Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Yesterday was Gabe's birthday (Happy Birthday Hubby!)-I picked up DiBella's subs on the way home for our dinner-that's what the birthday boy wanted. Then I made us some molten lava cakes for dessert-they were so yummy!! Gabe opened his gifts from me and we just relaxed the rest of the night. I skipped my usual gym routine to spend time with him and we had a nice evening. Today---well, I was in surgery today and it ended up being a very looooong day. I got there at 730am and left work at 6pm-on my feet the entire time, except for my half hour lunch. Let me tell ya, being on your feet that long makes you feel like an old person. By the time I got home, I felt like a Mack truck had run over me. My back is still killing me just sitting here. I can imagine it'll only get worse the larger my belly gets too. Not fun! So I skipped the gym again tonight-I know, naughty girl! But I took tomorrow off so I plan on going in the morning. Then it'll be another busy day getting ready for our new years gathering!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Weekend Rest

Luckily Gabe and I both had off on Friday and the weekend so we had some time to regroup from the chaotic holidays. Friday we did a whole lot of nothing-just did stuff around the house and relaxed.

Saturday we did a little running around-old navy, target, lowe's, and mattress shopping! We have known we wanted to get a king sized bed eventually, we just didn't think it would happen already. Gabe's friend's girlfriend is a manager at a local mattress place so just for the heck of it we stopped by to check things out. Let me tell ya, we got a heck of a deal! We probably wouldn't have bought something already, but we couldn't pass it up-its a pretty high end mattress and they have it in stock and are trying to get rid of it (its a 2008 model and the 2009's are coming out). So we got a great discount and it's getting delivered on Wednesday! We can't wait!

Today we did some more running around-barnes and noble, BB&B, and to Simon's to look at baby furniture. Holy overwhelming! I never saw so many cribs that look alike! I swear we had no clue where to start. After being there 2 hours we found a few sets we like. Of course some of them were out of our price range, but we did find one that was decently priced. We didn't buy anything, but we have some good ideas and the one we liked is on sale until the end of Jan so we have a few weeks to think about it. But man, I didn't expect that to be so difficult! I'm actually dreading baby registering....our wedding registry took FOREVER to do so I'm dreading going through all that again-and baby stuff is so foreign to me I have no clue what to look for, etc. I ended up buying a "baby bargain" book that will hopefully help out with things. We also stopped at Coldstone Creamery today too-tomorrow is Gabe's birthday so he gets his free ice cream for that. YUM! Unfortunately it's back to work tomorrow-I have Wed and Thurs off which will be nice, but then that's it for a loooong time. Ugh!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas Cont'd

Ok so we got home from my Dad's around 3 (we were supposed to be at Gabe's parents at 3)-we literally unloaded our car, reloaded the car and headed to his parents. We got together with his sister and her family. Her husband's parents and brother also came which was nice.
Bianca opening our gift-a cabbage patch doll!:Mark with Bianca and Owen:Bianca with Uncle Gabe:We were there until around 10pm then we came home and opened up our gifts. Of course Jerri got some new toys which she enjoyed as well! All in all, the holiday was very nice-just very busy as always which makes it really fly by. We got a lot of nice gifts (and so did the baby!) and it was great to see everyone.
Jerri playing with her new mouse:

Friday, December 26, 2008

Buffalo Whirlwind

Our Christmas visit to Buffalo this year was a 24 hour whirlwind...we were pretty much on the go the entire time we were there. We left Rochester around 12:30 on Christmas Eve and went to my Mom's house. Around 4 we went to my cousin Rachel's house like we do every year-it was very nice-we watched the kids open gifts, had some yummy food, and ended the evening reading the kids a Christmas story like we do every year.
Taylor and Eddie opening gifts:

The self-portraitGabe and I reading to the kids:From there, we went to Gabe's friend's parents' house (got all that?). His friend, Rob and his wife live in Cleveland-Rob's parents live in Buffalo. His parents invite us for a party every year but we never end up making it. This year we really wanted to get there because we knew Rob would be there. They just had a baby about a month ago, so we wanted to try and see her too!
Beth, Rob, Gabe and I (can this count as my belly pic of the week?):

After that, we went to my friend Katie's parents' house. She and her husband and son are in from Nebraska. We usually try to see her at the holidays too since they only come twice a year or so. We stayed there until after midnight, then went back to my Mom's and crashed.

Christmas day we were up bright and early to do gifts, then a few of my cousins came over for breakfast. We left my Mom's around noon to go and visit my Dad, then left there around 1:30 to head home for more chaos....
My cousin Jessica's daughter, Madyson (2yrs old):Jessica's son Cayden (5 mos old):

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Finally-a few days off!

Today was my last day of work before Christmas-it feels SO good to be done! They are open tomorrow and the schedule is insane so I'm so glad I won't be there for it! I'm outta there until Monday! The next 48 hours will be a whirlwind....Gabe works in the morning tomorrow-while he's there, I'll be getting the car packed up for Buffalo. We'll leave around noon for Buffalo, go to my cousin's for our party around 4, then stop at my girlfriend's parents house to visit since she's in from NE. If we get a chance, we'll also stop and see one of Gabe's friends whose parents also live in Buffalo-they'll be in from OH so it would be nice if we could see them as well. Christmas morning, my Mom has a few other cousins over for breakfast, then we're off to see my Dad, then back to Rochester for dinner with my in-laws. Yep, a complete whirlwind as always! It'll be fun though and I can't wait to see everyone so I don't mind-as long as the weather cooperates for driving. Plus we have Friday off and the weekend to recover so that'll be nice. This is my first few days off since the wedding in July so it's much needed! Then it's a long haul until our next "real" day off at memorial day. But I have a feeling I'll be taking a vacation week in there somewhere. I'll need it for my sanity :) Anyways, I probably won't get to write until after Christmas, so I hope everyone has a wonderful, safe holiday!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas Cutouts

Ah yes, good ol' holiday cookies! I have to say I'm quite picky when it comes to cutout cookies. Maybe it's because you're used to eating certain kinds while growing up. Let me tell you-I've had some pretty bad cutout cookies in my lifetime. I've always loved my Mom's recipe, ever since I can remember! It's the one Christmas cookie I have to make every year. Some years I have more time and have made several different types of cookies. Last year and this year? I didn't seem to have enough time to make a bunch. So I stuck with my favorite-Mom's cutouts. Here's the recipe:

X-mas Cutouts
Cream together: 1 cup softened butter or margarine (I used butter)
1 1/2 cup confectionary sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
Add (then beat well): 2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 tsp salt

Divide dough in half and refrigerate until cool. (This is my dough fresh out of the fridge):One half at a time, roll out on a well floured surface to no less than 1/8" thick (I don't measure-I have no clue how thick mine was!). Use more flour as necessary to prevent sticking. Cutout with cookie cutters. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet at 400 degrees for 6-8mins. Cookies should be very light when done. Cool on rack. Frost/decorate as desired.

