Saturday, March 29, 2003


Tomorrow morning Alex and I are going to my sister's house. My husband is teaching a sort of mini-class on how to brew beer from the grain (instead of from extract), so the house will be taken over by the 3 or 4 "students" (all probably older than he is) as they troop from outside where all the boiling and sparging will be done, through the kitchen where, hopefully, the cleaning up will be done before I get home, to the basement, where the pitching of the yeast will be done, eventually.

It is a long, long process. I have paid my dues, have been through a few all-grain brewing sessions with my husband and his friend, John. I have eaten a hop pellet (the ultimate in bitterness), and so I don't need to stick around for this.

Anyway, I'll go to my sister, Meredith's house and hang out there, have some bagels with her and her children, say hi and bye to her husband as he leaves for work, probably go over to my parents' house too. So Alex and I should have a nice morning!

My friend Beth sent me this idea for growing pumpkins. I'm not sure if we'll be able to do it this year, but hopefully we can find a big spot. According to her, they really take over.

Anyway, she told me that when the pumpkins are small and still green, you can scratch a name (i.e. Alex) into them, and as they grow the scratch scars over and the name stays there on the pumpkin. How cool!

I imagine you could take that farther and have entire sentences across your garden..."Fresh Pumpkins Sold Here!" or "Keep Out Of This Garden Or The Great Pumpkin Won't Bring You Anything On Halloween!" Of course, that would require more space than we have...

Thanks, Beth!

Friday, March 28, 2003

The Garden

My husband planted the peas last Sunday. Two kinds. Snow peas and sugar peas. But don't hold me to that; I could be wrong. He is the tiller of the soil, mostly.

We have put in a vegetable garden ever since we started living together (and subsequently getting married a few years after that). Both of us grew up with gardens in the back yard, so I don't think either one of us would feel at home without one.

Our gardens have been raised beds, and we have followed Jerry Baker's "Square Foot Gardening" theories and practices.

We bought this house a year and a half ago. We had a garden last year. Not a huge crop, but nonetheless, we had a garden. My husband, Bill, built it. Railroad ties and black plastic sheeting and dirt and peat moss and nails and string. (The nails and string divide the garden into squares. The grid is 3 x 15, which gives us a lot of farm land (haha) and it's all easy to get at.

Last year we had tomatoes (a few different kinds), lettuce, eggplant (which grew wonderfully), green peppers (which didn't grow so wonderfully...I think we "harvested" three...and they were undersized) and basil, and strawberries.

There is nothing better than a tomato fresh from your own garden. We had some wonderful meals toward the end of the summer, when all of this was ripening (except the peppers).

OH! And we had rhubarb, too! It was growing wild by the side of the garage, so Bill planted it in the garden, and I think we got about three skinny stalks of it. But still - strawberries and rhubarb, from our own garden.

This year we're branching out. All the same things from last year (Bill is determined to grow a successful pepper), plus a bunch of other things...the peas, different herbs, zucchini, carrots, heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, some kind of melons..."and much, much more!"

Okay, I'm cutting this short - Bill is home and he's talking and I can't listen and write intelligently at the same time. Bye.
Table Manners

So tonight I gave Alex some pureed chicken with pasta and sweet potatoes and pears. (The sweet potatoes and pears were already pureed in a jar, thanks to Gerber. The rest I did myself.)

He loved it. And he's also been growing more and more interested in trying to use a spoon. So rather than let him take mine from me, I give him his own, with some food in it. He's getting the idea. He bites it, with the bowl upside down, and scrapes the food off the spoon and into his mouth. Then he bangs the spoon, triumphantly, I think, on the tray of his chair, and then lets go mid-bang and it flies across the room. And then we do it again.

Well, I thought a little positive reinforcement might influence him to hang onto the spoon a little longer, so the next time he successfully fed himself, I clapped and cheered "Yaaaay!!" to him. He smiled, his huge, 6-toothed smile, bits of chicken and pasta stuck to his lips and eyebrows, and promptly - and accurately - threw the spoon right at me.


Thursday, March 27, 2003

Bad Dreams and Bad Awakes

I am home on my lunch break and had planned to post something I wrote yesterday, but I will have to do it later - I don't really have enough time.

And I feel tired and out of sorts today.

I didn't sleep well, and haven't been sleeping well lately. I know I had some bad dreams last night, but I don't remember any of them. I do remember waking up after one of them and kind of recognizing that okay, I'm here, I'm in my own bed, we're all asleep, that was a dream...and then I'd shut my eyes and somehow the dream was still with me, or one of its unpleasant cousins....

So I went through that for a while, just slipping instantly into a half asleep, half awake state, and dreaming that some scary-looking black-clad figure with a rifle or something was in my kitchen, by the kitchen door, and I think I was trying to speak or yell, and my son was in his playpen in the kitchen, and this person shot him. And I lunged at this figure in black...and then opened my eyes.

It was only a dream. It was only a dream. It was only a dream.
Thank you...

