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2014 April

Adventures in Pregnancy: 27 Weeks

27 WeeksHello from Hawaii! And thank you all so much for your sweet comments here and on Instagram! Eric and I both wanted to try unplugging for this trip, and we decided to keep the internet at a minimum. I haven’t been doing much online, and I miss you guys! But this is such a special time. We’ve been reading and talking and laughing and napping and swimming and exploring. I’m so thrilled we were able to make this trip. But I will probably be behind on all things internet until late this week. Looking forward to catching up with you all!

And now, to the main attraction: the baby! He has been happily kicking away this week, and I’ve been getting bigger…and bigger…and bigger! The funny thing is that if you look at me straight on, I don’t know if you can tell that I’m pregnant, but once I turn to the side…all doubts are chased away! I kind of love watching people realize that I’m pregnant. A really nice lady offered to take a picture of the two of us today, and when I turned sideways, she said, “Oh, sorry, the three of you!” Yesterday we stepped into a gallery and were greeted by the owner. As we got closer to his desk, he said, “Ah, I see you brought the whole family!” Yes, the whole family. The thought of that makes me smile so much. Even Eric is pretty impressed by my belly. I am seriously round, and I love it!

Nausea-wise I am still doing great, and I am intensely grateful for that. Also, food is so overwhelmingly delicious to me right now (any kind of food at all!), and the fact that I get hungry and have the pleasure of eating three times a day (or…five or six) feels like a gift too.

I have started getting leg cramps in the night, which really remind me of my adolescent days, but are pretty easy to deal with. And now I can feel it when the baby has the hiccups! It’s an adorable tiny earthquake in my belly.

Given what pregnancy does to the immune system, I am so happy that I haven’t been sick…until a few days before this trip. We left on Thursday morning, and on Tuesday I realized my throat was killing me. When I get a cold, it lasts a full week, and I was so bummed about being sick on our trip. I wasn’t feeling all that awful until Thursday evening, when we were walking to dinner in Kihei. We stopped to watch the sunset over the ocean, and I felt just totally miserable. I am sure being up since 4:30am and sitting through a five-hour flight didn’t help, but it was that kind of can’t-breathe awfulness that just makes your whole face feel raw and inflamed. I looked at Eric and told him how sad I was to be sick on our trip, and that I wondered if we should have come. I think when you’re the sick one, you always sort of feel like you’re ruining the trip. Eric put his arm around me and comforted me and said, “As far as I’m concerned, we’ve got our money’s worth right here.” And then I started crying because he is just so sweet, and I am so grateful for him. In case I haven’t made this clear yet, he’s basically a dream. When some little thing like this goes wrong, it always makes me realize how much I truly have, and I feel more thankful than I could ever express. The good news is that the cold is running its course, and each day I feel a little better. I can’t really say it’s kept us from doing anything that we wanted to do, and that is awesome.

There’s so much more to share (like videos of us snorkeling with giant sea turtles!!), but for now, aloha, and thank you for reading!

Off to Hawaii!

HawaiiEric and I are taking off for Maui today! We are so excited that we were able to squeeze in a little babymoon before I get too far along to travel. We’ll be away for a week, and I’ll probably put up a post or two, but mostly we’re going to try to unplug. You can find me on Instagram, though, and I will most certainly photobomb you when we get back!

(Here’s a link to the photo frame embellishment project showed above, using vintage postcards I bought on our honeymoon in Kauai!)

Quinoa Chili

Quinoa ChiliThis is a new favorite around here. The first time I made it, I was genuinely blown away by how good it was. I found the recipe on Pinterest, and in the picture it was topped with sour cream, cheese, and avocado slices. I bet that’s delicious, but it is divine even without those additions. I don’t cook often with canned vegetables, but this a great recipe for tiding you over until the days of fresh corn, tomatoes, and peppers. And when those days come, you can make the substitution, and this chili will be even better.

Quinoa ChiliI think the secret is to use smoked paprika instead of regular paprika. We only had smoked the first time I made this chili, so I tossed it on in, and I never looked back. I love that deep roasted flavor. The other fabulous things about this chili: 1) it is really filling, and 2) this recipe makes a giant pot (especially if you are like me and add extra beans to everything because you happen to be in love with them). I am planning to make a big pot of this and freeze it for after the baby comes. For those looking for a more meaty option, Eric loves chopped chicken in his chili. I’m more of a purist, but that’s probably only because beans and grains are my idea of food paradise.

