Thursday, December 24, 2009
I have to add Sweet Potato Pecan Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting.
These are just really delectable. I won't even make an argument that they are healthy or even healthier than an alternative desert, because that's just not true. But they are delicious! And so very fall!
Happy Winter cooking/baking! I don't really have a winter category yet. Fall is clearly a season of sweet potatoes, caramel, maple, cinnamon, pumpkin...etc. Fall tastes are more distinct to me. Any Winter suggestions?
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Peter finished all of his residency interviews last week. He went to 14 everywhere from Pennsylvania to Arizona. He has been gone a lot for the past 6 weeks! But we are very thankful for all of the interviews. There are pros and cons to each of the programs and to each of the cities to which we might possibly be moving. So, I've been praying that God will simply move us where He wants us because its difficult for me to even say where I want to be. Some days I think it would be great to stay in SLC but I also think it would be fun to have a totally different experience in, say, Dansville, PA. Overall, I think we'd be happy anywhere (as long as we're together :o) ). And in the end, it's not up to us. The next step is for Peter to submit a rank list of all of the programs. Meanwhile, each program ranks its candidates. Then all of this information goes into a national database where computers do some fancy fanagaling and finally everyone gets accepted into one program. We'll find out which one we've gotten into mid-January. And we'll let you know!
Currently in SLC we are experiencing an inversion. This is a weather condition that I don't fully understand yet. But it is nasty. Somehow it involves a lot of dense smog getting trapped in the valley. Last week Peter went up into the mountains to go skiing. He said that he couldn't even see down into the valley because the smog/fog was so thick. While in the mountains it was perfectly clear. I'm told it takes another storm to come along and push the smog out for it to get clear again. But for the moment it looks like I'm in Dicken's London. And not an "eccentric characters trapsing around and eating figgy pudding" kind of Dickens. But rather an "industrial revolution fog of squalor" Dickens.
And finally, since this post is filled with randomness, I will leave you with this: How is it that the snuggie/slanket has become popular? At first it was just something to make fun of. But now people are actually buying them! I would know because I am buying one as a Christmas gift and sveral of the options were sold out! Furthermore the person who asked for the slanket is pretty much the epitome of coolness. So, we can all be assured that those of us who don't have one have now somehow become dorks. (As opposed to the other way around.) When did this change happen?
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
- 4 pound(s) sweet potatoes, peeled
- 1 cup(s) pure maple syrup
- 1 1/2 cup(s) cranberries
- 3 tablespoon(s) butter (no substitutions)
- In covered 6-quart saucepot, heat whole sweet potatoes with 1 teaspoon salt and enough water to cover to boiling on high. Reduce heat to low; simmer, covered, about 30 minutes or just until potatoes are fork-tender. Drain. Set aside until cool enough to handle.
- Meanwhile, in 1-quart saucepan, heat maple syrup to boiling on high. Reduce heat to medium, and boil gently 10 to 15 minutes or until reduced to 1/2 cup. Stir in cranberries, butter, and 1/2 teaspoon salt, and cook just until cranberries pop, about 5 minutes longer.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut cooled sweet potatoes crosswise into 1-inch-thick slices and arrange in shallow 3-quart ceramic or glass baking dish, overlapping slices if necessary.
- Spoon maple-cranberry syrup evenly over potatoes. Bake, uncovered, 20 minutes or until hot.
- To make Ginger-Almond Sweet Potatoes: Prepare sweet potatoes as above in step 1. In step 2, instead of maple-cranberry syrup, prepare ginger syrup: In 1-quart saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon margarine or butter on medium. Add 2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger; cook 1 minute, stirring. Stir in 1/2 cup apricot preserves, 1/4 cup orange juice, and 1/2 teaspoon salt; heat to boiling, stirring. Complete recipe as in steps 3 and 4, spooning ginger syrup over potatoes and sprinkling with 1/2 cup toasted sliced natural (with brown skin still on) almonds before baking.
Each serving: About 230 calories, 4 g protein, 45 g carbohydrate, 4 g total fat (1 g saturated), 5 g fiber, 0 mg cholesterol, 210 mg sodium.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
They can't be considered healthy because of the amount of sugar involved. But I think they are a healthier alternative to the traditional Christmas fare of chocolate, cookies, toffee, cake etc. And they look so pretty!
If you don't like cranberries, you still may like these. Soaking in sugar water for 8 hours then being rolled in more sugar can really do a lot for a sour little fruit.
If you make these, my 2 pieces of advice are to 1) not even let the water simmer. I did let it get to simmer and some of the berries popped. So the next time I just let the water get warm enough where there were small bubbles forming on the sides of the pan. 2) When you coat them with sugar, start out with less sugar then add more as needed. Some of batches got coated almost solid white. I think they're a lot prettier when you can still see the red. They look like shimmering jewels.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
He seemed to be curled up quite cozily with his hands in front of his face. He was awake, though (perhaps we woke him up?), flailing his arms in front of him T-Rex style. It was really fun to see the baby move. But because of his hands we couldn't get great pictures of his face or profile. There have been many a time Peter has tried to rouse me from a nap. And I'm curled up, arms over my head, imploring him to "leave me alone!" I understand baby, why you weren't obliged to take a picture. I never feel camera-ready either when someone is disturbing my slumber.
