Thursday, December 31, 2009

Out with a bang

Before my time runs out, I wanted to throw together some quick clips from the holidays.  I had intentions of writing a nice gushy letter detailing the many things I am thankful for, but instead the short guy picked up a cold over Christmas and my last week has been spent washing my hands raw.  Meanwhile, my poor boy has transformed into a 20 pound snail leaving a trail of snot in his wake.  I wish I could throw my whole living room in the dishwasher because cleaning everything manually feels so last century to me.  Between the snot plague and being part of the 10 % of the population that has actually had to work in the last week, time got away from me.  But I am not bitter.  No!  Really, I'm not.  The silver lining to a sick baby is a cuddly baby you see.  

Now on to the good stuff.  Happy New Year everyone!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Oatmeal Cranberry Raisin Spice Cookie

If you need a cheap, but thoughtful gift for someone on your Christmas list, these cookie gift jars are easy to make.  And everybody likes cookies right?  Well, except Nazis.  So if you have a Nazi on your Christmas list, you might want to stick with a swastika embroidered oven mitt.  But everyone else would probably love these oatmeal spice cookies

1 cup flour mixed with
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda and
1/2 teaspoon sale

2 cups old fashioned oats

3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

3/4 cup raisin, cranberry, dried apple or the like
1/2 cup white sugar

Layer ingredients in order given in a one quart wide-mouth canning jar.  Gently press each layer before adding the next one.

Decorate jar and add this gift tag:

Oatmeal Cranberry Raisin Spice Cookie Mix

Empty jar of cookie mix into large mixing bowl and combine.  Add 1 1/4 stick melted butter, 1 egg and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.  Mix until blended.  For best results, chill for at least a half hour. Shape into balls.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until edges are slightly browned.  Cool a few minutes before removing from cookie sheet.  Makes about 3 dozen.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Nonessential baby items

A few months ago, Melissa left a comment wanting to get some information on what baby gear we regularly used and what sat around collecting dust. Sorry it took so long to get this written! But here is my take on it.

Disclaimer: What I'm about to share is intended only as helpful advice to new mothers based on my experience. I encourage any expecting mom to keep their baby purchases to a minimal level (especially in terms of clothing) to avoid wasting money. I also would buy as much of the baby gear secondhand as possible and return gifts that you do not think will be used for something more practical. And remember, going to the store is still possible after the baby is born!

Items that went to waste:

Multiple types of bottles & pacifiers---Maybe I would feel differently about this if I fed North formula from the get-go, but I only had 2 different bottles for him at birth. Dr. Brown's and some Playtex drop-in that was a free gift. We have only ever used 2 Dr. Brown's bottles that we wash after each use. As for pacifiers, he got a Soothies at the hospital and later on, I switched him to the MAM pacifier. There is no need to prepare for the what-ifs. But if you must, keep everything in the packaging and save the receipts so you can return it down the road if necessary.

Hooded towels---Sure they are adorable, but after a few months, they're just not big enough to use anymore. Buy 1 for cute infant pictures and save your money.

Dreft---I do love the smell of this stuff. But there are so many brands of truly baby friendly detergents out there that are better for baby's skin than Dreft, not to mention much cheaper.

Receiving blankets & burp clothes---We could have easily gotten by with a 6 pack each of receiving blankets and burp clothes. Unless you never plan on doing laundry again, there is no reason to have much more than that. We used the blankets we stole from the hospital mainly because the receiving blankets from the store always seem too small for the task (swaddling, shading baby in carseat, etc).  

Clothes---The most stressful thing to me is trying to get all the clothes on the baby before he outgrows them and they go to waste. We have found that we seem to rotate about 6-8 outfits on him unless we make a concerted effort to put other clothes on him. I feel very wasteful when I think about all the items he only wore once.

Baby wash and lotion---You really only need one of each to start out with and this stuff lasts forever. Seriously, North will be in his 40s before he uses up the stock pile of baby wash that was gifted to him.

Bumbo---Unless someone gives you one, I wouldn't buy one.  I mean, I like having ours, but it's an expensive piece of foam.  Maybe buy it used if you just have to have it.

Although it was not part of the question, here are some items that many moms now wished they would have registered for:

Safety items
Convertible car seat
6+ months clothing (if you live in predictable climate)
Feeding items

Monday, December 7, 2009

8 Months

Dear North,

Everyone has been warning me of how quickly the time passes when you watch your child grow; but here I am astounded that you're eight months old already. In the past month, you've started crawling at the speed of light, pulling up on everything, falling down continuously and exploring anything you can get your little paws on.

While I think the change in you is awesome, I'm tired just thinking about the effort it takes to keep an eye on you these days. You gravitate towards the very objects that are the most lethal. There is a basket of toys in our baby-proofed living room, but you prefer to venture off into the more dangerous parts of the house seeking out power cords, the dog's water bowl or the towering antique fire extinguisher. You are a baby on a mission and that mission seems to be to inflict as much pain on yourself as possible.

I often amuse myself by pretending you are a safety inspector pointing out all the possible dangers in our home. "OK ma'am, I think I found your problem. See this cord here, an unsuspecting baby could bite into this, like so. Or the baby could pull on the cord like I'm doing now and BOOM the TV falls on him. Or maybe the baby accidentally gets the cord around his neck. See how easy that was for me to do? Ma'am, you really need to take care of some dangers in the house before someone gets hurt.....oops, uh Ma'am, it appears I have created a turdle in my diaper, could you possibly remove that for me?"

Unfortunately, with all this new mobility, comes an onslaught of scrapes and bruises. Somehow, it's always your face that takes the brunt of the punishment. Maybe because you have such ample padding everywhere else? But you take the fall like a stoic little soldier and only cry when it is a particularly hard landing. Your father and I try not to react when you crash land, having learned quickly that you look to us for a reaction as if to say, "should I cry now?"

You've become a much better eater lately and you've even started gobbling up a few table foods like cheese, peas and pancakes. Every Sunday morning your dad makes blueberry pancakes and now you are a part of our favorite family tradition too! Watching you chow down on tiny fistfuls of pancake this past Sunday made my heart soar thinking about all the future pajama-clad mornings that lie ahead. We have at least eighteen years worth of pancakes to eat with you and I plan on savoring each and every delicious bite.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Thirty four

It took 34 years, but I think I'm officially an adult now. Dave's parents stayed with us on Friday night and there was an early birthday cake involved. But I forgot to make a wish as I blew out the candles. Last year, I wished for a healthy baby. The year before that, I wished for a pregnancy. I now have everything I've ever wanted, so no more wishing is necessary.

My birthday has been just another day to me for quite a few years now. I don't say that in a sad way. Ninety five percent of the time, the weather outside is either rain or snow, which helps to explain the pensive way the day gets spent. I tend to just go about my business as usual and often spend it quietly reflecting on the last year. Kind of like my own private VH1 year end wrap up if you will. This year, I cannot wait to get home and enjoy the rainy day cuddling with a certain pants peeing little boy while we wait for daddy to return. He defines the last year of my life perfectly.