I admit I had a Sally Field moment, sort of, ("you like me!") when I saw I'd been linked to in Redheaded Ramblings: Sheila Astray....Sheila has been a very good friend of mine for years. As she mentioned in an earlier post, it was the Trixie Belden series of mystery stories that cemented that. We haven't seen each other in nearly 3 years, and over the years we've gone through lenghthy periods of time not really in touch at all, but like all the best friendships, the years between conversations disappear with each renewed contact.

I've been reading Sheila's blog since she started it, and I find myself nodding in agreement time and again to what she writes. She's a good, strong writer, a wonderful actress, and performs a mean cleaver dance as well.
I'm Partial to Dark Green, Myself...

Oh, yes, I agree completely with this.

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

The Command Post

The Command Post has moved their site to here.

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

This is my cousin Susan's website. She is an amazingly talented and dedicated artist. Take a look.
Shrimp Recipe

Last night I was going to make shrimp fajitas, but I didn't have flour tortillas and I didn't feel like going to the store on my lunch break or on the way home, so this is what I did instead:

Smeared 1/3 of a can of tomato paste in the bottom of a baking dish (not a 13 x 9 - it's smaller, maybe 11 x 7 or so).

On top of that I put chunks of cream cheese - used a whole 8 ounce block. (No, this isn't diet food.)

Peeled and deveigned some shrimp. (There were 28 left in the bag of frozen, so that's what I used) Put them in a bowl, and sprinkled some "Essence of Emeril" on top. (Yes, really, I have a bottle of it. It's handy.)

Mixed together a can of black beans (rinsed) with a package of frozen corn, a chopped onion, the rest of the can of tomato paste whisked into a cup of chicken stock, salt and pepper, and a bit of lemon zest (about a teaspoon). (I used lemon zest because I had some left from the dessert I made on Sunday, and because I didn't realize I still had some limes. I would have used the juice from half a lime otherwise.)

One by one, I heated up small corn (white corn in this case) tortillas and when they were warm and softened, I put two shrimp lengthwise at one end and rolled them up in the tortilla. Like a flauta, I think. Anyway, placed these, as I made them, down the center of the baking dish. They fit perfectly - I made 14 of them, there were 10 down the center, and 2 along each side. Nice and snug.

Poured the beans and corn mixture over the top, covered it with foil, and baked for about an hour at 350 F. Actually, to be honest, I started it at 325 but it wasn't coming along fast enough (trying to time it for when my husband got home from work at 7), so about halfway through I bumped it to 375. So, averaging it out, I'm saying 350. But it also depends on the individual oven, so it should be checked periodically.

Served with a dollop of sour cream and some cubed avocado. We also sprinkled some green Tabasco on it. I would have made it spicier, but I'm trying to share more of our "people food" with Alex, and I don't want to frighten him with chili peppers just yet.

My husband loved it. I thought it was good. But then I am always more critical of my cooking than he is. I think it could have used more liquid - maybe half a cup more of the chicken stock.

P.S. Tonight I pureed some of the leftovers and fed that to Alex for dinner. He loved it too.

Except for the avocado.
Are We There Yet?

Heard some of the press conference during my lunch break today while I was running (driving) some errands. I get a huge kick out of listening to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld respond to the press. Time and again they want to know how long the war will last, what is the military's time table, are we behind schedule, are we ahead of schedule, etc. etc. And Secretary Rumsfeld politely, wearily, resignedly tells them, with growing exasperation in his voice - we don't know. It is unknowable. He tells them this twenty different ways. And still, someone asks again.

Reminds me of long family car trips made even longer for the parents with the relentless verbal barrage from the back seat: When are we gonna be there? Are we there yet? Are we almost there? I'm hungry! I'm thirsty! Are we there yet?

Please stop asking that question.

Monday, March 24, 2003

Monday, Monday

I have always wished for an extra day after the weekend but before the work week begins. Like a vacation after a vacation so you can rest up after running around so much. Oh well.

This weekend we did normal family stuff...laundry, meals, some dusting and cleaning, and all that.

Some highlights (for me):

Saturday we had our taxes done and we're getting money back - PHEW! Last year we had a big ugly surprise and had to pay a good chunk of change to the IRS. This year we were helped by the birth of our son last year - the deduction for him and also the credit for daycare expenses. AND I only worked full time for half of last year. 3 months off for maternity leave, and then I worked part time at first when I went back. Wasn't full time til mid-January. BIG help.

And Saturday night, my husband decided to tinker around with his aquarium. He has a 55 gallon tank with a variety of fish, snails, and live plants. It is his palatte.

He wanted to add another piece of driftwood, so he bought that weeks ago and it's been soaking in a 5 gallon bucket in order to become waterlogged, so when it goes in the tank it won't just float at the top and provide the more adventurous snails a means of escape.

