Friday, September 30, 2011

Nursery Wall Hanging

After deciding not to do a mobile in the nursery, I was left with an embroidery hoop and a few ideas. I've seen a lot of pretty wall-hangings on pinterest and decided that's what I was going to do. Since I already had the hoop, blank wall, and lots of extra fabric, it was sort of a no-brainer.

Rather than using one fabric or mixing fabrics on several hoops, I decided to sew a few fabrics together and create one hoop with lots of color to tie some of the different fabrics in from around the room. Naturally, my favorite fabric was used. I also used the crib skirt fabric, and fabric left over from the floor pillow. I measured to make sure that I had enough fabric, cut three strips that when sewed together would cover the hoop, and sewed them together. Once they were sewn together, I ironed the seams flat and put them in the hoop.

I intentionally shifted the seams slightly off balance. I didn't want them to be straight up and down or completely horizontal either, so I skewed it a little bit. Once I got it perfect and the hoop tightened, I trimmed the excess on the back so that it would lay flat and look neat. I might hot glut it to the hoop, but I haven't done that yet. I decided I wanted to hang it on the wall with a ribbon. Naturally, Jarrod wasn't completely keen on this idea, so I did it without asking him and then showed him the final product. He thinks it's girly, but I don't care. :-) I used left over ribbon from the lamp shade and just hung it on the wall.

Right now it looks very lonesome on the wall. I plan to make this a collage sort of wall, with pictures and other things - maybe 6-7 items of varying size and color. Some of these things won't come until after the baby. I plan to make a major change to this wall hanging once baby comes as well.

Source: via Rachel on Pinterest

Another no-brainer because I want baby's initial on this wall and I have a huge bag of random buttons left over from another project that never was. I plan to hot glue the buttons once we decide on a name...which will hopefully be sometime within the first week of baby's life.

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Thursday, September 29, 2011

My Friend, John Williams

This blog post was written by Jarrod. I've been bugging him to write something for years, but this was obviously a very important subject. I'm thrilled to give you the very first (of many...) blog posts from my husband, the better half of What's Cookin' with the Johnstons! 

Last week was a wonderful one, but it started off with some rough news. We woke up to texts from our dear friend Alina that our Louisiana dad, Rev. John Williams lost the battle with prostate cancer he’d been fighting for four years. At least that’s how it felt. As last week got on with itself, I came to realize that John didn’t lose a single thing. John won the race he’d run with perseverance as the Apostle Paul called us to do. He ran it for as long as his body would let him, and when he decided that he was ready to cross the finish line, he did. He finished the race with the full knowledge and peace of a follower of Christ, knowing that he was leaving a legacy of love and family. As last week wore on for Leanne and I, I soon became ready not to mourn, but to celebrate the life of a man, Co-Senior Pastor (ha!), of a wonderful family, who helped to shape my ministry and marriage. I learned a lot about loving my neighbors from Pastor John.

I say Co-Senior Pastor, because you can’t ever talk about Rev. John without speaking of Rev. Marie, John’s wife, and mine and Leanne’s Louisiana mom. They served often as a clergy team, and when we moved to the great state of Louisiana, they were my pastors. They took a big risk in hiring me as music minister … I was three years into my professional ministry career, but fresh out of seminary. Aldersgate UMC in Slidell was my first job as The Guy, and John and Marie stepped out in faith with me and gave me a shot. They were, and are, my pastors, mentors, and dearest friends. But not just that, they treated me and Leanne like their very own children. In nearly two years of ministry with John and Marie, every Sunday after worship, John, Marie, Leanne, and I would go to the Texas Roadhouse, enjoy a good steak and give thanks for the gifts God has given us. (I didn't eat steak. I ate a veggie plate or chicken or salmon. John sometimes ate salmon too. Not everyone loves red meat like Jarrod does!) We needed parents and family in LA, and they adopted us. We didn’t ask for it, or even specifically seek it out, but before we knew it we had family.

We were far from home, and we had family.

