Monday, December 30, 2013

The Purge: Part I

I know I usually have something sweet for you on Mondays, but I didn’t do any baking this weekend.  I did some Christmas treats last week, but the only thing worth writing about was a Pumpkin Spice Éclair Cake (made like the traditional layered pudding dessert but with Pumpkin Spice Pudding and Cool Whip Frosting).  I’m glad I still have several boxes of the seasonal mix left so I can eat more of it, either plain as pudding or turned into another oh-so-fancy dessert.

I think I’m partially in nesting mode and partially just feeling the shortened timeline between now and my due date.  Less than 50 days!  But I did some much-needed and often-postponed cleaning out this weekend.  I cleaned out the cabinets under: my sink, the guest bathroom sink, the kitchen sink, and the powder room sink.  I also did the linen closet in our bathroom and totally emptied the closet in the front bedroom, which is going to be the baby’s room.

But the biggest project of the weekend was my closet.  Thank goodness the McHusband and I each have our own, or else we might not still be together.

I hadn’t gone through my dresser since, well, maybe since we moved into this house five years ago.  So I went through the drawers in addition to the clothes on top of the dresser and  hanging in my closet and stacked on the shelf and piled in the corner beside my dresser.  Some empty and organized drawers allowed me to move the remaining clothes off the top of my dresser.

But enough talk, you guys want to see my own personal Hoarders episode?









I can actually walk all the way to my shoe shelf now.





I sent so much stuff to Good Will, it was ridiculous.  I had to throw some stuff away – no one wants a white shirt with yellowed armpits or an old sweat-stained race tee – but more items should find new life in someone else’s closet than should clog a landfill.

The McHusband even got in on the action and went through his closet.  His piles weren’t quite as impressive as mine, but between the two of us, we are going to flood the Good Will here in town with some nice stuff.

I’m at home today.  I’m off tomorrow as well and then Wednesday, New Year’s Day, is a company holiday.  I hope to keep the momentum going and get more junk out of the house and other areas organized.  I also want to paint the upper third or so of the walls in the baby’s room so the McHusband can add the wall treatment on the bottom later this week.

You guys don’t work too hard today!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

32 weeks

How your baby's growing:

By now, your baby weighs 3 3/4 pounds (about the size of a large jicama) and is about 16.7 inches long, taking up a lot of space in your uterus. You're gaining about a pound a week and roughly half of that goes right to your baby. In fact, he'll gain a third to half of his birth weight during the next 7 weeks as he fattens up for survival outside the womb. He now has toenails, fingernails, and real hair (or at least respectable peach fuzz). His skin is becoming soft and smooth as he plumps up in preparation for birth.

How mom is changing:

To accommodate you and your baby's growing needs, your blood volume has increased 40 to 50 percent since you got pregnant. With your uterus pushing up near your diaphragm and crowding your stomach, the consequences may be shortness of breath and heartburn. To help relieve your discomfort, try sleeping propped up with pillows and eating smaller meals more often.

You may have lower-back pain (yep, I do) as your pregnancy advances. You can probably blame your growing uterus and hormonal changes for your aching back. Your expanding uterus shifts your center of gravity and stretches out and weakens your abdominal muscles, changing your posture and putting a strain on your back. Hormonal changes in pregnancy loosen your joints and the ligaments that attach your pelvic bones to your spine.

How I’m feeling: It must get boring to read but the answer is “same old, same old.” Some lower back pain, mostly after tough workouts or lots of vacuuming. I seem to be able to sleep it off, though, so I really can’t complain too much. I have had a little acid reflux but not enough to need medicine or change my diet. Thank goodness, because I think chocolate caused it once and, well, I don’t think I can live without my buddies Hershey, Godiva, and Nestle. Otherwise, I feel pretty normal. I said to some friends just the other day that I feel like I was expecting the worst out of pregnancy and I can honestly say it hasn’t affected me all that much. Knock on wood that I didn’t just curse myself to feeling awful the rest of the time.

