Callan’s Birth Story — Part 1

July 15 — It was quite the day. A little unexpected and scary but so absolutely incredible.

Just after 2 pm, I was in the kitchen making Tomato, Corn and Avocado salad. While cutting the jalapenos, I grabbed a pair of gloves thinking “I’d better make sure to use the gloves in case I meet the little guy soon. I wouldn’t want to give him jalapeno burns.” A few minutes later I felt something warm flowing down my legs (Sorry, kind of gross.). We all know pregnancy can do things to your bladder but this was different. I sopped up the mess with some paper towels, went to the bathroom.

Calling to Andy, I yell down the hall, “Either I just peed my pants or my water broke.” Calmly, he asked me a few questions and we decided it was time to call the midwife office. Since it was a Sunday, she was paged then called me back. We told her what had happened and she asked a few questions to determine how far along things might be.  At this time, I had no contractions. She told me that if I still hadn’t had contractions within 12 hours, I’d need to come into the hospital to start Pitocin. Not at all what I wanted. She told us to wait at home for a bit, hydrate, eat some light food and take a nap…sounds like we’ll be in for a long night.

Our nightmare had always been I would go into labor on a Sunday afternoon and we’d have to fight beach traffic. With no traffic, we’re just over an hour from the hospital. With beach traffic, it could be anywhere from 2-4 hours. If this happened, the plan had always been to leave as soon as I had any sign of labor. Since I had no contractions, we decided to just take our time, wrap things up around the house, then relax a bit… doctors orders!  In a couple of hours, we’d reassess and probably head to my parent’s house which is about 20 min from the hospital so we could be a bit closer.

Earlier that day and the night before, my low back had been hurting a lot. At some point, I had even been on all fours to ease the pain. It kind of felt like period back pain.

From here, the details get a little blurry and timing a bit vague. My back was still hurting quite a bit, but mostly, I was excited. We were going to meet Baby Ruf so soon! We already had the bags packed but went back through them, gathered a few additional items and set everything by the door. I started a load of laundry and we camped out on the couch to watch a movie —  Andy puts in our latest Netflix movie, Man On A Ledge. Uhh no, a little too intense.  My turn…Ratatouille.

During the movie, I kept getting up to go to the bathroom as water (and other stuff) was still coming out. Each time, I felt like I had to go to the bathroom (#2). There had been some other pains that felt like intestinal issues. The pain in my back never let-up and even got worse.

Andy kept asking, “Are you sure they aren’t contractions.” My response was “I don’t know but I don’t think so. They’re not how they always describe them. I think I’m just having stomach issues.” The pain never let up and besides my aching low back, the pain was only in the very low part of my abdomen. They always say it should start in the back, move to the front and would be your entire abdomen.

I was so convinced I’d be at least a week late, I just couldn’t accept I was in labor.

Andy made me start tracking them. I had something but couldn’t really tell when it started and ended. It got worse, then felt a bit better. My back just hurt!! We think I had two contractions during the 4 o’clock hour.

About 5 o’clock, I called the midwife again to ask about the amount of blood in the “water.” She talked me through it and decided it wasn’t too much that she wasn’t concerned for me or the baby. Just keep waiting and leave when the contractions are 10 min apart.

The pain in my back just kept getting worse and something was just weird. I told Andy I thought we should head out and maybe just go to my parents. By the time we put everything in the car and I put myself together (20 min or so), things got so bad, I told Andy we needed to go to the hospital. Something just wasn’t right. At this time, I still wasn’t convinced I was having contractions. It was my back that was killing me.

We got on the road about 6, called the midwife and our parents. By now, though my back was still constantly hurting, the abdominal pains definitely had a start and end. 20 min down the road, the pains were becoming quite frequent and much more unbearable, so I started timing them. Contractions were 1 ½ minutes apart and lasting 30 seconds each. Between each contraction, I tried to find a comfortable position in the front seat. Going through this phase of labor in a car is not fun!

Andy said he could tell they were getting worse and worse by the way I was acting. At first I was just moaning and as we got closer to the hospital, I became a bit more verbal. The worse I said was “Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow” throughout the contractions, though Andy seems to recall that a few cuss words were uttered. Such a potty mouth!

