Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Makin' groomki with ma

On Monday I got to hang out with my mom for the day, and she took the time to teach me how to make a Polish dish called groomki—I am sure I'm totally misspelling this, but I can't find the name anywhere online. Essentially, it's rice and hamburger mixed together, which is then rolled up in a cooked cabbage leaf and covered with tomato sauce. I ate that from time to time as a kid, and Pete had actually heard of it before.

So I figured I'd learn how to make it, and it was pretty easy to make. Of course, Pete doctored his with shredded cheese, Ragu, cayenne pepper, and any other number of ingredients. We both had a couple of the rolls, and the dogs were drooling over it—even Spanky, who wasn't feeling well that night. Next recipe to learn: ma's egg bread.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Now it's Spanky's turn

Our little man-fox Spanky (that's what Pete calls him) isn't feeling so well today, so I'm taking him to the vet. Pete and I were gone most of the day yesterday, and when we got home, we discovered he had puked in a few places around the house, and continued to puke on and off all night. Early this morning he was still puking, and although he hasn't puked since then, he isn't eating at all and looks miserable.

So now we'll "go see doctor," as I like to tell the animals when they don't know what's going on. They know what this phrase means, and I don't think Spanky is happy about it, but hopefully he'll get his tummy checked and will be feeling better soon.

And yeah, if you're keeping count, that's three pets in the last month that have been sick. The only one who's escaped this fate so far is Max. Hopefully he stays healthy, and this little curse of illness upon the Hoogestraat household ends with Spanky.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Peds with Jen

Today Jen is treating me to a pedicure, a raincheck on a birthday gift from almost two months ago. I was in the middle of freelance mania back then and didn't have time to go with her. But now we're both ready to go, and sorely in need of a good trim and paint job. It's much too hard for me to reach my toes nowadays, so this will be quite the treat. I can't wait to relax in the chair, read magazines, and gossip with Jen while we watch stupid game shows on the shop's tv.

Hope your Sunday is just as relaxing as ours is. Ahhhhhh!

(Image from

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Memorial for Sandy

Today Pete and I are attending a memorial for Sandy, my aunt who passed away back in April. It's been a long time coming, and I'm sure it'll be an emotional event for everyone in the family.

I made a memorial board for her service (see above) that I think she would have liked. We don't have many pictures of her, so I figured I'd make it as nice and special as possible. I had leftover stuff from my wedding scrapbooking days (something I never finished), and it fit in perfectly with her memorial board.

We also have a communion picture (above) that was recently found in one of my grand aunt's trunks, who had passed away a few years ago. The picture is in excellent condition and stands up on its own, so I'm going to set it next to the board as part of the display.

As I mentioned, it's a long overdue service. But we all feel grateful that we can honor her in some way, and share our favorite memories of our beloved Sandy.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Goofy-Pluto puzzle

I noticed the other day that there's a bit of weirdness on my dogs' bag of treats. A cartoon dog cowboy, standing upright and decked out in cowboy gear including shirt, pants, and a hat, is holding up a freshly grilled piece of chicken...while another dog, who is NOT attired and is on all fours, eyes the meat and licks its lips. So, um, yeah, I'm puzzled by this, just as many have been puzzled by the Goofy versus Pluto mystery. Why is one like a person, and one is like...a dog? Hmmm....

Thursday, October 22, 2009

(So) happy together

I'm not sure why, but lately Pete and I have been in a really good place, as far as our relationship goes. We don't fight much, we have really interesting conversations, and we laugh and cuddle more than ever. Not that we were always fighting like cats and dogs before, but there just seems to be a sense of harmony that has settled over our home. Despite the extremely tight finances (uh, hello unemployment, furlough days, and tons of medical bills) and the usual bumpy road we travel called life, we've been pretty mellow and happy.

I think we are also both happy (and a bit scared) about Baby Jack coming, and are enjoying this strange journey together (where DID that belly come from???). I think Pete is settling into not only his role as a husband, but as a father and provider, and perhaps is enjoying it more and more. He is ready to take on his new roles, and seems to be so excited to make a difference in someone's life (Jack's).

So yeah, we're happy. It's a good place to be, and I hope it only gets better from here.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A bit of (cheap) bling for my iPhone

My iPhone has been suffering lately. Although I'm pretty careful with it, and I have had a cover on it from day one (a hot pink silicone model), I do tend to throw it in my purse or pocket from time to time. And it does sometimes end up on the floor (accidentally, of course), through which it suffers quietly, but with no ill effects so far (thank God!).

Matt, Sam, and Mani have all gotten iPhones this past weekend, which has strangely made me excited for them. I shouldn't say strangely, because I'm weird like that. If someone gets something cool, especially if it's something I already own and that I know they'll love, I almost get more excited about it that the person getting the new thing. I had lots of fun hanging out with Matt this weekend and showing him all the apps, features, and little tricks and treats that come with his shiny new toy.

