belly shots

The view from up top...

...but if I lean over too far, I can still see my puffy feet!

29 weeks...

30 weeks...

(Apparently I'm not too good with positioning myself for the self-timer on my camera. I took about 30 photos, and sadly this was the best one of them! Oh, and that shirt? Best. Deal. Ever. On clearance at Kohls for a mere $3.00, and I also had a 15% off coupon. Woo to the hoo!!)

I've had a lot of people commenting to me that I'm "looking very pregnant these days"...umm, yes I am! I even had one person tell me that my pregnant belly freaks her out. Note to all of you reading this: that's not a very smart thing to say to a pregnant lady! :)

Just 10 more weeks to go!


Menu Planning Monday

What happens when you send your husband to the store to pick up tortilla shells and he comes home with tortilla shells and a 15-lb ham? Your menu plan for the rest of the week goes right out the door! That’s what happened to us last week, but in Karl’s defense he did get a really good deal on the ham. :)

So this week I’ve got a few carryovers again, due to all the ham we had last week. That’s okay though, because the ham was quite tasty! Without further ado...

For the week of April 26...

Monday: leftover ham, mushroom risotto and roasted asparagus
Tuesday: peanut noodle vegetable soup - Going to add chicken to this recipe...not that I don’t love a good vegetarian dish, it’s just that I want to increase my protein intake a bit and I think chicken would complement this soup. Also going to use thin whole wheat pasta instead of noodles, because I'm too lazy to go back to the store for the noodles!
Wednesday: veggie lasagna
Thursday: broccoli, ham and cheese frittata
Friday: spaghetti and meatballs with roasted broccoli
Saturday: Papa Murphy’s pizza
Sunday: spinach ravioli with homemade tomato sauce

What are you eating this week?


homemade lotion

I'm not a big fan of most commercially-made lotions - too many artificial fragrances, preservatives and scary chemicals in them for my personal tastes. But I hadn't taken the plunge into homemade lotion...until now!

I came across this post a while back and filed it away in the back of my mind as a "someday project". Well...my skin is horribly dry right now, I've got this weird itchy rash on top of my swollen feet (pregnancy's awesome like that in some ways), and the Burt's Bees lotion I was using ran out a few days ago. So last night after work I pulled that post up again to see if a DIY lotion was in the works. Umm, 4 ingredients (all of which I had on hand) and less than 5 minutes from start to finish? Yes please!

I used coconut oil, emulsifying wax, water and rosemary essential oil. Then I let it set up overnight, and I began using it this morning. The verdict? I LOVE IT! Like, I've been proclaiming my love of this stuff all day long I love it so much. And the recipe linked to (besides being SUPER EASY and CHEAP) makes up a pint (I used two 1/2 pint wide-mouth jars) so I'm pretty well stocked with lotion now. And when I run out, it'll be so, so, so easy to make some more!

Swoon. :)



See these two kitties? So cute, right? They love each other, and they are very lovey with us as well. But notice how Cooper (the buff-colored cat) has that "What? I'm totally innocent!" look in his eyes? Yeah, not so much mister...I know your game.

Cooper is OBSESSED with destroying toilet paper! We’ve never been able to use the wall-mounted TP holder because Cooper has some type of jedi awareness of when a new roll goes up and he’s got it unrolled and destroyed almost immediately (I suspect that Henry is his partner-in-crime in this endeavor). We’ve just been putting the rolls on the back of the toilet all these years, but even that hasn’t been safe because stealthy Cooper likes to sneak in and quietly chew on the roll when we aren’t looking. If you’ve been to our house very often, I’m sure you’ve seen our mangled TP rolls!

But now we’ve come up with a solution that didn’t cost us any money and so far has effectively prevented Cooper Cat from wreaking havoc in the bathroom. We used to have this basket in our kitchen to hold spices and garlic, but now with the new layout we have plenty of cabinet space that we don’t need the basket anymore. The basket’s now been repurposed as a TP holder, and Cooper’s been foiled. Victory is ours!

Why didn’t I think of this sooner??!

Menu Planning Monday

Last week I fell off the wagon a bit with cooking at home, and we ended up eating out two times more than what I’d planned. I vow to do better this week! :)

For the week of April 19...

