Little Letters

seuss is weird

Dear Seuss:  I don’t know what you’re doing just hanging out on top of your litter box.  You are the weirdest.

Dear BART:  Riding you while being pregnant makes me hate humanity.  I’m so excited to take a 3 week break from you starting tomorrow.

Dear Holiday Break:  Get here nowwww.

Dear Pregnancy Hormones:  Is everyone super annoying right now or is it just you?  (It’s probably just you, but Jesus.)

Dear New Orleans:  I’m so excited to come see you!  I am going to eat the heck out of all your beignets.

Dear Baby:  It’s so fun to feel all the little kicks you’ve been giving me lately.  Kinda crazy that we’re closing in on the halfway mark in just a couple weeks.

Dear Eggs:  I can’t seem to get enough of you lately.  (Uhh, I may have eaten 10 in a 24 hour period recently…)

Dear Second Trimester:  So far you are officially the best.  No more morning sickness (hallelujah), some fun baby movement, and a finally visible bump to boot.  That round ligament pain isn’t much fun, but I’ll take that over the 24-hour nausea/puking any day of the week.

Dear Sleep:  Hey, so it would be cool if we could meet up for like a solid 7-8 hours, instead of this “fall asleep at a reasonable time and then be wide awake for 2 or 3 hours in the middle of the night, only to fall back asleep and be exhausted in the morning.”  Oh yeah and those dreams that are happening when I am asleep?  Let’s agree that those really aren’t necessary.  (In one recent one I went back to college (communal bathrooms!), caught smallpox, and then my teeth fell out.  I’m pretty sure all that means I’m insane or something.)

Dear Penny:  I think Santa is going to get you a brand-new walking vest for Christmas!  I bet you’re so excited.  (And by “you” I obviously mean “me.”)

Love, Chelsea

Babymoon

As much as I hate the word “babymoon” (like, what does that even mean?) I’m totally not against the idea of a babymoon (which, in case you’re not familiar, is a little trip you take with your spouse before the tiny babe comes and upends your whole life.  — It’s a positive upending, just to be clear.)

We’ve decided to jump on the bandwagon and take a little trip to New Orleans before I’m officially on the no-fly list.  KC and I had some money to Southwest, courtesy of giving up our seats on one of our flights over Memorial Day weekend (we made almost $900!) which was set to expire basically on my due date.  Plus, we have a credit card which earns us United miles (it’s amazing — we’ve both flown to Europe twice in the last 2 years alone just on miles!)  We figured we’re a ways away from heading back overseas now that I’m incubating a tiny human, so we opted to use our points to book our hotel stay in NOLA.  Overall, it’s turning out to be quite the affordable adventure, which is awesome because now we can spend all our hard-earned money on important things like beignets, fancy dinners, and beignets.  Even though I can’t really partake in the fun nightlife in NOLA, I’m really excited to have some time to just relax and soak up a new city (I’ve actually been once before, but it was a very short trip for a work conference, so I didn’t really get to experience much of the city).

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KC and I have made traveling a priority in our life together.  I caught the travel bug the first time I headed to Europe in 2003 (I’ve been overseas 6 times in the last 11 years as a result) and worked hard to convince KC to scrimp and save up for a big trip that we finally took together in late 2012.  Since that 2012 trip, KC has been fully on board with my travel addiction, and is always quick to support the argument of, “That isn’t that expensive for a flight/hotel/trip/whatever,” or “We’ve got this many miles on our card — where are we going and when?”

A few things we’ve learned over the years are to take advantage of vacation time and PTO through work.  While many people let their days build and build and only take a few hours here and there for sick days, appointments, etc., we opt to take a chunk of time at least once every year or two and get away.  We also make sure to be flexible in the dates and months we travel (did you know it’s cheapest to fly in the middle of the week?), so we’ll often take two weeks for Europe going Tuesday-Tuesday or Wednesday-Wednesday.  And the two times we’ve gone to Europe have been during the off-season in November and May. (PS: Christmastime in Europe is magical.  I can’t wait to do it again someday.)