I usually default to referring to the baby as "he" because I think it's going to be a boy- not because of anything I saw on the ultrasound, I've just thought "boy" since I got pregnant. Note to baby: If indeed you are a girl, I apologize in advance for referring to you as "he" for 9 months. But remember, I'm planning on paying for your college, so try to be forgiving. :o)
Here are the pictures:
I thought I was 21 weeks as of last Wednesday. But they told me that the baby was measuring 10 days smaller. It's most likely that I am off on my dates. Which is highly possible because I was never a meticulous record keeper regarding my cycles (or a meticulous record keeper in any other way, if I'm honest). Or it could just be a small baby. He also said that there is a 10 day margin of error either way on ultrasound size estimates. So really all of those facts add up to no practical information except that we might be expecting a mid-May baby instead of an April/May baby. We'll see. I go back for another ultrasound next month.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
For most cats the Christmas tree offers a mecca of entertainment. They can chew on the branches, bat the ornaments, sharpen their claws on the trunk and even climb up the tree! Even the most blase of felines can find something to do!
For example, no sooner had we set up our tree than Penelope was already perched in the branches. I ventured to hang some ornaments at the top of the tree (to perhaps give them a chance to survive the barrage of batting claws) but they were not even safe there. Their siren song was too much for her to resist and soon she had climbed to the top of the tree and was pawing away... that is until the tree toppled over.
Meanwhile Theodore, who is much less interested in expending energy, was content to sit at the bottom and chew on the branches.
Here is Peter extracting Penelope from the tree. If you look you can see that she is entangled in the light cords. Is it wrong to hope she gets shocked? (Just a little shock?)
So we have an ornamentless tree up in the living room. And some ornaments decoratively arranged in the china hutch were they are safe from batting paws. 'Tis the season!
Also, here I am at 20 weeks (half way!!):
I don't think this picture looks very much different from my 14 week picture. But at certain angles you can really see the bump. I'll try to take another picture where you can see the baby bump better.
I have started to feel the baby move which is super fun! I have my main ultrasound on Tuesday. We aren't finding out the sex but I will try to post some pictures.
Tuesday, December 08, 2009
I was initiated into the Sisterhood today. The sisterhood of perhaps one of the most unpleasant first trimester symptoms: I threw up for the first time. I've been queasy for weeks. But today, very unexpectedly, I threw up in a trashcan at work. In the middle of the PACU (post anesthesia care unit where patients are prepped for surgery and recovered afterward).
I had just eaten my morning snack and I started to feel really nauseous. Since I hadn't thrown up yet, I thought it would pass. But I have a very poor track record of making it to the proper receptacle to vomit.
Twice when we were living in Houston I stood in the bathroom contemplating whether or not I was going to throw up only to begin hurling before I could even get the toilet seat open. I was in the bathroom and I still couldn't do it in time! I threw up on the toilet twice! I hope I've learned my lesson now. Both times my sweet, long-suffering husband cleaned up without even mentioning how stupid I was.
So, I decided to go stand by the trashcan. And sure enough, up came those dried apricots. There I was trying to be discreet, heaving into the trashcan. One of the OR nurses walked past and asked if I was okay. I said that I was fine, just pregnant. (I didn't want him to think I was throwing up because I had swine flu or something. ) To which he replied, "Oh, congratulations! I didn't know!", followed up with "I'm so glad I'm not a woman!"
So it appears that at the tail end of the first trimester the nausea got a little worse. One of my other pregnancy symptoms has improved, thankfully. For the past several weeks I've woken up in the wee hours of the morning feeling like I haven't urinated in weeks. This is due to the uterus low in my abdomen, encroaching upon my poor bladder. But the last few days I've gone all night without having to pee! In the second trimester, the uterus lifts slightly, giving the bladder a brief reprieve before its (the uterus's) tyrannical oppression of all organs during the third trimester. I'm looking forward to the next few months of peeing like a regular person. That should be fun!
Monday, December 07, 2009
We had one of our good friends in San Antonio deliver pink and blue frosted cupcakes to our parents. Inside the box was a poem about having a bun in the oven. It was very fun! Then we proceeded to call everyone else who didn't already know.
The cutest response was from my sister who asked me "have you had any morning sickness or stretch marks?"
I don't know why I thought this was so funny but I still smile at that question. I guess it's because stretch marks isn't really something that one should ask a pregnant woman about in our realm of cultural norms. But those two terms are probably the only two pregnancy terms that she knows. So that's what she asked about. I thought it was cute!
And the answer is, no stretch marks yet (thank goodness because I'd be in real trouble if my skin was already stretched beyond its limit at 13 weeks) and yes morning sickness is there everyday to greet me!
Saturday, December 05, 2009
Well, the jig is up at work. Everyone knows that I'm pregnant. Remember that nurse I mentioned last week who got it out of me? Well today I walked in. There were a group of four of my coworkers there. Someone asked me excitedly if I had any "news." News being a euphemism for "are you pregnant?" This is not unusual. They ask me this frequently.
I began my usual routines of denial and pussyfooting.
"I don't know. It's possible, but I don't think so"....ect. They already know that we're trying, which I was forced to admit early on when I was bombarded with the question "when are you going to have kids?"
I don't know exactly what was said but suddenly the nurse mentioned above asked me "Have you told your parents yet?"
I was stunned. I didn't know what to say or how to get out of it. It seemed futile to deny it anymore.
So I admitted it. I was slightly peeved that she let my secret out. But it was hard to be irritated for long because everyone was so excited. Of course, when I told them I hadn't planned to tell until I got out of the first trimester they all swore that they wouldn't say anything. Yet, somehow, mysteriously, by the end of the day everyone knew. I did not utter a word. But it got around.
As more people were informed, they all began to tell me that they knew already because I had been looking ill and tired. They also said I am a horrible liar.
I didn't intend for everyone at work to know first, but what could I do? Those ladies are ruthless when it comes to babies!