Fresh out of the oven:

(Notes: Usually when I do this I chill the dough overnight. This time, I chilled it almost a week-my first half of the dough was really hard to work with-I had to let it get to room temp for quite some time and it had dried out a little bit. It still worked out ok though. The second half of the dough, I tried wetting my hand with water and kneading that into the dough and it seemed to help get rid of the dryness. My other note-I only baked mine for 5min. My bottom rack cookies were done. The top rack baked between 5-6mins.)

As for frosting, my Mom likes to make her own (2 cups confectionary sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, milk/light cream added until desired consistency). I'm not a big fan of this frosting-it's kind of like a thicker glaze. I prefer using good ol' jar frosting-I used Pillsbury Vanilla frosting and just added food coloring to it. And I don't spend forever decorating-as you can see from the pics. Frosting and sprinkles and I'm happy with that-I don't get into all the detailed artsy work since I'm not very artsy! I do have to say, I was just proud that I actually had the trees green, the stars yellow, and the stockings red! Usually I'm not that anal about the colors-anything is fair game!

I'm not sure what the yield is for this recipe, but this batch made me 70 cookies, so almost 6 dozen. I'm sure it depends how fat you make them and how big your cutters are. This can all be done in one day of course-mine was a 3 day project-made dough last Sunday, baked Friday, frosted/decorated Saturday. I let them sit out a few hours to let the frosting harden a bit before packing them away. I usually store mine in a clothing box (good use of leftover empty clothing boxes from last year's xmas!) with saran wrap/waxed paper in between the layers and they do last a long time-several weeks and they still taste good!

Friday, December 19, 2008

5 months

13 Weeks

So today I'm 13 weeks along. I'm slooooowly starting to feel better-I still have some rough days, but have had a few good days in there as well. I had a doctor's appt on Tuesday and got to hear the heartbeat again. I've only gained 3lbs so far which isn't too bad. After the appt I had another ultrasound-again it was very cool! The baby had its hand by its face which was cute! We could also see the heart beating this time which was neat. We got to hear the heartbeat again there. Everything looks good so far so I'm all set until next month.

This is the first week I'm starting to feel big. Yeah I know, just wait right?! I wore a pair of pants last week and they fit fine. This week I put them on and there was no way I was going to get them buttoned. For only gaining 3lbs over the past 3 months, how does that happen? I swear your weight just shifts down to your stomach! I'm definitely at that in-between stage where I'm not showing, but am feeling fat and pudgy-I'm waiting for the day a patient asks if I've put on weight! Haha! They're going to think I ate too many Christmas cookies! This pic was taken on the 16th so a few days before I hit 13 weeks:

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Great Idea!

I got this email today and thought it was so neat! Xerox is doing this thing where if you go to this website they will print out a postcard and mail it to a soldier serving overseas. The postcards were all made by children and they narrowed them down to several selections. You pick your postcard, choose a greeting and that's it! It takes only a few minutes to do but will make a soldier's day I'm sure! You don't get to pick who it goes to-they just pick one for you, but the idea is so neat. And I found out they are printed locally here in Rochester so it's even better-supporting a local company! So take a few minutes if you haven't already (and if you have, do it again!) and send a soldier a nice thank you!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Finally I can post about it....

It's been weeks of waiting, but I can finally say it on here-I'm pregnant!!

Gabe and I found out Nov. 2nd (our 5 year dating anniversary) and were totally surprised. I took a test just for the hell of it and we never thought it would be positive....well, 3 tests later and 3 were positive! It's amazing-we never thought it would happen so fast. Like I said, we didn't expect it, but we are thankful-there are so many people out there who try for years with no luck so we aren't complaining that's for sure!

We both went to my first OB appointment together-it was a lot of health history questions then they weighed me, took my blood pressure, etc. They gave me a due date of June 26th but decided to send me for an ultrasound to verify since my cycles weren't that regular. We decided to wait to tell our family until they could all be together and to wait to tell everyone else until I was 12 weeks along....that was the hardest part-waiting about 4 weeks to tell ANYONE our news!

The first ultrasound was awesome-I think that really hit home that this was happening. We got to see the baby and hear the heartbeat which was really cool. And I was as far along as they thought so my due date hasn't changed at all which is good.

So how are things going so far? Well, Gabe has already started on the nursery-the room started out all white so we're obviously painting it. We're not finding out what sex the baby is so we chose a pale yellow color for the room. He's also ripping down our baseboard molding which is about 7" tall and getting that stripped down to the natural wood and staining it. I think it'll look nice. We'll get the floors in there refinished as well-there's no carpet so that shouldn't be too bad. As for me-I'll tell you two things: 1) "morning sickness" sucks-for me it lasts all day everyday. No throwing up (thank God) but feeling nauseous all.the.time. It's awful. 2) I'm sick of eating and food. I never thought I'd say it, but it's true. I'm starving all of the time. Starving like I haven't eaten in days (not minutes). After grazing all day, you start to run out of things to eat and day after day of eating the same things gets old real fast. So yep, I'm sick of food. For example-I just ate carrots with dip and 2 pieces of pizza for dinner 20mins ago and I'm already hungry. I hate it! My other thing is that I've been anti-meat for the past few weeks. If it's mixed up in something, I'm ok (hamburger helper, chicken in salad, etc), but the thought of eating a slab of chicken just grosses me out. Other than that, things are well-I'm still wearing normal clothes, although they're not as comfortable as they once were. I'm still working out like normal, just trying to take it easy. So overall I'm doing well, just hoping this morning sickness goes away soon.

