Thursday, January 28, 2010

So Much Monkeying Around!

This past weekend was so much fun- and action packed! Well... Save for my lazy Friday evening anyway. :) On Saturday, Natalia and I took off for some retail therapy in Orlando. We spent an hour mulling over decor in IKEA, prompting me to come home and devise an entire scheme to re-decorate my house before Sprout's arrival- I realized I am a fan of "cottage" decor, mixing vintage items with newer ones, very little clutter, and lots of bright colors, and I want that to reflect in every room of the house. I will be giving up my closet room (for those who don't know, Mike turned one of the guest rooms into a personal closet for me- but it seems selfish and silly to keep it, and give up the guest room, in favor of the nursery- so Mike and I will once again be sharing closet space.... Yikes.) We then met my sis for a tasty lunch at Cheesecake Factory, where I promptly experienced my third bout of "morning sickness." Luckily there are other items on the menu that I love in addition to the Santa Fe salad, because it is, I'm sorry to say, ruined for me- at least for awhile.

We then headed over to the outlets, where I found an adorable Coach umbrella to replace my Dooney and Bourke, which met its demise on the blustery morning of my first pre-natal appointment- the handle was blown sideways and then snapped off!

 We also had some luck at the Jcrew outlet, where I found a cute purple knit dress with plenty of room for the impending belly.
 I was worried that clothes shopping was going to lose some luster, but I'm actually getting excited about the flowing dresses in my future- plus, there's a whole NEW line of stuff to shop for- nursery bedding and furniture, toys, games, wall art- yay!

All in all a very fun shopping day, which Mike and I topped off with a delish dinner at Manuels' Vintage Room downtown. If you have not had a chance to try Manuels'- stop reading immediately and go. They do early dinner specials (ask for the early dinner menu) Sunday-Thursday, with $10 entrees and $10 bottles of wine.... it's tasty! We were lucky enough to recieve the VIP treatment since the GatorTailgating intern works there (hey, he's gotta make money somewhere, GT pays its owners and employees in beer.) We indulged in lobster ravioli (my fave) and a pear-filled pasta with brown butter sauce that they assure me will be making regular appearances on the menu. Bless you, Manuel, Marco, and Josh.

On Sunday, Mike and I loaded up the kayaks and headed to the Ocala Boat Club to put in and paddle the Silver River. We had gorgeous weather- warm, breezy, not too humid- and good lighting for some outdoor photography- Mike's new love. We enjoyed crystal clear water to paddle through, and had several critter spottings- alligators, birds, and.... monkeys!!! We happened upon a whole family of monkeys in the trees, including a precious, darlin' baby monkey that Mike was able to capture on camera. They must be escapees from the downriver Silver Springs park- we were so lucky to have discovered them. So cute! Check out some highlights from the day:

After our paddle, we were starving and both came up with the idea to try out the Yearling Restaurant in Cross Creek. Their limited hours have kept us from going in the past- they're only open Thursday-Sunday, and I always forget until Tuesday, it seems- but they specialize in old-Florida "cracker-style" cuisine- and it's incredibly tasty!

Blues inside the Yearling. Pic from

We tried frog legs, fried shrimp, hush puppies, cheese grits- and the dessert, OH man. I had a sour orange pie- similar to key lime pie but with oranges from their tree growing behind the restaurant. And Mike had the single most amazing pecan pie I've ever tasted- I practically licked the bowl clean, it was so good. They had live music in both of their dining rooms, and would make a fun alternative Happy Hour spot if we could convince everyone to make the trek out to Cross Creek! We thought it was well worth it, and I can't wait to go back. They also have little cabins to rent in kindof a fish-camp setting. And here's a little plug for area attractions: Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' homestead is just down the street, they do regular tours when they're open and it's a real treat. Mizz Rawlings was quite the partier, from what I understand, and her doctors warned her as she got older to cut her drinking back to 3 martinis a day- she sounds like my kind of girl! She was also the first in the area to have proper indoor plumbing, and celebrated by throwing a party with ice and beer in the toilet. Again, my kind of girl- what a creative party idea! (don't worry, I won't be serving beer out of my toilet any time soon... The bathtub, though. That's a possibility. :)

Friday, January 22, 2010

How Friday Nights are Different...

