Friday, January 28, 2011

Knit Baby Blanket

I started this blanket for a very good friend of mine who was pregnant- little did I know how long it would take me to finish!  I would definitely consider myself a novice when it comes to knitting.  I took a class with my mom a few years ago to learn the basics.  Since then, my knitting resume has included only very basic scarves, dish cloths, and one baby hat (that I had some assistance with).

I had visions of knitting a blanket for quite some time, but was overwhelmed by the thought of such a large project (given my short attention span and lack of knitting expertise).  I searched high and low for a pattern that I thought would be manageable.  I finally found one for a Rib Check Baby Blanket.  It seemed pretty easy and was the only one I could find that didn't involve "knitting in the round."  I bought 4 balls of Patons Beehive Baby Chunky Yarn in quicker clover and used US size 9 needles.  My project was underway!

Despite the simplicity of this pattern, I soon realized that I was not going to be anywhere close to finishing the blanket before my friend's due date.  In the mean time, however, I had found out that I was pregnant (and due 6 months later than said friend)...  I decided to keep it for myself (well, for my future baby).  Sorry Bridget!

As my due date approached, I began to fear that this blanket wouldn't even be completed in time for Jackson's arrival (and I knew no progress would be made once he was born).  I needed to get serious!  I dedicated a little time each night (while watching my favorite mindless TV shows, such as The Real Housewives and The Bachelor) to knitting away...and wouldn't you know it, after almost a year, I finished it!!  It measures 22 inches by 29 inches.  I can't wait to wrap my little baby boy in it!

Here is a close up of the pattern...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

111 Things To Do In Minnesota in 2011

I love making and checking off lists (even though most of mine involve errands, chores, to-dos, etc...).  So, you can imagine my excitement when I came across this list of fun things to do in Minnesota.  It made me realize that John and I have gotten into a bit of a rut when it comes to going out and doing things around town.  (Although, this might have a little to do with the fact that I am currently 8 months pregnant).

We love going out to eat, but we often end up going to our good'ole favorites, even though there are so many other restaurants out there to experience.  I realize that our lives are about to drastically change, and that there will be less time and money for this kind-of thing, but I feel like it will be important to make at least some time for dates and socializing with friends.  Plus, a lot of these things would be feasible with an infant in tow.  That being said, there were several things on the list that I know for a fact we won't be doing (i.e. sky diving, or ice fishing).  I deleted those items, along with a few things that we have already done...  In their place, I added several restaurants that we've been meaning to try, a couple of my New Year's Resolutions, and a few things that we like do at least once a year.

Here is the edited list.  I'm hoping it will inspire us to get out and try some new things in 2011!

