Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Celebrating One Amazing Year

How did we celebrate?

We worked at our new house!  Nate taught me how to spackle, tape and sand (his closet)!

31 weeks pregnant and hard at work!

My masterpiece!

We exchanged cards...and presents!  Nate spoiled me with another ring that came in a tiny blue box!  I surprised him with a highly anticipated new tool for our new house / lawn (that came in a very LARGE box)!  And we both enjoyed our first experience shopping in the "Anniversary Card" section of the drug store.

We went out to dinner at Dock's Oyster House (in Atlantic City), the place Nate took me on the night we got engaged! 

We had a our NEW house!

Our campsite all set excited!

Morning after...our bed was quite deflated!
And we relaxed on the beach!


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Recipe: Grilled Caesar Salad

One night last summer I went out to dinner with two of my former college roommates at a yummy little BYOB in Philadelphia.  We ordered a grilled caesar salad to share as an appetizer expecting your typical caesar - lettuce, croutons, paramesan cheese, grilled chicken - ya know, nothing unusual.  But when it arrived we all realized that the word chicken hadn't actually listed on the menu and we were literally being served a grilled salad.

The lettuce was warm and soft yet still a little crunchy, with that summery hunt of chargrille.  And it was delicious!  Caesar salads haven't been the same for me since!

Since Nate and I frequently recreate the recipe at home (its a new household favorite!), I thought I'd pass it along in case you're looking for something new to throw on the barbeque!

  • 1 head of Romain Lettuce
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Caesar dressing - I highly recommend an oil based dressing like Ken's Steak House Lite Caesar

1. Cut the head of lettuce in half, as pictured above, being sure not to cut the core.

2. Liberally pour salad dressing on both halves of the lettuce and let marinate (the longer the better).

3. Cook on grill on medium-high heat flat-side down for 3-5 minutes.

4. Although I love the burnt taste, I usually pull off the really burnt pieces from the leafy end.  Then I add more dressing and sprinkle with parmeasean cheese!  One head of lettuce makes enough for 4 people but Nate and I usually finish one just ourselves!


Friday, August 17, 2012

On Pregnancy And...Books, etc.

I'll admit, the hardest part about getting through that scary first trimester was not having my mom around to call to ask questions. 

I use the word scary not because anything went wrong, but because you really go through every emotion in the book during those first three months.  From absolute ecstatic excitement (all my dreams coming true about being a mother!!! we're having a baby!!!), shock (holy cow, we're going to be parents!), worry (is everything ok in there? is he/she still in there?!)...  Your body is starting to go through an incredible transformation and, having never been pregnant before, you don't exactly know what's "normal" or what is "ok to still do"...  Not to mention the raging hormones!!!  All while you're keeping this huge secret from most of the world, counting down every last week and day until you hit that 13 week mark and finally feel like you can breathe a sigh of relief like "we made it!"

So yes, it is all quite nerve wrecking the first time around (and seriously so exhilarating and exciting at the same time, I promise!!) but all I really wanted to do during those months was call my mom and ask her things like "did this happen to you?!" or "were you prone to stretch marks?!" or just talk to about pregnancy / parenting in general!  So ladies (and gents), resource recommendation #1 - your mom.  It's never too early to talk about her experiences in pregnancy and parenting :)

Anywayssssss, any emotional support I needed during the first tri came from my darling husband - who was absolutely wonderful by the way - and my sisters / girlfriends who really have become my stand-in moms (and I to them). 

And most of my questions and concerns could be answered through reading a book (which is why I'm writing this post...recommendations below!), asking my doctor, or (worst case scenario) consulting the internet (last resort only...the internet can be a scary place when you're googling pregnancy related questions!). 

So, I thought I'd share some of the books that have really helped throughout our pregnancy... because regardless of if your mom is around to badger with your 20 questions (or squeal in excitement to!) you're going to want to have some good resources in your house.  If anything, it'll keep you from calling your doctor every day over every last symptom (something my husband wishes I would do, but I assure him is totally not necessary)!! 

Reading has truly made becoming a mom all the more real and and exciting for me, and I can't wait to meet our precious little guy in a little less than 10 weeks!!!  (Can you believe it?!)

Also, I have a whole new appreciation for the human body, particularly my own!  It really is an incredible thing! 

Before You're Expecting
What to Expect Before You're Expecting
Before we started trying, I picked up a copy of What to Expect Before You're Expecting and I thought it gave a pretty good refresher on the whole birds and the bees discussion.  I think it would be extremely helpful for anyone having difficulty conceiving, as it focuses on preparing for conception, timing sex and adjusting your lifestyle, although I think it is a good read for anyone about to "start trying".   

What to Expect When You're Expecting
A week-by-week playbook of what to expect - at your doctors appts., the growth of your baby, what you may be feeling / experiencing physically and emotionally...  It also has a great overview of labor and delivery - something we are most definitely preparing for right now!  This has literally become my pregnancy bible!!  

