Month: July 2012

How I’m Dealing with Morning Sickness

  Not well!  …and that’s the end of the post folks!

  I’m kidding, I’m kidding!
  Mostly.
  Morning sickness is really killing me this time around.  I had a little bit of it with G, but nothing like this.  Partly it’s harder to handle because I have G around (having a 2 and a half year old throw themselves violently and repeatedly into your lap isn’t the most nausea calming thing on earth), but partly it’s just worse this time.
  Good thing the second pregnancy is turning out to be the tough one or G may have just wound up an only child.
  Now, the info out there says that morning sickness is actually a good sign..that it means your hormones are doing what they’re supposed to and helping to make your baby be healthy…but as somebody who is currently dealing with morning sickness, I can’t help but suspect that’s just a line to keep first trimester-ers from killing everyone actually capable of comfortably eating around them.
  So we’re going to talk coping.  Things that help, even if they can’t completely cure it.
  Temperature

  This may be a little more my own personal weakness than the others, but I figure it’s worth mentioning in case it can help anybody else.  If I get hot, I get sick.  I’ve always been a little prone to nausea if I overheat, but it’s bad with the morning sickness.  I don’t like being cold, but I’ve found that if I can keep myself just slightly cooler than I like, it keeps the nausea pretty well at bay.  Too bad this has been one of the hottest summers ever, huh?  Ice packs are a god-send and cool baths are a great help when I can manage them.

  Lots and Lots of Small Meals

  This is one that G makes just about impossible for me.  When I was pregnant with him I worked in an office where I could keep a little stash of bland cereal or peanuts on my desk and munch throughout the day.  Keeping something in my stomach at all times helps keep me from getting really sick, but with his sticky little fingers around I have to just about set a timer to remind myself to eat regularly.  And then I have to make sure what I’m eating is fine for him to share (because as any mom will tell you, there is no food in the world as delicious as “whatever mom is eating”) and hope that we’re not so close to a meal that I’m going to be ruining his appetite.  This is a great trick if you can pull it off, but if you’re pregnant with anything but your first child…godspeed, I’m with you.

  Sour Juice (or Food)

  I don’t entirely understand why this works.  The theories I’ve seen have to do with sour flavors increasing saliva production.  I’m not up on my medical knowledge enough to see how a little more spit would convince my stomach to play nice instead of continuing to treat me like a particularly heinous war criminal it wants to punish…but for whatever reason, it works.  Grapefruit juice has been my sour poison-of-choice, but dill pickles are a classic pregnancy food for a reason.
  Motion Sickness Bands
  See those totally sexy sweatband lookin things in the picture above?  As much as I’d love to claim I’m starting a new craze for athletics related accessories, those are my SeaBands.  When the Mr. first brought them home for me I had great aspirations of finding some cool cuff bracelets to slap on top of them so I could wear them without looking quite so dorky…but now that I’ve had them for a few weeks they’ve become more of a “I seriously don’t feel good” thing as opposed to a constant-wear solution.  They do help, but if you wear them for too long at a time they start to hurt where the stud on them hits the pressure point.  I wore them for 3 days straight when I first got mine and finally had to take them off when I developed bruised little stigmata spots from the constant pressure.

  Ginger

  Ginger tea, ginger gum, ginger ale…you see this one touted all over the place.  I love ginger, and it did help me with the nausea when I was pregnant with G…but I can’t say that it’s done much for me this time.  I’m not going to turn down a can of Vernor’s if I have the choice, but I’m not going to count on it defusing a “I want to throw myself off a bridge I’m so nauseous” moment either.

  Beans

  This was one I hadn’t heard of before, but has very quickly turned into my saving grace.  I was complaining to the Mr. that I really wanted a pan of brownies, but that I didn’t think the morning sickness would even let me keep them down when he sent me this recipe.  I figured a woman with that many children probably knew a thing or two about morning sickness, so beans it was!  I definitely see an improvement in how my stomach feels when I make sure to eat them…and on my worst nights (my nausea seems to peak at dinner time, lucky me) a bowl or two of refried beans with cheese and hot sauce not only doesn’t make me sicker, it actually helps me feel better.

