Thursday, September 1, 2011

Rhubarb and Raspberry Crostada

I know. I thought so too. 

Rhubarb is a spring treat, right? 
One of the first plants to be harvested, it's a sign of the soil awakening and the promise of a bounty of produce soon to be making its way to market.

Well, little did I know that it's possible to get a second harvest from your rhubarb plant at the end of the summer 
(don't take it all, just about a third).

Raspberries truly are in season, and it turns out they pair delightfully with rhubarb in this Rhubarb and Raspberry Crostada recipe from Lottie + Doof.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Power of Beautiful Imagery

I watched this video yesterday morning

and was compelled to make my own beet cake that afternoon.

Monday, August 22, 2011

I'll Pass on the Jerky, Thanks.

Fair Warning -  It's Probably Best To Not Read This While Eating....

I will freely admit to wholehearted subscribing to what some may consider alternative practices during pregnancy.

Drinking red raspberry leaf tea? Check.

Consuming evening primrose oil? Check.

Stocking up on a vast array of herbs for postpartum recovery baths? Check.

But everyone has a line that they won't cross, and I've found mine after reading this New York Magazine article on why new mothers are choosing to eat their own placenta.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

39 Weeks Later

As we get ever closer to our due date, I thought it was time for another round of sharing. (Partly so I don't forget some of the gems that people feel compelled to say out loud before thinking about how they sound in their head.)

1) Please don't make grand sweeping statements like *knowing* that the baby hasn't dropped yet. Regardless of how it may look to your well-trained eye, I've actually been the one carrying this baby around for the past 9 months, and thus probably have the best insight as to where the baby is or isn't.

2) Comments like, "I see you didn't shake the baby loose on the dance floor. Hahaha," aren't actually that funny. Especially coming from a man.

3) Comments like, "Wow, you look so great," when spoken in a stunned tone of voice really just end up sounding like, "Amazing... you don't look like a beached whale!" Uh, thanks?

4) It's not very helpful to ask about my labor/birth plans, and then respond with skepticism. I think we're long overdue for more support and empowerment of every mother's (and her partner's) choices - we're all trying our best to make choices that are right for us and our families. I loved our childbirth educator's analogy of a friend telling you that they were planning on running a marathon. Would your response be, "Ooh, that's going to be really hard. Are you sure you can do it? What happens if you get to mile 13 and feel like you can't do it anymore?"? Probably not. Your response would probably be something like, "That's awesome! Good luck! I'll be cheering for you!"

5) I am completely in favor of Smitten Kitchen's plan for labor and delivery nurse bribery, and fully intend to make these brownies this week.

6) Last time I said that it doesn't get much more amazing than feeling a beansy human doing back-flips in your uterus - well tiny human hiccups feel pretty dang cool too!

Thursday, August 18, 2011


 Our garden is producing cucumbers like crazy.
What to do but make Japanese pickles?!

I de-seeded and chopped the cukes, then tossed them with 
salt, sugar, rice vinegar, and sesame seeds.

And then forced myself to wait a couple days
until they reached perfect pickleness.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Birth Beads

This was a lovely idea from our last baby shower. The hosts had guests bring a bead with them (or pick one out once they'd arrived) to be turned into a necklace that can be worn or held during labor as a reminder of all of the people thinking of you and sending love and support.

We certainly appreciate all of the positive thoughts and good energy sent our way, and feel lucky to have so many people excited for us and our soon-to-be expanding family. Thank you all (and thank you Cara for turning them into a necklace!)!

Friday, July 22, 2011

This Means War.

Our tennis ball sized watermelon?! Rude tiny critter, very rude.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Monday, July 18, 2011

House Updates

Every weekend we're at home - which hasn't been many this summer - it seems like we're trying to knock projects off of our never-ending to-do list. This past weekend was a particularly satisfying one, I think because we accomplished so many cosmetic fixes.

We (Mike) installed a wall nightlight in Pickle's room (replacing a lovely hole in the wall), and he replaced the horrible florescent basement-style lights at the top of the stairs and the second-floor landing with regular non-offensive ceiling lights.

We also hung a couple more pieces of artwork in her room, it's looking like a proper nursery now!

He also washed grime off of our siding, painted a ceiling, and removed a light on our garage that didn't work and was filled with wasp's nests. What a guy!

We also got the stairs painted! The stairs and second floor landing had been covered in carpeting, and after ripping it up, we discovered that the landing had hardwood flooring underneath it, but the staircase was unfinished. We decided that the most economical (and fun) option was to paint them, and agreed upon green tints.

