Saturday, December 3, 2011

BABY FOOD

Hello? Is anyone out there? Aside from my husband and neighbors? Probably not. But just in case . . . allow me to tell you about making baby food.

So, when I first found out I was pregnant I knew there were a few things I wanted to do with Baby Wall. Cloth diapering and making his baby food were two big ones. Well, cloth diapering didn't happen, despite the fact that I have plenty of cloth diapers. I think after having a baby you are trying so hard to just figure out the baby. Adding the learning curve of cloth diapers didn't interest me at all. I suppose I could pick it up now . . .

But I digress. I am really pleased to say I have made all of the food that Elliott has eaten (aside from a few banana Puffs). I thought it was going to be so difficult, but it isn't! We don't even have a microwave, so I can only imagine how much faster it is for people that do.

When the time rolled around that we decided to give Elliott food (about 5 1/2 months) we happened to meet up with some friends, Sharon and Matt, and their 1 year old daugher, Isabelle. Sharon is a nutritionist so it was really interesting to talk to her about baby nutrition. She said that they had opted to not use the cereals that all books, Doctors, parents, and friends recommended. They skipped that step and went straight for the actual foods. After asking some more questions, Sharon told me that they decided to do this because, especially if you are breast feeding (which I am), then eating at 6 months is not a necessity, per se. Introducing foods to a baby at 6 months is more a matter of acclimating your baby to being able to eat. Additionally, the box cereals are fortified and processed - and not necessary.

Dave and I have gone to great lengths lately to improve our diets by eating whole foods, and less processed foods (pay no attention to my Junior Mint habit). So why not try the same thing with our baby?

Elliott's first food was sweet potatoes. I roasted them in the oven, then put them through a sieve to keep them super smooth. The potatoes were still really thick so I opted to thin them out with breast milk (which also helps your baby recognize the taste and encourages them to keep eating). It went great! He gobbled up an entire serving with no hesitation.

Elliott enjoying some sweet potatoes.

Because I am a stay at home mom, I obviously have the time to make him food. It also makes me feel more comfortable introducing foods every few days. So, these are all of the foods Elliott has tried within the last month and a half:
  • 10/22 - Sweet Potatoes
  • 10/27 - Apples
  • 10/28 - Apples with Prune Juice
  • 10/29 - Bananas
  • 11/2 - Pears
  • 11/5 - Carrots
  • 11/8 - Peas
  • 11/14 - Peaches
  • 11/17 - Oatmeal
  • 11/19 - Acorn Squash & Cinnamon
  • 11/21 - Avocado
  • 11/24 - Butternut squash
  • 11/27 - Green Beans
  • 11/29 - Barley & Prunes
  • 12/2 - Zucchini
Wow. That's a lot of food. He has loved everything, and only refused too-ripe bananas (which I was warned about). He eats oatmeal or barley with almost every meal, although I prefer the barley because it doesn't get as gummy as oatmeal does. He normally eats 2 or 3 different things at each meal, just to make sure he is getting a good combination of nutrients. For instance, I try to give him something with vitamin C when he eats an iron rich food to help with iron absorption.

When he isn't enjoying food, he likes to eat his toes. If he has socks on, all the better!

Stay tuned for my favorite recipes and things that I have found really helpful in baby food making!

Friday, October 14, 2011

LISTS

I like to make myself lists for a variety of reasons. I obviously do it so that I don't forget things, but it also makes me feel like I have accomplished something. I have been known to forget to put things on a to-do list, done them anyway, and then added them to my to-do list just so that I can cross them off. It's like this little game I play with myself.

The biggest to do list right now is of home improvement projects (as seen in previous posts). When we first moved in I started this list, and I felt like we hadn't accomplished much. Well, I updated the list a lot over the last few days, and while I added a ton of things (the entire outdoors section of the list is new) it's nice to see some tasks getting crossed off. See, Dave Wall - we have accomplished more than we thought!

Everything highlighted in yellow has been completed!

Here it goes . . .

Bathrooms:

(Aside from gutting them)

- New toilets in all bathrooms

- New fans, vented to outside

- Remove heat vents

- New outlets

- Remove wallpaper

- Sun tubes

- New flooring

Kitchen:

(Again, aside from gutting it)

- New dishwasher

- Hookup water to back of refrigerator

- Fix wobbly stove, or new stove

- New garbage disposal (Turns out we don't really need to do this - I actually really like ours)

- New overhead light in kitchen and EIK

- New outlets

Guest Room/Office:

- Find corner shelves for wall

- Area rug

- New bookcase

- Bed frame

- New overhead light

Baby Wall’s Room: (Now more specifically known as Elliott's Room)

- New overhead light (We have one, it just needs to be installed)

- Crib!?

- Lay rug pad under rug

- Curtains

- Finish hanging art work

Master Bedroom:

- Curtains

- Figure out bed-side table situation

- Install sconces?

- Hang artwork (Weekend project!)

Dining Room:

- New lighting fixture

- Rug

- Wallpaper!

- Sand and paint remaining trim

Living Room:

- Rug

- Reappolster sofa cussions?

- New sofa?

- Curtains/shutters

- Built-in bookcase?