Also, as people found out, many of them said to Peter "good job!" We both thought this was funny. Really, let's be honest. Peter's part in all of this can hardly be considered "work." I rather think I should be receiving accolades for, you know, sustaining a new life! Let's give credit where credit is due, shall we?!? ;o)
Friday, December 04, 2009
Yesterday Peter and I met my midwife. She was recommended to me by another midwife at our church. I was very happy with her. Of course, there's only so much you can glean from a half-hour meeting. But so far, I'm delighted.
She talked to us for a long time. When I found out I wouldn't be getting a sonogram, I think I was visibly disappointed. I was hoping I would get one because I wanted to see the assurance of that little person in there hopefully the right size and in the right place! I kept asking about it, and why or why not certain practices do early sonograms.
At the end of the appointment she said, "if the ultrasound room is empty, let's just go in there and see what we can see." It was empty! So I climbed up on the table and she began to probe my stomach with that slimy goo.
And there it was! My little baby's heart! Just a little flicker on the screen. I was so moved to see that brand new tiny heart beating away. Tears started sliding down my cheeks. By the time we saw it, it had already been beating for a few weeks. I'm sure it had already beat hundreds of thousands of times, but still it's so new. A newly created heart right inside of my abdomen. It was so amazing to see that. Because of the way the pregnancy dates are calculated, at 8 weeks pregnant the fetus has only been in existence for 6 weeks. It takes less than six weeks to create such a vital organ and get it into working order! Who can wrap their mind around that??
She printed a picture of the baby. Of course it just looks like a little squiggle in a fish bowl. But I've been gazing at that squiggle as if it is worthy to be hanging on the walls of the Louvre.
Thursday, December 03, 2009
I might have to adopt the opposite phrase for Salt Lake City. It is too cold to live. I know there is a certain temperature where all matter ceases to exist (or something like that, I'm drawing on chemistry classes from 8 years ago...) and I fear we are getting dangerously close.
Yesterday a patient remarked to me that it was supposed to get down to 18. To which I incredulously replied "Degrees?!?"
Tonight it is supposed to plummet to 12. 12 Degrees. 12 Is a fine number to use in many circumstances. It is a great number of eggs to have in a carton, and it's a lovely number of roses to receive on Valentine's Day. But it is not, in my opinion, a friendly number when used to describe a weather forecast.
You may recall all summer I was practically an ever-flowing fount of praise regarding weather here. The summer was so nice! When it got too hot, we went up into the mountains when were able. There we would get a little reprieve from the heat. Now, however, 12 degree weather is our reprieve. We're in the valley where it's downright toasty compared to the blustery mountains. There's nowhere for us to go to get out of the cold except to bed with a hot water bottle.
So, if you don't hear from me for a while it will be safe to assume that either the state of Utah reached absolute zero and has ceased to exist, or I'm taking an extended hibernation under my comforter. I might also be busy with work and other commitments. But I'm predicting one of the first two.
So, Baby Week ended rather abruptly last week. That had to do with Peter and I traveling and me not scheduling the posts. I'll post the last several over the next week!
I hope you are all staying warm!
Friday, November 27, 2009
Tomorrow is my first midwife appointment and I am so excited! I am hoping to have a sonogram. I have no idea what to expect. I’ve only dealt extensively with the far other end of this spectrum in labor and delivery. And I am nowhere near there yet!
Last week I was almost (almost) wishing that I had some more intense pregnancy symptoms. I couldn’t get pregnancy off of my mind and yet I didn’t feel pregnant at all. I resorted to taking pregnancy tests at work just to make sure I was indeed pregnant.
Well, be careful what you almost wish for. These days I am in a perpetual state of queasiness. It’s not nausea. I haven’t even felt like I need to throw up. It’s just enough of an upset stomach to take the spring out of my step. But it doesn’t make me miserable. It seems to be worse on an empty stomach. So, I’m trying to eat healthy snacks every few hours.
I’m also exhausted and frequently short of breath. All of these things conspire to make me one lazy nurse at work. But I am taking comfort in the fact that these symptoms are indicators that I actually am pregnant!
Speaking of work. Oy vey! It is hard to keep a secret there. Almost all of the ladies I work with are my mother’s age and they have their minds on grand babies. And it doesn’t even have to be their own grand babies- they want me to have a baby so that they can have one around. There’s one in particular that keeps urging Peter and I to get pregnant now so that she can throw us a baby shower before Peter’s year here is up. And every time I mention a symptom that is even vaguely pregnancy related (eg. “I’m tired”) they try to get me to take a pregnancy test! It is rather ridiculous. And lately since I’ve been feeling a little sick I’ve gotten frequent comments that I don’t look well and am I sure I’m not pregnant?
So, I’ve had to use various excuses and maneuvering to get out of all of these pregnancy tests. But one of the nurses did wriggle it out of me. She began asking me pointed questions about a doctor’s appointment that I mentioned (which is actually my midwife appointment tomorrow) and I found it difficult to lie to her face. So she knows. I hope she will keep her mouth shut for a few more weeks. It will be fun to tell everyone at work. They will all be so excited! Provided that everything goes well, it will only be a few more weeks and then I will let everyone know! I can’t wait for that!
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
So, baby made it to the Grand Tetons with us last weekend. You can tell in this picture that I’m pregnant by the stereotypically pregnant way that I’m standing. (Otherwise, you can’t really tell. )
I hope this is the first of many camping trips and hikes for our little offspring. I hope s/he loves
nature, the outdoors and wildlife as much as we do. If s/he doesn’t, he’s going to have a terrible childhood with all of those vacations to national parks. And then in some therapy sessions later on in life he’ll probably relate how his mother forced him/her to become a junior ranger every summer and then s/he’ll get a job at a logging company just to spite me.
