Spring show!

I haven’t done a show for a while, so I thought it was about time I signed up for one again. Shows aren’t really my bread and butter anymore, but I love doing them because they kind of energize you in a way that online sales can’t. You get to meet and talk to your customers and fellow vendors and see what else is out there in the handmade community. 

Having recently joined the SF Etsy team (which numbers 1,800!), I’m excited to be vending at their spring indie emporium in San Francisco. Here are the details. If you’re in the area, I hope you can make it!

Grandma’s potato salad

I finally did it. I took a stab at making my grandma’s famous potato salad, and I think I nailed it. Her recipe is legendary in our family. And while I could never make it as well as she did, I couldn’t imagine not having it anymore. So I dug out her handwritten recipe and tried it.

I’m going to share it here because I love the way she wrote it with such detailed and funny notes. It cracks me up that she referred to the cost of the celery seed, because her thriftiness is one of the things I loved most about her.


I remember watching Grandma cut ingredients into the tiniest pieces without even looking. She was a pro!

Really the only thing I changed was to use real mayonnaise instead of Miracle Whip. I wasn’t sure if she used regular mustard or mustard powder, but I used powder and I think regular mustard would work just fine.

I always thought it was the pickle juice that was the secret ingredient. But now I think it’s the egg-to-potato ratio, which makes her recipe like a combination of egg salad and potato salad. When I took the bowl out of the fridge after mixing it up, the smell made me tear up. It was just like hers. I love how a recipe can do that for you.

Here’s another kind of unusual thing — have you ever boiled whole russet potatoes with the skins on? I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get the potatoes cooked without being too mushy, but it worked just fine. I tested them with a fork a few times until they seemed soft. Actually one potato completely fell apart, so I just tossed it and used one less egg.

I like that you can adjust the recipe for how many people you’re feeding. Grandma always had a HUGE bowl of potato salad in her fridge, but we didn’t need quite that much. I’m excited to make it again for our next potluck or family gathering!

Grandma's potato salad
Serves 12
Our family recipe is like a combination of egg salad and potato salad. Perfect for picnics and family gatherings!
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Ingredients
  1. 8-10 medium-sized russet potatoes
  2. 8-10 hard boiled eggs
  3. 1/4 cup green onions, or 1/2 cup white onion, finely chopped
  4. 2-3 tablespoons sweet gherkins, chopped (about 1 or 2 pickles)
  5. 2 tablespoons pickle juice
  6. 1.5-2 cups mayonnaise
  7. 2 teaspoons dried mustard
  8. 1 teaspoon celery seed
  9. 1 teaspoon salt
  10. 1 teaspoon sugar
Instructions
  1. Boil potatoes with the skin on until they are soft when you poke them with a fork. Make sure you season your water with a little salt.
  2. When your potatoes are cool, chop them into small pieces. Peel and chop your hard boiled eggs into small pieces, too.
  3. Add onions, pickles, and pickle juice. Then mix in your mayonnaise. Add enough so it's moist but not soupy.
  4. Add seasonings and stir to combine. Taste the potato salad, and if it needs a little more of anything, now's the time to add it!
  5. Cover and refrigerate for 6-8 hours before serving.
Cara Corey http://www.caracorey.com/

Max: 2 months

I’m almost a month late posting this, so I guess that tells you what kind of month it’s been. Max has been doing really well, but we’ve been working on some improvements to the house and Mike was gone for a few days for work, so we’ve been really busy.

Thankfully auntie Megan was here for a few days. She is so good with Max.

Harper has also been playing with Max a lot. She likes to lay in the bed and pretend to be him. He loves to watch her.

Right around 10 weeks, Max started getting really fussy. I wasn’t sure why, but then I remembered that Harper also had a really difficult time around then. It’s a “wonder week” with lots of brain development, so that makes sleep and everything else more intense. He also got another cold, poor thing, so I’m sure that didn’t feel good.

One thing that has been great about this month is all the smiles. Those baby grins are just the best.

We’ve had fun dressing him in all his little outfits, too. He has quite the wardrobe!

Sometimes he outgrows things after only wearing them once, so we have to keep rotating in new things. I’ve had the hardest time finding socks that fit him, so now he is in a 6-12 month sock. He still likes to be cozy warm all the time.

