Friday, June 25, 2010

June 25th- still pregnant!

I am still so very pregnant. I know that I am not actually due until next Saturday but I am just so frustrated! Many people warned me that just because Gavin came 3 weeks early does not mean that this one will. But, WHY NOT?!?! I'm not terribly uncomfortable but am just sick of the anticipation. I am also freaking out that the baby is getting too big! When I went into the hospital a couple of weeks ago with false labor, or perhaps wishful thinking, the midwife who attended to me made a comment that the baby is really big. Really big, and by the way, you're not even close to going into real labor. Have fun growing your huge child! Seriously, I can see the headlines now, "Woman Births 20 Pound Sumo Wrestler." Clearly, I am freaking out.

My little sister Julie arrived on Wednesday. It has been nice to have her here and it's taken some of the stress away, knowing that she can be here with Gavin when I finally do go into labor. We haven't done too much considering my condition and not wanting to be too far away from the hospital. Adam will be home over the next few days so we're planning on taking a short hike tomorrow morning or maybe early this afternoon if it isn't too hot.

The humidity was pretty intense yesterday. We went for a short walk around the neighborhood and I swear that Max looked like he was going to die of heat stroke when we got home. That dog has major weight fluctuation. He gets fed the same amount every single day and does not get table scraps. It is the strangest thing. Anyhow, I don't think he can handle any more walks when the weather is above 80 degrees. I actually sprayed him down with the hose to cool his body temperature.

Oddly enough, until the past couple of days, I hadn't really thought much about what it's going to be like when the baby arrives. It's strange to think of bringing home a tiny little baby. I am so used to my big toddler. I'm excited and nervous. Do I have the patience to balance the needs of a newborn and also Gavin? I know that all of my concerns are completely normal. I just need things to happen so I can stop stressing myself out!

Well, not too much else to say. It's early still and everyone else is asleep. I think I will make blueberry muffins before it gets too hot to use the oven. Hopefully, my next post will be about our new baby. However, I have a feeling it will more than likely be about our hike!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

No baby yet, but the garden looks great!

So the kid has decided to hang out for a while longer. I guess that's ok, considering its due date is still 2 weeks away. In the meantime, I continue to tackle household projects and chores. My garden had been frustrating me with all the weeds so I finally decided to just tackle them. Fortunately, I had a lot of help from my little pal Gavin. I have a walking path around my garden that is lined with bricks so I found that if I just sat down, I could pull the weeds around me and then scoot over to the next brick. It was a bit ridiculous looking but it worked. Gavin emptied the bucket for me so I didn't have to keep getting up. He would sit next to me and point out the big weeds. We worked on this for two afternoons this week and then went out and bought some mulch to lay down to hopefully suppress future weeds from taking over. The garden looks really good right now. Amazing the difference a couple of weeks make. Everything is growing and I'm getting excited for fresh corn, zucchini, squash, tomatoes, basil, etc. We've been able to harvest lettuce and spinach for salads. I need to plant another square of lettuce so that we have some when the other salad fixings are ready. Apparently, gardening is somewhat like childbirth- just requires a little patience. Here are some updated photos - I had to capture it on film because I doubt it will stay so well-kept once the little one is here! I'm actually quite proud of myself. I was so worried that I wouldn't be able to tend to this project so late in my pregnancy.
Peas are growing up some white trellis. The lettuces, spinach, and mustard greens are all being harvested.
Here you can see my newly weeded walking path covered with black mulch. On the outside of the fence:  rosemary, dill, columbine, and a bunch of mixed annuals that were planted by seed. 
Another view of the vegetable garden and what I hope turns out to be a cutting garden. The annuals seem to have all taken but the plants are still small. Hopefully, we'll have lots of flowers in a month or two.
Green beans are starting to climb the teepee and the corn plants are nearly a foot tall. That side of the garden also has the cucumbers, peppers, a couple of tomato plants, zucchini, and a yellow summer squash.
Updated square foot garden shot. The grass needs to be mowed around it, but you can see that the grape tomatoes are really growing. I intend to build a strong trellis for them, but haven't gotten to it yet. Oh, and when I say that I intend to, I really mean, I intend to have Adam build me one :)
Close-up shot of the little basil plants, marigolds, and cilantro- all planted by seed. If you have not tried planting basil or cilantro by seed, I highly recommend it. I have never had much luck buying transplants of either of these two herbs. Last year, I had more basil and cilantro than I could use. Think fresh pesto and guacamole and get planting!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Maybe one of my last pregnancy posts- let's make it a rant!

So I sit here after another terrible night of tossing and turning. I do not remember Gavin moving so much at night. This baby kicks all night long and shifts around as much as I do. I keep telling the kid that there is much more room to stretch outside my tummy. Come join us little one! I don't want to complain too much as this could very well be my last pregnancy. It really is an amazing experience to feel your baby move inside of you. Yet, I can't help complaining when I feel like my lungs are shoved up to my collar bone, causing me to be short of breath!

I have to admit, I'm getting quite a kick out of strangers feeling the need to share their own theory on what gender the baby is. I was at the grocery store last week and some lady told me that it is definitely a boy because my skin looks too good to be a girl. Really? I wonder if she goes up to people and says, "Your skin looks like crap, must be a girl!"

