Sunday, September 30, 2012

An Observation Five Months in the Making

Five months old today
How is it that five months of pregnancy takes seventeen and a half years, but five months of your baby's life goes by in like ten minutes?

Tiny, let's slow it on down, seriously.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Happy Hour at Home: Drunken Gummy Bears

I have a major sweet tooth, so when I saw this "recipe" for vodka infused gummy bears, I knew I had to try it. They were sweet and strong and while I liked the taste, the texture was a little weird. They were still gummy on the outside, but were kind of hard in the middle. Perhaps if I had allowed them to come to room temperature, it would have helped the texture. I've been eating them cold, right out of the fridge.
To make the gummy bears, I poured 1/2 cup of vodka over a 6 oz. package of gummy bears and let them sit  in a covered container in the refrigerator for three days. I stirred the gummy bears once a day so they would evenly absorb the vodka. You'll know they're ready to eat when the vodka has been completely absorbed.

I ate a couple of them plain, but I really loved the gummy bears as a garnish for a Cosmopolitan. I think it would be a great garnish for any kind of specialty martini. I also think if you got creative with the packaging, they would be a really great party favor for a Halloween party.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Random Monday

The checkout line was hundreds of people long and everyone was super agro.
  • While I was at Costco on Saturday, the power went out in the store. It was so weird and a little bit scary. (There wasn't even a storm!) Things I now know: even though Costco sells generators, they don't actually have backup generators. There were some battery operated lights at the front of the warehouse, but it was pitch black everywhere else. Thankfully a large proportion of Costco shoppers have that flashlight app on their phones and I was able to make my way to the front of the store by the ambient light of the other shoppers. And if you think normal Costco checkout is bad, imagine doing it in the dark with someone on a bullhorn is telling you to check out fast because the battery power operating the cash registers is going to go out soon. Madhouse.
  • My baby spends all his free time practicing rolling now and I hate it. I told Chuk we should google how to stop your baby from rolling. He told me parents aren't supposed to stifle their kids' development. I wasn't thinking about it in that way. I was just thinking how annoying it's going to be to have to baby-proof.
  • Blogger just indicated google was a misspelled word. Aren't they the same company? That's weird.
I left him for two minutes and he got tangled in a quilt.
  • Anyway, the rolling thing now means I have to constantly supervise the baby because he gets stuck places and gets tangled in the blankets I put on the floor for him to play on. Then he makes grunting noises that mean, "I'm trapped. I'm trapped! Rescue me!" And when I do, he gives me huge smiles and I feel like a hero, which sort of makes up for the whole not being able to go to the bathroom thing.
  • We went to the farmers' market this weekend. Bloggers and Food Network chefs that recommend shopping at farmers' markets to save money clearly don't live in the DC metro area. $3.25 for a pound of apples?! No thanks.
  • I'm really glad it's officially fall. I can't wait for cooler temperatures, less humidity, colorful leaves, and pumpkins everywhere. I grew up in the self-proclaimed pumpkin capital of the world, so I have a bit of a pumpkin obsession. Also, Halloween is my second favorite holiday.
  • Easter is my most favorite holiday.
  • Chuk made bagels from scratch this weekend. I now plan on forcing him to make bagels every weekend. 
  • I'm linking up over at Not Inadequate, where Deb has just turned Random Mondays into a link party. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Making a Hair Cutting Cape

I have three loads of laundry sitting in my living room waiting to be put away and I can't remember the last time my floors were vacuumed, but I made the executive decision to continue to ignore these problems and instead make a smock/cape thing-y for our at home hair cuts, priorities be damned.

When we first began at-home haircuts, we tried using a towel to drape around the neck and shoulders of the person receiving the haircut, but after washing we learned that this left tiny hairs in all the other clothes and towels and made them very itchy, so we stopped doing that right away. Then, being the classy people we are, we cut a plastic garbage bag open and used that to drape around us when we were getting our hair cut. It kept the hair off our clothes, but was very hot. Nevertheless, we've used he garbage bag method until now.

