Thank you, thank you…

Gratitude is on the mind — and not just because tomorrow is Thanksgiving. I just finished reading “The Gratitude Diaries” by Janice Kaplan. She spends an entire year focusing on gratitude in her life (her marriage, work, children, money, etc.) It gave me a lot to think about and was especially appropriate for this time of year, the holidays, Thanksgiving, and being at the home stretch of this pregnancy.

I thought I would share a list of things that are especially appropriate right now to me:

  1. My husband: I wrote about him last week so you know all the good stuff, and if you did not read it take a peek at last week’s blogs. Yesterday I randomly said I do not know what I would do without you. His response was: “yes I am not sure what you would do.” So I started listing off all these things that would make my life miserable and he said: “You could just live in a hotel.” Ha. It is so much more than that my better half. So much more.
  2. My health: It is not perfect — but I am making it through each day, and look forward to meeting this little man and taking the tests to find out how I am after delivery. If all goes well, then I look forward to getting back to my running and feeling like myself again.
  3. My future son: I am just so excited that we have made it this far together. Your dad and I are ecstatic and cannot count the days to meet you. That and I would love my body back.
  4. My family and friends: So grateful for each of you. Thank you for being a support to me, a listening ear, and an inspiration. I miss you mom, dad, and Granny Smith.
  5. My team at work: You work hard and play hard, keep it fun, funny, and real. Thank you.

For all of you reading my blog I appreciate you too. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your friends and family. Cherish each moment.

Random Recipe: Creamy Wild Rice and Chicken Soup

This was damn good soup. I am not a fan of leftovers, and this soup not only was good the first night, it was good the second night. Rarely will you catch me eating leftovers. You cannot tell the difference between Day 1 and Day 2. The only caveat to this recipe is it says preparation time is 10 minutes, but in actuality you are actively doing something for the entire 30 minutes. It requires constant stirring, but it is worth it.

You will not be disappointed!

Creamy Wild Rice and Chicken Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup chopped celery
½ cup diced carrots
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
1 cup of cooked chicken, cubed
1 4.3-oz package of Rice-a-Roni long grain and wild rice (w/seasoning packet)
½ cup butter
¾ cup flour
2 cups half and half


In a large sauce pot over medium heat, saute celery and carrots in the olive oil for about 6 minutes..

Add the chicken broth, water, and chicken to the sauce pot. Bring to boiling, and then stir in rice (saving the seasoning packet for later). Cover and turn heat to low.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and then stir in seasoning packet until the mixture starts to bubble. Reduce heat to low and slowly whisk in flour, tablespoon by tablespoon, until it makes a thick paste. Slowly whisk in half and half until completely smooth. Continue cooking and stirring until it starts to thicken (about 5 minutes).

Stir cream mixture into the broth mixture and cook until heated through (about 10 minutes).

Is mini Conk an artist?

I often feel like my belly is the inside of a bouncy castle, or a trampoline. This ‘lil man inside me is one active guy. There are days when I love it and think about what he must be doing inside there, and there are other days when it drives me nuts and all I want is a bit of peace, quiet, and less jostling happening inside. This past week has felt like an incredibly active week!

So when I saw this I thought, maybe I should have mini Conk make his first painting later this week when we have a bit of downtime over the holiday and when he has a particularly active span of time. I am a fan of abstract painting and there is something slightly surreal about having the movement of your unborn baby paint their first painting. I am curious!

We are looking forward to meeting the ‘lil man!

I am not a morning person.

I recently read an article in Elite Daily titled: “People Who Sleep Late Are Actually Smarter And More Creative” – and immediately thought “Hmm…I wonder if that makes me smarter.” Now I am nothing like Chris, that man could sleep all day if you let him. I just like to sleep in when I cannot. Somehow on the weekends I am raring to go and during the weekdays, I just want to sleep a bit longer, and hit snooze just one more time. Well maybe more than once.

I never used to be this way. Somehow over the years, Chris has messed with me. He is chronically prone to stay up late, and I find I sleep better when we curl up next to each other, so I stretched myself to stay up late with him until I too became a late-nighter. With the exception of during this pregnancy, where he has pushed me to go to bed early and for the most part I comply — even if he is not there next to me. Probably because I am so tired I can fall asleep in minutes. Hopefully that will continue when this little man joins us as I know my sleep will be changed for years to come.

In any case, the article is interesting. Every once in a while it is a stroke to the ego to read something that tells you that maybe something you thought made you seem lazy shows you to be intelligent or creative. An excerpt from the article:

“According to research published in The Huffington Post, those who deviate from the normal sleep schedule are considered more intelligent. This finding is supported by research suggesting that those who create new evolutionary patterns (compared to those who stick with the normal patterns developed by our ancestors) are the most progressive.”

It is a good article that states near the end that it all really depends on your outlook on life. I do like to think that all those hours that I am fast asleep, I am really evolving inside, coming up with new ways to take on the world!

Random Recipe: Birthday Spice Cake

Monday was Chris’ birthday and I decided to make him a birthday cake. While I should have selected a cake that he would have loved, my food cravings are minimal these days and so when I saw a spice cake recipe, and it actually sounded good, I decided to make it.

I have to say though – the frosting is what makes this cake. The cake itself was a little dry. Some cake recipes get “moister” with age. This one does not.

I have a different cake base recipe that is moist (I know, I hate that word too) and would make a stellar cake if I make the cake with that recipe and used the below frosting recipe. I might just have to try doing that in a few weeks.

If you look at the photo, my 4-H days would tell you that I over stirred (or in this case, used of my mixer) as you can see there are quite a few holes or what 4-H judges might call craters in the slice. A big no-no for making cakes.

Birthday Spice Cake

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. nutmeg and/or allspice
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/4 cups milk (we used almond milk)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter or spray two 8” or 9” round cake pans.

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, spices, and salt.

In a larger bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer for about half a minute, until it’s pale and creamy. Pour in the sugar and continue to beat for 3-4 minutes, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each.

Stir the vanilla into the milk. Add about a third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir it in by hand or with the electric mixer on low speed, just until it’s combined. Add about half the milk in the same manner, then another third of the flour, the rest of the milk, and the rest of the flour, mixing just until the batter is blended.

Divide the batter between the pans and bake for 30-35 minutes, until the cakes are golden and their tops are springy to the touch. Cool completely before frosting.

Browned Butter Brown Sugar Frosting

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup half & half
2 cups powdered sugar, plus more if you need it

In a small saucepan, melt half of the butter. Continue to cook, swirling the pan occasionally, until it turns brown and smells nutty. Pour into a large bowl and add the rest of the butter.

Put the brown sugar into the same saucepan along with the half & half, put it over the heat and stir until it starts to bubble and the sugar has melted. Scrape it into the bowl with the butter, add half the powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Add the remaining powdered sugar and beat until smooth; add a little extra sugar or half & half if it needs it to achieve a spreadable consistency. Oooh this frosting is good!