This morning as I got ready for work, I could hear North stirring in his crib. His latest habit upon waking is to pull himself up by the wooden bars and chatter away until you come in to rescue him from his crib prison. As I was quickly pulling my hair into a ponytail, I could hear his chatter over the monitor and I swear I heard a "Awuwuuhappybirthdaymamaawuwua" thrown in there. That kid melts me into a puddle. Thanks baby for showing me the joy I brought with me when I was born into the world many moons ago.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Focaccia Bread

With the cooler weather upon us...okay...I've got to be honest, I went for a walk yesterday in shorts and a tank top. Little North was strapped to me and actually fell asleep in his carrier as we walked. His legs still kicked with every step I took. I guess babies sleep walk too. I cupped my upper arm around his head, slowed my pace and savored every detail of his sweet slumber.

I had to share that moment. But that's not why I started writing this post. I wanted to share a yummy recipe for focaccia bread to help transition into you into cooler temperature foods. I've already made a few batches of soup and this bread fits so perfectly with it. I tried three different recipes, each of which turned out tasting like pretzel, cracker and finally, bread. Funny thing is that we enjoyed all of them with our soup, even the batch that was more like hardtack. But what follows is the recipe for the bread version. Enjoy!

Focaccia Bread

1 (1/4 ounce) packet active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (105-115 degrees)
1 tsp. white sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup wheat flour (or you can just use all white flour)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried basil
dash crushed red pepper
1 dash black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup mozzarella cheese

Mix the yeast, sugar and water in a small bowl. Allow to sit for 10 minutes until bubbles begin to form. In large mixer bowl, stir together flour, salt, garlic powder, thyme, basil, crushed red pepper and black pepper. Add the yeast mixture and vegetable oil to the dry ingredients and combine on low speed. When dough has pulled away from the sides and is sticky to the touch, plop it onto a floured surface and knead only until smooth and elastic. Oil a glass mixing bowl, put the dough in the bowl and coat the dough with the oil by turning it in the bowl. Cover with a damp cloth and allow it to rise in a warm place for 30 minutes. Preheat over to 425 degrees. Punch down the dough in the bowl and dump it onto a greased standard baking sheet. Pat dough until it covers the entire baking sheet. Brush the top with olive oil and sprinkle with parmesan and mozzarella cheese. Bake for 10-13 minutes until the cheese browns.

Friday, November 6, 2009

7 Months

Dear North,

You are officially seven months old and still our happy giggling little baby. My favorite time of day is when I open the front door at lunch time and hope for you to be awake. Often I find you bouncing happily in the doorway of the office while daddy works. Or you might be rolling around the office trying to make your way to one of the pets or kissing your reflection in the metal diaper pail. 

You also love to play a game with your dad where he pretends to chase you as you bounce/run away from him. We could listen to your little squeals and giggles all day long.

Your personality has somewhat taken a turn towards stubbornness, which might be explained by the fact that you are an Aries. Sometimes, you are kind of a baby and throw a fit when you don't get your own way. Curiosity draws you to the very objects you are not supposed to have and then when I retrieve said deadly object from your tiny paw, you freak out. I'm not sure of the best way to deal with this new behavior. I mean, I want to teach you early on that you can't always get what you want. But then I remember that you're only 7 months old and logic does not work on you. So normally, I opt to distract you out of your distress by making farting sounds with my mouth or whistling. 

Earlier today, your father managed to stave off a tantrum by putting a magazine a few feet in front of you. You are infatuated with paper.  You have started hybrid crawling, which is part rolling, a little bit of leg dragging and actual crawling used in combination to hilariously and awkwardly get you where you want to go. This new development is amazing to watch as you huff and puff and focus all of your energy on the task of moving. You are one determined little guy already. You are going to be more of a handful as each new day dawns.

Two bottom teeth have sprouted up in the last month, which has made uninterrupted sleep a distant memory. That's not really a new development though. Pain does not seem to be your thing and we can tell the days when your teeth are hurting because you become one sad little puppy. When you feel yucky, you like to keep us in sight as much as possible. The only thing that seems to help is cuddling. And whiskey.

Now that you have some teeth, I've been transitioning you away from purees and towards chunky mushed up food. The process is both comical and painful. Occasionally, you make a sort of choking noise, much like a cat coughing up a hairball when the new texture first hits your tongue. The choking noise is often preceded by a face that cringes as if to say, "why are you feeding me toe jam?" Needless to say, tears have been shed during the dinner hour. Again, this is a new area of parenting where I'm winging it. I'm afraid to give you a bad association with a food by making you finish it and yet, I refuse to waste food either. The thing is North, you cannot live on sweet potatoes, carrots and squash your whole life. I worry about you turning orange if I allowed such habits to form. You don't want to become an oompa loompa do you? I'm not a rascist or anything but in the real world, people just use oompa loompas for their proximity to chocolate rivers. I just don't want to see you degraded by some candy factory recluse and forced to dance while singing rhyming fables. You deserve a better life than that my son. So please start eating green foods for mama okay?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Halloween Recap

This year we made up for the last year's lackluster Halloween with multiple celebrations and costumery.  For starters, there was a certain little monkey we found hanging out in the pumpkin patch we keep on our deck.  

On Friday night, I met up with some friends for the annual Zombie Lurch in downtown Durham. This pic is minus the blood because I had to drive and didn't want to stickify my vehicle, but Jake seemed to like it.  A lot.

Then there was Halloween proper.  We helped some friends hand out candy at their house because they get a ton of trick or treaters.  My friend lured the kids towards the house with her Shakespearean / Nazi-esque accent, while I occasionally let out a scary cackle.  Most of the kids graciously accepted our sideshow with good humor.  But fortunately, a few of the kids thought our act was a bit tired and perhaps lame.  So if we deemed them of appropriate age and guilty of the crime of either greed or rudeness, the scarecrow previously leaning against a tire in the driveway came to life and chased them screaming down  the road. Best. Halloween. Ever.

Note to future self:  cut up a sheet next year and North can be a mummy.  Most frugal and creative costume of the night!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Because everyone really is a winner

By the looks of this picture, I should be taking a nap. Hello bags under my eyes! But I'm not, I'm making cookies! Just in time for the spooktacular holiday that is upon us, I wanted to share the most delicious and easiest pumpkin cookie recipe with you. So easy is this recipe that you could make it with as little as 2 ingredients: one box of spice cake mix and one 15 oz. can of pumpkin.

But here in the Killer household I like to kick things up a notch; not to mention plagiarize the catchphrases of the Food Network chef that is annoying me the most that day. I also like to make things difficult and to get rid of things that have been taking up space in my pantry. Point is, if you are feeling saucy and throwing these cookies together, you might want to try adding in any of the following: chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, walnuts, pecans, cranberries, raisins, a touch of orange zest or cream cheese frosting on top.

Because it's Halloween, I wanted to make mine chocolatey. I lurve chocolate.

Here's the recipe I used:

1 box spice cake mix
1 15 oz. can pumpkin
1/2 bag semi sweet chocolate chips
1/2 bag butterscotch chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Now this is the hard part, open the spice cake mix and dump it into your mixer bowl. Are you still with me? Now open the can of pumpkin and plop it on top of the cake mix. In that order! Geez, do you want worlds to collide if you happened to put the pumpkin in first? Now turn your mixer on slowly! Let the magic combine and then add in the chips. BAM! Cookie dough!