But hopefully s/he’ll love the outdoors and then s/he’ll have a fabulous childhood! We got him/her this adorable little onesie that says “I moose have a hug.” So cute! Hopefully this time next year you’ll get to see the sights for your self, little baby!
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
One of the first tasks I undertook when I found out that I was pregnant was breaking baby’s first drug addiction. Caffeine. I somehow developed a small coffee habit. I think that happened sometime when I was working nights. I think baby had some fast times in utero those first few weeks before I knew that I was pregnant.
So for the first week I switched to decaf. Then I quit altogether. I also decided to give up my beloved diet cokes. Now that I’ve given up everything I enjoy drinking, that leaves me with only one food/drink related vice: salt. If I am eating a meal with you, you might just nonchalantly move the salt shaker away from my side of the table. But you must do this without me seeing you. If I see you taking my sodium, I’m likely to become furious and attack.
Anyways, I thought breaking my caffeine habit would be awful. I thought I would only be functioning at about a 3 on the
Right now my baby is 4-5 weeks. S/he is between 1/16 and 1/8 of an inch- about the size of the tip of a pen. What a petite little thing!
I am so dizzyingly happy. I have been smiling for days, walking on air, just thinking about that word “Pregnant!” The vulnerability of the situation has also struck me. That little being with no shelter, no protection except my own body which now seems so fragile... so unequal to the task. Even though this whole process is taking place inside of me, I feel very helpless. I feel like I should be doing something. But really all I can do is wait. It is a strange feeling to be in the midst of such an enormous life change and yet... nothing has actually changed.
I think about it when I'm on the train. There are actually two people sitting in my seat but no one knows that! It's not just me anymore, I'm two! But in response to that mind blowing idea (that there are now two people where there was formerly only one) I'm still riding the train to work everyday like I normally do. Life is so eerily normal! But the changes will come soon enough I'm sure. I might as well enjoy the last vestiges of "normal" while I can. And there is comfort in the waiting. Or at least in the knowing that I truly can't control anything that's happening but I can entrust the entire process to the Author of life.
We have decided to wait until I’m 13-15 weeks along before we tell anyone that I am pregnant. From my experience as a Labor and Delivery nurse, I know that the possibility of miscarriage is very real during the first trimester. So, I want to wait to get past that. Of course, there are still no guarantees, I know. But I also enjoy letting this news mull and simmer in my mind while the knowledge is still just ours. It’s kind of fun to have a secret!
But at times I feel like I might explode; it is a difficult secret to keep. It seems like October (when I will be getting into the 2nd trimester) is an eternity away! Last night we got a call from Peter’s brother Jacob. I heard Peter on the phone exclaim “number three!” I knew that probably meant Jacob and his wife Daniele are having a third baby. And sure enough, Daniele is pregnant and due in early May! (I'm due April 28th.) Wow! We were beside ourselves with excitement. It will be fun to tell them. If all goes as planned, I will by having my oldest and they will be having their youngest both in early May. They say it will be their last but they’re both still young and I have my doubts…;o) So, we’re locked into a 40-week marathon. May the best baby win (of course, both babies will be "the best baby." It will just depend on which set of parents you talk to. :o)!
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Next week is going to be "Baby Week" around here. Every week is Baby Week in my mind. And if you so desire you can join me in my pregnancy-soaked ramblings. Over the first trimester, before we were telling people that I'm pregnant, I wrote several things that I am going to try to post next week. It fits in with Thanksgiving because I couldn't be more thankful to have my little womb buddy with me all the time!
Anyways, I've been continuing to swim for exercise and I really enjoy it. (Change of subject, no segue. Poor writing! Sorry!) The hardest part is the mental anguish that occurs when considering getting into a cold swimming pool when it's in the 30's outside. Once I'm in it's not bad. But getting there requires much mental cajoling. Last weekend I was actually in the pool and it started snowing outside (the pool building has a wall of windows). Just seeing the snow made the water temperature seem to plummet. Following my workout, I had to leave the pool and wait for the train with wet hair in the snow. Which, again, wasn't that bad when I got there but was so painful to think about that I was attempting to wait out the snow. But the snow prevailed, lasting several hours. I just didn't have it in me to do that many laps.
Anyways, I've been trying to learn breaststroke. I'm wondering if perhaps it's one of those things that will forever elude me. Like finding my way around by cardinal directions. Or doing any math in my head (or on paper for that matter...).
I've just been working on the kick and I actually end up going backwards. Does that not somehow defy the laws of physics? I'm displacing water in a forward motion and yet I'm going the opposite way? If it does defy physics perhaps instead of failing I'm actually demonstrating some sort of magical skills.
This all goes against the theme of my "nothing is impossible!" marathon post. But I know there are things that are impossible for me, just not everything that I once believed to be impossible. I can't whistle, I can't roll the letter "r" and I just might have to add breaststroke to that list. But maybe not! I'll keep working!
Sunday, November 15, 2009
* Meb Keflezighi was this year's winner of the NYC marathon. He ran it in 2:09:15. That's the amount of time it takes me to get out of bed in the morning sometimes.
Friday, November 13, 2009
Anyways, Jennifer works in publishing in NYC (doesn't that sound so sophisticated?!?). On one of our hikes we discussed the publishing business for a bit. Books and book gadgets like the kindle and such. Jennifer told us that Amazon is like the Wal-Mart of the publishing world. It is a huge behemoth that is poised to push the smaller, independent bookstores out of business. I'm sure the economy of the whole situation is more complex than what I just described but that is the gist of it as I understand it.
