Home Days

Home DaysI am really used to working from home. Grad school will do that you, and a dissertation will drive it home (ah, those cold mornings I spent researching at my kitchen table in Berkeley, with a hat on!) Writing, the kind of writing I do now, lends itself well to this way of life too. Over the last ten years, I’ve become so comfortable and cozy at home, putting together rhythms and routines that work for me and switching them up every couple of months when they get stale. I love getting out and about, but home is my base, a place of books and warm Earl Grey (in a few months!) These past few months have been busy ones, though, and every day there are places to go: checkups and appointments, grocery runs and other household errands, and all manner of baby prep. Also, I would probably go crazy if I didn’t get to hang out with Hillary at least twice a week. So these days, a whole day at home is a rarity. It happens once every few weeks, and I love it.

My home days feel expansive as they stretch out before me, and I often find that I have more focus if I know I won’t have to stop working to go somewhere. On home days I write and I research and I clean and I play with my toys: paint or paper, fabric or felt. I get things done that I have been meaning to tackle for weeks. I take time to read and have Skype dates and cook (well, I cook almost every day anyway because I am a pregnant T-Rex, but I enjoy it more when I don’t have to be rushed.) These days are so restorative, and they leave me ready to rush out to a prenatal appointment or a birthing class or even the farmer’s market. I always make sure to get out for a walk or a trip to the gym in the evening, and the whole world feels new: the brilliant blue of the sky, the gentle whisper of leaves in the wind, the shadows of palm trees dancing at my feet.

I think that I’m extroverted by nature, but as I grow older, I find more introverted traits developing in myself, and I kind of love it. A new branch growing on an old tree.

Rajmah: Red Kidney Bean Curry

RajmahOkay, okay, I know this doesn’t look like much. BUT it is one of my favorite things to eat of all time. I am baffled that I haven’t put it on the blog yet. We just learned on our hospital tour that we have access to a fridge and freezer and can bring whatever we want to eat after delivery…so I think I will be bringing this. It is just so lusciously delicious. The spice mixture is so absolutely perfect that it should be patented (not by me, of course). The sauce is so exquisite that I always scrape up whatever’s left in the bowl with pita bread (naan would be even better). I double the recipe every single time I make it. And tripling it doesn’t seem like a bad idea either.

RajmahIt’s also a remarkably easy dish, one of the first ones I made back when I was learning to cook. There’s a little bit of chopping, a little bit of measuring, and then the heat does the rest. I love this dish for its depth of flavor and subtle heat (not enough to cause a pregnant lady heartburn, and that’s key). I hope you love it as much as I do. Sorry again for the lack of process photos. The chopped ginger and peppers are so pretty, but I am getting too HONGRY while cooking to stop and take pictures!

Rajmah (Red Kidney Bean Curry)
Recipe from Smitten Kitchen (with a few notes from me)

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (C: when I double the recipe, I still only use 1/3 c olive oil–it’s sufficient)
1/4 cup chopped fresh ginger
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 plum tomato, diced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 large green chili, chopped (C: I use serrano peppers.)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground tumeric
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
8 ounce can of tomato sauce or 8 ounces of one of your choice
3 cups boiled red kidney beans or 30 ounces canned red kidney beans, undrained (C: I use dried beans cooked in a pressure cooker.)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (or parsley, if you’re cilantro-averse)

-Heat oil in a deep sauce pan over medium heat for one minute. Add ginger, garlic, onion, green chili, and let sizzle for one minute.
-Add the tomato sauce, salt and remaining spices and cook for an additional five minutes, stirring frequently.
-Add the kidney beans with water or canned red kidney beans (undrained) plus one additional cup of water, and tomatoes.
-Bring it to a boil, then reduce to medium heat and let cook uncovered for 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Garnish with cilantro.
-Serve over rice or with naan.