Monday: Leftovers! We’ve got leftover tuna melts and leftover beans and rice from the weekend, so we’ll have a mish-mash of food tonight to clear it out of the fridge.

Tuesday: grilled hot dogs, roasted broccoli and mac ‘n cheese (not the healthiest of meals, but that’s okay with us every once in a while)

Wednesday: tortellini & zucchini soup with Trader Joes rosemary bread (a carryover from last week)

Thursday: steak fajitas (another carryover from last week, because I was having a hard time finding organic red peppers in the store…hopefully I have better luck with that this week)

Friday: veggie lasagna

Saturday: chicken piccata, mushroom risotto and roasted asparagus (Again with the Trader Joes...I just love their mushroom risotto. It’s so easy and so good!)

Sunday: peanut noodle vegetable soup - This is a new recipe I’m trying out this week...I’ll report back next week on how it tastes!

What are you eating for dinner this week?


Making a list and checking it twice

As you can imagine, with a baby on the way, a DIY kitchen remodel, a vegetable garden to plant and countless other things to do...we are busy! Or rather I should say that Karl is one busy man since a majority of our projects are falling on his shoulders while I tackle the stuff that’s safer for this mama-to-be to handle.

This past weekend, the hubs was a man-on-a-mission! He got so much done, it was kind of amazing. He sure does love that nail gun and the quarter-sheet sander that my dad loaned us...not sure if we’ll ever give those two back (just kidding, Dad!)...and he put those both to good use this weekend by installing the rest of the trim in the kitchen, the new (and improved) chair rail in the dining room and the baseboards on the new wall in our living room.

He also finished moving our cable to the inside corner of the living room, mowed the lawn, hauled a few bags of compost down to the garden for me, changed the cat litter and trimmed Henry’s shaggy face! I’m telling you...Man. On. A. Mission.

Meanwhile, I cleaned out our hall closet, got together a big Goodwill pile, pulled some weeds in the garden, planted a few plants and primed half of the nursery (don’t worry, we are using no VOC paint so it’s safe, plus I had the window wide open for ventilation). My list of accomplishments wasn’t nearly as long as Karl’s, but I was still pretty happy with what I got done. :)

Our goal is to get the kitchen and nursery completely done by the end of May so that we can focus on the garden and a little together time during June before baby chaos takes over. That means we’ve got 7 weekends to go before the deadline. If we keep being as productive as we were this past weekend, we should be able to easily accomplish that. Famous last words?? I hope not!


Menu Planning Monday

I’m back with my 2nd weekly installment of ‘What’s for Dinner?’ in the LeDoux house. :) Posting our meal plan last week really helped me stay on track, we ate better and we saved money by not eating out as often as we may have if I hadn’t felt the pressure to stick to the plan. Peer pressure at it’s finest...I love it! ;)

For the week of April 12...

Monday: meatball subs (using leftover homemade tomato sauce from last week and Trader Joe's Italian meatballs...love them!) with roasted broccoli
Tuesday: red bean and rice burritos (a carryover from last week, when we did a substitution)
Wednesday: shrimp fried rice
Thursday: steak fajitas
Friday: tuna melts, roasted sweet potatoes
Saturday: eat out for my birthday (a day early)!
Sunday: tortellini and zucchini soup with Trader Joe's rosemary bread.

I can't believe it's asparagus season and I haven't even made it to the farmer's market yet for my favorite fresh veggie! Oh well, chalk it up to a long 'To Do' list and Sundays that are chock-full of work getting our house and garden ready (our favorite market is the Ballard Market on Sundays). Maybe next week? Yes, definitely!

What are you eating this week?


Just a quick post to say that I am so lucky in the in-law department! Whether it’s someone who has been in my life for over 25 years who sends us home with a big plate of leftover ham (which yielded 2 1/2 meals for us, BTW) and a hunk of bread dough so I can bake up some delicious homemade bread during the week, who is such a joy to get to know as an adult and who supports my decisions 110%...

...or the someones who’ve been around for the last 10 years or so, are so generous and send me a super sweet gift just because they know my swollen feet and ankles have been bothering me so much lately...