I'm really not a fan of big corporations that can afford to bully all the little guys. I don't want the world to turn into one huge Wal-Mart/McDonalds/Starbucks combo. In Texas I used to buy books at 1/2 priced books or check them out from the library. But 1/2 priced books really only works if you're not picky at all about what you're going to read. When I wanted to buy a specific title I usually bought online from Amazon. I really didn't know where else to buy used books online. But Jennifer recommended some sites that I think I will try to use from now on.
One is Better World Books. It is a company that collects books that would otherwise be thrown away and sells them online. They donate a portion of their profits to various global literacy organizations. And here's something really awesome: They ship FREE in the U.S.! I bought three used books from the site today- books that were not even in the SLC library system. So they seem to have a good selection.
The other site we discussed is Powell's Books. Powell's is one of the largest independent bookstore in the world. It's in Portland, Oregon. I visited it several years ago when I was in Portland. It is a paradise for readers. I considered moving in. I didn't realize that they also sold online. I didn't find what I was looking for when I was searching for today. But I'll keep looking because I think they have a good selection. I just couldn't find what I wanted used.
Perhaps you can check out these sights when you're Christmas shopping for that book lover in your life.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
I got it out of a recipe book that was compiled by Central Baptist Church, which is where Peter and I went to church in College Station (at Texas A&M). He gave me the cookbook as a present Christmas of 2004. We had very recently began dating again (after breaking up at the end of high school). It was our senior year of college and we got married about 8 months later.
Anyways, we had just started dating again and he gives me this cookbook. At first I'm like "what are you trying to say? Why don't you get in the kitchen and cook me something?!" I had never really cooked anything before in my life. But then I tried a few recipes and realized, "hey, I love this!" And thus began what will hopefully be a lifelong romance with the culinary arts.
We had some people over a couple of weeks ago and I made this cake for dessert. I also served some hot cranberry-apple cider. Pretty soon there were trees sprouting around us whose leaves were turning hues of orange, gold and red.
Okay, that didn't really happen. But if eating a fall themed desert could cause such a thing, I'm sure it would have. If anyone tries this, let me know how it turns out!
Here's the recipe:
Caramel Apple Cake
1.5 c vegetable oil
1.5 c sugar
1/2 c brown sugar
3 c all purpose flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3.5 c diced apples (usually 3 lg or 4 med.)
1.5 c pecans
2 tsp vanilla flavoring
Combine oil and sugars. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Combine dry ingredients reserving 1/2 c of flour; then add the rest of dry mix to batter and stir well. Mix reserved 1/2 c flour with the apples and nuts. Fold in apples and nuts to batter and add vanilla. Pour into greased and floured tube pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 1.5 hours or until cake tests done. Cool in pan for 15 minutes then remove onto wire rack to cool completely.
Caramel Apple Icing
1/2 c brown sugar
1/3 c light cream
1/4 c butter
dash of salt
1 c powdered sugar
chopped pecans to garnish
In top of double broiler over simmering water, heat brown sugar, cream, butter and salt until sugar is dissolved. Cool to room temperature. Beat in powdered sugar until smooth and drizzle over cake. Sprinkle with nuts.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
I had some very dear friends come visit last weekend and we had a wonderful time! I hope mine are still there to fluff my hair after my cataract surgery in 50 years!
Tuesday, November 03, 2009
When I talk to him I can't help but feel a little envious! He's very excited and he's enjoyed training for a half so much that he's considering doing a full marathon. He's experiencing the exhilaration that you feel when, never having run more than a few miles at a time, you're now running 10. Previously you thought 10 miles might be impossible but now that you're doing it, your mind begins to flirt with the idea of doing 26.
New York was my second marathon. The first marathon I did was in January of 2008 in Houston. I'd started running maybe a year before and let me tell you it was painful. Peter will verify this. I just wanted to get into shape so we started running around a 3 mile loop at Rice University. We chose running because it was a very easy and cost effective thing that we could do. Actually, running is the wrong term. When we started it was more like a combination of walking, staggering and wishing for death. I hated it.
But after several excruciating months I could run all three miles! This in and of itself was a ginormous accomplishment for me. I didn't even like running and I could go three miles! So as time went on I realized I needed a goal in order to stick to my exercise. So I set my sights on the Houston Marathon. It makes no sense that I made that my goal. That's like someone who just rowed a boat across a pond declaring that they would next be rowing across the Atlantic. But I guess I was up for a challenge.
So I gradually started increasing my distance and before I knew it I was running 10, 12, 15 miles. And along the way, something really great happened: I started to love running. I loved it! On the nights before my long runs sometimes I couldn't sleep because I was nervous and excited and dreading it all at the same time. And afterward there was such sweet, exhausted relief at having accomplished the week's run. I was not an athlete, never a runner, and I was running more miles than I ever thought possible. I've told Peter before that this experience changed my life in some ways. I still struggle to put into words what was so transforming about it. But one aspect was the fact that whole new worlds of possibilities opened up in my mind. I began to consider that perhaps other things I'd always thought would be impossible for me might actually be achievable with some hard work and "pounding the pavement," so to speak.
I ran the Houston Marathon in Jan of 2008. It took me 5 hours. I loved it. I felt so great the whole time. I ended up doing the final training runs and the marathon alone because my running partner had to drop out due to injury. But I didn't mind that. I actually kind of liked the solitariness of it. The fact that I was the only one that could keep putting one leg in front of the other. Yet at the same time drawing strength from the hundreds of people around me that were in the exact same position.
