Mommy’s solo day out.

Ahhh… yes. The loner in me got to breathe a big sigh of relief on Monday when I got my very first "Mommy's solo day out." OMG… how I needed that. My mom and dad were kind enough to take LJ off my hands for the day so I could go out and do… WHATEVER I WANTED. I've forgotten what that felt like! Here's what I did:

Visited Last Chance. What a madhouse. This article sums up the experience nicely. I got two rad pairs of shoes for a fraction of their original price- SCORE!

Went to Macy's where I fell in love with and purchased a new backpack that we will be using as a diaper bag. It's perfect! Waterproof, lightweight, and SOLD OUT EVERYWHERE. Is it back to school season or something? I wasn't super nuts about the pattern initially, but it quickly grew on me. It's by Le Sport Sac, and in my humble opinion, with all the cloth diapers we have to carry around, it works so much better for us than the Petunia Pickle Bottom bag I was eyeing earlier this week… even though I love that pattern with an everlasting love.

Backpack diaper bag

I enjoyed my new favorite treat, fresh mint frozen yogurt with thin mint cookies, at Mojo Yogurt at the Biltmore. I'm slightly obsessed with this combo and think I might die if they ever stop carrying that flavor.

I ended my day by going to see this all by my solo:

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And now… all I want to do is eat pizza and drink red wine. Therefore, to feed this craving, Cody and I will be visiting Pizzeria Bianco for the very first time like… right now. We will need a babysitter for this outing. Any takers?

Pizzeria Bianco

I kind of can't stand the thought of waiting another second to eat their world-famous pizza… heck, if I can't go to Naples for my pizza like Julia Roberts did, this is no doubt a close second!

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{Pizzeria Bianco photos via The Girl Who Ate Everything}

The hubby called and texted during the movie wondering where I was and I got back to him after the movie got out. He was in a tremendously good mood, considering the fact that I had been out having fun doing things like shopping and watching movies all day long while he was at work slaving away. Then I caught on that perhaps HE was enjoying his solo time too. And he was. So I took my time getting home so he could savor it while he could.

Needless to say, as much as I enjoyed my day, I couldn't wait to get back to this face and get home to her daddy.

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Diaper bags.

Before Linnea was born, I had plans to make diaper bags for Cody and myself. I had already gotten an awesome Amy Michelle bag from three dear friends of mine when I was in Minnesota for my friend's wedding, but if you know me you know I like to have options… plus I like to make things 🙂

I set out with my mom for fabric and found some wonderful patterns at JoAnn. In a perfect world, I would have been able to find some amazing oilcloth while we were there, but as much as I love JoAnn, they don't carry any of the stuff. It's actually incredibly hard to find anywhere, which is unfortunate because oilcloth is waterproof and super easy to clean! Someday I'll find the perfect oilcloth and the perfect project to use it for. But I digress.

I immediately fell in love with this book by Lotta Jansdotter, a Scandinavian artist and designer, and used it for the very simple pattern for Cody's daddy diaper bag. I took Cody to JoAnn so he could pick out the cloth he wanted to use, and we ended up with army green canvas and bright orange rip-stop fabric for the lining. We also got flourescent orange reflector ribbon for the accent. Here's a couple of details:

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I made my bag a bit bigger because it would also multitask as a purse- and it needed lots of pockets! My mom had the great idea to cut out some of the flowers on the inside liner fabric and applique them to the outside of the bag. I also used quilting batting to thicken it up a bit since it's so big. Here's the finished product:

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And here's both of the bags:

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I was pretty stoked when I had it on its first day out and got a compliment on it from the cashier at Bookmans 🙂

My next project is to take this shirt and make it into a dress for Linnea! Anyone know of any great tutorials?

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Favorite meal of September… so far.

Cody and I have been strictly adhering to the meal plan we put together at the beginning of the month in an effort to save as much money as possible while I work on seeking out alternative sources of income. Last night, we made Fruity Turkey-Rice Pilaf from one of our favorite cookbooks, Betty Crocker's Healthy New Choices: A Fresh Approach to Eating Well. It's loaded with lean protein, fiber- and antioxidant-rich dried fruit, and yummy wild rice pilaf with herbs. The recipe is so easy, and the leftovers are delicious! I ended up with some extra rice pilaf, so I added more turkey and fruit and we were fed well two nights in a row. Since I didn't have green onions on hand, I used chopped white onion and it was a great substitute. I wish I had a picture to share, but take my word for it- it looks as good as it tastes!

1/2 lb. ground turkey breast
4 medium green onions
2 cups water
1 package (6 3/4 oz.) quick-cooking long grain and wild rice mix seasoned with herbs
1/2 cup dried cherries or cranberries (I used cherry-flavored cranberries- yum!)
1/2 cup chopped dried peaches or apricots
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg or cinnamon (I used both)

Spray 3-qt. saucepan with cooking spray; heat over medium heat. Cook turkey and onions in saucepan about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until turkey is no longer pink. Stir in water and seasoning packet from rice mix. Heat to boiling, stirring occasionally; reduce heat to low.

Stir in rice, cherries, peaches and nutmeg. Cover and simmer about 5 minutes or until rice is tender and fruits are heated through.

Makes 4 servings.

Side note: If you buy a less-expensive but non-quick cooking rice box like we did (the kind that takes 25 minutes or so to cook), you have to alter the cooking process a bit, otherwise you may end up with mushy fruit and overcooked turkey. It's a good idea to start making the rice separately while the turkey and onions are cooking. After the turkey is browned and the onions are cooked, I added the fruit and nutmeg/cinnamon and let that heat through while the rice finished. Then I added the rice to the turkey/fruit mixture and let it cook an additional five minutes.

Voila! Super easy, uber healthy, and mega delicious!

