Sunday, March 30, 2014

Maternity Updates/Notes

I have been blogging a lot about pregnancy and the twins...and some of you might want to rip your eyeballs out. However, with sticking to one of my goals of this blog, I want to document life experiences so I can look back and happily experience them again. While I may not want to relive all the pains and unpleasantries of pregnancy, but I would like to highlight moments so I can reminisce when I feel like it. :)


I feel fortunate that I have had a pretty decent pregnancy. At first (well, for the first 5 months...not 3 like everyone kept insisting), I was extremely sick. I couldn't keep anything down and I lost about 9 lbs. I was concerned for the babies' sake, but I started drinking 'Ensure' protein drinks like a 90 year old woman. I honestly liked them. I would eat plain carbs like bagels with cream cheese, plain pasta with butter and cereal -- and then drink the Ensure drinks and take prenatal vitamins. The doctors said to eat whatever appealed to me and I did just that. 
I also feel as though my pregnancy has been pretty decent because I have stayed active. I haven't been running or doing yoga or pilates or anything -- I've just constantly been walking and stretching. I could be stretching more, but at least I have kept up with the walking. The doctors highly suggest at least 2 twenty minute walks each day at this later stage in pregnancy - but prior to being 33 weeks, I walked much more than that, several miles at a time. I think staying active has really helped with a lot of my aches and pains. My hips, heels and tailbone especially. 
One of the bloggers I follow is also pregnant - I made her peanut butter cookies about a month or so ago. Remember her?? Well she did a cute blog post about cravings, weight gain, baby names and other maternity tidbits, so I did a similar one. No pics or anything fun, just simple notes here.
Cravings: EVERYONE keeps asking if I have any cravings -- specifically "weird" pregnancy cravings. Honestly, I haven't at all. I have a serious sweet tooth (not pregnant), so I have been eating a lot of ice cream, dark chocolate and fruit…mostly apples and any kind of berries. I have also been eating bananas as I heard potassium helps with swelling. As I have progressed in my pregnancy, my feet have started to swell.. Jim suggested I sleep with two pillows under my feet last night, and I must say that it seriously helped.
Weight gain: I am now at the point where I go to the doctor on a weekly basis (on Friday afternoons) and last week I was up exactly 40 pounds from my pre-pregnancy weight. The doctors suggest not to gain much more than 5-10 more lbs, but there are of course TWO BABIES in there! And this is when they really pack on the pounds. As of Friday, Baby A weighed 4.3 lbs and Baby B weighed 4.1 lbs, in the 35th and 31st percentiles, respectively.  To be honest, I thought twins were born around 4 lbs, so I was thrilled to hear they already weighed that much. I am hoping they stay in my belly another 5 weeks or so, so we'll see how much they weigh they are born!
Names: Yes - we have chosen names for the twins, but we’re keeping them to ourselves until they are born. To drop a few hints, we like Irish baby boy names that are short (no more than 2 syllables), we like family names and also names that have the same beginning sound to them. For example, I like that Jim's Dad and his twin brother are "Tim and Tom". So cute and simple.
Maternity clothes: I thankfully have two staple black work pants and one khaki pair. I also have a few dresses and skirts which are great. Some of the skirts are so cute and comfortable -- and can be dressed up or down. I also have a couple pairs of jeans, but even with the elastic band, pants are becoming uncomfortable at this stage. Thankfully it's warming up in DC because flowy dresses and skirts are perfect for me right now! Now I just need a pedicure to complete my spring look. ;)
Pregnancy Issues: Now that I have talked about all the positives and fun stuff, I must address the issues and complications. No need to worry, all three of us are doing great! Both babies are rolling about and kicking up a storm. Jim thinks it's so crazy to see my belly move all over the place. He actually thinks it's crazy to see me with a huge belly. First and foremost - the ankle swelling, as I mentioned before. A few weeks ago, I looked down at my feet and noticed they were huge...my right foot especially. I was really nervous, so I asked my doctor about it. Both docs said it was normal, just monitor a few things like my blood pressure to make sure we weren't headed to preeclampsia or any other health issues. So far, my blood pressure and other things have been completely normal, so we are all good to go. I have had a few pains and a few contractions but again, all under control! 
My next weekly appointment/non stress test is Friday, so we will check in again soon! So many more appointments with multiples, but worth it. Happy to hear A and B are growing into strong little men in there!
xo,
Shaz

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Being a Grown Up...