Grease your cookie sheet. Drop the cookie dough onto the sheet using a half filled ice cream scoop or a cookie scoop if you're a fancypants. Bake 9 to 12 minutes. Allow to cool for a few minutes before removing them to cool on your wire rack or as we like to call it, paper towel. Once they are cooled, package them up and give them to that nice Sonya girl. Oh nevermind, I don't need anymore...(makes about 2 dozen)

Monday, October 26, 2009

And the winner is....

So this whole blog contest thing was probably not my best thought out plan. Even though North did pick the winner's name a little while ago, I now have to ask that person to send me her address so I can mail out her grab bag of happy things. It also never occurred to me that a six month old baby would not really understand the concept of picking a name out of a hat. I mean, I explained it to him in very simple terms and he looked at me the whole time as if he was listening while sucking on his fists, so I thought we were good. The first run through took a good five minutes for him to drop the pile of paper he grabbed from the hat. For such little hands, he can fit quite a few slips of paper in them! But all of that effort was for naught and the winner of the trial run through was my mom. Although she deserves a prize every single day for all that she's done for us, this blog is more of a gift to her than anything I could buy in a store. Right mom?....ahem. Mom?

So I had North pick a new winner---Melissa! Oh, I also loved your idea about writing a post about non-essential baby items and it looks like you'll need this info sooner rather than later. I hope to get that on the blog soon for you. Congratulations! (I mean this more on that beautiful belly than for this silly little contest!)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Obligatory pumpkin pictures

Last Saturday we woke up early, haha as if you couldn't have guessed as much considering I have a six month old pants pooper living with me. But anyway, we threw on some layers and hightailed it to some yard sales a few miles away. Unfortunately, we forgot to stop at the ATM along the way which cut our thrift shopping a little short. But it was just as well considering Mr. Littlepants was getting cold and bored. On the way home, we stopped at a pumpkin patch staged at a local church and let the kid loose on the gourds.

Yes, he's still wearing his pajamas in this picture. Guess I won't be winning any Mother of the Year Award anytime soon.

Speaking of contests, this is my 99 post! Things have been pretty busy in the Killer household so it took a little longer to get here than anticipated. Sorry about that. But my next post will announce the winner of the weird little thank you contest I'm running. There may even be video of North picking and attempting the eat the winner's name. Then I'll ask the winner to send me their address because I'm not a creepy internet person that knows how to track a computer's IP Address and find out where people live from a comment left on my blog. Details on all this to follow. Wow, I have goosebumps already.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

On corning

I could smell October in the air this morning as I tiptoed out the front door into the early morning darkness. It smelled wet, cold and slightly sweet with vegetable rot. The smell struck a memory and I recalled sneaking out of my mother's house when I was a mischievous thirteen year old. In those days, my girlfriends and I waited until the house went still with sleep. Then we suited up into our all black attire, grabbed our supplies and in slow motion soundlessly slipped out of the house. Once blanketed in the freedom of night, we ran through the neighborhood until the wee hours of morning corning as many houses as we could. Somehow, we never got caught. Even though of all the houses in the neighborhood, mine somehow managed to escape the bloody corn bath the others had fallen victim to the night before. No one ever put two and two together.

For those of you not brought up with a pastime as sophisticated as corning, allow me to explain. Corning is not throwing a full ear of corn at a house; that would be silly, wasteful and way too easy for the victim to clean up. Rather, the corn is in dried loose form. The 'corner' scoops a handful of the stuff and whips it as hard as he/she can at the 'cornees' house. An explosion of successful hits is then heard as the corner runs like hell on to the next house while the cornee turns on their porch light realizing they've just been corned. But alas, cornee, it is too late.

This corning phenomenon begs the question: who was supplying all of this dried loose corn to so many children? Is there a black market for corn in Western Pennsylvania and some son of a farmer spent his free time shucking and cutting corn off the ears to supply all of his rogue friends ammunition for their nighttime hijinks? If so, I bet that kid is rich now because every kid in my hometown corned a house at one time or another I'm sure.

Laugh all you want about corning, I think we were ahead of our time. Considering all the different forms of vandalism we could have chosen, corning is certainly the most green choice. For example, we could have been toilet papering houses and trees. What a mean thing to do to a tree anyway. From the tree's perspective, that's like hanging their dead brothers and sisters all over them. The horror! And have you seen the price of toilet paper these days? Only the spoiled rich kids could afford to partake in such pranks in the current bathroom tissue market. Even poor kids deserve to wreak a little havoc!

I need to explore this topic further and find out if kids raised in different parts of the country threw different vegetables than we did. Perhaps it's a regional thing and kids in Idaho throw potatoes at houses. Or kids in the south throw cotton and cigarettes? Maybe those hippies out in California throw flower seeds and patchouli? Does it extend beyond our American borders?Could it be a worldwide phenomenon?

My poor kid may never know the joys of corning though. With ethanol production and rising corn demand, I'm afraid kids will not be able to afford the black market corn prices any longer. But I will dazzle him with the stories of my youth and a time when corn was so abundant and cheap, kids threw it at houses to be funny.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

6 months

Dear North,

So here we are at month six of life with you and as usual, I'm blown away how quickly the time has passed. My constant wishing that I could lock you in time is becoming a little ad nauseam isn't it? I guess my fear is that I'll forget what you were like at each of these stages because as you grow you become a slightly different person than I thought you were last month. I suppose I might as well get used to it now though.

Maybe I'm spoiling you even though the baby books say that is nearly impossible this early in life. But I have a hard time putting you down sometimes. You're my little snuggle bug right now and I'm taking advantage of it while I still can. Maybe tomorrow instead of lifting your hand to touch my face or put your fingers up my nose as it were, you will slap my hugs away wanting to be put down so you can explore on your own. So I hug you tight each day and smother you with kisses while you'll still let me.

If later in life we discover that you are a good dancer, I'm just going to take credit for that now. You enjoy whirling me around the living room dance floor like a floating 24 inch tall Fred Astaire. You even dip me when you get into the groove. Maybe one day when you find yourself at a school dance nervous to step on your partner's feet, these early dance lessons will kick in and you'll whisk her away with your smooth moves. Hmm, maybe these dance lessons aren't such a good idea after all...

You spend your days chatting with your stuffed animals in your crib, chewing on various toys/my face/your appendages and rolling around on the floor. We're just at the point of needing to Northy-proof the house because you are getting so mobile. I will put you down on the floor, turn my back for an instant and the next thing I know, you are underneath the futon or have trapped yourself under your bouncy seat. Although you're not crawling yet, we are amazed at how independent you are becoming and what a little explorer you are.

You are already proving to be a helpful guy to have around the house. Yesterday, you were fussy, so I wore you as I vacuumed the house because you like to be close to us when you're upset. Actually, you were quite helpful and held onto the cord the entire time keeping it out of my way. I was shocked at how much you seemed to like vacuuming though when you started whimpering when I shut it off. I think you may have also developed my love of sweeping the back deck too. I often wear you as I sweep leaves too. It's so cute to watch you stick out your tiny hand and hold onto the broom with each swoosh. I wonder if in your mind it is you that is doing the sweeping? Do you think I work you too hard? Do we need to start talking allowance already?

This week I put away your summer baby clothes now that the cooler temperatures are upon us. The comfy sweaters and warm jeans are conspiring against me and pushing you to grow up faster than I can handle. Wearing them you look like a little boy. But like the summer temperatures, I'm not ready to let go of the past six months with my little baby just yet.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Behold my hammy child!

