Thursday, December 13, 2007


They're shutting us off! I opened up a notice from the water company which states that our payment is late and so they're shutting us off December 26. (How nice of them to let us have water for Christmas.)

I figured that I must have forgotten to send them a check. (Yes, I still pay my bills with paper checks.) I grabbed my checkbook and wrote out a check. It wasn't until I went to record the check that I saw that I had just sent them a check on November 28. The notice was dated December 10. I know that companies sometimes send out statements that don't have the most recent payments credited to the account yet. I called the water company. The woman said they haven't received anything since my previous bill back in September. She said that she would note my call in her computer. She suggested I call my bank and then call back.

It's a Thursday night. I bank with the local hometown bank. I'll have to wait until morning before I can talk to anyone. But they do have online banking (I just don't use it to pay my bills), so I went online to see if the check had posted. It hadn't. Funny thing though. I wrote four checks on November 28. Three of them posted on December 3. The last one is still missing. I don't know where it could be.

I'm not sure if I should stop the check or not. That will cost $30. If I don't pay, then it will cost $41.65 to reconnect plus the overdue amount. We'll be gone to California for a week. We won't need water while we're gone. We also won't be using any during that time either. That would almost make it worthwhile to not pay the water bill. However, the mark on my credit would not be worth it.

Saturday, December 1, 2007


Mom decorated cakes when I was little, but I never learned how. I tried, but I wasn't very good at it controlling the flow of the icing out of the bag. It was too frustrating.

But something made me want to try. Or perhaps I should say someone. Tomorrow is Samantha's birthday party. I decided to make her cake rather than buy one. Very scary thought. I went to the store and bought a cake decorating set that came with some tips, couplers, bags and icing color. I also picked up a beginner's guide that included pictures and directions for several basic cakes.

I've baked many cakes, but somehow I never made the icing. I guess it's because the stuff in the tub is so much easier. Mom always made her own from scratch. There were points during the process when I wondered whether I was doing it right. The directions said to mix in all the powdered sugar into the shortening before adding the water, so that's what I did. It went from a stiff paste to a wet gloopy mess. I don't remember mom's icing ever looking like that. I kept beating it and eventually it turned light and fluffy.

For my first cake, I don't think it looks too bad. What do you think? As you can see, I'm a bit of a minimalist. I could have kept going with the flowers, but I reached this point and the little voice in my head said that the cake was done. I did a white zigzag with pink dots at the base of the cake. The top edge has white stars. The little pink drop flowers have a white center and green stem.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Pouting Chair

Samantha's pouting chair arrived today. Woodworking was one of my grandpa's hobbies. He made the chair before he died several years ago. That was back before he had any great-grandchildren to sit in one of the chairs. Mom sent the chair here so Samantha could have it. Doesn't she look cute sitting in it? It's a perfect size for her except for her feet not touching the ground.

Friday, October 26, 2007


I've been sorta awol for a while.

Samantha had been cold-free for a few days, but now she's got a yucky nose again. I think it's a sinus infection. She's got green snot. That's gross in and of itself, but the halitosis is terrible. It smells like spoiled cow's milk. She makes a point of exhaling right in my face. I seem to recall Mom telling me I had bad breath when I was sick. Now I know what she was talking about. She seems like her happy self. Maybe a little sleepier, but it's bedtime so that's to be expected.

Mom is enabling me and my Starbucks habit. I received a Starbucks card in the mail from her today. Thanks Mom! I made sure to register the card at I registered a card once before and they loaded $5 on it. I hope they do it again. I love getting free stuff, but you knew that already.

Tomorrow is the final CSA potluck of the season. I'm not sure what I'll take. Mom sent me a roasted butternut squash recipe along with the Starbucks card. It looks tasty. Very seasonal. I'm not sure how warm it will stay or even if that will matter. It's supposed to be in the 50's tomorrow, so fall foods will be appropriate. I think winter squash qualifies as a fall food.

I need to pick up some apples for Samantha. She really likes them. Fresh or sauced -- it doesn't matter to her. Sauce is a little better for sending in her lunch at daycare. She would stuff an entire apple slice in her mouth if I let her. Instead, I hold a piece and let her gnaw off a bite.

Last weekend we ate dinner at the Sippels' house. Lots of good food, but the most unusual thing I consumed was a shot of cider vinegar. This was like no other cider vinegar I had ever tasted before. It was the real deal. You could tell that it used to be hard cider. It had a wininess that is lacking in most cider vinegars because they bypass the alcohol step and jump right to vinegar. I would tell you that the flavor had a different shape in my mouth, but I can't find the right words to describe the sensation, so I won't.

Sunday, October 21, 2007


I checked on the sauerkraut today as I have been doing over the past month. I noticed more scum than usual so I pulled it out of the closet and set out to skim off the scum. The bread container looked a little funkier than I liked, so I thought I'd wash it. Of course, that meant removing the cabbage from it. The removal process gave me an opportunity to smell the stuff. It smelled kinda like beer. Definitely could tell that it was fermenting. As I started filling up the new container, I started wondering how I'd know if my sauerkraut was done. Afterall, my recipe gave me a length of time, but it did not tell me what signs of doneness to look for. I checked my blog and saw that the cabbage went in one month ago tomorrow. That should be the right amount of time.

I decided to brave it and taste the kraut. I'm not used to eating veggies that have been sitting out for a month. They usually rot before that amount of time. If I don't survive the night, then let Joe know that the sauerkraut in the fridge should be thrown out! I don't know if I had ever eaten real sauerkraut before. It tasted different. Like I said above, the fermentation gives it some beer like flavors. It was crunchy but not like it was when fresh. I never made it to Penzeys, so the only spice I added was the caraway seeds. The commercial kraut I typically buy does not have any spices. However, commerical stuff has that vinegary flavor from the fast pickling methods they use. My kraut has no vinegar.

