Friday, March 9, 2018

Around here

I have lots of thoughts about pregnancy, and how strange and sweet and scary it is but I have zero time to write about them. So here are some photos, and then a few thoughts at the bottom, which are probably pretty scattered.

painting in progress

tiny clothes

territorial

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Things I want to write about: body image during pregnancy, anxiety during pregnancy, the annoyance of nearly constant contractions that apparently don't mean anything, the fact that I've been so busy at work that I forgot to sign up for any of the classes our doctor asked us to sign up for and now it's too late and I feel like I'm already a bad parent, how our house basically hasn't been clean since my first trimester, that I seem to have lost my ability to read for pleasure because my brain is all over the place all the time but not the least bit foggy (thank god) just thinking about a million different things.

What I can write about:

- We painted the nursery! We decided on green pretty early on but then spent over a month painting more and more swatches on the wall while we tried to figure out the perfect shade and tone. I would like to say that the one we finally selected is absolutely the best thing ever but actually it was more just that we finally realized we had to make a decision, any decision. We have since second guessed it a million times but there is no way that we are taping up all that woodwork again, so I have decided I love it. (I do think it looks good, honestly - more pics once we have everything else in place in 3 years or so)

- I've been overwhelmed by all the love from our family and friends. It's been so amazing celebrating with everyone over the last month or so and I feel so grateful for the people we have in our lives. I had the most beautiful family baby shower (a joint one with my cousin - we are due less than a week a part, which is so much fun!) and then last weekend Emily hosted a gorgeous lunch with some of my dearest girlfriends. I tend to get really uncomfortable with being the guest of honor, but both of these parties were so thoughtful and felt just right (still can't get over the fact that Em made my favorite cookies, which are a huge pain and a true labor of love).

- I have been taking photos pretty much every week, which is so weird for me, but it's fun to look back. The one above is from 35 weeks. At this point, I'm not even sure how much my belly is changing. It doesn't seem noticeable bigger week to week lately. Maybe something crazy is going to happen during these last few weeks, though.

- Starting last week I feel like going to the hospital is my second job. I'm there 2 - 3 times a week for non-stress tests, growth scans, and regular old appointments. We had a complication (an SUA which seems to not be causing any problems, fingers crossed!), so there is a good reason for all the extra screening, and I'm so grateful that they are keeping a close eye on her, but man, it is a lot of appointments.

- I am on some kind of crazy fruit bender. Basically all I want to eat is blueberries this week, but last week it was oranges. I honestly haven't had much in the way of cravings* or aversions, but I think I'm going to bankrupt us with this produce habit.

 * Except for wanting Caesar salad ALL THE TIME throughout the entire pregnancy, which is hard because most good versions have raw egg and I've been trying to be good about following the rules even though it kills me to give up runny egg yolks. I can't tell you how many restaurants have gotten phone calls from me asking about their dressing ingredients. In a pinch, I'll make it at home using Brianna's Asiago Caesar, which is the best bottled version I've found.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Christmas 2017

It was a pretty emotional holiday season this year. A lot was the same - we had the gingerbread house party, I baked a million cookies, we decorated the house.

cookie assembly line

christmas cookies 2017

christmas cookies 2017

christmas gifts

gingerbread house party 2017

holiday mantle

yule log 2017!

Yayoi Kasuma

But a lot was different too. I'm pregnant, and it felt extra special during this season. Something about pairing the holidays with this fleeting period in my life felt big. I mean, yes, it was a little sad to skip all the festive cocktails, and I had to buy a couple of holiday maternity dresses that I'll never wear again, but I was extra aware of how short this time is, and it felt crazy to think that this is the last year it will be just the two of us.

My sister moved back down right before the holidays and the best part of the season was getting to spend a ton of time with her family. My niece and nephew light up our lives, and being able to see them for casual hang outs or to have them stay with us for a few days is so, so sweet. I'm not sure how we survived apart for the last three years.

And yet, it was the first year without my stepmom, the first year where we didn't go to my dad's house and sit around the tree. It's been the hardest part of the pregnancy, knowing that I can't tell them this news, wishing we could all be together again. I waited a long time to announce to our families and friends, because telling people really highlighted the fact that I was missing two of the most important people. I take comfort in our time with family, and knowing that my dad and Claudia would have been thrilled. I'm in this crazy space of feeling happy and excited and broken all at once. I navigate it as best I can.

