Henry's First Five Days

We are home!  

Slowly, we are adjusting to life with two kids.  Henry is such a sleepy baby, and generally mellow when he is awake.  He is such a joy!  It does seem like everything, from nursing to the overnight wake-ups, is easier this time around. Plus, who could get frustrated with this little face?

Big sister Nina is proving to be sweet with Henry, though she is undoubtedly more work than her baby brother.  I find myself saying what everyone says, "Why didn't I realize how easy I had it when I just had one kid?"

I am giving myself the grace to be away from blogging for awhile, though I doubt you'll get rid of me completely.  Henry's labor and delivery went really fast and I have some healing to do, but as soon as I am back on my feet I want to get his nursery into shape.  I can't wait to show it to you!

Thank you so much for all your well wishes!  I have read every single comment.  I am trying to take your advice and get lots of rest, and enjoy every minute while Henry is so little.  I know from experience that the day will come when he won't let me hold him on my lap as often, or cuddle and kiss him as much as I want.  I just want to soak up his "littleness" as much as I can.  And I forgot how perfect that new baby smell is!



It's a Boy!

Introducing Henry James!

Henry was born last night at 12:38 a.m.  He weighs 5 lb. 13 oz. and is 20 inches long.  He is perfectly healthy and just precious!

Here he is meeting his big sister, Nina.  She gave him lots of kisses and sang "Rockabye Baby" to him!
Today has been so much fun getting to know this little guy and sleeping a lot (thankfully Henry has been as sleepy as his mama!).

Thank you so much for your well-wishes and prayers!  I am so blessed to have so many friends in the blogging world.  And now I am off to have some more sleep!


Baby Time!

This is it!  We are on the way to the hospital, and will be very unavailable for a while!  I'll keep you posted on the appearance of Baby #2!

And in case you are wondering, I pre-wrote this post so that I could quickly get it on my blog when I went into labor.  You all know I'd never be coherent enough to type a post, let alone find a cute little cartoon to go with it, in the midst of contractions, right?  :)

Please pray for a healthy baby!

Roasted Lemon Chicken with Croutons

I know, I know.  Why am I still here?  But this baby has decided to take his/her sweet time, so I am still plugging away.  It's nice to have a little more time to get some things done, but I am ready to get on with the show!

A few nights ago I had a craving for this dish.  It is super-easy to make, and has such a "wow" factor, that I had to share.  Plus it makes your house smell amazing.  Of course, it's another one from my favorite girl, Ina Garten, i.e. the Barefoot Contessa.

I have made this for guests many times, and everyone goes crazy for it!  The reason?  See those bread cubes underneath the chicken?  My husband and I almost get into a sword fight (more of a fork fight, actually) over those.  Every time.  After you roast the chicken and toast the bread cubes, you put the chicken on top of the bread and carve it.  The bread soaks up all the juices, along with some yummy onions that have been caramelizing with the chicken in the oven.  It is absolute heaven!

This is seriously one of our favorite all-time meals.  Now that I am writing about it, I want to go back and make it again right now!  I hope you give it a try!

Lemon Chicken with Croutons
Serves 3-4

1 (4 to 5-pound) roasting chicken
1 large yellow onion, sliced
Good olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 lemons, quartered
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
6 cups (3/4-inch) bread cubes (1 baguette from the bakery section of your grocery store)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.  Take the giblets out of the chicken and wash it inside and out.  Remove any excess fat and leftover pinfeathers.  Toss the onion with a little olive oil in a small roasting pan.  Place the chicken on top and sprinkle the inside of the cavity with salt and pepper.  Place the lemons inside the chicken.  Pat the outside of the chicken dry with paper towels, brush it with the melted butter, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken.

Roast for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours, or until the juices run clear when you cut between the leg and the thigh.  Cover with foil and allow to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes.  (The onions may burn, but the flavor is good.)

