Saturday, March 24, 2012

Yard Work

When we moved into our home, we knew the front yard was going to be a huge undertaking at some point. And today the huge project began. What a big, hard, project! Those two massive bushes on either side of the stairs were the biggest pain to cut down and take out. They were completely dead except for 3-4 inches on the outside and they were so overgrown that we couldn't have trimmed them. So those had to come out. We really had no choice. Unfortunately, most of the bushes in our yard were never trimmed or taken care of and they grew so big that they choked each other and started to kill the bushes. We're going to try to take them out and transplant the ones that are salvageable.  Those were the first to come out, and then we will take other things out and trim the rest. I'm really excited to start fresh. It looks and feels so good. We also planted a line of bushes in our backyard between us and the neighbors for a cozier yard. And we are going to line our sidewalk with liriope plants which will be really nice.
 For these big bushes, we had to cut away at all the outer branches. That took such a long time, but it was my favorite project. Probably because it was nearly the only thing I was able to do. I couldn't do the heavy work, but I spent a lot of time chopping away at these bushes. I also weeded, made sure everyone was always hydrated and made a barbecue dinner for everyone. We had my parents, Mono and I, two of my parents friends and their two kids (the son helped us work all day today). So we did all the work, then I went inside, made dinner and we had an enjoyable time to rest and chat!
 And here is my little helper. He loved being outside, chewing on twigs, rolling in the grass... But he was hot and tired so he took a break.
 Here are some of the after pictures from when those monster bushes were finally removed...

 The liriope lining our walkway. We are going to make that a nice garden area!
 Beautiful sky tonight.
 The line of bushes making us have a start to a cozy backyar.

 And the before and after. It was a lot of work, yet it doesn't look like we did a whole lot!! I can't wait to get trimming!
 Everyone worked so hard today and I am so pleased at the end result. We still have a long way to go, but the hardest part is over! Now it's time to shower and rest!

162. family and friends helping give our yard a makeover
163. meeting new neighbors
164. springtime barbecues
165. painted nails
166. a small sip of Pepsi (I miss Pepsi!!!)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

16lbs and Counting

16 pounds have entered my tummy in the past few weeks...
16 pounds of nectarines that is... not baby weight... yet.

I have been eating 3-4 nectarines a day.
They are so good and I really enjoy them.
It's a healthy snack too, so I'm not chomping on lots of junk food.
I'm not sure how long this will last though.
I seem to go through real phases with what I like and do not like eating.
The smallest thing can throw me off.
But as of today, I've already had 16lbs of them!
That's a lot of nectarines.

Note: I wrote this last week and never posted it. The nectarines are done. I got sick on Friday, the morning Mono had to go to the hospital and that was the end of the nectarine love. If I get sick too close to eating a certain food, I cross it off my list. 
Today I introduced apples to my diet. I was a little nervous about doing that because for whatever reason I thought they weren't going to sit in my stomach well. But they did and I was happy to be eating my favorite fruit again.
I wonder if I will be going through so many pounds of apples, like I had with the nectarines.

Abuelo Agustin's Apple Pie

While I was planning for my birthday party, I was debating what I'd make for dessert. My usual go to is cupcakes. They are my favorite. But this year, the few days before my birthday were a little hectic and cupcakes didn't seem like the right choice for turning twenty-six. Apple pie seemed like the right move. Yep, apple pie. If you know me kinda well, you might know that not only do I not like pie, but I hate it. An old friend of mine used to laugh because I would not eat cooked fruit. We've lost touch, but if she was around to know that I didn't just eat apple pie, but I chose to bake it and eat it, she'd be proud!

I have never, ever baked an apple pie or any other pie before… at least on my own. I've helped someone else in baking a pecan pie or a pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving, but that is the extent of my pie baking history. While I was making the pie on Sunday, I thought to myself, "I think this will be my first and last pie I bake." I didn't think it was going to go over well. I was wrong. I will certainly be baking this recipe again. I just need an excuse to make it.

Now, I have to tell you the history that goes with this pie. It's not just any old recipe from some modern cookbook. It is a recipe that was learned generations ago and baked with love many times over. I'm happy to be part of this family and can then tell our kids about the recipe and pass it to them and keep the love of Abuelo Agustin's pie alive for years to come!
Now, getting to the history behind the pie. I hope I am getting this right. Forgive me (family) if I don't and you'll have to correct me!
First I will tell you the family members involved.
Bello: Mono's grandfather
Bella: Mono's grandmother, Bello's wife
Abuelo Agustin: Bello's father
Abuela Sofia: Bello's mother
Rosa: Bello's family's maid, turned cook, but really, an adopted out of love, member of the family
Nina: Mono's aunt/godmother
Mami: Mono's mom

Mono's family, on his mom's side, is from Cuba. They are Cuban through and through and I just love to hear about life in that beautiful country. They have some amazing stories and I just close my eyes and picture what life was like their during the years of the beginning of this pie. When Mono and I were flying to Aruba on our honeymoon, we flew over Cuba. That was big for both of us, especially him. We weren't over the area that they lived though. That is what I was really wishing for. I really wanted to get a glimpse into what their home was like. 

