Belly butter

I have heard that if you’re going to get stretch marks in pregnancy, you’re going to get stretch marks. And no amount of cream is really going to prevent that. But I still feel like I should be doing something, as I can finally see my belly starting to emerge. So I’m trying this belly butter from Burt’s Bees. It sort of reminds me of the L’Occitane almond milk cream I indulged in once. Except that instead of being $44, it was $12.99.

New in the store: Rope baskets

A while back someone asked me on Ravelry if I had a pattern for rope baskets, similar to my poufs. At the time I said no, but I realized that an unstuffed pouf looks pretty darn close to a basket if you stand it up.

So I fiddled with the pattern until I got the right dimensions for a basket that would stand upright. And I just love how it turned out. I could use a few of these myself for all the projects I have lying around!

If you want to get one, they’re here.

A pouf of my own

Originally, this pouf was a return order. The color did not come out right, and then it went through an insane epidode with FedEx where it was accidentally shipped back to New York then back to me again. At one point I was told it had been destroyed. By the time it got here I was calling it the pouf from hell.

But, alas, I did not give up on it. I decided I would keep it for myself, dye it a much more attractive color, and use it as a footstool in our soon-to-be nursery. I opted for a nice neutral chocolate brown, and I really like it. I ended up mixing two browns together in hopes that the darker one would drown out the orange without making it too dark.

I think you could call it a pouf redeemed.

Pupusas

One of the things we most loved to do in Des Moines was go to the farmers market on Saturdays and get a pupusa from the pupusa stand. We haven’t been able to find any pupusas in California that come close to how good those were. The ones here are too small, too perfectly round (as if a machine made them), and don’t have enough filling. The Des Moines ones are stuffed so full the filling starts to ooze out the sides until it gets crispy on the grill. YUM.

So I finally decided, why not try making them ourselves?

The reason I thought we might actually be able to pull it off is that a few years ago Mike spent a morning with the El Salvadoran grandmother that runs the pupusa stand and learned how to make them. And while I didn’t expect us to get to that level of pupusa-making any time soon, I thought we could at least get close. My favorite filling was the bean/cheese combination, so we went with that.

Here’s the recipe we used for the corn masa and filling.

Here’s the recipe we used for the coleslaw/curtido.

Mike notes that for the filling we used red beans instead of kidney beans and Oaxaca cheese instead of jack. For the curtido he sliced everything using the food processor, and cut the carrots into coins instead of grating them.

We doubled the filling recipe and did 1 1/2 times the masa recipe. In the end we had way too much filling, so we either should have left that the same or did a full 2x the masa. I think we got about 8 good-sized pupusas.

It definitely takes a while to do all the steps, so it helps to have another person cooking with you. We cooked the beans first and let the coleslaw marinate for at least a couple hours before we made the rest.

Once you have your masa mixed up, make sure it’s always covered so it doesn’t dry out.

Basically your technique is to take a ball of masa, and using your thumbs, start to make an indentation in the center. Then you’ll pinch the edges until you have what looks like a little ceramic bowl, maybe 1/3-inch thick. Try to make it as uniform as possible. Place some filling in the center (my favorite was about 1/2 bean, 1/2 cheese) and fold the edges in until it looks like a taco. Then you carefully press the edges closed, and start pressing the whole thing flat until it becomes a disc about 1/2-inch thick and 6 inches long.


I should have taken more photos of this process. Sorry!

The masa wants to crack, so you just have to keep pressing it closed and trying to keep the filling close to the edges, but still inside. If a little bit is sticking out, it’s OK.

Then you oil a hot griddle and cook them for a few minutes on each side until they start to get browned. It takes a fair amount of oil to make sure your pupusa is fully coated and doesn’t get too dry.

To serve,  you add a big scoop of coleslaw and some salsa verde and you’re good to go.

The first couple we made were pretty good, but once we got the hang of it we started making some really good ones. I wouldn’t say they were farmers market level, but they were the best ones we’ve had in California, for sure. Success!

Dog beach!

Over the weekend we decided that instead of taking the dogs to the dog park like we normally do, we would take them to one of the dog beaches in the area. We picked Fort Funston because it was just over in San Francisco, and because it’s a well-known spot for hang gliding, which sounded cool (to watch, that is).

People literally launch off the side of a cliff and zoom around the beach overhead. It looked like a lot of fun.