Now I want to try the kraut with food to see how Joe likes it. It would probably make an excellent Reuben, but for that I'd have to make my own corned beef. I'll probably just try it with a little smoked sausage. That would be good. Or on brats. I will be passing through Bucyrus on Thursday. If they're open at the time, I may stop in Carle's for bratwurst to take home. Or not.

I would like to try another batch. Maybe seedless. One with the juniper berries might be nice. But honestly, I don't think we eat that much sauerkraut in a year. Samantha would have to start eating it, but it's got too much salt for her to be eating now.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Recipe Contest

I have entered the Marion Star's annual recipe contest for the past four years. Each year they have selected one of my recipes for the cookoff. I won my category the last two years. Their rules are pretty simple. It does not have to be original or anything. There are about ten categories and you submit the recipe based on one of those categories. Then they read the recipes and pick about four in each category that sound good to the judges. If you're selected then they notify you to bring the prepared dish on the appointed evening for final judging.

Well, I was glancing at today's paper when I saw the cookoff mentioned on the front page. I knew that the deadline was soon, but I hadn't really paid any attention. You see, I only subscribe to Saturdays and Sundays of the paper. Even those usually wind up only half-read. I turned the page to find a copy of the entry form. I have until October 18th at noon to enter. That's this Thursday! I don't know what to submit. I ran out of tried and true family favorites last year when I entered Italian Beef. I have less than five days to find an award winning recipe. Now is not the time to create something new. I need help. Any ideas?

Oh, you might want to know what the categories are. This year, they are:
-- Edible Centerpieces
-- Appetizers
-- Brunch
-- Cookies & Candies
-- Cakes & Pies
-- Meats
-- Youth 18 and under
-- Ethnic Dishes
-- Casseroles
-- Crockpot Favorites

Obviously, I am not a youth, so that's out until Samantha is old enough to cook in a few years.

Friday, October 12, 2007

The End is Here

My frozen milk stash has been depleted. There is enough for Monday, but Tuesday is doubtful. If I pump a few ounces each day this weekend then I might have enough for Tuesday. I don't pump on the weekends anymore, so it looks like Samantha will be trying formula Tuesday. I don't know how she'll like it. I'm hoping she likes it enough to drink it but not so much that she starts refusing breastmilk.

I have been dreading the day that I'd have to supplement. Formula is evil. Well, not necessarily evil, but first and foremost, formula companies are out there to make a buck. I hate that I now have to give them my money. But on a positive note, look how long we've gone without supplementing. When she was four months old, I was looking for a job and knew that I would be going back to work soon. I was worried that I wouldn't be able to pump enough. Around that time, she went through a growth spurt and was drinking 7 oz bottles. My output was pretty meager compared to that. Honestly I figured I would run out of frozen milk within a month or two. But her appetite settled back down to 4-6 oz bottles and that helped me out. I was able to stay ahead of her up until now. I am proud of these ten months.

I might try making up a couple ounces of formula for her to try this weekend. I'm not sure what the best delivery mechanism will be. I'd like to have her weaned off a regular bottle by 12 months, so I don't know if I should start that just to stop it in a month or two. She isn't doing that great with the sippy cups yet (we have a few different styles which just confuses her), but she expects those to taste like milk, not formula. She didn't like when the sippy cup had water or juice in it. I have let her drink out of my water glass. We get all wet, but she likes it. That would probably be too messy for anything other than water. That isn't a feasible solution for daycare. I'll probably try one of the sippy cups. Yucky formula. Those LLL women have brainwashed me! I better not tell them next week at the Ohio LLL conference that I am supplementing.

Monday, October 8, 2007


I moved into the new office in Columbus on Friday. Today was the first official day for me and Alex. We didn't get much done. Our major accomplishment was hanging the dry erase board in the conference room. So exciting! The hard part was that we have four computers but no servers. All of the files we need are on the server in Indianapolis. The server can be accessed remotely through the Lexington office, but we have to go over the internet to do that. We don't have the internet. We have a Sprint wireless connection card thing that fits into one of the laptops, but it only works about half of the time. We have an adapter so the Sprint card can be plugged into the other laptop, but no software to run the adapter. It's gonna be a long week without the server. Erin from the IT department is tentatively going to be here next Monday. Until then, I may have to work from the wifi hotspot at the nearby Starbucks.

Speaking of Starbucks, I have every Song of the Day so far. The barista at the Starbucks near the office gave me a couple future ones when I went in on Friday. There are 37 days in the program. As previously mentioned, Sara gave me the first two days. I already had two future ones since they were iTunes freebies. That leaves 31 songs that I'll have to pay for unless I have a nice barista who gives me one. At $4 per drink (approximate price for a grande latte with a syrup), that's about $120 in coffee. Yikes. I'll have to be sure to take my own cup so I can save a dime. That will save me enough money to maybe get a tall.

The Girl is doing fine. She ate steak last night and tonight. She loves steak. Last night we had t-bones and tonight we had rib steaks. I cut the meat into small pieces and let her feed herself. I didn't think she would ever stop. She just kept shoveling them into her mouth as quickly as I could put them on her tray. I saved some for her to eat tomorrow. It will be a yummy treat.

Okay, if you've ever been a Weight Watchers member or lurked on the boards at, then you have likely heard about this magical food called Black Bean Brownies. WWers love an excuse to eat dessert. I tried them out this weekend. They are 2 points per brownie if you cut a 9x13 pan into 24 servings. By most, that is low point. If you cut the pan into fewer than 10 servings, then the fiber cap takes over and the points will go up. Take a regular brownie mix and add a can of black beans which has been rinsed and drained and then pureed in the blender with 1 cup of water; mix and bake. That's it. No more and no less. Good if you like rubbery, waxy, dark brown goo that is reminiscent of beans. Better if add in nuts, but then they aren't 2 points anymore and they're still rubbery, waxy, gooey and beany. Moral of the story: don't waste your time. If anyone tells you they're good, then that person has been deprived from the real thing far too long to be trusted.