Our families were excited about the news-we told my Mom and his parents on Thanksgiving since they were all there and we told my Dad that weekend in Buffalo. We bought them all baby related gifts-"grandma's brag book" photo albums for the Moms and "I love Grandpa" frames for the Dads-they were all very surprised and are very excited about the new arrival.

I'm going to try to post pictures of my progress-I already took a few photos, but nothing really looks that different yet, but I'm sure that'll change soon! I have my second appointment and an ultrasound tomorrow so I'll update about that later this week as well!
The day after we found out-I was about 6 weeks along: (a lovely self-portrait, I know!)

7 weeks:9 Weeks:11 Weeks:

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Family Holiday Party

Today was our family holiday party. For Gabe's family, we don't get together with extended family on Christmas eve or day-its too hard with them all having kids and grandkids of their own so we typically have a get together a few weeks before the holiday. Today we had the party at Northampton Park near Brockport-they rented a shelter there. It was pretty nice. It was our first time there and the shelter had a nice fire place which kept it nice and toasty. There was a TON of food as always-lots of appetizers, and our main meal was Italian this year-lasagna, ravioli, meatballs, sausage, bread, salad, and a few other pasta dishes. Then birthday cake, peanut butter pie and cookies for dessert...how can you go wrong? Gabe's Mom brings gingerbread house kits for the kids to do while there-its a cute idea and the kids love it! We had a really good time and it was good to see everyone before the holidays-hard to believe it's right around the corner!

The good news? I'm done Christmas shopping :) The bad news? I still have to wrap everything and bake cookies!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Xmas Cards....Check!

I finished my last batch of Christmas cards today so they'll be in the mail tomorrow. We decided to do a photo card this year and didn't get a good photo until Thanksgiving. So I scrambled to order them and prayed they'd arrive on time (I did the slow 3 week shipping-with past experience with the company they come a lot sooner than that). So I ordered them around Dec 1st and within 2 days they were shipped-it took a little over a week for me to get them-I just got them Tuesday this week. So yesterday and today I was addressing and putting them in envelopes to get in the mail ASAP. I'm glad they're done-another thing off of my never ending list. Still to do? Finish shopping, assemble a few gifts, wrap gifts, bake cookies....more than enough. But the cards are done so yay!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Tree Stands!

After I posted last night, we got the tree in its stand-another slight fiasco since we didn't have the needed saw to chop off the bottom 1" of the trunk. Thank God for neighbors! Tonight we decorated the tree after it sat for a day. I think it looks great. It's not the best looking tree out there, but once decorated it looks really nice. Jerri (our cat) likes it too-especially putting her paws in the water. She's been good though-the tree hasn't come down yet so that's a good sign! I love the smell of it too-it's awesome and definitely makes it feel like holiday time!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Tree Shopping

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree....

Our tree the past few years? Charlie Brown style. Gabe never got his own tree and when I moved into my apartment out here, I didn't have one either. I wasn't going to get one and then it was about 2 weeks before Christmas and it just didn't feel like it to me. So I went to Target and got a $20 fake tree that was about 6' tall and looked like a Charlie Brown tree. Anyways, that's the tree we've been using the past few years. This year, my Mom offered to buy us a nice artificial tree for our Christmas gift. We did some thinking about it and decided we wanted to get a real tree instead. So my Mom gave us part of our gift on Thanksgiving-a tree stand and tree skirt for our real tree.

I grew up with real trees and love them. Gabe has never had a real one....ever. So, I decided to ease him into the real tree thing by getting one that was pre-cut. Maybe in a few years we'll go cut our own down. Good thing that's what we chose because we picked the coldest possible day to go tree shopping!

So yesterday was the big day to go tree hunting. We went to garden factory and most of the trees were $50-$60 which we didn't want to spend. They had one tree that was $30 but I didn't like the fact that there was only 1 to choose from. So we went to Home Depot across the street. The problem? The trees were outside and it was about 10 degrees out! Most of their trees were wrapped up so you couldn't see them. They had maybe 10 unwrapped and most were too tall for our house. After about 10mins and our hands being numb, Gabe grabbed a tree and said "this is the one, I don't care what it looks like" and ran towards the car with the tree. It was hysterical! And for $30 it was fine by me. So, since the tree was outside, it has to sit and thaw-it'll be put up tonight.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Holiday Party!

Last night was Gabe's work holiday party. The past 2 years it was held at Oak Hill Country Club. This year, they moved it to the Bausch & Lomb building in their wintergarden. We were a little disappointed that it got moved, but sometimes a change is good! The B&L building was very nice. It sort of reminded me of our wedding reception site-very high ceilings with trees all over inside. It was decorated very nicely for the holidays. They had open bar (beer/wine) and appetizers for an hour. For dinner, they had grazing stations. The food was ok-nothing to write home about. LOTS of seafood-which I hate-so needless to say, I didn't eat a wide variety of food that night. They had an Italian station, a Parisian station, New Orleans station and a carving station. Then cookies for dessert. After dinner they had a casino night with blackjack, roulette, poker and craps which they also did last year. They give you 20K in fake money and you win as much as you can. Then you turn in the money for tickets which you put in for prize raffles. We won a lot more than last year, but still didn't win any prizes. They had some good ones too-a TV, blue ray player, GPS system, digital camera, video camera, gift cards galore, etc. It's a pretty nice party they throw, that's for sure! Not many places do something that nice for their employees. Heck, our holiday party is a pot luck lunch on our lunch break-woo hoo! So this is a very nice touch that they do. The question is....where will it be held next year?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Christmas Crunch Time....