Meanwhile, heat a large saute pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil until very hot.  Lower the heat to medium-low and saute the bread cubes, tossing frequently, until nicely browned, 8 to 10 minutes.  Add more olive oil, as needed, and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.  Place the croutons on a serving platter.  Place the whole chicken on top of the croutons and slice it, letting all the pan juices and onions distribute over the croutons.  Sprinkle with salt and serve warm.

Be prepared to fight everyone off for the croutons.  Just saying.

Oh, and another side note.  Once, my husband mistook one of the roasted lemons for a crouton.  It was not good.  He wants me to warn you so you don't make the same mistake!  :)


WFMW: The Best Baby Sleep Book Around

Do you feel like you are experiencing déjà vu?  If you've been around for awhile, you will recognize this photo below as Nina's bedroom, pre-big girl bed.  Well, guess what?  This is also Nina's bedroom, today!

Yep, we moved her back to her crib.  Remember how I mentioned in this post that she been having some, ah, nocturnal adventures?  Well, those expanded into climbing onto furniture, falling off furniture, and skipping naps altogether, resulting in about 2-3 hours less sleep per day.  Cranky little girl, cranky mommy.  Bad!

The reason I share this with you is this: there has been a book that I have used religiously since Nina was a newborn.  I read so many sleep books when she was an infant, desperate as I was to find some way to get more sleep for her and for us.  "Sleeping Through the Night," by Jodi Mindell, was my favorite, and I credit it for Nina's status as a "good sleeper" (up until now, at least)!

So of course when we ran into these new developments, I immediately turned to this book.  Unfortunately, she didn't have a ton of info on my particular problem, so I did what any blogger would do.  I Googled her.  I found her email address.  She holds a PhD and teaches at a university in Philadelphia.  I sent her a very polite and (I hope) appreciative email, describing our situation and asking what we should do.

Here's where it gets really good.  She wrote me back.  Within 30 minutes, people.  With a thoughtful and educated response.  I was floored.  And am also about ready to throw her a parade here in Denver.  For those of you who have ever felt unsure of what to do in the world of parenting, or, for that matter, in life itself, you will recognize how valuable and rare it is to have a true expert swoop in and help you right when you are about to lose it.  I am so impressed by this woman!

So I write this post to tell you how wonderful Dr. Jodi Mindell is, how much I love her book, and how peaceful it is to be sitting here during Nina's nap, knowing that she is sleeping well in her crib and that she just was too young, not ready for the switch to the big girl bed.  We will try again in a few months when she is cognitively and behaviorally more ready to deal with lack of boundaries in a bed.

In the meantime, I will be sleeping through the night too!  Works For Me! 


Silhouette Success!

Today I want to share with you a little tip that I originally got from a fellow blogger, The Nester.  I have seen so many amazing homemade silhouettes in Blogland recently, and I really did think about trying to copy the idea.  But the truth of the matter is that I don't have the patience, or the steady hand, to attempt a halfway decent silhouette of my wriggly little girl.

So I did what any mama would do.  I turned on Sesame Street, parked my toddler in front of the TV, and took photo after photo of her sweet little profile.

Then I took her sweet little profile and sent it, along with a $20 personal check, to Lena Bengston, silhouette artist.

A few weeks later, I got this in the mail.  Can you believe how precious it is?  $20, people!  That's all I spent to get a gorgeous 5x7 silhouette of Nina!  (The frame was purchased separately, at Michael's, for around $12 in case you're interested!)  I am so pleased with the results and the straight up adorable-ness of her work.  I can't help staring at it every time I walk into my bedroom!

I highly recommend you check out Lena Bengston if you are, as I was, scared of silhouettes!


The Nursery is Ready!

Happy Monday!  Do you want to know why I am so happy today?  First, I got the baby's nursery organized over the weekend, which takes a huge weight off my mind.  Now at least the baby won't be sleeping in the bathtub.  I am definitely one who can't settle down until those loose ends are all tied up.  But even better than that?

I think I am nearing the end of this pregnancy!  My doctor told me on Friday that I am about 3 cm. dilated, 70% effaced, and that she doesn't think I will make it to the 40 week mark.  She thought things were progressing fast enough that she even warned me not to do anything this past weekend (wink, wink) that would, you know, induce labor, because she was going to be out of town until Monday morning.

