Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Do I really need TCOYF now?

We were looking at some old books at hubs' grandmother's house that she wanted to sell. Among them, I found a couple that were really old but in good condition, and she told me I could have whatever I wanted. I came across this gem, and picked it up for a closer look, and maybe some 1949 humor:

Yes folks, that title is "Successful Marriage." I thought it would be a real 1950's read, complete with recipes you should make your husband after a long day of work. I opened it up and browsed through the chapter titles:

Hmmm...this might be more interesting than I thought...And I turned to the chapter on fertility, where lo and behold:

Yup, those are charts. This book is amazing. I didn't even get to the charting part, but it has actual scientific information about tons of stuff, and how-tos for a whole bunch of crap. Like, how to handle it when your husband is the more 'amorous' of the two of you. It also had a sentence in there about how if the more 'amorous' of the pair (I think they use that instead of horny, lol) has no part in the contraceptive arrangement, then you will feel resentment. Aaaaaand I do. Thank you book, even though you smell like old dirty bookshelf, you're pretty nice.

I'll share more as I keep reading, but it's just starting to get interesting. This should keep me occupied until October!

**omg, scratch that. changed his mind. T- one week.

Put me in coach, I'm ready to...chart?

I bought one.

Yup, I'm joining those people. The people who chart. The people who join Fertility Friend. The people who don't shudder at the thought of CM. I'm not going to spell that one out, it still grosses me out at this point. Google it.

Hopefully, this will help me to know that everything is it should. This plus my copy of TCOYF will give me cause to add another line to my (already large) siggy and join an elite group. Hopefully.

**update: ok, so I lied. after a much-beered discussion with hubs, I will not begin the charting until November 1st. Or, whenever CD1 is after Nov 1st. He's all about the "what happens, happens" school of thought, so the 3 months I planned to TTA are out the window. I didn't really try to explain charting to him either, I'm not sure he'd appreciate it.
I do plan to apeshit on him though if he ever again says "I don't wanna use condoms, they suck" because you know what? I don't want to take a freaking pill every night with hormones in it that are doing unknown things to my body. So, I don't think he's going to get anything in the bedroom department for a while, because I'm still angry about that little gem.
Meh. I'm ambivalent, because I do agree that we should wait longer to make sure he is out of school and has a job before popping a kid out, but at the same time... I just want to know what's up with my body and what AF is like fo real.
So, Halloween, here we come.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Psst, Fall, come a little closer

For today's Tuesday List, I decided to do the Fall list. I know, it's a bit early, but in reality, it's never too early for Fall! (for me at least. not for Hubs.)

Fall Things To Which I'm Looking Forward (see grams, didn't end my sentence with a preposition)
caramel apple upside-down cake
pumpkin muffins
butternut squash (for the 1st time!)
fall coffee flavors at Starbucks/local coffeeshop
raking leaves...NOT (said Borat-style)
all kinds of fall produce
fall festivals
carving pumpkins
Halloween candy
taking walks in non-humid weather

Monday, August 24, 2009

Finally, dinner

I'm going to try to attempt more meal planning, even though technically I'll only be making about two-three meals a week! But it will help with eating more healthfully.

Since this week's Ingredient Challenge is Parmesan cheese, I decided to make a risotto when doing my planning on Sunday night. Of course, when I tried to search, no one makes a plain risotto anymore (I could hear the internet scoffing at me), so I went back to the basics - Pioneer Woman's Risotto. You can visit her for the recipe, since it's pretty simple, and I made a few adjustments - I used olive oil, garlic, shallots, a cup of arborio rice, a half cup white wine (the bottle was open and sitting right in front of me), chicken broth, a bit of 1% milk, and of course, my giant hunk of Parmesan cheese.

For the main course, hubs had requested pork chops since we had pork loin chops in the freezer, and we're trying to use what we have before buying more. I have been wanting to break in my new boobs Giada book for some time now, and this was the perfect chance. Whenever I get a new, relatively small book, I go through and post-it mark the recipes I want to make. Unfortunately, I didn't have any of the pork chop ones marked in this book! But I have to start branching out, so I picked one anyway: Pork Chops with Fennel and Caper Sauce.