Today is December 4th-that means Christmas is 3 weeks from today! Oy! For some reason this year, I'm just not in the spirit of the season yet. I'm trying-I have my holiday music playing in my car, have a few gifts bought....but overall I'm just not that into it this year. It doesn't seem like it's time for the holidays yet. Even though turkey day is here and gone, it just hasn't phased me yet that the holiday season is upon us. And not to mention I have a zillion things to do with only 3 weeks left....let's see....decorate the house, put up the tree, send out cards, finish shopping, wrap presents, bake cookies. When the heck will I have time to get this all done? Oh, did I mention that we have plans pretty much every weekend except the one right before Christmas?! So my weekend time is pretty limited too which doesn't help. Who wants to do all this junk when you get home from work and eat dinner?! Not me! We have to get our butts in gear this weekend-at least get the decorating done and the tree bought and put up. Maybe do some shopping if there's time. I'm definitely feeling the crunch time, that's for sure.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Long Weekend Recap

So the nice, long weekend has come to an end. After turkey dinner Thursday, my Mom stayed over night. Friday her and I just ran to Bath & Body Works-it was pretty dead. We bought a few small things-we each had some coupons that were good deals so we couldn't pass them up. Mom left around 230 that afternoon and we did a few things around the house. We left for Buffalo around 6pm-went to my Mom's and just relaxed that night.
Saturday Gabe and I did some running around-saw my girlfriend Megan and her husband. We stopped over my Uncle's house to see their new cats. They got a 3 year old from the SPCA named Midas and a 7 month old from a place called Second Chance named Emma. They are both very cute and very friendly. After their house, we went to a restaurant called Amigo's for dinner. My Aunt waitresses there so we went to visit her. Dinner was good-we all had sandwiches of some sort and they were tasty.
Today we went over my Dad's house to watch some of the Bills game-we had some chili and salad. It was a nice time. We left around 330 to head home. Unfortunately the drive home took longer than anticipated-I guess we hit some holiday traffic on the way so it tacked on another half hour than normal so we didn't get in until around 530 tonight. Since then, just relaxing and gearing up for work tomorrow. Just a few more weeks before another holiday break. And that means just a few more weeks to Christmas shop! Yikes!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is here-it's crazy! It just doesn't feel like it to me! We're going over to Gabe's parents house today for dinner. We alternate between Buffalo and Rochester each year so it's our year to be here. My Mom is driving out to have dinner with us too which will be nice. She'll stay the night and we'll probably head to Buffalo tomorrow for a visit since we haven't gone in about a month now. So it's a day for being thankful and I am very thankful everyday-thankful for my wonderful husband, and thankful for my family and friends-without you I wouldn't be the person that I am today! Thank you all for your love and support. I'm thankful our family and friends are all healthy and we all have jobs and a place to live and food on the table. In this economy, it's the little things to be thankful for. So when you sit down to your yummy meal today, think of what you are thankful for this year. And enjoy the holiday with your family and loved ones.
Happy Thanksgiving!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

One More Day....

of work that is! I can't believe Thanksgiving is this week already! I swear it was just Halloween! And you know once Turkey Day is here, Christmas comes like a flash. I'm so glad we have a 4 day weekend-it'll be so nice to have an extra few days to relax...although I'm sure we'll keep busy. One more day to go!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

4 Months

Pain People, I'm Talking PAIN!

Do NOT ask me how this happened-I swear you could pay someone a million dollars and they couldn't reproduce what happened to me yesterday...

I was working in surgery yesterday and was going from one room to another (my hands were gloved and sterile so I pushed the door open just enough for me to squeeze in/out) when I hear this ripping sound and shear pain in my stomach. Yep, my belly button ring got stuck on the door hinge! Now since I was in the middle of surgery-no screaming, swearing, tears, no checking it. All I'm doing is praying my ring didn't rip right out of my stomach. So after that surgery finished (we had 3 more to follow and no breaks between) I peeked at my belly button ring-saw that it was still in place (phew!) was bleeding slightly...the shocker-my ring started out as almost a complete circle. Now? A straight line! Yep, I pulled on it so hard that it straightened the darn metal right out! If you have one, you know how hard that metal is to bend so you can imagine how hard it pulled.

Now the dilemma-what the hell do I do with it?! I ended up coming home and looking online quickly-most sites say to leave the ring in because if you remove it, the infection can get trapped inside...great. So, I cleaned it with soap and water, put on some antibiotic ointment and covered it (oh, and put in a different ring since this one was bent beyond belief). It stayed covered until after work today. I took the bandage off figuring if it stays moist, it might not heal as fast. But holy hell does it hurt! My lymph node under my one armpit is SO swollen that hurts just as much as my belly button. I'm just praying it heals and doesnt get worse from this point on. OUCH!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Bianca's Party

So yesterday was our niece, Bianca's, first birthday party. It was a fun time-all the aunts and uncles came and my Mom also made the drive in from Buffalo to celebrate with us. We had soup, salad, and of course birthday cake. I think Bianca had fun-of course she probably had no clue what was going on! She got a lot of nice gifts (including a new doll which I'm sure what the "hit" gift) and enjoyed her first piece of cake. All in all, a very nice party! Here are some photos from the big day:

Family Photo (Mark, Bianca, Owen, Molly):

Bianca's Cake (Owen picked it out):

Blowing out the candle:

Yummy cake!Mmmmm good!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Our Niece is 1 Today!

Our niece, Bianca turned 1 today! I can't believe a year went by already-it seems like yesterday she was born! She's so cute-she has several teeth now and is crawling and "cruising" on the furniture. I'm sure she'll walk in the next few months. Just around election day, she found a new love-dolls! I saw her in action last weekend and it was too cute! She gets this huge grin on her face and just clings to them! It's so funny! Tomorrow is the big birthday party so I can't wait to see how she is with her cake. She's a good eater so I'm hoping she dives right into it! In honor of her birthday, here are a few pics of her over the past year. I'll post some birthday party pics in the next few days.

Bianca only a few days old.