Just wanted to share some quick video with all the grandmas out there needing a little Northy fix. Sorry the video quality is so poor, I was using my regular camera instead of the video camera which makes everything look like it was filmed in the 80s.

I finally started using my Moby Wrap with North when I take him on walks because the Bjorn makes my lower back ache now that he has become a chubster. The Moby is essentially a 10 foot long piece of stretchy fabric. It is a pain in the butt to put on and if you're OCD like me, it's a huge pain to fold up after each use. I do like it though and it is really comfortable.

I'm sure I would like the Moby a lot more if I was the type of person that could just leave it in a messy heap. But alas, my mother did not bring me up that way. She ironed the bed sheets when I was growing up if that helps to explain my psychosis at all. Her linen closet could make a grown man weep I tell you. I'm sure it makes Dave weepy in a "this is not my beautiful wife" kind of way with how often I nag him to fold the towels like I do and have them facing in the correct direction. It is a non-stop party in our house.

I took this video last night during bath time. This took many filming takes because North is an exhibitionist. Every time I covered his winky woo with the washcloth of modesty, he grabbed it and whipped it around until it ended up in his mouth the way everything does. Since his winker is going through an inverted phase, I thought I'd better make sure he was properly covered or it may give him just cause to stop speaking to me later in life.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

What a difference a year makes

So I've been adding to this blog for one whole year now. Go me. My goal was to have 100 posts by now, but alas, this only makes number 95. That whole raising a child thing threw a wrench in my big plans apparently.

You'd think after a year of doing this that I would have a better idea how to categorize this blog, but I don't. One day it might be all baby stories and the next it could be a recipe or some political rant that I have to get off my chest. I guess this blog is a grab bag or a box of chocolates if your mama was of the Forrest Gump school of thought. And every now and then I'll probably write something that tastes as crappy to you as whatever those disgusting pink centered chocolates taste to me. But I hope to occasionally provide you with a delicious chocolate covered peanut or two as well.

Thank you for taking the time to read my ramblings over the last year. I've enjoyed reading your feedback and learning from your experiences in the comments section. My goal for 2010 (is it just me or does that sound far off into the future, like we should be flying around with jetpacks four months from now?) is to have more dialogue going on in the comments section. I just wish blogger made it a bit easier to leave feedback.

I'd like to run a little contest as a gesture of thanks. So please leave a comment on this post and I will randomly pick a winner to receive a grab bag of goodies picked out by yours truly and the almost six-month old baby North. But don't let his involvement deter you. I probably won't have him help me too much. Otherwise, the winner will get rewarded with very strange prizes like a wet washcloth, a beer bottle or some other random item that he currently covets. Maybe I'll write the names of anyone that leaves a comment on a piece of paper and put them in a hat. Whichever one North picks and attempts to eat is the winner.

Anyway, I'll pick a winner once I've made it to my goal of 100 posts. But really guys, you're all winners in my book.

Edited to add: Please be sure to leave at least your name with your comment so I can identify you. This whole running a contest thing is trickier than I thought it would be! But I'm having so much fun collecting little things that make me happy to send the winner, I might run these contests more often. Please bear with me as I figure out the best way to do this.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Kanye West saves America?

Have you seen the video of Kanye West interrupting the VMA's country starlet, Taylor Swift's acceptance speech yet? I think we've all seen it yes? Can we all agree that Kanye West was way out of line and a douche bag?

I want to hear Democrats and Republicans agree on this people! Like it or not, even our president has been caught on tape calling Mr. West a jackass.

Can we all nod our heads in agreement with the leader of the free world on this? Let us all reach across the aisles, hold hands (?) apparently and know that our side is the side of truth. Kanye West is indeed a jackass for interrupting that sweet country singer as she accepted her award.

Mr. West will go down in history as the great uniter from this day forward. It's like he somehow realized all America needed was a cause all of the people could really get behind you know? He has since succeeded in bringing the American people back together; so in unison, the populous could proclaim him to be a douche. Thank you Kanye West. You may have saved America.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Your formatting stings

Has the press pounded the 'lack of manners in the modern world' subject into the ground yet? Because I've got something to say about it! But no, I don't want to talk about Mr. Wilson, Mr. West or Ms. Williams. Except, is it something with the "W" last name? Typing them out like that, I'm seeing a pattern is all I'm saying.

My issue has to do with a certain freecycler that I recently corresponded with. He listed some mason jars as available on my local board along with some other confusing emails to the general group grumbling about "no shows" from the last time he listed these jars, etc. Anyway, I politely inquired as to the status of said mason jars, explaining that multiple posts were wrongly timestamped in my Inbox etc.

I received the response, "THEY ARE TAKEN."

I ask you sir, was it not good enough to yell at me? Did you have to spit on my face with the bold formatting too? Why did you take the time to not only caps lock but also bold your text? Meanie.

My gut inclination was to hit reply again and type
" OK THANKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" in 24 font comic sans---an effort to make his eyes bleed from such e-motion. I wanted to underline it, italicize it, even shade it if necessary! Color it purple perhaps? But I bit my hands and clicked my "X" instead. Today sir, I AM the bigger person!

I believe you need some classes in Anger Formatting Management.

Stuffed Delicata Squash

This is a delicata squash. The outside flesh is edible and delicious so you don't have to worry about peeling it off before working with the squash. There are seeds inside that must be scooped out much like a butternut squash though. Still, the delicata squash is often overlooked, which is a shame because they are so easy to prepare.

Here is that same delicata squash filled with sausage stuffing cooking on the grill.

I cut the squash in half lengthwise and scooped out the seeds. Once the seeds were out, I couldn't resist filling up the little cavity I had created in it. So I grabbed some stuffing out of the pantry and prepared enough to fill up each cavity. Because I had it on hand, I also threw some sausage, tomatoes and onion in the pot of stuffing too.

I coated each squash half generously in olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder and threw them on the grill for 15 minutes at 350 degrees. You could also bake the squash cut side up in 1/2 inch of water for a half hour at 350 degrees in your over if you prefer. I stabbed them a bit with a fork to see if they were tender enough and took them off the grill. Then I stuffed them with the prepared stuffing and put some cheese on top before putting them back on the grill for another 5 minutes or so.

We have more delicata coming tomorrow from the CSA tomorrow. I'm thinking I might fill that cavity with rice and beans this week. Or maybe some garlic walnut quinoa?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

5 Months

Dear North,

The past month of your life has been the most challenging and the most rewarding so far. While your father and I are a little foggy with sleep deprivation from being up with you every hour or two through the night; you are wowing us during the daytime hours with all of your mad skills. Slowly, you are becoming more independent and interactive with the world beyond just us.

You hang out on your play pad and happily chatter at your stuffed animals as you play with your feet. I'd love to know what you are saying to them. You are probably telling them all about your awesome feet and how suckable they are I imagine.

If I had to guess what your favorite thing is right now, I'd say your big toes. Last week, I carried little naked you to your bath like a miniature yogi statue while you sucked on both big toes simultaneously.

You love to touch everything and put it in your mouth, not just your toes. Often, we carry you around outside to touch different plants which seems to calm you down when you're in a funk. I've never seen a child so fascinated by plants and we wonder if you will be a botanist or a landscape architect some day. But then, you seem to have a similar fascination with beer bottles too. So we're still narrowing down your career path at 5 months.

