Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Fancy Date

...or as Bill and I were saying in our Irish accents...Fuhncey Date.

It had been a long while since Bill and I had a date night...what with the new baby and the move.  I had mentioned in April that if Bill hadn't gotten me anything for my birthday yet, that I wanted to go to the ballet to see Swan Lake.  He already had gotten me something (a Kindle Fire), but we decided to still get the tickets.

So, last Saturday; we dressed up, dropped the kids off at Bill's sister's house, and headed to downtown Milwaukee.  First, we had dinner at Crazy Water - which I had never been to before.  I wasn't that impressed by the whole look and feel of the restaurant (it's just in a house in an odd area of town), but the food was fantastic which is all that really matters.  We started off with cocktails (Highball for me and Newcastle for Bill), and the evenings' special appetizer, soft shell crab cakes.  Then for our entrees I had the Beef Wellington with twice baked new potatoes, haricots verts and madiera sauce accompanied by a glass of Gascon Malbec wine.  Bill had the Pancetta and Goat Cheese Stuffed Bell and Evans Chicken Breast with wild mushroom pan gravy, gnocchi galette and haricots verts.  For dessert we split Three Layer Chocolate Mousse with raspberry sauce.  Like I said, everything was delicious, and I would totally eat there again.

After dinner we headed to the ballet.
Photo source:  jsonline.com
This is the first time I have seen Swan Lake.  (Ever since I saw Black Swan a few years ago I have wanted to see it performed)  I prefer the more traditional ballets, so this was right up my alley.  The music was beautiful, the sets were awesome, and the dancing was fantastic - so I loved it.  Bill and I were both really impressed at the parts where the "swans" all danced together most.  As Bill said, "the best part of Swan Lake was the swans!"  It's hard to explain, but they really moved like a flock of birds and was very cool.

All in all, it was a fantastic (and much needed) date night.    

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Pin It - Did It!

It's been awhile since I tried anything I pinned on Pinterest, so I thought I would try a few recipes this time.  I tried two so far this week, and one was pretty good and the other one wasn't.

First, on Sunday I made these Sesame Garlic Green Beans.
I'm trying to get Madeleine and myself to eat more vegetables. Actually, I'm trying to get Madeleine to not only eat, but like vegetables.  Me, I'm trying to at least tolerate them - I don't think I'll ever actually like them.  Part of my problem, is I don't really know how to prepare them well, so I started looking for recipes.  I once had some green beans at a tapas place in town that weren't too bad (high praise from me), and this recipe reminded me of them.

The verdict - Bill and I ate them, but we didn't really like them.  How did Madeleine like them?  Well, she popped one in her mouth and then promptly spit it out.  I'm not exactly sure if I did something wrong or not, as the recipe did not have exact measurements.  Maybe I put two much of one thing or not enough of another, I don't know.  It tasted very nutty to me. 

We won't be having these again.  I think the green beans I enjoyed at that restaurant might have had a ginger sauce on them, and not sesame like these.  They definitely had an Asian flare to them - hopefully I'll figure it out.

On to recipe number two...

Last night we made Pasta with Fresh Tomato Sauce
As you can see, I'm trying to make healthier choices at meal time.  I love pasta, but usually always eat it with thick tomato or cream sauces.  This looked like a lighter option that would be good for these warmer months.  I loved that it was made with such fresh ingredients.  I felt so healthy chopping up the tomatoes and herbs (I did a course chop of everything and then put it in the food processor).  I told Bill I was going to call this "Summer Spaghetti".

The verdict - I really liked it.  It tasted fresh and light just how I hoped it would.  Bill liked it too, and asked if we could eat "Summer Spaghetti" in the winter.  Madeleine, however, hated it.  Seriously, she started crying at the table when I tried to get her to eat more of it.  She loves pasta, so I didn't think it would be a problem.  I could see her, over time, liking this dish too though.  The best part about this dish was that it was super fast - it's seriously only a 15-20 minute meal.

So, I guess (not counting Madeleine's tastes) we had a 50% success rate with these new recipes.  It's been awhile since I tried some new recipes, so I'm glad we found at least one that we'll make again.

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Name Game

When we decided to name our son "Seamus" I was a little worried that we would get some flack for it.  I was mentally preparing for lots of "You named him what?" type of comments.  Surprisingly though, everybody has thought it is really cool which was a big relief.  I am surprised though, by the number of people that don't know how to pronounce it.  It's pronounced SHAY-mus not C-mus.  I always tell people to think of the name Sean (as in Sean Connery) - the SEA in Gaelic makes the SH sound.