111 90 Things To Do In 2011
  1. gulp a lavender tea latte or Thai tea shake from The Tea Garden
  2. watch a flick outdoors (bring a bottle of wine and salads from D’Amico)
  3. try Naviya's Thai Brasserie in Linden Hills
  4. enjoy some lemonade slushies at Fletcher's on Lake Minnetonka
  5. savor the whipped truffle brie at Barbette
  6. join a new mama group at Amma Maternity
  7. sip a wine flight at People's Organic Coffee & Wine Cafe in the Galleria
  8. try out one of the salsa nights held at Loring Pasta Bar on Friday and Saturday nights
  9. take a nap (or just spend a relaxing afternoon) in Guthrie Park
  10. drink a rose gimlet at the Red Stag
  11. plant a vegetable garden
  12. have drinks at the new Psycho Suzi’s Motor Lounge
  13. visit the Pipestone National Monument (stop and visit Laura Ingalls Wilder’s home in Walnut Grove)
  14. mix Spring Grove Soda (Lemon Sour) with Jack Daniel’s
  15. taste farm-to-table at its best at Quarter/quarter in Harmony
  16. sing along with Mike "Piano Man" Maresh on a weeknight at Nye’s Polonaise
  17. snag some deals at K&G Fashion Superstore in the HarMar Mall
  18. visit Victor's 1959 Cafe for a Cuban brunch
  19. play mini-golf at Centennial Lakes
  20. take a winter walk on Park Point Beach in Duluth
  21. eat at Anchor Fish & Chips
  22. get a facial from Brook at Blink in NE Mpls.
  23. wander the stacks at Common Good Books
  24. dance at 'Wants Vs Needs' at Club Jäger
  25. try the juicy buns at Grand Szechuan in Bloomington
  26. sniff the dirt at Como Park Zoo & Conservatory
  27. take a drive up the North Shore from Duluth to Thunder Bay
  28. try the turkey burger at Be'Wiched Deli in Minneapolis
  29. plan a summer BBQ party for John's golden birthday
  30. savor fall with apple picking at Afton Apple
  31. get quenched on the cucumber pear margarita at 3 Squares
  32. take a cooking class
  33. train for and run the TC 10-mile (Oct. 2)
  34. eat the Crème Brulee French Toast at Wilde Roast Café
  35. sip/eat a cognac Alexander at Ike's
  36. try the caramelized onion cream cheese wontons at Ginger Hop, then dance them off at Honey
  37. visit the Macy's 8th Floor "Day in the life of an Elf" display, then watch the Holidazzle parade
  38. happy hour at Liquor Lyle’s (9-11pm everyday)
  39. stomach Zorbaz's Macho Nachoz
  40. check out the sandcastle contest at the Calhoun Beach Bash
  41. get royally good Khao Pad Kapi at Sen Yai Sen Lek
  42. attend the Twins vs. Brewers series at Target Field (July 1-3)
  43. bring Jackson to his first Twins game
  44. sip on the iced coffee at Quang's
  45. run in the Torchlight 5K
  46. attend open mic night at Acme Comedy Co.
  47. order the butterscotch pudding at Nick and Eddie
  48. attend a summer dance at the Ordway
  49. munch on the pot brownie at Bin Wine Bar
  50. dine at sunset at Lake Calhoun's Tin Fish
  51. order the chicken lollipops at Curry 'n Noodles in Hopkins
  52. spend a summer day at Excelsior Commons Beach
  53. drink Buck Hunter wine at Chateau St. Croix
  54. order a Marusya Gold cocktail at Moscow on the Hill
  55. dip into the raspberry chocolate chip ice cream at Sebastian Joe's
  56. travel to the top of the Foshay Tower/W Hotel
  57. check out Modern Cafe for breakfast (try their hash)
  58. attend candlelight yoga at Corepower Yoga (Fri. or Sun. evenings)
  59. enjoy sake on the rooftop of moto-i
  60. have a burger on the back patio at the Lookout Bar & Grill in Maple Grove
  61. kayak or canoe...anywhere
  62. have dinner and dessert at Travail in Robbinsdale (try the agnolotti)
  63. try stand-up paddle boarding at Lake Calhoun
  64. get a reservation at 112 Eatery (try the tagliatelle with foie gras meatballs)
  65. take a three-mile walk around the Arboretum in autumn
  66. stroll through downtown Stillwater, then eat at Luna Rossa’s (try their pistachio gelato)
  67. gussie up at Glamorama in August
  68. chomp on the #5 from Black Sheep Pizza
  69. take in the scenery at Minnehaha Falls
  70. try the chefwich at Victory 44 in Minneapolis
  71. swoon at the Luminary Loppet
  72. put your hands in the air at Soundset 2011 (May 29)
  73. dine at Forum Restaurant
  74. run/bike/walk/skate the Chain of Lakes in fall
  75. savor the mac 'n cheese or tuna casserole at Haute Dish
  76. sip on 'Enter the Dragon' at Barrio
  77. embrace the cold at Chamber's Ice Bar
  78. indulge in one perfect latte at Kopplin's
  79. eat at Bread & Pickle at Lake Harriet
  80. eat at Piccolo
  81. attend Rock the Garden
  82. have a turkey burger at Blvd. Kitchen & Bar in Minnetonka
  83. eat at Spill the Wine
  84. try the tasting menu at Sanctuary (M-Th nights, $35)
  85. eat at La Belle Vie
  86. find Hidden Beach on Cedar Lake in Minneapolis
  87. eat at Kikugawa
  88. try the agnolotti at Bar La Grassa
  89. plan a date night at King's Wine Bar in Minneapolis
  90. sip on a liquor infusion in the lounge at Heartland in St. Paul