So I made it through the weekend and am now hopeful that I will start to have some labor pains soon!  So far I have had lots of contractions, but nothing consistent.  I will keep you posted!  In the meantime, here are some photos of the newly-completed nursery.

Keep in mind that it's pretty bland right now.  Since we don't know the gender of the baby, we are waiting to add all those little touches that will make it cozy and unique.

But some things are just too cute not to show you right now...

I can't wait to put frames and other cute things on this shelf!

This bassinet was my in my husband's family, and I just love it!  I just gave it a fresh coat of white paint, and of course, added a white grosgrain ribbon.

I'll be sure to show you more of the nursery once we can add colorful curtains, a rug, bedding, and various other little things to make it more personal.  That's the fun part! 


Let's All Copy My Friend Aimee!

My friend Aimee has a great house.  Do you have those friends who, whenever you visit them, you end up staring at things in their house, wondering how you can copy them?  Yep, that's Aimee.  And to top if off, she lives three doors down from me and has a three-year-old daughter named Lulu who Nina loves to play with.  She also feeds me coffee and cinnamon toast when I go over to her house for play dates.  What's not to like?

Anyway, I've been wanting to show you some of her ideas.  This one below is my absolute favorite!  Aimee and her husband used to live in a 200 year old house in Connecticut, and when they renovated part of it, they kept this old window.  Now that she lives in a new house, she still wanted that "old" feel.  So she took this window and filled each panel with...you're not going to believe this...scrapbook paper!

Doesn't it look like an old patchwork quilt?  The colors in the window tie the whole room together, which was her point.  I just love this idea because it could work in any room in your house where you need a "big" piece of artwork but don't want to spend tons of money.

Some other pretty touches that Aimee has used in her house:  This wreath hangs on her pantry door, a colorful way to warm up the kitchen and break up all the cabinetry.

Aimee has a pretty stack of vintage linens in her kitchen too.  She thinks they look like a big old mess, I think they look charming!

Don't you love this barn star?  The candles next to it are the perfect height, too.

Aimee just has pretty touches like this throughout her house.  I love the fake greenery that looks natural but doesn't require maintenance and watering!

She covered this builder's grade chandelier with some fun and funky material.  Even added the trim on the top and bottom of the shades.  Doesn't look like a builder's grade chandelier now, does it?
I just love it when I find ideas that make a big difference in decorating, but don't force you to max out your credit card.  I hope some of these ideas in Aimee's house can work for you! 

Have a great weekend! 

P.S. Thank you so much for all of you who gave me links to sewing blogs, websites and tutorials.  Now I can safely say I will spend my weekend looking through them all, getting ideas for things that I may someday have the skill to complete!


My New Toy!

Happy Thursday!  Remember a few days ago I mentioned my favorite Christmas present, one that I would probably break before I figured it out?  Some of you correctly guessed this:

I am so excited about this sewing machine, but also so stinkin' intimidated.  It's a Janome, which I guess is good, right?  My husband, bless his heart, did lots of research to make sure I had something that would last for years and years.  Like I said, if I don't break it first.

My first test was to create a little mattress for this baby bed.  Nina has been really into "taking care of babies" lately, so when I saw this frame (at Goodwill, can you believe it?) I snapped it up for her.

Anyway, here's my request.  If you have any favorite blogs or websites that you visit, ones that have easy tutorials for sewing beginners like me, would you pass them along?  I just need ideas, but I also need some people to hold my hand!  

Thank you in advance for humoring a girl who is way out of her league! 


Introducing the Rice Pad

For those of you dealing with cold weather this winter, I have something that has completely made my curling-up-on-the-couch time much more cozy.  I will be the first to admit that I did not make this, but that I think you could if you have any basic sewing ability (which, we will all agree, I do not!).

This, my friends, is a rice pad.  It's a simple piece of fabric sewn up into a square, filled with plain white uncooked rice.

