Babies, Groundhogs, and the Superbowl

Y’all know by now how much I love a party, right? How much fun I can have just planning a party. I don’t even have to be invited to the party, I just like to plan. Colors, decorations, menu- all of it. I love me a good party. A good friend and I once nearly went into business together as event coordinators.

Fortunately, party planning has been plentiful in these parts lately. A few weeks after our annual New Year’s Eve party this year, I had the honor of helping to plan a baby shower for my very best and oldest friend in all the world. (I should rephrase; she’s not old. She’s just been my best friend basically since we were born.) She was my maid of honor in our wedding; I was the matron of honor in hers. She planned my baby shower, and now I’ve had the privilege of returning the favor in honor of her sweet baby girl, who made her grand appearance one week ago today.

When she announced her pregnancy, I told her I would help to throw her shower. Along with her mom, sister-in-law, and some of her close friends, we planned for a beautiful Sunday morning brunch shower to celebrate the mom-to-be and baby. Baby girl’s bedroom is decorated in a cactus theme; it’s rustic and funky and relaxing and slightly feminine without being over-the-top girly and “foufy.” For the shower, my friend asked for “pink and lots of flowers,” since the nursery didn’t follow the same theme.

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For the food, we went with a brunch theme. My mom helped me to make most of the food, rather than hiring a caterer. I made two pans of my reliable Overnight French Toast (I almost always have a pan or two of this in my freezer for guests or for a weekend my boys are asking for a big breakfast but I have neither the time nor the energy to produce one). I also made two quiches (quiches…that is the plural of quiche, right? It just sounds so weird to me. I always feel like I’m saying it wrong, but I’m not sure what I think it should be. Quiche? Like deer and moose- the plural doesn’t change? I don’t know. Chalk it up to the ramblings of a madwoman. Anyway… the quiches…) I made one ham and cheese, the other spinach and mushroom. In addition, we served three different kind of scones: cinnamon, chocolate chip, and cheddar rosemary. For the cheddar scones, I tweaked the recipe I found on the back of a bag of Great Value cheddar cheese. I also whipped up a batch of these Overnight Danish (I swapped out the cherry filling for blueberry). My mom made two batches of cinnamon rolls, and the cake and cupcakes, and we served all of this with a couple of fruit trays, and a big selection of juice to drink- including pink lemonade.

The shower came together nicely, and we managed to feed roughly 50 ladies with the food we made, and I think we made some good choices in the menu.

Once the shower was over, we still had a little over six weeks to wait for the sweet little love to arrive. I had helped mama-to-be with some suggestions for the nursery before the holidays, and it was so much fun to see it all come together with all of her shower gifts.

Here’s our inspiration board:

…And here’s how the nursery looked before its new inhabitant moved in:

(All photos of the finished room were taken and shared courtesy of LJM .)

Shortly after we wrapped on the baby shower, it was time for a double-header celebration weekend, with Groundhog Day and the Super Bowl. As native Punxsutawnians, Ryan and I have made it a tradition with our boys to make Groundhog Day kind of a big deal. I bake cookies shaped like groundhogs each year for the guys to take to work and school. I used to bake a regular sugar cookie recipe and cut out with my “authentic Punxsutawney Phil cookie cutter,” but a few years back our oldest son began requesting this molasses spice cookies recipe because a friend of the boys’ has an egg allergy, and this recipe doesn’t use eggs.

Immediately following Groundhog Day was the Super Bowl. None of us had a favorite team playing this year, but Super Bowl Sunday is still an excuse to whip up some junk food and throw a party, so that’s what we did. I had found Buffalo Wild Wings’ sauces at the grocery store, in all of our favorite flavors, so I bought some bone-in wings and attempted a crispy baked wings recipe. Another favorite in our house is Anne Burrell’s homemade potato chips. They’re time-consuming but so delicious, and the perfect accompaniment to those wings. Continuing with our party theme of “fat and carbs,” I also made a batch of homemade pretzel bites with a cheesy dipping sauce. And, to add something somewhat fresh and semi-healthy to the buffet (and because I felt like we needed some kind of pizza but I’d already covered main dishes and fat and carbs), I also made this fruit pizza.

For Christmas, I received my very own copy of Joanna Gaines’ Magnolia Table cookbook. In it was a recipe for seasoned crackers that sounded intriguing, so I added that to our assortment as well, alongside my favorite cheeseball.

Please forgive me for being so late in posting all of these, friends. Life in La Casa de Merrow has been nothing short of crazy lately, and the days have slipped away faster than I’d realized.

Hoping you’re all surviving the lingering winter days, and that you’re seeing some sunshine where you are.




Baby Steps

I used a pun to title this post.  Just making sure I still know how to use a pun.  Also, just making sure I still know how to blog.

It’s been awhile.  A long while.  When I started this blog, I was a “career woman,” out in the real world, sharing my daily debacles as I stumbled through life working, maintaining our home, and attempting “domestic goddess” status.  I had a lot to share, and a lot of time to share it.

Nowadays, I strive to take a shower.

I don’t want this to become another “Mommy blog,” because, as much as I’m in love with our new son, and as much as I am adoring my new career as a stay-at-home mom (striving to be promoted to domestic engineer), I’m still trying to find the balance of meeting the little guy’s needs, maintaining the kind of home Ryan and I are accustomed to (and, in fact, the kind of home we both need in order to stay sane), and keeping two men and a dog fed (that sounds like a weird movie, doesn’t it?) while also trying to find time to keep doing my “me” things.  That sounds selfish, doesn’t it?  Except that in concept, it’s really not…God, I hope it’s not.  Ryan needs his time with the little one when he gets home from work.  And I do occasionally like to take a break from the kitchen and laundry to read a book, take a bath, do my nails, or write a blog.  And Clohe is the kind of dog who still needs to be the center of attention, so we have been trying to keep up with her therapy visits.  (And this is a lot of parentheses and sentence fragments.  Apparently, my writing skills are slipping).  And if I’m showered, dressed (in jeans, not sweats!), and can apply a bit of make-up and do something with my wildly-out-of-control hair before 6 pm… well, that’s a big bonus.   

And so recently, what with the little man sleeping 8-ish hour stretches at night (hallelujah!), I’ve been taking baby steps back into the kitchen.  This weekend, I made a crock pot chicken cacciatore, these grocery store-style sugar cookies, a batch of chocolate chip cookies, and a batch of homemade salted caramel sauce that I plan to substitute in the cheesecake recipe I’m contributing to Thanksgiving dinner with Ryan’s family. 

Most weeknight meals lately have been chicken; I’ve found that cooking a whole fryer chicken on the weekends when Ryan is home, then portioning it out and leaving it in the fridge makes dinnertime much easier, since the most time-consuming part is already done.  When I can, I’ve made extra of whatever we’re having, and put half a meal into the freezer for later.  Or, if it’s been a really rough day, Ryan just has to entertain the baby while I throw something together quickly.  In fact, last Monday night, Ryan came home to find me sacked out on the loveseat with the baby, nothing started for dinner.  Fortunately, my pre-portioned chicken idea saved the night, and dinner was ready in less than twenty minutes.

So, I’m working on getting the cleaning-with-a-baby-in-the-house routine down.  Cooking and baking are also works in progress.  And so the next item on my list is blogging. 

Baby steps, friends.  Baby steps.