Probably the most special reminder of this bond with the Williams family was when we arrived for the visitation last Thursday. Rev. Marie honored me very much in asking me to sing a song for John. I would never have told Marie this, but I was seriously waiting by my phone to be asked to sing. I would never have asked to do it myself, but when I got the message from Marie I was overjoyed. Leanne and I showed up early at Marie’s church outside Baton Rouge to warm up. John and Marie’s daughter was there greeting people and charged over to us and said, “The other children have come home!” I’m having a hard time not crying a little as I write this down, because I realized at that moment, that not only had John and Marie taken us in, but so had their kids. It was something Leanne and I had always wondered about … In our three years in Louisiana, Leanne and I (and later Leanne’s sister, Courtney) were always invited to the family events. From birthday parties, to the annual Post-Easter Shrimp Boil, we were always included. But in that moment with Sarah, I realized that if John and Marie treated us like their kids, James, Sarah, and Jared, treated us like brother and sister.

The whole Williams family is so very precious to Leanne, Courtney, and I. There’s nowhere else we would have been last week than where we were. We were in Louisiana, worshiping and giving thanks to God for the life of John Williams. John, I’ll miss our long conversations (a worship planning session with John was never less than two hours), and the family meals. But my family loves yours, and we bless you on the next step in your journey. See you later, boss.
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Dude, Sweet!

Jarrod loves bacon. He says it's the food that makes other food better. He prefers to add bacon to just about everything and loves that bacon has become popular in the sweet world. Although we haven't tried maple bacon donuts or chocolate covered bacon, that's definitely something appealing to Jarrod.

We've recently decided to start exploring our neighborhood and taking advantage of where we live in Dallas. On a recent trip to the Bishop Arts District, we stopped in at Dude, Sweet Chocolate. I hadn't done my research, but Jarrod knew exactly why we were there... chocolate covered bacon.

This adorable and trendy little stop is full of interesting and unusual chocolates. We were invited to taste anything we wanted and tried several delicious sweets including one with homemade orange pop rocks. What is cooler than that?

 The shop is relatively small, but very open so that you can watch chocolate being created and speak to the people who work there.

While we were sampling delicious treats, I snapped some pictures of the more unusual or interesting labels.

Crack in a box was absolutely incredible. The chocolate is all dark and just sweet enough. I will definitely be sampling the chocolate wines in the new year because those sound incredible! The shop was comfortable, urban, and funky. I loved the canvases on the wall and will definitely be stopping back again for the baby onesie!

If you are in the Dallas area, definitely check out Dude, Sweet. If you're not in the area, they ship and would definitely be worth it! We've already picked up a small box for a hostess gift for a party we are attending next weekend. The perfect gift for someone who already has everything!

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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Roasted Garlic

Perhaps you already know all about this magical food. My husband did and made it for us one afternoon. We ate an entire bulb of garlic in a matter of minutes. We're huge garlic fans, but this is absolutely incredible. If you like garlic and haven't roasted it, do not wait to try this out!

Roasting garlic is super easy. All you need is a full head of garlic, olive oil, and aluminum foil. Preheat your oven (or toaster oven because it's so small) to 350 degrees. Then cut the heads off the garlic without losing too much of the cloves. Put the head in a piece of aluminum foil, pour olive oil over top, and seal tightly. Bake for 30 minutes or so.

It's probably best to go ahead and make 3-4 heads at a time because they will go quickly!

When they are done, wait for them to cool slightly, but then take the cloves out and mash them up. You can spread this mash right on toast for a delicious snack. Roasted garlic can also be added to sauces or veggies. It's a more mild flavor than raw or even sauted garlic.

Most recently I made french bread and spread roasted garlic on each slice. My 3.5 year old nephews even loved it! Easy and delicious!
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Weekend Update

I woke up on Friday morning and the UG-LY florescent light in our kitchen didn't want to turn on. I'd been gaming to replace this light since we moved in. The light fixture is completely ugly - like most of those in our house. It is not the last light fixture on my list to replace, but it is definitely the most prominent. Each and every light needs to be replaced and I'm slowly getting that done!

On my way to work, I casually mentioned to Jarrod that the light wasn't working and we might consider replacing it. We had two light fixtures in the garage that would fit perfectly in this spot, but Jarrod was hesitant to make the attempt.

I returned home after work on Friday afternoon swollen, hungry, and tired. I said hello to Jarrod and started going over our evening schedule. Jarrod looked distracted and kept looking into the kitchen. I didn't catch his hints for about 10 minutes. Then I saw it - a beautiful light fixture where the ugly eyesore used to be! Excellent!

On Saturday I decided that I wanted to line the nursery lampshade with ribbon. This project took about 10 minutes. I'm not convinced it looks better, but at least the rough edge isn't visible anymore!

 Another change I made was on the crib skirt. I didn't like the way that it was hanging, so I removed some width on the long section in the middle and added velcro.