A Handful of Happy Things

HappySometimes I find myself at a bit of a loss with blogging. Usually I plan out at least a week’s worth of posts in advance with post-it notes on my big desk calendar (artfully taped to the back of our office door). But I am so tired these days that it mostly falls by the wayside. I’m only doing four posts a week now, but I often find myself wondering at 10pm why I didn’t take a picture of something at 2pm when there was natural light. And I often think about how the things I’m spending my days on aren’t finished yet and aren’t ready to be posted. Obviously, no one is making me write blog posts, but I enjoy the rhythm of it, and I like checking in with all of you. So I’m especially happy when I remember that a blog post doesn’t have to be a lengthy essay full of profound thoughts or a new quilt/art project/recipe that I’ve successfully tackled. I’m happy when I remember that the kind of life I value is found in small pleasures, little moments that add up to a lot of joy. And then I come back to this little series, a handful of happy things. Like baby pomegranates.

HappyAnd the discovery that the inside of a palm tree looks a lot like vermicelli.

HappyOr, if cut differently, like fuzzy fur.

HappyHeart-shaped leaves.

HappyAfternoon swims with Eric.

HappyTiny elegant jacaranda leaves.

HappyAnd lots and lots of reading. I have been plowing through a handful of novels during lunch and before bed. Reading feels like an essential part of being alive to me. Trips to the library still make me a little giddy: who knows what treasures I’ll discover there?

HappyAnd this: I was reading a library book in bed the first night that Eric was in Sweden, and I was missing him. I turned a page in the book, and this Valentine fell out. Such a sweet little coincidence. It’s an awful lot of happy for just the past week or so. I love every bit of it.

Adventures in Pregnancy: 33 Weeks

33 WeeksI feel like I probably say this every week, but wow, I am awesomely round. I look at these pictures and wonder that I am still able to move around very easily and am still quite comfortable (sure, there is some soreness and heartburn, but these are nothing compared to the first trimester or the discomfort that I am sure awaits me around 39 weeks or so). So, no complaints from me! I got this dress a few weeks ago on clearance at Target, and at first I felt a bit like Cindy Lou Who in it–it was definitely a bit too long. But now my belly is big enough that it doesn’t drag the ground when I walk. A solid investment!

This past week Eric was in Sweden for work, and the time thankfully passed without incident. I wasn’t too worried, but it’s good to have him home. However! As of last week, the baby was head-down, and I was so excited about it. My overachiever baby, already in position. And then Monday morning of last week, he suddenly turned…sideways. And my hormonal self got plenty upset about it. It’s early yet, of course, and there’s no cause for concern–there is still plenty of time for him to turn, and some babies actually turn even during labor. Our childbirth teacher (also a doula) said that what will happen in the next few weeks is that his head will become the heaviest part of him, and it will naturally come down. I sure hope so. The issue is that a transverse baby (in a sideways position) can’t be delivered except by c-section. And while I am very thankful that that option exists, I would like to avoid it if I can. It’s a major surgery, for one, and I also would just really love to have the opportunity to birth my baby myself. Birth is painful, of course, but it is also an incredible and deeply empowering experience, one I’ve wanted to have my whole life. I am working hard to prepare for it–physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. I feel so excited for it and so unafraid. And so I hope he will turn! There are plenty of ways to encourage a baby to turn too, and I may be trying some of those in the next few weeks. Only one of them has to work! (Send me all your baby-turning success stories, please!) But if in the end, he stays as he is and a c-section is necessary, I will still cry an ocean of joyful tears when I can hold him in my arms.

On the positive side of things, I think this is the first time in my pregnancy that I have actually been really worried, and I am so thankful for that. I was worried about my glucose test, but that was really more worry about my body’s ability to handle the fasting than anything having to do with the baby. And this too is really more about me than him. I think that’s a gift, and I am grateful one million times over for such a healthy pregnancy.