A few more prosaic notes about the holidays this year -

I made a lot of cookies. This year I did my usual almond crescents, melomakarona, and gingerbread, and then added in my favorite rosemary butter cookies and some peppermint pinwheels (which are so cute and tasty, but I only make them every few years because I forget just how annoying they are - the dough always wants to crack and rolling the layers up sucks, and usually one roll looks perfect and the other one is all wonky and sad). As usual, I packaged them up using boxes from Papermart and then printed some labels for them (I just buy some full sheet labels and cut them up after printing). The little decorations are from my stash of wrapping supplies. We made the laser cut snowflakes a few years ago, and the mini ornaments are from Ikea.

Emily and I were able to make our yule logs together this year and it was so much fun. Also a little exhausting. We followed my notes from last year and it went pretty smoothly.

We didn't exchange any gifts but we did get a few things for the kids, and we bought a bunch of lottery scratchers as a Christmas Eve activity (buying scratchers in bulk really proves how terrible an investment it is - we've done this two years in a row and have never come close to making our money back but it's fun).

The week after Christmas D and I waited in line for five hours (!!!) to get tickets to Yayoi Kusama's Infinity Mirrors show. I'm normally incredibly impatient about lines but I can do it if I'm mentally prepared. It helped that the Broad is so close to Grand Central Market, so I took a couple walk breaks to grab good coffee and finally got breakfast sandwiches at Eggslut (which I've always refused to do because the line is usually 40 minutes long, but when it's a choice between waiting in one line or waiting in another it's less frustrating). The show was really fun, and I think the baby will appreciate that we documented her first (?) time in a room of adorable stuffed phalluses.

I'll be back with more posts soon, although they might be about pregnancy for the time being. I'm not sure what else I would write about, since I've more or less stopped cooking, and I'm currently just re-reading the complete collection of Miss Marple mysteries.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Gingerbread house party 2017 - toddler edition!

Whew. It's been a while, guys.* But I can't let December close out without documenting this year's gingerbread house party, which was pretty special. When I was looking at our guest list (um, two weeks ago, because this fall has been insane and I feel like I'm constantly behind) I realized that all our regulars have kids that are old enough to more or less work independently. So obviously it made sense to make this a toddler focused party, which is both much more fun and much more chaotic.

gingerbread house party 2017

gingerbread house party 2017

gingerbread house party 2017

gingerbread house party 2017

tuckered out

We had 7 toddlers (okay, one of them was a straight up baby, so he didn't participate this year) and 19 adults, which I was afraid was really pushing the limits of our house but it worked out so well. We only made houses for the kids, since even I am not crazy enough to try to tackle close to 30 gingerbread houses. Having a kid focused party was a little different than anything we'd done before, so I wanted to make sure that we had things set up for them.

The biggest adaptation we made was to set up a toddler height table, and this was a lifesaver. I had nightmares of trying to prevent kids from falling off of benches and chairs the entire afternoon, and bringing the game down to their level meant that we could supervise without having to hover anxiously. We just pulled out our long office table (which is just an Ikea tabletop) and temporarily swapped the hairpin legs for simple coffee table height legs which D picked up at Lowes for $30 ($5/leg, 6 legs needed for a table our length). The legs take up almost no space, so we can easily stash them away which is good because I think this is what our party is going to look like for a few more years.

I also ditched the pastry bags, because let's be honest, even adults have some difficulty managing those things and we didn't want to deal with royal icing explosions. I originally ordered a few squeeze bottles that have icing tip adapters (I ordered these ones from Michael's - I looked alllllll over to find ones that weren't teeny tiny, since most are intended for decorating sugar cookies and only hold a few ounces) but then realized that the kids don't really need fancy tips yet, so I also grabbed a six pack of condiment bottles from Smart & Final for way cheaper. The tips on these are pretty narrow, so I snipped them off a bit to get a wider opening. To fill them, I loaded the icing into a pastry bag and then piped it into the bottles (the necks are a bit narrow, so spooning icing in would take forever). These worked great! The kids still needed some help, but we had zero explosions.