And I realized, looking at his pretty new iPhone, that mine has been neglected as of late. For something that has helped me so much, and that has entertained me for hours, I sure have not been babying it like I should (hey, I've got other things on my mind, lol). I figured I could at least upgrade the case it's in. The silicone case is looking pretty sad these days, with a couple of rips in the corners. Now, that alone wouldn't make me get a new case, but the rips cause the case to come off the phone very easily now, which causes the phone to either drop out of the case (bad when I'm walking around holding the phone), or for my hair/debris/scratches to get in there under the case. The hair thing is the worst, because it pulls my hair out when I'm talking to someone on the phone (it gets stuck in the case via those rips) and I end up yanking out a few precious strands at least a couple times a week. Ouch.

Matt and Pete, discussing iPhones, history, and life in general at Starbucks this weekend

So, after looking at Matt's pretty black leather case, I decided I should properly protect my investment and get a new case. But for me, this is no easy task. I'm a very, very picky person when it comes to stuff like this, and at the time I bought my case last year, there wasn't much to choose from. I went with hot pink silicone since Pete chose the basic black silicone (I don't want to mix up our phones). Even though I love Matt's black leather case, Pete had his phone stolen earlier this year, and ended up getting a new phone and a newer, better silicone case—but it's still a black case, so that color is a no no for me.

The online search then began, and I spent hours (I toldja I was picky) looking for just the right case. There were plenty of red leather ones online (I like red), but none of them were quite what I was looking for. I saw some nice silicone ones too, but they just weren't as appealing to me, now that I've had a silicone case for almost a year and a half. Then I saw this:

And I thought, oooooh, pretty! But for the price, I wanted to be super duper sure I liked it. And being the consummate online bargain shopper, I didn't just feel like plunking down the cash for it, until I was sure there was nothing else cheaper (or a cheaper source for this model). So the search continued, and I was lucky enough to stumble upon this one at

I read reviews, checked out other competitors, and decided to go with the cheaper one from Overstock. I figure it's almost a third of the cost of the Case-Mate one, and if I truly like it, great, I saved money. If it doesn't work out, then I saved money on something I don't like. And it allowed me to get a nice red leather pouch in which to carry it (in my purse or car, where it tends to get knocked around a lot):

The coolest feature about the chrome cover? It comes with a mirrored screen protector:

Now yes, I've heard it's a bit hard to see in bright sunlight, so I'll determine whether I actually use the screen protector (I also have a clear one that Matt gave me on Saturday). But either way, it's a nice little upgrade for a device that has more than paid for itself since I bought it. And it's nice to go on a little shopping spree, even if I spent less than $30 total on my "crazy" purchases.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Out for a stroll

Pete, the dogs, and I went for a stroll on Sunday. It was a gorgeous day, and I hadn't been walking for a while (the last time was during our camping trip). I had a great time, although I really got tired about 2/3 of the way into the walk. Baby Jack was pressing on my bladder, I was tired, and my legs were itching like mad—ever get that weird itchiness? It happens to me after I shave sometimes, especially when I used to go running (not doing that now, lol!).

Anyhow, I think I was a bit whiny, and Pete felt bad because I was uncomfortable. (Him: "You're tired? Really?" Me: "Uh, yeah! I'm lugging around an extra 30 pounds here!") But it was cute because we ran into some of his friends, and he was proudly showing off my big belly and telling everyone how happy he was to have his son on the way. So it was worth any discomfort to me to be out in the sunshine with my hubby and dogs, enjoying the vivid colors and warm sun, and stretching my (achy) legs a bit.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Poopy girl

Poor Adora's been having some digestive issues lately. She's her same ol' spunky self, but her tummy isn't feeling all that great. She ate some steak bones on Friday night, and hasn't been eating the same since then. Hopefully things will stabilize, and she'll be back to her usual food-loving self.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Pumpkin pancakes...mmmm

If I'm lucky, I'll be dining on pumpkin pancakes this morning, depending on whether the restaurant Pete and I are going to (with my parents and Matt) still have them. I dined on them a few weeks ago when having breakfast with my mom, and whooo, they were good. Bigger than the ones in this picture, more like the size of dinner plates, and sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. My mom said they smelled good, and she hates pumpkin.

Anyhow, I know you can make them at home pretty easily. Just add pumpkin to your regular pancake mix and voila! Instant pumpkin pancakes. Of course, you can make them from scratch, and there are any number of recipes out there for just such a thing. Either way, they're wonderful and I highly recommend eating them.

Happy fall!

(Image from

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Way to go, hubby!