33 WeeksI am definitely noticing that I’m more emotional in this past week or so. There have been a few episodes of crying, which I think were good for me. Nothing terrible happened–just releasing emotions. The book I was reading today suggested that it’s a good thing to just let the tears flow in the last weeks of pregnancy, and so I will let them! It’s good to know that, like just about everything else I’ve looked up during this pregnancy, it’s totally normal.

Otherwise, I am happy as  clam, working on projects here and there, getting things ready for the baby (soooo close to finishing the quilt top!), and walking on the treadmill most days. It’s deathly boring, of course, but my iPod helps, and I actually like having the routine. It’s getting harder to tie my shoes, but that’s my only real issue!

Project Life: Weeks 44 and 45

Project LifeI have set up a little Project Life factory on our kitchen table, and I am kind of in love with it. I had a lot of fun with these pages, using supplies long forgotten or just buried under…other stuff.

Project LifeFor this page I broke out the glitter mist and glued a ribbon to the bottom. Trying to remember to use those more, since I love how they look as borders.

Project LifeI’m so glad I took this picture, since it captures a handful of happy months spent traipsing back and forth between home, library, and cafe, working on my book and book proposal. I hardly ever drink coffee in the afternoon anymore (well, now I don’t drink coffee at all!), so this was a special treat.

Project LifeI love this picture of Eric too. I feel like it captures his sweetness and engagement with the world around him. His curiosity has always been one of my favorite traits.

Project LifeThis was a pretty typical week for us, and a happy one. One I likely would have forgotten about otherwise. I’m so glad I didn’t. (As a side note, sorry about the photo quality in some of these–I am experimenting with a new method to overcome the lack of natural light in our apartment. It’s called, officially, taking photos on the floor in the hallway where there are skylights, and often in a hurry so my stuff doesn’t get stepped on or cause my neighbors to think I’m crazy. Still, I think it’s an improvement over the meager light I can catch in our cave of coolness.)

Project LifeAh, blurry! My parents are actually heading back to the Bay Area now, and I am really sorry I can’t join them. But at least I have all these happy memories from the time we spent there a year ago!

Project LifeMy parents are some of my favorite people on earth: hilarious and kind and generous and intelligent and fun. Whenever we are together, the good times roll.

Project LifeMy dad was teaching a course in Burlingame, so we spent the first few days there, hitting up our favorite restaurants, enjoying the super fancy executive floor, and thrifting (well, that one was just my mom and me, but we had enough fun for 30 people, at least). The map is the one we used when we rode the trolley into town from the hotel.

Project LifeIt’s impossible to look at this picture without smiling. At least if you’re me. More adventures to come! And there will be maps. Lots and lots of maps.

Baby Shower Bunting

Baby Shower BuntingHillary has the best ideas. We were talking about making a bunting for the baby shower, and she asked me if I had any scraps left from my quilt. And I did! And they were already cut into triangles! This afternoon I took them over to her house, and we got to crafting.

Baby Shower BuntingWe started by stitching the triangles together back-to-back to make them two-ply, so the pretty side of the fabric will show either way it’s hung. Then we trimmed the edges with pinking shears, which I totally love. I need to get some. And I should say before I go any further, I was really just an assistant in this process, as Hillary has made buntings before and totally rocks at them. So this is less a tutorial than it is a celebration of the manifold talents of my awesome friend. However! Now that she has shown me how to do it…I have bunting fever.

Baby Shower BuntingThis looks way more impressive than a quilt scrap, doesn’t it?

Baby Shower BuntingOnce we had them all finished, we laid them out and came up with an order for them.

Baby Shower BuntingThen it was time to pin them to the bias tape. Bias tape! I am now convinced that it is the world’s greatest invention. It makes things like this so easy! As you can see, we made two: one with blue bias tape and one with yellow. I am just showing the blue one here because that’s the one we finished this afternoon.

Baby Shower BuntingAnd then Hillary stitched it right up! The whole process was much easier than I imagined it would be. And I love the way it looks! And its slight resemblance to a magnificent set of eyelashes. I think after the baby shower we will hang it over the baby’s crib.

