Friday, November 25, 2011


This year for Thanksgiving we decided just to stay home and have our first Thanksgiving as a family.  It was really nice!  I was worried we'd be sad that there weren't other people, and it always nice to see friends and family, but it was nice not to have to rush off to someplace else or worry about transporting food or any other logistical issues. 

I cooked for several hours and made a pescatarian dairy/soy/wheat free Thanksgiving dinner!  We had salmon (from a sustainable fishery certified by the marine stewardship council), mashed sweet potatoes, quinoa with red pepper, butternut squash, and caramelized onions, and risotto with acorn squash, yellow pepper, and onions.  We also had wheat free rolls (made from a Pamela's bread mix).  Oh, and we also had deviled eggs (I just boiled 4 eggs, so we each had 4 deviled eggs), but we ate those as soon as I made them and did not make it to dinner time. 
om nom nom nom
It doesn't look like tons of food on the table, but we will be eating leftovers for several days! 

Of course, the important part was Alex's first Thanksgiving. 
We all know I'm the star of this blog!

He feasted on sweet potatoes and acorn squash.  It was the first time he had tried acorn squash, he seemed to like it, but more of it ended up on him than in his mouth.  He had fun though and I think he enjoyed sitting at the table with us!

Yes he does have squash in his eyebrow, why do you ask?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Snowy Halloween

We had an early snowstorm here in CT at the end of October. 

The snow was really wet and heavy, and the trees still had all their leaves.  And apparently, the way sap runs though trees changes in the winter, to make them better able to stand up to the snow.  Who knew?  Well all of those factors resulted in trees just going down all over the place, which meant that for the second time this fall, we had massive power outages all over the state. 

We were lucky and never lost power.  Shhh don't tell anyone.

We did lose a lot of trees though.

  The storm actually came while Emily was visiting to watch Alex so I could study for my comprehensive exams (which I took on Friday, eek!).  My plans of studying on campus were quashed, because it wasn't safe to drive to campus because of all the downed trees and wires.  So I took a break so that Alex could enjoy is his first snow!

Alex was not a huge fan, it was cold and wet.  He got to wear his adorable snowsuit though! 

Halloween was on Monday after the storm, and it got cancelled for a lot of the towns.  We still had people come trick-or-treating at our apartment though and we dressed Alex up in his monkey costume from his Grandma Tag!

And we carved Monsters Inc. pumpkins.  Dan did Sully, I did Mike, and I also carved a little Boo in her monster costume for Alex. 

We got through the storm just fine and went on with life, but a lot of people were out of power for a week or longer.  I'm sooooooo thankful that we didn't have to worry about keeping heat or finding a hotel. 

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Snowtober... really?

It is October 29 and we are getting 8-12 inches of snow.  We knew it was supposed to snow a bit tonight, which was ridiculous already.  But then it started early, which meant that I had to leave working on campus early, and it took me an hour to drive home from campus. 

And if that weren't bad enough, to get almost a foot of snow in October - they had to come up with a stupid name for it. 

I call shenanigans.

That is all.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Godfather (Part I)

This weekend, we went back to Ohio for Alex's baptism.  Although we have a church we (well mostly I) attend in CT, all of our families live in Ohio, and we just got our new rector at St. Mark's three weeks ago (as in, we didn't have anyone who could baptize Alex when we bought our plane tickets).  So Southwest was having a sale over the summer, we bought three tickets and picked a date.
So we had to get the baby, and all his stuff, on a plane.  We of course, left later than we planned.  As we were on the freeway, I realized that I had forgotten my cell phone (nooooooooo!).  I use Dan's phone to call my phone, no ringing from inside the car (sob!).  It's too late to turn around, we're already running late.  I accept my cellphoneless existance for the weekend.  Dan drops me, Alex and all of our stuff off at the door, then went to park the car.  I lug our stuff inside and collapse in a heap (baby stuff is heavy!).  And then I hear my cellphone (Joy!).  I manage to hang up on my mom attempting to find my phone in my backpack.  I call Dan and tell him where I am.  Then several minutes later, I remember - the carseat base.  I call him, no answer.  I text him, no answer.  Dan shows up a minute later, no car seat base. Damn. 