Owned by The, the Bump is a great online resource for planning and budgeting throughout the entire 9 months.  They also send you a weekly email that updates you on your baby's development including, my favorite part, what fruit or veggie your baby is the size of which I always found very amusing.  Our baby has grown from the size of a poppyseed to the size of squash in the last 30 weeks!  I'd sign up again just for the fun emails :)

For Dad
Expectant Father
This book comes highly recommended from both my brother Justin, who actually lent us his copy after I had ordered the worlds worst "dad book" for Nate. (The book was called What to Expect When Your Wife is Expanding, and it basically told the dads to only go to the first ultrasound and delivery, and then in-one-ear out-the-other for the months in between).  Although Nate hasn't taken to the reading as much as I have, I'd say this is the male version of the What to Expect books, leaving out some of the more personal details of what is going with the female body and focusing more on how to support the expectant mother and mentally prepare for fatherhood.

Be Prepared: A Practical Handbook for New Dads
This book was recommended to me by a male coworker and soon-to-be first time dad who described the book as the "boy scout guide to being a Dad".  And I couldn't agree more!  In addition to the hilarious tips and tricks - like how to change a baby in a packed sports stadium or how to construct an emergency a diaper out of a towel, sock and duct tape - the book also provides age-appropriate activities for Dads to do with their babies, which is something I have found that Nate always asks me about.  "When will I be able to take him water skiing" or "when will he walk"?  Oh and I just love the cover - how manly, right?!

For Breastfeeding / First Year / Parenting
I'm hesitant to write reviews on these yet, considering I haven't put any of my new found knowledge to practice.  But here is what I'm reading / have read to help prepare for baby:

What to Expect the First Year
Obviously a huge fan of the What to Expect series...  And at some point during your pregnancy you shift from reading about taking care of yourself and growing baby and start focusing on what to do when he or she actually arrives!  In addition to the month-by-month guide to what youre baby should / will probably be able to / will maybe be able to do, it has great sections on breastfeeding basics, baby care and first aid, and stimulating your baby. 

The Sleepeasy Solution: An Exhausted Parent's Guide to Getting Your Child to Sleep - from birth to Age 5
A friend sent this book after buying it for herself on recommendation from A Cup of Jo's "What to Register For" post.  I was sold as soon as I read the title.  I love my sleep and hoping our little babe does too! 

The Nursing Mother's Companion
Another gift from a friend who read this instead of paying (out of pocket) to meet with a lactation consultant prior to delivery.  We are taking a birthing class that has its own dedicated lactation session, so I'm hoping both will help prepare us for nursing! 

Did you take to reading during your pregnancy and early days of parenting?  I'd love to hear if you have any great book recommendations! 


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Random Acts of Kindness

A few weeks ago, one of my favorite blogger's hosted a surprise giveaway on her blog in honor of her birthday! 

There was no liking, tweeting, following or reposting to enter - you simply had to leave a comment with your favorite color and email address and wait to find out what and if you had won.

Obviously, I entered.  Who doesn't love a free giveaway?!  And it was so much fun to see how many other people blindly entered the contest without even knowing what the prize was that they were vying for! 

But to say I was shocked when the winner was revealed is an absolute understatement. 

First, because it was me (I won! I won!), which is just plain exciting and shocking in itself.  I never win anything! 

And more importantly because I found out that I actually was a part of something SOOO much bigger that just a free giveaway.  So much so that I actually felt guilty for being the winner...or perhaps the word I'm looking for is unworthy?

MK's blog giveaway was part of her big "Surprise Birthday Project" where she set out to do 28 random acts of kindness for the 28 years of her life she has lived thus far.   She sent letters, gave flowers, left inspirational notes and quotes, made baked goods...among some other adorably heart warming ideas like this letter to her nephew explaining what an act of kindness is:

And this bag of 28 "free wishes" she left waiting at a fountain:

I was so touched, so moved reading each and every one of the gestures she performed to celebrate her birthday...including the fact that she wanted to do something nice for one of her loyal blog readers, just because!  I had literally just celebrated my own birthday by eating chocolate chip cookies (guilt free, I might add) and treating myself to a work from home day...and here was someone who made "her" day not about herself, but about others.  Really amazing if you ask me!

My pink and turquoise (yes, I couldn't decide between two favorite colors) care package arrived over the weekend and just as she intended, it really made my day!  And while I still have not decided what big thing I should do to pay it forward, I have to say that MK's post inspired me to be, well, just a little bit more thoughtful with the little things. 

And perhaps start a new tradition for Torok family birthdays?  :)

Imagine what our world we be like if we all added a few more acts of kindess to our every day?

P.S. Pop on over to MK in Wonderland to read the full post!  It'll definitely warm your heart on this hot summer day!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Summer Reading

via tumblr

I am in dire need of some summer reading recommendations! 

Audible and I are going through a dry spell, and with my pregnancy insomnia in full force and the Olympics halfway over...I am getting concerned!