32 weeks

Workouts: I have to say, I’ve surprised myself with continuing my more difficult classes through now. I went to boot camp last week and I think that may’ve been my last one. It was noticeably harder for me to keep up, almost to the point of making me feel defeated and that wasn’t a good feeling. I know it’s normal for that stuff to be difficult at this point, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to accept. By the time boot camp’s offered again after the holidays, I’ll be 34 weeks and so I think maybe it might be time to dial back a bit.

But keeping up with my workouts must be doing me some good. I didn’t gain any weight in the past couple weeks – I’m holding steady at the lower end of the weight gain spectrum with my 18 pounds – but I plan to make up for that in the next 15 days or so with holiday eating and less time at the Y.

Food cravings/aversions: Another boring answer – I have yet to meet a carb I didn’t want to inhale.

Sleep: No trouble falling asleep, but I don’t think I can sleep through the night to save my life. Most of the time I can get back into dreamland quickly but when I can’t, or when I’m waking up even more than usual, boy do I feel it the next day.

Movement: The McBaby hasn’t run out of room, that’s for sure, although sometimes I think he’s testing his limits because I feel him on both sides of my torso. And the other night, I don’t know if it was a hand, foot, or elbow, but he pushed out and then slid whatever it was across my insides and it was the strangest feeling. Like, strange in a way that I didn’t really like it too much and if he never does that again, it’ll be okay.

Belly button in or out: Still in, but a touch shallower.

Rings on or off: On and fitting fine.

Recent fun or interesting things: We narrowed down our name list from the McHusband’s 60+ and my 10 to fewer than five

New baby items: One of my boot camp buddies gave me a bag of baby clothes. I haven’t gone through them yet, but I’m sure there will be plenty for the McBaby to wear. Speaking of clothes, at Thanksgiving, the McInlaws gave us some adorable duds as well as a baby tub. And this weekend, the McHusband painted a dresser that he used as a kid so that’s one big project crossed off the list. I haven’t bought the baby anything recently, but I have a feeling he may end up with a few things from some family members this week.

{Here’s a quick sneak-peek of the dresser.}


Miss anything?: I’d still like to sleep on my stomach, and it sure would’ve been nice to have a drink with everyone at my company Christmas lunch. I miss being pain-free. I’m writing this after my Power Hour Extreme class Monday evening plus running around getting ready for Christmas, and my back isn’t too happy with me.

Not sure I’ll be back on the blog this week, we’ll just have to see how the days go.  I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas!

Monday, December 23, 2013

{Recipe Recap} Brown Sugar Toffee Cookies

Hope everyone had a good weekend-before-Christmas.  I didn’t do any shopping besides grocery shopping, and we did that Friday night so even Walmart wasn’t too bad.  I did, however, spend some quality time with the tape and scissors Saturday night getting stuff wrapped.  And between my two exciting evenings, I hit the gym; we took the dogs to the dog park, ran a couple errands, and bathed the dogs; and I baked two treats and made spicy pretzels.  Whew!

{The dogs spent Sunday recovering from their afternoon in the park.}


We had some unseasonably warm weather this weekend, breaking records both days.  Can you believe it got up to 78 and 81 degrees around here?!  Those temps allowed the McHusband to get started on our first big baby project – repainting a dresser that he once used. 


We also grilled some turkey burgers for dinner Sunday night.  Burgers on the grill, windows wide open, talk of turning on the a/c – hard to believe we’re about to celebrate Christmas and not Easter.

But enough about me, let’s talk about cookies!  I made these last weekend to share with “the gang.”  You guys know I make a lot of treats and the McHusband samples pretty much all of them, even the ones that I tell him he probably won’t like.  He said these cookies were among his favorite cookies that I’ve ever made.


They were easy to throw together and there wasn’t any lag time while I waited for the dough to chill (I just hate stressed-out dough) before I could bake the cookies.


I thought they were just as pretty as they were tasty.  They spread nicely so they weren’t a lump but they weren’t super thin either.  Plus, there were that prefect consistency – just a touch of crunch on the outside that gave way to a chewy interior.


And any cookie that gets rolled in more sugar – whether granulated, brown, or powdered – is okay by me.


I had a few leftover brownies from my mom’s birthday batch so I was able to share a couple of those with the gang as well.  With a number of chocoholics in the group, I figured I had a good combo of flavors.  Surprisingly, Jeremy, one of the chocolate-lovers, opted for more cookies over his brownie so he traded Chelle for more cookies.