You might also notice that the crib is no longer a baby jail, but now a baby bed! We got the mattress from some very dear friends in the mail the other day. We're thrilled and ready for a crib sheet to make it even more homey...and ready for a baby!
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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Another reason I might be a hippie...

Not only do I want to cloth diaper our baby, have a natural birth, and make my own baby food (if we even go the baby food route!) it occurred to me the other day that I haven't shared something I've been doing for years that probably makes me a certified crunchy granola.

My name is Leanne and I make my own laundry detergent.

It started right after we got married to save money. I asked Jarrod if it was okay for me to try and we gave it a go. We bought a big 5 gallon bucket and I made liquid laundry soap following this recipe. I couldn't find washing soda at any of our local stores so I made my own. While the liquid soap worked, it was a pain in the behind to make! I hated boiling soap and the consistency of the soap was never...consistent. Sometimes it was watery and sometimes it was like jello. Eventually Jarrod said I needed to stop - it wasn't working for us.

So I stopped. But I never gave up!

A few months later, I stumbled upon a recipe for powdered detergent and asked Jarrod if we could give it a go. I shred the bar soap in the food processor and then add the powders and switch to a blade to make sure that it is very fine and powdery.

When we moved to Dallas I suddenly had washing soda at my disposal and was able to use that rather than making my own. While occasionally my clothes get a weird build-up, I'm not convinced this wouldn't happen using normal detergents. I've started washing every couple of loads with a scoop of Oxy Clean to limit the residue and that seems to be working very well. We haven't purchased laundry detergent in a year or more.

The process is easy and cheap. The time and effort is well worth the cost savings!

1 bar of soap - sometimes we use natural soap and sometimes we use the cheap stuff. When baby comes I'll probably stick with natural.
1 cup of washing soda
1 cup of borax

Because of the process, I'll usually make two batches at a time. My food processor is HUGE! First I shred the bar soap with the shredding attachment on the processor. When the bars are sufficiently shredded, I remove the shredding attachment, replace it with the chopping blade, and add in the powders. I run the processor until the powder and soap is combined and very fine. It's stored in an old cool whip container and we use a tablespoon scoop that is stored right in the container.

The food processor does need to be rinsed considerably before being put in the dish washer. It will cause the dish washer to bubble over if there is too much soap and will leave an intense residue if the powder remains. Trust me, we've learned the hard way!

It's my estimate that we save over $100 a year by making our own detergent rather than purchasing it at the store. Not a huge amount, but definitely a great deal in my world!
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24 hours of FUNdraising!

My sister in law has committed to walking in the DFW 3-day for the Cure. She has been to closing ceremony twice and was so moved, even after hearing my horror stories of port-o-potties, swollen feet, and raising $2,300. She is married to my husband's brother and I couldn't have asked for a better family. She has given me two nephews, which is the greatest gift ever.

She's walking because she believes in a world without breast cancer. As we all know, fundraising is not easy. She's $295 away from HALF her goal of $2,300. I'm taking this on as a challenge to raise the funds TODAY! Will you consider making a donation of $8 for the 1 in 8 women in America that will be diagnosed today? Will you donate $35 to signify the cost of transporting a woman to treatment? Will you donate $60 in support of the 60 miles Jessica will walk in November? Will you donate in honor or in memory of someone you love? Let's get Jessica $295 TODAY!

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Pregnancy Update - Week 25

This picture was taken at the end of a VERY long day. It's dark outside, which is why the lighting is bad. And why my face looks so tired. :-)

What’s Happening This Week: Head to heels, your baby now measures about 13 1/2 inches. Her weight — a pound and a half — isn't much more than an average rutabaga, but she's beginning to exchange her long, lean look for some baby fat. As she does, her wrinkled skin will begin to smooth out and she'll start to look more and more like a newborn. She's also growing more hair — and if you could see it, you'd now be able to discern its color and texture.