Now listening to Emily King - Moon on iTunes
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Free Music

I went to Starbucks this morning. I wish I had a barista at home who would make a latte for me on demand. It doesn't take them very long at Starbucks because they're already set up. It takes too long at home.

Anyway, today is Day 3 of Starbucks' Song of the Day promotion with iTunes. Stop by your favorite Starbucks for your drug of choice and they give you a code for a free song. My barista Sara was supposed to discard the codes for the first two days, but she hadn't yet so she gave me ones for those days as well. Tuesday was "Jokerman" by Bob Dylan. I'm not a Dylan fan, so I'm not crazy for it. Wednesday was "One Day" by KT Tunstall. That was good. It was labeled as explicit, but I didn't play close attention to the lyrics, so I'm not sure how bad they are. Today's song is "Night of the Iguana" by Joni Mitchell. I thought Joni was a woman, but the singer sure sounds like a man to me. To sum it up, I paid $4.05 for my latte and got one good song. Not too bad. It would be nice if they were giving away free drinks and free songs.

Now listening to KT Tunstall - One Day on iTunes
via FoxyTunes

Monday, October 1, 2007

Ice Cream Sandwiches

Yesterday I made vanilla frozen yogurt (3 c plain yogurt, 1 c sugar, 1 t vanilla) using the tub of yogurt that I bought for Samantha to eat. I also made brownies. Using the cow mold Joe bought me for our anniversary, I made ice cream sandwiches. Aren't they cute?

Lesson 1: Homemade frozen yogurt tastes nothing like the commercial stuff. If you don't like yogurt don't make this. Strangely, it gets even tangier when frozen. Joe didn't like the yogurt.

Lesson 2: Frozen yogurt melts at a very high temperature and doesn't make good sandwiches.

Lesson 3: These brownies freeze quickly in the freezer. They were only in there for a few minutes, but they were already hard.

Lesson 4: These were tasty brownies. Don't lose the recipe that came with the molds.

Samantha's Big Day

Today is Samantha's first day at daycare. Daddy and Samantha just left the house. This will be very different than being at Aunt Dawn's house, but Miss Amy will take good care of Samantha. There will be other babies to play with...well, around. New toys to try to eat. It will be fun.

Move in day at work is Friday. Since today is the first of October, it made more financial sense to send her to daycare today than to wait until Friday when I'll be down in Columbus too. They charge either by the week or by the month. The monthly rate is better since she'll be there the whole month.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Hold the Dairy, Please

My milk supply isn't keeping up with Samantha's demand. We'll be running out of frozen milk soon (only a week or two left), so something has to be done to make sure she's getting enough nutrition for her age. She really likes her solid food now and is taking in less and less breastmilk as the weeks progress. One result of her reduced liquid intake is that she has been having constipation issues. She strains and cries when she tries to pass the hard stools. It's awful being the mom who knows what it's like but doesn't know how to make it better.

That is where we're at. I thought I would try two things to help make sure she gets enough milk. The first is to try supplementing her diet with an alternate milk source. So, I thought I would try Samantha on yogurt. From what I've read, yogurt and cheese can be introduced at her age, but cow's milk should be held off until later. Joe gave her some last night for supper and I gave her some this morning for breakfast. She thought it was different but ate it anyway. This afternoon when I picked her up from Dawn's house I wasn't even in the doorway when one of the twins started telling me a story about Samantha having diarrhea and getting poop all over her clothes. Dawn said it made her gag worse than any of her five kids' poop ever has. That's pretty bad. And she had two bouts of diarrhea. Poor thing. Her tummy must not have felt good at all. That is a total of three poops in one day for a girl who doesn't always go every day and it's hard when she does. Only thing new in her diet is the yogurt. We'll be laying off dairy for a while. I was hoping to be able to give her cheese, but it's probably best if we wait on that too. Now I have a tub of plain whole milk yogurt in the fridge to eat.

I started taking fenugreek. It's an herb that is supposed to help increase milk supply. I went to two pharmacies before finding it at GNC. One side effect of fenugreek is that it makes you and/or your baby smell like maple syrup. Apparently fenugreek is used to flavor artificial pancake syrup. I burped earlier today and felt like I had recently eaten pancakes. I read that most women will notice an increase within 24-72 hours of starting fenugreek. We'll see how it goes. I'll be happy if I can pump an additional half bottle a day. That won't be enough to meet her current milk intake, but every little bit helps. I won't be quite so worried.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Adventures in Kraut Making, Day 1

Joe and I recently watched an episode of Good Eats where Alton made sauerkraut. Alton made it look easy and unscary. The scum potential and lengthy wait time have deterred me from making sauerkraut to date. But it is cabbage season and there have been cabbages in the CSA shares this month. Joe will only eat cabbage a few times a year without complaining and there is just too much of it sitting around occupying space in the fridge, so I decided I would try my hand at sauerkraut making. I hope this works. We'll know in a month.

Here is the recipe. My comments are italicized.


Recipe courtesy Alton Brown, 2004
Show: Good Eats
Episode: Good Eats: Eat this Rock!
Yield 12 cups

5 pounds green cabbage, shredded (I used three medium to large sized heads.)
3 tablespoons pickling salt
1 tablespoon juniper berries (I couldn't find any here in town, so I omitted for now and will add it in when I can get to a store in Columbus that carries them. I'll go to the Penzeys if I have to.)
2 teaspoons caraway seeds (Mine are a little old, so I toasted them a few minutes to make them more fragrant and then cooled them before using.)
1 quart water, in a sanitized glass jar

In large mixing bowl (this should be read as huge mixing bowl. I used two 4-quart bowls and they were filled to the brim.), mix cabbage thoroughly with salt, juniper berries, and caraway seeds, using hands or tongs. If using your hands, make sure that they are very clean prior to mixing. Let stand for 10 minutes.