I loved that marathon so much that I signed up for the New York Marathon for the November of that same year. That experience was not as exhilarating since I'd been through it before and the marathon itself was more difficult because I had more aches and pains (and bowel and bladder issues which I won't go into here). But it was still deeply enjoyable and the fact that it was in NYC made it very exciting.
Anyways, I'm here to tell you that barring any serious injuries or disabilities, if I can do this ANYONE can do this. Anyone. Literally. I'm not a gifted athlete. At all. Ever. Still after running for three years, I'm not a great runner. But if you've ever thought about about doing a marathon, you can! Or if not a marathon, there's probably something else that you consider impossible that might not be after all.
If you're a runner or you might want to be a runner or even if you're neither of those things you might like this video. It's a Nova program called Marathon Challenge. You can watch the full episode online. When Peter and I watched it, we both cried at the end. It chronicles several people who overcome significant obstacles to do the Boston Marathon.
Saturday, October 31, 2009
This caused me to have semi-panic moment in which I realized, oh my gosh, this is really happening. THIS IS REAL! Then my thoughts fled, leaving my brain in stunned silence while a deer-in-the-headlights expression settled on my face. But then I snapped out of that and there was a flurry of exiting feelings. This is all so special and amazing and weird at the same time. There is a person in my abdomen. A person in my abdomen! Doesn't that sound like something out of an alien movie?
In this flurry of realization, I also had a moment of mourning for the departing of my prepregnancy shape. I don't know that I'll ever see her again. But that's okay. It was nice knowing her, but there are bigger (ha! no pun intended) and better things to come.
It seems substantial to me but the bump can't be that big because I'm still wearing all my normal clothes. I haven't even had to transition to my "big jeans" (I have big jeans and small jeans. Ladies, you know how that goes). Though I will admit I haven't washed my small jeans in many moons. When they're nice and stretched out, they fit great. But just out of the dryer? Let's just say getting those suckers on is a routine fit for a circus. The freak show part of a circus.
Well, here it is, bump at 14.5 weeks: (Also, in the interest of full disclosure, I had just eaten pie. So part of the bump in this picture might be meringue.)
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Anyways, today I felt so alive! I had forgotten what it feels like to feel normal! Compared to the last few weeks, today I felt like a two year old on speed! This gives me hope, oodles of hope.
Okay, now onto Swine Flu. Being young and healthy, I am not used to being in the high risk category for diseases. Which I am for swine flu because I'm pregnant and also because the flu seems to be taking its toll on younger people. And I have to say, I don't like this one bit!
Today I read a few suggestions that were posted at work that I hadn't heard before and I thought I'd pass them along.
1) Wash hands frequently (duh). What most people don't do is wash long enough. It needs to be 15 seconds and you need to scrub. Getting germs off your hands is mostly done by the friction of scrubbing your hands not necessarily your antibacterial soap.
2) Do not touch your face. Flu virus enters your body through your nose or mouth, so keep your hands away from your face. And suddenly when I had resolved to do this my face began to itch uncontrollably.
3) Gargle with salt water every night. Basically, the guidelines posted said that you can stop proliferation of the virus if you are exposed by doing this. It's the same reason why you had to gurgle after your dental surgeries (or at least I had to gurgle after mine). The salt water can help to kill the organisms.
4) Swab your nose out with a q-tip dipped in salt water. Same reasoning as above. The salt water can help kill the organisms and stop proliferation of the virus if you are exposed.
So, as I was writing this post I was googling these suggestions to see if I could find anything out about their effectiveness. I read something on snopes.com which said that the effectiveness of the gargling is questionable. But I do know that dental surgeons do recommend it, I was told to gargle after both of my mouth surgeries. So perhaps there is something to it. At very least you can ask your doctor if you want. Honeslty, I don't know if I'll take up gargling with salt water every night but I'm considering it. Pregnant people are more likely to develop complications with h1n1 and I don't want that! Apparently my little miracle is sapping my immune system!
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
I may have been overdressed because I saw many people who seemed to be fine wearing merely hooded sweatshirts. But my I was warm, hot even and that's all that mattered to me! We really enjoyed the first snow, it was exciting and beautiful! Hopefully these good feelings will last us through the winter!
Here are a few pictures from Peter's phone camera:
Sunday, October 25, 2009
On Saturday night we went to a fun costume/ murder mystery party. It was one of those murder mystery games. The theme was Roman and the plot was about a poet who was preparing to release a piece of work that exposed some very unfavorable facts about several elite people in Rome. But then the poet is murdered and we had to try to determine who was the killer when we all had a motive. (Side note: the outcome reminded me of the movie Gosford Park which is a very witty, clever murder mystery. I would recommend it if you are in the mood for a good whodunit.)
It was fun! And we were all dressed up as Romans. Don, a coworker of Peter's, and Robin, his wife, hosted it. Robin (she's second from the right in the picture) is Martha Stewart's long lost daughter. She's one of those that can gather a few pine cones off the street and make a stunning fall centerpiece! I'm envious of people like this! But I suppose we each have our own strengths. I paused here while writing this to think of an example of one of my strengths. I was going to say something tongue-in-cheek like one of my strengths is being able to sleep 14 hours at a time. But I asked Peter, "what is one of my strengths?" just to see what he would say. Here are the answers I got: sexiness and I'm a nice lady. Ha! Perhaps I need to work on developing some other strengths! He later added that I'm a good cook.
Robin cooked an amazing Itialian dinner of bruchetta, pork, salad and potatoes. It was delicious!