  These are just the things I’ve found that help me.  There are other ideas out there and different things work differently depending on the mother (and the pregnancy!).  Just keep trying stuff, hang in there, and remember it’s not a permanent condition!

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Ham and Swiss Tartine

  Those of you who have been reading for a while already know that I’m a big fan of occasionally throwing a sweet twist into a traditionally savory meal.  Well, look out ham sandwiches, I’m at it again.

  This recipe wasn’t exactly found anywhere, but it was inspired by the late Gourmet magazine’s Ham, Manchego and Fig Tartines.  …but they wanted snooty ingredients like manchego*, so…we’re messing with it a bit.
  Here’s what you need:
Good bread (I like sourdough)
Butter
Swiss cheese
Sliced deli ham
Jam (fig if you can find it, but raspberry is also delicious)
*Please note, I am all for snooty ingredients when they make a difference, I just personally have a hard time detecting a flavor difference between manchego and swiss that justifies the price difference in this application.

  There are two ways you can go about starting the construction of this sandwich.  You can either mix together your jam and butter and spread it on all at once, or, “why would I do THAT?” types like me, you can just spread the butter on and then put the jam on top.  Either way, layer your ham on top and cover it with cheese.  Now, depending on if you want your bread toasted or not, either cook it in a pan (like a grilled cheese) or throw it under the broiler in your oven.  Either way, you want your cheese nice and melted.  Serve it warm and enjoy, that’s all you have to do!
  G pulled his into the different components before eating it, but enjoyed all the pieces.  And I…well I ate 3 of these myself.  Hey…no judging, I have my reasons.

Announcing…

  Well, since I’ve spaced out on two posts in one week, I guess now is as good a time as any to announce a really big project I’ve started working on…

  Things are still quite early, but I’ve been fighting morning sickness and exhaustion pretty badly.  I’m going to do my best to keep to my regular posting schedule of 6 days a week, but if I zone out and miss a day, don’t worry, I’m probably just fast asleep on my couch, dreaming of pickles and ice cream.
  I will be taking a slight vacation from writing for the week of August 7th through the 13th or 14th to attend the wedding of my cousin.  I wanted to have posts prepared ahead of time for you guys, but as of right now it’s just not looking like that’s probably going to happen.  My poor Mr. gets left at home to go to work and tend to the cat, but I can’t very well expect him to miss out on all the fun and do my work for me!  I’ll make sure to take lots of pictures while G and I explore Colorado and will share them when we get back.
  If my pregnancy with G is any indication, I’ll be back to (a slightly larger version of) myself in a month or two.  In the meantime, I appreciate everybody’s patience!
  New readers from Sew Mama Sew, welcome!  Check here for more sewing projects and make sure to leave me a comment and say hi!!

  So you want to know if I’m having a boy or a girl?

How (and Why) to Top Stitch

  Last week we talked about under stitching a seam.  This week I thought I’d talk about another of those many, many types of stitches that show up on patterns, top, or over stitching.

  As for the “why” of this stitch, it’s more or less decorative.  It does keep your seam allowances laying flat, but that’s about it.  Don’t expect this stitch to re-enforce your seam or really effect your lining (it’s done on the outer fabric and usually doesn’t touch the lining), it’s just a pretty finishing thing.
  As with most of these stitches, start by sewing your seam as normal.  Leave the recommended seam allowance and press the seam flat (with the seam allowances spread to each side).
  Because this is basically a “vanity” stitch, you can do it either on one side of the seam or both (like the picture at the top of the page).  Use the seam itself as your guide for stitching and put the new line as close or as far as you want.  (one of the great things about “unnecessary” stitches is that you get a lot of latitude in how you do them!)
  When your seam is finished the back should look like this.
  Again, this stitch isn’t one that does anything for your garment structurally, but it can make a big difference in making your piece look “store bought” instead of “home-made” without adding a whole lot of work to the process.
  As always, send me an email, leave me a comment, find me on Twitter or stop by the Facebook page and say hi if you have any questions or comments!

