February 27, 2009

flash Friday

So it turns out that there are unexpected perks to having a husband with a t-shirt company, and one of which is access to the screen-test shirts that don't meet quality standards. I have a box full of t-shirts in my craft room that were printed a little off-center or for some other reason didn't make the cut, and I've been hoarding them because I just knew that they would be useful at some point.

Turns out these tops had a future as bottoms! Who knew? I've been experimenting with fold-over elastic and the stretch stitches on my machine and I turned a couple of tees into a pair of boy-shorts and a pair of sleep shorts for myself.

These are designed with the logo on the butt in that ever-popular teen-skank style. And of course there's the irony- since I'm pregnant and I am clearly not still drunk from breakfast. I know, sometimes I'm hilarious.

These shorts will be great for pj's once it stops snowing around here, maybe by July or so? And I need to work on my waistband elastic application- these ones are too baggy, but I didn't know that the elastic wouldn't fully return once I had stretched the crap out of it to stitch it in. It's a learning process, and fortunately I have all these free materials to work with so I can't even really feel bad when something doesn't work out perfectly.

Watch this space for more irreverent t's finding new life as panties and what-not, if you're into that sort of thing.

February 26, 2009

our new (larger) bundle of joy

Yippee, special delivery today! Not from the stork, but from the friendly UPS delivery man.

It arrived wrapped up all snug with cute twill tape ties- excellent touch, West Elm! I think it's just right in it's new home. It's been a challenge to find the perfect rug for this space, since we already have a lot of stuff going on with the red couch and lots of green accents, plus the browns of the floor and chairs and the grey slate tile and white brick fireplace- it's not as chaotic as it sounds, but now you can understand the dilemma.

I've seen a couple that I like, but they're always too something to be just right. Too red, too patterned, too "Ikea", or what-have-you. Then I saw this little gem at West Elm, and I thought I just might have something. There's the brown and the red and the grey and the ivory all there, and it's just graphic and modern enough to not create any more unnecessary jumble in the room.

And of course adding to my pleasure is the fact that I got it for 20% off! I win!

February 24, 2009

kitchen storage

A while back we acquired an awesome hanging iron pot rack kind of like this one and we've been trying to figure out what to do with it ever since. It was much too big for our kitchen and our ceilings aren't high enough to hang it and then actually be able to use it as it was. We modified it a bit by taking off the arched bars on the top and then spent a few more months trying to decide how exactly to hang it from our ceiling without causing the kitchen to come crashing down.

Ultimately we decided that the whole thing was just too big and heavy to be practical for us at this juncture. Someday, when we have a huge beautiful kitchen with vaulted ceilings and a big island that we can hang the rack over we'll bring the rest out of storage, but for now I'll settle for using just this one little part of it.

That's just one of the two grids that creates the bottom section of the rack when it's put together normally. It's mounted to the wall with outdoor plant hangers that we picked up at our friendly new local hardware store.

It's created a great place to store some of the larger utensils and random kitchen stuff that we really didn't have a good spot for previously. Here up over the breakfast bar they're out of the way but still easily accessible, and it makes for a cute little display too.


I think things in the belly region are slowly beginning to change. Lately it feels a bit like I'm hauling a brick around in my midsection, and life is starting to feel a bit uncomfortable. Things like sitting, sleeping- activities that one couldn't possibly think of as being trying under normal circumstances have suddenly become a bit of a chore.

Merriam-Webster defines unwieldy as follows (italics mine):

Main Entry: un·wieldy
Pronunciation: \-ˈwēl-dē\
Function: adjective
Date: 1530

: not easily managed, handled, or used (as because of bulk, weight, complexity, or awkwardness) : cumbersome

Last night we were lying on the couch watching our daily dose of HGTV and Gus leaned down to say hello to Baby. He was surprised that there "wasn't a lot of give" there anymore, to which I was forced to exclaim- "well yeah- I mean it's not like I'm just getting FATTER!!"

