Saturday, May 29, 2010

on planning, expectations, and spring storms

The other night I was pretty excited about dinner. I had bought two beautiful artichokes on a day trip to St. Louis, MO (where I got a bunch of maternity clothes, including 5 light as air sundresses) at Whole Foods. I have never made artichokes, but that's part of the fun for me, so I got to work and went online to find a recipe. I found one for "stuffed artichokes," fulfilling my tendency (or, as Jeremy would call it, my maddening tendency) to choose a recipe I've never made or tasted before. So I set to work, got the artichokes going, got the Trader Joe's ravioli boiling, got the butter tomato sauce going... and, Jeremy was an hour and fifteen minutes late.

Deer in our front yard at 6 p.m.

One hour later

He did have a good excuse, but it did throw a teensy wrench into my dinner plans. As I waited for him, I turned down the lights (it was storming), lit some candles, turned off the television, and envisioned a quiet, romantic night, where we would converse excitedly at the table about our day and then cuddle on the couch and just enjoy each other's company.

Dinner was gross. I couldn't eat the artichokes or the ravioli. I think I had waited too long to eat, and so my stomach completely refused to participate in my romantic plans. A big part of it though, was that the artichokes had no flavor. Jeremy just ate the stuffing out of them (ew). I had some leftover cake that I doused in macerated strawberries and whipped cream. It was lackluster as well. Jeremy turned on the t.v. I crumpled onto the couch, which I abandoned for my bed not too long after. It was a pretty disappointing night.

It seems like whenever I plan or get my hopes up for something, it fails miserably. Here's the thing though: did I ever think to pray for Jeremy so that when he came home from work (after being gone for over 12 hours) he would be able to relax? I had been home all day long, doing whatever I wanted, watching PBS, reading, going for a walk, while he dealt with people at work, then people at Home Depot, then the storm, and yet I expected that he would just be wooed by the candlelight. I think I got him mixed up with someone else: me. What would have gotten him to relax? The t.v. on. Hamburgers and french fries. Maybe some ice cream. Helloo, Alanna. Maybe you could tell him what kind of night you're hoping it will be. I just miss it sometimes, you know?

The next night he came home sick from work. I made this and this. And it was fabulous. And then we went out and got shakes and then lolled around, watching a movie. It was much, much better, perhaps mostly so because I wasn't thinking of expectations fulfilled or denied. I just enjoyed being around him, running around in the storm, seeking out a milk chocolate shake.

And then the next night, last night, we unexpectedly were able to get two couple friends of ours to our favorite pizza place, where we ate and talked for two hours. Then he and I went to the grocery store, where I bought the biggest box of Lucky Charms I could find and he got ice cream. We came home and watched Modern Family on Hulu, cuddled up on the couch. Much more romantic than artichokes by candlelight. And much more fun because Jeremy was relaxed and happy, and I was able to just enjoy being with him.

Friday, May 21, 2010

finding out

the news is out: today we found out we're having a boy. We thought it might be a boy, but I tried very very hard to keep an open mind so that I wouldn't be disappointed if it was a girl. But it's not; it's a boy!

I never wanted to have a boy; I definitely wanted all girls, which is just so silly to think about now. But when I got pregnant, I had this little picture of a blonde, curly headed, sweet, chubby boy that I couldn't get out of my mind.

I am so so excited.

So excited that I have wept twice today, which was immediately preceded by my laughing so hard that I cried. I believe that's called hysterics. I am tired; mom and I went to St. Louis, MO yesterday to do some maternity shopping (6 dresses, 3 pairs of pants, and 3 shirts!!), and by the time the 12 hour trip ended, I was beyond exhausted. And then we got up this morning and found out we were having a boy (!), and, apparently, it was just too much for this pregnant lady. I'm barely functioning at this point, and it's only 6 p.m.

But, no matter how crazy I felt and acted today, we got to see our boy: his face and hands and lips and feet and heart. It was beautiful and wonderful and joyful. I just can't get over how excited I am that he's real.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


decisions, decisions on this quiet Wednesday afternoon...