Pack cabbage mixture down into a large plastic food container (Alton used a bread container with the insert for removing the bread slices, which he used instead of the lid mentioned in the next step, but Walmart didn't have that type of container, so I couldn't do that.). Top with a lid smaller than the opening of the container and place a glass jar filled with the quart of water on top of the lid. Place in cool area overnight (65 to 70 degrees F). In a day, the cabbage should have given up enough liquid to be completely submerged. The jar serves as a weight to keep the cabbage submerged and away from air.

Check cabbage every other day for approximately 2 weeks and skim the surface of scum, if necessary. Let stand for 4 weeks. Transfer to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.

Sunday, September 16, 2007


Saturday, Samantha and I went shopping with my friend Kim. I wanted to get a start on my Christmas shopping. I did that, but more importantly, I needed to find something for my sister's birthday that's coming up at the end of this month. It was long day. I picked up Kim from her house in Delaware (that's a city in Ohio for all you non-Ohioans) at 11 am and dropped her back off at 9 pm. Samantha was not very happy by the end of it. She has been going to bed around 7 or 8 lately. There was too much activity going on around her for her to think about napping. I seem to remember Laura not wanting to miss anything by sleeping either.

Last year my siblings and I decided that individually we would not buy something for each of us. We picked names in July when we were all together. Last year my sister, her husband and her daughter, my brother as well as my husband and the yet unnamed and unborn "Baby" were included in the drawing. The only rule was that you couldn't pick the name of someone in your own household. If you do the math, this only saved me from buying one gift. Andrew's birthday is in December, so I unintentionally fooled him into thinking we had his name for Christmas when I asked him what he wanted.

This year we have decided to do the same thing as last year. Only differences are that we have added my brother's girlfriend and "Baby" is now named Samantha. Laura and Andrew have pretty much guessed who has whom, but to keep the secrecy, I will not discuss who I have purchased gifts for. They may suspect that as a family we have picked names X, Y and Z, but they don't know if Amy has X or if Joe does or if Samantha does. And yes, it does make a difference. A gift selected by Amy will not be the same as the one chosen by Joe. If you don't believe me, just ask Joe's nieces about the remote control cars they got this year for their 8th birthday.

The impetus for the shopping trip was to spend the day with Kim and scratch a few things off my Christmas list.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A Cat's Life

I've never talked about Kasey before. He can be a great cat, but he can also be a real pain in the neck sometimes. One of his pastimes is sitting in the window sill and just looking around. When the weather is nice he enjoys it even more because I open the window for him. All those smells must be so foreign to him. He is quite the agoraphobe. He hates when we take him outside. He is overdue for a vet appointment, so we will be torturing him again in the near future. He'll cry the whole trip. Good thing it's only a few minutes away.

Anyway. Do you see the grass growing outside the window? This time of year it tries to grow inside the window. On a breezy day like today the tips will find their way into the screen. Kasey loves it and will try to pull the blades through with his teeth and paws. It's hilarious to watch. I just hope he doesn't break the screen and get out. There are a few snags in the screen already.

Sunday, September 9, 2007


I made brownies to serve with the peanut butter ice cream. Chocolate and peanut butter are a match made in heaven. It was a mix, so no recipe for me to share. However, the mix employed a method that I haven't used before with brownies. I liked the technique enough that I think I might try it the next time I make brownies from scratch. By the way, the mix was from Williams-Sonoma.

The mix came in two pouches. There was a sugar pouch and a cocoa pouch. From the ingredient list, I'm guessing that there was nothing more than sugar in the sugar pouch. The cocoa pouch had the cocoa, chocolate chunks and flour. The baking powder and vanilla may have been hidden in either pouch. As I recall, that was it. To the mix, I added 4 eggs and a stick and a half of cooled, melted butter. Sounds like the typical brownie recipe so far. The odd part was that you're instructed to beat the sugar pouch and eggs in a mixer for 5-7 minutes until it's more than doubled. It gets very fluffy kinda like a meringue, but there are yolks, so not a meringue. Then you stir in the melted butter and cocoa pouch just until combined.

I wish I knew more about the chemistry behind brownie baking. These were good brownies. Their only downfall was they lack that flaky top crust that brownies are supposed to have. I bet Alton Brown knows the answer to how to bake the perfect brownie.

Peanut Butter Ice Cream

We made ice cream for dessert tonight. I mixed it up and Joe put it in the ice cream maker. If you like peanut butter, then you'll like this ice cream. Very peanut buttery. Easy too, since there are no eggs to cook.

Peanut Butter Ice Cream

2 2/3 c half and half
180 g (3/4 c) peanut butter
180 g (3/4 c + 2 T) sugar
dash salt
1/8 t vanilla

Put all ingredients in the blender. Puree until smooth. Refrigerate a few hours until well chilled (or as long as you can stand to wait). Freeze in ice cream maker per the manufacturer's instructions. Yields about 1 quart.

We have a Cuisinart brand ice cream maker that can hold up to a quart and a half. It is the type with a bowl that is filled with refrigerant and refrozen prior to making each batch. Mine must be frozen at least 24 hours or else the ice cream will not freeze properly. I have found that a Ziploc 2 gallon freezer bag will hold the freezer bowl nicely. I put the clean bowl into the bag and pop it in my chest freezer. Then whenever the ice cream making mood strikes, i am prepared. This recipe froze in 25 minutes.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

The One and Only Cheerios

Samantha tried Cheerios last week. She likes to eat them, but hasn't quite figured out what to do with them if they aren't completely in her mouth. This morning I saw her put one into her mouth. She doesn't yet know that she has to let go of it if she wants to eat it. Until she gets the hang of it, we put one into her mouth and put another one in front of her for her to play with. She'll be a pro in no time.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Samantha Update

Yesterday was Samantha's 9 month "birthday". Joe took her to see the pediatrician for her checkup. She weighed 15 lb 14 oz and measured 26.25 inches. Not a big girl, but doing fine. I have to remember not to look at the growth charts. The growth charts that most people refer to were from a study with a limited population in Ohio. Most of those children were formula fed and often started solids before four months. Therefore, they will not be as accurate for a baby who was breastfed and started solids closer to six months. Samantha is growing at her own pace.