- Fix knob for closet door

- Change light above door

- Figure out furniture to go by front door

Outdoor:

- Replace lantern atop lamp post

- New light by front door

- Remove doorbell

- Remove all of the different “ones”, post new “ones”

- Paint mailbox post

- Refinish mailbox (or get a new one)

- New garage doors

- Repaint exterior

- New shutters

- New gutters

- New roof

- Rodent guard on chimney (why is this so expensive?!)

- Trim back trees from house (Weekend Project!)

- Remove extraneous bushes/plants

- Hang doorknocker

- New screendoor

- New front door

- Paint/spray paint lamp post


Gee, that's it?



Friday, October 7, 2011

The Baby Box


The Finnish Baby Box. It may sound sinister, but it isn't. In fact it is one of the most incredible things I can imagine a government doing for its pregnant citizens.

In Finland all expecting mothers are sent a "baby box," or maternity package. Initially this was a box of items sent to pregnant woman in need of aid, which began in 1937. By 1949 this box was offered to all pregnant women (if they want to buy their own baby goods, they are in turn given a grant). The box contains many items which a baby will need in its first year of life; Several outfits, including a snow suit, mittens, and booties, as well as blankets, cloth diapers, a teether, a book, nail scissors, bib, toothbrush, baby thermometer, and even condoms (for the parents, not the baby - haha). The patterns and colors vary by year, so parents can identify which babies were born in the same year as their own based on what they are wearing. But wait, that isn't all. The box that all of the items are sent in can be used as a crib (see below)! A mattress and sheets are, of course, included.
Here is an itemized list of everything in the 2010 box.

That is good government, and tax money going towards an incredible cause. Who'd have thunk it!?

I love that the baby box is sent to every mother. What an amazing way to create unity amongst citizens and babies. No one can complain that someone is receiving aid and they are not - it really creates a level playing field. And not to mention people are sent incredibly thoughtful items - cloth diapers and condoms! That's just crazy!

It's so uplifting to hear of a government supporting its citizens. Way to go, Finland.

(To give credit where credit is due, I initially read about this in a blog post on Etsy, and then read about it further on Mothering.com.)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Eco Friendly Wishlist

While we are on the topic of remodeling our house . . . I have a wishlist of things that are all eco friendly, or at the very least energy efficient.

When we first bought our house I knew I wanted to compost. After a little poking around online I discovered that the state of Massachusetts was given a grant to supply every town with compost bins at very cheap prices. I investigated the status of this in Maynard, and found out that I could get an Earth Machine compost bin (that is enormous) for a mere $32. That was one of the first things I did once we moved in - I picked up the compost bin. I did it just in time too, I think there were only 2 left by the time I got there.

We have also talked about getting a rain barrel, and found out that we could also buy this from the public works department in Maynard for a very discounted rate. We have yet to make this plunge because, honestly, I don't ever water anything in my lawn. Maybe next year?

We have bought all energy star appliances thus far: washer, dryer, and refrigerator. Next on deck will be the dish washer, air conditioner, and stove. I am holding out on the stove as long as possible because I would love to be able to get a gas stove (we currently have electric).

Which brings us to the biggest energy suck/earth polluter in our house: OIL. We have oil heat and hot water. I would love to be hooked up to city gas, but I am terrified about how much this will cost us. Not only would we have to hook up to gas, which I am guessing means digging up my lawn (not such a loss, really) and making a hole in my foundation, but we have to buy all new appliances. New boiler/furnace and a new hot water heater. I would love to have an on demand hot water heater, but that is something that would definitely have to wait for the gas switch over. Anywho, one thing begets another in this case.

Some other things that I would love to invest in (and I think they would be fairly inexpensive) is sun tubes.

These overhead lights are sun tubes (images from Watertite Skylights)


These are made by a bunch of companies, and look just like flush mount ceiling lights. However, they require no electricity - they are just like a tubular sky light. Genius. I really want these in the kitchen, as well as all of the bathrooms.

Again, the to-do list grows . . .

Monday, September 26, 2011

To Do List: Bathroom Renovation #1

We have 2 1/2 of the scariest bathrooms ever.

The one pictured below is off of the master bedroom. It is really too small for 2 people to use, so it's mostly Dave's bathroom at this point. Let me walk you through it really quick:

Our blue shower stall with the dinkiest bifold doors ever. It came with the flower-shaped grips when we bought the house. Lucky us. Also, the calico wallpaper. Ugh.

The world's smallest vanity, and the dumbest sink in history. As you can see the faucet is offset to the side of the triangular sink - it's impossible to wash your hands without hitting the inside of the sink. The top of the vanity is formica. It's pulled up at the corners and the previous owners fixed it with clear tape. Classy. Also, why doesn't the vanity go all the way to the wall? Do you know how much more space could be utilized?

The lights. Need I say more?

Complete with a blue toilet. It's a 6 galloner, meaning we waste absurd amounts of water.

We have a pretty long to-do list for the house, but the bathrooms are really wearing on me. They are just awful. I have been gathering inspiration for the new bathrooms, and I think we have come up with some good options.

When we first decided to buy our house a lot of home stores that we like were having seasonal sales on bathroom goods. We bought a few things knowing that we wouldn't get a better deal on them.
We got these lights from Restoration Hardware.

And we also bought this mirror from West Elm, but in white.

In the most recent issue of Martha Stewart Living there was this image of gingham tile for a kitchen backsplash. I love this idea, but wondered if it could work on a floor, perhaps on a slightly larger scale.

