Wednesday, June 20, 2012


I've continued to cook from issue 61 of Donna Hay mag, most recently trying the spiced stewed plums. They are so good over vanilla ice cream, but have other uses too. I'm actually tempted to glaze some grilled chicken or pork with the plum syrup!

James has begun to eat small portions of banana, so I will need to make things with banana so none goes to waste. This morning, I made The Domestic Goddess's (Nigella) banana muffins while feeding James. It was good to do some baking first thing as the temps will be soaring to the 90's later. Summer is here!

Monday, June 18, 2012

New Favorite Dishes

Issue 61 of Donna Hay is sure a good one! I've made the Spiced Lemon Chicken also shown in my last post a couple times now. Most recently, I made Donna's Black Bean and Tomato Salsa to go with it and love the flavors of it. I've had it with the chicken, Greek yogurt and avocado as pictured and for leftovers had the same combo just without the chicken. I think I'll be making it all summer!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Summer Cooking

On a recent trip to the bookstore I bought Issue 61 of the Donna Hay magazine as I was excited to try a number of the summery recipes that are so beautifully presented. Tonight, we had Spiced Lemon Chicken with rice pilaf for main course and Plum Clafoutis for dessert with a dollop of vanilla ice cream melting over it.

I have ingredients ready to make another sweet, the Pineapple Coconut Loaf, but intend to make other things too. I will let you know how they turn out. Is anyone else cooking from this issue? Let me know your recommendations!

I definitely give five stars to tonight's recipes!

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

A Mobile Test and an FO

I managed a knitting project this week, Mini Jubilee Bunting, but I'll actually use it for the 4th of July. There are 7 little flags, each about 4 inches long. The inspiration is from Let's Knit mag and The Flitter Knitter and a free bunting pattern.

I strung the flags with attached I cord which is something I've been wanting to try for awhile and worked nicely here.

I'll have to edit this later to add links. I'm not sure how and James wants to touch the screen too which is making this tricky!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Indoor Seed Starting

Here are many of my small sized seed packets, somewhat organized. I am not good at keeping seed packets neat, but must try to do better so I know what I'm saving from year to year and use up older seeds first. Fortunately, nothing is older than 2011 at the moment.
I am so late starting seeds this year. Normally, I start them around March 15th and I had been thinking about starting some of the slower peppers a week or two earlier than that. This year, I sowed on April 29th! I know I won't have early harvests, but I think they will still grow and have plenty of time to mature. They should get a quicker start since the basement is warmer this time of year. In fact, the heat mats probably won't even be running much (they have a thermostat). And, I won't be tempted to put seedlings out too early and have the usual concern about cold nights.

Peppers (sweets and hots). I'll probably plant some of these in the hoop house so they have a longer growing season. From past experience, the habs, lemon hots and hole mole peppers will probably need the extra time and warmth.
Eggplants, raab and room for more...
I keep thinking that I should have managed to start the seeds on time despite having a new baby, but it's easy to say that now that I am getting sleep again. With feedings every two hours around the clock, I couldn't manage much else at the time!

I may sow some greens and herbs in the remaining space indoors, but most of my next sowing will be in the prepared pots waiting in the hoop house. Also, I need to do some direct sowing in the hoop house!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Hoop House Update

The hoop house easily withstood the only significant snowfall of the season. Here it is pictured on January 22nd.
I was too busy with the end of the pregnancy and then my new baby to do anything with the hoop house, but plants overwintered well even though I ignored them. I never did get a thermometer for it to record highs and lows, but next year I want to try that. Today, Jeff helped me with cleaning up the hoop house to ready it for planting. We left some flowering plants like kale for the honeybees that were happily buzzing around them. There are carrots, beets, Swiss chard, parsley, par-cel, dill, fennel and scallions to eat.
I filled pots with potting soil in preparation for starting winter and summer squash, cukes, pumpkins and zinnias in the hoop house. The trays with the shallow channels will be used to start seeds indoors. I intend to have them sowed and under the grow lights by the end of the weekend. I will be starting my tomatoes, eggplants and peppers very late, but expect they will still do ok with our fairly long growing season. We just won't have them very early like other years. A few of the longer to ripen peppers I'll put in the hoop house so they have a chance to fully develop.
It is exciting to be starting the garden for the season! I think James was interested in all our activities. He was outside with us in his stroller.
Soon, Jeff will till the garden and the peas will go in. Not only will Jeff and I be enjoying the garden produce this year, but James will have homemade baby food from the garden when he starts on solids in addition to breastfeeding.