We also covered our rug in plastic tablecloths, for obvious reasons, and put all appetizers (and the hot spiked cider) up on tables out of kid reach.

It was a little nutty in the best way possible, and I think the kids ended up having a really good time. I'm glad we managed to pull it off, even though it was a little last minute this year.

(See lots of details on past gingerbread house parties here, including the recipe I use, how I do the stained glass windows, and how we glue the houses together, and a general overview post of the party logistics)



* I miss this space! I miss you guys. Thank you for the sweet comments and concern. This year has been a little crazy and I'm barely keeping up with general life but I do want to make a point of getting back here more often. I'll have a few more posts up soon, on general holiday and life stuff.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Ladies' trip to Palm Springs

Jumping back in time to the beginning of May, when I got to spend a weekend with some ladyfriends from college/beyond. We don't all live in the same city anymore, and when we do get to see each other we're usually surrounded by children and husbands (not knocking this - our group is pretty fun and their kids are adorable). But getting away for a couple days was exactly what we needed. We rented an AirBnB with a pool and movie screening room and we drank and ate and talked and re-watched 10 Things I Hate About You and talked more and generally had the most relaxing, life affirming weekend. Oh, and we got massages. It felt indulgent but was actually not too bad cost-wise, since we split the rental four ways and cooked almost all of our meals.

Palm Springs

Ernest Coffee

Mirage

Mirage

Also, Palm Springs continues to get better and better. It's always been lovely, but the food and drink offerings were lackluster. I'm happy to report that things are looking up.

What we did (besides lying around the house, which occupied most of our time):

Coffee at Ernest Coffee - we went four times over the course of three days. It's that great. The place is adorable and has legitimately great coffee (when I was there they had a date shakerato that was out of this world) but also has boozy coffee options for late afternoons (their Irish coffee was so much better than any other version I've ever had that it could have been a different drink altogether). And here's the really fun part - the back half of the coffee house is a tiny, adorable tiki bar that opens up in the evening. Which leads me to ...

 Drinks at Bootlegger Tiki - as I mentioned, it's tiny and only has a few booths, but you can also take your drinks outside to the Ernest Coffee patio. Tiki drinks are one of those things that I would never in a million years consider making at home (so many ingredients, so incredibly sweet) but I love a good tiki bar, especially on vacation. This is a good one.

Breakfast at Cheeky's - always worth a stop.

Morning run to the Doug Atkin installation, Mirage. Running up that hill was brutal, but the sweet reward was an utterly deserted mirror house at the top. When D and I went to see it back in March it was crowded and still blew me away. Seeing it completely empty was next level. The website says it closed on April 30th, but we were there the following week and it was definitely still open (there was a guard and everything). Maybe they've extended it?

Friday, May 26, 2017

East coast vacation

Whew. This was a great trip but we really maxed it out while trying to take as few vacation days as possible, leaving super early on Saturday morning and then getting back close to midnight the following Sunday. Normally I try to make sure we get a day at home to recover before going back to work but the timing wasn't right here. We were going to a wedding in Scranton, PA so we decided to tack on a couple of side trips to visit old friends and really make the most out of it. Totally worth it.

Queen's Museum area
{flushing meadows corona park}

Posing at the Whitney
{the whitney}

Ellsworth Kelly
{ellsworth kelly at the whitney}

Samara Golden
{samara golden at the whitney}

The Happiest Hour
{the happiest hour}

Lygia Pape
{lygia pape at the met breuer}

Sol Lewitt at Mass MOCA
{sol lewitt at mass moca}

Spencer Finch at Mass MOCA
{spencer finch at mass moca}

Power outage
{power outage!}

Deer!
{deer in williamstown}

Wedding cocktail hour
{wedding cocktail hour - scranton}

day after coffee
{day after coffee - scranton}

We flew into NYC and spent a few days hanging out with various friends, visiting museums and spending way too much money on drinks. But we made up for it by crashing with our friend Beth the whole time (I think I've posted this before, but I find it incredibly life affirming that you can have people you love so dearly that squashing yourselves into a studio apartment is a joy). We try to make it out to visit her every couple years and whenever we're there I have these glimpses of our alternate life. We were thisclose to moving when D was choosing a grad school, but we made the prudent financial decision to go with in-state tuition in CA vs. private school (and higher living costs) in NYC. I think we made the right call because we'd probably be bankrupt in Manhattan and I don't know how I would have managed my family stuff long distance, but I still get pangs. Lots of pangs.

