lemon garlic steamed mussels

I completely embarrassed myself in the grocery store the other day.  
What else is new...

After seeing that our grocery had Prince Edward Island mussels on special for the holidays, Adam and I decided to expand our cooking repertoire.  And headed straight to our favorite cookbook (Tyler Florence's Ultimate) for a recipe.  Oh Tyler, he never disappoints.

I headed back to the grocery bright and early on Christmas Eve morn to purchase our mussels for Christmas Day.  As the seafood lady handed me a cardboard box filled to the brim she informed me that she threw in some extra in case some of them die.

Blood exited my face and I just kind of stared at her for a few moments.  Unsure of how to process what she had just said.
I had never really thought about the fact that mussels are alive when you cook them.
As she chuckled at the look on my face, I quickly paid for my new pets and hurried home, nervously glancing over at the box in the front seat the whole way.
Like they were going to grow legs and start coming after me.
I've never done well with live food.

Needless to say, after the initial shock wore off, mussels are relatively easy and straightforward.  Simply take a deep breath and gently pour the mussels from the cardboard box into a mixing bowl.  Cover the bowl with a damp towel and place a few ice cubes on top.  Place the bowl in the coldest part of your refrigerator and the mussels will stay alive for 1-2 days.  If you're keeping them for more than 24 hours like this, be sure to drain some of the liquid that the mussels emit into the bowl.

Freaked out yet?
Don't be.
Once you make this delicious and easy appetizer, you'll never blink twice at buying these babies again.  This dish would be perfect for a New Year's Eve Soiree.  Or any weeknight when you just feel like treating yourself.

Garlic Lemon Steamed Mussels [adapted from Tyler Florence]

3-4 pounds of mussels, rinsed
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic gloves, sliced thin
1 shallot sliced thin (optional)
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 lemon, sliced thin (keep the "ends" for juice)
1/2 cup dry white wine (I used Little Penguin Chardonnay)
1 cup chicken broth
fresh chopped parsley

Discard any mussels with broken shells or that do not close when tapped.  In a saucepan, melt butter and olive oil.  Saute garlic, shallots and lemon slices with the thyme sprigs for 3-4 minutes.  I also added in a few thyme leaves for extra flavor.  Add in the mussels and toss to coat.  Pour in white wine, the juice from the lemon ends and the chicken broth.
Cover the pot and steam over medium heat for 10-12 minutes until mussels open.
Serve in a low-profile dish so the mussels sit in the sauce and garnish with parsley.

Oh and for fellow preggers out there, mussels are perfectly safe to eat in moderation.  As long as you properly store and cook them :)


letters to bebe stud

Dear little one,

Your daddy and I made the realization yesterday that it was our last holiday with just the two of us.  I can't tell you how giddy it made us to think of celebrating Christmas with you next year.  Although truth be told, you're already getting spoiled.  We received so many sweet gifts from people who love you to pieces already.  Your mama was a bawling mess over each little boating onesie, Pooh Bear and even a bag of oranges (your food of choice lately).
Your future Aunties even brought celebratory [candy] cigars all the way from New Orleans.
You aren't even here yet and already stealing the show :)

You've really started growing over the past month, which has made this mama so happy.  Eating was a little rough there for a while, but I'm glad we've sorted things out.  And that I've realized that you love oranges and World Market's Orange Passion Mango Italian soda more than life itself.  Good choice little one...and lucky for you, we just received a whole case of it for Christmas!

I love that you can hear us now.  That your daddy tells you stories almost every day.  That you happily kick whenever the dog barks.  Or soccer is on the television.  Or I'm humming.  I love feeling your reactions to our world, and can't wait for you to experience everything in it.

Keeping growing in there little one...we're only sixteen weeks away from meeting you!



being merry

Our tree sat in our front window for quite some time this year.
Empty of sparkle and lights.

As some of you already know, we've had a rough couple of weeks in our house.  A few days after hauling our nine-foot fraser fir indoors, Adam suffered an injury at volleyball that has turned out to be quite serious.  He not only tore his MCL, but also his ACL in his knee which requires surgery.  Needless to say, between doctors appointments and dealing with the emotional and physical stress of this injury, our tree stood neglected.

It's hard to be merry when your world has been turned upside down.

But sometimes it just takes a beautiful snowfall.
An hour's worth of time to adorn some branches.
A mug of tea for me and cocoa for him.

To start feeling merry again.

I can't say thank you enough to the friends and family who have gotten us through the past few weeks. Between meals, cards and emotional support, we couldn't have done it without you.  Now we're just looking 'forward' to surgery and getting Adam back up on two legs.

So we're done being unmerry and ready to celebrate.
As soon as we find someone to clear the driveway of all this snow.

Cause you all know I'm not gonna do it.


a few of my favorite things

Every year I strive to be done Christmas shopping by the first week of December.  So that I can spend the rest of the month just enjoying the lights, baking up treats and relaxing with friends.
As usual, I didn't meet my deadline - but this year is the closest I've come to being completely done!  That deserves a sugar cookie, or two!

Of course, not needing to present hunt for anyone else leaves me a bit too much time to peruse some of my favorite shops for little gifts that I might like to receive.
::hint hint::

H&M's MAMA collection is starting to become my go-to for maternity wear
Nautical knots on display
My current go-to scent for daily wear
A whale who holds soap, does it get cuter?


gender reveal party

If you watched this little video, then you already know.
We're expecting a little boy in April :)
And according to my super-high-squeaky voice on the video, I'm a little excited about it.
Okay, very excited.