Monday, April 16, 2012

3 Months!

James is 3 months old today! I keep meaning to update the blog, but am so distracted and busy with taking care of my wonderful little boy.

Labor and delivery went smoothly and James was born alert and healthy, 7 pounds 3 ounces and 19.5 inches long. Here's James at 4 days old wearing a little knitted hat made by volunteers who donate them to the hospital for the newborns.

The sleep deprivation for the first 2 months was hard to say the least, but then James suddenly began to sleep through the middle of the night feeding giving us about 6 hours of solid sleep.

We have been taking him on lots of little trips to see things. He likes going to stores because the sunlight outside is hard on his eyes and baby sunglasses and hats with brims are too big to be much help. He really likes the L. L. Bean store because there is a big fish tank with trout swimming in it and he watches them. I do take him outside in the yard with the dogs and he's been to the beach and a petting zoo on our travels. He was 11 weeks old in this picture.

On Easter, we took James on his first road trip to Maine to visit with grandparents. He wore his little 'road trip with Mommy' vest and I took this picture first thing in the morning. I was explaining to him what a road trip is and he was listening intently! He really enjoyed the big day out.

I'll try to post a little more frequently, but you can see I have my hands full!

Sunday, January 08, 2012

1 Week to Go

I am feeling well! I have finally been able to wear my maternity jeans for the final 3 weeks of pregnancy without them totally falling down. Though, the most expensive pair just wasn't going to work at all and went into a donation bag for Good Will complete with tags on still. I have to laugh when I pull on my so called "skinny jeans" that are actually funnel shaped to accommodate pregnancy. Non maternity tees are still working just fine.

I have still not packed my hospital bag! It will certainly be better if I do it rather than leaving it up to Jeff at the last minute--who knows what he would pack in there? I can picture it now, my bag would have the dog dishes and kibbles and the dog bag would contain my toiletries and clothes!!

I have been out shopping again. I love the little Winnie the Pooh and Eeyore rattles I found at Barnes and Noble. They have a fun sound and can hang on the car seat. And, I couldn't resist the plush Eeyore. He is looking up from the playard here.

The Chicco playard arrived and Jeff set it up in the living room and it looks like it will be really helpful and safe. It isn't at all quick to collapse and move, so we decided to get a little bassinet for next to our bed.

(bassinet photo from Babies-r-us)

When we were shopping for the bassinet, we finally got a glider and ottoman too. Everyone says we "must have one". I hope it will work out at least for Jeff. The one in the store seemed really comfortable, but what we now have set up at home seems too tall for me and the ottoman too low even though it is supposed to be exactly the same thing we tried out!

(glider/ottoman photo from Babies-r-us)

I think what I really need is a new armchair and ottoman for the living room. I like to slouch with my legs out straight. The vintage chair I've been using is getting too worn and I've already moved it's matching ottoman up to the nursery to use with the new chair in there. Ikea has an Ektorp set which would probably suit me, but we'll see about that in a couple of months or when we have some time/energy for getting that sort of thing.

Jeff's sister K sent an adorable selection of baby gear and a little board book. He's going to be one well dressed and entertained baby!

