Sunday, December 21, 2014

Survivor: Newborn Edition

Tomorrow my little baby turns 7 weeks. Seven weeks since his harrowing arrival and the start of our new normal.

We've survived these weeks, sometimes by the skin of our teeth.

We've had a visit from grandma that didn't go quite as expected, the loss of a very dear friend, and our first "Wonder Week".

Lemme 'splain:

We Lose Moriah

On Monday December 1st, the world at large and certainly our church family and dear friends the Nelsons lost their daughter Moriah due to several complications of an infection in her heart. This little girl was special not only to her family (of course!) but to her church family and to a wider sphere of folks who had been personally touched by her life and joy and infectious smile, whether in person or through their family blog - Moments with Moriah.

There are a thousand eloquent ways I could eulogize Moriah, but shock, grief and sleep deprivation combine to render me simply heart-sick and not eloquent at all. I share a mother's horror with my friend Victoria at losing a child, empathy with her son Jadon who is only 10 days older than my own son, and simply sadness at the loss of a beautiful little friend.

Pastor's kids and Nelson kids
We will miss you, Moriah. I had a dream the other night that this beautiful seven year old with a dark curly mop of hair walked up to me and started to talk to me. I knew it was you in your heavenly form and even in my dream I burst into happy tears. Until we meet again, dear girl!

My first time holding our friend Moriah. xoxo
Our family was very grief-stricken and also stressed as my husband attempted to plan a fitting memorial for Moriah, we lost much sleep with newborn Archer, and my mother-in-law came to visit, all at the same time.

Grandma Judy Comes to Visit

In my heart-sickness, I could not summon the courage to try and explain to my three year old what had happened and why everyone was so sad. This is a mistake I keep making. My son is quite sensitive and can tell when something is wrong. So when we don't tell him what it is, he concludes that it could be ANYTHING or EVERYTHING and acts out accordingly. My poor mother-in-law got to see his very worst behavior as he attempted to find his way through the week with a new little brother, a mysterious event, and a strange visitor all vied for his parent's attention. 

Eventually, they had some bonding time, making sugar cookies and sewing a Christmas stocking for the baby.

She's an amazing, loving and creative grandma and I'm glad there were some good moments in amidst the chaos before she had to go back home to Colorado.

We Enter the Wonder Week

After grandma left we went to visit the Nelson family and sweet Victoria, in the midst of her grief, was asking me about life with Archer. She asked how often I was feeding him, inquiring, "Every hour? Hour and a half?" 

I, appalled, shook my head and said, "Oh no, every three hours and even longer sometimes in the night!" 

I should have covered my infant's ears or found some wood on which to knock, because it seems at that very moment, Archer embarked upon his first Wonder Week!

If you don't know about Wonder Weeks, and you have a baby of a year or less, drop whatever you are doing (presumably reading this blog), and click on the link above. Insight into the mental and developmental leaps your child makes in their first year will help you become significantly less bewildered the next time your sweet kiddo turns into a screamy, whiny mess for a whole week or two for seemingly no reason.

So, after a week of non-stop feeding, fussing or sleeping anytime but nighttime, we now have a new and improved Archer. He is beginning to smile and be much more alert for longer periods between little baby snoozes. He definitely looks bigger, too, as we moved him into his 0-3 month clothes from the newborn stuff.

We survived and even found time to have a little fun. I'll leave you with our first series of mama/baby happy snaps and an idea for spiced cider made with essential oils, courtesy of doTERRA!

Technically NOT a selfie, as there is another person in the shot. Right?

Essential Oil Spiced Cider
Single serving: 
8oz high quality apple juice, warmed
2 drops doTERRA Cassia oil
1 drop doTERRA Clove oil
*You might even get crazy and add a little Wild Orange but be careful with the oils, respecting that they have a strong flavor, as well as therapeutic benefit, and shouldn't be ingested without proper consideration. 

May that warm, sweet treat get you through any wonder week you may be experiencing. Until next time!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The New Normal?

Well, I've got a lot to say but not much time to say it in, since I have a sleeping sickie 3 year old and a ready-to-wake-up-and-eat newborn waiting in the wings. Not to mention packing for my new family of four for a trip out to the mountains for Thanksgiving. (Talk about intimidation, but I'll get to that in a second!)