Well, Saturday night it was time to add the driftwood. So he emptied most of the water from the bucket and brought it over in front of the fish tank, which is up on a cabinet, designed specifically for this tank. The cabinet has two doors in the front, which we have to keep latched so our son doesn't go in and play with all the aquarium supplies. He is happy just banging the doors. Loudly and often.

So my husband has the bucket there, and he's digging a little well into the gravel of the tank where he plans to sink one end of the driftwood. And our son is right there...helping. I was half watching CNN's coverage of the war, and half reading a magazine, and half listening to my husband and our son. I hear: "Don't put your sock in there" I turned in time to see my son take off his other sock and drop it into the bucket, and look down in there at it. He is not a lot taller than the bucket, but just enough so he can reach into it.

Next, after the driftwood was properly positioned, it was time to do a water change. Now, why this could not wait an hour til our son was in bed, I don't know. But anyway, (all this is taking place in the basement - it's finished, and half of it is the casual living room, family room, whatever you call it) with a hose to siphon the water out, my husband started filling 2 5-gallon buckets with water from the tank. And I hear: "Hey, stop that" and I hear a splash. Alex, our son, is splashing. BIG splashes. And yes, I should have rushed over to get him away, but it just struck me funny so I stayed on the couch and laughed. HUGE splashes. Alex, like my husband, will get very focused on the task at hand. "Cut it out! Hey, no, no splashing!" "Look, honey," I said, "He's helping!"

The buckets were brought upstairs and dumped, then filled with clean water, at the proper temperature, and brought back down. This time, however, my husband put Alex in his saucer. It's like a walker, only there's no danger of Alex walking it to the top of a staircase and rolling down. So, triumphantly, my husband stuck Alex in there. But - he should have moved the saucer first. As he went by with a bucket, Alex reached over and grabbed at one of the buckets, rocking it, and waves of water splashed onto the carpet. I laughed again.

And now, it is Monday morning, and I have to go wake up the men-folk.

Friday, March 21, 2003

Baby Update

I'm 8 weeks today, at least according to Baby Center, and the baby is about an inch long, "crown to rump" and has webbed fingers and toes. I love these developmental updates. A whole inch!

This morning I had some blood taken and had to give a urine sample (sure - here, I have plenty!). The blood taking is usually a problem because apparently I have thin veins and they're hard to skewer unless you're either very, very good or are using a really thin needle. With my first pregnancy, it took three tries when I went to have the initial bloodwork done. Right arm, left arm, right arm again - but a different person stabbing and with a smaller needle. This time I warned the nurse up front, and she was okay.

I love the "you'll feel a little pinch" thing they say - no, it doesn't feel like a little pinch, it feels like a needle piercing my skin, thank you.
The Command Post

Go here - The Command Post (thank you Sheila) - this is where I sneak to at work...

Second day in a row I have hurried home on my lunch break to stare at war images on TV. I have half an hour before I have to rush back to work. I just watched footage of the buildings burning in Baghdad. At the same time, in a smaller frame, Donald Rumsfeld is answering questions. Below him are the "Breaking News" headlines. And running across the bottom of the screen are all the headlines and quotes of the moment, Bishop Desmond Tutu saying we're a bad example, Iraqi soldiers surrendering, 2 marines confirmed dead, and on and on. I try to listen to and watch all of it at once. It is dizzying.

At work I sneak online to read the latest news reports and various blog postings. I look around me and watch other people just working, and I wonder if I have a problem. But I don't think so. I just want to know what's going on. I overheard someone in another department saying "I don't want to think about it - I got enough stress in my life. So I don't think about it." I don't know. It is frightening and I keep waking up way too early. But it is real and it is going on right now. And I have a hard time not thinking about it.

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

9 Months

My son had his 9 month check-up today. He weighs 22 pounds, 6 ounces, and is 29 1/2 inches tall. No shots today, so it was a happy visit for everyone.

At 29 1/2 inches, almost 30 inches, he is just about 2 1/2 feet tall...half of five feet...and I am 5 feet 5 1/2 inches tall. He's closing in on half my height. Wow. My husband is tall - 6 feet 2 inches tall. I think I know whose height genes the boy inherited.
1:30 in the Morning

My son woke up at 1:30 in the morning the other night and would not go back to sleep. Usually I'll wait for five minutes or so to see if he'll settle back down before I go in. I can usually tell by his crying, by how energetic it sounds. Usually he will slow down and after a few sporadic whimpery outbursts he will be asleep again.

Not that night. So I got up. Sometimes he gets himself too wound up to fall back to sleep right away. So I'll go in and pick him up and sing to him and that does the trick. That was my plan. I opened the door to his room and saw his small, dark form standing up in the crib. He continued to cry until I'd picked him up - fuzzy and warm in his little green jammies.

He settled down almost instantly, his head on myleft shoulder at first, then he wriggled sideways, working himself horizontal, so his head was cradled against my right arm and his body curled across my ribs. I rocked back and forth, doing a slow twist with my son, humming "The Water is Wide" - his go to sleep music.