This past week, I was a bit disappointed to find out that I am not eligible to donate cord blood to the public bank because I spent more than 3 months in the UK back in 1992! I am really surprised that they would refuse a donation of otherwise eligible cord blood for such a low risk seeming reason--the possible exposure to mad cow disease. It could have been a match for someone or useful for research! Plus, I was on a student budget at the time and I hardly even ate any meat and can only specifically remember having beef one time (a gorgeous pub lunch on Ilkley Moor of beef stew in Yorkshire Pud)! For meals, I ate a lot of jacket potatoes with beans, cheese and Branston pickle sandwiches or cups of tomato soup. And, a shop directly on my way home from classes sold individual pieces of Baklava and Turkish Delights that would fortify me for my walk home in the cold and dark Scottish winter afternoons. I wish when I set up the appointment over the phone that they had asked me about my travels along with the eligibility questions they did think to ask as it would have saved me a drive. On the bright side, I can stop feeling guilty about not getting around to donating blood as they consider me ineligible for that too. I was turned down years and years ago, but really thought the restriction had been lifted since.

Fortunately, it was not a totally wasted trip as Jeff was with me and we went to Chipotle for an early dinner. I couldn't believe it when we got to the checkout and the crew of Chipotle workers told us they were "buying our dinner"! I've never had that happen before anywhere! Jeff was looking around for a hidden camera! They insisted and I can't find anything out about spontaneous free meals on the web, but they do draw business cards out of a pot for free lunches, so maybe it's just something they do sometimes? Anyway, that made us happy especially after the disappointment at the blood bank just moments before.

I am going to make an effort to rest and relax a bit more this week. One way I can do that is by knitting, of course! I am almost done knitting the 12 month sized Easy Baby Cardigan with just a couple of inches of sleeve remaining. (You can see the newborn sized one in my Christmas post.) I need to order some zippers online since I couldn't find the right type/size at JoAnn Fabric. I haven't tried machine sewing on knitting before, but I'm hoping it will be pretty easy to do. I'll try it out first on some swatches. I also have to think about what to cast on for next! If you have any good pattern recommendations for classic sorts of boy sweaters, do let me know! I'm often going to knit ahead by 1-2 years or so in the hopes that they will fit by the time I finish them.

I am also reading a Bill Bryson book called At Home: A Short History of Private Life. It's been on my list for awhile and I recently bought the paperback copy when I happened to see it at the bookstore. It's very entertaining so far.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

A New Year and Only 2 Weeks to Go (Maybe!)

Happy New Year!!!

It's a pretty exciting start to the year for me. Today, I am 38 weeks pregnant which means 'full term' from this point on, though the due date is calculated to 40 weeks.

This week, I'll do some final organization of the nursery and house, pack hospital bags for myself and the baby and do whatever last minute shopping I can think of. I will have the usual doctor appointment and make arrangements with the blood bank to donate/publicly store cord blood. I will also relax and do some knitting.

Lately, I have been busy cutting tags off of baby clothes and washing everything. I managed to order the Chicco playard online in our first choice of color (blue) and on sale, so I'm excited for that to arrive. It also functions as a 'gym' mat, changing table and bassinet. I think we will use it downstairs when we don't want to be going back and forth to the nursery upstairs. Although, I've been thinking about using it next to our bed there are some decisions to be made still. Fortunately, it's supposed to be quite portable.

On a trip around to the stores, we got the Baby Einstein soother which is now hanging in the crib. It lights up and plays music or bubbling water sounds while the fish 'swim'. It can be operated by remote from the doorway too. It might be very handy when the baby is ready to start adapting to sleeping longer.

Also on a recent shopping trip, we got a new compact camera that also does HD video at 1080p! It's better than any other camera I've had except, being compact, it has less zoom capability than my former best camera. It was on sale too!

(shopping photos from

I still need to get the video baby monitor and a humidifier soon, but a lot of other things are not urgent at this point, thankfully!

I had Jeff snap some pictures of me today to celebrate and record reaching full term. I feel way happier and less tired than these pictures seem to show! But, here I am at 38 weeks with no makeup, bloated, maternity pants trying to fall down and a dubious expression that says I'm questioning whether I really want to be recording this!

At least the baby was centered for times, he really lists off to one side or the other and I look really funny. Even the doctor stepped back and squinted at my stomach at my last appointment!

Incidentally, today was so warm here that I went outside in just a t-shirt! It's hard to believe it's January 1st when it feels like it could be the first day of spring!