Mine has a little cover that can be removed with a piece of Velcro.  And yes, those are teddy bears on the fabric.  Yes, my nickname from childhood is "Care Bear."  And yes, my mommy bought this for me!

Here's a good photo of the interior bag.  Just a super-simple square filled with rice.  I have heard of people adding dried lavender or some other good-smelling thing to the rice.  Mine is just plain.
On a cold winter night I throw my rice pad into the microwave for 3-4 minutes.  Then I can curl up on the couch with it, or put it in my bed to warm my tootsies!  It's really convenient because, unlike a heating pad or electric blanket, I don't have to get up and turn it off if I fall asleep.  It just cools off on it's own, which is safer and also more convenient in the middle of the night!  It stays warm for about 1-2 hours, depending on how long you've microwaved it.

So if you have a spare half an hour, some extra material and some uncooked rice, whip up one of these little guys!  I just love mine!


I Really Have Been Busy!

Hi everyone!  It's been a busy few days, and I want to start by saying thanks again for everyone who entered my giveaway and visited me over the weekend.  The new traffic coming from Today's Creative Blog is so much fun!  I have really been trying to visit each of you in return, but please forgive me if I didn't make it to you.  

Maybe when you see what I've been up to over the past few days you will cut me a little slack.  I am trying to convert this pretty, organized and neat guest room into the baby's room:

How far do you think I've gotten?  Yeah, not so far.  Some of you have commented to me in the past that you didn't know where I got my energy.  Well, I don't have it anymore!  Even thinking about climbing the stairs makes me exhausted.  This is why people should really start these projects earlier than 8 1/2 months into pregnancy. 

In addition to organizing the baby's room, I needed to come up with a storage solution for all the things that are being re-zoned out of the guest room.  So this space in the upstairs loft...

...got a new armoire instead.  For those of you who have Craig's List in your town, I will again sing it's praises.  This new armoire was only $100!

Thank God it has a ton of space, so it can hold a bunch of stuff that used to live in the guest room.

The wrapping paper has a new home in the loft too.  I got sick of pawing through it when it lived underneath the guest room bed.  Now at least I can see what I have so I don't keep buying more and more Christmas paper on clearance!

So there you go.  The big switch-a roo has begun in my house, and it has a bit of a deadline (say about three weeks, if this baby decides not to arrive until my actual due date)!  I really hope that I'll be able to show you a somewhat completed baby's room in the next week or so.  Otherwise I'll have to tromp down to the basement and just take photos of some baby clothes that still need to be washed and are sitting in a box somewhere.  Yikes!  


No Way!

This weekend a few really cool things happened.  

First, my husband and I got in an argument.  No, that's not the cool part.  But there I was, fuming away after our argument, and I logged in to my email.  What was waiting for me?

A lovely note from Kim of Today's Creative Blog.  She was writing to tell me that my little blog was being featured!  Kim's blog was one of the first that I ever found in the world of decorating blogs, and I found many of you as a result of her.  I can't believe she thinks I am worth highlighting, but I am not complaining!  :)  Wa-hoo!  

The second cool thing is that I have had tons of comments on my 100th post!  Man, you girls love you some wine charms, don't you?  It made me so happy to read your comments, though, and without further ado, I want to announce the winner of my first ever giveaway!

The winner is comment #74 (chosen by my husband)...Sit a Spell!  Come on down, girl, and claim your prize!  Just drop me an email at buzzingsofaqueenbee@hotmail.com and we can work out the details.  

This week I hope to keep you entertained by a visit to my friend's house, where I will show you some of the cool projects that I would like to copy from her.  I am also about to totally blow your mind by telling you what my favorite Christmas gift was.  A few hints: I have no idea how to use it, and I will probably break it before I figure it out.  Do you know what it is?

Oh, and my husband and I did make up after our argument!  I didn't want to leave you hanging there.  And I am having regular contractions, but so far we're still hanging at about 2 cm. dilated, so I think you'll have to put up with me for awhile longer.  :)


Time's Up!

