Saturday, December 26, 2009
The holidays are over!!
This might not be a popular stand, but it is definitely my favorite part of the whole season... when they are over!!
I actually enjoy the holiday season quite a bit, but there is always so much to do and never enough time to do it all.
Our holiday season really starts in October. We have more birthdays in two weeks than we have for the rest of the year (for now) in our small unit, not to mention the addition of some close and important extended family mixed in... so we go from one birthday to the next, to the next, (you get the point times 5), ending with Halloween (and homemade costumes), and then the hubster's birthday the next day.
We hit major harvest sometime from the middle to the end of the month of October and running through November, which at my house means lots of canning.
I truly enjoy harvest time, because I LOVE to reap the rewards from a long hard season of love, work, and care in the garden, but the nature of the whole thing is that you must preserve your harvest immediately or you loose a lot of the goodness in a surprisingly short amount of time. At the same time I usually make jams, jelly, and fruit butters with local harvests from the farmer's market, too.
Then of course we have Thanksgiving. It is one of my favorite celebrations, but as our family has grown, not surprisingly, the family pressures have also grown. There tends to be a little bit of drama about who will be coming over to our house. I prefer to have just the immediate family, but my husband wants to have all of his family over too... and although the holiday is about family and sharing, the truth is that his brother and the accompanying clan stress me out -A LOT!! They have a complete different set of ideas about how to live and I would rather enjoy my favorite people than pretend to graciously welcome people I don't enjoy, into my home. I know that it sounds terrible, but there is a long bit of history behind my feelings... and the bottom line is we have a full house on our own. The other part of the situation is that if we don't host them, then they don't do anything on their own. Neither his mother or his brother and family participate unless it is a free from commitment, expense, or hassle day at our house... which makes me feel like somehow we are responsible for every ones happiness. To me if you can't be bothered to do it for yourself (or even offer a little help to us) then why should that be our responsibility? I mean the addition of 7 more people is more than double our own family unit, even after the baby is born. We always make a way to have a dinner, but I buy things for weeks in advance so that we can absorb the expense of this one meal. We don't go crazy with dozens of things, just your basic meal, but we have a pretty tight budget every week, so it does need some tightening both before and after the big day.
Then of course after Thanksgiving, we have about 3 weeks until Christmas, which is not very long at all... every. single. year! We go to a Solstice Party every year (around the 21rst) where all the adults make homemade gifts for the children and having three kids means that I have to make three gifts. I love to make things from the heart and every year I use it as an excuse to make something I have never made before. This is a blessing and a curse because it is a way to flex my creative streak with a definite deadline(which I need because I often have two or three things going on at once) and also a thrill to imagine and then create something from my head and have it work out (or not) pretty much like I wanted it too. At the same time, I, of course, am making things for my kids and my niece for Christmas, and it can get down to the wire and does pretty much every year.
Add in a little bit of stress, worry, and drama from being pregnant (where for me EVERYTHING is more difficult to achieve, especially with the placental issues and bleeding I had early on this time around) and you have about two and a half months of a little too much (things to do, things to make, family stress, family arguments) with a few too few resources (time, money, patience, and sometimes compassion).
So now that I have purged all that negativity out... and can now have a few deep, audible sighs of relief, let me tell you my favorite parts of the last three months! Because although I didn't intend it to be so, I realize I just whined and complained about the whole season, and the truth is that some of my favorite parts of the entire year are rolled right up inside of the whole thing. I guess that sometimes I wish that there was just a little more breathing room in between it all...
The best times:
This year we had a ridiculously warm Fall so I had a secondary pepper and tomato harvest, so I made twice as much Hot Pepper Jelly and can give some to all of my neighbors... which makes me feel all warm and squishy inside.
We had a dual birthday party for the two little ones this year and made THE COOLEST spider cupcakes with licorice and black sugar, which were a huge success and really fun at the same time!
I made a spider costume for Sophia(yes there was a running theme here...) that had been in the works inside my head for over two years... and it came out pretty flippin' awesome! She LOVED it and I'm betting Roscoe will be a spider next year (score! pre-done homemade awesome costume for next year!! yay!)