Pete, recently featured in his company's first official newsletter. That's him in the lower left corner, standing with his boss, wearing safety glasses and grinning. But they spelled Pete's name wrong.

I'm so proud of Pete. Today he passed the second test needed to be certified for stainless steel welding (10 and 18 gauge). He has struggled a bit with these tests, but he aced this one today. It was great to see him come home, grinning ear to ear, and just so happy and relieved. He's still on cloud 9, hours later. He wants to take the galvanized steel tests next, but for now, he's a happy man. As he put it, "I have great a family and friends, a woman who loves me, a baby on the way, and I passed the test!"

Of course, then he strapped on his leathers and welding helmet, and I had trouble concentrating on the stew I was making. There is something really, really nice about him all decked out in his welding gear...that's all I'll say.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Put on your mom jeans

I have had trouble maintaining that sexy frame of mind as my belly, thighs, and bosom endlessly expands. And although Pete calls me Sexy Bear and thinks my new shape is cute, I just don't feel all right now.

Well, let me tell you, while maternity pants help you to maintain a normal appearance, and they make you look as good as possible, they are not the prettiest thing in the world. Pete likes to tease me about my "mom jeans," even though I hadn't bought ANY maternity pants or jeans until today (I've been wearing large, low rise pants with drawstrings or elastic waist bands up til this point).

I take exception at my wardrobe being compared to those ultimate symbols of frumpiness, though. I do not see a tapered leg or pleated panel anywhere on these babies, a la the traditional model of the mom jean. My new pants (jeans and cords) are all about boot cuts and curve-hugging fit, and are as close to my old wardrobe as I'm gonna get, with my extra large booty and waddle-inducing belly.

Anyhow, I'm excited to be wearing something that isn't squeezing my waist or belly, that I don't have to wear a belly band with (Baby Jack doesn't seem to like it when I wear them), and that doesn't create that oh so attractive muffin top I've been sporting lately. Sometimes you just gotta suck it up and wear whatcha gotta wear, whether they be mom jeans...or something completely different.

(Figurine from

Friday, October 9, 2009

That's why I love him

Pete and me at Fogo de Chão last year, where we had also dined on our first date.

Five years ago today, Pete and I met. It has been a wonderful time since, and through all our ups and downs, we've been very happy together.

Tonight we were sitting around the tv as we often do most nights, watching something on the Military Channel (his choice), covered in snoozing cats and dogs, and our bellies full of McDonald's cheeseburgers. Pete suddenly looked at me and said, "Hey! Let's both concentrate on this pencil here and see if we can make it move by telekenisis." He had an eager look on his face, and carefully set the pencil on top of one of his car books, ready to concentrate.

I started laughing, and said, "See? That's why I love you! Because a normal night for us is watching tv, surrounded by animals, and spending our free time trying to make a pencil move. This is our lives together." And I laughed some more.

Pete smiled and seemed startled by this, but very pleased, and we eventually went on to throwing our brain waves at the pencil (it wiggled, but that was all). Good times.

I'm happy to have known you these five good, long years, my love.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Free 6-month online Photoshop Course

There is a free 6-month online Photoshop course if you're interested. One is broadcasting live right now (classes are every Thursday), but you can join in anytime.

Me and the motley crew

I'm not sure why, but lately the pets seem to be swarming around me, more so than usual. They like to lay all over my expanding belly, or snuggle next to me on the couch. I don't know if they sense that there's another little life present in the house, but I'm not complaining about the increased affection (for the most part, lol).

Last night, three of them—Adora, Spanky, and Dollie—spontaneously gathered around me on the couch and hovered around me for a good five minutes. It was so odd and funny that I quickly snapped a photo with my Mac (I was working on my laptop). They were being goofy and rubbing against me and each other, and even Baby Jack was wiggling in sympathy.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


I just got this cool iPhone camera app called ShakeItPhoto, which makes your pictures look like a Polaroid. It was fun to play around with, and I tested it out on Adora. It's only 99¢, so it's a cheap way to have more fun with your iPhone's camera.

(Images from

Friday, October 2, 2009

A nightly ritual

Me, Dollie, Spanky (by my belly), and Adora

This is how we end up every night, with me snuggling under a blanket and the dogs/cats piled around me, sleeping. The only one who didn't join us last night was Max, who was off prowling around in the basement somewhere, I'm sure. Sometimes we mix it up and they all lay on Pete, or we split them 50/50. It's hard to move with dogs and cats on you, but it's super cozy!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

I know I'm already jumping the gun on this, but...

I want to dress Baby Jack as a pumpkin next year for Halloween. How cute is that? A real Jack O' Lantern, lol! I haven't told Pete yet, but I'm sure he'll think it's cute. I'm going to prowl the clearance racks in the baby stores after Halloween and see if I can find a costume for next year.