Family Transitions

My delightful custom designed birth announcement, courtesy of PIY Invites 
Nobody ever told me that the hardest part of transitioning from a family of three to a family of four might not be the newborn or the sleepless nights or even wrangling two kids into the car to go anywhere... In our case, it is my dear, sweet, emotional three year old that is having a bit of a time adjusting. He loves the baby and is sweet with him and kisses him and asks questions about everything. But you can tell that he feels precarious a lot of the time and needs extra love.

I knew it was normal and tried to head it off with all kinds of big brother talk, "enough love for everyone" talk, extra hugs and snuggles and one on one time and verbal affirmations and the whole enchilada. But my big boy is a sensitive creature who is easily thrown off and takes awhile to get back on track. So I feel that much of the first three weeks of the baby's life have been putting out fires with the big one. The baby pretty much sleeps, poops and eats just like he's supposed to, so that's been fairly easy!

At least someone in this house is calm...

Then Illness Strikes...
I feel like a lot of this year from spring on has been dealing with illness of some kind or another. I call it the "preschool tax", since my son started preschool this year and obviously then started getting sick a lot more often!

Last night was a special brand because I came home to the 3 yo screaming in pain because his ear hurt, working himself up into a snotting, coughing, panicking mess. My husband in desperation used Children's Tylenol, which I am always secretly disappointed to have to resort to, since I'm such a hippie mama with my essential oils and such.

But last night the Tylenol was administered in my absence and there was still screaming and panicking going on. So I grabbed my oils and got to work. Oregano for the ear ache (I put one drop in my hand and smeared it behind his ears since he wouldn't let me stick a cotton ball in his ear). Eucalyptus for the cough and snot (diluted in coconut oil and smeared on back and chest and neck). A bath in the middle of the night with three drops of a Calming Blend (Serenity) for the panicking. After much panicking and many tears, we all finally slept in some fashion or another.

This morning we woke up and he says his ear doesn't hurt. At all. We went from screaming pain and panic to nothing. Praise Jesus! Still some coughing and a little snot. Fever developed sometime in the night which probably helped to kill whatever was causing the earache. So I let the fever go for a bit but then decided to do a drop each of Peppermint and Lavender in coconut oil for the fever. He fell promptly to sleep on the couch and is currently sleeping off whatever remains of this illness, hopefully just in time to celebrate Thanksgiving. Yay for oils!

Poor buddy. 
Packing for Thanksgiving
So in the midst of all this chaos, I started to get really intimidated about packing for our three night stay up in Amador County for Thanksgiving. Newborns require a lot of stuff. So do three-year-olds. And then there's the grown ups! I started to think up brilliant ways to procrastinate until I remembered this wondrous little app that I discovered a few months back called PackPoint

As advertised, it practically packs your bags for you: it dials in your location (for weather), number of nights staying, whether you have a baby or kids, what activities you might be doing (hiking? fancy dinner? beach?) and pumps out a rather intuitive packing list for you! It's AMAZING. They're not even paying me to say that.

So I'm going to go and do my packing now that I've got the list done for me and still two kids sleeping! =) Looking forward to many beautiful vineyard vistas like this one:


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

An Imperfect 10

My little buddy is 10 days old today!

His onesie describes the kind of night he gave us/me last night...eating every hour or two and grunting and kvetching in between:

Gobble gobble gobble - need it to chub you up, baby!
Gobble, gobble, gobble, indeed! Mommy is rather exhausted, but that's par for the course with a newborn. Then the big boy had a bad dream in there somewhere and you can now imagine the coffee fantasies that I will be fulfilling for myself today!

Life with two kiddos is so far fairly chill, since one of them sleeps most of the day. I'm trying to enjoy the relative downtime because I know, as one friend eloquently put it, "it's about to get loud!"

So I'm spending my time cleaning the house (which was in dire need!), doing laundry, playing games with my big boy, trying to remember where I was in my knitting chart, staring at the sleeping newborn, and generally NOT following the wisdom of sleeping when he sleeps. I'd be sleeping like 20 hours a day! 

I don't know why I can't turn off and wind down in order to nap like I did when I was pregnant. I only do it when the whole family takes a nap together in our bed (well, Little A is in the co-sleeper, but close enough!), which are glorious times of joy and relaxation. I get all grateful and teary laying there amongst my guys.

I was crazy enough to think to myself yesterday, "Gee, I feel like I could almost just go back to work! Bring the baby in my office since he never cries anyway and get some work done!" Don't think the lovely gal temporarily taking over for me would appreciate having her job for barely a week or two, for one. And for two...I'm obviously crazy, and the baby reminded me last night what having a newborn is all about: HIM. 