After much googling . . .
Ta-da! I would really love to do this on the floor of the bathroom, most likely in grey tones.

We have talked about doing white wainscot paneling, and then keeping the walls a neutral color - perhaps a bluish grey (our master bedroom is navy).


I would like for the shower stall to be all subway tiles, and for the vanity to be either white or natural wood with a stone/marble top. I would really love to make a vanity out of a reclaimed peice of furniture, but I fear that finding something to fit that awkward space may prove difficult.

I also really like this idea, just to create a little extra space and visual interest. Also from High Street Market.

We certainly don't have a lack of ideas when it comes to fixing the ugly bathrooms, it's more of a funding issue. I know the best way to do a remodel is to tear everything apart and start from scratch (thanks, Holmes on Homes). A lot of what we want to do would be fairly inexpensive, but I just want to make sure we have the right people helping us.

Some day this will happen . . . until then, the to-do list grows.

Friday, September 9, 2011

A Tribute to Wee Wee Davis-Wall


Wee Wee was given to me in 1999 right around Halloween. My boyfriend at the time lived in Indiana, and I was just starting school in Boston. He thought it was a good idea to bring me a cat. I remember thinking that was a terrible idea, but as soon as I met her that was it. She and I were meant to be together. She was my animal soul mate. From the very first night I had her she slept on my legs. It became our thing - we always cuddled in bed.

Wee Wee was 6 when she was given to me, and apparently her real name was Tiger. I'm not sure how she got the nickname Wee Wee, but I was more than content to call her that - I was not going to call my tiger-striped cat Tiger. Wee Wee would travel back and forth with me to Indiana for holidays, and for long stays over the summer. The longest we were ever apart was the summer that Dave and I traveled cross-country together for about a month.

Wee Wee was your typical cat, seemingly indifferent to a lot of people, and definitely shy. But anyone who really spent any quality time with her knows that she was the sweetest, most loving cat. She really liked being adored, and adoring her wasn't hard to do.

As Wee Wee got older her health issues started to pile up. First came some upper respiratory infections, and a few eye infections (most likely related). Those were no big deal, and easily treated. Then we started noticing that Wee Wee drooled. We didn't think much of it, but one day took her to a vet for a check up. We discovered Wee Wee had a tumor in her mouth that started in a tooth. It was a very rare cancer and we were told the outlook was not good. In fact, the vet told us that they may have to remove half her jaw. This was terrifying and ridiculous all at the same time. I told them I wanted a second opinion and asked for them to write us a referral to Angell, the MSPCA hospital.

At Angell we met Dr. Kearns, a young vet that saved Wee Wee's life. She assured us that she could treat Wee Wee by removing the tooth and tumor, but there may be complications. There was a possibility that Wee Wee may be on a feeding tube either temporarily, or even for the rest of her life. Well, Wee Wee woke up from surgery, they put food in front of her, and she started eating. That was my girl - she always beat the odds.

The years passed and Wee Wee was pretty healthy. Some things came up, like a knot on her back knee that occasionally became inflamed and caused her to limp. When we lived in Jersey City she started to develop some bad stomach problems. Sparing all of the details Wee Wee became prone to pancreatitis, which was difficult to treat. We chased a lot of problems in NY, none of which were ever properly diagnosed or resolved. When we moved back to Boston we returned to Dr. Kearns at Angell, and a laundry list of problems were diagnosed and treated. Wee Wee had a lot of G.I. sensitivity, high blood pressure, hypothyroidism, arthritis, kidney and liver problems, and some other small things that would pop up here and there.

After a lot of trial and error we were able to treat all of Wee Wee's miscellaneous health problems with a combination of medicine and acupuncture. Our acupuncturist, Dr. Moses, at Angell is amazing (she also does animal hospice). She made our old, sore cat happy again. After acupuncture visits Wee Wee was like a new kitten. She would hop around the house, she could jump better, she would eat well, and generally had a happy disposition.

About 6 months ago we woke up (I was pregnant), and I went and sat on the sofa with Wee Wee. I was petting her and as she started to purr she made this horrible noise - it was somewhere between a grumble and a wheeze. We took her to the emergency room at Angell, and after X-rays and examination, it was determined that Wee Wee had cancer in the back of her throat.

How, after all of the hard work, heartache, and money, did we end up back here again?

At this point Wee Wee was about 18. We talked to Dr. Moses and Dr. Kearns and determined that the best thing for Wee Wee would be the least-invasive thing possible. Instead of a risky surgery, and chemo or radiation, we opted to just manage the tumor by giving Wee Wee steroids. The steroids would help maintain the size of the tumor, and hopefully reduce any swelling that was making it hard for her to breathe. This was only a temporary solution . . .

Over the last few weeks Wee Wee's breathing was getting noticeably worse. She stopped sleeping with us (a big red flag), and she stayed in her bed all day and night. And then she stopped taking her treats - her beloved treats. Wee Wee would wake us up to get these in the morning, and follow us around until she got them at night. This was not good. Again, we consulted our vets. Dr. Moses said that this wasn't sounding good, and that she feared Wee Wee was heading towards an episode - of what nature she wasn't sure. But she was sure that whatever it was would be really bad. It was best to end things before they got catastrophic.