We bought a quart each of white and green patio/floor paint, and I started mixing. My highly scientific method involved filling jelly jars with progressively lower amounts of green paint, and then filling them all to the same level with white paint.

We have 13 stairs, so I used the base green and then made 6 lighter tints. Each color was then used on two stairs, except for the very lightest tint, which was only used on one stair.

We painted every other step so we could still move between floors, and were just careful to keep the jelly jars on the steps they belonged to so we didn't mix up our tints.

I'm really pleased with how they turned out!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

It's a Celebratory Summer: To Follow the Registry or Not?!.....

It seems like our summers go in waves. Some years there isn't all that much going on, and we fill the weekends with barbeques, trips, and time at the family lake house (sniff - seems that isn't in the cards for this summer). Other years the summer is just jam-packed with weddings and celebrations - this is one of those years.

With a number of weddings, various types of showers, and other celebrations to attend, we are smack-dab in the middle of a gift-buying flurry. About a week ago, I came across an article that was especially timely. The article suggests that while gift givers think that that recipients are going to like surprises, giftees are actually happiest with gifts they've requested.

I definitely do both, depending on the situation. I have some family members who resist giving wish lists as if their lives depended upon it, so surprises for them it is! For weddings, the majority of the time I lean towards the registry - the theory being that they are entering a new stage of life, and they know what they need and what they don't. For friends and family birthdays, Mother's Day, Father's Day, etc, I almost always go with surprises - but with the gift receipt whenever possible. I may think that I've come up with the most clever gift of all time, but you may not, and I'm okay with that. I'm happiest if you're happy - so return that stinker! (Although how anyone could not want a Das Beer Boot especially after watching the music video for it is beyond me....***)

So I'm curious, what do you think? When do you stick to a registry/wish list and when do you go for surprises?

***I am completely kidding. Please do not take that as a request of any sort. Let me be clear that I am not adding this item to my birthday list, christmas list, or wishlist of any kind!!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Us vs. the Yard - Round 1

Last fall, we dug up a sizeable corner of our backyard, in anticipation of building garden boxes and planting garlic. Fall quickly turned into winter, and we gave up hope for garlic, but come spring, we were determined to return to our project.

Now that Michigan has finally decided to let us have nice weather, we've made quite a bit of progress! Mike built two 5 by 10 feet raised beds (yes, there is room for two more of those beds in the garden, and no, we've never gardened before in anything other than a window box - dream big!) and created a rock wall edge enclosing the garden area. We've been moving the dirt that we'd removed from the garden area, and are creating flower beds around the garden, on the side of the garage, and along the back fence. The garden boxes have been filled with soil and compost, and we've planted loads of goodies.

Next on the to-do list is tackling the field in the middle of the backyard:

Earlier in the spring it looked like this:

Today my very kind parental units are coming to help dig the bulbs out of the field and move them to the newly created flower beds. Hooray for warm weather, sunshine and progress!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

27 Weeks Later

Nope, not a zombie flick. Although it could be a sci-fi...I do have a creature growing inside of me...that's right, I'm 27 weeks pregnant!

Since I'm almost into the third trimester, I thought it was about time that I start to document what I've learned so far:
1) Our baby becomes the size of a new fruit or vegetable every week, this week our wee one is the size of an eggplant (or a head of cauliflower depending on which website you're looking at)! This is darling, and so much healthier sounding than learning that your baby is growing from the length of a Whopper to the length of a king-sized Snickers bar.
2) If you choose to find out the sex of your baby, think long and hard before you tell that information to others, unless you are a big fan of pink=girl and blue=boy. I really wanted to know the sex (not for decorating or clothing purposes - we're having a girl and the nursery is blue), just because I wanted to know. If we were doing it all over again, I would still find out, but either not tell anyone, or tell only immediate friends and family and swear them to secrecy.
3) Think even longer and harder about telling your chosen names to other people, unless you are a big fan of unsolicited opinions (what is it about pregnancy that somehow eliminates people's filters?!) or monogrammed items. Again, if we were starting over, I'd keep my mouth shut.
4) As one of the first couples in our friend circle to enter babyland, it has been incredibly helpful to connect with other moms my age. It is wonderful to have someone who understands that it makes perfect sense that you wanted to fall asleep in your spaghetti during the first trimester, and comes through with registry recommendations in the second trimester. Plus, moms already have the whole patience thing down, so you can barrage them with emails and they don't mind (or at least they don't tell you to shove off).
5) You might have heard that it takes an average of 6 to 12 months to get pregnant? Take that with a grain of salt. It could take more, or no time at all.
6) All of the perks of pregnancy - lush, thick, shiny hair, long nails, and glowing skin? Take that with a grain of salt too. If you were lucky enough to get all of that, I'm very happy for you, but no need to rub it in.
7) Someone needs to come up with a biker-inspired line of maternity clothing. I'm imaging shirts with dainty metal spikes strewn across the belly. This would be SO much easier than glaring at belly-touchers, or coming up with a lame excuse to nicely express what you're really thinking.
8) Despite all of the downfalls of pregnancy, it doesn't get much more amazing than feeling a beansy human doing back-flips in your uterus.

