Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Tilly's Best Friend

You'll start to discover an overall theme to my baby blogs.

I have one lucky little girl on the way.

It overwhelms me sometimes. Tilly will be born to two loving parents. She will be smothered with love by all her family. She will know she's important and cherished and special each day. She'll have the encouragement to pursue and explore whatever her heart desires.

That feels like it should be ordinary, but I know in our world that it's not.

One of the greatest gifts of this entire experience is that I get to share it with my best friend, LJ, who's five weeks ahead of me in her pregnancy. We always joked about synchronizing our pregnancies, but this just sort of happened, and I don't think it's happenstance.

For whatever reason, the Lord knew we'd be better off experiencing this simultaneously. We compare symptoms. Make perfect shopping buddies ... err, enablers. And really, if you've got to gain 25-35 pounds, it's a little easier when your best friend is doing it, too.

Deep in my heart, I always felt that LJ and I would not have the same gender. That's about all I had right. I thought she was having a girl, and I was having a boy. I got those both wrong.

Our dear, sweet friend Knox Benjamin Taylor is due July 4. Exactly five weeks before Tilly is due. And LJ is going to be a wonderful mother to a little boy.

Knox is already such a blessing to our family. It's like Tilly will come into this world with a built in best friend. After all, they'll have to like each other because they're going to be forced together a lot. I can't wait to see these two playing together at the beach or splashing around in the swimming pool in the summers.

We've already been eyeballing coordinating Kelly's Kids outfits. After all, LJ and I have been known to coordinate (unintentionally) a time or two.

Gosh, we were so young. And tan. And blond.

This was the summer LJ was studying for her boards, and I was working nights at the newspaper, and all we did was hang out in her parents' pool! ... I digress.

As part of our baby preparedness countdown, LJ kicked our baby besties off to a good start with their first coordinating outfits.

These warm my heart! I can't believe that in a few (fast approaching) months, there will be adorable little children romping around in these outfits.

Our family can't wait to meet our new best friend!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Starting the Nursery

I'm not quite brave enough to post a current picture of my guest bedroom. I shouldn't be that embarrassed. I've already showed off my Pepto pink bathroom and my forest green kitchen. I should have lost all sense of pride at this point. Would my LSU-themed (I didn't do this, for the record) bedroom be the worst thing I could share?

Maybe tomorrow I will muster the courage.

Here's the thing. When we bought our house two years ago, we knew certain areas would be works in progress, but we loved her anyway despite her pink bathroom and green kitchen. Those things can change, but "good bones" and charming architecture are the things that woo you.

We put the guest bedroom on our "one day" project list. Like the "one day" in the future that we would convert the room to a nursery. Here we are two years later and "one day" is now.

The room is a complete overhaul. New carpet. New paint. New furniture. New ceiling fan ... this is not up for debate no matter what my husband thinks.

When I start a new room, it always takes one thing or piece to inspire my creativity. For our nursery, that piece was this dresser.

I love the idea of this lively emerald dresser being the show piece to Tilly's nursery. I saw it on a blog and immediately contacted the seller on Etsy. The dresser had not sold and the seller was working up a freight price for me. I waited a few days and contacted the seller again, only to find out that as I was waiting, my dresser had been sold to someone else.

My dresser was gone, taking my nursery inspiration with it.

I sulked for a while. My husband couldn't believe the profound impact one green dresser could have on me. I mean, it's a dresser. But it was all I had figured out for the room, and it was gone. And I was back to scratch.

But if I've learned anything it's to just ask. When I wanted to paint my dining room the same color as the rooms at the Driskill Hotel in Austin, I just called and asked them what paint color they used, despite feeling a little crazy for doing it. And they were happy to help, as most people are.

So, over the past few weeks, I've stayed in contact with the seller from Etsy. And recently, she stumbled upon this dresser at an estate sale that's almost the exact same size and dimensions as the original green dresser that I loved so much.

The pictures are a little blurry.

It's almost a perfect match to the one I first saw, but once this one is painted, it'll be all mine! With the original hardware still in good shape, this piece might even be a little better than the original.

Here goes, let the nursery decorating begin!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Tilly Ann Jordan

I originally thought when Ty and I found out our baby's gender that we would spend the next several hours on the phone calling everyone we know. And I was 100 percent OK with that. Something so special can't be trumped.