Abuelo Agustin and Abuela Sofia both had a love for cooking, and were very good at it from what I hear. After eating this pie and many of their recipes, I know they were good in the kitchen! Their family hired Rosa as their maid and Bello's mother taught her how to cook when she came. Rosa picked up the skills and she also became a wonderful cook in their house. She took over the cooking for their family. I'm not sure how Abuela learned how to cook, maybe it was passed down from her family. I do know that Abuelo learned to cook in college. We think he may have hung out in the kitchen a lot while at school. That is where this pie originated. He learned how to make this pie while he was there. 
Some years have passed and now it is time to bring in our sweet Bella. She always had a love for cooking ever since she was a young girl. While she may not have been the one that actually did the cooking, she loved to play in the kitchen and watch her family's cook. But it was when she met Bello and spent time with his family, that she learned to cook, from Rosa. And to this day, Bella is one of the very greatest cooks I know! What she can do in the kitchen amazes me and makes me hope that one day, I can be half as good making meals for my family.

The first time I had this pie, it was made by Nina. It was delicious. But every dessert I have tried made by Nina is fabulous. Her chocolate mousse, her rum cake, the apple pie. All delicious. I thought this was just another one of her good recipes. I saw how much Bello loved it and that is when I started to pick up little bits and pieces about the pie and where it originated. 

So this year, for my birthday, being the first one where I am officially part of the family, I knew it would be okay to take on the pie. I asked Nina for the recipe and with a little coaching from Nina and Mami, I think I did a pretty good job on Abuelo Agustin's pie. It came out watery because I used the yummiest and juiciest of very favorite, honey crisp. Nina and Mami warned me that it could be pretty juicy, but being my first pie ever, I didn't know how much flour would be too much so I figured a little apple juice wouldn't kill us, or ruin the pie. And it didn't. In fact, I think I liked it that way.
Now you know how special this pie is in our family.
Do you have any special recipes that have been passed down from one generation to another?
I am so thankful, for not only the family I was born into and grew up in, but for the family I am married into. I cherish Mono's family just like they were the family I was born into. I am enjoying learning new things about my whole family every day.
Learning about your family history is a gift. Never, ever take that for granted. If you have grandparents that can sit down and share their past with you, sit and listen... and remember it.

On my Mom's side, there were two things that I learned when I was in my late teens-early twenties that shocked me.
One. My great-grandmother's (Mom's grandmother) real name was not Nannie. Everyone called her Nannie. Everyone. So I thought that was her real name. I never new her name was Jane.
Two. My Aunt Agnes and Uncle Al lived together in my great-grandparents house. I always thought they were married. Wouldn't you? Well, they were not married... but they are brother and sister. Aunt Agnes and Uncle Al are my Popa's (Mom's dad) siblings!! No wonder they all looked alike! hehe.
On my birthday, I learned two big things about my family, again from my mom's side.
One. Back to Nannie again... She eloped. At sixteen! Yes, she ran away with my great-grandfather and didn't tell their family. They took a two day honeymoon and went back to their family and the rest is history. At some point they were married in the Church, but we don't know all those details. I wish we had someone that would remember.
At sixteen, I still can't get over this.
Two. Popa's dad was an orphan. I have a real soft spot in my family for children without a family to love them, so I was touched to hear that we actually have someone in our family who was orphaned. 

I have learned a lot these past few days, about family and about baking apple pie.

157. a cherished and delicious family recipe
158. grandparents to tell us their history
159. beautiful weather to enjoy outside
160. comfortable maternity clothes (so happy I don't have to squeeze into my old clothes)
161. family, past, present and future

Monday, March 19, 2012

26 Balloons

Okay, so I don't really have 26 balloons...only 6 actually. 26 would be nice, but it just wasn't happening this year. I didn't want Mono blowing many up after his recent hospital visit, and I couldn't being pregnant. Balloons just scream birthday to me. Today is my 26th birthday and originally, we had planned on being with our family up in NY or MD today and for a friend's wedding, but since I have been sick, we had to pass on that trip. The plans for today have changed a few times. First it was just going to be Mono and I, since my parents would still be in New York after the wedding. Then they decided they would drive straight through, from New York to Alabama, yesterday so they would arrive late at night, to then be able to come celebrate my birthday. I also invited my aunt and family over, but that changed because my cousin was sick so they couldn't come. Now she is better and they are able to come! So what I thought was going to unfortunately be a pretty quiet day, has turned into a greatly anticipated day! Mono works today, so most of the morning it will just be the J and I. I'll get my little things done and then this afternoon when my parents get here, we'll meet Mono for a quick lunch! So the day looks bright ahead! The weather is amazing. I am taking out my new white pants (from Mami!!) and a cute shirt and I will enjoy this day tremendously! I'm really looking forward to dinner! I'll post more about the outcome of the day later! 