We’re also pretty savvy in our spending, in the name of future travel.  When I was traveling a lot for work, I decided to sign up for a United credit card to take advantage of all the awards miles I was racking up.  While the card does have a yearly fee (I think it’s $50 or $100), we use the card for almost all of our regular purchases, and have racked up enough miles for two round-trip tickets to Europe each year (which is worth wayyyy more than the $100 fee to us!)  And even though we’re not using our miles to head off on a European vacation in 2015, we got 5 nights at a 4-star hotel in downtown New Orleans for free with our points.  Not bad considering we just jetted off to Amsterdam/Scotland/Ireland in May.

Do you make travel a priority?  What are the tips and tricks you’ve picked up over the years?

And I’d love to hear if you took a babymoon — was the getaway nice before your whole life changed?  I’m kind of freaking out a little.  (Just a little.)  ;)

The 12 Dates of Christmas (six through eight)

waiting for santaWe polished off a few more dates over last week and last weekend.  We completed date 6 by heading to The Star for dinner on Wednesday night.  It was the eve of the giant storm, so we sat by the window in the restaurant and waited for mother nature to unleash her fury while dining on meatballs, salad, and pesto chicken pizza.  I’m beginning to feel the little twinge of “missing out” on the adult beverages of the season (I have taken to smelling anything KC drinks these days), but the housemade lemonade at The Star almost made me forget about the fact that I can’t imbibe like everyone else this season.

Date 7 was, I have to say, pretty special.  On Saturday night we went out for a fancy meal at Michel Bistro with KC’s siblings and their significant others (we opted to all go out to dinner together in lieu of getting each other gifts this year).  That wasn’t really part of the date though — that came after dinner, when rather than driving straight home, KC drove me through Piedmont (where the rich people live) so we could see all the Christmas lights.  There were some pretty awesome displays, but there were also a lot of houses lacking in Christmas cheer.  (Um, what’s the point in having a bunch of money if you’re not going to spend it on amazing Christmas lights?  Clearly we have different values.)  The best display by far was this giant house that had a glassed-in sunroom visible from the street.  They had strung lights down the beams between the glass panels and had a giant Christmas tree right in the middle — so festive!  And of course, I love that KC knows me well enough to know that I’ll get kid-on-Christmas excited over just driving around and looking and lights.  (I love him.  Just wait for the mushy post coming up next week on our 10 year anniversary!)

Our 8th date happened on Sunday night.  We had spent the day at a family Christmas party, and I was pretty tired by the time we got home (and had zero interest in cooking dinner).  We decided to head out to Boot and Shoe Service for dinner, which was delicious (as usual).  We shared ricotta and toast, a salad of arugula, frisee, almonds and feta, the classic margherita pizza (my go-to) and a linzertorte for dessert.  They had some delicious-looking cocktails on the menu, which I was a little bummed I couldn’t partake in, but the housemade ginger-mint soda was a nice second place.

It’s crazy that Christmas is next week already (I guess I should probably get my shopping done…)  Good thing we’ve only got 4 dates to go!

My Christmas Wish List

I was extra-good this year, so hopefully Santa takes notice and brings me some of the items below:

entu-side-tableCrate and Barrel Entu side table 

potholderSome new potholders (because mine are falling apart, which makes taking hot pans out of the oven not so much fun).

diptyque-winter-2014-sThe Diptyque holiday trio — they smell amaaaaaazing

le creuset9qt cast iron pot (for making gigantic batches of soup!)

cat-hue-white-dinnerwareHue dinnerware, because my everyday plates and bowls are showing their age.  (Plus, you can mix and match the colors!)

www.theanimalprintshop.comA few fun prints for the baby’s room

What’s on your wish list this year?