How far along? 25 weeks
Weight gain: 22 lbs.
Stretch marks? Still the same on my hips. My belly is stretching pretty good, though. The skin is getting thin and tight too.
Sleep: Insomnia took hold this week. Not only was I uncomfortable and going to the bathroom several times, but I have started having a lot of trouble falling and staying asleep. Still not awful, as I'm able to function during the day, but not the best.
Best moment this past week: Although bittersweet, we got to see some very dear friends this past week and getting to see them so excited about my belly thrills me. This baby is so loved already!
Movement: You can see it from the outside and I'm worried that I'm going to get embarrassed soon...
Food cravings: I've just been generally starving this week. Baby's growing like crazy!
Labor Signs: None. Thankfully!
What I miss: Jeans. And waistbands.
What I am looking forward to: Figuring out our birth plan. I'm reading a lot of books and doing some research. We are touring a mid-wife group in a hospital this week which should be awesome.
Anxieties: Getting this baby out safely while managing pain.
Weekly Wisdom: I'm not sure if this is wisdom, but I did learn that there are a lot of you out there that love reading about the baby and my changes! Don't be shy, leave your comments with some advice!
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Monday, September 26, 2011

Saturday at the Farmers Market

I'm embarrassed to say that I've never been to the Dallas Farmers Market. I've lived in Dallas on and off for more than 10 years and I LOVE farmers markets, so it's strange that I haven't been down there before. Now that Jarrod and I are back in the area and live about 20 minutes from the market, we decided last Saturday that we'd check things out.

We'd received the fist rain in literally months the night before, so the weather was very humid, a little cooler, and overcast. We set out at 9am, thinking earlier was probably better if we wanted to get some local produce. We were pleasantly surprised to find the whole place relatively quiet!

We found three huge areas full of locally grown organic produce, wholesale produce, and baked goods. Most of the market is covered, but outdoor. There is an indoor section that houses different products, meats, sweets, fudge, pastas, and other interesting vendors.

 We also saw a lot of gorgeous decorations for fall! I can promise you that I wanted to take all of these gourds and pumpkins home with me!

We also discovered a beautiful garden section. We had planned to get our weekly produce - in season surprises and standard veggies that we get every week. We left with gorgeous flowers and herbs for our front porch. We haven't planted any flowers because it's been so hot and dry, so we're excited to get these flowers into pots!

Jarrod and I had a delightful time and definitely plan to make the farmers market part of our monthly routine. We could easily bring baby and even Lucy the dog!
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Friday, September 23, 2011

Questions about church

This weekend while Jarrod and I were wandering and exploring the Bishop Art's District, we were stopped by a crew of hip young people with a video camera. They asked us if we wouldn't mind helping them with a video project that they are doing. This sort of thing interests me but Jarrod is normally not keen to stop. I asked what the video was for - their church. They were asking people on the street questions about the Bible to do a presentation to their church on an upcoming Sunday morning. I laughed and told them that Jarrod and I both went to seminary and probably were not their target market! I thought this would turn them off - quite the opposite! They were so excited. Within minutes we were on camera...and I was sweating! I'd basically just told these folks we were experts - doomed to fail!

We were asked several questions:
  • Finish this sentence, "Cain and ..." Abel.
  • How many commandments are there? 10.
  • How many wise men were there? Jarrod, the musician holds up 3 fingers and says that there were 3. He gets ready to name them. I interrupt - tradition says there were three, but the Bible never states how many magi visited the Christ child. Leanne wins.
  • Talk for a few minutes about what is good and what is bad about the church. Jarrod and I share what we love about the church - community, family, worship, reaching out in the community...and what we don't - getting stuck in our old ways, not reaching out to others, doing things the way they've always been done, etc. 
Overall, it was a very positive experience. We met some very interesting people and in the end, I gave them my business card in hopes that we'd hear how things went. I have searched for their church website, but the link seems to be broken. It is an Acts 29 Network church called LifePoint in Dallas. Update: The website seems to be back up. You can check it out here

One thing I wanted to be clear on before we participated was that this was not a knock-off of Jay Walking. I did not want these folks making fun of people on the street for not knowing who Noah is or what original sin is. This was definitely not the case. They were simply taking a random survey of Christian knowledge based on the people on the street. There was no shame, mockery,  or jokes. We heard some stories - folks who thought the world was created in one day, Moses built the arc, and someone who knew the story of Cain and Abel, but wasn't able to recall their names.

Those of us in the church make the assumption that the vast majority of our population have a basic knowledge of Christianity. This simply isn't true. Some folks have the knowledge buried deep from their past, covered in resentment. Some folks never had any form of Christian experience and don't know the language. Christianity or the church language is foreign, but compassion, serving others, and caring for the world is not uniquely Christian. (And in many cases, can be completely absent from the church altogether!)