You enjoy spending your days drooling through clothes, giggling, smiling, squealing like a stuck pig, devouring oatmeal, petting Jake, pulling my hair, and beeping the horn of your Jeep walker as we push you around the house making traffic sound effects. Sometimes you even decide to take a nap.

We just got back from a trip to the Outer Banks over Labor Day. We arrived in Nags Head on Friday night hungry and frazzled after listening to you scream/cry for the last hour of the trip. I think you were just fed up with being confined in your car seat for so long. After we checked into our tiny room, I sat on the bed holding you in my lap and I smelled something unpleasant. Looking down at you, I saw poop had found its way out of your diaper onto me and the bed and you just sat there grinning up at me. Now that you only poop once or twice a week, when you do have a bowel movement it is a poop power explosion. And now that you're eating solids, they are stinky peanut butter consistency poops. They are very delicious to clean up when mom and dad are hungry.

So after we managed to get you all cleaned up, we decided I would get you to sleep while your dad went out and scrounged us up some food since it was already after 9:00 PM. He came back within 10 minutes carrying a pound of steamed shrimp and a huge container of rice and beans from Tortugas Lie. As your poopy diaper dried in the air conditioned breeze, we ate a romantic dinner atop our makeshift cooler table serenaded by the sound of you crying a few feet away. It was one of the most delicious meals I have ever eaten and although it is absurd, it really was romantic to sit in such squalor and eat such fantastic food with the two people I love most in the world.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

To all the haters

I think there is a sickness spreading in the world to be against something simply for the sake of being against it. I don't know where it stems from, but I'm noticing a trend of behavior in people to get bent out of shape over the most innocuous of subjects. I see it on message boards and blogs all the time where it's referred to as "flaming."  People seem to get drunk on the power of their own aggression.  Often armed with online anonymity, they'll spout off their vitriol about, well, pretty much anything. 

The latest aim of these hater's ire is the pregnancy time lapse video, like the  video Dave made of me during my pregnancy.  A Canadian website found our video and contacted Dave last week to get his insight into why we made the video and posted it on youtube.  Seems innocent enough right? We are mentioned in this article (although if I was her editor, I would have cut this part out entirely, as it has nothing to do with her overall theme.  Kind of like this little aside of mine.  Ahem.)  What I find interesting  is not so much the article itself, but some of the comments it is generating.  I can fathom the comments that call the creators of these videos navel gazers. Haha, because you know, that's precisely what it is watching the expanding belly grow.  Some people are not so kind though and refer to anyone that would make a pregnancy video as an  "exhibitionist" and "egocentric".  Mmm okay, a bit strongly worded, but I'll take that.  Then there are a couple of haters calling the time-lapse videos "vulgar" and "disgusting".  Huh?  Are we on the same planet?  

Our motivation for making the video was for documentation purposes.  We wanted to make it accessible to our friends and family that live far away.  Moreover, I want our child to be able to see this video and know that the expanding belly he sees in the video is the start of his life.  Any pregnancy is a blessing and a miracle.  How do those naysayers think they were brought into the world? Anyone that cannot find beauty in these videos must be in a sad state indeed.  I truly pity them.

I pity them in the same way that I felt sorry for the conservative zealots that contacted their child's school and demanded Obama's back to school speech be boycotted.  They were outraged that Obama was attempting to "indoctrinate students with his socialist agenda".  The speech, given this morning,  stresses the importance of hard work, staying in school,  personal responsibility and accountability.  (For a full transcript of the speech, here's a link to Fox News's coverage and some scary comments from quite a few zealots that have overdosed on some right wing flavored hate kool aid.)  Of course,  I defend any one's right to say and believe what they want to believe no matter how self defeating or ignorant I find their opinions to be.  But it still makes me sad.  

Even when you try to do good, some one's panties are going to get wadded up over it. What a pitiful state of affairs.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Beach and beer

For those keeping score at home, North is winning the War on Sleep. I'm not complaining, just stating facts. I now think that he is teething. But what I think changes every day. Have you noticed? I'm sure next week I will be convinced that the feng shui of the room is making sleep impossible for him or that his mullet is keeping him from sleeping.

In other news, we are headed to the Outer Banks this afternoon to spend the holiday weekend with family and friends. We're going down a day early because of the most delicious lemongrass wheat beer in the world sold at this Outer Banks Brewing Station. Per their website, they are America's first wind powered brew pub. The restaurant space doubles as a stage for bands to play at night. While guests enjoy their meal, they are free to marvel at the brewing equipment visible through windows adjacent to the lower dining room. It's a cool place to check out if you find yourself in the neighborhood. Even if you just pop your head in to use the bathroom (decorated in repurposed romance novel covers) or to buy a growler of beer. The food is delicious, but the beer, the beer is amazing.

I'll leave you with pictures of what our following days will be filled with.
Feet sucking!
Baby sharks!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

cry-i-i-ing over you

Today has turned out to be day one of "Cry It Out" sleep training for North. He just spent the last hour crying and wailing from his crib. During the first twenty minutes or so, Dave and I took turns going to comfort him silently and without picking him up. He would settle down temporarily, but would start wailing as soon as we left the room again. Knowing he had just been fed and had a fresh diaper, we eventually stopped going in to comfort him. Listen to me justify that fact that we are NOT bad parents for letting him cry! I hated every moment of it, but he's FINALLY asleep.

He was quite a good sleeper in infancy as I've mentioned before. Argh! I knew talking about it would jinx it! Right around three and a half months, he was really putting up a fuss one night at bedtime. I opened the door to his room and he turned toward the light, saw me, and stopped crying. Of course, at the time, I thought how sweet that he stopped crying when he saw me.  I got all Sally Field and exclaimed in my head, "he likes me! He really likes me!" Hi, I'm stupid. Ever since that switch went off that told him crying = mom and dad come in, his sleeping has regressed and then regressed some more. What started off as him getting up every 2-3 hours has now become every 1-2 hours. I can tell you with certainty that when you get up at 5:00 AM and have been up 4-5 times throughout the night, the "Cry It Out" method starts to make a lot more sense.

There is a lot of controversy about "Cry It Out" though and some people would have you believe you are a bad parent for attempting it.  I can tell you that hearing North cry for the last hour was the hardest thing I've had to do thus far. I don't think parents take the decision to try this sleep method lightly, we didn't anyway. I've been thinking about using this sleep training method for weeks and attempted it, only to fail, pick him up and hold/feed/rock him until he finally fell asleep. It physically pains me to hear him cry, as I think it does any parent. Point is, "Cry It Out" is not for everyone. But we have to try to teach him how to soothe himself so we can start to get some sleep again. As much as I hate admitting it, sleep deprivation really does take a physical toll after awhile.  Damn you body limitations!

I've been beating myself up for the last week thinking we are to blame for his sleep issues (and you know, we are really). At first I thought our routine was not strict enough. Then I thought maybe I was not feeding him enough. And finally I realized that I needed to stop listening to every one's opinions about how they raised their baby and figure out what my son needs.  I need to stop comparing North to other babies and myself to other mothers.  Don't get me wrong, I appreciate any advice given to me from another mother.  I have learned a great deal through the insight of other moms.  But to blame myself when what worked for someone else doesn't have any impact on solving our sleep issues is silly.  I cannot cram our life and my baby into another family's situation and expect to get the same results they did every time.