Getting to know him, getting to know all about him...and feeding and feeding and feeding him! Introducing him to music worth listening to (Elton John's Honky Chateau, Ray LaMontagne...real autumnal stuff for the season!), exposing him to sunlight to help him figure out the difference between day and night, snuggling him so he knows he's loved and who his mama is. =)

So it has been an imperfect 10 days since that fateful morning of delivery. But imperfect in the best way...the messy, beautiful, agony and ecstasy kind of way that defines any life worth living. I have been grateful for the reminder.

Friday, November 07, 2014

Archer's Arrival

Now that I have a minute or two to type away while nursing, I'd better get all this out before the details are relegated to the foggy mists of my post-partum brain!

Our little adorable one, Archer Fox, has arrived in his own signature way. Hello, world! 

Here's the skinny: On Halloween, I began to get more of an inkling that this guy was on his way. People were commenting on my belly and not just because of my hilarious 8-Ball costume: 

It looked different and I felt different and a few other little bodily details to give me hints. After warning my husband, I made it through that evening and even the next one (my little baby shower celebration) without a hitch. 

However, at about 4am on November 2, I got up to pee (per usual) and got a weird cramp. It wasn't a huge deal, but it was a little more uncomfortable than anything I'd had thus far. 

I took a second to pray, because at my previous week's appointment, I had found out that baby was breech and I had an External Cephalic Version (or just "version") scheduled for November 4th, one day short of turning 38 weeks along. It was early Sunday morning and no sign of him flipping on his own and I really did not want to have to do the version!

So I prayed, "Lord, please help this baby come out the way he's supposed to, and when he's supposed to. Help me get through it and have a healthy, whole baby when I'm done. Amen."

No sooner did I utter that "Amen" than my little baby gave a huge lurch in my belly. I had enough time to think, "What in the wor--" before my water broke in diluvian fashion. I reached over to smack my husband and tell him, "It's happening now! My water just broke." 

Now, a little backstory to give perspective on my frame of mind here. My labor and delivery with my first son was long and difficult and for a few days after,  incapacitating. It involved forceps and when I left the hospital I still needed to use a walker to get around and was limping for weeks. I'll spare you any more gory details, but imagine all the things running through my mind about what might be in store for me in the coming hours!!

Ok, the rest of the story pretty much needs to be told in time stamps!

4:20am - Water breaks, I wake husband. We both freak out for a minute because this is happening about 2.5 weeks before we were expecting it! I half-heartedly throw things into a hospital bag (aka cloth shopping bag) while breathing through some pretty strong contractions. I struggle to find the number for the hospital to warn them we're coming and pass that task off to my husband.

4:50am - We hang up the phone with the advice nurse whose famous last words were, "If you feel like you have time, you could take a quick shower before heading over, but if contractions are coming too hard and too fast, you can just head over now." Without a moment's hesitation, I knew the latter to be true. I told my husband we needed to just throw the 3 year old in the car and GO. I've never felt the urge to push before but I'm pretty sure that this is what I'm feeling now. My body seems to have taken over completely and these contractions seem that they will very soon do the job of pushing my baby right out!

We hurry down to the car with a sleepy preschooler, with me breathing through contractions, beginning to pray we will get there in time. I have enough of a space between pains to explain to my son where we are going and why mommy looks like something hurts. "Don't be afraid, it just means we get to meet your brother very soon!" He responds, rather airily, that he is not afraid while his dad literally throws an uninstalled infant seat in the car, and off we go.

5:05am - After a mercifully quick drive to the hospital, me biting the seatbelt straps to keep from yelling and scaring the kiddo, we arrive at the ER. My husband rushes in to grab someone and I'm whisked into a wheelchair. We're still wondering where the heck our preschooler is supposed to be during all this, while the orderly is asking some triage questions. It quickly becomes apparent to them, as I gasp about the urge to push and tell them last I knew this baby was breech, that it is about to get real in the ER! They surmise there is no time to get me all the way across the hospital and up to the 3rd floor for labor and delivery. The ER Doc is calm but I can tell he's concerned and when he checks me I hear the words I already knew were coming, "Oh yeah, that's a foot!" He tries to push the foot back in and hold it there, which was one more clue that this wasn't going to be your normal delivery.