Generally, Mike Baby and I spend Friday evenings in the company of the Ball (formerly AB) peeps, chatting and sharing a few pitchers of beer over some tasty and oh-so-bad-for-us appetizers. I love our Happy Hour family, and have so many great memories of our simple Friday evenings passing with lots of laughter and fun.

I have made it out to one Happy Hour and one midweek get-together since Sprout jumped on board, and drank my O'douls and Shirley Temples like a champ- I even braved the Bleeker Wine and White Elephant, which turned out to be so much fun to be among friends who are already parents and have a chance to talk to them about all the new experiences on my horizon. But each of these 3 experiences has resulted in a different home dynamic- I stagger in, light-headed from exhaustion and the sugar high that comes with all my nonalcoholic drinks- Mike Baby staggers in, light-headed from... Drunken stupors. (Sorry, baby.) And as much as I love him, and as much as I know he's just having a safe, harmless good time- he kinda gets on my nerves. Oh, who am I kidding- Mike is friggin' annoying as hell when he's wasted!! Of course, I probably am really annoying when I've been drinking too- that's why we generally enjoy drinking together. So needless to say, evenings out have just lost a bit of their former luster.

*note that I am the luckiest wifey alive in that, Mike, when wasted, tends to tell me how awesome I am and how much he loves me. He's pretty awesome himself with all the flattery! I don't mean to discount that by complaining about his drunken tendency to be annoying. Bless him.

I guess I just didn't anticipate how it would feel to be the sober one in a group. I don't miss the drinks themselves- well, maybe I miss margaritas. But for the most part I'm not pining away for drinks- I just miss the camaraderie I suppose.... So readers, if you're out there, I'm currently accepting invitations to ice cream, smoothie, shopping, and chick flick dates! There's lots of sober fun to be had! :)

In the meantime, though, I spent my first Friday night at home (willingly, I promise) with assorted fresh fruit (Del Monte makes the best citrus salad in the fresh produce section, yumm) and a movie downloaded lovingly by Mike Baby himself- Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day. Selected because I'm just such an Amy Adams fan, this is such a little darling of a movie! Amy Adams plays an actress in 1930's ish England. She's gorgeous, her clothes are gorgeous- and her life is an absolute mess, but Francis McDormand comes along and cleans it up for her. It's so precious how Miss Pettigrew tries to save Amy Adams from her poor "professional" decisions and guide her toward her true love- she talks to her about the love of her life and says, "he smiled when he looked at me, and you could build a life on something like that," (I'm paraphrasing.) The point is, though, Amy Adams needed to stop chasing dreams long enough to see the simple goodness of her true love and appreciate it! That Francis McDormand is one smart cookie.

I sometimes have panic attacks based on my fear of not living my life to my absolute fullest- should I have taken a different job, moved to a different city, should I take bigger risks, should I encourage Mike to do the same, what can we do to ensure that we're not missing out on something. It's even more important to me now, not because I feel like having a baby haults our lives in favor of theirs, but because I want us to set a good example of seizing opportunities and having big dreams and pursuing personal growth. I get so caught up, I forget about all the shining examples of success I already have around me- Mike and I are building a fun, loving home with our 2 bad dogs, we have lots of great friends, we laugh a lot and we don't argue over chores (now how many married and co-habitating couples can say that?!?) Even as I type this, Stel and Yel are attacking me with kisses, saying Hey Mama get off the stinkin' computer and play with us! And honestly, getting to spend my Fridays getting kisses from my mutts is a pretty successful way to start my weekend. :)

What I'm slowly realizing is that if I want to find a way to work through my fears, I've got to first appreciate all I've done- and all the love and positive resources I have in my life- I've got to stop looking for what's missing and seeing what's already here. And who knows, maybe the dogs will lead me to those big dreams of mine- they might just be hiding under the deck!

Someday we will have our big house in a historic district, we'll bike to farmer's markets and I'll finally be able to garden (well, that may be pushing it, seeing as I kill herbs. But hey, these are dreams.) And some day I may find myself writing, or owning a little sammie shop/bakery combo. In the meantime I just want to enjoy these Fridays- they may be the last peaceful Fridays I ever have! After all, once Sprout comes along, we'll just be toting him/her along with us to Happy Hour. And here's to hoping that I can stay peaceful, positive, and healthy the next 32 weeks- now that's something the rest of you can all drink to on my behalf. :)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Variety may not be the spice of life....