In other news Peter now has 10 Ophthalmology interviews. There are 3 in Texas, 2 in Louisiana, 1 in Utah, 2 in Missouri, 1 in Kansas, and 1 in Arkansas. We are thrilled about this! It will be exciting to find out where God will put us next! We won't know until mid January. We are praying that he will have a few additional interviews beyond these 10. Apparently the North East programs send invitations later in the season. So maybe next month. Either way though, we are very happy. Peter has made a lot of great connections at Utah. Which doesn't necessarily mean he will get into Utah but it does mean he has several people who can put a good word in for him at other programs.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
I've decided to take up swimming because it's one of the only exercises that I know of that I will be able to do until I go into labor. And it's easier on your joints than jogging is.
I've been an outside jogger for a few years. I love the outside part. I've managed to avoid the gym for the last three years. But I'll have to give up jogging in a few weeks because it will be too dark too early. Darkness falls at about 7 pm now but after the time change on November 1st (I think) it will be dark at 6 pm and I get off at 5:30. Additionally it will be getting icy and I will be getting rotund.
So for all those reasons I had to retreat to an inside locale to work out. That's something I never had to think about in Texas because there was always enough light at one end of the day or the other and it was certainly never icy.
So, I joined the U of U gym and got a package of 5 swimming lessons so that I could improve my strokes. I sort of know how to swim but I thought it would be nice to brush up on my strokes if this is something that I'm going to be doing consistently for the next 6 months.
So today was my first lesson and I was so nervous! I don't know exactly why. I haven't been swimming in years. And I always feel sort of naked (there's not much left to the imagination when you're in a swimsuit!) and cold wandering around the pool. And when the life guards look at me I'm never quite sure if they think I might be drowning. Because my strokes are erratic and there is some occasional gasping for air. So there's a possibility I could be mistaken for someone flailing for her life.
But today I had a lot of fun! There are four girls in the class and the instructor is really nice. And I had forgotten what a good work out it is without being high impact. So now I'm really excited!
If anyone has any pregnancy exercise info I am open to hearing any and all advice! I've still been jogging and doing pilates these first three months. But it has been a STRUGGLE. All I want to do with my free time is sleep. So, I haven't been exercising as much as usual. Which is fine, I'm not expecting to become the world's first pregnant olympian. But I'd like to stay active because for me it's all about the habit. If I get in the habit of exercise than it's easy to make time for it. But if I get in the habit of sleeping all my free time away then it's hard to make myself do anything else- including very basic things like eating dinner and brushing my hair! The siren song of my bed is so strong sometimes. Resistance is futile! :o)
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Peter and I were driving home from a holiday get together in San Antonio at his aunt and uncle's house last November. We were driving down the highway when suddenly I saw something careening towards the windshield. Before I even registered what was happening, the object flew through the glass, I screamed and ducked. It all happened so quickly. The time between seeing something coming towards us and when it shattered the glass was seconds or less.
Peter pulled off of the highway at our exit and we began to assess the damage. Thank God we were both okay. There was a hole in the windshield on my side of the car (passenger side). And there was glass all over me. It was in my eyes, my hair, down my clothes. But thankfully, I only had a few extremely minor scratches on my hands, I think.
Anyways, after realizing that we were both okay it quickly occurred to me that I could have easily been killed or maimed beyond recognition. It was a softball sized rock that came through the windshield and landed on the floor in the back of the car. I don't know if it went over the back of my seat, or between our seats. But either way, it was inches away from my head. Since we were on the highway, going probably at least 60 miles per hour, I have no doubt that if it had hit me, my head would have been crushed. And even if it hadn't hit my head, I'm sure it could have done some serious damage to my ribs and lungs or to wherever it might have landed.
After this incident, I jokingly referred to it as my brush with death. But seriously, I found it very comforting to dwell on the fact that there are no what-ifs with God. The Bible tells us that bad things will happen to us, trials will come. That's life, which most people, even the non-religious, will probably readily admit. But for Christians, we are never victims of some random statistical chance, or freak accident. There is a greater plan. We might not always understand it or even like it but there is comfort in knowing that God does understand and for those that love Him, all things work together for good (Romans 8:28).
Monday, October 19, 2009
I had very little reason to suspect I was pregnant and yet I was almost certain that I was. I had noticed some very subtle but odd symptoms during the preceding weeks. I had become dizzy once, which was very unusual for me; I was tired. Though I’m always tired so I don’t know if that was actually pregnancy related.
Finally, on August 25th I was only 3 days late for my monthly cycle. I had resolved not to take a pregnancy test until September when it would likely be more accurate. Yet on that day, it was a Tuesday, I developed a new symptom. I became extremely winded while I was sweeping the floor. I had to catch my breath just to talk to Peter. I remembered a friend of mine telling me that she always knew when she was pregnant because of how short of breath she became. I said to Peter, “I think I’m pregnant.” And with that my resolve crumbled very quickly and I hurried to the bathroom to pee on a stick.
After said peeing, I darted out of the bathroom to wait the prescribed 3 minutes for the result to appear according to the instructions. But who are they kidding, 3 minutes?!? I darted back in about 30 seconds later. I was expecting some lines or something, but apparently I had some sort of high tech, digital pregnancy test because right there in front of me was the word “Pregnant!”
I felt flushed and the butterflies in my stomach fluttered to life. I walked out to the living room to show Peter that most life changing of words. I held the test in front of his face with shaking hands. Only earlier that day Peter had undergone a dilated eye exam and he still couldn’t see much. “What does it say?” he asked. “Pregnant!” I declared. He took it very calmly. He was excited, but he was his characteristic mellow self.
We were both pretty mellow, in fact. There was no squealing or jumping up and down. But there was and is disbelief and deep, happiness and gratitude. We are so excited!