It was a little treacherous to get down to the beach. We had to maneuver down this sandy path, and then of course maneuver up it on the way back. But it was totally worth it. The dogs loved it. And a day by the ocean wasn’t too bad for us either.

I didn’t think we could get Sadie to go in the water, but she dipped her toes in.

We found a stray ball, and she loved playing catch with it. Reggie is a big fan of water so it was no problem to get her in.

We probably could have stayed a really long time (the dogs seem to have endless energy when they have their freedom), but then Sadie discovered that she could chase birds down the beach and disappear from sight. So we had to call it a day. But I think we’ll definitely do this again.

Some thoughts on starting a family

I apologize in advance for this being a jumble of thoughts, but well, here goes:

You have no idea what a great relief it is to me to finally feel comfortable saying I am going to have a baby. (Or maybe you do.) The past few months have felt like years. If you decide, like we did, that you want to surprise your friends and family with this news, you have to deal with the consequences of being alone with that information. The loneliest time is definitely when you are trying and it’s not working. In the end, it only took us a few months to conceive. But during those months we didn’t have any idea if things were normal or if there was any reason it wasn’t working. I was really naive going into the process. I guess after so many years of trying as hard as I could not to get pregnant, I just assumed it would happen right away. Even though I had read plenty of articles saying it most likely wouldn’t, I still thought it would.

The days of waiting to take a test were excruciating. And I finally understood the pain of seeing just one blue line. Not knowing if I was just starting down a long infertility journey made me instantly sympathize with those who had. There is no pain quite like it. Reading Holly Finn’s The Baby Chase just broke my heart. I think those days of waiting seemed much longer because we have come to a real baby boom among our friends and family. At the same time as you are staring at that one blue line, it seems like yet another person is announcing their pregnancy or newborn on Facebook. How can you not want to be a part of all of that joy?

Our decision to have a baby now was a pretty easy one. Once we moved, we were totally overwhelmed with getting settled in California, so we didn’t even think about it then. It wasn’t until early this year when my business got to a place where I had wanted it to be for a long time that it really felt like the right time. Mike was 100% on board (and will make the most incredible father, by the way). But it was strange for me — once I got to the jumping off point I got a little tentative. I felt like if I had the option physically, I would rather wait longer, until I really felt like my business was successful and we were a little more stable. And then I was a little upset that I felt like I didn’t have a choice. If we wanted to have as good a chance as possible of having potentially more than one healthy baby, we needed to start sooner rather than later. So I guess what I’m trying to say is that I went into it with a mix of feelings. But once we were trying, all I wanted was that second blue line. I really couldn’t believe it when I finally got it. It was so faint I thought it might be wrong. So I took another test. Still 2 blue lines.

Then came the next thing I was clueless about. I called the ob/gyn, expecting them to have me come in for a blood test or some kind of confirmation. But they said they don’t do that and to just make my first prenatal appointment. I would have to be at least 8 weeks for that. I was like what?! You expect me to wait 4 more weeks to make sure this is really real? And let me tell you, those were four more painfully long weeks. It was also just disappointing. You have so many questions in the beginning about what you’re supposed to do or not do, what’s safe to eat and drink, what to do if something goes wrong, etc. And the first trimester is really key for baby development, so you don’t want to screw up in those first weeks. But I guess you have to take to Google to get your questions answered.

Another beef, which I’m guessing a lot of people can relate to: Our insurance says that it covers all prenatal visits. But when we got to the first appointment, which seemed pretty darn prenatal to me, they told us that this was a confirmation visit and that we’d have to pay the copay. And the next visit we’d have to pay too. WTF? Still trying to resolve that one.

While this was going on I was seeing a lot of conversations online about how little maternity leave women are getting. And how even if they get leave time, a lot of them have to take a pay cut during that time. That just makes my blood boil. We pay so much lip service in this country to how family is the most important thing. But really when it comes down to it, we force people to make work a priority. I am lucky that I have the flexibility in my career to work or not work as many weeks as I need and can afford. But between not getting paid time off and devoting whole paychecks to daycare, I think young families have a lot of struggles they shouldn’t have to have.