Highlights of this NYC trip: 
Flushing Meadows Corona Park and the Queen's Museum (and ridiculously good dim sum in Flushing beforehand) - I hadn't seen the Panorama piece and it was really fun.
The Whitney - that Samara Golden piece in the biennial was breaking my brain but D figured it out right away.
The Met - for the Rei Kawakubo exhibit, of course.
The Met Breuer - now in the former Whitney building. The Lygia Pape exhibition was great.
Breakfast at Sadelle's - super fancy bagel breakfast. It's pricey but you could also go to the bar and order bagels a la carte.
Soft serve from Big Gay Ice Cream Shop - the Bea Arthur is my jam.
Lovely Szechuan style noodles at Hao Noodle and Tea.
Drinks at Seamstress - crazy long menu but everything we tried was wonderful.
Drinks at The Happiest Hour - the interior alone is enough to make you feel happy.
Drinks at Death & Co with my lady LMO.
A couple of exercise classes to try to balance it all out - we both got ClassPass* trials this month specifically because we knew we'd be going on this trip and it seemed like a good time to test it out. I'm happy to report that it was super easy to use. I've always resisted because I was afraid it would be a huge pain. I'm going to see if we use it enough at home to justify keeping it.

We rented a car with Beth and drove out to Williamstown, MA to visit our other dear friend (last time we were together was for her beautiful wedding!). Dustin and I met the two of them 19 years ago (!) at a really dorky educational summer camp and they are still our people. I feel so lucky to have them in my life and even though we only get to see each other every couple years it always feels like we're picking right back up. Our plan is to eventually retire together on a compound, Golden Girls style.

Massachusetts (we only had one full day here, but we tried to make the most of it):
The Clark - make sure to hike up the hill in back
Mass MOCA - mostly for the massive Sol LeWitt exhibit but the Nick Cave currently on view is wonderful.
Delicious breakfast at Five Corners - they had hibiscus kombucha on tap and it was the first time I've really understood the craze.
Pizza from Hot Tomatoes, which we were incredibly grateful for because we had just paid for our order when the entire town had a major power outage due to a sudden storm and everything closed down immediately. They finished cooking our pizza in the dark and we drove home and ate dinner by candlelight.
A morning run where I spotted a deer during the first five minutes and then got to run along the river, heaven.

Annnnnd then we proceeded down to Scranton, PA for the big event of the trip. The wedding was beautiful and so full of love and it had a great dance floor, which I really appreciate. It's kind of a blur but I don't think I sat down for more than 5 minutes. We were mostly doing wedding stuff, so we didn't get out much in Scranton but we had a really good time at the few places we went.

Backyard Alehouse - ridiculous selection of beers
Texas wieners at Coney Island of Scranton - the name, like the Texas wiener itself (which is a hot dog sandwich with chili on it), is somewhat inexplicable but I have no regrets.
Coffee at Adezzo and also at Northern Light



* I feel like they're always offering deeply discounted ClassPass trials, so maybe google for that first, but you can also get $30 off by signing up through this link (full disclosure - I also get $30 credit if you use it, so if you hate me you should probably not click on it) which might be better than the promo running at any given time.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Checking in

I'm traveling a lot (for me) in May and June and I want to post about all of it, soon (I swear - check back tomorrow). I haven't been taking my actual camera anywhere, since I feel like snapping quick cell phone photos is so much easier and keeps me more in the moment but I'm always a little sad when I get home and realize I don't have any high quality photos. I know, cry me a river.

BUT in the meantime I can't resist a super quick check in.

Watching: The Handmaid's Tale is my new favorite thing every week. I have read the book a million times but not in years, and no, I didn't re-read it before jumping into the series. I know the show departs from the book, but I think they made good choices and I love, love, love seeing it brought to life. There are some scenes that are just so deeply creepy and apparently my imagination is not as good as beautiful camerawork. I find Margaret Atwood's books fascinating (Bodily Harm was part of my thesis project in college - read it if you like being majorly bummed out) and she's involved with writing and producing the show which makes me happy. Bonus - I liked this essay she wrote about the book/show back in March.

