November 6, 2012

First year anniversary weekend

Yesterday was mine and Todd's first year anniversary!

I have to admit, sadly, with our first baby on the way neither of us had really thought too much about our anniversary.  We've been pretty consumed with baby prep and not so much how we would celebrate.  

In fact, the trip we took to Denver this weekend was initially set up to do some baby shopping.  Then we put two and two together and realized it was also our anniversary weekend, so we modified our trip to fit in some couple time.  Kinda sad, I know!

We had dinner at a fabulous restaurant in Cherry Creek, Denver called North.  It serves modern Italian cuisine that is just de-lish!  We both had the salmon filet with faro and it...was...perfect!  I'm salivating now just thinking about it.  

Afterwards, we went out for a drink.  Well, Todd had a drink.  I had a club soda and lime...

The next day we got down to bid-ness with baby shopping.  Denver was pretty much a bust.  We didn't find a single thing we needed there.  Ft. Collins, Colo., however, was a total win!  We found everything we were looking for there!

We also attended a "diapering class" for cloth diapers, which is something we're considering.  I'll chat more about this in the future, but to ease your minds - we are not doing it the old school way with folded material, pins and a plastic shell.  Those are still out there...but cloth diapering has come a long way since then and we're considering a different route.  But - more on that later!  Here's a pic of the instructor demonstrating some of the diapers...

The one big item we've had trouble figuring out is a nursery chair.  While Casper has many furniture stores to choose from, none of them have anything I would use for a nursery chair.  A big, fatty, Lazy-Boy recliner is not my ideal baby chair, though Todd would be thrilled with that!  

So, we've been looking for something that a) looks nice, b) is super comfortable, c) Todd fits in, and d) is that magical low price.   

Not surprisingly, this doesn't exist.

Several friends have chosen the Dutailier brand chair; one that, I have to say, doesn't meet my aesthetic or price point requirements.  But everyone has said these chairs are super comfortable and one girlfriend, whose husband is even taller than Todd, said it is perfect for them.  

The only place we could find that had them on the floor for trying out was BabiesRUs.  I have never been in this store before.  Honestly, I don't even remember shopping in a ToysRUs either.  I must have been pretty young if I did and it wasn't a place we ever went shopping as kids.  So, this was a new experience!  

I didn't take full advantage of my maternity status, but thought this was a nice touch for moms-to-be who can't or don't want to hike from the nether regions of a parking lot into the store...

We tried the various brands of chairs out and decided the Dutailier is indeed the most comfortable. And...we decided for the money we are probably getting a better, (hopefully) longer lasting product than the "knock-off" versions they had sitting nearby.  Todd fit in the chair, which glides and reclines - something I know he really wanted in a chair.  It's not exactly pretty or cute, but at this stage in the game, I don't care so much.  I just want it bought and in the room.  I want to be comfortable in it.  Check and check.

We didn't walk out with one, but instead decided to see if we could find it cheaper online.  Todd did!  By a couple hundred dollars, no less!  It's not the color combo we wanted (dark cloth to hide our black labs' hair and light wood to match the rest of the furniture in the nursery), but again - I've ceased to care.  Let's just get the darn chair at the better price and be done with it!

The chair and footstool will look basically like this, only with dark brown cushions...

So, that major purchase is off the list!

Next...we DESPERATELY needed extra storage for Little Kittel's room.  It is currently in such disarray you can't even walk through it.  That's because we have no place to put half the stuff we have for her!

I've been looking and looking for a cool vintage piece, but haven't had any luck finding something.  Leave it to Ft. Collins and their Antique Row to help us get the job done!

We saw several pieces for a decent price and finally narrowed it down to this...

It's a 1920s pie safe.  It's been refurbished some, but was in pretty darn good shape.  I'm very happy with it and can't wait to get it in the baby room!

We got home that night with just enough time to warm up our wedding pie and have our one-year anniversary bite.  We used the forks Linds C. got for us to eat with at our reception...

The rhubarb pie that served as our "wedding cake..."

Happy first anniversary!

A whirlwind anniversary to celebrate a whirlwind year!

October 24, 2012

Fall fun - with two recipes

For the first time, as I understand anyway, Casper had a corn maze outside of town!

It's a great story...this farming family is involved in FFA (Future Farmers of America for those who may not know) and they decided to create a corn maze, not just for the community's enjoyment, but to raise funds for the local FFA Alumni chapter as well as the Natrona County ARC.

I have been dying to go!  Look how cool it is - designed with Wyoming's bucking horse and rider!

