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Monday, August 12, 2013

TREEPOCOLIPSE 2013



Holy moly.


I knew life with two would be busy, however, I didn't foresee that life would have me sprinting full speed ahead....

We were cruising along, getting used to a new routine with a new nugget and a busy toddler, enjoying the summer and praying for  looking forward to school starting again.

P.S. If a tree falls in the yard, it DEFINITELY makes a sound. A big sound. A big, terrifying, crazy loud sound and then it repeats....when it falls on your house and the house COLLAPSES.

We had quite the scare at the O'Keefe home 3 weeks ago and I am still amazed and incredibly thankful my girls and I (the hubs was traveling) were not hurt.

It fell in the middle of an otherwise uneventful night....a little rain, a little thunder....nothing close to what usually sends me swiftly to the basement with the girls. I was woken up in the middle of the night by a horrifying sound - knowing instantly what it was - and then several successive, thundering, crashing sounds to follow.


I was in our master bedroom on the lower level with my littlest in the bassinet beside me, I knew she was safe.  My biggest was in her big girl bed in her room....the exact direction from which the noise came....my heart leapt from my chest, please God no.

I have never moved from one location to the next so swiftly, calling for her, screaming her name....no answer.  I threw open her door and instantly burst into tears...she hadn't even woken up and she was SAFE.

I scooped her up (not before wiping the tears from my face so she wouldn't be scared), the alarm was now blaring, she was confused. I still had no idea what we would find downstairs and I didn't care. We were safe.  My sweet girls were unharmed and nothing else mattered. 

Then I saw the living room.

"It's raining in the living room, Mommy!", said my biggest.

"HOLY $%#^," said Mommy.

The tree took out half of our living room and our entire screened in porch.  Incredibly, if it HAD to fall, it fell precisely in the one location where it should have.  It narrowly missed my biggest's room and my littlest's nursery....it missed the kitchen, pipes and laundry room....it missed the chimney and fireplace (and yes, honey, it missed your flatscreen)....it took out the one corner of our garage where my car wasn't sitting and it made A MESS....but it wasn't the worst case scenerio. Or at least that's what I kept telling myself as I am trying to pack up two girls, figure out who to call and what to do next, and keeping on my game face so my biggest (who was well aware of the chaos and the crisis) wouldn't be scared.  Guess I didn't miss a beat because she said, "Big tree Mommy! Policemen! Firetruck!  Woo hoo!!!".  Sure do love that little lady.

Two policemen, seven firemen and debris and water everywhere = packing up two babies and heading to my in laws at 3 am. No power, said the firemen.  No gas either.  It isn't safe, we have to turn them off, you have to go. 

Awesome.

Fast FORWARD one week later....

Life: "Hey Mommy, what do you think about spending 2 - 3 months in a 2 bedroom apartment with two under 2.5?"

Me: "Hey life, go sit on a brick."

We are lucky.  We are safe.  We have insurance. We have really great insurance and will be totally fine. I have thought to myself nearly every day since TREEPOCOLIPSE 2013 how terrifying a disaster like a fire, tornado, hurricane, etc. must be.  At least we had our things....my biggest's favorite lovies, diapers and clothes.  We were just being uprooted (pun intended)....but we had everything we needed.

SO...here we are.  In our "vacation house" as we have been telling our 2-year-old. Piled in like sardines, sharing a room with our infant...running back and forth to the house to get various things to make sure our littles are comfy and counting the days until the contractors tell us we can move back in. Climbing over each other, sleep falling by the wayside...but we are together.

The biggest tells everyone, "Our house has a boo boo from the tree." If only this Mommy could see it with such innocent eyes.

On the upside, we had a great excuse to extend a pre-planned vaca to Sea Island, GA this past week and it was so incredibly, perfectly, wonderful.  Great friends, great memories, great WINE. Maybe we should just head back there until October? Our biggest would have spent all day every day swimming if we had let her and our littlest got to take her first dip in a pool.  Sunset walks on the beach, ice cream and pancakes, sunshine and bike rides, time with friends, spa time and space to run...just the relief and reminder this Mommy needed of how important it is to be together and to live in the moment, every moment, even the challenging ones.




Life: "Hey Mommy, how about we test your strength, patience, and resourcefulness?"