Jim and I decided it was officially time to be grown ups and invest in a real car.

We knew we needed an SUV so that both car seats could fit inside safely and with room to spare. Between my jeep wrangler and Jim's ford ranger truck...we needed a serious upgrade. After months and months of research, we opted for a 2014 Acura MDX. We wanted the three rows of seating, all wheel drive and the tech package.

Those amenities will be nice when we have visitors in town, or when we drive up north for the holidays.

Here are a few shots of the car; it looks really pretty with the sun setting last night.



 
 
 
And the beautiful, spotless tires that don't have a touch of dirt on them....we honestly didn't even want to drive it.


 
The sales guy, Tony, took our picture...first (and second) family photo in front of the new car! Haha

 
 
Jim was SO super stoked. He was like a little kid on Christmas morning.


When we drove the car off the lot, it had 9 miles on it...and we forgot to take a picture. So you bet that we pulled over and took a picture of the odometer as we were driving home. I GUESS 11 miles isn't that bad. ;) Sure beats my 120K on the jeep.

 
We got the all wheel drive, technology package which will definitely be useful on those road trips to MA! Look out everyone...here we come!!! Can't wait. Oh and Katie P - I have heated seats for the first time ever. I am ecstatic about them. :)

 
And here is what our Saturday is looking like...Jimbo painting the nursery and me blogging away about our first few weeks here in DC. Can't complain. We are supposed to receive our household items from LA on Monday, so we should be setting up the nursery this week and into next weekend. More pictures to come!!
 
 
HAPPY SPRING EVERYONE!!!
 
xo,
Shaz

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Lá fhéile Pádraig Shona Dhaoibh!!

Lá fhéile Pádraig Shona Dhaoibh! (Happy St. Patrick's Day!)

We were fortunate to enjoy a fun, different St. Patrick's Day this year in Alexandria. Typically we go on some sort of bar crawl and consume some green beverages, but this were different this year -- and we had just as much fun, if not more.

What was supposed to be our first day at our new assignments, ended up being a SNOW DAY. Can you believe it?! We were so happy -- because after having about a week off, who wants to go back to work?

We woke up at Joyce and Dennis' house to this snowy scene. It was actually quite pretty. I haven't been around snow in such a long time, I think Jimmy and I enjoyed it. Well, he was the one brushing off the car, so maybe he didn't enjoy it as much as me seeing it from the warmth inside.


 
Not only was it warm and cozy inside, but Uncle Den started his corned beef bright and early! He and I both have to check the opm.gov website to see if we report to the office -- which is about 4-5AM. When he was up checking the site, he also started the corned beef in the crockpot. By the time we were all up for the day, it was well on its way and smelled so good!

 
He also made Irish soda bread -- which calls for Caraway seeds. Apparently they are a bit hard to come by this time of year, so if you want to make Irish soda bread, plan in advance and buy your ingredients ahead of time. I found this Irish soda bread recipe online, but there are several variations. Choose whatever you feel is right for you. And don't forget to carve the cross on the top! :)

 
Here's a shot of the corned beef after it had been cooking for 8+ hours, looks ready to go!

 
Can't have an Irish meal without the boiled potatoes....

 
 Den cooked the cabbage last, since it doesn't take very long.

 
Here is everything all plated and ready for consumption. So delicious. I loved it!


 
This meal made me reminisce of our trip to Ireland a few years ago. We would spend our days driving around the rainy roads of Western Ireland. The memories came rushing back of the bright green hills, the cows and sheep crossing the roads, massive downpours and constant dreary sprinkling rain, unique quaint pubs, my Dad learning to drive manual shift on the other side of the road, the freshest cream/butter I have ever tasted in my life, the "smaller" pours of Guinness the ladies typically enjoyed, singing Danny Boy acapella at Uncle Tom's Pub and the heavenly Irish bread that happily accompanied almost every meal. Man, what a trip!
 
Here's a few throwbacks of the Callahans at the Cliffs of Moher!
 
Photo: Lá fhéile Pádraig Shona Dhaoibh! (Happy St. Patrick's Day) from the Callahans Chrissy Callahan Barbara Callahan
 

 
Hope you all had a wonderful St Pattys!!
 
Til next time,
Shaz

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Chicken Marsala (again) -- East Coast!

Happy one week for us being on the east coast!!!