The Snyder family and I went last weekend (Todd went hunting) and we had a great time!  It wasn't fancy, just good ol' fashioned fall fun with a pumpkin patch, corn pit, farm animal petting barn and hayride.  Oh, and caramel apples which were quite tasty!

On our way in...

An idea of what we were getting ourselves into...

 The Snyder fam...

Samuel, their oldest boy, leading us through...

Hmmm...a fork in the road...

My twin in the corn maze...

The maze was not at all as scary as you would think from the picture above where it was green and HUGE looking.  It took us 36 minutes to make it through.

On our way to the petting barn...

I think some of these were baby turkeys.  Saved from Thanksgiving tables this year!

These chickens crack me up with their Tina Turner "hair"...

Hog heaven...

This little piggy was too cute.  Look at those ears! And that pink snout...

And we're pretty sure this rabbit thought it was a cat.  He was huge!  And so soft.  And he just let all the kids pet on him.  If he could purr I'm sure he would...

Green Acres corn maze is a lot of fun.  I think they've got one last weekend open - so get out there!

Ok, want a couple fall recipes?

I made these pumpkin cranberry muffins yesterday and are they good!  The candied pecans you could technically have any time of the year, but they seem especially fall-ish for salads.  Yum!

Cranberry Pumpkin Muffins
(Recipe says it makes 12, but I got about 20 out of it.)

These are awesome right out of the oven with a teeny bit of butter smeared on them.

2 c. flour
3/4 c. sugar
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 tsp. allspice
1/3 c. vegetable or canola oil
1 large egg
3/4 c. canned unflavored pumpkin
2 c. chopped cranberries (fresh or frozen) I used fresh and gave them a whirl in my

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Sift the dry ingredients together and set aside.

Beat oil, egg and pumpkin together until well blended.

Add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture all at once.  Stir until moistened.

Fold in chopped cranberries.

Spoon batter into paper-lined muffin cups.  Bake 15-30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Candied Pecans
These are SO easy to make and SO super tasty!

1 c. pecans (I prefer pecan halves, but you could use chopped)
1 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. water
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 325 F.

Bring all ingredients to a low boil in a small saucepan.

Add nuts and simmer 2 minutes.  Stirring until well coated.

Line a cookie sheet with a bit of foil and spritz with cooking spray.

Pour nuts onto sheet, drizzling with any remaining sauce from saucepan.

Bake about 10 minutes or until toasted.

Remove from oven and let cool.  The glaze will harden around the nuts.

Toss in a salad with sliced pear or apple and some blue cheese or goat cheese!


October 23, 2012

33 weeks and counting

Little Kittel's due date is Dec. 9.  That still sounds far away, doesn't it?  We haven't even had Halloween or Thanksgiving yet, so Dec. 9 is forever away, right?  

Not really.  We are at week 33, which means if Little Kittel comes right on schedule we only have SEVEN weeks to go!


There is a big mix of excitement and gravity in this realization.  

Certainly we are excited.  We've wondered what she will look like (we're betting on blue eyes after her mama and daddy), and how she will behave. What will she sound like?  I think about how good of a daddy Todd will be and how sweet he'll look holding her.  I imagine all the fun family things we'll do together and the girl things just she and I will do.  

Then there's a reality check where I know having a baby won't be all smiles and sweet coos.  When I think of all the responsibility and all the things we don't know I start to feel overwhelmed.  

How do we know what we're doing?  How tired will we truly be?  What is breastfeeding really like and how do you do it?  How do we know what she's crying about?  Is she too hot?  Too cold?  How do we know if something's wrong - like if she isn't feeling well?  What do we do about it? 

Now, I've got a lot of experience babysitting kids of all ages, which I think has helped me feel comfortable around children, but I'm guessing no matter how many babysitting hours I've logged I'm not truly prepared for having my own kid.  

Most upsetting to me lately is that for everything I imagine our life to soon be, I feel like that's what it is: imaginary.  

Me having a baby seems very, very surreal.  No matter how many baby clothes I wash and fold, or how many times I go through all the gear we've now got, I sometimes can not get my head around it even as I'm about to cross the finish line.  It's not that I didn't want a baby because I did - very badly, in fact.  But going from that desire to start a family to actually starting one is a big reality pill to swallow.  

I've worried that this surreal feeling is keeping me from connecting with Little Kittel like I should.  However, several girlfriends have told me the feeling is normal and I've got nothing to worry about.  They would look at their baby after it was born and wonder when its real mom was coming to pick him or her up!  

These seven weeks (if she doesn't come early) are filled with holidays and events and are going to go quickly, I know.  Before we know it she'll be here!  

