Sunday, January 31, 2010

Shoes, Glorious SHOES!

Well, I don't know what to tell you, except that I am fashion challenged. Wait, let me amend that - I am challenged in that I cannot make myself pay a lot for clothing (thanks, Mama :-P), so my choices end up being SEVERELY limited. My current wardrobe consists of 3 pairs of jeans, some long sleeved t-shirts from Old Navy, and some tank tops... from Old Navy... I even went through my closet and culled out the dead wood to see if there were any hidden or forgotten gems. Sadly, now I have a half-empty closet and a HUGE stack of out-of-style/does-not-fit clothing to donate. As though being needy necessitates walking around in things I've been hoarding since high school...

But I digress. My plan was to drag an adorable friend out shopping with me in hopes that she would push me to new fashion heights and I would then soar like an eagle into a world of hip tops, trendy pants and sassy shoes. A place where the air is rarified and the champagne is free... oh man, was I dreaming again? I must have been.

Here's what really happened. I wrangle Kyla into devoting a day off to helping me spend Lily Ruth's college fund (I joke - she has no college fund). After she agrees (and we eat our weight in Mexican food for brunch) she lets it slip that since she works in clothing retail, she loathes shopping. Dammit. Now I'm shopping - which I hate - and I'm forcing somebody I really like into doing something that they hate, too. Crap. Maybe the day can still be salvaged.

After a quick coffee run, we agree to hit the LUSH counter at Macy's. Honestly, who could disagree about that? Then we spy the shoe sale... Holy Moley. I had forgotten how much I love shoes. I stood in the midst of jumbled sales racks (right shoes only), and LONGED for a 'real' job so that I would have a reason to buy heels. Then I shook it off and looked for a pair that I could chase an infant in and that were better the slip ons I was currently wearing (functional, but reminescent of slippers) or flip flops - a girl needs variety, and I currently have none. I found these:



and snapped 'em up. Last pair in the house. I will be the most colorful Mama, but alas, not the most stylish...

Kyla wandered the 'fashion forward' areas, and picked up things best described thusly - 'over-the-knee black boots with gladiator cut outs and platform soles' and 'black suede booties with lethal spike heels'. She settled on 'nude platform peep-toe with a buckle over the instep'. I searched desperately for an image of them to post here, but I can't remember who made them, and I got side tracked... now I want THESE:



but I digress...

As the beautiful Kyla tries on said shoes, she does the requisite '5 steps forward, 5 steps back' dance that we all do in order to asses the feasibility of a new shoe. 'Can it work for me?' we ask... 'will I be able to stand for more than 30 seconds at a time?'... as though 10 steps on highly padded carpet will answer these queries! Well, those answers may not be forthcoming, but something else made itself immediately clear - heel slippage. You may or may not have already guessed where this is headed. That's right, Gentle Reader, the damn things 'farted' with every step. I almost wet myself with mirth. Tears sprang into our eyes as we played out immaginary scenes of Kyla 'farting' her way through a work day...

pft pft pft pft pft - 'Yes, I'm the manager on duty. How can I assist you?'

pft pft - 'can it, you guys! Kyla's coming!'

I had a mental picture of her gliding across the blonde wood shop floors. Poised, put-together, pooting with every step...

Can I tell you - we sat in the chairs of the try-on area completely red faced, teary eyed and unable to contain ourselves. It was bliss.

I said that we should consult a professional. 'Professional WHAT?' asks Kyla. 'Professional Farter?' More giggles. More tears. 'Well' I opined 'all men are professional farters, so the salesman should be able to cover any and all bases on this one'. We make our way to the counter, and delicately mention to the gentleman behind the register that we noticed a bit of heel slippage with these particular shoes. Did he think that an insole would solve the issue? 'Yeah, I sort-of noticed you guys while you tried them on' - I almost DIED - 'and I think that would fix it'. Well, OF COURSE he 'noticed' us trying them on!!! We were the ones guffawing in the center of the room. Priceless. You can't make this shit up, folks. It's real life.

We paid for our shoes, and made our way onward - a new pair of shoes each and a memory to cherish.

Here's my moral for today - a good shoe sale is a great thing. A good friend is a true treasure.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

why I have nothing to post...