The checker at Target told me that she thought it was a girl for sure. You see, I'm carrying the baby really low- definitely means pink! Or, could it be that I'm nearly 37 weeks and the baby has dropped? Or- was it a boy when I was carrying the baby high and then it magically turned into a girl a couple of weeks ago? Mysterious, I tell you!

Theories are definitely better than touching. Fortunately, I think my facial expressions are pretty telling and when a stranger even considers pawing, my face must say, "Oh, hell no!" I have a big enough space bubble with people I'm comfortable with- I don't need some random lady's hands on my belly! I get that people are drawn to pregnant women and babies, but honestly, that's just inappropriate!

Well, there is not much else to rant about. We have the baby's room ready- we painted the walls a buttery yellow color and set up the crib. We hung a few pictures but are otherwise waiting to see if it's a boy or a girl before we buy any other decor. If it's a boy, I'd like to man it up for him a bit, with some navy blues and other bright colors. If it's a girl, I'm thinking blue and white floral bedding and accessories. Gavin is now in a twin sized bed, his big-boy-bed. He's very excited about that, especially his dinosaur sheets. I also got him another sheet set with animals reading books. I'm going to surprise him with those when he's having an emotional day when baby is taking all my attention. I have a few little things like that to help him cope and feel special. Anyhow, I will take pictures of both of their rooms after baby is born.

Who knows, my due date is still 3 weeks away. There could be some serious rants coming if baby takes that long to make its appearance. I've got it in my head that I have, at most, a week left. I was so lucky to skip this uncomfortable stage of pregnancy with Gavin. I really hope I'm not writing another pregnancy post in July! At the same time, as soon as the little one is here, that means I have to start taking care of 2 kids! Hmm... maybe baby should hang out a while longer...

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The humble, yet complex, peanut butter cookie

Those who know me well, know that I do not have much of a sweet tooth. When I do crave something sweet, I seek something that has a nice balance of savory. Honestly, my idea of a perfect dessert is a glass of red wine paired with a cheese plate. Yet, when I am pregnant, I just love sweets which has led me in search of the perfect peanut butter cookie. Peanut butter cookies have that salty/sweet combination that I look for in a snack. Otherwise, if the treat is too sweet, you find yourself doing the, "well, now I got the sweet, but now I need a bowl (bag) of chips to offset it" routine. That's just a calorie disaster waiting to happen! And, let's be honest- we've all done it!

So let's talk peanut butter cookies. I have never had a great recipe, often they end up too dry. I pulled out all of my cookbooks and started reviewing. I landed on American Brasserie, a great cookbook that I picked up a while ago. I love anything bistro or brasserie related. It reminds me of being in Paris or Italy, sitting outside at a little table with a bowl of onion soup, a salad with goat cheese crostini, or an espresso. Typically, these types of restaurants have limited menus focused on seasonal ingredients. The recipes are inspiring, yet not intimidating. Anyhow, this book has a recipe for peanut butter cookies that I decided to try. Here is the recipe, including their introduction, which is over half the reason I decided to try it.

Big Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies
from American Brasserie, Rick Tramonto and Gale Gand with Julie Moskin

People always say that peanut butter cookies are great for kids, but we suspect that grown-ups like them just as much. After all, this is a pretty serious cookie, with a salty-sweet flavor and crumbly richness that could even be called sophisticated.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 1/4 cups light brown sugar
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup chunky or creamy peanut butter (I used creamy)
1 cup chocolate chips (optional)

1) Preheat the oven to 350F. Lightly grease 2 baking sheets. *
2) Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
3) In the bowl of a mixer, cream the butter until fluffy. Add the sugars and cream with the butter. The mixture will look a bit grainy. Add the eggs, vanilla, and peanut butter and beat until fluffy.
4) Mixing at low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients and mix just until combined. If using, mix in the chocolate chips by hand.
5) Drop by tablespoonfuls onto the baking sheets. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until golden brown.*
6) Let cool on wire racks and store in an airtight container.

* I use parchment paper so I don't have to grease the baking sheets, making for easy cleanup. I also used convection bake and lowered the temp to 325F. This made for a longer baking time- nearly 20 minutes.

I have made this recipe twice now. The first time, I just made them as instructed without chocolate chips. The cookies do not look like typical peanut butter cookies, where you roll balls and then flatten with a fork to make the criss cross pattern. They look more like a chocolate chip cookie. They tasted excellent, but it got me thinking, would they be different if I used the traditional method? What about adding chocolate chips? So, I gave it another go yesterday, using all 3 methods. After all, texture and appearance do make a difference to your sensory palate. Yet, I have to admit- all 3 were good. I'm still not completely sold on adding the chocolate chips. I feel like the peanut butter stands very well on its  own and the chocolate is sort of a distraction. Rolling the dough and then flattening with the fork tines, gives the cookie its traditional appearance and I think more of an even outer layer, a little more crumble. The simple drop cookie method, is very chewy which has its own merit. My conclusion is to leave the recipe stand without adding chocolate chips. The next thing that needs to be tested is whether chunky peanut butter would be better... any guesses?