31 December 2011

My Favorite Things of 2011

While I am getting ready to ring in 2012 with my house full of boys, I just wanted to share some of my favorite finds of 2011.

Nicole Drying Drops

This little bottle has allowed me to FINALLY do my nails again! I used to find a few minutes to paint my nails and then one of the boys would need me and my polish would get all smeared and gross. These drops go right over your top coat (apply 60 seconds or so after your final coat, be that nail polish or top coat) and they will get your nails dry and the polish hard enough to prevent chips and nicks in a couple of minutes. Awesome. It is applied with a tiny eye dropper, just a drop or two per nail and that's it. No brushing, wiping, or anything else time consuming. Plus it contains almond oil and vitamin e for your cuticles. I don't know if it would leave a shine because I use it over a top coat. but I doubt it.

Seche Vite Fast Dry Top Coat

I love this, too. It provides great shine and makes my polish last longer without chipping or peeling. I can usually go 7-10 days before I have to do my nails again when I use this.

Tazo Awake Tea

I really enjoy Tazo teas, but I first found this one while I was in the hospital after Owen was born. I had it with every one of my meals. It's a breakfast tea made from a blend of black teas. Very yummy.

Trader Joe's Triple Ginger Snaps

So good. I don't particularly care for ginger snaps, in general, but when my parents were here for Christmas, my dad had to go to Trader Joe's and get this. And they are amazing. Especially with coffee. They have three types of ginger (ground, fresh, and crystallized) and have a semi-chewy texture but are still very crispy. So delicious.

AF NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8 Lens

Chris gave this lens to me as a birthday gift this year. It takes such great pictures and has really helped me with my composition (it is not a zoom lens so I have to move around to get the shot I want).

Owen Floyd Vaden Bing
I think the picture says it all.

30 December 2011

My 2012 Resolution

My resolution this year is to be more aware of what I am doing with our money and to be more frugal. This is especially important as my paid maternity leave ends next week and I will be taking 2 months of unpaid leave. I especially want to be more conscious of what I am spending at the grocery store. Groceries are so expensive but I think I can save a lot of money there if I start sticking to a meal plan and not impulse buying on the snacks and other yummy things that we probably shouldn't have in the house anyway.

What's your resolution?

18 November 2011

Recipe - Italian Wedding Soup

Last week Casper and I decided we needed to make Italian Wedding Soup. I found a recipe that sounded good, tweaked it a bit, and we made the most delicious soup ever! 


Our meatballs

Finished product!

 I used the recipe from Kitchen Confidante but tweaked it a little. Below is my version.

Italian Wedding Soup

1 small onion, grated
1/3 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 large egg
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
16 ounces ground beef (you can also use a combination of beef and pork, but I try to avoid pork when Ilhana will be eating with us)
Freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons good olive oil
1 cup minced yellow onion
1 cup diced carrots (3 carrots), cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1 cup diced celery (3 stalks), cut into 1/4 inch pieces
10 cups chicken stock
1 cup small pasta (I used ditalini, but orzo would work too)
8-12 ounces baby spinach, washed and trimmed
a few sprigs of fresh dill, chopped
juice from half of a lemon
salt and pepper, to taste

In a medium bowl, combine onion, parsley, egg, garlic, salt, and bread crumbs together. Add the parmesan cheese, ground meat, and pepper and combine. Use a heaping tablespoon size portion to make the meatballs. Set on an ungreased basking sheet and bake at 350 degrees until done.

In a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add the onion, carrots and celery and saute until the onion is transparent, about 7 minutes. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and meatballs, return to a boil, and cook until the pasta is cooked al dente. Taste the broth and adjust the seasoning to your liking with salt and pepper. Add the spinach and dill and simmer for a couple of minutes more, until the spinach is just wilted but still a vibrant green. Stir in lemon juice.

Ladle into bowls and serve with a little extra grated Parmesan cheese.