It's 8 p.m. in Colorado!  We are officially closed for the 100th Post Giveaway.  I will draw the name tonight and be sure to tell you first thing tomorrow who our winner is!   :)

Thank you to all you who entered!


100th Post Giveaway!

Welcome to my 100th post!

First of all, a huge thank you to every single one of you.  It has been a true pleasure to "meet" you, and it has been such a highlight of my year.  I wonder what I did with all my free time before I started blogging?

Now, on to the fun stuff!  My sister and I started a business almost a year ago called Mildred Lane, and we make hand painted items such as wine charms, wine stoppers, photo frames, key chains and other things.  Feel free to check out our etsy shop if you wish, but no pressure!

I am giving away a set of our wine charms, great for marking each guest's glass when you are entertaining.  They are painted in bright summer colors and come in a set of six.  Even if you aren't a big wine drinker, these are also great for serving coffee.  I have used them on the handles of our coffee mugs when we entertain in the morning and they look just as cute as they do on the wine glasses!  

If you'd like to be entered to win a set of these little charms, just leave a comment on this post.  One entry per person, please.  I will choose the winner at random on Sunday night at 8 p.m. Colorado time, and announce the winner on Monday morning.

Good luck!  And thanks again for making my first 100 posts so much fun!


Big Girl Bed!

I will be the first to admit that I've been a little tired lately.  We moved Nina into a big girl bed about five nights ago (not that I've been counting or anything), and of course I am also more than 8 months pregnant.  Put together, these things do not equal a good night's sleep!  If it weren't for the cuteness of her new bedroom, this whole thing would be a bust!

You may have seen this post, months ago, about the twin brass bed we inherited from my husband's family.  Here it is in it's all-brass glory:

I struggled with what to do because I don't like this natural brass look, and eventually decided I would just darken it using Brass Ager.  But then I saw a similar bed that had been aged and didn't like it.  Still, it's a family piece, and some part of me just felt wrong about painting it!

But you know what?  I got over it!  I realized that more than anything, we want to be able to enjoy the bed.  I know it goes against the norm, but if we don't like the bed, what is the point?  So it got a coat of cream-colored paint and we are thrilled with the way it turned out!  (Thanks to my husband, who spent many hours in the garage with multiple cans of Rustoleum spray paint.  And yes, that is all we did!  Just the spray paint, no sanding, nothing.  I was worried it wouldn't be enough, but it turned out perfectly!)

We've used a feather duvet and a handmade family quilt for the bottom of the bed.  Right now Nina has soft white flannel sheets from LL Bean, and in the spring we will switch to pretty light floral sheets.  I have a Euro pillow and and a standard pillow for the bed, but I am already realizing that, with these toddler guard rails on either side, I won't be making the bed every morning.  Still, it's fun to have the girlie bedding for those days when I actually motivate to make the bed!
Now my only problem is getting our new little night prowler to stay in bed.  Specifically, the early morning wake-up calls are killing us!  Nina used to sleep from about 8 p.m. till about 7:30 or 8 a.m.  Now she's getting up in the 6 a.m. range.  Yeah.  Does anyone have any thoughts on this?  Will it change?  Go back to normal once the novelty of the new bed wears off?  Oh, please tell me it will!


Have I Mentioned My Friend Ina?

Last night we had something so yummy, I just had to share with you!  First of all, I don't think I've talked about my absolute obsession with the Barefoot Contessa, otherwise known as Ina Garten.  

In my house, she's known just as Ina, even though she wouldn't know me from a hole in the wall.  But I have every one of her cookbooks, and I love to watch her on the Food Network because she has amazing decorating taste, and her show is filmed at her house.  I adore her simple but elegant style, and her food...well, I use her recipes probably 90% of the time that I entertain.  You just can't go wrong with her!

