Thursday, June 30, 2011

Baby Shower - Baby Jakob

As I promised (a few weeks ago), here's a snapshot from Sasha's baby shower. I'm a little late getting this posted, considering Jakob is now officially a week old.

**All these pictures are courtesy of Sasha's wonderful mother, Kathy. Thanks for sharing your pictures!!**

In the orange is Katlyn, a college friend who's currently in graduate school in Florida. We miss having her here, and I'm so glad she could make it back for the weekend!

Of course there were lots of presents to be opened. So many necessities for such a little guy!

In addition to lots of presents... lots of food! We had chicken salad sandwiches, a veggie tray, a fruit tray, spinach artichoke dip, and cupcakes. And delicious sparkling strawberry lemonade to drink. So yummy!

 And lots of family and friends. Here's the crew!

Congratulations Sasha and Bryan
on your new bundle of joy!
And thanks to KT for co-hostess-ing with me!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Baby Shower Cupcakes - Baby Kasey

Apparently when you have a baby, you get to have showers. Yes, plural. It's a fact that's definitely been proven in my life lately. I think maybe I should get a Babies-R-Us rewards card just for buying friends' shower gifts! Lots of coworkers and friends have been having babies lately, so I'm getting pretty good at shower etiquette.

A couple weeks ago, it was Kayla's turn for a shower. It was being held on a day I was to work at the hospital, and I was bummed I couldn't attend. But Jill (the hostess) asked if I would be on cake duty. Of course!

But two days before the shower, the pressure was on. How could I possibly make cupcakes that were good enough to deliver to a shower that I wasn't even going to? This was the second closest I've ever been to being "hired" for an event. And with minimal direction? Talk about pressure! What flavors should I make? How would I match the theme? How do I decorate said cupcakes?

So I kept it simple. The colors for the shower were watermelon and lime green, and it had an ABC theme. With limited time, space, and supplies (I was house-sitting, so I was in unfamiliar kitchen territory), I did the best I could. I think they turned out pretty well!

I made two kinds of cupcakes:  Black Forest and Strawberry Whipped Cream. I adapted both recipes slightly, but the black forest was a definite winner in my book.

After all the cupcakes were baked, filled, and frosted, I put on the toppers. I tinted some fondant, cut out circles, and put a "k" on each circle using edible marker -- to go with the ABC theme, the K for Baby Kasey.

Transporting these cupcakes in 90 degree heat was a disaster, but hopefully they made it to the shower with minimal harm. Definitely learned a valuable transportation lesson!

Congratulations Kayla and Brett,
I can't wait for Baby Kasey's arrival!
And great work throwing a fabulous shower, JilL!

Sunday, June 26, 2011


So sorry I've been M.I.A. recently. I know you're sad you haven't had anything to read. (not so much? ok....)

Anyway, I'll give you a brief overview of the past couple weeks. Just pretend you care.

- I house sat for a week. The family I nanny for went to New York for the week, and I was in charge of the dogs, cats, and frog. Oh, and the house. No worries, everything was in once piece and everyone unharmed by the end of the week.

- My friend Kim came to town for the College World Series. We ran through a storm, ate lots of food, laid by the pool, and drank peach tea. Always a vacation to see her.

- My friend Kayla had two baby showers, one of which I coordinated and the other I made cupcakes for. The cupcakes were super cute, stay tuned for an blog post soon. Talk about presents. That little baby girl is spoiled!

- I've been planning lots of trips for the upcoming months, so prepare for more posts to follow my adventures. I'm headed to Michigan, Minnesota, Las Vegas, New York, and LA. And one that's a secret from one of my readers. I'll update you when I can.

- Oh, and did I mention that my best friend had a baby? Yeah, that happened too. He's precious. Absolutely adorable. He's pretty much perfect. And he's my godson :) I'm sure you'll be seeing updates about that too.

So there's just a brief overview to hold you over until I have the time to get some pictures uploaded and some real posts written. Things have been fabulous in my neck of the woods. And I intend to keep it that way.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Relay for Life

Every year, local chapters of the American Cancer Society host Relay for Life all around the country. For more information, click on the links. But in short, Relay for Life is a night-long event that raises funds for the American Cancer Society. It goes all night to symbolize the cancer patient's fight--from the darkness of diagnosis, the seemingly never-ending fatigue and sickness, and then with dawn comes the new hope that there is an end in sight. It's a very powerful thing, especially with the presence of so many cancer survivors, caregivers, and friends and families remembering those who have lost their battle.
All the funds raised go toward the many services provided by the American Cancer Society. They provide information to cancer patients and their families, rides to and from treatment, support groups, wigs and other services for image recovery, grants for canceer research, and much more.

The American Cancer Society and Relay for Life are two things that you hear about, but you never really realize what and why until you witness the cancer fight firsthand. I have seen way too many people fight, and lose that fight, to not be a part of Relay for Life.

The night begins with the Survivors Lap, where every survivor in attendance says his/her name, what cancer they are fighting, and how long they've been winning their battle, from days to decades. We had five survivors on our team, and all of our patients on the floor were given Survivor t-shirts and encouraged to walk the Survivor lap at the same time. 

Here are just a few of our 20 team members. We were the Alegent Health Chemosabes, and we raised nearly $5,000 to help fight cancer.