Later that night Peter asked me, “Why do women get so tired in the first trimester?” I was all, “my body is sustaining another person’s life, doesn’t that sound like hard work to you?!?” I’m willing to use just about any excuse to take a good nap but “sustaining life” is probably one that you really can’t argue with. I anticipate a lot more naps in my future. Until the baby comes. Then no naps. Ever. Until the baby goes to college. Isn’t that the way this works?
Sunday, October 18, 2009
And their new sibling is not a kitty. I’m pregnant!
So, we sat down with them and explained to them that being older siblings carries significant responsibility.
“Theodore and Penelope”, I said, “I’m expecting you to teach this baby some of the most important lessons he/she will learn.”
I elaborated, “You’ll need to make sure the baby understands the necessity of always going to the bathroom in the proper receptacle.
The importance of waiting patiently for his/her food
Finally and most importantly, the art of taking long, looooooooong naps
“Number 4 is the most pressing issue. If you fail at that, you’ve failed at all.”
“You’ll also be expected to do a fair amount of pro bono babysitting. That shouldn’t be too taxing because if you succeed in teaching the baby those four important life lessons, s/he will be the best baby in the entire world.”
They seemed to take the news with their characteristic nonchalance. But deep inside, I know they were at least as excited as they are when we fill their food bowls.
So, I’m due in late April, early May-ish! We do not plan to find out the sex of the baby until his/her birthday. We were waiting to tell everyone about the pregnancy until I got out of the first trimester. Which is right about now. I'm 12.5 weeks. Peter and I have been keeping this a secret from everyone for 2 months! You cannot imagine how many times I almost blurted it out to strangers just so that I wouldn’t erupt. Anyways in the next few weeks, I’m going to be posting some things that I’ve written so far about my experience. And, of course I’ll keep you updated on things from here on out!
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Friday, October 16, 2009
Capital, my good fellow! (Must say with British accent while picturing a Charles Dicken's character.)
Anyways, I have thought for many years that capital referred to letters and capitol referred to the capital city. But when I looked up the definition of capital I saw that it referrers to both capital letters and the capital city, among other things. So I wondered, when does one use capitol? So, I looked it up. Turns out capitol has a very specific meaning:
|1.||the building in Washington, D.C., used by the Congress of the U.S. for its sessions.|
|2.||(often lowercase) a building occupied by a state legislature.|
|3.||the ancient temple of Jupiter at Rome, on the Capitoline.|
So, Capitol only refers to a building where the congress meets. More specifically it seems to refer mostly to the buildings in D.C. where the American government convenes, or the Capitoline in Rome.
I didn't know that that word only referred to a building. Is that not ridiculous? Who thought of that? It's as if someone, perhaps the architect of the capitol building, was like "We need a separate word for this. It's that special! This building musn't be confused with capital letters, the capital city or monetary capital! Capitol! That's the solution. One letter off, different enough to make no sense at all!"
The distinction between those words is even sillier than I had originally thought. Or perhaps the exquisite nuances of the English language are just lost on me. That's definitely possible.
P.S. Upon further inquiry, I ran across this note on dictionary.com the word "capitol is from the Roman Capitoline Hill and the similarity between capitol and capital is purely coincidental; capitol applies to the building and capital to the seat of a government."
So perhaps there wasn't a self-aggrandizing architect involved. But it's still a silly distinction, in my humble opinion. One that will throw many a kindergartner (and possibly a few 26 year olds) off forevermore.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
And if you didn't read all the comments, Robin left one where she mentioned the caramel apple spice from starbucks. I agree this is a must have for the fall/winter season. In fact on the last day of September, which was the first chilly, blustery day around here, Peter and I went to starbucks and indulged in one. It's not a coffee drink, its an apple cider. It is so Delectable with a capital D! So, for those of you in warm-weather climes, wait unitl a truly chilly day (which should probably happen sometime in January, right?) put on a cardigan and some warm fuzzy socks and go grab one of these in honor of the week-long Texas winter!
One of my very favorite websites is myrecipes.com. It has a collection of recipes from several different food magazines like Cooking Light and Southern Living and others. You can search their database and find a recipe for anything under the sun. I get 99.8% of my recipes from here. Specifically from Cooking Light. I tend to prefer the recipes from Cooking Light because I try to cook healthy meals. You can also create a file for yourself and save recipes that you like in various catagories so that they are really easy to find.
In addition to recipes, they have party menu suggestions, seasonal and holiday recipes, healthy living ideas, a how-to section (which I have consulted many a time to learn how to do everything from cutting carrots julienne-style to quartering a whole chicken.). So it's worth checking out if you're into food, like I am. But one feature that I really like is their Dish-of-the-Day Calendars. For the month of October the Calendar is Your Daily Soup. So every day they have a different soup recipe.
Last year in November they had a Cookie Countdown Calendar which I would read through while salivating until I was sitting in a puddle of my own drool. December's Calendar last year was Show Stopping Cakes. Which was pretty much the same story with the salivation. But I made a few of the cookie recipes and at least two of the cake recipes. One of the cakes was this one. Which was delicious but richer than Bill Gates. I will have to write a separate post about that because it was a doozy to make and had a story behind it. I also made this cake which was fun.
Anways, part of the fun is the anticipation of seeing what tomorrow's recipe will be. And part of it is just having a variety of delicious seasonal recipes to look through and try, it gets me in the mood for seasonal cooking. As it gets cooler around here it will be perfect soup weather so I'm hoping to try a few of those. I love seasonal cooking. Especially baking. I'll hopefully be posting a few recipes that have made it into my "Fall Favorites" category in the next few months.
Anyways, happy cooking and eating to you all!