5:09am - The Labor and Delivery docs receive the call to get down to the ER for a footling breech extraction. I find myself on a gurney getting my clothes literally cut away from my body. I know this baby is coming very soon and briefly and distractedly wonder how they will possibly have time to get me prepped for what I assume will be an emergency C-section. I also wonder what I'm going to do with the one bra that still fit me lying in pieces! 

Two doctors appear and an RN grabs my hand and tells me to push, and I am shocked. PUSH the baby out feet first?! I have no time to think further as that's pretty much when the pain came and I could hear myself howling and hollering without any permission from my brain. There was no breathing between pushes, just push, push, push, (scream, howl, holler), push, "this is the most important push" (giant yell) and then that was it. I hear somebody say, "Cry?" and I ask frantically if he's crying. I hear a voice float back,"It's a boy! He's crying, he's fine!" I finally open my eyes and see my RN for the first time as she calls out, "Time?!" and I hear somebody say...

5:17am I dazedly sit up to see my husband rush in and he's crying and telling me how well I did and then my tiny son is in my arms and then seemingly from nowhere my older son is there and gazing at his brother for the first time. 

I look up from my baby's face to see the rather large crowd of gobsmacked hospital personnel that have materialized outside my room, suddenly realizing what a crazy event this was, not just for me but for anyone within ten yards of my bed. People begin to congratulate me, then my very own OBGYN appears at  my side and I'm so happy to see her because she understands all that led up to this point! She happened to be on rounds at the hospital that morning. She says, "I missed it!", to which I reply, "Almost everyone did!" She looks delighted and awestruck and says cheerily, "Well, at least I get to deliver the placenta!"

At this point I've got a baby in my arms and they begin to wheel me up to my proper place in Labor & Delivery. At different points in the coming hours I get shocked visits from the advice nurse from the phone and the two L&D docs who rushed down to help deliver a footling breech baby, and an email from the nice young doctor who tried to push my baby's foot back into the birth canal. I decide not to mention that to him but thank everyone profusely for getting my baby into the world safely.

I got to have some of the gaps filled in and the timeline filled out from the aforementioned visits from doctors and nurses who were involved. 

A few questions people kept asking were, "Wait, you delivered him feet first?", to which I reply yes, and then they try and clarify, "You PUSHED him out feet first?!" This makes me smile because it is exactly the the thought I had when that RN told me to push! 

They just don't do breech deliveries anymore; I've even heard they only teach the theory in passing to incoming doctors since there's no one to practice on...hospitals simply will not deliver a baby breech unless, as in my case, there is no other recourse. So you can imagine that the poor ER doctor was only semi-prepared to deliver a baby that morning, and completely UNprepared to do a footling breech extraction!

The other question I get is where my husband and son were during all this. I realized later that my husband had to take my son down the hall somewhere to sit with a nurse, and by the time he got back to me, Archer was already born! I estimate that my older son was with that nurse for approximately three minutes before getting whisked to my bedside. So the answer is that he was with us for all but the moment of truth, as it were.

And there you have it! Less than one hour after my water breaking, with almost no warning at all, Archer Fox shot fast as an arrow into this world and into our hearts!

I'm so happy to not be pregnant anymore and to begin our lives as a happy family of four! Praise God for His provision and protection and complete answer to my middle of the night prayer and all the similar ones that came before it!

Psalm 139:13-14
"For you formed my inward parts; 
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. 
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. 
  Wonderful are your works; 
my soul knows it very well."

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Final Countdown, Knitting Action, Quick Dinners

The Final Countdown
Here I have arrived nearly in week 37 of my second and probably last pregnancy.

Almost baby time!
I just found out at my 36 week appointment that this little stinker is head up! I don't know if he flipped or has just always been hanging out that way (honestly a little hard to tell what's a butt or a head or if what is jabbing you is a foot or a fist after a certain point). At any rate, it's not good at this late in the game! I have an External Cephalic Version set for one week from today, so he's got seven days to do it himself or some doctor in a hospital is going to try to MAKE him turn, which will make mommy quite uncomfortable and carries its own set of risks. Suffice to say, I'm not looking forward to it.

Knitting Action
So I'm trying a few weird baby spinning exercises and otherwise trying not to think about it too much. Part of my distraction has been in the form of a big knitting project that I've been hankering to do for a long time: The Melrose Peacoat. It's a chunky knit so it hasn't taken me too long, actually...about three weeks from start to finish. Well, almost finished, there's still buttons and snaps to be applied, but all the knitting is done. I had a sick day yesterday and applied myself to blocking, seaming and putting final touches on my pretty red coat.