Pork Chops with Fennel and Caper Sauce

¼ cup olive oil
4 boneless (2-inch-thick) pork chops (about 2 pounds total)
¾ teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning meat
¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning meat
2 fennel bulbs with fronds, thinly sliced (about 8 ounces or 2 cups)
2 large shallots, thinly sliced
1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus 1/3 cup
½ cup white wine
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with their juices
½ lemon, zested
2 tablespoons capers

changes: I used one fennel bulb, and completely forgot about the fronds; also omitted the parsley since it didn't look great at the store this week.

In a large, heavy skillet heat the olive oil over high heat. Season the pork chops with salt and pepper. Add the pork to the pan and brown on both sides, about 4 minutes each side. Remove the pork from the pan, cover loosely with foil, and set aside.
Add the fennel, shallots, and 1/3 cup parsley to the pan and cook over medium heat until beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the wine. Using a wooden spoon, scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Add the tomatoes and stir. Add the pork back into the pan, nestling the chops between the fennel and tomatoes so they are mostly submerged in the pan juices. Cook until the fennel is tender and the pork is done, about 12 to 15 minutes.
Place the pork on a serving dish. To finish the sauce, add the lemon zest, remaining 1/3 cup parsley, capers, and 3/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Spoon over the pork chops and serve immediately.

This was fantastic!! I'm so glad I branched out. I even ate some of the sauce - those in my family know I'm not a huge fan of anything resembling an onion or of cooked tomatoes, but these ones were so flavorful. It almost reminded me of a chicken cacciatore sauce, which I'm now also wanting to make.

The risotto was great too, I halved the recipe but used a little more than a cup of my Parmesan (not the cat's meow to grate, FYI) so it was very cheesy.

Sorry for the awful picture, hubs was ready to eat and making fun of me (he even got my brother involved in the mockery) and I didn't have time to find good lighting so was forced to use the flash:


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The one with Cloth Diaper information.

Someone on BOTB was asking about it today, so I figured I'd post it. I think I'm done with my list, but if you think there's anything missing, let me know!

So, cloth diapers. Sounds like the '60's to me, but apparently my Mom used them with me. Today's CD's are not like the cloths of yesteryear:

Instead, today's CD's are much easier to use and *dare I say it* cute. That's right, I used the c word.

So, I've compiled all the info I've been learning about these, which is a LOT, into one handy-dandy page (which brings to my mind via word association the handy-dandy notebook from Blue's Clues...) where I explore the types of CD's and links I have found in my travels. Feel free to peruse at your leisure and let me know if there's anything I'm missing, or if you have a blog to add.

Thanks! - Cat

Types of Cloth Diapers (CDs): (from Sunshine Diapers and Pinstripes and Polkadots)

All-in-one (AIO): All-in-one diapers are cotton with a waterproof cover, and are the most like disposable diapers. Put the diaper on the kid, close the tabs, done. This is the most expensive but most convenient, at around $16-$25 each, so most people have a few of these for outings/sitters instead of a whole collection. They come in 3 sizes. Example: BumGenius all-in-one cloth diaper

Pockets: Pocket diapers are just how they sound, a waterproof outer, a stay-dry inner layer, and spot for a pad to be slid into (the pocket). They are synthetic though, and susceptible to detergent buildup and hard water. They run around $15-$20. Example: Happy Heinys pocket diapers

Fitted: These are shaped like disposables, but usually use snaps instead of velcro, and require a waterproof cover. They are to be laundered after every use, but if the cover isn’t dirty/smelly, you can air them out and use again (use your best judgment here). You can get doublers for these for nighttime wear as well. Example: Kissaluvs fitted diaper

Prefold: These remind me of the old-fashioned cloth diapers that I used to see my mother use. They’re rectangular pieces of fabric that can be folded in many many different ways, but require practice and may not be practical for leaving your kid with people who don’t know how to use these. They require diaper covers as well. Instead of pins (ouch), you can use the Snappi fastener, which has grips that hook into the fabric. These are the cheapest option, about $2 and up. Example: Green Mountain prefolds

How many of each you need is up to you, but there is plenty of information out there on this. Sunshine Diapers recommends 24 diapers and 3 covers min, because newborns can use 12+ diapers a day.

