Apologies for the shaky cam as I tried to hold onto her while filming.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Happy holidays from the house of chaos and sleep deprivation and adorable baby girl!
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Wednesday, October 06, 2010
Size and Shape: She is still a peanut. She looks BIG to me because she was once so tiny. But when we're out and about, people constantly say, "Look at the tiny baby!"
Eat: We seem to have our nursing and pumping routine more or less in place. I have noticed that she doesn't "unlatch" as much now, probably because she wants the extra comfort and mommy time, so our sessions can go much longer than they did.
Getting Around: We haven't had as much carseat problems, but we haven't taken her in the car quite as much as we were. So we shall see. I think she is happy to not have to spend much time in the car -- one of the benefits of daycare is that I'm not dragging her with me all over creation anymore. We love our variety of carriers! Still love the bjorn and baby hawks best.
: There are new babies at the daycare and we're told she is very friendly and smiley with all of them. She continues to be a friendly little soul with everyone she meets, giving smiles and patient with being passed around from person to person.
Best moment this week: She looked up at me while nursing and smiled and laughed, which made me cry it was so sweet. Probably very confusing for her to have mom laugh and cry. We also love her "dinosaur noises" where she shouts "Aaah!" in this growly voice over and over. It was also wonderful to get to skype with my mom and dad and see my mom's big smile when getting to look at her granddaughter. Oh and I got to go to yoga last night for the first time since … probably 6 months pregnant! It was AWESOME. Felt so good and was such a great break.
Worst moment this week: Saying goodbye in the mornings. Mr. Right always calls to tell me how the drop-off went which makes me really happy.
What I miss: I am wishing I had captured more of her "newborn" moments by video or snapshot. She is much more of a "baby" now than a newborn.
What I am looking forward to: She has become so communicative in her dinosaur voice -- makes me realize how fun she'll be when we can actually talk!
Weekly Wisdom: Going to yoga reminded me how much taking care of myself helps me be a better mom.
Despite a busy and HOT summer, and I managed to do some cooking. Some of these meals were real accomplishments, worthy of a post here in the blog. A lot of them were driven by Mr. Right's food passions. Here goes:
Baked beans -- brought home a recipe he found on the internet to make the beans. Curious, I scanned it and was annoyed that the recipe for homemade baked beans involved TWO CANS OF FACTORY MADE BAKED BEANS. WHAT??? We dug up another recipe to use instead, and found the secret to making really good beans is to accidentally bake them for three hours longer than the recipe says.
For father's day, the kids and I gave Mr. Right a bbq smoker. Mr. Right made ribs and tenderloin on his first try. In keeping with Mr. Right's generous personality, when the recipe called for a few pieces of wood to put in the smoker for flavor, he used 3 different entire packages of wood. So the meat was definitely smoky, but very tasty.
Beer can chicken -- This was fun for Mr. Right to try. He even bought a little contraption that keeps the whole thing upright. As always, beer can chicken is super yummy. And amusing to discuss.
Fried Chicken -- During a hard week at work for Mr. Right, I emailed him during his workday, "Want to make friend chicken for the first time tonight?" And you know you have a husband who likes to cook when he is just as excited to make it as he is to eat it. Our first try was pretty successful as we followed the recipe to the letter. Second try was less successful as we were being more experimental, and we didn't let the oil get hot enough. But both times it was very fun and very delicious. Next time we do this, we're going to brine the chicken in buttermilk and salt. And use the crisco and not the cooking oil..
Pasta -- I insisted that we do this over the summer as we have been talking about making pasta at home for years now. And you read about how incredibly easy it is. All of this was true. The recipe we followed was much more extravagant than is really necessary as it used a DOZEN eggs, but as I mentioned above, Mr. Right is of a generous nature and wanted to try the fancy recipe. The noodles were delicious, and it was fun to make.
Canned pickles -- I can't claim I made these but rather I learned at the feet of a master: my amazing mother-in-law. She showed me how to make bread and butter pickles using cucumbers grown in her own backyard. And did I mention she did it all with her arm in a sling from a broken elbow? She is incredible. And these are some good pickles, spicy and sweet, and they are so beautiful in their jars.
Ice cream with lumps -- I've made ice cream before (and blogged about it here), but this was my first time using the Ben & Jerry's cookbook as well as trying to use flavorings. We made a batch of chocolate chip cookie dough flavor and it came out great. My only caveat is that it is a lot more work making this than regular ice cream, as you are basically making ice cream AND a recipe for cookies at the same time. But it thrilled my stepdaughter to get to make it, and she helped so it wasn't too much work.
