July 31, 2013

The Fighter

 

“Makes me that much stronger
Makes me work a little bit harder
It makes me that much wiser
So thanks for making me a fighter
Made me learn a little bit faster
Made my skin a little bit thicker
Makes me that much smarter
So thanks for making me a fighter”

-Fighter by Christina Aguilera

 

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Many of you who read this blog know my friend Noelle very well.  Others of you only know her through this blog and don’t really have a true taste of the real “Nomo”.  Well, here’s her story (through my eyes):

I met Noelle the first day of preseason volleyball at Rollins our freshman year, ahem, in 1999 (that sounds like it was so long ago!).  She was born and raised in Orlando and had this confidence about her like no other.  I was already homesick (day 1) and Noelle acted like she had been on the team for years.  She towered over most other RGs (Rollins Girls) at around 6 ft. tall and had a presence about her everywhere she went.   She did then and she still does now.  When she spoke, people listened.  Not much has changed.

Although she and our first coach didn’t get along very well (soooo many funny stories about their quarrels) she stepped in and was a force on the volleyball court as a freshman.  We weren’t very good, in fact we had losing seasons (think like 7-26) our first two years, but we had fun and laughed…a lot.  Thank goodness the final two years were much better with winning records. 

Noelle, who earned her nickname “Nomo” because her last name was Moore – Noelle Moore – was never at a loss for words and had (and still has) the best.laugh.ever. I always admired her drive, passion and willingness to do whatever it took to make something happen – on the court and off.

We obviously weren’t the cutest girls at Rollins (see below) but I’m positive we made the best memories.

 

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The Rollins Volleyball Days – Noelle #7 and Me #9

 

Nomo was one of our middle hitters and had the guts to talk trash across the net and back it up.  I was her setter, was always right next to her in all of our rotations and loved having her by my side.  She was one of the most fierce competitors I have ever played with and when it came down to getting a kill during crunch time she would look me straight in the eyes and say, “Give me the (expletive) ball.”  So, 9 times out of 10 I did.  Would you tell her no?  Didn’t think so.  The best part was that 9 times out of 10 she would get the kill.  Talk about fighting spirit (or spighting firit – inside joke).  She left everything on the court and wanted to play every second of every game (even defense, lol); and if she wasn't in the game she wanted to know why.  The girl is a fighter.

Nomo and I played all four years together and graduated in 2003.  Of course the morning of graduation she was still looking for her tassel to go on her cap…while I was trying to find some yarn to make her one.  Genuine Nomo.

She was and still is the one who is always up for anything, has no problem laughing at herself and has a heart of gold. She is one of the most thoughtful people I have ever met and always puts others before herself.  Whether it’s dressing up, playing a marathon game of “Nuts” or eating candy, Noelle always gives it her best.

 

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Just a taste of “Nomo”.

 

After college Noelle landed a big time job headed off to California for a while and we didn’t see her for many years.  We kept in touch through email (Facebook wasn’t that popular then) and after she moved back to North Carolina we all seemed to reconnect – and we didn’t miss a beat.

You know you have a friend for life when you can be apart for years and pick up exactly where you left off.  That’s us, all of us, from the good old Rollins days.

 

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Dogsledding in Breckenridge, CO – February 2010

 

I think the first time we were all back together, and I mean all of us, was for our wedding in November 2010.  I LOVE the picture below and just smile thinking of all that we have been through together – college, babies, engagements, divorce, living overseas, grad school, dental school, relationships, job changes, city changes, etc.  These girls are the absolute best and having Noelle back on the east side of country and able to be near us made the group whole again.

 

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All of the Rollins Girls at our rehearsal dinner – 11/5/10

 

After finding out that Nomo was dating a guy named Tim we were thrilled.  She seemed on top of the world and we loved seeing her glow just talking about him.  We all kept up with their goings on via Facebook and were thrilled when they announced their engagement.  We didn’t know Tim, but we knew if she loved him, so would we.  They were married in April of 2012 and among moving around their first year of marriage, they made it clear that a family was on their mind.

 

 

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When we found out that Tim and Noelle were expecting, and better yet, when we found out it was a girl – we were all SO EXCITED!  Another Nomo running around – watch out world!  Noelle is the biggest kid I know and we knew that she would make a fun and fabulous mom. We also knew that Finley would be a firecracker and ready to take on the world just like her mom; we just had no idea how much of a fighter she would be from day 1.