Bye Bye PMI

Last month, I looked through my mortgage paperwork to determine whether I was able to drop the private mortgage insurance yet. It appeared good, so I contacted Washington Mutual to find out their requirements. They sent me a letter detailing everything. Basically, since this is my primary residence, I needed to have a good payment history (I do) and 20% equity. I was a little short on the equity, so I sent them an all principal payment, which was about the size of one month's mortgage payment. Ouch. But we had the money sitting in the savings account, so it didn't hurt too much. Now I'm not paying $42.11 each month for PMI.

I wrote two other checks to WaMu last month. I sent them the regular payment due September 1st. I also sent them $148 to bring the escrow account back up to the level they like to see. Every August they re-estimate the escrow figures based on the previous year's debits and credits to the escrow account. Last year, my property taxes and homeowner's insurance were higher than budgeted, so they wanted more to balance last year. A once a year adjustment is a lot easier than having to pay the taxes and insurance without the escrow account.

Yesterday, I received the statement from WaMu reflecting all of the payments I sent them last month. Starting October 1, the payment is about $37 less than what was due September 1. I intend to continue paying the extra $37 and applying it toward principal. Every little bit helps. I doubt that we'll live in this house long enough to pay it off, but it sure would be nice to some day sell it and make enough money for a down payment on the next house.

Monday, August 27, 2007

She Caught It...

My cold that is. I figured she would get it eventually. Breastmilk has antibodies, but it won't have any for a bug that I'm not immune to yet. Yesterday her nose started running especially when she was upset. She was sneezing more often than usual. She even sneezed directly into my ear when I was holding her. Her sneezes are so petite, but that was loud! She didn't sleep well overnight. She cried out on more than one occasion. When I went in to feed her this morning, I could hear her congested breathing. She has a fever. Her diaper was full already because she had been awake more than usual. To relieve her discomfort, I gave her some ibuprofen, changed her and fed her. Hopefully this cold will quickly run its course for both of us. Colds are no fun for anybody.

Joe left for Chicago yesterday. He won't get back until late Wednesday night, which leaves me to deal with a sick girl.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Samantha Pictures

I told you a while back that I would put a picture of Samantha's tooth up here. This morning I took her picture and she showed off both of her teeth. If you look closely you can see both of her pearly whites.

You're probably wondering what she can do now that she's approaching the 9 month mark. As you can see, she can now hold onto something and stand. As she gets older she probably won't appreciate Mommy taking a picture of her rear end!

And just what was she so interested in looking at? Her kitten book, of course.

She's telling me that it's time to get ready for bed, so we better go before she trashes my office.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Poll Results

At what age should a child stop breastfeeding?

0% Don't start. That's what formula is for.

0% At six weeks when mom goes back to work.

50% When she gets teeth.

50% When she can ask for it.

0% When she goes off to kindergarten.

Where are the Kleenex?

I have a cold. It's not progressing like my colds usually do. Tuesday night it started with a sore throat which lasted for two and a half days before any other symptoms kicked in. Friday morning I woke up and had that deep, raspy voice. Then late in the afternoon my head started getting congested. It was difficult to fall asleep. Now my nose runs and I sneeze on occasion. The weird part is that I don't feel all that bad. Oh, I forgot the itchy eyes that I had before I took a nap this afternoon. This just seems milder, but more drug out than usual. I haven't had a cold since before getting pregnant, so maybe my memory is failing me.

So far the rest of the family is feeling fine. However, Samantha is fussier than usual since waking up from her nap.

Barbecued short ribs are in the crockpot for supper. I checked them a couple hours ago and the bones fell out. There's no doubt about their doneness, so I turned it down to low. At that time, I spooned out the sauce into a jelly jar and let it settle for a few minutes. Over a third was grease -- so gross. I dumped out the grease and poured the sauce back over the ribs. I hope they're good because there are a few more packs of ribs in the freezer. It's 6 pm and the only question is what sides should I serve.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Kings Island

Tomorrow Joe and I are going to Kings Island. It's his company's summer outing. Free admission, lunch, and drinks for the two of us. We pay for gas and parking. Not too bad. I've never been there.

Samantha is going to spend the day with Joe's parents. She'll be asleep before we pick her up tomorrow night. I don't think she's been away from the both of us for that long before. She'll be fine. They're taking her to a family reunion. Every year his family schedules the reunion for the same weekend and every year we have already made plans by the time we get the invitation in the mail. Watch, next year I'll leave that weekend open and they'll move it up a week. We'll just have to wait until Thanksgiving to eat cottage cheese. (It's best to eat before visiting Joe's dad's family. They are not known for their cooking skills. One aunt is so bad that she takes cottage cheese to every event.)

Saturday, August 11, 2007

CSA Potluck

The Sippels had their monthly potluck at the farm today. Samantha and I went so she could see her boyfriend Charlie. He had his first cold this week, so they didn't get very cozy. Hopefully she didn't pick up his germs.

There were green beans available for you-pick and Samantha loves green beans, so I had to be sure to get some. I borrowed Lisa's backpack carrier and wore Samantha out to the bean field to pick. I was able to fill a four-quart basket before she started getting fussy. It's akward having a baby on your back and bending down to pick beans. It showed me how out of shape I really am.

Then we ate. There were two large families that brought a small covered dish (certainly not enough to feed their respective brood) and did not bring table service. To say that Lisa was miffed would be putting it lightly. Even I brought two things to eat even though Samantha isn't old enought to eat either item. The members knew to bring table service. It was rude for them to expect it to be provided. Organic farmers aren't exactly big on putting disposable dishes in landfills. I think Lisa had enough plates for everyone, but then she got stuck having to wash them all. Maybe they'll think twice before coming to another potluck.