Baby Shower BuntingWe realized that it totally matched my dress, so I tried it on. Because I am the silliest. I know the baby shower is going to be a blast, but I am having so much fun getting ready for it too–the best of both worlds!

June 2014 Goals

June GoalsI don’t know if I’ve ever enjoyed summer as much as I have these past few years. I’ve always been a fall kind of girl, but lately spring is finding its place in my heart too. And summer: fresh fruit, swimming, extra light, and all kinds of fun things to celebrate!

I think this is kind of an ambitious list for the month before our baby is due, and it’s totally going to be okay with me if I don’t get to all of it. However, some things are both fun and necessary, like setting up the nursery, and those are the kinds of things I like to pepper my to-do lists with. Hopefully by the end of the month we can have it more or less ready for  our sweet son.

Also in the fun camp is the baby shower! Hillary and I are still working on a few things to put it together, and that is great fun too. I am so excited to celebrate with so many people we love, and the cherry on top is that my BFF is coming down from Berkeley! Can’t wait.

I am also hoping to finish my paintings and get them hung in the living room this month. These are my three huge canvases from the Bloom True e-course. I haven’t painted in weeks, since being bogged down with freelance work, and I’m eager to get back to it and see where these paintings go.

Our three-year anniversary is this month, and I am pumped about that too. The past two years we have taken a little trip, but I think this year we will stay close to home. A little day trip would be fun, though, so I’m doing some poking around to find a good destination. We were together for three years before we got married, so we have actually been together for six years, which is crazy and awesome and the best thing that ever happened to me.

It would be great if I could send out the next round of submissions for the book this month too. I have everything ready, but there is a little bit more research and tweaking I want to do before I hit send. Hopefully I can pull it off!

And I aspire to take pictures of it all. May goals have been updated here, and here are my June goals from 2013 and 2012 (the first ones I ever made!) I love having these goals each month, but even more than that, I love the little snapshot of life they provide as time goes by.

Update, July 2014: This month was a fun one! A few projects (the nursery and my paintings) are carrying over into July, and I’ll be happy to finish them this month. The baby shower was SO much fun, and our little anniversary getaway was great too! I have sent off the proposal to two additional agencies, but at this point I think I need to shift gears. I’ve realized that instead of spending time tinkering with my proposal and query letter to meet each individual agency’s criteria, what I really need to be doing is building my platform. This will probably take a back seat until the baby is at least a little bit older, but I am excited about crafting this career (with a flexible schedule!). I feel like I have sort of done everything backwards with regard to the publishing process, but I have learned so much along the way, I can’t possibly complain, and it’s been FUN too. That’s a good thing, even if it makes the process a little slower. I have something like 600 pictures from June, and to that I say huzzah!

Adventures in Pregnancy: 32 Weeks

32 Weeks8 months! Well, 8 months out of 10 (40 weeks), so we still have some time to go. I was thinking today about whether or not I can believe I’m this far, and I really can. I feel like I have been really present for every stage of this pregnancy, and I’m grateful for that. And grateful for this long span of feeling really good! Our little friend is rocking and rolling all the time in there, but he is not yet in my ribcage, so I am savoring that. He gives me a good punch every now and again, but I really can’t complain. I love feeling him move and knowing he is healthy and growing. At our latest appointment his heartbeat was as strong as ever, and my iron levels and weight gain were good. Icing on the cake. But not literally, ha!

I am still sleeping pretty well, but have to get up more in the night (and I’m sure the number of bathroom trips will only increase from here!) I also get so hot when I’m lying down. It’s not even that hot here yet, but even with the air conditioner on, I can’t sleep without a fan blasting me in the face.  And that fan is so glorious!

I have pretty much transitioned from walking outside to walking on the treadmill at the gym, which is not as pretty, but given that I need to use the ladies’ every 15 minutes or so…it’s awesome. I am slowly working my way through the entire catalog of my iPod on Shuffle. Only 4,000 songs to go! So I am thinking I am should be covered for the next 8 weeks.