Quinoa Chili
Recipe from Damn Delicious

1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
2 cups cooked quinoa
2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (4.5-ounce) can diced green chiles
1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder, or more, to taste
2 teaspoons cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika (use smoked paprika!)
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar (I omitted this)
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups corn kernels
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Juice of 1 lime
1 avocado, diced

-Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven or large pot over medium high heat. Add garlic and onion, and cook, stirring frequently, until onions have become translucent, about 2-3 minutes. (I like to cook my onions longer, getting them nice and brown for extra flavor.)
-Stir in quinoa, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, green chiles, chili powder, cumin, paprika, sugar, cayenne pepper, coriander and 1-2 cups water, making sure to cover most of the ingredients; season with salt and pepper, to taste.
-Reduce heat to low; simmer, covered, until thickened, about 30 minutes. Stir in beans, corn, cilantro and lime juice until heated through, about 2 minutes.
-Serve immediately with avocado, if desired.


Yay!At 10:53pm on Monday, I submitted my book proposal to my dream agent. Hurray! This book has been my labor of love since the first sparks of it ignited in January 2012, and I am beyond thrilled to have sent it out into the world. These past few months have been intense ones, but they have also been so much fun. I feel such great joy and fulfillment in pursuing my greatest passion. In the final push of the last few weeks, I feel like I have gotten a little bit behind on just about everything else, and I want to thank you for your patience. And for so much more.

Thank you to everyone who has sent me a kind word of support and encouragement. Thank you to everyone who has steadfastly believed in me as I navigated my next steps. Thank you to everyone who read my book or my proposal or just listened to me try to boil it down to an effective summary. Thank you to everyone who reads this blog and comes along with me through triumphs and foibles alike. Thank you for being who you are. The whole reason why I started a blog was in the hope of meeting and connecting with people like you. I consider myself, in every possible way, the luckiest.

Adventures in Pregnancy: 26 Weeks

26 WeeksI feel like things got real for me mentally at 25 weeks: suddenly I felt significantly more than halfway there! And things got real this week with the belly. I am so much bigger than I was last week! And it is awesome.

26 WeeksHere’s a little side-by-side photo for comparison. I am officially six months pregnant now (you have to subtract two weeks because of how pregnancy is calculated), and Eric and I both think I am shaped like torpedo. The happiest torpedo there ever was. And probably the hungriest! After I eat, my belly is tight as a drum, but I’m happy knowing that the little one is getting plenty to eat…even if the healthy stuff has been supplemented by Easter candy this week!

The baby is still happily kicking around in there, while he’s got lots of room. I can also feel it now when he gets the hiccups, and it’s like a tiny adorable earthquake in my belly. At Easter mass we sat right next to the piano, which was really loud, and he was dancing away the whole time. So precious.

I am continuing to feel pretty great and moving more toward getting things ready. Eric’s boss just gave us her sling and Baby Bjorn, which is so awesome! When we get back from Hawaii, we’ll be moving the office furniture out of what will become the nursery, and that will be really exciting. I can’t wait to have everything all set up, even though that will probably take us well into June, if not July!

I am continuing to walk every day, and I started having a little bit of trouble with my back this week. I don’t think it’s sciatica because it isn’t a shooting pain. I think it’s just the relaxin hormone loosening my joints. I did some stretches, and that helped a lot, but we also ordered a belly support band, which feels fantastic already. The best part of all of this is that while I was really in a bit of pain, Eric looked at me so sweetly and said, “Thank you for doing this.” Best husband ever.

26 WeeksFor Easter dinner we went to Hillary’s, and it was amazingly fun and delicious as always. But the best part was that they had these confetti eggs for cracking. We were all cracking them on each other’s heads to watch the rainbow of colors spill into our hair, and somebody decided to crack one on the baby’s head too. I am so grateful that we have such wonderful friends to introduce our sweet baby to.

This weekend Eric and did some shopping and savored some time together. I think we must know on some level deeper than a mental one that long nights and busy days are ahead of us, because every moment we have to just enjoy each other feels so precious. We’ll have a busy couple of days this week before heading off to Hawaii for our babymoon, but I am so looking forward to that time and all the conversations and experiences we’ll share. And we may have to get a tiny Hawaiian shirt for our little guy. When in Rome, right?

The Flower Fields

The Flower FieldsSeveral years ago, when we first moved to Pasadena, I gave Eric a book on weekend getaways from LA. We love taking little trips together, and we had the exact same book for Northern California. The funny thing is that right after I gave it to him…I sort of stole it and read the whole thing myself! There were so many places I wanted to see with Eric (and I’m happy to say that we’ve put a good dent in the list!), but the Flower Fields stood out to me. Millions of ranunculus every spring, right on the coast? Sign me up! We planned our trip to Carlsbad a few months ago, right when I was starting to feel good enough to consider venturing further than the couch a possibility. I booked our B&B for the height of flower season.