Today's Recipes: Diane's Pork Tenderloin, 'Mexican' Rice, Sauteed Cabbage

Due to a recent sleep crisis (unfortunately, it's all of my own making), most of my days have been spent like this:



or this:



so I haven't had a lot of productive time...

We DID make it out for a few errands and some WONDERFUL frozen yogurt



this is serious stuff you guys.

Oh, and I wanted to share a few really basic recipes with you. My Dad's birthday was this week, and my Mama is having a birthday dinner party for a few friends this weekend. In an attempt to take a bit of the weekend burden off of her and also share quality time with her best friend in the whole world, I am having everyone over for dinner tomorrow! I love to do this, but was feeling stuck on menu ideas... so my genius husband reminded me that his sister loves her crockpot as much as I love mine! Done and done - dinner solved:

Diane's Foolproof Pork Tenderloin

crockpot
pork tenderloin
beer

place the pork tenderloin in the crockpot. add the beer. cook all day. eat when you get home.

I'm going to use Shiner Bock and a few garlic cloves! When it's ready, I'm going to serve the meat w/ fresh tortillas, cilantro and lime

Rachel's 'Mexican' Rice

Rice
Chicken Broth
Ro-Tel tomatoes w/ Chilis
Cumin

I use my rice cooker, so the proportions are 1 to 1 1/2 (i.e.: 1 cup rice to 1 1/2 cups broth), but if you are not using a rice cooker, follow the directions on the rice bag, but use broth instead of water. Add in a can of tomatoes w/ chilis (or a can of tomatoes and a can of green chilis), throw in some cumin, and cook away!

Sauteed Red Cabbage

sliced fresh red cabbage
broth
cardamom
ginger

in a large skillet, combine all of the ingredients. the amounts of cardamom and ginger are up to you. start small then go big. I usually steam the cabbage until it is almost done, then sautee until the broth has evaporated - yum!

Well, I told you that these were easy recipes... not even recipes, really - more like guidelines... I am also going to combine a rinsed can of black beans with a can of corn and a can of Hatch green chilis and some butter. Then we are going to gorge ourselves like pig people, drink a lot of wine and laugh until we are tired.

Of course, no matter what recipes I use, I'll have PLENTY of help on the kitchen :-P

Friday, January 22, 2010

Time puts on it's Nike's & books it

It feels like time is FLYING by. It seems like we hit a new milestone each day, and all I can do is hang on and keep my eyes (and my mind) wide open. I welcome each change, but they are also bittersweet. I can't WAIT for her to walk, but her first step will bring her that much closer to the day that she walks away from me and into a life of her own. My dearest hope is that when that day comes, she will do so feeling strong and confident and knowing that her Mama loves her fiercely.

WOW - that made me cry. Well, that's all I need to say about that right now, but I do have a few other things to say about what's going on these days...

I've been noodle-ing around the idea of finger foods. Not for snacking, but for small motor skills. She's doing ridiculously well grabbing things, but holding onto them is a challenge and tiny objects are still tough. Since everything she grasps goes straight into her mouth, it just makes sense to only give her tiny things if they are edible, and will not choke her. I think the idea of Gerber Puffs is genius. The problem I have is that all of this homemade baby food business has made me a bit of a snob. I know for a fact that she will ingest processed food someday. This is a given. I just can't seem to consider it as an option yet. My own Mama made my food. She cried the first time that I ate refined sugar. I've always known that story, but it never made any sense to me... until now. To that end, we went to Whole Foods this morning, and bought organic baby puffs... 3 different kinds. Then we came home and gave them a try :-P



She was a bit freaked out by the texture - and very much preferred scooping them into her lap than eating them - but all in all, it was a success.

I also realized today that I don't listen to enough music anymore. I've always lived surrounded by music. Even when I was pregnant, I always had the stereo on or my playlist up and running and Lily Ruth attended a Nine Inch Nails concert in her first trimester of life. It has only been since her birth that the house has become so quiet. Sometimes I remember to throw in some Philadelphia Chickens or Baby Mozart, but my music has gone silent.