And in the dim glow of 2 nightlights I stared at his precious little face, relaxed and serene in sleep. Silky golden lashes, chubby cheek, lips parted slightly, the whispery sound of breath going in and out, in and out. His cheek is soft and cool when I kiss him. I stay there, twisting side to side, soaking in this moment.

And there, in the middle of his bedroom, I suddenly thought - what if a bomb fell on my house right now?

Of course, it's an easy answer. We'd die. But that's too matter-of-fact for me. Instead I just kept thinking over and over - what if? What if?

I resisted the urge to bring my son into my bed and tuck him in between my husband and me. If a bomb fell, it really wouldn't matter which room we were in. It's not a huge house.

But I stayed there, holding him, cheek to cheek, for a while longer, until the tickle of fear had subsided.

Chicken and Gravy and Mashed Potatoes

Monday night I wanted comfort food for dinner. So this is what I did:

Cut up a bunch of red-skinned new potatoes, put them in a pot with cold water to cover, and boiled them until they were fork tender.

While that was in the works, I fried 2 strips of bacon in a pan until crisp. Removed them from the pan and sauteed a small, chopped onion for a few minutes. To that I added some baby portobello mushroom caps, covered everything and cooked until the mushrooms had browned and released their liquid. I took out the onions and mushroms and seared some sliced boneless, skinless chicken breast pieces on both sides. Removed them and put in some butter and flour and chicken stock, whisked it all together til smooth, then put back the chicken, onions and mushrooms, some salt and pepper, and cooked until the chicken was cooked through and the gravey thickened.

When the potatoes were done I drained them, put them in the bowl of my Kitchenaid mixer, added butter, milk, salt, peper and a bit of the bacon, chopped up. Beat that all together (but left some lumps.)

I reheated some baby asparagus from Sunday's lunch, and served it up for my husband and myself. (I'd been feeding my son while I was leaping around making dinner). It was very good.

Last night I pureed a bit of the potatoes, chicken, a mushroom, and some gravy and fed it to my son. He liked it too.
Chocolate Chip Cookies again...

A little food memory...I remember back when I was in elementary school I always wished I had a "cool" dessert at lunchtime. Other kids got twinkies and yodels and ring dings - I rarely got the packaged stuff. My sandwiches were on a brown - not white - bread ("Hollywood Dark" - it had sesame seeds along the top or bottom crust), and there was usually some fruit as well in my red plaid lunch box.

But, of course, I wanted the squishy things with the 7 year shelf life. I think somehow it seemed a way of bring "in" at that age. But - no.

I do, however, remember getting home-made chocolate chip cookies sometimes. Homemade chocolate chip cookies. And I have a very distinct memory of being in the fifth grade, sitting at my desk at lunchtime (for whatever reason, the kids who brought lunch ate in the classroom and only the kids who bought "hot lunch" went to the cafeteria)...I sat there, breaking my chocolate chip cookies into pieces, nibbling away the cookie part and setting the chips aside. A boy in my class noticed this and asked if I didn't like the chocolate chips.

I liked them - I was saving them for last.

Monday, March 17, 2003

Try again...

Okay, that worked. Naturally - I don't have a whole lot of time to write - I'm home on my lunch break.

What I'd been trying to say was just that I am not oblivious to this impending war. I don't write about current events much - but I am well aware of what is happening.

And it is frightening. I worry about what will happen if/when we do go to war, I worry about what would happen if we don't. I worry about my son's future - what this world will be like as he grows up...or, worse still, if we'll even be here at all.

But to constantly think about the frightening future would paralyze me. So I am grateful that I am distracted. I am so grateful that my son wants my attention, and that when I play with him I can forget about everything else in the world except him. He is my Hope, now that this Pandora's box is wide open (to borrow a reference from my friend Sheila). He is what remains in that box, as all the evils and horrors take to the air.

I am grateful for him. I hope this world will be a good place for him to grow up in.

I don't know what the problem is, but I've tried to post several time yesterday and this morning and I keep getting an error/cannot find server problem and I lose everything I've written.

So this is a test...

Sunday, March 16, 2003

Chocolate, continued...

More Ghiradelli recipes can be found here ...
Chocolate Chip Cookies

Yesterday I made a batch of chocolate chip cookies, at my husband's request. No nuts - just chocolate chips. I used the recipe from the back of a package of Ghiradelli semi-sweet chips, but I used both the remaining semi-sweet chips and a whole package of Ghiradelli's double chocolate chips too. (There weren't a lot of the semi-sweet ones - about a quarter of a package.) Anyway, I made them very small - definitely just a teaspoonful per cookie - and they are nice, bite-sized cookies that dare you to stop once you've begun.

Here is the recipe:

Ghiradelli Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 1/4 cups unsifted flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter, softened (the recipe didn't say it, but this should be unsalted butter)
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs
1 cup walnuts (I didn't use them)
1 bag (12 oz) Ghiradelli Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Stir flour w/baking soda and salt, set aside. (Use a whisk - it'll incorporate everything together better.)