We made an appointment with Dr. Kearns and Courtney (Dr. Kearns' vet tech) to put Wee Wee to sleep. Scheduling this is awful. How do you sleep knowing that in the morning you won't have a cat anymore?

When we got to Angell they took us into the room that Wee Wee was given acupuncture in; a room she was familiar with. Courtney placed a catheter for the injections, and left us with Wee Wee to say our final goodbyes. As we hugged, petted, and kissed her she was wheezing for air. We knew it was for the best . . .

Dr. Kearns and Courtney came back in the room and told us what would happen, how peaceful it would be. I could tell Dr. Kearns had been crying. Then there was a knock on the door - it was Alejandro. Alejandro is the lead vet tech at Angell, and he watched lovingly over Wee Wee when we went to Indiana for Christmas this past year, and again when Elliott was born. In the end Wee Wee was with a room full of people who all loved her so much. There wasn't a dry eye in the room. When the injections were given she slowly lowered her head and fell asleep, it was fast. As one of our other doctors put it, we allowed her to pass with dignity.

I can say that I will never be able to love another pet the way I loved Wee Wee. She was with me for 12 years - I wish it could have been 20. I miss her all the time. It is so hard to walk in the house and not see my cat there. She always came to the door to great us. We were her people.

I have no doubt that Wee Wee's life would have been significantly shorter, and not nearly as happy, if it weren't for the staff at Angell. Dr. Kearns, Dr. Moses, Courtney, Alejandro, and Dr. Coster loved Wee Wee as if she were their own. If you have any spare money to throw around, and would like to make a donation to a good cause - check out Angell's memorial donation page. Feel free to make a donation in Wee Wee's memory, or in memory of one of your own pets.

Farewell, Wee Wee. You were the best cat I could ever have hoped to love. I will miss you every day.

Doing 3 of her favorite things: Sunbathing, sleeping on mom, and sniffing fresh air from an open window.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Let Me Tell You . . .

Because apparently no one else will.

Dave and I have recently befriended our neighbors, Brian and Tina. They have a baby, Colin, that is only 3 months older than Elliott - that alone made us pretty fast friends.

One thing that Tina and I have discussed on numerous occasions is that no one really tells you certain things about pregnancy, childbirth, and baby-having. I don't know if these things are supposed to be, like, women secrets. But as Tina so eloquently put it, "My friends are f***ed up." Amen, sister. Amen.

Here are the things that I wish I would have known:

1. No two pregnancies, child births, or babies are the same. No, really. People love to tell you their sob stories, their tales of horror (and I don't know why women insist upon doing this to one another) - but just because it happened to them doesn't mean it will happen to you. It's fun to swap delivery stories, it becomes a part of an exclusive club you've entered once you've had a child. But take it from me, people can tell you how to do some things until they are blue in the face, but what works for you is what works for you. Don't get me wrong, suggestions are nice - but they are just that. Suggestions. And they don't all work or help.

2. When you are close to going into labor, or when you are in labor - internal exams are so incredibly painful. Seriously, it was one of the worst parts of having a baby. If you decide to have an epidural, then you can't feel them anymore - which is wonderful. Also, when you are rounding 38 or 39 weeks your Dr. will offer to give you an internal to see if you have started dilating. Not only will this most likely tell you nothing (you could go into labor in 12 hours, or 12 days regardless of what they find), but it's going to suck.

3. You're going to tear during childbirth (sorry, dudes - earmuffs). Now, some of you may not (like if you have a C-section, duh), but chances are you will. Getting sewn back together hurts, and it hurts for weeks afterwards.

4. Speaking of "afterwards" - you aren't going to feel like yourself for a really long time. You still have to wear maternity clothes, your midsection will be all puffy and stretched, your breasts will get way bigger, you'll bleed, and there will be pain - and plenty of it. Walking will hurt like hell, but you'll get used to it, and slowly it will fade. Peeing will hurt a lot, too. In our child birth classes they told us some of this, and they said it might last for 2-3 weeks. Quite frankly, that's bullshit.

5. Don't buy baby clothes in advance. Elliott is just about to turn 4 months old and is wearing clothing for up to a 9 month old. You don't know how big your baby is going to be, so don't bother buying things for upcoming seasons (i.e. coats).

6. Drink lots of water. Through everything. Nothing good comes of being dehydrated when you are pregnant, in labor, or breast feeding. (I should practice what I preach.)

7. Once you lose the baby weight, and get back to your normal weight (and this time frame varies from person to person) - your body will rearrange itself. I am the same weight that I was B.E. (before Elliott), but I don't look the same. The weight is all in different places now. And I'm still waiting for this belly to finish shrinking down. Harrumph.

8. During pregnancy you don't lose a lot of hair. It's a weird hormonal thing. Un-pregnant people lose about 100 hairs a day, but this slows way down when you are preggers. Well, the pendulum swings the other way, I'm afraid. At almost 4 months postpartum I am losing hair by the handful. It's gross, and annoying, and is currently showing no signs of stopping. Enjoy your thick, pretty hair when you're pregnant - it won't last long.

I know that seems like a bunch of bitching and moaning, so let me finish with this:

9. You have no idea how instantaneously you will love something until it happens to you.

Dave and I were emotional before I had Elliott because it had just been us for 8 years. We loved our life together, and it was hard to think of something taking some of that love away from one another. However, as soon as Elliott was born, we couldn't imagine a world with him not in it. He immediately became our everything. You do not know love like this until you experience it.