This year, although it didn't go the way I had hoped (with over a month advance warning, and grown up straightforward conversation) we had only our own immediate family for Thanksgiving and we had a very nice stress free day. Well, almost, until the turkey took three hours longer than expected and I had a slight starving pregnant woman meltdown for about the last 15 minutes before dinner was done... and trust me if other people HAD been here during said meltdown many an unfortunate word would have been spoken that couldn't have been taken back and probably would have made family tensions MUCH, MUCH worse!! : P
This year I made a stuffed bear and a bunny for two of my gifts, and my daughter(the 14 yr old) made a matching bracelet and necklace set for the other child. When it came time to exchange gifts my little girl, who got the bunny, JUMPED up and down and hugged it and made general merriment, which was absolutely the coolest reward for the time and energy put into this hand sewn item!! AND my husband saw the response which, I think from the smile on his face, finally gave him a glimpse of why I do this every year! (sadly, he doesn't understand the big deal about hand making anything... food, gifts or otherwise... which is one of the many differences in our thinking that causes a fair amount of chaos in our everyday lives together.)
Our kids had a great Christmas!
Santa managed to get them their little hearts desires... a cool wooden cash register that Sophia has had her eye one since before last Christmas, a beautiful handmade soft doll for Roscoe, which he is already very attached to and has named Kitty(?), and a couple of gorgeous handmade aprons for Emily(she loves being in the kitchen with me and is an excellent baker!).
We have been feeling the economy crunch this year... Al works in the restaurant business which of course falls off when people have less money... which means fewer hours per paycheck which makes a big difference to our budget. As long as the kids were taken care of, we were not too worried about whether or not we would have presents under the tree. To make matters worse right before Christmas this year, Al had a small accident because of an awful ice storm and needed to replace his two front tires... it had to be done for safety's sake, which took away any little wiggle room that we had, but somehow that sneaky Santa managed to put a present under the tree for me this year! Al managed to get me a sewing machine that I had had my eye on that was on a super holiday sale of 50% off! I was completely surprised and immensely grateful, if not a little guilty because we had said no presents. I had gotten him a box of his favorite candy(Ferrero Confections variety pack...YUM!!), but it obviously didn't have the same effect!
So now I have a hundred and two projects floating around in my head for my new machine! I am a self taught crafter. I don't use patterns and I hand sew everything I do, because I didn't have a machine, but also because I feel a little intimidated by it. This is a very simple little machine. It only has a few different stitches and not a lot of bells and whistles... but it is PERFECT for me... because anything more exciting and I would be too scared to use it!
I have been having a hard time trying to post pictures on blogger lately, but I welcome any of you to look at my recent belly shots up on Flickr.
I hope that you have all had a fabulous holiday and I apologize for my lack of attendance lately. Things have been just a touch overwhelming around these parts... did I mention that I am 2/3 of the way through this pregnancy and fighting crazy nesting urges on top of everything else that has been going on? Why is it that I never notice how dirty the top 3 feet of our 12 foot tall kitchen walls are when I am not huge, off balance, and dangerous on the top of a ladder? Or why my hormones dictate that every single floor board MUST be spotless before my MIL comes over for Christmas Eve celebrations? I am not a neat freak usually... I don't have the time or inclination to dust everything every week (HA! even every month usually), but the hormones, they are a powerful force to reckon with and at the very least my house is much tidier than usual right now!! Which we all know is a good thing in a round about way since no one will be doing it again for the next 6 months or so!! : )
Alright, I wish you all a very Happy New Year because, good intentions aside, I will probably not post again until after it has arrived! Although I might surprise you because New Year's Eve is also my birthday and I like to let everyone know ( I am decidedly needy as far as making up for crappy birthdays of yore)... but just in case...
I hope that you all had a lovely holiday and are basking in the relief of the end of the crazy busy season. I wish you all the very best in the coming new year and hope that you can all look back and see many things that made you smile and be grateful, to be who you are, where you are, headed in the direction that you are going!
Today I am grateful to have made it through another crazy 3 month long holiday season in one piece!
I am thankful to have so many happy memories to look back on over the last year.
I am thankful to have such bright prospects of joy and fulfillment looking towards the new year.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
I find it hard to have time to breath, let alone post all the things I'd like to be sharing with you all!
In the last 36 hours, one by one, about 12 hours apart, all three of my kids have come down the the super yuck. There have been copious amounts of bodily fluids to deal with and as I type my own belly is rumbling and bubbling in a way that makes me a little bit nervous, BUT I had to come on and share a brief bit of terribly good news.