Also I'd like to point out that I won.
As in, I totally guessed it would be a boy.  Based on absolutely nothing.  No dreams, no 'wives tales'.  Just a general feeling that this little guy was in fact, a guy.
Someone give me a cookie.

Way back when our future little boy was just the size of a peanut, my two girlfriends Wren and Suzi approached me with the idea of having a gender reveal party.  My immediate response was: "You want to throw me a party where there's cake involved?  That's kind of a no-brainer."

So on a very cold, blustery Monday after Thanksgiving, Adam and I went to our anatomy ultrasound.  With this sweet little card in hand for the tech to fill out, seal up and keep our baby's private parts a secret.

That night was something of a test.  Having that envelope in our hands was so tempting.  But we managed to hold it together until it was safely placed in our party planners' hands.

Finally, six very long days later, the day arrived.  Suzi and Wren teased me all day long with little instagrams of the decor, the food and of course, the cake that held this big secret.  Having never been to a gender reveal party before, I wasn't quite sure what to expect.
To say that I was blown away by what they had planned would be an understatement.

The food, oh my word.  Every dish was a play on a traditional 'kids' food with a grown-up twist.
Mini pizzas with pears, caramelized onions, chives and pecorino cheese
Hamburgers made with braised spare ribs
 Mac'n'cheese made even fancier as a three cheese risotto topped with crispy panchetta
Grilled cheese and tomato bisque with a 'Top Chef' worthy presentation
And pigs in a blanket.  Upgraded from hot dogs to spicy lamb and goat sausage

I ate two of everything.
Except for the pizza.
I ate three of those.

What baby wants, baby gets.

Guests used a chalkboard wall to collect votes for boy or girl.  And to tally up our 'answers' after playing some old wives tales trivia.
Both tallies pointed to a boy victory.

Oh that cake was tempting me.
I wanted to go all one-year-old birthday smash cake on it.

With our friends and family gathered around, Adam and I were finally allowed to cut the first slice.
You can watch that here on the video if you missed it.

And out came a tray of celebratory glasses topped with blue cotton candy.  Filled to the brim with champagne...or sparkling wine for this mama.

Every detail of this party was perfect.
Absolutely perfect.
I'm in awe of the wonderful girlfriends I've been blessed with.  For them to take the time to plan such a thoughtful party with every detail just so.  Well, I'm just the luckiest.
So is bebe Stud.  He'll have two of the world's most amazing aunts when he makes his debut in the spring.

And as for the whole gender reveal concept?
I'd HIGHLY recommend it.
Getting to share the joy of finding out whether you're expecting a little lady or gent with all your friends and family made it that much more exciting.  And worth the six day wait :)


12 days of love letter writing

I have no words when it comes to describing More Love Letters.
Spreading joy across the globe.  Leaving notes for unsuspecting strangers.  Embracing the challenge of giving hope to those who are going through a rough patch.
I'm beyond proud to be part of this organization.
This team has become my friends, my family.  They've given me hope, advice and support.  But most of all, they've given me an opportunity.  To do something simple.  That means so much.
The written word is a powerful thing.

Especially during the holiday season.  When spirits can sometimes be low in the midst of all the lights and merrymaking.  When requests from charities around the globe come tumbling in, wanting our help, needing our help, both in volunteerism and financially.  Sometimes you just aren't able to spare the funds to support great causes...especially when you're expecting a little one like me.  Babies are expensive!

But for merely the cost of paper, pen and a stamp, you can give JOY and HOPE to someone who needs it most this holiday season.  It's all so simple.

 I was assigned the first day of the 12 Days of Love Letter Writing - an assignment that was not to be taken lightly.  Kicking off this year's 12 Days was no small feat.  But I curled up in my favorite chair, next to my half-decorated Christmas tree, and poured my heart out to someone you will come to know as Emily.  A girl whose wonderful best friend requested a love letter bundle for her:

"Emily is my best friend because every bone in her body is warm and compassionate. She has the most genuine soul. She is the girl who you can always count on to have your back. The girl who spends more time making others smile than herself. But now, she is in need of a smile. She needs someone to count on. She needs uplifting more than ever. Last month, Emily watched everything she cherished go up in flames. Her apartment burnt down and her car was totaled in the rubble, her treasures are now ashes, and worst of all – her two kittens are nowhere to be found. Emily needs love letters that remind her that she did what she should/could have. She needs to remember that she tried to help her kittens. She needs to remember that her kittens are together no matter whether they made it or not. She needs support and help healing in this time of great sorrow. Please join us in pouring out our support for Emily in this time of transition."

 My heart just ached for this poor girl, losing everything, but most importantly, losing her best four-legged friends in the fire.  After reading this, I was even more determined that this girl know that someone out there is rooting for her, hoping for her and praying for her.
I snuggled my dog a little closer and picked up my pen.

I would love for all of you to join me in sending Emily some love during this difficult time.  She could use some cheer!  Please send your love letter by December 10th to:

More Love Letters
Emily's Bundle
PO Box 2061
North Haven, CT 06473

Want to participate in the other eleven days of love letter writing?  Sign up on More Love Letters to receive an daily email until December 14th with a letter request for someone who needs a little encouragement this holiday season.


baby stud is a...

...watch the video below to find out!

[sorry for my high-pitched voice, I was a tad excited!]
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