Here are some links that might be helpful:
Diaper Jungle and Diaper Safari
Diaper Pin
Thanks Mama
Parenting Web

Blogs that have good info:
Mom2BinKC’s blog
A Time to be Green
Baby Rabies blog

The Detergent Chart: From Diaper Jungle

Monday, August 17, 2009

It's almost fall!

Ok, not really...but I'm looking forward to it! With the incredibly high temps recently (hello accuweather bar, what's that you say, it's currently sunny and 90 outside?!?!), I'm looking forward to days where walking outside won't make me sweat bullets, and when more fantastic produce along with tons of fall festivals come into play. Don't forget the mums, too! I love fall. *sigh*

On that note, our second picnic of the year went off without a hitch. I was just a family get-together really, and the first lesson I learned is "talk about menu with husband." Because dang, I really like the taco pasta salad, but I didn't want to end up with the entire bowl minus about two servings. Have no fear, I'll PIP later.

We had burgers and dogs on the grill; potato salad from hubs' mom; I made the much-raved-about Taco Pasta Salad from Cara's Cravings blog; the infamous Grammy brought chips, and hubs' uncle brought meat and cheese (definitely a Berks County favorite) with some amazing mustard. Honey mustard, with a spicy kick. It was a very small jar though, so I can control myself. Mostly.

I also made Peach Cobbler from Kelly Cooks and other Feats. MMMM, good stuff. I'll also PIP that later. Hey, I've been busy! I had to spend some time with hubs last night watching Band of Brothers. I bought it for him, so I figured I'd suffer through it. Anyone else find it very strange trying to picture David Schwimmer in the military?

SO, hopefully I will be able to manage my time better this coming fall, as I have joined a new group at church (so, let's see...that makes...5 groups I'm now part of?) which only takes an hour a week, but it's dinner hour. Another *sigh*. I'm going to work on it, I promise! Don't hate me, internets!

I do get really excited for fall food, and with the produce I've had lately, good things will abound this season, oh yes.

I've made:
peach cobbler
taco pasta salad
corn on the cob, so sweet and fresh

looking forward to making:
blackberry coffee cake
chocolate zucchini bread
caramel apple upside-down cake
pear cake

and the thousands of recipes I have starred in Google Reader. Goodness I'm behind.

Is there anything you're looking forward to making/eating this fall?
(yes Lauren, I know you're looking forward to those cupcakes I promised you)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

You know what I miss?

I miss PBS. Growing up, we had tons of those channels - 2, 3, 11, 17, etc. They were home to Sesame Street, Reading Rainbow, The Magic School Bus, and tons of other (growup) stuff like Yan Can Cook, Julia Child, auction shows, and This Old House.

Now that I have a 'cooking' blog (I use that term loosely in my current status), I miss the originality and the authenticity of those channels. I haven't even looked at them in some time, so there may be some value yet to what's on there now, like Lidia's shows, or maybe even some Julia reruns (would be nice!).

I just hope that shows like that and stations like that for that matter will be around for my children, as they seem more real than other stations. More...true.

If you have a favorite PBS show, comment for me!

For those that don't have a thermometer in their tub.

Introducing, Temperature Duck!