Over Labor Day weekend, we went to Ikea, where I spied laminated cotton fabric on sale for $1.99 a yard. I bought a yard and let it sit, folded on my coffee table until this very week when I needed something to do that was easy, yet satisfying while I continued to ignore the messes.
To make the hair cutting cape, I cut a line about 5.5 inches long down the center fold of the fabric. Then, keeping the fabric folded, I cut a semi-circle 7.25 inches in diameter at the bottom of the slit. A small bowl would make an excellent template for the semi circle. Unfold and slip the circle around your neck. Boom, you're ready for a haircut.
I've been thinking about sewing some strips of velcro to either side of the slit, so that it attaches more like a professional cape, but I'll probably just leave it as-is. When testing it out, the fabric was heavy enough to stay where it was draped, so the velcro is kind of unnecessary. Plus, I really like that this is a no-sew project. (The laminated cotton doesn't fray, so no hemming is needed.) If we have problems with the cape not staying in place in the future, I could always add velcro then, or just use a binder clip to hold the ends in place behind the neck.

For $1.99 and two minutes work, this was an extremely satisfying project. I feel like I got something done, without having to actually do anything. Maybe I'll tackle the laundry and vacuuming tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


If he was alive, today would have been my dad's 65th birthday. Even now, five years on, I'm still a mess of tears and emotion in the weeks leading up to and following this date. People say that it gets easier, but I haven't found that to be true. It just gets different. The muscles you use to carry the grief get stronger and you just get used to having it with you all the time. And now, with a baby, the grandchild my father always longed for but never got, there's a fresh veneer of pain over this old wound.

So today, I'm remembering and drinking, just like every year.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Scheduling and New Motherhood

Sometimes, I look at the clock and realize the baby's nap is probably going to end soon and I think to myself, "Oh [expletive], I better go to the bathroom now while I still can."

It's the best job I've ever had, but dude, it's intense.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Small & Good Link Party

I read a lot of great blogs, but today I want to introduce you to a few of my favorites that you may not otherwise stumble across. They're smaller blogs, but have consistently great content. Please take a little time to explore each of these blogs; I'm certain you'll like what you'll see.

Ginger Jumbles is probably the most beautifully written blog I read. Helen writes so authentically about the highs and lows and the mundane of her life and her pictures are so gorgeous that I just want to step into them.

Acting Adult is a fun blog. Jessica and her husband are pretty much the cutest couple ever. She's an event planner who loves acting and all things Disney. She and I share a love of cocktails and that we lost our dads much too soon.

Nine and Ninety Nine is written by "Wiffy", an American in Germany who makes me long for my old expat days in China. My son is just days older than her daughter, so I love checking her blog whenever I wonder "Is this normal?" (And her little girl has the same name as my niece, bringing the coincidence count between us up to like infinity.) If you're a fashionista and/or a dog lover, this is the blog for you.

Project Little Smith is a lifestyle blog with an emphasis on camping, gardening, design, photography and, of course, one year old "Little Smith". I was one of the earliest followers of some now famous blogs like Clover Lane and Small Notebook and I predict Project Little Smith is going to be the next big blog out there, and with good reason.You heard it here first, folks.

What are your favorite small blogs? Tell us using the widget below. Please link to your actual Small & Good post rather than your homepage, and include a link back here so your readers can find other Small & Good blogs. If you don't have a blog, please use the comments to let us know about a few of your favorites.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Reminder: Small & Good Link Party TOMORROW

I want to remind you that the Small & Good link party, to recognize your favorite small blogs, is tomorrow. This is your chance to introduce others to some of your favorite blogs we might not otherwise stumble across. Consider it your random act of kindness to the blogger and the reader.

You can learn more about the party here and here.

Embroidered Baby Bicycle Onesie

Front side
I embroidered another little baby onesie. Chuk would dress this child in bicycle themed clothes every day if he could. (He can't because they're so expensive! Hipster much?) He's just itching to get this kid on a bike. I keep telling him he better back off or baby is going to wind up hating cycling, but he won't listen. So I'm feeding his addiction with a little top for the baby reminiscent of the pillow cases I made Chuk for Christmas a few years ago.  

