“All You Need Is Love…”

And, maybe some paper, glue, scissors… This Valentine’s Day post is obviously a bit late, but it’s better than never. David and I agreed (well, I told him my idea and he was on board) to do something handmade for Valentine’s. Although I appreciate the sentiment, I feel it somewhat silly that David should spend twice as much (maybe more) on roses or any other flower because it’s Valentine’s. I prefer spontaneous flowers, anyway. I also don’t think it’s a one-way street where only a man should get a woman a gift. While we did go out for dinner last year, we usually make a nice dinner at home for this particular holiday. Basically, David wanted to be responsible for dinner, and I had plenty of ideas for what I would make for him.

Using an idea I saw here, I decided to make David a “love” message board.

I modified it slightly (mostly because Harrison took a couple of the rosettes off twice, and I was getting tired of re-gluing) by putting some velcro on the frame and back of the rosettes. I also put some velcro on the back of the frame and the wet-erase marker. It has been a nice way to leave “love” notes to each other. I have kept track of our messages in a little notebook so we can look back at what we wrote. We use to always leave each other notes, and we may have gotten a little off track with that since having Harrison and everything else.

Like I said, David made dinner for us, and he went all out – appetizer and everything. He looked around on my Pinterest boards, and made some delicious dishes, starting with eggplant fries drizzled with honey and sea salt. Harrison almost couldn’t stop eating them to have the rest of his meal. Next, we had an avocado salad, followed by grilled balsamic-garlic encrusted pork tenderloin and roasted seasonal vegetables. I can’t gush enough over my husband and how much it meant that he slaved away in the kitchen like that. Harrison and I made dessert earlier in the day (he wanted in on the handmade process, too) – vanilla cupcakes that we cut into thirds so we could put our homemade whip cream between the layers. We dusted them with powdered sugar and topped them off with raspberries and a bit of chocolate sauce. High impact with little effort. Gotta love it.

Harrison also made a great card for his daddy. I got that idea from here.

We cheated a little on Harrison’s gift because we’d already gotten it for him before we decided on the handmade idea. David’s parents gave Harrison a zoo membership for Christmas, and we received a letter in the mail about their adoption program. This year it was for the red panda. Harrison loves all things animal, and he was talking about pandas a lot, recently. We decided to adopt a red panda in Harrison’s name, and he received a stuffed red panda, along with a cool adoption certificate. His name is on a member list at the zoo, as well. To make it even sweeter, the package came with a penguin t-shirt transfer. Harrison loves him some penguins!

It was a wonderful Valentine’s day, and although there’s plenty of love to go around here everyday, it was nice to set aside a special day to talk about how much we love each other and the different ways we can demonstrate that.

The recipes David used for our delicious Valentine’s meal can be found here, here, and here. He just “winged” the roasted vegetables based on other times we’ve made them.

The cupcake “recipe” was an idea from Real Simple magazine that I found in the August 2005 issue. I can’t remember the name of them to search the website, but I’m sure you could find it there. 

Egg-cellent Weekend

Okay, so it’s kind of a corny title, but it fit with the Easter theme of this post. Last weekend was the first Easter Harrison could actively participate in. Last year, he happily gazed at his Easter goodies from a bouncer, probably wondering what was going on. He was only 4 months old at the time, so he couldn’t crawl to find any eggs or sit up and grab the things in his basket.

This year, I got excited about Harrison being able to engage in the Easter festivities. We had such a fun time celebrating with Nana, Aunt Katie, and our neighbors last weekend. Friday morning, Nana, Harrison and I went to story time at Barnes and Noble with our neighbor, Katie, and her two children Rin and Abe. We listened to Happy Easter, Curious George, and then Curious George showed up. Harrison wasn’t so sure about this. He did eventually decide it was okay if I held him to go over and say “hi”, but that was it. I am completely fine with him not wanting to hug a person dressed up as an animal right now. He much preferred playing with the train table and exploring the kids section.

Our other wonderful neighbors had given us a flyer detailing some Easter events at their church, and when I saw “egg hunt” and David saw “bounce house and moonwalk”, we knew we had to go (and take Harrison along, of course). I asked around and found out Harrison would be able to easily find eggs since they just plopped the eggs on the ground for the 1s and 2s to pick up. It was also nice because they set a limit of 7 eggs/child to make sure everyone got just enough to make them happy. Well, it was a good thing they also said they would announce if children could gather more after a set time because Harrison didn’t get the hang of it until his 5th egg, and he was on a mission. He didn’t know what was inside the eggs (candy for Mommy and Daddy), but he enjoyed shaking them to make music. He already knew how to open them from some eggs his sitter sent home with him, so as soon as we got home, I dumped the candy into a bag that went into the pantry and put some Annie’s cheese bunnies and Gorilla Munch into the eggs. I don’t mind some sweets, but I’m pretty sure the people who put the candy in the eggs were assuming the parents were the ones eating it (Starburst, Nerds, and DoubleBubble graced the inside).

Before the egg hunt, Harrison had fun walking around with his balloon (2nd favorite thing beside the egg hunt), going down the huge inflatable slide with Daddy, bouncing around in the mini bounce house, and playing other games. The church really did an excellent job catering to all age groups with the activities they had planned and it was a great layout. Right before the egg hunt, they shared the Easter story. Again, they had a bear tell it (I think this is something they use with the children at this church a lot. Otherwise, I wasn’t sure why a bear. ), which made it easier for Harrison to pay attention. He seemed enamored with this “talking” bear.