And here she is! 
The coat turned out a little baggy, but it fits (as far as I can tell around the big ol' belly, of course!). I was proud of myself because I had to learn a few new techniques for this project and I'm just pretty chuffed at how it actually turned out. With buttons, it is supposed to look like this:

So it's not too bad, really! It's probably the last big knitting project I'll be able to accomplish on any sort of normal time line for a few YEARS, so I was happy to be able to finish it before this bebe makes his appearance.

Only problem with all this is that I spent my day hunched over on the floor in weird positions trying not to let the belly get in the way of my work, so today I feel like I just had leg day at the gym! My legs and butt are so sore...add onto that the late pregnancy "swag" (aka waddle) and I'm sure I'm a fairly comical sight to any onlookers. Ouch.

Quick Dinners
So for all intents and purposes, in a few weeks' time, my life will never be the same. How anyone manages two kids at a time is still a mystery to me in practice. In theory, I know I can do it, but I've never actually *tried*.

My drive for dinners that are quick and easy is at an all-time high. Usually, I don't mind a bit of prep for a delicious, healthy dinner. But nowadays...I'd love thirty minutes or less from start to finish. Besides good ol' Rachael Ray, I don't actually have a ton of ideas for this sort of thing.

Making dinners for a new mama is an age-old church tradition (or just community tradition), but God bless the ends up being a LOT of pasta and/or casseroles to fit in with people's schedules and budgets. I will definitely want something quick and easy to take a break from all the carbs and comfort-foodiness. So far, stir fry is my best idea. But I need more!

Do you have a tried-and-true healthy dinner that you go to in times of need? I'd love to hear it!

Tonight I'm varying from "healthy" in favor of "nostalgic" with what my mama called Haystacks. Fritos, canned chili, cheese, lettuce, tomato, some yogurt (in favor of sour cream) and black olives. In our house, we call them "Food Towers" so my child will eat them. =) Healthy, it is NOT. Delicious and family-friendly, it is!

Food Tower Time! 

Thanks for any help you can give!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Fall is Finally Here! Pumpkin Patch, Simple Hearty Dinners and more

It feels funny for me to say that fall is finally here on a day that was forecast for a high of 81 degrees, but since the past week has been cooler and tomorrow is actually supposed to RAIN (OMG!), this California girl is calling it, officially!

So, in honor of that reality, we decided to take our first family trip to the pumpkin patch (we went last year with a friend, but this year we dragged Daddy along and made it a true family affair!)

Pumpkin Patch Trip - Perry Organic Farms, Fremont, CA
We absolutely adored Spina Farms last year down in Morgan Hill, but this year a friend who lives in San Ramon mentioned we should all get together and try the patch near Ardenwood Historic Farm in Newark (or Fremont, depending on who you ask!). The patch is officially of Perry Organic Farms, although right outside of Ardenwood.

It didn't quite have the level of activities we enjoyed at Spina Farms (they have a train and hay ride, a snack shack and a petting zoo on weekends, etc...), but we still had a lot of fun.

First, we had to conquer the hay pyramid:

Hmm, this looks pretty big...
"Hey, I can see all the pumpkin patch from here!" 9 month pregnant mommy looks on... 
Feels good to conquer something big when you're three. =)
Like the Iron Throne, but more family friendly.
Then we had to get down to the business of actually picking out pumpkins. My intention had been to get one or two, but the three year old insisted that not only do we get one for him, one for mommy and one for daddy, but also one for his yet-to-be-born little brother (who will probably miss Halloween this year, although it would be nice to meet him before then!), AAAAAND one for good measure.

Here he is, intently on the hunt for a "baby" pumpkin. Or two. 
The great thing I will say about this farm is that it was a manageable size for toddlers and their advanced pregnant mothers, AND we got all five of our modestly-sized pumpkins for just $10. Which happened to be the exact amount of cash I had on hand. SCORE! 

