Baby Blue Shower

On Sunday, I had the privilege of hosting a baby shower for a good friend.  We were not only celebrating her pregnancy and impending motherhood but also having a last hurrah as she and her husband are moving to Louisiana.  It was a bittersweet event but mostly sweet, I think!photo 4

Our foundational (sounds important, right?) Book Club, helped me host.  AM brought some stellar and super cute decorations – she rocks at this stuff, obviously, which is why I asked for her help.  Crafty, I am not so much.  And EM was super awesome and not only brought food but came early and helped me put mine together – we were the official taste tasters, especially of the beverages.  She had perfect timing, arriving almost 2 hours early.  I was buzzing with lists in my head at that point, forgetting to read instructions for recipes, and having dogs picked up.  She basically saved the day, stirring things, watching things I left on the stove when people arrived, etc.  #LifeSaver #ShowerSaver  And she brought yummy chicken salad (sans mayo!) and the cheese.  Had to have cheese and crackers.photo 5 photo 3 photo 2

I tried out some new recipes for the day.  One was one inspired by a Pioneer Woman recipe for cheesecake cups.  She put graham cracker crumbs in mini wine glasses, topped with a cheesecake type filling and then with pie filling (homemade and store bought).  I didn’t follow her recipe exactly and actually ended up using pudding filling – one cheesecake flavored and the other lemon.  I saw them while looking for graham cracker crumbs and they just seemed so simple.  I then added some cream cheese to the pudding after following their super simple directions but I forgot to let it soften and I also do not have a mixer so we never quite got the cream cheese to mix fully in.  It kept some clumps but once topped with the topping you could not tell.  And it tasted pretty good, not quote like I imagined but fine.  I will definitely continue to play with that recipe.  For the topping I used frozen blueberries and orange juice with some vanilla.  Easy, delicious.  The problem came when all the recipes for “pie fillings” I researched said to use cornstarch to thicken the sauce, none of them said: “Read the cornstarch box directions before using.”  Therefore, I did not.  And I did not dissolve it in cold water before putting into the mix which created more clumps.  We were able to pick some of it out but…. yea.  So I had a tasty (but not awesome) and kind of clumpy dessert.  But it looked cute.  We topped half of them with nuts.  I have to admit that I am a little disappointed with these – they had potential but fell flat.  photo 1 copy 2I also made a little cocktail/sangria which involved splashing a bunch of stuff into a pitcher hoping it tasted good.  It’s kind of hard to go wrong with these ingredients: 750mL Citrus Vodka, magnum bottle of Chenin Blanc, champagne, lemonade.  Brands don’t really matter and you could probably use any semi-sweet/citrusy white wine, Moscato if you want really sweet, a Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio if lighter.  I also cut up 2 limes and a Granny Smith apple and put them in it.  I made 2 batches at the same time: half the wine in each, a quarter of the vodka and champagne in each and splashes of lemonade. I also served just lemonade and sparkling grape juice for non-alcoholic options (plus water).  I made a 3rd batch after the first two were gone with the rest of the vodka, champagne and lemonade – post party relaxation.  This concoction was awesome, no disappointments here.  (Next time I would add a little sign card that tells what it is because some people thought it was water with lime… oops.)photo 5 copy photo 2 copy 2We served grapes, EM’s chicken salad with mini croissants, mini taquitos, cheese, crackers, hummus, and little petite fours with blue booties from BI-LO’s bakery.  I got several compliments on the petite fours from BI-LO.  I also know that Publix has them but in a smaller size and more $$.

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Some other items to note, I placed children’s books on the table for more decor and also my gift to the mother-to-be and we used one of the larger books as the sign-in book.  I saw this idea at a shower I attended and loved it.  We also made sure to pass around a notebook to get peoples’ addresses for “Mom” so that she would have them for thank you notes.  I think we had about 10 women all-in-all and my friend received some great gifts.  It’s always good when several of the guests are mothers (or pharmacists, in this case) because the gifts are practical and come with advice.  I have been attending several baby showers and keeping little mental notes for the future.  I always learn very interesting things.  I think P would freak out if he heard some of this stuff but I find it fascinating.

Definitely a successful day: 1 recipe win and 1 recipe with potential, and a happy mother-to-be even with a whole lot of sad friends wishing her good-bye and good luck. And a huge shout-out to my fellow hosts and rescuers.  Have you ever had any recipe fails when you try it the day you have to serve it?

Any good baby shower stories to share??

