Monday, October 20, 2014

Baking Up a Little Autumn

Even though this here blog might not show it, I've been doing pretty well at going through my "To-Enjoy List" for autumn. Just last week, Matt and I went to the Thriller dance performance (so fun!), and I finally squeezed in a mini fall photo walk last weekend while we still have some leaves.

While I still haven't mustered up the stomach to try anything with pumpkin yet (the second trimester is going better, but not that much better), I did manage to make up a dish that just screams fall. No, really---it screams it. Watch out.

The best part about the whole dish? It helped alleviate some of the guilt I've been feeling because we haven't hardly used any produce from our garden since most of it makes me feel nauseated. Cheers to that!

Apple-a-Day Casserole (from Taste of Home's Prize-Winning Recipes 2007)

6 medium tart apples, peeled and sliced
6 medium carrots, thinly sliced
1/2 cup orange juice
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons cold butter

Combine apples and carrots; place in a greased shallow 2-qt. baking dish. Drizzle with orange juice. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until carrots are crisp-tender.

In a bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and nutmeg; cut in butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over apple mixture. Bake, uncovered, for 10-15 minutes longer or until the carrots are tender.

Happy fall baking!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

A Shifting of Priorities

I made a comment today that pregnancy has made me feel like a completely different person--one I've never met before, and one I'm definitely not used to. If you had asked me before to describe myself in 3 words, one word that I would ALWAYS include on the list would be "motivated."

Pregnancy has changed that word.

Even though I'm officially in the second trimester and feeling a bit more energetic and a lot less sick, I have found that the shift in priorities that came three months ago is still in effect--

Before, I spent an inordinate amount of time and energy worrying about the presentability of my apartment, my weight and overall fitness level, my to-do lists, my wardrobe, how many books I'd finished that month, the level of traffic on this here blog, etc. It's like I had this constant mental picture of what I wanted my life to be like and was constantly measuring myself against it to see if I was there or not.

(I'll let you in on a secret--I was rarely measuring up to where I thought I should be.)

The waning energy levels and morning sickness of last trimester made me quickly realize that I couldn't care about all that as much anymore. I no longer had the energy for much housework or extra grooming, to-do lists become somewhat of a joke, and--irony of ironies--reading makes this here English teacher feel even sicker to her stomach than usual, so I haven't touched a book in months.

My non-pregnant brain never could have grasped this level of un-motivated-ness. I would have judged myself for my complete and utter lack of concern about all the things I "should" be doing to keep up with outer appearances.

Now, I am in this almost-blissful state where I simply pour my energy into the most essential tasks for each day, and I let myself go for the rest of it.

It's pretty liberating, actually.

 Now, this is not to say I haven't been busy--I'm still putting in 50+ hours at the school to take care of all my teaching responsibilities, and in addition, I've been putting 10-15 hours a week into my photography business. I also got a new church calling (I'm in the stake young women presidency now), and I try to pull myself together enough to make sure that Matt doesn't feel neglected through all this.

And even though listing all of it out like that makes it seem like an exhaustive amount of work, just the fact that I've allowed myself to just go easy on myself for the rest of the things in my life has made it all seem do-able. In fact, I haven't felt this relaxed about life in general since before I started my teaching job. 

So even though pregnancy is still not my favorite, I have it to thank for this newfound loosening up.

Thanks, baby.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Thoughts on Pregnancy {Part One}

 (pics taken on the day we found out we were expecting)

First of all, THANK YOU for your warm wishes and congratulations on yesterday's post. 
I have felt overwhelmed with love the past 24 hours, and I appreciate all your kind comments!

When I first found out I was pregnant, I was dying to talk about it all the time, 
so I started writing some of my thoughts down. Here's the first little bit.
(I am almost 13 weeks as of this posting, and I wrote down these thoughts about 5 weeks ago.)

As I write this, I am currently two days away from being 8 weeks pregnant, and we haven't told a single person yet. I'm dying to tell people, of course, but I want to wait until we have our first ultrasound and appointment with the doctor before blabbing our big news (even to our families). It's hard keeping it in though, especially since I've been hit with almost every pregnancy symptom in the book and have already gained quite a bit of weight, which has totally thrown me for a loop. But let me start at the beginning.

