Lindsay Gill: November 2013

Friday, November 29, 2013

Takeout alternative

Craving takeout food? Salty and a little unhealthy comfort food?  I ended up finding this at the grocery store which I think is a little healthier, tastier, and possibly cheaper than takeout.

I thawed raw but already peeled shrimp and added the ingredients together (all included in the kit: coconut milk, curry sauce, and rice) for a nice tasty dinner!

Less sodium than I suspected!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving and a DIY Thanksgiving Onesie

Happy Thanksgiving! For Luke's first Thanksgiving, I made him a special onesie!  He was supposed to match his cousin in Buffalo but we will be sticking around here instead due to the snow.  
You will need fabric for the tie, a onesie, 2 D-rings and ribbon (about 1 inch wide) 

I sketched out the tie on the back of the fabric.

For the D-ring, sew a rectangle on the top of the suspender, then add the ring and sew a large rectangle below it.  The tie turned out a little crooked but I still think it will be super cute! (If you don't want a crooked tie, order from this Etsy
shop, her onesies look perfect!)

What am I thankful for?  A million things, but here are a few:

1.  My best friend and husband John Paul
2.  Our little angel, Luke
3.  Our health, and being post-partum diabetes free! Great doctors that took care of me and my Luke during my pregnancy and delivery
4.  Our jobs that are not just jobs but fulfilling careers
5.  Our wonderful family on both sides
6.  Our wonderful friends in Buffalo and scattered around the US, and our new wonderful friends in CT
7.  2 more healthy babies in the family, our new nephew Zach and niece Olivia
8.  Our condo!  With heat and food
9.  Of course our freedom, so many people have fought and are fighting for that
10.  Safe traveling
11.  A great daycare for Luke, a great Nana to watch him on Wednesdays, and great babysitters along the way
12.  So many friends and family members that have supported us and helped us with Luke so far.
13.  My new blog and creative outlet! And my readers like you!
14.  JP almost finished with his grad program!
15.  Luke growing healthy and strong, and learning new things every day.  

Apple Brie Crescent Roll Appetizer

I made these Apple Brie Crescent Rolls when I hosted our Thirty-One party!  

The original recipe is from here.  
1.  Place a small piece of peeled apple (I used Macintosh), a small piece of Brie, a pecan, and a touch of honey on a crescent roll dough triangle.  
2.  Roll it up!
3.  The original recipe says to seal the edges so that the Brie doesn't leak out, but that definitely takes away from the "crescent" look.
4. Bake on 375 for 10 minutes.

Mine came out a bit too doughy.  I would recommend cutting the crescent pieces in half.  Or my friend NG suggested keeping the dough as one piece, putting the brie, peacans, apple, and honey in the middle.  Then cover with a second piece of dough and bake that way.  The nice thing is that even if you "mess up," the ingredients are all so delicious that the final product is still great!  Here is the final photo from the original site:

Friday, November 22, 2013

Easy Ranch Bread Appetizer

YUM! This is a cost efficient crowd pleaser!  The ingredients are in the photo.  I found the original recipe here. 

1.  Mix the cream cheese and Ranch dressing mix (I only used about half).
2.  Slice the French bread in half length-wise and spread cream cheese mix.
3.  Top with the Monterey Jack cheese and a pinch of Parsley.
4.  Place on foil and bake on 425 for about 10 minutes.  

I didn't take a final product photo but this is from the original site.  Slice into 1-2 inch pieces.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Babbling and Jalapenos

Now I've gotten a lot of criticism on this video.  "Why would you ask Luke to say jalapeno?  I can't even say jalapeno!"  My answer is simple.  Luke has mastered the Spanish "j" sound, or the cat hissing sound, as you can see.  I try to tell him every Spanish word I know because it's best to get kids exposed to different sounds earlier on and they'll have an easier time grasping other languages.  And that is why we talk about jalapenos.  (In reality, when you talk to yourself and your baby all day, you run out of English things to say and you start talking about jalapenos).

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Married before Pinterest Part 4: Goin' to the chapel

Today is our two year anniversary.  Here's Part 4...

The wedding was on Saturday.  I left Buffalo, hitching a ride with my future brother-in-law and sister-in-law on Thursday afternoon.  John Paul would leave on Friday morning with his friend.  

I saw him for the first time at the church for the rehearsal on Friday night.  He stepped on my foot, and I had a huge black and blue bruise.  Attractive!
Rehearsal dinner

Bruised foot
 The rehearsal dinner was great.  My grandfather played the banjo, and my sister-in-law put together a slideshow of our childhood photos.  Now it was finally Saturday morning...