Boy or Girl? (to know or not to know)

bear

I’ve gotten to the point in my pregnancy where everyone is asking me if I’ve found out what I’m having.  (Please note that I’m always super tempted to answer, “A baby!” because I’m annoying.)  Apparently most people are finding out the flavor of their babe way before us these days, but we are set to find out after I reach 20 weeks, which is still a few weeks away.

When I first found out I was pregnant, I couldn’t imagine not finding out the gender.  I felt this need to know whether the wee bairn was pink or blue (is that not how it works?  Doesn’t the ultrasound change color based on the gender?  Kidding guys.)

But recently, I’ve started feeling the opposite — not wanting to know.

Part of this is because I thought in order to register for baby items and decorate the nursery, surely I would have to know the sex.  But we went and registered without knowing (I highly recommend it!) and got through all of it just fine.  And as for the nursery, I always knew I’d skew toward a gender-neutral theme, as I’ve never been one to want a nursery covered in pink frills and ruffles, or an entire room dedicated to dump trucks or race cars or whatever.  So those concerns quickly evaporated once I realized I really didn’t need to know the gender in order to fit the vision I had for the baby space.

But… the other side of my concern is a little more personal.  First, finding out the sex is so commonplace these days that people sort of just assume that you’re going to find out.  I like the idea of of waiting until the end and being handed a squealing bundle, accompanied by an “it’s a ______!”  But also, what about your own expectations when you get pregnant?  Those of you who have already had babies can maybe back me up on this (or maybe not, I don’t know) — but I’ve had a feeling that the baby is a certain gender.  And it’s based on nothing scientific — it has no basis in reality at all, really.  It’s mostly due to the fact that early on I had a dream about what gender the baby would be (and even the name we chose) and since then it’s been sort of stuck in my head.

So… what if we go in for the ultrasound and it’s not what I was expecting?  I can imagine that there could be some disappointment in finding out early.  But having been present for my nephew August’s birth, I know that if I opted not to know until the bitter end, there’s no way that I would be disappointed in that moment.  (Note to all of you who haven’t given birth or attended a live birth — it’s amazing, emotional, and so empowering.  If someone gives you the option to be in the room when they have a baby, take it!  And if you’re a man who is still lamenting the loss of the 1950’s “stay in the waiting room smoking a cigar” mentality… Um… Yeah…  No.)

But with all that, KC is set on knowing.  I think for it to feel “real” to him, he has to know the gender — which I totally get.  I mean, it’s pretty dang real for me every day, given that I’m carrying the freaking thing, but I can understand KC’s need to latch onto something a little more tangible in the meantime, given that the only real change for him has been the amount of my complaining + my willingness to be DD (which pretty much never happens when I’m not “with child.”)

So I guess I’ll have to decide if I’m going to find out with him, or if I’ll be ok letting him keep the secret for the last 19+ weeks (while tacitly assuming that he won’t somehow slip and call the baby “he” or “she” during that time, which is a pretty big gamble.)

Those of you who have gone or are going through this — did you want to find out the gender of your child?  Did you have any expectations going in?  (Or am I just a complete asshole for worrying that I might feel a twinge of disappointment if the reality doesn’t match my expectation?)

PS: The bear in the picture is the very first thing I bought for the baby, and it’s from Gap (go figure).  :)

12 Dates of Christmas (two through five)

fancy bump

We’re on a roll with the 12 dates of Christmas over here — I dare say we might even exceed 12 this year!  (And good thing too, as I suspect our date nights are going to be a little fewer and farther between once the bambino arrives next year.)

We started off strong by hitting up Camino on Friday night for dinner.  Camino is one of my favorite restaurants, and it happens to be just blocks away from our place, which is a nice bonus.  I had been bugging KC to go to Camino for awhile, since it’s now crab season.  Camino always does crab in the fireplace during this time of year and it’s sooo delicious.  KC and I went to Camino for the first time for our 6 year anniversary (almost 4 years ago now!) and I had the crab — I’ve been hooked ever since.  Their cocktails are amazing too, but sadly I wasn’t able to partake this time around. ;)

We had a nice long meal — sharing some cheese and bread, a salad of bitter lettuce, puntarelle, and lentils, I had the crab with farro, KC got quail, and we shared persimmon pudding and some almond/chocolate cookies for dessert.  It was perfect.