Now, that’s a good brownie so the fact that this cookie was preferred says something.  It would appear Emma thought they might be pretty good, too.


If you need to bake up a little something to share with family and friends this holiday, I suggest you give these cookies a try.  Eight people and one cat can’t be wrong.


Last workday this year today!  AND it’s barely a half-day.  We’re closing at 12:30 for a company lunch and then my vacation starts.  I have a doctor’s appointment today too – just a routine check-up – so I’ll be back tomorrow with a 32-week update and then probably offline for a few days.

{Recipe here}

Friday, December 20, 2013

{Recipe Recap} Oreo Cake Bars

Like I said yesterday, we went to Statesville this past Sunday to celebrate my mom’s birthday.  Just like with the sombrero, I think the kids were more excited to see what her gifts were than she was.



Okay, maybe I spoke too soon.


(It’s a new printer, in case you’re wondering what has everyone so worked up.)


And just cuz she hasn’t made an appearance in this post, I’ll include this cute picture of Maxie cheesin’.


I made those delicious Brown Butter Brownies for my mom for her birthday, but I knew the kids and the McHusband wouldn’t exactly be thrilled with dense, dark chocolate treats.  So I made some other bars that I knew would appeal to them.


These had a chocolate cake base, followed by a gooey cream cheese layer, then finally a Cool Whip-cream cheese-Oreo topping. 


So, basically, the layers went like this: good, better, best.


I used DoubleStuf Oreos and I liked that the cookie outsides didn’t always stay with the inside filling.  You can see how the chopped-up filling is part of the topping.


These things were fan-freaking-tastic.  The night we got home from Statesville, we had an invitation from one of the McHusband’s coworkers for a potluck get-together.  The McHusband immediately requested another batch of these even though we still had a few left to munch on.


Unfortunately the potluck got canceled because of the germs running rampant in the McHusband’s office so he’ll just have to wait a little bit longer before these bars make another appearance.

TGIF!  Today’s my last full day of work before the Christmas holiday.  My office will be open until about 12:30 on Monday then we’re shutting down for a company lunch and everyone will go on their merry (hah!) way from there.  I’m very much looking forward to having some time off, not only for the break from the general everyday but also because we can hopefully make some headway on the baby’s room.  Granted, there is a bed in there already, but I don’t think a squishy twin bed is probably the best option for a newborn…

Have a great weekend!

{Recipe adapted from here}

Thursday, December 19, 2013


The McHusband and I made a daytrip to Statesville this past Sunday to celebrate my mom’s birthday.  We met her, my sisters, and the kids at a Mexican restaurant for lunch then we went back to Shannon’s for presents and dessert.

First, though, our waiter wanted to help my mom usher in her 21st birthday (yeah, he was working hard for that tip) in style.


Of course, as reluctant as my mom was to don the hat, the kids couldn’t wait to get their hands on it.





I made a couple desserts, and I’ll tell you about them soon.  I’m out of steam and looking forward to an early bedtime.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

{Recipe Recap} Cookie Dough Fudge

We girls had our annual Christmas dinner and gift exchange last night.  We ate at The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar, which I’ve been to once before.  I wasn’t overly impressed with the burger I ate on my original visit, but I did like my grilled salmon sandwich last night and I realize they aren’t exciting, but their grilled vegetables were really tasty, surprisingly delicious.

I made two treats to share with the group: some toffee sandwiched between two layers of chocolate, a recipe from the newspaper, and I finally made some Cookie Dough Fudge that I’ve had my eye on


{Please forgive the quick phone pic in my laundry room.}

Mel and Sally have both made this fudge if you want to make it yourself and don’t happen to have the cookbook like I do.

A word of warning: This stuff is over-the-top sweet.  Anna said she took one bite and knew the rest was destined to go home to her husband, Logan.  Lucky for me, I have a well-trained sweet tooth that can handle cavity-making treats.

As always, our dinner was wonderful.  So nice to catch up with everyone in person and linger over our menus (probably annoying the waitress), then our food, and finally over our gifts and dessert.