Me: "Hey life...sounds fab....just throw me a coffee at 3 pm, a glass of wine at 5 pm and I'm game. Oh, and a lollipop for my biggest would be great, too."

That's a little update on life and a little explanation of why I've been off the grid for so long....a newborn, a toddler conveniently on summer break from school, a traveling hubs busy as ever, moving, organizing the reconstruction, etc, etc....you know....NO BIG DEAL.

Bring it on life....this Mommy is tougher than she looks.



Friday, April 5, 2013

3 Wishes - Chelsea from Chelsea Notes Stops By!


It's been awhile since I had a guest post for my "3 Wishes" series and I could not think of a better guest to kick it back off than Chelsea from Chelsea Notes

A beautiful Mama to sweet W (who she calls Wildman, affectionately), fashionista, wife and friend, Chelsea is everything I want to be when I grown up, lol.  

Below, she takes a twist on the 3 Wishes series by tackling one of her favorite topics....closets!  


Read along as Chelsea chooses an item she wishes she NEVER had in her closet, a favorite pick presently in her closet and a wish for a future closet staple.

Enjoy!

****************************

I am very exciting to be guest posting on Meg's blog today --- she is so very lovely, right?  One of my favorites for sure.  

I thought I would have a light hearted take on 3 Wishes and have them revolve around my "style" and/or closet items.  I put "style" in quotes because lets be honest style is something that is ever evolving.  Some days I feel spot on and am expressing who I am as an individual through my clothes and lets be honest other days I am wearing leggings and a spit up covered tshirt from my husbands drawer.

A Wish for the Past....

One wish I have is to go back in time and leave my Gap overalls at home when I went to college.  Yes, my girlfriends and I still crack up that one day, I literally wore Gap overalls that were a tad bit too short to class one day in college.  What was I thinking?! I am going to look past the fact that I was probably too old in high school to be wearing them --- but college not acceptable.  So not acceptable in fact that I just tried to find some Gap overalls online but could only find them in child version.  Oh vey!

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A Wish for the Present.....

One wish I have for the present is more maxi dresses.  I cannot get enough of these babies.  Easy, functional and you looked pulled together without having to put any effort into it.  As one of my favorite stylists Rachel Zoe said in (http://www.bravotv.com/the-rachel-zoe-project/season-5/ep-2-fashion-to-the-maxi) what is easier than a maxi.  You can roll around on the floor with your baby without exposing yourself.  Here are some of my favorites right now:
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In order: Banana Republic, Splendid & Nicole Miller

A Wish for the Future....

A wish I have for the future is to purchase these babies below (Christian Louboutin) in Paris on my 30th birthday. Yes, I know that is a bit of a large wish, but my husband and I have been talking about going abroad next year for a bit and with my 30th next May --- I cannot think of a better time!  I think these shoes are perfect.  But I do I go back and forth on whether I should go for more of a statement shoe, but is there anything classier than a nude heel?  

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Well, this was very fun!  Thanks for having me Meg!! XOChels

********************

Thank you Chelsea!  I hate to admit I may have had those same overalls at some point...oy vey INDEED!

Check out Chelsea in her own space: http://chelseanotesblog.blogspot.com

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

MOMENTS


I wrote this post one year ago as we were headed to Pinehurst to celebrate our 2nd anniversary (thanks Dad, for reminding me of it!) and thought I would re-post in honor of our 3rd anniversary today. 

It has been a challenging, wonderful, busy year for our family and as we anxiously await the arrival of our second little lady in just a few short weeks, I can honestly say there is no where I would rather be....and that feels pretty amazing.

~Pressure Cooker~
    March 2012

    MOMENTS

As I am writing this post we (my husband, nugget & I) are driving to Pinehurst Resort, Pinehurst, NC.....the site of our wedding two years ago this week.


I remember making this same drive a few days before the wedding festivities started....I remember worrying I had left something behind, left out an important detail, constantly running through the check list that had grown in my mind during the previous year of planning. I remember the beautiful feeling of anticipation, knowing we were about to have the most amazing four days of our lives.

I remember clearly, feeling the breath escape my lungs as we turned the corner to view the regal entrance to the resort; the azaleas were towering from the trees above in gorgeous pinks and whites, the sun was radiant, there was no better place for us to spend this weekend.