I'm still finding the rib knit difficult to work with. This time I tried it without using interfacing, but I definitely had some warping issues. As I went along, I realized longer stitches helps prevent some of the warping issues, so that's good to know. 
Back side
I also decided not to back the embroidery with scrap fabric. It was a lot faster this way and I just wanted to get it done quickly. I'm worried the embroidery won't hold up well to frequent washings and might be itchy on his skin, but the back side of the stitching is pretty clean and at the rate this baby is growing, he'll probably only be able to wear it for a couple of months, so maybe it doesn't need to hold up for the long term.

These are such satisfying little projects. They're quick and practical and cost next to nothing.

Linking to Friday Flair and French Country Cottage.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Quick and Delicious Company Food-The Procedure

With out-of-town guests, like we had over Labor Day weekend, it can be kind of tricky to figure out what to serve everyone because you want to be visiting with your guests rather than messing around in the kitchen and you still have to accommodate everyone's preferences. When we have company, I often make Mexican food because everyone I know likes it and it's easy to adjust for different diets (like vegetarian, dairy-free, and low carb). If we're going to be out all day, I always make fajitas because I can do the prep work ahead of time and have dinner on the table in literally 15 minutes, even with people traipsing in and out of the kitchen. (I'm one of those weird few people who don't like an audience when I'm cooking.) This is the method I use to make sure getting dinner on the table is super speedy, following this recipe.

The day before my company arrives, I slice all my peppers, onions, and meat and put them in separate  containers in my fridge. Sometimes I make the spice mixture up ahead of time, but usually I don't bother because I've made this recipe so many times that I just eyeball them rather than measure. If you are a more nervous cook, I'd measure them out ahead of time. If desired, make guacamole. (Or use store bought guacamole or don't serve it.) Then put salsa, guacamole and sour cream in serving bowls so they're ready for the table. Grate cheese for refried beans.

Now, when it's time for dinner, first, start heating your vegetable oil in your largest skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium high or high heat. While that's heating, pull your pre-sliced meat and veggies out of the fridge, get your spices, and grab a can of refried beans out of the pantry.

By now your pan should be hot, so throw the onions in the pan. While they're cooking, open your can of beans and spoon them into a bowl. Put the beans in the microwave for a minute or two, depending on your microwave.

While they are heating, remove your onions from the pan and place on a serving dish. Put the bell peppers in the pan to begin cooking. While the bell peppers are cooking, open a can or two of corn and begin heating the corn on the stove in a small pot. Then take the peppers out of the pan and add them to the serving dish with the onions.

Add more oil to the pan, if necessary and then throw in your chicken strips. Add your spices on top of the chicken. Stir the corn. Get your beans out of the microwave and stir. Sprinkle grated cheese on top of the beans and microwave for another minute to melt the cheese and ensure the beans are thoroughly heated.

Stir your chicken. Take the corn off the heat and spoon it into a serving dish. Add the onions and peppers to the chicken and stir.

Inevitably, someone is offering to help you by now. Let them get the sour cream, salsa, and guacamole out of the fridge and ask them to put it on the table. Then ask them to put the refried beans and corn on the table. While they're doing this, you are microwaving the tortillas. If you don't have helpers, turn off the heat on your stove, keeping the fajita fixings in the skillet and put everything else on the table while your tortillas are warming in the microwave. All that's left to do now is put the fajita mixture back in the serving dish and carry the fajitas and tortillas to the table. Dinner is served.

With a quick cooking meal like this and a plan to execute it, it really does only take 15 minutes. That works for me when I'm having company.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Small & Good Link Party Button

If you're planning on participating in the Small & Good link party this Friday (and I hope you are!) I've made a little blog button you can use in your post if you'd like. It's not required, but I've noticed most other link parties have them available. It's over there on the sidebar.

Remember, this is a link party to encourage and show our appreciation for our favorite small blogs. As well as a way to be exposed to some great new-to-us blogs and to do some networking ourselves. Please consider writing a short post about your favorite three or four small blogs and link up to the party on September 14.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Why My Son Is Not Circumcised

Recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics changed their neutral position and made a weak endorsement of circumcision. I realize that most people have really strong opinions about circumcision. I am not one of those people. Because much of my Master's thesis focused on public health in Sub-Saharan Africa, I'm very well read on the issue of circumcision. The conclusion I came to was there are pros and cons to having the procedure and not having the procedure. Deciding whether or not to have my son circumcised was difficult for me. (I'm speaking in the first person because it was not as difficult for my husband to form his opinion. Rest assured though, it was very much a joint decision.)

