Saturday, October 30, 2010

Etsy monkey decal review

Jon and I are very excited about our baby's nursery since it's our first baby and...well...we're easily amused.  Ever since I got pregnant, I've been on this monkey kick.  I love monkey everything for the baby!

Naturally, our nursery will have a monkey theme.

Once our friends found out, I got lots and lots of awesome links to cool monkey things and one of my favorites were the decals from Etsy.  Here are the two we ended up getting:

Monkeys on a Branch (XL) from XpressionsThatStick

And Personalized initials by ToodlesdesignStudio

I was so excited when they came, I could barely contain myself.  Unfortunately, you have to wait about 2-3 days for the decals to straighten out before you can put them on your wall.  Did I mention that patience is not a virtue I possess?

In any case, the 2-3 days came and went and Jon and I excitedly put our decals up!

We decided to start with the name one first.

Here's my take on this one.  First of all, we chose to paint our walls with a semi-gloss paint which is super easy to clean.  This also means it is super hard to get things to stick on there.

Let me start by saying that we absolutely love the decals.  They were beautiful and exactly what we wanted.

But putting them on the wall was a pain.  A huge pain.  They kept coming off the wall and onto the clear backing paper.  Jon and I spent almost an hour putting these guys up.

But the result made it worth it.

Now on to the monkeys on the branch.  I think this one was our favorite.  We've been eyeiing it for about 6 months.

We finally decided to go ahead and buy it - in extra large.  It was huge! And so awesome!

But after spending an hour putting up the smaller letter decal, Jon and I were nervous.  We prepared for the worst.  And you know what?  This decal took about 10 minutes to put up! It was super easy!  The backing paper this company used was different.  It came right off the paper and stuck on our walls!  We were amazed Speechless, even!

And who can argue with this result?

I just love these monkeys!

That's the finished product.  We're still trying to decide what to do on the other side of the room, but at least this side is complete!

Oh, and the name decal came with some leaves that happen to match our paint color exactly!  So we used them on the closet doors.  I think it actually made it even cuter!

What do you think?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Spanish rice

You know what side I tend to always overlook?  Rice.  I don't know why either because every time I make it, it's delicious!  It's super easy, doesn't take too long, requires very little maintenance (err....stirring) and tastes amazing.

Here's a super easy recipe for Spanish Rice.

What you'll need:
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup uncooked regular long-grain rice
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
  • 2 and 1/2 cups water
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
(you can use a can of tomato sauce instead of tomatoes and paste)

Heat oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat.  Cook rice and onion in oil for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until rice is golden brown and onion is tender.

Okay, I know it doesn't look appetizing now, but just wait for it.

Stir in remaining ingredients.

Heat to boiling.  Then reduce the heat and smmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionall, until rice is tender.

There. That looks much better.

It makes a perfect side dish for just about anything!  I love the way it compliments almost any flavor.  And if you're not in the mood to cook something else, must throw some sausage or shrimp or even chicken into the mix (cook it first, then put it in when there's about 10 minutes left).  Or if you're me, just add some hot dogs.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Bilingual families

Jon and I have a bilingual family.  I was born and raised in Moscow, Russia.  Jon grew up in the U.S.

When Jon and I got married, we knew that we would always have to do things just a little bit differently because of our backgrounds, but we were ready for this challenge.  So far we've done amazing!  Jon is super patient at my parents' house as we sit and talk in Russian, our first language.  He's also incredibly understanding when my parents take a few minutes to find the right word for what they are trying to communicate to him.  He's even tried to learn a little bit of Russian when we went to Moscow a couple of years ago.  Now that my grandparents moved here from Moscow, things are even more different since they don't speak any English.  Our families have also been supportive (as they are in every single thing) by making the extra effort to spend time together and communicate, regardless of the language barrier.  Few things make me happier than watching my parents chatting joyously with Jon's family.

With a baby on the way, we've had to sit down and make a couple more decisions.  The biggest question at hand right now is what language to teach the baby.