So, if you know Noelle, or if you have followed my quick synopsis of what makes her tick, you can imagine how much my heart sank when I read this text.  You don’t ever want to see any of your friends in pain, but it hurts even more when it’s your toughest, strongest and most confident friend that is in need.

 

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“I’m gonna need you guys, Lane.  She’s so sick.”

I can’t get it out of my head.  My heart literally broke at that moment and I immediately called our other friend Kamrin (we are the only two in town) and could barely speak.  I knew Finley’s situation was not great, but just knowing that my friend, my tough friend, was so scared and in so much pain, I felt like I couldn’t get there fast enough.

Luckily I had been at the dentist near downtown when I got her text and drove straight to the hospital (mouth numb, probably drooling, but I didn’t care).  Mike was watching E that morning and just said, “Go to Nomo.  I will figure out the rest.”  He ended up calling into work for the whole day so that I could be there.  Kamrin dropped everything as well and we got to the hospital within about 20 minutes of the text – we would have been in her room quicker except for the fact we got lost about 100 times…that hospital is a maze!

The rest of that day and the days since seem like a blur.  Many visits, many tears, many laughs, but a blur.  I still just find myself, along with all of our other friends asking, “What more can we do?”

 

I know that in times of crisis I am not the best; heck, I even Googled “How to help a friend in need” because I didn’t know what to do in the midst of the chaos.  I don’t often know what to say, but I will be there listening and documenting and trying to help in any way possible.  Kamrin and I both have been trying to brainstorm more ways to help, but besides taking dinner to her house (Noelle was discharged on Sunday and now has to commute), sustaining her candy cravings (see below), taking treats to the NICU nurses and setting up a fundraising website, we can just be available.  Any time, any place for any reason.

 

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I have also learned that we physically can’t do a lot except pray (sweet treats only go so far).  We can pray our hearts out and just hope that Finley has a miraculous outcome.  We can pray that Tim and Noelle continue on their quest to stay positive and take one day at a time looking towards the future.

They have both handled this situation with such poise and grace and I have personally learned so much from their approach to this simply tragic event.  I have not once heard either one of them ask “why”.  They have both just said, “We’re ready to fight.  If there is a chance, we will fight.” 

I guess now we know where Finley gets it.

 

 

I just ask that you take a minute and send love, prayers, hope and hugs to the Oblander family in the coming weeks.  We all love you, sweet pea, more than you will ever know.

 

July 29, 2013

Menu Monday

 

As many of you already know, our weekend has been revolving around this precious little lady.  My girlfriend Noelle (aka “Nanny Nomo” for those of you who are regulars on the blog) had her daughter Finley Elizabeth late Thursday night at Winter Park Memorial Hospital.

 

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Finley Elizabeth Oblander <3

 

She was born with little to no heartbeat and has been in a medically induced coma since shortly after her birth and was rushed to the NICU at Florida Hospital South.  She is showing very few signs of brain activity at the moment, but is still undergoing many more tests.

 

Finley was 7 lbs. 9 oz. and 21 inches long at birth and has the cutest little sausage toes - ever. 

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I got to meet her on Saturday afternoon and she is absolutely beautiful.  She has touched my life in a way I could have never known in such a short amount of time, and along with all of Noelle and her husband Tim’s families we are all fully committed to Fight for Finley.  The power of prayer is miraculous and although we don’t know yet what Finley’s story will be, she has already written many chapters in all of our hearts.

 

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We now have a fundraising site for the Oblander family and even though prayers are greatly appreciated, if you are able to donate to help offset some of the mounting medical bills please click on the image below.

 

Right now I just ask that you keep these precious people (all 3 of them) who are so special to us in your thoughts and prayers.

 

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As for this week on our home front, we plan on taking meals and making visits to Nomo and Tim, as well as taking Everett to daycare for the first time!  I go back to work on Monday (eek!) so we are starting the daycare process at the end of this week to give him a bit of an adjustment period.  He goes for his 6 month check up today and more shots.  He’s growing like a weed, eating solids like a champ and getting many extra hugs and kisses this week as we are so blessed to have a healthy baby boy.

