Friday, September 20, 2013

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, How I Wonder What You Are: Our Gender Reveal

Finding out "Bow or Beau" was so incredibly exciting and we couldn't wait to share with our loved ones!

(Word to the wise: if ya wanna skip a whole lotta mushy, estrogen-induced rambling, scroll down for pics and details of our gender reveal.)

First of all, I have to start by saying there was NO way on God's green earth that I could ever NOT find out the sex of the child I'm carrying as long as technology allows it.  Anyone who knows me knows I'm a planner.  Waiting 4+ months to find out was torturous (to say the least) enough for me.  Like, I f'real lost sleep over it....  Had 2 nurseries fully planned (one for a boy, one for a girl)...  Was the most anxious I have EVER been in my entire life (no joke- doesn't compare to annnything else) on the way to the doctor's office to find out...  Legit cuckoo.

Beyond that, I think a little respite mid-pregnancy is well-deserved and much needed.  There are PLENTY of surprises to be had  during labor and delivery... I'm sure of it.  I spoke with an old friend this past weekend who recently had a baby, and she said she'd waited to find out, and in retrospect, she wouldn't do that again.  She said there was SO much going on during her labor and delivery as it was that the sex of her baby was among the last things on her mind (she had a feeling it was a boy and wasn't that surprised to find out she was right).  One of my sisters-in-law suggested that we have the sonographer write down the gender at our appointment and put it in an envelope so that we could go to dinner and open it privately with just the two of us later.  Pre-pregnancy, that sounded like a sweet idea.  Being knocked up?  No way, no chance, no shot, no how, nevvvver could I purposely elongate the wait.

In the end, I'm so glad that we found out at the doctor's office.  It was so special and far more emotional than I ever could have imagined.  Besides, there was no way for us to not know what we were having in that appointment...   it was like BAM... without a shadow of a doubt a boy!!   It was clear as day, our little man's penis displayed up there on that screen (must be from my side of the family! haha).  Mike was up out of his seat with his hands in the air celebrating before they'd even told us.   After confirming it, the sonogram technician kept looking around in there, and as she was telling us what she was looking at and how everything looked great and healthy, I had the most overwhelming feelings of love and gratitude overcome me.  My heart could have exploded it was so full.  As I quietly cried (which I was not at all expecting), I was so glad we did it the way we did.   As soon as I knew, I felt so much more connected to our little baby boy.  And without even discussing it, his name (previously undecided) kept resounding in my head. After the appointment, we were able to celebrate at Capital Grill, where of course, names came up.  We had it narrowed down to a few options, so when the first name that Mike said aloud was the name I kept repeating in my head as I watched my little man up on that sonogram screen, I was so excited!  We high-fived, I told Mike that's exactly the name I was feeling in my soul the second we found out it's a boy, and we decided right there that that was it.  Our Brody Dean (Dean is the correct pronunciation of my maiden name, and we also wanted a D name to honor Mike's dad).  

Still, as I write,  cheesin' from ear to ear,  I honestly cannot believe that I'm one of THOSE women... you know, the kind who actually loves pregnancy.  Always hoped for it, NEVER expected it.  To me, in addition to the connection I feel with our child carrying him, it's things like finding out if it's a penis or peekachu, naming him/her, and sharing everything with our loved ones that make it so easy to enjoy (despite the obvious downsides that come along with it- my mouth just watered thinking about my first cocktail after birth/breastfeeding).  So of course, we couldn't wait to share the big news with everyone, especially our family.  Here our some photos from our little gender reveal:

The det's from the cookout:

We kept it simple for this.  Everything was super easy, and I broke it up over a couple days prior, so I only spent like 20 mins a day over 2-3 days getting ready (so an hour total for the cute stuff). Just did a display and a kitchen and put pink and blue hydrangea on the patio table, since it was a cookout....
  • I used a burlap table runner I had from before* and tied the sides (a few inches below where it falls off the table) with blue and pink ribbon bows (these were 50 cent spools from Michaels- got 2 blue and 2 pink for 2 bucks!)  *cut from a 14" x 10 yd burlap runner roll... used it for multiple tables at a shower, and I'm sure it will come in handy again (thinking fall decor!)
  •  I strung the same ribbon through the chandelier over the table 
  • Made a "beau or bow?" tally on chalkboard contact paper 
  • Colored in "HE" and "SHE" with blue paint marker and pink Sharpie on Hershey's chocolate bars (the blue sharpie didn't work well on the plastic-y wrapper material) for a s'mores platter (we made s'mores by roasting the marshmallows on skewers in our outdoor chimnea)
  • Ordered my fav cute cupcakes with the center blue for anyone who missed the reveal to have their own little reveal
  • The reveal: I covered silly string with coordinating paper and ribbon.  When everyone was outside, Mike and I attacked them, screaming "It's a...." and then spraying blue silly string all over them... good times :)
  • Extras: ordered fun paper straws in pink and blue from Etsy; the same ribbon around my beverage dispenser; displayed pink and blue rock candy; festive pink and blue lunch and beverage napkins (scored at Five Below thanks to a tip from a friend of mine)
  • We just served regular cookout food- burgers, sausages, and all the fixings and sides (some of which people brought)- nothing fancy... I got away with NO cooking (not my fav thing to do anymore since getting knocked up)
  • Drinks- We had a simple bar set up on the kitchen counter for people to make delicious summer cocktails with either vodka, gin, and/or champagne; fresh lemonade (in my beverage dispenser) and soda and tonic water mixers; and St. Germaine elderflower liquor, cucumbers, fresh basil and mint, and jalepenos.  People had fun concocting delicious cocktails.  People also brought beer and wine... 
The whole thing couldn't have been easier or more worthwhile!  Oh and our reveal photo was shot and edited by one of our besties (Thanks J, aka the official Barnes family photog!) and assembled in an app on my phone (Photo Grid).  There are apps to create similar effects if you're not good at photo editing- I found Color Splash Effect and Color Touch quite easily on my phone's app store for free.

I've never been so excited for a li'l penis in my life!! :)

Proud Baby Mama ("WOOT WOOT!!")

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Throwback Thursday: Crab-b-que Birthday Party

For Mike's 30th birthday last year, we celebrated with his favorite things: crabs, barbecue, beer, cigars, friends, and family.  Here are some photos and det's from his Dirty 30 Crab-B-Que!

Details, details, DETAILS!:

Custom invitations by By Invitation Only

 Simple photo garland made with twine and clothespins (below photo was our holiday card pic!)

Food & Drink:

 Matching water bottle labels designed by By Invitation Only and printed and cut at Kinko's on glossy paper

Lemonade served with sweet tea vodka on the side- that way people could have it plain/virgin or spike it to make an alcoholic Arnold Palmer!  Striped straws in a mason jar (similar here); chalkboard and slate food & drink labels from Michael's.

cocktails in mason jars (Mike's favorite mojitos and Mike's favorite margaritas- both "skinny")

Beer in red beverage tubs (similar here)
easy snacks for appetizers and koozies in a galvanized pail

get. in. my. belly!!

Along with crabs from the local wharf, to fullfill the "b-que" in 'crab-b-que,' we served Mike's smoked pulled chicken sandwiches (smoked and pulled the day before), sausages, hot dogs, his favorite coleslaw (my "skinny" recipe- look out for it around summertime next year!), corn on the cob (steamed in the oven and displayed in a basket, pictured here), baked beans, and potato salad.  For tablecloths, I had 2 kinds: similar here, and a cheaper version underneath the crab paper without a flannel back, similar here.

festive wooden flatware roll-ups tied with burlap ribbon

Custom cupcake cake and cupcakes by Lilly Magilly's Cup Cakery

Crab essentials/table centerpieces:

paper towels, mallets in a mason jar, vinegar in squeeze bottles, daisies in re-purposed Italian soda bottle  vases (just peeled off the labels!); cute niece not included :)

 printed crab paper, Wet Ones moist towelettes, crab seasoning

FUN, FUN, FUN! Happy 30th, Mikey B!