Mike and I ate really bad during the holidays. Or really good. It depends on your definitions of "eating bad" and "eating good." For instance, if you are into lean meats, veggies, low carb- then Mike and I ate VERY BAD over the holidays. However, if you appreciate all that is prime rib, lobster, hollandaise sauce (from scratch!) white chocolate cherry shortbread cookies, wine (lots of wine- didn't know about Sprout then. Whoopsie) and homemade fudge, then we ate very good. There was an abundance of viddles at our disposal during the holidays, and we indulged with the agreement that we would, at the beginning of the year, buckle down and change the way we eat. And we were even more adamant about this decision once the news of Sprout's impending arrival sunk in. So suffice it to say, I spent the better part of my time (and the better part of our bills account balance) stocking up this weekend on healthy foodstuffs for Casa Herchel.

Now, this was a superior challenge for me in that I just don't know how to cook healthy stuff. I do okay with salmon; I make a killer salsalito turkey chopped salad, with lots of fresh Southwestern flavors. I also picked up a lot of deli selections like roast beef, smoked chicken, and cheeses, so we can do soup-or-salad-and-sammie nights, which certainly sounds healthy, even if it isn't.

In that spirit, I packed up my lunch yesterday with Campbell's Soup at Hand (these little buggers are so convenient!) and a sammie consisting of roast beef, raspberry chipotle spread, and pepper jack cheese. I loaded up my grocery bag with these items, and trekked off to work positively cheerful, full of pride in my healthy, inexpensive decision-making.

And I stayed positively cheerful all morning. And into the afternoon. I was even positively cheerful at 1pm, when my first bout of nausea hit. I kinda felt like Michael Cera in Superbad- you know the scene where he's hooking up with that girl Becca, and he goes, "They said that would happen in Health class?" Well that's how I felt! I am a shining example of science and biology! The books said nausea would come- and here it is!! Whoohoo! (okay, maybe that's taking it a little far.)

Anyway, I did what any perfectly sane person would do at this point, and I traipsed off to the fridge to get my lunch. Eating helps nausea, right? So off I go to get my lunch- the same one containing pepper jack cheese and chipotle sauce. Let me take this moment to share with you- I am not smart. AND I'm procreating. This is a winning combination.

So, suffice it to say that my poor tummy and poor acid reflux were in a right state the remainder of yesterday. I came home, complained to Mike Baby, who scoffed and said, "what did you expect?" To which I threatened to not make maple-glazed salmon for dinner, until I realized that I myself wanted maple glazed salmon for dinner. He sure is lucky I was hungry.

In case my intelligence level was still under question, however, I will clinch it for you here:

This morning, I again packed my lunch with soup (still yummy) and sammie. And since yesterday's combo of raspberry chipotle spread, roast beef, and pepper jack wasn't such a winning combo, I was quick to revise my sammie contents to include roasted chicken... pepper jack (because it's all we've got, thanks to Mike Baby scarfing all the white american) and.... Here's the ipitome of dumbness... honey mixed with curry powder.

I have officially gone insane. And suffice it to say, I will be living on crackers for the rest of the week.

In the meantime, I do want to share with you two of my recent and most beloved finds at the grocery store. Healthy, tasty, and convenient! Go pick these up today kids. They're delish.

These smoothies come in 2-serving packets- with fresh berries and frozen vanilla yogurt chunks, you just blend with milk and you're good to go! A 30-second breakfast smoothie. Very refreshing. Which is just what we need in 18-degree weather.

And these little morsels:

These are organic bits of goodness. I swear they taste like sugar cookie dough. And they don't contain all the corn syrupy crap you find in most granola bars. These have become my new fave grab-and-go item ever. Ever. EVER. Go immediately to and sign up for a $1 off coupon. and then go get these puppies BOGO at Publix fo' cheap.

You'll be glad you did. Oh, and I swear that neither Yoplait nor Cascadian is endorsing me in any way. Yet.

Monday, January 11, 2010

A Rose by Any Other Name...