I don't really have a point in this, just general musings and thoughts on Christianity and our culture.
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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Protein-packed Alfredo Sauce

My husband LOVES alfredo and greatly prefers it to tomato sauce for pizza and pastas. Because of his gluten-intolerance, we don't eat pasta much, but when we do, he loves his alfredo.

I've already written about my love for Spaghetti Squash and recently got the urge to eat it again. Jarrod won't eat it, so he's got his gluten-free pasta for this meal. Everyone's happy! The problem with spaghetti squash is that it doesn't have any protein at all. (I normally eat the high protein, multi-grain pastas) Because I'm not a big meat eater, this meal could have the potential of lacking any protein at all. Thankfully, I discovered this Protein -packed Alfredo sauce!

I've never cooked with pureed beans like this before and was hesitant to tell Jarrod, but I was ready for the challenge. Thankfully, Jarrod was too. I prepared for this recipe by soaking, rinsing, and slow-cooking a bag of white navy beans (why are they called navy beans if they are white?) in chicken stock. I follow the same method that I use when cooking black beans but I didn't season them at all.

Protein-packed Alfredo Sauce
From The Cheapskate Cook
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup parmesan (or parmesan-romano cheese), shredded
1 cup white bean puree
Garlic (onions or other veggies are optional)
1 teaspoon of olive oil
Seasoning - I used garlic salt and some other random seasonings we have in the pantry.

Coat a pan lightly with olive oil. Add a clove or two of garlic. Cook garlic slightly. Add in the rest of the ingredients and simmer. Allow cheese to melt and flavors to combine. Serve over pasta, Spaghetti Squash, veggies, or on pizza. Delicious!

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Day in the Life...

I've read several blogs recently that will do a random schedule of their day in order to give folks an idea what a typical day in their life looks like. I'm not sure why you'd be interested in my day, but I was interested in their's, so I thought I'd give it a go!

While everyday is very different for me, there are some similarities and I thought I'd give you a little taste of my life on a random Wednesday and Thursday - a day in the office and a day on the road.

6:45am - Jarrod wakes me up. This is VERY unusual! He's normally not awake this early.
7:00am - Hop in the shower, get ready, make breakfast.
7:35am - Take 24 week pregnancy picture
7:40am - Jarrod and I are both out the door for our 24 week doctor's appointment.
7:55am - Arrive at doctor's office
8:10am - Weight, blood pressure, pee in a cup.
8:20am - Flu shot, check heart beat, ask questions.
8:30am - Schedule glucose test and next appointment for 28 weeks.
9:10am - Arrive at work.
     Respond to e-mails, talk with coworkers, work on presentation, schedule meetings, read Do Hard Things by Alex and Brett Harris...
1:30pm - Finally stop to warm up leftovers for lunch. Eat them sitting at my desk reading blogs and working on an article.
4:30pm - Throw pizza in the toaster oven to warm up for dinner.
5:00pm - Grab pizza, laptop bag, books, etc. and hit the road!
     Eat pizza, change into walking clothes, and drive to the church.
5:45pm - Walk 4.33 miles around the neighborhood near the church. It's beautiful and I'm glad to get a good walk in. Not too hot and gorgeous!
6:55pm - Arrive at choir a little sweaty.
7-8:15pm - Church choir practice. Excellent. Choir director is so handsome!
8:30pm - Shower, clean up, prepare for tomorrow.
9:00pm - Ice cream and a few Food Network TV shows. Make Jarrod pause to tell him stories from my day.
10:15pm - Pray, sing to baby, and sleep!

7:00am - Begin to wake up.
7:30am - Get out of bed and get ready for a walk.
7:45am - Leave for a walk after checking work e-mail.
8:45am - Arrive home from 4.13 mile walk around the neighborhood with Lucy. It's a bit chilly, which is awesome!
9am - Grab a piece of cold pizza and a big glass of water. Check work e-mail and get somethings going before hopping in the shower.
9:15-10:15am - Work from the nursery. Respond to e-mails, check calendar, get directions for meetings today, and prepare for the day.
10:30am - Leave to drive to Waco for a meeting.
12-2:00pm - Lunch meeting with a pastor and youth leader in Waco. Excellent and energizing!
3:45pm - Arrive back in the office after meeting. Respond to voicemails, check in with assistant, send e-mails, make to-do list for tomorrow, get directions for next meeting.
4:45pm - Leave work for dinner meeting in North Richland Hills.
5:30-7:30pm - Eat dinner with youth workers and discuss ministry and life.
8:00pm - Arrive home. Chat with hubby, get ready for bed, pack lunch for tomorrow.
8:30pm - Eat ice cream and watch a few shows on the DVR.
10pm - Pray, sing to baby, and sleep! - Friday morning will begin at 6am with a 3 1/2 mile walk with the dog before work!