Holidays 2007

4 Months oldBianca and her big brother, Owen at the zooBianca and I at my Rochester wedding shower in AprilHappy girl!!Happy 1st Birthday Bianca!!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Biggest Loser

So I have to take a minute and talk about one of my favorite shows, the Biggest Loser. I'm not sure if any of you saw last night's episode, but it made my night!! Basically there are two teams-black and blue left. Each had 4 people on it. I really like everyone on the black team-they happen to be all female and are all great people. The blue team however, I really can't stand! There's only one girl on there I like (Amy C.) and she was moved to that team from the black team a few episodes ago. Anywas, the 3 others on that team are SO RUDE! Theres a husband and wife (Vicky and Brady) and another girl (Heba). They are all just so mean and so rude to certain people that it annoys the heck out of me! The only good thing is that all of America is going to see what morons they are! How you can act like that on national television is beyond me. Anyways, Brady and a girl from the black team were up for elimination and Vicky was all bragging "Well I know Brady will be staying because our whole team will vote for the other girl and we have more votes, etc, etc." The BEST part was the elimination when Amy C. turned against the idiot blue team and voted Brady off!! It ended up as a tie vote so they choose the person who lost the least amount of weight to leave...which was Brady! So needless to say, their "team" is falling apart! It was so great! I'm so glad she had the nerve to stand up to them and vote them off-they are just so mean that none of them deserve to be on there and win the grand prize. I can't wait for next week-they show Vicky planning revenge (she's such a baby!).

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Not Neglecting...

I'm not neglecting the blog lately...I just have had nothing exciting to report about! Back to work tomorrow-we didn't really do much over the weekend. Just some errands and visiting our niece and nephew last night. The Bills lost yet another game today-after a great start to the season it's pretty depressing. Hopefully they can turn that around soon! Well, the Amazing Race is starting soon so I have to go watch it! I'll post more when I have something more interesting to say!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day

Election Day 2008---one that will mark history either way it ends. Either the first African-American president or the first female vice president. I'm not a huge politics follower, but I have to admit, I'm anxious to see what happens. It's exciting that "minorities" in this country are actually going to make history tonight!
I went and did my civil duty of voting today after work. After hearing stories of how crowded the polls are, I was a little worried I'd be in line awhile. But I got there and there was only one person ahead of me so I was in and out nice and fast. Did you see the lines at some places though? People waited HOURS to cast their vote. We had a patient today who told me her sister waited over 2 hours in the rain to vote (she lives in GA). I'm sorry, but if I saw a line that long, I don't think I'd bother waiting. Sad to say, but that's just crazy. I guess if you live in a swing state, I could see waiting. But in NY you have to face the fact that your vote really doesn't do much-it's a democratic state so it's not like one vote will do that much damage.
I'm sure I'll be fast asleep tonight when the final decision is made, but it'll be interesting to see how the evening goes. If you haven't gone out to vote yet, get out there! You have a few hours left!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Well, it's really the day after, but who's paying attention?? After work, we waited for some trick or treaters before heading to our party. We left the house at 7pm and still had no kids show up! So since we bought a big bag of candy, we left a bowl of it out on our front stoop to get rid of it. We stopped at Gabe's sister's house on the way to see our niece and nephew. Unfortunately they were out of their costumes already and our nephew was enjoying his candy. So, I don't have any pictures to show of them in their cute outfits :( We stayed a few minutes then went to my friend Julie's house for a party. I brought my spooky cookie cake for a dessert and it was a hit! They had tons of food, lots of drinks and a decent turn out. There were a few games of beer pong and flip cup played (I didn't play-not a beer fan) and we had a really good time. We got home to find our candy bowl empty so someone took it! I wish we had a camera out there to see if a few kids took one each, or if there was a kid who took the whole bowl. Either way, I don't care-the candy is out of the house!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Spooky Cookie Cake

Gabe and I are invited to a Halloween party on Halloween night. I have to bring a dessert, so I did some online searching for cute Halloween ideas. There were tons of them, but most of them you need about 10 hours and some artistic ability to complete them. I just wanted something simple. So I found a cute cookie cake idea and decided to try it out. I started out by using the Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe I got from my friend. Instead of making cookie balls, I put all of the dough in a throw away foil pizza pan (12" size) and spread it out.
This is what it looked like before going in the oven:

I baked it at the same temperature she gave and just watched it for timing. I think I ended up baking it between 35-40mins. (note-after tasting it, it could have been less-it was a little over done for my taste). I think the recipe I found called for decorating it right after coming out of the oven. I decided to decorate it the following day.
For the decorating, I started by spreading about 1/2 cup of creamy peanut butter on top of the cookie (I microwaved it a little to melt it a bit). Then I sprinkled M&M's (halloween ones) and salted peanuts on top. To finish it, I used some vanilla frosting to create a spiderweb design on the cookie (I melted it a bit and used a baggie with a cut corner for piping it on). Here's the final result:

And after trying it, it was very tasty!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Early Thanksgiving

Last night in Buffalo, we had basically an early Thanksgiving. My cousin turned 40 early last week so this was her birthday dinner and my Aunt found out she's working on Thanksgiving day so she'll miss out on dinner. So, the birthday dinner became Thanksgiving-just a month early. Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, rolls-and apple pie and peanut butter pie for dessert. And of course it was all homemade! It was SO yummy!! Unfortunately, there were no leftovers so no turkey sandwiches for us this week :( I'm actually happy with how it all worked out. Gabe and I alternate Thanksgiving-one year in Buffalo with my family then the next year in Rochester with his. This is our Rochester year so it was nice to have a Buffalo Thanksgiving dinner as well since we won't have it for the actual holiday. It's scary to think that it'll be November this weekend-that means the holidays are right around the corner! But, I did start Christmas shopping over the weekend so that's always a good thing!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Halloween Party #1

Last night we had our first Halloween party of this year. My friend, Megan, and her husband have been having an annual party for the past few years. So we went to Buffalo for the weekend and went to the party last night. It was a good time! Gabe and I aren't really all that great of thinking of costume ideas and we hate to spend the money on something you'll wear once. So our costumes were courtesy of my work:

Gabe was Dr. Seymour Butz-Proctologist and I was Dr. Mel Practice-Plastic Surgeon. The party was fun-they had karaoke, lots of food, and the Sabres game on.

I brought a new dish to pass, which I got from my friend's blog, Heather Drive. It's a dip and turned out pretty good!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

1/3 cup brown sugar-

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup confectioner's sugar-

3/4 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:1. In a small sauce pan, melt butter and brown sugar over medium heat. Stir continuously until the brown sugar dissolves.