It is weird though- there's nothing that prepares you for the unfamiliar firmness that is developing down there, and I certainly didn't expect it, even though I knew it wasn't going to just be a big jiggly beer belly. You really have to feel it to believe it, and that brick sensation is just going to be getting worse for me, I'm sure. Pretty soon I'll be hauling around a cinder block, then a boulder...

I just have to thank my lucky stars that there aren't eight of them in there, 'cause that just looks like it hurts. Intensely.

Image from TMZ.

February 20, 2009

angel food cake- FAIL

While out thrifting the other day I came upon a brand-new tube pan for just $2 and since I don't already have one, I couldn't pass it up. I remembered seeing Alton make an angel food cake in one on Good Eats, and I decided that would be my project for the day. I came home and cued up the video on You Tube to refresh my memory and then set to work.

If you've never made angel food cake before, you should definitely do it- it's pretty cool and feels almost scientific, unlike a box-o-cake where you just mix, pour, and bake. It takes twelve egg whites, and you have to be really careful not to get any yolk in them and the flour has to be sifted and folded in a tiny bit at a time. It's an easy cake, just with very specific directions.

Anyway, I put my batter together following Alton's recipe (except I used lemon extract instead of orange) and carefully spooned it into my fancy new tube pan and baked it up. About forty minutes later, it was gorgeous and smelled even better. It puffed up and filled the pan and had a nice golden brown crust on top. My skewer came out clean, so I pulled it out and grabbed my cooling rack to invert the pan onto to set.

And right about now- this is where things went terribly, horribly wrong. See, you have to cool angel food cake upside down, because the delicately foamed egg white batter is too fragile to hold it's own weight until it fully sets. If you leave it right side up it will deflate. That's why the pan is designed with the middle tube section taller than the rim of the pan- so you can rest it on that during the cooling process. Well, my pan also has three little legs that stick up over the rim, presumably to offer more stability during the upside-down business.

Probably those legs are a good thing and maybe I would even be glad they were there if they didn't totally ruin my cake and almost my day. So, one of the legs got stuck in the grid of my cooling rack, and it was making my cake sit all lopsided and wonky. I tried to poke it out, but it was really stuck, and since I can't leave well enough alone I flipped the whole thing back over to get it loose.

Big mistake. Huge.

The second I turned the pan over my beautiful masterpiece flattened into a mushy mess and I suddenly realized that they weren't messing around when they said the thing couldn't hold itself up. Literally deflated like a holey balloon in half a second. Heartbreaking.

Twelve eggs! Fifteen minutes of whipping to achieve just-right medium peaks! Delicious fat-free lemony goodness destroyed in seconds. I almost cried. Almost.

Fortunately, once it was cooled and topped with berries it was amazing anyway, but I'm sure it could have been extraordinary. I will be making this again, and it will not get the best of me next time. I'm wiser now, and I know what to do.

February 19, 2009

18 weeks

Well here it is- the belly is slowly inching upward and outward. Unfortunately, it still resembles a spare tire more than a baby belly, but oh well.

Just a couple more weeks and we can find out what's inside! Can't wait to see.

at least the ends will be covered.

Yesterday I was startled from my mid-morning coffee break by the doorbell. I don't get a lot of visitors at 11:30 in the morning, and I was still sheepishly sporting my pj's and bathrobe, so I didn't answer. Turns out I needn't have been concerned about missionaries or ax-murderers, 'cause it was just the friendly FedEx delivery guy dropping off the little G pants that I ordered.

We've decided to go with G diapers because they seem like the ultimate combination of the convenience of disposables and the good-for-baby-ness of cloth. The inside liner is flushable or compostable, so the waste of disposables is eliminated, which is very important to us. And because it's flushable or compostable, the cloth part of the diaper will be much less icky to wash- everybody wins!

