Friday, October 29, 2010

Happy Halloween

It's cold. The floors are cold. The house is cold. My feet are cold.

Just in time for Halloween.

I'd like to say I'm wearing a costume this year, but alas, I'm not. There's just something about lugging around a belly the size of an over inflated volley ball that doesn't inspire me. Maybe I'll just wear a hat. Coincidentally, Mabel feels the same way. She doesn't care for costumes, or hats for that matter. She prefers to let her burgeoning belly hang loose and unencumbered. I think she's pretty savvy.

I've bought candy.

We've got a fireplace.

And we might watch this...

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Pre-Halloween/Birthday Dinner

Pre-Halloween/Rachel's Birthday Dinner:

Basil Mashed Potatoes


Tomato/Avocado Salad

Chocolate Cake & Raspberries

Birthday girl and newly engaged sister. You can't see it but she's wearing a gorgeous turquoise spider necklace. Off camera newly engaged and soon to be brother-in-law Shane perused our high school annuals and said, "That's OK Liz. The 90's happened to everybody."

The only person missing is our sister Rebecca.

Hocus Pocus season just isn't the same without her.

P.S. Kroger doesn't carry raspberry syrup. What's the world coming to?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Liz Quiz: Tackling Some Potentially Uncomfortable Questions

OK. Testing. *tap tap* Is this mike on? What's that? I look nervous? I have cold sweat on my forehead? Why yes. Yes I guess I do.

I receive email questions from time to time. Some are funny. Some are sad. Some are... perplexing. Some get asked multiple times and when that happens, I usually just post my answers here. Because I'm lazy.

So why the nerves? Some of the questions I've received lately have been harder than usual. A little more personal. And at times a smidge confrontational.

Some of these questions are small and easy to answer. Some are biggies. They're the kind of "biggies" you want to avoid answering in a public forum for fear of stones whizzing past your head. But a part of me feels it's important to answer them. It's important to be honest.

Deep breath. Here goes.

1. How do you reconcile celebrating Halloween with your Christian faith.

Ladies, you're not going to find me dancing naked around a fire under a full moon chanting. I will carve a pumpkin. I will hand out candy. And yes, I read Harry Potter.

2. How many sisters do you have?

I have two. I'm the oldest, Rebecca is the middle, Rachel is the youngest.

3. Are you going to do natural child birth?

Let me tell you a little story about a 22 year old girl who passed gallstones for over a year before the doctors figured out what was wrong. She visited ER's four times. She had surgery and woke up while on the table, under the knife.

That girl was me. When it was all over I stood on a dusty hillside in a tattered dress, gripped a radish and screamed, "As God is my witness, I will never be in pain again." Oh wait, that was Scarlett. But you get the idea. I know pain. I don't care for it. So I will avail myself of all the drugs medical science has to offer.

4. Please tell me you are not going to put your placenta in a casserole.

Guys, gals, I thought it was clear I was yanking Matt's chain. I don't even cook dinner. Can you see me cooking placenta? But kudos to the women that do. More power to you. No judgement here, just a woman who if left to her own devices can burn a simple brownie mix. Placenta capsules surpass my domestic abilities.

4. Now that you're pregnant, are you going to quit your job and stay at home? I believe that all women should be in the home. It's God's will.

Yikes. Double yikes. Answering this question feels as if I'm reaching out a toe and tapping gently on a frozen pond to test whether it will crack beneath my weight. I'm not aware of any question on the face of woman-earth that elicits more fire, brimstone and hateful conflict than this bad boy.

I will continue to work. I cannot afford to quit. I've been blessed with a job that allows me to help support our family. We're a frugal couple. We don't drive nice cars. I work so we can eat and pay our hugateous student loans. This job, this baby, and our financial circumstances are God's will for my life. And his plan is always good.

And just remember, it's not good to make blanket statements. They almost always bite you in the butt.

5. Will you and Matt spank your child?

I believe that discipline depends on the child. No two children are alike. Some are sweet and precious like my cousin's son who responded to her "never take candy from a stranger" speech by saying, "But mom, the problem is I really LIKE candy." Some are less sweet, like my sister Rebecca who at age three bit a chunk of flesh from my forearm, spit the bloody residue across the room and proceeded to rip all the heads off my Barbies while screeching, "I love carnage!" Ok. The whole Rebecca story is a complete lie. But she was kind of mean.