The nursery is starting to come together–we still need to move the furniture around, but we have most of the big things, and that feels good. I am sewing away on the baby’s quilt too, and loving watching it come together.

32 WeeksI think it is pretty safe to say I am firmly in nesting territory. Guess what I did this weekend? Took everything out of the kitchen cabinets and painstakingly reorganized it. Totally normal pregnant lady behavior, yeah? I feel like there’s been a mental shift in the last few weeks: I am now really focusing on preparing for labor. I’m reading all our childbirth books, working on a birth plan, and starting to shift into this empowering mantra: “I can do this. I can do this. I can do this.” I am actively trying to replace fear with confidence, and I am not feeling too scared right now. I mostly feel *excited.* Excited to meet our baby, excited to have this incredible experience. I don’t mean to deny the pain of labor at all–but I am pretty sure that never again will pain feel so productive, or have such a happy outcome. And that feels like something pretty amazing to look forward to.

Map-Themed Baby Shower Invitations

Map-Themed Baby Shower InvitationsWe’re planning to decorate our baby’s nursery with maps. I happen to love them and have a lot of them, but we also want to encourage our little one from the very beginning with the idea that he can go anywhere he wants to go, be anything he wants to be. We want to share with him the wonder of the world around us, even though mostly we’ll probably be learning that from him. When Hillary offered to throw us a baby shower, we knew maps would be just the thing. And we knew we wanted to make the invitations because playing with paper is our idea of a party. I am so proud of how they turned out! However, full disclosure: I just showed up with the maps. All these awesome ideas were Hillary’s.

Map-Themed Baby Shower InvitationsWe started by trimming a few world maps down to fit the cards we had, leaving a border around the edge as a frame. I love that all the invitations are different, showcasing so many countries and continents.

Map-Themed Baby Shower InvitationsHillary had these awesome stamp stickers, and we used those to affix the little green ribbon of paper to the front.

Map-Themed Baby Shower InvitationsShe typed out this little message on her typewriter. Ten times. She is a gem.

Map-Themed Baby Shower InvitationsOn the inside, we tucked all the pertinent information (oh so artfully blurred here) into these Airmail envelopes. Hillary typed out the little invitation at the top.

Map-Themed Baby Shower InvitationsIt was so much fun to be able to able to make these, especially since I wasn’t able to do anything like this for our wedding (too many invites, would have lost my mind!) I love having a friend who also thinks a great afternoon involves a lot of glue and double-sided tape.

Map-Themed Baby Shower InvitationsI am saving one of these cards for our little one’s baby book and can’t wait to show it to him one day, and tell him about all the months we spent dreaming about him and waiting for him to come and shine a new light into our lives.

One Little Word: December

One Little WordI finally finished this project, and it was so totally worth the wait. The December prompt is really a look back and a look forward, and it’s been nice to be able to do that six months down the road. The goals I set last January are still in motion, and being pregnant has really added a new dimension to my goal of being open in my life.

One Little WordNow I can finally tell you that getting pregnant was one of my three big goals for last year! It’s fun not to have to cover that part up anymore. My word was so helpful to me in that process, as I rode the waves of hope and disappointment. It was a beautiful experience, and the happiest secret hope I have ever known. The book and the quilt are active projects now, and it’s wonderful to be able to devote my energy to them again after being so sick this winter.

One Little WordThese are some scattered reflections, with bonus feather and glasses stamps. My two new favorites!

One Little WordAnd these are the things I want to carry with me as I go forward. I know this word will be with me for a very long time. I am going to learn to be open in big new ways in a few months! But there’s also work to be done in terms of confidence, especially as I’m continually stepping out of my comfort zone as I try to build my career. When I look down that road, I just know I don’t want to leave home without this word in my pocket.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...