After the dinner, Ben always gives a farm tour. I've been on it a number of times, but the exercise is always good. Plus it gives me a chance to see what crops I might see in the next couple weeks. (I saw the okra. How much longer will it be? Will it make good babyfood?) Samantha rode in Charlie's jog stroller. She fell asleep in no time even though the terrain is less than flat. Her head rolled forward in a position that would have given me a crick in my neck. Ah, the joys of being a baby and really flexible.

I left Samantha with Lisa and headed back out to the bean field. I had brought two baskets with me and wanted to fill them both before going home. Now I have more beans than will fit in my fridge. The plan is to freeze them all. Samantha will be happy that part of them will be made into babyfood. I'll snap the rest into pieces and freeze them for Joe and me.

This wouldn't be a proper post if I didn't find some way to bring up breastfeeding. Samantha ate her supper lying down on a blanket in the grass. The side-lying position is a personal favorite even though we don't use it as often as the cradle position. I think it's easier to relax. It helps to have a certain amount of boobage, so it's not for everyone.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Puke Everywhere

Joe is flying to Chicago today, so I woke up Samantha this morning. The usual routine goes like this: get her out of bed, change diaper if wet, nurse on one side, feed her some solid food, change her clothes since she probably got food all over her pjs, and then nurse her on the other side.

She was still asleep when I went into her room, so I had to wake her. Since she hadn't awoken yet, she also hadn't peed yet. I held off on the diaper. I grabbed a bib and we went to the living room to eat. I turned on the tv to check out the weather forecast (hot, muggy) and we sat down in the glider. I put the Boppy in my lap and laid her down. She didn't nurse quite as long as her norm, but I didn't think much of it. I sat her up to put on the bib before going into the dining room to eat her food. I barely had the bib on her when she started vomiting. Some people say "vomit" or "puke" or "throw up" when their kid really just spits up. This was vomit. Chunks of last night's supper all over the two of us.

I had to change her clothes, which I would have done in a few minutes anyway. I had to change my clothes because it got on my shirt, pants and soaked through to my underwear. It got on the Boppy, so I had to take off the slipcover. I saw a couple chunks on the chair, but I didn't see any liquid, so I think the chunks just fell off when we sat up. Needless to say, there's a load of laundry in the wash right now.

After cleaning us up, I tried feeding her the breakfast I prepared. She had a couple bites, but wasn't up for more. She nursed on the other side, again faster than usual. I don't know if she's sick or whether her dinner just didn't agree with her. She isn't running a fever and she seems like her happy self. I called Dawn to her know that Samantha had thrown up. We agreed that I'd keep her for a few hours to see if she gets sick again. If it is a bug, we definitely don't want to spread it to her cousin Zach.

She's taking a nap. I'll try to work and hopefully she'll be better soon and able to go to Aunt Dawn's house later on.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Italian Seasoning

I don't know about most people, but I think I have a lot of spices. They fill up an entire shelf in my cupboard, and there's a second shelf that I use as overflow. (Now that I think of it, there are spices on the top shelf too!) To make finding a particular spice easier, I have an expanding, tiered organizer. Sometimes, the dorky engineer in me will alphabetically sort the spices by container type so that it looks nice with like being by like. However, as soon as I pull something out, the whole system gets messed up. Usually it ends up that the lesser used spices are at the back (vanilla bean, essence, dried lemon zest) and the commonly used ones are in the front (pepper mill, garlic powder, italian seasoning.)

Ah, I'm finally to my desired topic. I don't really remember when it started, but I have been blending my own italian seasoning for quite some time. I know that I have purchased italian seasoning at least once in my lifetime because I have been reusing the same container over and over. Whenever the container gets empty, I make more. Since I'm an American, I don't actually know what should be in Italian seasoning. So I read the ingredient label and added stuff that I thought should be in there. As I said above, I have a lot of spices on hand. My blend contains basil, oregano, thyme, parsley, rosemary, a touch of tarragon and maybe garlic powder. There is no specific recipe. I just add some of this and some of that until it looks good. The only rule I have is that I am not allowed to use all of an herb when I make a blend because I want to make sure I don't run out of anything that I might need for a recipe later. A while back, Joe caught me making a batch of italian seasoning. By his reaction, you would have thought I was making hot dogs or bologna (which, btw, he claims to not be bothered by the pieces and parts that make up those items.). He could not fathom why I would make something when I could go out and buy it for a dollar. The way I see it, herbs have a short shelf life, so I might as well use them to make a blend where they're likely to be used than left alone to go bad. For Mother's Day, Joe bought me an herb cookbook (I love to read cookbooks) and had bookmarked two recipes. Any guess as to what they were for? You got it -- italian seasoning.

Lots of Squash

I cooked up all of my yellow squash and pureed it into baby food. Cut up, they filled a 3.75 quart pot to the brim. After cooking, I filled up three ice cube trays plus another half cup that I put into the fridge. That's about 37 ounces. Samantha currently eats 1 or 1.5 oz at a time, so she will be eating yellow squash for quite a while. Good thing she prefers yellow over green when it comes to squash.

Now don't start thinking that I'm making my daughter eat her veggies when I'm not eating my own. That's not the case. I kept all the zucchini for Joe and me to eat. Yes, Joe has been eating squash! I have done a few different things.

I have also pureed chopped, cooked yellow squash with canned crushed tomatoes to make a pasta sauce. Except for the orange color, it was hard to tell that it was squash.

I have taken finely diced squash and cooked it with ground beef. Then I used that as an enchilada filling with a very spicy salsa verde topping (I used two jalapenos and probably should have just used one for the number of tomatillos I had.)