Quick and Delicious Fall Dinner - Sweet Potato and Pear Soup
Before I sign off, I'll leave you with a dinner we threw together the other day because we magically happened to have all the ingredients. And I'm obsessed with soup. =)
This is vegetarian (although I was very tempted to add bacon), simple, quick, seasonal, warm and delicious! Without further ado: 

1 oz butter
1 small white onion, finely chopped
1 large orange sweet potato, peeled and cut into 3/4" dice
2 firm pears, peeled, cored and cut into 3/4" dice
3 cups chicken or veggie stock
1 cup half & half 
suggested garnish - mint leaves or bacon crumbles!

Melt the butter in a pot over medium heat, add the onion and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until softened but not brown. (I let mine brown a bit...whoops!). Add the sweet potato and pear and cook, stirring for one to two minutes. Add the stock to the pan, bring to the boil and cook for 20 minutes, or until the sweet potato and pear are soft. 

Cool slightly, then place mixture in a blender or food processor and blend in batches until smooth. (This is the part of every pureed soup recipe where I thank my lucky stars I have the kind of husband who buys me an immersion blender for my birthday - SO much easier to stick a stick blender in a pot than it is to transfer hot soup anywhere else!)

Return to the pan, stir in the half & half (or cream, if you have!) and gently reheat without boiling. Season with salt and black pepper and garnish as you wish. We ate it with buttered toast to give us some more starchy calories! 

Serves 4. Or one pregnant adult, a normal adult and a picky toddler with a bit leftover. 

(This recipe was adapted from "Vegie Food", published by Murdoch Books, 2004. I bought it when I was in college in Australia so I adapted for an American audience and my own tweaks.)


Friday, October 24, 2014

Road Test Citrus Lane Box & Local Adventures in the Bay Area

Road Test - Citrus Lane Boxes

As you can see from the happy boy in all the above photos, we are LOVING Citrus Lane. We've gotten quality, name brand toys, books, snack samples and coupons each month for the last three months or so. The photo above is Green Toys Tea for Two set, which I think was a Citrus Lane exclusive because you can only buy larger sets on Amazon or similar. He loves his tea set with actual Passion Tea from Starbucks. =)

The latest box came on a day that was taking a disastrous turn...a stroke of genius told me I should take the kiddo outside for a trip to our mailbox. We were rewarded with his latest Citrus Lane box full of goodies, the best of which turned out to be a wonderful game of dominoes by Janod. You've never seen a child more excited about sturdy cardboard!! We played dominoes for hours and hours and the day was saved! At first I questioned whether it was really worth the $30/month price, but now that I've gotten a few months in, we will probably sign up for the three month option to lower the price a bit ($24/month paid in lump sum). If you decide to try it, click here to get 50% off your first box

Local Adventure - Forest on First, Los Altos, CA
So, we went to Forest on First soon after they opened their doors because we are already BIG fans of the pricey yet awesome Bumble and the absolute little boy paradise that is Area 151. These three establishments, in addition to PLAY! (which we have not yet sampled) are all started by the brilliant parents/entrepreneurs/thinkers behind the H&H Company, so we know they're good. 

Taking a leap from structure to pillows below
At any rate, we made the trip to downtown Los Altos, which is about a twenty-five minute jaunt from our place in San Jose. They advertised a large indoor treehouse, farm-to-fork fare and fun for all ages. The first time we visited, it cost $5 for a wristband to get into the treehouse. If you visit now, you'll find it is now free for the kiddos to play in the treehouse. (My hunch is that it was too difficult to manage the wristbands since they don't have a person dedicated to the structure. Parents are to watch their own kiddos.)
Delicious and fairly-priced food!
The Treehouse is wonderfully designed as just a part of a lovely cafe that is enjoyed by parents and non-parents alike. Although, I must say, the non-parents tend to segregate to the outside, where the eating area is lush and green and there are less shrieks of joy from the babes enjoying their play. Like Bumble, the food is pricey. However, you know it is good, locally sourced food and that makes me feel a lot better about paying good money for it. You can see our half-eaten bowl of fresh summer fruit (couldn't get a picture of it full because we dug in too fast, but it was a good-sized bowl overflowing with freshness!) below. 
If you live anywhere in the Bay Area, you should definitely check it out!

That's all for today. Remember, try Citrus Lane for 50% off your first box to join in the fun!
Tune in soon for some more fall fun! 

Monday, October 06, 2014

Mommy Panel at Caterpillar Years

I've been a bit absent...turns out incubating a human and trying to raise a 3 year old and working part-time is pretty time-consuming! Who knew?

(33 weeks! Eek!)