The Hope Ceremony is an hour-long portion of the night in which we celebrate those who are currently fighting their battle against cancer and remember those who have lost their battle. The luminarias (right) line the track, and they are placed there in memory of and in honor of those diagnosed with cancer. This is the most somber and most powerful part of the night. During this hour of walking laps, everyone was silent in rememberance and bagpipes played 'Amazing Grace'. 

What a powerful 12 hours.

Thank you to all those who contributed to my team,
and to those who are doing your part in the fight against cancer.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Sparkling Strawberry Lemonade

Remember the other day when I said that a hot summer day called for a glass of cold lemonade? Well I wasn't kidding. I made this lemonade for my friend's baby shower I hosted a couple weeks ago. It was ah-mazing, and I just had to share it with you. I'm certain I'll be making it again before the end of the summer.

And just as a side note, I'm pretty sure you could replace the sugar with something less... sugary. Splenda? Truvia? Stevia? I'm not sure, but I'm sure something would work, and I think your blood sugar and waistline might be a little happier (in other words, guilt-free indulgence).

Sparkling Strawberry Lemonade
adapted from Emeril's recipe
2 cups water
1 cup sugar
1 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tbsp lemon zest
1 pint strawberries, halved and hulled
2 cups cold club soda

In a saucepan, bring the water and sugar to a boil. Add the lemon juice and zest, remove from the heat. Cool, then strain into a pitcher to remove zest and any seeds or pulp.

In a food processor, puree the strawberries. (You could strain the strawberries if you don't want any seeds/pulp, but I thought it gave it a little pizzaz.) Add to the pitcher, and stir well. Add the club soda just before serving. Serve over ice.

This recipe went over extremely well. It was gone by the end of the day, and I even tripled the recipe for the shower. (Yes, I squeezed a dozen and a half lemons. By hand.) I'd say it's a keeper.

Bring on the heat.
I can now conquer summer.

Pizza (Quick and Healthy!)

This little recipe materialized from my fridge, spurred by a weekend refusal to eat a salad for lunch.

I used only things that were already in the fridge... which these days consists of essentially only fresh fruits and veggies. And cheese. Apparently that's the only way Molly and I can eat healthy.

4 1/2 Point Pizza
1 Flat Out flatbread
1/4 c shredded 2% mozzarella cheese
1/2 c marinara sauce
17 slices turkey pepperoni
chopped onion
chopped bell pepper
chopped fresh basil

Place the flatbread on a foil-lined cookie sheet, and spread on the marinara sauce.

Sprinkle on the cheese. Top with pepperoni, onion, bell pepper, and basil. (Or use whatever toppings you'd like--this is what I had in the fridge).

Bake at 350 until the cheese is melted and all is warmed thoroughly, mine was about 15 minutes. Let cool slightly, and cut.

And Voila!
A quick, healthy pizza that didn't even require a trip to Trader Joe's.
Double bonus.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Summer Lunch

A humid, 90-degree summer day calls for fresh squeezed lemonade, the pool, and popsicles.

And a refreshing light lunch. Something that requires no cooking and minimal clean-up.

I just so happened to have some chicken salad in my refrigerator from a baby shower I hosted over the weekend. Perfect. Add some lettuce and a wrap, some fresh fruit, and suddenly you've got a summer-approved meal.

Mmm, Delightful.

(And yes, there will be coverage of the baby shower once I receive loaner pictures...
 I failed massively on taking any pictures during it.)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Great Outdoors

After a cold winter and amidst the 14-hour workdays, there was nothing this girl needed more than a quick get-away to somewhere quiet. And a great friend.

I took a mid-week vacation with my best high school buddy, and we spent a couple days away from everything. We camped at a lake we'd never been to -- tent and all. We rented a canoe and explored the waters. Then we had a picnic and soaked up some sun on the beach. Perfect.

We were only gone two days, but it was such a refreshing two days.
Here's a little taste of the fun.

I know it's not the Caribbean, but for a mid-week $100 vacation, it might as well have been.

This is Rachael.
She gets me.
Besties since 1992.

This is Jayne. From Summer Camp, 8 years running. I haven't seen her in at least a year, but we picked up right where we left off. So fun. And she brought along her fiance Dio. Great guy--I wish you two all the best. They came out to our campsite and joined us for campfire'd hot dogs followed by s'mores. Apparently this is a new thing for the kid from the Bronx. Glad we could introduce you, Dio.

Rachael and I made a fire.
No lighter fluid or anything.
Just matches and wood.

Want to know something more impressive?
Rach chopped the wood down from her grandpa's timber. (And Randy helped.)

What a B.A.

And Lingonberry Mojitos.

My dad let us borrow his tent, and also sent along a lantern. And it's a good thing, because we got there and both Rachael and I had dead flashlight batteries. Best.Dad.Ever.

The next day we rented a canoe from the marina. The super-intense fishermen thought we were idiots (especially when we tried to move his 'marker' because we didn't know what it was). But we didn't care. Best $11 we spent all day.

And the paddling counts as an upper-body workout, right? Right?

Rachael really wanted to get close to the geese.
If you know me, you know I wasn't a big fan of this part.

Great "weekend". Great fun. Great friend.

Where, you ask?
It wasn't heaven.
It was Iowa.