Sleep also got better this month. I was starting to get pretty fried from all the night feedings, but he has been going longer and longer stretches. Similar to Harper at this age, he sleeps most of the night until an early morning feeding. Sometimes there’s a second one. Once he even slept the whole night!

Naps have been a lot tougher. He will take a long nap, thank goodness. But most of the time we have to resort to wearing him in the carrier. My neck got so strained at one point I could barely move it, so I have been trying not to rely on that too much. But it’s hard. Trying to put him to sleep in his crib does not work at all.

I shouldn’t say he doesn’t nap outside the carrier. It’s more of a battle to keep him asleep. I’m just trying to take that one day at a time. He still seems a little young for a strict routine.

This month he’s been trying really hard to get his hand in his mouth. Two cheers for self soothing!

He also seems a lot more alert and interested in toys. We have what seems like millions, so we’re trying to keep him entertained. Bath time has gotten a lot better, too.

We’ve got him in cloth diapers, although they don’t fit as well after going through another kid. I’m willing to deal with it though after seeing how much money we spent on diapers, sheesh!

I’m looking forward to Max being able to sit up better and maybe hang out in the jumper or some of the other toys we have. He is doing more every day, and it’s fun to watch.

I pulled out the only KU onesie I have because he needs to cheer for the Jayhawks. So far it’s working!

Saying goodbye to Charlotte

Yesterday we had to say goodbye to mom’s dog, Charlotte. I feel like she’s partially mine, too, since we got her the summer I was living at home after college. That summer we lost our childhood dog, Sammie, and decided we wanted a Boston terrier for our next companion. When we found Charlotte, in a small town in Missouri, she was the runt of the litter. They called her Piggie because she had a curly tail. She only weighed a pound, and we loved her instantly.

Charlotte has always been such a sweet sidekick — social, cuddly, with a great zest for life chasing her tire toy. So when she went blind a few months ago and couldn’t do much anymore, she just didn’t seem like the same dog. I will miss her snuggles in the “butt hut” as we call it. She was an important member of our family, and it just won’t be the same without her.

Easy enchiladas

Now that we have two kids, it’s even harder to find time to cook weeknight dinners, so we’ve had to find recipes that come together really quickly. And we’re finding that the secret is tacos! Actually, any kind of variation on a meat that you can put on corn tortillas, so we’ve had a lot of enchiladas, too.

I’ve been making this recipe for green chile enchiladas with the leftovers from a roast chicken — something we also have a lot because it’s easy.

You take all the meat that’s left on the chicken and shred it. I would say it’s about 2 cups.

Then saute some sliced onions and mix it with the chicken. Then you add about half a jar of roasted salsa verde (I really like the Archer Farms version from Target).

That’s your filling. Roll it up inside corn tortillas, adding a little shredded Monterrey Jack cheese to each one.

Spread some salsa verde in the bottom of your baking dish, then add the enchiladas. Pour a little more salsa verde on top and sprinkle with a little more cheese.

Bake at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes or until the cheese is melted and you’re done!

You can also make a sort of free-form enchilada casserole by layering tortillas with salsa verde and whatever other toppings you like. I made this one with black beans, sweet potatoes, and then some crema and feta cheese on top.

On the taco front, we’ve made a lot of crock pot shredded pork, which is great with pickled red onions.

Or, you can saute some pork tenderloin slices and then cut them up into chunks to put on tacos (hat tip to Real Simple for this one). I made some with pineapple, and they were so good! Super easy because the thin pork slices only take a few minutes to cook.

When all else fails, we just hit up the neighborhood taco trucks. Their al pastor is so good!

Harper at 3

I think this photo pretty much sums up what it’s like to have a “threenager.” Harper is bossy, demanding, temperamental, and a little cray sometimes. But she bounces between that and sweet, cuddly, creative, curious and so many other interesting qualities that it’s hard for me to say that three is as bad as I feared it might be.

Honestly it seems like having a baby brother has made her a little easier to communicate with because she can’t demand all of our attention all the time. And she wants to be more independent so she likes helping with him.


Sometimes she goes, “baby Max is so cute!”

For example, she always wants to bring the Boppy pillow to whoever is holding Max. She’s a little aggressive with putting in his pacifier, but it’s cute that she wants to give it to him.

She’s also been playing with her dolls more, trying to imitate what we’re doing.

This picture just slays me.