I also need to kick this guilt habit to the curb once and for all. Thanks Catholicism!  So there you have it, I've admitted to using "Cry It Out" sleep training on my child and made fun of my Catholic upbringing all in the same post! Bring on the flames!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


North has officially started eating solid food. We actually tried it a few weeks ago when he started waking up multiple times through the night. But after a couple of days of rice cereal before bed, he was still waking up through the night. Realizing how much more time consuming cereal is to prepare, we decided to hold solids off for a few more weeks, especially if they weren't satisfying him. Then North went from waking up every three hours to every two hours. Yeah, momma can't keep doing that and hope to function. So here we are attempting solids again!

He is a good little eater so far. Well, except for weeping through his breakfast yesterday. So we have decided to just start with an evening feeding for now and work up to twice a day. He often smiles through his meal regardless of the fact that his mouth is full of mush. Then the mush oozes out of the sides of his mouth and down his face where I catch it with the spoon and feed it to him again. Mmm recycled food.

Three days into eating solids and he's still waking up every two hours though. We're still hopeful that introducing solids now will help though. Now for the disclaimers:

-I'm really not complaining, just stating a fact that I miss solid chunks of sleep. Honestly, I enjoy being up with him through the night. Just, you know, not this many times in one night.

-I know that we're lucky he goes right back to sleep once he eats. I realize that I might look back on this post from some future point when he's teething and wailing through the night and think "what a simpleton I was to think I knew what tired was when he was merely getting up every two hours!" Maybe this is Mother's Nature's way of building up my sleep deprivation tolerance for some new phase that is right around the corner? That bitch!

-You cannot get used to the current behavior of your child because they will turn on you in time. That's right, you child's directive is to destroy you. I joke. What I mean is, every time I think I figure something out about North, he changes. So I've stopped trying to figure him out and just go with it.

-I'm just going to shut up now.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Sun Pickles

I got another double share this week from my CSA. That means I've got a ton of vegetables to use up in a short amount of time. So I scoured the internet tubes for an easy pickle recipe that could be completed during one baby nap. I found a recipe that uses the power of the sun rather than hours on a stove top and I tweaked it to my taste and what was in my pantry. I opened the jars for a taste test last night after they had been sunning for only two days. The pickles were already pretty tasty.  With confidence, I bring you:

Sun(ya) Pickles

pint size mason jars with lids (old food jars work well too)
4 cups water
2 cups white vinegar
1/8 cup sea salt
1 teaspoon dill
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon seasoned salt
1 tablespoon celery salt
6-10 cloves of garlic, sliced thin
10-15 medium sized cucumbers, quartered lengthwise
2-3 jalapeno peppers, optional

Scrub cucumbers and peppers and rinse thoroughly. Place vinegar, water and sea salt in saucepan and bring it to a boil. Meanwhile, quarter the cucumbers and cut up the peppers and garlic. Add half of the dill, garlic powder, seasoned salt, celery salt and garlic to the jars. Pack the pickles and peppers into the jars. Then top with the other half the spices and garlic.

Once brine comes to a boil, remove from stove and pour over the cucumbers until the jar is full. Top with lid and shake. Place full jars outside in the sun for 3 days, turning a couple times a day. After 3 days of sun, put pickles in refrigerator. Pickles will stay fresh for up to 1 year.

Fruity Nutso Baked Oatmeal

Warning: This post contains the words breastfeeding and milk. It also contains the word oatmeal, which is delicious.

When I knew I was going to breastfeed, I researched foods that would be good for me to eat to help with milk supply issues. So far, I have had success drinking fennel tea and chamomile tea, especially when North was a newborn (thanks Sabine!) Gripe water often contains ginger, fennel, chamomile and bicarbonate. So it makes sense that drinking these teas would have a calming effect on a breastfed baby. Or maybe it's all placebo effect. I'm no scientist.

Beer is also said to help with mom's milk supply. Or at least that's what I tell myself when I'm sitting in my inflatable pool drinking an icy beer on a 95 degree day while North naps inside the house.

Another food that I use for its magical breastfeeding properties is oatmeal with fruit and nuts. The oatmeal and nuts are fantastic sources of protein. I have found that most of the extra calories I need for breastfeeding are best found in protein rich food.  Starting off your day with so much protein can help to curb your appetite later in the day too.

As a matter of fact, two night ago, I forced Dave into a Wendy's drive thru at gunpoint because I needed a bacon cheeseburger at 9:00 PM. Cravings can be just as bad as the ones felt during pregnancy, especially if your child is going through a growth spurt.

But back to delicious oatmeal. I eat it almost every day. This recipe is so much better than the kindergarten paste oatmeal I sometimes have to eat at work. Once you try steel cut oats, you may never go back to quick oats again. You could use all steel cut oats in this recipe (increase the milk 1/4 cup if you do). I tweaked the recipe a bit so that I could get rid of some reserves of rolled oats in my pantry. Steel cut oats are also a bit expensive, but worth it. In case you have a hard time finding them, they are also called coarse-cut oats, Irish oats, or pinhead oats. The latter is kind of mean though.

I would recommend using peaches or pears for the fruit and almonds for the nuts. So so good! Dave even ate it with ice cream last night because he is trying to increase his milk supply too. Anyway, I'll shut up now, here's the recipe.

Fruity Nutso Baked Oatmeal

1 1/2 cups steel cut oatmeal
1 cup rolled oats
3 cups milk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 cup fruit (can be fresh, canned or dried)
1/2 cup nuts (walnuts, pecans and almonds work great)

Combine ingredients and let sit for 15 minutes. Pour mixture into a 9 X 13" glass baking dish. Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees. Leftovers can be refrigerated up to a week or frozen. Best served warm with milk. Serves 9.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Camping in the NC mountains

North, you're going to be a fine camper one day. I could tell as soon as we got our camp set up and sat you down to relax in your chair that you already know exactly what makes camping so enjoyable. Being one with nature (beer), cooking on an open fire (beer), and unplugging from normal life make camping a favorite past time of ours.

We spent the past weekend camped in a small cabin off the Blue Ridge Parkway in the NC mountains. Dave and I went tent camping here when we first met five years ago over Memorial Day 2004. Funny to think we would be married a year later and have you five years later.

On Saturday afternoon we drove to Burnsville, NC, where there happened to be an Arts Festival in progress. But it also happened to be in a dry county, didn't allow dogs, had a lack of ATMs and did I mention no beer tents? So we had some barbecue and went on our merry way. We stopped at a train car that might have been some one's house on the way back towards camp. This picture has been dubbed North West.

Oh the fun we have with your name. It just never stops North!

We weren't going to stop at North Cove because you were sleeping. But I'm so glad we did. You were such a giggle monster. I'll always remember the sound of your giggles and delighted squeals as we overlooked the other mountains in the distance.

We hiked you through Linville Falls, where you were quite a flirt with the other hikers. Between you and Jake, we were perhaps a more popular attraction than the actual falls.

After a long day of walking, you needed a bath. So I finally got to use the inflatable sink my mom got me for Christmas when I was a teenager. I carried it around unopened for 15 years so that it would be nice and clean for you to bathe in. Who am I kidding? You really weren't even that dirty. I just wanted to get a picture of you in it.