 

Weekend Round-Up

This weekend was great.  Full of friends and fun with very little relaxation but great.  Friday night P and I went to dinner with some of our good friends to…. I’m not sure what verb to use because celebrate isn’t really appropriate and mourn is too much… spend some time before they move to Louisiana.  You may remember E & M from our church supper club.  We’ve been fortunate enough to become close friends over the past year even as our supper club participation dwindled – we just kept hanging out and inviting other friends.  It’s sad to think those days are over but we are definitely excited for this new chapter of their lives as M moves into a new stage of his career and E moves in mommy-hood.  In a later post, I’ll have a rundown of the shower we threw for E on Sunday at our house.  It was fun.

So we ate at the Carolina Ale House where we sat on the lower level but right off the sidewalk.  The doors/windows were open and there was a great breeze.  It was just a nice evening.  I was surprised at how good the seasonal salmon salad was that I ordered – CAH isn’t exactly known for its food.  I was pleasantly surprised.  P had a turkey wrap that also looked good.  We got to see some of the Pulley’s friends that we’ve had dinner with before and I hope that we somehow manage to run into them again even without to aid of our mutual friends.  It was a bittersweet night.  M described it as the last game of high school sports – you are sad to leave but also know that you’re onto bigger things.  We just hope they come to Greenville and visit regularly.  E has become a regular in my life between book club, church, just being friends so I’m already on the lookout for a replacement.  (She’ll know what I mean.)  They’re also not moving too far from our family in New Orleans so I’m anticipating some road trips in the future.

We didn’t stay out late Friday because we got up fairly early Saturday to help my bff move in Asheville.  We woke up to pouring rain which did not have me excited to either be driving mountain roads or moving but fortunately the rain stopped by the time we reached MD’s old apartment.  MD has been moving small carloads over steadily the last 2 weeks so really it was just P and her bf’s muscles that were needed to move the big things.  I really felt kind of useless…told MD I was counting on getting some exercise.  Oh well.  I’m really happy for MD – she’s got a great career, has met a good guy, and now has moved into her first grown-up house, which is really cute.  We were there only a few hours and we got homemade lasagna as payment.  And when I say “homemade,” I mean even the noodles.  I had 2 helpings, it was that good.  I wish we had been able to stay and hang out some more but we had to get home so P could finish the front deck of the house which he had spent the last week tearing down and rebuilding.  I needed to get home to clean for the baby shower.  So, we just had stuff to do.

Saturday night we went to the brand new dueling piano bar downtown, Jack N’ Diane’s, which deserves its own post.  And Sunday’s baby shower does as well.  As you can see, it was a pretty jam-packed weekend.  I think P and I will take it easy this week because I’m pretty sure all of our weekends in August look like this too… should be fun.

 

Gone Girl

I am so glad that we started Book Club because I look forward to it every month… it’s not so much about the book but about the girl time. We had a couple of new ladies join us last night too which was great. By the end of the evening we were reading out book reviews for future books and I was definitely slurring my words – sign of a good time. Luckily, it was at my house so I didn’t have to worry about driving.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn was the book we discussed last month. We actually talked more about it than I think any other previous read. Warning! There may be **spoilers** ahead! I have mixed feelings about this book although I would definitely recommend it because it is a mind bender. I always seem to struggle with books, shows, movies when I don’t connect with or like the main characters. This was the case with Gone Girl – I really disliked the characters. The “hero” was a selfish, weak man who cheated on his wife and basically gave up on his marriage. The “heroine” was a sociopath that framed her own husband with her disappearance and fake death in order to punish him for his infidelity. I have to applaud the author for how well this plot was thought out. There was the fake story, the real story, and lots of twists and turns.

I’m really bad about looking to the back of the book when I cannot figure out what is going to happen and that was definitely the case for Gone Girl. I was able to guess some things but for the most part I had no idea how this story was going to turn out. So I flipped to the back page – everyone does that, right? I was still confused after I read the back page! I could not figure out how the book went from point A to point C. I was obviously missing point B, which is what kept me reading.