When Mike’s parents were here, she interacted with them in a way I’d never seen before. Where before she had been hesitant to play with people she doesn’t see very often, she made an instant connection with them.

She let both of them read her books, which strangely, she doesn’t do often. Her version of reading is to turn the pages before you can get a line out. But I do think that will change as she is able to sit still longer.

She LOVED the Christmas tree when we had it. She kept asking to go see it, and then she would name every ornament.

She got a giant floor puzzle for Christmas, which got her really into the idea of doing puzzles. Now she’s got at least one going at all times.

It’s hard for me to deal with the “toy soup” she creates daily in our living room, but it takes a lot of toys to keep this girl entertained. Her current favorites are her finger puppets (she is constantly singing this finger family song where each finger is a member of the family), and her Peppa Pig figurines.

She’s starting to have a much bigger imagination. She play cooks us meals and she does the most adorable routine where her Ernie doll goes to sleep, then wakes up, brushes his teeth and has breakfast.

She’s still a great eater and will try most foods, even if she prefers her favorites.

Of course I am biased, but I think she gets more beautiful every day.

Her hair is turning darker, but I think it will still get sun-bleached in the warmer months.

She is in the process of moving up to the 3-year-old class at her daycare, and I think that will be good for her. She’s had a lot of shyness with kids her age, but I see her opening up much more on the playground now.

Seeing Max as a baby now, reminds me of how quickly these years pass (even though as they say, the days are very long). So I am really trying to take the tantrums in stride and just go with the roller coaster that is life with little ones. Before you know it, Harper will be a teenager for real, and I’ll wish for those 3-year-old cuddles.

Max, 1 month

I’m a little late posting this, but I’m going on 5 weeks of poor sleep, so I think I can be forgiven.

Mr. Max just had his 1 month doctor’s appointment. He was 10 pounds 12 ounces and 22.5 inches long, so I think it’s safe to say he is growing well. He’s already gotten a cold from Harper, so I guess with a toddler around his immune system will be getting tested often. Props to whoever invented the snot sucker!

Max eats like a champ, though we’ve had some breastfeeding challenges. I saw a lactation consultant (and can we just take a moment to THANK GOD these people exist) and with practice and time, we got through our issues. Honestly, the fact that I had to pump extra bottles was kind of nice because then other people could feed him while I slept.

Also, thanks Obama for the free breast pump!

While the past month has been pretty stressful and sleepless at times, it was nothing like Harper’s overwhelming first month. There is a definite ease with the second baby, and it helps that he is pretty happy and loves to cuddle.

This time I know he will cry for no apparent reason, wake at all times of night, and expel every bodily fluid. Because that’s what newborns do. Accepting those challenges has made it a lot easier to appreciate the good things. I think I spent most of the first week just staring at Max and feeling weepy. Both because he’s wonderful and because it felt instantly like our family was complete. I just felt really lucky that so many of the things I wanted in life came to be.

Harper continues to be great with him. She’s a little rough at times, but she just wants to help. She asks to hold him a lot, which totally melts my heart.

While Harper was kind of an odd baby in the sense of not minding being cold and always wanting to be outside, Max likes to be super warm and he wants to be held all the time. Sometimes that’s hard, but at least he is willing to be worn in a carrier. He just passes out and makes these contented little noises.

He’s already trying hard to hold his head up, and he occasionally smiles. Once I put him on his activity mat and he darn near rolled over. He’s a strong little guy!

Mike’s parents were here for a few days when he was like 2 weeks old, and that was really nice. Since they had another grandson born the day before Max, they are really soaking up the grandbaby time.

Max had a lot of baby acne in the beginning, but now it’s starting to clear up and he’s starting to chub out.

He is bigger than Harper was, but oh my gosh they look so similar. I look back at pictures of her and I can’t tell who’s who. It’s amazing. I’m wondering if that will continue. He’s already getting that strawberry blond colored hair that she got.

As much as I’ve gotten used to my middle-of-the-night feedings with episodes of Felicity in the background (how is it I never watched that?), I am hoping that in the next month Max will start sleeping longer stretches and we can all catch up on sleep a little. Our shift system for nights has been great, but I think we’re ready for the next phase.

And here’s hoping that this little cuddlebug takes long naps when he finally gets on a schedule. And he will be getting on a schedule!

