Friday, November 25, 2011

I'm Thankful For...

Ten Little Fingers

And Ten Little Toes

 Two Bright Eyes

And One Button Nose

Sweet Baby Jane, there is nothing we have ever been more grateful for than you.  Daddy and I love you and are so lucky that you have joined our family.  I can't remember a day when I lived without you.

In thanksgiving for our many blessings,

Mommy and Daddy

Monday, November 21, 2011

Happy Birthday, Baby...

At 12:42 on Monday, November 21st, we joyfully welcomed sweet Baby Jane into our family.  She is absolutely perfect, and even though she has been in our lives for less than 24 hours, she has changed them forever.  There is no love I have ever known that is more instantaneous than my love for her.  And to see Mark hold his baby girl only strengthens my love for him.

From our little family, thank you for all of the well wishes.  We cannot wait to share many wonderful memories with you.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Patiently Waiting...

Dear Baby A,

We're trying so hard to wait patiently for your arrival.  But we're starting to get more and more anxious about your arrival.  I know it's warm and cozy in my belly, and it's a little chilly outside, but I promise we have a lovely little sweater for you and plenty of blankets to keep you warm.  Please come and join us soon!

I thought this summed it up well!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

40 Weeks: Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler, Baby A

Dear Baby A,

Today is your due date birthday!  I really cannot believe that 40 weeks ago you were just a twinkle in our eyes.  We are so very excited to meet you anytime you're ready.

Maternity Tee Via Fleurty Girl

Do you know that Mommy and Daddy found out about you on March 12th?  Mommy had worked all day and met Daddy at the St. Patrick's Day parade.  We watched the parade roll by and enjoyed all of the revelry that ensues at this annual celebration.  On the way home, we stopped by Walgreens and picked up a pregnancy test.  Sure enough, two lines later and Mommy and Daddy were joyously celebrating our good fortune.  I think it was perfectly fitting for a Nola baby like yourself to announce your presence following a parade. 

Today, Mommy will be attending a very fancy lunch hosted by the Captain of Daddy's parade.  The lunch is for a few of the women who volunteered for the Krewe last year.  I did the calligraphy for the Krewe's Mardi Gras Ball invitations, and I couldn't have been more honored to received such a gracious invitation.  As much as I have wanted you to arrive, I think it's kind of special that you will be able to go to the lunch with me.  There are so many things about New Orleans that I cannot wait to share with you, but Mardi Gras, with all of its festive traditions, is the one I am most excited about.

Some of my earliest and fondest memories take place along a parade route.  If I close my eyes, I can see the exact movements and signals that indicate the parade will soon be passing before you.  First, you begin to notice that the speed of the cotton candy/peanut vendors picks up.  They are no longer casually passing by with their shopping carts filled with brightly colored spun sugar.  Instead you see them walking faster and faster until they are almost jogging to get to a break in the crowd so that they can make way for the parade.

Then, from a distance you can hear a blurred "bloop-bloop" of a police siren.  It's not a full round of the harmonious sound that their vehicles will soon make, but it's enough to let you know that they are nearing.  And just like that the crowds start to push forward edging closer to the street.  Everyone wants a good spot for the upcoming spectacle. 

And just when my Daddy was fairly certain that my anticipation was about to boil over, I'd get an elevated seat on his shoulders so that I could excitedly inform the crowd around us I could see the parade in the distance. 

Once seen in the distance, you can literally feel the parade coming.  The parades open with a round of police sirens followed by either the horns of the Shriners or the drums of one of the city's finest marching bands.  You start to feel the beat of the drums in the ground, and that is when you know - it's Mardi Gras Time!

Since the day we have found out about you, I have pictured you dressed in the cutest costume we can find (we already have a ducky costume for you) along the parade route.  I imagine sharing the excitement I still feel every time those vendors start to move a little faster.  I image seeing the spectacle through your little eyes and living the childlike fantasy that is Mardi Gras through you. 

I imagine showing you just where Daddy is on his float and seeing your excitement as he hands you all of his most prized Krewe treasures.  That is the moment I truly cannot wait for.  To see your little face light up when you see your Daddy roll by will be the highlight of the season for me.