We lug our stuff over to the Southwest counter, get our bags checked and all that, and ask about the carseat base.  They do recommend using the base on the plane.  Double Damn.

We head over to security, and are directed into the family/medical line.  Dan decides to run back to the car to get the car seat base, I wait in line.  And wait and wait and wait and move approximately 4 feet.  After about 10 minutes,  I see a man with a car seat base looking at the front of the line - that would be my husband.  I shout his name to get his attention, he comes over, after asking permission from the TSA, and gets in line with me.

At this point I'm starting to feel less favorable towards the "nice" person who directed us to the family/medical line.  I don't think that was meant to be helpful to us.  I think they try to stick all the slow people into one line to let everyone else go faster. 

We're starting to get antsy - we're past the time they should have been boarding our flight, and we're still stuck in security.  We start to get worried about missing our flight.  We finally get through security, which wasn't actually that much of an ordeal for us.  They let me carry Alex through the regular metal detector, although Dan had to use the backscatter X-ray thing.  We speed walk to our gate, and get there exactly 2 minutes after our plane's scheduled departure, and they've already closed the doors.  We missed our flight.  Triple Damn!

Luckily, Southwest is awesome, and they totally got us on the next flight out.  We had time to get some food (sweet potato fries FTW), feed the baby, go to the bathroom, etc.  It's finally time for our new flight, we get to board during family boarding and we need to get the car seat set up.  Turns out there's not quite enough room for the car seat without pushing up on the seat in front of it.  Unfortunately, there was a person in that seat, a person who kept responding by pushing back.  Not helpful guy.  We finally get the seat in.  I am pointedly instructed to put on my own oxygen mask first, before the baby's.  And then we leave.  Alex, at this point, had taken 0 naps.  It was 3:00pm.  At this point during the day he should have had 2-3 naps.  0 naps.  So my flight was spent attempting to amuse a very tired and cranky baby who did not like all of the ear popping and pressure changes, thank you very much. 

We had enough time at our layover to use the bathroom and change Alex's diaper, and then back on the plane.  I made Dan sit next to Alex so he could deal with Mr. Fussy Pants this time.  Alex was totally fine on that flight and slept for most of it (of course).

We made it safely to Columbus, which is where we'll pick up next time.  Class dismissed :)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Roasted Butternut Squash, Sweet Potato, and Garlic with Caramelized Onion Soup

First, I really need to come up with a shorter name for this soup. Second, as an introductory note, I don't measure most things when cooking, so what I'm about to share is mostly estimates. Cooking, to me, is an art, while baking is a science (and thus needs accurate measurements).

Anyway, I mentioned on facebook sometime in the recent past that I had made delicious soup. Well, I'm finally getting around to blogging about said soup. More accurately, I'm going to share the "recipe." I put recipe in quotes because I made it up, and per the note above, did not measure most ingredients. So, here goes...

2-3 pounds butternut squash, "peeled" and chopped
2 medium-sized sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 bulb garlic (yes, I really like garlic)
3 cups stock (I used homemade veggie stock that Corinne made, but other stocks, or even water, would probably work)
2 medium sweet onions, chopped
Olive Oil

Salt (I used fresh ground sea salt)