Here's what brought this on. Now, I hesitated to write this because my Mama reads this, and she HATES it when I say negative things about myself, but one of my goals for myself in writing this blog was honesty about where I am. So here it is - I have felt really unattractive lately. This is not due to anything anyone else has said or not said. It's not even about having had a baby. I am proud that my body held and sheltered my baby through pregnancy and birth. I even made it through the whole thing without a single new stretch mark. Add in the fact that I'm down below my pre-baby weight, and I should be feeling pretty darn good. But I'm not. I feel frumpy and old and unattractive. Which is weird, because until this kicked in, I felt pretty good about how I look. Whatever. It'll pass. But in order to help alleviate this feeling (and maybe shed a few pounds), I decided to dance while I do chores. And by dance I mean full-out, full-on booty-shaking dancing. I want to rock out. I put on Reggata de Blanc by the Police -



that album rocks. What helped clue me in to the fact that I don't play enough music is the fact that Lily Ruth spent the first three tracks staring at me as though I had just grown a third arm on my forehead. After that, she warmed up, smiled at me and played with the toys on her exersaucer. After I finished the dishes, I scooped her up, and we danced together for a bit.



After that, I simmered some peaches with cardamom and cinnamon for my darling daughter, pureed them down, got them into an ice cube tray in the freezer and then realized that she had a fever (100.1˚), so I gave her some Tylenol, changed her into a cooler out fit and rocked her for a million years. Then I nursed her for an additional million additional years. Eventually, her fever broke and she seems to feel better now - I think it's just teething.

Whew! What a day. Oh, I mentioned yesterday that there were cute pictures. Well, let me preface this by saying that when I purchased them, I had NO IDEA that these pants were low rise. It may be the cutest/funniest thing I have ever seen on a baby...



In addition, she is growing more adventurous, and more beautiful every single day - it's terrifyingly marvelous. Here she is climbing over her diaper bag like it's a mountain -



I love you, Baby Lily Ruth. You have brought immeasurable joy to my world. Thank you for making me want to be the best me possible so that I can show that person to you.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

:-O

Lily Ruth may have said her first word!!!!!!

A little background - her doorway-hanging jumper came with a flat, green, apple-shaped toy that is supposed to hang on the jumper strap. Well, it took her approximately .02 seconds to remove it from the strap and insert it into her mouth, and it has remained a favorite toy ever since.

Today, she was gnawing on it at every opportunity, so it seemed like every time that I picked her up, I was mentioning the apple (i.e.: 'is that your apple?', 'oh, Lily LOVES her apple' or 'drop the apple, Lady'). Then she freaked out when I ate my lunch, so I put an apple slice into her mesh feeder, and this led to (what else) more apple talk.

Then Daddy came home, and she was (once again) playing with the apple. He scooped her up and asked her - what else - about her apple. That's when HAND TO GOD she said 'Apple'. We both freaked. He asked her again, and she mumbled something about 'ah-poo', and clammed up tighter than a doorway seal on an airplane. Then she had a baby meltdown and had to go to bed, so we couldn't ask her again...

We've decided that she really DID say it. As unlikely as it may sound. Most kids go for repeating consonants (ma-ma, da-da, ba-ba). Ours goes for apple. Genius. We're not even surprised.

I have some ah. door. ah. ble. pictures from today, but I'm too comfy to go get the camera, so you're going to have to make do with this bit from yesterday's walk...

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

a couple of things...

Today's Recipes: Mushroom Risotto

I feel like I have a lot to tell you, but it's not a cohesive story. So, it'll be more of a list...

1. The Ginger Cat Saga seems to be over! At least the part where they 'do it' behind my air conditioning unit. They still pass through the yard occasionally, but we're coping with that.

2. I TOTALLY 'Dog Whispered' Keely, and it WORKED! I have been trying to teach her to walk next to me without pulling since the baby was born. So that's seven months of frustration on both our parts. I spend my whole walk correcting her, and she spends her whole walk pretending that she's not even with me. She walks at the end of however much leash she can get. I give her 2 inches of slack, and she strains to the end of it. I drop the lead to pick up poop, and she's at the end of it acting like she's trying to escape. Well, this weekend, Don & I were walking with Lily and Keely. He was holding Keely, and she was acting worse than usual since he has never worked on this with her so she thinks she has free reign with him. I got fed up, and took her lead. Then I unclipped it from her collar, made a slip loop at the end, and put it on her neck (way up by her ears) like I've seen 'on the tee-vee'. Holy Cow! What a difference! Within seconds, she was calmly walking beside me without pulling. It was like magic. For today's walk, I did the same thing. We had a little bit of a power struggle, then she gave up and did as I asked. It was nice! She's not perfect - but honestly, who is :-P - and we'll need to continue our work, but this is very exciting!