Last night I got a little more bold. I made a pasta bake with big chunks of zucchini and eggplant. My basket of tomatoes was piling up, so I made them into a tomato sauce with some onion. I ran it through the food mill to take out the skins. I chopped up a couple garlic scapes (only one more left for the year) and added italian seasoning (homemade, of course). So that was the sauce. I sauteed the zucchini and eggplant chunks until they were soft. Then comes the pasta. I had started on the tomatoes before confirming my pasta alternatives, so I had no options. The only Italian noodle in the house was spaghetti, which is not what I usually select for a baked dish. I prefer penne, but I used what was on hand. If I had taken the sauce in an Asian direction, I could have used soba or udon noodles, but I didn't, so they are left for another day. I mixed the sauce, veggies and spaghetti together, topped with cheese and baked until bubbly. Joe started picking out the chunks towards the end of the meal. For the leftovers, he figured that he would be able to eat them with some more salt and garlic.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Stage 3.5 Baby Food

No new posts for the last few days. Roadrunner has been on the fritz and I haven't always been able to go online. A couple neighbors have unsecure wireless networks, but they're too slow for web surfing.

I bought some peaches yesterday and made more babyfood. I peeled, pitted, squeezed them in my hand and cooked them in their juices with a cinnamon stick until they were thick enough. This morning I stopped by Kroger for milk and walked down the baby aisle. I wanted to see what commercial baby peaches look like. My peaches don't look anything like that crap. Stages 1, 2 and 3 are all too homogenous. Some of them had fillers like rice or oats and sweeteners such as apple juice. The Graduates peaches are cubed in juice. So I'm calling my peaches Stage 3.5.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

I have a brother

That's nothing new of course. For Andrew living just an hour away, we don't see each other very often. He and Heather came over tonight for supper. He is well. They took the blue La-Z-Boy off our hands.

Joe made a brisket using Guiness Stout. It was very good. Joe made the recipe last year around this time (July 22 to be exact) and cut his finger trimming the brisket. This year the butcher already trimmed it before we got the meat. No trips to Urgent Care were made during the preparation of the brisket this time.

I made Guiness Milk Chocolate Ice Cream. That was really good too. Much creamier than my previous attempts at ice cream making. It was of the custard type where you add egg yolks and carefully cook them. That was a first for me, but eggs are emulsifiers so they are probably the reason for the creaminess. The key is cooking the custard slowly. Otherwise you can blink and find a pot of scrambled eggs in front of you where creamy milk used to be. I will be sure to note in the cookbook that this was a good recipe and that I should make it again. The beer flavor is not overpowering, but would make this ice cream for adults only.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Baby Food

Before Samantha was born, I had never given much thought to the types of solid foods that I would feed her. I kinda figured that I’d buy “baby food”. But when Laura, my sister, said that she made all of Maddie’s baby food, my competitive spirit kicked in. If she could do it, then so can I.

I started making baby food before Samantha was ready for solids. I had picked more asparagus out of my garden than I could possibly eat, so I steamed, pureed and froze the extras. I thought she might find the flavor pretty strong, but she gobbled it down.

Gerber is part of a conspiracy to convince parents that it’s impossible to make food for your own child. Gerber's whole existence depends on it. Strained carrots, anyone? Do you even have a strainer fine enough to match the consistency of commercial stage 1 baby food? I don’t. If the child is too young for solids, then of course their food needs to be strained. But wait until around six months of age when the baby shows signs of readiness and you can skip right on to pureeing and mashing.

Here’s a list of the tools that I’ve used to make, store and serve Samantha’s food:
- a small pot
- a pot with steamer insert
- a potato masher
- a hand blender with chopper attachment
- a fork
- ice cube trays
- Ziploc freezer bags
- Tupperware Midgets (1/4 cup size)
- Tupperware Snack Cups (1/2 cup size)
- Plastic baby spoons
- Pyrex 4 oz custard cups
- Pyrex 10 oz custard cups

I received the spoons as a shower gift and I purchased the ice cube trays. All of the remaining items were already in my kitchen. There’s nothing exotic or hard to come by on the list. Some people use a baby food mill, but I think the hand blender pureed nicely. I have a regular food mill because I like to can stuff like tomato sauce and applesauce, but it has not come out of the box all year.

Being a CSA member, each week I have a seemingly endless supply of potential baby food options. It would be stupid to pay Gerber for squash when I have fresh zucchinis. With just a small amount of time invested each week spent cooking, I can quickly grab a frozen cube or two, warm and serve. No wasted, half-eaten jars of baby food around here. Plus, she gets a varied diet – Gerber could never afford a product line so diverse.

For the sake of full disclosure, I have bought baby rice cereal. On its own, it is too bland for Samantha’s breastfed palate. However, it’s that same blandness that makes it a good mix-in for strongly flavored foods such as escarole or blueberries.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

No more blockage

It took two days, but the plugged duct is gone. Samantha usually sleeps in her crib at night, but spent most of the last two nights in bed with me. She nursed every few hours, so I never had that overfull feeling. I'm still sore, but that should get better soon as long as she doesn't bite me. Her first tooth came in last week. She doesn't let me see it, but as soon as I do, I'll take a picture of it. The sharp points are sticking through her gums and I can feel them with my finger.

Anyway, I wonder how difficult it will be to get her back to sleeping in her crib all night without midnight snacks. Hopefully we didn't undo several months of good sleep habits in a matter of two nights. I don't think I can handle her in bed with me another night. I couldn't sleep with her there. I was worried about her rolling out of bed or me rolling onto her.

We got a good bit of rain overnight and this morning. The Weather Channel is saying it's 70 here. That's cold for noon. Maybe it'll get warmer this afternoon, but they're calling for more storms, so I doubt it. Just so you know, I'm wearing jeans, a long-sleeved shirt and a sweatshirt. It's July! Bring on the heat.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


Samantha started crying around 2 am. It only lasted about 30 seconds. Must have been a bad dream. She fell back asleep, but I was awake, so I decided to go pump. The right side felt fuller, so I started there first. The lumpiness was a bad sign. After pumping until nothing came out anymore, the lump still remained. Argh. Clogged duct. Not today! Tuesdays are my day to travel to Norwalk to check on my waterline construction project. Any other day of the week and I would probably be able to keep her home with me for a day of nursing. I've had a clogged duct a couple times before and pumping does an unsatisfactory job of clearing the blockage. A baby is the best pump out there when nursing issues arise.