Even though I don't have the 26 balloons, no birthday is complete without fun and festive decorations. If you have been following this blog since my last birthday, you might remember all the decorations I made. It wasn't possible to be that festive this year, but I did a little bit and took inspiration from the first photo below. For Mono's birthday, the den was filled with balloons, the kitchen has streamers floating all around, there were signs on the mirror... It was fun. I didn't do that much either for today. This is my one idea that gave me a little inspiration...
I found it on Pinterest. My decoration looks nothing like it. But this weekend has gone a little differently planned than I thought with unexpected hospital visits and a sick Mono to take care of, so decorations were pushed until being made last night. My very simple ones this year still make me happy though. 
I know I want my dinner table to be really cute... but also simple with easy clean up. I looked for cute plates and cups, but didn't really find any, so we are using some paper/plastic throwaways and some glass.... Our drinks will be mason jars (courtesy of my sweet Mami), with bows tied around them, and a paper straw to drink out of. The plates are aqua and can be thrown away... Nothing else. Just simple. No centerpiece, just the food. :)

So, there is a little peek into what the day will be like. There will be a recap post either later tonight or tomorrow!!

154. balloons and decorations to make a birthday feel extra happy and complete
155. a beautiful morning to start the day
156. windows open and birds chirping

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Goodbye Twenty Five

Steaks marinading over night... check!
Birthday cake pie baked and ready to enjoy... check!
Decorations made and hung... check!

Table set ... check!
Sweet tea and lemonade made ... check!

Birthday preparations are nearly ready and celebrations can begin in the morning! 

Twenty five has certainly been an amazing year for me! One I will always cherish and never, ever, ever forget! On to the big 2-6 tomorrow. I know this year is going to be filled with lots of fun!

150. recipes passed down many generations
151. parents who drive straight through from New York to Alabama just to be sure they are here to celebrate my birthday today
152. a healthy husband (a post on that to come)
153. a wonderfully amazing year being 25

Friday, March 16, 2012

Childlike Dreams

It's the one place that turns everyone into a child again.
Grandparents aren't even too old to enjoy it...
Big, tough, police officers like my Dad, even their soft side comes out (though he always has a soft side)...
Sweet, tender moms, like mine, enjoy all the goodies, characters, and entertainment...
Teenagers who think they are cooler than cool...
Little children, and even babies too...
They all love it.

It's the place that you can let that inner child come out and enjoy all over again.
It's Disney World.

I know I won't be going there any time too soon being that I am pregnant, but I surely miss it there.
My family; aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents (on Dad's side) used to make a yearly trip in March, right around mine and Grandpa's birthday, to visit Disney. I have so many wonderful memories and I want to start sharing them with Mono. I want him to be a part of all those old memories. 

I want him to enjoy it all, from the character breakfasts and parks, to days spent by the pool, soaking up the sun, to the Mickey ice cream pops and swirly lollipops. 

Is there any place that takes away all your troubles, lets you be fun and free and childlike, and enjoy each and every magical moment?

I can't wait for our babes to be big enough to take them on their first trip. I know if they have any of their mom in them, they will love it!!

Soon Disney. We will be there soon! And you will love having our growing family back again!

Noticing the Little Moments of Life

I feel like I have been in such a blah mood lately. I forget to notice all the little small things that used to make me so happy to see. I don't get out as much, and most of my time has been spent on the couch, resting, trying to feel better. I don't like being so blah (that's the only word I can give it). I like feeling creative, having energy and being a little more active. I like noticing the small things, whether at home or out and about.

One thing that I have noticed with people that use things such as their iPhone for pics and Instagram, is they post pictures of the simplest little things… they're noticing the small things. I have really been wanting to take more pictures and update and notice the little things in life again, even if a lot of my time is still on the couch. The other day Mono said he would share his iPod with me (that has a camera on it) so I can use Instagram. He set up an account for me and got me started.  I have a great real camera, but sometimes it's just hard to carry that every single place and it's not always convenient to pull out, so this is another good option.

So, here are a few glimpses into the past couple of days of life.