The main arguments in favor of infant circumcision are that it reduces the risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease, decreases the likelihood of urinary tract infection, and it fits with cultural norms. The main arguments against circumcision is that healthy tissue is being removed without consent and that it reduces sexual pleasure.

Studies have shown that circumcision reduces the transmission of STDs, including HIV and HPV. It is because of this that the World Health Organization recommends male circumcision in countries with high rates of HIV infection.

Studies have also shown that circumcised boys have fewer cases of UTIs than their uncircumcised counterparts. However, the difference in risk is small and the studies I've read on the subject don't seem to be very rigorous (i.e small sample size and not controlling for variables.) Even according to the AAP, "There is little evidence to affirm the association between circumcision status and optimal penile hygiene."

In terms of cultural norms, historically, circumcision has been standard in the United States, however as rates of circumcision continue to fall in the US, I think this argument has less validity. Furthermore, it seems a little silly to think that boys are going to feel ostracized for having a penis that looks different than their peers. My son, a blond, has a non-dominant hair color, yet no one expects him to feel abnormal for looking different from the majority of his peers in that (much more evident) way.

The cultural argument makes much more sense to me from the religious standpoint. Jews and Muslims both typically follow a tradition of circumcision, but since we are neither Jewish or Muslim, it wasn't an aspect I took into consideration when making my decision. It was simply not applicable.

As for the arguments against circumcision, I was most concerned about the claim that circumcision reduces sexual pleasure. (While it's a little icky to think about my baby having sex, if I think about it in the abstract, I can acknowledge that I want my son to have a happy, full life and sex tends to be a part of that.) However, as I dug into that claim, I could only find anecdotal evidence from opponents of circumcision and not an unbiased, scientific studies to support that argument.

Ultimately, my decision not to circumcise boiled down to one simple reason that I never explicitly saw mentioned in any of the literature I had read on the topic--evolution. I believe we have evolved in a way that is optimal for our survival. Even if you believe in intelligent design, the same argument applies. There must be some reason the penis exists naturally with a foreskin.

I felt like with education, we could overcome the some of the arguments in favor of circumcision (teach our son proper hygiene, safer sex practices, and positive self-esteem) but that we couldn't really get around the arguments against circumcision. Finally, I realized that if my son was unhappy with our decision not to have him circumcised, he could always have one later in life, whereas it would be more difficult to reverse the choice if he was circumcised.

Now that he's here and these are no longer discussions in the abstract, I can report that I'm happy we didn't circumcise our baby. It meant he could spend more time with us in the hospital rather than being away having a medical procedure. It's also been lower maintenance for us since we didn't have to care for the wound while it was healing. I've found no difference in diaper changes or baths between our uncircumcised son and circumcised boys I've babysat in the past.

Did you circumcise your son? Would you?

Let's keep the comments respectful. You can disagree, but I'll delete personal attacks or insults.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Date Night: Sick Edition

Chuk and I decided we'd have a "date night" on Friday. Date night is in quotes because we stayed home and watched TV, thus it was very similar to what we do almost every night. However, we upped our game by renting a movie, buying a ton of candy and soda, and making popcorn. Never underestimate the power of popcorn.

We waited until the baby was asleep* to pop the DVD in and then gorged ourselves on junk food. It was nice to cuddle in the dark watching a movie. It felt like old times.

Even though we didn't go anywhere, it was just as well since Chuk has a head cold and can't go anywhere anyway. Besides, I'm guessing our date cost around $6, whereas if we had gone out to the movies and had snacks, it probably would have cost in the neighborhood of $40. I'm not 100% sure since I haven't been to the movies since February.

I do want to go to the movies though. I'd really like to see Celeste and Jesse Forever and Sleepwalk with Me. I can just go by myself though. Chuk isn't crazy about going to the movies, so he can stay with the baby. Win win. Have you seen any good movies lately?