We talked about the baby (how it’s weird to be pregnant — in a good way), plans for the future, our upcoming anniversary, and all other sorts of things.  It was so nice to get away and connect, and it really reminded me that we will definitely need to make an effort to find time for just the two of us once the baby comes.

Our second date was on Saturday night, which was KC’s office’s annual holiday party.  It’s a huge event — everyone gets dressed up and the company goes all out, with multiple open bars and food stations.  Luckily, an H&M dress I’ve had for a couple years still zips over my bump, so I was able to get all dolled up for the evening (maternity tights and all).  The party was fun — a bit of a whirlwind.  And dang my legs were tired by the end — pregnancy + heels is not a joke.

Our third date was going out for brunch on Sunday morning.  After teaching Saturday morning and then attending two (!) holiday parties that same day, I was pretty tired for most of Sunday.  KC and I slept in and then rolled out of bed and made our way back to Camino for brunch.  I could barely function, being so tired from the day before, but it was a nice way to spend the morning nonetheless.

Christmas candyWe capped off Sunday night by having dinner at home and watching The Family Stone together.  I made a big pot of soup and whipped up some Christmas candy for a work event.  Honestly, there’s not much else I enjoy more than just hanging out at home with KC, especially during the holidays.  It feels so nice to just slooow down a little and take some time together.

I hope you all are enjoying the holiday season.  Only 7 dates left!  Merry merry.

Little Letters

Christmas treeeeee

Dear Christmas Tree:  You are the best.  It’s so amazing to come home to you every night — full of lights and smelling so wonderful.

Dear Presents:  I’m done wrapping you!  Well, almost.

Dear Baby:  I think I might have felt you move for the very first time this week (during Bar Method class no less).  It would be fitting if it really was you, given how much your mama likes working out at the barre.

Dear KC:  Remember how we went to register for baby stuff and you decided we needed to register for the Mercedes of strollers because it was the only all-terrain stroller light enough for me to lift with my bad back?  I love you.

Dear August:  I want to buy you all the holiday baby things at BabyGap.  ALL THE THINGS.

Dear Christmas Shopping:  You’re almost done!  What a feat.  I still have to go buy like 400 bottles of wine (which is way less fun when you don’t get to buy any for yourself).

Dear Beyond Yoga High-Waist Yoga Pants:  Could you be any more comfy?  I think not.  And even though you’re not technically for pregnancy, you’re like the best pregnancy purchase ever.

Dear Spanx Marvelous Mama Maternity Tights:  You might be the best for-maternity purchase of the month.  You’re actually getting me excited to dress up for all the holiday parties.

Dear Rain:  Go ahead and stay forever.  Thanks.

Dear Diptyque Holiday Candles:  You make me feel like Smeagol or Wayne from Wayne’s World every time I’m near you.  My precioussss…  You will be mine.

Love, Chelsea

Soup Recipes for Rainy Evenings

Just like I go crazy for salads during the summer, I love making a giant pot of soup when the weather gets cold in the fall and winter.  Soups are so wonderful because they generally require fairly little effort, and have a big payoff with enough food to cover more than one meal.  Plus, it’s an awesome way to get a crapload of veggies into your body (always helpful when trying to fend off the plague when you ride BART).

I’ve posted a lot of my favorite soup recipes on here already, but thought a recap post might be in order (I always like to have a one-stop-shop for the “what am I going to make for dinner” dilemma).

Sooo, here we go!  (Just click on the name of the soup to link to the recipe.)

Vegetarian Tortilla Soup with Black Beans and Butternut Squash

Vegetarian Tortilla Soup with Black Beans and Butternut Squash

You guys, this soup is the business.  It doesn’t make a TON of soup like some of the other soup recipes, but it’s so delicious and easy to make — perfect for a weeknight meal.  And trust me: you shouldn’t skimp on the toppings!