 

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Here’s our menu plan:

M:  Cobb Salad

T:  Steak and Veggie Kebabs w/ Tzatziki and Baked Potatoes

W:  Chicken Pesto and Tomato Pizza

Th:  Hawaiian Chicken Sandwiches w/ Corn on the Cob

F:  Lasagna

Sa: Sweet and Sour Chicken w/ Fried Rice

Su:  Sloppy Joes w/ Sweet Potato Fries

July 26, 2013

Ice Ice Baby

 

It’s Florida.  It’s summer.  It’s hot.

What better way to cool off than homemade ice cream?!?!

Yes, please.

 

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I must say that after a few nudges and hints from my hubby asking about making homemade ice cream, I gave in…and I’m so happy I did.  I don’t know why we don’t make more of it in the summer, ice cream that is Winking smile, but it is so easy and so fun.

 

I found this recipe on Pinterest and was excited to try it for two reasons:

1.  It only called for 1 egg yolk, most of the ice cream recipes I have found have anywhere from 6-8.  Yikes (although I’m sure delicious).

2.  I could use skim milk.  Although it did call for heavy cream, the majority of the liquid was skim, which cut down on some of the calories. 

 

 

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I tested it out on both Mike and my mom and it got rave reviews!  It’s definitely a must try!

 

Mocha Latte Ice Cream

Print this recipe!

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon instant espresso
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups milk  (I used skim)
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 ounces finely chopped bittersweet chocolate

 

1. Whisk together first 4 ingredients in a large heavy saucepan. Gradually whisk in milk and whipping cream. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, 10 to 12 minutes or until mixture thickens slightly. Remove from heat.

2. Whisk egg yolk until slightly thickened. Gradually whisk about 1 cup hot cream mixture into yolk to temper. Add yolk mixture to remaining cream mixture, whisking constantly. Whisk in vanilla. Cool 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

3. Place plastic wrap directly on cream mixture, and chill 8 to 24 hours – very important step.

4. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350°. Bake pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan 8 minutes or until toasted and fragrant, stirring once halfway through. Cool completely (about 30 minutes).

5. Pour chilled cream mixture into freezer container of a 1 1/2-qt. electric ice-cream maker, and freeze according to manufacturer's instructions. (Instructions and time may vary.) Before transferring ice cream to an airtight container for further freezing, stir in pecans and chocolate. Garnish, if desired.

 

 

 

Special thanks to my food stylist/assistant.

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July 23, 2013

Twinkle Toes

 

I think in my friend Noelle’s next life she really, truly would love to be a ballerina.  She has always loved to dance; whether it be hip hop, tap or ballet.  I remember going to watch her “recitals” at Rollins while she was taking a variety of dance classes in college. 

Now, to give you a visual, this was an athletically built, six foot tall volleyball player amongst all of the other tiny dancers.  It was an absolute hoot (although Noelle really can dance, unlike me).

 

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So, when I found out that Noelle, aka “Nomo” was expecting a baby girl, I couldn't wait to find out what the nursery theme would be; and was not surprised in the least to find out it was a vintage ballerina theme.

 

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As my friend Kamrin and I were planning her baby shower, it only seemed fitting to carry on the twinkle toes theme. We had so much fun planning a girly, frilly event and couldn’t wait to make our shabby chic shower come to life.

 

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Kamrin has an absolutely beautiful house that is perfect for entertaining, so we opted to have the shower there.  We wanted to create a cozy and comfortable yet special setting for these two special girls (momma and baby!).

I made the fireplace decorations in hopes that Nomo would be able to use them in the nursery after the shower was over.  I made simple fabric wreaths (strips of fabric double knotted over embroidery hoops and a burlap name banner with pink gingham fabric.  I also made a white and pink tutu for dress up time when Finley gets a little bit older (in the picture above).

Luckily Noelle loved it all and has already hung them in her nursery.  It all looks perfect!

 

Nomo Shower

D├ęcor at the shower (above) and then used in the nursery (below)!

 

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We also really wanted to use real plates and napkins rather than disposable and I’m so glad we did.  We mixed and matched all of my table linens (tablecloths, placemats, napkins) and all of my mom’s antique china plates.

