at the Grand Concourse...not so much.