Sadly, we had to leave our campin' cabin behind and head back east. But before we exited the parkway, we stopped for a quick picnic at the Blowing Rock exit. Nestled in amongst the rhododendrons and trees, we ate sandwiches and played with Superman while the world went by.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Four Months

Dear North,

I can't believe it's August and you're already four months old. You're decidedly not a baby anymore. I watched your pooping video from when you were just a few weeks old yesterday and already I do not recognize that earlier version of you. I cannot imagine a you that doesn't smile, giggle, babble and flirt. Oh yeah, and fly.

Man, do you love to fly. Since you've realized that you're Superman, it's all you want to do. Your bib/cape flaps in the wind as you fly around the house stopping only occasionally to tap dance on the dog or the counter top. I guess you're a cross between Superman and Lord of the Dance.

Currently, you are going through what I'm guessing is a growth spurt or maybe it's the four month wakeful period I have read a bit about. Either way, you are up about every three hours through the night. Previously, you would only wake up one time, so your sleep regression took us by surprise. But I do not mind the sleep interruptions because I love spending that time with you before I have to go into work for the day. I will gladly give up a bit of sleep to stare at your tiny sleepy face cast in a soft blue light from the projection machine we use as a night light.

You still sleep in our room right now. Especially considering how much you're waking up, sharing a room with you just makes sense. This morning, you were hungry around 4:30 AM, but once you ate, you were not interested in going back to sleep. So you laid there and hummed with each breath you took. Every now and then, we would hear a soft half-hearted attempt at a cry followed by more humming. I've considered grabbing the video camera to record these moments so I don't forget them. But I have to trust that I can capture these moments in my mind's eye forever. I admit it, I may be having a bit of hard time transitioning you to your crib in the nursery. I just know that once you are in your own room, I can't turn back the clock and make you my tiny baby anymore.

I know I have said this every letter thus far, but I want to lock you in time right now. You are still so tiny but with an emerging personality that tickles us to no end. You giggle uncontrollably anytime you are tickled or zerberted. You are also becoming much more self-amused and independent when playing on your activity mat and or in your jumperoo. Changing your diaper is not so much a struggle to fight your kicking legs as it is a challenge to get your toes out of your mouth. You seem very fond of your feet and often you laugh and jibber jabber while playing with them. I think you've found a friend.

Speaking of friends, there is also your favorite baby that lives inside the mirror. This works as a great soothing tool for when you are upset. We just carry you to the mirror and if we can get you to actually open your eyes and stop wailing for a second, you see that highly attractive little person's reflection and instantly change to smiles as you flirt with him. I don't think you realize that it's you yet.

We spend a lot of time in front of the mirror when you are not upset too. Sometimes, it is the easiest way for me to see your face. Because you still love perching on my shoulder facing backwards for hours a day, every now and then I carry you to a mirror just so I can see your face light up in smiles as you see our reflection. So there it is, I miss you even when I'm holding you in my arms.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Easy Stuffed Peppers

I compared my method of making stuffed peppers with other recipes online to see if anyone had any better ideas on the subject. So you could say I'm an expert now. Or I could say it for you. I can't declare my recipe the most delicious, but I can tell you that it's simple and requires the least amount of work and dirty dishes at the end of the day. You probably have most of the ingredients in your pantry already:

6 medium peppers, rinsed and cored
46 ounces tomato juice
1/2 cup dry rice, prepared according to directions
1 cube chicken bouillon
1 pound ground turkey
1/3 cup bread crumbs
1/3 cup finely diced onion
2 cloves garlic
worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. ground cumin
salt and pepper

Prepare your rice according to the directions. I throw a chicken bouillon cube in with the water and rice for a little more fla-vah. While that is cooking, rinse and core your peppers. You know, speaking of researching other recipes online beforehand, one particular recipe instructed me to cut the top inch of the pepper off and discard. Holy waste of pepper! Instead, I used a tiny pairing knife and cut a circle around the stem until it pulled up. Then I used my fingers to get all the seeds and gave the inside a quick rinse. Perhaps a little more work, but much less wasteful.

Once your rice is finished cooking, throw it in with the raw ground turkey, bread crumbs, onion, garlic, worcestershire sauce, cumin and seasoning. Combine it---use your hands, they're the best cooking tool you have. Stuff the peppers with the meat mixture and set them in a large pot. I also stuffed a yellow squash and a tomato, for fun. Weeeeee! Pour tomato juice over the peppers. Maybe fill the spaces between the peppers, with the squash entrails, chopped tomatoes and or some cut up potatoes for a one pot meal. Like the way I used a pot lid for a plate? Classy right? You should come to my house where I make guests eat directly out of the pot so as not to dirty any dishes.

I cooked these on the stove top, covered on medium low heat for about an hour. Top with cheese and eat.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Behold our consignment sale booty

There is a huge local consignment sale twice a year that is held in a warehouse on the Raleigh fairgrounds. This is the second sale we've attended, the first one being back in January. Although we didn't pick up nearly the amount of stuff we did last time, we still ended up with $80 worth of stuff. Loot breakdown: $1-$2 shirts and pants, $12 doorway jumper, $10 Floppy Seat grocery cart/high chair cover, $2 bottle rack, $2 bath toys, $2 life vest, $2 green monster mirror.

Dave has been a super dad both times and gone alone in the morning as soon as the doors open to get the best selection. But such selection comes with a price, especially as people are looking to save money more desperately recently. Between the throngs of people and the sheer amount of stuff piled high on tables as far as the eye can see, it can consume a huge chunk of your day. I mean, they give you a map when you enter the building for heaven's sake.

I met him when I got out of work at 12:00. I quickly picked up a few things we needed but had forgotten to add to his list and we sorted through all the clothes daddy had picked out. Yes, daddy picks out most of the clothes for Northy. He has fantastic taste that guy.

I continued shopping for about 15 minutes while Dave and North took a place at the end of the line. Then I met up with them and we waited at least another hour or so. I think the vastness of this consignment sale would be a pain if you were alone. But Dave, North and I had an enjoyable afternoon.

Most pleasant of all, the ladies shopping at the sale help each other out (there are many men there, but it is a predominately female crowd). Two kind ladies gave me unsolicited input on some purchases that were really helpful. I must have looked very confused that they came to my aid just by looking at the dumb expression on my face. And I paid their kindness forward by helping a lady that was trying to figure out all the breast pump accessories. I guess we've all been there, and no matter where you're at on this journey, you've got wisdom to share at some point along the way.

I swear, the day I joined this club called parenthood, walls came tumbling down around me.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Creamed Cukey Tom Salad

This salad couldn't be any easier. My sister in law served it to me a few weeks ago and I was all, "please sir, may I have some more" because I like to quote Oliver!  (I've never understood the exclamation point in this musical title.  Does that make it sound more exciting?) She took pity on me and told me it was just cucumbers, seasoned salt and sour cream. I've adapted the recipe a little today because I need to get rid of more vegetables than that:

1 cucumber, peeled and sliced
1 dollop of sour cream
1 tsp white vinegar
seasoned salt to taste
pepper to taste
1/4 cup onion (optional)
1/3 cup chopped tomatoes (optional)

Directions: combine, let it hang out for a bit and eat.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Mr. Hopping Chatterbox

I found out I was pregnant exactly one year ago today.  What a difference a year makes eh?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Cold veggie pasta salad

1/4 box mini fusilli
1/4 cup onion, diced
1/2 cup pepper, diced
1/3 cup green creme peas (black-eyed peas would be a great sub)
1/2 cup cucumber, peeled and diced
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
3 tablespoons italian dressing

I'm really blowing your mind by posting a pasta salad recipe today huh? What next Sonya, a recipe for toast? I know this sounds kind of plain jane, but it had been awhile since I made a fresh pasta salad without using a box as a crutch. I don't know why; making a fresh salad is about the same amount of work as a box. Remember that cute baby I had recently? Let's blame him.

