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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Officially Winter

Since it's officially winter, I wanted to finish posting my Fall Favorites recipes (Better late than never!). So, far the Maple Cranberry Sweet Potatoes, and the Caramel Apple Cake are the ones I've posted, I believe.

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

Relativity: Not Just a Theory

Yesterday night I walked out of my duplex and thought "My it's so warm out here!" Do you know what the temperature was?? 42 degrees. 6 months ago I never would have considered 42 degrees warm. My, how things can change! Compared to the 20's and teens weather we've been having, 42 felt downright balmy!

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

Advent

I saw this video on a friend's blog a while ago and really liked it. The video is from Advent Conspiracy website. I meant to put it up earlier this month but couldn't figure it out until now. Enjoy!


Favorite Sweet Potatoes

You guys. You have to try these Maple-Cranberry Sweet Potatoes. I discovered them last fall in Good Housekeeping. This is my favorite sweet potato recipe. I've made them several times this year. Sweet potatoes are uber good for you! This has a lot of sugar because of the maple syrup. But it is not nearly as bad as a typical, marshmellow-topped sweet potato casserole (though I like those too). I think it's rather healthy but still delicious. In fact I can't stop thinking about this dish. Perhaps its a pregnancy thing? No, I don't think so. I frequently had visions of sweet potatoes dancing through my head even before I became pregnant. I love them! It seems that most of my posts recently have been food related- that will tell you what I've been up to! I love food. I just wish I had a robot maid who would do all the cleaning up afterward. :o)

  • 4 pound(s) sweet potatoes, peeled
  • Salt
  • 1 cup(s) pure maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 cup(s) cranberries
  • 3 tablespoon(s) butter (no substitutions)

Directions

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Spoon maple-cranberry syrup evenly over potatoes. Bake, uncovered, 20 minutes or until hot.
  5. 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

Sugared Cranberries

I made these sugared cranberries for a work party on Thursday. I also gave them out for a gift exchange that we had. They are really good and everyone seemed to like them. A lot of people asked for recipes.

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

I want to be alone

The title is a famous movie quote. I've never seen the movie, I don't actually know which movie it comes from but I have heard the quote. And that sentiment seems to be what the baby was conveying on Tuesday during our ultrasound.

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:

Foot



Profile

The profile is hard to see. We know what it is because we were there when it was being done but most other people haven't seen it right away. On the left is the head and profile with arms in front of face. Then further right is the abdomen with a dark spot in it. I'm pretty sure the dark spot is the heart.

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

'Tis the Season!

Look closely and you'll see an unorthodox ornament.

Like all good cat owners we participated in that time-honored tradition of putting up a Christmas tree. Have you never thought of a Christmas tree as a feline friendly tradition? Well perhaps that's because either you don't have cats or your cats have especially nonchalant temperaments.

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?)

Cute but a pain in the rear end sometimes.

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

The Sisterhood

10/16/09

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

Telling Everyone

We announced the news that I was pregnant to our families the weekend of October 18th. Which was also Peter's birthday weekend, incidentally.

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

The Baby is Out of the Bag

9/20/09

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

Midwife Appointment

9/17/09

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

Changing My Tune

My mother has a phrase that she often uses during sweltering Texas summers. You will often hear her lamenting that it's "too hot to live." Although, being a true Texan, she might also remark in the same sentence that Texas is the only place any reasonable person would want to live. And that is my mother in a nutshell, but I digress.

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!