*Wouldn't you know it? That little sneaky Pete baby woke up two minutes into the movie and wanted to eat. Alas, this is our life right now. I gave Pete a quicky feeding and we got right back to The Dictator. No harm, no foul, no babysitter.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Peach Crisp for Two

This is a dessert that transitions so well between summer and fall. The peaches are distinctly summer-y, while crisps always feel like fall to me. It's also a great way to use up overripe fruit. The other nice thing is that it's only two servings. Sometimes it's too tempting to have a big pan of dessert sitting around day after day, if you know what I mean.

Remove the skin from two peaches. If they're ripe, this is easy enough to do with your fingers if you cut them in half first, but if your fruit is still hard, you may have to blanch them. Slice the peaches and toss with 2 tsp. white sugar and 1/2 tsp. almond extract. (I love the taste of almond extract with peaches.) I do this right in the baking dish.

Then, in a separate bowl, cut together 1/4 cup oatmeal, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/8 cup flour, 2 Tbs. butter, and a pinch of cinnamon. I think a pastry cutter is easiest for this job, but you could also use a fork or two knives. Sprinkle the crumble mixture evenly over the peaches.

Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes, or until your kitchen smells really good and the crumble has partially melted away, but the remaining part looks golden.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Appreciating Small (but Good!) Blogs

Lately, I've been thinking about how some blogs are really popular, but they just aren't very good, while other blogs are really fantastic but hardly anyone reads them. While mulling over the injustice of this situation, I thought, "Someone should do something about this. The world is missing out; more people need to be exposed to these really great small blogs." From there, it was only a small leap that I be the one to try to do something about this.

Now, I have a small blog myself, and therefore my reach is limited, but what I do have is a really well curated list of FANTATIC blogs that I read on a regular basis. Maybe you're in the same situation? My idea is that we all band together to recognize our favorite small blogs.

I don't want this to be some cheesy meme, where you tag someone and then they're obligated to take some action and it's awkward for everyone. Rather, I want this to be an easy way to recognize bloggers who are doing a great job, but maybe aren't getting a lot of recognition. I want it to be a way for readers to show their appreciation for blogs they really like. Hopefully, it will be a way for all of us to find some great new blogs we may not have otherwise found and for some good blogs to get some more exposure and be encouraged.

If you'd like to participate, all you'll have to do is write a short post about your three or four favorite small blogs with a couple of sentences describing what you like about each of them and next Friday, September 14, I will put up a linky that you can join to recognize your favorite small blogs. For the purposes of this link party, let's consider a blog with fewer than 150 followers small. If you're not sure how many followers a blog has, use your best judgement; the number of comments they typically get should be a good indicator.

Any questions? Please ask them in the comments so hopefully we can get everything figured out before the big day.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Labor Day Weekend Was Pretty Great

My in-laws came for a visit Saturday and Sunday. Happily, my niece was much less scared of baby now than she was when she first met him.

Baby couldn't take his eyes off of Sophia and she loved that she could make him smile and laugh more easily than anyone else. I have big hopes that these two will be great friends one day.

There was lots of hanging out at home as well as a (hot, sweaty) trip to the park, the ice cream parlor, and Ikea.

Spirit of St. Louis  
On Monday, we were able to meet up with an old family friend of mine who was in town for a wedding. We've known each other, literally, all our lives. Our families met when his father covered for my father when he took off work for my birth. Our moms are best friends and my mom even helped deliver his sister's first baby. Growing up, we spent every Thanksgiving and Christmas together. It is the type of friendship that has basically developed into family.

We haven't seen each other as much in recent years now that I live on the East Coast and he has joined the Coast Guard, so we don't go home as often for holidays.

He had never been to Washington before, so we met up with him and his girlfriend at the Smithsonian's Air & Space museum and then walked around the Capitol a bit. It was great getting to catch up and to get to know his girlfriend a little better.

Gratuitous bath picture, just because I think it's cute.
By Monday night, we were pooped. Tired, but grateful that we have such great people in our lives and live in such a great place with so many fun things to do.

Through it all, this guy was such a little trooper. Even over-stimulated and under-rested, we can just tote him around anywhere and he just goes with the flow. I know I'm fortunate that he got his dad's laid-back personality.