Saturday, January 31, 2009

Top Chef Dinner

We ate at Absinthe tonight. Jamie from Top Chef is the executive chef. I am a Top Chef fan. I can't help myself. I was so, so sad it was not better. French onion soup was sweet. Romaine salad was over dressed and too fishy even after taking the anchovies off the top. We sent the salads back. The wild mushroom risotto was hot, saucy, smooth and tasty though.
Anyway, M. was slightly out of sorts. She started the croup cough last night and oh lordy does that stress me out. She started to nod off eating french fries which took me off guard. I took her to the bathroom to wake her up and she seemed to snap back into form. We sit down and she has something to say.

"Mommy, did you know my belly has four buckets?"

"No, I did not"

"Yes. Each bucket is in my belly and has room for food! One bucket for breakfast. One bucket for crap food, One bucket for lunch and One bucket for dessert. They are all in my belly!"

"Wow" I say.

The crap food category may seem extreme. Most likely it is. I got D. a box of donuts for his birthday breakfast. He loooves donuts. I never buy them. But for a special birthday breakfast I made an exception. M. took one look at the box, drew a long breath in and said "Do I get to eat crap food for breakfast like Daddy?" Yes, I say. "You mean, I don't have to eat my growing food breakfast, Mommy?" No, you don't I say. Growing food is all things vegetable, protein, fruit and fiber. We talk a lot about how the food we eat can make our bodies get strong, grow and run fast. I try to stick to the mantra growing food first, crap food second.

Dinner is over, we go outside to catch a cab and M. decides to hug the big green garbage can in front of the restaurant as we scan the street for cabs. Her hug turns into a kiss and all of a sudden her mouth is all over the garbage can. I yell. At her. She jumps and I recoil, lamenting on how much damage I have done to her from my own germ phobia this instance and since she was born. It gives me a stomach ache thinking about it. Tremendous guilt. Awful guilt. Everyday I try to do better. Everyday I will try to better, I say to myself. I hug her and let her hail us a cab.

Friday, January 30, 2009

When seagulls attack

M. and I are at the zoo. Things are going fine. We decide to eat our sandwich first thing after arriving. I'm thinking lets get fueled up before we dig into the real fun. The cafe at San Francisco zoo overlooks the flamingos and has always been a favorite spot for us to eat. We sit down on a bench, and I unwrap our turkey cheddar on light rye. I notice very big seagulls are hanging around the area, but that happens every time we are there, and the zoo is across the street from the ocean so it does not seem weird. But, a two year old girl comes walking over towards the flamingos and a seagull swipes the bread right our of her hand. She is shocked, starts crying, and her grandmother runs over scoops her up. It starts to focus on us, the closest people to it with food. It is sitting about 3 feet from me, staring us down. I am doing the odds in my mind whether it might really try to grab food out of our hands, but I am no two year old and I am sitting next to M. so I think we are safe. Still, I go on cautious alert. I am not giving up my scenic bench spot because some seagull is giving me the evil eye. About 5 seconds later the seagull is dive-bombing me from above going in for the strike. I scream, and throw my arms up to shield it from grabbing my food. I am up in an instant, grabbing M's hand realizing this is causing an instant scene, and all the other people sitting outside the cafe are turning around to see what is happening. While we are trying to make it inside the cafe the same seagull swoops in, grabbing M's sandwich out of her hand and we get swarmed by about 1o gulls. She starts crying, and I am focused on just getting us inside the cafe. Inside she is talking really loudly trying to process what has happened which consisted mostly of "STUPID SEAGULLS MOMMY!!" over and over again and I am trying to calm her down and compensate for the fact that our lunch has been hijacked. Soon we are sitting at the table eating french fries and she is commenting that all the people outside she can see from our table are getting attacked just like we just did, which they were not. "Look mommy, see that lady, she is coming inside because the seagulls stole her lunch too." I have had enough of the cafe at this point and we start our walking towards the children's zoo. She looks over at me, and says "Mommy, did you notice I said stupid?" I say "you mean about the seagulls honey?"
"Yes Mommy, I said stupid instead of saying fuck, shit or dammit like you do!"

