Somewhere in Middle America

Friends, I have a confession to make. I’ve been cheating on this blog with another.

I’d like to introduce you to Bunny + Dolly, my little baby blog.

Yes, that’s right. I’m having a baby! Actually, I’m having a baby pretty soon. My due date is July 9th!

I invite you to click here to read up on my experiences over the last couple of months–the good and the bad. I may be spending most of my time over on Bunny + Dolly for the foreseeable future, so please be sure to subscribe to the RSS feed while you’re there. I’m also playing around with the idea of keeping an abbreviated version of Somewhere in Middle America up and running on Tumblr, so feel free to check that out, too.


{self-portrait taken at 36 weeks}

I will be taking a break from SIMA as I adjust to the demands of my new full-time job. I haven’t had 40+ hour work weeks in almost three years, so I have to relearn how to balance business with pleasure.

For all the working men and women out there…

How do you find time to explore your passions and hobbies while managing your professional and family life?

{image via Pinterest}

When you buy a vat of blueberries at Costco, you have to be creative with how you use them so that they don’t go to waste.

We recently had some leftover blueberries, which inspired J to make some of the yummiest blueberry buttermilk pancakes I’ve ever had. Click over to Elizabeth Anne Designs Living for the recipe.

There’s something I’ve been wanting to do, and I recently decided to not put it off any longer. So, I’m taking a short break from Somewhere in Middle America to get it done.

What is is? Well, you’ll just have to wait til tomorrow (actually, a week or so) to find out!

(image from anton sugar via mary ruffle)

Our neighbor’s children made this adorable Valentine’s Day- themed snowcouple on Sunday. Sadly, by Monday, they had lost their carrot stick noses and most of their heft. Mr. Snowman also lost the branch arm that was connecting him to his wife. Still, we can imagine that they are very much in love, perhaps even enjoying the unseasonably warm temperature we’ve been experiencing. Sixty degrees in February? Sorry, but I’ll take that over a snowcouple any day – no matter how in love they are.

Speaking of love, how was your Valentine’s Day? This year, J and I decided to prolong the celebration by going to one of our new favorite restaurants, Bella Vita, Saturday night and by attending a couple’s yoga workshop at Lotus House of Yoga on Sunday.

Sunday evening we exchanged gifts that we hadn’t bothered to wrap (we play it low-key), and Monday night we exchanged cards with heartfelt messages written inside. The card swap took place around 10pm after J returned home from a rehearsal. Yes, I spent Valentine’s Day proper on the couch with the dog, watching Joan Rivers on “Fashion Police.”

We probably would not have bought presents for each other if I hadn’t spied the perfect gift for J – and subsequently told him I wanted to exchange gifts – back in January. He’s been on the lookout for a glass tumbler/stainless steel shaker combo like professional bartenders use since I’ve known him, so when I stumbled upon one at Williams-Sonoma, I had to buy it. (And I had to pay for it in cash since J frequently looks at the credit card statements online.)

J surprised me with some accessories for my DSLR and a jar of Clinique moisturizer that he knew I wanted. Not the most romantic gift ever (though neither was mine), but the story behind the moisturizer says a lot about my thoughtful husband. Knowing that sometimes makeup counters give away cosmetic bags with goodies inside, J asked at the Clinique counter if they were running any promotions. Although they weren’t, he bought it for me anyway. When he got back in the car, he heard on the radio that another department store was having “Clinique Bonus Days,” so he drove to a different mall and bought a second jar of moisturizer just so I could have the gifts with purchase.

Of course, when he asked me if I’d have time during my day to return the moisturizer without the bonus gifts to the first department store, I told him that part of my gift was that I didn’t have to run that errand.

Did you and your sweetheart exchange cards, flowers or gifts on Valentine’s Day? Or did you choose not to celebrate this Hallmark holiday?

Yesterday morning, J and I participated in a couple’s yoga workshop at Lotus House of Yoga. The instructor played a mix of romantic tracks while we pulled one another deeper into stretches, (literally) leaned on each other during balancing poses and, at the end, meditated on the melt-in-your-mouth magic of Lindor Truffles.

Her selection of Valentine’s Day-appropriate music got me thinking: What do you think is the most romantic song ever?

Off the top of my head, I’d say it’s pretty hard to top Sade’s “By Your Side.” Whenever I hear it, I melt a little bit on the inside (kind of like a Lindor Truffle). According to my husband, “If you play Sade, you’re pretty much guaranteed to get some.” Do you agree?

PS: The ladies at Lotus House of Yoga are some of the sweetest I’ve met in Omaha. If you’re looking for a yoga studio in middle America, I highly recommend checking it out.