Maxwell Michael Corey

We welcomed baby Max at 8 a.m. on January 5. He was 8 pounds 1 ounce and 20.5 inches long. I wanted to share his birth story because it turned out so differently than what I had pictured and planned for. Despite the fact that I had been feeling like I was going to give birth for about 2 weeks, he had to be coaxed out in the end. I guess he just really likes to be cozy. We have not stopped snuggling him since he was born!

If you’re squeamish you might want to skip this part, but I feel like it’s important to include everything. So, at my 39-week appointment my doctor said that everything looked great and I was basically ready to have the baby. I had been feeling a lot of contractions and I suspected I would go into labor any time. So when she offered to strip my membranes to get things going, I said yes. The next day I lost my mucus plug, so I figured that would be the start of labor. Nope! Not only did it not work, my contractions pretty much completely stopped.

I should mention that this whole time my main concern was having a too-fast labor and not being able to get to the hospital in time. I feel like everyone I talked to with a second baby mentioned the speed. I was supposed to have 2 doses of antibiotics during labor for a positive strep B test, so I thought I might not be able to do that. My reference point was Harper’s birth, since everything happened so fast after my water broke.


Past 40 weeks and feeling like I was out of room!

So when I went to my 40 week appointment at 40 weeks and 5 days with no signs of labor, I suspected that my doctor was going to suggest induction. With my age, gestational diabetes diagnosis and the strep B thing, I knew I would be pushing it to go past 41 weeks. So I thought, maybe by Friday. But she said she recommended induction by Wednesday. And not only that, but she was working at the hospital that night (Monday), so we could actually go in that night for the induction. And that would be the only way to guarantee that I would have her as my doctor. Mike and I talked it over, and even though we were kind of freaked out to go that soon, we felt it was time. I didn’t think 2 days would make much of a difference. So we went home, had a nice dinner, and then headed back to the hospital at 8 p.m.

The nurse they gave me was really wacky — interesting in sort of a Bay Area middle-aged hippie way. But very awkward. She was nice, but she took forever to do all the paperwork and then missed getting my IV in twice. So by the time they gave me the Miso pill it was like 9:45. Side note: I couldn’t believe how tiny this pill was that was going to make me have a baby, and they cut it in half!


Realized later that this bruise was from the missed IVs.

Anyway, we hung out and waited for things to get going, which they did, probably around 1 a.m. By then I had a different nurse, who was super nice and supportive of our intention to avoid pain meds. But I was getting so annoyed at being hooked up to all the monitors, plus the IV for strep B antibiotics. It seemed like every time I moved a little, one of them slipped and someone would come in to fix it. If the baby’s heart rate dipped at all they wanted me to also wear oxygen and it just made me paranoid that they would end up pushing me to get a C-section or something. That part made me really long for laboring at home naturally.

By 2 a.m. they said my contractions were regular enough that I could forego another dose of Miso, so I just kept laboring. I used the birth ball a lot — it was awesome. By early morning the contractions were incredibly strong and close together and I was having a really hard time getting through them. I couldn’t even sit on the ball anymore, I had to stand up and lean on Mike. I was so ready to give up, I thought I must be going through transition. But my water hadn’t broken. With Harper, that was the thing that made everything change in a hurry, so I was desperate for that. I knew I had orders for pain medication at the ready and I was seriously starting to think I would need them, but Mike was very encouraging about the fact that I had done this before and I was going to get through it. I just did not experience that intensity level with Harper’s birth. Hers was WAY longer, but I was able to handle it better.

When my doctor came in at 7 a.m. to tell me she had to leave because her shift was over, I was bummed. But honestly I didn’t care who delivered the baby as long as he came out ASAP! She said I was only 5 cm dilated but seemed to be transitioning. She offered to break my water and I said definitely, yes. She said, I think you’ll have a baby by 10 a.m. At first I thought she had said 8:10 and we all laughed about that. But actually I knew it would be sooner than 10. Pretty much as soon as my doctor left, the contractions were just unbearably strong and I was a total mess. Lots of tears and saying “I can’t do this” and that sort of thing. Thankfully the crazier things got, the more calm Mike got. And the nurse helping me at the time had been there for 37 years, so she was cool as a cucumber. I did not think I could get through it, but before long my body was basically pushing the baby out. It didn’t take long at all before he was crowning and they were rushing in the next doctor. She barely got her gloves on before Max came out at 8 a.m. Maybe in 2-3 pushes. I can’t tell you the relief at that moment.