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Does anyone feel like any making a big change in their life is like wading through muck? The momentum requires a vast amount of energy, confidence and patience without knowing if you will get your hoped outcome? Without knowing if you actually have the confidence required and basically becoming consumed with the fear you might fail, so just don't try at all?
This is what I am feeling everyday when the thought of a career pops into my head.
In fact, I am so paralyzed by this thought I cannot even type out my career idea on this blog, because then I will somehow be held to it, and that alone is too much pressure.
When I was a teenager, I wanted to be an astronaut. Remember the movie Space Camp? That was a real camp that I dreamed about going to at Cape Canaveral growing up. I would go, and like a model being discovered at the 7-11, somehow become an astronaut. The first time I saw The Right Stuff, you know the movie where the astronauts train to go to space, I was a changed kid. And it continued with Buck Rogers tv show, ET, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and so on and so on. I did not become an astronaut, obviously. Good thing, because the thought being an astronaut now brings on an instant feeling of panic. What if you get the flu in space, or run out of oxygen, or get a sudden case of claustrophobia? Yeah, that would not work for me and my germ issues now. Not at all.
Last night I cooked pork pot roast for D. birthday. Pork butt was on sale for $1.99 a pound and I wanted to see if I could do something with it. And since I did not get to making dinner until almost 5:30 and still had to finish washing the dishes, clean M. mess from the day and frost the cake I started to eyeball my pressure cooker. Instead of 3 hours to make a roast, it would take 30 minutes. Oh joy. I literally dumped dinner into the big pot. Carrots, potatoes, onions, garlic and a big piece of pork. I topped with mustard and capers. After calling my mother-in-law to get specifics on cooking times, I closed the lid and let it do its magic. 30 minutes later I am spooning out yummy pot roast onto our plates. But wait, the pork looks pink. Is it really cooked through? And here is how it went in my head.

Oh no, the pork may not be cooked.
It has to be cooked, it was in the pressure cooker dumbass
What if I get us all sick on D's birthday dinner?
Yeah, tapeworms and trichinosis
I will take it out, cut it, then sautee it more to make sure
More Panic
Oh, it is cooked, don't worry
Of course it is cooked, only you would worry about this.
It is cooked
I hope so, lets just pretend everything is ok

This was what happened as I stood at the stove, silently dealing with dinner. D and M oblivious, playing wild horse in the living room. I served it, we ate it, I said a silent prayer about it.
I am happy to report my digestive tract is doing ok today too, a good sign.
This is why I did not become an astronaut. I saved the world some grief. Definitely.

Monday, January 26, 2009

A wee bit of cuteness on a Monday

Just a simple smidge of cuteness I saw on Design Sponge today. It brightened my day. Art that kids and families can participate in. Never know what you might encounter when you round the corner to go up the stairs.....

Sunday, January 25, 2009


After a small bit of research online I have found this is quite a blogger topic. (see below post to catch up) And a dear reader brought to my attention that resale shops might not be affected by this new law. So I dug this up:

The new law requires that domestic manufacturers and importers certify that children’s products made after February 10 meet all the new safety standards and the lead ban. Sellers of used children’s products, such as thrift stores and consignment stores, are not required to certify that those products meet the new lead limits, phthalates standard or new toy standards.

The new safety law does not require resellers to test children’s products in inventory for compliance with the lead limit before they are sold. However, resellers cannot sell children’s products that exceed the lead limit and therefore should avoid products that are likely to have lead content, unless they have testing or other information to indicate the products being sold have less than the new limit. Those resellers that do sell products in violation of the new limits could face civil and/or criminal penalties.

Does anyone know about this?