I can't believe it.  

October 16, 2012

Best dressed

If there is one thing we won't have to worry about - ever - in Littel Kittel's first year it's clothing.

We have piles for every three month interval!

Here's a quick peek at the baby room and how much work is left to be done...

Another look...

Yet another...

0-3 months, 6-9 months, and 9 months...

There's 3-6 months on the chair...

There's 6 months, newborn, and 12-18 months...

Here's a whole pile not separated or folded yet...

And there's a bit more in the dryer that has yet to come upstairs!

Every stitch was given to us too.  We haven't bought a single thing!  Can you believe that?  There are so many adorable pieces too.  Todd loves the Carhart and pink "real tree" onesies and bib we received.

We've got outfits, onesies, shoes, snowsuits, University of Wyoming name it, I'm pretty sure we've got it.

Little Kittel will be the best dressed girl in town!  

October 10, 2012

Baby transportation

Our stroller and car seat...I mean travel system...arrived last night!

I have been anxiously awaiting its arrival.  I put so much thought into this choice that I couldn't wait for it to show up.  

Would we love it?  We better.  Would Todd love it?  He better!  Would it be comfortable for both of us to use?  We're both tall, Todd being very tall, would the handles be a good height for him?  Is it relatively lightweight?  I didn't want to heft a massive stroller in and out of the car.

Turns out we do both love it!  It will fit both of our heights due to the adjustable parent handle; and while I wouldn't want to pack it on my back and hike Everest...the weight is just fine.  

Personally, I love the modern, streamlined look of the neutral colors - a simple black and gray.  I like that we can get our money's worth out of it with a second baby sometime down the road.  It's not pink, it's not blue, it's neutral - and not yellow or green neutral.  I also like that it doesn't have a design on it like so many do.  No circles, dots, stripes, animals...just sleek.  

Todd pulling it out of the box last night...

And becoming a little frustrated as he put the stroller together.  It was kind of like doing the lights for our Christmas tree.  It puts him in a bad mood and kind of takes the excitement off the event at hand!

But it was relatively easy, and it got done.  And afterwards he was pretty happy with the choice.  And I am too!  Here I am with my 31 week belly giving the stroller a whirl...!

We just need a second car seat base for Todd's truck and we'll be all set to take Little Kittel everywhere we go!  

September 22, 2012

Baby room

Our baby room is painted!

I worked hard today to get the color up and, if I do say so, I think it looks awesome.  

Yes, we are having a girl, but I wanted turquoise walls.  I think her room is going to be so cute once we get all the furniture and finishing touches in there.  

The color we chose is Behr's Jamaica Bay.  We got it 50 percent lighter than the original sample.  I love, love it.  I've put a lot of work myself in this room.  I'm the one that ground the cracks out, mudded them, sanded them, mudded and sanded again...  Todd used the paint sprayer to put the primer on, but this paint job is all me!  

The only thing left to do in here is clean down the closet and paint the baseboards and trim white.  Technically, I should do the window trim too, but we didn't get around to priming it earlier and right now I just don't care.  We can touch that up later.  

At the moment I'm content to just sit with my feet up on the couch!  

September 10, 2012

The big push (on house renovations)

We're making progress.

Why the big push to get stuff done, besides the obvious "I'm tired of living in half a home"?  Because my whole family will be here at the end of the month to throw us a baby party, which means we need a functioning upstairs to manage all of us as they stay and our party guests!  The timeline is shortened a bit because Todd leaves for elk camp the week before everyone's arrival.  So, we effectively have about 1.5 weeks left to get 'er dun.  

Let's do a walk through!

Here is the front entry.  Looking pretty good!  Todd and I came up with the tile pattern and then he cut and laid all that tile himself.  I'm so proud of him!  Don't mind the dusty footprints on it though.  It's just the way things are around here until we get the drywall dust up.  Let's see what's behind that door...

That would be our back hall.  That first room there will be Little Kittel's...

Here we are looking in her room!  Very soon (hopefully) it will not look like this.  Currently, it is being used as construction storage and until this last weekend was a guest room.  That furniture has mostly been carted downstairs to one of the two pending guest rooms that will be down there...

Unfortunately, we won't have time to reno her room before she arrives.  Technically, what is happening in the master bedroom should happen in here.  But we figure we'll wait until she wants pink or rainbow painted walls and attack this room then.  Until then, we'll just grind out the cracks in the plaster, fill them, and then simply paint.  And we'll all have to live with the horrid ceiling tiles with glitter flecks...

That turquoise paint sample on the right is the color her room will be!