But then my friend LJ said her mom, Mrs. Lesa, offered to make a gender reveal cake, and we could invite all of our family over and tell them all at once. If you've ever had Mrs. Lesa's cake then you understand this is an impossible proposition to resist. Of course, there were a few stipulations.
  1. Ty and I still got to find out. There would be no secret envelopes and further waiting on our part. Sixteen weeks was long enough!
  2. I got to tell someone before the party. Someone being LJ so she could convey the cake color to Mrs. Lesa. Although, my dad wasn't happy that someone got to know before him!
My sister-in-law, Ashley, thought it would be fun to have everyone dress in blue or pink to indicate their gender guess. When everyone arrived at our house, I was surprised by the results. Out of roughly 20 people, only four were wearing pink. I hoped everyone would be OK with being wrong, but hopefully not disappointed.

We all ate dinner, and then gathered around the dining room table to finally cut the cake. Since this is my dad's first grandchild, we let him do the honor of cutting the cake ... even though he was wearing blue. It was so fun to watch everyone's surprised faces when my dad pulled out the first slice of cake and it was pink!

Judging by the look on his face, I think my brother was in shock!

We took out the ultrasound pictures to show everyone our little girl.

Then we had another surprise in store. Not only did we have a gender, we already had her name picked out! We let Ty's mom open this surprise.

Here's a closer look at her first monogrammed outfit.

Ty had picked up the outfit (and quick monogramming job) that afternoon and sent me this picture. I asked him, "Did it melt your heart just a little bit?"

His reply: "Can't lie. Just a little bit."

A lot of people have asked us where we got the name Tilly. It's more popular in other countries as a shortened Matilda. But we love Tilly because it's what we called my great uncle, who's full name was Tillman.

We have lots of Anns, too. It's my middle name, as well as my aunt Robbie's and Ty's mom's. Ty and I are suckers for family names. Well, some of them. I don't think I'll be naming a little boy Orville anytime soon!

At the end of the night, everyone left surprised and happy!

Especially these two little girls, Lila and Molly. Ty and Walt's duck blind will soon be overrun with these little hunting partners.

I don't think anyone could have been happier than the four grandparents.

It was such a fun, special night! I'm so glad Tilly will be surrounded by such loving friends and family who are excited to celebrate all of life's moments with her.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

It's A Girl!!

Yesterday was so much more fun than I could have ever imagined. Ty and I went to the doctor for our 16 week appointment and anticipated we would have the opportunity to find out the gender of our baby.

The nurse popped her head into the waiting room and asked, "Stephanie, would you like to find out your gender today?"

I just smiled and nodded. That's all I could muster through the excitement and emotion and fear that I would start crying happy tears if I actually spoke. That happens sometimes!

There's been so much anticipation and guessing, I couldn't believe the moment had arrived. Ty and I sat in the ultrasound room, and fortunately, the baby cooperated and we got a clear shot of what we were looking for. ... "It's a girl," the ultrasound tech announced.

Not wanting to get too excited immediately, we asked her if she was 100 percent sure. She said there was no question about it. Definitely a girl.

I could have wept right there. Part of me wanted a boy, but another (possibly greater) part of me wanted to experience the bond between a mother and daughter. In the hours since, I've thought about so many things.

Her adorable clothes and how broke we're going to be (one of Ty's first comments).

The things I wish for her life.

That I hope she's not afraid to get dirty and can keep up with the boys.

At some point, we could be great friends, even though I probably won't be her favorite person in high school.

My hopes of being a Godly, strong example to her.

One day, she'll get married and this will all feel like ages ago.

Her Daddy is probably going to take her duck hunting and how much he's going to love her.

Our doctor's appointment was at 9 a.m. yesterday morning, but we waited until 6:30 last night to tell the news to our family. We had a mini gender reveal and told everyone at once. It was such a special time and so exciting. LJ's mom, Mrs. Lesa, baked us an adorable cake to help share the news.

I'll tell you about the gender reveal tomorrow! Plus, we already have a name picked out and her first outfit monogrammed!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Lemon Icebox Pie

A few days ago, I asked my husband if we could "take a pass" on Valentine's Day this year. No fancy dinner. No gifts to exchange. Just a normal, easy night at home, something I've come to cherish.

We eat out a lot ... and we eat at nice places semi-frequently ... and I can't have wine ... so the idea of a fancy dinner didn't blow my skirt up.

When it comes to gift, I don't really need anything ... delivering a baby is practically a car note ... we have a nursery to prepare ... I would like to take a trip before Baby Jordan's arrival ... we should save our cash for more practical things.

Valentine's Day is a really nice treat, but this year, I just felt I didn't need all that with so many other things going on. But I did want to do something special for my wonderful husband, Ty. So I decided I would make him a homemade lemon icebox pie, his favorite. It wasn't my original idea. My friend LJ was making one for her husband, Marcus, and I hopped on the bandwagon. But it was a good idea.

I've never made a lemon icebox pie or homemade whipped cream before. I was shocked to discover whipped cream is made from whipping cream (well, duh) and sugar. Such a simple confection!