Delayed Posting

  Just a quick note to let you know that my sewing post this week will be a little delayed.  I’ve been feeling pretty under the weather and so I kind of slept through the part of the day where I actually had enough natural light to take any pictures.  Oops.

  I’ll do my best to get it up later today.  Thanks for your patience!
  (In the meantime, here’s a shot of G at his favorite new evening past time…playing sous-chef to my Mr!)

Doro Wat (Stove Top)

  Back in March I gave you guys a crock pot version of Doro Wat (also known as Ethiopian Chicken Stew).  This version is made on the stove top and is much meatier, where the crockpot version was extremely tomato heavy.
  Here’s what we’re making:
  Here’s what you need:
2 chicken thighs
2 chicken legs
2 large onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp minced ginger
Salt to taste
3 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp oil
3 hard boiled eggs
boiling water
2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp black pepper powder
1/4 tsp allspice powder
1/4 tsp cardamom powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1/2 tsp chili powder 
  Start by saute-ing your onion in your butter and oil in a large pot.  Cook onions until they start to brown and then add in your spices (below the gap in the ingredient list).  Add your chicken and cook until it begins to brown.  Stir in your garlic and ginger, cooking for about a minute.  At this point, pour enough boiling water into your pot to cover your chicken.  Add your salt and allow to boil, until about half the water evaporates.  Add your eggs and continue cooking until the chicken is cooked through.  Serve hot.
  This version comes together pretty quickly, in case you’re set on Ethiopian and forgot to set the crock pot up 4-5 hours before dinner.  It’s a heavier, more gravy-like flavor than the other version, so if the other kind seemed a little like “rabbit food” to your family, this ought to be better received.  We liked it.  Try it out and let me know what you think!

Parched

  I wanted today’s post to be a garden update…another batch of pretty flower pictures to go with the ones from a month ago.  By all rights there should be more flowers by now, but flowers need water, and all we’ve seen for nearly two months now has been this:

  Last summer we spent at least part of nearly every weekend hidden in our basement because of the storms that were ripping through our area.  It was, from all the information I’ve seen, the wettest year on record.
  Clearly we’re making up for that abundance of water this year by getting none.  We’ve had a few storms predicted…even watched a few pass us by without dropping more than a bucket’s worth of water to drench neighboring towns.
  We never got around to planting our vegetable garden this year…and frankly I’m kind of relieved.  I’m a pretty staunchly Darwinian gardener.  If it can’t survive MI weather, it probably doesn’t belong in my yard…but this summer I’ve had to soften on that stance a little to keep from losing all of my recently transplanted shrubs and flowers.
  The grass is dead.  Dead dead.
  I can only imagine if we had gotten vegetables in…our tomatoes would have stewed right on the vine.
  The only little patch of green we have (other than a handful of tenacious weeds) is the herb garden.  As you can see, it’s the local oasis for the bugs.
  I’m praying for a cool off soon.  We’re not used to temperatures this hot and this dry for so long and it’s wilting us as well as the plants.  It’s tough being creative when all you want to do is curl up in the fridge!

How to Inexpensively Store Outgrown Baby Clothing

  Babies grow like weeds.  This is pretty common knowledge, but as a parent, it is still shocking when you realize that your teensie little baby is now wearing shirts that you could have squeezed into in high school.  (I’m not sayin it woulda been pretty, just that it could have happened).