Nothing too exciting, but there it is! I travel 2-3 days a week for work so the days I'm in the office are precious and I need to learn how to get things done quickly. I've also learned how to adjust my schedule when necessary because my work-day is often not 8:30-5pm. It's a good life.
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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Easy Chicken Divan

I have a great Chicken Divan recipe I received from a friend. However, when I found this one that said it could be frozen and reheated, I added it to the list for before the baby comes. I decided to give the recipe a try to make sure it's as good as our recipe. 

I'm glad we did a test run because this recipe is definitely NOT on our list anymore. I might try it again, but I'd make a LOT of changes to the recipe. 

First, I did make a couple of changes to the original recipe - changes I'm glad that I made because it actually made the dish better. Below is the actual recipe. I'll share my comments below.

1 large bag frozen broccoli florets
2-3 cooked chicken breasts
2 cans condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 cup Kraft mayonnaise
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp curry powder
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
½ cup soft bread crumbs (or bread slices cut into small cubes)
1 tbsp melted butter or margarine
  • Place broccoli in a baking dish and then place cooked chicken on top.
  • Stir soup, mayo, lemon juice and curry powder in a bowl and then pour over chicken.
  • Sprinkle with cheese.
  • Combine bread crumbs and butter. Sprinkle over everything. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
  • Bake at 350 degrees 25-30 minutes (if room temperature) or 40 minutes (if cold) or until thoroughly heated.
We eliminated the bread crumbs and opted to go with rice. I worried that there wouldn't be enough "sauce" to cover the rice, but it turns out that there was MORE than plenty. I cooked a cup of brown rice and layered that in the bottom of a 9x13" casserole dish. I put the broccoli and chicken on top of the rice and poured the "sauce" on top.

The flavors were delicious. I might even add more lemon juice and curry, but I'd definitely eliminate at least one can of soup and probably some mayo as well. This was simply too creamy. Maybe it's a consistency issue that I have, but I thought it was just too much. It was very thick and very creamy - too much so. I think that by eliminating rice and following the recipe exactly, I would have been even more disappointed by this recipe.

Rather than chicken breast, we used chicken from a cooked roaster and instead of mayo, we used low-fat mayo. I don't think either of these substitutions made any difference - except making it easier, cheaper, and lower in fat and calories.

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Pregnancy Update - Week 24

What’s Happening This Week: Your baby's growing steadily, having gained about 4 ounces since last week. That puts him at just over a pound. Since he's almost a foot long (picture an ear of corn), he cuts a pretty lean figure at this point, but his body is filling out proportionally and he'll soon start to plump up. His brain is also growing quickly now, and his taste buds are continuing to develop. His lungs are developing "branches" of the respiratory "tree" as well as cells that produce surfactant, a substance that will help his air sacs inflate once he hits the outside world. His skin is still thin and translucent, but that will start to change soon.

We had our 24 week appointment on Wednesday and everything is tracking normally. Baby is growing, heartbeat is 138, and my blood pressure and weight gain seem to be on track. We saw a new-to-us ob in our practice and loved her. The nurses were especially wonderful - Jarrod has a crush on one of them because she was so awesome. I had to get a flu shot, but overall, the visit restored my faith in this practice. I'm still working with insurance to see what would be covered if we went the birth center route.