Between our house and the hospital there is one other hospital, a trauma center, and some other medical facility. We almost stopped at the first one but all I could think about was not having my midwife, not knowing the hospital, not being able to have a natural birth, etc. Turns out, this never would have mattered 🙂

The traffic ended up not being too bad. Very heavy traffic but no major delays. We can probably thank the crazy thunderstorms that afternoon. My guess is people left the beach a bit earlier than normal.

We arrived at the hospital and Andy went in to find a wheelchair. There was no way I could make it in on my own. He came back with a security guard who told him to leave the car there and just come back when he had a chance. Getting me out of the car was probably a sight to see! Andy wheeled me in and up to the second floor. I had two contractions while they were checking me in. Ugh! I’m sure they were thinking I was still in the early stages of labor.

Up next, Part 2.


Homemade Chocolate LARABARS

This post was written before Callan came along. In fact, I was writing this while in labor! Turns out, these were the BEST snacks to have around in the early weeks of having a baby. I had no idea how hungry breastfeeding would make me. I would wake up in the middle of the night desperate for food and these were perfect bites of healthy calories.


I’m still working on stocking up freezer meals and snacks for Baby Ruf’s arrival. My focus last weekend was quick snacks packed with energy. I made Granola Chews, LARABARS, and Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Bites (recipe coming soon).


My baby doc appointments are in Annapolis which is just over an hour drive from our house. Every time I have an appointment, I have to stop at Trader Joes to stock up. This time, in addition to my normal purchases, I was in search of ingredients to make homemade LARABARS. Really, I just needed some nuts, dates and figs. Somehow, I walked out with nuts, PRUNES and figs. I swear I had dates in my hand!

So, in my attempt to make LARABARS which are typically made from dates, these ended up with prunes. I knew the flavor would be slightly different but the texture should be fairly similar. And since my next appointment isn’t until after my due date, and I’m not making another trip to TJs, I figured I’d give it a whirl.

Success! Next time, I’ll try dates but this is a good substitution, especially if dates are hard to find. I also want to try different flavors and various consistencies. Coconut, cherries or peanut butter would be awesome!


  • 1 C raw, unsalted, mixed nuts (I used a combination of pecans, cashews, almonds, and Brazil nuts)
  • 1 C prunes
  • ½ C figs
  • 1 Tbls coconut oil
  • 2 Tbls cocoa powder
  • 1- 2 Tbls water
  • pinch of salt


  1. Add nuts to food processor until finely chopped.
  2. Add prunes, figs, coconut oil and cocoa powder. Pulse until fully combined.
  3. Add water, 1 tsp at a time, until mixture starts to come together.
  4. Press mixture into a mold. (mini muffin tins, casserole dish, cookie sheet, etc.)
  5. Refrigerate for 2 hours.
  6. Remove bars from mold and slice to desired size (if needed).
  7. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freeze.

Adapted from Colorful Palate and Avocado Pesto.

American Beauty Cake

Welcome back to me! Blogging maternity leave has been fun but I miss the blog and of course, the cooking.

What better way to jump right on in than with a ridiculously decadent chocolate mousse cake? This is the final recipe for Project Pastry Queen (tear). It’s been a lot of fun to blog along with these ladies and cook some absolutely fantastic recipes. I can’t wait to keep following your blogs and discovering many new recipes. Best wishes to you all and a big thanks to Shawnda for starting the group and keep us organized.


1 C unsalted butter
12 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
6 large eggs
1 C sugar
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp dark rum or liqueur (I used Kaluha)

¼ C unsalted butter
10 oz milk chocolate (I used semi-sweet)
3 large eggs, separated
3 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 C heavy whipping cream

4 oz semisweet chocolate
¼ C light corn syrup
½ C heavy whipping cream
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract



  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Line the bottom of a 9” cake pan with a parchment paper round and coat evenly with cooking spray.
  3. Melt the butter and chocolate in a double boiler. Stir until smooth.
  4. Whisk the eggs and sugar in a large bowl.
  5. Whisk the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture.
  6. Stir in the vanilla and liqueur.
  7. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and place it in a larger pan.
  8. Fill the larger pan with enough hot water to reach ⅔ of the way up the cake pan.
  9. Bake 35-40 min. The cake is done when firm to the touch.
  10. Cool the cake in the pan (remove from the water bath) on a wire rack.