    Friday, January 21, 2011

    Decorative Name Letters

    One of the first projects I tackled for Jackson's room was the decoupage/painted letters of his name.  I was inspired by this project on Spearmint Baby...  It was quick, easy, and fun! 

    1. paint the letters and let dry
    2. trace the letter outlines onto the back of the decorative paper
    3. cut out the tracing
    4. use mod podge to adhere the paper to the front of the letters
    5. trim any extra paper on the edges of the letters using an x-acto knife or sand paper
    6. apply a few more coats of mod podge to smooth the edges
    7. add embellishments

      Here is the finished product!  We are planning on hanging the letters above the crib eventually...

        Thursday, January 20, 2011

        Our (TTC, IF, IUI) Journey

        John and I met in September of 1998.  We were only 18.  We dated throughout college and tied the knot in October of 2005.  We like to take things slow, as you can see, so we didn't start trying for a baby until 2008.  After trying NOT to get pregnant for so long, we just assumed that it would happen fairly quickly and boy were we wrong...

        At first, "baby making" was an exciting adventure, but after a few months I started to get concerned (have I mentioned that I'm not a very patient person).  By the end of the year we were both frustrated and worried that there was a problem, so I scheduled an appointment with my ob/gyn.  Since stopping birth control pills, my cycle had been completely out of whack.  This made timing "baby making" quite a challenge (I know, doesn't that sound romantic)!  John and I were put through an array of tests, which all came back normal.  However, my doctor thought that I might have borderline PCOS.  She prescribed Metformin to regulate my cycle. 

        2009:  We continued "baby making" the old fashion way.  My cycles became much more regular, but after 12 months we still hadn't gotten pregnant...

        December 2009:  My ob/gyn finally referred us to a reproductive endocrinologist.

        April 2010:  We had our first appointment with the fertility doctor (she was booked out 3 months!).  After another fun battery of tests (including an HSG for me), she diagnosed us with unexplained infertility.  She said that I did NOT have PCOS and was appalled that I had been taking Metformin for so long (apparently it's pretty hard on your body).  She had me stop taking it immediately.  In it's place we would try 3 rounds of clomid + ovidrel + IUI + progesterone.

        (This is where the fun really started…  I would stop at the doctor on my way to work, or over my lunch hour, several times a week for ultrasounds and blood draws.  Worst of all, now our "baby making" was happening in a doctor's office and my hubby didn't even have to be in the room!  This wasn’t quite how I had envisioned things…  Not to mention the fact that all of the hormones made me a complete lunatic.  It’s no joke that one of the side effects of clomid is “inability to cope”).

        May 2010:  Round 1= FAIL.

        (I added weekly, sometimes bi-weekly, acupuncture treatments after our first failed IUI attempt to help ease the side effects of all the meds and to increase my fertility.  My acupuncturist diagnosed me with a kidney yang deficiency.  She recommended that I make some dietary changes and taught me about the importance of slowing down and being mindful).
        June 2010:  Round 2= FAIL.

        (I have to admit that I was completely devastated at this point and not very hopeful that the third round would work.  We even scheduled an appointment to talk with our reproductive endocrinologist about the next step, IVF…).

        July 2010:  Round 3= SUCCESS!!!!  (Needless to say, we were over the moon!)

        July 30, 2010:  I saw our baby’s heart beat for the first time…  I also officially graduated from the fertility clinic!!

        October 29, 2010:  We found out that we’re having a BOY!

        March 24, 2011:  Jackson's due date!