Matt and I aren't like a lot of other newlywed couples in this particular area of the world when it comes to expanding our family---we knew we'd be waiting awhile to have kids, and so we sailed by our first three years of marriage perfectly content with just the two of us (despite the questions from well-meaning friends, family, and even strangers about when we were going to have kids already). In fact, as I've mentioned in a post before, I've NEVER been baby hungry; I just always hoped that at some illusive point, I'd just magically know when it was time to get pregnant and be fine enough with the whole idea of it.

I know that backstory isn't exactly romantic or exciting--but what can I say? I didn't have any desire to get married until right before we got engaged, and so I wasn't exactly surprised when the baby syndrome played out similarly. Basically, Matt and I had always  had it decided that as soon as Matt graduated with his bachelor's degree, we would start trying (mostly due to my age, not because we'd be in any kind of good financial situation to do so). We also knew that the insurance would likely be coming through my teaching job, so there was the issue of timing within the framework of a school year to think about too, which meant we were basically hoping to plan to have the baby in the summer, if at all possible.

I had my IUD removed at the end of May, and we found out we were pregnant at the beginning of August. Although a part of my brain panicked (because our timing was a little early--we had only started trying as early as we did just in case we ran into problems), I overall felt a sense of calm and excitement about the whole thing. I always thought I'd be totally panicked when I got pregnant (just because I've heard so many horror stories about pregnancy and labor and delivery), but both Matt and I were surprisingly calm after I got that first positive plus sign. In fact, for several weeks at the beginning, it's almost like life just went on as usual, and I wondered if I'd just imagined the whole thing (despite the two positive pregnancy tests I'd taken).

Then, in my sixth week, my body started reacting so strongly to the pregnancy that there was no question in my mind what was really going on. I started to get the most intense nausea (right before the school year started, so convenient!), and I couldn't find the motivation to do anything--not housework, not running errands, not even standing up more than normal. The cravings started innocently enough (I've always been one to crave certain foods though), but it soon got to the point that the only thing my body decided it could stomach was whatever I happened to be craving at that moment. Everything else made me feel devastatingly sick, especially if I happened to get a whiff of it. By week 7, my morning sickness was so bad that it was waking me up at night and doubling me over during the day (although as of this writing, I still haven't actually thrown up yet).

And now, as I near the 8-week mark, I wonder if every single one of my coworkers has guessed what's happening---I mean, when you feel as sick I have and need to be eating every two seconds (and because I've gained about 10 pounds since May), it's hard to work full-time and keep it a secret from those around you (especially since I've been wearing Sea Bands 24/7 to try and stay atop of the nausea). Sometimes I want to tell just one more person so my poor husband isn't having to constantly listening to me moan about how awful I feel, but I really want to have the ultrasound first.

Just two and a half more weeks to go.

Update: I didn't actually make it two and a half weeks before telling people. I needed someone to commiserate with, so Matt and I ended up spilling the beans to our families at 9 weeks. Oops!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Required Reading

Looks like Matt and I have some required reading to do...
 good thing we've got until April 12 to do it!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Birthday Week

Well folks, I'm 28 big ones today. You wanna know how I celebrated? By having to work over 12 hours due to parent-teacher conferences while running on way less sleep than normal.

Luckily, although Matt nor I celebrated much for our birthdays this year (his was last week), we have an awesome trip coming up to look forward to.

Even though this school year is going off much more easily than last year's did, I still feel like I never have time for anything, which includes blogging. I apologize for the silence around here lately--I'm hoping I can get back on the blogging train soon enough.

For now, I'm just grateful for how rosy 28 looks already--sure, we don't really know what all is going to be happening over the next year (since Matt and I are in the process of applying to PT school again), but what we do know looks pretty promising.

Here's looking at you, 28---

Monday, September 15, 2014

Oh Sure--All of our Saturdays Look This Grand...

Well, we got a good start on my to-enjoy list for fall---right after I hit "publish" on my last post, I looked up the info on the closest you-pick apple orchard and found that it opened that very same day! Since mine and Matt's Saturday didn't have anything else set in stone, we packed ourselves up in our Buick and drove off to Paradise (literally, that's the name of it) to the cutest darn orchard you ever did see.