Ok, let's keep movin' down the hall.  That's the bathroom on the left, then the master at the end...

The bathroom.  As expected, this room is taking us the longest.  We're getting so close!  But still lots left to do.  The mudding and sanding on the drywall will be done in here tonight/tomorrow (fingers crossed).  Then it's on to texturing, priming and painting with our new fabulous paint sprayer! Todd's friend Ken scraped the thinset out of the cracks in the tile over the weekend, to prepare it for grouting and sealing.  The toilet needs moved in, Todd needs to finish his vanity project, and I need to figure out how to keep the claw foot tub project chugging along.  The wainscoting also needs painted (with that awesome sprayer) and installed.  We will likely not have a working shower in here by the time my family arrives, but toilet and sink should be a go!

This blue will be the color of the bathroom, but probably knocked down about 25-50 percent to lighten it up  just a tad...

And the master bedroom.  Not much to sand in here!  Just the seams on the walls and ceiling and the closet. Then it's texture, prime and paint and we're IN!   

Here is the tub project.  I have gotten all the paint off the inside and now am working on the outside, which is a CHORE.  There isn't just one layer of paint.  There is a layer of paint and some kind of adhesive under it which nearly refuses to budge.  I have been coating it with paint stripper, scraping and blasting it with the pressure sprayer and...nothing.  At least precious little to show for it anyway.  Ugh.    

Keep checking things off my three-mile long to do list!  

September 3, 2012

Labor Day indeed

We are working our butts off around here trying desperately to get our big house projects done before the end of the month.

No rest for us this holiday weekend!

Here is what our Labor Day weekend has looked like:

Let's take a peek in the upstairs bathroom!  Here is Todd mudding the seams of the drywall.  I have already sanded the mud on the seams and screwheads and here Todd was going over it a second time.  Now, it has to be sanded once more and it's ready for texture, prime and paint!    

Another look at our new walls.  This entire room we have gutted and rearranged - meaning Todd moved all the plumbing so it made sense and the electrical followed.  What's left for the bathroom before we can make that first celebratory flush?  The walls need textured, primed and painted.  The wainscoting needs painted (it's already primed) and installed.  The vanity, which Todd made himself, must be finished with putty, sanding, and varnish.  The clawfoot tub (see below) must be finished.  The tile must still be sealed and grouted.  And there is still a strip of tile in the doorway that needs set.  These jobs will make the room FUNCTIONAL.  There will still need to be some finishing touches.  (Don't mind that blue sample in the pic. The room will be painted blue, but that sample turned out horrible!  On to option no. 2.)

Here we are entering the master bedroom.  That wall in particular has had spray foam insulation AND batting put behind it.  Why both?  The spray foam was to help insulate, yes, but to also help stabilize the 90+ year old plaster wall on the other side that is in the living room.  The batting was to provide an additional sound barrier...

A view across the room toward the closet.  We got that mostly drywalled today also.  Only a few more boards and it will have complete walls!  Tomorrow evening I will mud all the screwheads.  That window there?  Before that wall where the window is was spray foamed for insulation (there was none, not a lick, in that room), Todd had to re-mortar brick in around the window to fix a shoddy job done who knows when.

So, what else needs done in here?  I have sanded all the seams (minus the ceiling, which Todd will do) and screw heads.  The seams and corners all need one more coat of mud and to be sanded one last time.  Obviously, texture, prime and paint.  We have to reinstall the heat.  We are going to put crown moulding in here and the baseboards need attached.  The closet needs finished.  But, we are not worrying about the moulding or baseboards before the end of the month...

This is looking back down the hall from the master.  The bathroom is the next room to the right and that room at the end will be the nursery.  I share more on the nursery another time...

Here is Todd cutting a chunk of drywall...

What else have we done this weekend?  

Well, we spray painted the frame we will be using for the bathroom mirror.  And we started removing the old paint from the clawfoot tub we are using for the bathroom.

Todd has a power washer that we started with...

A lot of the paint flew right off, but there are still some stubborn pieces that refuse to budge.  So, we'll have to find a way to scrape that off without damaging the enamel on the tub.

What's left here?  Finish scraping the paint.  Then we will turn the tub over, lightly sand the outside of the basin and prime and paint the tub gray.  We are going to remove the feet and either have them chromed or, most likely for the time being, we'll just remove the white paint leaving them the bare metal.  They will have to be sealed, however, so we have a can of clear coat we will use to protect them.  We already have the fixtures, so that just needs installed.

And now, after a long weekend of working on the house, we are watching a movie and trying not to pass out!  

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