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2) Peel off the outer papery layers from the bulb of garlic. Chop a small bit off of the pointy end, and stick, chopped side down, into some olive oil. Set aside.
3) Hack the skin off of the butternut squash, as there really isn't a good way to peel one. Cut it in half, scoop out the seeds and "guts," and then chop the rest into smallish pieces. Smaller pieces will roast faster and more evenly, but you really do not need to cut it too small.
4) Peel and chop (around the same size as the squash) the sweet potato.
5) Put the sweet potato and butternut squash into glass baking dishes, trying to keep it to a thin layer (I had to use two in the end)
6) Drizzle (liberally--I tend to use lots of olive oil, but I think that's the Italian in me) the sweet potato and squash with olive oil. Season with salt, pepper, cumin, and coriander. Toss to coat.
7) Take the garlic out of the dish, and thoroughly coat with olive oil (I just rolled it around in the dish, but I've used a pastry brush to apply olive oil in the past). Wrap the garlic in foil.
8) Put the baking dish(es) and the wrapped garlic in the oven. Roast for about 45 minutes, making sure the pieces are nice and tender. You can stir it once or twice during this time to ensure even roasting.
9) In the mean time, heat some oil in whatever pot you will eventually use for the soup. When the oil is warm, add the onions. Cook over medium to medium high heat. The goal here is to caramelize the onions. While I've never run in to any issues, apparently this is harder than it looks. So, here are some tips: use a decent amount of olive oil (butter works too), stir immediately to coat the onions, you do not want to saute the onions so gradually lower the heat as the onions cook, finally, the more the onions cook the more you will need to stir to avoid over cooking/burning/sauteing. The onions should gradually turn translucent and then, after some time, start to turn a caramel. If they don't change color, don't worry. You'll know by the smell (sweet and smokey) that they are caramelizing.
10) When the squash, sweet potatoes, and garlic are done, remove from oven. Let the garlic cool (or, work quickly with reckless disregard for your fingers...not that I would ever do that *looksinnocent*), if possible, let the garlic cool unwrapped. Once the garlic cools, remove the cloves from the peel/covering (at this point they should come out with very little effort).
11) Add the squash, sweet potato, and garlic to the onions in the pot. Season with a little more salt and pepper, as well as cinnamon and nutmeg. Cook over medium heat for a few minutes to let the flavors blend.
12) Add the stock and simmer for 25 minutes.

13) Remove from heat. Let cool. Blend (I left it slightly chunky as I liked having a few pieces of squash and sweet potato, thoroughly roasted, left in the soup) to desired texture. If you have an immersion blender, this is pretty easy. If not, let cool longer and blend, in batches if necessary, in a blender.

14) Return to pot (if you used a blender), warm it up to taste, and serve. This soup is really good with bread.

Thoughts: I had considered adding a splash of white wine when I add everything to the pot, prestock, but didn't. I still think it would work well with the soup. A possible alteration would be to use some cream or milk, added after the soup is blended. However, because of Alex's dairy intolerance, I didn't try this. The soup was rich, with well-blended roasted flavors. Moreover, the cumin and coriander worked amazingly well with the cinnamon and nutmeg. It seems that adding these seasonings at different times allowed the flavors to seep in and ultimate layer well together.


Sunday, September 25, 2011

An Unexpected Argument for Baby-Wearing, OR, How I Almost Got Run Over

So I had mentioned on facebook the other day that I had almost gotten run over by a car while walking with Alex. It is finally time to tell that harrowing tale.

Alex was being fussy and was not napping well, and the weather was nice out, so I decided that he and I should go for a walk. I strap him in to the Beco carrier and he and I head out. We do a lap around the apartment complex and just as we are getting towards the apartment, he falls asleep. I decide, “hey, why not walk more and give the kid a bit of a nap.” But ,instead of doing another lap, I head down the street for a change of scenery. After walking for a bit I loop around by the Target near our place and start heading back. At this point I reach here:
View Larger Map

Like any thinking person, I push the button for the walk signal and wait for the go ahead. I also stand near the crosswalk, safely away BUT CLEARLY VISIBLE TO ANYONE PAYING ATTENTION. The lights change, the walk signal activates (which includes beeping loudly, mind you), I pause to make sure no one does anything stupid, and then I start to cross…

Once I get about to about the middle of a minivan driven by someone who looks like this person —who was sitting there at the light, looking my direction earlier—she decides to gun it and try to make a right on red. Through the cross walk. Through the walk signal. Through me and the baby strapped to my chest.

Fortunately I was paying attention and my cat-like reflexes and survival instincts kick in, leading to a series of events.