I had my follow up sonogram yesterday. We got a quick glimpse of our busy little nugget and everything is still looking good. The baby isn't huge, but is a good average size right now. At this point in my last two pregnancies my babies were all pretty darn big and I was measuring bigger than dates(dramatically so with my last), but I am perfectly content with an average size baby! I don't mind not walking around with a three month old size fetus, still growing INSIDE of me for the last three months! : )
The very best thing that we saw(or didn't see) was that the blood clot that I had before has been completely reabsorbed. HOORAY!! That means that there isn't likely to be any active bleeding at this point and takes away a BIG risk factor for pre-term labor. I couldn't be happier. Well, it would have been awesome to have had the placenta completely re-attach as well, but it has not gotten any worse, so that is a great sign. I feel very blessed that as of right now I only have a minimal risk for preterm labor and that the baby is growing well. I will go back again at 30 weeks (6 weeks from now) to check on things again and see how the baby is progressing. I also will go to midwife appointments every two weeks starting next month but that is routine. If at any point I seem to not be growing or the baby's movement changes, I will need to check on things, but all of that is pretty routine stuff too.
Al and I took a tour of the hospital that we will go to in the case of any emergency, and although it did give me a bit a panic attack seeing all the machines in all the rooms... if I need to be there then it will be a good thing that they will be prepared for whatever my baby might need, so it was still a comfort in a strange way. The rooms were nice and big and every room had an attached room for the baby with equipment for emergencies. So, although the last place I want to be is in a hospital, needing that kind of equipment, if I do end up there, they will be well prepared for whatever might happen.
My belly is really not feeling good, so I must depart, but I wanted to thank all of you who were sending positive thoughts and prayers our way. They have been felt and heard and there has been dramatic healing, so far! I am so thankful to you all and hope that amid the frantic pace of the holidays you are all sneaking some moments here and there to enjoy this special time.
Today I am grateful that my baby is growing and thriving.
I am thankful for all my bloggy buddies who send love, thoughts, and prayers our way, THANK YOU ALL!!
P.S. I tried to upload a picture of the growing tummy tonight but either my internet or blogger is WAY TOO SLOW... so I'll try again next time... sorry! : )
Monday, December 7, 2009
Glorious, tasty, stinky kimchi.
If you have never eaten kimchi than you must be warned it has an extremely strong flavor. It is garlicky and spicy and it WILL give you dragon breath. It will also stink up the kitchen (and quite possibly the house) for a little while when you eat it, too. Also note to self and any other pregnant woman... even if you LOVE kimchi with a burning hot crazy passion, it is probably NOT a good idea to eat half a jar of it by itself (or even wrapped up in some seaweed) in one sitting. You will tend to get a little gassier than usual and your husband will probably not appreciate the hours of stinky burps... especially if he doesn't like it in the first place!! Not that I would have any recent experience with that being the delicate flower that I am... ahem... : )
Now before I get started I have to share a link to this video on youtube that I watched before I did this myself. The recipe that I used is basically hers with the addition of carrots and I substituted daikon radish for a korean radish. If you are serious about making kimchi and feel a little intimidated just watch her video a few times and you will see how easy it actually is... that's what I did! : )
Alrighty let's get started!
2 heads napa cabbage
1 cup kosher salt
10 cups water
8 green onions
2 daikon radish
3 medium carrots
1 fuji apple
1 head garlic
1/2 large white onion
2 inch piece of ginger root
7 tbsp fish sauce
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup Korean chili powder
(you can find this (as well as the fish sauce) at an Asian market, it is a must and is NOT the same as other chili powders!)
Roughly chop the white onion, apple, garlic, and ginger root (all peeled). Put in a blender or processor with the fish sauce and blend until you have a smooth paste. In a large bowl add paste, Korean chili powder, and sugar together. Most recipes I saw used a LOT more sugar, but when you use the apple you don't need much, which was one reason I liked this recipe.
Stir julienned vegetables into paste and set aside until your cabbage is ready to go. The paste will be thick, but it will loosen up as the veggies soften and the cabbage has been added.
Drain cabbage and rinse at least three times. I rinsed mine about four, maybe five times. Every time you rinse them you remove a little more of the salt, so taste it after three rinses and test for your own preference... don't lose too much of the salt though because it will effect the flavor and possibly the fermentation process(?)...