3. Lily and I went to the Farmer's Market on Saturday. We forgot to tell you! It was big fun. We've been before (like when Kittyn was here), but never by ourselves. It had rained for most of the week, so some of the growers couldn't even get here, and the rest were low on stock since the weather had been too bad to harvest. We bought eggs,



crimini mushrooms, ginormous green onions, feta in olive oil with herbs and Blackberry Peach Chipotle Sauce. We can't wait to go back this Saturday for spinach, crazy colors of broccoli and cauliflower and possibly some olive oil made 20 minutes from here... even though I just bought a new bottle of our usual brand...

4. I made a delightful Mushroom Risotto for dinner on Monday! It was totally improvised - we needed dinner, and I needed to NOT go to the grocery store - but it turned out beautifully. I'm going to give you the recipe (since that's what I do), but I'm warning you that I am NOT a pro. There are LOTS of recipes for basic (and not so basic) risottos out there, and if you've never made it before, maybe you could check a few of them out to see how my directions compare to theirs. Alternately, if you ARE a risotto pro (Diane), and you see and room for improvement in my method, PLEASE let me know as I love to improve!

Rachel's Mushroom Risotto

olive oil
2 big green onions (or 2 or 3 shallots or 1/2 a med onion) - finely sliced
1/2 Lb crimini mushrooms - sliced
1/2 Tbsp ground cardamom
3 large garlic cloves - thinly sliced (or minced)
1 qt mushroom broth (or vegetable broth or chicken broth)
1 1/3 c risotto
1 c frozen green peas
1/2 c Parmesean cheese - grated

in a heavy bottomed pan, sauteƩ the onion and garlic in olive oil for 2-3 minutes then add the mushrooms. cook until the mushrooms are done. mix in the cardamom and set aside. heat the broth (I use my tea kettle and keep it over a low heat until I'm done) - the broth needs to be hot for the entire process. using the same pan that you sauteƩd the mushroom mix in, heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium to medium high heat. when the pan and the oil are hot, add the risotto and cook until the grains become semi-translucent. begin adding broth a bit at a time - I add no more than enough to just cover the grains. let the broth absorb - stirring frequently. wait until the previous amount is fully absorbed before adding more. once all of the broth is absorbed into the risotto, add the mushroom mix back in, mix in the peas and warm through. add the cheese and serve immediately.

- notes: I've tried heating the broth in batches in the microwave - it bites. It's never hot when you need it, and you're neglecting the risotto, so it can stick/scorch. If you don't like the tea kettle idea, I would suggest heating the broth in a pan on the stove and ladling it in as needed. Also, I choose peas because I thought their slight sweetness would be a nice counterpoint to the earthiness of the mushrooms. I was right ;-)

I have to show off my farm fresh green onions and crimini mushrooms!



I had a picture of the risotto, but it did not do the dish justice... phooey...

Time to rock the baby to sleep! if you could read the Ferber book on sleep and tell me what it says, I would be very grateful. I bought it last week but have been to tired to read it :-/

Check out what I did to her sweaty hair today !

Friday, January 15, 2010

Chef Mommy

First, an update: My dad came over today and closed up the entrance to The Kitty Kat Klub in an effort to cut down on the amount of cat love-making that occurs right outside my bedroom... well, we accidentally closed not one, not two, but THREE cats in there! Damn post-coital naps. In our defense, it is not humanly possible to see back there, so we had to trust that the amount of noise we were making would scare them out... it did not, and I was later alerted to their presence by a fair amount of rustling in the vicinity of our intake vent (a.k.a. the dining room). I went out in the pouring rain and undid all his hard work. Then I waited until a cat came out. Then I waited some more. Then I closed it back up. Then there was more rustling. Then I did the opening and waiting bit again. Then TWO MORE CATS CAME OUT. Then I closed it up again. Damn Clown Car of Creepy Ginger Cats. Hopefully this is the end of that saga!