 

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Nomo Shower1

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We also added a bit of whimsy with this paper garland decoration over the serving island in Kamrin’s kitchen.  I simply cut scrapbook paper into different size squares and rectangles, doubled them up and then using my sewing machine I just sewed right through the middle. 

This is the cheapest and easiest way to make personalized garland (color and shape).  I also made the mobile in Everett’s nursery this way and just attached the strands to dowels.  I love the look and think it makes a huge statement!!!

 

 

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We had fresh flowers on all of the tables, and even conjured up a few pictures of Nomo as a baby.  The picture below with her dad is extra special since he recently passed away.  He was one of our biggest cheerleaders during every volleyball game in college and always made us laugh – we know he was with us in spirit. 

 

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How fun are these straws?!?!

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As for the menu – it was light, summery and soooo yummy!

  • Chicken Salad Sandwiches on Croissants
  • Strawberry Summer Salad
  • Caprese Kebabs
  • Lemon Fluff Salad
  • Strawberry Cupcakes

 

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The lemon fluff salad (top right on the plate) was my mom’s recipe and was an absolute hit.  It is a congealed salad that our friend Lynn wanted to eat it with her lunch and for dessert – it was that good and perfect for any party, shower or potluck; and the best news…it can and should be made ahead!

 

Lemon Fluff Salad

Print this recipe!

 

1 can crushed pineapple (undrained)

1/2 C sugar

1/2 C water

3 small lemon Jell-O

1 (8 oz) cream cheese

1 (12 oz) container of Cool Whip

1 C grated cheddar cheese

 

Bring pineapple, sugar and water to a boil.  Remove from stove and blend in softened cream cheese and lemon Jell-O.  Pour into a bowl and chill in refrigerator until syrupy ( a little thick and cool).  Add cool whip and mix well.  Pour into dish and refrigerate until ready to serve.  Put grated cheese over top before serving.  Cut into squares or scoop out with a spoon (depending on serving dish) to serve.

 

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The strawberry cupcakes were also a hit; as were the white chocolate covered Oreos that were used as the party favor.  Delish and so easy to make.

 

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Kamrin and I both were so honored to host such a beautiful shower for such a beautiful friend.  We have been through thick and thin together and can’t wait to be with Noelle and her husband Tim as they welcome sweet baby girl Finley any day now.  Let the next set of adventures begin!

 

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July 22, 2013

Menu Monday

 

Weekend highlights:

Howdy!  We kind of had an extended weekend around here, but not for a fun reason. Sad smile

Everett contracted Hand, Foot and Mouth disease two weeks ago.  We think he got it when we were out stroller shopping and chewing on stroller straps in the store.  Since he is not in daycare and the other kids he was around didn’t have the virus, that’s the only thing we can come up with.  He started with a fever and crankiness before the horrible sores broke out on his hands, feet and mainly mouth (hence the name of the virus).

After going to the pediatrician and having it diagnosed, they told us there was nothing we could do but wait it out and that it was contagious, but adults didn’t usually get it…HA!  Well, about a week after the little dude had it, my big dude got it as well.

Mike had the same symptoms and had the same gnarly breakouts.  It is not a fun virus I tell you and he was at home Thursday and Friday resting.  Boo for him, but yay for us – we loved having him around!

 

 

 

We decided to start E on solid foods and opted for sweet potatoes for his first taste.  He did great and has since taken to the spoon pretty well!  So far so good!

 

 

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We did a lot of resting and walking this weekend and were so excited to see Gransie yesterday.  She’s here until Wednesday and loves getting her fill of Everett.  She’s a pro on her iPad now and loves taking videos of the little guy laughing.

 

 

Finished all of his sweet potatoes!   #eatslikehisdaddy

Finished all of his sweet potatoes – a pro eater just like his daddy!

 

As for this week – simple menu for a simple week.  Have a good one!

 

M:  Pizza Burgers w/ Sweet Potato Fries

T:  Pulled Chicken Soft Tacos w/ Corn on the Cob

W:  Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup

Th:  Apricot Pork Chops w/ Veggie Cous Cous

F:  Chopped Chicken Salad

Sa:  Shepherd’s Pie w/ Roasted Carrots

Su:  Cajun Chicken Pasta