Add the well drained cabbage into the large bowl with the prepared paste and vegetables. Use protective gloves to keep from staining and also burning your hands. Also be aware that the bowl you use will most likely be stained for awhile so keep that in mind when selecting it. I used a big old plastic one, the cabbage loses a lot of bulk while soaking in the brine, so you won't need as big a bowl as you did in the beginning(thank goodness for my cake lid!!)
When you are adding the cabbage to the paste make sure that you are massaging it in well, the paste needs to completely envelope all the cabbage and vegetables. It will be very saucy, but the moisture will lesson as time goes on (or not depending upon how fermented you like your kimchi!). Traditionally, the cabbage is not cut into small pieces but the quartered cabbages are kept intact and the paste is then put in between each leaf and wrapped in a super cool way, but it takes up more space to store it that way, and seemed a little more intimidating to me. I used pint sized canning jars to store mine, but you can use any tight sealed container. I wouldn't want to use plastic, but you can if you are planning on eating it right away. It is also traditionally put in clay pots and buried for weeks or months(that's how my mom learned how to make it back in the 70's).
You can eat the kimchi as it is and refrigerate it right away, or you can leave it out for a few days to start the fermentation process. I like it both ways. My batch made about 8 pint jars. I gave a few jars away, I refrigerated a few, and I left a few out to ferment. If you do choose to leave them out, put them in a dark area, in a container because as they ferment they will start to bubble and leak. You will know when they have started to ferment because you can watch the bubbles move up the sides of the jar. It's pretty fun to watch! : ) It can make quite a mess if you aren't prepared for it, though! I fermented some of mine for 2 days, and the rest for 4 days. I liked them ALL. The longer they fermented the more tingle on the tongue, and the more pungent the smell and flavor. I also noticed that the more fermented the less wet they seemed to be, as well. You can play around with it and figure which you like the best! I think my very favorite was the 2 day fermented... but the fresh was really good too... and so was the 4 day stuff... hmmm... I really can't decide!
Well, I hope that someone out there tries to actually make some kimchi and I will see if I can spread the kimchi love! I'm telling you once you try it and like it, it will become a never ending craving! : ) Enjoy!
Today I am thankful for my early introduction into the wonderful world of kimchi! My kids think it smells really good, but it is a little spicy for them just yet. I hope that someday they too will become addicted to this tasty, healthy treat! : )
Friday, December 4, 2009
con⋅tem⋅pla⋅tive /kənˈtɛmplətɪv, ˈkɒntəmˌpleɪ-, -tɛm-/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [kuhn-tem-pluh-tiv, kon-tuhm-pley-, -tem-]
–adjective 1. given to or characterized by contemplation: a contemplative mind.
–noun 2. a person devoted to contemplation, as a monk.
I am never so contemplative as when I am pregnant. Contemplative was a word that was used to describe me, by one of my favorite English teachers in college... and he never knew me pregnant!
I feel so deeply connected to the earth, the universe, and some infinite knowledge that I could never start to fully understand. It truly is a miracle, so many things have to go just right to get the end result that we all hope for. Just being intimately involved in a tiny part of this amazing cycle of life can be mind-boggling to me.
It is very personal to me, this whole incubation period. It is constantly on my mind, no matter what else I am doing. Unfortunately, along with this glorious connection to something much bigger than myself, I also feel a little less connected with the people I love. This feeling is noticed the most with the people I love the very most. I feel a little distant. It's not that I feel any less love for any of them.... I am just so very in tune with my body and the work that it is doing. This little human needs a lot to grow. And for better or worse, the entirety of that work here on this human realm is for me to do. It is an awesome responsibility... overwhelmingly so at times.