Fun fact: I forgot to add a line for the guest's name on the reply card.  We played a matching game with the responses.  "Who has a family of 3 that likes chicken....Oh I know!"
My hair dresser was calm and laid back.
My cousin Maria did my make-up.  Fun fact:  seconds after Maria finished my eye make-up I was doing the messy cry.  Why?  Because I had to brush my teeth, and my toothbrush was in my suitcase, the suitcase was in the limo...I broke down into tears.

Fun fact: I really wanted this shot!

First dance to "Everything" Michael Buble.  We took dance lessons!

Father/daughter dance to "My Wish" Rascal Flatts
A messy cry dancing with my two grandfathers

Of course there are all books and checklists for the newly engaged, so you've got that covered.  Some details that I thought were nice touches, though?  Flip flops for the dancers.  Those feet hurt!  Little welcome bags in the hotels.  We had classy pens as our wedding favor.  I got our parents and grandparents embroidered handkerchiefs, embroidered in the color of their dresses, for the women.  My brothers played trumpet, my nephew played the flute, my sister-in-law sang, and a family friend sang during the ceremony.  A cousin flew in from Ireland.

Night Rhythm made the wedding, they were AWESOME.  We even enjoy listening to their music on our wedding video.  People were dancing before dinner.  The music and energy was incomparable.  They are out of Boston, MA so if you are from around there, you really have to consider them!  Photographer Kathy Bunnell was great to work with, we love all of our photos.  She has a great laugh!  Our venue was The Delaney House.  We couldn't believe how friendly the staff was, especially on the night of.  Durocher Florist was great:  I flipped through some flower photo books and showed them what I liked, and I felt like they completely understood.  My girls wore this dress and my Maid of Honor wore this dress.  My dress can be found here, sans the satin sash.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Announcing Luke

Luke is 10 months old today!  I wanted to share the pictures of how we announced that I was pregnant.  We came in from Buffalo to Massachusetts for Father's Day 2012.  We put a copy of our ultrasound in  "grandfather" and "great-grandfather" frames (these were names that my dad and grandfathers had never been called before!)  I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

EmaJane Hair Accessories

EmaJane is giving away 4 different packages of Hair Accessories to one lucky reader!  Are you having a princess birthday party and looking for the perfect goody bag item?  Looking for the perfect present topper for all of your little girl Christmas gifts?  Check out their website or Facebook page for more adorable hair accessories for your little girl, and enter to win the giveaway!  The giveaway ends on Monday, November 18th at midnight.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Blogging 100...the class even before Blogging 101!

I know so little about blogging that this is the class before Blogging 101.  But a few friends have expressed interest in starting a blog and I wanted to share everything I have learned in my now three month blogging experience, so that I can hopefully save you three months of googling.

1.  Wordpress or Blogger?  I don't know.  I have heard that google can take away your blog.  I'm not sure if that is true, but it sounds devastating.  I have read that Wordpress makes it easier for readers to find you in search engines.  I wasn't able to find a free Wordpress format/theme that I liked so I haven't made the transfer (you can pay for fancier themes or themes that you can edit more).  It seems best to transfer early on when there aren't too many posts or followers to move over to another site.  Eventually you can buy the domain to get rid of the .wordpress and .blogspot in the url.  I think I will do that, but maybe hire someone who knows how so that I don't accidentally lose everything.  Let me know what you think.

2.  How can you make money?  There are many ways but remember that this is Blogging 100.  On the layout template in Blogger, you can "Add a Gadget" and add "AdSense."  This will add advertisements that (I think) are supposed to somewhat align with your blog topic.  You can make pennies or much more, depending on how many viewers and clicks you are getting.  You can also sign up for Amazon Affiliates.  You can add links to their products or an aStore like I have under my "shop" tab.  They give you a small percentage of certain sales they make that came through your blog.  Once you get a good amount of followers, people might want to advertise their product or blog on your blog.  Some sites offer blog space for monthly periods for various amounts (I've seen $10-$50).  This is why people have a "media kit" that shows possible sponsors about their view count and statistics so the sponsor can decide if it's worth it for them.  Other bloggers get paid for product reviews.