Monday, April 4, 2011

I Love Jeni's Ice Cream So Much...

...that I even bought a flavor called The Buckeye State. Pretty close to blasphemy for a Michigan fan, but the ice cream just might be worth it. A rich peanut butter base filled with flecks of dark chocolate makes for a killer ice cream sundae when combine with a warm chocolate chip cookie and a drizzle of hot fudge. It's so good you won't even care about the name!

We also tried Dark Chocolate Peppermint earlier in the year, it's one of my very favorite flavor combinations, and Jeni's doesn't disappoint with their version. Unfortunately, unlike The Buckeye State, it is a seasonal flavor, so keep an eye out for it next winter!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

I heart prAna.

I placed my first-ever order from prAna recently (they make super comfy clothes for yoga, climbing...really whatever you want to wear them for) and couldn't be more impressed.

I absolutely love that my items came in an envelope (made from 100% recycled materials) instead of a big box, the product hang tags are made from 100% recycled paper as well, and the hang tags are attached with hair-ties - how fun is that?! And the items themselves? Well they are all that I hoped for and more. Well done prAna.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Sweet Potato Butterscotch Scones

I had bookmarked this pumpkin scone recipe for a rainy day (or you know, a snowstorm), and on an extra blustery day, I finally got around to making them with sweet potatoes instead of pumpkin.

I baked all of the sweet potatoes I had (5 or 6 smallish ones I think), and once they were tender, I scooped out their plump insides and pureed them. I conveniently ended up 2/3 C sweet potato puree - double what I needed for the recipe, but since the scones were so fantastic I made another batch 2 days later!

My other tiny tweaks to the recipe were:
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • no allspice 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/3 cup soy milk instead of heavy cream
  • added butterscotch chips before adding the wet ingredients (maybe 1/4 C or so)

These were really really good, so good in fact, I think a third batch is in order!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Hello, Sunshine!

Yes, there may still be snow outside, but inside it's a tropical paradise. Just look at all of this handpicked and hand-delivered Arizona citrus fruit!! What a wonderful treat!

Thanks ever so much Alice!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

I'm happy cuddling up to my sweetheart wherever we are, but in my ideal world, that would be someplace warm, on a beach, looking out at the water. Hey, a girl can dream.

So in the spirit of that, I made Mike a sandcastle cake for Valentine's Day. It is a Tangerine Olive Oil Cake, based on this recipe. I subbed tangerines for blood oranges, and made one and one half times the recipe so I could fill up my bundt pan instead of a loaf pan. I topped it off with a simple orange glaze, and now it's just a matter of waiting to dig in!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Fermented Delight

Nattō is a traditional Japanese food that people tend to love or hate, there isn't much room for middle ground. It is true that the fermented soybeans have a pungent aroma and a neba neba consistency (really slimy), and there were certainly some really slimy Japanese foods that I'm happy never to eat again - like grated yamaimo.

For some reason though, I loved nattō. And when one of Mike's coworkers recently shared some homemade nattō with us, I couldn't have been more excited for a familiar taste of Japan.

I gave the nattō a quick stir with my chopsticks, added in a bit of mustard, shoyu, and a handful of green onions and piled it all onto a bowl of rice. Delicious!

Monday, February 7, 2011

More Jeni's!

Wow. This holiday ice cream flavor might rival the White Chocolate Evergreen with a Red Currant Garland for my all-time favorite Jeni's flavor. Granted, it might sound like an odd combination, but the subtle licorice flavor from the star anise combined with the candied fennel made for a fantastic flavor combination. I hope they bring this one back next winter!