My boys.


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I Want That

If there is one thing I have learned from becoming a stay-at-home mom with a new mortgage payment it is that I can kiss my old lifestyle goodbye. Back when I was an apartment-renting, baby-less, working woman I could buy things. Nothing extravagant, mind you, but I liked shopping (it's my cardio). I have since said goodbye to shopping, unless it is something that Elliott needs (teething rings, PJs, etc).

So now I just get to look on the internet (and at the September issues) and dream about the things I would buy myself if I were the old Casey Davis.

Things like this . . .
Chloe ballet flats. I love a good T-strap.

3.1 Phillip Lim dress. The color is so good, and it's really short (my preferred length).

Marc Jacobs hologram disc skirt. It could be the most impractical article of clothing ever, but I just want to look at it all day. It's amazing.

Marc by Marc Jacobs cashmere color-block cardigan. If you know me then you know I have never met a cardigan I don't like.

Rag & Bone varsity jacket. Oh man, finding a good women's varsity jacket is difficult. This one is by far the best. It's also way out of my price range (if I had a price range).


Some day I will be able to buy pretty things again. Le sigh . . .

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Also . . .

We're on a Bob Dylan kick this week. I looked for a video of him playing If You See Her, Say Hello, but that doesn't seem to exist on the internets. Instead, I thought I would post this because I think it's one of the best music videos ever. It's also highly appropriated.


And a line from the song is where The Weather Undergound got their name. Dave and I are big fans.

Thursday Night Dinner

Whoops. I sort of abandoned my blog for a while. What can I say, having a baby is very time consuming.

Anywho, to continue where I was at . . . Thursday Night Dinner.

One of my new favorite resources for recipes is food52. I think it's a really interesting concept, but sometimes I have to work pretty hard to extract the recipes that I convert into being vegan. Thursday night's dinner was one of those recipes - it's Mujaddara with Spiced Yogurt. This recipe always makes WAY more than I think it's going to, so we always have lots of leftovers. The only conversions I really have to make are for the yogurt sauce. To make it vegan I substitue WholeSoy plain yogurt mixed with about 2 tablespoons of Tofutti Sour Creme. The sour cream gives it that little bit of tartness, and thickens up the yogurt a bit.

If I served Dave a plate of lentils and rice for dinner, we would eat about 10 snacks before bed because he would claim he wasn't full. I made up a little recipe for tofu and veggies to go with this lentil dish to add some extra protein, and to make the meal a bit heartier.

If I make this in the colder months I just shove the veggies and tofu in the oven, but since we are in the midst of summer that means grilling. I bought wooden skewers from the grocery (soak them in water first so they don't burn to a crisp on your grill), and made shish kabobs.


First I start by pressing and marinating the tofu (2 blocks of extra firm tofu). For those of you unfamiliar with good tofu prep - the more water you press out, the more marinade it will absorb. Tofu is basically like a sponge. But that sounds gross and probably makes you not want to eat it. I digress . . .

Marinade:
Juice and zest from 1 lemon
3 Tbsp olive oil (truth be told, I don't measure - just do whatever looks good to you)
1 Tbsp agave
1 clove garlic, minced
A small handful of fresh chopped mint
A pinch of red peper flakes, salt, and freshly ground black pepper

If Elliott will let me get some cooking done, or at least a little mise en place, then I try to marinate for at least 2 hours or so. For veggies, you can use whatever you have on hand - I normally use 1-2 zucchini (quartered lengthwise, then roughly chopped into about 1/2 inch pieces), baby bella mushrooms, and asparagus. I found a nice little addition is to put slices of lemon on your skewers to infuse a little extra flavor. Also, brush your left over marinade onto the skewers once the are assembled.

I am not the best griller in the world, but I can tell you that you need to be sure to oil your grates before you grill tofu. Tofu sticks to EVERYTHING when you cook, so you might end up with a little tofu scramble if you aren't careful.

And there you have it - Thursday night dinner! As well as Friday lunches for Dave and I . . .

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Wednesday Night Dinner

One of my go to source for recipes is Everyday Food - both the cookbooks, and the magazine. This recipe is my interpretation of the Brown Rice Bowl with Shrimp, Snow Peas, and Avocado from the Everyday Food: Great Food Fast.


Since we are vegan the only thing I had to change was the shrimp. I like to make this using VegeUSA Peking Spare Ribs. They are stupidly expensive at $5.99 a box (which only has 2 portions), but they are my one expensive buy at the grocery. Everything else is exactly the same as the recipe calls for, with my addition of baby bok choy.

This is a super easy meal to make, and I really love the mixture of the bright, fresh flavor of the snow peas mixed with the creaminess of the avocado.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Tuesday Night Dinner

Tuesday's dinner was what I would consider boring. I was right at the end of one grocery run, and about to head into another. I hate throwing away unused/spoiled produce, and half used tofu. I had some spare things laying around that I knew wouldn't last much longer - and thus: Stir Fry.