Q: "snooze" or "dismiss"
A: Waking from my nap I hit snooze, but I must admit that in that dream/sleep/awake state, I was confused about this decision. I could generally understand that either one meant that I could go back to sleep, but also that they weren't the same thing. I went, luckily, with the first choice, which means that Jeremy is not going to find me passed out on the bed when he gets home today.

Q: "oatmeal raisin" or "chocolate chip"
A: Chocolate chip. With a cold glass of whole, raw milk on the side. Before you disagree with this decision, and especially because it is a hard choice to make, let me explain. I made the batch of oatmeal raisin a few days ago and had already had a "few." I made the batch of chocolate chip yesterday and had yet to have a whole one (I had to taste since I made half the batch for some friends, of course). Additionally, these are not just chocolate chip. I ran out of chocolate chips, so I used what I had, which was a few bars of dark chocolate with dried cherries and almonds. AND since I had bars, I had to cut up the chocolate myself, which means that the insides of the cookie did not consist of independent "chips" but itty bitty pieces of chocolate along with chunks. AND, I made it with whole wheat pastry flour, oats, and more chopped almonds. AND the recipe said to "not overbake, but underbake if anything." That lady is smart, because the outside of the cookie is totally baked, but the inside is super soft, almost like a cookie dough. My goodness. (She does not currently have the recipe online, but it's in her cookbook, which I ADORE.)

Q: vacuum or clean kitchen?
A: Oprah. On the couch. Then maybe the kitchen :-)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

back to "normal"

I don't know quite what I mean by normal, by the way. It is not necessarily normal for me to not have a job, or even to just be on break from school. It is not normal for me to go for a walk when Jeremy leaves in the morning and then come back, shower, paint my toenails, and make some toast slathered with goat cheese and apple butter. But it does feel normal. Or maybe the word I'm looking for is Awesome. I'm getting back to Awesome, because now I can have a clean home, and folded laundry, and fresh sheets, and a refrigerator that doesn't smell like garbage.

And maybe a nap. Because, my goodness, walking is not the graceful, effortless exercise it once was.

I realize how lucky I am. I know that most women don't have this opportunity, and I am so thankful for the life I get to live right now. And I know that, because this is my life, that Jeremy's life is much, much harder. That takes a lot of the fun out of it, but it makes me get off the couch in the morning and spend the day making our apartment as peaceful and warm for him as I can, while I can, since I know that when Baby comes, things will be very different. Until then, I'm going to try to enjoy this time, this summer, and morning walks followed by goat cheese and apple butter as much as I can.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


Today's lunch was sort of a mishmash of what I had around; I found some soba noodles and then some leftover pesto in the freezer (that I had made last summer), and put those together with some parmesan sprinkled on top (and then some extra, a lot extra, sea salt on top--being pregnant, my favorite flavor/ingredient/food is salt!). I had some goat cheese in the fridge, and a crispy apple, so I put that over some honey whole wheat bread (with sea salt, of course). YUM. I feel completely satisfied.

Speaking of food, I've been meaning to post some recipes up here for awhile that I've recently come across. I haunt along with some other sites and blogs and have found the BEST recipes lately. I thought I'd share a couple of them.

This is a curried chicken salad that I made for the second time last night; I know it's nothing new, but it's SO easy and makes bunches. Jeremy really likes it. (The toasted almonds add a lot of flavor--I don't worry about blanching them, and I think I'm actually going to boil a couple of eggs and throw them in there too, to make it all last longer.)

I love Heidi Swanson's blog 101 Cookbooks; I have her Super Natural Cooking cookbook and pretty much love everything I've ever made out of it. She posted this recipe for a skillet bread not too long ago, and we really liked it a lot. It was the first time I had ever made quinoa, and it was much less scary than I had imagined.