...basically, my point is that my family rocks. I heart them, and I just wanted them to know that. :)


black bean and quinoa bowls

I finally found it! I've been making this recipe so long that I don't refer to a recipe anymore....and I could not for the life of me remember where it came from. Until today, that is.

Just for Julie...Yummy Quinoa Recipe (scroll down to the bottom of the post for the recipe description)

Changes that I make: I add a bunch of garlic to the onions and jalapenos and I always use mango salsa (it just tastes perfect this way, to me). Plus, I make much more at one time than her recipe calls for. And sharp cheddar cheese is a must too, IMO. :)

iTunes Tuesday

Playing on my iPod today:

• Sons & Daughters, by The Decemberists
• Red Chord, by The Frames
• Upside, by James
• The Good Old Days, by The Lodger
• Uprising, by Muse
• Question, by Old 97’s
• Come Home, by OneRepublic & Sara Bareillis
• Just Breathe, by Pearl Jam
• (If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To, by Weezer


Menu Planning Monday

I’m going to start a new feature here, where I post our meal plan for the week every Monday. I find that making a meal plan in advance helps me stick to my goal of cooking at home at least 5 nights a week. Since food expenditures are one of the biggest areas of our budget where I’m trying to achieve some reductions, and I can easily fall into the “I’m too tired to cook tonight” trap during the week, I’m hoping that this will help me stay on track!

Week of April 5

• Monday: chicken enchiladas, garden salad
• Tuesday: black bean and quinoa bowls (SO GOOD, I'll have to post the recipe once I find it)
• Wednesday: grilled ham and cheese sandwiches with roasted sweet potatoes
• Thursday: spinach ravioli with homemade (and homegrown!) tomato sauce
• Friday: rotisserie chicken, roasted broccoli and risotto
• Saturday: order out, probably pizza
• Sunday: red bean and rice burritos from this book (another vegetarian dish that is so good)

So that's the plan for what we're eating this week. What are you eating?


Happy Easter!

There's absolutely nothing nutritionally redeeming about these cheesecake bars...but they are soooooo good!

I'll be bringing a plateful of these little delights over to my brother's for Easter dinner tonight! :)

I can see clearly now, the rain is gone...

...the rain on the insides of our windows, that is! This past week, we checked something off of our wish list that has been on there since July 19, 2006 (the day we closed on our house, in case you are wondering)...we replaced our crappy old single-pane aluminum windows!

We were in a hurry to replace those old windows before baby comes for a few reasons: (1) security – the old windows didn’t even have locks on them, just a wooden bar; (2) noise reduction – single-pane aluminum windows don’t offer much in the way of noise reduction; (3) air quality / air flow – some of our old windows didn’t have screens on them at all and some of the existing screens were REALLY old (like, probably from 1960 when the house was built), so if you did open the windows that had screens there were probably extra allergens and dust coming off those yucky old screens; (4) energy efficiency – luckily we never had any mold issues that we know of, but we did get condensation on the inside of the windows and they were about as inefficient as it comes; and (5) aesthetics – those old windows were just plain ugly!

But before we could pull the trigger on this major project, I had to do our taxes to make sure we didn’t owe a boatload of moolah to Uncle Sam like we did with our 2007 and 2008 returns. Two tax credits saved the day – Making Work Pay and the energy efficiency credit that we got to take for adding insulation to our house last year. Thank you, tax incentives! Since we were actually getting a small return back from the government, we knew that we’d be able to afford replacement windows without going in to debt. Whew.

My next step was to get several estimates from various contractors. We ultimately decided to go with Emerald City Energy - they are a local company, they are very highly regarded by the Better Business Bureau and Angie’s List, I know a guy at work who recommended them and we felt that their product was superior to the others we looked at while still being cost competitive. Oh, and I should mention that they were super fast, too. We ordered the windows in the middle of March and they were ready to install by the end of the month. (And no, even though I may sound like I’m being paid to give them free advertising...I unfortunately am not.)

So in come the windows and up comes my dad to supervise the installation and also to allow Karl and me to not have to blow one of our precious vacation days to stay home when the installation guys were there (trying to save up all we can for our family leave this summer). Thanks, Dad...you are a lifesaver!