So I boiled the pasta according to the directions on the box and threw in the green creme peas I had shelled at the same time. If you substitute garbanzo beans or black eyed peas, this step is not necessary. Also, I would use more beans if I were you. But I was me and got tired of shelling the creme peas, so I used a smaller amount. I could taste the laziness in my final salad let me tell you, yet it was still quite delicious.

Anyway, while the pasta cooked, I diced my veggies up nice and pretty until the timer went off. Then I drained the pasta and peas and ran cold water over them to stop the cooking process. I dumped everything into a pretty bowl and doused it with some poppy seed dressing (basic Italian would work too.) If I had some Cha Cha dressing, I would have poured the entire bottle all over my salad. I picked some up when I visited my dear friend in San Francisco and we finished it in no time sadly. If you ever see this stuff in a store, pick up a bottle, you will not regret it!

I promise more dishes that do not contain almost exact ingredients next time. I confess I made this salad at the same time that I made the garden pasta with bacon. My multitasking is astounding no? No?

Summer garden pasta with bacon!

Remember last week when I first prepared pink eye purple hull peas? Well, I believe there was talk of bacon! Then Dave's Tia Vicky in the Dominican Republic sent an email recommending we mix the peas with short cooked pasta and parmesan cheese. Yum! Who am I to resist?

So I boiled up some peas in lighty salted water just as before. I let them boil for about 7 minutes while I fried up 5 strips of center cut bacon. I also had a pot of water coming to a boil so it was ready for pasta.

The pan I used for bacon was big enough that I could eventually throw everything into it and use up the grease and yummy bits already in the pan. One thing that bugs me about cooking shows is the sheer number of pans and bowls used during the cooking process. Obviously Alton Brown is not washing his own dishes man. That guy could make some oatmeal and somehow dirty every dish, pan and possibly brick (he loves to use bricks in his oven) in his kitchen. So anytime I can get a pot or pan to do double duty, I do it as a slap in the face to Mr. Good Eats.

But back to the serious matter that is at hand. With the bacon fried and resting on paper towels, I threw the boiled and drained peas into the big ol' pan with all the bacon 'juice'. That makes it sound healthier right?

In the same pan, I tossed some garlic, onion, squash, orange and red cherry tomatoes, basil and salt and pepper. Most any vegetable would work in this dish for sure, so whatever you've got would probably be tasty. I topped everything with a bit of the green tube parmesan....because that is all I had on hand ok? Remember my assignment to use only what I had? Well, sorry I don't keep fancy pants parmesan reggiano stocked at the ready at all times mister fancy boy! Confession: I like Easy Cheese too.

Summer garden pasta with bacon!

1/2 lb pink eyed purple hull peas,
5 strips of bacon
1/4 box mini fusilli pasta, cooked according to package
1-2 cloves of garlic, diced
1/3 cup onion, diced
1 squash cut into bite-sized pieces
1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
4 basil leaves, chiffonade (shredded if you don't speak fancy)
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese

I would have gladly paid hundreds of dollars for this dish in a restaurant. OK, well I would have paid like $15 for such local fresh ingredients for sure. But how nice to enjoy a healthy and delicious meal from the comfort of my couch with a crying baby nearby? You cannot put a price on such ambiance. I could have lied and said we sipped wine and slowly savoured each bite while enjoying the view of the ridgeline off our back deck. But somehow the truth makes me smile more.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Farmer North

And with one little picture, Grandmas all over the world just burst into a zillion pieces from cuteness overload. Just so you know, I had to pry that creme pea out of his tiny farmer hand, otherwise he may have clutched it all night.

As you can see from the bounty above, we have a ton of fresh produce this week. My lovely sister-in-law is also a member of our CSA and they are traveling this week to New York state, so she offered us her share. I'm going to challenge myself to cook only with ingredients that I already have on hand and pair them with as much of this local produce as possible. I enjoy cooking with basic staples available almost anywhere because you don't always need expensive ingredients to make delicious food. Plus, I love the frugality of it all.

I will take pictures and post the rough recipe for each dish created. Maybe it will inspire other households to take on the same challenge and use up stuff they've already got on hand or stop by a local farmer's market. Or maybe these recipes will spark a new idea for how to use up veggies from your garden. Lord knows I need some tips myself because currently I have tomatoes coming out of my wazoo. (Please note, wazoo is in the dictionary.)

Anyway, be forewarned that I don't really follow recipes when I cook, I just start looking around to see what I've got and throw it in. So the measurements that I include in these recipes are approximate. A lot depends on personal taste and yours may be different than mine.

This brings to mind something I've heard people say that steams my buns a bit. They claim that they are overweight because of the cheaper processed foods their meager budget forces them to buy. I'm here to yell from my soapbox, that is a load of manure. Dave and I have spent $2 on a pot of lentil soup and eaten a low calorie and nutritious dinner for days! You can cook healthy and thrifty meals for pennies if you plan right. I hope the recipes that follow in the coming days help to drive that point home.

Whew, sorry to get so preachy.  I feel pretty strongly about processed food and the link to obesity apparently.  As always, I'd love to hear any other ideas anyone has for using up these veggies too!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

One-eyed purple people eater

Membership with our CSA is wonderful so far. This spring, we enjoyed fresh lettuce, onions, potatoes, fennel, all kinds of lettuce and did I mention lettuce? The two heads of lettuce a week really was a godsend though and helped me burn through a lot of baby weight very quickly. Now that summer is here, this second leg of the CSA is providing the bounty I was hoping for. From tomatoes to okra, squash to cantaloupe, we're eating very well in the Killer household.

This week's experiment was pink eye purple hull peas. They're a beautiful southern pea similar to a black-eyed pea. Once I received these and properly staged them for a pretty picture, I shelled each pod while I wore North facing outward. He's a big boy now. He didn't like hulling peas. At all. But boy where they pretty when I was done.

I threw them into a pot of lightly salted water I had on the stove and let them boil for about 5 minutes. Then I grabbed a carrot, peeled it and diced it up and threw it in the pot too. Crazy I know, but I let them cook for 5 more minutes.

After about 10 minutes of boiling, I drained them and threw them in a little frying pan. I threw in some garlic, onion, jalapeno, butter, salt and pepper. My kitchen became very dirty after throwing so much food around but that is the only verb I know. Anyway, I let everything hang out on medium heat until the onions cooked up. You see how casual I am about this cooking thing? It's like Rachel Ray, except I'm not as annoying and I accidentally leave the burners on all the time.

This alone was fantastic and I may have complimented myself aloud throughout the dinner eating process. But I meant to cook some bacon before I even threw the veggies in the pan. Then I would have cooked the peas in the grease, omitted the butter and crumbled bacon over the cooked veggies. It might be for the best that I forgot because I hear people can spontaneously explode if they eat too much bacon-infused deliciousness. There's always next week's produce to see if our mouths can handle that much awesome.