2. Remove from heat and whisk in vanilla extract. Set aside to cool.

3. Beat the softened cream cheese and confectioner's sugar for 1 minute.

4. Slowly beat in the cooled butter/brown sugar mixture. Beat for an additional minute.

5. Stir in the chocolate chips.

6. Pour mixture into serving bowl and refrigerate. (Note: The mixture will be very liquid-like at first. Refrigeration is necessary to make it a better consistency. If you are running short on time, you can also throw the mixture into the freezer for a little bit.)

7. Garnish with additional chips (optional). (I used a spoon to scoop and position extra chips on the top of the dip. This is what my aunt did and I think it makes for better presentation.)Serve with vanilla wafers or graham crackers.(Another note: After refrigeration for an extended period of time, your dip will be very solid and un-dippable--your wafers or graham crackers will break! To achieve the best consistency, remove from the refrigerator 15-30 minutes prior to serving.)

Everyone enjoyed the dip-I used vanilla wafer cookies and chocolate Pirouline cookies (the rolled up wafer ones with filling in the middle). The only thing I didn't care for was I could taste the cream cheese-which I'm not a huge fan of, so for myself I might tweak that a bit.

We have another Halloween party coming up Friday!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Easy Chicken Bake

Tonight I'm making one of my favorite dinners. We haven't had it in a really long time so I can't wait to dig in!

Easy Chicken Bake
1 pkg Stove Top stuffing mix
1 cup hot water
1 1/2 lb boneless chicken breasts cut into 1 inch pieces
1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
1/3 cup sour cream
1 bag frozen mixed vegetables, thawed and drained (you can omit/change these)

Preheat oven to 400. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the dry stuffing mix evenly on the bottom of a 9x13" baking dish; set aside. Add hot water to remaining stuffing mix and stir until just moistened.

Place chicken over dry stuffing mix in dish. Mix soup, sour cream, and vegetables. Spoon over chicken. Top with prepared stuffing.

Bake 30min. or until chicken is cooked through.

Oh, did I mention this is off of the stove top stuffing box?!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Pride and Prejudice

Last night, Gabe and I went to see a viewing of the musical "Pride and Prejudice". It's based on the novel by Jane Austen and the composers are trying to get it on Broadway (his Mom is a HUGE Jane Austen fan and got us the tickets). So they had a viewing at Eastman Theater last night. What they did differently is that the orchestra was onstage instead of in the orchestra pit and there wasn't any set. The cast was made up of the same people they would take to Broadway but in the viewing they were able to carry their scripts with them. It was a one night only affair-red carpet and all!

Overall it was very good. I've never read the book (shame on me) so I wasn't very informed on the plot but it wasn't all that hard to follow. The cast did very well-they had only rehearsed a few times and I was very surprised at how many of them had their part memorized already. One neat thing they did was they incorporated Jane Austen writing the novel into the musical. She was in the entire production and it was pretty cool how they added her in here and there-it was like seeing her thoughts come alive as she was writing.

So, if it makes it to Broadway, it'll be interesting to see how it really comes to life-the sets they use, the staging, etc. And hey, it may be my first trip to NYC!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Suzy Homemaker!

Yes, that was me today! After getting home from the mall I decided to try making two things I've never made before.

First, was homemade applesauce. Never have done it myself, but how hard can it really be? I didn't have a recipe that I used-I looked at a few online and just sort of "winged it" myself.

8 apples-peeled and cored (I used a combinated of McIntosh and Cortland-peeled them then used an apple slicer that you push on the apple-pops out the core and cuts it into 8 pieces)
1 cup water
cinnamon (I used a few dashes out of the jar)
sugar (not sure how much I used-just added to taste-probably 1/4 cup or so?)

After getting the apples ready, I put them in a large saucepan (it was full to the top with the apples). I put in water and turned the flame on medium (note: really I think you're supposed to use about a cup-I filled up the pot about 3/4 of the way and as the apples cooked I started pouring the water out until there was about an inch left in the pan-I just didn't think they would cook with a full pan of apples but only a small layer of water. The inch I left in the pan stayed in the pan for good.) I let the apples cook until tender then removed from heat. I added cinnamon and some sugar and mashed until I got the consistency desired (I like it a little chunky). That's it! It didn't make much for using 8 apples, but what I tasted was fantastic! Can't wait to have some more! And it was really easy!

While the apples were cooking, I tried another recipe. You'll never guess where I found it-on the back of a hot chocolate packet! Thought it was kind of weird, but intriguing too! Since I'm a peanut butter freak, I had to try it!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffles
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 stick butter softened
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup hot cocoa mix (It was roughly 2 packets of mix-I used Nestle rich chocolate)
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup finely chopped peanuts (I used about 3/4 cup and it was more than enough)

Line a baking sheet or plate with waxed paper (I used saran wrap instead). Beat butter, peanut butter, and vanilla until creamy. Stir in cocoa mix and sugar until well mixed. Put peanuts into a shallow dish. Roll batter into 1 inch balls and roll into peanuts. Place on baking sheet and refrigerate until firm. Makes 24 truffles (mine made around 30).

Again-super easy. I haven't tried a finished one yet since they are in the fridge still, but I tasted the batter and it was pretty good which surprised me! You never know what you'll get from a hot cocoa recipe!

3 months!

We've been married 3 months today! Again, not sure where the time went since then!

We had a pretty low-key weekend. We went to the public market with Gabe's parents yesterday. Gabe had to go into work so I did some much needed house cleaning. Then we went out for dinner last night and watched "Semi-Pro" when we got home (it was just ok).

Today we went to the mall with Gabe's sister and our niece and nephew. For our wedding, we got our nephew, Owen, a gift card to build-a-bear. So today we all went to see him make his bear. It was the first time there for all of us and it was really cute. He picked out a really soft bear and we watched/helped them stuff the bear. Then he put in a giggle sound and heart into the bear. He made a birth certificate for the bear and they bought a cute soccer outfit to dress it in. Very cute idea for kids-I think he had fun!

After that, we grabbed some subs for dinner and I made a few things (see other posts from today). Amazing Race starts shortly so we'll be watching that! And we'll be "celebrating" by eating a piece of wedding shower cake!

Thursday, October 16, 2008


I'm somewhat of a reader. I like reading good books, but hate picking them out myself. I usually read books that people recommend to me-I just get too overwhelmed to pick out my own for some reason. There are just too many out there to choose from and reading those tiny excerpts on the back do nothing for me!!