3.  How can I get more readers?  Well if you're reading this, you're probably my mom's friend.  She is in charge of my marketing.  In the grocery store she will say, excuse me do you know where the carrots are?  When they show her the carrots, she will say thanks, I am trying to make a stew that I saw on WEDDING RINGS TO TEETHING RINGS BLOG.  (Thanks, Mom.  She's also my one and only Etsy customer.)  Joking aside, Pinterest seems like the way to go.  I have pinned all sorts of blogging help on my "Blog" board that give ideas that I'm exploring myself.  Follow that board here.  You can also be part of "link parties" where you can post articles that pertain to the link party topic (and usually add their "button" to your page).  Definitely respond to all comments that people write, and comment on other blogs when you like their content.  Link up with other bloggers...sometimes you can do a blog swap or a guest post to get more exposure.  The main thing thing is to post good content and to keep your own voice.  That seems to be the number one piece of advice.

4.  How do you center your header image?  Under Template, click Customize.  Click Advanced and then scroll down to ADD CSS.  Paste this code: #header-inner img {margin: 0 auto 0 65px;} and then change the 65 to whatever number centers your image.  There is a code to "center" it but I had better luck doing it this way.

5.  How do you add texts and design to images?  This was very frustrating to me because I was an art minor in college and had access to the most updated and fancy computer programs available.  Now, I don't.  But I found out about PicMonkey which allows you to edit photos and create collages.  There are lots of free iPhone apps as well like Overgram that help you put text over images.  This is helpful when you're pinning on Pinterest.

6.  How do you do giveaways? seems to be what most bloggers use. It's $7.99 per month and very easy to use.  You set up your giveaway on their site and then paste the "widget" on the HTML part of your post (next to the compose tab).  As you can see by my begging, I didn't have tremendous luck with my giveaways so I am on a giveaway hiatus until I learn a bit more.  I was lucky enough to have a few Etsy shop owners let me giveaway their product, and more people are willing to help when you have lots of viewers!

7.  How do you add the "Pin it" button to your images?  I'll let this site explain.

8.  How do you add "labels" to your posts?  When you are in the "compose" tab writing your post, there is a post settings section on the right.  You can add labels under "labels."  Duh... but I didn't see it until Meg pointed it out.

9.  How do you schedule your posts?  Again, under the post settings, you can schedule when to publish your posts.  I was so excited to figure this out!  You could theoretically plan out the blog for the rest of your life...not quite but you can schedule multiple posts during ONE naptime!

10.  FYI: One article wrote about Twitter and how important that is for your blog growth.  I'm not good at Twitter, it doesn't come naturally to me...yet.  But you can connect you blog to Twitter and to Facebook and to Bloglovin so that once you post, all social media systems spread the word. There is a site that takes your old posts and tweets about the so that your old posts still get exposure!  There are tricks about times of the day to post, and which days to post.  I've found that it really helps to find other blogs, successful and not successful, and just take note of the things you like and dislike about their blog.  Then google your way to doing the things you like on your own blog!  I think this is all so interesting!  But certainly topics for Blogging 101.

Please comment on any other tips you have learned along the way!  I'm excited to learn more about this process!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Nap time reflection

Luke has been teething up a storm.  It is unclear which teeth are coming in, because he already has seven!  But we have buckets of drool and he is a little extra clingy.  So during nap time yesterday, I laid down with him on the small bed in his room, and he fell asleep...holding on for dear my hair.

Wait a minute...nap time is my break!  Time to catch up on cleaning, shower, peel the Puffs off my clothing, and sometimes even work on my blog.

Why wouldn't you just try to un-cling him? Said no mother, ever.  John Paul likes to act out Luke's response to waking up after being "un-clinged."  "Helppp I'm so tired I can't sleep and I was sleeping but now I can't and I'm so sad that I'm not sleeping because I need to because I'm just a baby and this is the worst thing ever!!"

Well that's okay, I thought.  Because I had my phone within arm's reach.  I could crush some candy.  Three candies in a row, maybe five in a row!  As if on cue, my phone alerted me that the battery was at 10%.  Dismiss.  Again on cue, Sarah tweeted this article called The Passion of Parenting.  I knew I only had 10% of phone battery to check it out.

Here were the parts that stood out to me:

"She taught me that you must allow yourself time to find stillness and so you can be moved by it. Sometimes we are so busy that we forget why we’re busy. We have so many things on our list of priorities that we lose sight of what’s really important.
And she taught me that my children are not truly mine. They don’t belong to me; they’ve simply been entrusted to me. They are a gift life gave to me, but one that I must one day give back to life. They must grow up and go away and that is as it should be."