We watched the second season of Master of None while we were in NYC (bingeing on TV shows on vacation is a long standing tradition with my crew and I absolutely do not think it is a waste of our time together). I hate to say this but I was SO frustrated with most of the second half of the season. Ugh, love and poor life choices. We were basically heckling the TV by the end. Bonus - NPR interview with Aziz Ansari. I have always suspected that his mom doesn't love acting. Ha.

Reading: Um, still not much action here worth mentioning. I've re-read about 20 Elizabeth Peter's books, eagerly awaiting the release of her posthumous novel in July. It's taken so long for them to get it out that I'm very concerned it will be terrible.

Listening: We listened to the entire first season of My Dad Wrote a Porno while we were driving around the east coast last week and were in hysterics the entire time. Like, it should probably be illegal to listen to it while operating a moving vehicle. I think it goes without saying, based on the title, but it is most definitely not safe for work (or public, or anywhere that children might stumble in unexpectedly).


Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Trader Joe's love - beans

Soooo .... I promised I would get some TJ's posts up and it turns out it's harder than I expected to get semi-decent photos of canned food. Andy Warhol, I am not. But I took some shots and was excited to start posting and then when I was uploading them I realized I am starting with the world's most boring category - beans. I mean, these are pantry staples in my house and I rely on them but I probably should have jumped in with some of the more exciting TJ's options (frozen meals! refrigerated dips! cookies!). But this is what I have and I'm tired of seeing product photos of swimsuits at the top of the blog, so maybe even beans would be an improvement?

Also, I'm on a super tight food budget for the next few months* which might put a damper on fun food spending, but I'll try to keep taking photos as I buy stuff and share it whenever I can. Worst case scenario, I can always resort to taking cell phone photos in the store. Ha. (But really - I could probably make that work if I had the portrait mode setting. I'm trying to make my phone last until the new iPhone is released but in the meantime I'm just jealous of everyone with the 7 plus)

Am I rambling to try to avoid posting really boring photos of canned beans? MAYBE.

Trader Joe's Beans

These are the three types of beans I always have on hand and they're the best for super quick meal options.

The salsa style refried pinto beans have been my favorite refried bean option for at least the last two decades. They're not that different than what you'd pick up at the regular store but they have a bit of heat and flavor that I love. There was a dark period back in 2006ish when they were temporarily unavailable for a year or two and I was afraid I'd never see them again. And then they reappeared, in an organic reincarnation! There isn't much to say about refried beans, honestly, but these make a great burrito and I'm not even ashamed to admit that if I'm feeling lazy I'll just eat them room temp with tortilla chips. $1.99/ can

Trader Joe's Salsa Style Refried Beans
Trader Joe's Salsa Style Refried Beans

The Cuban style black beans are an amazing quick meal option. They're just regular black beans but jazzed up with some extra flavor. They make a great side dish, especially when paired with rice, but my favorite way to use them is to heat up a corn tortilla directly over the flame so it gets a little crispy, put some beans on it and then add a fried egg on top. Best served with salsa or hot sauce, sour cream is optional but delicious. They are in a bit of (flavorful) liquid which you can soak up with rice, but I'll drain them if I'm eating them on tortillas. $0.99/can

Trader Joe's Cuban Black Beans
Trader Joe's Cuban Black Beans

Gigantes are one of my very favorite Greek dishes so I was super excited when I saw them at Trader Joe's a few months back. They call them giant baked beans in tomato sauce (catchy, right?) and that's a fairly accurate description of what you're getting. I won't say it's exactly the same as the best homemade version, but they're really good. These are great hot or cold and they're perfect as part of a mezze spread with pita, hummus, olives, etc. I will sometimes just eat them straight out of the can and call it lunch. $1.99/can

Trader Joe's Giant Baked Beans
Trader Joe's Giant Baked Beans

* I haven't been great about tracking our expenses since the holidays and when I finally sat down to do it I realized we've been majorly overspending on groceries since, oh, Thanksgiving. I decided to try to catch us up, but it means slashing our monthly grocery budget for the next four-ish months to make up the difference. I'm hoping that if I can keep us on a pretty tight weekly budget I'll still have enough left for a few fun grocery splurges during that time, but we'll see how bleak it gets around here.