The Flower FieldsIt’s hard to do justice to the initial sight: stripe after stripe after stripe of gorgeous color. With a few cheerful rows of “confetti” thrown in for good measure.

The Flower FieldsIt’s a major attraction in the area, and it was definitely crowded, but the further we went from the entrance, the more peace and quiet there was. We were snapping pictures like crazy. I love this picture of Eric so much. Doesn’t he have a beautiful smile?

The Flower FieldsWhile we were there, they were harvesting flowers. One set of employees cuts the flowers and puts them into plastic bouquet sleeves. The second set comes along behind them and collects the bouquets.

The Flower FieldsTrucks wait nearby with buckets of water for the bouquets.

The Flower FieldsEven though we were there after noon, the sun was still bright enough that it was hard to see through my camera’s viewfinder. I think most of my pictures are at least a little blown out, but you can still see the glory of these unusual flowers.

The Flower FieldsThe species that they grow here is called Giant Tecolote. Tecolote means owl in Spanish, and I wonder if it’s a reference to these tightly packed petals, just like an owl’s feathers.

The Flower FieldsSo beautiful. I had the hardest time choosing my favorite color. Eric liked the deep wine-colored ones best, but my favorite color was whichever color I happened to be standing in front of at the moment.

The Flower FieldsRight out past those trees, there’s the ocean.

The Flower FieldsOne of my favorite things was finding one lone color in the field of another.

The Flower FieldsI couldn’t get enough of these multi-colored rows.

The Flower FieldsA nice Greek couple took our picture. It’s so funny to look at this picture now because I am already so much bigger than I was then! But my maternity jeans are still hilariously too big for me. Ah well, I am sure I will grow into them sometime.

The Flower FieldsAfter exploring the fields, we went to the orchid greenhouse. Every flower was so unique. And every one made me want to whip out my paints and brush!

The Flower FieldsThis is the sweet pea maze. It smelled so good!

The Flower FieldsAnd a cute grasshopper.

The Flower FieldsFunnily enough, there was an outlet mall right next to the flower fields, so Eric took me there to try to find some maternity shorts. Best husband ever. No shorts were found, but we did get a smoothie and a milkshake. Once again, best husband ever! Milkshakes and outlet malls aside, we had such a beautiful time at the Flower Fields. I was so grateful that I felt good enough to tromp up and down the hill and pretty much cover the whole expanse of the place. It make me think so much of the tulip fields in Holland, and of my dad, who loves them. I would love to take him here someday!

The Best Books I Read in 2013

It’s never too late to talk about good books, right? This little “best books” post is one I hope to make a habit of. I had planned to write it around the beginning of this year, but I was sick from about December to February and wasn’t able to do all my favorite year-end posts. But now the time has come! Like last year, I have ten gems to share with you. I’m putting them in the order that I read them.

1Q841Q84 was on my list in 2012 because I was just starting it, but I knew it was going to be important. I finished it this year (eyes glued to Kindle). I don’t know if it’s my favorite Murakami ever, but I don’t think that matters. I think some of our love for certain books is bound up in the memory of the experience, and entering a world of Murakami’s for the first time is something you never forget, something that probably can’t be topped, at least in your own mind. In any case, I actually read Murakami’s Underground (on the sarin gas attacks in Tokyo) a few months ago, and it really illuminated a lot of this novel for me. I recommend it!

In the WoodsI picked up Tana French’s In the Woods on a whim at the library. I had seen several of her novels on my mom’s shelves, so I thought I’d give her a try. I was completely mesmerized: the narrative, the character development, the mystery at the center of the text, the unexpected fallout. I also loved reading about Dublin and heartily enjoyed the lingo. This is really a recommendation for ALL of her books. When I finished the most recent one, I was so sad that I’ll have to wait for another one.

The Brothers KaramazovI am a dyed-in-the-wool Dostoevsky girl. I also love Tolstoy, just to muddy my position on the eternal dichotomy of Russian literature…but if I had to choose, I’d take Dostoevsky’s gritty, desperate, intense realism any day. I love that he is so unafraid to plumb the depths, to seek out the dark underbelly of humanity; he exposes it in all its ugliness…and then he finds a way to shine a light upon it. I have loved The Brothers Karamazov from the first time I read it, but I read it again this year for my book club. The very same passages moved me still, and I delighted again in how utterly funny Dostoevsky is (yes, it is true!). It’s hard to describe the place this novel has in my heart. It’s the warmest cup of tea on a cold day. I would recommend it to anyone.