In large bowl, beat butter with sugar and brown sugar at medium speed until creamy and lightened in color (about 4 minutes).

Add vanilla and eggs, one at a time, mix on low speed until incorporated. (Scrape the bowl down after each egg is incorporated.)

Gradually blend dry mixture into creamed mixture. (I added it in 3 batches, scraping down the bowl after each addition.)

Stir in nuts and chocolate chips (or just chips, if that's what you're doing).

Drop by tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets. (I used teaspoons, and dropped them onto parchment-lined pans. Clean up is quicker, and you can re-use the parchment a few times.)

Bake for 9-11 minutes or until golden brown. (I baked for 5 minutes on the lower rack, then turned the pan around and moved it to the upper rack, and popped in the next sheet of cookies. Baked another 5 minutes, took the ones on the top rack out, turned and moved the pan on the lower rack to the higher rack, and popped in the next pan. It worked well.)

I don't know how many it made - but I know they won't last the week.

Next time, though, I'm putting nuts in. I was also thinking of using 3 sizes of chips, just for kicks.

Thursday, March 13, 2003

This is ridiculous. What's next? Tofucakes and tempeh chowder?

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Speaking of singing....

I have always sung. Love to sing. Have grown up singing along with Broadway musicals (Oliver!, Fiddler on the Roof, My Fair Lady, The Sound of Music, for example). I knew all the parts and all the accents and all the scratches in the records, or where they skipped. In fact, in some songs ("Why Can't a Woman" from My Fair Lady comes to mind) had such skips in them that I never really knew the lyrics - I knew the skips. Learned the rest of the words later.

But I wouldn't sing for people. Even when I was little. I adored my grandfather. My mother's father. I idolized him. And we would listen to these records again and again (at least as I remember it). And I would lip-sync. Even then. For some reason I was too shy to sing in front of him. I think I was afraid of singing badly. I don't know. But I wouldn't.

I sing in the car - loudly. That's where I sound good. I can belt it out with the best of them. But not in front of people. Well, my sister, but I think it gets annoying to her after a while. And it's not like there's much occasion for it at this point in our lives anyway. I do remember once, picking her up at college, I tortured her (not intentionally) on the way home with a tape of Carole King's "Tapestry", or maybe "Carly Simon's Greatest Hits" - something along those lines. I think she was ready to break her own eardrums. I asked her if I was singing off key - and she said no, just LOUDLY.

I have one friend from college I can sing with. That took time, though. Now, I can sing with him.

And my husband. The musican. He has actually told me I have a good ear. I believe him, because I think I do, too, but I even cringe to admit that. As if I will be called upon to prove it. I'd fail miserably. But he and I have fun. We do harmonies. Rounds - things he is teaching his middle school students. Or we see who can hit the higher notes without straining (think Steve Perry, Sting - they're within his reach, but more within mine. Tiny little ego boost for me every once in a while.) It's silly, and it's fun and comfortable.

But I can sing fearlessly to my son. Fearlessly and well. When he was very small I'd sing every James Taylor song I know. Sweet and soothing. A James Taylor tape was playing in the car the night I went into labor and we drove to the hospital. I sang "Sweet Baby James" to my little baby a lot, though it's not his name. I loved having this tiny soul to sing to. My perfect little audience. I still sing to him or hum to him when I'm trying to get him to fall asleep - if he's almost there and needs help easing the rest of the way. I hold him and sway back and forth and sing softly, and I think, maybe, I sound okay to him.

There is nothing better on the ride home from work than singing along with some old song (today - "Gypsy" - Stevie Nicks) and listening to your little 9 month old singing (baaaaaaAAAAaaaa baaa baa baaAAaa) with you.

Monday, March 10, 2003

I am not feeling well at all today. I don't know if it's morning (all day) sickness or something else. But anyway...I had talked to my husband, who got home first today, and asked if he'd mind if I took a nap before he had to go out later. No problem. Very considerate. Called me back to ask if I wanted him to cancel his plans and stay home, since I wasn't feeling well. Tempting, but I told him to go.

I picked up my son at daycare - that always brightens my day - and drove home listening to him babble from his car seat behind me. Got to the house, got my son out of the car, up the steps, open the kitchen door...and a horrid smell assaulted me and my already weakened stomach.

My husband was making a little dinner for himself (all I wanted was jello).

He was cooking Brussels Sprouts.

I don't even like how they smell when I feel great. This was just nightmarish. And there was no escape. It had drifted into every room, both bathrooms, the basement...

I still haven't adjusted.
Well I made the slippers. Made a pair for my husband. Made a pair for my son. They took most of the day, because I was in a rush, I think, and wanted to get them done so I could have time to do something more for me. So I ended up having to rip out stitches and re-do sections. Very frustrating and very much my own fault. (I also broke 6 needles on my sewing machine and jabbed myself numberous times with pins, and sliced through two fingers pulling thread through 8 layers (8!!!) as I attached the soles to the uppers.)

