Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Happy Birthday, Chris!

Today is my brother’s 27th birthday.

[Goofballs in Chicago, 2009]

I have blurry memories of the day Chris was born, visiting him and my mom at the hospital. My understanding was that she had produced a baby purely for my entertainment (a doll in real life!), and I was very excited to meet my new present. Once he was at home and folks started visiting, I told everyone who walked through the door to NOT touch “my baby,” in what I assume was a very sassy 3-year-old voice.

Honestly, his newness wore off quickly, and I spent the next decade teasing Chris and dragging him out of my room when my friends were over; he spent it hitting me on the back of the head with a light-up, plastic sword my parents bought him at the Ringling Brothers circus that came through Houston in 1991. The off-and-on nature of our relationship is one that I’m sure most brother-sister siblings have endured. Luckily, ours evaporated a few years later, and I finally understood I could – gasp! – be friends with my brother.

Chris and I spent one year together in high school, when he was a freshman, and I was a senior. He had joined the cross country team, and I was the editor of our high school yearbook, so we drove into school each morning around 6:00 a.m. for our respective extracurricular time. The soundtrack of those dark, foggy mornings include Norah Jones, O.A.R., John Mayer, Dashboard Confessional, and a bunch of other artists and bands, some of which are still our favorites, some of which are now extremely embarrassing to acknowledge.

Happy birthday to my brother, a guy who is kind, caring, and fiercely intelligent… someone who is so attuned to both current events and cultural references that he’s easily the most interesting person in the room… and a HUGE reason why I was so happy when we found out our child-to-be was a boy. If Baby Naumann is half as awesome as his uncle, we’re in for another great present.       

Thursday, March 5, 2015

The March To-Do List

March, you are more than a little scary. You’re a constant reminder that our kid arrives next month, and I feel nowhere near ready. Is this what motherhood is like? Feeling behind and panicked 24/7? If so, I’ve been honing those skills since I started college, so maybe I’ll be a pro. Here’s what I have going on this month…

1) Start working on my summer (aka post-partum) capsule wardrobe.

Have you ever heard of a capsule wardrobe? I hadn’t until I started stalking following this gal on my daily trip around the blogosphere. I’ve been contemplating creating my own for about six months now and kept using my pregnancy as an excuse…. Until I realized I had already created a capsule wardrobe BECAUSE I was pregnant. (It’s really easy to finely edit your wardrobe when you’re gaining a half to full pound every week.)

     2)  Finish decorating the nursery.

We decided on a theme and have finished painting the walls. We also have moved the furniture (sans crib) into the room, purchased the linens, and Andy is actually working on building a small little bookcase to go in there, as well. Our theme is “storybooks” and is specifically centered on Little Golden Books… which means the last steps is to frame some pages from various Little Golden Books all throughout the room. I’m hoping the frames will look as cute in person as they do in my head. Wish us luck!  I’ll post pictures of the finished product when it’s all done.

[Part 1 of painting took place during winter vacation. RIP, Andy's beard.]

[Part 2 included adding the chair rail and painting the bottom wall space grey. 
Then we moved the furniture we're using (purchased years ago from an estate sale) into the room.]

     3) Cook something with our pasta maker.

It would be nice to embrace something I’ll likely not get a chance to do for the foreseeable future. Has anyone made their own pasta? Are some types easier to work with than others?

     4) Find Baby Naumann a great homecoming outfit.

It’s an unsolved mystery why this has become so important to me, but I’ve been trolling the interwebs trying to find something both practical and cute for the baby boy to wear when we leave the hospital. Bonus points if the said outfit can detract focus from his large head (because, let’s be honest – between Andy and me, this kid is going to have a NOGGIN). And if moms are reading this right now and have any ideas, let me know!

     5) Read All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.

On April 2, I’ll be attending my last book club as a childless gal, so I’d feel REALLY good about myself if I actually read the darn thing this time. I’m normally the girl who shows up having read less than 25 percent of the book and eats all the cheese and crackers.