This meal is complete enough to serve on its own, or pre-game it with a mixed-green or cucumber salad!

Much-needed creative inspiration.

I spent a lot of time researching ideas, recipes, and work opportunities over the past few days, and part of me gets a little overwhelmed by all the goals and projects I want to tackle with Baby Girl on the way. I spent all of last week getting distracted by various things instead of baking the zucchini bread I kept saying I would make, and finally I got around to it last night. We're talking like a week of procrastinating here, people. I'm kind of tired of living life that way- flying by the seat of my pants, somewhat organized but mostly not, with a hodgepodge of ideas and no concrete plan to implement them into anything tangible. What I am lacking is a plan. So here are a few of my findings to jump-start things:

Other than my desire for very pale pink walls, I haven't gotten very far with a nursery design. I'm the type of person who needs to see something concrete in order for the random ideas that are floating around in my head to take any sort of shape. On my blogging jaunts today, I stumbled across Project Nursery, a site FULL of design ideas, inspiration boards, real nursery designs, and DIY projects. LOVE IT. It's just what I needed to start really planning Baby Girl's nursery!

While on that site, I saw a button for a business that sounded vaguely familiar: TomKat Studio. When I clicked on the page, I remembered seeing this local mom's business featured in our town's magazine, Go Gilbert. Her blog is simply adorable- chock full of her designs, finds, and Cupcake Monday. I mean, who can beat that? Yes, please! I'll take Cupcake Monday!

A few other favorite blogs: luvinthemommyhood, Happy Together (especially the tutorials like this one), and My Mama Made It. Blogs are a dime a dozen these days, but well-designed, well-written blogs that are actually useful and teach you how to do something are priceless.

While at B+N the other day, I found this book
and knew that it was a must-have on my reading list. I discovered her site today, Work at Home Success, and it is a great resource for lost souls like me who have no idea where to begin or look for legitimate at-home work. Ideally, I would like to freelance as a virtual assistant or copy editor but I need some sort of direction in order to learn how to secure clients, file taxes, etc. so that I don't get overwhelmed by trying to figure out the ins and outs of running a business AND caring for a newborn. I only have about four months to figure this out, so if you know any other great resources out there, crafty or business-related, send them my way!

The Two Ns.

Names and nurseries.

After a post-ultrasound celebratory brunch at Cracker Barrel (yeah, we're redneck like that), Cody went off to work and I went straight to Target to scout out their baby name books. I left with The Complete Book of Baby Names: The Most Names (100,001+), Most Unique Names, Most Idea-Generating Lists (600+) and the Most Help to Find the Perfect Name and went straight to work reading through all the lists, names and definitions, and have come up with a list of… eight names. And I'm all the way through the letter "O" right now. If there are 100,001+ names in this book, half of which are girl names, and I am more than halfway through the alphabet and have only come up with eight names… either the book stinks or I am incredulously picky.

The funny thing is, as I flipped through the pages while lying in bed the other night while Cody was trying to drift off to sleep (not something that was going to happen with a wife full of name ideas at his side), one name in particular popped randomly into my head, one that fit perfectly with the middle name we both like, and I asked him what he thought of it. His response: "I thought of that name earlier too. I like it."

Oh really?

"Like, this same name? Randomly popped into your head? Because I'm not even in the right section of this book to come across it right now. I just thought of it out of nowhere. And you did too? What do you think that means? Is it a SIGN from GOD? IS THIS OUR DAUGHTER'S NAME?!!!"

"Perhaps. Weird, I know. I like it. Going to sleep now…"

So the same name randomly pops into both of our heads and we both like it? What are the odds? Of course I wanted to analyze this at midnight the night before a maddeningly early morning for my husband, but I decided to spare him and turned out the light after a few extra minutes of searching. There were some cute names I made note of, but the whole time, that one name kept ringing in my head.

And no, it's not on our preliminary name list. I think the only way we would revert back to that is if I give birth, and a boy pops out.

And no, we're not telling you the name. For now, anyway.

Second on my list: the nursery. My whole life, I always vowed that if I was having a girl, I would NEVER be The Pink Mom. Pink is dumb! Pink is so cliche! Pink is for sissies! Pink Moms are SO ANNOYING!

Well, guess what. I am now The Pink Mom I swore I'd never be.

I am having visions of ever-so-pale pink walls, white lace, bird decorations (kinda trendy but I dig it), fresh flowers in mason jars, splashes of green and yellow, crocheted blankets, fluffy pillows… I know, I'm already getting completely ridiculous. As much as I wanted to be the mom who would do something different when it comes to her children's decor, I am a total sucker for pink. Not just any pink, though: it has to be pale pink. Bright colors have to be done just so in order for me to consider going there. My parents painted my room Pepto-Bismol pink when I was a kid, and looking back now, I'm not sure how my head didn't spontaneously combust. But I'm sure that it was a good idea at the time, given that it was the early 80s, and so many things were acceptable in the 80s that should simply never be mentioned EVER AGAIN.

I'm currently scouting the blogosphere for nursery ideas and would love to hear your favorites. So far I'm a big fan of Making It Lovely, The Lovely Little Things, and Craftynest. They aren't nursery/baby specific but have some great ideas. I love to be creative, and get some really great ideas in my head, but sometimes putting the ideas to paper or into existence requires some tactile inspiration that I have to see in order to fully realize my own visions. Shoot me some of your favorites and I will get this show on the road!

And finally, I can hardly stand another second of living without my new sewing machine, courtesy of Amma. I want to have craft days with my mom and grandma with all three of our sewing machines zipping along, making some of the cutest little girlie items ever for the fourth generation in the room. Oh, and perhaps a fancy new camera with which to document our adventures and finds- one of these days, anyway. For now, my ghetto Canon Elph with the broken, taped on battery case cover will have to suffice.