The other night I had a dream about Seth Meyers. I’m guessing he was on my mind after I saw the above SNL clip on Maggie’s blog. (In case you were wondering, I totally agree with Maggie and Seth on this one.)

In my dream, I was shopping in a florescent-lit department store with low ceilings in Nebraska when I spotted Seth. Although I recognized him from TV right away, I didn’t want Seth to think I was a crazy celeb stalker, so when our paths crossed, I pretended to not know who he was. We started chatting, and Seth confided that he had just arrived in Nebraska because he was fired from his job that morning. “Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that,” I said, as if I thought he just lost his job as an accountant or corporate executive.

As we maneuvered through the circular racks, he asked me about my life in middle America. I explained that it was rather boring, using the example that even if we went out on a Saturday night, my husband and I were usually home early enough to catch Saturday Night Live, which airs at 10:30pm out here. Then I realized what I had said.

“If you watch Saturday Night Live, you must know who I am.”

I could see the disappointment and disgust in his eyes. Seth was mad at me for lying to him. And then I woke up.

The moral of my dream: Don’t lie to Seth Meyers.

Oysters at Felix’s

Not pictured: Char-grilled oysters that were BEYOND insane.

Beignets and Hot Chocolate at Café Du Mondé

My dad was the only one of the group who accidentally sniffed the powdered sugar. And suffered.

Pretzles, Boudin and Sweet + Spicy Brisket Sliders at Butcher

We also ordered a muffaletta (never did make it to Central Grocery) and duck pastrami sliders. The guys drank LA 31 Biere Pale while my mom sipped a “Peel-n-Squeal” – vanilla vodka, satsuma juice and mint.

Pecan Waffles and the Chef’s Omelet (chili on the side) at The Camellia Grill

At the French Quarter location, we got a kick out of our server, who kept referring to the six of us as “New York.” Was it that obvious?

French macaroons (my first ever!), Gelato and Cappuccino at Sucré

We gave ourselves permission to enjoy dessert before lunch when we passed by this charming “sweet boutique” while browsing the shops on Magazine Street.

Po-Boys at Domilise’s

At the very last second we managed to score a table for six at this hole-in-the-wall shop, and we passed around shrimp and oyster po-boys to share. My dad, who doesn’t eat shellfish, had a catfish po-boy all to himself. (Note to future customers: These po-boys are expensive! Was not expecting to pay around $15 for a sandwich!)

Jazz Brunch at Commander’s Palace

A trip to New Orleans would not have been complete without a visit to Commander’s Palace. We were seated for nearly two and a half hours, which should give you an indication of how much we ate! Apparently I was too busy stuffing my face to take any photographs of our food, but my sister captured this table shot while we were still deciding what to order. Thankfully my mom, who snagged a menu, was able to remind me what we all ate (some of us ordered the same thing): Turtle Soup, Smoked Chicken and Oyster Gumbo, Open-Faced Croque Madame, Pecan Crusted Gulf Fish, Scrambled Eggs and Crab, Commander’s Mixed Grill, Pecan Pie, Ponchatoula Strawberry Shortcake and Baily’s Triple Chocolate Ice Cream Parfait. And now I feel stuffed all over again!

No Photo Available!

Our first night in NOLA, before my parents, sister and brother-in-law arrived, J and I had dinner at Dick & Jenny’s. I wish I could’ve taken photos of the amazing food we ate, but it was too dark inside the restaurant.  We started with the Gumbo Du Jour (shrimp and blue crab) and the Filet Mignon Meat Pie (a pocket stuffed with beef tips, red potatoes and smoked mushrooms and topped with a garlicky cream sauce). After stuffing our faces with oysters at Felix’s earlier in the evening, we weren’t hungry enough to each get our own entree, so we shared the Seared Duck Breast with Louisiana alligator sausage (surprisingly tender!), dirty rice and southern greens. (The greens were not my favorite.)

Sometimes, I’m just not in the mood to prepare a complicated dinner.

(Let’s be honest. I’m never in the mood to prepare a complicated dinner. That’s my husband’s job.)

I’m over at Elizabeth Anne Designs Living today sharing a simple yet delicious recipe for Spaghetti with Fried Eggs. There’s no need to make an extra trip to the grocery store to pick up special ingredients for this dish. It calls for just a couple of  staples that I’ll bet you already have in your pantry and refrigerator.

If you like this recipe, let me know! Leave a comment here or over at EADL.

(image from via pinterest)

What caught my eye at Lafayette Cemetery #1 in New Orleans, more so than the historical dates on the tombstones, were the flowers honoring the deceased. The muted colors of those somber bouquets were so beautiful. Who left them? How long had they been sitting there, wilting?

To be honest, I couldn’t tell if the flowers were real or fake, and I didn’t want to touch them, only photograph them. Do you know?