  1. Melt butter and chocolate in a double boiler. Set aside to cool.
  2. Whisk the egg yolks, sugar and vanilla until smooth.
  3. Combine the egg yolk mixture with the chocolate mixture.
  4. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites on high until shiny, stiff peaks form.
  5. Fold the egg whites into the chocolate, ⅓ at a time.
  6. In a separate bowl, whip the cream until soft peaks just start to form.
  7. Gently fold the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture until fully combined.
  8. Spread the mousse over the cooled cake. Wrap the cake with plastic wrap and freeze for 6 hours or overnight.


  1. Place the chocolate in a medium mixing bowl.
  2. Combine corn syrup, cream and vanilla in a saucepan and bring a boil.
  3. Pour the cream mixture over the chocolate and whisk until smooth.

Cake Assembly

  1. Remove the cake from the freezer.
  2. Dip the bottom of the cake pan in warm water to loosen cake and mousse. Invert onto a plate.
  3. Invert the cake again onto your serving platter. The mousse portion should be on top.
  4. Pour the glaze over the cake, covering the sides.
  5. Place the uncovered cake in the freezer for an hour.
  6. Once glaze has set, cake can be wrapped in plastic wrap.
  7. Serve directly from the freezer.


14 – 16 servings

From The Pastry Queen.

The cake and mousse portion of the cake can be made ahead and kept in the freezer for up to 3 weeks.

And in case you need another baby pic, here ya go!

Introducing Baby Ruf

A month ago today, I took a break from the blogging world. A break to bring this amazing life into the world.

Callan Andrew was born July 15 at 8:22 pm. He weighed 6 pounds and 15 ounces and was 19.5 inches long.

I’m slowly making my way back into blogging while also trying to enjoy these last few weeks of maternity leave. I was working on a few posts the day he arrived so I’ll be sure to get those up soon.

Otherwise, thanks for your patience as we soak up this perfect little man.

Lemon Blueberry Bundt Cake with Lemon Glaze


When guests are coming over, I pull out all the stops…including a doctored up cake mix 🙂 Ok, really, I’d just been running errands all day and hadn’t started a dessert when they were due to arrive any minute.

I had intended on coming up with a cool lemon and blueberry dessert that didn’t require me turning on the oven. Maybe I should have thought of that earlier in the day. Oops!

It ended up being a perfect summer treat — light and refreshing cake that topped off an evening of blue crab picking. Yummy!




  • 1 box lemon cake mix
  • ½ C freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 C water
  • ⅓ C vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 ½ C blueberries
  • zest of 2 lemons, finely chopped


  • 1 C powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbls freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • water, as needed



  1. Preheat oven according to cake mix directions.
  2. Grease & flour Bundt pan.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine lemon cake mix, ½ C lemon juice, water, oil and eggs.
  4. Beat mixture on low speed for 30 seconds.
  5. Increase speed to medium and beat batter for 2 min.
  6. Gently fold in lemon zest and blueberries.
  7. Pour cake batter into prepared pan and bake according to package directions or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Cool cake completely in pan set on wire rack.
  9. When cake is cool, place serving plate over the top of Bundt pan and flip cake onto plate.


  1. In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice and powdered sugar until smooth.
  2. Whisk in water as needed.
  3. Drizzle glaze over cake.

12 slices

Adapted from A Bloggable Life.

39 Weeks

July 1 – 7

The belly! It’s definitely grown since last week.

39 Weeks

No early signs of labor just yet. I’m still having Braxton Hicks here and there but nothing else.

I do feel like Baby Ruf is trying to get out though. He still moves around like crazy and I feel limbs everywhere all day long. He frequently punches my bladder and hits nerves that send shooting pains down my legs. Ouch! I tried to explain this to Andy. Have you ever been shocked and after it’s a little painful but eventually goes away? That’s what it feels like.

Can you tell I’m a bit ready to get this dude out? Really, I’m just anxious to meet him, see his cute little face, and just hold him. Andy’s getting the same way. He wants to meet him so badly. Hurry up, little one!