Plus, they're pretty darn cute to boot. The little G pants come in a ton of colors, and they were recently on sale so I picked up a few to get us started. I even exercised my restraint for once, and I didn't buy any pink or otherwise femme colors since we still don't "know" for sure what's cooking in there. (Even though I do, but whatever)

I spent the rest of the day knitting up this precious little hat from the book One Skein by Leigh Radford. I was inspired by Meg's knitting for her little boy, and that weird instinctual maternal longing to create something for the baby.

It took two false starts before I finally got it right, but once I had the feel for it I was able to work it up pretty quickly. It's so tiny it's hard to imagine that it will even fit on our child, but hopefully it will at least make a sweet hat to come home from the hospital in.

Also, today's the start of week 18! Belly shot to follow shortly.

February 18, 2009

because I'm weak.

I know I wasn't supposed to do it, but I have no willpower and I've been thinking about it for weeks. I was powerless to the call.

That beauty, in case you're unfamiliar with it, is the #4 with "everything on it" from the Sub Shop on California Avenue in West Seattle. It's like a little bit of heaven wrapped up snug in white butcher paper, and today all the listeria and nitrates in the world couldn't stop me from inhaling it practically whole.

So, if in two to thirty days I develop nausea, dizziness, a stiff neck, or a whole gamut of other symptoms, we can safely assume that there's a chance my moment of turkey sandwich bliss wasn't worth it. But at least for today, I maintain that it most certainly was.

February 17, 2009

amazing expand-a-pants!

I bought my first articles of maternity wear yesterday, mostly because I'm still unemployed and more than a little bored. My clothes are still fitting me surprisingly well, but I have a feeling that I'm just going to wake up one morning and discover that overnight I have fatted out of everything I own, so I figured an ounce of prevention- you know.

I hit up Target's maternity department, which is scrunched into about a millimeter of real estate in the women's plus department. Selection is in no way extensive, but I was able to find a pair of cute dark wash trouser-style jeans. They're a little roomy in the waistline right now, but that's obviously going to take care of itself here shortly.

They're Liz Lange Maternity, part of a line exclusively for Target. Shopping right now is kind of a drag, because I'm still at a stage where I look more like I've been pigging out on ice cream and beer than like I'm expecting. Normal clothes don't quite fit correctly in my usual size, but the next size up is too wide in the shoulder or too long in the arm, and maternity stuff mostly just looks silly at this point.

These jeans however, despite the stylish elastic waistband, are surprisingly cute. I think they're going to come in handy if I ever get to return to work and wear denim on Friday (fingers crossed).

I also totally copied Dooce and picked up the Liz Lange Maternity trench coat. They only had one left and it was my size, so fate might as well have been telling me it was already mine. It's super cute and a good weight for the coming (hopefully) warmer months. It's also got that great gathered front, so it fits well now and there's also plenty of possibility for expansion as that becomes necessary.

Overall, I think it was a successful first purchase. I'm going to attempt to continue in my regular wardrobe as long as possible by taking advantage of my knit dresses and low-waisted trousers as much as I can, but I'm obviously going to need to supplement with a few staples. These seemed like good choices.

February 15, 2009

but a real paycheck would be swell.

All the resumes and cover letters that I have sent out unanswered lately have made me just a little bit bitter about the whole job search thing. Adding to the frustration is the seeming futility of going to all of this effort just to leave the job (at least temporarily) in a few short months. Some days it's just so much work to have to sell myself in one more creative way to one more crappy place that I don't really want to work for anyway.

Well, it makes me feel a little bit better to know that I'm not the only one- this post perfectly captures what a pain in the ass the job searching song and dance can be. The main difference is that I have to pee every twenty minutes anyway, hot cocoa or not. Thanks, Baby!

February 14, 2009

Baby's first Valentine

So since the other day when I mentioned that we hadn't begun Baby's book collection yet, it's been really bugging me. I love to read and started really early, and I hope to pass my love of the written word along to my offspring. So, given that Baby is now way past that stage where his or her eyes can respond to light, I figured that now is as good a time as any to start that library.