When Harper was born they took her to be checked, weighed and cleaned right away. But with Max they left him on my chest for a good long time. I really appreciated that.


I think our nurse had a little bit of photojournalist in her – I don’t even remember her taking these pictures.


Grammie meeting Max for the first time.

On reflection, I think my body reacted very strongly to the Miso and gave me contractions that were much more powerful and closer together than with natural labor. I’m not sure it was totally worth it to have no pain meds with that kind of pain. But at least it was over quickly. I still think the best way to labor with a healthy pregnancy is probably home birth. No monitors, no pressure to have interventions that pile up. Just trust in the process. But I’m at peace with this birth. We had a healthy boy in just a few hours.

The other great thing has been how much easier the last few days have been this time around. We were able to leave the hospital a day early, and they hardly bothered us at all while we were recovering. With Harper’s hospital stay, they were constantly interrupting us and we got no rest. Max did cry pretty much all night that first night in the hospital, but that’s how we learned he is a baby that LOVES to be held.

It felt like a miracle when he latched on to nurse pretty much right away. I have some of the same struggles with breastfeeding him as I did with Harper, but for the most part he’s eating great and gaining weight. He didn’t have jaundice and have to be under the lights like Harper. He seems to be a little more chill, but I think his personality is still a big question mark. He sure is a cutie pie, though. I just keep marveling at how tiny and soft he is. I know these moments will be gone so soon, so I am really trying to soak them up.

I was pretty worried about how Harper would react to Max, but she has been such a great big sister. As I suspected, she really wants to help when we are changing his diaper or putting him in his rocker. Sometimes 3-year-old help is not the most helpful, but we indulge her.

Of course my hormones are raging, but it’s very emotional seeing these two together. Our family does feel a lot more complete and it’s just nice to feel like so many of the things I wanted in life have come to fruition. Welcome, Max!

Waiting for baby


Shopping in the city at 37 weeks.

I have 9 days until my due date. Single digits now.

It’s a very strange place to be in…just waiting for your whole life to change. I’m glad I stopped working so early. I still have a couple orders to fulfill here and there, but mostly I can relax and do holiday-related things. Or take a nap.

I realized that my holiday seasons are always insanely hectic because I am either prepping for craft shows or taking a big trip, or both. It’s nice to just chill and bake cookies.

Harper has been super clingy lately, but I can’t tell if it’s because she knows she’s about to lose a lot of my attention or because she is almost 3. She’s in a big “mommy do it” phase. But it’s usually about some mundane thing that seems more about control than anything else. I am no expert with this stuff. I’m just trying to love on her an extra lot. She completely exhausts me sometimes, but she is such an extraordinary little person. It’s so hard to imagine what her little brother will be like. I’m dying to know!

My sister arrives on Thursday. In a perfect world, the baby will come while she’s here. But we all know their timing isn’t perfect!

Super bulky cowl

If you’re looking for a project that works up quickly (a la the arm-knit cowl), try this one. I can have one of these babies finished in half an hour!

At first this project came up out of necessity — my other cowl patterns were just taking too long to make, especially when I needed to make lots of them for shows. But now I think I would make this cowl anyway, just because it is so cute and so warm.

Super bulky cowl

Materials

• 4 skeins Lion Brand wool-ease thick and quick yarn in navy (or your favorite color). *Note: 2 skeins is actually just the right amount for this cowl, but you will have to separate them into 4 equal parts to make the cowl.
Other super bulky weight yarns would also work great for this.

• Size US 50/25 mm knitting needles (the biggest they have, baby)

• yarn needle to weave in ends

Instructions

Start by holding 4 strands of yarn together and tying a knot in the end. Leave a few inches of tail and then cast on 6 stitches.

Work in garter stitch (knitting every row) until the piece measures approximately 48 inches. Bind off, leaving about 12 inches of tail to sew up the seam.

Tie another knot on the end of the tail and then use it to seam the two ends of the cowl together. I usually just do this part with my hands. When you’re done, you can cut off the knots from both tails and then use the yarn needle to weave any remaining ends into the cowl. I usually make a few knots just so the seam is nice and secure. Then snip off any extra yarn.

The garter stitch pattern makes this cowl nice and stretchy, so you can wear it doubled up or let it hang longer like a scarf.