My very favorite pregnancy, by far, has been my first. I think about that often right now, because to be honest I just don't enjoy being pregnant as much right now. It has bothered me often during these last three because it makes me feel bad. It feels like I should enjoy this amazing thing that is happening through me. In the last few days, I think that I have finally figured out why. I enjoyed the first pregnancy so much more because I had nothing else in my life. I devoted every second to my baby and watching this miracle of life unfold, and not only was no one else hurt... there was no one else around to care. Now of course, I have many more people already deeply embedded in my everyday life. People who not only notice that I am more withdrawn, but that have come to depend on my "normal" personality traits. In my everyday life I have a lot to take care, as far the care and comforts of others. I am a natural mother, and usually thrive on being able to meet all the needs of my family. But right now, the internal "mothering" that I am doing feels much more at the forefront of my mind. When I am able to focus on myself I feel much more peaceful right now. It makes me feel selfish, but I honestly feel like it is a biological need to go into yourself to achieve this enormous goal of giving birth to a healthy child. I really struggled sharing it with Al the first time because he wanted to be such a big part of it... being his first time experiencing it. It is easier now because he does care and helps and does everything he can, but at this point realizes the best thing he can do is to help make me happy. The best thing that he can do is to support me, which I must say he really is making a strong effort to do. This time has been the best so far, actually. That is a pretty great bonus!! So I guess the question is: how do I deal with this new information.
I mean obviously, I want to be able to enjoy this period of time as much as I can. So right now that is my task... to figure out a way to get more personal time for myself, which will hopefully in turn make me a happier wife and Mama during the rest of this incredibly self-focused time. The biggest thing I keep telling my husband, who is probably struggling the most with my feelings of distance, is that this will be the last time we all have to deal with the crazy ups, downs, and in betweens of this fantastic journey. I am pretty sure that this will be our last... I thought that last time too... but changed my mind only a few months after Roscoe was born. This time I feel like this really could be our last... which of course means this is the last pregnancy for me. It makes me feel sad, and at the same time excited for this final chapter of this particular stage in my life as well as in our lives together as a family.
I have my follow up sonogram to check on how the placenta is doing on the 14th. I am feeling positive about things at this point. I have been giving myself about 30 minutes of focused meditation, prayer, and visualization every night since the first news. I am hopeful that this time we will find that either things are the same (and therefore not progressing in a negative way) or that it has healed. I will of course find out in a little over a week. I will let everyone know what the results are after I find out! : )
As for the second part of my title...
I love kimchi! My parents were stationed in Korea for about 2 years before my older sister was born (my mom spent most of her pregnancy overseas), and brought back the love of the culture, especially the food! My parents (more so my mom) were very open minded about food and trying to expose us kids to all different sorts of cuisines as we were growing up. We ate tofu, seaweed, Thai, Mexican, Korean, as well as what I always called my mom's Farm food, the likes of cow tongue soup and tripe (neither of which I liked then or now by the way! ... but mom always said we had to take a few bites before we were allowed to say we didn't like something!) right along with classics like meatloaf, pot roast, and homemade macaroni and cheese. My dad was in the army so we had friends from all different cultures. I think that one of the best gifts I was given as a child was exposure to so many different ways of living... and that all people had special ways of doing things, but we were all basically trying to achieve the same goals, as kid it seemed like that meant a happy and healthy family. I grew up very naive to the fact that many people are not as open minded as the people I grew up around. I am very grateful for that fact, I think it had a huge impact on the person that I have become today.
But back to the kimchi... I will sometimes goes years without it, but in the last few years I have wanted it more and more. It is very good for you. It is a fermented food, and it is considered a living food. It is chock full of vitamins and minerals and it is very low calorie, too! It does have a good amount of sodium content, but you can control how much if you make it yourself. It is pretty expensive to buy it often...and once you get hooked a small jar won't last long, sooo... Over the summer I embarked on a kimchi making adventure. I didn't have the time to blog about it then, but I knew that I might want to at some point so I took a bunch of pictures of everything... just in case! : )
So without further ado....
How to make your own Kimchi:
ok- I didn't intend for this to be a tease.. but I was just previewing my post and thought that this was already pretty lengthy. I just decided that I will make a new post just for the kimchi recipe and photos. The hubby is out with his Mama and I have some glorious alone time (and a crazy, manic, pregnant, no such thing as sleeping brain right now...) so I will work on it tonight and if it's not up tonight it will be tomorrow. promise!!
Today I am thankful that I may have figured out a way to enjoy this pregnancy a little more for the miracle that it is.
I am grateful that although he doesn't understand completely my husband is being incredibly supportive of me, even though I am different than what he is used to.
I am so grateful, as always, for my little dumplings... I know that they will think that all the change is worth it when they have an adorable drooly, poopy, sometimes crying but at some point smiling baby gazing back at them!