14 November 2011

And Owen Makes Four

We knew we were going to have a c-section with Owen because of the complications following Casper's birth, and that it would be scheduled for 37 weeks to prevent a possible uterine rupture. The surgery was scheduled for October 18 at 9:00AM, and we were so excited. It was kind of weird knowing when I would be walking into the hospital to have a baby, so unlike last time when Casper came so early and we basically had an emergency c-section followed by serious complications for both of us.

So, Andy, Gwen, Catie, and Joey were in town visiting us the weekend before we were scheduled to have Owen. It was so nice to have them here. It was especially great to have Gwen (who is a nurse) here because I had a couple of "scares" that weekend, just some little bleeding episodes but I wasn't sure if they were normal or not since I had never gone full-term before and experienced the end of a normal pregnancy. But nothing serious happened and talking to Gwen really helped ease my fears about the c-section.

My first c-section was so horrific and traumatic that I was really really really nervous about this one. I was scared about the spinal, I was scared that I would feel the surgery going on, I was scared that something would be wrong with Owen. I think that was normal considering the only other c-section experience I had ever had. But Gwen kept reassuring me that a scheduled c-section would be completely different and she was right.

We arrived at Inova Fairfax Hospital at 7:30AM to do paperwork and get prepped for surgery. Our doctor, Dr. Kelly from Capital Women's Care Alexandria, was so great. She came by several times to keep us updated because another of her patients went into labor and we got pushed back. Many of the OR staff came by to check in on us, too, including an anesthesiologist that began telling me all about the complications the surgeon might encounter and what they would have to do in case. She had no business telling us any of this since she wasn't our doctor and it didn't have anything to do with anesthesia, and I got really upset. Chris told me later that he spoke to Dr. Kelly about it before she came into the OR and apparently Dr. Kelley ended up telling the anesthesiologist not to talk to her patients again.

Anyway, I walked into the OR (again, very different from my previous c-section in which I was rolled in on a bed). The OR was huge, very bright and clean, and very cold. I was pretty nervous about the spinal, but Boris, one of the anesthesiologists, walked me through it, reminding me to keep breathing and distracting me. He was great.

After that it went so quickly. Chris came in and sat next to me holding my hand, they started the surgery and Owen was with us before we knew it. I saw Owen for a couple of minutes before he and Chris were taken to the recovery room and my surgery was finished up. Dr. Kelly said that everything went very well and she was able to clean up a lot of the scar tissue from the previous surgery. In fact, my doctors in Hawaii said that I shouldn't have more than one more pregnancy (meaning Owen), but Dr. Kelly is confident that everything looks so good there that I can have another baby if we want to, so that was really good news (although it will be a LONG time before I am ready to go through this again!).

It was so wonderful to have Owen with us after such a long and stressful pregnancy. I was so relieved to have the surgery go so well and be done with it so I could concentrate on my new little one. I was brought to recovery right away and able to hold Owen and we were soon brought to our hospital room.

I can't believe it has been 4 weeks (tomorrow) since Owen joined our family. Casper has finally gotten used to having a baby around, and calls him "my Owen." We are finally starting to get a nighttime routing down and getting used to the lack of sleep. I am so excited to have these two boys grow up together and can;t wait to see what life has in store for them.

10 November 2011

Happy 236th Birthday!

Happy 236th Birthday to the USMC!

Happy birthday to all of you Marines out there, and especially to my favorite Marine, my wonderful husband, Chris! 

Chris and Clarissa at Kaneohe Marine Corps Base Hawaii, June 2003

09 November 2011

Latest Adventures of Casper

I hope to get around to writing about Owen's birth today (and I really will try to since he is now 3 weeks old)! But since I got about 2.5 hours of sleep last night it might not happen. Until then here are some pictures of Casper's latest adventures.

Chris and Casper have had a blast raking up and playing in the leaves. The weather has been so great here lately and the changing trees so beautiful.