And after all these lovely gourmet moments, we also have the evenings like last Monday, where you mix a can of creamed soup with pasta and chicken and serve. I made it for Mr. Right, and he is the happiest man in the world because he loves that type of thing just as well as the gourmet treats. All good.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Thursday, September 02, 2010
Age: 14 weeks today! 3 month photo here! Gracie is good friends with her duck; they are about the same size now.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Friday, July 23, 2010
For the pregnant ladies:
1. Maternity shirts that double as nursing tops (they have flap things) -- buy them at 6 months pregnant and you will have shirts to wear while pregnant AND while nursing! It is really annoying (and expensive) to have to go out and buy tops that work for nursing because you only have 3 tops that work for nursing and you will wear them non-stop for the first so many weeks after the baby is born. Wish I had known this.
2. You can buy special pregnancy pillows which are probably awesome, but at $50, I was too cheap even if my back bugged me. Ikea has these longish thin body pillows for about $10. Ultimately, nothing will be comfortable but for a while these were a big help.
3. Cheap maternity clothes -- best option new is Old Navy but bless those girlfriends willing to share theirs as you are going to wear them for all of a few months.
For the baby:1. I do like the video monitor. I know it's not really necessary and I know I'm obsessing, but it is really reassuring to see the baby is OK. It's different to see the baby is OK than to hear silence which means the baby is PROBABLY ok, but if you're insane like me, you want to khow the baby is DEFINITELY ok. So, if you're not insane, a regular monitor is fine..
2. If you can get a copy of the Happiest Baby on the Block video from the library or borrow or buy, I recommend it for yourself and so your partner will watch it. You may have obsessively read all of the "how to take care of a baby" books but your partner likely rolled his/her eyes at you and continued to read "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" book. Watching the dvd is a fast easy way to teach them how to soothe the baby so they don't hand the baby back to you the second the baby starts to cry. So worth it. And your partner will be so thrilled when it works for them which is super cute to watch.
3. I think the swaddle thing was a big help to us (at least for the first few months). So blankets that actually are built for swaddling help a lot as they have places that hold their arms because babies are little houdinis with getting their arms out of the blankets.
4. Baby carriers rock (ha, pun intended) but it is amazing how different they all are. I've tried the Moby, the Ergo, the Bjorn, the BabyHawk and all have their pluses and minuses. If you can borrow one from someone even temporarily before you buy it will be a huge help. I wore the Moby for a while and liked it a lot but now I need more head support for her. I'm wearing the Bjorn as I type but I anticipate we'll be moving into the Ergo as soon as she is big enough as the shoulders are much easier in the Ergo. But the Babyhawk that dear Susan sent me may work as well -- we shall see.
5. I have liked the stroller system where you have the car seat that snaps into just a lightweight frame. Nice and light and easy to throw in the trunk. We now are looking for the more permanent stroller to get around the city, but for quick trips while she is still little, the stroller frame works GREAT.
A final note: never underestimate borrowing/inheriting items from your friends and family. We have been so lucky to be inundated with enormous amounts of wonderful items from them from the cradle we got from Mr. Right's parents (in which Mr. Right slept when he was a baby) to the swing from dear Elizabeth which she got from dear Claudette, to the carriers inherited by the incredibly generous Kris and Susan, both of whom have two toddlers they are having to manage while still taking the time to help the hapless new mom. It truly does take a village!
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Friday, July 09, 2010
Yikes. I think I have become one of THOSE moms. Ack!!!!
By the way, I bought a (cheapie) webcam for the purposes of sharing her cuteness most effectively, but I begin to wonder if just taping her isn't the best way to show her off. Any thoughts out there?
Tuesday, July 06, 2010
Monday, June 28, 2010
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Sunday, April 25, 2010
And so I had a baking adventure with crepes. Crepes are a pretty safe bet as a popular food. It's fun and a little bit fancy, and it brings back memories of blissfully wandering around Paris clutching a Crepe Nutella. Somewhere in my food explorations I stumbled across a photo of a crepe cake which made me drool. I mean, look at that thing! I like crepes, I love cake, and the idea of slicing into this confection intrigued me, but didn't motivate me to jump up and make it.
Next the crepes. I was much less worried about this part as I've made them before and they don't require a lot of fancy ingredients either: flour, eggs, milk, a little salt, a little sugar. Easy! However, the crepey formation was a bit more challenging -- it takes forever to cook them all one by one in the crepe pan, 12 in all. But that's ok; the bits I tasted were really yummy and I was excited to try my new confection when it was all put together.
So. I pondered a bit on how to make it look pretty on the plate, and hacked off around the edges to try and make it look pretty, oh, and round like a cake. This was not as simple as I thought and it was neither fabulous before I did the edges nor afterward. Then I started layering in the curd, which also was trickier than I expected as some of the crepes stuck together so I'd skip that layer and then have to go back and re-slather between layers, which then made the other layers all off center. Finally, after some struggle, I got it on the plate and snapped the photo. And it was time for the ultimate determination: how good did it taste?