I’m also envious of other countries where choosing a midwife or a home birth is completely culturally accepted and paid for, rather than a controversial hippie thing to do. Thankfully, that does seem to be changing, but it still seems like going off the obgyn/hospital birth path is something you have to really seek out, rather than just another normal option. We still haven’t decided what we’re going to do yet. But based on our experience so far, I think we will look for a midwife to deliver the baby, most likely in a hospital. But I’d love to hear about what other people did, and how they felt about it. I feel like running in the yoga/Nia circles I did for so long, I met a lot of women who said that they had a traditional hospital birth the first time and had a bad experience. But when they chose something more natural the second time, they were much happier. So I want to consider that. But I’ve heard plenty of people who were just as happy with an epidural or a C-section, so it’s hard to say what is better.

On a more positive note, I love that it’s possible now to see the baby on an ultrasound when it’s only 8 weeks. It really moves you to see that little gummi bear in there with the tiniest little heart beating. I could watch that all day long. The second ultrasound was even better because the baby finally looked more like a baby, and you could see its little arms and legs kicking.


Baby Corey, 12 weeks.

I always thought I would be happy if it took a while to start showing, but now I can’t wait to have more belly so I can really feel like there’s a baby in there. Even though I know it’s moving, I still can’t see or feel anything, so sometimes it’s hard for the experience to seem real. I’m sure I will take all that back once I am huge, but that’s how I feel right now. My belly is definitely bigger, but more in a plumpy sort of way than a pregnant way.

And as I said before, I was just not expecting the first trimester to be so intense. You really start feeling the changes in your body right away (or at least I did). The nausea/fatigue is like an overwhelming fog that saps your motivation to do anything. I don’t know how people do it with really demanding jobs or other little ones to raise. I think you must just power through it, distracted by everything else in your life. The last two months have been super slow, sales-wise, so that’s kind of made it easier to focus on how bad I feel rather than what I need to get done. Hopefully things will start picking up more come fall.

On the plus side I have been feeling so much better the last few days. I’m getting my energy back, and I feel motivated to get back into my old routines again. I can eat meals at normal times, and now I’m starting to feel extra hungry. I’ve really been craving fruit, especially melon the last few weeks. I think it’s because I haven’t been getting enough water, so I’m getting it through fruit. I cannot get enough melon!

Oh, and I have definitely been having weird pregnancy dreams, but they’re not what I thought they would be. Instead of being like nightmares, they’re more like these weird storylines that I may or may not be involved in. They play out very organized, like movies. It’s hard to explain, but it’s different than how I dreamed before.

Well, I think that’s everything that’s been swirling around my mind the past few months. It feels like we’re getting to the fun part of this, making lists of things we need and scanning baby boards on Pinterest. It’s overwhelming, but so exciting at the same time.

Vegan soul food

I have been wanting to try Souley Vegan for a long time. So when a vegan friend of Mike’s was in town, we had the perfect excuse. As you can probably guess from the name, they serve all-vegan soul food in a big space in the Jack London Square area of Oakland.

I tried the southern fried tofu sandwich, which was really good. It can be tough to make a block of tofu taste good, but they managed it with a crispy cornmeal crust. Plus, the sandwich was big and hearty, much more than I expected. I could barely get my mouth around it!

Mike got the grits with gumbo and southern fried tofu, while our friends tried some of the other sides. The mashed potatoes and cornbread looked good — I’ll have to try those next time, along with the BBQ tofu — the mac ‘n cheese less so. Maybe that’s just something that is tough to make vegan. We loved the fried okra, but thought the sweet potato fries (really chips) were so-so. Their specialty lemonades and cupcakes looked really yummy.

Overall, I’m so impressed with an entire restaurant devoted to vegan food, although you definitely don’t have to be vegan or vegetarian to appreciate it.

Ready or not…

We’re finally ready to tell the world we’re having a baby!

Our little peanut is set to arrive on Feb. 8. Everything is going really well so far, and that is a great relief to me. The baby has actually been so active that doctors have had a hard time getting a good picture. I think I’m in for a lot of kicking soon.

I wish I could say that I was one of those lucky women who didn’t experience morning sickness. But the nausea and fatigue I’ve been having the last few weeks has really knocked me down. Despite everything I’d heard about the first trimester being really hard, I wasn’t expecting to feel as badly as I did. This pregnancy thing is not for wimps!

I have a lot to say about this whole process so far, but I need a little more time to put my thoughts together. For now I’ll just say that we’re happy as can be.