I found myself in Barnes & Noble yesterday, and I spent some time exploring the section of kid's books looking for a familiar favorite that might make a good start to Baby's collection. I found a few that had potential, but I ultimately decided on this recently published book by Marion Dane Bauer called How Do I Love You?

I figured it was a nice fit to the theme of the day, and it's a really cute book. I added a little inscription to the back- signed with love from mom & dad, and maybe someday our little monkey will take it to college with them or something.

In other news, I made tostones yesterday for the first time, as an accompaniment to some delicious chicken taco salads. I first tried tostones on our honeymoon in New Orleans, at an amazing tapas restaurant where we had one of the many "best meals I've ever eaten" on that trip. Theirs were far superior to mine, which were pretty bland and really could have used some kind of delicious dipping sauce or something.

They came out pretty though, and hubby didn't think they were too bad.

February 12, 2009

I didn't invent this...

We had a light dinner tonight, so I wasn't surprised when Lulu went upstairs to grab a snack, but when you sit down and offer me a pretzel with cream cheese and salsa I think it's safe to say that odd cravings have set in. And I'm not buying the "I didn't even invent this" line.

I love you Lulu but don't expect me to eat the crazy crap you come up with.

miniature person containment unit

Well, we did it. I finally sucked it up and realized that I wasn't going to be able to pick out the perfect magical crib that would make Baby sleep like a dream and solve world hunger in it's spare time. I decided that we just needed to pick one out, and all the disgruntled reviewers in the world were just making things too hard on me. Instead, we chose to listen to our bargain-hunting recycling-loving selves and go with used.

I spent a few days scouring craigslist for a not-too-used and not-too-expensive crib, and after a near miss on my first choice we struck gold. I got everything I wanted in this little gem: light wood color to match the other furniture in the room, simple design, functioning drop-side (since I'm a munchkin myself), and a storage drawer.

The family this came from had two girls, neither of which took to the crib but slept in mom & dad's room instead, so the crib has mainly been used for storage up to this point. That means no little tooth marks on the rails, no wear-and-tear- it's practically brand new. And I got it for next to nothing, so I think I can safely say that we scored.

Now I just need a little human to go in it.

February 10, 2009

oh yeah, this:

I almost forgot. OMG WTF seriously?

It's snowing again. Like, a lot. It's February for crying out loud!

You're right, global warming is so obviously a myth.


Thank you.

lulu, bargain huntress

I scored a cute pair of bookends on a thrifting mission the other day- for less than five bucks! I was particularly impressed with my ability to buy these even though they're cars. Which are so obviously for boys. I'm clearly developing on the gender neutrality front. They're just so cute and whimsical that I couldn't pass them up.

They're currently supporting part of our collection of parenting and baby advice books, since we have yet to begin our kid's literature collection.

Another sweet nursery score that we picked up the other day: this cute ABC 123 mobile. It was on clearance at Pottery Barn Kids, marked down to $8 from $40! Have I mentioned how much I love to shop the clearance department at ridiculously overpriced retailers? It just feels so good to pay a fraction of what some other sucker loving parent-to-be paid for the same thing, especially when it's as cute as this!

It's kind of long and way more huge than we expected it to be, but there's no reason I can't shorten up those lengths of fishing line to make the thing more manageable. They have really cute musical crib mobiles there too, but since you're supposed to take them down by five months and I don't know if the kid will even be sleeping in the crib by then, it seemed like a better idea to just buy a decorative one instead.

February 9, 2009

a new life for old duds

This morning I woke up with an urge to be creative, so I holed myself away in my little dungeon of a sewing room for a few hours pondering my stash. I kept finding myself drawn to this old striped oxford shirt of hubby's- I think the spring-green color combo really appeals to me in the dead of winter. I ended up making a couple of different things that took advantage of the natural features of the shirt, like the button placket and the sleeves.

These bags were obviously once sleeves, and with just a minor bit of altering they are now a cute way to dress up that all-purpose gift we all love to give: the bottle of wine.