  All that growing means that clothing doesn’t last very long before it’s too short, too tight, too small.  And if you’re planning on having more babies in the future, you probably don’t want to get rid of any of it…since those babies are just going to do the same crazy-growth dance and rip through wardrobe after wardrobe before you can so much as blink.
  But you can’t just leave it in your current baby’s dresser (unless they have a closet the size of which I seriously envy), so what’s a parent to do?
  Luckily, another baby necessity solves the problem pretty easily.  Diaper boxes are perfect for storing baby clothing.  The boxes start out small when your kiddo (and their clothing) is tiny and get larger as your child does…and unless your child potty trains really early, you’re liable to have dozens of them around.  I’ve stockpiled every box we’ve gotten just to be sure we have enough.
  I personally write G’s age when I start the box on the outside in sharpie (3 months, 6 months or 30 months for example) and then just keep it next to his dresser.  If something doesn’t fit when I put it on him, it gets tossed in and when it’s full, the whole box gets taped shut and sent to the attic for the time he eventually has a little brother or sister.
  Diaper boxes keep it all sorted (more or less) by size, out of the way…and best of all, I haven’t paid a dime for organizing supplies.  …now if I could only find a solution that easy for getting him to eat his broccoli…

Pork and Black Bean Stew

  I love chili.  It’s one of my top ten favorite types of food…and frankly, may even be in the top five.  Usually I make my vegetarian chili, but every once in a while I’m looking for something a little heartier.  That’s where today’s recipe comes in.
  Here’s what we’re making:
  Here’s what you need:
Sour cream
fresh cilantro, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups chicken broth
3-15 oz cans black beans, drained
1 can of diced tomatoes with chilies
1 tsp ground cumin
1 lb shredded bbq pork
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
Cheddar cheese, shredded
  Start by mixing together your cilantro and sour cream.  This is an optional step, but it’s absolutely delicious, so you should try it at least once.  The basic measurement to start with is 1/4 cup sour cream to 2 Tbsp cilantro, but, of course, if you like cilantro, add more, if you’re not a huge fan, use less.  Cover your bowl up and stick it in the fridge so the flavors can meld while you cook your stew.
  Next, heat your oil in a large pot and saute your onion until it’s tender.  Add your garlic and cook for another minute or so.  Stir in your broth, beans, tomatoes and cumin and bring to a boil.  Reduce your heat and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring it regularly.
  In a food processor (or blender) blend 2 cups of the mixture until it’s smooth.  If you’re new to blending hot liquids, please know that you need to leave a vent in the lid when you do this.  Take the top portion out of the lid and cover it with a dish towel…otherwise your blender is liable to blow up all over your kitchen.  Seriously.  When the mixture is smooth, return it to the pot.
  Add your pork to the soup and simmer it for around 10 minutes.  Don’t worry about getting too exact on the time, as with most chili-type dishes, this one just gets better as it cooks.  Add your lime juice in and serve warm.  Top with shredded cheese and a dollop of your cilantro sour cream.
  This stew is a favorite around here.  It has more of a bbq flavor than typical chili, but is just as easy to prepare since the pork is pre-prepared.  It does make quite a bit, so expect to have leftovers or to freeze some.

The Pros and Cons of an Old House

  We have an old house.  It was built some time in the 1920s (I can’t recall the exact year) and has seen lots of changes in its time.  When it was first built, it was on acres and acres of land.  Most of the property that is on our road was part of the farm it was built for.  Our garage was originally a carriage house.  You get the picture.

  We love our old house, but just like you can love family members and still want to choke them on occasion, old houses have their quirks too.
  So without further ado, the pros and cons of an old house.
Pro: Old houses have character.
Con: Character comes with lead paint and old wiring.
Pro:  Years of previous owners up the chances somebody was a gardener and you’ll have wonderful landscaping.
Con:  Years of previous owners up the chances somebody was an idiot and you’ll have painted shut windows and all of your wiring on one circuit.
Pro:  Beautiful wood trim that would break the budget if you built a house today.
Con:  Beautiful wooden windows… that require jimmying and praying to several different gods to open.
Pro: Thick, elegantly shaped plaster walls.
Con:  At some point most of those walls were painted pink and sea foam blue.  That paint is still there, I promise.
Pro:  Solid wood doors with heavy, antique door handles.
Con:  Solid wood doors that don’t latch, close or lock.
Pro:  Big, gorgeous trees on your property.
Con:  Bats…that won’t stay in the big, gorgeous trees because they prefer your attic.
Pro:  All that history.
Con:  Much higher likelihood of your house’s history involving heinous murders or haunted Indian burial grounds.