[Image source: amazon.com]

What’s on your to-do list this month?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Currently: My Favorite Health and Beauty Products

Historically, I’ve had the “I’ll try anything” mindset when it comes to health and beauty products. If I had a coupon, I would snatch it up. Over the past year, however, I’ve become very loyal to the products that I find to work well. Below are my top five. Some of these are obviously pregnancy related, but others are products I have used or know I will continue to use for years to come…

1) Dr. Teal’s Epsom Salt Soaking Solution in Eucalyptus Spearmint – Honestly, it doesn’t take a lot of convincing to get me into a relaxing bath, but I started using this product years ago while training for half and full marathons – it did wonders for sore muscles. I picked it back up during the second trimester of my pregnancy to relieve an aching back that seemed to spike in the evenings. I really do believe that it not only relived my back pain but it also helped ward off leg cramps during the night. Eucalyptus Spearmint is my preferred scent, although they have a few others to choose from, such as Lavender and Chamomile. (Price: About $5/bag)

2) Nature’s Made Prenatal Multi + DHA Vitamins – Yeah, I tried the vegan, gluten-free, organic prenatal vitamins for a couple weeks, but then my morning sickness kicked in, and I could no longer ingest something that tasted like hot garbage. Thank you, Nature’s Made, for understanding that when you’re pregnant, you sometimes feel like vomiting for no good reason. I appreciate your prenatal vitamin that has virtually no taste or smell. (Price: About $20 for a 90-day supply)

3) First Aid Beauty (FAB) Ultra Repair Cream – You know the dad in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” who sprays Windex on everything to fix it? This product is my Windex. Not only did I use it on my face – in replacement of a night cream – nearly every night this winter (and continue to do so), I also used it on my knuckles, elbows, and heels. Normally I look like a blotchy-faced teenager by Christmas with the ever-changing winter weather in Austin that creates dry patches on my skin, but this cream kept my face even and hydrated without becoming greasy. (Price: About $12 for a 5 ounce bottle)

4) Clarisonic Mia2 – Um hi, clear skin. Where have you been since I turned 12? Seriously, I don’t know what kind of voodoo witchcraft is going on at the Clarisonic headquarters, but my face has never been as clear as it is after a month and a half of using this device. After doing a lot of research, I decided that the “Mia2” was a better option for my skin, because it has a delicate setting for sensitive skin that the Mia doesn’t come with. To me, that was worth the extra $50. Or rather, it was worth asking for something that cost $50 more at Christmas. I received this gift from my brother-in-law who drew me in the Naumann Family Secret Santa… which really means I should thank my sister-in-law who knew what is was and where to buy it. Thanks, Heather! Where would my skin be without you? (Price: About $150… but you can sometimes get them on sale!)

5) Palmer’s Skin Therapy Oil – I read somewhere that stretch marks are hereditary and not something you can prevent, no matter how many beauty products you use. I have no idea if that’s true or not, but I’ll happily rub something all over my torso if it means I can smell like a chocolate bar all day, amiright? (Seriously, though, I’d love to hear from folks who have had stretch marks and how their body recovered.) (Price: About $10 for a bottle that lasts forever)

What are your favorite health and beauty products?

Thursday, January 29, 2015

What’s For Dinner?

One of my January goals was to introduce at least two new “elaborate” dinners to our table. Why I needed to describe those dinners as “elaborate” seems like a really cruel joke to play on myself. And while I did cook up two new meals for us this month, I would hardly describe either of them as “elaborate.” Both are quick to prepare, full of easy-to-find ingredients, and relatively healthy. (And just so we’re clear, my definition of healthy is anything that is not a frozen pizza.)

Lemon-Garlic Shrimp and Grits
I love shrimp and grits and realized I had never made it at home. I grabbed this recipe straight from the Food Network website and made only a few minor alterations, so I’m simply going to include the link, a photo, and a few notes on what I changed.

Recipe found here.

[Image source: foodnetwork.com]

·      I used a bit more garlic, because I think it pairs really well with the lemon juice. Plus, it makes for great breath the next morning.
·      When I revisit this recipe – which I will definitely be doing – I will make sure to use actual parmesan cheese. I had some leftover dry gourmet cheese that I shredded and threw in for the sake of convenience, and I think it did affect the taste. Believe me, though, I still ate. it. all.
·      I couldn’t find fresh parsley at the grocery store the week I prepared this meal, so I used dried parsley. I didn’t lose sleep over the modification, but I bet it would have been a zingier finished meal with fresh parsley.

Breakfast Pizzas (recipe serves 2)
For my second meal, I definitely drew inspiration from Haylie Duff’s Real Girl’s Kitchen, and you can check out the demonstration for her Avocado, Prosciutto, and Radish Tartine recipe here. However, I made so many changes that I actually listed out my process below and gave this meal my own name.

This dinner turned out to be a great option -- we ate it twice in January. Plus, it was typical for us to have all the ingredients in our house without making a special trip to the store.