They were pretty easy to do, I just sized the sleeve down a bit and added a seam-binding channel on the inside for the ribbon. I have a few more discarded shirts that I have rescued from the charity bin because I couldn't part with all that great fabric yardage, and now I'm so glad I did! I'll be adding some of these to the Etsy shop in the next few days.

There's another shirt-part project as well, but I couldn't get a decent photo of it, so I'll wait for the expert to get home and take care of that for me.

February 6, 2009

thought provoking

Eco Child's Play posted a series of articles concerning the "baby essentials" that perhaps aren't essential at all. I found them very interesting, and thought that perhaps you might as well.

The first item they showcased was the crib. Seems like a no-brainer necessity, but it seems that more and more people are realizing that it's actually something you can do without. Co-sleeping and bed-sharing are highly debated, but I think both are gaining ground in this industrialized America. In case you're wondering, we're planning to co-sleep, with Baby in a bassinet like this one: until nighttime feedings are less frequent and it's realistic for Baby to be in his or her own bed. In a crib. In another room. We're commitment-phobe radicals, what can I say?

Another fabulous pregnant gal whose blog I read is a Montessorian and plans to co-sleep and then use the floor bed, which is evidently a Montessori concept. I can't wait to read more about that as she shares more. It makes total sense to me, it's just such a foreign concept and I'm fascinated.

The second article is on infant bucket car seats, a topic that I can't really say that I have a developed opinion on. This could be because I haven't really ever been around one or lugged one around with me, except for the ones that my friends and families have brought their babies around in, and then I was far too busy making kissy faces and cooing sounds at the baby to notice the storage device. Again, the article makes excellent points, and I'll be sure to keep them in mind when we're figuring out what baby gear we want/need.

Part three takes us to strollers, something that I do feel strongly about. There's some part of me that just rejects the idea of pushing my baby out two feet in front of me. I'm not sure where it came from, but I have a mental image of a woman at a busy intersection pushing her child out into traffic and just hoping the cars will stop. I plan to wear the baby in a sling or a carrier instead, and am particularly excited about the fact that it will be a great way to cover up that post-birth belly!

The last article takes diapers to task, and that's just one concept that I can't get behind. While I certainly have my opinions regarding disposable vs. cloth diapering, the idea of going without diapers takes it one step too far for me. The same blogger mentioned above in the crib section plans to go for it with EC and a cloth back-up, and I think that's amazing. Although I can't wait to read about her experience, I'm not anxious to give that one a try myself.

If you have a chance to peruse these articles, I would love to hear your thoughts on the issues. Veteran baby-wrangler or not- do you think that there are pieces of the modern nursery that are unnecessarily deemed necessary? On the flip-side, are there things that you think it would be moronic for us to attempt to do without? We don't know what we're doing here- advice is welcome!

food + melty cheese = delicious

It seems fitting that here in the second trimester things will just naturally turn to food. There's not a whole lot going on with the whole pregnancy thing, too early to feel anything, too late to have miserable symptoms to whine about, so let's just munch for a while. I presume there will be no complaints.

With that in mind, I bring you the latest creation to be borne from our fine kitchen: French Onion Soup!

I've been wanting some of these handled soup crocks for a while now, so when I saw a matching pair at the thrift store for $2 each, I couldn't pass them up. I haven't been able to justify buying them in the store for twenty bucks, but four? Those babies are mine. And, since the only thing that I know these things are good for is french onion soup, dinner was as good as planned.

I pretty much followed this recipe, except I halved it and used mostly red wine instead of white. It just didn't seem right to make a hearty beef broth-based soup with white wine, but I added some anyway, just to be safe. I also used a bit more broth than the half-recipe called for, because it seemed a little thick after twenty minutes of simmering uncovered.

And luckily- it was delicious! Hubby had never eaten French onion soup before, but he figured that anything with a big hunk of cheese melted on top couldn't be all bad. He approved, and I would definitely make it again. I'm going to have to, because I'll never hear the end of it about the bowl purchase if I don't use them more than once. Unitaskers have no place in our home, I know.