Welcome to Paradise Valley Orchard, an organic farm that boasts 23 varieties of apples and the best homemade cider I think I've ever had. We were helped right away by one of the staff, who pointed out which varieties were already ripe and then turned us loose with a bucket apiece.

I'd never been to a you-pick place before, but Matt and I have already decided to go back again and again. Not only was it the most sun-drenched, breezy autumn day, but as soon as we sunk our teeth into the first dusky, crisp apple, we knew we were going to have to return, and stat (especially when the Red Delicious comes into its own come November). Oh, and the best part? Each pound of apples costs only $1.50.

Yeah, if you're at all in the area, you need to check it out.

It's been awhile since I've done anything outside of work, laundry, cooking, and sleeping (hence the lack of exciting blog posts), so it was refreshing (to say the least) to yank myself out of my routine and get myself out into the beauties of the outside world. It made me even more motivated to check some more items off my fall to-enjoy list.

(Matt doing some heavy lifting after we'd filled our buckets)

Now, if you'll excuse me--I need to go sink my teeth into one of those round orbs of deliciousness that tastes like a perfect blend of summer rains, heavy sunshine, and that fine dust that only seems to coat home-grown apples.

Happy fall, everyone!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

To-Enjoy List: Fall

I seem to always forget how much school consumes my life, especially at the beginning of the year. When you go from having free rein of your time to working 50-60 hours a week, it all of a sudden seems like I have no time for fun anymore (especially since our weekends lately have been taken up by obligations other than relaxing or exploring).

And as I walked out of the school a couple days ago and smelled the crisp scent of leaves in the air and felt that just-cool-enough breeze, I knew that I didn't want to let this beautiful (but fleeting) season pass me by.

I know it's become basically a cliche in Blogland, but here are ten things on my "to-enjoy" list for fall (since "to-do" list seems to take all the pleasure out of it):

1. Make salsa from the fresh produce in our garden. I've hardly done anything with the abundance of vegetables spilling out of our garden beds this year, and even though I've nixed the idea of canning, I think fresh salsa might be just the ticket to remind me why I go through all the work of keeping a garden.

2. Visit a pick-your-own apple orchard. I know it is so cliche, but I've never been and have been craving homegrown apples for weeks now. For anyone around Cache Valley, Utah, we'll be checking out Paradise Valley Orchard for this one!

3. Get tickets for the Odyssey Dance Theater's performance of "Thriller."

4. Use at least one of the cans of pumpkin that's just been sitting there on my shelf gathering dust for two years. I'm thinking one of these two scrumptious recipes above (links below pictures).

5. Go on a fall photo walk. (I'll be doing several family photo shoots in the leaves for my photography business, but I want to make sure I carve out a walk that's just for my fun and enjoyment.)

6. Finally take Matt to North Logan's Pumpkin Walk already! Every year, the city of North Logan puts on this fabulous pumpkin walk featuring some of the most fabulous and creative themed pumpkin displays you've ever seen. Matt has never been, and I haven't been since 2008. Unacceptable, people!

Both boots: Urban Outfitters

7. Invest in a good pair of knee-high boots. I'm not positive how much of an "investment" this can really be (since I know a really good pair of boots is going to run me at least $150-200), but I'm tired of having to buy new boots every winter (esp. since none of them seem to keep moisture out when I'm walking through snow). Considering I've never really bought many things that were much of an "investment," I don't even know where to look. Anyone know of any reputable boot-selling stores?

8. Buy myself some mums to put out on the front porch.

 9. Watch A Charlie Brown Halloween and see if I can find that old Disney (Mickey Mouse) Halloween special. My mom taped the Disney special on VHS tape back when I was like five. I watched it every single year growing up (and then some), so it's become synonymous with all the feel-good parts of Halloween. Now I just need to find it again...

10. Come up with a Thanksgiving tradition for just the two of us. We always do the big family dinner with parents, siblings, nieces/nephews, etc., but I want do come up with something that's just for Matt and me. Any ideas?

Anything I should add to my list?

01 09 10