 Bay Blues, baby!!



Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Mmm Yummy... Hump Day: Easy Lemon Spiced Chicken

I love food.  A lot.  BUT I don't think it should be a big production at home to the point where it stresses you out.  Or even to a point that you have to be in the kitchen longer than necessary for a weeknight dinner... or if you just don't feel like spending hours in the kitchen any day of the week.  Don't get me wrong, I really like to cook.  I just have no interest in trying to be a gourmand.  Moreover, if I'm going to spend time in the kitchen, it better be worth it!!  I only keep really good recipes.  Anything ehhh doesn't make it into the repertoire.  Mike and I are both sticklers for flavor.  I not only purposely choose recipes that seem to be full of flavor, but I never really follow a recipe exactly, instead adding more spices and flavor than the recipe calls for.  Must be the Pakistani in me.

This particular recipe, however, is one that I make just as the recipe calls for (okay, maybe I do a heaping measure of the spices, but close enough).  I got it out of a recipe book, The Newlyweds' Cookbook, from Pottery Barn that we received as an engagement gift a few years ago.  I couldn't really tell how it would come out when I first read the recipe or even as I was first making it and tasted the marinade, but it's become a go-to in our house.  The name is kind of deceiving- this is not lemony per se, like your average lemon chicken.  Instead, it bursts with perfectly spiced (not spicy like hot, but very aromatic and savory), slightly tangy and smokey deliciousness; the meat is fall-off the bone tender and juicy, and the skin crisps to perfection.... with very little hands-on time (score 1 for me!).  It really couldn't be easier- prep time at most is as long as it takes to preheat you oven.  

It's great for a nice, easy weeknight meal without a whole lot of preparation but fancy and impressive enough to serve to company (it is in the easy entertaining section of the cookbook).  Either way, I serve it with some sort of rice or grain (I usually do a Near East or even Rice a Roni Whole Grain blend) and a vegetable (either something like green beans with some lemon zest, or even just good, sliced tomatoes with good olive oil, salt and pepper- one of Mike's faves)... et voila... a seriously delicious meal made simple... 'cause you know that's how I roll!

Lemon-Spiced Chicken

Note: The recipe calls for chicken thighs (bone-in), which I personally love, but you can add bone-in chicken breasts, or even do a whole cut-up chicken if you prefer white meat.

8-16 Chicken pieces, preferably thighs (allow 2-4 per person)
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
freshly squeezed juice of 2 lemons
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon sweet smoked Spanish paprika (before I picked some up in Barcelona, I used regular paprika.  It worked just fine, although the noticeably smokey Spanish variety does add a little something.  Both are pictured.)
1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
a small bunch of thyme sprigs, fresh or dried (I use fresh)
2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

Trim any excess fat from the chicken pieces.  Put the chicken in a baking dish large enough to hold them comfortably (or divide between 2 dishes).  Put the oil, lemon juice, spices and herbs into a bowl (I use a 1-2 c. Pyrex measuring cup, which makes it easy/clean to pour) and mix well.  Pour over the chicken and turn to coat well.  Cover and set aside for at least 30 minutes or refrigerate for 6 to 8 hours (I've done less than 30 minutes before and prepared it the day before to pop in the oven for the following evening's meal, and both work fine).

Make sure the chicken pieces are skin side up in the dish and roast in a preheated oven at 400 degrees fahrenheit until browned and cooked through, 50-60 minutes (I usually go the whole 60).  Serve immediately with the pan juices poured over.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Hello, World... I'm with child!

Announcing you're expecting isn't a simple conversation anymore.  From cute to downright funny, creative expectant parents have found ways to make announcing their pregnancy to their loved ones fun. We were recently able to announce that I've finally stopped drinking my first pregnancy and had a good time with it (see below).