Said duck has a spot underneath that measures the temperature of the bathwater and says HOT if it's too hot for the kid. Ingenious. I'm thinking if you're going to buy a rubber duck (or pig, what the??), you might as well get one that does double duty. I don't think I like my ducks with bikini tops though. I like 'em au naturel, with a cape.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

TWD: Brownie Buttons

For this week's TWD, Jayma of Two Scientists Experimenting in the Kitchen chose Brownie Buttons. This was a bit of a last-minute one for me (obviously) as I have lots and lots of work lately. But, they were incredibly easy, so I actually believe the line about these being good for an after-school snack that Dorie put in there!

The recipe's on Jayma's page, so go check out her loverly blog. When I first started these, I have to admit I made an error and started melting the chocolate, butter, and sugar on medium heat. Oops. I put everything else away and was going to chalk this up as a bad day for TWD, but decided if I was going down, I would do it with flare. So, I mixed everything together and scooped it into my mini-muffin tin. I filled 13 of them almost to the top and baked for...a while. I had my timer set for 10 minutes, but must have baked them for about 16 (or more). I'm really bad at timing things. I usually go with my instinct on when my baked goods are ready. I know, it's going to come back to bite me in the butt some day.

Since I felt bad about not making the glaze for the top, I put a little white chip on some of them, to make them feel better. Because these brownie buttons had read about their origins in the book, and felt left out. I should never have showed them that picture.


Monday, August 10, 2009

Absence makes the bloggers grow fonder, right?...right?

So, I've been away for a while. While. A. While. Sorry about that, guys. I promise I will be back with a vengeance (and more food) soon. Like... tomorrow! ; )

But in the meantime, I will describe, in detail, my vacation.

Just kidding.

But I will tell you about our trip down! We drove to Myrtle Beach, SC, for vacation. It was our first time at that beach, and our first vacation outside of NYC, OCMD, or the honeymoon, so a new experience all around. We left around tortuream 4:30am and drove for a bit, stopping a few times and at Cracker Barrel for breakfast. Now, I actually detailed our day of driving in my crackberry because it was too funny not to have saved somewhere. Here goes:

425 am - start of our vacation! No stops until we reach another state.
715 - Stopped for breakfast at cracker barrel.
Stopped for gas at a Shell, took 5 minutes for 4 gallons, decided we could make it to the next stop.
Waffle House, Chick-fil-a at every stop.
11 am - stopped again for gas, BP, but was deserted and somewhat scary. Signs still up, weird.
1115 am - stopped again for gas, it worked this time! Saw a mini school bus with the back cut off to look like a truck, pulling a gigantic trailer. Wanted to take a picture, but they might take me down Cletus-style.
1230ish - stopped at South of the Border. Very humid and hot. Bright colors everywhere, not much other than cheap souvenirs and pink flamingos. Will get fireworks on way home.
Why do old guys keep talking to me outside restrooms?
2 pm - I'm hungry, but we're almost there and I take too much time at rest stops so we're pushing through!

Other than the interesting things that happened on the way down, we had a great time. We stayed in a resort in Myrtle Beach, right on the beach, but found that we had to drive to get to anything other than Damon's (which was right next door). Fo real. There wasn't even a Dunkin Donuts within normal-person walking distance. I suffered.

But the beach was wonderful - first day it was all shell-y and hurt my feet, but we figured out it was because the tide was really high, and I am a wuss and will not go out past a certain point because I don't want to end up being taken down by a wave and ending up on the shore with no top. True story.

After the first day, the sand was glorious! The shell-y part was way before we entered the water, and I had no fear of stepping on something sharp. The lifeguard's flag did have pictures of jellyfish on it though, so I made Hubs go ask. Apparently, it's just a general warning flag, and that day it meant watch out for rip currents. That didn't stop me from yelling "jellyfish!" every time something touched my foot.