1. I take a fast, large step to get past the car

2. Mid-step, I turn to get Alex out of the way of a direct hit

3. I put my left hand on the death-van that’s trying to run me over

4. I propel, with one arm, Alex and myself off of the van, flipping through the air like Eddy Gordo from Tekken know, except white and with a baby (and less with the flipping and more with the turning).

5. I land safely on my feet, in a crouch, facing the opposite direction from where I started

6. I’m greeted by two things: (a) the look of pure horror on the face of the driver in the car behind death-van and (b) the sight of the van that nearly killed my son and myself finishing its turn, pausing briefly, and then speeding off.

7. I stand, give the van the finger, and finish crossing—all still with the walk signal.

8. Alex wakes up and gives me a look of, “did something just happen?”

9. I call Corinne as I continue to walk home to complain about the crazy driver.

And that, my friends, is the fun story of how I almost got run over while walking with Alex. Had I not been wearing him, I’m not so sure I would have been able to get both, or even one of us, out of the way. Take note, my story is an unexpected argument for baby wearing. Of course, if my kid slept like a “normal” baby, we might not have been there. Either way, we’re safe, and words cannot express how much I despise Connecticut drivers.


Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Saga of the Overtired Baby

Alex has some sleep issues.  He has never been a huge fan of sleeping, but because it's pretty important to healthy brain development, we've spent much of his first 4 months of life trying to get him to sleep.  He was finally starting to settle into a bit of a schedule, going to sleep around 7:30pm, waking up around 6:30am (for good, he still wakes up several times a night to eat) and then taking a nap around 7:30 or 8am.  That first nap seems to be key.  If he doesn't get a good first nap of the day, he won't nap well the rest of the day, and then he will be a living terror by the evening.  That is what happened today. 

And lo, the infant was tired, so the parents set forth on a journey to lull the child to slumber. 
The child slept but fitfully, and so, when they had returned, they made fit for bed.
The infant was outfitted in the most absorbent of diapers and the cutest, fluffiest of wool covers,
Tonics were given, and then the infant was nursed to sleep.
This was the ritual on most nights, but on this night, this very night, there was a disturbance.

The child would not eat, but would not sleep. 
When wrapped in swaddling cloths, he fussed, but when unswaddled he batted at himself.
He would not consent to be rocked, but screamed when held still. 
The baby cried when nursing and cried when removed from the breast.
It was as if the world was ending. 
Eventually, he gave way to exhaustion, but the battle was hard fought.
And so goes the saga of the overtired baby.

Normally bedtime takes about 30-40 minutes, instead it took about 90 minutes. 

I hear there are babies that sleep.  All the books talk about how much babies sleep.  At that point I just laugh and laugh until people start talking about soothing drinks.

It's a good thing he's so darn cute. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

No Dairy, No Cry

I love cheese.  If you know me, you know this fact about me.   I basically lived on cheese (specifically cream cheese) during my pregnancy.  Unfortunately, Alex does not love cheese, and really does not love it when I eat cheese. 
 What a stinker!

Alex has an intolerance to dairy that makes him very fussy and uncomfortable and have stinky green mucousy poop (becoming a parent means you have to spent at least 20% of your time talking about baby poop - they make you sign a contract before you leave the hospital).  I cut dairy out of my diet and things got a bit better, and then they got worse again, so then I cut soy out of my diet, which is the next big offender.  Cutting dairy out was sad, it meant I had to read labels and couldn't have some of my favorite foods, but mostly just meant I had to find different brands of food.  Cutting out soy meant that I basically can't eat processed food anymore.

Read a label sometime - soy is in everything.  I screwed up on that one so many times because I would make the mistake of assuming something didn't have soy in it.  Cooking spray, olive oil cooking spray, has soy in it. 

I also can't really eat at restaurants either.  If we go out, I get the salad bar at Ruby Tuesdays, because they have an extensive allergen menu (which says that I can have the salad bar and oil and vinegar for dressing), or we get sushi and I get the most basic sushi that is just rice and fish (no dipping in soy sauce, obviously). 