Hopefully our child will be docile, sweet, and amenable to all our requests. Stop laughing. Let us dream our dream.

The Perfect Proposal

This is my youngest sister, Rachel.

She's a free spirit.

She's an art major.

She likes hats.

This is her boyfriend, Shane.

He's patient.

He's hilarious.

He's likes hats too.

And this is Shane proposing to Rachel at the most romantic place in the south. This may be the perfect proposal. Except for mine of course. Matt proposed to me on top of the Peabody Hotel in Memphis. A drunk lady ran up and started yelling at the top of her lungs, "OH my gawsh, are you PROPOSING TO HER?" Matt gazed up from one knee and said, "Ma'am, I'm trying to."

Here is Rachel's ring.

Shane let me and Matt tag along while he shopped for it a few months ago.

Afterwards she said, "Did you know William Powell gave Jean Harlow a sapphire engagement ring?"
And I smiled and said, "Yep."

They are so happy.

And so am I.

Welcome to the family brother.

Also, I feel old.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Better Homes and Gardens Project #4: Front Porch

Do you ever sit around at night while watching tv and reading magazines and brainstorm larger than life projects for your home? Do you suddenly swarm with inspiration on rearranging the living room or painting the kitchen a bright new color? And then you do it? And then... it's not quite what you pictured in your head?

Yeah. I know that feeling well.
When I dreamed up a "front porch" project for the final Better Homes and Gardens project, it was gorgeous. Grand. Awe inspiring. IN MY HEAD. The real life version was a bit different.

Don't get me wrong. I like it. It's just not quite as fantastical-Roald-Dahl-Tim-Burtonesque as my daydreams. I blame the pregnancy hormones. I'm pretty much blaming them for everything these days. This morning I simply imagined that a squirrel ran out in front of my car and proceeded to weep mascara down my cheeks.

The idea is pretty simple. All you need are a couple of shutters/closet doors, card stock for the letters and a pair of lanterns to hang from the top (we used some basic metal hooks from the hardware store). You can spraypaint the shutters any color you like and attach them permanently, or prop them up for a temporary look.

I'm loving what the other ladies did for their porches. Click here to vote.

It's been SO fantastically fun though. And I appreciate all your votes and well-wishes more than you know. I thank you. My hormones thank you.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Mission "Scare the Crap Out of My Husband" Successfully Completed

You guys know how I feel about October. And it's not officially a good Halloween unless I scare someone. Usually that someone is Matt. OK. It's always Matt.

We came to an agreement long ago not to participate in any jump-out-from-behind-doors-and-yell-boo-cause-someone-might-accidentally-get-punched-in-the-face activities. So I have to get crafty.

This year was a success. Here's a phone conversation we had this week.

Me: "Hey, I was talking to the girls tonight and guess what? Some women save their placentas after they give birth."

Matt: "Excuse me?"

Me: "Yeah. They save them. Julia said they look like blue jelly."

Matt: *Silence and then what sounded like a dry heave*

Me: "And some women plant them in the ground and put a tree or plant on top. They say it makes them grow like crazy."

Matt: *Silence, and then screaming. High pitched like a banshee. Or a little girl*

Me, trying not to laugh: "We could save mine and put it in capsules."

Matt, still shrieking: "CASSEROLES!!!???"

Me: "No, silly. I said capsules. Or we could bury it in the garden. I bet our tomatoes would be awesome."

Matt, still screaming: "Of course things would grow. IT'S HUMAN REMAINS."

Me: *laughing loudly*

Matt: "I can't talk about this anymore. Goodbye." *Click*

Friday, October 22, 2010

Le Bump

*Note to self: CLEAN MIRROR*

OK. For all you "I wanna see a bump picture" people out there, here you have it. I like to call it Le Bump because, as you can see, it's tiny. For now. But nevertheless, it's there.