But they are done. My husband likes his. My son does not fit in his. They are too small. I should have just made them big on purpose, so he could grow into them...but I wanted him to wear them NOW. So he did. For about 3 minutes. Then one fell off.

But that's okay. I will save them for the next child. He/she can grow into them instead. And in a month or so, when the memory of yesterday is gone and I've purchased some new needles, I'll make a pair for my little boy. And maybe some for me too.

Sunday, March 09, 2003

In a few minutes I'm going to (attempt to) make slippers for my husband, my son, and myself. I got a pattern from Keepsake Quilting, and bought the fabric for them yesterday. Right now I'm making copies of the patterns and will measure my husband's feet and mine (the baby is asleep - or almost) and get started. They don't seem too difficult. I quilt, so it's not going be a completely new experience. But I'm always nervous making anything anyone has to wear. Lopsidedness or mismatched piecing isn't easily forgiven in a blouse. (Which is why I don't make my own clothes.) But slippers...they shouldn't be too hard.

We'll see.

I am also working on a quilt - the double wedding ring pattern - that I started after we got married, and have worked on sporadically since. I wanted to be a purist and do it all by hand...but I'll never get it done that way now - I just don't have the time. So I have given myself permission to use the machine, (reminding myself that it's okay, I know I could do it by hand) and I must say I'm moving along at a better clip than I was before. I get a fair amount of sewing accomplished during my once-a-weekend "time for me" periods...and then I can iron the seams flat during the week, pin the next batch of pieces together, and be ready to go for the next time.

Anyway, the copying is done. I'm off to measure feet now.

Saturday, March 08, 2003

Knobs of Chairs and Pump Handles

Okay, I changed the "description" of this blog because I thought the whole "thoughts and musings" thing sounded obnoxious. I'm probably still thinking and musing, but you don't need to be reminded of that.

Anyway, I don't really know where the phrase "knobs of chairs and pump handles" originated - if it's taken from anywhere or anything - but it's what my mother used to tell us when we asked what was for dinner when we were little. I would imagine she did that to avoid having to hear either my sister's or my opinion on her menu for the evening ("but I don't like broccoli!") - or to say "never mind - it's a surprise." Anyway, to me it means childhood, almost-dinner-time, good smells coming from the kitchen, and anticipation. It also means trying something new. My mother liked (and still likes) to try new things, to expose us to different kind of cooking and different kinds of food. I've liked chicken livers since I was little. I also remember stir-fried meals from a wok - with big, white, wiggly squares of bean curd (tofu) tossed in at the end. Wasn't nuts about the bean curd. (Even the name - "bean curd" - ugh!) It wasn't until I was an adult and playing at being a vegetarian for a while (it didn't last) that I decided to try it again. Only I can't call it bean curd, it has to be tofu, or it's just too icky. But I eat it. I cook with it. Along with a whole raft of other things. I still don't like broccoli, though.

Note to self: proofread before you publish. It's "ounces," not "hounces."
As of yesterday I'm six weeks pregnant, according to the weekly update that Baby Center sends me. I get two of them - "My Baby This Week" with weekly developmental updates about my son and approximately where he probably is...and "My Pregnancy This Week" - which, of course, gives me updates on my pregnancy.

Anyway, at 6 weeks pregnant, the next child is about the size of a lentil. I love that. All through my pregnancy with my son, I'd get these updates and learn what bit of food he could be compared to at each stage, or, when he was big enough, how many ounces he weighed. At that point, I'd pull out my kitchen scale and weigh things until I found something that matched. Then I'd find my husband and show him - "Look honey, the baby is the size of a brazil nut!" (Or an avocado, or a bag of flour, etc.) It's fun. And it gives you a bit of an idea of what you're toting around in there.

Actually I guess I wimped out in a way - I changed the template completely and somehow it was easier to set up the links with this page layout than on the other. Someday, when I understand what I'm doing a bit more, I'll probably figure out what I was doing wrong, but until then, I'm just happy I was able to throw some links up in that column. I also like the color scheme better - white letters on a blue background was too great a contrast and it bothered my eyes a bit.

So anyway...

(Wow, now I don't know what to write....)

Thursday, March 06, 2003

If I ever wished to compete in a rodeo, wrestling calves to the ground, I think I am qualified. Changing my son's diaper is just about the same thing, without the horse or the rope or the spectators. I put him down, unsnap his little jeans, he writhes like an earthworm and is on his hands and knees, very proud of himself, smiling. I flip him over, undo the diaper, and he's flipping and twisting again. Getting the new diaper on requires several attempts, firmness, and whatever insane sounds I can think of that might hold his attention for those crucial velcro-tab moments. Then it's more of the twisting and twirling as I try to get the pants back on him. At the end, he is smiling in triumph at his skills and wile, and I am just glad he didn't decide to pee while I was flipping him onto his back for the eighth time.
I DID IT!!!! Okay, I can go to work now and be productive.

If I could only figure out what I'm doing wrong in the links table, I'd be really happy.....
Frustrating morning!!!!!