The whole job was completed in about 6 hours from start-to-finish, and they did a FABULOUS job. My dad, who is notoriously picky about the work that contractors do, didn’t have a single complaint and in fact was very impressed by their speed, professionalism, cleanliness and by the amount of caulk that they used. And we can’t even believe how much BETTER the house looks from the inside and out! I knew it would look better, I just didn’t realize how amazing the transformation would be. Click HERE for an older before picture. I think the after is soooo much better! :)

And as an added bonus, we’ll get to take 30% of the cost of this project as a tax credit on our 2010 federal return and we are also eligible for a rebate from our local energy company as well. Score!

It’s gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright) sun-shiney day!


daycare sucks!

Or rather, I should say, searching for daycare sucks! Wait a minute, you ask, why are you looking for daycare NOW? You’re not even due until July, and aren’t you taking time off work after baby is born? The answer to that question is yes, I am taking 4-6 months off work...and I don’t want to spend that time stressing over finding daycare for the little guy. Surprisingly, finding infant care is proving to be harder than I expected.

I’ve visited two daycares so far. The first, an in-home daycare, was right up my alley. They took the steps to get certified as an eco-healthy daycare, they have 1 employee dedicated to the babies and 1 dedicated to the older kids, they are affordable and I really liked the approach they take with encouraging brain and muscle development in their infants. There were only two downsides to this daycare: (1) they don’t offer a part-time rate (not such a big deal, since my post-leave work schedule isn’t finalized yet and their full-time rate was still really reasonable), and (2) they have no infant openings. Umm, that downside #2 is a deal breaker...DARN!

The second one I visited, a Montessori school, gave me a bad vibe from the very beginning. They were unorganized, they didn’t even ask me my name before they let me in and showed me around the place (while the kids were there, no less), the location was not at all convenient for Karl or me, the infant room had an overwhelmingly strong scent of bleach and the people there didn’t seem to actually know anything about nor practice anything Montessori-related. When I asked them what a typical day was like in the infant room, they said that they really just let the babies set the schedule. Umm, how about tummy time, active learning, singing/sign language, physical touch, cuddle time, reading, etc? No, none of that? You just let the babies decide what they want to do all day?? This one got graded a solid F by me, so it’s been crossed off the list of potentials.

We also had two other candidates – an in-home nanny and a Montessori school near my office. Both had great potential...until the nanny decided to retire and the Montessori school closed down. Ugh!

One other place near my office, that a lot of coworkers use, has no infant openings until January 2011 when they might have one. I inquired at this place in February, and they don’t have a SINGLE infant opening until next January?! Plus, they are one of the more expensive daycares around so I’d rather not go there if I can find another option that suits our needs.

Henry...can you watch the little guy for us? Guess not - those pirate duties take up too much of your time (just kidding, BTW, about having Henry be our babysitter!).

Which leads me back to square one in this search. My next step is to use a place called Child Resources, which is similar to an apartment finder service but for daycare. Here’s my wish list:

(1) A somewhat convenient location so that Karl and I can share in the drop-off and pick-up duties without either one of us going completely out of our way.
(2) Agreeable to cloth diapers and breast-feeding.
(3) Eco-conscious in their cleaning practices.
(4) Affordable (which, in the Seattle area, means I’m hoping to get by at less than $1,500/mo for full-time).
(5) Practices some type of active learning that encourages motor functions and brain development from the very beginning. I love the concept of the Montessori method, but I’m open to anything that helps our little guy develop and progress like we want him to.

Is that too much to ask?? I guess time will tell, but until then I shall keep up the search!

Oh, and real quickly I want to mention that I've turned on comment moderation. This just means that if you post a comment (and I love getting comments!), it won't publish until I've accepted it. I've gotten a few odd comments lately so this seems like the best solution. And to the guy with 'Demon' in his name that left the rude comment (that has since been deleted) - this blog isn't really for perfect strangers (although I certainly don't mind the perfect strangers who stop by here!), but it was and is primarily for our family and friends who live all over the U.S. and the world...Washington, Oregon, California, Missouri, Kansas, Texas, Colorado, (soon-to-be) North Carolina, Hong Kong, Thailand, etc. This is my way of keeping everyone up-to-date with what's going on in our lives, and I make no apologies for sharing personal details of my life and "thinking that anyone would actually care". Cheers! :)