Merry Christmas, girls!  You guys are awesome, and I’m lucky to count you as my closest friends.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Friday the 13th

Only 12 shopping days left, are you guys done making your lists and checking them twice?  I just have a few minor things to pick up and then I’ll be done.  I plan to do some wrapping tonight and that’ll make me feel like I’ve really accomplished something.

Monte wants to know: “What’re you doing this weekend?”


PS  Happy belated birthday to my mom!  Her birthday was yesterday, but I haven’t been a good blogger this week so I’m a day late in sending out some web wishes.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Pink or blue?

Kevin and Jenny found out the week of Thanksgiving what the new baby is.  They decided to make the announcement in an interesting way by having the kids open a box wrapped in a less-than-decisive way.


What’s in there?


PINK balloons!





Looking forward to one more girl and one more boy added to the McFamily in 2014.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Women’s Night: The Holiday Version

I hosted Women’s Night in the neighborhood this past Friday.  As we have in the past, we did a White Elephant gift exchange as well as a sweets exchange.


I made a conscious effort to not make too much.  I had veggies and hummus, sushi from Harris Teeter, and some baked artichoke bites that were just okay.


One thing that was very good was the Pecan Praline Baked Brie.


I made an Amaretto Pound Cake for the main table and man was that thing tasty! 


I drizzled a thicker Amaretto icing over it because when you can’t drink your liquor but you can eat it, you gotta get in as much as you can.


Speaking of stuff I couldn’t drink…  I made a pitcher of Cranberry Margaritas.  I used Cran-Cherry juice and not quite the right ratio of lime juice, but it was still tart like you’d expect a batch of margaritas to be. 


I did have a couple of sips for quality control, and I determined that I need to make a second pitcher some time in March.  Anyone want to come over and help me drink it?


For my exchange goodies, I made some Biscoff Butter Bars based on this recipe, and some brownies with a White Chocolate-Peppermint Ganache Frosting.  I don’t have good pictures of these, but at least I snapped a couple from where I started the treat table in the dining room.



It’s always good to get together with the lady-neighbors, especially when there are some new faces in the crowd.  We had a very nice time catching up with each other, and I’ll never complain when there are presents and extra sweets involved.

Friday was the busiest day of my weekend.  I don’t know if it was the weather or what, but both the McHusband and I were less productive than we’d normally be.  I gotta give him credit though – he got started on the Christmas wrapping so there are a few presents under the tree.  The rest’ll probably be up to me once my Amazon order comes in.

Hope your week’s off to a good start!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Scenes from (the days after) Thanksgiving

The families overlapped on Friday when Jenny and Chase joined me, my sisters, my mom, and the kids at the movies where we saw Frozen.


After that, Jenny and Chase went their own way and the rest of us headed back to Bri’s for lunch and hanging out.  When the McHusband got there later in the afternoon, we dragged Shannon out to the playground/greenway in Bri’s neighborhood and asked her to play photographer.



There are more, but I won’t bombard you with them. Shannon did a great job and got some really cute shots.  When she was done with the McHusband and me, we called Bri and had her join us so the McHusband could get some shots of the three sisters.

We got some cute ones.



And some silly ones.


Speaking of silly, let’s check on those kids.



They’re all gathered around the iPad watching a What Does the Fox Say? video.


We had a lovely grilled chicken dinner with rolls, Shannon’s corn casserole, and Bri’s roasted broccoli, and then we raided the dessert buffet once the kids were in bed.  Kinda evil of us to wait until they were asleep to break out all the sweets, huh?

The next day, Kevin left early to do car stuff and Jenny was taking Chase and Leah to Discovery Place Kids so we only saw them for a few minutes.



And I’ll wrap things up with a few pictures of the fur kids.

Hard to believe Morgan was once all black except on her chest and feet.  But at 9 1/2, she’s earned the right to sport a few gray hairs.


Morgan was soon joined by Monte and the McDad.


If you look very closely, you’ll see that the McDad is about as awake as the dogs.


Another Thanksgiving come and gone and it was wonderful to spend time with those we love.  I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that next year at Thanksgiving, we’ll have a kid of our own at the table. 

And I’m already looking forward to having a wine glass on that table.