On to the Chef Mommy bit. Did I mention that I make all of Lily Ruth's baby food? Well, I do. Not because I think I'm better than you, but because I can, and I want to. I love to cook, and cooking is one of the ways that I express my love to my family, so it follows that it would be important to me to do this. I completely understand that normal, healthy children can be raised on jarred baby food. I also understand that healthy, happy children can be raised on formula. I am not in any way judging parents who choose those options. For me, because I CAN breast feed my child (lots of women can't for many different reasons), and because I CAN make her food, it is important to me that I do so. That being said, I also do those things because I love to! I am amazed and grateful that my daughter has grown to 6 months of age and is not only surviving, but thriving on food made by my body. What a blessing and a miracle! And since I love to cook, I am thrilled to be able to do this for her as well!

I am also having so much fun choosing, cooking and pureeing new foods for her. We now share hot oat bran cereal with Greek yogurt in the mornings. She loves to eat out of Mama's bowl with Mama's spoon. For the past few nights, she has protested MIGHTILY at dinner time until a baby entree is produced and she is seated with us and eating. It's adorable. Daddy claims to be in love with the noise that she makes when 'chewing'. I favor the enthusiasm that she has for her mesh feeder. We are as entranced by this new phase of development as we have been with all previous stages - and why not? We are blessed with a superior specimen of baby :-P

Here is a visual on Butternut Squash, Blueberries and Brown Rice Porridge by Mama... my freezer is quickly filling up with baggies of frozen baby food cubes!




and here is my precious darling attacking a frozen cube of applesauce :-)



In case you are wondering, here is where I get my information on homemade baby food... well, first, I o.k.'d this all with my pediatrician, and got great advice from her about current research on when to introduce what foods... now I use this website, and this book, and this book... then after I read too much, I shut off the over-analytical portion of my brain and wing it... Good times...

Enough of this. I really just wanted to post new pictures of Lily Ruth... because I need your opinion - is she getting cuter? Because I think she might be...





Thursday, January 14, 2010

My New Philosophy

We have a problem. It involves the following elements:

1. The giant air conditioning and heating unit for our house. By giant, I mean G-I-A-N-T. This thing is huge and ugly. It's situated on the back of the house between the master bath and the dining room - the guest bath 'overlooks' it (pretty view...). It's so ugly that we installed a 2X4 with indoor/outdoor matchstick blinds hanging from it to help camouflage it's appearance, but it's still hideous.

2. The Creepy Ginger Cats. Before we closed on this house, my Mama would walk by on her daily morning walk, and she reported that there was a fairly sizable conclave of orange and yellow tabby cats that met in the front yard. After we moved in, they changed their meeting spot to a more clandestine locale, but retained ownership of the backyard. It took almost a year for Keely and the boy cats to establish their perimeter, but by last summer, the ginger kids were only using our yard as a thru-way and not a destination.

3. I have a territorial dog. She absolutely loathes the ginger cats, and goes bat-shit every time she sees one. We're talking hackles up, top-of-her-lungs barking, and lunging full force at the plate glass window. This usually occurs when I have just managed to soothe the baby down for a nap. It takes me forever to quiet the dog and calm her down.

Well, the giant hideous ac unit is not as enclosed as it should be. There is a gap of about 6 inches between the wall and the unit on one side, and apparently, the entire back is empty space. Here's why I think that - it's like a clown car for cats back there. We've always noticed some activity coming and going, but it always seemed to be one or two cats at a time. Now that the weather is colder and wetter, there are larger multiples of cats in and out, and some days it seems that a ridiculous number of animals emerge from there at any given time. Seriously. How many stray ginger cats ARE there in this area? How did they all hear about us? Should I check the curb for a chalk hobo mark? If there is one present, how do I change it from 'Cozy Digs, No Hassle From the Man' to 'Terrible Accommodations - Avoid This Place'?

Today was a Straw/Camel's Back kind of day. Lily Ruth has not been sleeping well at night or napping for more than 30 minutes at a time. The two of us are zombies, and Daddy's only marginally better off. Today was the kind of day wherein I spend the majority of the day attempting to entice Lily Ruth to nap - unsuccessfully. Every time she would start to relax, the clowns would start fighting behind the intake vent (alerting the dog) then they would ramp it up and spill out into the yard and the barking fit would begin. This happened approximately 500 bazillion times. My poor daughter slept for a total of 30 minutes (BTW, that is not enough for a 6 1/2 month old), and I was so fed up with the dog, that I was about to sell her to gypsies.