How uber-cute is that girl's skirt? It is one of my favorite ETSY stores called Kinchi. I go to that online store and marvel at how fun her kids clothes are. It is like Boden clothes, except waaaay cooler. The woman who runs the online store lives in Holland, and makes clothes on the side while staying home with her kids. She searches for vintage 70's fabric to make funky clothes. My kind of gal. I have not bought a skirt yet from her yet, but was thinking I would, and give it to M. for her 5th birthday. My daughter has a love, and I do mean love for dogs. I am venturing to guess this is the kind of skirt M. would wear and people might stop and ask where we bought it. Then I can say "oh, I bought it on the ETSY website, from Holland, this woman hand-makes clothes from vintage fabrics." and that is how things get spread word of mouth in mom-world. Before you know it Kinchi has new sales and her family is supporting itself from her creative efforts. And we all live happily ever after.
No, wait. Not today.
I went to Kinchi's ETSY store today and she said after Feb 11th she was no longer selling clothes to the US and is most likely closing her ETSY store because of it. And here is why...

I have been hearing rumblings from my friends who craft about Congress passing the CPSIA. That would stand for Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. Passed by Congress, going into effect Feb 11, 2009. This act does three things
1. bans lead and phthalates in children's products
2. mandates third party testing and certification for lead and phthalates
3. requires manufacturer's of all goods for children under the age of 12 to permanently label each item with a date and batch number
When they say all goods, this means toys, books, clothing, art, educational supplies, bicycles etc. This also means that it will be illegal to sell or donate to charities. The government is requiring all items be destroyed or thrown away that do have certification.
So lets discuss this for a minute. In an effort to make products for kids safe, this law has passed. And, I think many would agree the products in question are manufactured overseas in places like China, right? You know, big companies. The ones making a gazillion dollars, who can afford to comply with these rules. They are not going to suffer very much because they have the financial resources. So far so good. But, for all the wonderful crafters, small businesses and generous people giving clothes and toys away to charities and selling small amounts of merchandise, it does not sound so good. No, not at all. In fact a store in my town has been telling its customers that it is going to close because of this. A wonderful mother/daughter consignment shop I frequent cannot comply with this law because it would cost them thousands of dollars to do so. And while browsing on ETSY I found shops that are closing, no longer making their handmade children clothes, wool diaper covers, hand carved wooden toys all because this law has passed. How many children in low income neighborhoods are going to affected by this law? If I cannot donate M's old toys and clothes to charity, where are they going to end up? In landfills? And what resources are mothers who cannot afford to buy things at retail price going to have? And what about school fundraisers? Holiday craft fairs? Handmade dolls moms make at night to sell for extra money for their family? My community is heavily invested in careers with mothers making crafts and selling at fairs. One of the best presents ever given to M was from a man who carves animals out of wood and puts little wheels on them from North Carolina. What is going to happen to him? Or disabled people working in little shops making toys on a small scale in some city somewhere. Or a woman making handmade baby quilts to sell at local stores. How will they afford the cost to have a lab test their products for safety? Well, they won't. And, meanwhile the factories in China making plastic crap toys will continue, humming along, making a gazillion dollars.
Today I am asking myself, WTF?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Angus the Dog

Angus the dog. He lives in North Carolina with my in-laws. He is very loved, and extremely sweet. M. loves him too. A lot. Maybe too much? Angus weathered our visit really well. According to follow-up accounts he recovered from our visit over a two day period. I am happy to report there were no nips, bites or other dog self-defense moves while we were visiting him. Yes, Angus is cool. Very tolerant. More tolerant than I would be if I were a dog up against a 4 year old with an agenda. M. was in his face for 10 days, sneaking jabs, prods, kicks and of course kisses and hugs. Thanks Angus. We love you.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Can I have one pretty please?

