Going Outside My Comfort Zone

I resisted any New Year’s resolutions this year, as I’ve learned with pregnancy and kids that over-planning and too many expectations only leads to frustration and disappointment.

Photo via Speedo.com. I don't do swim selfies. Plus, do you really think I'd post a pic of myself, pregnant in a swimsuit in January? And I did purchase a pink Speedo Swim cap, which I love:)

Photo via Speedo.com. I don’t do swim selfies. Plus, do you really think I’d post a pic of myself, pregnant in a swimsuit in January? And I did purchase a pink Speedo Swim cap, which I love:)

Right before I was about to start a diet (ordered organic meal replacement shakes from Amazon and everything), I found out I was pregnant with my second child. SUPER excited for the baby, but the baby weight on top of my already fleshier self was hard to swallow. Of course, I’m not going to try to lose weight when I’m pregnant. Add that I only seem to crave complex carbohydrates and sugar, and I’m a gestational diabetes diagnosis just waiting to happen.

So what can I do about this? Well, now that the first trimester nausea and fatigue are subsiding, I can exercise. My gym doesn’t currently offer prenatal yoga classes, but it does have a pool. Swimming is such great exercise, pregnant or not, so I decided to give it a try for the first time ever. In January. In a swimsuit. Pregnant. (In the “she looks like she’s pregnant, but not enough that I feel comfortable asking” phase, mind you.)

I’m happy to report that I swam laps for the first time on Sunday and have come out the other side without any permanent scars, emotional or otherwise. Not to say it wasn’t totally intimidating. A weekend afternoon was probably not the best time to try laps for the first time. Each lane had at least one swimmer already, which meant I had to share. The lifeguard very patiently explained to me the difference between splitting a lane and circle swimming. I’m not sure why she pointed me to fast lane as I told her I was new to this, but that’s where a spot was open so that’s where I got my feet wet, so to speak. I wasn’t five minutes into my workout (my meager interpretation of the breaststroke) when my lane partner hopped out and moved down a lane. We were splitting and not circling so I was pretty sure I wasn’t in his way. But,still, it made me even more self-conscious than I already was.

So, this morning, I Googled “lap swimming etiquette” and learned a couple of things.

1. When sharing a lane, any stroke other than freestyle is frowned upon, as you can accidentally kick your lane partner. I don’t remember kicking him, but I never remember kicking my husband and I apparently do it every night in my sleep.

2. Swimmers are possessive of their gear, even when borrowed from the pool. I may have grabbed and used a kickboard at the end of our lane. He may have gotten pissed.

3.  Some Canadian dude said in one article that everyone pees in lap pools. I really hope this is only true in Canada.

So next time, I will have to get over my fear of freestyle. And wait for a space to open up in one of the slow lanes. And try not to kick anyone or steal anyone’s stuff. Swimming is not a resolution, but I plan on sticking to it. Like all new things, it wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be.

Have you tried something lately outside of your comfort zone?

Jed’s Bug Birthday Party

We celebrated Jed’s birthday at our house just a little over a month ago and I’m finally getting around to sharing all of my crafty Pinteresting party planning. (Better late than never, right?)

We let him choose the theme. It took him about half a second to decide on bugs. For anyone planning a boys’ birthday party, here’s a little insect inspiration.

the invitations

Last year, I made the mistake of e-vites. Great in theory and for the budget, but turned out a few of the moms from Jed’s class never check their email and totally missed out. So this year, we hand-delivered straight to the cubbies — unless they never pick their kids up from school, I figured this was failsafe. Found these on Etsy from Olive & Star Paper Designs. They were wonderful to work with and did a super quick turnaround:


the food

With a 3-5pm party time, I didn’t have to worry about a full-on meal and instead went with filling, healthy (bug) bites. We went all out with bug-themed snacks and an a-MAZE-ing cake from DOUGH, my favorite client and bakery in Asheville.

This pic doesn't really fo justice to the magnitude and deliciousness of this cake. Pastry Chef Ali Caulfield crafted a beetle coming out of the "dirt" just for Jed... his favorite bug:)

This pic doesn’t really do justice to the magnitude and deliciousness of this cake. Pastry Chef Ali Caulfield crafted a beetle coming out of the “dirt” just for Jed… his favorite bug:)

Caterpillars made from grapes with white frosting and mini-chocolate chips for eyes, put together on toothpicks.