How far along? 24 weeks
Weight gain: 20 lbs.
Stretch marks? Still the same on my hips, but they are coming, I'm sure...
Sleep: Some nights are awesome and some are restless. I'm still sleeping so I cannot complain. Dreams are absolutely insane and intense. I wake up in sweats more often than not.
Best moment this past week: We came home from the opera on Friday night to a HUGE box on our front porch. It was raining (but our porch is covered) and it was late. We were confused, but grabbed the box and went inside. As soon as we got inside, we knew immediately what it was: "The crib mattress!" Our dear friends purchased the mattress for us and surprised us with it. The card was signed Alina, Jared, Marie, and John. John passed away on Sunday night.
Movement: There was a dance party in my belly this weekend. Jarrod and I were sitting on the couch and rather than grab his hand to feel it, I pointed and told him to watch. He said it was like Alien. :-)
Food cravings: McDonalds vanilla cone and diet coke. Moderation is my saving grace!
Labor Signs: None. Thankfully!
What I miss: Actually, this week I miss talking about things besides the pregnancy. I've met a lot of new people - conferences for work, etc. and the first thing people ask about is the baby - "Boy or girl?" "When are you due?" "How are you feeling?" It's an easy thing to talk about when making small talk with someone new and I completely appreciate that, but I love hearing others' stories and don't get to do that much anymore.
What I am looking forward to: Our baby shower! I can't wait to see my aunt Pam, my sister, best friends, and other loved ones!
Anxieties: How this baby is going to get out of me. It's getting bigger and I'm getting more uncomfortable - I'm painfully aware I still have several months to go!
Weekly Wisdom: A woman I met recently asked me if we were having a boy or girl. When I said we were waiting and were going to be surprised. I prepared for the typical shocked response. She got so excited - "I didn't find out with any of my kids! It's so fun!" She said that she got a lot of resistance from folks also, but it was so much fun and she really enjoyed the anticipation. That encouraged me incredibly. Other encouragement I received this week was from folks regarding my desire to have a natural birth.
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Monday, September 19, 2011


My sister came to visit last weekend with the incredible goal of finding her wedding dress. She's getting married on March 10th of 2012 - it's a big year for the Lindgren girls! She flew in on Thursday night and Jarrod and I picked her up from the airport, got her settled in our guest room, and got to bed. Friday was wedding dress day! I knew it'd be a long and tiring day - we HAD to find the dress!

Courtney and I started our day with a 6 mile walk with the dog. It was wonderful to walk with her again - we haven't done that since I left Louisiana, but when we both lived there, we would walk several times a week. After our walk, we got ready and hit the road for Addison to spend the morning at Circle Park Bridal. This is where I bought my dress and I knew it would be a good place to start. Courtney's future mother- and sister-in-law met us there. Her future SIL is also my best friend from college, so it was awesome having her and her mom with us!

We took the store by storm, picking out lots of different dresses - any that we could find that we liked, thought Courtney would like, and were in her price range got thrown into the dressing room. Courtney tried on 7-8 dresses, but after about an hour, she knew that the first one was the dress. It was off the rack, gorgeous, fit like a glove, and was 1/6th her dress budget. Yes, my sister is low maintenance!

Even though she knew she'd found the dress, I encouraged her to go to lunch and think about it. We all hit up Macaroni Grill for sandwiches, soup, and salads, before going back to the store for pictures and accessories. I wish I could share pictures of the dress, but the finance might get to snooping and we don't want that. Let's just say the dress is gorgeous, the veil is perfect, and Courtney found a precious sparkly headband that looks incredible. It was a great day!

It was barely 2pm when we left the store with the dress. MUCH earlier than I ever thought! We spent the rest of our afternoon visiting with Courtney's future in-laws and my dear friends. It's awesome that that group of people is the same! We had pizza night for dinner - Jarrod and the Lindgren girls. After dinner we watched some TV and relaxed as we waited for the fiance to show up. Once he did, we all went to bed.

On Saturday evening Jarrod, Courtney, Philip, and I went out for sushi (don't worry, I only ate the cooked stuff and avoided the shark...) and came home to discuss the wedding details. Courtney and Philip are doing the planning and executing of the budget themselves and looked to Jarrod and I for some wisdom. This, naturally, thrills the big sister in me.

Sunday was a glorious day of church! We had one combined service full of beautiful music. I know Courtney loved being in worship with Jarrod again - he's such a great worship leader! After church, we had lunch as a church family with my sister in law and her little boys. Courtney asked my nephews to be ring bearers in her wedding. I love that they will be there and love that Courtney considers them family too! Our kids might be confused about who is family and who is "family" but what a wonderful problem to have. My nephews call Courtney Aunt Courtney and adore her. They don't know that she's my sister and in no way related to them at all. She loves them and kids can't have too many people in their life that love them! (My kids will call her sister in law Aunt Renee, it's completely awesome.)

On Sunday afternoon I took engagement shots for Courtney and Philip. They will have a session with the fabulous Carrie in the coming months, but needed one good shot for their Save the Dates. I took about 200 shots in various locations and was thrilled when Courtney found a dozen or so that she liked! She posted some of her faves on her blog, but here are some of mine:

Come March Courtney will be a Boone and I'll have lots of pictures and stories to share. I might even share some pictures from the dress shopping experience - they are awesome!
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