Ingredients (in order of appearance within the recipe)
·         1 large or 2 small Haas avocado(s)
·         Approximately 1 tbsp of olive oil
·         4 eggs
·         4 whole pieces of whole wheat sandwich rounds (we use Nature’s Own 100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Rounds)
·         ¼ cup of shredded parmesan cheese (or any other preferred shredded cheese)
·         4 slices of prosciutto (this is the only ingredient I skip for myself, due to pregnancy)
·         Dashes of salt and pepper
·         Approximately 1 tbsp of Louisiana hot sauce or your preferred hot sauce

Step 1: Slice the avocado(s) down the middle and spoon all the avocado goodness into a small bowl. Mash up the avocado to the consistency of guacamole. Once you’ve finished, set the bowl aside. Discard the avocado pit and skin.
Step 2: Heat a large skillet to med-high, and drizzle the olive oil throughout the surface of the pan. Crack the four eggs and drop them on to the pan. Allow the eggs to cook for about 3 minutes. You can adjust the cook time based on how runny you like the eggs.
Step 3: Flip the eggs over within the skillet and cook for an additional 3 minutes. Meanwhile, pop the sandwich rounds into the toaster using a light-med setting.
Step 4: Remove the skillet from the heat and set aside. Then, take a sandwich round and spread a dollop of mashed avocado in between the two slices, creating a kind of “avocado sandwich”. Also, spread a dollop of mashed avocado on top of the “sandwich.” Repeat this step for the other 3 sandwich rounds.
Step 5: Sprinkle all the shredded cheese among the four avocado-topped sandwich rounds. Then, lay a slice of prosciutto on top of each sandwich round. Finally, using a spatula or similar tool, dish a cooked egg on top of each slide of prosciutto.
Step 6: Sprinkle as much salt and pepper as you like on top of each egg. Shake out the hot sauce on top of each sandwich.

Serve each person two pizzas and enjoy! (We typically have a side salad with this meal, too.)

[The finished product at Casa Naumann]

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Anticipating Spring

When you live in Texas, the transition between seasons is almost nonexistent. One day it's below freezing, and the next, it's 60 degrees with blue skies. The climate here can change faster than my hair color. (Editor's note: I have no idea what my actual hair color is. It could be red. Could be  brown... But, let's be honest, it's probably grey.)

Because of the unpredictable temperatures, it's important to me to have a few key pieces that I can wear for months on end and still create relevant outfits, regardless of the weather. 

This year, those pieces have often been red... Red denim, red tops, red shoes and accessories. This color theme worked really well around the holidays, for obvious reasons, but now I'm thinking about how to incorporate them on warmer days that will inevitably pop up during the next three months. Here's my ideal transitory outfit...

Wavy Pointelle Sweater | LOFT (on sale!)
Pixie Ankle Pants (in Robbie Red) | Old Navy
Steve Madden Buffalo Plaid Infinity Scarf | Nordstrom
Voltaire Softy Pointed Slip-On Shoes | Topshop (on sale!)

One of my favorite spring colors is mint green, and pairing it with red allows both colors to pop without competing. The black and white accessories speak well to both colder and warmer temperatures. 

I'm excited to use items I already own to create this outfit. Stay tuned for that update in a future post!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

My 2015 Reading List

For the last two years, I have made a goal through the goodreads.com Reading Challenge to read a certain amount of books each year. For 2015, I have again set a goal number, although at 15 books, it's significantly lower than in years past. (I figure I'll cut myself some slack, because I hear newborns take up a decent amount of your time.) 

I usually start the year already knowing some of the books I plan to read. Below are 10 of my 15 books for 2015, along with a quick synopsis of each one (in no particular order):

1) Wild by Cheryl Strayed
I mentioned this book in my last post as a book I had already started and want to finish by the end of the month... but because I started it on December 31, I figure I can count it within my 2015 list. A young woman hikes solo across the Pacific Crest Trail, and along the way, she recounts events in her life that led her to tackle the hike.

2) I'm Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham
Girls creator/producer/director/actress Lena Dunham provides a series of essays about growing up. I'm a Girls fan and love Lena's writing "voice."

3) The Understudy by David Nicholls
After I read One Day by David Nicholls, I knew I had to read more. Nicholls's second novel (and the one written before One Day), is about an understudy who is envious of the actor he is following and unfortunately then falls in love with his wife.

4) Us by David Nicholls 
Another promising novel from David Nicholls, Us was published only a few months ago. In attempt to save his 30-year marriage and bond with his son, a man takes his family on a trip to Europe.

I might have a slight obsession with British author David Nicholls.

5) Yes, Please by Amy Poehler
Amy Poehler is hilarious. That's all you need to know.