Around the time that I was about to lose my mind, my Kittyn called (you know the one - the blogger) and talked me off the ledge. During our call, ANOTHER DAMN CAT FIGHT STARTED, and (yep) the dog went nutsos. I tried to Dog Whisper her - kept my voice level, got in between her and the window, moved her back without eye contact - but she was still all pissy and I ended up snapping 'Put your fur down and zip your lips' at her. I thought that was the sort of thing that everybody says to their dog, so I didn't really give it any thought. Well apparently, most folks aren't me, and Kittyn ended up in hysterics over this. Then we realized THIS CAN APPLY TO ANYTHING!

Dog barking - Put your fur down and zip your lips
Girl friend whining about her dumb-ass boyfriend - Put your fur down and zip your lips
Employees not performing their duties - Put your fur down and zip your lips
Service industry employee sasses you - Put your fur down and zip your lips (JUST KIDDING!!! Be nice to service industry employees - karma's a bitch.)
Feeling sorry for yourself, but it's time to get back to life - Put your fur down and zip your lips

You get the picture.

So then I realize that this is perfect for a new life philosophy. It's a no-nonsense, take no prisoners, no whiners allowed way to go about things, and that may be just what I need... I really hope that this catches on... That would please me...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

My Kingdom for Some ZZZZZZZZ's

Like every other mother of an infant that I am aware of, I am having difficulty convincing my daughter to sleep. Not even her daddy can send her to the Land of Nod these days, and he was always her guy. Sleep training has become my nemesis, my stumbling block and possibly even my Waterloo.

How do you convince a being who is just discovering her own fingers that healthy sleep is essential to healthy brain development? How do you convince an infant that Mama can't function on -6 hours of sleep per night? I gave it a negative number because the light, fragmented sleep that I DO manage to get is hounded by dreams of not being able to get the baby to sleep... Alternatively, I dream of the most stressful job that I ever had - in these dreams, I work there again, and I can't quit. I'm in a vortex of sleeplessness, people, and I'm going down.

Knowing that I'm not alone in this phase does me no good. It just amplifies my new special 'Mommy Fear' of car accidents to know that 100% of mothers of small children are functioning in the same zombie state that I am. SOMEBODY should be in charge, and for once, I'm not demanding that it be me!

So, we've reached the crux of the post - I'm gonna need a coffee I.V., a few toothpicks to prop my eyelids open, and a new batch of songs to sing to the little one. I am sick to death of 'You Are My Sunshine' but when I open my mouth to soothe the savage beast, that's all I can remember... because I'm SLEEP DEPRIVED!

Hand me my pillow and rub my back - I need some soothing myself!

Friday, January 8, 2010

the Dog Whisperer is changing my life

No lie. Cesar Milan is changing. my. life. It's not just that I have more patience with and understand my dog better, but his philosophies transfer over to motherhood as well... live in the moment - well, babies don't do much else, so you might as well join them in there!... calm, assertive energy - when is that a BAD idea? Pretty much never... PATIENCE - well, my eternal struggle with this particular virtue is epic. My daughter (and my dog) are teaching me to find it on a much more regular basis. So, I guess what I'm saying is - THE MAN IS A FREAKING GENIUS.

Now, If I can just get him to come over and sort out Keely's pool issues before summer... and maybe he can help me teach Lily Ruth to nap... oh, and could he perhaps cure my husband's snoring habit? That would be awesome. Thanks in advance.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

gonna make some more stuff!!!

Today's Recipes: Potato Chowder with Corn & Sausage, Grandmother's Chili, Carnitas

So, I went to Michael's again today (this is getting bad, folks)... um, and Target (and you know what that means)... in my defense, the leg warmers are being made as a gift from a co-worker to her bestie's new baby... I'm only going to keep one (or two) pair for Lily Ruth... but here's the best part - I bought puffy paints and polymer clay! That's right, it's time to paint the feet of Lily Ruth's sleepers and socks so that she can get some traction on the hard floors AND I'm a gonna make Sushi Bracelets!!!! Once again, THANK YOU SAMSTER MOMMY for giving me something to do! I'll post pics of the bracelets when I start to work on them because I'm going to do them slightly differently... in part, I'm going to base them on a GENIUS charm bracelet given to me by the amazing Kittyn (you know, the blogger...)

I also wanted to share the 3 recipes that I've made this week - comfort food, because Baby, it's COLD out there!