I am excited today because I got to be a part of a Mommy Panel for my friend Heather over at The Caterpillar Years. Her blog is awesome and adorable at all times and I'm so proud and excited to have been involved in it in any small way!

Check it out here:

This panel is about newborns and new moms and what you would tell yourself if you could do it over again (which I'm about to do, really!) 


Saturday, August 30, 2014

Brewing in the Kitchen - Kefir and Kvass

Hey y'all, I'm back with a few more treats for you. I've been having some good fun and adventures in the kitchen, and I'm eager to share!

Fun with Fermentation - Home-Brewed Kefir and Kvass

L to R: Just-mixed peach/apple/cinnamon kvass; fermenting kefir; a glass of mixed berry kvass


Kefir and WHAT, I can hear you saying? I had vaguely heard of beet kvass from the crunchy-mama circles I run in, and the classic kvass is actually from fermented rye bread, originating in Russia and Eastern Europe. But I never actually knew there was a fruit version (which sounds so much more appealing, at least to me) OR that it could be so simple to brew at home! 

The basics of fruit kvass are fruit (fresh, frozen or dried), raw honey, filtered water, and whey (which is apparently optional, but I always use it). 

Process and equipment: You can brew your own in as little as 48 hours just by mixing that stuff together in a glass jar with a lid and leaving it on the kitchen counter! Yes, it really is that easy. But, if you're like me, you need a little more info. Please find a great explanation of the hows and whys of fruit kvass from the lovely Rebecca Wood here. Your kvass is done when it is fizzy, sweet to the taste, and the fruit inside looks cooked. You strain out the fruit and drink the kvass! 

So far, I tried to do a mixed berry one with fresh ginger from frozen Costco fruits (meh) and now there's an apple peach cinnamon (made from fresh organic fruit) on fermenting on my counter that seems quite promising! It's a light-tasting fruit drink with minimal alcohol (so minimal, it is still suitable for kiddos and preggos) and a fizzy finish. 


Then there's the KEFIR, which you have probably come across if you've ever been the dairy section at Whole Foods or similar. It's basically akin to a drinkable yogurt, but it more accurately is a fermented milk drink. My husband was a little leery of me leaving any kind of milk product out on the counter and then drinking it a couple days later, but I was up for the adventure because I really love commercial kefir and thought I could make it better and cheaper at home! 

The basics of kefir: It will cost you between $3 and $4 to buy a quart of commercially prepared kefir at Whole Foods. When you make it at home, it costs you whatever a quart of organic milk costs, plus the cost of any starter and add-ins you make, which is significantly less! I use Yogourmet freeze-dried kefir starter because I don't have a source for kefir "grains", which are traditionally used. The freeze-dried packets come in a box of six and each packet makes one quart. The box will usually cost anywhere from $5-$7 or more depending on where you buy it. I got mine from Whole Foods, but I saw it even for sale on, of all places!

Process and equipment: The basics of kefir-making at home include heating a quart of milk to about 180 degrees, then letting it cool to somewhere between 73-77 degrees Fahrenheit. You can help it along by putting it on ice or in the refrigerator. (I use mason jars to make mine in.) Once cooled, you mix the kefir starter to a bit of the milk before adding it all back together and mixing well. Then, you set it on the counter in a cool, dry place! The top of the jar needs to be covered somehow so that air can still get in, but not bugs or other particulates. I have found it easy to put a coffee filter over the top and secure it with a rubber band. I've heard you can do cheesecloth or a tea towel or something of the sort. Leave it out for about 24 hours, then stop the fermentation by putting it in the refrigerator for 8 hours. It is then ready to strain or stir and enjoy! 

It is summer here in Northern California, so I've found that it doesn't actually take a full 24 hours before mine is completely solid. Therefore, I've been giving it as little as 12-14 hours before sticking it in the fridge. I have so far tried mango, blueberry, chocolate, and peach/banana flavorings using my kefir and our Vitamix! The chocolate was my least favorite (oddly) and the peach banana that I made today has by far been the BEST! I'm eager to try a chai and a vanilla flavor. I'm also wondering if there's a coffee recipe out there so I can mix two of my favorite breakfast drinks together into one awesome power drink! (Maybe I'm dreaming on that one...)

I've found the book Delicious Probiotic Drinks by Julia Mueller to be fun for recipes for the kefir, and also for ideas for other fermented drinks to make at home! 

If you decide to try or have tried either of these fun drinks yourself, please leave me a note about how it went!