Overall, I’m still feeling pretty good but very exhausted. Vacuuming the house took three attempts. I had to sit down and take breaks in between rooms. I also didn’t work out once. Not one single time! This is probably the time where I should be at least walking but I’ve just been too darn lazy. I will try to get back into it next week. Or, I’ll just enjoy being lazy.

I forgot to mention something awesome from last week! Andy’s office had a shower for us. If you’re keeping track, that’s five showers (5!!!) for Baby Ruf. We’re so very lucky. Along with a diaper changers (disposable plastic gloves) and coffee for the “late nights,” they gave us a swing. This was something we weren’t sure if we were going to buy or not so we’re very, very thankful we received one as a gift. I’ve heard they work wonders.

July 4th was the highlight of our week. Check out this view!

My dad’s office overlooks the DC mall. This is the best possible option for a 39 week pregnant lady. We hung out inside in the A/C then stepped out just in time for the fireworks. I thought the booms would cause the baby to react but he was fairly quiet the whole time.

Friday was the 39 week appointment with the midwife. It was again, a boring but good appointment. He was super active while I was there. So active, the midwife was laughing at him. His heart rate was fast (nothing bad) because he was just moving so much. I told her that  he gets hiccups all the time and she told me that’s a a very healthy sign. I looked it up when I got home and read it’s a way for them preparing to breathe. It means their central nervous system and lungs are working well. Yay!

Will there be a 40 week post? Eek!!!

Bacon and Shrimp Salad with Sherry Vinaigrette


This week’s PPQ pick from Shawnda at Confections of a Foodie Bride was on the lighter side — Prosciutto Tostadas with Shrimp and Parsley. I turned it into a salad for a light dinner without having to turn on the oven.

With the combination of the bacon and shrimp with the tangy dressing, it was delicious!


For the other versions of this week’s recipe, visit the main Project Pastry Queen site.


  • 4 pieces of bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 16 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp vinegar (I used sherry vinegar)
  • ¼ C chopped fresh parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 C mixed greens
  • ½ C cherry or grape tomatoes, halved


  1. Heat olive oil in saute pan over medium.
  2. Add garlic and shrimp.
  3. Cook until shrimp is opaque.
  4. Remove from heat and add the lemon juice, vinegar, and parsley.
  5. Toss shrimp mixture with greens, tomatoes and bacon.
  6. Serve immediately.

Adapted from Prosciutto Tostadas with Shrimp and Parsley from The Pastry Queen.

Cooking Class – Jessi and friends

Last September Jessi and Jamil invited us to teach a cooking class. It was the second class we taught and the first one that wasn’t family. Jessi and I went to middle school together, and thanks to Facebook, reconnected a couple of years ago.

It must have gone well…they invited us back! Two other couples joined us (one arrived just as we were finishing cooking, but they had a good excuse!). This group can already cook but they’re looking for new ideas and things to implement in their routine meals.

This time, they had a brand new kitchen. Isn’t it beautiful?

Andy came along and doesn’t do much of the cooking but he takes pictures which I love. This time though, he was also the grill guy. What a sport.

On the menu was Caprese with Balsamic Glaze, Polenta Bites with Garlic Aioli, Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Grilled Pork Tenderloin, Risotto, and Roasted Cherry Brownies.

Click on the pictures below for a slideshow.

After we finished cooking, we sat around the table, ate, and chatted for long time. We all had fun. What a great crew!

Thanks again Jessi, Jamil, Katie, Mark, Grace and Nathan. Can’t wait for the next time!

38 Weeks

June 24-30

They say he’s the size of a pumpkin now. That sounds a bit scary. As in, how I’m getting this kid out?

I look tired all the time now and I suspect that’s not changing any time soon. No sleep and allergies. We know the sleep won’t get any better but I am looking forward to taking some allergy meds soon.

38 Weeks-2

Side story about taking pictures this week. Andy was looking through the camera and saw a spot. He checks it out further and turns out there was a microscopic spider inside my camera. What? How does that happen? Spiders find me everywhere! Now, I have to get my camera cleaned because of a stinkin’ spider.

Things are changing! I can definitely tell something is going on. I’ve had a lot more Braxton Hicks, pelvic pain, low back pain, breast tenderness, some ankle swelling, and some weird leg pain they tell me is round ligament (didn’t know that could hurt in my legs). These all sound terrible but overall, I’m still feeling pretty good. I thought the end of pregnancy would feel a lot worse, though maybe the end is still a few weeks away and it will get worse. Yikes!