What to EatSometime this past summer I got really interested in nutrition. I am constantly amazed by the bounteous array of food in the world: shiny eggplants and tiny mustard seeds, rich cream and tart rhubarb. I wanted to know a little bit more about the vitamins and minerals we get from our food, and I discovered What to Eat. What’s so great about it is that it’s structured as a stroll through the grocery store with a nutritionist, and one who is entirely level-headed and impartial at that. This is not a diet book or even a guide to shopping–it’s a fascinating history of lots of the elements that make up our modern grocery stock and a balanced consideration of the issues we face when we choose what to put on the table. It decodes the terms we hear thrown around all the time and makes a clear case for what’s worth worrying about and what’s just fluff. There’s no preachiness, and that is so refreshing. I read an older version, but there is an updated one now. Come on, library, order it!

Homeward BoundI read a review of Emily Matchar’s Homeward Bound in The New Yorker and knew I wanted to read it. It was a thoroughly enjoyable read, and a book with its finger on the pulse of the DIY movement. Matchar identifies the reasons for the resurgence of interest in domesticity, and I agreed with every one. Eric read this book after I finished it, and we had some great conversations about where these issues crop up in our lives. I have to admit that I was a little bit afraid before I started it that the book was going to condemn women for leaving the workforce to pursue non-traditional career paths, but I was pleasantly surprised by Matchar’s empathy, understanding, and humor. The truth is that there are still just an awful lot of policies in our national work culture that make it a difficult place for women, or at least, a place where women have to make difficult choices. Having chosen my own path outside of the field I was trained in, I was left with a sadness about the current state of affairs. I am so very happy with my decision and would not change it for the world. But I still wish that the workplace were a friendlier place for women in general.

GraysonHillary lent me Lynne Cox’s Grayson, and I devoured it on a flight to Seattle. It’s an incredible true tale of a young woman helping a lost baby whale to find its mother. The writing is so beautiful, and the descriptions of the animals she sees along the way are luminous.  But the heart of the book is this rare interaction between a human and a mammal of enormous size and intelligence.

Night FilmMarisha Pessl’s Night Film was my lunchtime company while we were in Santorini. I loved the multimedia aspect of it, and was completely drawn in after a few chapters. I loved her first novel, and while this one is very different, it’s very compelling. Some have complained of some of the storyline seeming impossible…but the whole premise of the novel is the suspension of disbelief. And I will say this: it is a powerful author who can have a reader so invested in something she cannot see. The end was like opening a treasure box. And that’s all I’ll say, for fear of giving too much away.

A House in the SkyI read an excerpt of Amanda Lindhout’s memoir of her captivity in Somalia, and I had to read the book. A House in the Sky was the most riveting thing I read all year. I read it every second I could, including standing up at the laundromat. It is a harrowing tale, of course, but it is also a story of finding humanity where it has all but disappeared. It’s beautifully written and utterly heartbreaking. You will not be able to put it down.

Daily RitualsMason Currey’s Daily Rituals is a compendium of the creative routines of a wide range of artists, writers, musicians, and philosophers. It was fascinating to read about the some of the stranger quirks, but also tremendously inspiring to have a better understanding of how these great artists shaped their days. What I loved most was finding out how many of them had a daily walking habit, which was integral to their creative process. Makes me feel like I’m in good company (even if the company consists of giants towering over me!)

Life After Life And finally, Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life. I’ve never read a novel with such an interesting narrative structure, and I loved following the main character through all of the twists and turns her life might have taken. I also have a soft spot for historical novels about war; they can illuminate individual experience so much more richly than history books can.

Even though this post is much later than I expected it to be, I have enjoyed thinking about it these past few weeks. I must say, it was a magnificent year of reading. Wishing you all the same!

30 Days of Lists

30 Days of Lists is one of my favorite projects. It happens a few times a year (usually in March and September), and the idea is very simple: there’s a prompt every day, and you make your list however you like! The most fun part is sharing them–I love seeing others’ lists and have made some truly wonderful friends through this project. Also, this year I got my mom and my aunt to list along with me, which was really fun! Now that the project has wrapped, I thought I would share a few of my favorite lists. I am totally laughing at the different lighting on each one–usually I was taking photos late at night and scrambling to find an Instagram filter that made the words legible.