I will say it is very colorful, and I used a really delicous sauce for it. This has snap peas, zucchini, shiitake mushrooms, baby bok choy, red pepper, cabbage, tofu "puffs", and Morningstar Farms Meal Starter Chick'n Strips. It is all on top of sushi rice (you save a TON of money on this if you buy it in the bulk section of Whole Foods), with a sauce that I stole from Vegan Yum Yum. She calls it "Sweet Chili Lime" sauce, but in our household it is known as "Fancy Sauce". It makes every stir fry, or tofu dish extra delicious.

Here is the Fancy Sauce recipe:
  • 3 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 3/4 Tbs fresh lime juice (I normally just use the juice from 1 lime)
  • Zest from 1/2 of the lime
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (I like to use a microplane)
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 4-5 mint leaves, chiffinaded
Another good money saver is buying and planting your own herbs. I just bought myself basil, mint, and lavender plants. I have them in pots outdoors, and I love being about to go out, pick a few leaves, and come in and cook with them. Have you ever notice how much basil you have to throw out after you buy it? I never even come close to using all of it. Plus, it's cheaper to buy an organic basil starter than it is to buy a bunch of basil that you will end up throwing away. I wish I had bought potted herbs sooner - I would have saved so much money!

A Week of Meals

When I got towards the end of my pregnancy I started to really worry about how I would get everything done at home with a new baby. I knew that a lot of things would fall by the wayside, or get put off until I had reinforcements (primarily weekends when Dave is around to help out). The thing I worried the most about was how I was going to cook. Not only do I really love cooking, but we just bought a house and need to watch every penny we spend. Nothing wastes money like eating out every night. Cooking is not only a passion, but it became a necessity.

I have managed to cook dinner almost every night since Elliott was born. The only times I haven't are when we were taken out to dinner (thank you, parents), or when I was just burned out. I thought I would document a week or so worth of dinner cooking. I have sort of changed my cooking a little - quickness has become a necessity. I use as much fresh produce as possible (way cheaper than processed foods), and I try to make 3 servings. I always try to make sure we have enough left over for Dave to take to work the next day.

The week I documented is kind of funny because we had rice with almost every meal (we really like rice in my family), which isn't really the norm. At least we had a variety of rices!

So, here is Monday:
Zucchini Stuffed with Tomatoes and Gardein Chick'n Breast
with Reduced Tomatoes and Brown Rice

To make the "chicken" I used the Gardein Chick'n Scallopini. I put it in a pan with about a tablespoon of olive oil. I let them thaw a little, and then add in about half a pint of cherry tomatoes, halved, and 2 tomatoes, cored and cut in quarters. As the tomatoes cook they will release a lot of liquid, reduce and will thicken. I deglaze the pan with a splash of white wine. Season with salt and pepper - voila, delicious faux chicken breast with tomato sauce.

For the zucchini dish I used a recipe from the July/August issue of Everyday Food (#84). I just substituted shredded Follow Your Heart Mozzarella for the cheese, and it worked great!

So there you have it - meal numero uno.


Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Sad Stripe Tale

When we bought our house we decided that we wanted Elliott's nursery to be striped. Well, I decided that - Dave was forced to agree.

We had the room stripped of all the wallpaper, and painted a cream color (Mascarpone by Benjamin Moore, to be exact). During the weeks that Elliott was late being born I measured, marked, taped, and painted the room in stripes.
When I started pulling down the painters tape that I used to rule the lines, the original layer of paint was coming off as well. Some walls were worse than others, but all 4 walls had problem areas. One wall was so bad that I could just pick at the edge of the peeling paint and pull off a 3 or 4 inch strip of paint. All of that hard work for nothing!


After calling our original painter (numerous times) and sending him an email with photographs of what was wrong, he agreed to send someone out to look at the wall.

The painter was supposed to be here between 9:00 and 10:00am, and showed up at 11:30ish without a phone call or apology. He and I looked at the room together.

"Well, that's what happens when you put tape on the wall".
"Isn't that what painter's tape is for"?
(No response)

You can see the futility of this conversation.

And now, as I type, my hours and hours of hard work (at 41 and 42 weeks pregnant, no less!) are being scraped off the walls. They are repainting the room a solid color, and I don't plan on striping it again. I'm really sad that Elliott's room didn't turn out exactly how I wanted, but now at least he has a bedroom where the paint isn't peeling off the walls.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

9:47pm Monday Night


I had planned on natural childbirth. That being said, I told myself from the get go that I would do whatever I felt was necessary when the time came, and I wouldn't beat myself up for it. I would say I stuck to this rather well, aside from the induction. For some reason the induction is the part of unnatural childbirth I was/am the most bummed about. Funnily enough, the one part that couldn't be avoided.

Once my mom, Dave, and I were checked into the labor/delivery room my contractions were pretty consistent. It took Dave about 10 minutes to fall asleep in the rocking chair in the room. My mom stayed up with me while I went through contractions for the next 3 hours or so. We walked up and down the U-shaped hallway of our floor, chit-chatted, and I stopped every so often to work through contractions. By the time we returned to our room I was in pretty major pain, and thought for sure I must have progressed. I was checked again, and I had only dilated maybe another centimeter. If it took this long, and this much pain to get 1 whole centimeter then I had a feeling it was going to be a REALLY long labor.

My Doctor offered me an IV drug to help with pain. I was studied up enough on this to know that this is only temporary pain relief, it doesn't work for everyone, and it also drugs the baby. I decided to skip this step and go for the epidural. So much for natural childbirth.