I think, emphasis on think, I felt Butch-Ann move the other day. It was like a small swarm of butterflies. I liked it. A lot.

Know what else I like? Maternity pants.
One word: elastic.

Best thing that's ever happened to me.

In answer to two recent quandaries:

1. I've decided to keep my office. I love it, and it looks like... fingers crossed... I'm going to be using it more and more over the coming months. Cryptic much? Sorry. I'll have more exact news later.

2. We picked out baby names. When we find out whether Butch-Ann is a Butch or an Ann (sometime before December), we'll have a name announcement.

And since Rebecca will send me an email all the way from China that says something like "Hey, what's that thing in your hair?" here's a closeup of the back of my head. You're welcome Becca.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Thoughts on Plants and Slugs

I love bringing the house plants in from the back patio. I always know the right time. When the evenings sky darkens early. When the leaves start flooding the yard. When the nights grow chilly and I need a sweater to take Mabel outside. The rain starts to fall and then I realize, "Hey, your plants are about to die."

This is also the same time of year when I become thoroughly freaked out by slugs on the patio wall. Brown, wet leaves slap and stick everywhere and those gross, slimy slugs start having a party. Never trust a creature with no visible eye sockets... that's what I always say.

It's that time again. Time to position a big table under the front window. Time to trim and clean the plants that survived the heat wave this summer. Time for apple pies and leaf blowers and warm blankets on the back of the couch. When the plants come inside, it means fall is officially here.

I'm so glad.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Better Homes & Gardens Project #3: Pumpkin Place Cards

For our third craft project, we were asked to create something with real or fake pumpkins. No problem right? Yeah. That's what I thought. And then I realized that every possible thing under the sun has already been done with pumpkins. It's one of those moments where you have to shrug and mumble "oh well" before forging ahead.

To vote click here.

I decided to use my Thanksgiving place card craft from last year as a jumping off point.


Small foam pumpkin, pre-glittered
Old family Halloween photos

*Optional, in case pre-glittered pumpkins are not available:
Spray Glue

Instructions: Scan old family photos into computer. Open photos in a basic program for photo viewing and adjustment (for example, Microsoft Picture Manager or Photoshop). If the photos are in color, adjust the saturation levels until the photo is black and white. Using same program (or something similar to Microsoft Paint or Photoshop), use the "text" feature to type the name of the person across the bottom of the picture.

It will allow you to choose a specific font, color and size. You can also use online image sources to embellish the picture with a frame or outline. Print at the size you prefer (to match the size of your pumpkins) and cut out pictures when finished. (*However, you could simplify the process by simply printing the black and white photos and using a paint marker to write the name on the bottom of the picture.)

Insert toothpick halfway into foam pumpkins. Affix the photo to the top of the toothpick with tape. Place on plate and you're ready for dinner!

*If pre-glittered foam pumpkins are not available, use plain foam pumpkins and apply spray glue and glitter. It will probably take three to four applications to get a heavy concentration of glitter.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Beverly's Magical Closet

You know when you dig around in the back of a closet and find something you forgot you had? I did that yesterday. I rifled through spare gift bags and dollar store candles and found some Martha Stewart cake stencils I bought over two years ago.

My first reaction was to slap myself on the forehead. Doh. Silly me. How could I buy something so cute and forget I had it?

And then I remembered Aunt Beverly's magical closet.

My Aunt Beverly has always had what my cousins and I refer to as "The Closet." Inside said closet lay forgotten jewels; gifts, bags, purses, bows, wrapping paper, and even toys from McDonald's Happy Meals. Watching her open that door and unearth such treasures was like the girl version of Indian Jones.

Aunt Beverly would fling the closet door open when we were leaving her house. Mom would don our coats and hats and tell us to kiss Aunt Beverly goodbye and she would shout, "Wait just a minute!" She would hunker down in her closet, pulling out treats for us.

"Elizabeth, do you need a pink dress for your Barbie? I have one right here."

"Rebecca, do you want a water gun? How about a paddle ball?"

They were our parting gifts. Aunt Beverly's way of giving us treats just because she loved us. Over the years that closet has rendered aid in tight situations. Forgot to buy a baby shower present? Visit Aunt Beverly's closet.