And now I realize as I look at the recipe I did not choose to follow, if I had chosen to turn the curd into mousse by adding heavy cream, I think it would have had more of a creamy lemony crepey mixture that could be a lot better than what I created. Hmmm. Well. Now I know. This blogger made it much more successfully (click to see how pretty!) and was very happy with the results, so hey, go for it if you are so inspired. But it looks easier than it is.
It's funny, though, returning to my thoughts about my passion for food. As I was making this cake, I started having a running blog entry in my head. Planning and thinking about the right photos, discussing the pros and cons in my head with my reader(s); (I supose there could be more than just one of you -- hi mom). So, after a break from my baking adventures, I refound the pleasure of talking and writing about food. Ta dah.
Sunday, March 14, 2010
(By the way, the photo is from a very old Nantucket herb garden we visited last June. I dream of having such a garden some day: fresh spice beats jarred hands down anyday).First off in my list of smug spice advice, pre-filled spice racks aren't that helpful as they will include lots of stuff that you'll never use and is often all dried out anyhow. If the spice no longer has a strong smell, it won't have much taste either.
Daily/weekly most used spices:
- We use a lot of peppercorns in a grinder. They aren't cheap when you buy them in tiny bottles from the grocery store, so I like to buy a bag at any specialty store within reasonable price. The multicolored peppercorns are the most fun and supposedly give you more flavor.
- Red pepper flakes -- used so much in our house that we buy the big containers from the store. Not even usually in the fancy spice catalogs, but boy do we like them.
- We use a lot of vanilla. I might use almond extract or anise extract once a year or so. Orange extract is handy to have around to use instead of orange peel or lemon peel when you're feeling lazy. Not a spice, but I'm ok with including it because it's my list.
- Cinnamon (Penzey's is supposed to be super awesome, although truly I'm not sure I notice the difference but it smells good!)
- Bay leaves -- I use these a lot in soup, sauces, beans, etc . When I lived in California I was very excited to be able to find them on trees in the neighborhood. Free spice! What a country. They smelled so good.
- Oregano (turkish or greek are both fine, Mexican is different) -- pizza sauce, spaghetti sauce, etc.
- Cumin -- used in pretty much any mexican food or indian food.
- Nutmeg -- I love this stuff especially whole with a grinder. You can survive on the pre-ground stuff; it just isn't as wonderful,
- Cayenne powder -- for heat without adding much of a flavor.
- chipotle powder -- I love the smoky flavor this gives things with a little heat
- thyme -- I like this stuff and use it pretty often. I recently learned it is often used in herbal tea.
For monthly use (very good to have on hand and annoying if you don't have on hand:
- ground mustard -- used in Indian cooking, sometimes in cheese sauces
- curry powder -- it's really annoying when you don't have it even if it doesn't come up all that much. My latest intel says the Tone brand at the warehouse stores is best
- Mr. Right likes garlic powder, but I don't think it is anywhere near as good as the real thing but it's easy for garlic toast or if you have no garlic
- White pepper: I have found their white pepper to be really interesting and has a much different flavor than black pepper. I use it in soups alot. You only need a little because it is intense! I just buy a little shaker of it.
- Rosemary -- you won't use it much, but it will come up for lamb, stews, carrots, potatoes, potatoes
- Chili powder -- for chili, duh. But I tend to use chipotle powder more
- ground ginger -- not nearly as good as fresh, but it's good to have
- cardamom gives a really nice flavor to baked goods, kindof an interesting exotic taste to banana bread or muffins
- coriander seed (you have to grind it up yourself though which is annoying
- cinnamon sticks (for mulling wines or cider and being fancy)
- vanilla beans (if you like strong vanilla flavor in something or are making puddings or panna cottas)
- allspice -- pops up in baking, especially around the holidays. I think you can sub in cinnamon/nutmeg if you have to.
- Paprika -- for chicken -- I like Penzey's Spanish a LOT. Really different.
- Cream of tartar -- it comes up for meringues and cookies and stuff, but you won't use it much.
- Dried sage -- you know, I just never ever use this. I'll use fresh sage on eggs. My mom uses it. I just don't.
- Tumeric -- sortof a hippie spice. I like it for some things and it is supposed to be a superfood, really good for you.
- Saffron -- I never ever feel the need for it. It's super expensive. Some people swear by it in rice.
What I really never use, and I mock it when I see it:
- cinnamon sugar -- so easy to make your own it's ridiculous to buy it unless you MUST have it on hand at all times in a special shaker.
- "italian seasoning" I just make up my own with the ones I have
- dried parsley flakes-- dried out it doesn't add any flavor, it just adds green specks. Feh. I mean, maybe sometimes you need green specks I guess, but I don't like it, and it annoys me that it pretends like it adds something.