And the season feels like it is beginning now!  And you will get to be a part of it.

Let's let the good times roll, Baby A.

You are our little Mardi Gras baby.  We absolutely cannot wait to meet you soon.  It's all we talk about.  We love you to pieces and have so much to show you. 

Enjoy these last few moments with Mommy and see you soon,

Mommy and Daddy

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tasty Tuesdays: Pilgrim Hat Cookies

Tomorrow is not just my due date, it is also my firm's annual Thanksgiving potluck luncheon.  I have signed up to make one of my favorite holiday dishes, Whipped Sweet Potatoes with Bananas and Brown Sugar.  I figured since by next week Baby A will likely be more of a priority than cooking a turkey dinner, I might as well take this opportunity to cook up my favorite recipe of the season. 

However, when I saw these adorable (and hassle free) cookies, I almost caved and gave up on the whole cooking thing to bring these.  They literally require assembly only and couldn't be more adorable.  For anyone looking for an easy recipe with a great outcome, I think you've found THE ONE!

Recipe Ingredients
•16 chocolate wafer cookies (such as Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers)
•1 tube orange frosting with piping tips
•16 small peanut butter cups

Recipe Preparation
1.  Place cookies on work surface; squeeze a dime-size dot of frosting in center of each
2.  Unwrap and invert peanut butter cups on frosting, pressing down gently
3.  Using the round piping tip, pipe a "hat-band" with frosting around peanut butter cup and a square "buckle."

 Let frosting set before storing.
If you liked the idea of the recipe but want to add a slightly more homemade touch, here's a great recipe for chocolate wafer cookies...  
Can you believe it's almost Thanksgiving? 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Pink and Green Thursday: You Got to Put on That Party Dress

There is a chill in the air today in New Orleans, and for the first time this fall, it feels like the holiday season is nearing.  There is nothing more fun than planning for the holidays!  With Baby A's arrival on the horizon, I haven't loaded my calendar with holiday parties and open houses, but it hasn't stopped me from web window browsing.  Don't you just love shopping for that perfect holiday party dress?!  I love the look of a simple dress in a great color paired with a sparkly broach or a statement necklace or that perfect pair of jewel toned heels. 

To celebrate with Trish over at Pink Preppy Lilly Lover, I have picked out a few pink and green party dresses that would fill my closet with holiday cheer!

This dress could be dressed up or down, but I love that it would be perfectly appropriate for a work party.  And like it says, it can be worn five ways!!!  So you can get a lot of use out of it without feeling like you're always wearing the same thing.

I love how this dress draws your eye in.  For my body type (I have no waistline), that is essential. 

This dress is the perfect backdrop for a stunner of a statement necklace.  A good dash of sparkle adds such a festive flare to any holiday outfit!
I think Kate Spade is the master of creating a sophisticated but fun party look.  I am in love with the color of this dress!  And the bow is adorable.

This little number just feels like Christmas to me.  I wouldn't pair it with the tights shown here, but I would pair it with the very blingy heels below!!

I hope you have time to hop on over to Pink and Green Thursday!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Week 39: The Bond We've Shared

Dear Baby A,

We are getting to the point in our journey where you could arrive any day now.  While I cannot tell you how excited it makes me to think that we will get to see your perfect little face and hold your sweet little hands sometime soon, there are certainly things about having you in my tummy that I will miss.

Every Tuesday night for the last 34 weeks, right before we go to bed, I read to Daddy an update from Baby Center about how you're are growing inside of me.  Each week we learn about what fruit or vegetable you are similar to in shape, weight, or length.  Before we check on the week's fruit, we go through the progession of weeks and reminisce about just how tiny you once were.  To think we started this lttle weekly routine when you were just a sesame seed is amazing.  You were a blueberry when we told my mommy and daddy about you.  You were a kumquat the week we first saw you and heard your heart beat.  You were a lime when you turned 12 weeks and we got to the point where we could share our good news with the world.  To think that you are now the size of a mini-watermelon is truly amazing. 

Even though it just takes a few minutes to read all about what lies ahead for you in the coming week, that time has become the best part of my week.  I love sharing it with Daddy.  When we read your 39 week update last night, it occurred to me that it could be the last time we do this.  And as excited as I am to meet you, I realized just how much I am going to miss keeping you with me every minute of every day. 