I eat my pizza the right way... folded! Can you tell I grew up in New York!?
 I really love all things Lilly! The patterns, the colors... It's so happy. I was out at the store and saw these adorable plastic tumblers. It took a lot for me not to purchase a set.
 The start of St. Patrick's Day celebrations for me!
 Enjoying a freshly grilled meal on our back deck. Such wonderful times!
 Jimmy loves to cuddle with Mono. They're quite the buddies!
 Every single night, right around 4:45 or so, Jimmy waits here at the door until Mono comes home. He doesn't leave until Mono walks in... and then, he goes crazy!
 He was so happy when Mono finally came home from work. Mono sat on the steps while I finished up the grilled and Jimmy ran over to sit with him.
 Our tree is really blooming! I love to see all the new flowers each morning.
 A small sweet treat... half a can of caffeine free root beer and a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
 Another day waiting for his best buddy to come home from work... I think he got tired of sitting there.
 I am hoping to take these little moments, with their pictures and post more often for you. Even if they are short and even meaningless, it'll be a little update for you.

For the Love of Running and Friendship

I know I've mentioned my friend Jilly is many posts before. I have also written about her half marathons that she has accomplished. Her last half was in February and she already has three more scheduled! How cool is that?! I'm still hoping that I too can run a half one of these days... after the babes are born of course!

Last year, for her first half, I made her a card and sent it down to her mom's house so she'd get it right before the race. It's now a tradition... I did it again this time. I was nervous because it was during a time that I was really not feeling well and my pregnant brain had little to no creativity running through it. I did it though. I sent her a little package of support.

It all had to be either yellow, Rapunzel or Disney themed this year. She runs in the Disney Princess Half Marathon. Last year she was Ariel. This year was Rapunzel. If I ran in the Princess Half, I'd have to pick Cinderella... She's my favorite.

First, I found these yellow Mickey shaped paint chips at Home Depot (how cool! I wanted to take one of every color just to have!!)... and I took 13 of them. They must have thought I had a really big project with all the yellow chips I needed. She actually ran with them and held them up along the way! I was shocked! I didn't think of that, and never in a million years expected her to hang on to them, much less run thirteen miles with them!
 Then I found a few yellow, Disney, paint chips, not Mickey shaped though (sad face), and wrote little messages on them. 
 Yellow is her favorite color... Can you tell? 
And for her card, I stuck with her theme, Rapunzel, who she was running as.
 I think she even took the long hair off the card and ran with it hanging off her hat! Isn't she the cutest?!
 I love that she has such a passion for running and does something with it!

150. seeing someone's passion and watching them let that grow and be alive
151. having a desire to run a half marathon one day
152. having excuses to love on a friend

A Babymoon?

We have a few trips coming up that we are planning before the babes come.
I need to go to the beach. If you know me, it's the place I am supposed to live.
I adore the beach with every single bit of my being.
I love it on cold days, all bundled up, going for walks or sitting on the sand watching the waves come crashing in and out.
I love it on hot, sunny, summer days, when the sun kisses your skin with a perfect tan.
It is just the most relaxing and beautiful place in the entire world.
So we are planning a nice long week at the beach and also a long visit with family up north.
Once the boys come, our trips will come to halt for a little while, so we wanted to get some fun trips in. Mono and I also want to take some weekend trips to local places... or semi-local. :) Places that you can get to in a few hour drive.
We have a little list and it should be lots of fun. Plus, this is our first summer married so we want it to be extra fun!
Hopefully I will have fun blog posts from our trips!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

She said it was a box full of glitter...

She said it was a box full of glitter...
And she was right!
It was a box full of glitter!
And I loved every single sparkle.
A few days ago Jilly told me something (maybe a box full of glitter) would come knocking at my door probably on Friday.
Well guess what guys?
That something that she told me about, it came today!!
Mare, what do you think is in here? It's from Katie's mom... it HAS to be good! - Jimmy (my little helper)  
The only thing better than the contents of this glitter-filled box, would have been finding my sweet friend herself, knocking at my door. I know she would have come to celebrate if it were at all possible. 
This gift was filled with so much of her love and sparkle, that it feels like she is with me.
I have a feeling I am going to be using every last drop!!
There are already and will continue to be a lot of wonderful memories!
I opened the box she mailed it in and saw the start of its goodness. 
First of all, anything that Jilly puts together is pure goodness.
And how can a big box tied in bright pink glitter ribbon not be anything but fabulous!?
Smarties so the babes are extra smart... and Hershey kisses... kisses from Jilly for me and the babes!
I can't wait to have another outfit to wear!
Yes, and there just might be pink glitter all over the house.
I told Mono that I had never heard of a little glitter hurting anyone, so I am happy to have it! 
Bring on the glitter and bring on the big 2-6!
Thank you so much my dear friend for all your thoughtfulness. Not just for the card you sent me in the mail, or the card and all these gifts you sent me today, but for your friendship and continual love, in all the little ways you share it with me. Love you.

144. gorgeous, warm and sunny weather, in MARCH!
145. dinner fresh off the grill
146. dinner outside on the deck
147. sweet walks in the neighborhood with Mono and J
148. birthday love from a dear friend
149. glitter!