February 5, 2009

16 week belly shot

Well, that's Junior in there at 16 weeks- and yes, there's me actually wearing fancy-pants dress-up clothes instead of my usual sweats or jeans. What could have inspired such an abandonment of my unemployment uniform? An interview- that's what!

At least that's what I thought when I got dressed and left the house this morning, freshly printed copies of my resume in hand (or in professional looking portfolio, actually). Turns out though, it was more of a meet & greet type of activity, a tour of the premises and a verification that I wasn't a psycho killer or an otherwise unsavory character before allowing me to schedule the actual interview with the board and the other figureheads.

They say they'll call me to set up a repeat performance, but in the meantime, bring on the comfy pants! Mama's got a couch to warm and yet another book to read.

February 4, 2009

India revisited

Since we had so much success with our adventures in Indian cuisine last time, we decided to give it another shot. We went with another recipe from Allrecipes.com, but chose another favorite that we always order when we go out for Indian- chicken makhani (better known as the mouth-wateringly delicious butter chicken).

This recipe had directions similar to the tikka masala that we made before, and I actually just put the marinade together the same way. I skipped the part about draining the yogurt, that sounded like too much work, and just poured it over the chicken with the spices and put it in the fridge. We also cooked the chicken in the oven like it suggested, instead of in the grill pan like we did with the tikka masala. That was much better, and we didn't end up with charcoal-ey bits on our chicken like we did last time.

Love, love, love this recipe. It wasn't quite as spicy as the tikka masala, but it had a similar creamy, tomato based sauce (lots of it too, great for sopping up with naan) and the chicken is so tender it just melts in your mouth. And speaking of naan, we tried it again and seriously- best naan ever. Fresh off the grill with melted butter glistening on the surface, just absolutely delish.

The recipe makes a ton of naan, and it's keeping quite nicely in a zip bag on the counter. Twenty seconds in the microwave, and it makes a mean afternoon snack. We'll definitely be coming back to these recipes regularly. 

February 3, 2009

to screen or not to screen?

Yesterday was the second visit to the doctor- just a quick appointment to go over the results of all the blood tests they drew last time, and another chance to hear that little heart thumping away. There wasn't really anything much to report, and everything came back fine. I've lost one pound since the last visit, but that merely proves my theory that I had plenty of extra weight to start this pregnancy off with and my fat stores are just being redistributed to baby baggage.

At the last appointment we were given a brochure about the optional screening tests that they can do to check for the baby's liklihood of having a neural tube defect or Down's Syndrome. She said it was up to us if we wanted to have the test or not, and just to call to schedule it if we did. Hubby and I talked about it, and we decided that the chances of us (young, healthy people) having a child with any of these defects was relatively small, and we didn't know if anything positive could be gained from having the tests.

Yesterday the doctor asked me about it again, and I made her tell me again why I should or should not want to have this done. Again she said it was up to us, but she said that "most people" have it, just to quell any anxiety they might have because most of the time the results come back to indicate that everything is perfectly fine. For some reason this did nothing but stir up my uncertainty regarding the whole thing, and made me second-guess my initial resolve to deny the testing. It also stirred up all kinds of latent anxiety about the health and well-being of the little one, even though I know that statistics are on my side, etc...

We talked about it some more, and I consulted a friend who is a pregnancy veteran to see what her opinion was. We basically came to the same conclusion as before- we'll pass on the testing and just take what may come our way when it arrives. I know that's what I want to do, but for some reason I cannot wrap my head around why I prefer it that way. It's not logical- I know that were we to have the testing we would end up reassured that everything is fine anyway, but I guess it's the testing itself that makes me all anxious. There are cases where the results of the test indicate problems where there actually aren't any, and of course there are times when the testing doesn't identify problems that are really there. 

Maybe if there was a way to tell me with 100% certainty that everything was fine or wasn't, then I would sign up, but this just seems like such a crap-shoot that I would rather spare myself the sleeplessness and the drama. Does this make any sense to anyone or are we just total head-cases?