I am determined to link to SOMETHING before I have to leave for work today, so I will now attempt to link to the Epicurious home page and see if that works. One of my favorite recipe sites, by the way.

Here goes...

Wednesday, March 05, 2003

I'm in the mood to throw a party. I feel like cooking for people. Not sure of a theme or anything like that, if it even needs one. But I'm getting that "I need to cook a bunch of stuff and feed a bunch of people" feeling. So we'll see. Maybe in a month or so when there is less crusty snow outside.

We've thrown several pretty successful, memorable food-oriented (for the most part) parties over the years. I want to recap them in here, maybe with some of the recipes we used, or things like that. Need to include that food element indicated in my blog description more often.

I'm also trying (well, this morning before anyone else was up) to add in some links, but I've done something wrong, because they haven't shown up yet. That's okay, I don't think anyone's reading this yet anyway.

I'll try again tonight or early tomorrow. In the meantime - must clean out my car - taking it in to our mechanic to have an oil change, headlight replaced, interior light replaced, windshield wiper fluid hoses re-attached, and an overall checkup with an estimate for how many more years I can expect to safely get out of it. I hope it's a few more - I like my car. It's a 94 Plymouth Sundance. Green. 4 doors. Decent trunk space. I'm used to it - don't feel like learning a new car just yet. (like where to reach without looking so I can switch radio stations and so on). Gotta run.

Tuesday, March 04, 2003

Yesterday morning I came downstairs at around quarter past five to get a bottle for my son...and as I reached the main floor, the air felt much colder than upstairs. I thought it was a problem with the furnace, but no - the kitchen door had blown open. Wide open. Who knows what time.

My first frightened thought was to look around to see if anyone had been inside and had taken something - but no, my husband's wallet was right there, the first thing in view. The wind must have done it. And we still haven't put a storm door up there yet. The door must not have been closed tightly, though it was locked.

Scared me silly.

I lived in the Boston area for a year, alone, years ago, and my apartment was broken into once. I had the same "sharp intake of breath" feeling then - that and just plain disbelief at what had happened. Someone (then) had actually broken my window with a rock, climbed into my bedroom (MY BEDROOM!) and went through my measly things and even found stuff worth stealing! It was horrible.

So that was my first fear. But no - nothing terrible, just a lot of very cold air. I almost didn't want to come down here early today, though, due to the irrational fear that, even though I checked it before I went to bed, the door would somehow open again. Or someone would be standing there. Or a ghost. Anything to scare myself, I guess. But here I am. I haven't written much, but I'm working on adding a list of links, so I spent some time sorting that out. Maybe I'll do that tonight. For now - time to start the other part of my day.

My son is still sleeping. I listen to him breathe on the monitor. Small, soft breathing. It is soothing to me. Before we go to bed my husband and I peek in on him in his crib. He is adorable in sleep. Lost in whatever dreams babies have, oblivious to us.

Ah - but he's awake now. Gotta run.

Sunday, March 02, 2003

Oh I can't believe I wrote "bare" with me. Oh well.
One more time...
Trying again, please bare with me...
Okay, just trying to see if I did this if anyone wants to they can email me...
I got an email from my aunt (the news has spread to the west coast) contratulating us on the good news - and she wrote "You are brave, courageous and bold" which was kind of startling. I hadn't thought of this as anything brave, courageous or bold. I was just happy to be pregnant again. But what a wonderful thing to say. Thank you!
This morning I was up at 4:00 - my son had awakened briefly but put himself back to sleep (thank you!) but I stayed awake anyway. So I decided to take the second pregnancy test and get that out of the way. Well, let's just say there was a user malfunction - it didn't read properly and both lines didn't appear. But it seemed like the pregnancy line did show up and the control one didn't. But still - only one line. And the pharmacy isn't open at 4 in the morning on a Sunday, at least not the one right up the street, so I just stayed in bed and wondered why it came up negative, and reminded myself that if it's positive, it's positive, but when it's negative, sometimes it could still be positive....I should have gotten up and read a book or something. Far more interesting.

Anyway, so as soon as the place opened, I was out the door, bought another box of pregnancy tests (3 tests inside, so if it came up negative again I could stay in denial through a couple more tries). Got home, took the test, it was positive, phew.

So I called my parents. Fortunately they both happened to pick up different extensions in the house so I didn't have to give away "the surprise" by asking them both to get on the phone (this is so silly, isn't it?). Anyway, I asked them to come up with some Scottish names that maybe I could give this next one (that's my broad hint way of telling them. I don't know why I have to do this to people, but I do. My sister hates it.) AND my mother said: "So you are pregnant." I asked her why she said it like that, and she said she'd suspected it because I was sick last week. It was a virus, mom, not morning sickness. "Well, maybe a little of both" she conceded. I gave up. But anyway, they are happy, and excited, and mom asked if she could tell people, so by now all of her friends and all of our relatives know. Except on the west coast - it may be a bit early to, it's a little after 7 out there, that's okay, they're family, they can be called at any hour.