Caterpillars made from grapes with white frosting and mini-chocolate chips for eyes, put together on toothpicks.

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P “Bee” and J: mini sandwiches in the shape of bugs, using bug cookie cutters.

Adult refreshments out back:)

Adult refreshments out back:)

the entertainment

If I could go back in time and teach myself balloon art rather than babysit, I would. In Asheville, a super smart kid who goes by Mr. Twister, has it made. He’s adorable, great with the kids and super talented. He made bug balloons for all of our guests including this dragonfly for me:) He even learned two new balloon bugs just for Jed’s party.

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We also had a bug scavenger hunt. I bought mini-magnifying glasses and a bag o’ bugs online from Amazon and hid 144 bugs all over the house. I gave extra “points” for anyone who found and got rid of any real bugs;)


I didn’t do too much in the way of decorating. I used some burlap fabric I had leftover from a Baby Q that I hosted last year, which I used for the table cover and made this very nifty Very Hungry Caterpillar out of balloons. I figured with other bug balloons bouncing about and bugs scattered all over the house, that was enough.

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And being close to Halloween, I was able to take advantage of a bunch of spider stuff out there, like for napkins and plates and our spider pinata. The pinata was probably overkill — had plenty to fill the two hours without it– but I thought I was self-editing when I held back on the two bug crafts I had planned. No one can say there wasn’t enough to do! In addition to the pinata candy (organic and low on sugar from this dentist’s daughter) and scavenger hunt bugs, kids brought home favor bags with Spiderman bubbles, glow-in-the-dark bug stickers and bug tattoos.

With disposable yet recyclable plates and a very helpful mother-in-law, clean-up was a breeze!

And, most importantly, everyone including parents seems to have a good time.

Mustache Mirror Math

When you’ve gained 30 pounds in 18 months, gone from a size 6 to a size 12, and 2 people have mistaken your belly for being babyful, it adds up to 1 thing:


“There comes a time when you look into the mirror and you realize that what you see is all that you will ever be. And then you accept it. Or you kill yourself. Or you stop looking in mirrors.” ~ Tennessee Williams

Or you strategically stick a mustache on your mirror. I think Tennessee would agree.


In other news, Jed can fit 19 magnifying glasses in his pants, which has to be some sort of world record. “Now I can solve lots of mysteries today,” he says.

And yes, Mom. I need to clean my mirror.

Finding Inspiration… and Vintage Enamelware

I found these mid-century enamelware pans at one of my most favorite stores the other day and had to have them. My mother set the table and cooked on our stove top with these exact style of pans my entire childhood. And thanks to my generous parents who picked up the tab (gotta love shopping with your mom and dad!) I now get to set my own table for my own family with these.

I am no Julia Child, but much like well-packaged cleaning products inspire me to clean, and a brand new pair of lululemon yoga pants inspire me to exercise more, these have inspired me to get back into kitchen for more than a microwave moment.


Speaking of inspiration, a special thank you to Serendipity for putting the amazing Angie Mizzell in my path last week. Just what I needed to get back into blogging. So great to finally meet you, Angie!

In the Weeds

photo-9Today was a yard work day. And being that we had more weeds in our herb garden than actual herbs, I had my work cut out for me. As I detangled the undesirables from my lavender, I thought about the Jane Fonda workout record my sister and I used to do with my mom. That’s right, a workout via vinyl (if that doesn’t date me I don’t know what does). In retrospect, my mom was probably really making an effort to exercise and there were her two little girls underfoot doing their best to keep up. I like to think we were more cute than in the way. We would jog in place, trying not to make the record skip and “pull weeds” to the tune of  “Can You Feel It” by The Jacksons. After today, though, I can safely say that pulling actual weeds is a better calorie burner (no offense, Fonda).

My three-and-a-half year-old son tried his best to assist. He grunted and grimaced as he pulled on a particularly stubborn weed. “Come on,” he said, half to the weed, half to himself.

“Yeah, Jed,” I said, “You tell that weed who’s boss.”

“Who’s boss, weed! Who’s, boss!” he screamed at the weed, repeatedly.

Definitely more cute than in the way.

23 days of living through friends and food.

In the last month, I have managed to drop the ball on my blog, let it roll down the road and into a ditch where I left it for dead. But I’m reviving it… picking it up and washing it off (a mere brushing won’t cut it). It’s been a challenging time, but I’m a silver lining kind of gal and prefer to count my blessings.