Later that afternoon, Aunt Katie was kind enough to hide the eggs several times for Harrison to find. We started out trying to “help” him, but he didn’t need our guidance. He had quite the eye for the eggs. I was worried he might keep expecting something inside of them, but he actually just enjoyed the “hunt” and all the cheering we did when he found the eggs. I should’ve made Aunt Katie wear our bunny ears while she hid them. Darn it. There’s always next year.

Saturday night, David assembled a wagon for Harrison. This is funny because we purchased this as a Christmas gift, but after the generosity of family and friends, we decided to hold onto it for later. It made sense anyway since it was highly unlikely we would be pulling Harrison in a wagon in the winter months. I found some cute apple baskets at Michael’s that we used as Easter baskets and put a few bath toys and books in one for Harrison. Again, we didn’t really have to get him anything as both sets of grandparents took care of that. His favorites were a touch and feel Peter Rabbit book from his Nana and Grandpa B., a dalmatian toy from PaPa and Grammy K., and a Sing-A-Ma-Jig from us.

Sunday morning we went to Mass and then came home to have a walk with the wagon and one more indoor Easter egg hunt. Nana and Aunt Katie had to head back shortly after lunch, and by then Harrison was one tired little boy. He slept that afternoon from 12:45 – 4, and we had to wake him up! He was not too happy with us, and he was ready for bed again at 7:00. He had such a busy, fun-filled weekend, that he needed extra sleep.

That was our “egg-cellent” weekend. Hope you all had a wonderful Easter weekend, too.

Ladies’s Christmas Tea

This past Friday, I was blessed to join my friend and neighbor at her church’s annual Ladies’s Christmas Tea. I was very excited when she invited me and described the event. An old co-worker of mine has talked about and posted pictures from a similar event that her church hosts each year during the Christmas season. It was a night full of beautiful tables, women, food, and fellowship. I sat with a lively bunch of women ladies who made me feel so welcome. This was a “ladies only” event, but the servers were all men. That made the night that much better.

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It came as no surprise that our family had so much to be thankful for this past year. Last Thanksgiving was pretty splendiferous since Harrison had just been born, but now that Harrison can actually stay awake for longer than 20 minutes at a time, it was a lot more fun this year. We got an early start on family time when Uncle Kevin arrived Monday afternoon.

Playing with Uncle Kevin

David’s parents arrived Tuesday night, but we didn’t get to spend a lot of time with them until Wednesday. Speaking of Wednesday, I didn’t get the “original” turkey out of the freezer until Wednesday morning (oops) so we had to get another one that afternoon. I think we could’ve made the first one work, but someone would’ve had to been constantly changing out water and patting the turkey. Not what anyone wants to be doing when there’s family to spend time with. Instead, we had a fresh turkey ready to cook in the morning and spent Wednesday evening going out to dinner and then baking and prepping food while drinking wine and chatting. Much better!

Thursday went so smoothly, I wouldnt’ have thought we were making a Thanksgiving meal for 7 people. We had the turkey in the oven by 8 and then took our time with the rest of the meal and ate by 11:30. We had to eat a little early because, sadly, Kevin had to go back to Connecticut that afternoon. I would like to take this moment to bow and receive my applause because not only did he get a fantastic meal (with Nancy’s help), but also enjoyed homemade pumpkin pie with homemade whip cream. Actually, I can’t believe I hadn’t made my own whip cream before. It was so easy, and you can add any flavor to it that you want. I just used vanilla, but it would be delightful with almond extract, lemon, or hazelnut.

The rest of the day we spent watching football, drink more wine, eating dessert and taking a walk. Katie, Nancy, and I even caught a movie. And the men had bought slaved over dinner while we were gone.  It was awesome! I am use to leftovers for dinner, but Chinese was great, too. And the fact that I didn’t have to do anything was even better. A viewing of,  “It’s Thanksgiving, Charlie Brown” that night made the day complete. I was a happy lady.

On Friday, we braved the weather and crowds and got massages ;). Yep, no early shopping for us this year. Last year I didn’t mind because I had to be up with Harrison anyway, but not this year. We ladies got massages, did some shopping downtown Wake Forest, and had lunch out. Then we came back while the men went out and did a little more shopping with Harrison. David went to a comedy show with his family that night while I gladly was forced to stay home and watch a romantic comedy and drink a glass of wine with some popcorn (no, I am not an alcoholic. But, if you’re counting, that’s 3 glasses in as many days).

Saturday we had a nice family breakfast here at the house and David’s parents  headed out with his sister, Katie, to an estate sale in Raleigh. We met them for lunch before everyone headed back home. A hush fell over our home Saturday afternoon because it was just the 4 of us.  It was such a wonderful time with family, and I am so thankful they came to us to celebrate Thanksgiving. We felt so loved and blessed to know we are surrounded by such beautiful people.

Sunday we spent the day as a family playing, taking an adventurous walk in the woods and talking to my family on Skype. It honestly does not get much better. Except for at Christmas, when we get to see everyone in person again. The holidays are truly magical. Okay, I will stop being so sappy, as tradition has been these past few posts, share a little slide show of pictures from our wonderful Thanksgiving.

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