As Joe would put it, tonight is my "boob meeting". La Leche League is more than seeing women's naked breasts. It's about seeing real life examples of moms that are weirder than I am. While I am no lactivist, I do feel that every baby should be breastfed. LLL is a little more extreme. My meeting has a couple moms that are still nursing two-year olds and one of them is going to try tandem nursing after she has another baby later this year. To me, that's weird and not something I'm comfortable doing myself. To each her own. Oh, and if this clogged duct hasn't disappeared, then I can talk about it with the other women. Maybe one of them will have a solution I don't know about.

Monday, July 23, 2007

And the Winner is...

Peaches! Samantha will be trying peaches for supper tonight. Good thing I picked up a couple at the store.

Here are the results:

What food should Samantha try next?
27% Apples
36% Peaches
9% Potato
0% Kohlrabi
27% Oh, Mom, stop with the healthy stuff. Bring on the pizza!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Space in the Fridge

There's finally shelf space in the fridge again. Thursday's CSA pickup left little room for anything other than veggies in there. I froze all the squash. I made eggplant babyfood icecubes. I canned pickle relish and pickled beets. There's still kohlrabi, broccoli, lettuce, scapes and green onions in the crisper drawers. Too bad lettuce doesn't freeze well. I have two huge heads of romaine left. The Sippels know of my dislike for lettuce, yet they insist on growing such nice heads of the stuff. I can only eat so many salads before I turn into a rabbit and I'm at my limit for a while.

I have to admit that I like using the Tupperware FridgeSmart containers for my produce. They have two small vents that you can open or close depending on the contents. I put paper towels (Kleenex Viva) in the bottom to absorb excess moisture. I think veggies last longer that way than when I store them in grocery bags or unwrapped in the crisper drawer.

The poll closes tomorrow morning on what Samantha's next food will be. Currently, peaches and pizza are neck and neck. What will win?

Got it Covered

Joe, Samantha and I went to a cookout last night at the home of one of his co-workers, Jim. Jim likes to shop at auctions and had picked up this cast iron lid that he didn't want. I have a number of cast iron skillets in various sizes, but no lids. The lid was labeled as being a #9 size. I knew I had a #8 skillet and a larger one. I brought the lid home and tested it out on my skillets. Sure enough, my biggest skillet is a #9. Now I can cover it. Thanks, Jim!
This leaves me with a dilema. Dad's recipe for Carolina BBQ specifies that the meat be simmered in a #10 skillet. All this time I've been using the wrong size. Oh, no.

Friday, July 20, 2007


One more day of work. Then maybe I can try to catch up on an hour of sleep. Oh well.

I saw my boss yesterday. He was over from Indy and had been in Columbus to look at the possible office locations. He gave me a map so I could also know where they have in mind. One of the spots is a block or two from where Joe and I had our anniversary dinner. I had suspected it was on the list. I don't really care where they select. I just want to know the address asap so I can start interviewing nearby daycare centers. The office locations are too spread out to select a daycare just yet.

Last night, I came home to a bunch of new CSA veggies. I saw that there was basil. I like fresh basil, but it always seems to go bad before I can use it all. So I decided to get the dehydrator out and dry some herbs. In addition to the basil, I'm drying last week's sage (more on that below), and some oregano and tarragon that I am growing. For my style of cooking, dry herbs are much more user friendly.

To me, sage is the seasoning that makes sausage taste like sausage. But sage is said to dry up one's milk supply, so until we're ready for weaning, I am trying to keep my sage intake at a minimum.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

It's Veggie Day

Here's a picture of Samantha taken yesterday morning before I took her to the sitter. I don't like to see her sucking her thumb, but it is cute.

I am a member in a CSA which is short for Community Supported Agriculture. CSA's are a program where a person pays a farmer at the beginning of the crop season for a share in the harvest. Every week we get a bag of fresh veggies. Thursday is our pickup day. Joe will be going after work since I have a meeting and can't make it. Usually Joe gets the veggies on his way home from work since I'm currently working from home. I wonder what is in this week's share. I still have stuff from last week, so I think I'm gonna make a salad for lunch and supper.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Will I ever get 8 hours of sleep at a time?

Samantha is seven and a half months old. She's a great baby who has been sleeping through the night since she was about two months old! However, we are breastfeeding and ten hours is WAY too long for Mommy to go between nursing sessions. I try to pump at some point in the middle of the night to relieve myself. But here lately, I am too tired to get up around 2 a.m., so I stay in bed until I find myself leaking like this morning. So gross. By the time I finished pumping, it was time to get up. So, I've been up since 3:45. It was 10:45 when I went to sleep last night. That is just not enough sleep. This sleep deficit is getting to me.

When she was a newborn, people would ask me the stupidest question -- "How's the baby sleeping?" She slept fine right next to me in bed. We'd wake up every couple of hours. I'd latch her on for one of her marathon nursing sessions and I'd end up falling asleep. I didn't know the difference between day and night, but I was getting plenty of sleep. Now that I'm back to work, I don't have the luxury of napping with her.

Sleeping Beauty has awoken from her slumber. I can hear her talking over the monitor. I better go make breakfast. We're both having blueberry oatmeal, except she's having some milk to wash hers down with.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Happy Anniversary to Us!

Joe and I got married three years ago today. Time sure flies.

It's raining today just like it did that day. We were married outside. Luckily, the rain held off until we could get inside the reception hall.

It has been so dry here lately. The crops really need a good, steady rainfall, but today does not appear to be the day for it. Joe is happy because the grass has been dormant for weeks and hasn't needed to be mowed. However, the weeds keep on growing and needed trimming.