It was easy as pie to prepare, and a treat that made my guy's heart flutter. Which is really what Valentine's Day is about. After all these years, who knew lemon icebox pie was Ty's love language?

(Photo courtesy of Southern Living)

Lemon Icebox Pie

6 egg yolks, lightly beaten
3 (14-ounce) cans sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 cups fresh lemon juice
2 (9-inch) ready-made graham cracker crusts
2 cups whipping cream
1/4 cup sugar
Fresh lemon slices (optional)
Fresh mint sprig (optional) 
  • Whisk together first 3 ingredients. Pour evenly into crusts. 
  • Bake at 350° for 15 minutes. Remove to a wire rack to cool. Cover and chill 4 hours.
  • Beat whipping cream at high speed with an electric mixer until foamy; gradually add sugar, beating until soft peaks form. Spread evenly over chilled pies. Top with fresh lemon slices and a mint sprig before serving, if desired. 

Monday, February 13, 2012

Mardi Gras and Bayou Billionaires

I could tell you a lot of things about our Mardi Gras parade weekend with the Krewe of Centaur.

King cake, Cane's chicken fingers, Maxwell's brie and crab dip (which we found out doesn't actually have brie or crab in it). All of these things made the 30-degree weather tolerable.

Well, and this.

These are two of Shreveport's most recent celebrities and stars of CMT's "Bayou Billionaires," Chantel and Albert, aka. Carl or Jimmy, "depending on what state he's in."

I'm a little embarrassed by how star-struck my husband looks. But we've watched this show since its premier and quote it often. When Ty asked if he could take a picture with the couple, Albert said, "Hold on, let me go put my new teeth in."

If you haven't seen "Bayou Billionaires," it chronicles the spending habits of the Dowden family, who struck it rich with the boom of the Haynesville Shale (the fourth largest natural gas deposit in the U.S.). "Bayou Billionaires" and "My Big Redneck Vacation," which also features a Shreveport family, are the two highest rated series in CMT history.

If you watch either show, don't judge my beloved city based on what you see! We're having a hard time watching our reputation dissolve ... but have to admit ... at least it's entertaining.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Basic Pimento Cheese

Some of you may have read the title of this blog post and dismissed this recipe before I even had the opportunity to share.

Shame on you.

Let me persuade you with this fact. For most of my life, I've thought pimento cheese was disgusting. Like, make-your-skin-crawl gross. Mostly because this was my experience:

It is the color of cheddar, but I have great doubt that there's any actual cheese involved. Maybe cottage cheese, which again, is make-your-skin-crawl gross. My dad used to eat this all the time, and maybe he still does. But I no longer live under his roof and have to be subjected to something so distasteful.

With this being my prior knowledge of pimento cheese, it is understandable why I never gave the stuff a chance until a few summers ago. One of my church friends started raving about the pimento cheese sandwich at Newk's. I turned my nose up. And then she explained, "It's not what you're thinking. It's more like an adult grilled cheese."

Grilled cheese is more my language, so I tried the Newk's pimento cheese sandwich and could have died and gone to heaven.

Oozy, slightly spicy, sharp cheddar cheese on a warm toasty baguette. Could such wonders truly exist? It has become a household favorite. Hot, cold, however it's served. Nothing is better than getting out of the pool in the summer with that swimmer's appetite (yes, I realize I mostly float) and smearing some of this stuff on a cracker.

That is a weird association to make, swimming and pimento cheese. Wouldn't a hot dog or hamburger make more sense? Well, what can I say, I'm fancy like that!

I recently found a pimento cheese recipe in Southern Living that sounded similar enough to Newk's that I was encouraged to try it out. And since when have Southern Living recipes disappointed?

It's perfect to make fancy adult grilled cheeses or to serve cold as a dip with some crackers. I made some modifications to this recipe, which you can see in parenthesis below.

Basic Pimento Cheese

1 1/2 cups mayonnaise (I would gradually add mayonnaise until it is the consistency you desire. I thought this was too much mayo)
1 (4-oz.) jar diced pimiento, drained
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. finely grated onion (I took a shortcut and used onion powder)
1/4 tsp. ground red pepper
2 (8-oz.) blocks sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded (I used one block of white cheddar and one block of yellow cheddar)

Stir together first 5 ingredients in a large bowl; stir in cheese. Store in refrigerator up to 1 week.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Project People and Other Midweek Observations

New Girl.

Have any of you been watching the series on Fox, "New Girl"? The show features possibly the cutest, most adorable human being to ever walk this earth, Zooey Deschanel.

I love her. If I met her I would be tempted to pinch her cheek because she's that adorable. And I secretly think we should be best friends. I'm sure most people feel that way about her. It probably would not work out because I secretly envy her bangs.