Gotta run, my son is fidgeting and probably due for a bottle and a nap. Time to go and do.

Saturday, March 01, 2003

I just put my son to bed. A bit later than normal, but he had a longer-than-usual nap this afternoon.

He's getting big. Big, compared to when he was born and he could snuggle up against my shoulder like a little tree frog. I can still cradle him, but it's different - more of a sideways thing with my left arm under his legs and his head cradled on my upper right arm. He figured this out himself. I was trying to soothe him back to sleep one night, trying to hold him upright, his head on my shoulder, like when he was smaller, and he just pulled his head back and flopped over to the side and snuggled in, perfectly content, his little lips pursed, eyes shut, cheeks ripe for kisses.

I could stand like that for hours. Rocking him by twisting side to side. It's comforting for both of us. I do this in his bedroom, my eyes shut, humming his go-to-sleep song. The words aren't very lullaby-ish, but the melody is. It's called "The Water is Wide" and I've forgotten who wrote it. I will check on that and write the words out, in case anyone is reading this and is interested.

Finally have an appetite back and no more horrible stomach pains, so I was back to "normal" and made the following for dinner:

Shrimp cocktail with, instead of traditional cocktail sauce, a blend of tartar, cocktail, extra horseradish, and some adobo sauce from a jar of chipotle peppers. Pretty tasty with a nice smoky kick.

Salad of baby greens with sliced cucumber and sliced underripe nectarine. The nectarine wasn't exactly sweet, and definitely not something you'd feel like eating on its own, or sliced on your cheerios, but julienned on the salad it added some more crunch, color, and a little fruitiness in contrast to the earthy tones of some of the greens.

The main dish was a variation on what we used to call "Julia's Hamburgers" when I was growing up. Julia's Hamburgers are from Julia Child's classic Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and they were really just seasoned hamburgers with a cream sauce flavored with tarragon. I don't mean "really just" to minimize anything about the recipe or the book or Julia - that would be blasphemy. I just mean it's not a very difficult dish but it tastes like it might be. So anyway, what I did tonight was to grind up some chuck steak (yes, with a hand-crank meat grinder. I felt very cool and disgusted at the same time. But I was hungry, so cool won out) and seasoned that, added some egg, bread crumbs (not Julia's recipe, I just winged it) and made little meatballs, about an inch in diameter. I browned them, and then simmered them in beef broth until they were cooked through, then added in some half and half (Julia calls for heavy cream but I didn't have any), tarragon, salt and pepper, stirred that and cooked it down a bit, then a couple of tablespoons of butter (Julia said to!) and combined all that with the pasta I had cooked. I used Barilla campanelle - it's a pretty, flowery trumpet kind of shape. Anyway, served that up with a small dollop of sour cream on top and a sprinkling of more dry tarragon, and that was dinner.

No dessert - we're both stuffed. But I figure something nice and light like a lemon sorbet would be a nice end to it. If we had some in the house.

Tomorrow morning I take my second at-home pregnancy test to confirm my current state, and then I can officially make an appointment with my doctor. And I think I'll tell my parents next.

For a while I was thinking I felt sick this past week because morning sickness was kicking in, but by Wednesday I knew that wasn't it. When I had morning sickness, it was more like a reaction to certain foods - either the smells or even just the sight or thought. I couldn't eat peanutbutter for months - and I grew up on the stuff. Sliced meats, too, bothered me, and the smell of coffee. But fortunately all of that subsided right about the end of my first trimester - just in time for Thanksgiving and Christmas feasting. I couldn't have asked for more.

Actually, there was so much that was great about that pregnancy. I loved being pregnant. I didn't care about getting bigger - I didn't feel fat at all - I was pregnant, not fat, anyway! For the first time in my entire life, I loved my body. I have spent so much time not happy with this or that about it, but being pregnant was like flipping a switch, and all of a sudden I realized and appreciated how amazing the female body - my body - is.

My due date was on a Friday, and I'd planned to work until labor started, basically, which terrified my boss. (He is one of my best friends, so he tolerated all of my torturing - grabbing my stomach and moaning, wondering aloud if my water might break right in the was tons of fun.) Anyway, as that date approached, I just wasn't focusing at work. To be honest, I didn't care about any of it. I knew I wasn't going to be there much longer anyway, and out for 3 months on my maternity leave, so I was just going through the motions. So I decided that my due date would be my last day, regardless, and I'd start my maternity leave on Monday. I'd joke that it would be nice if I worked my last day, then enjoyed a nice, relaxing weekend, and then had the baby on that Monday - and that's exactly how it happened. I went into labor at midnight, Sunday night. Woke my husband after a couple of hours because the contractions had gone from 10 minutes apart to five, and that's when my doctor had said to call. And late Monday afternoon, our son was born. The timing was excellent.

And this is enough typing for me for tonight. Time to go watch "Iron Chef" with my husband. Good night!