Wow. Wow. Wow. This is so amazing I am making a post about it. The coolest thing I have seen this week. What a conversation piece. A knitted dissected frog. This is art that stops me in my tracks and makes me say "What?"
Maybe I dissected too many dead things in college and it slightly warped my sense of style? Probably. But, this is my form of art; lovely, simple, curious, funny, vibrant, clear, slightly morbid.
Totally, YES.
Do you ETSY? As in I find it to be a nice, warm, comfy crafty place. Here is the link to the Crafty Hedgehog on Etsy:

Chicken Thighs

Chicken thighs. They don't dry out like breast. They are about 1/3 the cost of breast, and they are packed with flavor. I buy boneless, skinless, free-range chicken thighs and use them in A LOT of dishes. My husband has almost put his foot down in protest of my overuse of them, but I keep trying to be creative. After M. was born, I missed cooking more than anything else lost to newborn world. In my effort to get back in the kitchen I had to be quick about cooking diner. I started making my "one skillet meals" using either a cast iron skillet (completely indispensable) or our Caphalon "Everyday" pan. I am still a big fan of one skillet meals 4 1/2 years later. Today for lunch I made a favorite standby that I have prepared at least 100 times! I added pasta to this dish I had in the fridge leftover from a couple of days ago. I always make double the pasta needed for a meal because it is so easy to heat up or put in M. school lunch. I try to keep rosemary and thyme in my fridge all the time along with cooking wine and chicken stock so I can cook this beauty up in a jiffy. Even if my thighs are frozen (like today) I still peel them out of the package and just cook them a little longer.

2-3 servings
1 pkg (about 1 lb) boneless skinless thighs
Olive Oil
Chicken Stock
4 carrots coarsely chopped
1 onion coarsely chopped
spoonful chopped rosemary
spoonful thyme
chicken stock (up to a cup)
white wine (up to a cup)
Of course you could substitute other veggies like red peppers, leeks, brussel sprouts, asparagus etc. and it would be perfect.

I saute the chicken thighs and vegetables in a good drizzle of olive oil. After about 10 minutes I add herbs and saute another 5 minutes. Lid can be on or off, you just add more liquids if it dries out. Then I add about 1/3 cup white wine, 1/3 cup chicken stock and let it cook down. You can add as much wine and broth as you want if you want the vegetables more caramelized. I cook everything about 25 minutes in the pan sometimes covered, sometimes not depending on the amounts of liquid in pan. Then I cut the chicken thighs in the pan while it is cooking and add pasta. Cook to heat up pasta and serve. Top with grated cheese if you like. I usually cook this dish on a medium high heat. Just keep your eye on it, stir it every couple of minute and add stock or wine if it starts to burn or get too dry. Once you add liquid just let it reduce. The higher the heat, the faster it will reduce. If you get any good flavor combinations I should know about, let me know. I am always game to mix things up. I heat this dish up in the morning if I have it leftover in the fridge and put it in a thermos for M. at school.
Ok, now I have to go be a mom and make brownies with M.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Endive, Endive, I love thee

I can't believe food gives me butterflies in my stomach. Just now making lunch, I got them. Not very often, but sometimes. I liked my "dish" so much it made me want to have a dinner party. I will plan the whole meal around this dish. It took 5 minutes to make.
Endive. Yes, it is bitter. But if you coax it, it will transform into many things. Chicory vegetables (endive, escarole, radicchio) are super-stars. They are the ultimate yin in the yang dominated food universe. You know, the underdogs. And since salad may not call out to us on rainy days, well then lets get down and saute.

One serving:
3 heads belgian endive
1 1/2 tsp.. truffle butter
1 Tbls pecorino romano grated
drizzle olive oil
pinch truffle salt

I cut endive into to 1 inch pieces, and sauteed with a small bit of olive oil for about 4 minutes. Then added salt and truffle butter. Turned off heat, added cheese, stirred and served.
I ate this alone. It would be a great addition to mix with pasta, israeli couscous, faro. I would put it in a burrito with scrambled eggs (if I could eat eggs). On toast. Yes, unlikely, but how gloriously it works. The cheese and truffle butter mellowed out the bitter. Especially nice on the rainy day I am listening to outside.
Oh, and pecorino romano is sheep's milk cheese, so that is a bonus too if you want to keep away from cow's milk. Check the package though just to be sure.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Weekend

Saturday night good friends came over. We watched a slide show of our friend's trip to New Mexico, ate dinner and talked. I love those kind of nights. On Sunday M. got out the handmade sewing kit/basket her grandmother made her for Christmas. She threaded the needle all by herself, and sewed buttons with just a little help. Then, we made it through our first family game of Chutes and Ladders without a 4yr. old meltdown. She struggles with not winning. Maybe a one of the downfalls of being an only child. This game she made up a little song for herself to start singing if things started going downhill. We sang it about 5 or 6 times before I won, but she hung in there. I was so proud of her. Here are her song lyrics:

If you are happy things are better
If you are sad things are badder

I think I am going to start singing this song as much as I can. Can't beat wisdom from a 4yr. old.