- dried basil flakes -- see above. Feh again.
- dried cilantro flakes -- see above.
- dried lemongrass -- see above
- dried jalapeno bits -- see above
- dried chives -- see above
- dried marjoram -- see above
- dried mint -- see above (although I do like mint tea which is made from dried mint)
- onion powder -- just use onions, people!!!!
Now that we are more or less installed in the new homestead, what steps can I take to get the place running in the right direction? First off, this is the first time I have ever been a homeOWNER which I guess is another way of saying LANDowner (which immediately makes me feel guilty in a kind of "nobody owns the land" kind of way, but you know what I mean). This is important only in that it is the first time I've ever known for pretty sure that I'd be living in one spot for more than just a year or two.
Which means, for the first time, I can plant PERENNIALS!!!! This may not be cause for celebration in your world, but in my world, there is nothing more wonderful than thinking to myself, "I'd sure like some fresh raspberries right now," and be able to go out in the garden where there are raspberry bushes begging to be picked. As opposed to going the store and feeling depressed at the tiny plasticky box with 12 moldy berries for $4. Or aspargus stalks popping up, signalling that spring really IS coming, despite the fact that April in New England can be worse than February in New England. Or … eating blackberries right off the bush at dusk in early August while they are still warm from the sun and the mosquitoes are buzzing around your ears. Sounds like heaven to me! Rosebushes! Morning glories! Fruit trees!
Of course, all these visions are even now, years off. You don't get much year one, you're not supposed to eat them while they settle into their new spots, so tells me all those to whom I've been waxing enthusiastic. But you don't get any if you never plant 'em, I say!
In addition to the most wonderful perennial lifestyle we can now adopt, there are things like composting bins and rain barrels. I really miss composting as I got pretty used to it at our last place. It cuts way down on the amount of trash output, and so it's less taking out the trash, less stinky trash in the house, free fertilizer, and all kinds of happy smug feelings when you aren't throwing away piles of beautiful rinds and peelings that you know can be put to use.
Now chickens … well … that probably isn't going to happen anytime soon. We have a shared backyard, so I'll be lucky if I can get away with composting. Someday, please forgive me for saying this, but I can't resist: the chickens will come home to roost.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Mr. Right and I are expecting a little one. Hopefully in late June. Yay! Gulp. Yay!
PS. That's the head in side profile, tilted back. Baby is looking up, probably at my stomach, wondering what the heck it is I just ate. Sorry, baby. Gummy bears and kimchi, probably. That's about the standard right now.
Monday, January 18, 2010
I have noticed a shift in myself though, a shift that makes me happy. After leaving Pittsburgh for Washington DC so many years ago (ugh, was it really 15 years?), I haven’t lived in a place that felt like I was there for the long haul. DC was great but never felt like I'd stay, then off to grad school in California which was temporary, and then to Boston. Boston somehow managed to turn into "home" in a way that Pittsburgh, DC and Santa Barbara never did. DC was just too short of a visit. And Pittsburgh and Santa Barbara both call to me and still pull me in many ways, but the call is never one that said "you're home." I always felt a little itchy while living in both towns, like I wanted more than they could offer me. It's a very personal thing, and even an unpredictable thing. I have no family in New England. No history longer than my 12 years living here. But it's where my roots are now dug into the dirt, even moreso with the addition of my local-born husband with his two local kids and his enormous local family. Yep, I'm here for a long haul in New England -- not necessarily til the end of my life -- who knows where we'll go? but for a good while.
Despite my feeling that Boston would be home, I never settled on a physical home. I've had a apartments that I loved, no make that LOVED, and I still miss. But I knew they weren't IT. Part of it, yes, I'll admit, was waiting for Mr. Right. And part of it was knowing I didn't want rent going down the drain for many more years.
Here we are then, Mr. Right and I, our first home bought together. I've been unpacking and putting away dishes and hanging things on walls I haven't seen in a decade because where was I going to put them except in my new home? So there they are on the wall, my great-grandmother's apple crisp recipe in the kitchen. The beautiful Talavera plates from Mexico I never used because I didn't have a cupboard for them. The glass grape sculpture that my grandmother saved for me because no one else wanted it (I was fascinated by it as a kid). It's a wonderful feeling that my personality is now shaping this place. To surround yourself with things from your history and family and travels is such a pleasure.
The loudest signal, however, of my newfound acceptance of the new place is a small thing. I decided to take a bath. I can't explain it; I'm not a huge bath person as showers are just easier, but every once in a while, I enjoy the warm water and quiet time. Yet if I'm not really settled into a place I have no interest in the tub. But here, in our new home, it was time. And it felt great. I guess that means I'm home.
So how about you? How do you know if you're home (or not home?)