Getting an epidural is a crazy experience. First of all, they made Dave and my mom leave the room. I had one nurse holding my hand, and an anesthesiologist poking around my spine to find the proper home for the epidural. They numb you 2 times with injections, and then administer the epidural. Now, before I was ever even pregnant I thought this would be a horrible, terrifying experience. Nope - I barely felt a thing! It was really quite interesting, and it worked quickly. It was probably around 5:00am when I was given the epidural, and I fell asleep for a long time after it was administered. This also meant that my mom and Dave got to sleep as well.

By the time I woke up it was time for shift changes in both nurses and Doctors. My normal Doctor happened to be rounding (a 1 in 10 chance that I would get her!), and Michelle, a wonderful nurse, took over. And then my water broke. This was rather odd because I was quite numb from the epidural, so it was hard to really assess what was happening. I was checked again, and still had made little progress dilating. I think this was roughly around the time they decided it might be best for me to take Pitocin. Again, feel free to google this if you want to know what it does.

My sister-in-law, Jamie, warned me that Pitocin could be quite overwhelming to the system. It forces you to dilate, and can make contractions rather intense. Thanks to my wonderful epidural, I was spared many of the unpleasant side effects. I "labored" (I wasn't really doing a lot of work, but my body was) for the whole day, and the pitocin really helped things progress. Meanwhile, I slept off and on, and drank some apple juice and water (which I later threw up).

Around 8:00pm at night my Doctor checked me; I was fully dilated and she told me that I could start pushing within an hour. It was also around this time that I noticed that my epidural seemed to stop working. After talking to a few nurses, Doctors, and an anesthesiologist it was determined that my epidural had probably been shifted out of place and that I would need to have it replaced. Everyone delivered this news like they told me I was dying. I assured them all that I wasn't worried, and let's get this show on the road.

Right after my epidural was replaced my Doctor told me it was time. A flood of nurses entered the room, and started setting everything up for me and Baby Wall. I was really overwhelmed when they told me they wanted me to start pushing. I was really numb from a spinal injection I was given (I could barely move my legs), I had labor shakes (I didn't know these existed until I was in labor), and I was just a little freaked out. I asked everyone to give me 5 minutes to collect myself. This was one of the best decisions I made in that 24 hours. I asked Dave and my mom to not talk to me, to just let me be alone with my thoughts for a few minutes. I collected myself, and the Doctors and nurses re-entered the room.

When you hear horror stories about women pushing for 2 or 3 hours, it sounds really awful. While I was on pain medication, I assure you it was not that bad. The worst part of all is waiting for a contraction! I pushed for close to an hour, with a room full of 10 women cheering me on. My mom was right next to me, and Dave was up by my head. Everyone was so wonderful and reassuring, telling me how great I was doing.

And then . . .
I heard Dave say, "It's a boy"!

Into this world came Elliott David Wall.

He was born at 9:47pm on Monday, May 2. He weighed 7 lbs, 6.5 ounces, and was 19 inches.

He is perfect.

I created a human. It is completely surreal, and amazing.

Monday, May 16, 2011

8:00pm Sunday Night

Baby Wall was 2 weeks late. I know that this is something most women dread. Not I.

Since Dave and I just moved into a new house, there is not a lack of things to be done. Every day past my due date I would say, "Okay, I just want to get this done, and then I can have this baby". Well, it worked apparently. In fact, it worked so well that I ended up having to be induced.

All throughout pregnancy you are terrified of when you go into labor (or I was anyway). You think your water could break anywhere (really only about 10% of women have the water break at the beginning of labor), or contractions could just start out of nowhere. You hear horror stories of babies born in 3 hours, and you think, "Will I make it to the hospital in time"? While you are terrified by all things labor, you also start to mentally prepare yourself for the unexpected to occur at any moment.

When someone says to you, "Come to the hospital at 8:00pm on Sunday night and we will induce you," it's a jolt to the system. I was so prepared to be unprepared for labor that this scheduling of induction was not so welcomed. I held off doing many of the things suggested to induce labor because I thought that my baby would be born when it felt like it was ready. Come Sunday May 1st, I tried anything I could think of. Well, almost anything. I even went and got acupuncture in hopes that I wouldn't have to be induced. None of it worked.

Dave and I made it to the hospital around 8:30pm. (Hey, if this baby can be late then so can I.) We met my parents in the lobby. My dad was nervously chatting, and my mom said, "Have you been crying"? Yes, mom. All day.

They led us upstairs and I met with the first of many Doctors. I was checked internally (this is, in my opinion, one of the worst parts of childbirth) and I was hardly dilated. Sparing most of the unpleasant details, I was given Cytotec (which sounds like a supplement you buy at GNC). If you feel so inclined you can google what this does. I started having infrequent contractions, some fairly painful. After being monitored for a while I was given the option of going home or staying at the hospital. Who wants to be at a hospital if they don't need to be? Shortly thereafter Dave and I made the trek home. Home, might I add, is about 45 minutes away.

I had contractions the whole way home. I got into bed and tried to catch some Z's, and spend a little quality time with our cat, Wee Wee, before she became a big sister. The contractions kept coming, and getting more painful so Dave started timing them - they ranged from 2 to 5 minutes apart. He called the hospital and they told us to come back in. I was writhing in discomfort for the entire trip back to the hospital, and Dave made sure to hit every pothole on the way just to make me suffer. (Not really, but it seemed that way!) Apparently this induction had worked (not all of them do).