On one hand I've always wanted to teach our kids how to speak Russian and to introduce them to my culture.  My family is important to me and Addi will need to know how to communicate with them.  I struggle with making this work since she will be surrounded by English and today it's easier for me to speak English as well.  One of the methods that I've heard and read about is to teach the baby just one language, the one they will have a harder time learning, until they go to pre-school.  Some say that surrounding them with Russian when they are very young will make it easier for them to learn it while they will pick up English in school easily.  However, I can't see myself doing that since Jon's family doesn't speak Russian.  How could I deny their grandchild from communicating with them?  I wouldn't.

On the other hand if we decided to introduce both languages to the baby from the day she is born, she will have a harder time catching up.  Babies who learn two languages from birth tend to start speaking later in life.  I feel guilty slowing Addi's progress so early in her life.  I don't want to see her struggle to understand what words mean and which language she should speak.

For now Jon and I plan to take the latter route and speak both languages to Peanut when she is born.  I'll try to talk Russian while Jon will speak English.  Peanut's grandparents will also do their part in creating two environments, allowing Addi to hear both languages.

I even talked to my grandparents and had them bring some Russian baby books to read to Peanut after she's born (I need to brush up on my reading skills!).

These are stories that I was brought up on.  I'm so excited to share them with Addi!

I've been reading them to remind myself about my childhood and it's been amazing.

This was my favorite book when I was a kid.  It's a collection of exaggerated stories about a little boy whose name is Dennis.  Every story is only a couple of pages long and every one of them is hilarious.  I've been reading them and giggling to myself since translating them to Jon often loses the meaning (although I did try...he didn't laugh).

We have about a dozen books in Russian now and I plan to get a few more.

No worries- I've been buying some English books too, mostly because I can't resist them.

So, blog friends of mine, any advice on raising a bilingual baby?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Orange and Balsamic Chicken

Do you get Everyday food, a Martha Stewart magazine?  It's super tiny and convenient and comes with a buttload of awesome simple recipes.  (ps- my spell-check didn't like buttload. I wonder why).

Anyways, this is a recipe from the latest edition.

Here's what you'll need:
  • 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 1/2 pound total)
  • coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 unpeeled orange, cut into 8 wedges
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper.

Honestly, I hate the way raw chicken looks.  It's so...yucky.  It looks like...yucky stuff.

Moving right along.  And away from the uncooked chicken.  We can fix this.

In a large overproof skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Add chicken, skin side down, and cook until golden and crisp, about 7 minutes.

Okay, that might be just a tad too crisp, but it's the way Jon and I like it.  Slightly burnt. 

Tansfer the chicken to a plate, pour off fat from skillet and return the chicken, skin side up.

Take the whole thing and stick it in the oven.  Bake until cooked through, about 10 minutes.  Transfer to a plate.

Now on to the super delicious part.

Heat skillet over medium heat and add vinegar and orange wedges.  Cook, stirring and scraping up browned bits with a wooden spoon, until orange begins to soften (about 2 minutes).

Remove from heat and stir in butter.  To server, return chicken to skillet and toss with orange and sauce.

How's that look?

I vote for amazing.  Then again, I got to taste it.  And guess what?  It was amazing. I love oranges and balsamic.  And chicken.  And food.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

We're lucky peeps

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Jon and I are incredibly lucky in that we have some of the most generous family members and friends.  I'm absolutely positive that we wouldn't be as comfortably set in our environment if it weren't for them.

For example, when we bought our first "fixer-upper" home just over 3 years ago, our families and friends all got together for a long weekend and painted every room.  For 2 straight days about 20 people came and went as we struggled to finish the paint in time for the floors to be redone.  There was no way we'd be able to get it done without them.  Our floors were a gift from Jon's family and we're incredibly thankful.  Our kitchen was a complete disaster with molded floor boards and nasty 50-year-old cabinets that smelled like something died in them.  My parents gifted us a remodel as a wedding gift (my dad spent 2 weeks at our house ripping our floors and cabinets and tiling along with Jon).