Interestingly, it has a sort of custard topping to it, which was great with what we ate it with, a meat dish that I had cooked into oblivion. The custard helped to balance out the moisture ratio that was severely lacking in the meat. I didn't add the herbs to the top, but I think that would really help--otherwise the custard doesn't have much flavor. Next time I'll try it without the cream; the bread had a great flavor on its own. I will say, though, that the dry meat was all my fault, and it really had a great flavor and sauce. I will make it again. (I added black beans to it, which you can see in the picture.) Mmmm: that looks good. We both really enjoyed dinner that night.

The one recipe that I wanted to make again as I was eating it is this one. I'm serious. I'm getting meat this weekend to make it again next week. I don't think I've ever enjoyed the smell of something cooking as I did this dish. And there is so much sauce left over which is AWESOME because that sauce is gold. One reviewer said she used it for an enchilada sauce, which I'm sure would be amazing. We ate on it all week. (It would be great with the above skillet bread.)

I've really been into making one or two meals a week and then eating on them over a few days. Jeremy doesn't mind, and it's been helpful for both my finishing up the semester and when I've felt a little less than well. We'll be having leftover curried chicken salad tonight (since I'm still a little out of it because of the UTI) with a twice baked potato (last night we had it with homemade oven roasted french fries--Jeremy's favorite). I saw on a food show yesterday that they bake the potato, carve out all the insides, then baste the potato in and out with butter, and bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes to make it extra crispy, then put all the good stuff back in and bake it for a bit longer. So I'm going to try that tonight.

I never knew food could be so much fun until I started cooking when I got married. It really is such a creative endeavor (most of the time!), and I really feel like I can be a bit artsy when putting ingredients together. Which is a good thing, when one is surrounded by laundry and schoolwork, etc., etc., right?

Monday, May 10, 2010

couch potato

Well, I've relegated myself to the couch today. It was an intense, busy weekend, and Jeremy and I were running on empty. In fact, we were more tired this morning than we were on Friday afternoon. That's just not right!

All that to say that I've been cramping today, nothing severe, but it definitely feels like menstrual cramps in a way that I haven't felt since I've been pregnant. It seems like Braxton-Hicks contractions, and I can feel Baby kicking every once in a while, so I'm just trying to take it easy. In fact, Baby is kicking right now : ) My lovely mother is bringing pizza for dinner, so I'm getting some time to just relax. I just wish Jeremy had the same kind of relaxation coming his way... Poor guy.

Anyway, on my online expeditions today I found this book on Orangette's Amazon store. Doesn't that look wonderful?!

Also, my charming friend Colleen posted a write-up on her blog of what had us so busy this weekend with some great pictures, if you want to see how we spent Mother's Day!

If this weird cramping doesn't stop by tomorrow morning, I'll definitely call my doctor, but until then, I'll be on the couch, reading my blogs, working on grading, etc., and eating lots and lots of pizza (with a side of ranch...yum).

Thursday, May 6, 2010

flying high-- almost.

I feel like a tethered ballon, with ropes holding me tight to the earth, with the promise that one by one, they'll be untied.

I had my last class of graduate school last night, and as good as it was to leave class, it was a little bittersweet. I really enjoyed grad school, discussing literature and history and politics and philosophy. I don't have anywhere else in my life that stretches me to think, and then to think more deeply, until it hurts sometimes.

I have my thesis still, and a few things to finish up, grading and such, until I am officially finished, of course. But I do feel like I'm saying goodbye to something that was really good for me, and something that I hope to be a part of again someday.

I do feel a little strangely giddy though, kind of exhilarated by the new freedom I feel. Like a balloon that has had one rope untied and is sort of bobbling about, still mostly secure. I'm wondering what new thing is waiting in the skies... and hoping it's adventure.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

alive and kicking

Jeremy felt the baby kick for the first time tonight! Such a sweet, sweet moment for him, I'm sure, but especially for me, to be able to share that with him.

These pictures were taken by Jeremy just a few days ago, after he realized that he could have some fun with "The Bump."

He's going to have so much fun playing with our kids.

And I know they're going to have a blast with him.

I know that he's probably totally overwhelmed by the idea of having a baby, just like I am, but I know, know, know that he is going to be the best, sweetest, most compassionate and fun daddy the world has ever seen.