Potato Chowder with Corn and Sausage - this one I made up myself :-P

1 medium yellow onion - chopped
1 pkg crimini mushrooms - chopped
4 or 5 large garlic cloves - minced
olive oil
5 medium Yukon Gold potatoes - chopped
chicken broth
3 links Opa's Beef Sausage - chopped (you can use any pre-cooked sausage links - I just prefer this one)
1/2 bag of frozen chopped spinach
1/2 bag of frozen corn
Fat-free Half & Half
1 cup shredded cheese (I prefer Sharp Cheddar, but have used lots of others as well)

In a large, heavy pan (I used my pasta pot w/o the strainer), sautee the onion, mushroom and garlic in a bit of olive oil. Add the potato and enough chicken broth to cover it all. Cover the pot and simmer until the potatoes are done. Mash it about until the potatoes are sort-of or even mostly mashed. Add the sausage, corn and spinach, and a bit more chicken broth (until it's runny but not quite soupy). Return the mixture to a simmer. Add half and half until it's a nice 'chowder-y' consistency. Stir in the cheese and serve immediately.

My Grandmother's Chili - of course, I've monkeyed with it...

olive oil
1 medium yellow onion - chopped
1/2 of a green bell pepper - chopped
5 or 6 garlic cloves - minced
1 Lb ground meat (turkey or beef)
1 can pinto beans - drained and rinsed
Chili powder - start w/ 1 Tbsp, and add more if you'd like (I use 3 or 4 :-P)
dash of cumin
1 can diced tomatoes - undrained
1 can tomato paste
salt
oregano

In a heavy pot, sautee the onion, bell pepper & garlic in a bit of olive oil. Set aside. Brown the meat - crumbling it as you cook. Add the onion mixture back in. Add the rest of the ingredients - seasoning to your taste - simmer for at least an hour. Note: I puree the beans in the blender first because my husband despises beans, but will happily eat them if they are disguised (even if he knows that they are there) - this also gives the chili a nice thick texture.


Carnitas - now, I got this off the internet a loooong time ago, didn't bookmark it, couldn't print it, and didn't note where I got it from... So if this is your recipe, I'm not claiming it as my own, and I'd be happy to give you credit for it - just let me know!

3 Lbs pork shoulder - cut into 1" chunks
1 Tbsp salt
water
4 large garlic cloves - minced
1 onion - chopped
2 tsp Ancho chili powder
1 tsp chili powder

put the pork chunks into a heavy, wide pan. barely cover the meat with water, and add the salt. leaving the pot uncovered, bring the water to a boil. once it reaches a boil, reduce the heat & continue to cook at a low simmer until the liquid has evaporated - the meat should be cooked but not falling apart (approx 60 min). reduce the heat again and continue cooking until the fat is rendered. keep turning the meat and cooking until it is browned all over (approx 15 min) - you could keep going until it's crispy (traditional method), but I prefer it tender. remove the meat from the pan & set aside. using the rendered fat (or olive oil), sautee the garlic and onion then add the meat back in and stir in the seasonings. yum.

Speaking of food, Lily Ruth continues to do good work in the solid food arena :-) So far, she still adores avocado, tolerates homemade brown rice cereal, loves yogurt, feels pretty good about mango, and despises banana and peas... we'll go back to those at a later date... maybe we'll try meat this weekend!

to continue my constant posting of non-essential-to-the-post photos, here she is - in love with Grandpa Doug



and pissed off about peas



and that will just have to tide you over until I make/do something else!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Um, am I doing this right?

You know the old adage about how there's not a handbook for raising a child? Well, if there's not, then why do I sometimes feel like there really IS, and everybody got a copy except for me? I mean SERIOUSLY!

Here's what most of my so-called 'parenting' decisions are based on:
1. what I think is the right thing to do - based on opinion, advice, research or gut instinct
2. what I have time for in any given situation
3. the amount of determination available in my weary body
4. the amount of tenacity that Lily Ruth has for her own opinion
5. the quantity of sleep that I have had
6. the current hour of the day / night

Is this what you're doing too? Do I stand a chance of raising her to adulthood, or will she be better off in a wolf pack?

Remember how we were sleep training, and I was in love with 'Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child' by Dr. Marc Weissbluth? Well, um, I can't actually remember what the book says to do anymore, and I've been too sick to re-read it... would you mind doing that for me, and get back to me with a 'Cliff's Notes' version? Thanks...