Here are a few of my favorite pregnancy announcements.  As you'll see, none of these are particularly hard to pull off.  All you need is a friend with a camera or even just camera phone to snap the photo if you're both in it (if not, you can do it all by yourself); a baby daddy willing to give you a few minutes for a cheesy pic; and in some cases an easy photo app to add text.  Of course, I'm partial to the humorous ones, but I've included some of my fav cutesy ones, too...

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Hysterical twist on that one for twins...
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This older sibling/current tenant's face makes it!
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One of my best friends, Mary, is expecting, as well! Its so nice having a friend to go through pregnancy with.  We are two weeks apart in our pregnancies, but our expected due dates are only one day apart as her due date will likely be moved up because she's expecting TWINS!  She asked me to snap her pregnancy announcement/gender reveal shot for her.  She originally was going to do the standard "shoes" one (a pic of similar mommy, daddy, baby babIES shoes- we were going to do Converse sneakers), but when those became popular and were popping up more than once on our Facebook newsfeeds, we wanted to come up with something a little different.  We were choosing between a couple in the end... we liked this as an idea:

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 1+3 (her and TWO babies in her belly!)=4 in her case, but with her holding two balloons (either pink or blue) so that it'd serve as a gender reveal also...

But we ultimately came up with this to announce her big news and reveal the gender of her twin boys:

For my and Mike's announcement, we were going to do something like the boots with Mom & Dad's birthday months and years on the bottom of their shoes and baby's due date on a mini pair of shoes above, but it was wet out the day our awesome neighbor was gonna snap the shot for us.  Being that I was feeling very first trimester-y and didn't want to get my bum all soggy by sitting on the wet ground, or even so much as change outfits after work, we called a last minute audible and decided to change it up and went with this:

I just love our pup, Chloe, in it- her expression is perfect!

 Our version was inspired by this:

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Right when I was at 12 weeks (which is when we were waiting to announce it until), we were leaving on a trip to Greece with all of my best girlfriends from high school for one of the girls' wedding.  I decided to surprise them with the news at the airport.... they'd for sure know something was up when we got on the plane and I wasn't joining them for a cocktail (or 6).  So, when we got through security and settled in at our gate, I told everyone I made them little goody bags for the plane and handed them these...

....little "I'm gonna pop!" treat bags.  At first everyone was all, "Of course you did Martha Stewart!" and "Awww, you're so sweet!" and one of the girls even looked at the ribbon and said, "Duckies?"  I gave them a second to read the tag (which said, "When we get on the plane, be sure to pop champagne.... 'cause I'm gonna pop!  Baby Barnes is due January 2014!"), and soon enough they got it  (sometimes ya just hafta give 'em a second!) and we were celebrating.  The "I'm gonna POP" treats for the flight inside the bag included snacks containing the word "pop," like: Blow Pops, Pop Tart minis, popcorn (I did Smartfood white cheddar popcorn- one of our faves from high school), Fun Dip bottle pops, Pop Rocks, and Push Pops.

I had one more special way to tell another one of my best friends, my boss, the big news!  He is an awesomely fun, proud Italian from Jersey, who has been wanting Mike and I to start having babies for longer than we have.  He and I are super close and he's always said how even though he wouldn't likely be the official Godfather, in his mind he always will be.  So I told him the news by giving him this, which I just made in a photo app on my phone (Photo Grid):

Fun pregnancy announcements are not only a great way to announce you're expecting, but they also make a great keepsake for the baby book!  How fun for your little one to one day be able to see how excited Mom & Dad once were when they found out they were having him/her (and seeing them skinny, well rested, and carefree before your arrival)?!

Do you have a great pregnancy announcement?  Share them with us!

5 Months Sober

filed under: pregnancy announcement, cute pregnancy announcement, funny pregnancy announcement, unique pregnancy announcement, creative pregnancy announcement