Anyways, about 2 years ago now (the start of my last teaching year) I joined a young adult book club with fellow teachers in my school. I read a lot of decent books (of course I can't remember any of the names!) and this started my love of the "Twilight" saga.

A LOT of my students were reading this book called "Twilight". So our group decided to read it so we could talk to the students about it. Let me tell you-amazing book! First of all-its huge-about 600 pages! Second-it's a vampire story-not usually my cup of tea, but this book was addicting! It's a very easy read and one of those you can't put down! After finishing book one, I started book two called "New Moon". Same thing-huge and addicting!

Since then, the final 2 books of the series came out-"Eclipse" which I think I read early this year and "Breaking Dawn" which just released in early August. I just finished "Breaking Dawn" tonight-so I'm officially done with the series. Four great books! I'm a little sad that the saga is over now-I loved looking forward to the next book release. But I have something to look forward to-the movie "Twilight" is coming out in Nov! So I can't wait to see that!

Now to find my next good book to read-any suggestions??

Monday, October 13, 2008

Road Trip

Well we just got home from our weekend roadtrip. We went to Hartford, CT for my cousin's wedding. My Mom and Aunt drove to our house Sat morning and we all drove together from here. We left around 10:30am and arrived in CT at 3:30pm. It was a pretty easy drive-all expressway which was nice. We stayed at the Residence Inn Marriott-you wouldn't believe the rooms! They were like an apartment! On the first floor was a kitchen, seating area and living room, then you went up a few stairs (they called it a loft set up) to the bedroom and bathroom area. It was HUGE! We thought we had the wrong room at first, but apparently they are all that large. Gabe asked an employee and the building used to be an apartment building. I guess the layouts are all different, but size wise, most of the rooms are that big-or bigger. My cousin's room was 2 full stories-2 bedrooms and 2 baths. Theirs was really big.

So Saturday after we got in, we went to a comedy club for dinner with most of the family and some friends who were all there for the wedding. The headliner was hysterical-she was very funny. After that, a ton of people went to my cousin's room to hang out so we stayed there about an hour and a half.

Sunday we went to the mall there which was pretty big. The wedding started at 4:30 at a local park-I did a reading in the ceremony. Then the reception was in the restaurant that was within our hotel (also where the comedy club was). Everything was very nice. We had a good time. I was surprised at how many people traveled in for the wedding-it was amazing-people from GA, VA, NY, NH-lots of travelers. And my other cousin came who just returned from Iraq so it was great to see him and his family since it's been a few years.

Today we woke up, had breakfast in the hotel (free hot breakfast) with a lot of people from the wedding-mostly family. Then we hit the road at noon and got home around 5pm. So a pretty busy weekend but it was fun. Glad to be home and out of the car though! Back to work tomorrow-yuck.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Busy Week

This week is just busy! Something going on every night this week. Monday and Tuesday night I went to the gym. Today I had a nail appt. Tomorrow we're going for dinner to celebrate my father-in-law's birthday, and Friday I have a purse party. On top of that, we're going to CT this weekend so I have to pack for that as well! It makes me tired just reading it all!

Speaking of the gym, last night I took a new class my gym is offering called Zumba. It was so much fun! It's a cardio class that's based on latin dancing. It's hard to explain because it's not ballroom type dancing, but you do moves from the salsa, merengue, cha-cha, etc. It was a blast and it was packed! They just started it up last week and only offer it 3 times a week so the class was very crowded. It was tons of fun though so I hope to continue that if I can!

Nothing else really new to report on here-we ordered our wedding album so we're just waiting to hear when it's finished. That's about it-not too exciting, just busy!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Peanut Butter Chex Mix

My family is big into Chex Mix-the good homemade stuff! So we saw this recipe over the weekend and gave it a try: (sorry no pics this time-I didn't have my camera with me!)

Peanut Butter Chex Mix
2 tbsp butter
3 tbsp honey
3 tbsp creamy peanut butter
4 cups chex cereal (we used rice chex)
2 cups mini pretzels (we used the small sticks and broke them into smaller pieces)
1/3 cup peanuts (we used mixed nuts)

Put cereal, pretzels and nuts in a large bowl.
Put butter, honey, and peanut butter in a microwave bowl. Heat until melted and smooth.
Pour melted mixture over cereal mixture and stir/toss until coated.
Dump everything into a baking pan (we sprayed ours with non-stick spray) and spread out into a single layer. Bake at 175 for an hour and a half.

(note: we made a whole box of cereal and just tripled the rest of the ingredients-it wasn't the exact proportions, but the cereal was still evenly coated.)

This came out pretty well. Next time I think we would use less honey and/or more peanut butter because it tastes more like honey than peanut butter to me. It's still very good, but needs a little tweaking next time.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

In Buffalo

We're in Buffalo right now for a weekend visit. We came in on Friday night and went to see my cousins-my Mom was babysitting them. Yesterday, Gabe played golf with my Dad in the morning, then we met up later with my Dad for his birthday lunch at Famous Dave's near the Galleria mall. It was our first time there and it was pretty good. I had the lunch/early bird combo platter that had pulled pork, corn on the cob, a corn muffin, and choice of side (I had the mashed sweet potatoes). Pretty tasty!

Speaking of birthdays, it's ironic that his family birthdays and my family birthdays all clump together. My Dad's is 10/6, his Dad's is 10/10. My Mom's is 3/30, his Mom's is 4/6 and mine is 4/12. Then his sister and her husband are both in July and a day apart. Funny how that worked out!

Anyways, last night we didn't do much of anything-we watched the move "The Great Debaters" with Denzel Washington and Forest Whitaker-it was pretty good. After lunch, we were pretty much slugs! Today I'm meeting a girlfriend for Starbucks around noon then we'll head home-do some grocery shopping and probably watch some of the Bills game. Then back to work tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


Well, we got a new driveway put in on Monday! They came a few weeks ago and tore out the old one and put down some new stone. It had to settle for a few weeks. They came on Monday and put the new blacktop down. It looks awesome! The only bad thing is we can't park/drive on it for a whole week! But it looks really good!!