Yesterday was our first day back in our regular routine. No holiday, no out of town guests (boo), no Daddy home from work, just Mama and Lily. It was also my first day of feeling better - I've been sick since Boxing Day :-( Well, we slept and nursed ALL DAY. Then, just when I thought it was bedtime, she was refreshed and rested for a rousing round of 'I'm Not Sleepy Mama!' that lasted until... oh, let's call it midnight... She went to bed at 7, was up at 8, down at 8:30, then in bed with us at 9... it went something like this...

- like a tiny electrical storm, her poly/cotton footed sleeper was charged and ready to go. itty-bitty sparks of static showered off her like rain...

nap for 20 minutes, possibly talk Mama into nursing. fling self onto back and reach for Daddy grunting 'uOOh'. Grasp at his face and/or chest until he says 'go to sleep, Boo'. fling self onto tummy, and rock on all fours with eyes half closed. attempt to shove thumb into mouth, fall sideways, clunk giant infant head into Mama's face/collar bone. whimper pitifully. Mama scoots baby into cuddle hold. press face up to Mama's, and shove fingers into her nose/mouth while sucking thumb and breathing onto her eyelids. become bored and scratch Mama's nose/cheeks with fingernails. get reprimanded and turned around to other side. reach for Daddy while whining pitifully. Daddy moves baby into cuddle hold. reach upward with 'death talon' and gouge Daddy's face. get turned around to face the other side - 'Go to sleep Boo'. flop onto belly and rock on all fours. scoot around sideways and try to climb Mama like a mountain. Mama scoops baby into cuddle position. Fling giant baby head backward in protest - connect soundly with Mama's nose. cry pitifully because Mama hurt your head, suck thumb and scratch at bedding. wake up fully and start whispering 'fa, fa, fa, fa'... then blow full-on raspberries and cover Mama in spit...

This happened several times. I gave up any pretense of sleep around 11:45 and took Lily Ruth back into her room to nurse AGAIN (growth spurt = nursing every 2 hours!). Guess who fell asleep immediately... yep, me... and then Lily Ruth - WHEW! She must have worn herself out, because she slept until 3, then until 7. It was like a gift from above.

Even when we have nights like that, I have to admit that she's HILARIOUS. I adore her. I just wish I knew if I was even coming close to doing the right things! I guess the fact that she's not only healthy but thriving, and not just alert but AMAZING will have to serve as my gauge :-P

... oh yeah - if anybody tells you that adding solid food will make your baby sleep through the night, they are delusional. All that does is add dishes and GIANT POOPS to Mama's day! But, it also adds joy and silly photo opportunities...



Saturday, January 2, 2010

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Here we are... 2010... I am hoping that 'start as you mean to go on' does not apply this year... I rang in the new year with my husband and two of my favorite folks (Robyn & Matt), but I was SICK AS A DOOOOOOG. Today is better, so I'm just going to pretend that TODAY is January 1st!

Here's the other part of this whole new year 'thing'. I am now surrounded (actually and electronically) by people who are elevating me... let me explain... for the past several years, my life has taken me in some odd directions. All have been manageable. Some have been fantastic (BAAAAAABY!!!), but they have all combined to take me to a place where I have been a bit cut off. I closed myself down in order to continue functioning. WELL, I feel better now! So I'm ready to be MEEEEEEEEE again. I want to think about things other than myself. I want to see things outside my tiny world. I want to BE as interesting as I FEEL :-)

Toward that end, um, we gave ourselves LUSH hair masks and face packs today...



which looks suspiciously like what we were doing LAST year around this time...



which is AWESOME, because it means that despite living on separate sides of the world, my Kittyn and I have rung in two consecutive new years together!

oh, and there was THIS bit from NYE 4 years ago...



but now I'm just gratuitously posting photos of myself and Robyn...

- but seriously, I want to use my brain again. I think I might want to become a lactation consultant. I KNOW want to read things other than hysterically funny Christopher Moore books... so I'm going to start by, um, reading more blogs... and taking it from there... oh, and there's the new wii to consider... wii fit will make me a better person, right? - sigh - this whole 'Brand New Better Me' thing is a bit exhausting. I'm going to ponder it a bit and get back to you. In the mean time,



HAPPY NEW YEAR, ALL!