I did not truly understand the bond between a mother and her child until I had the chance to hear the sound of your heartbeat.  To realize that you were growing inside of me was miraculous.  From that moment forward, I felt like your protector and your caretaker.  I wanted nothing but to keep you safe and warm and completely secure.  And just when I start to feel completely uncomfortable, I get a little kick from you, and I think about how much I am going to miss having you in my tummy.  I am going to miss knowing just where you are and being able to shelter you from all of the things that could cause you harm. 

So while I am definitely feeling ready, Baby A, I am also trying to appreciate every moment that we have together, just you and me.  It has truly been the single greatest experience of my life to share the last 39 weeks with you.  Each and every day I find myself wanting to be better and more selfless knowing that you are a part of me. 

I feel so lucky to have had the chance to feel you move and kick and flip and grow.  Even though we have not yet met, I feel like I know every little thing about you.  Now, I cannot wait to share you with Daddy.  There is nothing that makes me happier than to think of seeing him hold you for the first time.  We both love you so much, and we want nothing more than to share that love with you.

Until you are ready to be in our arms, stay warm and cozy Baby A.  We will see you soon!

All the love in the world,

Mommy and Daddy

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tasty Tuesday: Voltaggio Brothers' Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Apples

Did anyone happen to catch The Voltaggios Take On: Thanksgiving on the Cooking Channel? 

It was the first holiday cooking show I have seen this season, and despite the warm November we are having, it got me in the holiday spirit!  I absolutely love this time of year.  Whether we are preparing a big meal here at home, or whether we are spending Thanksgiving in NYC with Mark's family, there is no better way to give thanks than to spend time at a table sharing memories with family and friends. 

Thanksgiving will be a bit different for us this year.  Every other year, we spend Thanksgiving in Manhattan, and this was our year to do so.  Baby A had other plans.  Since Baby A is due November 16th, there is a chance that he or she will be here in enough time for us to have set holiday plans.  If Baby A decides to stay warm and cozy in my tummy for a few extra days, we could be dining on hospital turkey and gravy rather than the Voltaggio's specialties.  So we're already getting a taste of this "play it by ear" life we're about to begin. 

Knowing that my taking part in preparing the Turkey Day feast won't really be an option, I am hoarding all of the delicious recipes I find for Christmas.  I am thinking we'll do a dinner of roasted beef tenderloin, pommes puree, cornbread stuffing, and the Voltaggio's brussels sprouts.

I was certainly not a brussels sprouts fan growing up, but a few years back I tried a perfect version of roasted brussels, and I fell in love.  They still had that strong somewhat bitter taste I remember hating, but the roasting process had allowed them to caramelize and take on a rich and buttery flavor too.  The version the Voltaggios prepared sounds just lovely with the addition of the onions and apples and the smokiness of the bacon.  i think it'll be a real treat and a very colorful addition to our meal. 

If only we didn't have to wait until December to try it!!


For the sherry-Dijon vinaigrette:
8 1/2 fl. oz. canola oil
6 fl. oz. extra-virgin olive oil
3 1/2 fl. oz. sherry vinegar
2 Tbs. Dijon mustard
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Kosher salt, to taste

For the Brussels Sprouts:
2 lb. brussels sprouts, halved lengthwise
8 oz. double-smoked bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium yellow onion, julienned
2 Tbs. unsalted butter
2 green apples, peeled and sliced
3 fresh thyme sprigs
Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Directions:To make the vinaigrette, in a blender, combine the canola oil, olive oil, vinegar and mustard and blend until fully incorporated. Season with salt and pepper. Set the vinaigrette aside.
Fill a large saucepan with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Salt the water so it tastes like seawater. Fill a large bowl or casserole dish with equal amounts of cold water and ice to create an ice bath.

Add the brussels sprouts to the boiling water and cook until tender, 2 to 3 minutes; do not cook too long or they will lose their bright green color. Remove the brussels sprouts from the water and shock them in the ice bath to stop the cooking. Let the brussels sprouts stand in the ice bath until cool, then remove them and set aside.