"How about a set of bottles and a headband? Huh. Here's a set of steak knives. I forgot I bought

I always marveled at this closet. It was a magical place, sort of like something from Harry Potter. But I could never understand how Aunt Beverly could forget she bought steak knives and embroidered baby bibs.

But here I am years later. Now I have my own closet. A closet that mysteriously re-gifted forgotten Halloween stencils to me. I suppose it's my family's own brand of practical magic.

Monday, October 18, 2010

A Few of My Favorite Things

They're forecasting rain and cooler temps soon. Leaves fluttered past my bedroom window all weekend. When the morning sun hits the trees now, they glow and glitter like gold. And to top it off, I counted down three of my favorite things this weekend.

1. An honest to goodness Anthropologie tablecloth is on my dining table. Could I afford it? No. Did Matt get mad? Nah. He's numb to these sorts of things by now.

2. These are my favorite fall shoes at the moment. And bonus, the heel is low enough I don't feel like I'm walking on stilts.

3. Mozzarella,tomato, mushroom and olive salad, tossed with herb dressing. I think it's safe to say the cravings have officially started, because I could eat this every day. Twice a day. Matt brings it home from Kroger and says, "You do realize that tiny container costs $9." But he's smiling when he says it. He likes to see me eat. You know, as opposed to the last three months of barfing.

Sweet relief. I think the first trimester awfulness might be passing. And just in time for pumpkin carving. I've always loved October. But it's possible that I love it even more today.

Friday, October 15, 2010

I Miss Her & Her Giant Hair

Our phone call yesterday:

Rebecca: "Liz, I love it here. Coming to China is the best decision I ever made."

Me: "Good. I'm glad. But you have to come home eventually. I'm lonely."

Rebecca: "I know."

Me: "How are the classes going?"

Rebecca: "Great! I love teaching. Some of my students want to know what you are going to name the baby if it's a girl."

Me: "Well, we haven't decided..."

Rebecca: "They want you to know you can feel free to use their English names."

Me: "Like what?"

Rebecca: "Well, the three names they decided on were Echo, Starlight and Louise."

Me: "That's a heck of a lot of variety."

Rebecca: "I went on this trip down the Yangtze River. It was amazing, but I had a hard time getting pictures because the boat was crowded. I had to push a kid out of the way and hang off the end like one of those mermaid-mast-thingys."

Me: "Uh-huh. What's the deal with all the pictures you're sending me of a guards. Are you allowed to take their pictures?"

Rebecca: "Well, I just tell them they're handsome and they let me."

Me: "I see."

Rebecca: "And Liz! You'll never believe. I saw hanging burial grounds."

Me: "What?"

Rebecca: "Yeah, there were these ancient people called the Ba. They buried people in coffins hanging in cliffs..."

"...No one even knows how they got the bodies up there. And their civilization mysteriously disappeared for no reason."

Me: "Are you sure you didn't just watch that on the History channel?"

Rebecca, incensed: "I beg your pardon! I've got pictures as proof!"

Me: "OK. Well. Just be safe while you're running around all over the place."

Rebecca: "I'm totally safe. The people are so nice. And you should see the fisherman with their cute little matching outfits."

Me: "Becca, don't tell them you think their outfits are cute."

Rebecca: "OK. I love you! Gotta go!"

Me: "I love you too."

Rebecca: *click*

Me: *sob*

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Top 10 Ingredients for the Perfect Bridal Shower

1. Initialed petit fours. I was greedy. I had two.

2. Beautiful soon-to-be bride, adorable corsage.

3. Gorgeous house...

4. Like I said. Gorgeous house.

5. Lots of fabulous bridal gifts.

6. Good friends who write down the thank-you-note list and handle stacking the unwrapped presents.

7. Anthropologie bedding. Enough said.

8. A beaming, beautiful soon-to-be mother-in-law.

9. A tolerant hostess who sweetly allowed me to poke around her house with my camera, open her china cabinet and take close up shots of her glassware. Thanks Lisa.

10. Lots of purses and sweaters stashed in the master bedroom. This is always a sure sign of a really, really fun party.