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 dinner-cookers...it 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: http://www.thecaterpillaryears.com/2014/10/mommy-panel-monday/

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!)