I know, I know...I already posted my chicken marsala recipe while my dad was visiting in LA a few weeks ago, but I decided to make it again last night. The Condons have been such gracious and hospitable hosts, so Jim and I wanted to make them dinner last night. I opted for chicken marsala, and I think it came out pretty good.

Jim did the grocery shopping -- and while he was at the store, he sent me a few texts w/ pictures asking if the onions were the right ones, and specifically what type of chicken to buy. It was cute. He did a great job...perfect amount of food for everyone.

Here I am starting out in the Condons kitchen last night. They renovated their kitchen a couple of years ago and it came out amazing. It's super inviting for guests and extremely user friendly for any chef or in this case, chefs! :)


Auntie Joyce and I were chit chatting during "happy hour" at their place...wine, cheese, crackers and grapes! Nothing beats that while prepping for dinner.

 

 
Who doesn't dice up the parsley garnish right at the very beginning of cooking?  ;)


Here is a shot of the mushrooms, I added a dash of heavy cream to the marsala sauce this time. Uncle Den's recommendation! I also opted to cook the mushrooms on the side because Jim and Michael aren't the biggest fans. The sauce is identical, just separated into two sauté pans -- this one solely for mushrooms and the second one for the chicken.

 
I served the chicken with mezze penne, steamed broccoli/onions and the mushrooms.  Joyce and Den bought some delicious bread from their fav bakery down the street. It was so fresh. Yummy last night and again for breakfast this morning.

 
Mid-cooking shot! The broccoli is in the back, mushrooms on the front left burner and the chicken and marsala sauce is on the front right burner in the all-clad sauté pan (Uncle Den's fav pan in his kitchen).

 
I like to brown the chicken on both sides, let is sit for a little while, and then bake it in the corningware on a really low temperature so it cooks slowly (photo below). Between the cooking time, low temperature and the tenderizing at the beginning, it makes the chicken super tender.


 Finishing touches with the parsley and then ready to serve!

 
Team effort :)


All DONE!


Completed dish, yum!




I hope Aunt Joyce and Uncle Den enjoyed a night off from cooking! We had fun. Our first day of work is tomorrow...unless of course we have a snow day. The weather looks like we are expecting 4-6 inches. Stay tuned!

That first week sure went by quickly!

Til next time,
Shaz


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Beefsteak Pizzaiola with the Condons!

Jim and I have been staying with the Condons since Sunday and each night they prepare amazing homemade meals. Tonight, they made Beefsteak Pizzaiola. It's a steak and pasta dish with a red sauce that has green peppers and minced garlic -- YUM.

This blog post is near and dear to me because it sounds like this recipe has been in the family for years. Apparently Grampa Callahan LOVED this dish. The book below was given to my Grampa ("Frank") from Aunt Charlotte and Uncle Charley. Charlotte and my Grandmother "Mama Rita" were sisters. I love family history like this!


Here are Joyce and Den with the book, "Leone's Italian Cooking" - referring to the restaurant in New York in the song 'Movin Out' by Billy Joel. 


And here's the recipe for the dish.


  • 2 1/2 Pounds of Tenderloin Steak (Aunt Joyce recommends the London Broil)
  • 1/4 Cup melted butter
  • 2 tsp Olive Oil
  • 2 Garlic cloves, mashed
  • 2 Medium green bell peppers
  • 1/2 Cup peeled tomatoes
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 8 Sprigs of parsley (or basil) 
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 oz Salt Pork
For those unfamiliar, salt pork is salt-cured pork. It is prepared from one of three primal cuts: pork side, pork belly, or fatback. Depending on the cut, respectively, salt pork may be lean, streaky or entirely fatty. You can read the rest of the page for the entire recipe.

Here's a pic of the chef cooking the big meal...and also drinking a Stella. 



Appetizer plate.


Here's a pic of the fabulous sauce.


Uncle Den giving everything one final stir before he serves the food.


The weather all day was perfect, so Uncle Den planned to grill the steaks outside. As soon as he was ready to walk out there, there was a huge downpour...so he cooked them in the broiler instead. They came out great!


The dinner table...


Uncle Den slicing up the steak for easy plating.


Dish number 1! Looks great.


My scrumptious dinner...I ate every single last bite.


And look at the guest of the year over here...helping out with the dishes. He's a "whatta guy!"



Love the east coast already!!
Shaz