We went to several awesome restaurants:
☼Sunday - Drunken Jack's - this was one of the restaurants on the Marsh Walk in Murrell's Inlet. The wait is insane anywhere you go, time of year, amount of people, blah blah blah. So we went downstairs to the bar/band/deck area and had some appetizers and drinks and listened to some live music while we waited. Because the wait was 2 hours, we also walked the Marsh Walk and checked out the other restaurants - they all looked great! Hubs had scallops, and then got a lobster tail for dinner, he said it was the best he'd ever had. I had the salmon, it was fantastic. I highly recommend this place for atmosphere, bar, and dining - although the dining room was a little less interesting than the lower floor area.
☼Monday - Hard Rock Cafe - Hubs has a special card for the Hard Rock, so we got in with no wait (most wonderful thing ever!). The Myrtle Beach one is the one shaped like a pyramid, and was great inside - you go down stairs, and there is a big screen in front and notable items and photos as far as the eye can see up the pyramid walls. Pretty cool. The food was also good, I had some cooler to drink that was fab, and steak and potatoes just because I could : ). This was one of the restaurants we hit up at Broadway at the Beach, a huge area built around a bay-like enclosure which includes Ripley's Aquarium, where I saw some of those jellyfish I love.
☼Tuesday - on the recommendation of a friend, we checked out Dick's Last Resort, which is up by Barefoot Landing. I'm not going to tell you what my hat said, you're just going to have to guess. Hubs' was really embarrassing too, but there is a chance his mother may be looking so I'll keep it quiet. I encourage you to go there, but we went on lunch so it was a bit quiet - go at dinner time. Oh, and I'd kill for their chili fries.
☼Wednesday - Margaritaville! We went to Broadway again for Jimmy's place, and were smart about it this time - we went over around 430 to get put on the waiting list for 630! The atmosphere is so cool, they have a giant map on the ceiling, and a storm that makes margaritas. But, I had a banana drink instead, mmm. I also had a blackened fish sammich there, which was wonderful. And we signed the wall of our booth.
☼Thursday - today was our shopping day, and after heading to the Market Common, a new structure with shops and houses by our Resort, we decided to grab a drink at Gordon Biersch Brewery. It was great! I had the summer ale, and we split some coconut shrimp and potstickers. Then, it was off to dinner at Umi, which is a pacific rim cuisine restaurant, and the best of the trip. We started out with duck egg rolls with a sweet chili dipping sauce and spicy mustard dipping sauce, and the ahi tuna plate. Ooooh so good. We split a Caesar salad which was spiced with an asian oil in the caesar dressing - hubs didn't like the way it was presented, which was just the romaine leaves spread out on a rectangular plate, but I did. He doesn't like cutting up his own salad. Then, dinner - I had the Mongolian Beef (it was heavenly, perfect amount of sauce, and had a great texture - so easy to chew) and I believe Hubs had something to do with scallops, which had the best-looking sauce I have seen for scallops. He said they were wonderful. I also had a cherry mojito which I could have chugged but controlled myself. We had key lime pie and Ghirardelli brownie for dessert, which were also plated impeccably. I HIGHLY recommend this restaurant to anyone going to MB.
☼Friday - home! boo! stopped at Chesapeake Bay Bridge and ate at the Seagull Pier though, and when Hubs told me about the little diner place on the pier, I was immediately lusting after a hot turkey sammich. Wish granted. yum.

So, that was our trip. Much beaching was done, and tons of walking. And I only gained a pound! Now, to take off the rest of them...
*sigh* back to real life now. Oh, I have to make brownies for TWD tonight, whee!

PS - I added a link to Million$$Baby's fund over on the side, her triplets were born prematurely but they are troopers! She's a What's Cooking nestie. When I can figure it out, I'll get the pic up too, but work isn't conducive to that type of stuff!

It seems a little odd, but ok.

Another fascinating thing I found on Celebrity Baby Blog, the fresh food feeder. It looks like a combination of a rattle and a feed bag, which I'm guessing is the basic idea! But the comments include that it would be good for teething, so if the time comes and I am desperate, this might be a good idea. Also, it might work well for foods like strawberries and broccoli, although I have no idea when these foods are supposed to be introduced. I didn't get that far yet. (Cart→Horse.) I would guess, after a year.

Monday, August 3, 2009