My husband and I love to play golf together...in the 4 years we dated, we had spent countless weekends making silly bets, drinking adult bevys, soaking up the sun and learning about each other. Pinehurst Resort is a legendary golf resort and a magical place dropped as if by accident into a quaint little town in the middle of North Carolina. From the first visit shortly after our engagement, we knew this was the place, this was where it had to be.

Our wedding consisted of four days of events: a welcome BBQ and croquette tournament, a golf tournament, bridal luncheon, rehearsal dinner for all 140 guests, pre-wedding champagne on the lawn, the ceremony, cocktail hour, reception, after party, and a farewell brunch. It was more than I could have ever dreamed, it was a perfect 72 degree, sunny day...it was indeed a celebration filled with an abundance of love.


 Thinking back now, I don't remember every detail, every menu item, or every perfectly placed flower.

What I do remember are the moments.

Seeing my husband laughing with his brother, with my brother, cracking up with his closest friends. Seeing my family, my friends, all who travelled far to be with us. I remember the speeches, the thoughtful heartfelt words that filled our hearts with so much love, the conversations on the porch in a wooden rocking chair with my Mom about what was moving to quickly in front of our eyes.

I remember being told at the end of our rehearsal dinner there was a surprise for us outside; we walked out to see our family and friends holding lanterns to be released into the sky, floating on wishes of love and happiness for our future together.  The most thoughtful, amazing gift from my brother and sister-in-law.


I remember sitting on the veranda outside of our suite with my girlfriends, who had been the sisters I never had, eating pizza and drinking wine well into the early hours of our wedding day. Reminiscing about high school, college, old boyfriends (who thank goodness we didn't keep around), laughing about funny things that happened so far that weekend, dreaming of what tomorrow would be like...would feel like.

I remember the moment I woke up on my wedding day. I remember thanking whoever was out there listening in this great big Universe that I had found my life's companion; the most generous, loving, light hearted, funny, handsome man I had ever met. 

I remember the butterflies. The butterflies dancing in my stomach when I finally slipped on my wedding dress; the moment my Mom hooked the last button. The moment my veil was finally "just so" and my Mom and bridesmaids and I all squealed, cheered and decided it was time to celebrate.

I remember the moment my Dad came into the entryway of our suite and stood smiling, quiet, soaking in what was a moment I knew he had been dreaming of with conflicted anticipation since the first time he held me. I remember the hug, asking him to tell me a joke so I wouldn't cry and ruin my makeup. I remember just before the doors released for us to start our walk to my future, deciding we would play "I Spy" while we walked so that neither of us would cry.....and it worked.

I remember seeing my husband well up, doing the same myself. I remember one of our dearest friends conducting his first (he was ordained just for our wedding) ceremony with such great poise, humor, and love. I remember the moment he announced us as husband and wife, the sheer joy that ran from the tip of my head to the tips of my toes.

There is truly nothing like that moment. 

I remember our first dance, dancing with my Dad, seeing my Mom so incredibly radiant and beautiful. I remember the moment my Dad started his speech...feeling such pride and love for this man who was pouring out his heart all while making a room full of 140 people laugh and cry with him.



Most of all, when the events were over and the guests had headed back to wherever they called home, I remember sitting on the porch in wooden rocking chairs, having a glass of wine with my now husband, talking about how amazing the weekend had been, how loved we felt, how very thankful we were.

Most of all, I remember talking about our future, our family, our unborn children. I remember how we said how incredible it would be to someday return there with our kids, to that very suite, to that very bottle of wine. To rock with our babies as we celebrated what was the most incredible time in our lives...hitting golf balls with them...taking them to get gelato at our favorite soda shop on Main Street.

At this moment, I am looking at our little nugget fast asleep in her car seat, and realizing we are doing just that. We are starting the tradition we talked about that day...we are taking our baby girl to our favorite place. We are starting new memories, with new moments, moments that will forever be ingrained in our memories....in her memory.

In this moment, I am remembering the the last line of the vows we wrote to each other:
"I promise to strive to make every day better than the last, knowing that on my last day, my life will have been better because we have loved each other."

And it has, and we do....and we would do it all again and again.....and again.


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Traveling to Chelsea Notes Today!