If you were to do one of those time lapses of my life over the past month, it would look something like this (minus a few thousand snapshots):

Visiting with great friends and family… and great friends who are family:

cusenbary visitevelyn

With great friends, comes good wine and good food… too much good food.

Breakfast Bowl at Tupelo Honey, South Asheville.

Breakfast Bowl at Tupelo Honey, South Asheville.

Father's Day Brunch with the in-laws: Bagel with lox and boursin cream cheese at DOUGH.
Father’s Day Brunch with the in-laws: Bagel with lox and boursin cream cheese at DOUGH.

Took my first cooking class today at DOUGH (first cooking class ever, really). Made biscuits and chocolate cherry scones from scratch!

Not embarrassed to put my name on these!

Not embarrassed to put my name on these!

Heading to Louisville next week to visit more good friends and family, which undoubtedly means more food (can’t seem to gather without it). It might mean more trips to the gym upon my return, but in the words of  the almighty JC:

“Dining with one’s friends and beloved family is certainly one of life’s primal and most innocent delights, one that is both soul-satisfying and eternal.” ~Julia Child


Something I can’t kill. I hope.

After after putting to rest five glofish and three goldfish over the past six months, I was ready to give my son a living thing that would not disappoint or devastate him. Three is such a young age to experience so much loss, albeit piscatorial.

So on Mother’s Day, when we went to the nursery to buy herbs for our herb garden (so far, so good there), Jed asked if he could get a cactus. He was in fact so excited about this cactus, that Mother’s Day was quickly renamed Cactus Day.

Cactusy, aka Mr. Prickly.

Christened by Jed: Cactusy, aka Mr. Prickly.

I hope he lasts. I don’t think our plumbing system can handle his funeral.

Our Daily Bread: Baguette

When I’m not blogging here (which is most of the time), I help small businesses with their social media, marketing and PR needs. One of my clients runs a market that includes a bakery with pastries and breads scratch-made daily. I’ve gained 10 pounds since they opened in February — occupational hazard.

Dave and I love bread. I never even considered the Atkins diet and I pass on Passover. I’m not there every day, but each day that I am,  I’m bringing home a different loaf of bread for us us to try. Tonight, it’s a baguette. It’s actually one we’ve both tried before, but it’s just so good. I’ve heard from customers who lived in Paris that it’s the first baguette they’ve had here that’s the real deal.

We are going to eat it alongside a shrimp gumbo… swiping up the the last bits in the bowl with a crusty piece of baguette. Yum!



Beetle Mania

“Are you sure you want to read that again? Don’t you want to watch some TV instead?” I swear I never thought these words would come out of my mouth. That was before my son found The Beetle Book by Steve Jenkins.

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I actually love this book — it’s beautifully illustrated and very informative yet on a level that apparently even a three-year-old can comprehend. But read anything six times a day and you will roll your eyes the seventh time around.

Jed now knows every type of beetle you could possibly imagine. He can tell you which ones are poisonous, and which beetle can sense fire from 20 miles away. He amazes adults as he refers to the rose chafer beetle and longhorn beetle. And he giggles as he talks about the dung beetle. He also now thinks every wasp is actually a wasp beetle, so I have to remind him that it most likely is indeed a wasp and not its harmless counterpart in disguise. And if I refer to a ladybug, he quickly corrects me, “It’s a ladybird beetle.” We’re actually both right, but it tickles me just the same.

We returned it to the library a couple of days ago and I breathed a sigh of relief. Until, that is, Jed asked if we could check out another beetle book. I’m not sure how many beetle books there are out there, but I have a feeling I’m about to find out. I’m not keen on another beetle book, but I would love to read more from Steve Jenkins. He’s written some other animal and science books that have his wonderful illustrations, only look a little more toddler-specific, like these collaborations with Robin Page: 


I emailed Steve Jenkins to let him know what a great fan he has in Jed and he was so sweet to respond within a day. He’s actually from a town less than two hours from where we live though he lives in Colorado now. I hope he’ll come back this way to do a reading and book signing. The nice guy he is, he said he’d be sure to tell us if and when this happens. And when it does happen, I know who’ll be first in line.

I also see an Amazon purchase in my future. I’ve enjoyed my beetle break, but it can’t last forever with a son who loves beetles as much as Jed does. I just try to put things in perspective: at least he’s not obsessed with guns and fighting. Or golf. I really loathe golf.