30 Days of ListsWe actually hit a lot of the highlights on this list during our trip to Carlsbad. I hope we’ll hit the rest of them in Hawaii!

30 Days of ListsAh, nostalgia!

30 Days of ListsI’m so happy that this precious day was recorded here.

30 Days of ListsThis was a fun one.

30 Days of ListsAnd this one too!

This is an almost totally random smattering of my lists, but I wanted to record a bit of the project here (and also hopefully entice you all to do it with me in September!) It’s an amazing fact that creativity flourishes under limitations. It is incredible to see the range of lists that people come up with. Everyone has one page and one topic, but every single list is different. That’s the kind of inspiration I’ll sign up for whenever I have the chance.

April: Currently

AprilBasking in the afterglow of a wonderful weekend getaway with Eric.

Feeling triumphant for getting my book proposal draft off to my readers today. Planning to officially submit it to the agency on Monday!

Making a hilarious slew of mistakes on baby’s quilt, ripping the stitches out, and trying again. Forget diamonds–a seam ripper is a girl’s best friend!

Reading Tamar Adler’s An Everlasting Meal and feeling inspired.

Enjoying getting back into my daily routines.

Celebrating the enormous leek we bought in Leucadia with an impromptu lemon couscous and summer squash salad. Delicious.

Looking forward to our babymoon in Hawaii!

Thinking I need to get a maternity bathing suit? And a wagonload of sunscreen.

Trying to find the best place to order our glider for the nursery.

Finishing up my online painting course.

Hoping to get to a million and one other things done this week while waiting for proposal comments from my readers.

Feeling so grateful for Eric and for my family and friends (hey, that’s you!), who have been so supportive of me as I’ve worked on this book project. You are the best!

Adventures in Pregnancy: 25 Weeks

25 WeeksI think this will forever be my favorite pregnancy photo backdrop. This weekend we took a little trip down to Carlsbad, north of San Diego, as part of a long tradition of romantical getaways (I started calling them “romantical” to distinguish them from the romantic movement in literature, and the name just stuck!). It is so good to get away for a little while and just enjoy each other and a new place. These flower fields are the whole reason why I wanted to come: ranunculus as far as the eye can see! It was spectacular. More on the trip to come this week, for sure. But first, ye olde update!

I am really feeling rather rotund these days! I know I have a long way to go, but I just noticed tonight that…my belly button is shrinking…or just like sort of closing in on itself? And it is officially becoming difficult to get up from deep chairs. But in some clothes I still hardly look pregnant at all. This morning at the farmer’s market, a vendor called out to me, “Hey, mama-to-be! You need some hemp seed oil!” I passed on the offer, and another mom walked by, took a look at me, and said, “How does she know you’re a mama-to-be? Maybe you just had a lot of pizza last night!” That was pretty funny, but the truth is…I did eat a lot of pizza/pasta/salad/soup or whatever was for dinner last night because I am perpetually hungry. And food is soooo delicious. Really grateful for that little pregnancy perk!

This week we got our infant carseat and the stroller frame it snaps into (thanks, Mom and Dad!), and it is so adorable. Something about it has made this whole thing seem very real–that tiny infant insert is so adorable, and it’s amazing to think that our sweet baby will be sitting in it in a few months. Eric and I took turns gleefully pushing it around the apartment. I will share a picture of it next week.

25 WeeksYou can also be sure we are expectant parents because we passed by a really nice baby store on our way home from Carlsbad and were really pumped to go in and sit in all the gliders and compare the diaper bags. If you or anyone you know ever gets pregnant, Buy Buy Baby is the best! So calm, so clean, so well-organized, such amazing selection and helpful staff. Pregnant lady’s dream. Also, special parking!

I am mostly feeling really great and am so grateful that I didn’t have any trouble this weekend. I am taking my iron supplement at night with a glass of orange juice to prevent nausea, and it’s working beautifully. It is pretty funny to waltz into a liquor store on a Saturday night and buy a bottle of orange juice, but at least I can get my hands on it! I really don’t like orange juice, and I never have…but I am willing to admit that it has a refreshing quality. Rebellious pregnancy tastebuds!

The one real bummer this week is that I’ve experienced a flare-up of my chronic eye condition. I have a great doctor, and it’s very treatable–really more of an annoyance than a serious problem. But still, a bummer. Hopefully it will clear up quickly this time!

In general, I am doing great and loviong carrying this sweet boy around with me. He makes me laugh with his kick parties and his protests when I absent-mindedly rest my arms on my belly and take up some of his space. We are just so thrilled that he’s ours and we’ll be meeting him soon. Can’t wait!

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