Can you tell how exciting my life is right now when I'm posting about a driveway?! Haha!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


I found out tonight that a friend of a friend of mine got killed this weekend in a car accident in Buffalo. This is a link to one of the articles about it. He was the driver that caused the accident.


I met him a few times many years ago and remember him to be a really nice and funny guy. He was an only child and his Mom was a single Mom with not much family around anymore. A very sad situation.

Please keep him and his family in your thoughts and prayers.
Rest in peace Justin.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Another Fall Love...

Concord grapes! I LOVE them! I always forget about them until I go to the public market and see them in their glory! I remember being a kid and going for our annual "country drive" to get pumpkins. Granted I thought they were boring as heck, but I always remember my Dad buying these purple grapes that would "pop" in your mouth. Well, once I got older, the country drives decreased so I didn't have those grapes for years. Then when I moved out here, I went to the public market and there they were-the purple "popping" grapes! I know some people probably think they're gross, but man I've grown to love them. The only downfall? They have seeds :( But it's another thing I love about fall-$2 a quart at the market buys me enough to last an entire week! YUM!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Fall Television

Fall TV-how do I love thee? Let me count the ways:

1. Amazing Race
2. Criminal Minds
3. Biggest Loser
4. Intervention
5. Dr 90210
6. Heroes

Ah yes, the return of our favorite television shows! Isn't it grand? I have to say that I'm a little iffy on Heroes this year. It's been off for awhile so the season premiere the other night was very confusing to me since there was such a gap in time from when it was on last. I only watched the first half and recorded the second half. I still haven't watched it yet, so I just don't know if I'll get into it again this season. Amazing Race is one of our faves-I look forward to it each season and it starts up this Sunday. I've watched it since the first season. Criminal Minds is another favorite for me-Gabe finds it funny that I like "twisted" shows like that-but it's up there on the list for sure! Last year was the first time we got into the Biggest Loser. It was the couples show that they had-we enjoyed it, so we're tuning in this season as well. Intervention and Dr 90210 are on random channels, but I enjoy them as well. I have a bunch of those episodes recorded that I need to sit down and watch. I'm just thrilled that there is actually stuff to watch on TV now!

Monday, September 22, 2008

100 Miles...

of running? Most of us wouldn't even contemplate this idea. Gabe's friend, Ed, not only contemplated it, he attempted it this past weekend.

Gabe met Ed a few years ago at a previous job. Ed has always been a runner-doing 5K's, the Corporate Challenge, etc. Last year he attempted a 50 mile race and dropped out (I think he got injured). He went on to later finish a 50K race. Earlier this year he finished a 50 mile race in about 12 hours-finishing that was a requirement to register for a 100 mile race.

So this past Saturday, the 20th, was the big day. Gabe volunteered to be a pace runner for him, which is something they can utilize once they hit the 55 mile mark. The race was in Virgil, NY and started at 6am Saturday. Gabe arrived in Virgil around 9pm Saturday when Ed was just finishing his 55th mile. Gabe laced up his shoes and ran with him for about 6.3 miles. They finished that around midnight, then Ed's wife went out with Ed for a few miles. Gabe went back out around 1:30am and did another 6.3 with Ed which brought him around the 73 mile mark. They finished that around 4am and then Gabe took a snooze in his car. He was woken up at 10am to do another 5 miles with Ed-which they finished close to 1pm. Ed then had about 9 miles left to complete, which his wife wanted to do with him. We are happy to say that Ed finished the race in 35 hours (the cut off was 36 hours)! I'm sure he was completely exhausted-no sleep, very little sitting, etc.

Oh, and did I mention this isn't a street/paved race? Oh no-it's a trail run-which basically means they run through the forest. Gravel, dirt, tree roots, rocks, trees-you name it! Gabe said parts of the trail were so steep that you had to use a rope to help you climb up and walk backwards down hills to get down. So this isn't some easy course. Ya know, 100 miles isn't hard enough, you have to add in some other crazy elements to make it even harder!

I'm not much of a runner myself so I never think of the stuff that actually goes on during these races....like men's nipples getting chafed by their shirt to the point of bleeding (just one of the few spots that get chafed)! Or excreting waste and having to bury it! How about running in pitch darkness with a head lamp on? Or using painted tree trunks to tell you where the path goes. Or running when your body is completely exhausted and ready for bed. These are all factors that you have to practice. The thought of it is just insane to me. And when Ed was training, he never even got close to running that sort of distance. What the training has him do is maybe go out and run 30miles one day, then get up the next morning and do 20 miles. I think that was the longest practice run they have you do. So you never know what your body will actually do for that sort of distance.

There was only 28 runners in the race and 11 of them dropped out. Ed said there are maybe only a few thousand people in the country who are able to complete a race like this. And guess what?! He's one of them!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Yay Weekend!

TGIF-gotta love it!
If you live in Rochester, you have to try this cafe called Orien's. It's on Long Pond Rd and has amazing Italian food (pastries, cookies, gelato, etc.). I went with my sister-in-law last night and we had some gelato-it was sooo good! They had about 20 flavors and they all looked so good. Definitely a place to try out!
Not much going on this weekend-I'm meeting a girlfriend for coffee tonight, picking up Gabe at the airport (yay!) at midnight. Tomorrow we'll probably hit the public market with Gabe's parents and our niece and nephew. Then I think we're seeing some friends during the day. Gabe is heading to Virgil, NY tomorrow night to help "pace" his friend who's running a 100 mile race (yes, you read correctly-this might be another topic to write about....). So he'll be gone tomorrow night and part of Sunday. Nothing planned for me while he's gone-maybe run some errands, but that's about it. Sunday is pretty open-just relaxing a bit. I'm just glad for the weekend-except for they go by way too fast!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

"Jungle" Demolition

A few weeks ago, my Mom came out to start the demolition of our front yard (the jungle). This past weekend, she came out and finished the demo with us.
This is what we started out with...as you can see, very overwhelming and no idea where to start!

This is what it looked like after demo day #1:

And here is what it looks like today-after demo day #2:

We still have to get the stumps from some of the bushes removed and probably rototill the soil. Then we have to decide what to do in its place! Definitely something low maintenance! Impressive, huh?!