So, for those of you who aren't aware, Mike and I will not be finding out Sprout's sex. I am especially excited to be surprised- which is rare for me, since I HATE surprises, but I figure this one's completely out of my control- I'm getting what I'm getting either way! I also feel that there are several benefits to waiting, namely:

1. Getting to design a gender-neutral nursery, meaning I can go ahead and start planning it NOW, as opposed to waiting- I'm still leaning toward a Dr. Seuss theme.
2. Having my baby shower be a theme that reflects MY interests, as opposed to the baby's gender. After all, the baby's not there to enjoy it yet anyway! It may as well be for me! :)
3. Placing bets on what we're having, just for fun.
4. Getting to pick out both a girl name and a boy name, and have them at the ready.

Now, you may think that all of those sound like good reasons- the fun of picking out the nursery early! The excitement of selecting two names! However, we are definitely NOT in agreement about baby names. Mike only liked one name ever, boy or girl- James. And that's fine.... Except, our precious, darlin' nephew Halen's middle name is James, as is Mike's middle name and... Well. I just don't want our kid coming out thinking that we're not at all creative and can't come up with anything else to call him (or her!)

All of my suggestions have recieved a scowl and a vehement rejection from Mike, who of course hasn't come up with any names of his own, except for "Tebow," "Wuerrfel" and "Harvin," all of which were expected, and of course immediately rejected by me.

*Not that I'm opposed to sports-related names. I myself suggested Walker, so the baby could be Walker Herchel, like Herchel Walker. Which, by the way, is a name I actually like. But Mike disagreed.

Some of my fave rejections so far include Thomas, Foster, Sawyer, Patrick, Charlie, Sam, George... All good, classic boy names. But none seem to trump Mike's affection for James.

We do, at least, have a few girls' names we agree upon, namely Rose. I also like Cecilia, Nora, Ava Rae, Caroline, Harper, Ella.... but I think we've at least settled on part of the girl name being Rose.

I tell ya, as a girl, I have spent years of my life picking out baby names for fun, and now that the time is actually upon us, this selection process is brutal! It's possible that Sprout will end up with a name that is absolutely ridiculous, like Spot or Fido or Fluffy or Felix, simply because we can only agree on names that are silly. At least if we end up doing that, we can get these awesome personalized items for the baby: I mean, surely that dog sweater will fit the baby like a onesie, right?!

*If you have any ideas on baby names, Mike and I are open to suggestions.... Although if he crinkles up his nose in rejection, don't take it personally.

Friday, January 8, 2010

January 8, 2010- Welcome to My Blogworld!

Well, it is no secret to my loved ones now that Mike Baby and I are expecting our first family expansion on September 4, 2010. We discovered Sprout last Monday, and are looking forward to his/her arrival!

I had planned on starting a blog this year anyway, because I so dearly miss the blog feature on Myspace now that I'm a FB girl.... And this is a great excuse! However, I assure you that this will not be like all the other pregnancy blogs, full of doctor-visit stats and updates on my nausea and belly girth. No, sirree, here you will find my daily rants on how disagreeable Mike Baby is with any of the names I suggest, details of all the cute maternity clothes I'm buying, pics of cute baby crap that I'm bound to start buying soon too (like baby Ugg's! Oh, it's happening. Trust me.) I'll also take time to throw in some updates on what's happening with Mike and me... we may do something interesting every now and then, after all.

For instance, Mike has gotten really into photography since his recent purchase of a badass Canon digital camera. He in love, and we've taken to trekking through area parks in search of nature photography (on the warmer weekends, anyway.) He's also going to be taking a photo class at Santa Fe soon too! Which is great for all of the belly and baby pics in our near future. There are also some very exciting prospects for GatorTailgating opening up soon and I'll post more about those as they develop.

In other news, I have just started a 4-week certification course in Tourism Crisis Management at UF. Everyone tried to warn me about all the reading involved, but I shrugged it off, as I am an extremely fast reader. What I didn't account for was the fact that I'm a fast reader when I WANT to read something... but a 13 page article on the effects of avian flu on tourism? Now, that makes for some bedtime reading... Mostly because it puts me to sleep! I made it through my first assignment with little anguish, though, and in the meantime I'm signing up for a knitting class through UF Leisure courses- if you've never taken a leisure course from UF or a community education class through Santa Fe, I highly reccomend them! There's all kinds of opportunities to learn a new language, play an instrument, develop computer skills. They're great! Check out the course schedules at or

Stay tuned for more updates as Mike Baby and I journey through all that is pregnancy, and beyond!