Friday, January 16, 2009

A bird almost flew into the jet engine

him: "You cannot do that J. You cannot!"
me: "why?"
him: "Look at yourself! You cannot just do that to people!"
me: "oh, ok, but I am not happy about this"

That was the heated conversation D and I had on the plane when he figured out I was twisting my body around to shoot the person sitting somewhere behind us a death stares because they coughed the whole 5 hr. plane ride. (they could have antibiotic resistant TB right?) What he did not know was that I had already mastered the death stare on the airplane ride to the east coast without him. Ha! So there.
I forgot my hand sanitizer (by mistake!) even though it was partially useless, I was not ready to let go of my habit. I took M. to the airplane bathroom and it was so gross, our feet stuck to the floor. Even M. knew I was in hell. She said "Mommy, is this hard for you?" Um, yeah this is hard for me. But, I did not get sick from either plane ride, so I guess I was not breathing in toxic germ air after all.

What did happen is upon landing in Sacramento, a bird came about a foot from flying right into the engine. I had wrangled the window seat from my daughter and was right beside the engine watching the landing. As we were touching down I told D, "Wow! A bird almost flew into the engine." Then two days later the Hudson river plane crash. Sometimes I dream plane crashes, but not this time. Big things like Sept. 11th and the earthquake in China I dreamed before it happened and becomes this surreal thing unfolding in front of me on the news. When I was 5 or 6 a plane crashed after its engines fell off while taking off at O'Hare. No one survived. My father and I were outside, watching the smoke rise in the sky. We were in Arlington Heights then. That started a life long fascination with plane crashes. TLC channel comes in handy for me airing specials about plane crashes. I always tune in.

Friday, January 9, 2009


Before I give this recipe, I have to confess I visited a website tonight to re-teach myself how to use quotation marks (cringe). I just was not paying attention in class.

Mashed Cauliflower

1 head of cauliflower
1 Tbls. butter
salt and pepper to taste

Pressure cook or steam cauliflower until tender and falling apart. Drain in colander. Dump into food processor add salt and pepper and blend until creamy.
Spoon into bowl and add butter.

Made this tonight for dinner, and I loved it. Ate it with meatloaf and green beans. It was almost like eating mashed potatoes. Here is how it went over with the standoffish 4yr old sitting next to me though.

her: mommy is this mashed potatoes?

me: does it look like mashed potaotes?

her: yes, but is it?

me: taste it, you tell me

her: it doesn't smell like mashed potatoes

me: it doesn't?

her:it doesn't smell like mashed potaotes!

me: why don't you taste it and tell me how you like it

her: (sticking her nose down to the pile) NO this is NOT mashed potatoes mommy!
what did you give me? Ewwww mommy! Yuck.

I tried to be stealth about it, but she caught on too quick. Sometimes I can trick her though. She disliked it so much in fact, she decided she would rather eat the pile of green beans on her plate instead.
I am imagining all the different things that would be nice to add to this dish to spice it up.

pinch of saffron
sprinkle of pecorino romano and some lemon zest
drizzle of extra special olive oil or truffle oil