We also tried Jeni's Bourbon Buttered Pecan, and while buttered pecan isn't normally a top ice cream choice for me, this had a robust flavor and paired perfectly with the banana dessert I'd made.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Link Love.

Still looking for Valentine's Day ideas for your sweetheart? These have been all over the internet, but I still can't resist posting them. How darling are these fortune cookie coin purses? What better way to tell your beloved that you feel fortunate to be with them? Every purse is made from recycled leather and features a unique id so you can trace the source of the salvaged leather.

(image from artist's website.)

Or how about a shift from the standard bouquet? Terrain has beautiful blooming options, like my favorite below, the flowering oregano, and they are currently offering free standard shipping on orders over $50 with the code VDAY.

(image from Terrain's website)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

My Lucky Day!

I miss Japan. A lot. One way that I try and stay connected to life there is through my blog friend Kat's blog, Our Adventures in Japan. At the end of January she had a giveaway because she got over 500 followers, and guess who won? Me!!

Needless to say, I was extremely excited, and even more excited when this package showed up on my doorstep - love the Hello Kitty stamps, especially Hello Kitty with the origami cranes (far right stamp).

The anticipation!

And the bounty! Oh my gosh, I was blown away by all of the goodies packed into this box, it was unbelievable!! And Kat sweetly labeled anything that I might have wondered about, which was great, since I haven't tried to read any Japanese in months!

Here are some close-ups of what was in the box - a variety of chocolates and other sweet treats and Hello Kitty band-aids.

Chocolates with mochi, strawberry covered sticks, green tea chocolates, a Hello Kitty towel and Puccho soda candy (blue package). I'm trying to pace myself, so the Puccho soda candy is the only item I've tested so far. Each piece is subtly blue and white striped, and the chewy candy has both little blue gel bits and little white fizzy bits in it, so every bite is a taste and texture sensation. Yum!

Gadgets for making cute bentos, chocolate covered peanuts, a Hello Kitty amulet with Ramune candy, a handkerchief (extra fitting as it is the year of the rabbit!), and a Starbucks "Japan 2011" travel mug. I don't think I ever blogged about it during my time in Japan, but Mike and I collected Starbucks travel mugs from major cities that we visited (each city had their own unique design that captured the highlights of the city). So this is an awesome addition to our collection. Thank you ever so much Kat, what a fabulous giveaway!!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Beer Making: Part 1

Mike received a beer making kit from the Brooklyn Brew Shop for Christmas, and we were excited to brew up our first batch together - a Chestnut Brown Ale. Although it was all completely new to me (unless watching Brew Masters counts....), Mike had done a little bit of brewing before, so we weren't both newbies! Our set-up in the kitchen was pretty extensive:

Getting started: our mix, roasted and peeled chestnuts, checking the water temperature, and adding in the grain ("mashing in").

Collecting the wort (the liquid from the hot grain mash above). Hana was extremely interested in what was going on, and didn't mind a bit when we accidentally splashed some wort on the floor, she quickly lapped it all up!

We collected about six gallons of wort, boiled it, added in hops and the chestnuts, and after about an hour, set it in an ice bath to cool.

Next we added in yeast, and then had to remain patient for two weeks while the beer fermented. Next up - bottling!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Comfy Time!

My super talented cousin designed this pattern, and Banana Republic purchased the pattern to use on lounge wear for their 2010 Holiday Collection. How cool is that!?!?

As you can see, I got a pair of pajama bottoms, I love them! Her pattern is also used on a grey over-sized pajama top (I couldn't get my hands on that piece unfortunately). If you want a pair for yourself, the bottoms are on sale for only $15. And thanks to a helpful tip, I learned that you can call any Banana Republic Factory Store, and they'll ship them to you for only $5!

Friday, January 7, 2011

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Ice Cream!

I've mentioned my love of Jeni's ice cream before, and now guess where it's available?! Oh yes, in our grocer's freezer! I'm slowing trying to work my way through all of the flavors (and no, Mike doesn't seem to be complaining about this new quest!)

One of the first up was Oakvale Young Gouda with Vodka Cranberries. The super-cheesy gouda base paired really nicely with the vodka soaked cranberries, they were a perfect complement to each other - but - I couldn't get over the cheesy ice cream taste sensation. Interesting, but not a repeat purchaser.

We also tried the Queen City Cayenne - that one went too quickly to photograph! A rich creamy chocolate base with an intense fiery kick at the end - really unique, but a definitely winner in my book!