38 Weeks

I have had a bit more energy this week. Has the baby’s dropped? The belly looks a bit different in the pictures but it could be my shirt. He still manages to find my ribs, so who knows.

Emotions? I’m a mess. Two melt downs this week.

Nesting hit the end of this week. Yay! The list of projects is getting smaller and smaller. Pictures hung, toilet fixed, baby’s furniture finished, car seat installed, trash can painted, a few freezer meals complete, laundry done, pack-n-play/bassinet set-up, hospital bags almost packed, and the big one — baby’s room is pretty much complete.

The furniture looks great! Andy, his dad, and a few others here and there helped finish this furniture. I love it! We’re not ready for the full nursery reveal but this should give you a taste.

Speaking of the baby’s room, we bought the paint for the baby’s room about 5 months ago thinking we could just go with the light blue on the same palette as our living room. WRONG! We put it on the wall and it was terrible. It wasn’t any sort of baby’s room color and didn’t match any of the items we’ve already purchased. Oops! So, off to the paint store we went.

We found a new color and Andy convinced me to go brighter (with my full agreement). Andy’s sister and husband came over to help paint so I could work on other stuff and not sit in the fumes. Plus, now Andy’s conveniently guilted into helping them paint. 😉

You know it’s bad when they send the 2-year old to deliver the bad news. “Emi, daddy says come quickly.” It was bright…very, very bright. I couldn’t face going to pick another paint or telling them I didn’t like it so I let them continue figuring it would grow on me.

Fast forward to the next morning. I had a melt down. I hated it. It still needs a second coat so I’m waiting for it to grow on me a bit more so Andy doesn’t have to paint more AND I don’t have to pick another color. Ugh! I hate picking paints. Why is it so hard?

The best news of the week? Our office told us we have off Wed-Fri. A 5 day weekend! Yippe! It will be a nice break, though I can’t completely check-out knowing I may or may not be back the following week.

The 38 week appointment was boring and that’s a good thing. Nothing new to report. Now, we wait and pray he decides to be somewhat on time. He’s already testing my patience. 😉

37 Weeks

June 17 – 23

Baby Ruf is officially full-term. Yay!!!

And the belly is still growing…

37 Weeks-1

While I get the camera ready, I have Andy stand in my place so I can set the focus. I figure he needs a pic on here too, right? Would you believe me that he’s the one pushing me to take these pictures? Yeah, I didn’t think so. So enthused.

37 Weeks-Andy

Another shower! This time a virtual one hosted by Emily from A Gilt Nutmeg and Project Pastry Queen members. I just wish it wasn’t virtual so I could try all the food.

Thanks to all who participated. Who’s next? 😉

This week I’m truly feeling the dreaded exhaustion. Some days, I just can’t function and it takes everything I’ve got to get out of bed. Other days though, I feel fine. It could also be this crazy heat that’s messing with me. I’m waiting for the nesting phase to hit because that’s the only way these last few projects are going to get finished.

I had my last major work project before going on maternity leave. It was a meeting in NYC and I’m so thankful I didn’t try to go up and run the meeting in-person. Now, I just need to work on wrapping things up and making sure everyone knows what’s going on before I head out. Not a small task, just not as daunting.

The plan (as of today) is to work until July 13, then see what happens from there. If he comes early, then the plan is shot. I just don’t want to waste a day of maternity leave without the little guy here. It would be nice if I have a day or two before he arrives to wrap up a few last minute things, but I don’t really get a say in that. We’re on his schedule now.

37 Weeks-2

The 37 week appointment went well. Nothing major to report, except they think the baby is face-up. The midwife says there’s no problem delivering but it will probably hurt mama more. Great! For the first time, I freaked out about delivering. I haven’t been scared because I figure I have no idea what it’s going to be like so I can’t even worry about it. When the midwife says it’s going to hurt, for some reason, that freaked me out. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep that night.

We took maternity pictures this week with our good friend Melissa. They almost didn’t happen. Big, ugly clouds looming threatened to dump on us. Thankfully, we only got a sprinkle. And because I’m behind in posting, she’s already got a sneak peak available. Thanks Melis!