How I medicate

Now that I am SEVEN years into my 30's, interesting things are starting to happen to my body. One thing is the insomnia I experience before my period. It always shows up, and it looks like this; I go to sleep and wake up a couple of hours later and lay in bed for a good 1-2 hours. As soon as I get my period, insomnia goes away. So, I take a Calms Forte pill before bed for the week before my period, and I usually skip the insomnia for the most part. Depending on other miscellaneous factors, I also take a chelated calcium and magnesium pill before bed which works really, really well too. My Calms Forte bottle comes with me whenever I travel to help with resetting my sleep clock, unfamilar beds and the flu-ish feelings I get with jet lag. Oh yes, and I take it before bed on the nights I drink a glass of wine so I do not experience alcohol induced anxiety and insomnia. This week I am experiencing PMS, jet lag, new bed and wine, so I am loving my bottle. When I take a pill, I do not notice much of anything. Perhaps a little tired, but that is it. But, I ended up falling asleep faster and staying asleep. And when I take it with my Cal/Mag pill I really sleep well.
Now what is Calms Forte' you ask? It is a non-addictive homeopathic pill. I also only take one pill; two can make me feel groggy in the morning. But, my body is super sensitive so you might take two and notice no difference.
I love this company so much, I buy the kids Calms Forte' and give to M. for traveling and any kind of restlessness she may get before bed.
Writing about this makes me excited to share all my goodies in my medicine cabinet. I am especially excited to write about tonsil stones, but may loose some of my very short list of readers due to the grossness.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Tuscan stew

Made this stew last night. Very yummy, very healthy. M. ate it also and like it. It is cooked in a pressure cooker, which is one of my favorite, most used tools in my kitchen. My wonderful mother-in-law introduced me to the world of pressure cooking about 5 years ago. I can make from scratch soup in 1 hour instead of simmering soup on the stove for 3 hours.
We made cornbread to accompany this stew, but crusty bread would be great. Ask your meat counter if they have lamb shanks because they may be in the back room, not in the display case. It is really easy and took about 1 hour to make!

Makes 4 servings

2 lamb shanks
1 cup dried cannellini beans soaked overnight in 3 cups water
1 onion chopped
2 stalks celery chopped
2 carrots chopped
2 stalks rosemary chopped
2 cloves garlic chopped
1 can chopped tomatoes
2 cups water
chopped parsley to garnish
high quality olive oil to drizzle on top
3 Tbls. olive oil to sautee lamb and veggies
salt and pepper
6-8 quart pressure cooker

Brown lamb shanks in pressure cooker with olive oil (about 8 min). Remove from pot and set aside on plate. Add onion, carrot, celery and garlic to pressure cooker and sautee for 10 min. Add tomatoes along with liquid in can, rosemary, drained beans, water and lamb shanks to pressure cooker with salt and pepper and bring to boil. Put cover on pressure cooker and cook on high pressure for 30 min. Place pressure cooker in sink, and run cold water over lid relieve pressure. Open and remove lamb shanks and remove meat and chop. Take potato masher and mash beans slightly to thicken sauce.
In bowls ladel 2 scoops of bean stew and top with handful of lamb, sprinkle of parsely and drizzle of olive oil.
This recipe is adapted from Gourmet magazine.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

It might make you jealous

For God's sake, Gweneth Paltrow has a blog. And she is talking about cool things I like; fasting, traveling, shopping, decorating, eating. I am so annoyed. The popular girl at school has something interesting to say. I read a lot of it just now, and I want to be her friend.
The only thing I could think while reading it (besides how I am going to try all the recipes she listed) is how does she have time to type so much? Her assistant must do it.
It is a little over the top with kabbalah, zen and jewish mystics answering questions like how to handle a pessimistic friend. But, I hand it to her for doing it. Go Gweneth.
if you want to see for yourself:

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Eating Well

How this country eats has always interested me. How I eat has always interested me. Cooking is a something I think about and dream about. Last summer I did a colon cleanse and Master Cleanse for 6 days. I drank lemon juice, maple syrup, water and cayenne for those days and nothing else except the colon herbs. For six days I thought about food, menus and recipes. It was torture. I made homemade pasta for my family during that cleanse because I missed cooking so much. I could not disconnect from mixing flavors and textures together. My friend was fasting with me and we talked daily. He seemed relieved that he could disconnect from food while fasting. It has made me wonder if I have unhealthy attachments to food. This is worrisome thought for me because I practiced nutrition for 5 years and taught people how to eat. I would take many of my clients to the grocery stores and show them how to shop by reading labels and understanding ingredients. I would create diets and recipes for these people who were trying to change things in their bodies or lose weight or feel better. And yet I have struggled with weight, going up and down depending on how I am choosing to eat.
Michael Polan's The Omnivore's Dilemma really dived into food politics. How far our country has moved from the dining room table, locally grown food and eating well. Because eating well has become a cloudy area. And I ask myself that question every day, every meal "am I eating well"? When I travel, I ask that question to whatever city I am in. Do these people eat well? Do these people have resources to eat well? Is there any inspiration to eat well? Does the community support them to eat well? In California the answers are all yes, and then some. I feel like I moved to food heaven coming to California!
Fat Flush is a diet I go on when I need to drop weight. It works really well. My body responds well to it. It eliminates all starchy carbohydrates, fats and sugars. It can be very rigid if you don't get creative. I will be diving right into my creativity. I am spending my nights falling asleep creating the best fat flush dishes my mind can muster. Grilled radicchio and pear salad. Free range meatballs with puttanesca sauce. Red peppers stuffed with cumin chicken. Grilled salmon with tofu lemon rosemary sauce. Because food never leaves my life and I am determined to make peace with it.

Sunday, January 4, 2009


Photo of me in labor, about half way through.

Anyone watch 20/20 on friday night? Usually 20/20 is not on my tv radar, but I had two emails reminding me to tune it to the show all about birthing, nursing and surrogate mothers. Having giving birth at home I am always game to check out other women who are doing the same and sympathize. My birth according to my midwife was "normal". 29 hours after my first contraction I pushed M. out. That included 3 1/2 hours of pushing. Not all of my birth experience is clear in my memory, but one part is; the part right after I pushed out M. and said really loudly "I am never doing that again, ever." I prepared for my birthing moment by regular bikram yoga 2-3 times a week and becoming a hypnobirthing student. Everyday I did my rainbow relaxation, teaching my body to become relaxed so I could deal with childbirth, perhaps even enjoy labor. I chuckle writing that last sentence. I should have known that very early on in labor when my sister walked me to the outhouse to pee in the dark and I told her "I just want this to be over" while most likely only 2 cm. dialated I was in trouble. I did not have a pain free, magical birth. Hypnotherapy did not work, and it is the closest to death I have ever been. So when I saw the segment on 20/20 of women having orgasmic births I sat on the couch and stared in disbelief at the tv screen. With my mouth hanging open. Trying not to think mean thoughts about them. But I did.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Hand Sanitizer

I thought it would be interesting to post some photos peeking into our household. Things I look at a lot. The bulletin board at my kitchen desk. I made it from a piece of foam board and fabric I love. The colors, faces, artwork all mixed together represent our friends, family and my current state of mind. The pictures of D. working from his home office. I must go in while he is working at least 10 times a day. Sitting, staring at his laptop is one of the most familiar scenes in my life.
Anyway, I heard a big piece of news today. I love NPR, and although M. complains it gives her a stomachache, I listen to Fresh Air and Science Friday whenever I can. Today on Science Friday, Ira was interviewing two doctors about the cold and flu season. I should have turned it off, knowing my mind already has enough information about sickness, probably too much, but, I did not. I figured there was nothing they would say that would be news to me, so what the heck. Long story short, the expert doctor said that alcohol in hand sanitizer gels do not kill the cold virus. DOES NOT KILL THE COLD VIRUS. Isn't that the reason I use hand sanitizer? So I don't get a cold and then a 2 month long sinus infection? I gasped so loud hearing the news little M. in the back seat asked what happened.

