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.