Thank you to my sweet friend and awesome Mommy, Chelsea, for inviting me into your space today, I am more than honored!

Chelsea is new to the blogging world but is already one of my faves...she is an adorbs Mom to a sweet baby boy (Wildman W), a wonderful wife, and an amazing friend with TONS of talent.

Check out my guest post today at:

Chelsea Notes  http://chelseanotesblog.blogspot.com

.....to find a delish and nutrish Italian Goulash recipe by yours truly!

Be sure to make Chelsea Notes a regular read, I know you will love her as much as I do!


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Reformed Broccoli Cheddar Soup (with a Tiny Tornado on the side)

I have a 19-month-old stranger living in my house.

She is feisty, independent, determined and stubborn.  I am not quite sure WHERE these qualities could have come from....I am guessing she picked it up from her playmates at school (insert copious amounts of sarcasm...obviously, she got these qualities from....her father).

Where is my baby?  My baby that was easy going, went with the flow, traveled well, was my partner in crime and up for anything Mommy suggested?

Where did she go?

My little lady is going a million miles an hour, even when she's at rest.  I can see it in her eyes, observing constantly her surroundings.  I can see it in the way she tilts her head to the side, listening to a new or interesting sound.  Every day is bursting with new words, new discoveries, new connections.  From an on-lookers perspective it truly is incredible the speed with which she learns, the ease with which she absorbs new information is envious.

From a SAHM's perspective....it is exhausting frustrating overwhelming challenging to say the least.

Did I mention we have another little lady on the way in just a few short months?

Buckle up, Mommy.

I was pretty convinced my daughter would skip right over the toddler craziness and just stay my sweet baby girl.  I was convinced of this for no other reason than I thought certainly I could simply will her to bypass this phase...oh silly, silly me.

Think again Wonder Woman.

Needless to say, being (almost) 7 months pregnant and not being able to enjoy my standard glass of wind-down-wine at the end of every a crazy day....makes me want to eat.  A lot.  Eat a lot of chocolate.

Dilema.

What does this gal do when faced with such  dilemma?  Compromise.  With myself.

Make a delicious, warming, wholesome soup and hope that filling up on it will stave off the chocolate craving until later tomorrow.

Having homemade soup in the house is great because I can heat it up in a hurry, my little lady loves that she can practice using her spoon while eating it, my husband can easily heat it up on the days when he gets home after this Mommy has closed the kitchen, and I can pack a ton of wholesome goodness into one lovely, bubbly pot of tasty comfort.

Growing up, my Mom's Soup Du Jour was typically Broccoli Cheese Soup (I still ask for it every time we go for a visit to her house). Delicious, easy and satisfying.

In an effort to eat organically and to fuel my body with more wholesome foods, I have created my own version of this delicious soup which includes the addition of more veggies and the exclusion of processed cheese :). Regardless of what I have added to the recipe or what I have taken out, the nostalgia is the same, warming my soul from the inside out, calming my spirit and providing an instant smile.

Easy and filling, this recipe may just end up being your go-to Soup du Jour.

Enjoy!

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 30 mins
Servings: 8-10

INGREDIENTS:
2 Large Heads Organic Broccoli, florets removed and chopped
1 Large Head Organic Cauliflower, florets removed and chopped
3 Large Organic Carrots, peeled and chopped (appx. 1.5 Cups)
4 Stalks Organic Celery, leaves removed, chopped (appx. 1 Cup)
1 Medium Organic White Onion, chopped finely (appx. 3/4 Cup)
2 Tablespoons Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
12 Cups Organic Chicken Broth
1/2 Cup Organic Heavy Whipping Cream (can substitute light whipping cream)
1 Cup Organic 1% Milk
2 Cups Organic Sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded (I use block cheese and shred it myself, seems to melt more easily this way but pre-shedded works as well)
1 10-oz Package Organic Quinoa Pasta (can use any variation of pasta you wish)
2 Teaspoons Ground Black Pepper
2 Teaspoons Sea Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cumin

Directions

  • In a large stock pot over medium heat, warm olive oil and sauté onions and celery until onions are just clear (about 5 minutes).






  • Add chicken broth, spices and all remaining vegetables to the pot, cover and bring to a boil over medium heat.  Continue boiling for 10 minutes.