It's so intersting how/why people decide on the names for their children, so here's our story.  It starts way back in 2010 though when we first learned we were pregnant with Madeleine.  We actually had our names picked out almost immediately.

Basically, I loved the name Madeleine Rose.  I actually came up with it when I was a teenager.  Madeleine sort of came from two sources.  First, I love the children's book Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans.  I love all things French, so a story about a little French orphan girl and her adventures always appealed to me.

Secondly, at some point in my youth, I was watching movies like Young Frankenstein and Clue and fell in love with the actress Madeline Kahn.  I just thought she was so funny and beautiful.  It was around this time that Madeleine went on the list.

I thought that a three syllable first name should have a one syllable middle name.  I chose the name Rose as my confirmation name in high school, and it just clicked - Madeleine Rose.

I played around with the different spellings for a long time (Madeline, Madelyn, Madeleine) and decided I liked the French spelling best.

So, when we found out we were pregnant I told Bill if it was a girl I wanted to name her Madeleine Rose.  I loved it so much, that I didn't even give him a chance to say "yes" or "no" to it.  I basically struck a deal that if he gave me the name, if it was a boy he could name him whatever he wanted.  Bill wanted something very Irish, and chose the name Seamus.  I will admit I wasn't a huge fan at first, but a deal's a deal so I agreed.  I think we might have come up with Alan as the middle name together.  It's my dad's name, and it just sort of fit.

Then we found out it was a girl, and I was so happy I would have my little Madeleine Rose.

We always knew we wanted another child after Madeleine, so we talked a lot about when little Seamus would come.  So, I basically had three years to get used to the idea of the name Seamus, and eventually fell in love with it too.

Incidentally, there were a few other names on the short list for both of them.  I also really liked the names Alice and Agnes for girls, and Liam and Richard for boys.  Bill's girl name was Saoirse (SEER-sha).  I thought it was very pretty, but I was really scared of the spelling.  So, I'm very happy we got a Seamus and not a Saoirse.

We also get asked about nicknames a lot.  I thought for sure we'd call Madeleine, Maddie - but it's just not her.  The few times I've called her Maddie it sounded awkward and forced, so she's always been our Madeleine.  As for Seamus, we do call him Shea quite a bit.

So, there you have it.  That's how our baby names came to be. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

I've Lost Something...

and that something is...MY SENSE OF STYLE!

Here's how the story goes.  In my twenties, I think I had pretty good style.  I tried to find a picture to prove this, but it seems I only took headshots back then - or I'm wearing a coat.  So, you'll just have to trust me that I dressed well. 

Then, between 2006 and 2010 I gained about 35 pounds.  I'm not proud of it, but it happened.  Then I had babies, and my body changed again.   

SIDENOTE - I did lose the baby weight with Madeleine, but not the additional 35 pounds.  I have about 11 pounds to go from this last pregnancy yet.  I have a goal to lose this last bit of baby weight, plus the 35 pounds I gained - but that's another post.

What I'm trying to say, is that I don't know how to dress my current body.  I don't know my size.  I don't know what stores to shop at.  I don't know what looks good on me anymore.

In addition, psychologically, I still expect to see the "skinny" me in the mirror.  So, when I'm out shopping and trying things on I automatically think I look fat because I don't see the body I used to have.  It's not the clothes though, I am fat.  Not morbidly obese by any mean, but overweight, yes.  The term pleasantly plump comes to mine, but it's not feeling so pleasant.

Shopping for clothes is no longer fun, but frustrating and emotional.

So, that needs to change.  I am going to continue to try and lose weight, but I can't put my wardrobe on hold in the interim.  It's pitiful how little clothing I own anymore.  (I only take up about two feet of space in our closet)  I love fashion way too much to give up on it.

Before I go shopping though, I have to figure out what my style is now.  First off, my casual look.  Unfortunately, I have very little reason to dress up anymore.  I always loved buying cute dress clothes for work, but recently they started allowing us to wear jeans everyday.  Even when I was thinner I didn't have much of a casual wardrobe, so I've been lacking in this department for some time now.

Television is one of the best places to look for style inspiration.  Right now, I'm really loving the wardrobe of Ellie Torres (played by Christa Miller) on Cougar Town.  I think she does casual chic just awesome.  She is almost always dressed in jeans or khakis, but her tops are usually silk, have lace accents, or are nice knits (lots of color block and stripes).  She also rocks lots of blazers.  So, even though it is casual, it comes off as very sophisticated and professional.  There's a bit of a masculine quality to her clothes too, but she always softens them up with jewelry, color, and the fabrics.

So, next time I go shopping, I'm going to keep my eye out for "Ellie" tops.

All images above from Possessionista.