Surprisingly, this isn't as bad as it sounds.  We eat out a lot less, which saves us money.  We also make almost all of our own food now, including bread (YUM!), which is both healthier and cheaper.  I eat a lot of rice and beans and quinoa and tons of fresh veggies.  Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything: Vegetarian" has been an amazing resource.  I've stopped just using recipes and started really cooking - making things up as I go along. 

Last night I made a vegan risotto with acorn squash, red pepper, onion, and kale.  I cooked the onion with some garlic first in some olive oil, then added the red pepper, then added the squash, cut into small cubes and a little bit of stock and just let that cooked covered for about 15 minutes (I took this opportunity to nurse the baby).  I added the kale and let that cook for about a minute, then added the rice and some white wine (technically some white zin left over in the fridge).  Cooked that for a few minutes, then started added thing stock, about a half ladle at a time.  I use Bittman's recipe for making our own stock and make a double or triple batch so that we can freeze some, or use it throughout the week.  I made the stock while I was chopping vegetables, and then just ladled directly out of the stock pot into the risotto.  Multitasking!  The risotto took about 30 minutes to cook after I added the rice with pretty continuous stirring (Dan played with Alex).  Season with salt and pepper and then I added a splash of lemon juice for a little acidity.  The squash basically became a puree and added the creaminess that would have been added by butter and cheese.  The fresh stock added a lot of flavor to the rice.  It was delicious!!  I never would have tried risotto without cheese, risotto was basically a fancy delivery method for as much cheese as possible, but this was amazing and super healthy. 

 Pictured here with homemade bread - so good!

We still don't seem to be out of the woods though - Alex is still having symptoms, which suggests that he has another food intolerance.  I thought it might be eggs, because it got really bad after his 4 month shots, but cutting out eggs hasn't seemed to make a difference yet.  I think we need to call in an allergist (and possibly a registered dietician for me).

At least I'm no longer tempted by fried food - it's just not an option anymore.  (Most fried food is fried in vegetable oil which frequently includes soybean oil). 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Caffeine and Duct Tape

Today is the culmination of a very long and difficult week.  Alex, our adorable little 4 and a half month old has not been sleeping well.  This week wasn't significantly worse than usual, because except for 10 glorious days about a month ago, he has never slept well, and 4.5 months of sleep deprivation is starting to catch up with us.
                                       Why would I sleep, Mommy?  There is so much to do!
So we slept in a bit, and I made us vegan banana pancakes for breakfast.  We've already cut out dairy and soy from my diet because Alex has a protein intolerance, and now we're trying to eliminate eggs also, which we think might be causing him some problems.  

The pancakes were amazing.  Unfortunately, the day went downhill from there.  After being happily awake for a little over an hour, Alex indicated he was sleepy.  So we tried to put him down for a nap - this is a fairly normal schedule for him.  He did not nap.  He then got overtired.  So I took him grocery shopping with me and wore him in the Beco.  He eventually fell asleep.  After we got home, I fed him and then Dan was treating us to Sushi buffet for lunch.  After it takes 10 minutes to get a mile and a half, we discover that they're apparently not actually open until 3:30.  So we drive back home (also 10 minutes).  So we've now spent 20 minutes in the car with a screaming baby and no sushi. :( 

When I make us lunch, I find that my daiya "cheese" (dairy and soy free cheese substitute) has gone moldy.

It takes us almost 2 hours to get Alex down for his second nap of the day, because he is still extremely overtired.  

We ended up ordering take out sushi because neither of us could get up the will power to cook, and that took almost an hour and a half to be delivered.

It's 10:30 at night and I'm ready to call this week over.  Here's hoping that tomorrow will be the start of a better week.

Let's start on a positive note!
I did do:
- I found my music for church tomorrow!
- I boxed up my maternity clothes for Chrissy!
- I went to the grocery store and cvs! (should I make that two separate list items?  nah)
- I ordered two new cute (and cheap!) diapers from!
- I finished sending out the job postings for our new organist and choir director!
- I clipped the nails on one of the baby's hands! (He's squirmy, it's hard)
- I did not die from allergies!
(notice shower did not make this list - I'll try harder tomorrow)