A lot of people did not like the ending of this book – *major spoiler ahead* – and I can understand why because Amy is never really brought to justice. No one is able to prove what she did and although Nick is no longer being punished and his life isn’t ruined in the spending the rest of his life in jail for a crime he didn’t commit way, it does kind of get “ruined” in that he now has to deal with Amy forever. But, I liked the ending. A normal ending would not have fit this tale. Nick and Amy have the “happy” reunion, get pregnant (not in a way you’d expect), and basically fake it ’til they make it. They got so good at pretending to be happy that it started to feel real. I just hope they don’t screw up their child…

It was interesting reading this book and being married. It illustrates an exaggerated but very real way that many marriages fail, not just the infidelity but the loss of any effort. It seems like the couple in this book started their relationship trying very hard to be the person they thought the other wanted and eventually it became too difficult so not only did they stop trying to be that person but they stopped trying, period. From that lack of effort they started to hate each other and look for ways to hurt each other or at least avoid their marriage. The husband took an expected route by cheating but the wife took it to a whole other psycho level.

I really took this to heart – not the psycho part but the never stop trying part. It is really easy to just get used to a person always being in your life, taking them for granted. I don’t want to ever take P for granted or our marriage. Some days it is just so easy to be together that we both get lazy but this book was kind of a pre-wake-up call… don’t get too lazy! Never stop showing that you care or appreciate your spouse. Never stop working on your marriage because as soon as that happens it can start to crumble and before you know it one of us will be staging our kidnapping and framing the other although I highly doubt either of us would be smart enough to execute it like Amy did. So thank you Gillian Flynn for putting some deeper meaning into your kind of “f”-ed up book. Amy and Nick’s “happy ending” has helped remind me of ways to protect my own.

Book Club – The Heavy

It’s been a while since I posted about Book Club and we are on our 4th (?) meeting this month!  I’m awful at reviewing books apparently.  I think I may read too many and all the details get jumbled and I just never remember any specifics.  Of course, I’ve never been that person who can spout off movie quotes but I’m great with plot lines and overal feedback.

Our first two books were actually memoirs about motherhood.  One of our members is pregnant (didn’t know when books were selected) and the rest of us are at that age and have lots of friends who are having babies.  They seemed pretty appropriate for our first books and they were both easy reads.15796987

Our first book was The Heavy: A Mother, A Daughter, A Diet.  I was expecting this book to inspire some controversy as it is about a woman who has to put her 7 year old daughter on a diet.  The daughter’s doctor diagnosed her as obese and the book follows the heartache, the decisions, the judgement that the mother/daughter duo go through as they battle to get to a healthy weight.  This book really made me think about the issues from different perspectives.  I mean what would I do if I was told my child was obese?  What decisions would I make in order to get her healthy?  Would I also put my own body issues onto my child?  There were also some diet ideas that the mom follows that made me think about how I look at food and dieting.  Like what is more important when trying to lose weight: eating healthy/nutritional food that may have denser calories or eating low calorie foods that may have less nutritional value?  The book made it seem like the end all, be all way to lose weight was reducing calories, no matter the kind of calories.  I don’t totally agree with this.  I mean, yes you need to reduce calorie intake, but I also think you have to eat healthy, nutritious, well-balanced foods.  And yes, I think you have to cheat every once in a while or otherwise you’ll never stick to the path.  Then again, I’ve never dieted in my life so who am I to have an opinion??  I just try to eat healthy and I’ve never counted calories although maybe I should because I’m putting on that after wedding weight.  (Ugh.)

One of my big issues with the “diet” in the book is the mother’s take on exercise.  She doesn’t think exercise is worth it because you have to intake more calories to get an effective workout… Logically, it kind of makes sense.  I mean, when I do hot yoga I probably do eat more on those days because I’ve burned more but I truly feel like exercise has more than just a burn calories purpose.  Exercise helps with confidence, leveling stress, changing your body, increasing muscle mass and therefore metabolism, toning muscles, heart health, and so much more.

I’m not an expert and the mother in this book doesn’t claim to be either so don’t listen to either of us when making real life decisions about health BUT I do think this book triggered some good thought and good discussion in our little book club.  And isn’t that what it is all about?  I would have loved to have some already parents in our club for this read because I think they would have added a whole other level to the discussion.  None of us have children so we could not realistically comment on what this mother’s struggle was like.  I do know that I will be more conscious of judging any mom’s decisions because of how the judgement of other moms was depicted.  It was sad to see that there is this woman who is dealing with a real health issue for her child and there just didn’t seem to be any support from other mothers.

The idea of being totally responsible for another person is scary.  I mean, how does a 7 year old become obese?  How do you keep it from happening?  How do you protect your child from anything, period?  Parenthood – there are obviously no clear answers but if anyone finds an instruction manual let me know!