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Split Pea Soup

This is a great, basic recipe for split pea soup; and it’s another nice option if you don’t want to be eating the same soup for the next 7 meals (it makes about 6 generous servings).

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Not Your Mama’s Chicken Soup

This soup is a little more time-consuming than some of the others, and makes A LOT of soup.  But it’s awesome if you or someone you know is feeling a little under the weather.  Maybe whip up a batch and give half of it to your neighbor who isn’t feeling so hot.

Lentil Soup

Lentil Soup

This soup is so delicious and comforting — perfect for a cold, rainy night.  I like it with some Grana Padano grated over the top and a big hunk of sourdough bread.  (But really, I like most things with a big hunk of sourdough bread…)

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Potato Leek Soup

This soup is so crazy-easy to make.  And it’s just a little indulgent (not quite as veggie-full as many of the others on this list).  It’s so delicious though, and awesome to make for a crowd.

Winter Minestrone

Winter Minestrone

This is my go-to soup during the fall and winter months.  It makes a ton of soup and is overflowing with all kinds of good-for-you ingredients.  Grate some fresh parmesan on top and have at it.

Butternut Squash Soup

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

I made up this recipe after being dissatisfied with butternut squash soups that were either lacking flavor or wayyy too sweet.  This soup is a good balance of salt, spice and sweet.  It tastes rich and creamy, but it’s actually full of veggies.  Yum!

Spicy Tomato Soup 4

Customizable Spicy Tomato Soup

This tomato soup is great for picky appetites — there’s a million and one ways to modify it.  Make it upscale with spices and some coconut milk, scale it down and make it basic — whatever your little heart desires.  Just don’t serve it without the grilled cheese if you’re making it for me.  :)

Pregnancy Update – December

15.5 weeksPregnancy brain is in full-swing now.  I lose what I’m doing, constantly misplace things, forget stuff almost instantly, and have turned into a bit of a clumsy mess.  Despite the fact that I’ve turned into a bit of a bumbling ditz, KC has taken it all in stride and (luckily) doesn’t get too put-out when it takes me a solid extra 5 minutes to leave the house because I constantly have to go back to retrieve something I forgot to grab on the way out.

weeks: 15 1/2

baby’s size:  navel orange

i’m feeling:  better than the 1st trimester.  my morning sickness seems to finally be winding down; and while nausea returns occasionally, the all-the-time puking seems to have stopped.  feeling a little tired lately, but hopefully my new iron supplement will combat some of that fatigue, which my doctor says is most likely due to my recurrent anemia.

food love: taco bell.  yep, you read that right.  I’ve never been a “run for the border” kind of gal, but i made KC stop for it twice (!) this past weekend.  i’m also obsessed with fruit — i eat my weight in clementines and honeycrisp apples daily.

food hate:  meat by itself is still pretty unappealing.  and the smell of meat cooking — ugh.

3 pros for december:  1. no more puking! (hopefully!)  2. it’s december — the best month out of all 12 (because christmas, hello!)  3. looking a little bit more “pregnant” and a little less “i’m having a super-delicious holiday season.”

3 cons for december:  1. obviously, there will be no holiday cocktails for me this year.  wah wah.  2. still combating the fatigue lingering from the 1st trimester (c’mon iron pills!)  3.  holiday party dress-up is a little less fun when it looks like you swallowed a kiddie-sized soccer ball.

currently living in:  my regular gap jeans + bellaband.  as for tops, so far nothing is beating the handful of banana republic tops i bought about a month ago.  (and let’s get real, as soon as i get home — the pj’s go on asap.)

looking forward to:  celebrating the holidays and mine + kc’s anniversary this month!  oh yeah, and of course the 12 dates of christmas. :)

dreaming about:  sleeping through the night comfortably.  between getting up to pee every 5 minutes and still trying to figure out how to sleep on my side, the whole “uninterrupted sleep” thing is just not happening these days.