Now, if are with me for longer than 5 minutes, you know I don't really go out in the world without my bottle of organic lavender hand sanitizer. I keep a giant bottle of it at home in my closet for refills (the most wonderful mother's day present from my mother in law!) a bottle under my kitchen sink for chicken juice (bacteria which I know alcohol kills!) and generic extras in my bathroom drawer just in case. My dear husband gave up about 4 years ago trying to convince me I just don't need to be so freaky about germs. He refuses to use hand sanitizer, period. M. has pitched fits on numerous occasions when I make her hold out her hands to get a squeeze of gel after being almost anywhere. My girlfriends just go with it, because everyone has their vice, I think they find it mildly funny, and it has come in handy on occasions for them too. Yes, I admit my trusty blue bottle is my security blanket. A funny story about me and germs that just sums up how the universe is supporting my spiritual growth. M was about 2, and we were in an airport between flights. I had just gotten done telling her the "do not touch anything" speech that I say every time we go into a public bathroom stall. But she was two, and it is hard enough to get a kid not to touch anything or crawl under the bathroom door for that matter. While I was going to the bathroom she turned around and LICKED the bathroom stall wall. That was a very hard day for me.

I have actually had an argument with D. on a plane because he would not promise to use a seat cover in the airplane bathroom with M. Airplane bathrooms I consider my own personal hell.
So, I am going to need a new security blanket now. And as my next plane ride on monday fast approaches, I will have to be quick about it.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Food and Wine

M riding on Daddy's shoulders
Golden Gate Park Carousel
Bodega Bay in the vanagon
Birthday at Japanese Gardens in Golden Gate Park
Birthday Dinner at Mamacita

I love California. Even the nightmarish I-80 corridor drive to the bay area makes me happy. This week has been filled with one great adventure after another. We drove down to SF the day after Christmas. We were stir crazy. On our way down we stopped at In-N-Out Burger. Minus the crazy crowds, In-N-Out is fabulous. It is my humble opinion that they could put McDonalds and Burger King out of business if they spread out of CA. within 6 months. In the book Fast Food Nation I learned about the wonderful workings of this family owned "fast food" burger place that in California is like a national treasure.
In San Francisco, there was shopping and restaurants. I finally went to SPQR. Honestly though, it did not live up to the hype. Although the deep fried brussel sprouts with caper and lemon did impress, I might not go back. D and I went to Bar Tartine for my pre-birthday celebration, and although they were not on top of their game, I am loyal for life until something crazy happens and I cannot justify French bistro food in an amazing atmosphere any longer. I am on a Pinot Noir kick right now. I like the lower alcohol content than other wines, so I can drink a glass and not be ready for bed. I have spent the last 9 years dedicated to Oregon Pinot Noirs, but this year I broke out of that funk and am now liking California Pinot Noirs. A bit more fruity and jammy than Oregon style pinots I have been drinking. So, I drank California Pinot Noir at Bar Tartine and it went great with the Liberty Farms duck breast I had as an entree.
Camping was really fun. I love fog and cold weather, so was right at home. Our little hotel on wheels, the vanagon is superb. With the solar panel on the popup we never have to worry about electricity or running down the battery. Our second night we ate at a new restaurant in Bodega Bay called Terrapin Creek. A slow food style place that a young couple from SF opened 6 months ago. Seared scallops on parsnip puree with a warm bacon vinaigrette was my favorite. Two days into camping I am pretty dirty, and opted not to use the showers at the campground due to the potential grossness factor, so I looked a little worse for wear eating at this very sweet place!
Last night we went to our friend's house back at home for New Year's dinner. They are organic farmers who we buy our CSA subscription from, and had all their "foodie" friends from Santa Cruz up for the holiday. It was the last night of glutton and boy was it worth it. Homemade Pinot Noir from their vineyards, smoked salmon with cream fraiche roasted beets, dill and lemon zest. Hand harvested porcini mushrooms baked on puff pastry. The stand out was one dish I was floored by. Burrata cheese with artisinal olive oil, coarse salt, rosemary, and lemon zest. Crusty sourdough bread to smear the cheese on. I had never eaten Burrata cheese, and likened it to a creamier version of fresh mozzarella. These folks cook and grow food for a living. There was homemade limoncello and quince paste that blew me away. Very inspiring food night to end the week of eating. Ok! Enough! Back to work! I have a house to clean, a tree to take down and a big trip to the east coast to prepare for. Oh Joy.


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