I've said the second part myself.  I feel like Luke is not "mine."  That he is so smart and has such a wonderful personality and he's teaching us more than we could ever teach him.  How did this little person come into our lives and hearts?  And how can it already hurt to think of the day we drop him off at college?  (Don't get me wrong, we hope and pray that we get to do that).

But yesterday, it was time for the stillness.  I was forced into stillness.  I could just look at this little angel next to me and listen to his breathing (snoring!).  I had just complained to John Paul that our days of snuggling with Luke seemed to be over now that he rolls and stands and tumbles and can't seem to sit still.  Well I was blessed with about one hour of stillness with my Luke.  I know many moms who want to know when their last breastfeeding session will be so they can remember it.  Luckily I've been winging this whole thing so I wasn't upset when that day came and went without even realizing.  But my mom did say that you never know when your last time cuddling will be before your boy is grown up.  When cuddling isn't "cool" anymore.

Well I thank God for forcing that stillness on me.  For giving me the time to reflect.  To look at my angel, hear his snoring.  I have a habit of trying to keep doing something, even if it is crushing candies.  I was so blessed to spend the time a much better way yesterday.

On a lighter note, my scenario reminded me of this post I read on preparing for breastfeeding (a parody) that had me laughing out loud!  It reminds me of yesterday when I couldn't move a muscle for fear that I would wake Luke.

"Breastfeeding in the early stages:
1) You can lose the brillow pad but you must replace it with a warm liquid that you’re not fond of the smell of.
2) Hold a 10 pound sack of potatoes up to your chest and pretend to nurse. Now pour this liquid all over your shirt. Now put it in your hair. Dump it in your lap. Basically just everywhere.
3) Change your shirt without washing any of it off of your skin. Let it dry to yourself. Bask in it.
4) Switch sides and do it again. Just leave this shirt on for the rest of the day because now the sack of potatoes is sleeping and you can’t move for two hours. FREEZE for two hours. The remote is just out of reach and you have to watch Peppa Pig for two hours. (Go ahead and watch Peppa Pig. It’s f***ing awful.)
5) When two hours have gone by, do it again."

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Losing my friend

I wanted to share this because my friend Peggy meant so much to me.  She passed away on October 27, 2013 at the age of 102, and I had the honor to speak at her funeral.

"As I stood in line at the grocery store, Bengay in one hand and doughnuts in the other, I contemplated the true meaning of friendship.  I reached in my wallet to pay the clerk, and I answered the silent question she wanted to ask, "They are for my friend," I whispered.

My friend likes Doublemint gum, and has a collection of chewed pieces stuck under the kitchen table where she sits for most of each day.  Every Saturday and Sunday, she leaves the garage door of her pale yellow house open in anticipation of my arrival.  Many times, she sends me to Subway to buy her favorite meatball grinder on rye.  She prefers a drink with exactly one part ginger ale, two parts cranberry juice, with a bendable straw.  She wears red nail polish and a felt hat to church each Sunday, and watches the inspirational channel for the remaining days.  My friend uses a walker as a result of two falls--once in the church parking lot, the other when a swinging door knocked her down.  She loves "country apple" home spray and collects the pictures that aspiring politicians send her.  My friend is 102 years old.

I met Peggy on my first week serving Meals on Wheels during the summer of 2004.  She had just lost her older sister and housemate, Sue, so I decided that I would spend some time talking with her about her loss.  Peggy explained that though she missed her sister, she was confident that God had a plan for everything and would someday bring them together in Heaven.  Peggy enjoyed our conversations that ranged from our mayonnaise preferences to the newly elected Pope, and she suggested that I visit her more often. When I heat up her dinner or take out the trash, I love to hear Peggy reminisce about her several brothers and sisters going to church "like a line of ducks."  Dedicated to lifelong learning, Peggy graduated from college and received advanced teaching degrees at two other colleges.  I am both encouraged to learn as much as I can, and reminded to appreciate my family and friends as she does.

I share Peggy's belief that God sent me to her, but to benefit us both.  The summer volunteer work through Meals on Wheels has evolved into lessons on patience, joy, responsibility, discipline, and most of all a deeper meaning of friendship.  Friendship is not exclusive to age or ailments, and I hope that Peggy could breathe a little easier because of me.  Sometimes I wonder if her stories are true.  Maybe she really is 39 years old, and maybe she really does still teach math at my former high school.  Regardless, I will always value the experience that knowing her has given me, and cherish the time I spent with this wise and accomplished woman."

Rest in Peace, Peggy, I love you.