Photo courtesy of www.barefootcontessa.com

OK, have I convinced you enough?  Let's move on to what I had for dinner last night.  Chicken pot pie.  I know, it sounds very boring and bland, but this chicken pot pie, due largely to the crust with the generous sprinkle of sea salt and pepper, is just so flavorful.  I practically inhaled it, and that is even with a baby pressing on every available organ in my body.  I barely had any room, but I made room for this!

So if you are in the mood for some comfort food this month, or feeling a little down about the lack of fun reasons to get in the kitchen since you're done making Christmas cookies, try this.  You'll thank me!  (Or actually, you should thank my BFF, Ina!)

For the filling:
6 split chicken breasts (enough for 4-6 cups of cooked, cubed chicken)
3 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
5 cups chicken stock
2 chicken bouillon cubes
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups yellow onions, chopped (2 onions)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 cups medium-diced carrots, blanched for 2 minutes
2 cups medium-diced potatoes, blanched for 2 minutes (just do this with the carrots)
1 (10-ounce) package frozen peas (2 cups)
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley leaves
2 Tablespoons sherry (optional)

For the pastry:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1/4 pound cold unsalted butter, diced
1/2 to 2/3 cup ice water
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
Flaked sea salt and cracked black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the chicken breasts on a baking sheet and rub them with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, or until cooked through. Set aside until cool enough to handle, then remove the meat from the bones and discard the skin. Cut the chicken into large dice. You will have 4 to 6 cups of cubed chicken.

In a small saucepan, heat the chicken stock and dissolve the bouillon cubes in the stock. In a large pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter and saute the onions over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until translucent. Add the flour and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Add the hot chicken stock to the sauce. Simmer over low heat for 1 more minute, stirring, until thick. Add 2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and heavy cream. Add the cubed chicken, carrots, potatoes, peas, parsley and sherry, if using. Mix well.

For the pastry, mix the flour, salt, and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Add the shortening and butter and mix quickly with your fingers until each piece is coated with flour. Pulse 10 times, or until the fat is the size of peas. With the motor running, add the ice water; process only enough to moisten the dough and have it just come together. Dump the dough out onto a floured board and knead quickly into a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic and allow it to rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Divide the filling equally among 4-8 ovenproof bowls (this depends on the size of your bowls...I got 8 servings out of this recipe).  Divide the dough into quarters and roll each piece into an 8-inch circle. Brush the outside edges of each bowl with the egg wash, then place the dough on top. Trim the circle to 1/2-inch larger than the top of the bowl. Crimp the dough to fold over the side, pressing it to make it stick. Brush the dough with egg wash and make 3 slits in the top. Sprinkle generously with sea salt and cracked pepper. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 1 hour, or until the top is golden brown and the filling is bubbling hot.

P.S. I made a few notes and adjustments to this recipe based on my experience and preferences, but for the original, you can find it on the Food Network website.


My First Tip for 2009!

Well, are your Christmas decorations put away yet?  I admit, though I love to put them up, I quickly want to put them away after December 25.  It depresses me to know I have to wait another ten or eleven months to celebrate Christmas again, and I don't want the reminders!

One thing that really helps me to face the new year and get organized is a simple trick I've been using for years.  Anytime I am at a thrift store or a home goods sale, I look for baskets.  Mostly all the same color, but the shape and size are important too.

I seriously have baskets all over my house.  They help to hold books in the bedroom, stationery in the loft...
...and of course magazines waiting to be read.

I keep them in the guest bath for little shampoos and other goodies.

And in the mud room for incoming mail and coupons.

Of course, Nina's toys take up quite a few of these baskets!

And cozy blankets and pillows fill another large one in my family room.

Holding toilet paper in the powder room isn't so glamorous, but hey!  Still necessary!

Once in a while I break out of my usual basket style and color, especially when I see something that I really love.  This copper bucket was $25 at an antique sale, and it works perfectly next to the door as a catch-all for shoes.

So, my first tip for 2009?  Keep your eyes peeled for cute and functional baskets when you are out and about.  Even if I don't know where I will use it, if I see a great basket I just buy it and stash it away somewhere.  Then when I get on an organizational kick, I have plenty of baskets to choose from!