  • Add pasta to the pot, continuing to boil uncovered until pasta is tender (10 - 15 minutes depending on type of pasta).



  • Add shredded cheese, stirring until fully melted.



  • Turn heat off and add milk and cream, stirring to combine.



  • Serve immediately or warm in a crockpot until ready to serve.  



  • Soup can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days in the refrigerator, enjoy!







Tuesday, December 11, 2012

She's Back!




 I know, I know.

This Mommy blogger has been M.I.A. and I have no good excuse other than LIFE.

Beautiful, wonderful, crazy, LIFE has wonderfully interrupted my adventures in blogging.

Ahh. Truth be told, I have missed you! Busy life or not, I am resolving to make time for you, for all of you.

A lot has happened since we last shared space in the blogosphere...let's start with a doozie....baby #2 is on the way!  Another little girl will be gracing us with her presence at the end of April and we are thrilled to be growing our little family.

We also moved from a condo into a house and are loving the space, the yard, the location.  Let me tell you, however, I didn't fully anticipate how difficult it would be to move with a 15-month-old and another sweet nugget in my belly. But alas, we survived and we are loving our new digs.

Speaking of SURVIVAL...... my Mom spent the last 6 months having been diagnosed with, treating and BEATING breast cancer. You always anticipate at some point you will have to face a serious medical challenge as a family but you never quite realize until you are in the middle of one how consuming it can be....if you let it.

My Mom did not let it.  She was a fighter from day one, determined to stay positive, determined to wage war and WIN.  Thankfully, she is now a SURVIVOR and we are all so proud and thankful for her strength and courage.  We feel so fortunate they found it early, they successfully operated and her body responded well to treatment. We have MUCH to be thankful for this year indeed.

So why now? WHAT PROMPTED THIS RETURN?

Nesting.  It happened with my first, it's happening again...this time it's just happening in my blog instead of in my home.

I will be posting dailybi-weekly, weekly, OK let's be honest, I will be posting SPORADICALLY but I promise to be as consistently SPORADIC (which makes no sense, I'm aware) as life allows.....

So...off we go!

One of my very favorite things my Mom made growing up was APPLE CRISP. I don't know if she ever used a recipe, it looked and tasted different every time, but it was always delicious and always comforting.

In an effort to replicate a sensory experience in the form of apple crisp, while trying to cut back on refined sugars, cholesterol packed or processed foods and non-essential fatty oils, I have created an APPLE CRISP recipe which is wholesome and delicious.

The substitution of Coconut Oil for Butter is an easy way to make this recipe dairy free as well as provide additional nutrients and eliminate non-essential fats and cholesterol, while giving an added boost of flavor.

Coconut Palm Sugar is used in place of brown sugar and provides a naturally low glycemic index (which is favorable during pregnancy and for good health in general) and because it is less processed than typical brown sugar, it provides more micronutrients as well.


 Try it, enjoy it with family and friends and come back to visit soon, I promise I will be here.

Apple Crisp

Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 35-40
Servings: 8

INGREDIENTS:

5 - 6 Medium Organic Apples (appx 6 Cups), sliced
(I like to use Honeycrisp this time of year if you can find them and I always leave the skin on as it contains valuable vitamins and nutrients)
1 Organic Lemon, cut in half
3/4 Cup Organic Granulated Cane Sugar
1 Tbsp Cinnamon
3/4 Cup Organic Coconut Oil, chilled
1 Cup Organic Whole Oats
1/2 Cup Organic Whole Wheat Flour (can substitute coconut or all purpose flour)
3/4 Cup Organic Coconut Palm Sugar
Cooking Spray

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees

  • Spray bottom and sides of an 8 X 11 glass baking dish with cooking spray, set aside
  • Slice apples (approximately 1/8 inch thick) and squeeze juice from 1/2 of the lemon over apples, place apples in a large mixing bowl

  • Sprinkle apple slices with cinnamon & cane sugar, toss to coat and spread evenly in baking dish (little hands make excellent helpers for this step!)


  • Combine remaining ingredients in medium mixing bowl, using a fork to combine (will be lumpy)

  • Sprinkle mixture evenly over apples

  • Bake uncovered on the center rack for 35 - 40 minutes (until apple slices are tender and topping has browned)
  • Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes


  • Can be refrigerate for up to 5 days, enjoy!