I've read the Hunger Games series (obsessed, obvi), Bossypants (Tina Fey you crack me up!), Secret Life of Bees (enjoyable), the Twilight series (need I say more), The Help (love love love), The American Wife (a surprisingly steamy read),  Unbroken (highly recommend if you have Olympic fever and enjoy WWI stories), Day of Infamy (a WWII history lesson - I was on a kick), Steve Jobs (simply wow), the Sex & the City books (meh) and Jack Kennedy all within the past year!  (Not to mention the countless baby / pregnancy related books that I've plowed through...)

What other best sellers am I missing?! 

And please do not say 50 Shades of Gray - no interest!

P.S. A Cup of Jo totally stole my blogpost today! 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Our New House: Update #7

7/24/12: 27 weeks pregnant and hard at work
building a house and making a baby!

Hard to believe it's already August!  And even harder to believe that we'll be moving into our new house NEXT month!!  (#fingerscrossed)  We are sooo excited!  (And very ready to move out of our current house...)

Since my last update, I'm happy to report that things have been moving along rather quickly! We finished sheet rocking in record time and Nate tells me the crew did an excellent job!  (I 100% agree, but to be honest it would be hard for me to tell if it was a good or bad job since I've never seen an entire house get sheet rocked in less than a week!) Its is really starting to look like a real house, not just a construction site!  And I'm having even more dreams about cooking and entertaining in our kitchen, lazy Saturdays on the couch, BBQs on the deck...

Anyways, I haven't shared many details on the floor plan of our house yet but today is your lucky day - I'm giving you a virtual "tour" of our ~3,200 sq. ft 5 BR, 2 BA home in Ocean City!  Consider yourself warned - lots of pictures ahead! Enjoy!

First Floor
To maximize our view of the bay from our second and third floors, we decided to build more of an "upside-down beach house" vs. the more traditional "main living area on the first floor" house that we both grew up in... 

So, when you enter the front door of our house (imagine I am standing in the front door in the picture below), we have stairs to the second floor (main living area) to the left...

 ...and down the long hallway on the right are 3 bedrooms, 1 full bathroom, a laundry room / mud room, coat closet and access to the garage!

Second Floor

In this picture, I am standing at the front of the house (in the living room) taking a photo of our soon-to-be kitchen.  The cabinets and island will be on the right, and our dining table on the left.

Now I am standing in that doorway above in the kitchen (which is a hallway that leads to our walk-in pantry, half bath and junior master suite) taking a picture of the living room.  God I love that huge sliding glass door!

The junior master (down the little hallway) is perhaps my favorite bedroom in the house (yes, even more than our master) - it is a 12' x 16' room complete with its own walk in closet and bathroom.  AKA, Baby Torok's nursery!  (Now do you know why it's my favorite?!)

(Stay tuned for an upcoming post "On Pregnancy And...Designing the Nursery"!!)

Third Floor

The third floor (which is 60% the size of the second floor - yes, that is some weird Ocean City zoning law) is our master suite which includes our bedroom, sitting room, private front and back decks, his / her walk-in closets and master bathroom!  Here is a view from the front of the house - we plan on putting our bed underneath the windows (see second picture) on the right, and the sitting area on the left.

Here, I am standing about 10 steps to the left in the corner (sitting area), trying to capture where our bed will be.

A sneak peak at our master bath - shower straight ahead, toilet on the left, and missing from the photo is our double sink vanity and my dressing / make up table.

Why is there a door in out bathroom?  Well, Nate hasn't taken an indoor shower (okay, mayyyybe one) since we moved to Ocean we just had to build him his very own outdoor shower off the back deck!

Last week, the interior doors, trim and crown molding was installed.  I'll be honest, I left all three of those decisions completely up to Nate.  A. because I didn't even know there was more than one choice for doors or trim (me: "White. I wantwhite doors and white trim, please!"); B. beacuse I really am not that observant to know the difference between them; and C. if there is anything I learned from choosing our cabinets - I like more decorative wood working, and he is a minimalist...and we'd waste too much time making the decision together!

Anyways, best idea ever because he made up his mind in less than an hour, there was no debating / mind changing / compromising and it looks fabulous

Whats up next?  The painter started today and our tiles, kitchen cabinets and appliances will all be delivered next week!  Might we perhaps be in by Sept 15th?!  I think it's doable! 

Also something to look forward to?  Our garage door will be installed on Wednesday, as in two days from now, which should hopefully keep out both noisy neighbors and other trespassers...

Can you believe that on Sunday morning, while giving my dad (who hadn't seen the house since it was a vacant lot!!!) the grand tour, we walked upstairs to find that someone had apparently broken in and had a little fun with our leftover paint samples on Saturday night?!

My reaction: "what the f&#* happened?!"  (I told you I don't deal with surprises very well!)

Luckily, there was no major damage, nothing was stolen and no one was hurt.  :)