6) Louise Brooks: A Biography by Barry Paris
After reading The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty, I became fascinated with silent film star Louise Brooks. My brother recommended this biography to me, saying it was not only a great overview of Louise's life, but also a great history on that era of entertainment and film. This is the longest book on my list, clocking in at 609 pages.

7) My Life in France by Julia Child
(Hopefully the title excuses me from writing a sentence summary.) I don't know why I haven't read this book yet. I love Julia Child, I love appreciate cooking, and this just seems like one of those books you'll want to curl up with and read straight through.  

8) The Pink Suit by Nicole Mary Kelby
This story follows a seamstress named Kate who tailored many clothes worn by former First Lady Jackie O. Kennedy, including the iconic pink suit worn the day President Kennedy was assassinated. With so much focus on the suit, Kate's life becomes a bit more complicated after President Kennedy's death. 

9) A Paris Apartment by Michelle Gable
An American travels to Paris to uncover all the treasures and secrets within a historic apartment, including a famous painting stored there. She becomes extremely interested in the woman depicted in the painting, and subsequently reveals some truths about herself in the process.

10) The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman
This books follows the complicated lives of the staff members at an English newspaper in Rome. The journalism major in me is super excited to read this one.

Any books you're planning to read this year?

P.S. Are you a member on goodreads.com? If so, let's be friends!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The January To-Do List

Oftentimes, I like to think about things I want to accomplish in the time frame of a month. To me, a month seems long enough to meet my goals, but not too long that I’ll forget. Plus, I like to make sure I’m throwing in some just-for-fun stuff, along with the to-dos I consider necessary. I keep a little notebook in my purse and make my monthly lists as I think of them. Here’s my January list:

1)      Decide on the nursery theme.

I got so hung up on the paint colors for the nursery that I became blinded to any other aspect of decorating for it. I want to have the theme (including the crib sheets, curtains, and wall art) identified by the end of the month. If you have any ideas, send them my way! Our nursery colors are orange (light, like an orange sherbet) and light gray.

2)      View the “Producing Gone with the Wind” exhibit at the Harry Ransom Center.

The Harry Ransom Center is an amazing research library on The University of Texas campus, and I am consistently in awe of the exhibitions they create. They have a ton of documents and artifacts from the production of one of my favorite movies, so adding this to my “to-do list” is a bit like adding a reminder to eat a cookie. It’s a no-brainer.

[Image source: hrc.utexas.edu]

3)      Finish the following books: Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman, The Remedy for Love by Bill Roorbach, and Wild by Cheryl Strayed

I started three books in 2014 that I haven’t finished. … OK, to be honest, I started Bringing Up Bebe about a month after I got pregnant, and I still have about a fourth of the book to go. I don’t really have an excuse for why. … I guess all the morning sickness and gaining weight has really cut into my reading time.  

[Image source: amazon.com]

4)      See the following movies: Wild and Into the Woods

Ideally, I will have read Wild (by Cheryl Strayed) before seeing the movie, but considering I’m about 10 percent through the book and I have tickets for the movie on Wednesday night, I think that’s wishful thinking.

[Image source: imdb.com]

5)      Cook at least two new recipes for dinner.

For 14 weeks, I had this awesome legitimate excuse for not cooking elaborate meals: nausea. But my nausea ended almost ten weeks ago. So… [crickets]

What’s on your to-do list this month?

Monday, January 5, 2015

What's the Word?

Hi, lovelies! Happy new year! Can we just not talk about how long it’s been since I last posted? There’s no amount of justifying I can do to make an almost-8-month hiatus sound reasonable, so let’s just move on and say that I missed this dear ol’ blog of mine.

With any new year comes new resolutions, right? Personally, I love resolutions. I love making them, breaking them, and obsessing about them in between it all. I typically make way too many, only to abandon every single one by February 1. The trap I fall into is that I tend to have an “all or nothing” mentality. The first day I press snooze on my alarm, don’t go to the gym, or decide to eat a double cheeseburger instead of a salad, I’m more inclined to ditch my resolution, rather than recover.

So, for kicks, I decided to make only one resolution for 2015. And it’s not even a resolution – it’s more of a mantra. Instead of drafting a dozen of seemingly unrelated goals, I’m going to focus on one word to get me through the year:

I’m trying to focus my energy, my drive, and my positivity on the progress (no matter how minor) I'm going to make toward a productive and meaningful 2015. Hopfully I can use this blog to provide updates on how it's all going.

What’s your word for 2015?