In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, add the bacon and cook until the fat renders and the bacon crisps, about 7 minutes. Add the onion to the pan and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the butter and let it melt, then add the apples and thyme sprigs. Toss to coat and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the blanched brussels sprouts and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sprouts are golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the thyme sprigs and discard.

Drizzle half of the vinaigrette over the brussels sprouts and toss to coat. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve immediately. Pass the remaining vinaigrette alongside. Serves 4 to 6.

Have you started planning your holiday menus yet?

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Got Milk?

For my birthday, my sister gave me one of the best cookbooks I've read in a long time.  If you are someone who enjoys reading a cookbook for its content and not just its recipes, this one's for you.  Baking is indeed a science, and Christina Tosi makes a great science teacher.  It's the perfect cookbook for this time of year when baking just comes naturally.  

The best part - there's an entire section on crack pie.  I sampled some this spring when I visited NYC and it is incredible!!!!!  It's dangerous to think I could have it at my finger tips any time I felt like making it!!!

Friday, November 4, 2011

38 Weeks: The Nursery is Complete

Dear Baby A,

This Wednesday, Mommy turned 38 weeks and 31 years old all on the same day.  Daddy and Beignet woke me up and announced that there were several birthday surprises in store for me.  When I went into the kitchen, Daddy had a bouquet of balloons and a bouquet of flowers waiting to greet me.  On the kitchen counter he had two beautifully wrapped gifts.  The first was a Flip camera.  I was so excited to have something that we can use to record all of your special moments.  The second box contained Mommy's push/birthday/likely every other holiday gift - a lovely baby bag.  Daddy was so excited about showering you and me with treasures and with love on my special day. 

Just when I thought I had opened up all of my gifts, Daddy said that we had to go upstairs.  As I walked into your nursery, I found the most wonderful surprise.  Daddy had had a handy man come by and hang up all of your drapes.  He also ordered the chandelier that matched your furniture and had that hung as well.  You wouldn't believe how much those two things make your room come alive.  We spent the next 30 minutes just sitting in your room talking about how excited we are to know that you are going to be joining our family any day now.  I cannot wait to bring you home and sit with you in this special place that Daddy made for us. 
I love the chandelier!!!!

Baby A's bookshelf is already filled with treasures
Baby A's crib

The dresser/changing table

The glider with Beignet standing guard

Baby A's sleep sheep and horsey toy chest

I think the Moses basket will make the perfect place to store stuffed animals!

Quote of the morning from Daddy: "That looks like a nice place to put a dirty diaper."  I love it!  I think it'll be the perfect match to our red stroller!

There's only one more gift left to receive, and that's you little one.  We cannot wait until you arrive!!!  It is all we think about and all we talk about each and every day.  You have the best Daddy in the whole world, and I look forward to the day when we get to celebrate your birth. 

Lots of love, and we'll see you soon!!!!

Mommy and Daddy

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Tasty Tuesdays: Tuscan Chickpea Soup

We spent most of the day Sunday preparing low calorie freezable  meals that we could simply defrost and reheat once we bring Baby A home.  I wanted dishes that would be flavorful but that would also help me get on track with Weight Watchers fairly soon after I deliver.  We made a ground turkey and red bean chili, slow cooked pork loin with tomatoes and mushrooms, lentil soup with turkey sausage, and one of my trusty old WW favorites - Tuscan Chickpea Soup.  

I have made this soup several times, and each time I am amazed by how this combination of simple ingredients creates such a filling and delicious soup.  The addition of the balsamic vinegar brings the perfect zing to the dish.  Pair this with some warm crusty bread, and voila!  


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil 
  • 2 cups finely chopped onion 
  • garlic cloves, minced 
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh or 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper 
  • (15 1/2-ounce) cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
  • (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • to 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar 
  • 6 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese 


  • Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in the water and the next 5 ingredients (water through tomatoes), and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes.
  • Place 2 cups soup in a blender or food processor, and process until smooth. Pour the pureed soup into a bowl. Repeat procedure with 2 cups soup. Return all pureed soup to pan. Stir in the vinegar, and bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Spoon 1 1/2 cups soup into each of 6 bowls; sprinkle each serving with 1 tablespoon cheese.
Do you have any freezable meals tips or ideas?


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