When I had bangs, like full-blown real bangs, they looked like this.

Not like this.

Anyway, "New Girl" is the new favorite show in our household. Even better than "Modern Family." There, I said it. I went to bed last night with a headache from laughing so hard at this show. Ty and I rewatched this one scene five times before I was ready to move on. You will enjoy this, please watch.

Pool Ball Sweater.

There's been a longstanding disagreement within my family that my dad once owned a sweater with pool balls all over it. This picture was recently discovered ... and the proof is in the pudding.

What else could those be but pool balls? Sorry, dad.


I think there's something about pregnancy that makes you do strange things. Dreams, for one, are weird. In one week's time, I dreamed that I was running away with a Middle Eastern prince that I met flying in coach. What prince flys coach? Then I was an accomplice to the murder of a school janitor.

The other weird thing I'm experiencing is an uncanny desire to cut my hair. Something I've not wanted to do in about 10 years. But I think this cut is really cute.

I'm only kidding myself and would end up crying about it in the end. Considering my hair's texture and mass, I would look more like a cotton swab.

Project People.

My brother, Chris, and his wife, Ashley, are all set to move into their new house this weekend. I'm excited for them and know they can't wait to be in their new home. This has kicked Ashley into project mode, and this past weekend (instead of watching the Super Bowl ... gasp) she refinished this beverage cart for her breakfast nook.

Here's a before look.

The work in progress. Her nephew Jacob likes to work on projects just like his dad!

The finished product.

I love to see cool pieces of furniture find new life!

My stepmom, Amy, has also been feeling inspired. For years, they've had a beautiful roll top desk in their office. But lately, Amy's been wanting a smaller desk to free up some space. She found this piece already refinished at a local antique store.

But the chair left something to be desired.

Sofie does not appear to be a fan of the pinkish/mauve seat. Amy switched out the fabric with this cute baby cheetah print, which completely changed the look of the chair.

I did have one question, though. Is that really what baby cheetah's look like? Those spots are so little! Maybe she'll grow into them one day.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Pictures from the Past

This past Sunday, we went to my in-laws house for lunch after church, and after we finished eating, Ty's mom Margaret pulled out some old pictures of Ty and Mandy from when they were kids and into their teenage years.

If you know my in-laws, then I'm not spilling any secrets here, but in most of Ty and Mandy's childhood pictures, they're wearing swimsuits. And for Ty, this meant a speedo. He wore a speedo everywhere.

Riding his bike.

To the beach.


The next time I visit my in-laws house, I'm going to borrow the best picture of all so that I can share it with you. Ty and Mandy always took an annual swim team photo together. The same picture year after year. But one particular year, you can clearly distinguish bite marks on Ty's inner thigh ... placed there by Mandy.

I asked Mandy how she could possibly have bitten Ty. He was just so darn cute! I guess he didn't always act as sweet as he looked.

But he was super cute as a kid. I'm hoping Baby Jordan has the same white blond hair and freckly face. I will be putty in this child's hands.

I cannot handle this sweet, cute face!

Friday, February 3, 2012

What if Baby Jordan ...

I pulled out my baby book the other night in hopes of finding out some insider information about half of Baby Jordan's genetic make-up. The things I discovered terrified me.

We'll start with something good, though. I weighed 7 pounds 4 ounces. That seems like a manageable birth weight. I can do 7 pounds 4 ounces.

But I looked like this.

Have you ever seen such an angry expression on a sweet little baby's face? LJ said, "You look like you're about to cut somebody."

I'm pretty sure she's right. Either that or I was squishing something out in my diaper.

How did I forget that I wasn't a cute baby? Seems like something you wouldn't forget about yourself.

The second strike against my Netherton genes: My mom referred to me as "Miss Piggy" most of the time she wrote about me in my baby book. I was a girl who liked to eat right out of the gate. And everyone thought I was a fat baby. Now I'm insecure.

There are two things I'm counting on:

The Jordan genes seem to be working in my favor. Ty was a cutie pie baby! He reminds me of my nephew Beckett in this picture. I think it's just the lips.

And this reminds me I need to ask my mother-in-law about Ty's birth stats.

Even if Baby Jordan takes after me and comes out looking like a little red sumo wrestler, it won't last long. By Christmas 1981, six months after I was born, I didn't look so angry anymore.

But even if we make it through the first six months and Baby Jordan eventually stops scaring people with his/her withering stares. There are other mountains to conquer.

What if I bring more hair like this into the world?

I don't know if there are enough hours in a day to tame this twice. Maybe I should start facing the inevitable and seek out support. At what age is it appropriate to start straightening your child's hair?