Now that our first baby is on the way, we've had an outpouring of amazing hand-me-downs and untouched baby stuff from family, friends, and neighbors!  I can't even describe to you how excited we are for every single items.

Baby bathrobe
And the best part - these are all so freakin' cute!  My friend Michelle gave us two huge bags worth of baby stuff and clothes that filled up two bins!  I am almost positive that we won't have to dress our baby until she's 1 and a half.

Snow suit
How cute is this baby snow suit?  I have been hearing how wasteful it is to buy winter clothes for newborns because they grow our of it within days, so imagine how excited I was when I saw this in one of the bags from Michelle.

Hat and gloves
I am in love with this little hat and gloves! I can't wait to put the baby in this!

Among some of my favorite stuff, Michelle also gave us these super cute bunny slippers!  I just want to die - they are so adorable.

This here sweater is also one of my favorites from Michelle's many hand-me-downs.  I love that it's for 0-3 months since Addi will be born in the middle of the winter.

Infant toys
Among all the adorable clothes (we now have a huge bin of clothes put away for when she is 6-12 months!) were also some toys.  I've heard that babies bore of their toys relatively quickly so I'm excited to have some in stock.

Toy bin
Actually, between our lucky finds at tag sales, our generous neighbors, and Michelle, we have 2 bins full of infant toys!

We also got this mobile.  We have one that came with our bedding set, but a friend of mine told me that it's worth it to get another one for the changing table because it helps to keep the baby calm while changing their diapers.  This mobile is super cute and fits right in so now we have two!

Our neighbors across the street have 2 kids.  They say they've had enough so when Jon and I told them that we were pregnant with our first baby, they eagerly invited us over to give us bins and bins full of clothes, toys and other baby stuff that they were no longer using.  I'm so excited to see Peanut in this pillow, hanging out with us.

Baby Bjorn Carrier
They also gave us a changing pad for the changing table and this Baby Bjorn carrier.  We were registered for both items and I was more than happy to remove those items from our already-overwhelming registry.

Thanks guys! We're super lucky to have you in our lives.

Monday, October 25, 2010

28 week belly and finished furniture

I know you were all eagerly awaiting to see our bedding and the complete furniture pictures, so we'll start there.

Crib with bedding
This is the crib.  I wanted something classic-looking and I just adore this Graco Charleston crib.

I love monkeys!
I also found the bedding on a few months ago.  We knew we were having a girl and I adore monkeys so this fit in so well!  It's the Boutique Animal Kingdom bedding set.  And we bought the Sealy Baby Ultra Rest mattress after reading a whole bunch of reviews and talking to some friends.

Bedding and toys

I couldn't help myself when I saw the adorable little monkey faces!  It was a 13 piece set and we had to get the lamp shade and mobile separately.

Baby room view from the door
We also dug up an old lamp from our basement and spray painted it pink.  It fits in so well!

For a changing table we wanted something that would match, but would also stay in the room after she is out of diapers.  I love this South Shore changing table in white.  And if you know me, you know how I love baskets so obviously, it needed a spot for some baskets.  (Laura and Janice, if you're reading this, these are the baskets and laundry basket that you guys got us for our wedding!).

So that's it so far.  This weekend we got the decals I ordered on Etsy so stay tuned!

And now, belly pics.

28 Weeks
 Hello 3rd trimester.

28 Weeks
 So Peanut is now the size of a small cabbage or about 17 inches and 2.9 lbs.
28 Weeks
 She's kicking up a storm and I'm loving every single moment of it!
28 Weeks
 It actually hasn't been so bad.  She tends to sleep when I sleep and wake up while I'm up.
28 Weeks
The only time that it's slightly inconvenient is when she sticks her cute little foot into my ribs in a meeting and I try to sit through it without cringing too much.  But I'll forgive her...cuz she's so cute :)


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