My mom and Dave came upstairs with me into the labor and delivery room, and my Dad stayed downstairs in the lobby. Once upstairs I was checked again, and still was not dilated. And so the longest night in the world began . . .

Thursday, April 7, 2011

I Am the Bargain Hunter of the Century!


I AM AWESOME.

I told Dave I am going to turn into one of those women that will only buy things on sale - and it started yesterday. I went to the Burlington Mall specifically to look at refrigerators at Sears. I struck out big time there - the unhelpful salesman showed me 2 options - one for $3000+ and another for about $2500 and said those were the only models that would work for me. I think you're lying to me, dude. Scram.

I decided to head over to Pottery Barn to look at lighting. And then I stumbled upon this little beauty:

This is the "Hyde" table by Pottery Barn. It originally retailed for $700. I got it for the amazing price of $384.97. It was considered damaged because it was a floor model. I tell you in absolute confidence that there is nothing wrong with this table. Pottery Barn's loss, my gain.

Dave and I had been hunting for a farm table, and I was getting a little resistance from him. I wanted an antique one, but Dave thinks that I only like things that look like they have been beaten to hell for the last 50 or so years. This may be true, but only half true. Why buy an antique in perfect condition? I like things well-loved. Anyway, he was super stoked on the table. Now I just have to figure out how to get it to the house . . .

It will look so good with our Tolix chairs!



Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Who's In There?

Forty weeks is a long time to wait!

Dave and I decided to not find out the gender of our baby - in fact, that was a decision we made long before I was ever pregnant. My mom didn't find out what my brothers and I were going to be, so in the name of tradition I didn't want to know either. It's been really fun to guess who this little baby is.

Initially I think we all thought that it was a girl - that is all we could ever imagine having. Then we switched to thinking it was a boy, and now I am back to thinking it is a girl. We don't care one way or the other if it is a boy or a girl, as long as Baby Wall is happy and healthy.

In case you haven't noticed I really like buying things for Baby Wall on Etsy. Not knowing the gender of our baby has made it very hard for me to buy clothing. Vintage baby clothing can be super cute - especially for girls. Older boys clothing seems to be primarily made of polyester, and include vests and ties. Not really my cup of tea (unless it include anchors or sailboats in some way).

If we end up having a girl, you can be sure you will see at least one of these on her:

And these are adorable and will work either way . . .

Seriously, that denim vest KILLS me. It will look so good with the baby checkered Vans that our friends Brittain and Finkle gave us!


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Recent Acquisitions

I was starting to feel a bit of panic because we didn't have a stroller or car seat for Baby Wall. When my mom came to visit 2 weekends ago we made this one of our missions. We went to Isis in the Prudential Mall and they gave us a small crash course in strollers. Initially I thought I wanted a 3-wheeled one, perhaps the B.O.B. - I was quickly redirected. We ended up with this bad boy below. It's easy to function, has a bassinet which can also be used for travel, and lots of attachments once the Davis-Wall family grows. I won't lie - strollers are really expensive, and this one seems to be no exception. We will just have to get lots of use out of it with Baby Wall #1, and all Baby Walls to come.What parent doesn't love a Bumbo? We are stoked on the color.
We didn't have a globe before I bought this awesome one on Etsy. I tried to go for half practicality and half aesthetics. I love how it looks so mid-century, but it is definitely showing its age. It still has the USSR on it. Dave kept asking my mom to find countries on it that had yet to be established . . . Also, Massachusetts is about the size of a pinhead, so we might have to get a big state map or atlas down the line.
My co-worker, Shailah, and I have been discussing a mutual love of old school charts recently. A while back I had been pining over one of birds, but it sold before I had a chance to get it. This one was still available so I scooped it up. Baby Wall has a woodland theme going on, so this will fit in perfectly. It's in amazing condition, still has the original metal bar at the top, and is from the 1960's. I'm a big fan of the raccoon down there in the bottom corner.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Almost There

Baby Wall is almost here! I am at about 38 weeks, getting bigger by the day, and my feet and hands are more swollen by the hour. We are getting prepared for everything to come. We finally bought a stroller and car seat (thanks Mom & Dad!), the hardwood floors are being installed in our new house this week (which means we can move in by the end of the week!), all baby classes have been taken, and I am meeting with a pediatrician on Wednesday.

If you asked me about a month ago if this was all going to work out, I would have most likely said no. It has been hard for us to find the time to do anything. Between lots of Dr's appointments, trying to figure out what is going on at the new house, and both Dave and I working full time - it doesn't leave time for anything else. We have been running around like crazy people. Most days conclude with one, or both of us, falling asleep on the sofa.

Yesterday was my last day of work for a while, so it feels good to know that I can focus on essential things from here on out. You know, like the birth of my child. No biggie.

Here is how things are looking (although this was actually a few weeks ago, so I am definitely bigger now):

On a side note; do we think I could make this work as a baby bag? I mean, it's really cute - but I'm not sure how organized it will keep me. You really can't go wrong with a stripe though.Also - I really want to get these for Baby Wall. The fox is named Liam and the raccoon is named Reginald. They can both be found on Etsy, made by Sleepy King. Adorable!
More to come soon!